והנה שלשה אנשים. אֶחָד לְבַשֵּׂר אֶת שָׂרָה וְאֶחָד לַהֲפֹךְ אֶת סְדוֹם וְאֶחָד לְרַפְּאוֹת אֶת אַבְרָהָם, שֶׁאֵין מַלְאָךְ אֶחָד עוֹשֶׂה שְׁתֵּי שְׁלִיחֻיּוֹת (בראשית רבה). תֵּדַע לְךָ, שֶׁכֵּן כָּל הַפָּרָשָׁה הוּא מַזְכִּירָן בִּלְשׁוֹן רַבִּים וַיֹּאכֵלוּ, וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו, וּבַבְּשׂוֹרָה נֶאֱמַר וַיֹּאמֶר שׁוֹב אָשׁוּב אֵלֶיךָ, וּבַהֲפִיכַת סְדוֹם הוּא אוֹמֵר כִּי לֹא אוּכַל לַעֲשׂוֹת דָּבָר לְבִלְתִּי הָפְכִּי, וּרְפָאֵל שֶׁרִפֵּא אֶת אַבְרָהָם הָלַךְ מִשָּׁם לְהַצִּיל אֶת לוֹט; הוּא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיְהִי כְהוֹצִיאָם אֹתָם הַחוּצָה וַיֹּאמֶר הִמָּלֵט עַל נַפְשֶׁךָ, לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁהָאֶחָד הָיָה מַצִּיל (בראשית רבה):
והנה שלשה אנשים AND BEHOLD THREE MEN — one to announce to Sarah the birth of a son, one to overthrow Sodom, and one to cure Abraham, for one angel does not carry out two commissions (Genesis Rabbah 50:2). You may know that this is so because throughout this section it (Scripture) mentions them in the plural — “and they ate” (Genesis 18:8), “and they said unto him” (Genesis 18:9) — whilst in the case of the announcement it states, (Genesis 18:10) “And he said, I will certainly return unto thee”, and with regard to the overthrow of Sodom it says (Genesis 19:22) “For “I” cannot do anything” and (Genesis 19:21) “that “I” will not overthrow [the city]”. Raphael who healed Abraham went thence to rescue Lot; that explains what is stated (Genesis 19:17) “And it came to pass when they had brought them forth, that he said, Escape for thy life”, for you learn from this that only one of these acted as Deliverer
נצבים עליו. לְפָנָיו, אֲבָל לָשׁוֹן נְקִיָּה הוּא כְּלַפֵּי הַמַּלְאָכִים:
נצבים עליו STOOD BY, or OVER HIM — before him; only this is a more fitting expression to use of angels
וירא. מַהוּ וַיַּרְא וַיַּרְא שְׁתֵּי פְעָמִים? הָרִאשׁוֹן כְּמַשְׁמָעוֹ וְהַשֵּׁנִי לְשׁוֹן הֲבָנָה, נִסְתַּכֵּל שֶׁהָיוּ נִצָּבִים בְּמָקוֹם אֶחָד וְהֵבִין שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ רוֹצִים לְהַטְרִיחוֹ, וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיּוֹדְעִים הָיוּ שֶׁיֵּצֵא לִקְרָאתָם עָמְדוּ בִמְקוֹמָם לְכְבוֹדוֹ, לְהַרְאוֹתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא רָצוּ לְהַטְרִיחוֹ, וְקָדַם הוּא וְרָץ לִקְרָאתָם, בְּבָבָא מְצִיעָא, כְתִיב נִצָּבִים עָלָיו, וּכְתִיב וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם? כַּד חַזְיוּהוּ דַּהֲוָה שָׁרֵי וְאָסַר פֵּרְשׁוּ הֵימֶנּוּ, מִיָּד וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם:
וירא AND HE SAW — What does the repetition of this word וירא imply? The first time it has its ordinary meaning (“he looked”), the second that of understanding: he saw that they were standing in one spot, and so understood that they had no desire to cause him any trouble. Although they knew that he would go to meet them they nevertheless remained where they were out of respect to him and to show him that they wished to spare him trouble; he, therefore, took the initiative and ran towards them. In the Treatise Bava Metzia 86b we have the following: It is written, “they were standing by him” and it is also written “He ran towards them” — how can these apparently contradictory statements be reconciled? But the explanation is, that at first they stood by him and when they perceived that he was loosening and re-binding his bandages, they retired from him; he therefore immediately ran towards them.