Genesis 15

 

Genesis 15:1–21

Abram Has a Vision of God/A Solemn Covenant


These studies are designed for believers in Jesus Christ only. If you have exercised faith in Christ, then you are in the right place. If you have not, then you need to heed the words of our Lord, Who said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten [or, uniquely-born] Son, so that every [one] believing [or, trusting] in Him shall not perish, but shall be have eternal life! For God did not send His Son into the world so that He should judge the world, but so that the world shall be saved through Him. The one believing [or, trusting] in Him is not judged, but the one not believing has already been judged, because he has not believed in the Name of the only-begotten [or, uniquely-born] Son of God.” (John 3:16–18). “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life! No one comes to the Father except through [or, by means of] Me!” (John 14:6).


Every study of the Word of God ought to be preceded by a naming of your sins to God. This restores you to fellowship with God (1John 1:8–10). If there are people around, you would name these sins silently. If there is no one around, then it does not matter if you name them silently or whether you speak aloud.


This is a collection of the weekly lessons of Genesis (HTML) (PDF) interspersed with the complete word-by-word exegesis of this chapter from the Hebrew with some information from Genesis (HTML) (PDF) thrown in. Furthermore, the examination of this chapter has been expanded with additional commentary as well. However, much of this material was thrown together without careful editing. Therefore, from time to time, there will be concepts and exegetical material which will be repeated, because there was no overall editing done once all of this material was combined. At some point in the future, I need to go back and edit this material and consider other source material as well. Links to the word-by-word, verse-by-verse studies of Genesis (HTML) (PDF).

 

One more thing: it is not necessary that you read the grey Hebrew exegesis tables. They are set apart from the rest of the study so that you can easily skip over them. However, if you ever doubt a translation of a phrase or a verse, these translation tables will tell you exactly where that translation came from.


This should be the most extensive examination of Gen. 15 available, where you will be able to examine in depth every word of the original text.


Outline of Chapter 15:

 

Introduction

 

         vv.     1–6           Abram’s Great Vision of the Revealed God

         vv.     7–21         God Reassures Abram with a Covenant

 

Addendum


Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines:

 

         Introduction         Introduction and Overview of the Patriarchs (College Press)

         Introduction         The Prequel of Genesis 15

         Introduction         The Principals of Genesis 15

         Introduction         The Abrahamic Timeline for Genesis 15

         Introduction         A Synopsis of Genesis 15

 

         v.       1              Genesis 15:1 Graphic

         v.       2              Translations that Reveal Abram’s Reticence to Believe

         v.       2              Refuting the Claims of the American English Bible Regarding Abram’s Children

         v.       5              Abram Looking at the Stars (a graphic)

         v.       5              Genesis 15:5 (graphic)

         v.       5              Large Numbers and Abram

         v.       6              Genesis 15:6 Graphic

         v.       6              Genesis 15:6 in the New Testament

         v.       9              Illustration from Genesis 15 by James Padgett

         v.      12              A deep sleep fell upon Abram and a horror seizes him by Gerard Hoet 1728 (a graphic)

         v.      13              The AEB on Why Much of the Popular Bible Chronology is Wrong!

         v.      16              Do the Numbers Make Sense?

         v.      16              An Example of Four-Generation Degeneracy

         v.      16              God Speaking to Abram (a graphic)

         v.      17              Genesis 15:17 Graphic

         v.      20              Various Expositors Cover the Hittites

 

         Addendum          “Lucky Guesses” found in Genesis (thus far)

         Addendum          What is Incontrovertible about the History of the Bible

         Addendum          What We Learn from Genesis 15

         Addendum          Josephus’ History of this Time Period

         Addendum          Edersheim Summarizes Genesis 15

         Addendum          A Complete Translation of Genesis 15

         Addendum          Word Cloud from a Reasonably Literal Paraphrase of Genesis 15

         Addendum          Word Cloud from Exegesis of Genesis 15


Chapter Outline

 

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines

Forward

Doctrines Covered and Alluded to

Chapters of the Bible Alluded To

Psalms Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

Other Chapters of the Bible Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

Definition of Terms

Introduction

Text

Addendum

www.kukis.org

 

Exegetical Studies in Genesis


Doctrines Covered

Doctrines Alluded To

 

 

 

Liberalism, Conservatism and Christianity

 

Redemption

Slave Market of Sin

Stages of National Discipline


Chapters of the Bible Alluded To

 

Gen. 14

 

 


Psalms Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

 

 

 

 


Other Chapters of the Bible Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

 

 

 

 



Many who read and study this chapter are 1st or 2nd generation students of R. B. Thieme, Jr., so that much of this vocabulary is second nature. One of Bob’s contributions to theology is a fresh vocabulary along with a number of concepts which are theologically new or reworked, yet still orthodox. Therefore, if you are unfamiliar with his work, the definitions below will help you to fully understand all that is being said. Also, I have developed a few new terms and concepts which require definition as well.

In addition, there are other more traditional yet technical theological terms which will be used and therefore defined as well.

Sometimes the terms in the exegesis of this chapter are simply alluded to, without any in-depth explanation of them. Sometimes, these terms are explained in detail and illustrated. A collection of all these terms is found here: (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

Definition of Terms

Ancient world adoption

This is when a man of wealth selects someone outside of his own family to take control of the family fortune. In such a case, the man of wealth either lacks natural heirs or his natural heirs are a bunch of layabouts and degenerates.

Covenant Theology

One of the most prevalent theories in Christianity; that God has replaced Israel with the church and that the promises made to Israel have been spiritualized and made to the church instead. This is a false theory.

Dispensational Theology

An over-arching view of God’s relationship to man; that God has, at different times in history, used different entities (Israel, the church) to move His plan forward. Sometimes an era is defined by God’s use of these different entities.

Type

Persons and events often foreshadow future persons and events. The real person or event in the past is called a type; and that which follows it as an historical parallel is it antitype.

Some of these definitions are taken from

http://gracebiblechurchwichita.org/?page_id=1556

http://www.bibledoctrinechurch.org/?subpages/GLOSSARY.shtml

http://rickhughesministries.org/content/Biblical-Terms.pdf

http://www.gbible.org/index.php?proc=d4d

http://www.wordoftruthministries.org/termsanddefs.htm

http://www.realtime.net/~wdoud/topics.html

http://www.theopedia.com/


——————————


An Introduction to Genesis 15


I ntroduction: Gen. 15 is one of the more unusual chapters in the book of Genesis, even though one verse from this chapter is quoted many times in the New Testament. God comes to Abram and we sense a little push-back from Abram. Up until this point in time, Abram has half-obeyed God on a couple of occasions, but he has more or less done what God required of him; and, at the beginning of this chapter, Abram appears to be wholly and completely in the plan of God. He is in the Land of Promise, where God told him to go, and he has separated from Lot, and yet, he did not abandon Lot when Lot needed him most.


In the previous chapter, Abram went to war against one of the greatest armies of the ancient world and literally changed the course of history with 318 citizen-soldiers. He met with the king of Sodom and with the priest of Salem. But in this chapter, God comes to Abram, saying, “Do not fear, Abram; I am your Shield and your great reward.” Abram, instead of reviewing the tremendous events of Gen. 14 in his head, and agreeing with God; he sounds rather impertinent. He says to God, “Just what are you going to give me, seeing that I have no children, and all that I have will probably be inherited by one of my young servants.” But God assures Abram that his son, the son of promise, will come from him directly. And then God takes Abram outside to look at the stars and He tells him, “Just like the number of stars in the sky, so your descendants (lit., seed) will be.” Then we have the marvelous, oft-quoted verse, And Abram believed Yehowah and it was credited to him as righteousness.


God then reminds Abram that He brought Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees; so Abram then asks God, “How do I know that I will take possession [of this land]?” Then, in answer to Abram’s question, God sends Abram off to gather up some sacrificial animals, and Abram lays them out and they are attacked by birds, and Abram drives these birds away.


Then Abram falls into a deep sleep, as the sun is setting, and God tells him what will happen to his seed in Egypt, and how they will be oppressed for 400 years, but that the 4th generation would return to this land, when the iniquity of the Amorite is full. God then verifies this covenant by walking between the pieces of meat offered to Him; and had promised Abram a very large chunk of land, extending from the River of Egypt to the River Euphrates.


This is an outstanding overview of the age and life of the patriarchs and what distinguished them. This might also be placed in Gen. 50.

Introduction and Overview of the Patriarchs (College Press)

With the death of Joseph the Patriachal Age of Israel’s history may be said to close. The Family had now thrown out many branches and was now on the point of emerging into the Nation. At this juncture, then, it may be well to look back, and review some of the chief features of the Patriarchal Life.

1.     And the first of these that claims attention is its Nomadic character. Unlike the founders of Egypt, of Babylon, of Nineveh, the Patriarchs were not the builders of cities and towns, but pilgrims and sojourners, dwellers in tents (Heb. 11:9). But they were very different from rude hordes, like the Amalekites and other “sons of the desert,” abhorring any higher mode of life. Abraham was no stranger to the highest form of civilization that his age afforded. He was acquainted with Ur, with Nineveh, with Damascus, with Egypt; he had left his home in one of the chief cities of Mesopotamia, not from choice, but in consequence of a direct personal call from God. Moreover, so far from regarding his present mode of life as an ultimate end, he and Isaac and Jacob were ever looking forward to a time when it would close, when their descendants should be settled in the Land of Promise, and become a great nation, when the portable tent should give way to the city that had foundations (Heb. 11:10; Heb. 11:13–16; comp. Gen. 24:7; Gen. 28:4; Gen. 49:4; Gen. 50:24). Hence, from time to time, as opportunity offered, we see the wandering life freely and willingly laid aside. Lot settled in Sodom (Gen. 13:10–12); Abraham in Egypt went direct to Pharaoh’s court (Gen. 12:14); at Hebron he settled and became a “prince of God” in the midst of the Hittites (Gen. 23:6); Isaac not only lived near the Philistines, but occupied a house opposite the palace (Gen. 26:8), and practised agriculture (Gen. 26:12); and Joseph’s dream of the sheaves points out that this was also continued in the time of Jacob (Gen. 37:7).

2.     The Family was the center of the Patriarchal commonwealth. Its head was the source of authority and jurisdiction; he possessed the power of life and death (Gen. 38:24); he united in himself the functions of chief and priest; he offered the burnt–offering; he had his armed retainers (Gen. 14:14; Gen. 48:22; Gen. 34:25; Gen. 33:1); his intercourse with his wives (for polygamy was not forbidden) was free and unrestrained; the wife’s consent was asked before wedlock (Gen. 24:57–58); love hallowed the relations of Abraham with Sarah, of Isaac with Rebekah, of Jacob with Leah and Rachel; woman, indeed, did not occupy the position since conceded to her, but her position was far from degraded, and the sanctity of the marriage–bond was defended by severe laws, which made death the punishment for adultery (Gen. 38:24). Slavery, it is true, existed, but in the tents of Abraham the slave was ever treated with consideration, and not excluded from, but made a partaker of religious privileges (Gen. 17:13). The fidelity and attachment of Eliezer the steward of Abraham’s house, the mourning for Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse (Gen. 35:8), are pleasing proofs of the peace that reigned in the Patriarchal household.

3.     Civilization. The life of the Patriarchs was chiefly that of the shepherd, and their wealth consisted in their flocks and their herds. But besides practising agriculture they were not unacquainted with money and the precious metals. Abraham paid for the field of Machpelah with coin (Gen. 23:9–20), and the sons of Jacob took money with them into Egypt (Gen. 42:25; Gen. 42:35); while the gold ring and armlets presented to Rebekah by Eliezer (Gen. 24:22), the bracelet and signet ring of Judah (Gen. 38:18), the ear–rings of Rachel (Gen. 35:4), the many–coloured coat of Joseph, indicate an acquaintance with the luxuries of life.

4.     Religion. While other nations were rapidly learning to deify the powers of nature, the Patriarchs believed not only in a God above and beyond nature, but in a God Personal, Omnipotent, and Holy. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was. no mere abstraction, no mere law. He could and did reveal Himself by angelic appearances, by visions, by dreams; He could console, strengthen, encourage; He could punish, rebuke, and on repentance forgive. Abraham, the Friend of God (James 2:23), intercedes with Him in behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:23–33); Isaac is warned by Him against going down into Egypt (Gen. 26:2); Jacob is consoled by Him at Bethel when setting out into the land of exile (Gen. 28:13–15), and wrestles with Him by the fords of Jabbok till the break of day (Gen. 32:24); Joseph believes in His invisible but ever–present help in prison and in a strange land, and ascribes to Him all his wisdom in the interpretation of dreams (Gen. 41:16). The Divine Promise of a great future Abraham believed under circumstances of greatest trial, and his faith was counted to him for righteousness (Rom. 4:3). Moreover, the God of the Patriarchs was not a mere “national or household God.” His sphere of operation was not restricted to the Patriarchs and their families; He is the God of all the earth (Gen. 24:3), the God of Righteousness and Holiness. He punishes the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24–25); He plagues Pharaoh’s house (Gen. 12:17); He is the God of the priest–king Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18), and of the Philistine Abimelech (Gen. 20:3); He protects not only Isaac the “child of promise,” but the outcast Ishmael the “child of the bond–woman” (Gen. 21:13); He is with Joseph in prison, but He sends dreams to Pharaoh, and through Joseph He saves Egypt from famine (Gen. 50:20).

5.     The Religious Worship of the Patriarchs was in keeping with the simplicity of their creed. The head of the family was also the priest of the family. Whenever Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, reached any new spot in their pilgrimage, they invariably erected an altar, generally of stone and on a high situation (Gen. 22:9; Gen. 26:25; Gen. 35:7); there they called on the name of Jehovah, there they presented their burnt sacrifice, there they offered up their prayers. Their history also proves the existence of offering covenant–sacrifices, and celebrating covenant–feasts (Gen. 15:9–18); the making and paying of vows (Gen. 28:23); the erection of memorial pillars, and the consecration of them by pouring upon them oil and wine (Gen. 28:18); the rite of circumcision (Gen. 17:10–14); and the paying of tithes (Gen. 14:20).

6.      The Character of the Patriarchs is never represented as perfect; their faults are freely exposed; theirs is no ideal history. If we compare the four most eminent amongst them, we seem to trace in (i) Abraham, “the faith that can remove mountains” in its power and in its fulness, revealing itself in unfaltering trust and unquestioning obedience under the most trying circumstances conceivable; in (ii) Isaac, the faith that can possess itself in patience, and discharge the ordinary duties of life in quietness and waiting; in (iii) Jacob, the violent contest of faith with the flesh, the higher with the lower nature, till by hard discipline the latter is purified, and the “Sup-planter” becomes the “Prince,” the “Prevailer with God”; in (iv) Joseph, the fidelity and perseverance of faith, revealed not only in the patient endurance of the most grievous trials, but in energetic action, and at length crowned with victory. “He unites in himself the noble trust and resolution of Abraham, with the quiet perseverance of Isaac, and the careful prudence of Jacob.” He is moreover an eminent historic type of Christ, in (1) his persecution and sale by his brethren, (2) his resisting temptation, (3) his humiliation and exaltation, and (4) his dispensing to a famine-stricken people the bread of life, and (5) in the fulness of his forgiving love.

The College Press Bible Study Textbook Series; (a compilation of many commentaries); from e-sword; Gen. 27 (chapter comments). They cite Recapitulation: Survey of the Patriarchal Age; from A Class-Book of Old Testament History, pp. 73–76; by G. F. Maclear, D.D. Published by Macmillan, London, 1881, now long out of print.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


It is important to understand what has gone before.

The Prequel of Genesis 15

In the previous chapter, Abram had enjoyed a great spiritual victory. So, now, God comes to him. Abram defeated a coalition of kings in battle, and he chose not to take the spoils of victory for himself. However, Abram did not self-righteously force his standards upon his own allies. Furthermore, after the battle Abram understood and accepted the authority of Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God.

Gen. 15 will begin with God speaking to Abram in a vision.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


We need to know who the people are who populate this chapter.

The Principals of Genesis 15

Characters

Commentary

Yehowah Elohim

God comes to Abram and speaks to Him, both giving him great promises, and prophesying the future of Abram’s seed.

Abram

Abram appears rather skeptical in this chapter—at least at first—but the emphasis in this chapter is upon God and His Word; and not upon Abram.

Eliezer of Damascus

A slave born in Abram’s house; whom Abram feared would be his heir.

 


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


The Abrahamic Timeline for Genesis 15


Legend

Birth or death

God speaks with Abraham

Historical incidents (most of which are related to Abraham)

Parenthetical dates (2065 b.c.) simply refer to taking the date assigned by the chronologist and using Scripture to determine the next date.


Brent MacDonald

Age of Abraham

Reese’s Chronology Bible

Scripture

Event/Description

2164 b.c.

0

1967 b.c.

Gen. 11:26–27

Abraham (Terah’s son) and Lot (Haran’s son) born in Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram would be the 43rd generation from Adam. Gen 11:26 Terah lived 70 years and fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Reese occasionally supplies 2 dates in his Chronological Bible; the first is his and the second is Klassen’s.

 

 

1907 b.c.

1927 b.c. (Klassen)

Gen. 11:28, 15

Abram’s family travel from Ur to Haran, although their original intention had been to go to the land of Canaan. Gen 11:28, 15 Haran died in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans, during his father Terah's lifetime. Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran's son), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram's wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.

2089 b.c.

75

1892 b.c.

Gen. 12:1–4

Abraham leaves for Promised Land from Haran, after being so instructed by God. Gen 12:4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran.

Reese actually gives the date of Terah’s death as April 1–4, 1892 b.c. and the date of Abram leaving Haran as April 5, 1892 b.c.

 

 

1891 b.c.

1892 b.c. (Klassen)

Gen. 12:10–20

Abraham & Sarah in Egypt (Goshen, Memphis), return to the Land of Promise (Genesis 12:10-15:1)

 

 

1891 b.c.

1889 b.c. (Klassen)

Gen. 13:1–13

Abram returns to Bethel in the land of Canaan, returning as a very wealthy man. His wealth is so great that he and Lot separate from one another.

 

 

 

Gen. 13:14–17

God renews His covenant with Abram.

 

 

 

Gen. 13:18

Abram moves to the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron.

 

 

1884 b.c.

1888 b.c. (Klassen)

Gen. 14:5–16

Lot is taken captive and Abram delivers Lot.

 

 

1883 b.c.

Gen. 14:17–24

Abram speaks with the King of Sodom and to Melchizedek in Salem (Jerusalem) after his victory.

 

 

1882 b.c.

Gen. 15:1–21

God’s covenant with Abram is given in greater detail.


Bibliography

MacDonald’s timeline is from: http://www.bibleistrue.com/qna/qna63.htm accessed October 11, 2011.

See http://www.bibleistrue.com/qna/qna63dating.htm for his justification of his timeline.

From: http://www.christianshepherd.org/bible_study_guides/abram_to_the_exodus.pdf (Christian shepherd)

The Reese Chronological Bible; KJV translation; Editor: Edward Reese; ©1977 by Edward Reese and Klassen’s dating system ©1975 by Frank R. Klassen; Ⓟ1980 by Bethany House Publishers, South Minneapolis, MN; pp. 18–19, 54–74.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Here is what to expect from Genesis 15:

A Synopsis of Genesis 15

God comes to Abram in a vision, and tells him not to be afraid, and that He is Abram’s great reward (v. 1). Abram responds with, “What else are you going to promise me? I don’t have a son; so who exactly am I going to leave anything to?” (vv. 2–3). God assures Abram that he will not leave his fortune to some servant, but that his descendants will be like the stars of the heavens (vv. 4–5).

Abram had faith in Yehowah God, and this is credited to him as righteousness (v. 6).

God reminds Abram that He brought him from Ur of the Chaldees to give him this land; this prompts Abram to ask, “Just how exactly do I know that I will be given this land?” (vv. 7–8).

God then gives Abram both the basis for His giving all of this to the descendants of Abram, as well as establishing an official covenant with Abram. God has Abram bring a set of sacrificial animals. God both tells Abram what will happen in the near future and then the far future. God’s walking between the pieces of sacrificed animals is how such a covenant was ratified (vv. 9–21).

Like all chapters of the Word of God, you need more than just the simple plot outline to understand what God wants us to know.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Normally when dividing a chapter up into its component parts, I find this to be the easiest thing in the world to do. Certainly, various scholars disagree on these divisions, but rarely are they dramatically different. This chapter, however, was difficult to divide up. Either the chapter would be divided into sections of individual verses or pairs of verses, as many did; or it could be taken as a whole (which was a more reasonable approach, in my opinion).


Where God and Abram are is rather difficult to determine. In v. 1, God’s Word comes to Abram in a vision. However, during this vision, God takes Abram outside (v. 5). Are they really outside? Does Abram simply perceive them as being outside? I would say that the clear reading of Scripture must override any theory; and the clear reading of Scripture is, God takes Abram outside and they look at the stars, indicating that this is all taking place at night.


Then God calls for a sets of sacrifices to be offered to him. Is it still night? Abram rounds up these sacrifices, and lays them out, and drives birds of prey away. Because the sun is said to set in v. 12, we must assume that vv. 8–11, for the most part, take place during the day. Despite the first and the second nights, which seem to be required here, there is no feeling of a passage of time (apart from v. 1a). We could reasonably say that the sun begins to go down in v. 12 and it has gone down in v. 17. However, then in v. 18, we have the phrase, in that day. Now, even though there is no requirement for the word day to refer to a time of daylight, the covenant made in vv. 18–21 to not appear to be given as the next event after v. 17 (most of the time, a series of wâw consecutives followed by imperfect verbs gives us a successive passage of time). So vv. 18–21 appear to be a covenant given to Abram on that day, but not necessarily after the other things which God said to him.


In any case, attempts will be made to construct some sort of a timeline; but there is no clear timeline offered by Scripture. The events of this chapter reasonably occur after Gen. 14 and before Gen. 16; but they seem to be almost outside of time with the way that these events are presented.


——————————


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Abram's Great Vision of the Revealed God


Kukis slavishly literal:

 

Kukis moderately literal:

After the words the these was the word of Yehowah unto Abram in the vision to say, “Do not fear, Abram, I [am] a shield to you; your reward—great very.”

Genesis

15:1

After these things, the word of Yehowah came [lit., was] to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram—I [am] your shield and your exceedingly great reward.”

Kukis not so literal:

After these things, the word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram, because I am your shield as well as your exceedingly great reward.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:

 

Ancient texts:                       Note: I compare the Hebrew text to English translations of the Latin, Syriac and Greek texts, using the Douay-Rheims translation; George Lamsa’s translation, and Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton’s translation as revised and edited by Paul W. Esposito, respectively. I often update these texts with non-substantive changes (e.g., you for thou, etc.). I often use the text of the Complete Apostles’ Bible instead of Brenton’s translation, because it updates the English text.

 

The Septuagint was the earliest known translation of a book (circa 200 b.c.). Since this translation was made before the textual criticism had been developed into a science and because different books appear to be translated by different men, the Greek translation can sometimes be very uneven.

 

When there are serious disparities between my translation and Brenton’s (or the text of the Complete Apostles’ Bible), I look at the Greek text of the Septuagint (the LXX) to see if a substantive difference actually exists (and I reflect these changes in the English rendering of the Greek text). I use the Greek LXX with Strong’s numbers and morphology available for e-sword. The only problem with this resource (which is a problem for similar resources) is, there is no way to further explore Greek verbs which are not found in the New Testament. Although I usually quote the Complete Apostles’ Bible here, I have begun to make changes in the translation when their translation conflicts with the Greek and note what those changes are.

 

The Masoretic text is the Hebrew text with all of the vowels (vowel points) inserted (the original Hebrew text lacked vowels). We take the Masoretic text to be the text closest to the original. However, differences between the Masoretic text and the Greek, Latin and Syriac are worth noting and, once in a great while, represent a more accurate text possessed by those other ancient translators.

 

In general, the Latin text is an outstanding translation from the Hebrew text into Latin and very trustworthy (I say this as a non-Catholic). Unfortunately, I do not read Latin—apart from some very obvious words—so I am dependent upon the English translation of the Latin (principally, the Douay-Rheims translation).

 

Underlined words indicate differences in the text.

 

Bracketed portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls are words, letters and phrases lost in the scroll due to various types of damage. Underlined words or phrases are those in the Dead Sea Scrolls but not in the Masoretic text.

 

I will only list the translation from the Dead Sea Scrolls if it exists and if it is different from the Masoretic text.

 

The Targum of Onkelos is actually the Pentateuchal Targumim, which are The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel. On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee by J. W. Etheridge, M.A. From http://www.becomingjewish.org/texts/targum/onkelos_genesis.html and first published in 1862.


Ancient texts:

 

Targum (trans. By Cook)        After these words, when the kings had gathered together, and had fallen before Abram; and four kings had been slain, and nine hosts brought back, Abram reasoned in his heart, and said, Woe to me, because I have received the reward of my appointments in this world, and have no portion in the world to come. Or peradventure the brethren and friends of those who have been slain will combine in legions and come against me; or that at that time there was found with me the reward of a little righteousness, so that they fell before me; but the second time reward may not be found with me, and by me the name of the Heavens may be profaned. Thereupon was the word (pithgama) of the Lord with Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not; for if these men should gather together in legions and come against thee, My Word (Memra) will be thy shield: and also if these fall before thee in this world, the reward of thy good works shall be kept, and be prepared before Me in the world to come, great exceedingly.

Jerusalem targum                  After these words, when all the kings of the lands, and the sultans of the provinces, had gathered together, and had made war against Abram the Just, and had fallen before him, and he had slain of them four kings, and had brought back nine hosts, did Abram the Just reason in his heart, and say, Woe, now, to me, because I have received the reward ordained in the present world, and have no portion in the world to come. Or peradventure the brethren and kindred of the slain who have fallen before me, who are in their cities and provinces, will combine in great legions, and come against me; or peradventure there were in my hand a few commandments in the former times, so that they fell before me when they had risen up against me; or it may be that righteousness was found in me at the former times, that they fell before me, but at the second time it may not be found, and the Heavenly Name will be profaned in me. Then was the word of prophecy from the Lord unto Abram the Righteous, saying, Fear not, Abram, though they should gather together and come against thee with many legions, My Word shall be thy reward and thy shield in this world, and a protector over thee all the days of the world to come. And though I deliver up thy adversaries before thee in this world, the reward of thy good works is prepared for thee also before Me in the world to come.

Latin Vulgate                          Now when these things were done, the word of the Lord came to Abram by a vision, saying: Fear not, Abram, I am thy protector, and thy reward exceeding great.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        After the words the these was the word of Yehowah unto Abram in the vision to say, “Do not fear, Abram, I [am] a shield to you; your reward—great very.”

Peshitta (Syriac)                    AFTER these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram; I am your shield, and your reward is exceedingly great.

Septuagint (Greek)                And after these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your shield. Your reward shall be very great.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           God's covenant with Abram

After these events, the Lord's word came to Abram in a vision, "Don't be afraid, Abram. I am your protector [Or shield or benefactor]. Your reward will be very great."

Contemporary English V.       Later the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision, "Abram, don't be afraid! I will protect you and reward you greatly."

