Pristine Grace

Gen 15:1-6, (GILL)

This chapter informs us of a gracious appearance of God to Abram, and of a kind promise made unto him, Ge 15:1; of Abram's request for an heir, Ge 15:2; of an answer to it, that he should have one, and even a numberless seed, Ge 15:4; which he gave credit to, Ge 15:6; upon which he has a fresh promise of the land of Canaan, Ge 15:7; of his inheriting of which he desires a sign, and this was given him, Ge 15:8; and at the same time it was predicted to him how long his posterity should be afflicted in a land not theirs, and afterwards come out with great substance, Ge 15:13; and the grant of the land of Canaan to his seed is renewed, Ge 15:17.

After these things,.... The battle of the kings, the captivity of Lot, the rescue of him and his goods, and of those of Sodom and Gomorrah by Abram, and the conversation that passed between him, and the kings of Sodom and Salem:

the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision; Christ, the essential Word, appeared to Abram in an human form, visible to him, and with an articulate voice spoke unto him:

saying, as follows,

fear not, Abram; calling him by his name, the more to encourage him, and to dissipate his fears to which he was subject; which might be, lest the nations that belonged to the four kings he had conquered and slain should recruit their armies, and come against him with greater force; and the brethren and relations of those he had slain should avenge themselves on him, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem suggest; and therefore the Lord bids him not give way to those fears, for, adds he,

I [am] thy shield; to protect him against all his enemies, be they ever so strong and numerous; as Christ is the shield of his people against all their spiritual enemies, sin, Satan, and the world, which being held up in the hand of faith, called therefore the shield of faith, is a security against them:

[and] thy exceeding great reward; though he had generously refused taking any reward for the service he had done in pursuing the kings, and slaughtering them, and bringing back the persons and goods they had took away; yet he should be no loser by it, the Lord would reward him in a way of grace with greater and better things; nay, he himself would be his reward, and which must be a great one, an exceeding great one; as Christ is to his people in his person, offices, and grace, all being theirs, and he all in all to them; all the blessings of grace and glory coming along with him, and he being their portion here and hereafter, to all eternity; for since he is theirs, all are theirs, all things appertaining to life and godliness, and eternal life itself.

2  And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless,.... As if he should say, what signifies what thou givest me of temporal blessings, if thou withholdest from me the blessing of a child; from whom it might be hoped and believed would spring the promised Messiah, in whom all nations of the earth shall be blessed. All my wealth and riches, victories and honours, are of no avail to me, while I am deprived of this favour; and since I am advanced in years, and going the way of all the earth; or out of the world, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase it, and which is the sense of the word in many places, see Jos 23:14. Should I depart from hence childless, as I am like to do, what pleasure can I take in them, and comfort from them, when I have none to inherit them?

and the steward of my house [is] this Eliezer of Damascus; who was his head servant, perhaps the same with him in Ge 24:2 called the eldest servant of his house, who had the care of it, of providing food for it, and supplying with it, and giving to everyone their portion in due season. Some render it, "the son of leaving my house" [y]; to whom he left the care of his house, and should leave the administration of all things in it after his death, making him heir should he die childless; and so it may be supplied, "he Eliezer of Damascus is" or "shall be my heir". Strange and various are the fancies of the Jewish writers concerning this Eliezer; the Targum of Jonathan on Ge 14:14 calls him the son of Nimrod; others say he was the grandson of Nimrod, and others, a servant of his, who gave him to Abram for a servant; and when Isaac married Rebekah he was made free, and through Abram's influence became a king, and was Og king of Bashan [z]; and others say he was Canaan the son of Ham [a]; and others again, that he was Lot, who was very desirous of being Abram's heir [b]: but with neither of these wilt this description of him agree, who is said to be of Damascus; either he was born there, or his parents, one or other, were from thence, who very probably were Abram's servants; and this Eliezer was born in his house, as seems from Ge 15:3: or the words may be rendered Damascus Eliezer [c], that is, Damascus the son of Eliezer; so that Eliezer was his father's name, and Damascus the proper name of this servant: and some say Damascus was built by him, and had its name from him, which is not likely, since we read of it before, and it is ascribed to another builder, See Gill on "Ge 14:15". Indeed Justin [d] says it had its name from a king of it, so called; but who, according to him, was much more ancient than Abram, whom he also makes to be a king of Damascus: after King Damascus, he says, was Azelus, then Adores, and Abram and Israel were kings in that place. And Nicolas of Damascus [e] relates, that Abram reigned at Damascus, when with an army he came out of the land of Chaldea, beyond Babylon; and that the name of Abram was still famous in the region of Damascus, and a certain village was shown, called Abram's habitation: and the Jewish writers say [f], that the servants of Abram built Damascus, and he reigned over it: that Abram lived there some time seems reasonable from this Eliezer, who was born in his house, being called Eliezer of Damascus; for which no other reason can well be assigned than his being born there, which must be therefore when Abram dwelt there, since he was born in his house; and this might be the foundation of the above traditions.

