Genesis 15:14
And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) That nation.—Had it been expressly revealed that the country that would afflict them was Egypt, the patriarchs might have been unwilling to go thither; but the reference to the plagues in the denunciation of judgment, and to the spoiling of the Egyptians in the promise that they should “come out with great substance” (Exodus 12:36), gave detail sufficient for future guidance, and for their assurance in time to come that the promise had been fulfilled.

Genesis 15:14. That nation whom they shall serve, even the Egyptians, will I judge — This points at the plagues of Egypt, by which God not only constrained the Egyptians to release Israel, but punished them for all the hardships they had put upon them. The punishing of persecutors is the judging of them; it is a righteous thing with God, and a particular act of justice, to “recompense tribulation to those that trouble” his people.15:12-16 A deep sleep fell upon Abram; with this sleep a horror of great darkness fell upon him: a sudden change. The children of light do not always walk in the light. Several things were then foretold. 1. The suffering state of Abram's seed for a long time. They shall be strangers. The heirs of heaven are strangers on earth. They shall be servants; but Canaanites serve under a curse, the Hebrews under a blessing. They shall be suffers. Those that are blessed and beloved of God, are often sorely afflicted by wicked men. 2. The judgment of the enemies of Abram's seed. Though God may allow persecutors and oppressors to trample upon his people a great while, he will certainly reckon with them at last. 3. That great event, the deliverance of Abram's seed out of Egypt, is here foretold. 4. Their happy settlement in Canaan. They shall come hither again. The measure of sin fills gradually. Some people's measure of sin fills slowly. The knowledge of future events would seldom add to our comfort. In the most favoured families, and most happy lives, there are so many afflictions, that it is merciful in God to conceal what will befall us and ours.Know, know thou. - Know certainly. This responds to Abram's question, Whereby shall I know? Genesis 15:8. Four hundred years are to elapse before the seed of Abram shall actually proceed to take possession of the land. This interval can only commence when the seed is born; that is, at the birth of Isaac, when Abram was a hundred years of age and therefore thirty years after the call. During this interval they are to be, "first, strangers in a land not theirs" for one hundred and ninety years; and then for the remaining two hundred and ten years in Egypt: at first, servants, with considerable privilege and position; and at last, afflicted serfs, under a hard and cruel bondage. At the end of this period Pharaoh and his nation were visited with a succession of tremendous judgments, and Israel went out free from bondage "with great wealth" Exodus 12-14. "Go to thy fathers." This implies that the fathers, though dead, still exist. To go from one place to another implies, not annihilation, but the continuance of existence. The doctrine of the soul's perpetual existence is here intimated. Abram died in peace and happiness, one hundred and fifteen years before the descent into Egypt.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. That nation whom they shall serve, i.e. Egypt, the principal seat of their servitude, and the instrument of their sorest bondage,

will I judge, i.e. punish, as that word is used, Psalm 51:4 Obadiah 1:21, and elsewhere.

With great substance; the accomplishment of this, see Exodus 3:22 11:2 12:35,37. And also that nation whom they shall serve will I judge,.... It is not said "the land" in which they were strangers, though God did judge, condemn, and punish the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, and drove them out of it, to make way for Israel; but the "nation" they should "serve", meaning the Egyptians, to whom they became servants, and were very hardly and severely used by them; those the Lord threatens to enter into judgment with, and take vengeance upon them, as he did by inflicting the ten plagues on them, which brought them at last to be willing to let Israel go:

and afterward shall they come out with great substance; as they did after the four hundred years were ended, and after the Egyptian nation was judged and punished; then they came out of Egypt, with much gold, silver, jewels, and raiment, which they borrowed of the Egyptians, who were spoiled by them, though very justly; this being but a payment of them for the hard and long service with which they had served them; see the exact fulfilment of prophecy, Exodus 11:2.

