Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Lent C16


After these thingsI the wordII of the LordIII cameIV to AbramV in a vision,VI

Notes on verse 1a

I “things” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
II “word” = dabar. Same as “things” in v1. See note I above.
III “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “came” in v1. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note IV below). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
IV “came” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
V “Abram” = Abram. From the same as Abiram (exalted father, a high father – lofty) {from ab (father literal or figurative) + rum (rise, bring up, being high, extol, exalt, haughty; to raise in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is Abram, exalted father.
VI “vision” = machazeh. 4x in OT. From chazah ((to gaze at – to see or behold; perceiving as a mental process or looking at something with pleasure; seeing a vision). This is a vision.

“Do not be afraid,VII Abram, I am your shield;VIII your rewardIX shall be very great.”X 

Notes on verse 1b

VII “be afraid” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
VIII “shield” = magen. From ganan (to surround, cover, defend, protect). This is a shield, defense, or figuratively a protector. It can also be used for a crocodile’s hide.
IX “reward” = sakar. From sakar (to hire, reward, earn). This is wages, payment, service, salary, worth, reward, or benefit.
X “great” = rabah. This is increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.

But Abram said, “O LordXI God,XII what will you give me, for I continueXIII childless,XIV

Notes on verse 2a

XI “Lord” = Adonai. From adon (lord, master, owner); root means to rule or be sovereign. This is the actual Hebrew word for Lord used (in a different form) of humans and (in the present form) of God. It means someone who is in control.
XII “God” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note III above.
XIII “continue” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
XIV “childless” = ariri. 4x in OT. From arar (to bare, strip, be razed, break). This is stripped or bare in the sense of lacking children.

and the heirXV of my houseXVI is EliezerXVII of Damascus?”XVIII 

Notes on verse 2b

XV “heir” = ben + mesheq. Ben is from banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Mesheq is 1x in OT. Its root may mean to hold. It is a possession or an heir. It can also refer to one’s steward.
XVI “house” = bayit. Related to “heir” in v2. Probably from banah (see note XV above). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
XVII “Eliezer” = Eliezer. 14x in OT. From el (God, a god) + ezer (help, aid, helper); {from azar (to help, protect, support, ally; properly, to surround so as to provide aid)}. This is Eliezer, meaning “God is help” or “God of help.” It is the name of several people.
XVIII “Damascus” = Dammeseq. From Old Aramaic dammasq (Damascus); perhaps related to d-r (dwelling) OR in Syriac darsuq (“a well-watered land”). This is Damascus. See

And Abram said, “XIXYou have given me no offspring,XX and soXXI a slaveXXII born in my house is to be my heir.”XXIII 

Notes on verse 3

XIX {untranslated} = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
XX “offspring” = zera. From zara (to sow or scatter seed; conceive or yield). This is seed or sowing. It can, thus, mean a fruit, plant, sowing time, child, offspring, or posterity.
XXI “so” = hinneh. Related to {untranslated} in v3. From hen (see note XIX above). From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
XXII “slave” = ben. Same as “heir” in v2. See note XV above.
XXIII “is to be…heir” = yarash. This is inheriting or dispossessing. It refers to occupying or colonizing – taking territory by driving out the previous inhabitants and living there instead of them. By implication, it can mean to seize or rob, to expel, ruin, or impoverish.

ButXXIV the word of the LordXXV came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very ownXXVI issueXXVII shall be your heir.” 

Notes on verse 4

XXIV {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as “so” in v3. See note XXI above.
XXV “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note III above.
XXVI “own” = meeh. This is inward parts, belly, heart, womb, intestines, vastness. It can also be figurative for sympathy.
XXVII “issue” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.

He broughtXXVIII him outsideXXIX and said, “LookXXX, XXXI

Notes on verse 5a

XXVIII “brought” = yatsa. Same as “issue” in v4. See note XXVII above.
XXIX “outside” = chuts. Root may mean to sever. So, this is something that is separated by a wall – the outside, the street, a field, highway, or abroad.
XXX “look” = nabat. This is to behold, look at intently, consider, or scan. It can mean to have respect or regard someone favorably.
XXXI {untranslated} = na. This particle is used for requests or for urging. It can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh. This is the same “na” in “hosanna.”

toward heavenXXXII and countXXXIII the stars,XXXIV if you are ableXXXV to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendantsXXXVI be.”

