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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Genesis 15

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 15:1 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.

Ver. 1. Fear not, Abram.] Either as Daniel feared upon sight of a like vision; [Daniel 10:7-8] or as Jacob feared after the sack of Shechem, lest he should be set upon by those whom he had lately discomfited. Or, fear not lest thou shalt die childless; which seemeth to be that which chiefly affrighted and afflicted him at this time. The heart is not in case to receive promises till freed of false fears. These are quelled and killed by faith only.

I am thy shield.] From the envy of thy neighbours, and enmity of others, whom thou hast lately vanquished: yea, I will deliver thee from all danger, as I have done from this. See a like promise to all believers, Psalms 115:9-11. The shield is between the body and the thrust; so is God between his and harm. He "beareth them as on eagles’ wings". [Deuteronomy 32:11] The eagle fleeth with her young on her back; (a) there is no shooting them but through her body. No more can any devoratory evil, as Tertullian’s phrase is, befall the saints, but through God.

And thy exceeding great reward.] So that thou shalt lose nothing by refusing the king of Sodom’s offer. God is a liberal paymaster, and his retributions are more than bountiful. A hundredfold here, and heaven hereafter. [Matthew 19:29] Not only Caleb shall have Hebron for his valour, but Nebuchadnezzar shall have Egypt as his pay for his pains at Tyre. Never ask with Peter, What shall we have? [Matthew 19:27] You shall have whatever heart can wish, or need require. The world gives hard wages; but God’s reward is exceeding great. He will also recompense our losses for his sake, as the king of Poland did his noble servant Zelilaus; having lost his hand in his wars, he sent him a golden hand for it: so Gaius gave Agrippa, that had been imprisoned for his sake, a chain of gold as heavy as his chain of iron had been. (b)


Verse 2

Genesis 15:2 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?

Ver. 2. Lord God, what wilt thou give me, &c.] Dominator Iehovah. Adonai cum Camets sonat Dominator . A stately style. We must magnify God when we have got him into our hearts, and enlarge his room there when we conceive of him, as much as may be: do our utmost, and then say, Claudicat ingenium, delirat linguaque, mensque .{ a}

Seeing I go childless.] He had no great joy of his former victory, or the present promise, because childless. His mouth was so out of taste with the sense of his want that he could relish no comfort. This was his fault, and is often ours: like children, if we have not that piece we would have, we grow sullen, and will have none. Had not God been to Abram instead of ten children? Is he not all in all to his?

And the steward of my house.] Filius discursitationis, vel derelictionis domus meae . He that now runs about my business, and to whom I am likely to leave all. A faithful steward he was, and fearing God, [Genesis 24:2-3, &c.} and therefore might look not to live long in a low place. {Proverbs 22:29]

This Eliezer of Damascus.] Or Eliazar, as Exodus 6:25. Whence Lazarus, said in the parable to be in Abraham’s bosom, [Luke 16:23] as dear to him, and set next him in heaven.


Verse 3

Genesis 15:3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

Ver. 3. And Abram said, Behold, to me, &c.] He harps again upon the same string; when we fall upon crosses we add, we multiply, we rise in our discourse, we are eloquent above measure, and beyond truth sometimes. But how comes Abram to speak thus to God once and again? In former visions God only spake, here Abram answers. It appears he grew in a holy familiarity with the divine Majesty, and a humble boldness, as Cajetan here observeth.


Verse 4

Genesis 15:4 And, behold, the word of the LORD [came] unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.

Ver. 4. And, behold, the word of the Lord, &c.] Abram’s "Behold" of grief, is answered with God’s "Behold" of grace. The Greek rendereth it, "And straightway." God was straight at hand to help Abram’s infirmity, and to raise up his faith that began to flag and hang the wing, as the best faith will, if long put to it. Adeo nihil est in nobis magni, quod non queat minui .


Verse 5

Genesis 15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

Ver. 5. And he brought him forth abroad.] Abram having prayed a good part of the day within, is now drawn forth at night to receive the promise. Pray that ye may joy, saith Christ: [John 16:24] and, if ye will "rejoice evermore," "Pray without ceasing," saith the apostle. [1 Thessalonians 5:16-17]

If thou be able to number them.] Then mayest thou number thy posterity; and they, their privileges. It is God only that "telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names". [Psalms 147:4] No man can number them. [Jeremiah 33:22] And yet Aratus and Eudoxus vainly vaunted, saith St Augustine, (a) that they had cast up the stars, and could call them all by their names.


Verse 6

Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Ver 6. And he believed.] When thus the promise was repeated. So needful it is, that the word should be often preached, and the sweet promises of the gospel beaten to the smell; that God’s "name being as an ointment poured out, the virgins may love him," [Song of Solomon 1:3] believe in him, and "rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." [1 Peter 1:8]

And he counted it to him for righteousness.] This imputative righteousness the Papists scoff at, calling it putative, or imaginary. This the Jews also jeer at to this day; as their fathers did of old, [Romans 10:2-3] so do they. For being asked whether they believe to be saved by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, they answer, that every fox must pay his own skin to the finger. But is not Christ called in their law, "Jehovah our righteousness?" [Jeremiah 23:6] And how so, but by means of that imputation so often hammered on by the apostle? [Romans 4:1-25] adding after all, that what is said here of Abram, "is not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus," &c. [Romans 4:24] If Adam’s sin be mine, though I committed it not; why should it seem so strange, that the merit of Christ’s entire obedience should by the like means be mine, though I wrought it not? See Romans 5:19 2 Corinthians 5:19. "If he hath wronged thee aught, reckon that to me," said Paul to Philemon, concerning Onesimus; [Philemon 1:18] saith Christ to his Father concerning us. And - to stop the Papists’ mouth - if another man’s faith may benefit infants at their baptism, as Bellarmine affirmeth; why should it seem so absurd that believers should be benefited by Christ’s righteousness imputed?


