The name that is transliterated as “Abraham” in English is translated in Spanish Sign Language, French Sign Language, British Sign Language, and in American Sign Language with the sign signifying “hold back arm” (referring to Genesis 22:12). (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff., Lexique Explications en langue des signes, Christian BSL, and Yates 2011, p. 1)

“Abraham” in American Sign Language (source )

Click or tap here to see two short video clips about Abraham (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also our ancestor Abraham and Abram.

Three Men visit Abraham (icon)

Following is a Russian Orthodox icon of the Three Men visiting Abraham which are depicted as the Trinity by Andrei Rublev (c. 1360 – c. 1430). The icon was likely painted between 1400 and 1410 (it is today located in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow).


Michael Stevens (in: The Word on Fire Bible, Vol 1, 2020, p. 118f.) comments on this icon:

“This depiction of the three persons of the Trinity is considered to be one of the finest works ever produced in the ancient tradition of Eastern iconography. Its creator, Andrei Rublev, is widely considered to be the greatest iconographer of all time, and this is one of the few panels of his that has been verified beyond doubt as his original work. Within this panel is contained a world of theological insight—a complex network of symbolism that is easily overlooked without careful study.

“Rublev’s representation of the Trinity is strikingly different from the typical Western Christians visualization of the Trinity, with God the Father as an elderly man, God the Son as a young man, and God the Holy Spirit as a dove. Here the artist uses the image of three conversing angelic figures to illustrate the relationship of the persons of the Trinity. The figures are drawn directly from Genesis 18, wherein three mysterious angelic figures visit the house of Abraham and receive his hospitality. While this biblical account from the Old Testament was written long before the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was understood, it has been interpreted as a Trinitarian foreshadowing by many of the Church Fathers. Flowing from this interpretation, Rublev gives us many clues that the three figures in his icon are not meant to represent mere angels, but are in fact the three persons of the Holy Trinity.

“The Father is shown on the left. His outer garment appears to shimmer elusively in the light, somewhere between gold and violet. This symbolizes his incorporeal (immaterial) nature, as well as his majesty over creation. Under this is a robe of blue, symbolizing his divinity. Across from him, the Son and the Holy Spirit bow their heads in acknowledgment that the Father is the unbegotten source of the Trinitarian processions.

“Christ sits in the middle and wears two contrasting garments — one an earthy red, and the other blue. The red represents Christ’s human nature and ministry on earth as well as his blood poured out for sinners. Like the Father’s inner robe, the blue portion of Christ’s clothing also signifies his divinity. The two garments’ colors are harmonious and pithily capture the two natures of Jesus. Finally, the gold stripe on Christ’s shoulder symbolizes his sharing in the kingship of God the Father.

“The Holy Spirit also wears the same divine blue as the others showing his nature as God- but outside he wears a robe of lush green, representing his role in the creation of the world. This harkens back to Genesis, where we are told that the Spirit ‘swept over the face of the waters’ (Gen. 1:2) before the creation of the universe and living things.

“The three persons are arranged inside a perfect circle, which symbolizes their Trinitarian oneness and perfection. The circle also helps to guide the viewer’s eye around the painting, creating a focal point in the space between the conversing figures.

“The Father and the Son’s wings overlap one another, signifying their familial relationship.

“The three primary background elements are borrowed from the biblical story of the angels’ visit to Abraham’s house, and each symbolizes a person of the Trinity. The house of Abraham behind God the Father represents his patriarchal authority by linking him to the character of Abraham, who was the father of the Hebrew people. The tree behind God the Son represents the cross of Jesus and new life offered by his Resurrection. The mountain behind the Holy Spirit (faintly seen) represents the soul’s journey to holiness, which is possible only through his divine power.”

Orthodox Icons are not drawings or creations of imagination. They are in fact writings of things not of this world. Icons can represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. They can also represent the Holy Trinity, Angels, the Heavenly hosts, and even events. Orthodox icons, unlike Western pictures, change the perspective and form of the image so that it is not naturalistic. This is done so that we can look beyond appearances of the world, and instead look to the spiritual truth of the holy person or event. (Source )

complete verse (Genesis 18:6)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 18:6:

  • Kankanaey: “Then Abraham hurried to return to the tent and he said to Sara, ‘Please hurry! Take some of our best flour so-that you (sing.) will cook a-lot-of bread because we have visitors.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Newari: “Running inside the tent he said to Sarah — ‘Quick! kneeding five pathis of good wheat flour, bake some bread.'” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “Therefore Abraham hurriedly entered into the tent and said to Sara, ‘Please, you get one half sack of the finest kind of flour and cook bread. And you quickly do-the-cooking.'” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “So Abraham quickly went into the tent and said to Sarah, ‘Quick, get some of our best flour and make some loaves of bread!'” (Source: Translation for Translators)

Translation commentary on Genesis 18:6

And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah: And represents a transition to another brief episode, the preparation of the meal for Abraham’s visitors. Many translations will begin a new paragraph here. Some languages will also require a marker for the transition, such as “After they had said that,” “Then,” or “And so.” Hastened, a different word than the one translated “ran” in verse 2, is more general and means to do something quickly, and so “Abraham hurried, rushed.” The urgency of providing for Abraham’s guests is seen in verse 2, here, and again twice in Gen 18.7.

Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal: the Hebrew text says “Hurry, three measures of fine meal….” The sense is “Hurry and get ready three…” or “Quickly prepare three….” Measure translates Hebrew seʾah, which is a dry measure for flour and cereals. The exact quantity of this measurement is uncertain; but what is important for this context is that it is a large amount of flour. Speiser says it is a third of an efah, or approximately thirteen liters, which is approximately three American gallons. This may be correct and gives some idea of the quantity; but in many parts of the world, such units of measurement as liters and gallons are not appropriate for flour and grain. Biblia Dios Habla Hoy calls it “twenty kilos” (forty-four pounds), Good News Translation says “a sack,” and Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch “three pans.” Because the measurement is uncertain and the exact quantity not vital information in the story, a general term that is meaningful to a home baker should be used in the translator’s language. Both Good News Translation and Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch are suitable models.

Fine meal refers to the quality of the wheat flour and not to how finely it has been ground, and so Good News Translation and others say “your best flour.” If wheat flour is not used or known, another flour from which bread-like food can be baked will normally be suitable.

Knead it refers to the rolling and pressing action of the hands on the dough. Kneading was done in a pottery bowl or a wooden bowl or trough. Abraham’s instructions to Sarah are not instructions on how to make bread. Kneading the dough (not just the flour) is only one step in the process. The rendering should not give the impression that Sarah is being told to knead only the flour. Good News Translation and others omit any reference to kneading by translating “Take a sack of your best flour, and bake some bread.” We may retain knead by saying, for example, “Take some of your best flour, knead the dough, and bake it.” Where kneading of dough is not known, the word can easily be omitted, and some related form of cooking or baking may be used.

And make cake: cakes translates a word used also in Exo 12.39; Num 11.8; 1 Kgs 17.13; Ezek 4.12. According to interpreters these refer to small, round loaves of bread; they did not contain sugar as the English word cakes may suggest. These small loaves were baked on hot stones and covered with ashes to retain the heat.

In translation a term for small loaves of bread should be used if possible; in English New Jerusalem Bible has “make loaves,” and Speiser “make rolls.” If such terms are not available, a general expression such as “some bread” (Good News Translation, New International Version) will be best. In areas where bread is unknown, a local substitute may be used.

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 .