Genesis 15:2
And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(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.

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). Genesis 15:2The 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.

Genesis 15:2 Interlinear
Genesis 15:2 Parallel Texts

Genesis 15:2 NIV
Genesis 15:2 NLT
Genesis 15:2 ESV
Genesis 15:2 NASB
Genesis 15:2 KJV

Genesis 15:2 Bible Apps
Genesis 15:2 Parallel
Genesis 15:2 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 15:2 Chinese Bible
Genesis 15:2 French Bible
Genesis 15:2 German Bible

Bible Hub

Genesis 15:1
Top of Page
Top of Page