Genesis 15: God’s Covenant with Abram

Earnest Examination

This series is presented as an honest, sincere look into the study of the Bible with my own personal theories, opinions, comments and that of others’ insights and research into what the verses could mean. I cannot claim one way or another that everything that I am stating is fact and the true meaning of what is meant in these verses.

To lay it out in a way that I can manage, I have highlighted the texts of verses that I either don’t understand or have a comment or question about in yellow. And the comments I’ve left beneath it will be of a smaller font and using brown text.

I would love it if you’d join me in this journey and if you have any insights and/or knowledge of these chapters/verses etc., please feel free to share with me and the other readers. Any chance to get a clearer understanding of the Bible and Jesus Christ would be welcomed with open arms.

Version used is from (KJV) Genesis 15

1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
I want to point out the small phrase, “in a vision”. What does this mean, exactly? “In a vision” doesn’t necessarily imply “in a dream”. Was Abram fully awake during this vision? Was he daydreaming? Prophesying? Actually dreaming? Was it a vision in a dream? And how did Abram know that this vision was from the Lord? Did he test this vision? Or just accept it as coming from the Lord? I only pursue this question because we are always told to test spirits, test visions, discern… so that we may not be led astray. Am I implying that Abram possibly was seeing visions from a different entity? Well, I’m not exactly implying anything, but I am attempting to shed light on this matter that to be discerning means to question and search for the Truth, however uncomfortable it may be. And it is my effort to find out if Abram KNEW, from every fiber of his being, if this vision truly came from God or was he being deceived.
2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
…I also wonder about bloodlines, which is clearly what is meant in this verse. Abram is concerned about preserving his bloodline… although, if we take the creation account to heart, then we are all born of Adam and Eve – again, if there’s nothing more to this account – and so the specific pursuit to carry on one’s own bloodline is a fascinating subject to me. Even back then there was so much separation and animosity, quite possibly due to the separation at the Tower of Babel (although even within Cain and Abel’s own family there was already strife and conflict) created families who considered themselves separate from everyone else. It’s interesting and makes me wonder if there’s something more to this history than what most of us were/are led to believe.
3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
How important is “blood”? Is it about the blood? The DNA? The questions I’m wondering is, why was Abram chosen to be the “people of God”? I haven’t been able to study the Talmud, the Q’uran, Kabbalah, Testament of Abraham, the Ugaritic texts, etc. and it is something that I definitely want to look into in order to get a broader picture of who Abraham is and his descendants. Since Abraham is widely believed to be the line of the C”hosen Ones”, I feel it’s important to find out how, why, for what purpose, etc., etc.
According to this verse, no other bloodline is going to cut it. His adopted son does not suffice. So why is Abraham’s line so important? Why was he chosen?

4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.”
5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
7 Then He said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”
8 And he said, “Lord God, how shall I know that I will inherit it?”

This is interesting as well, because while the Lord God promised Abram the whole world, basically, Jesus Christ’s teachings is to “come out of this world” and inherit the kingdom of God (Heaven). So I find the stark contrast between these two teachings as very intriguing and worth further consideration.
9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.

These verses confuse me even more. So the Lord God told Abram to bring Him all of these animals, with no further context to it, but then in the very next verse Abram takes it upon himself to cut them in half and place each piece opposite the other. …Am I missing something here? Is this some kind of ritualistic sacrifice? How does Abram come to the conclusion that this is the act that he must do when God told him to bring those animals to Him? Is it the act of bringing death upon the animals is symbolic of bringing the animals to God? And even if so, why do it in such a specific manner as to cut them in half? And why not the birds? Do these questions get answered in other texts or further verses/chapters of the Bible? This just seems very strange to me and screams of ritualistic sacrifice. Perhaps akin to witchcraft.
Is that blasphemous? Or am I just stating a well-earned speculation that Abram’s actions may be paganistic? It is not my intention to condemn or blaspheme the word of God, but only to raise much needed questions and consideration of the texts and belief structures that it proposes. I am a believer in God and Jesus Christ, and the pursuit of Truth. “Truth” does not mean to blindly listen to certain texts/words/teachings of others, but to sincerely study and learn our surroundings and pray for insight so that we may not be led astray. That is what I am attempting to do.

