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.”
After these things - the events just recorded - the word of the Lord - Deb ar Jehovah;
the first occurrence of this remarkable phrase, afterwards so common in the Hebrew
Scriptures (Exodus 9:20; Numbers 3:16; Deuteronomy 34:5; I Samuel 3:1; Psalm 33:6,
et passim – frequently, here and there). That this was a personal designation of the
pre-incarnate Logos, if not susceptible of complete demonstration, yet receives not
a little sanction from the language employed throughout this narrative (compare
vs. 5, 7, 9, 13-14). At least the expression denotes "the Lord manifesting Himself
by speech to His servant" (Murphy; see ch. 1:3) - came (literally, was) unto
Abram in a vision - a night vision, but no dream (see v. 5). Biblically viewed,
the vision, as distinguished from the ordinary dream, defines the presentation
to the bodily senses or to the mental consciousness of objects usually beyond
the sphere of their natural activities; hence visions might be imparted in
dreams (Numbers 12:6), or in trances (ibid. 24:4, 16-17). Saying, Fear not, Abram.
With allusion, doubtless, to the patriarch's mental dejection, which was probably
occasioned by the natural reaction consequent upon his late high-pitched
excitement (compare I Kings 19:4), which might lead him to anticipate either
a war of revenge from the Asiatic monarchs (Jonathan), or an assault from the
heathen Canaanites, already jealous of his growing power, or perhaps both.
Wordsworth observes that the words here addressed to Abram are commonly
employed in Scripture to introduce announcements of Christ (Luke 1:13, 30;
John 12:15; compare
exceeding great reward. Literally, thy reward, exceeding abundantly, the hiphil
infinitive abstract הַרְבֵּה being always used adverbially (compare Nehemiah 2:2;
3:33), The other rendering, "thy reward m exceeding great" (Septuaint, Rosenmüller,
Delitzsch, Ewald), fails to give prominence to the thought that the patriarch's reward
was to be the all-sufficient Jehovah Himself.
What the Lord is to His People (v. 1)
Ø The charges of the law (Isaiah 45:24-25).
Ø The accusations of conscience (Romans 15:13).
Ø The force of temptation (Revelation 3:10).
Ø The opposition of the world (Romans 8:31).
Ø The fear of death (Hebrews 2:15).
Ø For sufferings patiently endured (II Timothy 2:12).
Ø For sacrifices cheerfully made (Matthew 19:28).
Ø For service faithfully accomplished (Revelation 2:28).
Ø Admire the exceeding richness of Divine grace.
Ø Appreciate the fullness of Divine salvation.
Ø Realize the height of Divine privilege accorded to the saint.
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
Lord God. Adonai Jehovah; the first use of these terms in combination, the
second, which usually has the vowel-points of the first, being here written with
the vocalization of Elohim. Adonai, an older plural form of Adonim, pluralis
excellentive (Gesenius), though by some the termination is regarded as a suffix
(Ewald, Furst), is a term descriptive of the Divine sovereignty, from adan = dun,
or din, to rule or judge; connected with which is the Phoenician
epithet of deity, and recognized as such in Deuteronomy 10:17 (see Furst, 'Hebrew
Lexicon,' sub voce). What wilt thou give me, seeing I go literally, and I going –
ἐγὼ δὲ ἀπολύομαι – ego de apoluomai - (Septuagint, Jonathan); ex hac vita
discedam (Rosenmüller); but this, though the word "go" is sometimes used in
the sense of "die" (Psalm 39:14), does not seem necessary - childless - solitary,
desolate, hence devoid of offspring, as in Leviticus 20:20-21; Jeremiah 22:30 –
and the steward - Ben-Meshek; either:
(1) the son of running (from shakak, to run) = filius dis-cursitatis, i.e. the steward
who attends to my domestic affairs (Onkelos, Drusius); or, and with greater probability,
(2) the son of possession (from mashak, to hold),. i.e. the possessor of my house,
or heir of my property (Gesenius, Furst, Delitzsch, Keel, Halisch) - of my house
is this Eliezer
this utterance is apparent, and was obviously designed to impart a touch of
pathos to the patriarch's grief by pointing out the coincidence that the Ben-shek
of his house was either Dammesek (
Keil), or the Damascene Eliezer (Onkelos, Syriac, Aben Ezra, Calvin, Lange,
Murphy), or Dammesek-Eliezer as one word (Kalisch).
3 “And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one
born in my house (literally, the son of my house, i.e. Eliezer) is mine heir.”
