“Go out 3 from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household
to the land that I will show you. 4
and I will make your name great, 7
so that you will exemplify divine blessing. 8
but the one who treats you lightly 10 I must curse,
and all the families of the earth will bless one another 11 by your name.”
12:4 So Abram left, 12 just as the Lord had told him to do, 13 and Lot went with him. (Now 14 Abram was 75 years old 15 when he departed from Haran.) 12:5 And Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew 16 Lot, and all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired 17 in Haran, and they left for 18 the land of Canaan. They entered the land of Canaan.
12:6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the oak tree 19 of Moreh 20 at Shechem. 21 (At that time the Canaanites were in the land.) 22 12:7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants 23 I will give this land.” So Abram 24 built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
12:8 Then he moved from there to the hill country east of Bethel 25 and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and worshiped the Lord. 26 12:9 Abram continually journeyed by stages 27 down to the Negev. 28
12:10 There was a famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt 29 to stay for a while 30 because the famine was severe. 31 12:11 As he approached 32 Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “Look, 33 I know that you are a beautiful woman. 34 12:12 When the Egyptians see you they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will keep you alive. 35 12:13 So tell them 36 you are my sister 37 so that it may go well 38 for me because of you and my life will be spared 39 on account of you.”
12:14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 12:15 When Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. So Abram’s wife 40 was taken 41 into the household of Pharaoh, 42 12:16 and he did treat Abram well 43 on account of her. Abram received 44 sheep and cattle, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.
12:17 But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his household with severe diseases 45 because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 12:18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram and said, “What is this 46 you have done to me? Why didn’t you tell me that she was your wife? 12:19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her 47 to be my wife? 48 Here is your wife! 49 Take her and go!” 50 12:20 Pharaoh gave his men orders about Abram, 51 and so they expelled him, along with his wife and all his possessions.
13:3 And he journeyed from place to place 56 from the Negev as far as Bethel. 57 He returned 58 to the place where he had pitched his tent 59 at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai. 13:4 This was the place where he had first built the altar, 60 and there Abram worshiped the Lord. 61
13:5 Now Lot, who was traveling 62 with Abram, also had 63 flocks, herds, and tents. 13:6 But the land could 64 not support them while they were living side by side. 65 Because their possessions were so great, they were not able to live 66 alongside one another. 13:7 So there were quarrels 67 between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen. 68 (Now the Canaanites and the Perizzites were living in the land at that time.) 69
13:8 Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no quarreling between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are close relatives. 70 13:9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself now from me. If you go 71 to the left, then I’ll go to the right, but if you go to the right, then I’ll go to the left.”
13:10 Lot looked up and saw 72 the whole region 73 of the Jordan. He noticed 74 that all of it was well-watered (before the Lord obliterated 75 Sodom and Gomorrah) 76 like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, 77 all the way to Zoar. 13:11 Lot chose for himself the whole region of the Jordan and traveled 78 toward the east.
So the relatives separated from each other. 79 13:12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, but Lot settled among the cities of the Jordan plain 80 and pitched his tents next to Sodom. 13:13 (Now 81 the people 82 of Sodom were extremely wicked rebels against the Lord.) 83
13:14 After Lot had departed, the Lord said to Abram, 84 “Look 85 from the place where you stand to the north, south, east, and west. 13:15 I will give all the land that you see to you and your descendants 86 forever. 13:16 And I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone is able to count the dust of the earth, then your descendants also can be counted. 87 13:17 Get up and 88 walk throughout 89 the land, 90 for I will give it to you.”
14:1 At that time 93 Amraphel king of Shinar, 94 Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations 95 14:2 went to war 96 against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 97 14:3 These last five kings 98 joined forces 99 in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 100 14:4 For twelve years 101 they had served Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year 102 they rebelled. 103 14:5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings who were his allies came and defeated 104 the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim, 14:6 and the Horites in their hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is near the desert. 105 14:7 Then they attacked En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh) again, 106 and they conquered all the territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar.
14:8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and prepared for battle. In the Valley of Siddim they met 107 14:9 Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, 108 Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar. Four kings fought against 109 five. 14:10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits. 110 When the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, they fell into them, 111 but some survivors 112 fled to the hills. 113 14:11 The four victorious kings 114 took all the possessions and food of Sodom and Gomorrah and left. 14:12 They also took Abram’s nephew 115 Lot and his possessions when 116 they left, for Lot 117 was living in Sodom. 118
14:13 A fugitive 119 came and told Abram the Hebrew. 120 Now Abram was living by the oaks 121 of Mamre the Amorite, the brother 122 of Eshcol and Aner. (All these were allied by treaty 123 with Abram.) 124 14:14 When Abram heard that his nephew 125 had been taken captive, he mobilized 126 his 318 trained men who had been born in his household, and he pursued the invaders 127 as far as Dan. 128 14:15 Then, during the night, 129 Abram 130 divided his forces 131 against them and defeated them. He chased them as far as Hobah, which is north 132 of Damascus. 14:16 He retrieved all the stolen property. 133 He also brought back his nephew Lot and his possessions, as well as the women and the rest of 134 the people.
