A Daily Genesis

Genesis 15:1-6

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 15:1a . . Some time later, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision.[/B]

This is the very first record of a vision in the Bible. The Hebrew word is [I]machazeh[/I] (makh-az-eh') and it appears in only four places in the entire Old Testament; which is pretty amazing considering the volume of prophecy the Old Testament contains. A far more common word is [I]chalowm[/I] (khal-ome') which means: a dream.

Another word for "vision" is [I]mar'eh[/I] (mar-eh') which appears in ten places in the Old Testament but only once in Genesis where it apparently has reference to the contents of a dream (Gen 46:2). Mar'eh is somewhat ambiguous as it can also draw one's attention to how something looks; viz: it's appearance.

One of Webster's definitions of a vision is: a manifestation to the senses of something immaterial. For example: Elisha prayed that Yhvh would "open" his servant's eyes so he could see a nearby army of flaming spirit beings (2Kgs 6:17).

A modern way of talking about things like that is to label them apparitions; for example the Lord's transfiguration (Matt 17:1-9, Mark 9:1-9, Luke 9:27-36) except in that case; Christ was really there rather represented by some sort of supernatural avatar.

Exactly what Abram saw that represented God I don't know. And to tell the truth, I'm not all that sure I want to know; especially if it resembled anything as unnerving as what Moses and the elders of Israel saw up on Mt. Sinai. (Ex 24:9-11)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 15:1b . . Fear not, Abram,[/B]

Daniel was told the same thing during his close encounter of a third kind with a very unusual celestial being. (Dan 10:4-12)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 15:1c . . I am a shield to you;[/B]

The vision informed Abram that Yhvh intended to protect him; which was a good thing because quite possibly Abram at this time was feeling a bit anxious that a counterattack might be organized up in Shinar and return to Canaan for revenge with a much larger force than the one recently defeated.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 15:1d . .Your reward shall be very great.[/B]

In other words; his reward would be much greater than the one he just recently forfeited. In those days, it was winner takes all; but Abram had not exercised that option.

Below is an ancient take on the event.

[COLOR=#008000][B]T.[/B][/COLOR] Thereupon was the word of the Lord with Abram in a vision, saying: Fear not; for if these men should gather together in legions and come against thee, My Word will be thy shield: and also if these fall before thee in this world, the reward of thy good works shall be kept, and be prepared before Me in the world to come, great exceedingly. (Targum Jonathan)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 15:2a . . But Abram said: O Lord God, what can You give me, seeing that I shall die childless,[/B]

Apparently Abram misunderstood God back in Gen 12:2 when He promised to make of Abram a great nation; even though God restated the promise at Gen 12:7 and Gen 13:15 and clearly meant Abram would engender biological progeny. However, I think the man had grown so accustomed to Sarah's sterility that it just never occurred to him that God's promise might actually be literal.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 15:2b . . and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?[/B]

Eliezer wasn't Abram's blood kin; however, by common law in Canaan, he was Abram's default heir apparent in the absence of natural male progeny.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 15:3 . . Abram said further: Since You have granted me no offspring, my steward will be my heir.[/B]

When a man without children died in that day, common law stipulated that his chief steward got it all and had a legal right to pass it all on to his own son. Abram had no real estate, but if he did, then Eliezer would get that too in the event Abram died with no blood heir. Sarai? Well, she'd probably stay on as Eliezer's concubine.

But the real danger at this point wasn't to Abram's gold, silver, slaves, herds, and women; but to the promises that God made to Abram concerning his heir. Those would pass to Eliezer too.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 15:4-5 . .The word of The Lord came to him in reply: That one shall not be your heir; none but your very own issue shall be your heir. He took him outside and said: Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He added: So shall your offspring be.[/B]

On a good clear night, it's possible to see roughly 6,000 stars with the naked eye; but don't bother to try and count them because you will certainly lose track before you're done; especially if the Milky Way is overhead. Well . . it finally sank in that God's promise was literal and that's when one of the most significant events in history took place.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 15:6 . . And he believed in Yhvh; and He counted it to him for righteousness.[/B]

That is the very first time anything "righteous" has been said about Abram in Genesis; and it resulted not from piety, but rather, from belief.

The Hebrew word for "belief" is horribly ambiguous. [I]'Aman[/I] can mean, among other things: (1) to build up or support, (2) to foster as a parent or nurse, (3) figuratively to render (or be) firm or faithful, (4) to trust or believe, (5) to be permanent or quiet, (6) to be morally true or certain, and (7) to rely upon.

Any choice I make from that list will be entirely arbitrary; but my money is on "reliance" because at this point, Abram has no clue from whence he's going to obtain an heir; but was convinced that Yhvh would surely think of something. This is an excellent example of the biblical principle that faith believes what's revealed to it rather than only what makes sense to it.

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