Genesis 15

Listen to Genesis 15

God's Covenant with Abram

1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: 1"Fear not, Abram, I am 2your shield; your reward shall be very great."
2 But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue[a] childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"
3 And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and 3a member of my household will be my heir."
4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; 4your very own son[b] shall be your heir."
5 And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and 5number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, 6"So shall your offspring be."
6 And 7he believed the LORD, and 8he counted it to him as righteousness.
7 And he said to him, "I am the LORD who 9brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans 10to give you this land to possess."
8 But he said, "O Lord GOD, 11how am I to know that I shall possess it?"
9 He said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon."
10 And he brought him all these, 12cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But 13he did not cut the birds in half.
11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was going down, a 14deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.
13 Then the LORD said to Abram, "Know for certain 15that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and 16they will be afflicted for 17four hundred years.
14 But 18I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward 19they shall come out with great possessions.
15 As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; 20you shall be buried in a good old age.
16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for 21the iniquity of the Amorites 22is not yet complete."
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.
18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, 23"To your offspring I give[c] this land, from 24the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,
19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites,
20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,
21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites."

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Genesis 15 Commentary

Chapter 15

God encourages Abram. (1) The Divine promise, Abraham is justified by faith. (2-6) God promises Canaan to Abraham for an inheritance. (7-11) The promise confirmed in a vision. (12-16) The promise confirmed by a sign. (17-21)

Verse 1 God assured Abram of safety and happiness; that he should for ever be safe. I am thy shield; or, I am a shield to thee, present with thee, actually caring for thee. The consideration that God himself is, and will be a shield to his people, to secure them from all evils, a shield ready to them, and a shield round about them, should silence all perplexing, tormenting fears.

Verses 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, ( Romans 4:24 ) . Through faith in his blood they obtain forgiveness of sins.

Verses 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, ( jeremiah 34:18 jeremiah 34:19 ) . 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 17-21 The smoking furnace and the burning lamp, probably represented the Israelites' severe trials and joyful deliverance, with their gracious supports in the mean time. It is probable that this furnace and lamp, which passed between the pieces, burned and consumed them, and so completed the sacrifice, and testified God's acceptance of it. So it intimates that God's covenants with man are made by sacrifice, ( Psalms 50:5 ) . And we may know that he accepts our sacrifices, if he kindles in our souls pious and devout affections. The bounds of the land granted are stated. Several nations, or tribes, are spoken of, that must be cast out to make room for the seed of Abram. In this chapter we perceive in Abram faith struggling against, and triumphing over, unbelief. Wonder not, believers, if you meet with seasons of darkness and distress. But it is not the will of God that you should be cast down: fear not; for all that he was to Abram he will be to you.

Cross References 24

  • 1. Genesis 26:24; Daniel 10:12; Luke 1:13, 30
  • 2. Psalms 3:3; Psalms 18:2; Psalms 84:11; Psalms 119:114
  • 3. Genesis 14:14
  • 4. Genesis 17:16
  • 5. Psalms 147:4
  • 6. Genesis 22:17; Genesis 26:4; Exodus 32:13; Deuteronomy 1:10; Deuteronomy 10:22; 1 Chronicles 27:23; Hebrews 11:12; Cited Romans 4:18
  • 7. Romans 4:9, 22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23
  • 8. Cited Romans 4:3; [Psalms 106:31]
  • 9. Genesis 11:31; Genesis 12:1; Nehemiah 9:7, 8; Acts 7:2-4
  • 10. Psalms 105:42, 44
  • 11. [Judges 6:17; 2 Kings 20:8; Psalms 86:17; Isaiah 7:11-13; Luke 1:18]
  • 12. Jeremiah 34:18, 19
  • 13. Leviticus 1:17
  • 14. Genesis 2:21
  • 15. Acts 7:6, 7
  • 16. Exodus 1:11, 12; Exodus 3:7
  • 17. Acts 7:6; [Exodus 12:40, 41; Galatians 3:17]
  • 18. Exodus 6:6
  • 19. Exodus 12:36; Psalms 105:37
  • 20. Genesis 25:8
  • 21. 1 Kings 21:26; Amos 2:9
  • 22. [Daniel 8:23; Matthew 23:32; 1 Thessalonians 2:16]
  • 23. Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 24:7; Genesis 26:4; Numbers 34:2; Deuteronomy 34:4; Nehemiah 9:8
  • 24. Exodus 23:31; Deuteronomy 1:7; Joshua 1:4

Footnotes 3

Chapter Summary


This chapter informs us of a gracious appearance of God to Abram, and of a kind promise made unto him, Ge 15:1; of Abram's request for an heir, Ge 15:2,3; of an answer to it, that he should have one, and even a numberless seed, Ge 15:4,5; which he gave credit to, Ge 15:6; upon which he has a fresh promise of the land of Canaan, Ge 15:7; of his inheriting of which he desires a sign, and this was given him, Ge 15:8-12; and at the same time it was predicted to him how long his posterity should be afflicted in a land not theirs, and afterwards come out with great substance, Ge 15:13-16; and the grant of the land of Canaan to his seed is renewed, Ge 15:17-21.

Genesis 15 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.