14:17 After Abram 135 returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet Abram 136 in the Valley of Shaveh (known as the King’s Valley). 137 14:18 Melchizedek king of Salem 138 brought out bread and wine. (Now he was the priest of the Most High God.) 139 14:19 He blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by 140 the Most High God,
who delivered 144 your enemies into your hand.”
Abram gave Melchizedek 145 a tenth of everything.
14:21 Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and take the possessions for yourself.” 14:22 But Abram replied to the king of Sodom, “I raise my hand 146 to the Lord, the Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth, and vow 147 14:23 that I will take nothing 148 belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal. That way you can never say, ‘It is I 149 who made Abram rich.’ 14:24 I will take nothing 150 except compensation for what the young men have eaten. 151 As for the share of the men who went with me – Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre – let them take their share.”
15:2 But Abram said, “O sovereign Lord, 154 what will you give me since 155 I continue to be 156 childless, and my heir 157 is 158 Eliezer of Damascus?” 159 15:3 Abram added, 160 “Since 161 you have not given me a descendant, then look, one born in my house will be my heir!” 162
15:4 But look, 163 the word of the Lord came to him: “This man 164 will not be your heir, 165 but instead 166 a son 167 who comes from your own body will be 168 your heir.” 169 15:5 The Lord 170 took him outside and said, “Gaze into the sky and count the stars – if you are able to count them!” Then he said to him, “So will your descendants be.”
15:7 The Lord said 175 to him, “I am the Lord 176 who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans 177 to give you this land to possess.” 15:8 But 178 Abram 179 said, “O sovereign Lord, 180 by what 181 can I know that I am to possess it?”
15:9 The Lord 182 said to him, “Take for me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” 15:10 So Abram 183 took all these for him and then cut them in two 184 and placed each half opposite the other, 185 but he did not cut the birds in half. 15:11 When birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
15:12 When the sun went down, Abram fell sound asleep, 186 and great terror overwhelmed him. 187 15:13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain 188 that your descendants will be strangers 189 in a foreign country. 190 They will be enslaved and oppressed 191 for four hundred years. 15:14 But I will execute judgment on the nation that they will serve. 192 Afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15:15 But as for you, 193 you will go to your ancestors 194 in peace and be buried at a good old age. 195 15:16 In the fourth generation 196 your descendants 197 will return here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.” 198
15:17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking firepot with a flaming torch 199 passed between the animal parts. 200 15:18 That day the Lord made a covenant 201 with Abram: “To your descendants I give 202 this land, from the river of Egypt 203 to the great river, the Euphrates River – 15:19 the land 204 of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 15:20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 15:21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.” 205
1 sn The
2 tn The call of Abram begins with an imperative לֶךְ־לְךָ (lekh-lÿkha, “go out”) followed by three cohortatives (v. 2a) indicating purpose or consequence (“that I may” or “then I will”). If Abram leaves, then God will do these three things. The second imperative (v. 2b, literally “and be a blessing”) is subordinated to the preceding cohortatives and indicates God’s ultimate purpose in calling and blessing Abram. On the syntactical structure of vv. 1-2 see R. B. Chisholm, “Evidence from Genesis,” A Case for Premillennialism, 37. For a similar sequence of volitive forms see Gen 45:18.
sn It would be hard to overestimate the value of this call and this divine plan for the theology of the Bible. Here begins God’s plan to bring redemption to the world. The promises to Abram will be turned into a covenant in Gen 15 and 22 (here it is a call with conditional promises) and will then lead through the Bible to the work of the Messiah.
3 tn The initial command is the direct imperative (לֶךְ, lekh) from the verb הָלַךְ (halakh). It is followed by the lamed preposition with a pronominal suffix (לְךָ, lÿkha) emphasizing the subject of the imperative: “you leave.”
4 sn To the land that I will show you. The call of Abram illustrates the leading of the
5 tn The three first person verbs in v. 2a should be classified as cohortatives. The first two have pronominal suffixes, so the form itself does not indicate a cohortative. The third verb form is clearly cohortative.
6 sn I will bless you. The blessing of creation is now carried forward to the patriarch. In the garden God blessed Adam and Eve; in that blessing he gave them (1) a fruitful place, (2) endowed them with fertility to multiply, and (3) made them rulers over creation. That was all ruined at the fall. Now God begins to build his covenant people; in Gen 12-22 he promises to give Abram (1) a land flowing with milk and honey, (2) a great nation without number, and (3) kingship.
7 tn Or “I will make you famous.”