Easy English                          The promises in the *covenant, 15:1-6

After that, the *Lord spoke to Abram. The *Lord spoke in a *vision.

`Do not be afraid, Abram. I am protecting you. I will give a very big reward to you.'.

Easy-to-Read Version            After all these things happened, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision [Like a dream. God gave messages to his special people by letting them see and hear things in visions.]. God said, “Abram, don’t be afraid. I will defend you. And I will give you a great reward.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         After this, Abram had a vision and heard the LORD say to him, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I will shield you from danger and give you a great reward."

The Message                         After all these things, this word of GOD came to Abram in a vision: "Don't be afraid, Abram. I'm your shield. Your reward will be grand!"

New Berkeley Version           Following these events the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. Have no fear, Abram; I am your Shield; your reward is marvelously rich.

New Century Version             God's Agreement with Abram

After these things happened, the Lord spoke his word to Abram in a vision: "Abram, don't be afraid. I will defend you, and I will give you a great reward."

New Life Version                    After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a special dream, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your safe place. Your reward will be very great."

New Living Translation           The Lord's Covenant Promise to Abram

Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great."

The Voice                               Some time passed. One day, the word of the Eternal One came to Abram through a vision-a kind of waking dream.

Eternal One: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am always your shield and protector. Your reward for loyalty and trust will be immense.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          After that, Jehovah sent word to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Don't be afraid, Abram; for, I am your shield, and You will have a huge reward.'

New Advent (Knox) Bible       It was after this that the Lord sent word to Abram in a vision, Have no fear, Abram, I am here to protect thee; thy reward shall be great indeed.

New American Bible (2002)   Some time after these events, this word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great."

New American Bible (2011)   The Covenant with Abram. [Gen. 15:1-21] In the first section (vv. 1-6), Abraham is promised a son and heir, and in the second (vv. 7-21), he is promised a land. The structure is similar in both: each of the two promises is not immediately accepted; the first is met with a complaint (vv. 2-3) and the second with a request for a sign (v. 8). God's answer differs in each section-a sign in v. 5 and an oath in vv. 9-21. Some scholars believe that the Genesis promises of progeny and land were originally separate and only later combined, but progeny and land are persistent concerns especially of ancient peoples and it is hard to imagine one without the other.

Some time afterward, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: Do not fear, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.

NIRV                                      God Makes a Covenant With Abram

Some time later, Abram had a vision. The Lord said to him,

"Abram, do not be afraid.

I am like a shield to you.

I am your very great reward."

New Jerusalem Bible             Some time later, the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram! I am your shield and shall give you a very great reward.

Today’s NIV                          God's Covenant With Abram

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.+t +u" I have no idea what these symbols mean at the end of this verse.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      After these words, the word of Yahweh was to Abram in a glimpse, saying, "Fear not, Abram. I am a shield to you, and will multiply your wage a hundredfold!"

Bible in Basic English             After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Have no fear, Abram: I will keep you safe, and great will be your reward.

Conservapedia                       After all these happenings, the word of the LORD came to Abram by means of a vision. He told him, "Don't be afraid, Abram. I am your Shield. Your reward will be absolutely tremendous."

The Expanded Bible              God's Covenant with Abram

After these things happened, the Lord spoke his word to Abram in a vision: "Abram, don't be afraid. I will ·defend [Lbe a shield to] you, and ·I will give you a great reward [Lyour reward will be great]."

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 The Ever-Living appears to Abram, with a Promise

It was after these events that the Ever-living spoke to Abram in a vision, saying, " Be not afraid. Abram; I am your Shield, your abundant reward ; I will greatly enrich you."

NET Bible®                             The Cutting of the Covenant

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram! I am your shield [The noun "shield" recalls the words of Melchizedek in 14:20. If God is the shield, then God will deliver. Abram need not fear reprisals from those he has fought.] and the one who will reward you in great abundance [Heb “your reward [in] great abundance.” When the phrase הַרְבּה מְאֹדֵ (harbeh mÿod) follows a noun it invariably modifies the noun and carries the nuance “very great” or “in great abundance.” (See its use in Gen 41:49; Deut 3:5; Josh 22:8; 2 Sam 8:8; 12:2; 1 Kgs 4:29; 10:10-11; 2 Chr 14:13; 32:27; Jer 40:12.) Here the noun “reward” is in apposition to “shield” and refers by metonymy to God as the source of the reward. Some translate here “your reward will be very great” (cf. NASB, NRSV), taking the statement as an independent clause and understanding the Hiphil infinitive absolute as a substitute for a finite verb. However, the construction הַרְבּה מְאֹדֵ is never used this way elsewhere, where it either modifies a noun (see the texts listed above) or serves as an adverb in relation to a finite verb (see Josh 13:1; 1 Sam 26:21; 2 Sam 12:30; 2 Kgs 21:16; 1 Chr 20:2; Neh 2:2).] [Abram has just rejected all the spoils of war, and the Lord promises to reward him in great abundance. In walking by faith and living with integrity he cannot lose.]." When it comes to making an actual material change to the text, the NET Bible® is pretty good about indicating this. Since most of these corrections will be clear in the more literal translations below and within the Hebrew exegesis itself, I will not continue to list every NET Bible® footnote.

NIV, ©2011                             The Lord's Covenant With Abram

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram [1Sa 15:10; 2Sa 7:4; 1Ki 6:11; 12:22; Jer 1:13; Eze 3:16; Da 10:1] in a vision [Ge 46:2; Nu 12:6; 24:4; Ru 1:20; Job 33:15]:

"Do not be afraid [Ge 21:17; 26:24; 46:3; Ex 14:13; 20:20; 2Ki 6:16; 2Ch 20:15, 17; Ps 27:1; Isa 7:4; 41:10, 13-14; 43:1, 5; Jer 1:8; Hag 2:5], Abram.

I am your shield [Or sovereign] [Dt 33:29; 2Sa 22:3, 31; Ps 3:3; 5:12; 18:2; 28:7; 33:20; 84:11; 119:114; 144:2; Pr 2:7; 30:5],

your very great reward [Or shield; / your reward will be very great] [Ps 18:20; 37:25; 58:11; Isa 3:10]."


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           Some time later the word of ADONAI came to Avram in a vision: "Don't be afraid, Avram. I am your protector; your reward will be very great."

exeGeses companion Bible   THE COVENANT OF YAH VEH TO ABRAM

After these words,

so be the word of Yah Veh to Abram in a vision,

saying, Awe not, Abram! I am your buckler

and your mighty abounding hire.

Kaplan Translation                 The Pact Between Halves

After these events, God's word came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Fear not Abram, I am your shield. Your reward is very great.' The Kaplan Translation, particularly in Exodus through Deuteronomy, takes note of historic rabbinic opinions.

Orthodox Jewish Bible           After these things the Devar Hashem came unto Avram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Avram; I am thy mogen, and thy exceeding great sachar (reward).


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your Shield [The reference is to the Lord as Abram's King.], your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great.

Concordant Literal Version    After these matters came the word of Yahweh to Abram in a vision, saying, "You must not fear, Abram! I am your Shield, your exceedingly increased Hire.

Context Group Version          After these things the word of YHWH came to Abram in a vision, saying, Don't be afraid, Abram: I am your shield, [ and ] your exceeding great reward.

English Standard Version      God's Covenant with Abram

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not [ch. 26:24; Dan. 10:12; Luke 1:13, 30], Abram, I am your shield [Ps. 3:3; 18:2; 84:11; 119:114]; your reward shall be very great."

Green’s Literal Translation    After these things the Word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision, saying, Do not fear, Abram; I am your shield, your reward will increase greatly.

NASB                                     Abram Promised a Son

After these things the word of the Lord [Gen 15:4; 46:2; 1 Sam 15:10] came to Abram in a vision, saying,

"Do not fear [Gen 21:17; 26:24; Is 41:10], Abram,

I am a shield [Deut 33:29] to you;

Your reward [Or Your very great reward] [Num 18:20; Ps 58:11] shall be very great."

New King James Version       God's Covenant with Abram

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."

Syndein/Thieme                     {Note: Abram has grown afraid. Probably he is afraid of counter attacks by Chedorlaomer or consequences of rebuking the 'rewards' of the king of Sodom. This chapter is a great declaration of the principal of 'do not worry' - rely on the Lord.}

{Verses 1-7: First Cure for Worry - Word of God}

After these sayings/things {dabar}, the word {dabar} of Jehovah/God came unto Abram in a vision, saying {'amar}, "Fear not, Abram, I {God} am your shield, {you're worried about Chedorlaomer coming back, why worry? I am your shield} and your exceeding great reward {maybe the king of Sodom is maligning him for rebuking the reward. And, maybe Abram was thinking about all that money kind of Sodom offered you? Why worry? I will reward you.}." {Note: This was God's solution to his anxiety and worry. It still applies to us today. Put your faith in God and His communication to you. Today is through His Word.}.

Third Millennium Bible            After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, "Fear not, Abram. I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward."

Young’s Updated LT             After these things has the word of Jehovah been unto Abram in a vision, saying, “Fear not, Abram, I am a shield to you, your reward is exceeding great.”

 

The gist of this verse:          God comes to Abram in a vision and tells him not to be afraid, as God is his protection and God will give him a great reward.


Genesis 15:1a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ʾachar (אַחַר) [pronounced ah-KHAHR]

after, following, behind; afterwards, after that

preposition/adverb

Strong’s #310 BDB #29

debârîym (דְּבָרִים) [pronounced dawb-vawr-EEM]

words, sayings, doctrines, commands; things, matters, reports

masculine plural noun

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

ʾêlleh (אֵלֶּה) [pronounced ALE-leh]

these, these things

demonstrative plural adjective with the definite article

Strong's #428 BDB #41

The phrase the words the these can either refer to what will immediately follow this phrase (see Gen. 2:4 6:9 11:10), or it refers back to what has come before (see Gen. 9:19 10:20, 29, 31). Obviously, since a quotation does not follow, then this refers back to what precedes this. Given the addition of the kaph preposition, Goliath is making the same announcement as he has made before (from 1Sam. 17:23).

hâyâh (הָיָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

dâbâr (דָּבָר) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter, command; business, occupation; case; something; manner

masculine singular construct

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

YHWH (יהוה) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

ʾAberâm (אַבְרָם) [pronounced abv-RAWM]

father of elevation, exalted father; and is transliterated Abram

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #87 BDB #4

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

machăzeh (מַחֲזֶה) [pronounced mahkh-uhz-EH]

vision

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4236 BDB #303


Translation: After these things, the word of Yehowah came [lit., was] to Abram in a vision,... The things which came before was Abram leading a raid against the eastern armies, and he saved Lot and many of the people of Sodom. All that Abram did showed great wisdom and bravery. This was a great victory in all respects.


After these things refers to the events of Gen. 14, which was about Abram rescuing Lot, who had been captured and taken hostage in a war between alliances of kings. In that chapter, Abram met with Melchizedek, the king of Salem (Jerusalem) and gave him a tenth of everything. Then Abram declined to keep all of the goods and people which he took from the eastern alliance of kings.


At this point, there are two possible theories as to what is going on in Abram’s head. He may be somewhat concerned that he just defeated one of the greatest armies from the east. When Sodom decided to rebel against them, that army came into Sodom with allies and beat Sodom down. Abram defeated that army with a small company of men, surprise and momentum carrying the day. But, does Abram had, somewhere in his mind, what if they decide to come back?


The other things that Abram might be thinking—and he can think both of these things, even though they are somewhat contradictory—is, “Let’s get a move-on with your plan, God. You have made me promises, and that is great; but I don’t have a son. Are these promises going to be confirmed in a slave born in my house?”


So, it is possible that Abram has had both of these thoughts, and that both his fear of the future as well as his desire to see God’s promises come to pass, occur on alterative days or even in alternative moments. Certainly you have had fears and uncertainties occur for you at various times; and, near the same time, have also had thoughts concerning God’s plan in your life. That is what appears to be true for Abram.


This suggests some instability—and sometimes we are a bit unstable after a great victory. So, what does God offer Abram, to steer him in the right direction? Bible doctrine.


After these things occurred, the word of Yehowah came to Abram in a vision. We know very little about the visions and meetings between God and His people. The word words indicate that there is content; there is more to this contact than a groovy feeling.


Although God does come to Abram a number of times, you will note that Abram goes for long period of time—over a decade sometimes—between these encounters.


After these things, the word of Yehowah came [lit., was] to Abram in a vision,... This is the first time that we are told exactly how God spoke to Abram (He may have used other methods before). Even here, it is vague. We do not know if these words are audible, although that would be likely; and we do not know if they are disembodied. What is Abram actually seeing in this vision? It also appears as though this begins as a vision, but continues in reality. That is, Abram goes into some kind of a trance, and then God, while continuing to communicate with him, brings him out of the trance and back into the real world. This word for vision is found only four times in the OT: here, Num. 24:4,16 and Ezek. 13:7. In the latter case, it is used of false visions. When such a word is used so infrequently over approximately 4000 years of human history, then we should not expect to have similar visions on a regular basis. That's known as being in a psychotic state rather than being in a divine rapture. If you go into a trance and hear voices, it is either your very vivid imagination at best, and demonic communication at worst. God does not have to speak to us in visions; He speaks to us through His Word. You do not have to over-think every second of the day and wonder if you should drive down beltway 8 or if God wanted you to take FM 1960 instead. People will disregard Bible class, entertain gross sin in their lives, and then be disappointed that God does not tell them what to do in their daily lives for trivial matters. If you ar regularly attending Bible class, rebounding and dealing with God's known mandates for your life, you do not need God coming to you in a vision and revealing some trivial piece of guidance to you.


Genesis 15:1b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Literally, this means to say, and often, this is equivalent to quotation marks being started. The simplest rendering here is saying. However, this does not always mean that a quotation is to follow (although it usually does). What we have hear is something which is more akin to our expression to wit or meaning, namely, by interpretation, to explain, that is, in other words.

ʾal (אַל) [pronounced al]

no, not; nothing; none; neither, nor; do not, let not [with a verb]; let there not be [with an understood verb];

adverb of negation; conjunction of prohibiting, dehorting, deprecating, desire that something not be done

Strong’s #408 BDB #39

yârêʾ (יָרְא) [pronounced yaw-RAY]

to fear, to be afraid; to fear-respect, to reverence, to have a reverential respect

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3372 BDB #431

ʾAberâm (אַבְרָם) [pronounced abv-RAWM]

father of elevation, exalted father; and is transliterated Abram

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #87 BDB #4


Translation: ...saying, “Do not fear, Abram... We begin with the content of what God says to Abram. God tells Abram not to be afraid, which is reasonable and something which we hear often when God speaks to anyone. However, these words may suggest that Abram is giving some thought to his recent war with the kings of the east, and that God is saying this with the intention of Abram to refocus his attention from that war.


After God tells Abram not to fear, using the Qal imperfect. This means that Abram is to continue in a state of non-fear). There are no more verbs. In the Hebrew, word-for-word, it reads, I shield to you; your reward great exceedingly. I am would be the subject and the very for both phrases (the shield and the reward) because I is in a grammatical position of great emphasis. The normal way to phrase this would have been to not even use the personal pronoun but to use the first person singular Qal perfect (or imperfect) of the absolute statues quo verb to be. We would expect to find hâvâʾ (הָוָא) [pronounced haw-VAW], hâvâh (הָוָה ) [pronounced haw-VAW] or hâyâh (הָיָה) [also pronounced haw-VAW]. However, instead, we find the personal pronoun I in the emphatic position, indicating a very strong I am should be here. For this reason, it should be the subject and verb for shield and for reward.


Genesis 15:1c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ʾânôkîy (אָנֹכִי) [pronounced awn-oh-KEE]

I, me; (sometimes a verb is implied)

1st person singular personal pronoun

Strong’s #595 BDB #59

mâgên (מָגֵן) [pronounced maw-GAYN]

shield, smaller shield; protection

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #4043 BDB #171

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix; pausal form

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation:...—I [am] your shield... God claims to be a shield to Abram, indicating that Abram is protected by God. This should be clear after the previous chapter. If Abram is giving any thought at all to his conflict with the kings of the east, he needs to think about that situation in context. The context is, he and his little army should not have stood a chance against the great army out of the east, but, because God is his shield, he was able to defeat them.


Notice the time frame; Abram has gone off and fought against the four strongest kings of that region and has recovered his nephew Lot. This required courage and strength and divine guidance. After this is over, then God tells Abram "I am your shield." This is a also a promise to us. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are protected by God in many ways:

       He is our shield (Gen. 15:1)

       He is our wall of fire (Zech. 2:5)

       He has provided guardian angels for us (Gen. 32:24 Ex. 14:19 Dan. 3:28 6:22 Psalm 91:11

       If we desire to know the Truth, God will guide us into all Truth (John 16:13)


Here is how Abram should reason—If God is able to take his little army of 300+ men and defeat the great army of the east; then God is certainly able to give Abram a child. If God can and does the greater for Abram; then God is able to do the lesser.


As we have assumed for a long while, Abram believes in Jehovah, and this is the basis of his salvation. That will come out in this chapter. Also, Abram lived a life after salvation, which involved knowing the Word of God and then acting in accordance with that truth. The end result is, Abram enjoyed great spiritual victories, which will be translated into great eternal rewards.


With this apparition of God, we are given a little more information. What comes to Abram is the Word of Yehowah (Jehovah), Whom we know as Jesus Christ (John 1:14). He comes to Aram in a vision, which is a fairly rare word, occurring only 4 times in the entire Old Testament. The word is machăzeh (מַחֲזֶה) [pronounced mahkh-uhz-EH], and it means vision. Strong’s #4236 BDB #303. It is related to the much more common word châzâh (חָזָה) [pronounced khaw-ZAW], which means to see, to behold, to look upon; to see [God], therefore, to enjoy His favor, to know Him. Strong’s #2372 BDB #302. Therefore, Abram is likely in a state where he is seeing something which is not necessarily there (that is, if there was anyone around Abram, they would not be able to see what he is seeing). We might even say this is an hallucination, as long as we understand, this is really happening and this is really God.


In our physical world, there are things which we can see, hear and/or touch. However, outside of this physical realm is a great spiritual realm. Now, I know when I interact with other people, I am interacting with their souls—however, I am not able to actually see their souls. As a teacher, I interacted with 20–30 different souls every hour, and I had to be cognizant of the variety of personalities within my classroom in order to manage the classroom. I could see the manifestations of these various souls, but I could not ever see the actual soul of any student.


Similarly, I also have a relationship with God and there is this great spiritual world which, in this life, I am unable to see. Perhaps God made Abram able to see into this spiritual realm to some a limited degree.


Or in the alternative, think about your dreams—you see things which are not physically there. Your mind is powerful enough to concoct images which appear to be real to you. Some people who take various drugs see things which are not physically there. So, all we can do, when we come to a word like this, is speculate. Abram is able to see Jesus Christ, in His preincarnate form. Apart from this being visual to Abram, we do not know anything else.


When it comes to things like this, people get goofy, and they think, once they reach some spiritual state, that they are going to, now and again, have visions of God or Jesus. Here it is, in the Bible, and so they think, therefore, they ought to experience these visions as well. There are 4 things which they never take into consideration: (1) Given the billions of people who have lived on the earth, only a tiny fraction of a percentage of them have really seen Jesus Christ (Jehovah Elohim) in a vision; (2) what God is about to reveal to Abram is significant, not just to Abram, but to the entire human race; (3) those who claim to have had visions or want to have visions are usually idiots (and their best friends, if they have any, can confirm this); and (4) the canon of Scripture had not been closed yet in the time of Abram; therefore, God was still revealing Himself in person, in visions and in dreams.


We do not need to have a vision or a dream in order to figure out our lives. We do not need to have some vision or some dream about God in order to figure out what we ought to do tomorrow, or next year or for the rest of our lives. It is all in the Bible; we have the written Word of God in its totality. Therefore, what will a vision do for us? Will it reveal to us some aspect of God that no one has known before? Is there some hidden secret about salvation or spiritually which is not found in the Word of God, that God needs to reveal to you personally? Is it so important tomorrow that you take 59 to work, rather than cutting down West Lake Houston Parkway, and taking the beltway from there, that God needs to come to you in a vision? Are you that insane or that egotistical?


When God appeared to Abram, these were times of great significance. Abram is the father of the Jewish race, and much of human history is related to the Jewish people who would come from Abram’s seed. This is a matter of importance even today.


Genesis 15:1d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

sâkâr (שָׂכָר) [pronounced saw-KAWR]

remuneration, hire, wages

masculine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #7939 BDB #969

râbâh (רָבָה) [pronounced rawb-VAWH]

to make [do] much; to multiply, to increase; to give much; to lay much; to have much; to make great; many [as a Hiphil infinitive construct]

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong’s #7235 BDB #915

When the Hiphil is followed by an infinitive and gerund—or by a finite verb—, it can mean much.

The Hiphil infinitive absolute is often used as an adverb: in doing much, very much, exceedingly great (the latter two with the adverb meʾôd).

meʾôd (מְאֹד) [pronounced me-ODE]

exceedingly, extremely, greatly, very

adverb

Strong’s #3966 BDB #547

Together, they are translated exceedingly much, exceedingly great, a tremendous (incredible) amount; a [staggeringly] large quantity, in great abundance.


Translation:...[and] your exceedingly great reward.” God is also a great reward to Abram. This is quite fascinating because Abram took nothing from this war with the kings of the east. He allowed the people and possessions of Sodom to return to the king of Sodom; and he took none of the booty, since he did not want it to be said that he became rich because of this fight.

genesis-151_2815_1024x768.jpg

Genesis 15:1 Graphic; from Wall Paper 4 God; accessed November 29, 2013.


Abram, operating from truth in his soul, without God having to tell him, passed up the reward given to him by the king of Sodom. God indicates that what he did was correct. God tells Abram that He is his great reward. Abram does not need to depend upon man for blessing and reward. It is important when something occurs in the Bible, when something is said, that we note who is speaking, who is being spoken to, and what is the context. Here God is speaking to Abram after a great spiritual victory.


What Abram has a vision of is, Jesus Christ, in a preincarnate form. Jesus Christ is the Word of Jehovah. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1–3, 14).


These appearances of Jesus Christ to Abram are quite amazing. This marks the 4th time that God has come to Abram. This is very unusual for God to appear to anyone, and even more unusual to appear to one person so many times. In his generation, Abram was certainly unique in this regard.


What is even more amazing is, Abram recognized the spiritual authority of Melchizedek in the previous chapter. There was no spiritual standoff where Abram challenged Melchizedek, saying, “I have seen God on 3 occasions; how many times have you spoken face to face with Him?” Abram paid a tithe to Melchizedek, so, whatever took place between them must have been quite significant.


At this point in time, Abram probably has access to about 10 or 12 chapters of the book of Genesis, a small portion of which he may have written himself. He probably also had the book of Job. That is obviously not the complete Word of God. As previously discussed, much of this may have been passed along to him by Melchizedek (which is uniquely speculative on my part).


And, even though the Seed of the Woman is revealed as far back as Gen. 3, Abram is going to find out (eventually) that this promise made to Adam and the woman so long ago was going to be fulfilled in his line. Let me remind you that Abram still has no natural son at this time.


This is significant. We find out in this chapter that Abram, who is nearly too old to have a son, will have a son. He is clearly not siring children through Sarai. They had been married at least a decade and perhaps several decades; and yet she has not given birth to any children. In later revelations, it will be revealed that this line will lead to Jesus Christ, the Savior of all mankind.


Now, put this revelation side-by-side a vision in which some doofus claims to have seen God and read what he says about his vision, and you will walk away, after talking to such a one, thinking, “What a load of meaningless tripe;” [other words may have occurred to you]. “This guy has got nothing but an ego-trip going for him.” I recall one such person who claimed to have numerous encounters with Jesus Christ, including having a splash fight with Jesus in some river in heaven. Do you grasp just how insignificant and meaningless this experience is, compared to Abram finding out that from him will come a people whose number will be like the sand by the sea or the stars in the sky; within which people will the blessing of God be? All that Abram hears directly from God still has meaning for us today; and the Jews are still with us. 4000 years later, this impacts our lives; 4000 years later, the seed of Abraham have a significant impact upon the world. So, when you compare illusionary splash fights with Jesus as over against God’s Word being promised to Abram of what would occur in the future; which seems like a vision of God and which seems like Doofus-insanity?


Let me give you a simple application: if you meet any person who claims to have seen God, or claims to converse with God (apart from normal prayer) or claims to be a prophet, then it is time to back away and to remove that person from your circle of acquaintances. If he talks about splash fights with Jesus, then I would make a run for it.


The power of God is in His Word (Heb. 4:12), not in visions or face to face meetings with God. Our interest ought to be upon the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2:16); our spiritual life ought to be about the renovation of our thinking (Rom. 12:1–2); our focus ought to be growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2Peter 3:18). We ought not to chase after unique “spiritual” experiences and things which titillate the emotions; in fact, we are told to avoid those whose God is their emotions (Rom. 16:17–18 Philip. 3:18–19). The key to the Christian life is having the correct doctrine, not having some grandiose experience (Rom. 16:17 Eph. 4:14 1Tim. 4:6–7, 15–16 6:3–5 2Tim. 4:2–4 Titus 1:7–9 2:1 2John 2:9–10). One of the most important passages in this regard is 2Peter 1:16–21; wherein Peter speaks of a real and legitimate experience which he had—seeing the glorified Jesus Christ with his own eyes—and yet, more important than this, and more accurate than this is, the word of prophecy which Peter was teaching. If a real and legitimate experience of seeing the glorified Christ is subordinate to the more certain word of prophecy, then how much less meaningful is some contemporary vision of God today?


People desire an experience like this for 2 reasons: it titillates their emotions and they now have a religious experience that none of their friends have. This same person might be listening to almost no Bible doctrine; they may entertain various gross sins in their lives (e.g., pride, anger, jealousy); they might, from their ignorance, be making all kinds of absurd applications, and then think that God ought to appear in their lives and guide them in incredibly trivial matters. Such people live in the midst of the perfect storm of ignorance and arrogance.


Gen 15:1 After these things the Word of Yehowah came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great."


The first thing that God says to Abram is, “Fear not;” and it means just that. I don’t care who you are, the thought of having a conversation with the Lord of Glory ought to give you some pause. You ought not to be thinking, it’s cool. The idea of having any encounter with God ought to make you uncomfortable if not outright afraid, because you know what you are like and you know what God is like. So Abram, who was far more important to the scheme of things than you or I, would have been struck with fear to speak to God (more accurately, to have God speak to him). It does not matter that God has spoken to Abram before; Abram should be taken aback, and God reassures him by saying, “Fear not.”


God gives Abram 2 assurances, the first being, “I am your shield.” As believers, we are protected by God; we are protected by a wall of fire. If you are in fellowship and you are growing spiritually, then you need not fear because God is your shield; He is your Protector.


Revealing Himself as Abram’s shield is quite apropos, because Abram was just in a battle with a huge professional army—an army which Abram defeated with a comparatively small company of men.


