Genesis 15:2
And Abram said, LORD God, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Lord God.—Not Jehovah Elohim, but Lord Jehovah, “Lord” being the ordinary title of respect. Usually Jehovah takes the vowels of ‘donai, “lord,” but as the two words occur here together, it takes the vowels of Elohim, whence the translation in our version, in obedience to a superstition of the Jews (Genesis 4:1).

What wilt thou give me?—There is a slight tone of complaint in these words. Jehovah promised Abram a “reward great exceedingly.” He answers that no reward can really be great so long as he has no heir.

I go childless.—Either, I am going to my grave childless (Psalm 39:13), or better, I continue to be, pass my days, in childlessness.

The steward of my house.—Heb., the benmeshek of my house. Ben-meshek is generally explained as meaning “the son of possession,” that is, the possessor, owner of my. house when I die. Other authorities derive meshek from a verb signifying “to run about,” as if it was Eliezer’s business to go to and fro in execution of Abram’s orders. The term is rare, and has evidently been chosen for the play of words upon Dammesek= Damascus. Perhaps this may also explain the last words, which literally are, he is Damascus Eliezer. Grammatically it should have been, “he is the Damascene Eliezer,” but this would have spoiled the assonance between ben-meshek (probably pronounced bemmeshek) and Dammesek.

15:2-6 Though we must never complain of God, yet we have leave to complain to him; and to state all our grievances. It is ease to a burdened spirit, to open its case to a faithful and compassionate friend. Abram's complaint is, that he had no child; that he was never likely to have any; that the want of a son was so great a trouble to him, that it took away all his comfort. If we suppose that Abram looked no further than outward comfort, this complaint was to be blamed. But if we suppose that Abram herein had reference to the promised Seed, his desire was very commendable. Till we have evidence of our interest in Christ, we should not rest satisfied; what will all avail me, if I go Christless? If we continue instant in prayer, yet pray with humble submission to the Divine will, we shall not seek in vain. God gave Abram an express promise of a son. Christians may believe in God with respect to the common concerns of this life; but the faith by which they are justified, always has respect to the person and work of Christ. Abram believed in God as promising Christ; they believe in him as having raised him from the dead, Ro 4:24. Through faith in his blood they obtain forgiveness of sins.Notwithstanding the unbounded grandeur and preciousness of the promise, or rather assurance, now given, Abram is still childless and landless; and the Lord has made as yet no sign of action in regard to these objects of special promise. "Lord Jehovah (Yahweh)." The name אדני 'ǎdonāy is here for the first time used in the divine records. It denotes one who has authority; and, therefore, when applied to God, the Supreme Lord. Abram hereby acknowledges Yahweh as Supreme Judge and Governor, and therefore entitled to dispose of all matters concerning his present or prospective welfare. "What wilt thou give me?" Of what use will land or wealth be to me, the immediate reward specified by the promise? Eliezer of Damascus is master of my house. "To me thou hast given no seed." This was the present shield mentioned also in former words of promise. There is something strikingly human in all this. Abram is no enthusiast or fanatic. He fastens on the substantive blessings which the Lord had expressly named.2. Lord God, what wilt thou give?—To his mind the declaration, "I am thy exceeding great reward" [Ge 15:1], had but one meaning, or was viewed but in one particular light, as bearing on the fulfilment of the promise, and he was still experiencing the sickness of hope deferred. What pleasure can I take in any other gifts, so long as thou dost withhold from me that great and promised gift of that blessed and blessing Seed, in the giving of whom thy honour and the world’s happiness is so highly concerned? Genesis 12:3.

Seeing I go childless; either,

1. I pass the time of my life, going on and growing in years, and hastening to my long home. Or,

2. I die, i.e. am about to die, or likely to die.

Going is ofttimes put for dying, as 1 Chronicles 17:11, compared with 2 Samuel 7:12 Job 10:21 14:20 Matthew 26:24. What good will the world do me, if I have no heir to possess it? If God lose the glory of his truth in making good his promise, and I lose the comfort of my long hoped-for child, and that such a child the effect of a Divine promise, one out of whose loins he must come, in whom all nations shall be blessed?

The steward of my house; Heb. The son of the care, or government, or management of my house, i.e. he who manageth the affairs of my house. A usual Hebraism, as captives are called children of captivity, Ezra 4:1, and afflicted persons, children of affliction, Proverbs 31:5. Others read the verse thus,

And the steward of my house, this Eliezer of Damascus, understand, shall be my heir; which words may easily be supplied out of Genesis 15:3. And such supplements of a word or short sentence out of a member or verse either foregoing or following, are frequent in Scripture, as Numbers 24:22 Zechariah 14:18 Nehemiah 5:2 Habakkuk 2:3 Ephesians 2:1.

