Rabbeinu Bahya (13th Century) wrote that in non-sacred usage the Nun of adonai has a Patah, and only with an Etnahta or Sof pasuk a Qamatz when the word stands on its own. ‘And for this reason in the vocalization of the sacred Name you will not find a Patah but only a Qamatz for the high and great level which indicates His being above all, and that He does not rest on another, as is the case with creatures. For this reason when the name Aleph Dalet is sacred, it has a Qamatz and when it is not it has a Patah.’ In the opinion of Rabbeinu Bahya the Qamatz of the Nun of the sacred Name is the same as the Qamatz of the pausal form. (See more here)

Looking at Bereshit 18:3 does this mean the word Adonai is refering to G-d, cause it's written with a qamats? Cause Adonai in Bereshit 19:2 is referring to two angels and is written with a patach.

I've once read somewhere this is indeed the case and that Avraham asks G-d to stay with him while he'll help the passengers (the three men).

So to whom is the word Adonai refering in Bereshit 18:3?

  • The dry Halakhic answer is we rule that word is a name of God and is written with intent to sanctify it as with all other names of God. It's a Machloket in Shevuot 35b
    – Double AA
    Dec 4, 2019 at 16:07
  • Obviously, G-d is One.
    – Turk Hill
    Jun 2, 2020 at 2:17

2 Answers 2


Rashi quotes two interpretations:

  1. Avraham was talking to the visitors.
  2. Avraham was indeed talking to G-d and asking Him to wait while he went to take care of the visitors.
  • Rashi is explaining the two sides in Shevuot 35b
    – Double AA
    Dec 4, 2019 at 16:22
  • We find also by Lot in the continuation of the parasha that when he knows that he is talking to melachim and not to men that he uses the name of adnut with a patach
    – Mordechai
    Dec 4, 2019 at 20:14
  • @Mordechai probably the other opinion in the gemara would spell both with a patach
    – Double AA
    Dec 4, 2019 at 20:51
  • @Mordechai you mean Bereshit 19:18? Because although he talked to them it becomes claer from verse 19:19 en most certainly 19:21 that he direct his words to G-d (through them) right?
    – Levi
    Mar 14, 2020 at 15:46

Living Torah:

Literally, 'My lords.' According to others, 'O God.' According to the second opinion, Abraham was asking God not to break off the prophecy (Shevuoth 35b; Rashi).

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