15:2 But Abram said, “O sovereign Lord, 3 what will you give me since 4 I continue to be 5 childless, and my heir 6 is 7 Eliezer of Damascus?” 8 15:3 Abram added, 9 “Since 10 you have not given me a descendant, then look, one born in my house will be my heir!” 11
15:4 But look, 12 the word of the Lord came to him: “This man 13 will not be your heir, 14 but instead 15 a son 16 who comes from your own body will be 17 your heir.” 18 15:5 The Lord 19 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 24 to him, “I am the Lord 25 who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans 26 to give you this land to possess.” 15:8 But 27 Abram 28 said, “O sovereign Lord, 29 by what 30 can I know that I am to possess it?”
15:9 The Lord 31 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 32 took all these for him and then cut them in two 33 and placed each half opposite the other, 34 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, 35 and great terror overwhelmed him. 36 15:13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain 37 that your descendants will be strangers 38 in a foreign country. 39 They will be enslaved and oppressed 40 for four hundred years. 15:14 But I will execute judgment on the nation that they will serve. 41 Afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15:15 But as for you, 42 you will go to your ancestors 43 in peace and be buried at a good old age. 44 15:16 In the fourth generation 45 your descendants 46 will return here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.” 47
15:17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking firepot with a flaming torch 48 passed between the animal parts. 49 15:18 That day the Lord made a covenant 50 with Abram: “To your descendants I give 51 this land, from the river of Egypt 52 to the great river, the Euphrates River – 15:19 the land 53 of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 15:20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 15:21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.” 54
22:1 Some time after these things God tested 55 Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am!” Abraham 56 replied. 22:2 God 57 said, “Take your son – your only son, whom you love, Isaac 58 – and go to the land of Moriah! 59 Offer him up there as a burnt offering 60 on one of the mountains which I will indicate to 61 you.”
22:3 Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. 62 He took two of his young servants with him, along with his son Isaac. When he had cut the wood for the burnt offering, he started out 63 for the place God had spoken to him about.
22:4 On the third day Abraham caught sight of 64 the place in the distance. 22:5 So he 65 said to his servants, “You two stay 66 here with the donkey while 67 the boy and I go up there. We will worship 68 and then return to you.” 69
22:6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac. Then he took the fire and the knife in his hand, 70 and the two of them walked on together. 22:7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, 71 “My father?” “What is it, 72 my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said, 73 “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 22:8 “God will provide 74 for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham replied. The two of them continued on together.
22:9 When they came to the place God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there 75 and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up 76 his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. 22:10 Then Abraham reached out his hand, took the knife, and prepared to slaughter 77 his son. 22:11 But the Lord’s angel 78 called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered. 22:12 “Do not harm the boy!” 79 the angel said. 80 “Do not do anything to him, for now I know 81 that you fear 82 God because you did not withhold your son, your only son, from me.”
22:13 Abraham looked up 83 and saw 84 behind him 85 a ram caught in the bushes by its horns. So he 86 went over and got the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 22:14 And Abraham called the name of that place “The Lord provides.” 87 It is said to this day, 88 “In the mountain of the Lord provision will be made.” 89
22:15 The Lord’s angel called to Abraham a second time from heaven 22:16 and said, “‘I solemnly swear by my own name,’ 90 decrees the Lord, 91 ‘that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 22:17 I will indeed bless you, 92 and I will greatly multiply 93 your descendants 94 so that they will be as countless as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession 95 of the strongholds 96 of their enemies. 22:18 Because you have obeyed me, 97 all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another 98 using the name of your descendants.’”
22:20 After these things Abraham was told, “Milcah 101 also has borne children to your brother Nahor – 22:21 Uz the firstborn, his brother Buz, Kemuel (the father of Aram), 102 22:22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 22:23 (Now 103 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah.) These were the eight sons Milcah bore to Abraham’s brother Nahor. 22:24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore him children – Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
2 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
3 tn The Hebrew text has אֲדֹנָי יֱהוִה (’adonay yehvih, “Master,
4 tn The vav (ו) disjunctive at the beginning of the clause is circumstantial, expressing the cause or reason.
5 tn Heb “I am going.”
