Translation commentary on Genesis 18:17

Verses 17-19 are closely related. The rhetorical question in verse 17 is asked in view of the conditions in verses 18 and 19, that is, the LORD desires to make his plans known to Abraham because of Abraham’s special role in God’s plan.

A transition may be required in some languages to lead into the thinking and speaking that now take place. One translation, for instance, says “As they were walking along, the LORD thought to himself, ….” Others may prefer “At that place….”

Hide from Abraham means to keep silent, to not let him know. It may be necessary to complete the question by saying “… what I am about to do to Sodom” or “… that I am going to destroy Sodom.” In some languages it is more natural to express this in a positive way; for example, one translation has “Perhaps I should tell Abraham what I’m going to do to that town Sodom.” Notice that Good News Translation and others use a negative statement, “I will not hide….”

Quoted with permission from Reyburn, William D. and Fry, Euan McG. A Handbook on Genesis. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1997. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

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