Food with Friends – Genesis 18:1-15


Make these super quick-and-easy flatbreads and join in the feast with Abraham’s three visitors. Seriously, if I can make these, anyone can, and they’re delish!

Doing – Quick Flatbreads

Makes 4-6

You Will ‘Knead’ (ha ha, you see what I did there?)

  • 200g/7oz flour (plain, self-raising or bread flour)
  • pinch salt
  • 100ml/3½fl oz warm water
  • 2 tbsp oil


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What to Do

  1. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the water a dribble at a time, mixing it in with a fork.
  2. Add the oil and knead the dough until it is soft and smooth – about 5 minutes.
  3. If your dough is sticky add a little flour, if it is dry add a little water.
  4. Leave the dough to rest for 20 mins.
  5. Prepare topping if you want one: eg grated cheese, chopped salad, dip, chocolate spread, garlic butter or whatever takes your fancy.
  6. Divide the dough into 4-6 balls. If you like, you can add spices at this stage. I kneaded in some coarse black pepper for two, two more with a little mild chilli powder and left two plain.
  7. Roll  the balls out flat with a rolling pin to about the thickness of a £2 coin.
  8. Heat and lightly oil a large frying pan. Cook each flatbread for a couple of minutes on each side – it should puff up a little (especially if you used self-raising flour) and be golden with a few toasty spots.
  9. Enjoy fresh from the pan just as it comes, or with butter or your chosen topping. Delish!


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There’s an interesting progression in this passage. It’s as if it gradually dawns on Abraham just who these ‘three visitors’ are. Verse 1 gives us a heads-up, but let’s pretend we have not read the spoilers.

It starts, innocuously enough, with three passing visitors. No hint that they are anyone special. Abraham addresses them as ‘lord’, but that is just ‘adonai’, the equivalent of ‘sir’ today. Nothing to do with God. Abraham is just being hospitable.

Then it gets interesting. And perhaps a little weird. These ‘men’ seem to know a lot more about Abraham’s situation than one might expect. Maybe Abraham has been chatting while Sarah prepared the flatbread and had said something. Maybe this is divine knowledge. Who knows? Abraham strokes his chin thoughtfully as he watches his perplexing visitors nosh their naans, trough on their tortillas, chomp their chapattis and polish off their pittas.

Then note the change of speakers.

In verse 9 ‘they’ said. In verse 10 ‘one of them’ said (some translations have LORD here, but that’s not in the Hebrew).

But in verse 13 – kapow! – LORD (often in small capitals). This is a totally different word from the standard polite address used before. This is God’s actual name! ‘The Being One’. The name revealed to Moses and roughly translated as ‘I am who I am. There’s no defining me. I’m just God, you know?’ It’s the Hebrew letters y, h, w and h, and it’s rather pretty, actually.


But hang on just a cotton-picking minute. There were three men at the start of the chapter. One of them is God now? Or all of them are God? Or … something?

I’m not surprised that Abraham hangs back. Gate-crashing the Almighty’s picnic is not something to do lightly!

Rublev Three VisitorsThe famous icon by Rublev depicts the visitors as the three persons of the Trinity seated around a table. As I stand next to Abraham, watching them from under the trees I notice that, enticingly, there is a space left free at the table.

It’s like they are expecting someone to join them. Are they waiting for … me?

Dare I?

Side Note

Yahweh or Jehovah?

The word rendered LORD in small capitals in many English Bibles is the Hebrew word for God’s name, יהוה yhwh. It has no vowels and Jewish readers do not pronounce it out of respect. Instead, they will say Adonai, which can mean God or Lord as well as sir.

If you add the Hebrew vowels from Adonai to the four letters it forms the compound word Yahweh, in past times Latinised and Anglicised to Jehovah. However, these are both made-up words, not God’s actual name.


Genesis 18:1-15 New International Version

The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

“There, in the tent,” he said.

Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”


New International Version

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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