The language of the patriarch discovers three things:
(1) a natural desire to have a child of his own;
(2) a struggle to hold on by the promise in face of almost insuperable difficulties;
(3) an obvious unwillingness to part with the hope that the promise, however
seemingly impossible, would eventually be realized. This unwillingness it was
which caused him, as it were, so pathetically to call the Divine attention to his
childless condition; in response to which he received an assurance that must
have thrilled his anxious heart with joy.
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. 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.” And He (Jehovah, or "the Word of the
Lord") brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell
the stars, if thou be able to number them (a proof that Abram's vision was not
a dream): and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. Hence it has been inferred
that Abram's vision was miraculously quickened to penetrate the depths of space
and gaze upon the vastness of the stellar world, since the stars visible to the naked
eye would not represent an innumerable multitude (Candlish).
6 “And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.”
And he believed in the Lord. The hiphil of the verb aman, to prop or stay, signifies
to build upon, hence to rest one's faith upon; and this describes exactly the mental
act of the patriarch, who reposed his confidence in the Divine character, and based
his hope of a future seed on the Divine word. And he counted it to him. Ἐλογίσθη
αὐτῷ - Elogisthae auto – He reckoned it to him (Septuagint), which is followed by
nearly all the ancient versions, and by Paul in Romans 4:3; but the suffix ך (a feminine
for a neuter, as in Job 5:9; Psalm 12:4; 27:4; see Glass, ' Phil,' lib. 3. cp. 1:19), clearly
indicates the object of the action expressed by the verb הָשַׁב, to think, to meditate,
and then to impute (λογίζομαι – logizomai), followed by לְ of pers. and acc. of the
thing (compare II Samuel 19:20; Psalm 32:2). The thing in this case was his faith
in the Divine promise. For righteousness. צְדְקְהְ - εἰς δίκαιοσύνην – eis
dikaiosunaen - (Septuagint); neither for merit and justice (Rabbi Solomon, Jarchi,
Ealiseh), nor as a proof of his probity [the quality of having strong moral principles;
honesty and decency] (Gesenius, Rosenmüller); but unto and with a view to
justification (Romans 4:3), so that God treated him as a righteous person (A Lapide),
not, however, in the sense that he was now "correspondent to the will of God both
in character and conduct" (Keil), but in the sense that he was now before God
accepted and forgiven' (Luther, Calvin, Murphy, Candlish), which "passive
righteousness, however, ultimately wrought in him an "active righteousness
of complete conformity to the Divine will" ('Speaker's Commentary').
Under the Stars with God (vs. 1-6)
Ø Apprehensive of danger. Victorious over the Asiatic monarchs, Abram
nevertheless dreaded their return. Signal deliverances are not seldom
followed by depressing fears; e.g. David (I Samuel 27:1) and Elijah
(I Kings 19:10). Having emancipated the people of the land by
breaking “the yoke of their burden, and the staff of their shoulder, the rod
of their oppressor,” he yet feared an outbreak of their hostility. The enmity
of those they serve is not an infrequent reward of patriots: witness Moses
(Exodus 17:4) and Christ (John 10:31).
Ø Disappointed in hope. Notwithstanding repeated assurances that he
would one day become a mighty nation, the long-continued barrenness of
Sarai appears to have lain upon his heart like a heavy burden. Partaking to
all more or less of the nature of a deprivation, the lack of offspring was to
Abram an acute grief and serious affliction. The pent-up yearnings of his
nature, rendered the more intense by reason of the promise, could not
longer be restrained. In language full of pathos he complains to God about
his childless condition. So “hope deferred maketh the heart sick”
Ø Anxious about the promise. He could not discern the possibility of its
fulfillment, with years rapidly advancing on himself and Sarai. It is doubtful
if any saints, more than Abram, can predict beforehand how the Divine
promises shall be accomplished. Yet a recollection of whose promises they
are should enable them, as it might have assisted him, to perceive that not a
single word of God’s can fall to the ground. (I Samuel 3:19) But, owing partly
to limitations in the human mind and imperfections in the human heart, doubts
insensibly insinuate themselves against even the clearest and the strongest
evidence. And when danger, disappointment, and doubt conjoin to invade
the soul, dejection must inevitably follow.
Ø A shield for his peril. Divinely given, all sufficient, ever present. “I,”
Jehovah, “am,” now and always, “thy shield” — i.e. thine impregnable
defense. And the like protection is vouchsafed to Abram’s children when
imperiled: as to character, Divine (Proverbs 30:5); as to extent,
complete, universal, defending from all forms of evil, warding off assaults
from all quarters (Psalm 5:12); as to duration, perpetual (Psalm 121:8).
