Genesis Chapter 15  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Genesis 15
Gen 15:1(top)
Gen 15:2

“what will you give me.” Abram was already wealthy, but even if he wasn’t, the feeling of the value of having a family in biblical times was so strong that Abram’s sentiment could have been (and likely was) expressed many times in the biblical period. If a man lived and died without children to enjoy and inherit the work of his years, he was considered cursed. Nothing was as valuable as a family. Abram would die having had eight sons. Ishmael, Isaac, and six by Keturah (Gen. 25:1-2).

“childless.” Abraham did not have any children yet, and at this point in Sarah’s life she was still barren, and therefore not naturally expected to have any children. Nevertheless, God had told Abram that he would have heirs (Gen. 12:2, 7; 13:16).

“Eliezer of Damascus.” Nothing is said of him other than what is in this verse (some assume that he is the chief servant mentioned in Gen. 24:2, and although that may be the case, there is no way to know for certain). This had led many scholars to think that the text has been corrupted or needs to be amended, but that would not have to be the case. Abraham was a powerful Bedouin sheik, with hundreds in his household (see commentary on Gen. 14:14), and he would have no doubt had powerful political and financial connections. It is likely that at that time, before Abram had children, he had made arrangements for this Eliezer to take over his household if he died. The fact that we know nothing else about Eliezer makes sense. He just comes up in a frank and intimate conversation between Abraham and God, and once Abraham had a male child he would no longer inherit the estate.

Gen 15:3(top)
Gen 15:4(top)
Gen 15:5

“So your seed will be.” God promised Abraham that his seed would be a great multitude on a number of different occasions (Gen. 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 16:10 (via Hagar); Gen. 17:6; 22:17).

Gen 15:6(top)
Gen 15:7

“to give you this land.” For notes on God promising the land to Abraham and his descendants, see commentary on Genesis 15:18.

Gen 15:8(top)
Gen 15:9(top)
Gen 15:10

“cut them down the middle.” There were many different ways of making a blood covenant in the ancient world—although there were always some similarities, the exact way the covenant was made differed somewhat from place to place and through time. One of the ancient ways to make a blood covenant was to cut the animals in half, after which the parties making the covenant would walk between the bloody pieces (or, in the case of birds, between the bloody animals). This method was obviously practiced in the time of Abraham, and it was still in practice over 1000 years later (Jer. 34:18). This particular covenant God made was unique because ordinarily both parties to the covenant would walk between the pieces, but in this case God put Abraham to sleep and made a covenant with himself; it was just a smoking firepot with a flaming torch, symbols that represented God, that went between the halves of the sacrifice. Thus, in effect, God made the covenant with Himself and so did away with the possibility of “human error.” In other words, by making the covenant with Himself, God was guaranteeing that Abraham and his descendants would get the Promised Land (cp. Gen. 15:8). God did not want Abraham’s descendants breaking any terms of the covenant and forfeiting the right to the Promised Land.

Gen 15:11(top)
Gen 15:12(top)
Gen 15:13

“400 years.” The time of the sojourning of the children of Israel from the time of the weaning-feast of Isaac (Gen. 21:8-13) until the Exodus from Egypt and giving of the Law was 400 years. Israel was not enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, as most people believe. See commentary on Exodus 12:40.

“know, yes, know.” This is the figure of speech polyptoton, emphasizing that Abraham was to absolutely know this information. For more on polyptoton, and why it is translated the way it is, see commentary on Genesis 2:16.

Gen 15:14(top)
Gen 15:15(top)
Gen 15:16(top)
Gen 15:17(top)
Gen 15:18

“I have given this land.” We would say, “I will give this land,” because the promise will be fulfilled in the future. The Hebrew text and translation use the Hebrew idiom of the prophetic perfect, which occurs when something that is future is spoken of as if it is in the past in order to emphasize the certainty that it will happen. God was absolutely going to give the land to the descendants of Abraham, so He said He had already given it to them. This prophecy was fulfilled in part at times in Israel’s history, and it will be ultimately fulfilled in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom on earth.

God repeated the promise that He would give the land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants many times, and said it in slightly different ways. He told Abraham that he and his descendants would get the land (Gen. 12:7; 13:15-17; 15:7, 18; 17:8). He told it to Isaac (Gen. 26:3). He told it to Jacob (Gen. 28:13; 35:12; 48:4). Then over and over He told Israel about the promise or that He would give them the land (cp. Exod. 6:4, 8; 12:25; 13:5, 11; Lev. 14:34; 20:24; 23:10; 25:2).

[For more on the prophetic perfect idiom, see commentary on Ephesians 2:6. For more on the Millennial Kingdom on earth during which time God’s promise will be completely fulfilled, see Appendix 3: “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].

Gen 15:19(top)
Gen 15:20(top)
Gen 15:21(top)

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