Exit Parallel Mode
 

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.
15
CHAPTER 15
1And so when these things were done, the word of the Lord was made to Abram by a vision, and said, Abram, do not thou dread, I am thy defender, and thy meed is full great.
2And Abram said, Lord God, what shalt thou give to me? I shall go without free children, and this Damascus, son of Eliezer, the procurator of mine house, shall be mine heir.
3And Abram added, Soothly thou hast not given seed to me, and, lo! my born servant shall be mine heir.
4And anon the word of the Lord was made to him, and said, This shall not be thine heir, but thou shalt have him heir, that shall go out of thy womb.
5And the Lord led out Abram, and said to him, Behold thou heaven, and number the stars, if thou mayest. And the Lord said to Abram, So thy seed shall be.
6Abram believed to God, and it was reckoned to him to rightwiseness.
7And God said to him, I am the Lord, that led thee out of Ur of Chaldees, that I should give this land to thee, and thou shouldest have it in possession.
8And Abram said, Lord God, where-by shall I know that I shall wield it?
9And the Lord answered, and said, Take thou to me a cow of three years, and a goat of three years, and a ram of three years, and a turtledove, and a culver.
10Which took all these things, and parted those [or them] by the midst [or the middle], and setted [or put] ever either part each against other; but he parted not the birds.
11And fowls came down on the carrions, and Abram drove them away.
12And when the sun was gone down, dread felled on Abram, and a great hideousness and dark assailed him.
13And it was said to him, Know thou a before-knowing, that thy seed shall be [a] pilgrim four hundred years in a land not his own, and they shall make them subject to servage, and they shall torment them;
14nevertheless I shall deem the folk to whom they shall serve; and after these things they shall go out with great chattel [or substance].
15Forsooth thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace, and shalt be buried in good [eld] age.
16Soothly in the fourth generation they shall turn again hither, for the wickedness of [the] Amorites be not yet [full-]filled, till to present time.
17Therefore when the sun was gone down, a dark mist was made, and a furnace smoking appeared, and a lamp of fire, and passed through those partings.
18In that day the Lord made a covenant of peace with Abram, and said, I shall give to thy seed this land, from the river of Egypt till to the great river Euphrates;
19 the lands of the Kenites, and Kenizzites, and Kadmonites,
20and Hittites, and Perizzites, and Rephaims,
21and Amorites, and Canaanites, and Girgashites, and Jebusites.