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Genesis 15:15-18

Context
15:15 But as for you, 1  you will go to your ancestors 2  in peace and be buried at a good old age. 3  15:16 In the fourth generation 4  your descendants 5  will return here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.” 6 

15:17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking firepot with a flaming torch 7  passed between the animal parts. 8  15:18 That day the Lord made a covenant 9  with Abram: “To your descendants I give 10  this land, from the river of Egypt 11  to the great river, the Euphrates River –

1 tn The vav with the pronoun before the verb calls special attention to the subject in contrast to the preceding subject.

2 sn You will go to your ancestors. This is a euphemistic expression for death.

3 tn Heb “in a good old age.”

4 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.

5 tn Heb “they”; the referent (“your descendants”) has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

6 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.

7 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).

8 tn Heb “these pieces.”

9 tn Heb “cut a covenant.”

10 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 Lord here unconditionally promises that Abram’s descendants will possess the land, but he does not yet ratify his earlier promises to give Abram a multitude of descendants and eternal possession of the land. The fulfillment of those aspects of the promise remain conditional (see Gen 17:1-8) and are ratified after Abraham offers up his son Isaac (see Gen 22:1-19). For a fuller discussion see R. B. Chisholm, “Evidence from Genesis,” A Case for Premillennialism, 35-54.

11 sn The river of Egypt is a wadi (a seasonal stream) on the northeastern border of Egypt, not to the River Nile.



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