And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. will I judge] Referring to the plagues of Egypt.

with great substance] See Exodus 12:35-36; Psalm 105:37.Verse 14. - And also that nation (the name of which he does not reveal, in case of seeming to interfere with the free volition of his creatures, who, while accomplishing his high designs and secret purposes, are ever conscious of their moral freedom), whom they shall serve, will I judge: - i.e. punish after judging, which prediction was in due course fulfilled (Exodus 6:11) - and afterward shall they come out with great substance - recush (cf. Genesis 13:6; vide Exodus 12:36). Abram's question, "Whereby shall I know that I shall take possession of it (the land)?" was not an expression of doubt, but of desire for the confirmation or sealing of a promise, which transcended human thought and conception. To gratify this desire, God commanded him to make preparation for the conclusion of a covenant. "Take Me, He said, a heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon;" one of every species of the animals suitable for sacrifice. Abram took these, and "divided them in the midst," i.e., in half, "and placed one half of each opposite to the other (בּתרו אישׁ, every one its half, cf. Genesis 42:25; Numbers 16:17); only the birds divided he not," just as in sacrifice the doves were not divided into pieces, but placed upon the fire whole (Leviticus 1:17). The animals chosen, as well as the fact that the doves were left whole, corresponded exactly to the ritual of sacrifice. Yet the transaction itself was not a real sacrifice, since there was neither sprinkling of blood nor offering upon an altar (oblatio), and no mention is made of the pieces being burned. The proceeding corresponded rather to the custom, prevalent in many ancient nations, of slaughtering animals when concluding a covenant, and after dividing them into pieces, of laying the pieces opposite to one another, that the persons making the covenant might pass between them. Thus Ephraem Syrus (1, 161) observes, that God condescended to follow the custom of the Chaldeans, that He might in the most solemn manner confirm His oath to Abram the Chaldean. The wide extension of this custom is evident from the expression used to denote the conclusion of a covenant, בּרית כּרת to hew, or cut a covenant, Aram. קרם גּרז, Greek ὅρκια τέμνειν, faedus ferire, i.e., ferienda hostia facere faedus; cf. Bochart (Hieroz. 1, 332); whilst it is evident from Jeremiah 34:18, that this was still customary among the Israelites of later times. The choice of sacrificial animals for a transaction which was not strictly a sacrifice, was founded upon the symbolical significance of the sacrificial animals, i.e., upon the fact that they represented and took the place of those who offered them. In the case before us, they were meant to typify the promised seed of Abram. This would not hold good, indeed, if the cutting of the animals had been merely intended to signify, that any who broke the covenant would be treated like the animals that were there cut in pieces. But there is no sure ground in Jeremiah 34:18. for thus interpreting the ancient custom. The meaning which the prophet there assigns to the symbolical usage, may be simply a different application of it, which does not preclude an earlier and different intention in the symbol. The division of the animals probably denoted originally the two parties to the covenant, and the passing of the latter through the pieces laid opposite to one another, their formation into one: a signification to which the other might easily have been attached as a further consequence and explanation. And if in such a case the sacrificial animals represented the parties to the covenant, so also even in the present instance the sacrificial animals were fitted for that purpose, since, although originally representing only the owner or offerer of the sacrifice, by their consecration as sacrifices they were also brought into connection with Jehovah. But in the case before us the animals represented Abram and his seed, not in the fact of their being slaughtered, as significant of the slaying of that seed, but only in what happened to and in connection with the slaughtered animals: birds of prey attempted to eat them, and when extreme darkness came on, the glory of God passed through them. As all the seed of Abram was concerned, one of every kind of animal suitable for sacrifice was taken, ut ex toto populo et singulis partibus sacrificium unum fieret (Calvin). The age of the animals, three years old, was supposed by Theodoret to refer to the three generations of Israel which were to remain in Egypt, or the three centuries of captivity in a foreign land; and this is rendered very probable by the fact, that in Judges 6:25 the bullock of seven years old undoubtedly refers to the seven years of Midianitish oppression. On the other hand, we cannot find in the six halves of the three animals and the undivided birds, either 7 things or the sacred number 7, for two undivided birds cannot represent one whole, but two; nor can we attribute to the eight pieces any symbolical meaning, for these numbers necessarily followed from the choice of one specimen of every kind of animal that was fit for sacrifice, and from the division of the larger animals into two.
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