8 tn Heb “and be a blessing.” The verb form הְיֵה (hÿyeh) is the Qal imperative of the verb הָיָה (hayah). The vav (ו) with the imperative after the cohortatives indicates purpose or consequence. What does it mean for Abram to “be a blessing”? Will he be a channel or source of blessing for others, or a prime example of divine blessing? A similar statement occurs in Zech 8:13, where God assures his people, “You will be a blessing,” in contrast to the past when they “were a curse.” Certainly “curse” here does not refer to Israel being a source of a curse, but rather to the fact that they became a curse-word or byword among the nations, who regarded them as the epitome of an accursed people (see 2 Kgs 22:19; Jer 42:18; 44:8, 12, 22). Therefore the statement “be a blessing” seems to refer to Israel being transformed into a prime example of a blessed people, whose name will be used in blessing formulae, rather than in curses. If the statement “be a blessing” is understood in the same way in Gen 12:2, then it means that God would so bless Abram that other nations would hear of his fame and hold him up as a paradigm of divine blessing in their blessing formulae.
9 tn The Piel cohortative has as its object a Piel participle, masculine plural. Since the
10 tn In this part of God’s statement there are two significant changes that often go unnoticed. First, the parallel and contrasting participle מְקַלֶּלְךָ (mÿqallelkha) is now singular and not plural. All the versions and a few Masoretic
11 tn Theoretically the Niphal can be translated either as passive or reflexive/reciprocal. (The Niphal of “bless” is only used in formulations of the Abrahamic covenant. See Gen 12:2; 18:18; 28:14.) Traditionally the verb is taken as passive here, as if Abram were going to be a channel or source of blessing. But in later formulations of the Abrahamic covenant (see Gen 22:18; 26:4) the Hitpael replaces this Niphal form, suggesting a translation “will bless [i.e., “pronounce blessings on”] themselves [or “one another”].” The Hitpael of “bless” is used with a reflexive/reciprocal sense in Deut 29:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 65:16; Jer 4:2. Gen 12:2 predicts that Abram will be held up as a paradigm of divine blessing and that people will use his name in their blessing formulae. For examples of blessing formulae utilizing an individual as an example of blessing see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11.
13 tn Heb “just as the
14 tn The disjunctive clause (note the pattern conjunction + subject + implied “to be” verb) is parenthetical, telling the age of Abram when he left Haran.
15 tn Heb “was the son of five years and seventy year[s].”
sn Terah was 70 years old when he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran (Gen 11:26). Terah was 205 when he died in Haran (11:32). Abram left Haran at the age of 75 after his father died. Abram was born when Terah was 130. Abram was not the firstborn – he is placed first in the list of three because of his importance. The same is true of the list in Gen 10:1 (Shem, Ham and Japheth). Ham was the youngest son (9:24). Japheth was the older brother of Shem (10:21), so the birth order of Noah’s sons was Japheth, Shem, and Ham.
16 tn Heb “the son of his brother.”
17 tn For the semantic nuance “acquire [property]” for the verb עָשָׂה (’asah), see BDB 795 s.v. עָשָׂה.
18 tn Heb “went out to go.”
19 tn Or “terebinth.”
20 sn The Hebrew word Moreh (מוֹרֶה, moreh) means “teacher.” It may well be that the place of this great oak tree was a Canaanite shrine where instruction took place.
21 tn Heb “as far as the place of Shechem, as far as the oak of Moreh.”
22 tn The disjunctive clause gives important information parenthetical in nature – the promised land was occupied by Canaanites.
23 tn The same Hebrew term זֶרַע (zera’) may mean “seed” (for planting), “offspring” (occasionally of animals, but usually of people), or “descendants” depending on the context.
24 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abram) has been supplied in the translation for clarification.
26 tn Heb “he called in the name of the
27 tn The Hebrew verb נָסַע (nasa’) means “to journey”; more specifically it means to pull up the tent and move to another place. The construction here uses the preterite of this verb with its infinitive absolute to stress the activity of traveling. But it also adds the infinitive absolute of הָלַךְ (halakh) to stress that the traveling was continually going on. Thus “Abram journeyed, going and journeying” becomes “Abram continually journeyed by stages.”
28 tn Or “the South [country].”
sn Negev is the name for the southern desert region in the land of Canaan.
29 sn Abram went down to Egypt. The Abrahamic narrative foreshadows some of the events in the life of the nation of Israel. This sojourn in Egypt is typological of Israel’s bondage there. In both stories there is a famine that forces the family to Egypt, death is a danger to the males while the females are preserved alive, great plagues bring about their departure, there is a summons to stand before Pharaoh, and there is a return to the land of Canaan with great wealth.
30 tn The Hebrew verb גּוּר (gur), traditionally rendered “to sojourn,” means “to stay for a while.” The “stranger” (traditionally “sojourner”) is one who is a temporary resident, a visitor, one who is passing through. Abram had no intention of settling down in Egypt or owning property. He was only there to wait out the famine.
31 tn Heb “heavy in the land.” The words “in the land,” which also occur at the beginning of the verse in the Hebrew text, have not been repeated here in the translation for stylistic reasons.
32 tn Heb “drew near to enter.”
33 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) is deictic here; it draws attention to the following fact.
34 tn Heb “a woman beautiful of appearance are you.”