God also assures Abram that his reward will be great. Recall that Gen. 14 was an incredible chapter, rich with meaning and content, and all the Abram did was correct. Abram recognized that he needed to rescue his nephew Lot. He used good strategy and tactics in order to defeat an army which was perhaps 10–100 times the size of his own army. Abram was fearless in making such an attack. He met Melchizedek and recognized his spiritual authority, and paid him a tithe. However, at the same time, Abram refused to take any of the spoils of victory because he had made a vow to God that he would not.


Furthermore, we have such great doctrines as the Doctrine of Redemption and the Slave Market of Sin Illustration to come out of that chapter, as well as the seeds to the Stages of National Discipline, all found within Gen. 14 (HTML) (PDF) (WPD). Therefore, God would reward Abram for his correct actions throughout Gen. 14, as this is one of the greatest and most overlooked chapters in all of Scripture.


The Word of Yehowah came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." Having heard this, You or I might have said, “That’s great. Thanks.” Not Abram. Back in Gen. 12:2–3, God promised him: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." God told Abram to go the land of Canaan (which would become Israel), and when Abram got there, God told him, “To your offspring [seed] I will give this land.” God expands on this promise in Gen. 13:14–17.


——————————


However, it is going to become clear that Abram has something else on his mind.


And so says Abram, “My Adonai Yehowah, what will You give to me and I go childless and a son of acquisition of my house, he [is of] Damascus, Eliezer.”

Genesis

15:2

Abram then said, “Yehowah my Adonai, what will You give to me, [seeing] that I continue [lit., go] childless. The son of acquisition of my house [that is, my only heir]—[is] Eliezer [of] Damascus.”

Abram then said, “Jehovah, my Lord, what can You really give me, seeing that I go childless, my only heir being Eliezer of Damascus.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum (trans. By Cook)        And Abram said, Lord God, great blessings hast Thou given me, and great (are they which it is) before Thee to give me: nevertheless, what profit is to me, when I pass from the world without children, and Eliezer the manager (bar pharnasath, the son of sustenance) of my house, by whose hands signs were wrought for (or to) me in Darmasek, expects to be my heir?

Jerusalem targum                  And Abram said, Before Thee I supplicate mercy, O Lord God. Manifold blessings Thou hast given me, and many hast Thou before Thee still to give: nevertheless, what profit have I who go from the world childless, and Eliezer, the son of my house, by whose hands signs were wrought for me in Damasek, expecteth in himself to be my heir?

Latin Vulgate                          And Abram said: Lord God, what wilt thou give me? I shall go without children: and the son of the steward of my house is this Damascus Eliezer.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so says Abram, “My Adonai Yehowah, what will You give to me and I go childless and a son of acquisition of my house, he [is of] Damascus, Eliezer.”

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And Abram said, O LORD God, what will thou give me, for I will die childless, and Eliezer of Damascus, one of my household, will be my heir?

Septuagint (Greek)                And Abram said, Master and Lord, what shall You give me? Seeing I am departing without a child, but the son of Masek my home-born female slave, this Eliezer of Damascus is my heir.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           But Abram said, "Lord God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children? The head of my household is Eliezer, a man from Damascus [Heb uncertain]."

Contemporary English V.       But Abram answered, "LORD All-Powerful, you have given me everything I could ask for, except children. And when I die, Eliezer of Damascus will get all I own.

Easy English                          But Abram said, `*Lord God, what will you give to me? I am still without a child. Eliezer from Damascus will have all my goods.'

Easy-to-Read Version            But Abram said, “Lord God, there is nothing you can give me that will make me happy. Why? Because I have no son. So my slave Eliezer from Damascus will get all the things I own after I die.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         But Abram answered, "Sovereign LORD, what good will your reward do me, since I have no children? My only heir is Eliezer of Damascus.

The Message                         Abram said, "GOD, Master, what use are your gifts as long as I'm childless and Eliezer of Damascus is going to inherit everything?"

New Berkeley Version           Abram said, “O, Lord God, what can You give me, since I am ending life childless and my ehir is this Eliezer of Damascus.”

New Century Version             But Abram said, "Lord God, what can you give me? I have no son, so my slave Eliezer from Damascus will get everything I own after I die."

New Life Version                    Then Abram said, "O Lord God, what will You give me? For I have no child. And the one who is to receive what belongs to me is Eliezer of Damascus."

New Living Translation           But Abram replied, "O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son? Since you've given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth.

The Voice                               Abram: Eternal Lord, what could You possibly give to me that would make that much of a difference in my life? After all, I am still childless, and Eliezer of Damascus stands to inherit all I own [Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.].


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Then Abram said: 'O Almighty Jehovah; What can You give me, since I'm about to die without a son? EliEzer of Damascus, the home-born son of my [slave girl girl] Masek of Damascus, is my heir.'

The AEB interprets this in this manner: The Greek word that is often translated as concubine is pallake.

According to Wikipedia, 'A concubine is generally a woman in an ongoing, matrimonial-like relationship with a man, whom she cannot marry for a specific reason. The reason may be because she is of lower social rank than the man (including slave status) or because the man is already married. Generally, only men of high economic and social status have concubines. Many historical rulers maintained concubines as well as wives.

'Historically, concubinage was frequently voluntary (by the woman and/or her family's arrangement), as it provided a measure of economic security for the woman involved. Today, concubinage is reserved for the most apex alphas who can maintain a de facto harem with concurrent long term relationships.

'In opposition to those laws, traditional Western laws do not acknowledge the legal status of concubines, rather only admitting monogamous marriages. Any other relationship does not enjoy legal protection, making the woman essentially a mistress.'

In patriarchal times, concubines were usually slaves; and as the result, their offspring were referred to as 'home-born' or 'native-born servants' (see Ecclesiastes 2:7). AbraHam, for example, was known to have more than a hundred of such offspring (see Genesis 14:14). And although many have written to argue this conclusion; note God's instructions to AbraHam, when He was making the Agreement with him involving circumcision (Genesis 17:12): 'All of your male children must be circumcised by you when they are eight-days old, throughout all your generations. [This includes all the] servants who are born in your house, and those who are bought with money (the sons of aliens who are not your seed).' Notice that those who are 'home-born' are differentiated from those who are not the seed of AbraHam.

Kukis note: I include commentary like this for a variety of reasons. Most of the information contained herein will be refuted below.

Beck’s American Translation “Lord GOD,” Abram asked, “what will You give me? I’m leaving no children, and Eliezer of Damascus will get the property of my household.

Christian Community Bible     Abram said, “My Lord Yahweh, where are your promises? I am still childless and all I have will go to Eliezer of Damascus.

God’s Word                         Abram asked, "Almighty LORD, what will you give me? Since I'm going to die without children, Eliezer of Damascus will inherit my household.

New Advent (Knox) Bible       But Abram answered, Lord God, what can this gift of thine be? I must go the way of childless men; Damascus here, the son of Eliezer, is but the son of my steward [The meaning of this verse is obscure both in the Hebrew text and in the versions; it seems likely that there has been a corruption in the manuscripts. As the text stands, Damascus must be the name of a person, not of a place, and the words `Damascus (of) Eliezer' will probably imply that Eliezer was his father.];...

New American Bible (2002)   But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be, if I keep on being childless and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?"

New American Bible (2011)   But Abram said, "Lord GOD, what can you give me, if I die childless and have only a servant of my household, Eliezer of Damascus?"

NIRV                                      But Abram said, "Lord and King, what can you give me? I still don't have any children. My servant Eliezer comes from Damascus. When I die, he will get everything I own."

Today’s NIV                          But Abram said, "Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?"


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Abram said, "Lord Yahweh, why give to me? I go childless, and the son of my house, he's its steward, Eliezer of Damascus!"

Bible in Basic English             And Abram said, What will you give me? for I have no child and this Eliezer of Damascus will have all my wealth after me.

Conservapedia                       Abram said, LORD God, what reward are you going to give me? I have no issue, and the manager and first-in-line of my estate is this Damascene, Eliezer."

The Expanded Bible              But Abram said, "Lord God [CHebrew Adonai Yahweh; combination of covenant name YHWH (2:4) with common Hebrew word for "sir," "lord," or "master"], what can you give me? I ·have no son [am childless], so my ·slave [servant] Eliezer from Damascus [Ca major city in Syria] will ·get everything I own after I die [be my heir; Ca household servant would take care of a childless couple in their old age and in turn inherit their possessions]."

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 But Abram replied, " Mighty God, why should You give to me, when I go childless? And the possessor of my house will be Eliezerof Damascus? "

HCSB                                     But Abram said, "Lord GOD, what can You give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"

NET Bible®                             But Abram said, "O sovereign Lord [The Hebrew text has אֲדֹנָי יֱהוִה (’adonay yehvih, “Master, Lord”). Since the tetragrammaton (YHWH) usually is pointed with the vowels for the Hebrew word אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “master”) to avoid pronouncing the divine name, that would lead in this place to a repetition of אֲדֹנָי. So the tetragrammaton is here pointed with the vowels for the word אֱלֹהִים (’elohim, “God”) instead. That would produce the reading of the Hebrew as “Master, God” in the Jewish textual tradition. But the presence of “Master” before the holy name is rather compelling evidence that the original would have been “Master, Lord,” which is rendered here “sovereign Lord.”], what will you give me since [The vav (ו) disjunctive at the beginning of the clause is circumstantial, expressing the cause or reason.] I continue to be [Heb "I am going."] childless, and my heir [Heb "the son of the acquisition of my house."] [For the custom of designating a member of the household as heir, see C. H. Gordon, "Biblical Customs and the Nuzu Tablets," Biblical Archaeologist Reader, 2:21-33.] is [The pronoun is anaphoric here, equivalent to the verb "to be" (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 23, §115).] Eliezer of Damascus [The sentence in the Hebrew text employs a very effective wordplay on the name Damascus: “The son of the acquisition (בֶּן־מֶשֶק, ben-mesheq) of my house is Eliezer of Damascus (דַּמֶּשֶק, dammesheq).” The words are not the same; they have different sibilants. But the sound play gives the impression that “in the nomen is the omen.” Eliezer the Damascene will be Abram’s heir if Abram dies childless because “Damascus” seems to mean that. See M. F. Unger, “Some Comments on the Text of Genesis 15:2-3,” JBL 72 (1953): 49-50; H. L. Ginsberg, “Abram’s ‘Damascene’ Steward,” BASOR 200 (1970): 31-32.]?"

New Heart English Bible        Abram said, "Lord GOD, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and he who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?"

NIV, ©2011                             But Abram said, "Sovereign Lord [ver 8; Isa 49:22; Jer 44:26; Eze 5:11; 16:48], what can you give me since I remain childless [Ac 7:5] and the one who will inherit [The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus [S Ge 14:15]?"


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           Avram replied, "ADONAI, God, what good will your gifts be to me if I continue childless; and Eli'ezer from Dammesek inherits my possessions?

exeGeses companion Bible   And Abram says, Adonay Yah Veh,

what give you me - seeing I go barren

and the son of the holdings of my house

is this Eli Ezer of Dammeseq?

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what can You give me, seeing that I shall die childless, and the one in charge of my household is Dammesek Eliezer!”

Kaplan Translation                 Abram said, 'O Lord, God, what will you give me if I remain childless? The heir [Ben Meshek in Hebrew. It can also denote a steward or caretaker. (See Radak, Sherashim, s.v. Meshek, Shakak).] to my household will be Damascus Eliezer [He may have been called this because he was from Damascus, or because he led the chase to Damascus (Bereshith Rabbah 44). In Hebrew it is Dameshek, and some say it is a title given to the one in charge of a household or a teacher (Yoma 28b; cf. Amos 3:12).].'

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And Avram said, Adonoi Hashem, what wilt Thou give me, since I go childless, and the Ben Meshek of my Bais is this Eliezer of Dameshek (Damascus)?.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                And Abram said, Lord God, what can You give me, since I am going on [from this world] childless and he who shall be the owner and heir of my house is this [steward] Eliezer of Damascus?.

Concordant Literal Version    And saying is Abram, "My Lord Yahweh, what are You giving to me, when I am going heirless, and the son running about my house, he is Damascus Eliezer?

Context Group Version          And Abram said, O Lord YHWH, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the son of the inheritance of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?.

English Standard Version      But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"

Green’s Literal Translation    And Abram said, Lord Jehovah, what will You give to me since I am going childless and the son of the inheritance of my house is Eleazar of Damascus?

NASB                                     Abram said, "O Lord God [Heb YHWH, usually rendered Lord], what will You give me, since I am [Lit go] childless, and the heir of my house [Lit son of acquisition] is Eliezer of Damascus?"

Syndein/Thieme                     {Complaining Follows Worry}

And Abram said {'amar}, " 'Adonay/Lord Jehovah/God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the 'son' {ben} of my household {meaning his current heir is the 'foreman of ranch' who grew up in his household} is this Eliezer of Damascus?"

Webster’s Bible Translation  And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house [is] this Eliezer of Damascus?

World English Bible                Abram said, "Lord Yahweh, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and he who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?"

Young’s Updated LT             And Abram says, “Lord Jehovah, what will You give to me, and I am going childless? and an acquired son in my house is Demmesek Eliezer.”

 

The gist of this verse:          Abram asks God, “What will you give me, seeing that I am without a genetic heir?”


Genesis 15:2a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ʾAberâm (אַבְרָם) [pronounced abv-RAWM]

father of elevation, exalted father; and is transliterated Abram

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #87 BDB #4

ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]

Lord (s), Master (s), my Lord (s), Sovereign; my lord [master]; can refer to the Trinity or to an intensification of the noun; transliterated Adonai, adonai

masculine plural noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #113 & #136 BDB #10

This is the first time this word occurs in the Bible.

There are actually 3 forms of this word: ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]; ʾădônay (אֲדֹנַי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]; and ʾădônîy (אֲדֹנִי) [pronounced uh-doh-NEE].

This is a form of Strong’s #113, where there are three explanations given for the yodh ending: (1) this is a shortened form of the plural ending, usually written -îym (נִים) [pronounced eem], an older form of the pluralis excellentiæ (the plural of excellence), where God’s sovereignty and lordship are emphasized by the use of the plural; (2) this is the actual, but ancient, plural of the noun, which refers to the Trinity; or (3) this is the addition of the 1st person singular suffix, hence, my Lord (the long vowel point at the end would distinguish this from my lords).

YHWH (יהוה) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: Abram then said, “Yehowah my Adonai,... Abram finds himself speaking to God, and he speaks to God, the Revealed Lord, calling Him Yehowah my Adonai. Although this is a vision, Abram is fully cognizant of what God has said and where Abram is right now. No doubt, you have had dreams, and, after you wake up, unless you make an attempt to remember and write them down, they are gone. Here, Abram is clear-headed about the vision during the vision and after the vision.


Bear in mind, God spoke to Abram in visions and in dreams because there was barely a Word of God at this time. We have the complete Word of God now, and there is no reason to think that God must appear to you to give you special instructions or guidance. That is not necessary in the Church Age.


Genesis 15:2b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

mâh (מָה) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why; what [thing]; anything, something, whatever

interrogative; exclamatory particle; indefinite pronoun; relative pronoun

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

(1) Mâh can also be used as an exclamatory adverb how; as in “How incredible is this place!” (Gen. 28:17b). (2) Mâh can also be used as an interrogatory adverb how to express that which is impossible, as in “How shall we justify ourselves?” (Gen. 44:16b). These two uses are often followed by an adjective or verb. (3) Mâh can also be used as an adverb of interrogation, meaning why, wherefore.

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #5414 BDB #678

All of the BDB meanings for the Qal stem of nâthan are as follows: 1) to give, put, set; 1a) (Qal); 1a1) to give, bestow, grant, permit, ascribe, employ, devote, consecrate, dedicate, pay wages, sell, exchange, lend, commit, entrust, give over, deliver up, yield produce, occasion, produce, requite to, report, mention, utter, stretch out, extend; 1a2) to put, set, put on, put upon, set, appoint, assign, designate; 1a3) to make, constitute.

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Abram has no child at this point, so Abram doesn’t say, “Thank you, Lord, for what You intend to bless me with.” Instead, Abram says this:


Translation: ...what will You give to me,... God has just told Abram that He is his exceedingly great reward. Well, Abram gives this about 3 seconds thought and realizes that (1) he is an old man; (2) he does not have a son to inherit anything that is promised him; and (3) there does not appear on the horizon that he will have such a son.


God has made many promises to Abram, and Abram here cuts God short, asking, “Okay, what sort of a promise are you going to give me this time? Oh, by the way, I have no sons.”


Several of the translations give an idea as to how Abram feels about this.

Translations that Reveal Abram’s Reticence to Believe

Common English Bible           But Abram said, "Lord God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children? The head of my household is Eliezer, a man from Damascus [Heb uncertain]."

Contemporary English V.       But Abram answered, "LORD All-Powerful, you have given me everything I could ask for, except children. And when I die, Eliezer of Damascus will get all I own.

Good News Bible (TEV)         But Abram answered, "Sovereign LORD, what good will your reward do me, since I have no children? My only heir is Eliezer of Damascus.

New Living Translation           But Abram replied, "O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son? Since you've given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth.

The Voice                               Abram: Eternal Lord, what could You possibly give to me that would make that much of a difference in my life? After all, I am still childless, and Eliezer of Damascus stands to inherit all I own [Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.].

This is one of the reasons I have come to appreciate the less than literal translations.

Over the years, I have changed my mind about the less-than-literal translations, inasmuch as, they sometimes offer a contextual flavor which is not immediately apparent from a purely literal translation. God has said that He is Abram’s exceedingly great reward, and Abram essentially says, “Big deal; I am an old man, I don’t really need or want very much; but, point in fact, I don’t have a son to leave Your gifts to, anyway. So really, what use are these rewards to me?” Abram is not quite that crass, but you get the general idea.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


God has made many promises to Abram, but they all hinge upon that line of promise, a son to come from Abram. This son will be Isaac; but he is representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, Abram does not know for certain that there will be such a son. He is expecting a son through the normal course of action; and no son is forthcoming. If he and Sarai were going to have children, this would have happened by now; but she has been barren


Genesis 15:2c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ʾânôkîy (אָנֹכִי) [pronounced awn-oh-KEE]

I, me; (sometimes a verb is implied)

1st person singular personal pronoun

Strong’s #595 BDB #59

hâlake (הָלַךְ) [pronounced haw-LAHKe]

is walking, is going, is departing, is advancing, is traveling

Qal active participle

Strong’s #1980 (and #3212) BDB #229

ʿărîyrîy (עֲרִירִי) [pronounced ģar-e-REE]

often translated childless, but it means bare, stripped, barren

masculine singular adjective

Strong's #6185 BDB #792


Translation:...[seeing] that I continue [lit., go] childless. Abram is rather impertinent here. “Oh, what kind of things will you give to me now, to be fulfilled through my son? Oh, by the way, I have no son.”


However, Abram’s focus upon a son is what God wants. There is no son yet, but everything which God has promised depends upon this son. That is a parallel which God wants.


Abram, although blessed in almost every way, is over-thinking on his progeny. God has specifically promised him that his seed will be like the dust of the earth and has indicated, by divinely intervening to recover Sarai from the Egyptians that Sarai will bear the child (or children) which will result in descendants galore. God has just led him into battle, has made Abram victorious; God has blessed Abram in every way; God is Abram's shield and his reward. Furthermore, it isn't that Abram wants just one more thing which God has not given him; God has promised Abram a son. Abram will have descendants. He will not go childless. God, Who has done everything else for Abram, has already promised a child to Abram, so Abram does not need to whine about being childless. God is cognizant of that and God has a plan for Abram's life and a child will be born to Abram in God's time, not Abram's because God's timing is perfect.


The birth of Isaac is quite important—the timing and the way in which he will be born will make the birth of Isaac typical of the birth of Jesus Christ.


Genesis 15:2d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

bên (בֵּן) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

mesheq (מֶשֶק) [pronounced MEH-sheik]

an acquisition, a possession

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #4943 BDB #606

Together, these two words mean a son of acquisition, an heir.

bayith (בַּיִת) [pronounced BAH-yith]

house, residence; household, habitation as well as inward

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #1004 BDB #108

hûwʾ (הוּא) [pronounced hoo]

he, it; himself as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one); same

3rd person masculine singular, personal pronoun; sometimes the verb to be, is implied

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214

Dameseq (דַּמֶּשֶׂק) [pronounced dahm-MEH-sehk]

alertness; and is transliterated Damascus

proper singular noun; location

Strong’s #1833 and #1834 BDB #199 and #200

There are at least two spellings of this word.

ʿĚlîyʿezer (אֱלִיעֶזֶר) [pronounced ul-ee-EH-zehr]

El [God] of help; God is help; transliterated Eliezer

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #461 BDB #45


Translation: The son of acquisition of my house [that is, my only heir]—[is] Eliezer [of] Damascus.” The son of acquisition of my house could be shortened to heir. Abram is telling God, “I do not have an heir; I have Eliezer of Damascus—he is the closest thing to an heir. And, in case you don’t know, he is not my son.”


Abram does have one person that he favors as a son, Eliezer of Damascus, who, perhaps, was born as they traveled through or near Damascus. We know nothing about this person other than, insofar as Abram is concerned, he is the only person who is close to being an heir of his.


God wants Abram to be focused upon a natural-born son. His heir cannot be a slave, as this harms the analogy or the type. Abram’s heir must be his actual son. This is why Jesus was born into the human race. We cannot be saved by someone completely outside of the human race. We must understand that Jesus was tempted in all points just as we are. Heb. 4:15


The entire note of the AEB is listed above with the other translations.

Refuting the Claims of the American English Bible Regarding Abram’s Children

1.      While the American English Bible is a good resource, it has a note of explanation here which is completely wrong. They begin with the true statement that many wealthy men in history have had concubines, which are mistresses. They were not hidden; they lived in the home with the family and were often female slaves or daughters of female slaves.

2.      But then they write this: In patriarchal times, concubines were usually slaves; and as the result, their offspring were referred to as 'home-born' or 'native-born servants' (see Ecclesiastes 2:7). AbraHam, for example, was known to have more than a hundred of such offspring (see Genesis 14:14). And although many have written to argue this conclusion; note God's instructions to AbraHam, when He was making the Agreement with him involving circumcision (Genesis 17:12): 'All of your male children must be circumcised by you when they are eight-days old, throughout all your generations. [This includes all the] servants who are born in your house, and those who are bought with money (the sons of aliens who are not your seed).' Notice that those who are 'home-born' are differentiated from those who are not the seed of AbraHam.1

3.      Eccles. 2:7 reads: I acquired many slaves (both men and women), and many native servants were then born. (AEB). A master owned his slaves, and if he provided a wife for one of his slaves, then their children became the slave of the master (just like the offspring of cows, goats or chickens belong to the rancher owning those cows, goats or chickens. Solomon is not writing that he acquired these slaves and then had a bunch of children by them.

4.      Gen. 14:14 reads: And when Abram heard that his nephew Lot had been captured, he gathered three hundred and eighteen of his personal home-born servants, and pursued them all the way to Dan. (AEB) I would be hard-pressed to see Abram as the father of 100 or 318 children. How does a man with 100 children say, “I have no heirs”?

5.      Gen. 17:12 All of your male children must be circumcised by you when they are eight-days old, throughout all your generations. [This includes all the] servants who are born in your house, and those who are bought with money (the sons of aliens who are not your seed). (AEB) This simply states that all of Abram’s slaves needed to be circumcised, whether born in the house or purchased from without. It is made clear that this is for all males, not just those related to Abram. This verse does not require Abram to have a bunch of children.

6.      The simple point is, how can Abram, if he has 100 children, say he has no heirs? That is just silly (I realize you may have not heard that term in a theological argument before).

1 From http://www.2001translation.com/Christian_Morality.htm#_Concubines accessed November 24, 2013.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Gen 15:2 But Abram said, "O Lord Yehowah, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"


What Abram says is rather impertinent. It is almost, “What are you going to promise to give me this time? Oh, by the way, I don’t have a child yet. My heir is Eliezer, and he’s from Damascus” (indicating that Eliezer is pretty far removed from being Abram’s actual seed, which is the word which God used).


Bear in mind, nearly a decade has passed since God first spoke to Abram (compare Gen 12:4 and 16:16). Abram is still young enough to father a child, but his years are running out. So, Abram, having heard God make promises to him on 3 previous occasions is now becoming somewhat impatient with God.


There are times when ancient saints say this or that to God, and my jaw drops. But what Abram is saying has some legitimacy, at least from the view of a man. God made Abram a promise. God promised Abram that the entire world would be blessed through his seed, and yet, he has no seed. God promised him that his seed would be like the dust of the earth (Gen. 13:16), and yet, here is Abram, without seed one to his name. It is almost as if Abram is saying, “So, what are You going to promise me this time? Oh, by the way, I don’t have that son yet, who You already promised me.”



——————————


And so says Abram, “Behold to me; You have not given seed and behold, a son of my house is taking possession of me.”

Genesis

15:3

Abram then said, “Listen to me: You have not given an offspring [to me], so observe, a son of my house will be my heir [lit., is possessing me].”

Abram then said to God, “Listen—you have not given me a son; therefore, someone who was simply born in my house will be my heir.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum (trans. By Cook)        And Abram said, Behold, to me Thou hast not given a son; and, behold, the manager of my house will be my heir.

Latin Vulgate                          And Abram added: But to me thou hast not given seed: and lo my servant born in my house, shall be my heir.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so says Abram, “Behold to me; You have not given seed and behold, a son of my house is taking possession of me.”

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And Abram said, Behold, thou hast given me no son; and, behold, one of the members of my household will be my heir.

Septuagint (Greek)                And Abram said, I am grieved since You have given me no seed, but my home-born servant shall succeed me.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           He continued, "Since you haven't given me any children, the head of my household will be my heir."

Contemporary English V.       You have not given me any children, and this servant of mine will inherit everything."

Easy English                          Abram said again, `Look! You have not given me a child. When I die, a slave will have all my goods. That is, a slave that was born in my house.’

Easy-to-Read Version            Abram said, “You have given me no son. So a slave born in my house will get everything I have.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         You have given me no children, and one of my slaves will inherit my property."

The Message                         Abram continued, "See, you've given me no children, and now a mere house servant is going to get it all."

New Century Version             Abram said, "Look, you have given me no son, so a slave born in my house will inherit everything I have."

New Life Version                    Abram said, "Because You have not given me a child, one born in my house will be given all I have.

The Voice                               Since You have not given me the gift of children, my only heir will be one of the servants born in my household.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          And Abram continued: 'I'm so very sad, because You haven't given me a seed. So, the home-born [of my slave girl] will be my heir.'

Beck’s American Translation You have given me no children,” Abram added: “so a member of my household will get my property.”

New Advent (Knox) Bible       ...to me (Abram added) thou hast given no children, so that all the heir I have is a slave born in my house

New American Bible (2002)   Abram continued, "See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir."

New American Bible (2011)   Abram continued, "Look, you have given me no offspring, so a servant of my household will be my heir."

NIRV                                      Abram continued, "You haven't given me any children. So a servant in my house will get everything I own."


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Abram said, "You never gave me a seed here, a son as heir to my house!"

Bible in Basic English             And Abram said, You have given me no child, and a servant in my house will get the heritage.

Conservapedia                       Abram repeated: "Look, You haven't provided any children for me, and someone born in my household will inherit my estate."