Damascus may be the name either of a man, or of a place so called. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless,.... As if he should say, what signifies what thou givest me of temporal blessings, if thou withholdest from me the blessing of a child; from whom it might be hoped and believed would spring the promised Messiah, in whom all nations of the earth shall be blessed. All my wealth and riches, victories and honours, are of no avail to me, while I am deprived of this favour; and since I am advanced in years, and going the way of all the earth; or out of the world, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase it, and which is the sense of the word in many places, see Joshua 23:14. Should I depart from hence childless, as I am like to do, what pleasure can I take in them, and comfort from them, when I have none to inherit them?

and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus; who was his head servant, perhaps the same with him in Genesis 24:2 called the eldest servant of his house, who had the care of it, of providing food for it, and supplying with it, and giving to everyone their portion in due season. Some render it, "the son of leaving my house" (y); to whom he left the care of his house, and should leave the administration of all things in it after his death, making him heir should he die childless; and so it may be supplied, "he Eliezer of Damascus is" or "shall be my heir". Strange and various are the fancies of the Jewish writers concerning this Eliezer; the Targum of Jonathan on Genesis 14:14 calls him the son of Nimrod; others say he was the grandson of Nimrod, and others, a servant of his, who gave him to Abram for a servant; and when Isaac married Rebekah he was made free, and through Abram's influence became a king, and was Og king of Bashan (z); and others say he was Canaan the son of Ham (a); and others again, that he was Lot, who was very desirous of being Abram's heir (b): but with neither of these wilt this description of him agree, who is said to be of Damascus; either he was born there, or his parents, one or other, were from thence, who very probably were Abram's servants; and this Eliezer was born in his house, as seems from Genesis 15:3, or the words may be rendered Damascus Eliezer (c), that is, Damascus the son of Eliezer; so that Eliezer was his father's name, and Damascus the proper name of this servant: and some say Damascus was built by him, and had its name from him, which is not likely, since we read of it before, and it is ascribed to another builder; see Gill on Genesis 14:15. Indeed Justin (d) says it had its name from a king of it, so called; but who, according to him, was much more ancient than Abram, whom he also makes to be a king of Damascus: after King Damascus, he says, was Azelus, then Adores, and Abram and Israel were kings in that place. And Nicolas of Damascus (e) relates, that Abram reigned at Damascus, when with an army he came out of the land of Chaldea, beyond Babylon; and that the name of Abram was still famous in the region of Damascus, and a certain village was shown, called Abram's habitation: and the Jewish writers say (f), that the servants of Abram built Damascus, and he reigned over it: that Abram lived there some time seems reasonable from this Eliezer, who was born in his house, being called Eliezer of Damascus; for which no other reason can well be assigned than his being born there, which must be therefore when Abram dwelt there, since he was born in his house; and this might be the foundation of the above traditions.

(y) "is cui relinquetur domus mea", Junius & Tremellius; Heb. "filius derelictionis domus meae", Piscator; so Joseph Kimchi and Abendana. (z) Pirke Eliezer, c. 16. (a) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 2. 1. (b) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 43. fol. 39. 1.((c) "Damascus Eliezer", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius. (d) E Trogo, l. 36. c. 2.((e) Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 90. c. 16. p. 417. (f) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 77. 1.

And Abram said, {a} Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?

(a) His fear was not only lest he should not have children, but lest the promise of the blessed seed should not be accomplished in him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Lord God] God = Heb. Jehovah, as in other places where it is put in capitals. “Adonai Jehovah”: this combination of sacred names occurs only here, Genesis 15:8, and Deuteronomy 3:24; Deuteronomy 9:26, in the Pentateuch. It is, however, not uncommon in the prophetical writings; and is especially frequent in Ezekiel. The Hebrew student will notice that the sacred name JHVH receives here the vowel points “e” “o” “i” of Elohim, because the word “Adonai,” whose pronunciation it generally receives, immediately precedes it. Where the full word “Adonai” precedes JHVH, the Jewish scribes, in order to prevent profane repetition of the word “Adonai,” punctuate and pronounce JHVH as if it were “Elohim”; hence they would read here Adonai Elohim, not Adonai Adonai.

seeing I go childless] R.V. marg. go hence. LXX ἀπολύομαι, Lat. ego vadam. “I go” is generally understood to mean here, “I depart this life.” Cf. “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart,” Luke 2:29 (νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλόν σου, δέσποτα). But it might mean, “I take my ordinary path in life, childless.”

