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 18:7)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 18:7:

  • Kankanaey: “Then he ran to go select a fat calf from his cattle, and he gave it to one of his servants so that he would in-turn hurry to prepare it (word denotes all activities in preparing food for a feast).” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Newari: “Then, going to the ox herd he chose one small ox and gave it to a servant. He quickly prepared it’s flesh and bought it.” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “Then Abraham ran to his cattle and chose a fat calf, and he hurriedly had- it -slaughtered and had- (it) -cooked by his young servant.” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “Then he ran to the herd of cattle and selected a calf whose meat would be tender and tasty. He gave it to one of his servants and told him to quickly kill it and cook it.” (Source: Translation for Translators)

Translation commentary on Genesis 18:7

And Abraham ran to the herd: And is a transition to the next event and is better expressed in English as “Then.” Ran, the same verb as in verse 2, pictures Abraham hurrying to get meat for his guests’ meal. Herd, a collective singular noun in Hebrew, refers to a collection of cattle—bulls, cows, and calves. See 13.5.

Took a calf: that is, chose, selected, picked out what Hebrew calls “a son of cattle.” This expression refers to the young of its species and not necessarily to a young bull.

Tender and good: tender refers here to meat that is easily chewed, not tough. It may not be natural to speak of the live animal as being tender. In that case we may say, for example, “took a calf whose meat would be tender.” Good probably refers to the taste of the meat, and so “whose meat would be good and be tender to eat.” In one language tender and good is expressed as “fat and of good meat.” Some translations handle tender and good in the same way as “fine” meal in verse 6 by saying “Abraham took the best of the calves….”

And gave it to the servant: note that Good News Translation has “a servant,” since this is new information. In some languages it will be necessary to introduce the servant at the opening of the verse, so that Abraham and his servant go together to the herd. We may also say “and gave it to one of his servants.”

Who hastened to prepare it: the quick pace of preparing the meal for the guests continues with the servant’s work. Prepare has the sense of “get it ready” (Good News Translation). This involved the actions of killing, skinning, and butchering the calf before cooking the meat. A literal rendering of prepare may suggest to readers that the animal was cooked without being killed and cut up. In such cases it may be necessary to say, for example, “to get it ready for the guests to eat,” since this included preparing the animal as well as cooking it; or we may say “The servant got the calf ready and cooked it.” In some cases it may be better to name the separate actions: kill the calf, butcher it, cook it, …. Examples of this from different translations are “gave it to his servant to kill it and cook it,” “told a servant to hurry up and kill it, and make some of its meat ready for the three to eat,” “the servant hurried to get it ready and cook it.”

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 .