Genesis 15:10
And he took to him all these, and divided them in the middle, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
15:7-11 Assurance was given to Abram of the land of Canaan for an inheritance. God never promises more than he is able to perform, as men often do. Abram did as God commanded him. He divided the beasts in the midst, according to the ceremony used in confirming covenants, Jer 34:18,19. Having prepared according to God's appointment, he set himself to wait for the sign God might give him. A watch must be kept upon our spiritual sacrifices. When vain thoughts, like these fowls, come down upon our sacrifices, we must drive them away, and seek to attend on God without distraction.The Lord next confirms and explains the promise of "the land" to Abram. When God announces himself as Yahweh, who purposed to give him the land, Abram asks, Whereby "shall I know that I shall possess it?" He appears to expect some intimation as to the time and mode of entering upon possession. The Lord now directs him to make ready the things requisite for entering into a formal covenant regarding the land. These include all the kinds of animals afterward used in sacrifice. The number three is sacred, and denotes the perfection of the victim in point of maturity. The division of the animals refers to the covenant between two parties, who participate in the rights which it guarantees. The birds are two without being divided. "Abram drove them away." As the animals slain and divided represent the only mean and way through which the two parties can meet in a covenant of peace, they must be preserved pure and unmutilated for the end they have to serve.9-21. Take me an heifer, &c.—On occasions of great importance, when two or more parties join in a compact, they either observe precisely the same rites as Abram did, or, where they do not, they invoke the lamp as their witness. According to these ideas, which have been from time immemorial engraven on the minds of Eastern people, the Lord Himself condescended to enter into covenant with Abram. The patriarch did not pass between the sacrifice and the reason was that in this transaction he was bound to nothing. He asked a sign, and God was pleased to give him a sign, by which, according to Eastern ideas, He bound Himself. In like manner God has entered into covenant with us; and in the glory of the only-begotten Son, who passed through between God and us, all who believe have, like Abram, a sign or pledge in the gift of the Spirit, whereby they may know that they shall inherit the heavenly Canaan. And he, i.e. Abram, who by Divine instinct and precept did all this which here follows,

divided them in the midst, into two equal parts. This was done for two reasons.

1. To represent the torn and distracted condition in which his seed was to lie for a season.

2. To ratify God’s covenant with Abram and his seed; for this was a rite used in making covenants, as appears both from Scripture, Jeremiah 34:18, and other authors.

Laid each piece one against another, partly to encourage hope, that God would in his time put those parts together, and unite those dry bones, (to which the Israelites are compared, Ezekiel 37:1-28), and clothe them with flesh; and partly that the persons entering into covenant might pass between those parts, and so testify their union and conjunction in one and the same sacrifice.

The birds divided he not, either because there were two birds, and the one was laid against the other, which answered to the division of the larger creatures; or because they belonged not to the ceremony of the covenant, but were for the use of sacrifice, wherein they were to be offered whole, as afterwards was prescribed, Leviticus 1:15,17. And he took unto him all these,.... The heifer, goat, ram, turtle, and young pigeon, not to himself, but to the Lord, as he was bid, and offered them before him, as the above Targums paraphrase it; or however he took them for his use, and set them before him, and did with them as he directed him:

and divided them in the midst; that is, the three animals, the heifer, goat, and ram; he did not take off their several limbs, and cut them up in small parts, but cut them in halves:

and laid each piece one against another; one half against the other, the left side against the right, shoulder against shoulder, and leg against leg, so that they might seem to join, or might be easily joined together again, or however answer one another; though it is generally thought there was such a distance of the one from the other, as that there might be a passage between them; it being usual in making covenants for the covenanters to pass between the parts of a creature slain, signifying, that should they break the covenant made, they deserved to be cut asunder as that creature was; see Gill on Jeremiah 34:18. So a burning lamp, or lamp of fire, an emblem of the divine Being, is said, Genesis 15:17, to pass between those pieces: all this was expressive of the afflictions of the posterity of Abram, of their being distressed in the land of Egypt, cut as it were in twain there, and of their various dispersions in other countries; and yet, like the bones in Ezekiel's vision, were gathered together, and united again: and it may be this may have respect to the division of the people of Israel into two kingdoms, in the times of Rehoboam, and their after reunion, and especially in the latter day, Ezekiel 37:7,

but the birds divided he not; but laid them one against another, as the pieces were laid; so the birds used in sacrifice under the law were not to be divided, Leviticus 1:17; which may signify, that when the people of the Jews, in the latter day, are converted, and brought together into their own land, when they will better answer the character of turtles and doves than they ever did, will be no more divided and separated from each other.