The misfortune of having no children was acutely felt by the Israelite: see Numbers 27:4, “Why should the name of our father be taken away from among his family, because he had no son?”

possessor of my house] i.e. my heir.

The conclusion of this verse, in the original, gives no sense. The R.V. probably furnishes the general meaning. The confusion is apparent in LXX, ὁ δὲ υἱὸς Μάσεκ τῆς οἰκογενοῦς μου, οὗτος Δαμασκὸς Ἐλιέζερ = “And the son of Masek, my slave born in the house, this is Damascus Eliezer.”

Dammesek Eliezer] R.V. marg., Targum of Onkelos, and Syriac, have Eliezer the Damascene. The text is corrupt. Literally the sentence runs: “and the son of the possession of my house is Damascus Eliezer.” Dammesek is the usual Hebrew word for “Damascus.” Attempts to restore the text have not been successful.

Ball conjectures, “And he who will possess my house is a Damascene, Eliezer.” Eliezer is probably the same as the faithful servant of Abram mentioned in Genesis 24:2, where the name is not given. The possible reference to Damascus in this verse gave rise to the traditions connecting Abram with the conquest of Damascus; see Josephus (Ant. i. 7, 2), quoting Nicolaus of Damascus, who wrote in the days of Herod the Great; cf. note on Genesis 12:5.Verse 2. - And Abram said, Lord God. Adonai Jehovah; the first use of these terms in combination, the second, which usually has the vowel-points of the first, being here written with the vocalization of Elohim. Adonai, an older plural form of Adonim, pluralis excellentive (Gesenius), though by some the termination is regarded as a suffix (Ewald, Furst), is a term descriptive of the Divine sovereignty, from adan = dun, or din, to rule or judge; connected with which is the Phoenician aden, an honorary epithet of deity, and recognized as such in Deuteronomy 10:17 (vide Furst, 'Hebrew Lexicon,' sub voce). What wilt thou give me, seeing I go literally, and I going - ἐγὼ δὲ ἀπολύομαι (LXX., Jonathan); ex hac vita discedam (Rosenmüller); but this, though the word "go" is sometimes used in the sense of "die" (Psalm 39:14), does not seem necessary - childless - solitary, desolate, hence devoid of offspring, as in Leviticus 20:20, 21; Jeremiah 22:30 - and the steward - Ben-Meshek; either

(1) the son of running (from shakak, to run) = filius dis-cursitatis, i.e. the steward who attends to my domestic affairs (Onkelos, Drusius); or, and with greater probability,