The Expanded Bible              Abram said, "Look, you have given me no son, so a slave born in my house will ·inherit everything I have [be my heir]."

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 And Abram continued, " Look at me; You have not given me offspring, so that the steward of my house will become my heir."

NET Bible®                             Abram added [Heb "And Abram said."], "Since [The construction uses הֵן (hen) to introduce the foundational clause (“since…”), and וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh) to introduce the main clause (“then look…”).] you have not given me a descendant, then look, one born in my house will be my heir [Heb "is inheriting me."]!"

NIV, ©2011                             And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant [Ge 24:2, 34] in my household [S Ge 12:5] will be my heir."


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           You haven't given me a child," Avram continued, "so someone born in my house will be my heir."

exeGeses companion Bible   And Abram says, Behold, you give me no seed!

And behold, a son of my house supersedes me!

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               Abram said further, “Since You have granted me no offspring, my steward will be my heir.”

Kaplan Translation                 Abram continued, 'You have given me no children. A member of my household will inherit what is mine.'

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And Avram said, See, to me Thou hast given no zera; and, hinei, one born in my bais is my yoresh (heir).

The Scriptures 1998              And Aram said, “See, You have given me no seed, and see, one born in my house is my heir!”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                And Abram continued, Look, You have given me no child; and [a servant] born in my house is my heir.

Concordant Literal Version    And saying is Abram, "Behold! To me no seed have You given. And behold! A son of my household is to enjoy my tenancy.

English Standard Version      And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir."

NASB                                     And Abram said, "Since [Lit Behold] You have given no offspring [Lit seed] to me, one [Lit and behold, a son of] born [Gen 14:14] in my house is my heir."

New RSV                               And Abram said, `You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.'

Syndein/Thieme                     {Blaming Follows Worry and Complaining - Abram is Blaming the Lord}

And Abram said, "Behold, You have given me no seed. And, lo, one born in my house {Eliezer} is my heir."

World English Bible                Abram said, "Behold, to me you have given no seed: and, behold, one born in my house is my heir."

Young’s Updated LT             And Abram says, “Lo, to me You have not given seed, and lo, a domestic does heir me.”

 

The gist of this verse:          Abram complains that God has not given him seed, therefore, one of the domestics born into his household would be his heir.


Genesis 15:3a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ʾAberâm (אַבְרָם) [pronounced abv-RAWM]

father of elevation, exalted father; and is transliterated Abram

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #87 BDB #4

hên (הֵן) [pronounced hayn]

lo!, behold, observe, look, look here, get this, listen, listen up

demonstrative adverb/interjection

Strong’s #2005 BDB #243

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: Abram then said, “Listen to me:... Abram is speaking to God within a dream; and he asks God to listen to him.


Genesis 15:3b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lôʾ (לֹא or לוֹא) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #5414 BDB #678

zeraʿ (זֶרַע) [pronounced ZEH-rahģ]

a seed, a sowing; an offspring, progeny, descendant; posterity

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #2233 BDB #282


Translation: ...You have not given an offspring [to me],... God has made all of these promises to Abram, but these promises are essentially dependent upon Abram having a child. He has no children, and he points this out to God—just in case God missed this little fact.


You may have noticed the commentary in the previous verse where the AEB suggests that this Damascus Eliezer might have been Abram’s son, but by some mistress or slave woman. This verse tells us that is not the case. Abram is complaining here that God has given him no seed. The implication is, Abram has no natural sons.


Have you ever noticed that there are some people who obviously think that you are stupid so they say the same thing twice in slightly different ways so that you are able to get the point? This is what Abram was doing to God; he states the same thing twice: I am childless because God did not give me a child, and therefore, the best that I have got as an heir is some person born in my household (and that person born probably to a slave). Oh, and by the way, God, did you know that I am childless because God did not give me a child, and therefore, the best that I have got as an heir is some person born in my household (and that person born probably to a slave). Abram says this as if God doesn't know the score and needs ot be told twice what to do. In some relationships, I believe this is called nagging. Abram has gone from great spiritual victory in one fell swoop to being a nag.


Genesis 15:3c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hinnêh (הִנֵּה) [pronounced hin-NAY]

lo, behold, or more freely, observe, look here, look, listen, note, take note; pay attention, get this, check this out

interjection, demonstrative particle

Strong’s #2009 (and #518, 2006) BDB #243

bên (בֵּן) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

bayith (בַּיִת) [pronounced BAH-yith]

house, residence; household, habitation as well as inward

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #1004 BDB #108

yârash (שיָרַ) [pronounced yaw-RASH]

possessing, occupying [a geographical area by driving out the previous occupants], taking possession [of people or their goods]; inheriting; expelling, driving out; those possessing; the ones driving out; those inheriting; heirs

Qal active participle

Strong’s #3423 BDB #439

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

me; untranslated mark of a direct object; occasionally to me, toward me

sign of the direct object affixed to a 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84


Translation: ...so observe, a son of my house will be my heir [lit., is possessing me].” A son of my house simply refers to someone who has been born on Abram’s compound. Abram is concerned about this. What meaning is it for God to make all of these promises, all of which are based upon Abram having a son—and he does not have a son.


Again, the young man mentioned earlier is called a son of my house; he is not called a son of my mistress or a son of my slave girl. So the interpretation suggested by the American English Bible back in v. 2—that such a one would be Abram’s natural son—is simply wrong.


Gen 15:3 And Abram said, "Listen, You have given me no offspring [seed], and a member of my household will be my heir."


Do you understand what Abram is saying? He is explaining to God his circumstances in detail. “You have made promises to me, but I don’t have a son; and this guy—totally unrelated to me—will be my heir. So, what will You promise me this time?” He is speaking to God as if God did not fully understand the first thing that Abram said, so now he is explaining the implication of the first statement. He essentially repeats the first statement, so that God fully understands:


"O Lord Yehowah, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? Listen, You have given me no offspring [seed], and a member of my household will be my heir."


God promised Abram a son, and Abram does not have a son. God promised Abram a great inheritance for his seed, and he has no seed. Some random employee is slated to inherit what Abram has. “Look, You have not given me a child; the only heir I have is some person in my household who is not remotely related to me.”


As Abram becomes older, discussion have been had and possibly provisions have been made as to who would inherit his possessions. Recall that Abram was very wealthy. Therefore, some thought had to be given to what would happen to Abram’s wealth if he passed away or died in battle. Someone would have to take over; someone would have to run the show. So, in some way, Abram had determined that this would be Eliezer of Damascus.


Abram with 300+ men, and maybe some additional help, just defeated the greatest army in the world at that time. Abram just changed human history with this victory. Abram just met Melchizedek and possibly was given the Word of God. Abram just enjoyed the greatest week of his life, which could only have come about by God running interference for Abram, and yet, he does not get it.


The illustration I have heard R. B. Thieme, Jr. give is, a quarterback may be the fasted man on the gridiron and able to throw a 60 yard pass and hit a dime; but he is not going to advance one foot without good blocking. Most of the people in the stands have their eye on the quarterback and the ball, but he cannot move an inch without blockers. Does Abram think that he just defeated the greatest army of his day, and that God had nothing to do with it. Does he think that running into Melchizedek was some fluke event?


As we are finding out, God speaking to Abram is a lot like Bible class: there is a lot of review with some new stuff thrown in. God will clarify for Abram a misapplication of the doctrine that he knows, God will give Abram another illustration, and God will even offer a little proof (apologetics, if you will), taking Abram back 10 or so years, so that Abram can understand how far he has come in his relationship with Him. Since this was a small Bible class, God even allowed Abram a chance to ask a few questions. Finally, God will teach Abram a little eschatology (doctrines of future things).


So far, this is what we have studied in Gen. 15:


Gen 15:1–3 After these things the Word of Yehowah came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." But Abram said, "O Lord Yehowah, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "Listen, You have given me no offspring [seed], and a member of my household will be my heir."


God comes to Abram, telling him that He is his shield and that his reward will be great; but Abram answers with a bit of impertinence. “Remember that son you have promised me, 3 times already, and I have no son. What I have is, Eliezer of Damascus; somehow, he is going to be my heir? Is this what Your promises mean?”


There are so many things going on in these narratives, most of which, are rarely taught. God made some fairly clear promises to Abram, and Abram thinks that these promises are going to be half-fulfilled or fulfilled in some half-assed way.


You may or may not be aware of Covenant Theology, but this is a theology which takes all of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and to the Jewish race, and says that they will be half-fulfilled or fulfilled in some half-assed way. Covenant Theology is God saying, “These promises that I made to you Jews about your race and what will happen to you in the future? That’s not really how it’s all going to shake out. Your spiritual children are the people in the Church Age who believe in Jesus and all that stuff I promised you, is actually going to be fulfilled with respect to them, because, after all, they are your spiritual children. I chose you Jews, and that turned out to be a pretty lousy choice. You failed, failed, failed, and now I am moving on to a much better group of people, the church. Furthermore, whatever happens to you Jews, well, that is just how the cookie crumbles.”


Dispensational Theology, which is accurate and Biblical, see the Jews and the Church as two different but related entities. There are a set of absolutes which are a part of the Jewish Age and a part of God’s relationship with the Jew, and these will be fulfilled, just as God has promised. These promises are not going to be transferred from group A (the Jews) to group B (church age believers). God made these promises to Abraham and his seed, and God will fulfill these promises to Abraham and his seed. The Church Age is a dispensation which had not been prophetically revealed, with the exception of a few things which Jesus said (which would include the Upper Room Discourse).


There is a certain continuity between the Jews and Church Age believers: God’s promises will be fulfilled to those who have believed in Jehovah Elohim in the Old Testament and in Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Who are One and the Same Person). This non-meritorious faith will be credited to both Jews and Gentiles as righteousness. Just as Gentiles in the Age of Israel could be saved, Jews during the Church Age can be saved. We all come to God in exactly the same way—sinful, undeserving, exercising faith in Jehovah Elohim (Jesus Christ). We may not know very much about Jesus, but Whoever and Whatever He is, we put our trust in Him, which changes our lives forever.


So now, God comes to Abram with another promise, and Abram says, “So, is this going to be like Your last promise, which really did not shake out the way I expected it to?” So God corrects Abram from this misapplication of His Word.


——————————


And behold, a word of Yehowah [comes] unto him, to say, “Is not possessing you, this one; for if that who comes out from your inward parts—he possesses you.”

Genesis

15:4

Dramatically [lit., and behold], the word of Yehowah [came] to him, saying, “This one will not be your heir [lit., he will not possess you]; except that he who comes from your loins—he will be your heir.”

Dramatically, the word of Jehovah came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; only someone who is your actual son—he will be your heir.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum (trans. By Cook)        And, behold, a word from before the Lord was to him, saying, He will not be your heir; but a son whom you will beget will be your heir.

Latin Vulgate                          And immediately the word of the Lord came to him, saying : He shall not be thy heir: but he that shall come out of thy bowels, him shalt thou have for thy heir.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And behold, a word of Yehowah [comes] unto him, to say, “Is not possessing you, this one; for if that who comes out from your inward parts—he possesses you.”

Peshitta (Syriac)                    Then the LORD said to him, This man shall not be your heir; but your own son that shall come out of your own loins shall be your heir.

Septuagint (Greek)                And immediately the voice of the Lord came to him, saying, This shall not be your heir; but he that shall come out of you shall be your heir.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           The Lord's word came immediately to him, "This man will not be your heir. Your heir will definitely be your very own biological child."

Contemporary English V.       The LORD replied, "No, he won't! You will have a son of your own, and everything you have will be his."

Easy English                          The *Lord spoke to Abram again. `That man will not have all your goods. Your own son will have all your goods.'

Easy-to-Read Version            Then the Lord spoke to Abram. God said, “That slave will not be the one to get the things you have. You will have a son. And your son will get the things you have.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         Then he heard the LORD speaking to him again: "This slave Eliezer will not inherit your property; your own son will be your heir."

New Century Version             Then the Lord spoke his word to Abram: "He will not be the one to inherit what you have. You will have a son of your own who will inherit what you have."

New Life Version                    Abram said, "Because You have not given me a child, one born in my house will be given all I have.”

New Living Translation           Then the Lord said to him, "No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir."

The Voice                               Immediately the word of the Eternal One came to him.

Eternal One: No, Abram, this man will not be your heir. No one but your very own child will be an heir for you.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          And immediately Jehovah replied, saying: 'He won't be your heir. another who comes from you will be your heir.'

Beck’s American Translation “He will not get it,” the LORD told him, “but your own child will get your property.”

Christian Community Bible     Then the word of Yahweh was spoken to him again, “Eliezer will not be your heir, but a child born of you (your own flesh and blood) will be your heir.”

New Advent (Knox) Bible       Whereupon the Lord sent word to him, This man shall not succeed thee; thou shalt have an heir sprung from thy own body.

New American Bible (2002)   Then the word of the LORD came to him: "No, that one shall not be your heir; your own issue shall be your heir."

New American Bible (2011)   Then the word of the LORD came to him: No, that one will not be your heir; your own offspring will be your heir. Gn 17:16.

NIRV                                      Then a message came to Abram from the Lord. He said, "This man will not get what belongs to you. A son will come from your own body. He will get everything you own."

New Jerusalem Bible             Then Yahweh's word came to him in reply, 'Such a one will not be your heir; no, your heir will be the issue of your own body.'


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Behold, Yahweh said the word to him, "This is not your heir, when your heir, he will proceed from your bowels!"

Bible in Basic English             Then said the Lord, This man will not get the heritage, but a son of your body will have your property after you.

Conservapedia                       Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him again, to say, "This man will not inherit your estate. Instead, your biological son will inherit your estate." Literally, "one that shall come forth out of your own inward parts," a Hebrew idiom for a biological son.

The Expanded Bible              Then the Lord spoke his word to Abram: "He will not be the one to inherit what you have. You will have a son of your own who will inherit what you have."

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 But the Ever-living answered him, saying, "That man shall not be your heir ; but one who shall owe his birth to yourself, shall become your heir."

NET Bible®                             But look [The disjunctive draws attention to God’s response and the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, translated “look”) mirrors Abram’s statement in v. 3 and highlights the fact that God responded to Abram.], the word of the Lord came to him: "This man [The subject of the verb is the demonstrative pronoun, which can be translated "this one" or "this man." That the Lord does not mention him by name is significant; often in ancient times the use of the name would bring legitimacy to inheritance and adoption cases.] will not be your heir [Heb "inherit you."], but instead [The Hebrew כִּי־אִם (ki-’im) forms a very strong adversative.] a son who [Heb "he who"; the implied referent (Abram's unborn son who will be his heir) has been specified in the translation for clarity.] comes from your own body will be your [The pronoun could also be an emphatic subject: "whoever comes out of your body, he will inherit you."] heir [Heb "will inherit you."]."

NIV, ©2011                             Then the word of the Lord came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir [Gal 4:28]."


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           But the word of ADONAI came to him: "This man will not be your heir. No, your heir will be a child from your own body."

exeGeses companion Bible   And behold, the word of Yah Veh says to him,

This one supersedes you not;

but he coming from your own inwards

supersedes you.

Judaica Press Complete T.    And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "This one will not inherit you, but the one who will spring from your innards-he will inherit you."

Kaplan Translation                 Suddenly [ The word hiney used here is untranslatable. It is often rendered as 'here' or 'behold,' but this is an approximation of an expression that has no equivalent in the Indo-European languages. For this reason, it is often left untranslated. In general, it serves to intensify a statement and to provide emphasis. Here, the intensity denotes that it was a sudden or intense experience.] God's word came to him: 'That one will not be your heir! One born from your own body will inherit what is yours.'

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And, hinei, the Devar Hashem came unto him saying, This shall not be thy yoresh; but he that shall come forth out of thine own body shall be thy yoresh.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Concordant Literal Version    And, behold! The word of Yahweh comes to him, saying, "Not this one is to enjoy your tenancy, but rather one who shall fare forth from your bowels, he is to enjoy your tenancy.

Context Group Version          And, look, the word of YHWH came to him, saying, This man shall not be your heir; But he who shall come out of inside you shall be your heir.

English Standard Version      And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son [Hebrew what will come out of your own loins] [ch. 17:16] shall be your heir."

Green’s Literal Translation    And behold! The Word of Jehovah came to him saying, This one shall not be inheriting. But he that shall come forth out of your own bowels shall be your heir.

New RSV                               But the word of the Lord came to him, `This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’

Syndein/Thieme                     {God's Promise - His Heir is His Flesh and Blood Son}

And, behold . . . the Word {dabar} of Jehovah/God came unto him {Abram}, saying {'amar}, "This {Eliezer} shall not be your heir {yarash}, but He that shall come forth out of your own genitals/'inner being' { me`ah} shall be your heir." {Note: God's challenge to Abram. You are miserable through worry (mental attitude sinning). Are you going to worry or rely on Me?}.

Webster’s Bible Translation  And behold, the word of the LORD [came] to him, saying, This shall not be thy heir; but he that shall come forth out of thy own bowels shall be thy heir.

World English Bible                Behold, the word of Yahweh came to him, saying, "This man will not be your heir, but he who will come forth out of your own body will be your heir."

Young’s Updated LT             And lo, the word of Jehovah is unto him, saying, “This one does not heir you; but he who comes out from your bowels, he does heir you;”

 

The gist of this verse:          God assures Abram that his heir will come from his own body.


Genesis 15:4a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hinnêh (הִנֵּה) [pronounced hin-NAY]

lo, behold, or more freely, observe, look here, look, listen, note, take note; pay attention, get this, check this out

interjection, demonstrative particle

Strong’s #2009 (and #518, 2006) BDB #243

dâbâr (דָּבָר) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter, command; business, occupation; case; something; manner

masculine singular construct

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

YHWH (יהוה) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied); with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39


Translation: Dramatically [lit., and behold], the word of Yehowah [came] to him,... The Word of Yehowah is the Lord Jesus Christ in His Preincarnate form. When Abram challenges God, God challenges Abram.


Genesis 15:4b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Literally, this means to say, and often, this is equivalent to quotation marks being started. The simplest rendering here is saying. However, this does not always mean that a quotation is to follow (although it usually does). What we have hear is something which is more akin to our expression to wit or meaning, namely, by interpretation, to explain, that is, in other words.

lôʾ (לֹא or לוֹא) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

yârash (שיָרַ) [pronounced yaw-RASH]

to possess, to take possession of, to occupy a geographical area [by driving out the previous occupants], to take possession of anyone [or their goods]; to inherit, to possess; to expel, to drive out

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect; with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #3423 BDB #439

zeh (זֶה) [pronounced zeh]

here, this, this one; thus; possibly another

masculine singular demonstrative adjective

Strong’s #2088, 2090 (& 2063) BDB #260


Translation: ...saying, “This one will not be your heir [lit., he will not possess you];... The man who Abram named—that man would not be heir to Abram. Abram names a slave that is born in his house—a young man with a lot of snap and a young man who might at some point take over control of the Abrahamic compound (some think this is the slave spoken of in Gen. 14). But God tells Abram this is not to be his heir.


Genesis 15:4c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (כִּי) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

explanatory or temporal conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

ʾîm (אִם) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

Together, kîy ʾîm (אִם כִּי) [pronounced kee-eem] act as a limitation on the preceding thought, and therefore should be rendered but, except, except that, unless and possibly only. However, these particles are not used in a limiting way if they follow an oath, a question or a negative. Then they can be rendered that if, for if, for though, that since, for if, but if, indeed if, even if; except for, but.

ʾăsher (אֲֹשֶר) [pronounced uh-SHER]

that, so that, in that; for that, since; which; when, at what time; who, whom; where, wherever; the fact that = how; because that, because; as, like as; yea, even, yea even; until that; then, so [in an apodosis]

relative pronoun; sometimes the verb to be is implied

Strong's #834 BDB #81

yâtsâʾ (יָצָא) [pronounced yaw-TZAWH]

to go [come] out, to go [come] forth; to rise; to flow, to gush up [out]

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3318 BDB #422

min (מִן) [pronounced min]

from, off, out from, of, out of, away from, on account of, since, than, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

mêʿiym (מֵעִים) [pronounced may-GEEM]

internal organs, inward parts, intestines, bowels; figuratively the womb; organs of procreation, loins; emotions; stress, love

masculine plural noun (this noun is always found in the plural); with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #4578 BDB #588


Translation: ...except that he who comes from your loins... Instead, the heir of Abram would be born from him; even though, at this point in time, Abram has no sons. But to be born from Abram’s inward parts suggests that Abram will have a natural born son.


The word which I have translated loins, for a man, simply refers to his reproductive organs and apparatuses. If the person Abram mentioned earlier was natural born from Abram, then this promise by God would make little sense. The young man to which Abram referred was a possible heir through adoption, but not related to Abram in any way.


God makes it as clear as possible to Abram; his son, his heir, is going to come from his own loins; he will be Abram's real, physically begotten son. God has already told Abram about the number of descendants that he will have, but since Abram repeated himself, and God understood his concern the first time, God will repeat Himself because Abram obviously wasn't listening the first time.


Genesis 15:4d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

hûwʾ (הוּא) [pronounced hoo]

he, it; himself as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one); same

3rd person masculine singular, personal pronoun; sometimes the verb to be, is implied

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214

yârash (שיָרַ) [pronounced yaw-RASH]

to possess, to take possession of, to occupy a geographical area [by driving out the previous occupants], to take possession of anyone [or their goods]; to inherit, to possess; to expel, to drive out

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect; with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #3423 BDB #439


Translation: ...—he will be your heir.” This natural born son—this man would be heir to Abram’s fortune.


Gen 15:4 And behold, the Word of the LORD said unto him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir."


God reiterates His promise to Abram, so that there is nothing to be confused about. Eliezer is not Abram’s heir. God clearly states to Abram, that his very own son will be his heir—the son which Abram does not have yet, but will have, based upon God’s promise to him.


There are a lot of things that God could have said. “Listen, Abram, despite what happened on the battlefield—all of which was My doing, by the way—I am a bit fed up with this attitude of yours. I told you that you would have a son, and you can take that to the bank. However, if you pop off like this to Me again, I might just knock you flat on your butt.” God does not take that approach.


Surely, you have told your kids, a student, an employee or a loved one something, repeated it a couple of times, and then they came back on you, acting as if you never said it in the first place. God is far more patient with Abram than you or I might have been. God succinctly corrects Abram: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." In other words, “I promised you a son, and what I promised you is exactly what I meant.”


——————————


And so he brings him outside and so he says, “Look carefully now toward the [two] heavens and number the stars if you are able to number them.” And so he says to him, “So is your seed.”

Genesis

15:5

Then the Word of Yehowah [lit., He] brought him outside and said, “Look carefully now toward the heavens and number the stars (if you are able to number them).” He then said, “So is your seed.”

Then the Revealed Lord brought Abram outside and He said, “Look carefully into the heavens and number the stars (if that is possible). This is the number of your descendants.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum (trans. By Cook)        And He brought him forth without, and said, Look up now to the heavens, and number the stars, if you are able to number them: and he said, So will be your sons.

Latin Vulgate                          And he brought him forth abroad, and said to him: Look up to heaven and number the stars if thou canst. And he said to him: So shall thy seed be.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so he brings him outside and so he says, “Look carefully now toward the [two] heavens and number the stars if you are able to number them.” And so he says to him, “So is your seed.”

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And he brought him outside, and said to him, Look now toward heaven and number the stars, if you are able to number them; and he said to him, So shall your descendants be.

Septuagint (Greek)                And He brought him out and said to him, Look up now to heaven, and count the stars, if you shall be able to number them fully, and He said, Thus shall your seed be.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           Then he brought Abram outside and said, "Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them. He continued, "This is how many children you will have."

Contemporary English V.       Then the LORD took Abram outside and said, "Look at the sky and see if you can count the stars. That's how many descendants you will have."

Easy English                          Then the *Lord took Abram outside. And the *Lord said, `Look at the sky and try to count the stars. You will have quite as many *descendants.'

Easy-to-Read Version            Then God led Abram outside. God said, “Look at the sky. See the many stars. There are so many you can’t count them. In the future, your family will be like that.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         The LORD took him outside and said, "Look at the sky and try to count the stars; you will have as many descendants as that."

The Message                         Then he took him outside and said, "Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You're going to have a big family, Abram!"

New Berkeley Version           Then He conducted him outdoors and said: Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if you can number them. So, He told him, shall your offspring be.

New Century Version             Then God led Abram outside and said, "Look at the sky. There are so many stars you cannot count them. Your descendants also will be too many to count."

New Life Version                    He took him outside and said, "Now look up into the heavens and add up the stars, if you are able to number them." Then He said to him, "Your children and your children's children will be as many as the stars."

New Living Translation           Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, "Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That's how many descendants you will have!"

The Voice                               God took him outside to show him something.

Eternal One: Look up at the stars, and try to count them all if you can. There are too many to count! Your descendants will be as many as the stars. Romans 4:18


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Then He took him outside and said, 'Look up into the sky and count all the stars. that is, if you can come up with an accurate count.' And He said, 'This is how your seed will be.'

Christian Community Bible     Then Yahweh brought him outside and said to him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that.”

God’s Word                         He took Abram outside and said, "Now look up at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them." He also said to him, "That's how many descendants you will have!"

New Advent (Knox) Bible       Then he took him out of doors, and said to him, Look up at the sky, and count, if thou canst, the stars in it; thy race, like these, shall be numberless.

New American Bible (2011)   He took him outside and said: Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so, he added, will your descendants be. Gn 22:17; 28:14; Ex 32:13; Dt 1:10; Sir 44:21; Rom 4:18; Heb 11:12.

NIRV                                      The Lord took Abram outside and said, "Look up at the sky. Count the stars, if you can." Then he said to him, "That is how many children you will have."

New Jerusalem Bible             Then taking him outside, he said, 'Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can. Just so will your descendants be,' he told him.

New Simplified Bible              He brought him outside and said: »Look toward heaven and count the stars. Are you able to count them?« He continued: »So shall your descendants be.«


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      He proceeded him outside, and said, "Please look in the heavens and account the stars, if you could account them." He said to him, "Thus is your seed!"

Bible in Basic English             And he took him out into the open air, and said to him, Let your eyes be lifted to heaven, and see if the stars may be numbered; even so will your seed be.

Conservapedia                       God brought Abram outside of camp, and said, "Now look up at the sky, and count the stars, if you can." And He told him, "That's how many descendants you'll have."

The Expanded Bible              Then God led Abram outside and said, "Look at the ·sky [heavens]. There are so many stars you cannot count them. Your ·descendants [Lseed] also will be too many to count."

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 Then He took him to the open, and said, "Look up to the sky, and count the stars; - if you are able to count them;" telling him also, " Thus shall your race be."

HCSB                                     He took him outside and said, "Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then He said to him, "Your offspring will be that numerous."

NET Bible®                             The Lord [Heb "he"; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.] took him outside and said, "Gaze into the sky and count the stars - if you are able to count them!" Then he said to him, "So will your descendants be."


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           Then he brought him outside and said, "Look up at the sky, and count the stars - if you can count them! Your descendants will be that many!"

exeGeses companion Bible   And he brings him outside and says,

Look, I beseech, toward the heavens

and scribe the stars,

if you are able to scribe them:

- and he says to him, Thus becomes your seed.