And he took unto him all these, and {c} divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.

(c) This was the old custom in making covenants, Jer 39:18, to which God added these conditions, that Abram's posterity would be as torn in pieces, but after they would be rejoined: also that it would be assaulted, but yet delivered.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 10. - And he took unto him all these, and divided (a word occurring only here in Genesis, and supposed by Michaelis to have been taken by Moses from the ancient document from which he transcribed this portion of his work. The word is afterwards found in Song of Solomon 2:17, and Jeremiah 34:18) them in the midst, - μέσα (LXX.); in equal parts (Onkelos) - and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. So afterwards in the Mosaic legislation (Leviticus 1:7). Wordsworth detects in the non-dividing of the birds an emblem of "the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of peace and love; which is a Spirit of unity, and of "Christ's human spirit, which was not divisible." Kalisch, with more probability, recognizes as the reason of their not being divided the fact that such division was not required, both fowls being regarded as one part of the sacrifice only, and each, as the half, being placed opposite the other. Wordsworth numbers seven parts in the sacrifice, and sees a symbol of completeness and finality, the number seven being the root of shaba, to swear (Gesenius, p. 802); Kalisch reckons four, which he regards as "denoting perfection, but rather the external perfection of form than the internal one of the mind," and pointing "to the perfect possession of the Holy Land." The ritual here described is the same which was afterwards observed among the Hebrews in the formation of covenants (cf. Genesis 34:18), and appears to have extensively prevailed among heathen nations (cf. ' Iliad,' b. 124, "ὅρκια πιστὰ ταμόντες;" and the Latin phrase, "foedus icere"). The words of Jehovah run thus: "Fear not, Abram: I am a shield to thee, thy reward very much." הרבּה an inf. absol., generally used adverbially, but here as an adjective, equivalent to "thy very great reward." The divine promise to be a shield to him, that is to say, a protection against all enemies, and a reward, i.e., richly to reward his confidence, his ready obedience, stands here, as the opening words "after these things" indicate, in close connection with the previous guidance of Abram. Whilst the protection of his wife in Egypt was a practical pledge of the possibility of his having a posterity, and the separation of Lot, followed by the conquest of the kings of the East, was also a pledge of the possibility of his one day possessing the promised land, there was as yet no prospect whatever of the promise being realized, that he should become a great nation, and possess an innumerable posterity. In these circumstances, anxiety about the future might naturally arise in his mind. To meet this, the word of the Lord came to him with the comforting assurance, "Fear not, I am thy shield." But when the Lord added, "and thy very great reward," Abram could only reply, as he thought of his childless condition: "Lord Jehovah, what wilt Thou give me, seeing I go childless?" Of what avail are all my possessions, wealth, and power, since I have no child, and the heir of my house is Eliezer the Damascene? משׁק, synonymous with ממשׁק (Zephaniah 2:9), possession, or the seizure of possession, is chosen on account of its assonance with דּמּשׂק. בּן־משׁק, son of the seizing of possession equals seizer of possession, or heir. Eliezer of Damascus (lit., Damascus viz., Eliezer): Eliezer is an explanatory apposition to Damascus, in the sense of the Damascene Eliezer; though דּמּשׂק, on account of its position before אליעזר, cannot be taken grammatically as equivalent to דּמּשׂקי.

(Note: The legend of Abram having been king in Damascus appears to have originated in this, though the passage before us does not so much as show that Abram obtained possession of Eliezer on his way through Damascus.)

