(1) And He appeared to him: The language of Rashi - to visit the sick man. Rabbi Hama the son of Hanina said, "It was the third day after his circumcision and the Holy One, blessed be He, came and inquired [about the state of his health]." "And behold, three men came" - the angels that came to him with the appearance of men were three - one to announce to Sarah [the birth of a son], one to cure Abraham and one to overthrow Sedom - and Raphael, who healed Avraham, went from them to save Lot, as this is not two assignments, because it was a different place and he was commanded afterwards or [because] they are both about saving (and therefore really one). "And they ate" - they appeared to be eating. And in the book, Guide for the Perplexed 2:4, it is said that the section is [presented in the style of] the general [followed] by the details: the verse first states that God appeared to him in prophetic visions and [then] how this prophetic vision was - that he lifted up his eyes in a vision and behold, three men were standing upon him. "And he said, 'If I have found favor in your eyes'" - this is the recounting of what he said in a prophetic vision to one of them, to the greatest one of them. And if in the vision the only thing that appeared was just three men eating meat, how could it state, "And God appeared to him?" As behold, God did not appear to him, not in a vision and not in thought. And it is not found like this in all of the prophecies. And behold, according to his words, Sarah did not knead cakes and Avraham did not fix the young cow, and also Sarah did not laugh. [Rather,] everything was a vision. And, if so, this dream came 'with much detail' like the false dreams, as what is the point in showing him all of this? And [the Guide there] also said about the matter of "and a man wrestled with him" (Genesis 32:25), that it was all a prophetic vision. And [if so,] I don't know why he limped on his thigh when he woke up, and why he said (Genesis 32:31), "For I have seen God face to face and He saved my soul"; as the prophets did not fear that they would die because of prophetic visions. And he already saw a greater and more glorious vision than this - as he even saw the glorious God many times in a prophetic vision (see further Genesis 28:13 and 31:3). And behold, according to his opinion, this would require [us] to say this in the matter of Lot - that the angels did not come to his house and he did not bake for them matsot and [that] they ate, but [rather] the whole thing was a vision. [But] how were the evil and sinful people of Sedom prophets? As [otherwise], who told them that people came to his house? And if it was all prophetic visions of Lot, [then] "and the angels pressed, etc. 'Get up, take your wife'" (Genesis 19:15), "and he said, 'escape for your life'"(Genesis 19:17), and "Behold, I have lifted up your face" (Genesis 19:21) and the whole section would be a vision. And Lot would have stayed in Sedom and [Rambam] would think that the acts would have been done on their own, and the statements in each and every thing were a vision. And these things contradict Scripture - it is forbidden to hear them, and even to believe them. And in truth, in all places in Scripture where the seeing of an angel or the word of an angel is mentioned, it is in a vision or in a dream - as the senses cannot perceive angels - but not prophetic visions. As one who [merely] perceives to see an angel or his word is not a prophet; as the matter is not as the teacher defines (Guide for the Perplexed 2:34, Mishneh Torah, Foundations of the Torah 7:6), that the prophecy of every prophet besides Moshe, our teacher, was through an angel. And they have already said about Daniel (Megilah 3a), "They are better than he, as they were prophets and he was not a prophet." And so his book was not written together with the books of the Prophets, because his matter was with [the angel,] Gavriel - even though he appeared to him and spoke to him in a waking state, as it is stated in the vision of the Second Temple (Daniel 9:21), "And I was still speaking in prayer and the man, Gavriel." And so [too], the vision of the final salvation was in a waking state, in his walking with his fellows "alongside the river" (Daniel 10:4). And [likewise] Hagar the Egyptian was not in the category of prophetesses, but it is also clear that her matter was not that of a bat kol (a sub-prophetic heavenly voice), as the teacher said (Guide for the Perplexed 2:34). And the verse distinguished between the prophecy of Moshe, our teacher, and the prophecy of the patriarchs, as it states (Exodus 6:3), "And I appeared to Avraham, to Yitschak and to Yaakov as God Almighty" - and this is one of the holy names of the Creator; it