Genesis 15

The LORD’s Covenant With Abram

1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield,[a]your very great reward.[b]
2 But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”
3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”
5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”
6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
7 He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
8 But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
9 So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.
11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.
13 Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.
14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.
15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age.
16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.
18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[e] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—
19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites,
20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites,
21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

Images for Genesis 15

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 47

  • 1. 1 Samuel 15:10; 2 Samuel 7:4; 1 Kings 6:11; 1 Kings 12:22; Jeremiah 1:13; Ezekiel 3:16; Daniel 10:1
  • 2. Genesis 46:2; Numbers 12:6; Numbers 24:4; Ruth 1:20; Job 33:15
  • 3. Genesis 21:17; Genesis 26:24; Genesis 46:3; Exodus 14:13; Exodus 20:20; 2 Kings 6:16; 2 Chronicles 20:15,17; Psalms 27:1; Isaiah 7:4; Isaiah 41:10,13-14; Isaiah 43:1,5; Jeremiah 1:8; Haggai 2:5
  • 4. Deuteronomy 33:29; 2 Samuel 22:3,31; Psalms 3:3; Psalms 5:12; Psalms 18:2; Psalms 28:7; Psalms 33:20; Psalms 84:11; Psalms 119:114; Psalms 144:2; Proverbs 2:7; Proverbs 30:5
  • 5. Psalms 18:20; Psalms 37:25; Psalms 58:11; Isaiah 3:10
  • 6. ver 8; Isaiah 49:22; Jeremiah 44:26; Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 16:48
  • 7. Acts 7:5
  • 8. S Genesis 14:15
  • 9. Genesis 24:2,34
  • 10. S Genesis 12:5
  • 11. Galatians 4:28
  • 12. Job 11:8; Job 35:5; Psalms 8:3; Psalms 147:4; Jeremiah 33:22
  • 13. S Genesis 12:2; Genesis 22:17; Exodus 32:13; S Jeremiah 30:19; Romans 4:18*; Hebrews 11:12
  • 14. Psalms 106:31; Ro 4:3*,20-24*; Galatians 3:6*; James 2:23*
  • 15. Genesis 12:1; Exodus 20:2; Acts 7:3; Hebrews 11:8
  • 16. S Genesis 11:28; Acts 7:4
  • 17. S Genesis 13:17; Genesis 17:8; Genesis 28:4; Genesis 35:12; Genesis 48:4; Exodus 6:8; Deuteronomy 9:5
  • 18. S ver 2
  • 19. Luke 1:18
  • 20. Deuteronomy 12:20; Deuteronomy 19:8
  • 21. Numbers 19:2; Deuteronomy 21:3; Hosea 4:16; Amos 4:1
  • 22. 1 Samuel 1:24
  • 23. Leviticus 1:14; Leviticus 5:7,11; Leviticus 12:8
  • 24. ver 17; Jeremiah 34:18
  • 25. Leviticus 1:17; Leviticus 5:8
  • 26. Deuteronomy 28:26; Jeremiah 7:33
  • 27. S Genesis 2:21
  • 28. Exodus 1:11; Exodus 3:7; Exodus 5:6,10-14,18; Exodus 6:5; Deuteronomy 5:15; Job 3:18
  • 29. ver 16; Exodus 12:40; Numbers 20:15; Acts 7:6,17; Galatians 3:17
  • 30. Genesis 50:24; Exodus 3:8; Exodus 6:6-8; Exodus 12:25; Numbers 10:29; Joshua 1:2; Acts 7:7*
  • 31. Exodus 12:32-38
  • 32. Genesis 47:30; Genesis 49:29; Deuteronomy 31:16; 2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 1:21; Psalms 49:19
  • 33. Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29; Exodus 23:26; Deuteronomy 34:7; Joshua 14:11; Judges 8:32; 1 Chronicles 29:28; Job 5:26; Job 21:23; Job 42:17; Psalms 91:16; Proverbs 3:16; Proverbs 9:11; Isaiah 65:20
  • 34. S ver 13; Exodus 12:40
  • 35. Genesis 28:15; Genesis 46:4; Genesis 48:21; Genesis 50:24; Exodus 3:8,17
  • 36. Leviticus 18:28; Joshua 13:4; Judges 10:11; 1 Kings 21:26; 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:11; Ezekiel 16:3
  • 37. Judges 7:16,20; Judges 15:4,5
  • 38. S ver 10
  • 39. Ge 17:2,4,7; Exodus 6:4; Exodus 34:10,27; 1 Chronicles 16:16; Psalms 105:9
  • 40. S Genesis 12:7
  • 41. Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:4,47; 1 Kings 8:65; 2 Kings 24:7; 2 Chronicles 7:8; Isaiah 27:12; Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 46:2; Lamentations 4:17; Ezekiel 30:22; Ezekiel 47:19
  • 42. S Genesis 2:14
  • 43. Numbers 24:21; Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11,17; Judges 5:24; 1 Samuel 15:6; 1 Samuel 27:10; 1 Samuel 30:29; 1 Chronicles 2:55
  • 44. S Genesis 10:15; S Deuteronomy 7:1
  • 45. S Genesis 13:7
  • 46. S Genesis 14:5
  • 47. S Genesis 10:16; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11; Nehemiah 9:8

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Or "sovereign"
  • [b]. Or "shield;" / "your reward will be very great"
  • [c]. The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
  • [d]. Or "seed"
  • [e]. Or "river"

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

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