35 tn The Piel of the verb חָיָה (khayah, “to live”) means “to keep alive, to preserve alive,” and in some places “to make alive.” See D. Marcus, “The Verb ‘to Live’ in Ugaritic,” JSS 17 (1972): 76-82.
36 tn Heb “say.”
37 sn Tell them you are my sister. Abram’s motives may not be as selfish as they appear. He is aware of the danger to the family. His method of dealing with it is deception with a half truth, for Sarai really was his sister – but the Egyptians would not know that. Abram presumably thought that there would be negotiations for a marriage by anyone interested (as Laban does later for his sister Rebekah), giving him time to react. But the plan backfires because Pharaoh does not take the time to negotiate. There is a good deal of literature on the wife-sister issue. See (among others) E. A. Speiser, “The Wife-Sister Motif in the Patriarchal Narratives,” Oriental and Biblical Studies, 62-81; C. J. Mullo-Weir, “The Alleged Hurrian Wife-Sister Motif in Genesis,” GOT 22 (1967-1970): 14-25.
38 tn The Hebrew verb translated “go well” can encompass a whole range of favorable treatment, but the following clause indicates it means here that Abram’s life will be spared.
39 tn Heb “and my life will live.”
40 tn Heb “and the woman.” The word also means “wife”; the Hebrew article can express the possessive pronoun (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 19, §86). Here the proper name (Abram) has been used in the translation instead of a possessive pronoun (“his”) for clarity.
41 tn The Hebrew term וַתֻּקַּח (vattuqqakh, “was taken”) is a rare verbal form, an old Qal passive preterite from the verb “to take.” It is pointed as a Hophal would be by the Masoretes, but does not have a Hophal meaning.
42 tn The Hebrew text simply has “house of Pharaoh.” The word “house” refers to the household in general, more specifically to the royal harem.
43 sn He did treat Abram well. The construction of the parenthetical disjunctive clause, beginning with the conjunction on the prepositional phrase, draws attention to the irony of the story. Abram wanted Sarai to lie “so that it would go well” with him. Though he lost Sarai to Pharaoh, it did go well for him – he received a lavish bride price. See also G. W. Coats, “Despoiling the Egyptians,” VT 18 (1968): 450-57.
44 tn Heb “and there was to him.”
45 tn The cognate accusative adds emphasis to the verbal sentence: “he plagued with great plagues,” meaning the
46 tn The demonstrative pronoun translated “this” adds emphasis: “What in the world have you done to me?” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118).
47 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive here expresses consequence.
48 tn Heb “to me for a wife.”
49 tn Heb “Look, your wife!”
50 tn Heb “take and go.”
51 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
sn Negev is the name for the southern desert region in the land of Canaan.
53 tn Heb “And Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all which was his, and Lot with him, to the Negev.”
54 tn Heb “heavy.”
55 tn This parenthetical clause, introduced by the vav (ו) disjunctive (translated “now”), provides information necessary to the point of the story.
56 tn Heb “on his journeys”; the verb and noun combination means to pick up the tents and move from camp to camp.
58 tn The words “he returned” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
59 tn Heb “where his tent had been.”
61 tn Heb “he called in the name of the
62 tn Heb “was going.”
63 tn The Hebrew idiom is “to Lot…there was,” the preposition here expressing possession.
64 tn The potential nuance for the perfect tense is necessary here, and supported by the parallel clause that actually uses “to be able.”
65 tn The infinitive construct לָשֶׁבֶת (lashevet, from יָשַׁב, yashav) explains what it was that the land could not support: “the land could not support them to live side by side.” See further J. C. de Moor, “Lexical Remarks Concerning Yahad and Yahdaw,” VT 7 (1957): 350-55.
66 tn The same infinitive occurs here, serving as the object of the verb.
67 tn The Hebrew term רִיב (riv) means “strife, conflict, quarreling.” In later texts it has the meaning of “legal controversy, dispute.” See B. Gemser, “The rîb – or Controversy – Pattern in Hebrew Mentality,” Wisdom in Israel and in the Ancient Near East [VTSup], 120-37.
68 sn Since the quarreling was between the herdsmen, the dispute was no doubt over water and vegetation for the animals.
69 tn This parenthetical clause, introduced with the vav (ו) disjunctive (translated “now”), again provides critical information. It tells in part why the land cannot sustain these two bedouins, and it also hints of the danger of weakening the family by inner strife.
70 tn Heb “men, brothers [are] we.” Here “brothers” describes the closeness of the relationship, but could be misunderstood if taken literally, since Abram was Lot’s uncle.
71 tn The words “you go” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons both times in this verse.
72 tn Heb “lifted up his eyes and saw.” The expression draws attention to the act of looking, indicating that Lot took a good look. It also calls attention to the importance of what was seen.
73 tn Or “plain”; Heb “circle.”
74 tn The words “he noticed” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
75 sn Obliterated. The use of the term “destroy” (שַׁחֵת, shakhet) is reminiscent of the Noahic flood (Gen 6:13). Both at the flood and in Sodom the place was obliterated by catastrophe and only one family survived (see C. Westermann, Genesis, 2:178).
