A gift for the 50th GJM

Old Testament Scene The Visit of Three Men to Abraham and Sarah | 1872

The hanging painting was given to Georg Johann Mendel for his 50th birthday by his students. Although somewhat caricatured in composition and execution, it reflects the deep respect in which his students held their teacher and their appreciation of his approach to them. Perhaps that is why they chose the Old Testament story of the visit of the three men to Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:1-15) “And the Lord appeared to Abraham at the god of Mamre, as he sat in the door of the tent in the heat of the day. He looked around and saw: And he saw, and behold, three men standing opposite him. As soon as he saw them, he ran out of the door of the tent to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground and said: “Lord, if I have found favor with you, do not pass away your servant. I will have some water brought, wash your feet, and sit under the tree. I would like to give you a morsel of bread to strengthen you; then you will go on. You will not pass your servant by.” They replied, “Do as you say.” Abraham quickly ran into the tent to Sarah and said: “Quickly take three measures of white flour, knead it, and prepare the under-bread.” He himself ran to the cattle, took the young and fine cattle, and gave them to the young man to prepare quickly. Then he took the butter and the milk and the cattle which he had prepared, and presented them. While they were eating, he stood by them under the tree. Then they asked him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” “He answered, “Here in the tent.” And one of them said, “I will surely return to you after the usual time, and behold, your wife will have a son.” Sarah listened behind him in the door of the tent. And Abraham and Sarah were old, and old with age, and Sarah had ceased to be a woman. She laughed in her mind, and said to herself, “Since I am so decrepit, shall I have such pleasure? Even my master is an old man.” Then the Lord said to Abraham: “Why does Sarah laugh and say, “Can I really give birth when I am so old?” Is this a wonder to the Lord? At a certain time, after the usual time, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son.”  But Sarah denied it: “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But he said: “Yes, you laughed. And so the message is found in the Old Testament quotation, “Receive with love those who come from other places – so some, without knowing it, had angels for guests” (Heb. 13:2 1).