9. Bowing Hospitality

Genesis 18:2; Genesis 19:2; Genesis 19:3; Genesis 23:7; Genesis 23:12; Genesis 42:6; Genesis 43:26; Judges 6:18; Judges 13:15; Job 31:32  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Genesis 18:2-32And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3And said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: (Genesis 18:2‑3). And when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant.
2. There is in this text a beautiful illustration of Oriental hospitality. The company of the travelers is solicited as a personal favor to the host, and all the resources of the establishment are used for their entertainment. See Genesis 19:2-32And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. 3And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. (Genesis 19:2‑3); Judges 6:1818Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again. (Judges 6:18); Judges 13:1515And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee. (Judges 13:15); Job 31:3232The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveller. (Job 31:32). Modern travelers often refer to the earnestness with which this hospitality is urged upon them at the present day. It is not always, however, to be regarded as unselfish; in many instances a return being expected from the traveler who is thus entertained. A recent writer says, “Arabs are still as fond as ever of exercising the virtue of hospitality. As they practice it, it is a lucrative speculation. The Bedaw sheikh, knowing that he must not nowadays expect to entertain angels unawares, takes a special care to entertain only such as can pay a round sum for the accommodation, or give their host a good dinner in return. The casual and impecunious stranger may, it is true, claim the traditional three days’ board and lodging; but he must be content with the scraps ‘which fall from the rich man’s table,’ and prepare to hear very outspoken hints of the undesirability of his presence” (Palmer's Desert of the Exodus, p. 486).