76 tn This short temporal clause (preposition + Piel infinitive construct + subjective genitive + direct object) is strategically placed in the middle of the lavish descriptions to sound an ominous note. The entire clause is parenthetical in nature. Most English translations place the clause at the end of v. 10 for stylistic reasons.
77 sn The narrative places emphasis on what Lot saw so that the reader can appreciate how it aroused his desire for the best land. It makes allusion to the garden of the
78 tn Heb “Lot traveled.” The proper name has not been repeated in the translation at this point for stylistic reasons.
79 tn Heb “a man from upon his brother.”
sn Separated from each other. For a discussion of the significance of this event, see L. R. Helyer, “The Separation of Abram and Lot: Its Significance in the Patriarchal Narratives,” JSOT 26 (1983): 77-88.
80 tn Or “the cities of the plain”; Heb “[the cities of] the circle,” referring to the “circle” or oval area of the Jordan Valley.
81 tn Here is another significant parenthetical clause in the story, signaled by the vav (וו) disjunctive (translated “now”) on the noun at the beginning of the clause.
82 tn Heb “men.” However, this is generic in sense; it is unlikely that only the male residents of Sodom were sinners.
83 tn Heb “wicked and sinners against the
84 tn Heb “and the
85 tn Heb “lift up your eyes and see.”
sn Look. Earlier Lot “looked up” (v. 10), but here Abram is told by God to do so. The repetition of the expression (Heb “lift up the eyes”) here underscores how the
86 tn Heb “for all the land which you see to you I will give it and to your descendants.”
87 tn The translation “can be counted” (potential imperfect) is suggested by the use of יוּכַל (yukhal, “is able”) in the preceding clause.
88 tn The connective “and” is not present in the Hebrew text; it has been supplied for purposes of English style.
89 tn The Hitpael form הִתְהַלֵּךְ (hithallekh) means “to walk about”; it also can carry the ideas of moving about, traversing, going back and forth, or living in an area. It here has the connotation of traversing the land to survey it, to look it over.
90 tn Heb “the land to its length and to its breadth.” This phrase has not been included in the translation because it is somewhat redundant (see the note on the word “throughout” in this verse).
91 tn Heb “he came and lived.”
92 tn Or “terebinths.”
93 tn The sentence begins with the temporal indicator וַיְהִי (vayÿhi) followed by “in the days of.”
95 tn Or “king of Goyim.” The Hebrew term גּוֹיִם (goyim) means “nations,” but a number of modern translations merely transliterate the Hebrew (cf. NEB “Goyim”; NIV, NRSV “Goiim”).
96 tn Heb “made war.”
sn Went to war. The conflict here reflects international warfare in the Early and Middle Bronze periods. The countries operated with overlords and vassals. Kings ruled over city states, or sometimes a number of city states (i.e., nations). Due to their treaties, when one went to war, those confederate with him joined him in battle. It appears here that it is Kedorlaomer’s war, because the western city states have rebelled against him (meaning they did not send products as tribute to keep him from invading them).
97 sn On the geographical background of vv. 1-2 see J. P. Harland, “Sodom and Gomorrah,” The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, 1:41-75; and D. N. Freedman, “The Real Story of the Ebla Tablets, Ebla and the Cities of the Plain,” BA 41 (1978): 143-64.
98 tn Heb “all these,” referring only to the last five kings named. The referent has been specified as “these last five kings” in the translation for clarity.
99 tn The Hebrew verb used here means “to join together; to unite; to be allied.” It stresses close associations, especially of friendships, marriages, or treaties.
100 sn The Salt Sea is the older name for the Dead Sea.
101 tn The sentence simply begins with “twelve years”; it serves as an adverbial accusative giving the duration of their bondage.
102 tn This is another adverbial accusative of time.
103 sn The story serves as a foreshadowing of the plight of the kingdom of Israel later. Eastern powers came and forced the western kingdoms into submission. Each year, then, they would send tribute east – to keep them away. Here, in the thirteenth year, they refused to send the tribute (just as later Hezekiah rebelled against Assyria). And so in the fourteenth year the eastern powers came to put them down again. This account from Abram’s life taught future generations that God can give victory over such threats – that people did not have to live in servitude to tyrants from the east.
104 tn The Hebrew verb נָכָה (nakhah) means “to attack, to strike, to smite.” In this context it appears that the strike was successful, and so a translation of “defeated” is preferable.
105 sn The line of attack ran down the eastern side of the Jordan Valley into the desert, and then turned and came up the valley to the cities of the plain.
106 tn Heb “they returned and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh).” The two verbs together form a verbal hendiadys, the first serving as the adverb: “they returned and came” means “they came again.” Most English translations do not treat this as a hendiadys, but translate “they turned back” or something similar. Since in the context, however, “came again to” does not simply refer to travel but an assault against the place, the present translation expresses this as “attacked…again.”