Judaica Press Complete T.    And He took him outside, and He said, "Please look heavenward and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So will be your seed."

Kaplan Translation                 He then took [Abram] outside and said, 'Look at the sky and count the stars. See if you can count them.' [God] then said to him, 'That is how [numerous] your descendants will be.'

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And He brought him forth outside, and said, Look now toward Shomayim, and count the kokhavim, if thou be able to number them; and He said unto him, So shall thy zera be.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

American KJV                        And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if you be able to number them: and he said to him, So shall your seed be.

The Amplified Bible                And He brought him outside [his tent into the starlight] and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars-if you are able to number them. Then He said to him, So shall your descendants be. Heb. 11:12.

Concordant Literal Version    And forth is he bringing him outside and saying, "Look, pray, toward the heavens and number the stars, if you can number them. And saying is He to him, "Thus shall your seed become.

Context Group Version          And he brought him out abroad, and said, Look now toward the skies {or heavens}, and number the stars, if you are able to number them: and he said to him, So shall your seed be.

Emphasized Bible                  And he brought him forth abroad and said—Look steadfastly. I pray thee towards the heavens, and number the stars, if thou be able to number, them, And he said to him, Thus, shall be thy seed.

English Standard Version      And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars [Ps. 147:4], if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." ch. 22:17; 26:4; Ex. 32:13; Deut. 1:10; 10:22; 1 Chr. 27:23; Heb. 11:12; Cited Rom. 4:18

Syndein/Thieme                     {Three Illustrations that God Keeps His Word}

And He {God} brought him {Abram} forth outside, and said {'amar}, "Look now toward heaven, and count {caphar} the stars, if you are able to number them." And He said unto him, "So shall your seed/descendants be." {Note: Abram was told to look at the stars. If you can count those stars you would have some idea of all the nations that will come from your body.}.

Third Millennium Bible            And He brought him forth outdoors and said, "Look now toward heaven and count the stars, if thou be able to number them." And He said unto him, "So shall thy seed be."

World English Bible                Yahweh brought him outside, and said, "Look now toward the sky, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." He said to Abram, "So shall your seed be."

Young’s Updated LT             And He brings him out without, and says, “Look attentively, I pray you, towards the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them;” and He says to him, “Thus is your seed.”

 

The gist of this verse:          God tells Abram to look into the heavens and to count the stars. If he is able to count them, then that would define the number of his offspring.


Genesis 15:5a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yâtsâʾ (יָצָא) [pronounced yaw-TZAWH]

to cause to go out, to lead out, to bring out, to carry out, to draw out, to take out; [of money:] to put forth, to lay out, to exact; to promulgate; to produce

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #3318 BDB #422

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

him, it; untranslated mark of a direct object; occasionally to him, toward him

sign of the direct object affixed to a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84

chûts (חוּץ) (ץח) [pronounced khoots]

outside, street; out of the city (the fields, country, deserts); our of doors, abroad

masculine singular noun with the definite article and the hê locale

Strong’s #2351 BDB #299


Translation: Then the word of Yehowah [lit., He] brought him outside... God and Abram are speaking inside. Abram is dreaming or in some kind of a trance state; and the dream has them inside. God brings Abram outside. Is Abram really outside? The Bible here says that God brought Abram outside; so we must assume that is what has happened.


Genesis 15:5b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

nâbaţ (נָבַט) [pronounced nawb-VAHT]

to look intently at, to examine carefully; to rest one’s eyes upon [something]; to look, to behold; metaphorically, to regard, to consider; to bear patiently

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperative

Strong's #5027 BDB #613

nâʾ (נָא) [pronounced naw]

now; please, I pray you, I respectfully implore (ask, or request of) you, I urge you

a primitive particle of incitement and entreaty

Strong's #4994 BDB #609

Nâʾ is used for a submissive and modest request. It is used to express a wish (Job 32:21: “Oh, that I may not respect any man’s person”); to incite or to urge (Jer. 5:24); it is depreciatory when affixed to the 2nd person with a particle of negation (do not, I implore you—see Gen. 33:10 19:18); with the it expresses a wish or request (Psalm 124 129:1 SOS 7:9), a challenge (Jer. 17:15), asking leave (Gen. 18:4), and depreciation with a negation (Gen. 18:32). In many of these examples, we would express this with the addition of the word let.

shâmayîm (שָמַיִם) [pronounced shaw-MAH-yim]

heaven, heavens, skies; the visible heavens, as in as abode of the stars or as the visible universe, the sky, atmosphere, etc.; Heaven (as the abode of God)

masculine dual noun with the definite article

Strong’s #8064 BDB #1029

When followed by the letter hê (ה), it means to heaven, heavenward, toward heaven or towards the heavens.


Translation: ...and said, “Look carefully now toward the heavens... God directs Abram to look into the heavens; and Abram does.


Genesis 15:5c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

çâphar (סָפַר) [pronounced saw-FAHR]

to scratch, to scrape; to polish; to inscribe [letters in a stone]; to number; to take account of, to consider

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #5608 BDB #707

kôwkâb (כּוֹכָב) [pronounced koh-KAWBV]

star; figuratively, it is used of Messiah, brothers, youth, numerous progeny, personification, God’s omniscience

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #3556 BDB #456

ʾîm (אִם) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

yâkôl (יָכֹל) [also yâkôwl (יָכוֹל)] [pronounced yaw-COAL]

to be able, can, to have the ability, to have the power to; to be able to bear; to be able to bring oneself [to do anything]; to be lawful, to be permitted; to be powerful, to prevail

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3201 BDB #407

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

çâphar (סָפַר) [pronounced saw-FAHR]

to scratch, to scrape; to polish; to inscribe [letters in a stone]; to number; to take account of, to consider

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #5608 BDB #707

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

them; untranslated mark of a direct object; occasionally to them, toward them

sign of the direct object affixed to a 3rd person masculine plural suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84


Translation: ...and number the stars (if you are able to number them).” This has always been a fascinating theme to me—the number of stars in the heavens. We might be able to see anywhere from 300 to 4000, depending upon the weather. God always treats these stars as if there are great multitudes of stars. In the same breath, with the same promise, God speaks of the sand of the sea or the dust of the earth. Clearly, that is a great number. However, God also knows that the number of stars is a huge number as well.

abraham-stars.jpg

Abram Looking at the Stars (a graphic); from His Grace is Enough Blog; accessed November 29, 2013.


Prior to the advent of air pollution, man could look up into the sky and see a large number of stars. God does not suggest that Abram look up in the sky sometime and count the stars, but he takes Abram outside that evening, tells him to look up at the stars and then to count them (as though that were possible). God is trying to burn this promise into Abram's brain. God has presented this promise to Abram in several different ways.


The estimations as to the number of stars in the sky are wildly different. It is fascinating that the descendants of Abram are compared both to the stars of the heavens and to the particles of sand on the seashore. Both number appear to be almost uncountable. At the time that God made these promises to Abram, the amount of sand on the seashore is known to Abram to be virtually uncountable; but we would not have known this about the stars in the sky—not simply by looking or simply by looking with a telescope. God knows this; and therefore can make a promise like this to Abram. “Your descendants will be like the sand of the sea or the stars in the sky.” Today, since most of us have had at least a smattering of the teaching of the universe, we hear such a promise and think nothing of it. But, it is fascinating that a promise like this is delivered to Abram, circa 2000 b.c., long before there were telescopes or scientists who were willing to make estimates as to the number of stars there might be.


As an aside, according to FoxNews, there are perhaps 300 sextillion stars in the heavens.

 

From the ESA: Stars are not scattered randomly through space, they are gathered together into vast groups known as galaxies. The Sun belongs to a galaxy called the Milky Way. Astronomers estimate there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies also! It has been said that counting the stars in the Universe is like trying to count the number of sand grains on a beach on Earth. We might do that by measuring the surface area of the beach, and determining the average depth of the sand layer. Whether or not this writer of astronomy realized that he was echoing what is found in the Bible is unknown.


Genesis 15:5d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

kôh (כֹּה) [pronounced koh]

so, thus, here, hence; now; in the meantime

adverb

Strong’s #3541 BDB #462

Kôh is repeated, which often gives us a slight change of meaning (here...there; on this side...on that side; hither...there).

hâyâh (הָיָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

zeraʿ (זֶרַע) [pronounced ZEH-rahģ]

a seed, a sowing; an offspring, progeny, descendant; posterity

masculine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #2233 BDB #282


Translation: He then said, “So is your seed.” God reassures Abram that he will have as many descendants as there are stars in the sky. This is hyperbole, as is the number of grains of sand; but the idea is, there is a huge number of descendants who will come from Abram.


Again, if these are just descendants of anyone born in Abram’s home, this means very little. But if these are the numbers of those who have come from Abram in particular, then that is quiet amazing.


genesis-15-5.jpg

Gen 15:5 And He brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then He said to him, "So shall your offspring be."


Genesis 15:5 (graphic); from Daily Life Verse; accessed November 29, 2013.


We find out 2 more things about this vision that Abram had—he was inside of his home and it was nighttime. God brings him outside and has him look toward the skies.


God gave Abram another analogy—he is to look into the sky and number the stars, and that would be the number of his children (seed). This statement makes me smile. How many stars are there? We don’t know. Billions? We have no way of knowing. However, due to telescopes and the like, we know far more about the stars than Abram.


Just as the smallness and complexity of God’s creation is beyond our ability to grasp, so is the very magnitude of His creation.


Now, on a clear night, I don’t know how many stars you can see—a couple thousand maybe from the best vantage point on earth? So God tells Abram to look up into the sky, look at the stars, and says, “Just like those stars up there, so will your seed be.” And Abram looks up, sees say, 3000 stars, and thinks, “Hmmm, I will eventually have a line with 3000 descendants. Big whoop.”


However, God makes 2 other analogies: “Your seed will be like the dust of the earth” (Gen.13:16 28:14) and “Your seed will be like the sand of the sea.” (Gen. 22:17 32:12). So clearly, without having access to a telescope, God is telling Abram the dust of the earth = the sand of the sea = the stars in the heavens = the number of your descendants. Probably, I should not have used the equals sign there, but the idea is, Abram is going to have millions and millions of descendants—Abram who now has exactly 0 children. Along with this is the implication that, there are a lot of stars in the heavens—far, far more than we can see. We know that now, but God knew it then, and used the number of stars in the heavens to parallel the number of descendants that childless Abram would have.


Abram’s descendants are said to be as many as the stars in the sky or the sand along the shore. This is posted mostly for grins. The idea is, hyperbole—Abram will have a great many descendants—far more than he can imagine or count.

Large Numbers and Abram

Item

Number

Grains of sand.

700,500,000,000,000,000,000 grains of sand on earth

(or seven quintillion five quadrillion; or 0.7005 sextillion grains of sand).

Stars in the universe.

300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe

(300 sextillion stars).

Atoms in the human body.

7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

(That is 7 million sextillion atoms).

It is somewhat interesting that God knows in the book of Genesis just how uncountable the number of stars is. This is not shocking to the believer; but it ought to surprise the anti-Bible person (it won’t; you can put gobs of evidence before them and they will ignore it or deny it).


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


——————————


And he has believed in Yehowah and so He calculates her to him righteousness.

Genesis

15:6

And he had believed in Yehowah and He counted that to him [as] righteousness.

And he believed in Jehovah and Jehovah counted that faith as righteousness.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum (trans. By Cook)        And he believed in the Lord, and had faith in the (Memra) Word of the Lord, and He reckoned it to him for righteousness (lizeku), because he parleyed not before him with words.

Latin Vulgate                          Abram believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And he has believed in Yehowah and so He calculates her to him righteousness.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And Abram believed in the LORD; and it was counted to him for righteousness.

Septuagint (Greek)                And Abram believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.


 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           Abram trusted the Lord, and the Lord recognized Abram's high moral character.

Contemporary English V.       Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD was pleased with him.

Easy English                          And Abram believed the *Lord. And the *Lord considered him *righteous, because he (Abram) believed.

Easy-to-Read Version            Abram believed God. And God decided Abram’s faith was the same as living right and doing a good work.

Good News Bible (TEV)         Abram put his trust in the LORD, and because of this the LORD was pleased with him and accepted him.

The Message                         And he believed! Believed GOD! God declared him "Set-Right-with-God."

New Berkeley Version           He believed in the Lord, who accounted it for him as righteousness.

New Century Version             Abram believed the Lord. And the Lord accepted Abram's faith, and that faith made him right with God.

New Life Version                    Then Abram believed in the Lord, and that made him right with God.

New Living Translation           And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.

The Voice                               Abram believed God and trusted in His promises, so God counted it to his favor as righteousness. Romans 4:3, 22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          So Abram believed The God (gr. To Theo), and this [faith] was counted to him as righteousness. The Greek word that we translate as righteous is dike (pronounced, dee-kay). And while the ancient Greek meaning was tendency, the use of this word in the Bible implies justice and conformance to established standards. Justice means doing the right thing, and conformance to established standards (in the Bible) refers to following the ways of God. So, the word righteous can also be translated as just, since righteousness is so closely tied to justice. There is more information at the AEB website.

Christian Community Bible     Abram believed Yahweh who, because of this, held him to be an upright man.

God’s Word                         Then Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD regarded that faith to be his approval of Abram.

New Advent (Knox) Bible       So Abram put his faith in God, and it was reckoned virtue in him. Cf. Rom. 4.3, Gal. 3.6.

New American Bible (2002)   Abram put his faith in the LORD, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness. Abraham's faith in God's promises was regarded as an act of righteousness, i.e., as expressing the "right" attitude of man toward God. In turn, God credited this to Abraham, i.e., gave him title to the fulfillment of God's promises. St. Paul (Romans 4:1-25; Gal 3:6-9) makes Abraham's faith a model for that of Christians.

New American Bible (2011)   Abram put his faith in the LORD, who attributed it to him as an act of righteousness. Abraham's act of faith in God's promises was regarded as an act of righteousness, i.e., as fully expressive of his relationship with God. St. Paul (Rom 4:1-25; Gal 3:6-9) makes Abraham's faith a model for Christians. See also 1 Mc 2:52; Rom 4:3, 9, 22; Gal 3:6-7; Jas 2:23.

NIRV                                      Abram believed the Lord. The Lord accepted Abram because he believed. So his faith made him right with the Lord.

New Jerusalem Bible             Abram put his faith in Yahweh and this was reckoned to him as uprightness.

New Simplified Bible              He believed in Jehovah. Jehovah considered Abram’s faith as his righteousness.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      He believed Yahweh, and he considered him righteous.

Bible in Basic English             And he had faith in the Lord, and it was put to his account as righteousness.

Conservapedia                       And he believed the LORD, and God reckoned that belief to Abram for justification.

The Expanded Bible              Abram ·believed [put his trust/faith in] the Lord. And the Lord ·accepted Abram's faith, and that faith made him right with God [Tcounted/credited it as righteousness; Rom. 4:3, 9, 22; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23].

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 And Abram believed in the Ever-living, and it was repaid to him in righteousness.

NET Bible®                             Abram believed [The nonconsecutive vav (ו) is on a perfect verbal form. If the composer of the narrative had wanted to show simple sequence, he would have used the vav consecutive with the preterite. The perfect with vav conjunctive (where one expects the preterite with vav consecutive) in narrative contexts can have a variety of discourse functions, but here it probably serves to highlight Abram’s response to God’s promise. For a detailed discussion of the vav + perfect construction in Hebrew narrative, see R. Longacre, “Weqatal Forms in Biblical Hebrew Prose: A Discourse-modular Approach,” Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics, 50-98. The Hebrew verb אָמַן (’aman) means “to confirm, to support” in the Qal verbal stem. Its derivative nouns refer to something or someone that/who provides support, such as a “pillar,” “nurse,” or “guardian, trustee.” In the Niphal stem it comes to mean “to be faithful, to be reliable, to be dependable,” or “to be firm, to be sure.” In the Hiphil, the form used here, it takes on a declarative sense: “to consider something reliable [or “dependable”].” Abram regarded the God who made this promise as reliable and fully capable of making it a reality.] the Lord, and the Lord [Heb "and he"; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.] considered his response of faith [Heb "and he reckoned it to him." The third feminine singular pronominal suffix refers back to Abram's act of faith, mentioned in the preceding clause. On third feminine singular pronouns referring back to verbal ideas see GKC 440-41 §135.p. Some propose taking the suffix as proleptic, anticipating the following feminine noun ("righteousness"). In this case one might translate: "and he reckoned it to him - [namely] righteousness." See O. P. Robertson, "Genesis 15:6: A New Covenant Exposition of an Old Covenant Text," WTJ 42 (1980): 259-89.] as proof of genuine loyalty [Or “righteousness”; or “evidence of steadfast commitment.” The noun is an adverbial accusative. The verb translated “considered” (Heb “reckoned”) also appears with צְדָקָה (tsÿdaqah, “righteousness”) in Ps 106:31. Alluding to the events recorded in Numbers 25, the psalmist notes that Phinehas’ actions were “credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come.” Reference is made to the unconditional, eternal covenant with which God rewarded Phinehas’ loyalty (Num 25:12-13). So צְדָקָה seems to carry by metonymy the meaning “loyal, rewardable behavior” here, a nuance that fits nicely in Genesis 15, where God responds to Abram’s faith by formally ratifying his promise to give Abram and his descendants the land. (See R. B. Chisholm, “Evidence from Genesis,” A Case for Premillennialism, 40.) In Phoenician and Old Aramaic inscriptions cognate nouns glossed as “correct, justifiable conduct” sometimes carry this same semantic nuance (DNWSI 2:962).] [This episode is basic to the NT teaching of Paul on justification (Romans 4). Paul weaves this passage and Psalm 32 together, for both use this word. Paul explains that for the one who believes in the Lord, like Abram, God credits him with righteousness but does not credit his sins against him because he is forgiven. Justification does not mean that the believer is righteous; it means that God credits him with righteousness, so that in the records of heaven (as it were) he is declared righteous. See M. G. Kline, “Abram’s Amen,” WTJ 31 (1968): 1-11.].

NIV, ©2011                             Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Ps 106:31; Ro 4:3*, 20-24*; Gal 3:6*; Jas 2:23*


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           He believed in ADONAI, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

exeGeses companion Bible   And he trusts in Yah Veh;

and he fabricates it to himself for justness.

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               And because he put his trust in the Lord, He reckoned it to his merit.

Kaplan Translation                 [Abram] believed in God, and He counted it as righteousness [Tzedakah in Hebrew, also meaning charity. Others interpret it, 'and he (Abraham) counted it as charity' (Ramban).].

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And he believed in Hashem; and He credited [emunah (faith)] to him as tzedakah (righteousness).


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                And he [Abram] believed in (trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness (right standing with God). Rom. 4:3, 18-22; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23.

Concordant Literal Version    And Abram believes in Yahweh Elohim, and reckoning it is He to him for righteousness.

Context Group Version          And he trusted YHWH; and he counted him as vindicated.

Emphasized Bible                  And he had faith in Yahweh,—so he reckoned it to him as righteousness.

English Standard Version      And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

NASB                                     Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. Rom. 4:3, 20-22; Gal 3:6; James 2:23

New RSV                               And he believed the Lord; and the Lord [lit., he] reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Syndein/Thieme                     {First Mention of Salvation - Abram's Salvation Recalled - See also Romans Chapters 4,5, and 6 Particularly 4:3}

And he {Abram} already 'had been caused to believe' {'aman - Hiphil causative perfect tense - 'had been caused to believe in the past with results that last forever} in Jehovah/God. And He kept on crediting/imputing/counting {chashab - Qal imperfect tense - 'kept on crediting'} it {belief in God} to him for righteousness {divine righteousness}. {Note: God took control of Abram's life back in Ur of the Chaldees. That was when Abram was caused to believe in Him. And, this has been what RBT believes to be a mistake by the followers of Calvin (per RBT Calvin did not teach this at all). Did Abram believe from His free will, or did God 'cause' those who do believe to believe? Actually, this is a red herring issue. God will explain it in heaven if He chooses. What the real issue is . . . is what is salvation? Salvation is belief in God. Why? Because that is God's plan. Does the pot question the potter? So, if you believe in God, you are saved. In the Church Age, we discover that the only manifest member of the Godhead is Jesus Christ. There are no works or gimmicks or jumping through hoops of any kind. Salvation is a gift from God NOT from works (but because of one Work - Jesus Christ, lamb without spot, going to the cross as a substitute for you). And, it is very, very simple. Faith in Christ. When you believe in Jesus Christ, you are saved and are in Union with Him. You share in all that He is and forever will be - you will rule with Him, He is the High Priest forever - you are a Royal Priest of His, He is the First-fruits - and you share in His blessings, He has a resurrection body - you have one like His, He has everlasting life - you have everlasting life - on and on - more than you can think or imagine.}.

Third Millennium Bible            And he believed in the LORD; and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

World English Bible                He believed in Yahweh; and he reckoned it to him for righteousness.

Young’s Updated LT             And he has believed in Jehovah, and He reckons it to him—righteousness.

 

The gist of this verse:          Abram had exercised faith in Yehowah, and God credited it to his account as righteousness.


Genesis 15:6a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ʾâman (אָמַן) [pronounced aw-MAHN]

to stand firm, to believe, to trust, caused to believe

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil perfect

Strong's #539 BDB #52

This is the first time that we find this word in Scripture.

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

YHWH (יהוה) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: And he had believed in Yehowah... This verse stands out for two reasons. There are 3 words found here for the first time, all of them together in one verse; and this begins with a perfect tense and leads to an imperfect tense, which is unusual.


This is one of the most famous OT passages, quoted many times in the NT to help explain salvation. When it came to the most early portion of Scripture, salvation was taught right to begin with. Believed is the word ʾâman (אָמַן) [pronounced aw-MAHN], a word that we all recognize; one that, simply means, I believe it. The Hiphil here affects the meaning of the verb, as it so often does. ʾÂman means to confirm, to support, to nourish, to be established and in the Hiphil it means to stand firm, to believe, to trust. The Hiphil stem is generally a causative stem, but here it is the object which plays a part in the action of the verb. That is, what God said to Abram caused Abram to believe God. The Hiphil can also assume a reflexive sense, where the subject acts upon himself, and Abram, having heard God patiently explain to him twice about his descendants, uses his free will and believes God. Paul uses this verse twice to explain that salvation is by faith only and that this goes back even to the Old Testament (Rom. 4:3 and Gal. 3:6) and James uses this verse to explain works after salvation; works which complete out initial salvation faith (James 2:23).


But the tense is not what we would expect. We would have expected, if this is a result of what is going on right at that moment, that the verb is in the imperfect tense, to indicate subsequent and continuing action. But the perfect tense suggests that Abram believed God in the past—prior to what is going on in this chapter.


Genesis 15:6b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

châshab (חָשַב) [pronounced khaw-SHAHBV]

to think, to mediate, regard, to account, to count, to determine, to calculate, to impute, to reckon

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect with the 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong’s #2803 BDB #362

This is the first time that we find this word in Scripture.

The 3rd person feminine singular suffix likely refers to the act of faith.

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

tsedâqâh (צְדָקָה) [pronounced tsedaw-KAW]

righteousness, executed righteousness and justice, righteous vindication

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #6666 BDB #842

This is the first time that we find this word in Scripture.


Translation: ...and He counted that to him [as] righteousness. As a result of exercising faith, that act of faith is counted or reckoned as righteousness. So, what we have here is clearly salvation; and the first clear declaration of the means of salvation.


Imputed (or reckoned) is the word châshab (חָשַב) [pronounced khaw-SHAHBV] and its basic meaning is to weave or to fabricate and it has come to mean in a figurative sense to think, to account, to impute, to charge, to esteem to value, to regard. It is in the 3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect, 3rd person feminine singular suffix. Along with this is a preposition with the 3rd person masculine suffix. The 3rd person masculine singular gives us the subject pronoun he, the 3rd person feminine singular gives us the object of the verb, her or it. So we look about for a feminine anything in this verse or any nearby verse, and there is none. So to what does her or it refer? One of the feminine nouns which is commonly used in Scripture which is a derivative of ʾâman (אָמַן) [pronounced aw-MAHN] is ʾěmûwnâh (אֱמוּנָה) [pronounced eh-moo-NAWH] and it means firmness, steadfastness, faith, fidelity. This faith, this steadfastness, this grip that Abram took of the promise that God gave him; this (feminine) was given by God to him (that is the preposition with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix).


I should mention, there are two masculine substantive derivatives of aman, but they are only used infrequently and there is another feminine derivative of aman, but it is not appropriate (it means faithful). To the untrained eye, ʾâman and ʾěmûwnâh look pretty different; however, the original Hebrew was written in all consonants (the vowel points were added by the Masorites millenniums later) so aman would be written ʾmn (אמן) and emunah was written ʾmnh (אמנה), the chief difference being the on the end and the pronunciation.


This interpretation is exactly correct as Paul agrees with me in Rom. 4:3–5 (examine particularly v. 5b). The imperfect means that this is a continual process. There are different stages of growth in our Christian life. When we first believe in Jesus Christ (as Abram believe in Yahweh decades prior to Gen. 15:6), righteousness is imputed to us positionally. That is, regardless of our behavior, sins and failures, past present and future, God sees us as righteous. For OT saints, since the cross had not occurred in time yet, God covered their sins (Psalm 32:1 85:2); God did not see their sins; or God did not impute their sins to them (Psalm 32:2). However, after salvation, we have an experiential righteousness, which is based upon what we do and what we think. Abram was a believer long before this point in time; however, he finally believed God when it came to God's promises. When we believe God, our life has experiential righteousness.


This verse occurs at least four hundred years prior to the law and perhaps a decade prior to Abram being circumcised. This means that the law played no part in Abram's righteousness and circumcision did not make Abram righteous. In this verse, prior to any of that, Abramis declared righteous. Furthermore, in the way that the verse has been set up grammatically, Abram was righteous prior to this point in time and he continues to be righteous.


Gen 15:6 And he had believed Yehowah, and He credits it to him as righteousness.


Here, we would have expected a wâw consecutive followed by an imperfect verb. “And so, Abram is believing in the Lord...” The wâw consecutive would suggest that there is a continuation of the action (moving the narrative forward); and an imperfect would indicate that Abram began to believe in the Lord and continued to believe in the Lord. But, that is not how the text reads. A wâw conjunction is found instead, which does not move the narrative forward (which can, in fact, indicate parenthetical information). Then there is a perfect tense of the verb, which indicates this is either a past action or an action which took place in a point in time.


It would be very reasonable to even to render this as a parenthetical statement: (and he had believed in Yehowah, and so He credits it to him as righteousness).


The alternate approach of using a wâw consecutive followed by the imperfect of the verb to believe, would mean that, God made these promises to Abram, Abram listened to the promises, and he believed them. But that is not how the sentence is constructed in the Hebrew. So, we are not looking at Abram believing God or believing these promises of God, but this refers back to a previous point in time where Abram believed Jehovah, and this faith was credited to him as righteousness. In other words, Abram may or may not be exercising continuous faith—in fact, right at this moment, he seems to be fairly skeptical of what God has promised him. However, he did exercise faith in the past or in a point of time, and, at that time, God credited him with righteousness.


