Why did Avraham" fall upon his face"?


Rashi and Targum Yonasan: Because he was not circumcised 1 (and was therefore overcome by fear of the Shechinah and lacked strength to stand - Rashi). 2


Ramban: To prepare to receive a prophecy (both here, and again in 17:17, where he prepared for the next prophecy). 3


Seforno: To accept the covenant that Hashem had made with him, and to thank Him for it.


We find this also by Bil'am, when Hashem appeared to him. See Bamidbar 24:4.


Chochmah u'Musar (Vol. 2, p. 338): Even though Avraham was waiting for Hashem to command him, lack of the Mitzvah harmed him, just like natural dangers harm even b'Ones. All the more so, how much sin blunts a person!


We find this also in Parshas Korach (Bamidbar 16:22 & 17:10).

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