Ø A solace for his sorrow. Happy as the birth of an heir in Sarai’s tent
would make him, Jehovah gives him to understand that not that was to be
his recompense for the trials he had passed through, the sacrifices he had
the feats he had performed since leaving
God’s saints are prone to seek their happiness in God’s gifts, rather than
in the Giver. Here they are recalled along with Abram to the sublime thought
that God Himself is His people’s best reward, and that the possession and
enjoyment of His friendship should abundantly compensate for the absence
of creature comforts, however dearly prized and ardently desired.
Ø A son for his heir. Instead of Eliezer, whom in his perplexity he thought
of adopting as his son, a veritable child of his own is promised. Let saints
learn how blind is human reason, and how feeble faith becomes when it
tries to walk by sight; let them also notice and consider how sure are God’s
promises, and how inexhaustible are God’s resources.
Ø The object of Abram’s faith. That at this stage of the patriarch’s history
attention is so markedly directed to his faith can only be explained on the
supposition that he now for the first time clearly and implicitly received,
embraced, and rested in the promise of a seed, and consequently of a
Savior. And the faith which justifies and saves under the gospel
dispensation has an outlook nothing different from that of Abram. The
object which it contemplates and appropriates is not simply the Divine
promise of salvation, but the specific offer of a Savior. God is the Justifier
of him who believes in Jesus (Romans 3:26).
Ø The ground of Abram’s faith. Neither reason nor sense, but the solemnly
given, clearly stated, perfectly sufficient, wholly unsupported word of God.
And of a like description is the basis of a Christian’s faith — God s
promise in its naked simplicity, which promise (of a Savior, or of salvation
through Jesus Christ) has, like that delivered to Abram, been:
o solemnly announced,
o clearly exhibited;
o declared to be perfectly sufficient,
but left wholly unsupported in the gospel (John 3:36).
Ø The acting of Abram’s faith. It was instantaneous, accepting and resting
on the Divine promise the moment it was explicitly made known; full-
hearted, without reservation of doubt or uncertainty, implicitly reposing on
the naked word of God; and conclusive, not admitting of further opening
of the question, “being fully persuaded that God was able also to perform
that which he had promised” (Romans 4:21).
clause, ‘‘it was counted unto him for righteousness,” the transaction which
took place beneath the starry firmament is regarded in the New Testament
as the pattern or model of a sinner’s justification, and employed to teach:
Ø The nature of justification, which is the reckoning of righteousness to
one in himself destitute of such excellence, and, on the ground of such
imputed righteousness, the acquittal in the eye of the Divine law of one
otherwise obnoxious to just condemnation. Possessing no inherent
righteousness of his own, Abram had the righteousness of another (not at
that time revealed to him) set to his account, and was accordingly justified
or declared righteous before God.
Ø The condition of justification, which is not works, but faith, Abram
having been accepted solely on the ground of belief in the Divine promise
(Romans 4:2-5); not, however, faith as an opus operatum or
meritorious act, but as a subjective condition, without which the act of
imputation cannot proceed upon the person.
Ø The time of justification, which is the instant a soul believes, whether
that soul be cognizant of the act or not, Abram again being justified,
according to the Scripture, from the moment he accepted the Divine
promise, though it is not said that Abram at the time was aware of the
indemnatory act passed in his favor in the court of heaven.
1. God’s saints may sometimes be cast down in God’s presence (Psalm 43:5).
2. It is God’s special character and care to comfort those who are cast
down (II Corinthians 7:6).
3. God’s promises are the wells of comfort which He has opened for the
solace of dejected saints.
Faith and Righteousness (v. 6)
“And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness.”
Even by itself this passage claims attention. How does the idea of
righteousness come into it at all? What is meant by “counting” or
“imputation”? And what is the connection between belief and imputed
righteousness? But it does not stand alone.