107 tn Heb “against.”
109 tn The Hebrew text has simply “against.” The word “fought” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
110 tn Heb “Now the Valley of Siddim [was] pits, pits of tar.” This parenthetical disjunctive clause emphasizes the abundance of tar pits in the area through repetition of the noun “pits.”
sn The word for “tar” (or “bitumen”) occurs earlier in the story of the building of the tower in Babylon (see Gen 11:3).
111 tn Or “they were defeated there.” After a verb of motion the Hebrew particle שָׁם (sham) with the directional heh (שָׁמָּה, shammah) can mean “into it, therein” (BDB 1027 s.v. שָׁם).
112 tn Heb “the rest.”
113 sn The reference to the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah must mean the kings along with their armies. Most of them were defeated in the valley, but some of them escaped to the hills.
115 tn Heb “Lot the son of his brother.”
116 tn Heb “and.”
117 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Lot) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
118 tn This disjunctive clause is circumstantial/causal, explaining that Lot was captured because he was living in Sodom at the time.
119 tn Heb “the fugitive.” The article carries a generic force or indicates that this fugitive is definite in the mind of the speaker.
120 sn E. A. Speiser (Genesis [AB], 103) suggests that part of this chapter came from an outside source since it refers to Abram the Hebrew. That is not impossible, given that the narrator likely utilized traditions and genealogies that had been collected and transmitted over the years. The meaning of the word “Hebrew” has proved elusive. It may be related to the verb “to cross over,” perhaps meaning “immigrant.” Or it might be derived from the name of Abram’s ancestor Eber (see Gen 11:14-16).
121 tn Or “terebinths.”
122 tn Or “a brother”; or “a relative”; or perhaps “an ally.”
123 tn Heb “possessors of a treaty with.” Since it is likely that the qualifying statement refers to all three (Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner) the words “all these” have been supplied in the translation to make this clear.
124 tn This parenthetical disjunctive clause explains how Abram came to be living in their territory, but it also explains why they must go to war with Abram.
125 tn Heb “his brother,” by extension, “relative.” Here and in v. 16 the more specific term “nephew” has been used in the translation for clarity. Lot was the son of Haran, Abram’s brother (Gen 11:27).
126 tn The verb וַיָּרֶק (vayyareq) is a rare form, probably related to the word רֵיק (req, “to be empty”). If so, it would be a very figurative use: “he emptied out” (or perhaps “unsheathed”) his men. The LXX has “mustered” (cf. NEB). E. A. Speiser (Genesis [AB], 103-4) suggests reading with the Samaritan Pentateuch a verb diq, cognate with Akkadian deku, “to mobilize” troops. If this view is accepted, one must assume that a confusion of the Hebrew letters ד (dalet) and ר (resh) led to the error in the traditional Hebrew text. These two letters are easily confused in all phases of ancient Hebrew script development. The present translation is based on this view.
127 tn The words “the invaders” have been supplied in the translation for clarification.
128 sn The use of the name Dan reflects a later perspective. The Danites did not migrate to this northern territory until centuries later (see Judg 18:29). Furthermore Dan was not even born until much later. By inserting this name a scribe has clarified the location of the region.
129 tn The Hebrew text simply has “night” as an adverbial accusative.
130 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
131 tn Heb “he divided himself…he and his servants.”
132 tn Heb “left.” Directions in ancient Israel were given in relation to the east rather than the north.
133 tn The word “stolen” is supplied in the translation for clarification.
134 tn The phrase “the rest of “ has been supplied in the translation for clarification.
135 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
136 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
137 sn The King’s Valley is possibly a reference to what came to be known later as the Kidron Valley.
138 sn Salem is traditionally identified as the Jebusite stronghold of old Jerusalem. Accordingly, there has been much speculation about its king. Though some have identified him with the preincarnate Christ or with Noah’s son Shem, it is far more likely that Melchizedek was a Canaanite royal priest whom God used to renew the promise of the blessing to Abram, perhaps because Abram considered Melchizedek his spiritual superior. But Melchizedek remains an enigma. In a book filled with genealogical records he appears on the scene without a genealogy and then disappears from the narrative. In Psalm 110 the
139 tn The parenthetical disjunctive clause significantly identifies Melchizedek as a priest as well as a king.
sn It is his royal priestly status that makes Melchizedek a type of Christ: He was identified with Jerusalem, superior to the ancestor of Israel, and both a king and a priest. Unlike the normal Canaanites, this man served “God Most High” (אֵל עֶלְיוֹן, ’el ’elyon) – one sovereign God, who was the creator of all the universe. Abram had in him a spiritual brother.
140 tn The preposition לְ (lamed) introduces the agent after the passive participle.
141 tn Some translate “possessor of heaven and earth” (cf. NASB). But cognate evidence from Ugaritic indicates that there were two homonymic roots ָקנָה (qanah), one meaning “to create” (as in Gen 4:1) and the other “to obtain, to acquire, to possess.” While “possessor” would fit here, “creator” is the more likely due to the collocation with “heaven and earth.”
