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Genesis 15

15
The Covenant with Abram.#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. 1Some 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.
2But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you give me, if I die childless and have only a servant of my household, Eliezer of Damascus?” 3Abram continued, “Look, you have given me no offspring, so a servant of my household will be my heir.” 4Then 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. 5He 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. 6#1 Mc 2:52; Rom 4:3, 9, 22; Gal 3:6–7; Jas 2:23. 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.
7He 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. 8“Lord God,” he asked, “how will I know that I will possess it?” 9#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. 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.#Lv 1:14. 10He brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not cut up. 11Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram scared them away. 12As the sun was about to set, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a great, dark dread descended upon him.
13#The verses clarify the promise of the land by providing a timetable of its possession: after four hundred years of servitude, your descendants will actually possess the land in the fourth generation (a patriarchal generation seems to be one hundred years). The iniquity of the current inhabitants (called here the Amorites) has not yet reached the point where God must intervene in punishment. Another table is given in Ex 12:40, which is not compatible with this one. Then the Lord said to Abram: Know for certain that your descendants will reside as aliens in a land not their own, where they shall be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.#Ex 12:40; Nm 20:15; Jdt 5:9–10; Is 52:4; Acts 13:20; Gal 3:17. 14But I will bring judgment on the nation they must serve, and after this they will go out with great wealth.#Ex 3:8, 21–22. 15You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace; you will be buried at a ripe old age. 16In the fourth generation#Generation: the Hebrew term dor is commonly rendered as “generation,” but it may signify a period of varying length. A “generation” is the period between the birth of children and the birth of their parents, normally about twenty to twenty-five years. The actual length of a generation can vary, however; in Jb 42:16 it is thirty-five and in Nm 32:13 it is forty. The meaning may be life spans, which in Gn 6:3 is one hundred twenty years and in Is 65:20 is one hundred years. your descendants will return here, for the wickedness of the Amorites is not yet complete.#1 Kgs 21:26.
17When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. 18#The Wadi, i.e., a gully or ravine, of Egypt is the Wadi-el-‘Arish, which is the boundary between the settled land and the Sinai desert. Some scholars suggest that the boundaries are those of a Davidic empire at its greatest extent; others that they are idealized boundaries. Most lists of the ancient inhabitants of the promised land give three, six, or seven peoples, but vv. 19–21 give a grand total of ten. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates,#Ex 32:13; Neh 9:8; Ps 105:11; Sir 44:21. 19#Dt 7:1. the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Genesis 15

15
The Abrahamic Covenant
1After these events, the word of the Lord came # 1Sm 15:10; 2Sm 7:4; 1Kg 6:11; Is 38:4; Jr 1:2 to Abram in a vision:
Do not be afraid, # Gn 26:24; Is 41:10; Jr 30:10; Lk 1:13,30 Abram.
I am your shield; # Dt 33:29; 2Sm 22:3,31; Ps 3:3; 7:10
your reward will be very great.
2But Abram said, “Lord God, what can You give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? ” # Hb obscure 3Abram continued, “Look, You have given me no offspring, so a slave born in # Lit a son of my house will be my heir.”
4Now the word of the Lord came to him: “This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body # Lit loins will be your heir.” 5He 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.” # Gn 22:17; 26:4; Ex 32:13; Dt 1:10; 10:22; 1Ch 27:23; Rm 4:18; Heb 11:12
6Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness. # Rm 4:3,9,22; Gl 3:6; Jms 2:23
7He also said to him, “I am Yahweh who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” # Gn 11:31; 12:1; Neh 9:7-8; Ac 7:2-4
8But he said, “Lord God, how can I know # Jdg 6:17; 2Kg 20:8; Ps 86:17; Is 7:11-13; Lk 1:18 that I will possess it? ”
9He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
10So he brought all these to Him, split them down the middle, and laid the pieces opposite each other, but he did not cut up the birds. # Lv 1:17 11Birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. 12As the sun was setting, a deep sleep # Gn 2:21 fell on Abram, and suddenly great terror and darkness descended on him.
13Then the Lord said to Abram, # Ac 7:6-7 “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be foreigners # Ex 22:21; 23:9 in a land that does not belong to them; they will be enslaved and oppressed # Lit will serve them and they will oppress them 400 years. # Ex 12:40; Gl 3:17 14However, I will judge the nation they serve, # Ex 6:6; 7:4; 12:12 and afterward they will go out with many possessions. # Ex 3:22 15But you will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a ripe old age. # Gn 25:8; 47:30 16In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” # Lit Amorites is not yet complete # Lv 18:24-28; Dn 8:23; Mt 23:32; 1Th 2:16
17When the sun had set and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared and passed between the divided animals. 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I give this land to your offspring, # Gn 12:7; 13:15; 17:8; 24:7; 26:4; Nm 34:2; Dt 34:4; Jos 21:43; Neh 9:8; Ac 7:5 from the brook of Egypt # Ex 23:31; Nm 34:1-15; Dt 1:7-8; 2Kg 24:7 to the Euphrates River: # Lit the great river, the river Euphrates 19the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, 21Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”