is not the appellation of an angel. And our rabbis also learned about the difference between them and said (Vayikra Rabbah 12:11), "What is [the difference] between Moshe and all the prophets? Our rabbis said, 'All of the prophets saw through a lens that is not polished, such that it is written (Hoshea 12:11), "and I increased the vision and through the prophets I appeared"; And Moshe saw through a polished lens, such that it is written (Numbers 12:8), "the picture of God does he see,"'" as it is explained in Vayikra Rabbah and in other places (Yevamot 49b). And in no place did they [attribute] their prophecies to an angel. And do not be astonished because it is written (I Kings 13:18), "I am also a prophet like you and an angel spoke to me with the word of the Lord, saying"; as its explanation is "I am also a prophet like you, and I know that the angel who spoke to me was with the word of the Lord." And this is one of the levels of the levels of prophecy, as the man of God [also] said (I Kings 13:9), "As so did He command me with the word of the Lord" and (I Kings 13:17) "as the word was to me in the word of the Lord." And our rabbis already said (Bemidbar Rabbah 20:3) about the matter of Bilaam who said, "And now if it is bad in your eyes" (Numbers 22:34), "I did not go until the Holy One, blessed be He, said to me, 'get up, go with them' (Numbers 22:20), and you say that I should go back? Thus is His practice - did He not say thus to Avraham, to sacrifice his son, and afterwards, 'and the angel of the Lord called to Avraham a second time [...] And he said, "do not send your hand upon the youth"' (Genesis 22:11-12). He is accustomed to saying a thing and that an angel take it back, etc." Behold, the sages are bringing [it] up to say that the first prophecy that mentions God is not equal to the second prophecy, about which it says that it is through an angel. But rather, this is the way of prophets, that He will command [them] with a prophecy, and revoke the commandment through an angel, since the prophet knows that [the latter] is the word of the Lord. And at the beginning of Vayikra Rabbah 1:9, they said, "'And He called to Moshe' (Leviticus 1:1), not like Avraham. With Avraham it is written (Genesis 22:15), 'And the angel of the Lord called to Avraham a second time from the Heavens' - the angel calls and the [Divine] speech speaks. However, here the Holy One, blessed be He, says, 'I am the caller and I am the speaker'"; which is to say that Avraham did not perceive the prophecy until he prepared his soul first with the perception of the angel, and he [then] went up from that level to the level of prophetic speech. But Moshe was prepared for prophecy at all times and in all places. The sages saw fit to inform us [here] that the seeing of the angel is not prophecy and that those that see angels and speak with them are not in the category of prophets, as I mentioned with Daniel. [Rather], it is a vision called uncovering of the eyes, as in "And the Lord uncovered the eyes of Bilaam and he saw the angel of the Lord" (Numbers 22:31), and "And Elisha prayed and said, 'O Lord, uncover his eyes and he shall see" (II Kings 6:17). But in a place where it mentions the angels with the name, 'people,' like the matter of this section and in the section with Lot, and so [too], "and a man wrestled with him" (Genesis 32:25), and so [too], "And a man found him" (Genesis 37:15) - according to the opinion of our rabbis (Midrash Tanchuma, Vayeshev 2), it is the glory that is created with the angels - that is called by those who know, 'a garment - that is perceived by eyes of flesh, by those of pure souls; like the pious ones and the students of the prophets. And I cannot explain [it]. And about the place where you find in it seeing of the Lord and the word of the angel, or seeing of the angel and the word of the Lord, as it is written in the words of Moshe at the beginning of his prophecy (Exodus 3:2-4) and in the words of Zechariah 3:1-2, I will still reveal the words of the living God with hints (see Ramban on Exodus 3:2). And about "and they ate," the sages said (Bereshit Rabbah 48:14), "it is removed, one at a time." And the matter of removal you will understand from the matter of Manoach (Judges 13:19), if you merit it. And behold, the explanation of this section is that after it stated (Genesis 17:26), "On that very day was Avraham circumcised," it stated that God appeared to him in his being sick from his circumcision, sitting and cooling off at the opening of his tent because of the heat of the day, which weakened him; and it mentioned this to inform that he was not intending prophecy - he did not fall on his face and he did not pray - and nonetheless, the vision came to him.