The second half of this sentence begins with a wâw consecutive, which moves the action along or, in this case, gives us a logical result. It is permissible to render this wâw consecutive as therefore. A wâw conjunction + a wâw consecutive can indicate a logical progression of thought. A then B; A causes B. Because of A, B occurs. When a verb in a perfect tense is followed up by a verb in the imperfect tense, then a logical progression of events is exactly what the writer is giving us.


The second verb is châshab (חָשַב) [pronounced khaw-SHAHBV], which means to think, to regard, to account, to count, to determine, to calculate. Strong’s #2803 BDB #362. Although this verb can be translated in several ways, this is also an accounting term, and it can be rendered to credit to an account. The second verb is an imperfect tense, indicating continuous and/or future action (or, in this case, a logical and continuous result from the action of the first verb).


This gives us: He [Abram] had believed in Yehowah and He [God] therefore [continually] credits it [this act of faith] [as] righteousness to him (to his account).


There is one more nuance in this translation (and the translation above is extremely literal). With the 2nd verb, there is a feminine singular suffix which is translated it. Now, it refers back to something, and that would be Abram’s act of faith. He believed and God credited it—his faith in Jehovah—to Abram as righteousness.


Therefore, the proper interpretation of this verse is, at some point in the past, Abram believed Yehowah, and this act of faith is the basis for God crediting Abram with righteousness continually after that.


What we have here is the earliest and clearest statement of the gospel in the Old Testament. Although almost any translation gives us a reasonable understanding of the verb and what is being said here, this is the most accurate and literal rendering of this verse:


Gen 15:6 And he [Abram] had believed in Yehowah and He [God] therefore credits it [this act of faith] [as] righteousness to him [crediting righteousness to his account].

genesis_15.jpg

Genesis 15:6 Graphic from Living Off the Land, accessed November 29, 2013.


Do you recall when we studied the barriers between man and God? One of them was righteousness. God has perfect, eternal righteousness, and we have temporal, relative righteousness which is rooted in self-righteousness. In order for us to have fellowship with God, we must possess His righteousness. God credits righteousness to Abram’s account. His bank account was empty (our personal righteousness means nothing to God—Isa. 64:6), and now it is filled with righteousness.


The meaning of the second verb is important. God did not make Abram righteousness; nor did God act in Abram’s life so that he became a much better person. God credited righteousness to the account of Abram. If you know one or more Christians, you know that there are periods of time when it is clear that they do not possess anything close to a true personal righteousness.


Similarly, some people can have a huge bank account, but, based upon the clothes that they wear or the car that they drive, it may not appear as if they have a nickel to their name. So it is with some Christians. You may not associate the concept of righteousness with the Christian Charlie Brown, but, because he has believed in Jesus Christ, God has credited his account with righteousness, which is necessary in order for Charlie Brown to have fellowship with God. Charlie Brown may be walking around in clothes from WalMart and driving a 15-year-old car, but in his bank account, there are millions of dollars. So it is with all believers; we may or may not appear righteous; and we certainly have days where righteousness is not a word that anyone would associate with us; but, in our bank account is perfect and eternal righteousness, deposited there by God.


Gen 15:6 And he [Abram] had believed in Yehowah and He [God] therefore credits it [this act of faith] [as] righteousness to him [crediting righteousness to his account].


So far, we have studied:


Gen 15:1–5 After these things the Word of Yehowah came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." But Abram said, "O Lord Yehowah, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "Listen, You have given me no offspring [seed], and a member of my household will be my heir." And behold, the Word of the Yehowah said to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." And He brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then He said to him, "So shall your offspring be."


The Word of Yehowah appears to Abram in a vision, and God identifies Himself as Abram’s shield, which is apropos because of the battle Abram had just been in (Gen. 14). God promises Abram that he would have a son, and that his seed would be multiplied like the stars in the sky. What God had promised would be exactly what God would bring about.


Then we have one of the most amazing passages in all the Old Testament: Abram believed in Yehowah, and it was credited to his account as righteousness. Or, more literally:


Gen 15:6 And he [Abram] had believed in Yehowah and He [God] therefore credits it [this act of faith] [as] righteousness to him [crediting righteousness to his account].


Gen. 15:6 is a pivotal point in Scripture, and so important that it is quoted or referred to 5 times in the New Testament.

Genesis 15:6 in the New Testament

Scripture

Commentary

Paul’s first point: we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone.

What then shall we say that our father Abraham has found, according to flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has a [reason to] boast; but not before God (Rom. 4:1–2).

In Rom. 3, Paul made several arguments, starting with the importance of being a Jew, but this is not a reason to boast. God is a God of the Jews and Gentiles, and keeping the Law is not a reason to boast because it is not a system of salvation.


If Abraham here was justified by works, then he has a reason to boast—however, Abraham has no reason to boast before God.

For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." (Rom. 4:3–4; Gen. 15:6).

Notice that Paul takes the Old Testament as authoritative. When he writes, what does the Scripture say, he is quoting from the Old Testament, and what it says will settle the matter of justification. Paul’s first point that he makes in Rom. 4 is, we are justified by faith alone, and he backs this up with Scripture.


The Jews see themselves as superior—after all, God gave to them the Scriptures and His promises. They work hard at keeping the Law (the Gentiles don’t even try to keep the Law). So Paul points back to the father of the Jewish race, Abraham, and says, here is what your Scriptures tell you: Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness.

But to him working, the reward is not calculated according to grace, but according to debt. But to him not working, but believing on Him, Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness (Rom. 4:5).

This is the point that Paul is making. If you work to impress God, you are paying him from a position of debt. Furthermore, no matter how much you work, you will never be able to work enough to cancel out your debt to God. God credits righteousness to us, not based upon works, but based upon faith. Abraham is proof of this.

Paul’s second point: the Bible teaches us clearly that righteousness was imputed to Abram apart from being circumcised. By application, this means that God justifies us based upon our faith in Jesus, apart from receiving the Law, apart from sabbath keeping, and apart from any other aspect of the Law of God.

Even as David also says of the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness without works, saying, "Blessed are those whose lawless acts are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will in no way impute sin." (Rom. 4:6–8; Psalm 32:1–2).

The term blessedness refers to happiness; and David says that there is a happiness associated with have one’s lawless acts forgiven (literally, in the Hebrew, lifted up and taken away). There is a happiness association with God covering one’s sins. Finally, there is a happiness to the person that God does not impute sin to. Note how this contrasts with Gen. 15:6, where God imputes righteousness to the person exercising faith in Him.


At birth, Adam’s original sin is imputed to us, which is the basis of our condemnation. We are born condemned before God. However, the imputation of righteousness will trump the imputation of sin.

Is this blessedness then on the circumcision only, or on the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was imputed to Abraham for righteousness (Rom. 4:9; Gen. 15:6).

Here, Paul is making a fairly simple argument: righteousness is imputed apart from works and apart from circumcision. His evidence is quite simple: at the time that the Bible tells us that Abraham’s faith was imputed to him for righteousness, Abraham was uncircumcised. Later on, God would have Abraham become circumcised along with all the males with him, but this came long after his faith was imputed to him for righteousness.


Part of the Mosaic Law is to circumcise a child soon after birth, which is understood by the Jews to be the first act of obedience to the Law for every Jewish child. This is the first step in the keeping of the Law, which Jews consider to be one of many ways in which they are superior to Gentiles. But Paul tells them here, you’re wrong to think that. Even Abraham was declared righteous before he was circumcised.


Circumcision is not a part of the attainment of salvation and salvation is not simply obedience to the law of God. Circumcision has a meaning, which will be examined later on in our study.

How then was it [righteousness] imputed? Being in circumcision or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision (Rom. 4:10).

Paul continues his line of reasoning. At what point in time was Abraham declared righteous? How does this match up with the rite of circumcision, which was practiced by the Jews, at God’s command?


To any Jew who knows a smattering of the Old Testament and knows even a small amount of Scripture can hear this argument and be turned around. In fact, it is hard to argue against Paul’s logic here. If Abraham, the father of the Jewish race, is clearly proclaimed righteous before being circumcised, then man is saved and made righteous apart from circumcision.


The father of the Jewish race was made righteous in uncircumcision. Being circumcised or uncircumcised had nothing to do with God making him righteous.

And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them (Rom. 4:11).

You will note that circumcision is seen as a sign and as a seal of those who have been made righteous by faith.


Circumcision was not needed in order for Abram to be righteous. Circumcision was a sign of the righteousness of his faith. He was uncircumcised, he exercised faith in Jehovah Elohim, and was made righteous. Then he was circumcised, years later.

And he became the father of the circumcised, not only to those who are circumcised, but also to those who follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised (Rom. 4:12).

So Abraham, who is known as the father of the Jews, here is called the father of all who believe. The play on words in v. 12 is really something. Abraham became the father of the circumcised, but to the circumcised and to those who follow him in faith, which faith he exercised in uncircumcision.


Most important of all is, Abraham is the spiritual father of all those who believe, whether circumcised or uncircumcised, whether Jew or gentile, whether under the Law or not.

For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed by means of the Law, but by means of the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4:13).

Being heir to the world was not a matter physical birth according to the Law, but this is all based upon the righteousness which is by faith. The promises which God made to Abraham are based upon imputed righteousness which comes by faith.

Now, take this exact same reasoning and apply it to the Law of God or to Sabbath-day keeping, and what comes first? Abram believed in Jehovah and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. All of this other stuff that Jews cling to came 400 years later. The Law of God and the Sabbath are all important and they have great meaning, but they have nothing to do with being made righteous. God made Abraham righteous while uncircumcised, apart from the Law, apart from Sabbath keeping, and apart from any other ritual or mandate found within the Mosaic Law.

Paul’s 3rd point: Gen. 15:6 is recorded for all time as a lesson to all mankind, whether Jew or gentile.

And not being weak in faith, he [Abraham] did not consider his own body already dead (being about a hundred years old) or the deadening of Sarah's womb [with regards to making from Abraham many nations] (Rom. 4:19).

One point which Paul is making here is, the passage in the Bible was not just written about Abram, but it was written so that we have Abram as an example. The example for us is that, our faith in Jesus Christ results in imputed righteousness.


However, there is a more complex explanation for this passage. It involves understanding that, when an Old Testament was quoted in the New, it was not always used as a proof text. Sometimes the Old Testament could be used as an illustration or by way of analogy.

He did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was also able to perform (Rom. 4:19–21).

Paul is not using this Old Testament to prove, once again, that we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone; but that this faith glorifies God, and therefore, gives us righteousness in a different way than the righteousness imputed to us at salvation.


At salvation, we are made righteous in God’s sight by exercising faith in Him. However, after salvation, there are times when we will exercise faith in Him and this faith will glorify God. This tells all generations which follow that, whatever God promises us, He is able to bring it to pass.

And therefore [because Abraham did not stagger at the promises of God, but was strong in faith] it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now [this passage] was not written for him alone that it [righteousness] was imputed to him, but for us also to whom it is about to be imputed, to the ones believing on Him Who has raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered because of our offenses and was raised for our justification (Rom. 4:22–25).

There are 3 stages of righteousness in a person’s life—righteousness imputed to him as he has faith in Jesus Christ; righteousness which is a part of normal spiritual growth; and ultimate righteousness, when our bodies are raised again without a sin nature.


Here, we are actually looking at Abraham’s faith in the promises of God with the result of imputed righteousness to him. That is experiential righteousness. Paul uses verbiage to indicate experiential righteousness will be imputed to us, the ones believing in the One Raising Jesus from the dead. The way that this is worded means that we are not talking about salvation righteousness here, but a righteousness which is to be imputed.

Paul makes a different argument with the legalists in Galatia. Your spiritual life began in faith; you believe in Jesus, and that initiated your spiritual life. So, now, do you perfect yourself by following the Law? Is that logical? If you begin the spiritual life in faith, then you continue the spiritual life in faith.

Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain, if indeed it is even in vain? Then He supplying the Spirit to you and working powerful works in you, is it by works of the law, or by hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Therefore know that those of faith, these are the sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:3–7; Gen. 15:6).

There were believers in the city of Galatia who thought that keeping the Mosaic Law was a part of their spiritual walk. Paul tells them, that they began the spiritual life through faith, they received the Holy Spirit through faith, God worked powerful works in them through faith. And then Paul goes back to Abraham, who predated the Mosaic Law, and cited Gen. 15:6 to show that we are the sons of Abraham if we follow him in faith in Jesus Christ. The rest of the passage, which I did not quote, contrasts faith with following the Law.


Salvation is based upon the grace of God and faith in Jesus Christ. Our spiritual lives are based upon God’s grace as well. We did not become saved through keeping the Law; therefore, our spiritual walk is not based upon keeping the Law.

James takes a different approach. Salvation and your life do not begin and end with salvation. You do not just believe in Jesus Christ and then, you just hang around waiting to die. God has a plan and purpose for your life; you have works which God intends for you to do. These works do not complete your salvation, make you any more saved, nor do they keep your salvation; these works are a part of a natural response to God making you righteous (ideally speaking).

You believe that there is one God, you do well; even the demons believe and tremble. But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead [non-operational]? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Do you see how faith cooperated with his works, and from the works faith was made complete [brought to a fulfillment]? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God." You see then how a man is justified by works, and not by faith only (James 2:19–24; Gen. 15:6 Ex. 33:11 Isa. 41:8).

First of all, James is speaking of the spiritual life after salvation. He is not focused on salvation in this passage. James is explaining the importance of works in the life of the believing Christian. A believer without works in his life is operationally dead. Faith and works are 2 sides of the same coin. The works that we do complete our faith.


Then James gives an example of Abraham’s works, where he offers up Isaac on the altar (representing for centuries, God the Father offering up God the Son on the cross—we have not gotten to that passage yet). In other words, there was more to Abraham’s life than simply believing in Jesus Christ (Jehovah Elohim in the Old Testament); and what he did later in life made him the Friend of God (which is experiential righteousness).


As has been mentioned before, every believer experiences 3 stages of sanctification in the Christian life; and we could call these 3 stages of justification as well. We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ; we are justified in our life on this earth; and we receive ultimate justification after we die.

Let me use the illustration of marriage. You choose to get married and then you stand married, ideally, forever. Now, maybe you choose to make good or bad decisions while married, but that does not make you unmarried. Your marriage is an accomplished state. However, you can do things in your marriage to make it better. The state of marriage is not the end-all and be-all. Other things must happen after you get married.

In other words, there are works in marriage. The fact that you work at your marriage and do things as a part of your marriage, does not make you more married or less married; but it does improve your life as a married person.

The same is true of believing in Jesus Christ. You believe, you are saved and made righteous; however, that is not the entire Christian life. What do you want? You want to be called the friend of God.

Gen. 15:6 is one of the most important verses in all the Bible, and we know this because Paul, in one very long passage, refers back to it 3 times (in Rom. 4); he uses it again when reasoning with the Galatians; and even James quotes this verse.

You will note that, each time this verse is quoted, a different emphasis is in view, even though this is clearly a salvation verse.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


The way Gen. 15:6 is referenced also helps us to understand portions of the New Testament. We are so often oriented to thinking in terms of proof texts—we believe this or that and here is the text which proves it to be true. That approach was used by the Apostles, but it was not the only way that the Apostles used Old Testament Scripture. If you examine the number of times that Gen. 15:6 is quoted, you will note that there is a different use of the verse each time; and a different approach. If we understand how the Apostles used the Old Testament, this helps us in our study of both testaments.


So far, we have examined the first 6 verses of Gen. 15:


Gen 15:1–6 After these things the Word of Yehowah came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." But Abram said, "O Lord Yehowah, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "Listen, You have given me no offspring [seed], and a member of my household will be my heir." And behold, the Word of the Yehowah said to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." And He brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then He said to him, "So shall your offspring be." And he [Abram] had believed in Yehowah and He [God] therefore credits it [this act of faith] [as] righteousness to him [crediting righteousness to his account].


God comes to Abram, after Abram has won a battle which changed world history with essentially a handful of men, and God begins to speak to Abram. However, Abram stops God, and asks about these promises. “I don’t have a son; my heir is this guy from Damascus. I thought my son would truly be my son.” God then assure Abram that he will have a son from his own loins, who will be his heir. Then God takes Abram outside and tells him that his descendants will be like the stars of the heavens. “If you can number the stars, then that is how many descendants will come from you.”


Because of the way many of us have been raised, what Abram is about to do in this passage may sound surprising to you. God has made these promises to Abram and in the middle of receiving another promise, Abram stops God and says, “Okay, God, how do I know I am going to inherit this land? You keep making these grandiose promises, and yet, there is no reason why I should believe these things will actually come to pass.”


God has promised Abram that his descendants were going to be like the stars in the heavens, yet Abram, at this point in time, does not have child one. Abram is going to be the father of many nations, but right now, he does not have child one. God is then going to give Abram this land that he is walking in, and Abram interrupts God and says, “How do I know any of this is true?”


——————————


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


God Reassures Abram with a Covenant


And so He says to him, “I [am] Yehowah Who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give to you the land the this to possess her.”

Genesis

15:7

He said to him, “I [am] Yehowah Who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give to you this land to possess it.”

Jehovah said to him, “I am Jehovah Who brought you out of Ur of Chaldea to give you this land, so that you and your descendants might possess it.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum (trans. By Cook)        And He said to him, I am the Lord who brought you out of the fiery furnace of the Kasdai, to give you this land to inherit.

Jerusalem targum                  And He said to him, I am the Lord who brought thee out of the fiery furance from Ur of the Kasdai.

Latin Vulgate                          And he said to him: I am the Lord who brought thee out from Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land, and that thou mightest possess it.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so He says to him, “I [am] Yehowah Who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give to you the land the this to possess her.”

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And he said to him, I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.

Septuagint (Greek)                And He said to him, I am God that brought you out of the land of the Chaldeans, so as to give you this land to inherit.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       The LORD said to Abram, "I brought you here from Ur in Chaldea, and I gave you this land."

Easy English                          God speaks to Abram about the future, 15:7-21

Then the *Lord said to Abram, `I am the *Lord. I brought you out of Ur, where the people called Chaldeans live. I wanted to give this country to you, so that you could own it. That is why I brought you out.'.

Easy-to-Read Version            God said to Abram, “I am the Lord who led you from Ur of Babylonia. [85] I did this so I could give you this land—you will own this land.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         Then the LORD said to him, "I am the LORD, who led you out of Ur in Babylonia, to give you this land as your own."

The Message                         GOD continued, "I'm the same GOD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldees and gave you this land to own."

New Berkeley Version           Then He said to him: I am the Lord who brought you from Chaldean Ur to give you this land to possess.

New Century Version             God said to Abram, "I am the Lord who led you out of Ur of Babylonia so that I could give you this land to own."

New Life Version                    God said to him, "I am the Lord Who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land for your own."

The Voice                               Eternal One (to Abram): 7 I am the Eternal One. Remember, I am the One who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to give you this land to possess and to pass on to your descendants.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Then [God] said to him: 'I am the God that brought you out of the land of the Chaldeans to give you this land as an inheritance.'

New Advent (Knox) Bible       And now God said to him, I am the Lord, who brought thee out from Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee possession of this land instead.

New American Bible (2011)   He then said to him: I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession. Gn 11:31; 12:1; Ex 32:13; Neh 9:7-8; Acts 7:2-3.

NIRV                                      He also said to Abram, "I am the Lord. I brought you out of Ur in Babylonia. I wanted to give you this land to take as your very own."

New Jerusalem Bible             He then said to him, 'I am Yahweh who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldaeans to give you this country as your possession.'

New Simplified Bible              Then God said to him: »I AM JEHOVAH, who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.«


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      He said to him, "I, Yahweh proceeded with you from Ur in Iraq to give you this land to possess."

Bible in Basic English             And he said to him, I am the Lord, who took you from Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land for your heritage.

The Expanded Bible              God said to Abram, "I am the Lord who led you out of Ur of ·Babylonia [Lthe Chaldeans] so that I could give you this land ·to own [Las a possession; 12:1-3].".

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 He also said to him, " I am the Ever-living Who brought you from Ur of the Kaldees to give you this land as an inheritance.".

NET Bible®                             The Lord said [Heb "And he said."] to him, "I am the Lord [I am the Lord. The Lord initiates the covenant-making ceremony with a declaration of who he is and what he has done for Abram. The same form appears at the beginning of the covenant made at Sinai (see Exod 20:1).] who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans [The phrase of the Chaldeans is a later editorial clarification for the readers, designating the location of Ur. From all evidence there would have been no Chaldeans in existence at this early date; they are known in the time of the neo-Babylonian empire in the first millennium b.c.] to give you this land to possess."

NIV, ©2011                             He also said to him, "I am the Lord, who brought you out [Ge 12:1; Ex 20:2; Ac 7:3; Heb 11:8] of Ur of the Chaldeans [S Ge 11:28; Ac 7:4] to give you this land to take possession of it [S Ge 13:17; 17:8; 28:4; 35:12; 48:4; Ex 6:8; Dt 9:5]."


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   And he says to him, I - Yah Veh

who had you come from Ur of the Kesediym,

to give you this land to possess.

Kaplan Translation                 [God] said to him, 'I am God who took you out of Ur Casdim to give you this land as a possession [Literally, 'to inherit it.'].'

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And He said unto him, I am Hashem Who brought thee out of Ur Kasdim, to give thee ha'aretz hazot to be the yoresh of it.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                And He said to him, I am the [same] Lord, Who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees to give you this land as an inheritance.

Concordant Literal Version    And saying is He to him, "I am Yahweh Elohim Who brought you forth from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give to you this land to tenant it.

Context Group Version          And he said to him, I am YHWH that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land { or earth } to inherit it.

 

English Standard Version      And he said to him, "I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess."

Green’s Literal Translation    And He said to him, I am Jehovah who caused you to come out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.

NASB                                     And He said to him, "I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur [Gen 11:31] of the Chaldeans, to give [Gen 13:15, 17] you this land to possess [Or inherit] it."

Syndein/Thieme                     And He {God} said {'amar} unto him {Abram}, "I . . . {am} Jehovah/God Who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land {'erets} to inherit {it} {yarash}.

World English Bible                He said to him, "I am Yahweh who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it."

Young’s Updated LT             And He says unto him, “I am Jehovah who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldees, to give to you this land to possess it;”

 

The gist of this verse:          God reminds Abram that He brought Abram out from Ur of the Chaldees to take this land.


Genesis 15:7a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied); with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39

ʾânîy (אָנִי) [pronounced aw-NEE]

I, me; in answer to a question, it means I am, it is I

1st person singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #589 BDB #58

YHWH (יהוה) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: He said to him, “I [am] Yehowah... Abram has questioned God and what He has promised him, and has complained that he does not have a son. Abram exercised faith in the Revealed God, and this was accounted to him as righteousness. However, it is clear that Abram has a few questions at this point. God will clear them up.


Genesis 15:7b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ʾăsher (אֲֹשֶר) [pronounced uh-SHER]

that, which, when, who, whom

relative pronoun; sometimes the verb to be is implied

Strong's #834 BDB #81

yâtsâʾ (יָצָא) [pronounced yaw-TZAWH]

to cause to go out, to lead out, to bring out, to carry out, to draw out, to take out; [of money:] to put forth, to lay out, to exact; to promulgate; to produce

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #3318 BDB #422

min (מִן) [pronounced min]

from, off, out from, of, out of, away from, on account of, since, than, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

ʾÛwr (אוּר) [pronounced oor]

brightness of fire, flame; transliterated Ur

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #217 BDB #22

BDB: [Ur is] a city in southern Babylonia, city of the Chaldeans, centre of moon worship, home of Abraham’s father, Terah, and departure point for the Abraham’s migration to Mesopotamia and Canaan.

Kaseddîym (כַּשְׂדִּים) [pronounced kahsd-DEEM]

 clod-breakers; is transliterated Chaldees, Kasdim, Chaldeans, Chaldea

proper singular noun gentilic/territory; plural form

Strong’s #3679 & #3778 BDB #505


Translation: ...Who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans... It was God that came to Abram and told him to move out of Ur; and it was God Who prepared the way for him.


Sometimes for us to get a handle on our purpose, God has got to back up and show us the big picture. Abram is going to possess the land and God is going to give him enough progeny to rival the stars in sheer numbers. The land is no good without the descendants; otherwise, what good is it to Abram to own land as far as his eye can see in all four directions and to be the only person, other than his wife and servants, to live in it. On the other hand, what good is having a vast number of descendants if there is no place for them? God had a purpose for Abram; he had to separate from his father and his immediate family; he then had to separate from Lot and God took him all the way from Ur to this particular land.


Application: As a person who was moved by God (many of us are), I can testify that there were times when many things came together in order to make all of it possible.


In Gen. 11, we studied God, through circumstance, and by direct command, taking Abram from the heart of early civilization, what is now southern Iraq, a little over 100 miles from the Persian Gulf; and they traveled up along the Euphrates River and then up the Balih River settling down in Haran.


Then God moved Abram and his wife from Haran to Canaan, which is where Abram is now. And God tells Abram, “I brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess;” the very land that Abram is standing on, this very land that God has Abram walking across, a small portion of which is under the control of Jews today.


This is the life which Abram has himself lived. He knows that, apart from God, he would not be where he is. He knows that, apart from God, he would be back in Haran or Ur, because Abram did not decide on his own to come to Canaan; God told him to go to Canaan (Gen. 12:1–3).


You ought to be able to point to several things in your life which are different because of Bible doctrine in your soul. There is information from God’s Word which has changed the course of your life. If you can honestly say that, you would probably be right where you are right now, even if you had not believed in Jesus Christ, then you have given testimony against your own spiritual life. This is quite obviously a personal inventory. If you have experienced any spiritual growth at all, then you ought to be able to point to dozens, if not hundreds, of decisions which you have made, on the basis of the Word of God, which have changed the direction of your life. God is reminding Abram of the most important decision of his young life, to leave Haran and to come to Canaan. And He said to him, "I am Yehowah Who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess." If Abram is able to objectively examine his life, then his very life in Canaan—his great riches and success—all point to God’s guidance.


What God is doing here is giving Abram the big picture. Abram has this whole other life living along the Euphrates, probably in the shadow of his own father, with a life that is so nondescript that, Abram does not even record anything except his family line, his move from Ur to Haran, and the death of his father (which is recorded in Gen. 11:32, but had not actually taken place yet in the timeline our narrative). When he leaves Haran, Abram is 75 years old, and his father would be 145 years old (compare Gen. 11:26 to 12:4). Abram is not yet 100 in our passage (Gen. 17:1), so that is father is not yet 170 (his father will die at age 205—Gen. 11:32).


In any case, the big picture is, Abram moved to Canaan, as God directed him to do, and this has changed everything in Abram’s life. Over a period of 75 years, Abram had nothing to say about his life; however, over the past 20+ years, quite a bit has happened and Abram recorded this (or, Isaac or Jacob recorded it, based upon what Abram told them). Therefore, Abram has to acknowledge that, life is quite different because of God.