[y] ytyb qvm Nb "is cui relinquetur domus mea", Junius & Tremellius; Heb. "filius derelictionis domus meae", Piscator; so Joseph Kimchi and Abendana. [z] Pirke Eliezer, c. 16. [a] Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 2. 1. [b] Bereshit Rabba, sect. 43. fol. 39. 1. [c] rzeyla qvmd "Damascus Eliezer", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius. [d] E Trogo, l. 36. c. 2. [e] Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 90. c. 16. p. 417. [f] Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 77. 1.

3  And Abram said, behold, to me thou hast given no seed,.... He had bestowed many temporal blessings on him, as well as spiritual ones, having given himself in covenant, and all things in it, but he had not given him a child:

and lo, one born in my house is mine heir; meaning either Eliezer or his son, whom he had made his heir, or intended to make him, since he had no child; or of course he would have been to, Lot his nephew having no sons; and this Eliezer descending from Aram, the youngest son of Shem, was like to be next heir, if Abram should have no child of his own, as Dr. Lightfoot observes [g].

[g] Works, vol. 1. p. 695.

4  And behold, the word of the Lord [came] unto him,.... Either having disappeared, and then came a second time, or he again spoke unto him:

saying, this shall not be thine heir; this Eliezer, this servant of thine, as thou hast made him, or hast intended to make him, giving up all hopes of having issue by Sarai:

but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir; that is, one shall inherit all thou hast, that shall be begotten by thee; an own son of Abram's, and not a servant born in his house; one that should spring out of his own loins: the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "out of thy womb", that is, out of his wife's, which was his; the phrase designs a genuine and legitimate son of his, who would be legally his heir.

5  And he brought him forth abroad,.... Out of his tent into the open air, which was done through his call, and at his direction; or by an impulse upon his mind; or this might not be real and local, only vision:

and said, look now towards heaven; either with his bodily eyes, or with the eyes of his mind:

and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them; this looks as if it were in a vision that this was said to him, and what follows done in the day, since it was in the daytime, before the sun was set, Ge 15:12, when the stars could not be seen; and therefore were represented to his mind, and he was directed to consider them in it, whether they could be numbered by him or not: but this might be in the preceding night, or early in the morning, before the sun arose, that Abram was directed to go out of his tent, and view the heavens, and the multitude of stars in them, and try if he could number them; and he might be employed all the day following till sunset, in preparing the creatures for the sacrifice, in cutting them asunder, laying their pieces in order, and watching them, and driving the fowls from them. The multitude of his seed is before signified by the dust of the earth, which cannot be numbered, Ge 13:16, and here by the stars of the sky innumerable; as they are to man, though not to God: some have pretended to number them, as Aratus, Eudoxus, and Hipparchus, among the ancients, and also modern astronomers; but then they are such only that are visible to the eye, and in one hemisphere, and their accounts are very various; whereas there are multitudes to be discerned by glasses, and some not to be distinguished, as in the galaxy, or milky way, and others in the other hemisphere. Now Abram here is bid to try what he could do, and this was in his own way; for he is said by many Heathen writers [h] to be famous for arithmetic and astrology, or astronomy; but as great a master as he was in these sciences, be was not able to number the stars, which is here plainly intimated, since it follows:

and he said, so shall thy seed be: as innumerable as the stars, as they were, even his natural seed, Heb 11:12; and especially his spiritual seed, who have the same kind of faith he had, and as they will be in the latter day particularly, Ho 1:10.

[h] Apud Euseb. ut supra, (Evangel. Praepar.) l. 9. c. 16, 17. Orpheus apud Clement. Stromat. l. 5. p. 607.

6  And he believed in the Lord,.... The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan are,

"in the Word of the Lord;''

in the essential Word of the Lord, in Christ the Lord his righteousness; he believed in the promise of God, that he should have a seed, and a very numerous one; he believed that the Messiah would spring from his seed; he believed in him as his Saviour and Redeemer; he believed in him for righteousness, and he believed in his righteousness as justifying him before God:

and he counted it to him for righteousness; not the act of his faith, but the object of it; and not the promise he believed, but what was promised, and his faith received, even Christ and his righteousness this was imputed to him without works, and while he was an uncircumcised person, for the proof of which the apostle produces this passage, Ro 4:3; wherefore this is not to be understood of any action of his being esteemed and accounted a righteous one, and he pronounced and acknowledged a righteous person on account of it; for Abram was not justified before God by his own works, but by the righteousness of faith, as all that believe are, that is, by the righteousness of Christ revealed to faith, and received by it: what is imputed is without a man, and the imputation of it depends upon the will of another; such the righteousness of Christ without works imputed by God the Father. This is the first time we read of believing, and as early do we hear of imputed righteousness.

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