(1) In Psalm 106:30 (compare Numbers 25:7-8) the same “counting” takes
place on an act of an entirely different character; and
(2) it is thrice quoted in the New Testament as an example of the action of
faith in the spiritual life. Imputation must not be explained away. Its
meaning is seen in Leviticus 7:18; 17:4; II Samuel 19:19. There is
here the germ of “the Lord our righteousness.” In Romans 4:3-5, 23-25,
with “the reward;” and this again with forgiveness and acceptance
(Psalm 32:2), the psalm almost repeating the words of the text (see also
Galatians 3:6). We need not suppose that now for the first time Abram
was accepted of God, or that he alone was counted righteous. Mark,
Abram believed not merely the particular promise, but “in the Lord.” This
instance is specially noticed by
from the nature of the case there was no opportunity of action.
because He is true; casting all care upon Him. No merit in this. Faith is the
channel, not the source of justification. By the look of faith the dying
Israelites lived (Numbers 21:9 – I highly recommend – CY – 2019 -
healing was from God. God offers salvation freely (John 7:37; Revelation
22:17), because He loves us even while in our sins (Ephesians 2:4-5). What
hinders that love from being effectual is UNBELIEF! Many “believe a lie” —
e.g. that they must become better ere they can believe (compare Acts 15:1).
(I would like to warn everyone of what is happening in these last days!
That is the words from II Thessalonians 2:10-11 – “......because they
received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for
this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they SHOULD
BELIEVE A LIE.” - CY – 2019) The primary lesson of
practical Christianity is that we must begin by receiving, not by giving;
must learn to believe His word because it is His word. This delivers from the
spirit of bondage (Romans 8:15), and enables to ask with confidence
(ibid. v. 32). And this faith is counted for righteousness.
but it is given according to laws. Sometimes it springs up suddenly — e.g.
the seed, hardly to be traced — a gradual growth from efforts to live by
faith. Let none think, I can believe when I will. The endeavor delayed will
meet with many difficulties, suggestions of doubt, or habits of indecision.
And let none despise the training which prepares the soul to believe. It may
seem to be labor in vain, yet the Holy Spirit may be working unseen to
prepare the soul for life and peace.
cannot otherwise be given. The faith which was counted to Abram for
righteousness formed the character which enabled him afterwards to offer
up Isaac (compare James 2:21-28). Thus growth in holiness is the test of real
faith. There is a faith which has no power (ibid. v. 18; I Corinthians 13:2;
II Timothy 4:10). It is with the heart that man believes unto righteousness
7 “And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought
thee out of
Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.” And he (Jehovah, or the Word of
the Lord) said unto him (after the act of faith on the part of the patriarch, and the
act of imputation or justification on the part of God, and in explication of the
exact nature of that relationship which had been constituted between them by the
spiritual transaction so
described), I am the Lord that brought thee out of
the Chaldees (see ch. 11:28), to give thee this land to inherit (or, to possess) it.
8 “And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?”
And he said, Lord God (Adonai Jehovah; see v. 2), whereby shall I know that
I shall inherit it? Not the language of doubt, though slight misgivings are not
incompatible with faith (compare Judges 6:17; II Kings 20:8; Luke 1:34), and
questioning with God "is rather a proof of faith than a sign of incredulity" (Calvin);
but of desire for a sign in confirmation of the grant (Luther), either for the
strengthening of his own faith (Chrysostom, Augustine, Keil, 'Speaker's Commentary'),
or for the sake of his posterity (Jarchi, Michaelis), or for some intimation as to the
time and mode of taking possession (Murphy). Rosenmüller conceives the question
put in Abram's mouth to be only a device of the narrator's to lead up to the subject
The Strength and Weakness of Faith (vs. 7-8)
Ø Looking up to the Divine character — “I am the Lord.”
Looking back to the Divine grace — “that brought thee out of
Ø 3. Looking out to the Divine promise — “to give thee this land to
Ø Looking forward — the fulfillment of the promise seeming far away.
Ø Looking in — discovering nothing either in or about itself to guarantee
its ultimate realization.
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.”
And he said unto him, Take me (literally, for me, i.e. for my use in sacrifice) an heifer
of three years old. So rightly (Septuagint, Syriac, Samaritan, Arabic, Josephus, Bochart,
Rosenmüller, Keil); not three heifers (Onkelos, Jarchi, Kimchi, et alii). And a she goat
of three years old, and a ram of three years old. These offerings, afterwards prescribed
by the law (Exodus 29:15; Numbers 15:27; 19:2; Deuteronomy 21:3), were three in
number, and of three years each, to symbolize him who was, and is, and is to come
(Wordsworth); perhaps rather to indicate-the perfection of the victim in respect of
maturity (Murphy). And a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon - also prescribed by the
law (Leviticus 1:14; Luke 2:24).
