Abram Promised a Son

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 reward [for obedience] shall be very great.”

Abram said, “Lord [a]God, what reward will You give me, since I am [leaving this world] childless, and he who will be the owner and heir of my house is this [servant] Eliezer from Damascus?” And Abram continued, “Since You have given no child to me, one (a servant) born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man [Eliezer] will not be your heir but he who shall come from your own body shall be your heir.” And the Lord brought Abram outside [his tent into the night] and said, “Look now toward the heavens and count the stars—if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “So [numerous] shall your descendants be.”(A) Then Abram believed in (affirmed, trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord; and He counted (credited) it to him [b]as righteousness (doing right in regard to God and man).(B) And He said to him, “I am the [same] Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land as an inheritance.” But Abram said, “Lord [c]God, by what [proof] will I know that I will inherit it?” So God 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 So Abram brought all these to Him and [d]cut them down the middle, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. 11 The birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

12 When the sun was setting, a deep sleep overcame Abram; and a horror (terror, shuddering fear, nightmare) of great darkness overcame him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for sure that your descendants will be strangers [living temporarily] in a land (Egypt) that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.© 14 But on that nation whom your descendants will serve I will bring judgment, and afterward they will come out [of that land] with great possessions.(D) 15 As for you, you shall [die and] go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the [e]fourth generation your descendants shall return here [to Canaan, the land of promise], for the wickedness and guilt of the [f]Amorites is not yet complete (finished).”(E)

17 When the sun had gone down and a [deep] darkness had come, there appeared a smoking [g]brazier and a flaming torch which passed between the [divided] pieces [of the animals].(F) 18 On the same day the Lord made a covenant (promise, pledge) with Abram, saying,

“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates—

19 [the land of] the Kenites and the Kenizzites and the Kadmonites 20 and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”


  1. Genesis 15:2 Heb YHWH, usually rendered Lord.
  2. Genesis 15:6 This was crucial to God’s plan of salvation, as can be seen in Rom 4. There was simply no way that anyone except Christ could ever be sufficiently righteous to meet God’s standards and avoid condemnation. Having faith in God and placing one’s trust in Him was not in itself something that could be a substitute for perfect righteousness, but God graciously determined to accept faith as an equivalent for that righteousness nonetheless. So in a sense, Abraham—and all believers since him, who are his spiritual descendants—received righteousness on credit, and the bill for that righteousness was paid by the death of Christ on the cross.
  3. Genesis 15:8 Heb YHWH, usually rendered Lord.
  4. Genesis 15:10 This was preparation for an ancient ceremony that formally bound two parties to an agreement or covenant (v 18). Reference is made to the ceremony in Jer 34:18, but details are not given elsewhere in Scripture.
  5. Genesis 15:16 This prophecy was fulfilled when Moses led the Israelites back to Canaan after their four hundred years in Egypt. He was “in the fourth generation” from Jacob—Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses.
  6. Genesis 15:16 The most important and powerful group of that region. The name “Amorite” later became virtually synonymous with that of the inhabitants of Canaan. They were known for their many superstitious practices (according to the Talmud).
  7. Genesis 15:17 I.e. a large bowl or pan holding burning coals.

Cross references

  1. Genesis 15:5 : Heb 11:12
  2. Genesis 15:6 : Rom 4:3, 18-22; Gal 3:6; James 2:23
  3. Genesis 15:13 : Ex 12:40
  4. Genesis 15:14 : Ex 12:35, 36; Acts 7:6, 7
  5. Genesis 15:16 : Josh 24:15
  6. Genesis 15:17 : Jer 34:18, 19