Notes on verse 5b

XXXII “heaven” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
XXXIII “count” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
XXXIV “stars” = kokab. Perhaps from the same as kavah (to prick, blister, burn, scorch). This is a star as shining, stargaze. Figuratively, can mean prince.
XXXV “are able” = yakol. This is to be able, endure, overcome, prevail.
XXXVI “descendants” = zera. Same as “offspring” in v3. See note XX above.

 And he believedXXXVII the Lord;XXXVIII and the Lord reckonedXXXIX it to him as righteousness.XL

Notes on verse 6

XXXVII “believed” = aman. This is to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful. It is to put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid. This is where the word “amen” comes from.
XXXVIII “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note III above.
XXXIX “reckoned” = chashab. This is properly to braid or interpenetrate. Literally it is to create or to wear. Figuratively, it can mean plotting – generally in a negative sense. More broadly, this can also mean think, consider, or make account of.
XL “righteousness” = tsedaqah. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.

Then he said to him, “I am the LordXLI who brought you from UrXLII of the Chaldeans,XLIII to give you this landXLIV to possess.”XLV 

Notes on verse 7

XLI “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note III above.
XLII “Ur” = Ur. From the same a uwr (fire, light, the east); from or (to be or become light, shine). This is Ur in Babylon as well as a personal name. It may mean “flame” or “light.” See
XLIII “Chaldeans” = Kasdi. From Kesesd (Kesed, one of Nahor’s sons). This is Chaldean – part of southern Babylon and the people who lived there. They were famous for their astrologers. The name meaning is uncertain.
XLIV “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
XLV “possess” = yarash. Same as “is to be…heir” in v3. See note XXIII above.

But he said, “O LordXLVI God,XLVII how am I to knowXLVIII that I shall possess it?” 

Notes on verse 8

XLVI “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v2. See note XI above.
XLVII “God” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note III above.
XLVIII “know” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.

He said to him, “Bring me a heiferXLIX three years old,L a female goatLI three years old, a ramLII three years old, a turtledove,LIII and a young pigeon.”LIV 

Notes on verse 9

XLIX “heifer” = eglah. 14x in OT. From egel (male calf as one that frisks about; often one that is almost grown up); may be from the same as agol (round, circular – root meaning revolve). This is a female calf, a heifer or cow that is nearly mature.
L “three years old” = shalash. 9x in OT. From shalosh (three, fork, three times). This is to intensify, separate into three sections, do a third, triplicate.
LI “female goat” = ez. Perhaps from azaz (to be strong in a literal or figurative sense, overcome, be impudent). This is a female goat, but can refer to male goats when plural.
LII “ram” = ayil. From the same as ul (mighty, strength, body, belly; root may mean to twist and that implies strength and power). This is strength so it is used to indicate things that are strong or powerful: political chiefs, rams, posts, trees, oaks.
LIII “turtledove” = tor. 14x in OT. This is a literal dove – it can also be a romantic term of affection.
LIV “young pigeon” = gozal. 2x in OT. Perhaps from gazal (to snatch, take violently, seize, tear away; to flay or rob). This is a young bird or nestling. It is derived from the root because young birds often have spotty feathers.

10 He brought him all these and cut them in two,LV laying eachLVI halfLVII overLVIII against the other;LIX but he did not cut the birdsLX in two. 

Notes on verse 10

LV “cut…in two” = bathar. 2x in OT. This is to divide, chop, cut in two.
LVI “each” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
LVII “half” = bether. Related to “cut…in two” in v10. 4x in OT. From bathar (see note LV above). This is piece, portion, or half.
LVIII “over” = qirah. From the same as qara (to happen, meet, bring about). This is any kind of encounter, whether peaceful, hostile, or incidental. It can also mean help or seek.
LIX “other” = rea. From raah (to associate with). This is the same as neighbor in Leviticus 19:18 “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is friend, companion, fellow, neighbor. It is someone with whom you associate, whether more or less close.
LX “birds” = tsippor. From tsaphar (to skip about, maybe to depart). This is a little bird like a sparrow – a little bird as one that hops about.

11 And when birds of preyLXI came downLXII on the carcasses,LXIII Abram drove them away.LXIV

Notes on verse 11

LXI “birds of prey” = ayit. 8x in OT. From it (to fly, shriek; to swoop down on in a literal or figurative sense). This is a bird of prey like a hawk. It can also mean predatory.
LXII “came down” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
LXIII “carcasses” = peger. From pagar (to be exhausted, relax). This is a carcass or remains, whether a person or animal. Figuratively, it can also refer to an idol.
LXIV “drove…away” = nashab. 3x in OT. This is to blow or disperse.