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.” And he took unto him
all these, and divided (a word occurring only here in Genesis, and supposed by
Michaelis to have been taken by Moses from the ancient document from which he
transcribed this portion of his work. The word is afterwards found in Song of
Solomon 2:17, and Jeremiah 34:18) them in the midst, - μέσα – mesa - (Septuagint);
in equal parts (Onkelos) - and laid each piece one against another: but the birds
divided he not. So afterwards in the Mosaic legislation (Leviticus 1:7). Wordsworth
detects in the non-dividing of the birds an emblem of "the Holy Spirit, the Spirit
of peace and love; which is a Spirit of unity, and of "Christ's human spirit, which
was not divisible." Kalisch, with more probability, recognizes as the reason of their
not being divided the fact that such division was not required, both fowls being
regarded as one part of the sacrifice only, and each, as the half, being placed
opposite the other. Wordsworth numbers seven parts in the sacrifice, and sees a
symbol of completeness and
finality, the number seven being the root of
to swear (Gesenius, p. 802); Kalisch reckons four, which he regards as "denoting
perfection, but rather the external perfection of form than the internal one of the
mind," and pointing "to
the perfect possession of the
described is the same which was afterwards observed among the Hebrews in the
formation of covenants (compare ch. 34:18), and appears to have extensively
prevailed among heathen nations (cf. ' Iliad,' b. 124, "ὅρκια πιστὰ ταμόντες;"
and the Latin phrase, "foedus icere").
11 “And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.”
And when the fowls - literally, and the bird of prey, a collective singular with the
article, as in ch.
14:13, symbolizing the Egyptians and other adversaries of
as in Ezekiel 17:3, 7, 12; 39:4, 17; Revelation 19:17-18 (Knobel, Rosenmüller,
Lunge, Keil, Kalisch), which may be regarded as probable if the divided victims
attach any special significance to the descent of the vultures, which are always
attracted towards carrion, and the introduction of which here completes the
naturalness of the scene - came down upon the caresses (the Septuagint interpolates,
ἐπὶ τὰ διχοτομήματα – epi ta dichotomaemata – upon the divided), Abram drove
them away. Literally, caused them to be blown away, i.e. by blowing. "Though
Abram is here represented as the instrument, yet the effect is to be ascribed primarily
to the tutelar agency of omnipotence" (Bush; compare Exodus 15:10; Ezekiel 21:31).
The act of scaring the voracious birds has been taken to represent the ease with
which Abram or
Rosenmüller, Bush); the averting of destruction from the Israelites through Abram's
merit (Kalisch, Keil); Abram's religious regard for and observance of God's treaty
(Wordsworth); the patriarch's expectation that God was about to employ the
sacrificial victims for some holy purpose (Alford); simply his anxiety to preserve
the victims pure and un-mutilated for whatever end they might have to serve
The Silent Worshipper (v. 11)
Ø Divine in its appointment.
Ø Simple in its ritual.
Ø Sacrificial in its character.
Ø Believing in its spirit.
Ø Patient in its continuance.
Ø Expectant in its attitude.
Ø What they were. The descent of the fowls may be regarded as
emblematic of those obstructions to communion with God which
o The principalities and powers of the air.
o The persecutions and oppressions (or, where these are absent,
the pleasures and engagements) of the world.
o The disturbances and distractions of vain thoughts and sinful
notions in the heart.
Ø How they were removed.
o By watchfulness.
o By opposition.
o By perseverance.
o By Divine help — the breath of Abram’s mouth being probably
accompanied by a wind from God.
Ø By the approach of God at night-fall towards the scene.
Ø By the supernatural revelation accorded to the patriarch.
Ø By the passage of the symbol of Jehovah’s presence between the divided
Ø By the announcement that God had taken him into covenant with
Ø By the vision of the land which was granted to him.
1. The sinfulness and worthlessness of all forms of worship except that
which God has appointed.
2. The need for self-examination and Divine assistance when engaged in
3. The certain acceptance and spiritual enrichment of those who worship
God in spirit and in truth.
12 “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo,
an horror of great darkness fell upon him.” And when the sun was going down.
