luglio 9th, 2012
We now analyze a story in which malakhìms are the protagonists. We have formerly said that the need to define “spiritual” beings has led commentators to state, among other things, that when they eat and move they “only apparently” do so.
We’ll have a look in Chapter 18 of Genesis and judge this alleged “appearance”, along with other very unusual behaviours when attributed to “pure spirits”. Abraham is located near the oaks of Mamré, a Southern Palestine village, along the road linking the north of the country with Hebron; the patriarch is sitting underneath the shade of the tent because it is the hottest hour of the day, he looks up (18:2)…
And here are three men standing (before) his place. He saw them and ran to meet them at the entrance of the tent.
We therefore have a flushed Abraham who, while resting under the shadow of his dwelling, sees three people in front of him and runs to meet them: a very detailed description of a quite normal contextualized situation.
When Abraham recognizes the uniqueness of these individuals, he bows down to the ground, calling them “my Lord” (Adonì) and asking them to stop over. First, it is hard to imagine that anyone could tell a spiritual “vision” to stop before proceeding (18:3)! But there is much more…
He tells them he will bring some water to wash their feet, and invites them to lie down in the trees shade of the trees: clearly, these “divine” messengers must have seemed dirty, dusty and hot; they must have had, indeed, the aspect of individuals of flesh and blood who are walking in an almost desert area during the hottest hours of the day! Abraham knows that after resting one needs to eat, so he offers them some bread they can consume it before continuing. And what do these “spiritual beings” answer to an offer so obvious if made by human beings, but certainly absurd for immaterial entities?
You will do so as you said
A complete expression, saying in substance: “All right, go ahead”. Thus, oddly, these spirits appreciated the chance to freshen up their feet and eat before continuing their journey: they were in fact aimed towards Sodom (where shortly we will meet them again).
There were more than one, and this is also evident by the fact that at some point the group splits up: the supposed leader stops to talk with Abraham while the others continue (18.22) to the next destination.
After receiving the approval, Abraham orders the servant to prepare much more than what he had hastily offered: he tells him to prepare fresh bread, cook a calf, to be eaten with a drink of sour milk and fresh milk, and lays it all before them. In short, definitely a very long break, despite the preparation time: a stop is necessary to restore tired and hungry bodies.
In fact, the narrator states – with an attitude typical of modern “journalism” that describes an event in detail – that (18:8) “he stood by them, underneath the tree”…
And they ate
The scene recalls the Middle East typical nomadism: when an important guest arrives, they are offered all comforts and conveniences, and consume the meal in tranquillity as his prominent position requires.
The whole situation, the accurate detailed description, the timing of the events and particularly the fact that many of them are contemporary (while some things take place, some other things occur) are evidence of a very concrete, real and material event, including the act of eating. Something very difficult to conceive for angelic, immaterial and spiritual beings…