6 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.
7 tn The pronoun is anaphoric here, equivalent to the verb “to be” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 23, §115).
8 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.
9 tn Heb “And Abram said.”
10 tn The construction uses הֵן (hen) to introduce the foundational clause (“since…”), and וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh) to introduce the main clause (“then look…”).
11 tn Heb “is inheriting me.”
13 tn The subject of the verb is the demonstrative pronoun, which can be translated “this one” or “this man.” That the
14 tn Heb “inherit you.”
15 tn The Hebrew כִּי־אִם (ki-’im) forms a very strong adversative.
16 tn Heb “he who”; the implied referent (Abram’s unborn son who will be his heir) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
17 tn The pronoun could also be an emphatic subject: “whoever comes out of your body, he will inherit you.”
18 tn Heb “will inherit you.”
19 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the
20 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.
21 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the
22 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.
23 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
24 tn Heb “And he said.”
25 sn I am the
26 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
27 tn Here the vav carries adversative force and is translated “but.”
28 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
30 tn Or “how.”
31 tn Heb “He”; the referent (the
32 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
33 tn Heb “in the middle.”
34 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.
35 tn Heb “a deep sleep fell on Abram.”
36 tn Heb “and look, terror, a great darkness was falling on him.”
37 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.
38 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.
39 tn Heb “in a land not theirs.”
40 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.
41 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.
42 tn The vav with the pronoun before the verb calls special attention to the subject in contrast to the preceding subject.
43 sn You will go to your ancestors. This is a euphemistic expression for death.
44 tn Heb “in a good old age.”
45 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.
46 tn Heb “they”; the referent (“your descendants”) has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
47 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.
48 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).
49 tn Heb “these pieces.”
50 tn Heb “cut a covenant.”
51 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
52 sn The river of Egypt is a wadi (a seasonal stream) on the northeastern border of Egypt, not to the River Nile.
53 tn The words “the land” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
54 tn Each of the names in the list has the Hebrew definite article, which is used here generically for the class of people identified.
55 sn The Hebrew verb used here means “to test; to try; to prove.” In this passage God tests Abraham to see if he would be obedient. See T. W. Mann, The Book of the Torah, 44-48. See also J. L. Crenshaw, A Whirlpool of Torment (OBT), 9-30; and J. I. Lawlor, “The Test of Abraham,” GTJ 1 (1980): 19-35.
56 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
57 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
58 sn Take your son…Isaac. The instructions are very clear, but the details are deliberate. With every additional description the commandment becomes more challenging.
60 sn A whole burnt offering signified the complete surrender of the worshiper and complete acceptance by God. The demand for a human sacrifice was certainly radical and may have seemed to Abraham out of character for God. Abraham would have to obey without fully understanding what God was about.
61 tn Heb “which I will say to.”
62 tn Heb “Abraham rose up early in the morning and saddled his donkey.”
63 tn Heb “he arose and he went.”
64 tn Heb “lifted up his eyes and saw.”
65 tn Heb “And Abraham.” The proper name has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun (“he”) for stylistic reasons.
66 tn The Hebrew verb is masculine plural, referring to the two young servants who accompanied Abraham and Isaac on the journey.
67 tn The disjunctive clause (with the compound subject preceding the verb) may be circumstantial and temporal.
68 tn This Hebrew word literally means “to bow oneself close to the ground.” It often means “to worship.”
69 sn It is impossible to know what Abraham was thinking when he said, “we will…return to you.” When he went he knew (1) that he was to sacrifice Isaac, and (2) that God intended to fulfill his earlier promises through Isaac. How he reconciled those facts is not clear in the text. Heb 11:17-19 suggests that Abraham believed God could restore Isaac to him through resurrection.
70 sn He took the fire and the knife in his hand. These details anticipate the sacrifice that lies ahead.
71 tn The Hebrew text adds “and said.” This is redundant and has not been translated for stylistic reasons.
73 tn Heb “and he said, ‘Here is the fire and the wood.’” The referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Here and in the following verse the order of the introductory clauses and the direct discourse has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.