Literally, was about to go down. The vision having commenced the previous evening,
an entire day has already passed, the interval being designed to typify the time between
the promise and its fulfillment (Kalisch). A deep sleep - tardemah (compare Adam’s
sleep, ch. 2:21); ἔκστασις – ekstasis – ecstacy (Septuagint); a supernatural slumber,
as the darkness following was not solely due to natural causes - fell upon Abram;
and, lo, an horror of great darkness - literally, an, horror, a great darkness, i.e.
an overwhelming dread occasioned by the dense gloom with which he was
encircled, and which, besides being designed to conceal the working of the
Deity from mortal vision (Knobel), was meant to symbolize the Egyptian bondage
(Grotius, Calvin, Rosenmüller, Keil, Aalisch), and perhaps also, since Abram's faith
embraced a larger sphere than
than Sarah's son (John 8:56), the sufferings of Christ (Wordsworth, Inglis) - fell
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;” And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety - literally, knowing
know (compare ch. 2:17; see Ewald's 'Hebrew Syntax,' § 312) - that thy seed shall
be a stranger in a land which is
not theirs (literally, not to them, viz.,
for the reckoning of the 400 years), and shall serve them (i.e. the inhabitants of that
alien country); and they (i.e. these foreigners) shall afflict them - three different
stages of adverse fortune are described:
or the two last clauses depict the contents of the first (Kalisch) - four hundred years.
The duration not of their affliction merely, but either of their bondage and affliction,
or more probably of their exile, bondage, and affliction; either a round number for
430 (Calvin, Rosenmüller, Keil, Alford), to be reckoned from the date of the descent
to say, and to be reconciled with the statement of Paul (Galatians 3:17) by regarding
the death of Jacob as the closing of the time of promise (Lange, Inglis); or an exact
number dating from the birth of Isaac (Willet, Murphy, Wordsworth), which was
thirty years after the call in
430 years of Paul, or from the persecution of Ishmael (Ainsworth, Clarke, Bush),
which occurred thirty years after the promise in ch.12:3.
14 “And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward
shall they come out with great substance.” And also that nation (the name of
which He does not reveal, in case of seeming to interfere with the free volition
of His creatures, who, while accomplishing His high designs and secret purposes,
are ever conscious of their moral freedom), whom they shall serve, will I judge: -
i.e. punish after judging, which prediction was in due course fulfilled (Exodus 6:11) –
and afterward shall they come out with great substance - recush (ch. 13:6; see
15 “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good
old age.” And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace (compare ch. 25:8; 35:29;
49:33). Not a periphrasis for going to the grave (Rosenmüller), since Abram s
ancestors were not entombed in
spirits in a state of conscious existence after death (Knobel, Murphy, Wordsworth,
'Speaker s Commentary,' Inglis), to the company of which the patriarch was in due
time to be gathered. The disposal of his remains is provided for in what follows.
Thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
16 “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity
of the Amorites is not yet full.” But in the fourth generation, - τετάρτη δὲ γενεᾷ -
tetartae de genea – in the fourth generation (Septuagint); but, more correctly, the
fourth generation, calculating 100 years to a generation. "Caleb was the fourth from
Judah, and Moses from Levi, and so doubtless many others" (Bush). Drs. Oort and
Kuenen, reckoning four generations as a far shorter space of time than four centuries,
detect a contradiction between this verse and v. 13, and an evidence of the free use
which the ancient and uncritical Israelitish author made of his materials ('Bible for
Young People,' vol. 1. p. 158). On the import of דּור see Genesis 6:9 - they shall
come hither again (literally, shall return hither): for the iniquity of the Amorites
is not yet full. Literally, for not completed the iniquity of the Amorites (see ch. 14:7;
here put for the entire population! until then (the same word as "hither, which is its
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.”
And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, - literally, and it was (i.e.
this took place), the sun went down; less accurately, ἐπεὶ ἐγίνετο ὁ ἥλιος πρὸς
δυσμαῖς - epei de egineto ho haelios pros dusmais – it came to pass that when the
sun went down (Septuagint), which was the state of matters in v. 12. Here the sun,
which was then setting, is described as having set - and it was dark, - literally, and
darkness was, i.e. a darkness that might be felt, as in v. 12; certainly not φλὸξ ἐγένετο
- phlox egeneto - (Septuagint), as if there were another flame besides the one specified
in the description - behold a smoking furnace, - the תַּנּוּר, or Oriental furnace, had
the form of a cylindrical fire-pot - and a burning lamp - a lamp of fire, or fiery torch,
emerging from the smoking stove: an emblem of THE DIVINE PRESENCE (compare
Exodus 19:18) - that passed between those pieces - in ratification of the covenant.
Abram’s Watch and Vision (vs. 12-17)
“And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram.”
The great blessings promised are still afar off. As yet Abraham has no son to
hand down his name to posterity. By means of a vision God strengthened his
faith. Weird is the picture in this fifteenth chapter. See the solitary sheik in
the desert offering his varied sacrifice, then watching until the sun goes
down to drive off the vultures from the slain offerings. His arms become
weary with waving and his eyes with their vigils. As the sun sinks below
the widespread horizon, and night quickly steals over the desert, a horror
of great darkness creeps over his spirit. Then a deep sleep falls upon him,
and in that sleep come visions and a voice. The vision was of a furnace and
a shining lamp moving steadily between the divided emblems. Look at the
meaning of that vision.