11 And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.
…Hm… this lends further credence that the act that Abram performed may have been ritualistic in nature. What is this “horror and great darkness” that fell upon him? Demonic, perhaps?
Not to mention, in some other translations of this verse, they don’t say “a deep sleep” fell upon Abram:

“12 And when the sun was gone down, dread felled on Abram, and a great hideousness and dark assailed him. (And as the sun went down, fear fell upon Abram, and a great dark hideousness assailed him.)”Wycliffe Bible

Sometimes I refer back to the Wycliffe version, since it seems to be the earliest English translation there is, and in his version it does not say that Abram fell into a deep sleep, but rather that dread and fear fell upon him. And the term “assail”, at least in today’s time, implies that he was attacked by this “great dark hideousness”.
13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.
14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

So I’m trying to understand the transition of these past few verses. I can infer a few speculations (but I suppose ‘speculations’ they will remain):

1. The horror and great darkness that befell Abram was the entity that has been speaking to Abram as the word of the Lord. Assailing Abram with his power? His authority? Physically assaulting Abram? Maybe… spiritually?
2. The horror and great darkness was an inclination, a gut feeling, that something bad will happen – follow that up with the Lord saying that his descendants will be in trouble for a few years may have given him this fear/dread. Certainly very likely. Although it doesn’t seem to explain the term “assailed” that was originally used as the translation.
3. Perhaps because of the Lord gifting Abram and his descendants with the land and various possessions, it made the dark entities jealous and wrathful – therefore the darkness is the acknowledgement that Abram’s descendants will go through some hardships in order to rise above these dark entities and inherit the land.

Now, this brings me again to the land and the possessions. I can’t help but keep going back to Jesus Christ’s teachings that worldly possessions mean NOTHING in the eyes of the Lord. In fact, he teaches that those who have riches and wealth and all these possessions are on the WRONG PATH to Heaven. Yet in these biblical teachings, Abram has been chosen to inherit the land and the riches in them. …Am I the only one who doesn’t quite understand this dichotomy? But then I am also reminded of the verse in Matthew 5 where it says that the meek shall inherit the Earth. So here we have Abram and his descendants, being promised inherited land and wealth/possessions, and then here’s Jesus saying that the meek will inherit the land. Are Abram and his descendants meek? Did Jesus offer up sacrifices to God to earn His good graces? Am I speaking out of turn and just not understanding the symbolic or universal workings of the world?

15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.
16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17 And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
More interesting implications here, that seem to point to Abram performing a ritualistic spell and/or sacrifice. I know I may get pushback against this speculation, but again, it is NOT to offend anyone. It is only to offer up what an honest look into these verses may provoke in someone who hasn’t studied the Bible and other texts extensively and who is on a sincere path to understanding the Bible and its teachings. From an unbiased and subjective look into these verses, it seems as if Abram is performing witchcraft. Perhaps that is just how people worshipped back in those days, and I can somewhat understand that. And perhaps that is why Jesus Christ came to begin with, to show us that we no longer (or have ever) need to perform these rituals and instead look to being kind and loving to one another and believe in Him to have everlasting life. Of course, that doesn’t explain why this Lord at this time asked to have certain animals brought to him, and doesn’t explain how Abram knew how to set up this altar of sorts.
And speaking of this altar, where did this “smoking oven” and the “burning torch” come from? And it just so happened to ceremoniously pass in between the cut pieces of the animals… It seems quite obvious that this was on purpose and that Abram knew to do this. But how? Who taught him to offer up these animals to the Lord in this manner? And what is the smoking oven that just allegedly appeared out of nowhere? It does not do my peace of mind well to make this connection to Moloch, a terrible deity who is often portrayed as having a furnace or oven for a stomach in which to throw sacrifices into – sacrifices that tragically included (includes?) babies/children. Take another translation from Wycliffe, for example:


“17 Therefore when the sun was gone down, a dark mist was made, and a furnace smoking appeared, and a lamp of fire, and (it) passed through those partings. (And when the sun had gone down, a dark mist came, and a smoking furnace appeared, and a lamp of fire which passed between the pieces of the animals.)”

This is extremely suspicious to me. And I feel rather at odds because as far as I’ve researched, I have not come across a lot of sources making this connection. Am I completely in the wrong here? Why am I having this red flag when it comes to this sacrificial act and the “dark mist” and oven/furnace that just so happened to appear (manifest?) out of nowhere to “pass (collect?)” these sacrifices? I am actually quite perplexed that I don’t see many references to this as even being a possibility. I can’t be the only one who finds these texts suspicious…
18 On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—
19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites,
20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,
21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”

I know sometimes it would seem as if I’m questioning the veracity of the Bible’s origins, and while that may be true in some sense, it is not meant to presume, condemn, or ridicule, and certainly not meant to certify the propositions I set forth. And I definitely don’t mean to insult or offend anyone, especially not God. It is only to get a clearer understanding of the meanings of the Bible, and the possibility that during so many transitions and translation efforts, and perhaps intentional/unintentional mishandling and misinterpretations, that the Truth along the way may have been concealed more than we’d like.

And as usual, I want to reiterate that some of my thoughts and theories may be way off base, and I also research some other things on the side as well to try and get a broader understanding of what I’m reading, so please bear with me, or, even better, if you have insights that bring more light to these verses, please let me know.

I enjoy bouncing off theories and theology off of each other and love to hear other people’s perspectives on things. Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

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