74 tn Heb “will see for himself.” The construction means “to look out for; to see to it; to provide.”
sn God will provide is the central theme of the passage and the turning point in the story. Note Paul’s allusion to the story in Rom 8:32 (“how shall he not freely give us all things?”) as well as H. J. Schoeps, “The Sacrifice of Isaac in Paul’s Theology,” JBL 65 (1946): 385-92.
75 sn Abraham built an altar there. The theme of Abraham’s altar building culminates here. He has been a faithful worshiper. Will he continue to worship when called upon to make such a radical sacrifice?
76 sn Then he tied up. This text has given rise to an important theme in Judaism known as the Aqedah, from the Hebrew word for “binding.” When sacrifices were made in the sanctuary, God remembered the binding of Isaac, for which a substitute was offered. See D. Polish, “The Binding of Isaac,” Jud 6 (1957): 17-21.
77 tn Heb “in order to slaughter.”
78 sn Heb “the messenger of the
79 tn Heb “Do not extend your hand toward the boy.”
80 tn Heb “and he said, ‘Do not extend…’”; the referent (the angel) has been specified in the context for clarity. The order of the introductory clause and the direct discourse has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.
82 sn In this context fear refers by metonymy to obedience that grows from faith.
83 tn Heb “lifted his eyes.”
84 tn Heb “and saw, and look.” The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) draws attention to what Abraham saw and invites the audience to view the scene through his eyes.
85 tc The translation follows the reading of the MT; a number of Hebrew
86 tn Heb “Abraham”; the proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
87 tn Heb “the Lord sees” (יְהוָה יִרְאֶה, yÿhvah yir’eh, traditionally transliterated “Jehovah Jireh”; see the note on the word “provide” in v. 8). By so naming the place Abraham preserved in the memory of God’s people the amazing event that took place there.
88 sn On the expression to this day see B. Childs, “A Study of the Formula ‘Until this Day’,” JBL 82 (1963): 279-92.
89 sn The saying connected with these events has some ambiguity, which was probably intended. The Niphal verb could be translated (1) “in the mountain of the Lord it will be seen/provided” or (2) “in the mountain the Lord will appear.” If the temple later stood here (see the note on “Moriah” in Gen 22:2), the latter interpretation might find support, for the people went to the temple to appear before the Lord, who “appeared” to them by providing for them his power and blessings. See S. R. Driver, Genesis, 219.
90 tn Heb “By myself I swear.”
91 tn Heb “the oracle of the
92 tn The use of the infinitive absolute before the finite verbal form (either an imperfect or cohortative) emphasizes the certainty of the blessing.
93 tn Here too the infinitive absolute is used for emphasis before the following finite verb (either an imperfect or cohortative).
sn I will greatly multiply. The
94 tn The Hebrew term זֶרַע (zera’) occurring here and in v. 18 may mean “seed” (for planting), “offspring” (occasionally of animals, but usually of people), or “descendants” depending on the context.
95 tn Or “inherit.”
96 tn Heb “gate,” which here stands for a walled city. To break through the gate complex would be to conquer the city, for the gate complex was the main area of defense (hence the translation “stronghold”).
97 tn In the Hebrew text this causal clause comes at the end of the sentence. The translation alters the word order for stylistic reasons.
sn Because you have obeyed me. Abraham’s obedience brought God’s ratification of the earlier conditional promise (see Gen 12:2).
98 tn Traditionally the verb is taken as passive (“will be blessed”) here, as if Abraham’s descendants were going to be a channel or source of blessing to the nations. But the Hitpael is better understood here as reflexive/reciprocal, “will bless [i.e., pronounce blessings on] themselves/one another” (see also Gen 26:4). Elsewhere the Hitpael of the verb “to 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. Earlier formulations of this promise (see Gen 12:2; 18:18) use the Niphal stem. (See also Gen 28:14.)
99 tn Heb “and they arose and went together.”
100 tn Heb “and Abraham stayed in Beer Sheba. This has been translated as a relative clause for stylistic reasons.
101 tn In the Hebrew text the sentence begins with הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) which draws attention to the statement.
102 sn This parenthetical note about Kemuel’s descendant is probably a later insertion by the author/compiler of Genesis and not part of the original announcement.