Genesis 15:7c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

Qal infinitive construct

Strong's #5414 BDB #678

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated generally; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ʾerets (אֶרֶץ) [pronounced EH-rets]

earth (all or a portion thereof), land, territory, country, continent; ground, soil; under the ground [Sheol]

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #776 BDB #75

zôʾth (זֹאת) [pronounced zoth]

here, this, this one; thus; possibly another

feminine of singular zeh; demonstrative pronoun, adverb

Strong’s #2063 (& 2088, 2090) BDB #260

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

yârash (שיָרַ) [pronounced yaw-RASH]

to possess, to take possession of, to occupy a geographical area [by driving out the previous occupants], to take possession of anyone [or their goods]; to inherit, to possess; to expel, to drive out

Qal infinitive construct with the 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong’s #3423 BDB #439


Translation: ...to give to you this land to possess it.” God brought Abram to this land to give it to him.


Application: God does sometimes move people from point A to point B; and there is often great blessing associated with this move.


At this point in time, Abram is a very rich and successful businessman; people all over Canaan know and respect him, and he has just changed world history with a tiny army (although he may not be aware of what he has done). This is what God wants Abram to recognize. However, what God is saying to Abram flies right over his head. He focuses on what God said, which has not been fulfilled yet. “You said You are going to give my people this land; how do I know that is true?”


——————————


So Abram challenges God again: “You brought me here to give me this land out from Ur of the Chaldees; so, how do I know that I will really possess this land?”


And so he says, “O Adonai Yehowah, in how do I know that I will possess her?”

Genesis

15:8

So he said, “O Adonai Yehowah, how will I know that I will possess it?”

So he said, “O Lord Jehovah, how will I know that I will possess this land?”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum of Onkelos                And he said, Lord God, by what may I know that I shall be the heir of it?

Latin Vulgate                          But he said: Lord God, whereby may I know that I shall possess it?

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so he says, “O Adonai Yehowah, in how do I know that I will possess her?”

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And Abram said, O LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?

Septuagint (Greek)                And he said, Master and Lord, how shall I know that I shall inherit it?

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           But Abram said, "Lord God, how do I know that I will actually possess it?"

 

New Berkeley Version           Lord God,” he said, “in what way can I be assured it will be mine?”

New Century Version             But Abram said, "Lord God, how can I be sure that I will own this land?"

The Voice                               Abram: But Eternal Lord, how am I supposed to know I really will possess it?


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          And [Abram] said: 'My Lord and Master; How can I know [for sure] that I will inherit it?'

Beck’s American Translation “Lord GOD,” he asked, “how can I be sure I will get it?”

Christian Community Bible     Then Abram asked, “My Lord, how am I to know that it shall be mine?”

New Advent (Knox) Bible       And when he asked, Lord God, what assurance may I have, that it is mine?

NIRV                                      But Abram said, "Lord and King, how can I know I will take this land as my own?"

Revised English Bible            Abram asked, ‘Lord God, how can I be sure that I shall occupy it?’

Today’s NIV                          But Abram said, "Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      He said, "Lord Yahweh, when will I know what I possess?"

The Expanded Bible              But Abram said, "Lord God, how can I ·be sure [Lknow] that I will ·own this land [possess/inherit it]?"

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 But he replied " Mighty Lord, how am I to know that I shall inherit it ? "

NET Bible®                             But [Here the vav carries adversative force and is translated "but."] Abram [Heb "he"; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.] said, "O sovereign Lord [See note on the phrase "sovereign Lord" in 15:2.], by what [Or "how."] can I know that I am to possess it?"

NIV, ©2011                             But Abram said, "Sovereign Lord [S ver 2], how can I know [Lk 1:18] that I will gain possession of it?" Dt 12:20; 19:8


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Kaplan Translation                 'O Lord, God,' replied [Abram], 'How can I really know that it will be mine?'

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And he said, Adonoi Hashem, how can I have da'as that I will be its yoresh?

The Scriptures 1998              And he said, “Master יהוה, whereby do I know that I possess it?”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Concordant Literal Version    And saying is he, "My Lord Yahweh, whereby am I to know that I am to enjoy its tenancy?

English Standard Version      But he said, "O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?" [Judg. 6:17; 2 Kgs. 20:8; Ps. 86:17; Isa. 7:11-13; Luke 1:18]

The Geneva Bible                  And he said, Lord GOD, b whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? This is a particular motion of Gods Spirit, which is not lawful for all to follow, in asking signs: but was permitted for some by a peculiar motion, as to Gideon and Ezekiel.

Green’s Literal Translation    And he said, My Lord Jehovah, by what shall I know that I shall inherit it?

NASB                                     He said, "O Lord God [Heb YHWH, usually rendered Lord], how may I know that I will possess it [Or inherit]?" Judg 6:36-40; Luke 1:18

Syndein/Thieme                     {Verses 8-11: Second Cure for Worry - Doctrine - Person and Work of the Lord}

And he {'Adonay} said {'amar}, 'Adonay/Lord Jehovah/God, how shall I keep on understanding/knowing {yada`} that I shall inherit {it} {yarash}? {Note: God answers Abram's request in the next verse. This tells us why God required animal sacrifice. Before the canon of scripture was completed, Abram requested a way to 'keep on understanding' that he was to inherit from God. God uses the 'instruments of worship' as teaching tools to remind the Jews of all that He has promised them. Once Christ went to the cross - the 'shadow' of his sacrifice was replaced with the 'reality' and there is to be no more animal sacrifice.}

Young’s Updated LT             And he says, “Lord Jehovah, how do I know that I possess it?”

 

The gist of this verse:          Abram asks how does he know that he will possess this land.


Genesis 15:8

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]

Lord (s), Master (s), my Lord (s), Sovereign; my lord [master]; can refer to the Trinity or to an intensification of the noun; transliterated Adonai, adonai

masculine plural noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #113 & #136 BDB #10

There are actually 3 forms of this word: ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]; ʾădônay (אֲדֹנַי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]; and ʾădônîy (אֲדֹנִי) [pronounced uh-doh-NEE].

This is a form of Strong’s #113, where there are three explanations given for the yodh ending: (1) this is a shortened form of the plural ending, usually written -îym (נִים) [pronounced eem], an older form of the pluralis excellentiæ (the plural of excellence), where God’s sovereignty and lordship are emphasized by the use of the plural; (2) this is the actual, but ancient, plural of the noun, which refers to the Trinity; or (3) this is the addition of the 1st person singular suffix, hence, my Lord (the long vowel point at the end would distinguish this from my lords).

YHWH (יהוה) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

mâh (מָה) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle (with the definite article)

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

Bammâh (בַּמָּה) [pronounced bahm-MAW] means wherein, wherewith, by what means. This combination of particles is often used for indirect questions and can be rendered in what?, in what thing?, on what account?, why?, how?, in what way?, by what means?

yâdaʿ (יָדַע) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to know, to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to become acquainted with, to know by experience, to have a knowledge of something; to see; to learn; to recognize [admit, acknowledge, confess]

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393

kîy (כִּי) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

explanatory or temporal conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

yârash (שיָרַ) [pronounced yaw-RASH]

to possess, to take possession of, to occupy a geographical area [by driving out the previous occupants], to take possession of anyone [or their goods]; to inherit, to possess; to expel, to drive out

1st person singular, Qal imperfect with the 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong’s #3423 BDB #439


Translation: So he said, “O Adonai Yehowah, how will I know that I will possess it?” Although Abram has believed God in the past, he has some questions now. How does he know that he will possess the land? He wants some assurances from God.


Didn't it just say that Abram believed God? Notice the context; Abram has been obsessing about his descendants and God has told him at least twice that his descendants would be innumerable. Abram finally believed God with reference to this issue. Now he is concerned about the land. He has just done battle with four kings and has an uneasy alliance with five others. Abram recognizes that the battle he won was just a skirmish and did not give him the land and if he tried to take possession of it, even his uneasy alliance would turn against him.


Gen 15:8 But he said, "O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I will possess it?"


If you are not careful, it appears as though there is a contradiction here. Gen. 15:6 reads: “And Abram believed in the Lord and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Two verses later, Abram is asking God how can he know that he will possess the land, which indicates a distinct lack of faith. As explained, Gen. 15:6, Abram exercised faith in Yehowah some time ago, and that faith was credited to him as righteousness. However, here we are, maybe 20–50 years later (God told Abram to leave Haran nearly 25 years ago), and now Abram is expressing some doubt. This ought to strike you as a little odd, because Abram has just defeated the greatest army of his day with a handful of men. However, so it is with the believer in Jesus Christ. We have good days and we have bad days.


Abram asks God the question: “O Adonai Yehowah, how will I know that I will possess [this land]?” And then God tells Abram to offer up this sacrifice. So, did God just blow of Abram’s question and go to the next thing? No, God is actually answering the question that Abram asks, but not the question that Abram thinks he is asking.


I am sure that you, as a grammar school student, had that one smart-ass teacher who, when you said, “Can I ask you a question?” answered, “Are you physically able to walk up to me and utter an interrogative sentence? Seeing that you just did, I would assume that the answer to your question is yes. However, I fear that you do not understand the difference between the words can and may? Your thoughts on this matter?”


So Abram asks God a reasonable question, for a person who has ignored much of what God has said and much of his own life. God promised him a son, and he doesn’t have a son yet. Now God is promising him this land, and Abram says, “Okay, God, You say You are giving me this land—how am I to know that’s true? I don’t even have the son yet”


Interestingly enough, God does not perform some miracle or sign to answer Abram; This would have been the easiest thing in the world. God could have given Abram a vision of Moses leading the Jews, poised on the eastern border of Israel. God could have caused an earthquake to affect everything around Abram, except for the ground upon which he stands. However, God makes a covenant with Abram instead. No great future visions; no miracles.


——————————


This is a little tricky. Essentially, Abram is asking for some kind of a sign from God; some sort of proof; but the words that he uses can be understood in another way. He uses the two particles in combination: bammâh (בַּמָּה) [pronounced bahm-MAW], which mean wherein, wherewith, by what means. This combination of particles is often used for indirect questions and can be rendered in what?, in what thing?, on what account?, why?, how?, in what way?, by what means? So, God is going to ignore Abram’s actual question, but He will answer Abram a more important question—“By what means will I know that I will possess it?” That means is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So God is not answering the actual question that Abram is asking; however, God is answering a much more important question, which is, how is this going to be accomplished? How will You, God, do this? This takes Abram’s very personal question and lifts it to the realm of being almost a universal question.


As an aside, there are many occasions when God is playful with language. Often when God gave a name to someone, there was some irony or humor involved. Abram will later be called Abraham, which means father of a multitude. At the time that Abram’s name is changed, he will have exactly zero children.


At the same time, God will answer Abram’s exact question by making a covenant with him, and these animals will be the sign of that covenant.


And so He says unto him, “Bring to Me a heifer 3 years old; and a she-goat 3 years old; and a ram 3 years old; and a turtledove and a young pigeon.”

Genesis

15:9

Yehowah [lit., he] said to him, “Bring to Me a 3-year-old heifer, a 3-year-old she-goat, a 3-year-old ram; and a turtledove and a young pigeon.”

Jehovah said to him, “Now bring Me a 3 year-old heifer, a 3 year-old she-goat, a 3 year-old ram, a turtledove and a young pigeon.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum of Onkelos                And He said, Bring Me oblations, and offer before Me an heifer of three years, and a goat of three years, a ram of three years, and a dove, and the young of a pigeon.

Jerusalem targum                  And a turtle and young pigeon.

Latin Vulgate                          And the Lord answered, and said: Take me a cow of three years old, and a she-goat of three years. and a ram of three years, a turtle also, and a pigeon.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so He says unto him, “Bring to Me a heifer 3 years old; and a she-goat 3 years old; and a ram 3 years old; and a turtledove and a young pigeon.”

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And he said to him, Take for yourself a heifer, three years old, a three year old ram, a three year old she-goat, a pigeon, and a young dove.

Septuagint (Greek)                And He said to him, Take for Me a heifer in her third year, and a female goat in her third year, and a ram in his third year, and a dove and a pigeon.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           He said, "Bring me a three-year-old female calf, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a dove, and a young pigeon."

Easy English                          The *Lord said to him, `Bring to me a calf (young *ox or cow), a female goat and a *ram. Each animal must be three years old. Also, bring to me a *dove and a very young *pigeon.'

Easy-to-Read Version            God said to Abram, “{We will make an agreement.} Bring me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old goat, and a three-year-old ram. Also, bring me a dove and a young pigeon.”

The Voice                               Eternal One: Bring to Me the following: a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          And He replied: 'Collect for Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old nanny goat, a three-year-old billy goat, a dove, and a pigeon.'

New Advent (Knox) Bible       the Lord answered, Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, and a three-year-old ram, and a turtle-dove, and a pigeon.

New American Bible (R.E.)    He answered him: Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. [15:9-17] Cutting up animals was a well-attested way of making a treaty in antiquity. Jer 34:17-20 shows the rite is a form of self-imprecation in which violators invoke the fate of the animals upon themselves. The eighth-century B.C. Sefire treaty from Syria reads, "As this calf is cut up, thus Matti'el shall be cut up." The smoking fire pot and the flaming torch (v. 17), which represent God, pass between the pieces, making God a signatory to the covenant. Lv 1:14.

NIRV                                      So the Lord said to him, "Bring me a young cow. Also bring a goat and a ram. All of them must be three years old. Bring a dove and a young pigeon along with them."

Today’s NIV                          So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      He said to him, "Take for me a heifer of three years, and a goat of three, and a ram of three, and a turtledove hatchling."

Conservapedia                       He told him, "Take for me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old nanny-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon."

The Expanded Bible              The Lord [LHe] said to Abram, "Bring me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ·male sheep [ram], a ·dove [turtledove], and a young pigeon."

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 Who answered him ; " Select for me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtle dove, and a young pigeon."

NET Bible®                             The Lord [Heb "He"; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.] said to him, "Take for me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           He answered him, "Bring me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a dove and a young pigeon."

exeGeses companion Bible   And he says to him, Take to me a heifer of three

and a she goat of three and a ram of three

and a turtledove and a youngling.

Judaica Press Complete T.    And He said to him, "Take for Me three heifers and three goats and three rams, and a turtle dove and a young bird." One of the reasons that I include every single word of the Hebrew is, you may read this and think, “This is quite different from the other translations; maybe it is correct.” But then when you read the words from the actual Hebrew, you see that this is not correct.

Kaplan Translation                 [God] said to him, 'Bring for Me a prime heifer, a prime goat, a prime ram, a dove and a young pigeon. All these species, and none other, would be used later for sacrifice. The four types here may represent the 400 years (Genesis 15:13) and the four generations (Genesis 15:16) mentioned later (cf. Hirsch).

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And He said unto him, Bring Me a heifer meshuleshet, and a she goat meshuleshet, and a ram meshulash, and a dove, and a pigeon.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Concordant Literal Version    And saying is He to him, "Take for Me a heifer in her third year, and a goat in her third year, and a ram in his third year, and a turtledove, and a fledgling.

Green’s Literal Translation    And He said to him, Take for Me a heifer three years old, and a she-goat three years old, and a ram three years old, and a turtledove, even a nestling.

NASB                                     So He said to him, "Bring [Lit Take] Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon."

Syndein/Thieme                     {Five 'Types' of Christ}

And He {God} said unto him {Abram}, "Take an heifer {'eglah} of three years old {shamash} {Abram is already saved. Abram needs rebound. The heifer represents the rebound offering so it is mentioned first}, {and} a she goat {`ez} of three years old {Now in fellowship - need occupation with Christ - the she goat represents the reconciliation offering - removal of the barrier between God and man}, {and} a ram {'ayil} of three years old {So in fellowship - continuing with the need occupation with Christ - the ram represents the propitiation offering - God is NOT satisfied with Abram's work or the work of any of us - but only the work of Christ on the cross}, {and} a turtledove {towr} {and} a young pigeon {gowzal} {These two speak of the person of Jesus Christ. Note in the next verse they are NOT divided. The turtledove speaks of the deity of Christ. The young pigeon speaks of the humanity of Christ. and the two can NOT be divided - the uniqueness of the God/ Man Jesus Christ - the Hypostatic Union.}.

{Note: This tells us why God required animal sacrifice. Before the canon of scripture was completed, Abram requested a way to 'keep on understanding' that he was to inherit from God. God uses the 'instruments of worship' as teaching tools to remind the Jews of all that He has promised them.}

World English Bible                He said to him, "Take me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon."

Young’s Updated LT             And He says unto him, “Take for Me a heifer of three years, and a she-goat of three years, and a ram of three years, and a turtle-dove, and a young bird.”

 

The gist of this verse:          God asks for Abram to bring him a group of animals in sacrifice.


Genesis 15:9a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied); with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39

lâqach (לָקַח) [pronounced law-KAHKH]

take, seize, take away, take in marriage; send for, fetch, bring, receive

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative with the cohortative hê

Strong’s #3947 BDB #542

The cohortative hê, when applied to the first person, the idea is an expression of will or compulsion, and in the singular, may be expressed with I must, I could, I would, I will, I should, I may. When applied to the 1st person plural, the verb is often preceded by let us (as in Gen. 1:26).

In the 2nd person, this is often translated as an imperative, e.g., Do not murder (Ex. 20:13), although this is often translated, You will [shall] not murder. Rather than using the hê suffix, however, we often find the negative lôʾ (לֹא or לוֹא) [pronounced low]. There are a variety of ways of indicating the imperative without the negative, which depends upon the verb. Therefore, I depend upon Owen in this.

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʿegelâh (עֶגְָה) [pronounced ģege-LAW]

heifer

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #5697 BDB #722

shâlash (שָלַש) [pronounced shaw-LASH]

threefold, of the third year

feminine singular, Pual participle

Strong’s #8027 BDB #1026


All of v. 9 reads: He said to him, "Bring Me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon."


When I first became a believer, and heard or read passages like this, it just seemed like random animals being used. “You own a goat, right? Let’s use that as well.” That is not the case. Each of the animals chosen is meaningful.


Translation: Yehowah [lit., he] said to him, “Bring to Me a 3-year-old heifer,... Quite frankly, most of the time when you read a list like this, it appears as if God is just giving a list of random animals to sacrifice.


This heifer is never used in the Levitical sacrifices. It is not mentioned in the Pentateuch, except by Moses in Deut. 21. Here, when a man is murdered, and the culprit is not known, a heifer is beheaded near a stream, and the priests are to wash their hands in the stream, to be cleansed of this murder. Punishing someone for murder is not just the right but the duty of a client nation to God, and when they fail in that duty, a heifer is offered up as a substitute for the murderer. This represents a failure in their ability to carry out their solemn duty. This also indicates that, no matter what the situation, justice must be done. There must be a payment for sin.


Later, sacrificing a heifer is associated with Samuel naming David as king (and David represents Jesus Christ in His 1st and 2nd advents). 1Sam. 16:1–5


The heifer, therefor is associated with both failure (Abram’s failure of faith in this passage); as well as with the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross (which was an unjust taking of a life, before which, Pilate washed his own hands); and with Jesus Christ during the 1st and 2nd advents. This is the Person with Whom Abram is making a covenant—Jesus Christ, the revealed member of the Trinity.


Genesis 15:9b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though; as well as

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ʿêz (עֵז) [pronounced ģayz]

she-goat; in the plural, it can mean goats’ hair

feminine plural noun

Strong’s #5795 BDB #777

shâlash (שָלַש) [pronounced shaw-LASH]

threefold, of the third year

feminine singular, Pual participle

Strong’s #8027 BDB #1026


Translation: ...a 3-year-old she-goat,... The female goat is found more commonly as a sacrifice in the Old Testament. However, like the heifer, this is its first mention in the Bible. The Levitical offering of a goat appears to be tied to rebound (naming one’s sins to God—Lev. 4:23, 28). Now, why does Abram need to restore his walk with God? He has called into question God’s veracity. He has implied that he is losing faith in what God promised him. So he needs to be restored to fellowship.


Genesis 15:9c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though; as well as

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ʾayil (אַיִל) [pronounced AH-yil]

ram; ram (as food; as a sacrifice); a ram’s skin (skin dyed red, for tabernacle)

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #352 BDB #17

shâlash (שָלַש) [pronounced shaw-LASH]

threefold, of the third year

masculine singular, Pual participle

Strong’s #8027 BDB #1026


Translation: ...a 3-year-old ram;... Like the other two animals, this is the first time a ram is mentioned. The word translated ram actually has a number of other meanings: a strong man, leader, a chief (Ex. 15:15 Ezek. 17:13); a mighty tree (Isa. 61:3 Ezek. 31:14); and pillars, door posts (Ezek. 40–41). I believe what is suggested, with the ram, is the power and the strength and the preeminence of Jesus Christ.


The idea of the 3 years is, this would be the age of these animals in the prime of their lives, just as Jesus Christ, in His humanity, was in the prime of His life when He was hung on the cross.


Genesis 15:9d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though; as well as

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

tôr (תֹּר) [pronounced tore]

dove, turtle dove

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #8449 BDB #1076

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though; as well as

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

gôwzâl (גּוֹזָל) [pronounced go-ZAWL]

a young pigeon, a young eagle; young birds

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #1469 BDB #160

Both of the previous nouns have alternative spellings.


book_of_genesis_chapter_15-6_(bible_illustrations_by_sweet_media).jpg

Translation: ...and a turtledove and a young pigeon.” The turtledove is mentioned here for the first time, and this was an offering often given when the person offering it was poor (and the same is true of the pigeon—Lev. 5:7, 11 12:8 14:22, 30). The pigeon in particular is the offering of a poor person. It does not matter our station in life in order to come to the cross—rich or poor, it makes no difference. Furthermore, the pigeon is representative of Abram’s relative poverty, compared to what God has promised him (Abram is a very successful businessman, but his holdings are far less than God will ultimately give his seed).


Illustration from Genesis 15 by James Padgett, taken from Wikipedia (accessed November 29, 2013).


Now let’s put these verses together: So he said, “O Adonai Yehowah, how will I know that I will possess it?” Yehowah [lit., he] said to him, “Bring to Me a 3-year-old heifer, a 3-year-old she-goat, a 3-year-old ram; and a turtledove and a young pigeon.” Abram asks for proof of being given this land, but his question can be also interpreted as asking for the basis for being given this land. God answers both questions. God makes a solemn covenant with Abram, which promise him, with these animal sacrifices, that He will keep this covenant with him. But also, these animal sacrifices represent the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the underlying basis for all of the grace which God gives to us.


——————————


And so he takes to him all these and so he cuts them [in two] in the middle. And so he gives a man his piece to meet his companion; and the small bird he did not cut up.

Genesis

15:10

Abram [lit., he] takes to himself all these [sacrificial animals] and he cuts them [in two] in the middle. He then puts each piece to meet his counterpart; but he did not cut up the small birds.

Abram took these sacrificial animals and cut most of them in two. He then placed each piece next to the other half; but he did not cut up the birds.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum of Onkelos                And he brought all these before Him, and divided them in the midst, and set in order every division over against its fellow; but the fowl he divided not.

Jerusalem targum                  And He brought before him all these, and divided them into divisions, and set one part over against its fellow; but the fowl He divided not.

Latin Vulgate                          And he took all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid the two pieces of each one against the other: but the birds he divided not.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so he takes to him all these and so he cuts them [in two] in the middle. And so he gives a man his piece to meet his companion; and the small bird he did not cut up.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And he took to himself all these, and cut them in two, and laid each piece against another; but the birds he did not divide.

Septuagint (Greek)                So he took to Him all these, and divided them in the midst, and set them opposite to each other, but the birds he did not divide.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           He took all of these animals, split them in half, and laid the halves facing each other, but he didn't split the birds.

Contemporary English V.       Abram obeyed the LORD. Then he cut the animals in half and laid the two halves of each animal opposite each other on the ground. But he did not cut the doves and pigeons in half.

Easy English                          Abram brought them and he cut them down their middle. He placed the halves opposite each other. However, he did not cut the birds.

Easy-to-Read Version            Abram brought all these things to God. Abram killed these animals and cut each of them into two pieces. Then Abram laid each half across from the other half. Abram did not cut the birds into two pieces.

Good News Bible (TEV)         Abram brought the animals to God, cut them in half, and placed the halves opposite each other in two rows; but he did not cut up the birds.

The Message                         He brought all these animals to him, split them down the middle, and laid the halves opposite each other. But he didn't split the birds.

New Life Bible                        Then Abram brought all these to Him, and cut them in two. And he laid each half beside the other. But he did not cut the birds.

New Living Translation           So Abram presented all these to him and killed them. Then he cut each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did not, however, cut the birds in half.

The Voice                               Abram brought God all of these animals and cut them in two, laying each half next to the other, making two rows. Only the birds were not cut in two.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          So, he brought all three of [the animals] to Him, cut them each into halves, and set [the halves] opposite each other. but he didn't cut the winged creatures into halves.

Christian Community Bible     Abram brought all these animals, cut them in two, and laid each half facing its other half, but he did not cut the birds in half.

New Advent (Knox) Bible       All these he brought to him, and cut them in half, laying the two halves of each on opposite sides, except the dove and the pigeon; he did not divide these.

New American Bible (R.E.)    He brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not cut up.

Today’s NIV                          Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      He took all these, and severed them in their midst, and in the gap gave a man to greet its neighbor. He did not sever the fowl.

Conservapedia                       Abram took all these animals to God. He split them in two down the middle and placed each piece end-to-end, but did not split the birds.

The Expanded Bible              Abram brought them all to God. Then Abram ·killed the animals and cut each of them into two pieces [Lsplit them down the middle], laying each half opposite the other half. But he did not cut the birds in half.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 Taking all these he split them in the middle, and placed each part opposite its neighbour, but he did not split the birds.

NET Bible®                             So Abram [Heb "he"; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.] took all these for him and then cut them in two [Heb "in the middle."] and placed each half opposite the other [Heb "to meet its neighbor."] [For discussion of this ritual see G. F. Hasel, "The Meaning of the Animal Rite in Genesis 15," JSOT 19 (1981): 61-78.], but he did not cut the birds in half.

NIV, ©2011                             Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other [ver 17; Jer 34:18]; the birds, however, he did not cut in half [Lev 1:17; 5:8].


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   And he takes all these to him

and sections them in the midst

and gives the sections man meeting friend:

but the birds he sections not.

Judaica Press Complete T.    And he took for Him all these, and he divided them in the middle, and he placed each part opposite its mate, but he did not divide the birds.

Kaplan Translation                 [Abram] brought all these for Him. He split them in half, and placed one half opposite the other [All these species, and none other, would be used later for sacrifice. The four types here may represent the 400 years (Genesis 15:13) and the four generations (Genesis 15:16) mentioned later (cf. Hirsch).]. The birds, however, he did not split [Cf. Leviticus 1:17. (Bereshith Rabbah 44).].

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And he brought unto Him all these, and divided them in two, and laid each half one opposite another; but the birds divided he not.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                And he brought Him all these and cut them down the middle [into halves] and laid each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not divide.

Concordant Literal Version    And taking is he for Him all these and sundering them is he in the midst, and is putting each sundered part to meet its associate. Yet the birds he did not sunder. For some reason, the CLV places the last phrase with v. 11.

Darby Translation                  And he took all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid the half of each opposite its fellow; but the birds he did not divide.

Emphasized Bible                  So he took for him all these, and divided them, in the midst, and placed each piece over against its fellow, hut the birds, divided he not.