To give still more distinct utterance to his grief, Abram adds (Genesis 15:3): "Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed; and lo, an inmate of my house (בּן־בּיתי in distinction from יליד־בּית, home-born, Genesis 14:14) will be my heir." The word of the Lord then came to him: "Not he, but one who shall come forth from thy body, he will be thine heir." God then took him into the open air, told him to look up to heaven, and promised him a posterity as numerous as the innumerable host of stars (cf. Genesis 22:17; Genesis 24:4; Exodus 32:13, etc.). Whether Abram at this time was "in the body or out of the body," is a matter of no moment. The reality of the occurrence is the same in either case. This is evident from the remark made by Moses (the historian) as to the conduct of Abram in relation to the promise of God: "And he believed in Jehovah, and He counted it to him for righteousness." In the strictly objective character of the account in Genesis, in accordance with which the simple facts are related throughout without any introduction of subjective opinions, this remark appears so striking, that the question naturally arises, What led Moses to introduce it? In what way did Abram make known his faith in Jehovah? And in what way did Jehovah count it to him as righteousness? The reply to both questions must not be sought in the New Testament, but must be given or indicated in the context. What reply did Abram make on receiving the promise, or what did he do in consequence? When God, to confirm the promise, declared Himself to be Jehovah, who brought him out of Ur of the Chaldees to give him that land as a possession, Abram replied, "Lord, whereby shall I know that I shall possess it?" God then directed him to "fetch a heifer of three years old," etc.; and Abram fetched the animals required, and arranged them (as we may certainly suppose, thought it is not expressly stated) as God had commanded him. By this readiness to perform what God commanded him, Abram gave a practical proof that he believed Jehovah; and what God did with the animals so arranged was a practical declaration on the part of Jehovah, that He reckoned this faith to Abram as righteousness.

The significance of the divine act is, finally, summed up in Genesis 15:18, in the words, "On that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram." Consequently Jehovah reckoned Abram's faith to him as righteousness, by making a covenant with him, by taking Abram into covenant fellowship with Himself. האמין, from אמן to continue and the preserve, to be firm and to confirm, in Hiphil to trust, believe (πιστεύσιν), expresses "that state of mind which is sure of its object, and relies firmly upon it;" and as denoting conduct towards God, as "a firm, inward, personal, self-surrendering reliance upon a personal being, especially upon the source of all being," it is construed sometimes with ל (e.g., Deuteronomy 9:23), but more frequently with בּ (Numbers 14:11; Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 1:32), "to believe the Lord," and "to believe on the Lord," to trust in Him, - πιστεύειν ἐπὶ τὸν Θεόν, as the apostle has more correctly rendered the ἐπίστευσεν τῷ Θεῷ of the lxx (vid., Romans 4:5). Faith therefore is not merely assensus, but fiducia also, unconditional trust in the Lord and His word, even where the natural course of events furnishes no ground for hope or expectation. This faith Abram manifested, as the apostle has shown in Romans 4; and this faith God reckoned to him as righteousness by the actual conclusion of a covenant with him. צדקה, righteousness, as a human characteristic, is correspondence to the will of God both in character and conduct, or a state answering to the divine purpose of a man's being. This was the state in which man was first created in the image of God; but it was lost by sin, through which he placed himself in opposition to the will of God and to his own divinely appointed destiny, and could only be restored by God. When the human race had universally corrupted its way, Noah alone was found righteous before God (Genesis 7:1), because he was blameless and walked with God (Genesis 6:9). This righteousness Abram acquired through his unconditional trust in the Lord, his undoubting faith in His promise, and his ready obedience to His word. This state of mind, which is expressed in the words בּיהוה האמין, was reckoned to him as righteousness, so that God treated him as a righteous man, and formed such a relationship with him, that he was placed in living fellowship with God. The foundation of this relationship was laid in the manner described in Genesis 15:7-11.

Links
Genesis 15:10 Interlinear
Genesis 15:10 Parallel Texts


Genesis 15:10 NIV
Genesis 15:10 NLT
Genesis 15:10 ESV
Genesis 15:10 NASB
Genesis 15:10 KJV

Genesis 15:10 Bible Apps
Genesis 15:10 Parallel
Genesis 15:10 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 15:10 Chinese Bible
Genesis 15:10 French Bible
Genesis 15:10 German Bible

Bible Hub






Genesis 15:9
Top of Page
Top of Page