East is generally understood to be a solemn witness to any engagement. To
confirm an oath some Orientals will point to the lamp and say, “It is
witness.” Nuptial ceremonies are sometimes solemnized by walking round
a fire three times, and the parties uttering certain words meanwhile.
PURIFICATION, AND THE LAMP TO THE CERTAINTY OF
Ø Both the
the fire of persecution; but the lamp of truth had always been kept alight by
the prophets, apostles, martyrs, and confessors of the Church.
Ø The life and work of Christ may also have been shadowed forth in that
furnace and lamp. Christ knew the bitterness:
o denial, and
but He knew also the joy of:
o conscious sinlessness,
o complete self-sacrifice, and
o unending power of salvation.
Ø They illustrated the character of the life of many believers. Trial and joy
must be intermingled. As Abram saw the vision in connection with
furnace and burning lamp.
18 “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy
seed have I given this land, from the
20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21 And the
Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
In that day the Lord made a covenant - literally, cut a covenant
(compare ὅρκια τέμνειν – horkia temnein - foedus icere). On the import of בְּרִית
see ch. 9:9) - with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the
el Arch, or Brook of Egypt (Knobel, Lange, Clarke), at the southern limits of the
country (Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:4; Isaiah 27:12) - unto the great river, the river
under David and Solomon (see I Kings 4:21; II Chronicles 9:26), and which
embraced the following subject populations, ten in number, "to convey the
impression of universality without exception, of unqualified completeness"
(Delitzsch). The Kenites, - inhabiting the mountainous tracts in the southwest
of uncertain origin, though (Judges 1:16; 4:11) Hobab, the brother-in-law of
Moses, was a Kenite - and the Kenizzites, - mentioned only in this passage;
a people dwelling apparently in the same region with the Kenites (Murphy),
who probably became extinct between the times of Abraham and Moses (Bochart),
and cannot now be identified (Keil, Kalisch), though they have been connected
with Kenaz the Edomite, ch. 36:15, 42 (Knobel) - and the Kadmonites, - never
again referred to, but, as their name implies, an Eastern people, whose settlements
extended towards the
Heth (see ch. 10:15); identified with the Kheta and Katti of the Egyptian and
Assyrian monuments, and supposed by Mr. Gladstone to be the Kheteians of
the 'Odyssey;' a powerful Asiatic tribe who must have early established themselves
on the Euphrates, and spread from
thence southward to Canaan and
AEgean Sea, the art and culture of
the forms and conceptions of
Kadesh, on an island of the
1880, art. 'A forgotten Empire in
(see ch. 13:7; 14:5), and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites,
and the Jebusites
(see ch. 10:15-19). The boundaries of the
defined are regarded by some (Bohlen) as contradictory of those designated in
Numbers 34:1-12. But:
(1) the former may be viewed as the ideal (or poetical), and the latter as the actual
(and prosaic), limits of the country
(2) the former may represent the maxima, and the latter the minima, of the promise,
which admitted of a larger or a
smaller fulfillment, according as
the sequel prove fit for its occupation
(Augustine, Pererius, Willet,
Kalisch, and others); or,
(3) according to a certain school of interpreters, the former may point to the wide
extent of country to be occupied by the Jews on occasion of their restoration to
their own land, as distinguished from their first occupation on coming up out
(4) the rivers may be put for the countries with which the promised land was
coterminous (Kurtz, Murphy); or
(5) strict geographical accuracy may not have been intended in defining the limits
of the land of promise ('Speaker s Commentary,' Inglis).
Taken into Covenant (v. 18)
Ø The ultimate blessing, to which, in both the commencement and close of
the present section, the prominence is assigned, was a splendid inheritance
country, of which that earthly possession was a type.
Ø The mediate blessing, through which alone the last could be reached,
was a distinguished seed — a numerous posterity to occupy the land, and a
living Savior to secure for himself the bettor country.
