Genesis 19:24 - Fire From Yahweh

“Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens.” (Genesis 19:24 - NIV)

What Trinitarians Say

Some Trinitarians will use this passage in an attempt to prove that there are actually two Yahwehs.  This is sometimes supported by mentioning that there was an angel, or a representative, or some person being called Yahweh speaking to Abraham at this time.  Since it is also claimed by Trinitarians that this figure is a pre-human God the Son, it is asserted that we observe two Yahwehs here: one on earth, and one in heaven.

What We Say

While this verse contains two references to the name Yahweh (the LORD), it is does not say there are two Yahwehs.  Bible readers should shudder at the thought of more than one Yahweh.  The Scriptures have made this impossible: “You alone are Yahweh” (Neh 9:6), “Yahweh is one” (Deut 6:4), “He is God, there is no one else besides him” (Mk 12:32, Deut 4:35), and so on.

Modern readers must not misunderstand Hebrew prose and do something frightful like saying there is more than one Yahweh.  This language in Genesis is simply saying that Yahweh rained down fire from the same Yahweh.  What we are encountering here is simply a construct of the Hebrew language.  Elsewhere we read that:

 “Abraham took.. every male among the men from Abraham’s house” (Gen 17:23) 

Here Abraham took from Abraham.  But there are not two Abrahams.

Then Solomon assembled… unto Solomon” (1 Kings 8:1)

There are not two Solomons.

when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah… to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam” (1 Kings 12:21). 

There are not two Rehoboams.

Therefore in Genesis 19:24 when Yahweh rains down fire from Yahweh, we must ask if it is really the text itself or a far-reaching search for Trinitarian dogma that drives a recognition of two distinct Yahwehs?  There are other interesting Hebrew constructs to consider when approaching this language:

Ezekiel says “And the Spirit lifted me up, and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea” (Ez 11:24).

Two Spirits?

Lamech says “For I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for bruising me” (Gen 4:23). 

Two murdered youths?

We must not belabor Hebrew speech with the thought-forms of later Christian philosophy.  Jesus himself never attested that Yahweh consists of more than one personality:  “Yahweh our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:29ff); "You [Father] are the only true God" (John 17:3).

Furthermore, a consideration of the law of agency will be useful in understanding Genesis 19.  The Bible demonstrates that there were angels and men who were called “God” and “Yahweh” as they operated in God's place.  For example, the angel in the burning bush who was both addressed as and spoke as Yahweh (Acts 7:30), the angel who wrestled Jacob who was called God (Hos 12:4), Moses who was called God (Ex 7:1), and more. 

Jesus also directly speaks of this principle, that God's messengers were addressed and described as God: "He called them God to whom the word of God came" (John 10:36).  This explains the messenger (angel) standing before Abraham being addressed as God; a messenger who speaks as Yahweh and is called by his name.