(2) the son of possession (from mashak, to hold),. i.e. the possessor of my house, or heir of my property (Gesenius, Furst, Delitzsch, Keel, Halisch) - of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus. Literally, Dammesek Eliezer. The paronomasia of this utterance is apparent, and was obviously designed to impart a touch of pathos to the patriarch's grief by pointing out the coincidence that the Ben-shek of his house was either Dammesek (Damascus) in the person of Eliezer (Delitzsch, Keil), or the Damascene Eliezer (Onkelos, Syriac, Aben Ezra, Calvin, Lange, Murphy), or Dammesek-Eliezer as one word (Kalisch). As Abram returned with the booty which he had taken from the enemy, the king of Sodom (of course, the successor to the one who fell in the battle) and Melchizedek, king of Salem, came to meet him to congratulate him on his victory; the former probably also with the intention of asking for the prisoners who had been rescued. They met him in "the valley of Shaveh, which is (what was afterwards called) the King's dale." This valley, in which Absalom erected a monument for himself (2 Samuel 18:18), was, according to Josephus, two stadia from Jerusalem, probably by the brook Kidron therefore, although Absalom's pillar, which tradition places there, was of the Grecian style rather than the early Hebrew. The name King's dale was given to it undoubtedly with reference to the event referred to here, which points to the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. For the Salem of Melchizedek cannot have been the Salem near to which John baptized (John 3:23), or Aenon, which was eight Roman miles south of Scythopolis, as a march of about forty hours for the purpose of meeting Abraham, if not romantic, would, at least be at variance with the text of Scripture, where the kings are said to have gone out to Abram after his return. It must be Jerusalem, therefore, which is called by the old name Salem in Psalm 76:2, out of which the name Jerusalem (founding of peace, or possession of peace) was formed by the addition of the prefix ירוּ equals ירוּי "founding," or ירוּשׁ "possession." Melchizedek brings bread and wine from Salem "to supply the exhausted warriors with food and drink, but more especially as a mark of gratitude to Abram, who had conquered for them peace, freedom, and prosperity" (Delitzsch). This gratitude he expresses, as a priest of the supreme God, in the words, "Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, the founder of heaven and earth; and blessed be God, the Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand." The form of the blessing is poetical, two parallel members with words peculiar to poetry, צריך for איביך, and מגּן. - עליון אל without the article is a proper name for the supreme God, the God over all (cf. Exodus 18:11), who is pointed out as the only true God by the additional clause, "founder of the heaven and the earth." On the construction of בּרוּך with ל, vid., Genesis 31:15; Exodus 12:16, and Ges. 143, 2. קנה, founder and possessor: קנה combines the meanings of κτίζειν and κτᾶσθαι. This priestly reception Abram reciprocated by giving him the tenth of all, i.e., of the whole of the booty taken from the enemy. Giving the tenth was a practical acknowledgment of the divine priesthood of Melchizedek; for the tenth was, according to the general custom, the offering presented to the Deity. Abram also acknowledged the God of Melchizedek as the true God; for when the king of Sodom asked for his people only, and would have left the rest of the booty to Abram, he lifted up his hand as a solemn oath "to Jehovah, the Most High God, the founder of heaven and earth," - acknowledging himself as the servant of this God by calling Him by the name Jehovah, - and swore that he would not take "from a thread to a shoe-string," i.e., the smallest or most worthless thing belonging to the king of Sodom, that he might not be able to say, he had made Abram rich. אם, as the sign of an oath, is negative, and in an earnest address is repeated before the verb. "Except (בּלעדי, lit., not to me, nothing for me) only what the young men (Abram's men) have eaten, and the portion of my allies...let them take their portion:" i.e., his followers should receive what had been consumed as their share, and the allies should have the remainder of the booty.

Of the property belonging to the king of Sodom, which he had taken from the enemy, Abram would not keep the smallest part, because he would not have anything in common with Sodom. On the other hand, he accepted from Salem's priest and king, Melchizedek, not only bread and wine for the invigoration of the exhausted warriors, but a priestly blessing also, and gave him in return the tenth of all his booty, as a sign that he acknowledged this king as a priest of the living God, and submitted to his royal priesthood. In this self-subordination of Abram to Melchizedek there was the practical prediction of a royal priesthood which is higher than the priesthood entrusted to Abram's descendants, the sons of Levi, and foreshadowed in the noble form of Melchizedek, who blessed as king and priest the patriarch whom God had called to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. The name of this royal priest is full of meaning: Melchizedek, i.e., King of Righteousness. Even though, judging from Joshua 10:1, Joshua 10:3, where a much later king is called Adonizedek, i.e., Lord of Righteousness, this name may have been a standing title of the ancient kings of Salem, it no doubt originated with a king who ruled his people in righteousness, and was perfectly appropriate in the case of the Melchizedek mentioned here. There is no less significance in the name of the seat of his government, Salem, the peaceful or peace, since it shows that the capital of its kings was a citadel of peace, not only as a natural stronghold, but through the righteousness of its sovereign; for which reason David chose it as the seat of royalty in Israel; and Moriah, which formed part of it, was pointed out to Abraham by Jehovah as the place of sacrifice for the kingdom of God which was afterwards to be established. And, lastly, there was something very significant in the appearance in the midst of the degenerate tribes of Canaan of this king of righteousness, and priest of the true God of heaven and earth, without any account of his descent, or of the beginning and end of his life; so that he stands forth in the Scriptures, "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life." Although it by no means follows from this, however, that Melchizedek was a celestial being (the Logos, or an angel), or one of the primeval patriarchs (Enoch or Shem), as Church fathers, Rabbins, and others have conjectured, and we can see in him nothing more than one, perhaps the last, of the witnesses and confessors of the early revelation of God, coming out into the light of history from the dark night of heathenism; yet this appearance does point to a priesthood of universal significance, and to a higher order of things, which existed at the commencement of the world, and is one day to be restored again. In all these respects, the noble form of this king of Salem and priest of the Most High God was a type of the God-King and eternal High Priest Jesus Christ; a thought which is expanded in Hebrews 7 on the basis of this account, and of the divine utterance revealed to David in the Spirit, that the King of Zion sitting at the right hand of Jehovah should be a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4).

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