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Genesis 15:2-3

Context

15:2 But Abram said, “O sovereign Lord, 1  what will you give me since 2  I continue to be 3  childless, and my heir 4  is 5  Eliezer of Damascus?” 6  15:3 Abram added, 7  “Since 8  you have not given me a descendant, then look, one born in my house will be my heir!” 9 

1 tn The Hebrew text has אֲדֹנָי יֱהוִה (’adonay yehvih, “Master, Lord”). Since the tetragrammaton (YHWH) usually is pointed with the vowels for the Hebrew word אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “master”) to avoid pronouncing the divine name, that would lead in this place to a repetition of אֲדֹנָי. So the tetragrammaton is here pointed with the vowels for the word אֱלֹהִים (’elohim, “God”) instead. That would produce the reading of the Hebrew as “Master, God” in the Jewish textual tradition. But the presence of “Master” before the holy name is rather compelling evidence that the original would have been “Master, Lord,” which is rendered here “sovereign Lord.”

2 tn The vav (ו) disjunctive at the beginning of the clause is circumstantial, expressing the cause or reason.

3 tn Heb “I am going.”

4 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.

5 tn The pronoun is anaphoric here, equivalent to the verb “to be” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 23, §115).

6 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.

7 tn Heb “And Abram said.”

8 tn The construction uses הֵן (hen) to introduce the foundational clause (“since…”), and וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh) to introduce the main clause (“then look…”).

9 tn Heb “is inheriting me.”



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