12 As the sunLXV was goingLXVI down, a deep sleepLXVII fellLXVIII upon Abram,

Notes on verse 12a

LXV “sun” = shemesh. This is sun or toward the east. Its root may mean being brilliant. Figuratively, this could be a ray or an arch.
LXVI “going” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
LXVII “deep sleep” = tardemah. 7x in OT. From radam (asleep or sleeper; a heavy sleep – being stupefied either of sleep or death). This is a deep sleep, lethargy, or trance. It is the word used for the deep sleep God put Adam under in Genesis 2:21 as Eve was being formed.
LXVIII “fell” = naphal. This is to fall, whether by accident, to fall prostrate, or to fall in violent death. Figuratively, it can refer to personal ruin or calamity, a city falling, an attack or a falling away. It can also be a deep sleep or wasting away.

andLXIX a deepLXX and terrifyingLXXI darknessLXXII descendedLXXIII upon him. 

Notes on verse 12b

LXIX {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as “so” in v3. See note XXI above.
LXX “deep” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
LXXI “terrifying” = emah. 17x in OT. From the same as ayom (dreadful, frightful, awesome). This is terror, fright, horror, fearsome, idol.
LXXII “darkness” = chashekah. 5x in OT. From chashak (to be or become dark). This is darkness or, figuratively, misery.
LXXIII “descended” = naphal. Same as “fell” in v12. See note LXVIII above.

17 LXXIVWhen the sun had gone down and it was dark,LXXV, LXXVI a smokingLXXVII fire potLXXVIII

Notes on verse 17a

LXXIV {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “came” in v1. See note IV above.
LXXV “dark” = alatah. 4x in OT. This is darkness, twilight. Its root may mean to cover.
LXXVI {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as “so” in v3. See note XXI above.
LXXVII “smoking” = ashan. From ashan (to smoke or burn in a literal or figurative sense; to be angry). This is smoke, vapor, dust, or anger.
LXXVIII “fire pot” = tannur. 15x in OT. From the same as tenuk (ear lobe, pinnacle, extremity); perhaps from the same as anak (plumb line, hook; root may mean to be narrow) OR from ner (properly, to glisten; a lamp, light, burner, candle; light literal or figurative). This is a portable stove, oven, or furnace.

and a flamingLXXIX torchLXXX passedLXXXI between these pieces.LXXXII 

Notes on verse 17b

LXXIX “flaming” = esh. This is fire, burning, flaming, hot. It is fire in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXX “torch” = lappid. 14x in OT. Root may mean to shine. This is torch, lamp, or flash of lightning.
LXXXI “passed” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
LXXXII “pieces” = gezer. 2x in OT. From gazar (to cut or cut down; figuratively, to divide, exclude, decree, or destroy). This is piece, part, portion.

18 On that dayLXXXIII the Lord madeLXXXIV a covenantLXXXV with Abram,

Notes on verse 18a

LXXXIII “day” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
LXXXIV “made” = karat. This is to cut down, cut off, or make a covenant (idiom for making a covenant is “to cut a covenant”). It can also mean to destroy, fail, or consume.
LXXXV “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.

saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the riverLXXXVI of EgyptLXXXVII to the greatLXXXVIII river, the river Euphrates,LXXXIX 

Notes on verse 18b

LXXXVI “river” = nahar. From nahar (to flow, sparkle, be cheerful). This is a stream, river, or flood. Particularly used for the Nile or Euphrates. Figuratively, this can mean prosperity.
LXXXVII “Egypt” = Mitsrayim. Perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egypt.
LXXXVIII “great” = gadol. Same as “deep” in v12. See note LXX above.
LXXXIX “Euphrates” = Perath. 19x in OT. From Old Persian ufratush (Euphrates); from Akkadian Purattu (Euphrates); borrowed from Sumerian Buranun (Euphrates). In English, we follow the Greek version of the river name Euphrates (Euphrates, perhaps to be understood as “good fruitful one”); adapted from eu (good, well, well, done) + phrazo (to announce) OR Greek adapted from eu (see above) + Hebrew Parat (Perath); {from para (to be fruitful)}. This is Euphrates or Perath – perhaps meaning “to break forth” or “rushing” or “good fruitful one.” See & &

Image credit: “God Promises Abram” by YoMnistry by John Paul Stanley.

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