Genesis 15:11

11 Vultures swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram scared them off.

Genesis 15:11 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 15:11

And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses
Upon the birds, as Aben Ezra and Ben Melech interpret it, whose carcasses were whole; or rather upon the divided carcasses of the animals, and indeed on both: this is to be understood of birds of prey, as eagles, vultures, kites, crows and are an emblem of the Egyptians chiefly, and other enemies of Israel, who came upon them to devour them; so the Targum of Jonathan,

``and the idolatrous nations descended, who were like to an unclean fowl, to spoil the goods of the Israelites;''

and likewise the Targum of Jerusalem,

``this unclean fowl are the idolatrous kingdoms of the earth:''

Abram drove them away:
that they might not settle upon the carcasses, and devour them: the Septuagint version is, "Abram sat with them"; he sat by the carcasses and watched them, that no hurt came to them, and to take notice of them, and consider and learn what they were an emblem of. The Jews F12 also observe, that

``Abram sat and waved over them with his napkin or handkerchief, that the birds might not have power over them until the evening.''

This may respect not the merit of Abram, as the above Targums, by which his posterity were protected, and the designs of their enemies frustrated; but the effectual fervent prayer of Abram, his prayer of faith for them, in answer to which they were delivered out of the hands of the Egyptians, and other enemies, whom Abram foresaw they would be distressed with.


F12 Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c. 28)

Genesis 15:11 In-Context

9 God said, "Bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, and a dove and a young pigeon."
10 He brought all these animals to him, split them down the middle, and laid the halves opposite each other. But he didn't split the birds.
11 Vultures swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram scared them off.
12 As the sun went down a deep sleep overcame Abram and then a sense of dread, dark and heavy.
13 God said to Abram, "Know this: your descendants will live as outsiders in a land not theirs; they'll be enslaved and beaten down for 400 years.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.