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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Genesis 15

 

 

Verses 1-21

Genesis 15:1. The Word of the Lord—the glorious person of the Messiah, the Angel of the covenant, came in his own name, Jehovah, God. He came with the full powers of future ages in his hand; the power to cause nations to descend from two persons, Abraham and Sarah, who were as good as dead. He came in after ages and spake to the prophets, to Moses, to Samuel, and the rest, talking, reasoning, and expostulating with them. He is the WORD made flesh, and so called because he spake to man. The objects of God’s appearance to man were worthy of his special interposition; it was to support Abraham with promises, against invasion and war; to renew the covenant, whose blessings are here called the “exceeding great reward,” not of debt, but of grace. The mythology of all nations is agreed, that God really spake to the first fathers of the human kind.

Genesis 15:6. Abram believed in the Lord, and the Lord was graciously pleased to account this full consent of heart for righteousness. The exposition of St. Paul is, that by faith he became heir of the righteousness of faith, or the righteousness which is of God by faith; that is, all the blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom; the righteousness which God should rain down from heaven, the gift of Christ, with pardon, adoption, and eternal life. Thus Abraham was justified by faith only; but the perfection of his faith was demonstrated by works, when he had offered up Isaac his son.

Genesis 15:9. Take me a heifer of three years old. The Jews paid great attention to this sacrifice. The young cow, then in the perfection of its nature, was a whole burnt-offering for the expiation of original and actual sin. The goat took away the daily sin. The ram, partly ate, and partly burned, was, with the dove, a peace-offering. This is a full oblation; for God, on this disclosure of futurity, would not be approached with a defective sacrifice.

Genesis 15:10. Divided. It was a custom among the Chaldeans, and also among the Greeks, to divide the pieces of the victims and pass between them, when they made a covenant, and when they purified an army. Israel did so at Horeb. Jeremiah 34:18. And in the present instance the Lord himself passed between the parts; and by this solemn act men consented to be cut in pieces like the victims, if they should ever violate the covenant.

Genesis 15:13. Four hundred years. These are reckoned from the birth of Isaac. Thence to the birth of Jacob — 60 years to Jacob’s going into Egypt — 130 to the death of Jacob — 17 to the death of Joseph — 53 to the birth of Moses — 90 to the exodus from Egypt — 80 Total — 430 years.

Genesis 15:15. Thou shalt go. Abraham’s going to his fathers is here distinguished from his being buried; and as his body was not interred in the sepulchre of his fathers, the text must imply that his soul should be associated with them in paradise. Here then is a promise of life and immortality, which was afterwards fully demonstrated by our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, and ascension to glory.

Genesis 15:16. Not yet full. Our Saviour said to the Jews, Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Matthew 23:32. The Assyrian empire was weighed in the balances; her years were numbered, and her power finished. Daniel 5:27. Divine justice is administered by counsel, by weight, and by measure: the day of the wicked is sure to come.

Genesis 15:18. The land being promised to Abraham, from the Nile to the Euphrates, is thought by Irenæus to be a prediction of the spiritual seed, in the glorious millenium. Lib. 5. cap. 32. Others fix Sichor as the boundary of the promised land. Isaiah 27:12-13.

Genesis 15:19. The Cadmonites. “Of this race was Cadmus, if not the Cadmus of Moses, who came from Phœnicia into Greece, and brought with him the greek alphabet of sixteen letters. He and his wife Hermione, are made by pagan fable to be turned into serpents, emblems of immortality. The name Hevaeus, Hivite in scripture, Cadmonite, comes from snake, in Hebrew. Cadmus was son of Agenor, a descendant of Canaan, son of Ham, whom the Greeks call Agenor, and Mercury their deity, from his commencement of the trade of a merchant. Europa, daughter of Agenor, is said to have been carried away to Crete by Jupiter; and from her the name of Europe is derived.” Dr. Stukeley’s Palæographia Sacra.

Genesis 15:20. The Hittite. See Note, Ezekiel 16:3. The orthography which terminates in ite is injudicious.

REFLECTIONS.

Was Abraham discouraged after vanquishing the Assyrian kings, as much as Elijah was dispirited, after slaying the prophets of Baal? Perhaps he expected the Assyrians to return, as Elijah expected a second exile from Jezebel’s oath. God therefore promised to be his shield against all his foes, and his exceeding great reward. Good men have sometimes moments of weakness and fear. One is tempted, another is low-spirited in the day of trouble. But God supports them with promises, which at all times are great and precious; and doubly so when seasonably applied to the mind by the Holy Spirit. Let us hold fast every promise which comes to the mind, and by so doing we honour the faithful God, and anticipate our salvation and eternal joy.

Was Abraham discouraged because he had no son? God approached him in the moment of trouble, for he is often nearest when we think him negligent of our cause. But how awful, how sanctifying is God’s approach to man! He purges his sin with a full oblation, he draws near in volumes of fire, smoke and flame, to covenant with a worm: the terrors of vision seize the affrighted soul of the patriarch, and futurity stands disclosed. How great is the pity and condescension of God to the weakness of man! He seems to indulge us in the time of weakness and temptation beyond what he has promised. Oh that our hearts might never more distrust his care.

Did God on this occasion renew and enlarge his promises? Then every man who ventures on those promises to seek a better country may expect support and help from God equal to his day. He will applain our path as we proceed; he will unfold new prospects of his grace, and gently lead us by the hand.

But did God assign a reason for his delay? Ah, yes: and an awful reason too. The iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full. And does he measure the iniquity of men, and of nations? He does; and when that measure is full he will suddenly mete out their punishment: and it shall be the heavier for being long delayed. What an argument to speedy repentance! What an argument of terror and alarm, that the sinner may remember and turn to the Lord; lest going on secure in his sins, vengeance should come upon him in an hour when he is not aware.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 15:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/genesis-15.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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