142 tn The terms translated “heaven” and “earth” are both objective genitives after the participle in construct.
143 tn Heb “blessed be.” For God to be “blessed” means that is praised. His reputation is enriched in the world as his name is praised.
144 sn Who delivered. The Hebrew verb מִגֵּן (miggen, “delivered”) foreshadows the statement by God to Abram in Gen 15:1, “I am your shield” (מָגֵן, magen). Melchizedek provided a theological interpretation of Abram’s military victory.
145 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Melchizedek) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
146 tn Abram takes an oath, raising his hand as a solemn gesture. The translation understands the perfect tense as having an instantaneous nuance: “Here and now I raise my hand.”
147 tn The words “and vow” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarification.
148 tn The oath formula is elliptical, reading simply: “…if I take.” It is as if Abram says, “[May the
149 tn The Hebrew text adds the independent pronoun (“I”) to the verb form for emphasis.
150 tn The words “I will take nothing” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
151 tn Heb “except only what the young men have eaten.”
153 tn Heb “your reward [in] great abundance.” When the phrase הַרְבּה מְאֹדֵ (harbeh mÿod) follows a noun it invariably modifies the noun and carries the nuance “very great” or “in great abundance.” (See its use in Gen 41:49; Deut 3:5; Josh 22:8; 2 Sam 8:8; 12:2; 1 Kgs 4:29; 10:10-11; 2 Chr 14:13; 32:27; Jer 40:12.) Here the noun “reward” is in apposition to “shield” and refers by metonymy to God as the source of the reward. Some translate here “your reward will be very great” (cf. NASB, NRSV), taking the statement as an independent clause and understanding the Hiphil infinitive absolute as a substitute for a finite verb. However, the construction הַרְבּה מְאֹדֵ is never used this way elsewhere, where it either modifies a noun (see the texts listed above) or serves as an adverb in relation to a finite verb (see Josh 13:1; 1 Sam 26:21; 2 Sam 12:30; 2 Kgs 21:16; 1 Chr 20:2; Neh 2:2).
sn Abram has just rejected all the spoils of war, and the
154 tn The Hebrew text has אֲדֹנָי יֱהוִה (’adonay yehvih, “Master,
155 tn The vav (ו) disjunctive at the beginning of the clause is circumstantial, expressing the cause or reason.
156 tn Heb “I am going.”
157 tn Heb “the son of the acquisition of my house.”
sn For the custom of designating a member of the household as heir, see C. H. Gordon, “Biblical Customs and the Nuzu Tablets,” Biblical Archaeologist Reader, 2:21-33.
158 tn The pronoun is anaphoric here, equivalent to the verb “to be” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 23, §115).
159 sn The sentence in the Hebrew text employs a very effective wordplay on the name Damascus: “The son of the acquisition (בֶּן־מֶשֶׁק, ben-mesheq) of my house is Eliezer of Damascus (דַּמֶּשֶׁק, dammesheq).” The words are not the same; they have different sibilants. But the sound play gives the impression that “in the nomen is the omen.” Eliezer the Damascene will be Abram’s heir if Abram dies childless because “Damascus” seems to mean that. See M. F. Unger, “Some Comments on the Text of Genesis 15:2-3,” JBL 72 (1953): 49-50; H. L. Ginsberg, “Abram’s ‘Damascene’ Steward,” BASOR 200 (1970): 31-32.
160 tn Heb “And Abram said.”
161 tn The construction uses הֵן (hen) to introduce the foundational clause (“since…”), and וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh) to introduce the main clause (“then look…”).
162 tn Heb “is inheriting me.”
164 tn The subject of the verb is the demonstrative pronoun, which can be translated “this one” or “this man.” That the
165 tn Heb “inherit you.”
166 tn The Hebrew כִּי־אִם (ki-’im) forms a very strong adversative.
167 tn Heb “he who”; the implied referent (Abram’s unborn son who will be his heir) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
168 tn The pronoun could also be an emphatic subject: “whoever comes out of your body, he will inherit you.”
169 tn Heb “will inherit you.”
170 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the
171 tn The nonconsecutive vav (ו) is on a perfect verbal form. If the composer of the narrative had wanted to show simple sequence, he would have used the vav consecutive with the preterite. The perfect with vav conjunctive (where one expects the preterite with vav consecutive) in narrative contexts can have a variety of discourse functions, but here it probably serves to highlight Abram’s response to God’s promise. For a detailed discussion of the vav + perfect construction in Hebrew narrative, see R. Longacre, “Weqatal Forms in Biblical Hebrew Prose: A Discourse-modular Approach,” Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics, 50-98. The Hebrew verb אָמַן (’aman) means “to confirm, to support” in the Qal verbal stem. Its derivative nouns refer to something or someone that/who provides support, such as a “pillar,” “nurse,” or “guardian, trustee.” In the Niphal stem it comes to mean “to be faithful, to be reliable, to be dependable,” or “to be firm, to be sure.” In the Hiphil, the form used here, it takes on a declarative sense: “to consider something reliable [or “dependable”].” Abram regarded the God who made this promise as reliable and fully capable of making it a reality.
