The promise of a divine alliance (Gen 15:1-15:21)

“After these things the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield.  Your reward shall be very great.’  But Abram said, ‘O Lord Yahweh, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’  And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, so that a slave born in my house will be my heir.’ But the word of Yahweh came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir.  No one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’  He brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’  And he believed Yahweh.  And Yahweh reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

This is the calling of Abram in the Yahweh tradition. Yahweh appeared in a vision to Abram and said to him not to be afraid because Yahweh would be his shield.  Abram said that he was sterile and the inheritor of his estate was to be his household slave, Eliezer of Damascus.  Yahweh said that Abram would have his own heir and that his descendants would be like the stars in the heaven. Abram believed and Yahweh reckoned him as righteous.

“Then he said to him, ‘I am Yahweh who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.’  But he said, “O Lord Yahweh how am I to know that I shall possess it?’  He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’  He brought him all these, cut them in two, laying each half over against the other.  But he did not cut the birds in two. When birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.”

Yahweh said that he had brought Abram from Ur of the Chaldeans to have this new land. So Yahweh asked for a sacrifice: a heifer, a female goat, and a ram, all each three years old, with a turtledove and a young pigeon.  This is much like the Mosaic Law which came later. Abram cut the big animals in two but left the birds alone.  He then chased off the birds of prey when they came for the animal carcasses.

 “As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and a deep and terrifying darkness fell upon him.  Then Yahweh said to Abram, ‘Know this for certain that your offspring will be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years.  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace.  You shall be buried in a good old age.  They shall come back here in the fourth generation.  For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.’”

Abram fell asleep and darkness descended upon him. Yahweh said to Abram that your offspring will be aliens and slaves in a land that is not theirs for 400 years.  This is a prediction after the fact.  However, they shall come out of there and return here with great possessions.  Abram, like many others, was to die in a good old age.  The Amorites were in for some trouble.

“When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.  On that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

There was a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch that passed by.  Then the Yahweh covenant with Abram took place.  Yahweh gave him the land from the Nile to the Euphrates for him and his descendents.  The enemies list is very clear.  The land owning enemies are the Kenites, a nomad tribe; the Kenizzites, a group that integrates with the Canaanites; the Kadmonites, a group only mentioned here; the Hittites, the descendents of Heth; the Perizzites, like the Canaanites; the Rephaim, the tall ones; the Amorites; the Canaanites; the Girgashites; and the Jebusites.  Wow, this is a lot of land and a lot of people who are going to be disappointed when they find out that Abram’s descendants are claiming their land.