Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Genesis 15

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-6


Verses 1-6:

Abram lived peaceably among his neighbors. He had evidently attained a high reputation because of his victory over Chedorlaomer and his allies. He was a very wealthy chieftain. But this was all useless without an heir to inherit it all. God spoke to Abram in a vision to assure him of His own adequacy. Abram’s concern is evident in his reference to the one who would legally inherit his wealth: his steward Eliezer of Damascus. Abram’s plea reveals his natural desire for an heir, his own child; his struggle to believe God’s promises in the face of impossible odds; and his hope that what God had promised He would eventually perform.

Eliezer, "God is help," was likely a native of Damascus who had joined Abram on his journey from Haran to Canaan, and who rose to the position of chief administrator (steward) of all Abram had. "One born in my house" is literally "the son of my house." It does not mean that Eliezer was born in Abram’s household, but that he was over the household. He was likely the servant Abram sent in later years to bring back from Haran a bride for Isaac (Ge 24:2).

God reassured Abram that He would in due time fulfill His promise to give him a son of his own. The offspring of this promised son would be as numerous as the stars of heaven.

Verses 7-11

Verses 7-11:

There is no element of doubt in Abram’s request for confirmation of the Divine promise. The request denotes Abram’s desire for a sign to strengthen his faith. Abram addressed God as Adonai Jehovah.

Jehovah instructed Abram to prepare and offer a sacrifice, consisting of three animals and two birds. These were afterward prescribed for sacrifice in the Law, see Ex 29:15; Nu 15:27; 19:2; De 21:3; Le 1:14. The number "three" denotes Divine perfection, and refers to Him who is, who was, and who is to come.

Abram slaughtered the sacrificial animals, and divided them in the same ritual afterwards observed among the Hebrews in the ratification of covenants (Ge 34:18). He waited for the Lord’s acceptance, and kept the fowls from them.

Verses 12-17

Verses 12-17:

The vision began the previous evening, with Abraham’s view of the starry sky. It continued throughout the day, with his preparation of the sacrificial animals. At sunset, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, either induced by weariness or by supernatural intervention. An overwhelming sense of dread came upon him, occasioned by the dense darkness surrounding the entire scene. God spoke from this darkness to give Abram a message of the future of his descendants. This future included three stages: (1) exile; (2) bondage; and (3) affliction. The period of time involved is four hundred years. For three generations Abram’s seed should suffer exile and affliction, but in the fourth they were to return and enter into possession of the Promised Land. At that time the measure of the full iniquity of the Canaanites would be full.

Scholars disagree as to the interpretation of the four hundred years’ time frame. Some consider it a round number for 430, beginning with the date of Jacob’s move to Egypt (Ex 12:39; Ac 7:6; Ga 3:17), considering the death of Jacob as the closing of the time of promise. Others offer an exact period beginning with Isaac’s birth (thirty years after departing Ur).

The "nation" who is to enslave Abram’s descendants is here unnamed. History reveals it to be Egypt. Jehovah promises that Abraham’s descendants will leave that land much increased in substance.

In the dense darkness there appeared a smoking "furnace" or fire-pot, with a flaming torch emerging from it. This pictures the Divine presence, the Shekinah glory of Jehovah (Ex 19:18). This flaming torch passed among the pieces of the sacrifice, indicating Divine acceptance and ratification.

Verses 18-21

Verses 18-21:

God defined the boundaries of the land grant to Abram’s descendants: from the "river of Egypt," the Nile, (not the Brook of Egypt in the south of the country) on the west, to the River Euphrates on the east. The northern boundary would appear to be the region of the headwaters of the Euphrates and the Mediterranean coast. The southern boundary would likely be the Arabian Peninsula. This description does not conflict with that given in Nu 34:1-12, where Moses outlines the territory to be occupied under the leadership of Joshua and his successors. The promise to Abram includes the entire territory to be occupied by Abram’s descendants (Israel) during the reign of Messiah on earth.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 15". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-15.html. 1985.
Ads FreeProfile