Verse 7

Genesis 15:7 And he said unto him, I [am] the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.

Ver. 7. I am the Lord that brought thee.] Let the remembrance of what I have done for thee confirm thy confidence, since every former mercy is a pledge of a future. God giveth after he hath given, as the spring runneth after it hath run. And as the eye is not weary of seeing, nor the ear of hearing, no more is God of doing good to his people. "Draw out thy lovingkindness," saith David, {Psalms 36:10, marg.} as a continued series or chain, where one link draws on another to the utmost length.


Verse 8

Genesis 15:8 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?

Ver. 8. Lord God, whereby shall I know?] He desires a sign, not that he believed not before, but that he might better believe. How great is God’s love in giving us sacraments, and therein to make himself to us visible, as well as audible


Verse 9

Genesis 15:9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.

Ver. 9. Take me a heifer, &c.] Here God commands him a busy sacrifice, and then casts him into a terrible sleep; the better to prepare him to receive the ensuing oracle, and to teach him that he may not rashly rush upon divine mysteries. Heathens could say, Non loquendum de Deo absque lumine ;{ a} that is, without premeditation and advised consideration.


Verse 10

Genesis 15:10 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.

Ver. 10. Divided them in the midst.] In signum exitii foedifrago eventuri . This was the federal rite both among Jews [Jeremiah 34:18-19] and Gentiles, as it is to be seen in Virgil, (a) describing the covevant of Romulus and Tatius. God also threateneth to cut the evil servant in twain ( διχοτομησει) that forgetteth the covenant of his God. [Matthew 24:51] These dissected creatures are the oppressed Israelites; the parts laid each against other signify, that God will make them up again, though dissected; the fowls that came down upon them, are the Egyptians; Abram’s chasing them away, is their deliverance by Moses after four hundred years, signified by those four kinds of creatures, as Luther interpreteth.


Verse 11

Genesis 15:11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.

Ver. 11. Abram drove them away.] So must we do evil motions and distractive thoughts in holy duties, which else will muster and swarm in our hearts like the flies of Egypt; pestering us worse than the fly in Albertus Magnus, that was ever hankering after the bald head; though he flapt it off again and again, he could not be rid of it.


Verse 12

Genesis 15:12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.

Ver. 12. And when the sun was going down] Heb., When he was ready to enter, to wit, into his "bride chamber". [Psalms 19:6]


Verse 13

Genesis 15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land [that is] not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

Ver. 13. Know of a surety, that thy seed.] Must first suffer, before they can enter; and so be conformed to Christ their Captain, who was "perfected by sufferings," [Hebrews 2:10] and came not to the Crown but by the Cross. Difficile est ut praesentibus bonis quis fruatur et futuris; ut hic ventrem, illic mentem reficiat, ut de deliciis ad delicias transeat; ut in coelo et in terra gloriosus appareat , saith St Jerome. Through many tribulations we must enter into heaven. He that will go any other way, let him (as the emperor said to the heretic) erect a ladder, and go up alone (a)


Verse 14

Genesis 15:14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

Ver. 14. Afterward shall they come out, &c.] All the saints’ abasements are but in order to their advancement. As God brought forth his Israel with jewels, and other wealth; so the "afflicted" Church, and "tossed with tempest," shall build her walls and "lay her foundations with sapphires and agates". [Isaiah 54:11-12] See Isaiah 62:3-4.


Verse 15

Genesis 15:15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.

Ver. 15. Thou shalt go to thy fathers.] The "spirits of just men made perfect"; all the court of heaven shall meet thee, and welcome thee into their society. That brave Panegyris, Hebrews 12:22-23.

In peace.] So Josiah did, according to the promise, though he died in battle. [2 Chronicles 34:28] God made war to be peace to him. (a)

In a good old age.] Heb., With a good hoar head, which is "a crown," when "found in the way of righteousness". [Proverbs 16:31]


Verse 16

Genesis 15:16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites [is] not yet full.

Ver. 16. The iniquity of the Amorites, &c.] A metaphor from a large vessel filled by drops; as elsewhere, from a harvest ready for the sickle, and from the vine ripe for the winepress. Pererius the Jesuit, writing upon this text, saith, If any marvel why England continueth to flourish, notwithstanding the cruel persecution of Catholics there (just execution of Catholics he should have said); I answer, Because their sin is not yet full. God grant it! [Jeremiah 28:6] Sed veniet tandem iniquitatis complementum , saith he. A true prophet, I fear me. That terrible text rings in mine ears, "An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold it is come, it is come." [Ezekiel 7:6]


Verse 17

Genesis 15:17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.

Ver. 17. A smoking furnace, and a burning lamp.] Figuring out either God (who is a consuming fire) cutting covenant, [Genesis 15:10] per condescensum ; or else, the furnace of Israel’s affliction, and then the lamp of their salvation.


Verse 18

Genesis 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
Ver. 18.
From the river of Egypt.] Sihor. [Jeremiah 2:18] This was fulfilled in Solomon’s, and especially in Christ’s kingdom.


Verses 19-21

Genesis 15:19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
Genesis 15:20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
Genesis 15:21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Ver. 19-21. The Kenites, and the Kenezzites.] R. Salomon noteth, that whereas ten nations are here reckoned up, seven only were given to the Israelites. He addeth also, that the Kenites, Kenezzites, and Cadmonims were the same with the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites, all which were at length to be possessed by the Israelites.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 15:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-15.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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