Ø The proximate blessing, to be enjoyed while as yet the second and the
third were unfulfilled, was a celestial alliance by which Jehovah Himself
engaged to be his shield and exceeding great reward. It is obvious that
these are the blessings which the gospel confers on believers:
o a heavenly Friend,
o an all-sufficient Savior,
o a future inheritance;
whence the Abrahamic covenant was nothing different from the covenant
covenant being a visible pledge for the fulfillment of a promise, the
necessity for such a guarantee on the present occasion, it is apparent, could
not lie with God. On the contrary, the proposal on the part of God to bind
Himself by a superadded engagement to implement His own gracious and
spontaneous promise was an explicit condescension, if not to the feebleness
of the patriarch’s faith, at least to the weakness of his human nature.
Perhaps the recollection of who Jehovah was, and what He had already
accomplished in bringing Abram from
authenticate the promise; but it would almost seem as if human nature, in
its innocent no less than in its fallen state, instinctively craved the
assistance of external symbols to enable it to clearly apprehend and firmly
grasp the unseen and spiritual blessings that are wrapped up in God’s
promises. In the garden of Eden the tree of life was Adam’s sacramental
pledge of immortality; after the Flood the many-colored rainbow was a
sign to Noah; in the
were not wanting; while in the Christian Church the passover and
circumcision have been replaced by the Lord’s Supper and baptism. The
reasons that required the institution of these external signs may be held as
having necessitated the solemn ritual which was exhibited to Abram.
Ø The sacrificial victims. Seeing that these were afterwards prescribed in
the Mosaic legislation, which itself was a shadow of the good things to
come, to be employed as propitiatory offerings, it is impossible not to
regard them, though not necessarily understood as such by Abram, as types
God generally, i.e. Abram’s seed according to the spirit, though perhaps
neither of these should be excluded, but) of Abram’s greater Seed whose
perfect, Divinely-appointed, and substitutionary sacrifice alone
constitutes the basis of the everlasting covenant.
Ø The smoking furnace and the burning lamp. Compared with the smoke
and fire that afterwards appeared on Sinai when Jehovah descended to
were emblems of God’s presence, and may be viewed as suggesting
o the combination of justice and mercy in the Divine character,
o the twofold attitude in which the Deity exhibits Himself to men
according as they are His enemies or friends.
partly in spiritual vision, partly by audible words, the patriarch was
instructed as to:
Ø The objective basis of his own justification, which was neither personal
merit nor faith considered as an opus operatum, but the Divinely-appointed
sacrifice which God was graciously pleased to accept in propitiation for
Ø The true security for God’s fulfillment of the promise, which was not
any outward sign or token, but the everlasting covenant which in
mysterious symbol had been unfolded to him.
Ø The interval of discipline allotted to the heirs of the land; for his
descendants three generations of exile, servitude, and affliction, to prepare
sojourning, without a final settling within its borders; in both cases
emblematic of the saint’s experience after justification and before
Ø The ultimate assumption of the inheritance by his seed — a Divine
voice solemnly foretelling their return from captivity, as it afterwards
declared that his spiritual descendants should be emancipated and brought
back to their celestial abode, and a Divine vision unfolding to his gaze the
wide extent of territory they should eventually possess — perhaps the
limits of the earthly land melting away, as his spirit stood entranced before
the gorgeous panorama, into the confines of THE BETTER COUNTRY!
Ø His own certain passage to the heavenly
at that time looking — a promise which belongs individually to all who are
the children of Abram BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST!
1. The fullness of Divine blessing which the covenant contains.
2. The depth of Divine condescension which the covenant reveals.
3. The glorious securities which the covenant affords.
Faith (vs. 1-21)
The substance of this chapter is the special communion between Jehovah
and Abram. On that foundation faith rests. It is not feeling after God, if
haply He be found; it is a living confidence and obedience, based upon
revelation, promise, covenant, solemn ratification by signs, detailed
prediction of the future. God said, “I am thy shield and thy exceeding great
reward” — i.e. I am with thee day by day as the God of providence; I will
abundantly bless thee hereafter. The promise of a numerous offspring, of
descendants like the stars for multitude, was not a merely temporal
promise, it was a spiritual blessing set in the framework of national
prosperity. Abram believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for
righteousness” (v. 6; compare Romans 4.; Galatians 3.; Hebrews 11.).
JEHOVAH, not merely in a word, or in a sign, or in a prospect, but
“in the Lord.”
COVENANT. Faith on the one side, God dealing with a sinful creature as
righteous on the other. The elements of that bond are:
Ø gracious acceptance,
Ø gracious revelation,
Ø gracious reward of obedience — in each case vouchsafed to
Thus the faith which justifies is the faith which sanctifies, for the
sanctification, as the Apostle Paul shows in Romans 8., is as truly the
outcome of the grace which accepts as the acceptance itself.
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