172 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the
173 tn Heb “and he reckoned it to him.” The third feminine singular pronominal suffix refers back to Abram’s act of faith, mentioned in the preceding clause. On third feminine singular pronouns referring back to verbal ideas see GKC 440-41 §135.p. Some propose taking the suffix as proleptic, anticipating the following feminine noun (“righteousness”). In this case one might translate: “and he reckoned it to him – [namely] righteousness.” See O. P. Robertson, “Genesis 15:6: A New Covenant Exposition of an Old Covenant Text,” WTJ 42 (1980): 259-89.
174 tn Or “righteousness”; or “evidence of steadfast commitment.” The noun is an adverbial accusative. The verb translated “considered” (Heb “reckoned”) also appears with צְדָקָה (tsÿdaqah, “righteousness”) in Ps 106:31. Alluding to the events recorded in Numbers 25, the psalmist notes that Phinehas’ actions were “credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come.” Reference is made to the unconditional, eternal covenant with which God rewarded Phinehas’ loyalty (Num 25:12-13). So צְדָקָה seems to carry by metonymy the meaning “loyal, rewardable behavior” here, a nuance that fits nicely in Genesis 15, where God responds to Abram’s faith by formally ratifying his promise to give Abram and his descendants the land. (See R. B. Chisholm, “Evidence from Genesis,” A Case for Premillennialism, 40.) In Phoenician and Old Aramaic inscriptions cognate nouns glossed as “correct, justifiable conduct” sometimes carry this same semantic nuance (DNWSI 2:962).
sn This episode is basic to the NT teaching of Paul on justification (Romans 4). Paul weaves this passage and Psalm 32 together, for both use this word. Paul explains that for the one who believes in the
175 tn Heb “And he said.”
176 sn I am the
177 sn The phrase of the Chaldeans is a later editorial clarification for the readers, designating the location of Ur. From all evidence there would have been no Chaldeans in existence at this early date; they are known in the time of the neo-Babylonian empire in the first millennium
178 tn Here the vav carries adversative force and is translated “but.”
179 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
181 tn Or “how.”
182 tn Heb “He”; the referent (the
183 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
184 tn Heb “in the middle.”
185 tn Heb “to meet its neighbor.”
sn For discussion of this ritual see G. F. Hasel, “The Meaning of the Animal Rite in Genesis 15,” JSOT 19 (1981): 61-78.
186 tn Heb “a deep sleep fell on Abram.”
187 tn Heb “and look, terror, a great darkness was falling on him.”
188 tn The Hebrew construction is emphatic, with the Qal infinitive absolute followed by the imperfect from יָדַע (yada’, “know”). The imperfect here has an obligatory or imperatival force.
189 tn The Hebrew word גֵּר (ger, “sojourner, stranger”) is related to the verb גּוּר (gur, “to sojourn, to stay for awhile”). Abram’s descendants will stay in a land as resident aliens without rights of citizenship.
190 tn Heb “in a land not theirs.”
191 tn Heb “and they will serve them and they will oppress them.” The verb עִנּוּ, (’innu, a Piel form from עָנָה, ’anah, “to afflict, to oppress, to treat harshly”), is used in Exod 1:11 to describe the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt.
192 tn The participle דָּן (dan, from דִּין, din) is used here for the future: “I am judging” = “I will surely judge.” The judgment in this case will be condemnation and punishment. The translation “execute judgment on” implies that the judgment will certainly be carried out.
193 tn The vav with the pronoun before the verb calls special attention to the subject in contrast to the preceding subject.
194 sn You will go to your ancestors. This is a euphemistic expression for death.
195 tn Heb “in a good old age.”
196 sn The term generation is being used here in its widest sense to refer to a full life span. When the chronological factors are considered and the genealogies tabulated, there are four hundred years of bondage. This suggests that in this context a generation is equivalent to one hundred years.
197 tn Heb “they”; the referent (“your descendants”) has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
198 tn Heb “is not yet complete.”
sn The sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit. The justice of God is apparent. He will wait until the Amorites are fully deserving of judgment before he annihilates them and gives the land to Israel.
199 sn A smoking pot with a flaming torch. These same implements were used in Mesopotamian rituals designed to ward off evil (see E. A. Speiser, Genesis [AB], 113-14).
200 tn Heb “these pieces.”
201 tn Heb “cut a covenant.”
202 tn The perfect verbal form is understood as instantaneous (“I here and now give”). Another option is to understand it as rhetorical, indicating certitude (“I have given” meaning it is as good as done, i.e., “I will surely give”).
sn To your descendants I give this land. The
203 sn The river of Egypt is a wadi (a seasonal stream) on the northeastern border of Egypt, not to the River Nile.
204 tn The words “the land” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
205 tn Each of the names in the list has the Hebrew definite article, which is used here generically for the class of people identified.