English Standard Version      And he brought him all these, cut them in half [Jer. 34:18, 19], and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half [Lev. 1:17].

The Geneva Bible                  And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. This was the old custom in making covenants, ( Jeremiah 39:18 ), to which God added these conditions, that Abram’s posterity would be as torn in pieces, but after they would be rejoined: also that it would be assaulted, but yet delivered.

Green’s Literal Translation    And he took all these for Him, and he divided them in the middle; and he laid each piece against one another, but he did not divide the bird.

NASB                                     Then he brought [Lit took] all these to Him and cut them in two [Lit in the midst] [Gen 15:17], and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds [Lev 1:17].

New King James Version       Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.

New RSV                               He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.

Syndein/Thieme                     And he {Abram} took unto Him all these, and divided them in the middle {picture of rebound and Occupation with Christ - emphasis on reconciliation and propitiation}, and laid each {half} piece one against another. But the birds, he {Abram} did not divide. {Note: The sacrifice practice of the large animals was to cut them into two parts with the blood pouring toward the middle.}

 

A Voice in the Wilderness      And he took all these for Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and put each piece against each other; but he did not cut the birds in two.

World English Bible                He took him all these, and divided them in the middle, and laid each half opposite the other; but he didn't divide the birds.

Young’s Updated LT             And he takes to him all these, and separates them in the midst, and puts each piece over against its fellow, but the bird he has not divided.

 

The gist of this verse:          Abram brought these animals before God, then cut the larger ones into two pieces, which he laid against one another; and the birds were not cut in half.


Genesis 15:10a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

lâqach (לָקַח) [pronounced law-KAHKH]

to take, to take away, to take in marriage; to seize

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3947 BDB #542

The BDB gives the following meanings: to take, take in the hand; to take and carry along; to take from, take out of, take, carry away, take away; to take to or for a person, procure, get, take possession of, select, choose, take in marriage, receive, accept; to take up or upon, put upon; to fetch; to take, lead, conduct; to take, capture, seize; to take, carry off; to take (vengeance).

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated generally; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

kôl (כֹּל) [pronounced kohl]; also kôl (כֹּל) [pronounced kohl]

all, all things, the whole, totality, the entirety, everything

masculine singular noun without the definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

The sign of the direct object indicates to me that all things is a reasonable rendering.

ʾêlleh (אֵלֶּה) [pronounced ALE-leh]

these, these things

demonstrative plural adjective with the definite article (often the verb to be is implied)

Strong's #428 BDB #41

Kôl ʾêlleh together simply mean all these ___.


Translation: Abram [lit., he] takes to himself all these [sacrificial animals]... Abram does as he is ordered to do by God.


This tell us that there was a rather elaborate system of sacrifice even at this time prior to the introduction of the Levitical sacrifices. We know that it was Abram's custom to offer sacrifices to Yahweh whenever he stopped and this passage seems to indicate that there was a method that did not have to be spelled out for Abram. He cuts the animals in two and leaves the birds as they are. The age of the animals perhaps corresponds to the young adult stage of the animals' life, just as our Lord was sacrificed in His young adult life.


Genesis 15:10b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

bâthar (בָּתַר) [pronounced baw-THAR]

to cut [up], to cut in two; to divide [up]

3rd person masculine singular, Piel imperfect

Strong’s #1334 BDB #144

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

them; untranslated mark of a direct object; occasionally to them, toward them

sign of the direct object affixed to a 3rd person masculine plural suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

tâveke (תָּוֶ) [pronounced taw-VEKE]

midst, among, middle

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #8432 BDB #1063


Translation: ...and he cuts them [in two] in the middle. The larger animals are cut in half. He is preparing the animals for sacrifice and for a covenant.


Genesis 15:10c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #5414 BDB #678

All of the BDB meanings for the Qal stem of nâthan are as follows: 1) to give, put, set; 1a) (Qal); 1a1) to give, bestow, grant, permit, ascribe, employ, devote, consecrate, dedicate, pay wages, sell, exchange, lend, commit, entrust, give over, deliver up, yield produce, occasion, produce, requite to, report, mention, utter, stretch out, extend; 1a2) to put, set, put on, put upon, set, appoint, assign, designate; 1a3) to make, constitute.

ʾîysh (אִיש) [pronounced eesh]

a man; a husband; one of virile age; an inhabitant of, a citizen of [when followed by a genitive of a place]; companion of, solider of, follower of [when followed by a genitive of king, leader, etc.]; anyone, someone, a certain one, each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun (sometimes found where we would use a plural)

Strong's #376 BDB #35

bether (בֶּתֶר) [pronounced BEH-thehr]

a part, a piece, of the parts of an animal cut in half for a sacrifice

masculine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #1335 BDB #144

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

qârâʾ (קָרָא) [pronounced kaw-RAW]

to encounter, to befall, to meet; to assemble [for the purpose of encountering God or exegeting His Word]; to come, to assemble

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #7122 & #7125 BDB #896

rêaʿ (רֵעַ) [pronounced RAY-ahģ]

associate, neighbor, colleague; companion, friend; beloved; fellow, acquaintance; fellow citizen; another person; one, another [in a reciprocal phrase]

masculine singular noun with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #7453 BDB #945


Translation: He then puts each piece to meet his counterpart;... Each piece was placed against its other half.


Genesis 15:10d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though; as well as

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated generally; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

tsippôwr (צִפּוֹר) [pronounced tsihp-POOR]

small bird, sparrow; bird [singular, collective sense]; fowl, birds

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #6833 BDB #861

lôʾ (לֹא or לוֹא) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

bâthar (בָּתַר) [pronounced baw-THAR]

to cut [up], to cut in two; to divide [up]

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect; pausal form

Strong’s #1334 BDB #144


Translation: ...but he did not cut up the small birds. The birds are not cut in half.


Gen 15:10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half.


Now, normally, what happens when a covenant is made is, those who are parties to the covenant walk between the pieces of animals in order to seal the covenant. The blood and the deaths of the animals seal the covenant, just as we have a covenant with God, based upon the death of His Son. In a sense, we walk through the Son in faith (“No man comes to the Father but through Me” —John 14:6b).


——————————


And so come down the bird of prey upon the carcasses; and so drives them away Abram.

Genesis

15:11

Birds of prey came down on the carcasses and Abram drove them away.

Birds of prey came down on the carcasses of the sacrifices but Abram drove them away.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum of Onkelos                And there came down idolatrous peoples which are like to unclean birds, to steal away the sacrifices of Israel; but the righteousness of Abram was a shield over them.

Jerusalem targum                  And when the birds descended, they came not nigh the divisions: those birds are unclean fowl, and those unclean fowl are the kingdoms of the earth which are worshippers of idols, and which counsel evil counsels against the sons of Israel; but the integrity of the righteous Abram hindered them.

Latin Vulgate                          And the fowls came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so come down the bird of prey upon the carcasses; and so drives them away Abram.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And when the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

Septuagint (Greek)                And birds came down upon the bodies, even upon the divided parts of them, and Abram sat down by them.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           When vultures swooped down on the carcasses, Abram waved them off.

Easy English                          Then the birds that hunt came down upon the animals. Abram drove the birds away.

Easy-to-Read Version            Later, large birds flew down to eat the animals. But Abram chased them away.

Good News Bible (TEV)         Vultures came down on the bodies, but Abram drove them off.

New Century Version             Later, large birds flew down to eat the animals, but Abram chased them away.

New Life Bible                        When the meat-eating birds came down upon the dead animals, Abram made them go away.

New Living Translation           Some vultures swooped down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away.

The Voice                               And when any birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, Abram swatted them away.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Well, birds started landing on the bodies (the cut-up parts), as Abram sat there next to them.

New Advent (Knox) Bible       The whole day long Abram stood there, driving away the carrion-birds as they swooped down on the carcases; but when the sun set, deep sleep fell upon him, and in the darkness a great dread assailed him. V. 12 was added for context.

New American Bible              Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram stayed with them.

NIRV                                      Then large birds came down to eat the dead bodies of the animals and birds. But Abram chased the large birds away.

New Jerusalem Bible             And whenever birds of prey swooped down on the carcases, Abram drove them off.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      The carrion-birds descended over the corpses, and Abram swished them.

Bible in Basic English             And evil birds came down on the bodies, but Abram sent them away.

Conservapedia                       When the vultures came down to attack the carcasses, Abram drove them off. The Hebrew עית (ayit) literally means a swooping bird. It is probably the black vulture (Gyps fulvus) that is native to the region.

The Expanded Bible              Later, ·large birds [or birds of prey] flew down to eat the ·animals [Lcarcasses], but Abram chased them away [Cperhaps representing later enemies of Israel].

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 Then the kites descended upon the carcases; but Abram drove them away.

 

NIV, ©2011                             Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses [Dt 28:26; Jer 7:33], but Abram drove them away.


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   And when the swoopers descend on the carcases,

Abram drives them away.

Judaica Press Complete T.    And the birds of prey descended upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

Kaplan Translation                 Vultures descended on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And when the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, Avram drove them away.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                And when the birds of prey swooped down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

Concordant Literal Version    And descending are the birds of prey on the severed cadavers, yet Abram is sitting by and turning them back.

Darby Translation                  And the birds of prey came down on the carcases; and Abram scared them away.

English Standard Version      And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

Syndein/Thieme                     {Picture of Satanic Attacks when You are in Fellowship}

And when the vultures came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. {Note: Worry is an attack on the Plan of God after salvation. Abram was in fellowship after rebound so he drove away the attacks of satanic emissaries. Satan has his disciples who are always trying to get you out of fellowship - in view here is through worry.}.

Webster’s Bible Translation  And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.

World English Bible                The birds of prey came down on the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

Young’s Updated LT             And the ravenous birds come down upon the carcases, and Abram causes them to turn back.

 

The gist of this verse:          After laying out these sacrifices, birds of prey swooped down upon these sacrifices, and Abram drove them away.


Genesis 15:11a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yârad (יָרַד) [pronounced yaw-RAHD]

to descend, to go down

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3381 BDB #432

ʿayiţ (עַיִט) [pronounced ĢAH-yiht]

bird(s) of prey, a rapacious bird (or birds)

masculine singular noun; a collective noun like flock; with the definite article

Strong’s #5861 BDB #743

ʿal (עַל) [pronounced ģahl]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of relative proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

peger (פֶּגֶר) [pronounced PEH-ger]

corpse, carcass; monument, stele

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #6297 BDB #803


Translation: Birds of prey came down on the carcasses... God appears to be answering Abram’s objection, but in a somewhat odd way. Abram was concerned about the promises which God made to him; and he is given instructions as to what he ought to do to sacrifice to God. Abram lays out the sacrifices, and they attacked by a flock of birds.


This is interesting; Abram is waiting for further instructions from God. It is possible that God has not given him instructions when it comes to this large of a sacrifice. Abram is not confused by what is occurring; he does not think that the birds of prey are messengers from God sent down to take the meat into heaven. He protects the animal sacrifces because the sacrifices must be burned with fire, which is judgement.


We do not know if this is in Abram’s dream or if he has awakened and is dealing with this. I lean toward understanding all of this literally, regardless of how God was communicating with Abram.


Genesis 15:11b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâshab (נָשַב) [pronounced naw-SHAHBV]

to cause to blow, to disperse, to drive away [by blowing]

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong’s #5380 BDB #674

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

them; untranslated mark of a direct object; occasionally to them, toward them

sign of the direct object affixed to a 3rd person masculine plural suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ʾAberâm (אַבְרָם) [pronounced abv-RAWM]

father of elevation, exalted father; and is transliterated Abram

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #87 BDB #4


Translation: ...and Abram drove them away. Abram drives away the birds.


Gen 15:11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.


These animal sacrifices represent a covenant between God and Abram, and this covenant is both about Abram’s son, his descendants, and the gift of Canaan to Abram’s descendants. This covenant is going to be attacked repeatedly, represented by these birds of prey, and Abram drives them away, protecting this covenant with God. Therefore, Abram is back in fellowship and he understands the importance of protecting and preserving this covenant, even though he has not a son as of yet.


Again, we have a parallel. All that God has promised Abram is based upon his son, in whom he must have faith for the other promises to have any sort of meaning. For us, the same is true. All of the promises of the Bible are based upon one thing—the Son of Abram. We must have faith in Him first and foremost (this may help to explain the genealogies found throughout the Bible; they testify to Jesus being the Son of Abram).


This covenant is the promise of God to Abram that his descendants would possess the land upon which he stood. The attacks upon this covenant continue even to this moment, when hundreds of Hamas rockets are fired each year into Israel, and groups of people—even nations—who today refuse to recognize that Israel has a right to exist. The leader of Iran has spoken of the complete destruction of Israel.


A contemporary bird of prey today would be Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said "Iran's stance has always been clear on this ugly phenomenon (Israel). We have repeatedly said that this cancerous tumor of a state should be removed from the region." One of the so-called Arab spring protestors proclaimed, "If the people are free in Egypt... they're going to go free Palestinians, they're going to destroy Israel. The country who control the United States is Israel!"


Israel may lose and regain that plot of ground on many occasions, but that region has been given by God to Abram and to his seed, and at some point in the future, in the Millennium, they will possess much, much more land in that region than today or at anytime in their history.


——————————


And so is the sun to go down and a deep sleep fell upon Abram and, behold, a dread darkness great is falling upon him.

Genesis

15:12

As the sun is going down, a deep sleep falls upon Abram, and, behold, a great dread of darkness falls upon him.

As the sun is going down, a deep sleep falls upon Abram; and then this great dread of darkness falls upon him.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Targum of Onkelos                And when the sun was nearing to set, a deep sleep was thrown upon Abram: and, behold, four kingdoms arose to enslave his children: Terror, which is Bavel; Darkness, which is Madai; Greatness, which is Javan; Decline, which is Pheras, which is to fall, and to have no uplifting, and from whence it is to be that the children of Israel will come up.

Jerusalem targum                  And when the sun was going to set, a sleep profound and sweet fell upon Abram. And, behold, Abram saw four kingdoms which should arise to being his sons into subjection (and) Terror; the Greatness; of Darkness; Fell;upon him: Terror, that is Bavel; Darkness, that is Media; Greatness, that is Greece; Fell, that is Edom, (Rome,) that fourth kingdom which is to Fall, and never to rise again for ever and ever.

Latin Vulgate                          And when the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a great and darksome horror seized upon him.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so is the sun to go down and a deep sleep fell upon Abram and, behold, a dread darkness great is falling upon him.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and, lo, fear and a great darkness fell upon him.

Septuagint (Greek)                And about sunset a trance fell upon Abram, and behold, a great gloomy terror fell upon him.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           After the sun set, Abram slept deeply. A terrifying and deep darkness settled over him.

Contemporary English V.       As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and everything became dark and frightening.

Easy English                          As the sun was setting, Abram slept deeply. Thick darkness came over him and it made him feel very afraid.

Easy-to-Read Version            Later in the day, the sun was going down. Abram became very sleepy and fell asleep. While he was asleep a very terrible darkness came.

The Message                         As the sun went down a deep sleep overcame Abram and then a sense of dread, dark and heavy.

New Berkeley Version           About sunset a deep sleep overcame Abram and a horror of dense darkness got hold of him.

New Century Version             As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep. While he was asleep, a very terrible darkness came.

New Life Bible                        When the sun was going down, Abram went into a sleep as if he were dead. And much fear and darkness came upon him.

New Living Translation           As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him.

The Voice                               As the sun was setting in the west, Abram fell into a deep sleep. A terrifying darkness descended upon him.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Then, about sunset, Abram fell into a trance and {Look!} he had an ominous premonition.

Beck’s American Translation Abram fell into a deep sleep. A great darkness came over him and terrified him.

Christian Community Bible     As the sun was going down, a deep sleep came over Abram, and a dreadful darkness took hold of him.

God’s Word                         As the sun was just about to set, a deep sleep-a dreadful, deep darkness-came over Abram.

New American Bible              As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

New American Bible (R.E.)    As the sun was about to set, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a great, dark dread descended upon him.

Today’s NIV                          As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      The sun was coming down and a deep-sleep fell over Abram. Behold, the awe of great darkness fell over him.

Bible in Basic English             Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep came on Abram, and a dark cloud of fear.

Conservapedia                       During sunset, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and then a terribly great darkness fell on him.

The Expanded Bible              As the sun was ·going down [setting], Abram fell into a deep sleep. While he was asleep, a very ·terrible [or frightening] darkness came.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 And, when the sun was sinking, a stupor fell upon Abram, and also a great and terrible darkness oppressed him.

HCSB                                     As the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell on Abram, and suddenly a terror and great darkness descended on him.

NET Bible®                             When the sun went down, Abram fell sound asleep [Heb "a deep sleep fell on Abram."], and great terror overwhelmed him [Heb "and look, terror, a great darkness was falling on him."].

New Heart English Bible        When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. Now terror and great darkness fell on him.


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           As the sun was about to set, a deep sleep fell on Avram; horror and great darkness came over him.

exeGeses companion Bible   And the sun goes down

and a sound sleep falls on Abram;

and behold, a terror of great darkness befalls him: ...

Kaplan Translation                 When the sun was setting, Abram fell into a trance, and he was stricken by a deep dark dread.

Orthodox Jewish Bible           And when the shemesh was going down, a tardemah fell upon Avram; and, hinei, a horror of great darkness fell upon him.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                When the sun was setting, a deep sleep overcame Abram, and a horror (a terror, a shuddering fear) of great darkness assailed and oppressed him.

Concordant Literal Version    And, at the coming of the setting of the sun, a stupor falls on Abram. And, behold! The dread of a great darkness is falling on him.

Context Group Version          And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and, look, a dread, dark and enormous, fell on him.

Darby Translation                  And as the sun was just going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, a horror, a great darkness, fell upon him.

English Standard Version      As the sun was going down, a deep sleep [ch. 2:21] fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.

NASB                                     Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep [Gen 2:21; 28:11; Job 33:15] fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness [Or a terror of great darkness] fell upon him.

New RSV                               As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

Syndein/Thieme                     {Verses 12-21: Third Cure for Worry - Prophesy}

{Abram's Problem with Night Mares}

And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram {relaxed - no worry}. And, lo, an horror of great darkness fell {upon him} {peace upset with a nightmare}. {Note: What is the nightmare about? The future of his progeny. God cures his worry with prophecy of Israel's future (Abram's descendents).}.

Updated Bible Version 2.11   And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and, look, a dread, dark and enormous, fell on him.

Webster’s Bible Translation  And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him.

World English Bible                When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. Now terror and great darkness fell on him.

Young’s Updated LT             And the sun is about to go in, and deep sleep has fallen upon Abram, and lo, a terror of great darkness is falling upon him.

 

The gist of this verse:          A deep darkness falls over Abram and he suffers a deep dread.


Genesis 15:12a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

hâyâh (הָיָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

shemesh (שֶמֶש) [pronounced SHEH-mesh]

sun; sunrise, sun-rising, east, sun-setting, west (of direction); openly, publically

masculine or feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #8121 BDB #1039

This is the first occurrence of this word in Scripture.

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

bôwʾ (בּוֹא) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter, to advance

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #935 BDB #97


Translation: As the sun is going down,... This suggests that Abram was awake when he made the sacrifices and that there were really birds which attacked the carcasses of the animals.


It is noted that the sun is mentioned for the first time in this passage. This is fascinating because the theories are that, man began to worship all kinds of objects first (like the sun and the moon); and yet this is arguably the oldest religious book, and the sun is not mentioned until Gen. 15 (the sun is called the great light in Gen. 1). But what we do not have in the Bible is any sort of worship of the sun found among those faithful to God. This is the exact opposite of what an evolutionist would have predicted.


Genesis 15:12b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though; as well as

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

tareddêmâh (תַּרְדֵּמָה) [pronounced tahre-day-MAW]

deep sleep

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #8639 BDB #922

nâphal (נָפַל) [pronounced naw-FAHL]

to fall, to lie, to die a violent death, to be brought down, to settle, to sleep deeply; to desert

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #5307 BDB #656

ʿal (עַל) [pronounced ģahl]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of relative proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

ʾAberâm (אַבְרָם) [pronounced abv-RAWM]

father of elevation, exalted father; and is transliterated Abram

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #87 BDB #4


Translation: ...a deep sleep falls upon Abram,... Abram falls into a deep sleep.


This gives us a better concept of the trance like state that Abram falls into when talking with God. This does not mean that this is the way it always occurred in the Old Testament or that this is always the way it occurred with Abram; but it is the first time that we are given some more information in terms of the mechanics. This is not, however, something which should be duplicated in the church age. There is nothing in the epistles of Paul which suggest that we need to find this trance-like state so that God can speak to us. God speaks to us through His Word and not through dreams, visions or trances. Satan is in the business of counterfeiting all God's works and he counterfeits those things now.


Genesis 15:12c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though; as well as

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hinnêh (הִנֵּה) [pronounced hin-NAY]

lo, behold, or more freely, observe, look here, look, listen, note, take note; pay attention, get this, check this out

interjection, demonstrative particle

Strong’s #2009 (and #518, 2006) BDB #243

ʾêymâh (אִֵימָה) [pronounced ay-MAW]

terror, dread, horror, fear; idols

feminine singular substantive

Strong’s #367 BDB #33

chăshêkâh (חֲשֵכָה) [pronounced khuhsh-ay-KAW]

darkness; figuratively for misery

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #2825 BDB #365

gâdôwl (גָּדוֹל) [pronounced gaw-DOHL]

large, great or mighty [in power, nobility, wealth; in number, or magnitude and extent], loud, older, important, distinguished; vast, unyielding, immutable, significant, astonishing

feminine singular adjective with a definite article

Strong’s #1419 BDB #152

nâphal (נָפַל) [pronounced naw-FAHL]

falling, lying; is dying a violent death, being brought down

feminine singular, Qal active participle

Strong's #5307 BDB #656

ʿal (עַל) [pronounced ģahl]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of relative proximity with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752


genesis-15-a-deep-sleep-fell-upon-abram-and-a-horror-seizes-him-by-gerard-hoet-1728.jpg

Translation: ...and, behold, a great dread of darkness falls upon him. In sleep, Abram has this great deep darkness falling upon him.


A deep sleep fell upon Abram and a horror seizes him by Gerard Hoet 1728 (a graphic) from Carpe Scriptura accessed November 29, 2013.


Gen 15:12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.


We have an unusual continuity here. God is speaking to Abram, Abram does what God tells him to do, and then there is a period of time which passes, which includes a frightful darkness.


This darkness represents various periods of time during which the Jews do not fully trust in the promises of God. These will be periods of time when God does not speak to any Jew, or periods of time when they have been expelled from the land (the 5th stage of national discipline). God will certainly bring these things to pass; but there will be times when this is doubted and times when this covenant will be attacked.


Why do we have these periods of darkness? A lack of faith on the part of the Jews. God has given them promises, both short-term and long-term, and the Jews have chased after other gods. Or the Jews have questioned or doubted their spiritual history. Or the Jews have gotten so far into gross sins and idolatry that God punishes them with severe discipline.


What will follow is, God’s assurances to Abram, giving him even more specific information about what would transpire.


So far, this is what we have studied:


Gen 15:1–11 After these things the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Don't be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." Abram said, "Lord Yahweh, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and he who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" Abram said, "Behold, to me you have given no seed: and, behold, one born in my house is my heir." Behold, the word of Yahweh came to him, saying, "This man will not be your heir, but he who will come forth out of your own body will be your heir." Yahweh brought him outside, and said, "Look now toward the sky, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." He said to Abram, "So shall your seed be." He believed in Yahweh; and he reckoned it to him for righteousness. And He [God] said to him [Abram], "I am Yehowah Who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess." But he said, "O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I will possess it?" He said to him, "Bring Me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.


The entire context of this narrative is related to a vision, which is introduced in v. 1. It is difficult to determine if Abram leaves this vision at some point in this narrative. He goes outside and it is night in v. 5; but then the sun is going down in v. 12 and it is down in v. 17. Abram is doing things throughout this chapter—talking with God, getting animals and offering them up as sacrifices and to seal and agreement, and then driving away birds of prey. Part of the problem is the word vision, which only occurs 4 times in the Bible. So, one way of putting all of this chapter together is, all of this takes place within this one vision, so that Abram is doing these things, but they are taking place in his mind. He is going outside, but that is in his mind; he is getting these animals and offering them up, but that is in his mind.


In the alternative, this chapter takes place over 2 nights and one day, and it begins with a vision, perhaps coming to Abram while sleeping at 4 in the morning or when Abram wakens early before the dawn. So God takes Abram seamlessly from a vision into reality. In the vision, God is speaking with Abram (vv. 1–4), but then God actually takes Abram outside to look at the stars in v. 5. When God tells Abram to gather up the 5 animals, Abram does this the next morning, in the daytime. That is, this really occurs, and there are real birds of prey who attempt to swoop down and to take the meat, and that Abram spends the latter half of the day driving these birds away. Then, in v. 12, the sun is going down, and Abram falls into a deep sleep.


I lean toward the latter explanation, simply because there is a word for dream, the noun and verb both occurring nearly 100 times in the Old Testament. Had this word been used, then it would seem more reasonable for this narrative to all take place in the dream. Since the word dream is not used here, it seems more likely that what is said to occur, actually does occur.


In either case, it is the substance of this chapter that is important. You could believe that all of this occurs in a vision; and you could believe that we move from a vision into real life, and that this is all taking place over a period of, say, 15 hours. However, with either interpretation, the words of God are what they are; the objections of Abram are what they are. The activities in this chapter may have actually taken place or maybe they took place within the vision. However, what is actually being taught in this chapter is unchanged.


Abram, despite all that has happened to date, has begun to question God and the validity of His promises. Abram overlooks all that has happened because God told him to go to the land of Canaan; and focuses one what has not yet happened. “How do I know that You are going to actually give this land to my descendants? I don’t have a son yet who is my heir.”


God gives Abram a taste of what is to come while making a covenant with him. This covenant is made with the animal sacrifices of vv. 9–11. The birds of prey which come down to eat the meat of these carcases indicate that Abram’s genetic line would be attacked again and again—right down to today, in the year of our Lord, 2011. All during this time, Abram drove these birds of prey away (this represents what God would do to protect the Jews). What Abram was supposed to do takes time. Getting these 5 animals and offering them up takes a few hours, and with the first carcass that Abram lays out, birds begin to circle; and Abram finds himself driving these birds away as he gathers the other animals.


This takes us to the end of the day; the animal carcasses are all laid out, the larger animals split apart with a walkway in between them; and then Abram falls into a deep sleep.


Gen 15:12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.


The darkness in which Abram finds himself is quit unusual. It is a terror of great darkness which comes down upon Abram. So Abram is in a deep sleep, but he perceives this great darkness around him.


God then will make a covenant with Abram, at which time God interprets this covenant, the birds of prey and the great darkness that fell upon Abram. So Abram is near these animal carcasses which he laid out; he is in a deep sleep, and he perceives great frightening darkness about him; and God speaks to him.


——————————


And so He says to Abram, “Knowing you know that a stranger is your seed in a land not to them and they will serve them and they will oppress them four hundreds a year. And also the people whom they serve bringing judgment Me and after so they will come out in substance great.

Genesis

15:13–14

God [lit., He] then said to Abra