The last few stories of the Bible have been jejune, except maybe the last story which gave some insight to Abram’s military prowess, but even that leaves the reader unfulfilled due to lack of detail. This passage at least offers some things to discuss.
The Lord comes to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Abram replies to this by asking God what God can offer him. He has no son to be his heir, and will have to give all he has to Eliezer of Damascus since God has not given him a son. God tells him that Eliezer will not be his heir and that God will grant him a child from his own body. God takes him outside and tells Abram to look up at the stars and count them, if he can. His offspring will equal in number to the stars. Obviously not his actual descendants, those from his own loin, but must include his descendants offspring as well. This news pleases Abram. God reminds Abram that He is the one who promised this land to him. Abram asks how can he be sure that the land will be his? God orders Abram to bring Him a heifer, that’s a young virgin cow in case you don’t know, a ram and a goat, each three years old. Also, he is to bring a dove and a young pigeon. Abram brought all these animals to the altar to sacrifice to God. He cut each animal in half–I wonder in which way, hot dog or hamburger. Am I the only one who remembers these saying from school to illustrate how to fold paper in half?–except the birds. When birds of prey came to feast on the flesh of Abram’s sacrificial offerings to the Lord, Abram fought them off. As the sun set Abram fell asleep, and in a dream God came to him. God told him that his descendants “will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.” God promises to punish the nation that enslaves his descendants after four hundred years of oppression, and then will reward them with great possessions. God tells Abram that he will die before this, and die peacefully. God says he cannot give the land to Abram and his descendants yet, because “the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” That is the day, according to this passage, that God made his covenant with Abram, and promised him and his descendants all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates.
In this passage we see another example of God’s unquenchable appetite for the blood and flesh of animals, not only that, now His taste is even more refined. He has acquired a taste for virgin-female animals as well. This was not enough to please God, and grant Abram and his descendants the land He had promised them. More suffering had to endure before He could fulfill His obligation.
In the next story we see the conception and birth of the first child of Abram, but this child’s mother is not who you would think.
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