Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Fear not. He might naturally be under some apprehensions, lest the four kings should attempt to be revenged upon him. — Reward, since thou hast so generously despised earthly riches. (Haydock) — Abram was not asleep, but saw a vision of exterior objects, ver. 5.
Ver. 2. I shall go. To what purpose should I heap up riches, since I have no son to inherit them? Abram knew that God had promised him a numerous posterity; but he was not apprized how this was to be verified, and whether he was to adopt some other for his son and heir. Therefore, he asks modestly, how he ought to understand the promise. — And the son, &c. Hebrew is differently rendered, “and the steward of my house, this Eliezer of Damascus.” We know not whether Eliezer or Damascus be the proper name. The Septuagint have “the son of Mesech, my handmaid, this Eliezer of Damascus.” Most people suppose, that Damascus was the son of Eliezer, the steward. The sentence is left unfinished, and must be supplied from the following verse, shall be my heir. The son of the steward, filius procurationis, may mean the steward himself, as the son of perdition denotes the person lost. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Reputed by God, who cannot judge wrong; so that Abram increased in justice by this act of faith, believing that his wife, now advanced in years, would have a child; from whom others should spring, more numerous than the stars of heaven. (Haydock) — This faith was accompanied and followed by many other acts of virtue, St. James ii. 22. (Worthington)
Ver. 8. Whereby, &c. Thus the blessed Virgin Mary asked, how shall this be done? Luke i. 34, without the smallest degree of unbelief. Abram wished to know, by what signs he should be declared the lawful owner of the land. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Three years, when these animals have obtained a perfect age.
Ver. 12. A deep sleep, or ecstasy, like that of Adam, chap. ii. 21, wherein God revealed to him the oppression of his posterity in Egypt, which filled him with such horror (Menochius) as we experience when something frightful comes upon us suddenly in the dark. This darkness represented the dismal situation of Joseph, confined in a dungeon; and of the Hebrews condemned to hard labour, in making bricks, and obliged to hide their male children, for fear of their being discovered, and slain. Before these unhappy days commenced, the posterity of Abram were exposed to great oppression among the Chanaanites, nor could they in any sense be said to possess the land of promise, for above 400 years after this prophetic sleep. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Strangers, and under bondage, &c. This prediction may be dated from the persecution of Isaac by Ismael, in the year of the world 2112, till the Jews left Egypt, 2513. In Exodus xii., and St. Paul, 430 years are mentioned; but they probably began when Abram went first into Egypt, 2084. Nicholas Abram and Tournemine say, the Hebrews remained in Egypt full 430 years, from the captivity of Joseph; and reject the addition of the Septuagint which adds, “they and their fathers dwelt in Egypt, and in Chanaan.” On these points, we may expect to find chronologists at variance.
Ver. 14. Judge and punish the Egyptians, overwhelming them in the Red sea, &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Fourth, &c. after the 400 years are finished; during which period of time, God was pleased to bear with those wicked nations; whose iniquity chiefly consisted in idolatry, oppression of the poor and strangers, forbidden marriages of kindred, and abominable lusts. (Leviticus xviii; Deuteronomy vi. and xii.) (Menochius)
Ver. 17. A lamp, or symbol of the Divinity, passing, as Abram also did, between the divided beasts, to ratify the covenant. See Jeremias xxxiv. 18.
Ver. 18. Of Egypt, a branch of the Nile, not far from Pelusium. This was to be the southern limit, and the Euphrates the northern; the two other boundaries are given, Numbers xxxiv. — Perhaps Solomon’s empire extended so far. At least, the Jews would have enjoyed these territories, if they had been faithful. (Menochius)
Ver. 19. Cineans, in Arabia, of which nation was Jethro. They were permitted to dwell in the tribe of Juda, and served the Hebrews. — Cenezites, who probably inhabited the mountains of Juda. — Cedmonites, or eastern people, as their name shews. Cadmus was of this nation, of the race of the Heveans, dwelling in the environs of mount Hermon, whence his wife was called Hermione. He was, perhaps, one of those who fled at the approach of Josue; and was said to have sowed dragons’ teeth, to people his city of Thebes in Beotia, from an allusion to the name of the Hevites, which signifies serpents. (Calmet) — The eleven nations here mentioned were not all subdued; on account of the sins of the Hebrews. (Menochius)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
God promiseth seed to Abram. His faith, sacrifice, and vision.
1 Now when these things were done, *the word of the Lord came to Abram by a vision, saying: Fear not, Abram, I am thy protector, and thy reward exceeding great.
2 And Abram said: Lord God, what wilt thou give me? I shall go without children: and the son of the steward of my house is this Damascus Eliezer.
3 And Abram added: But to me thou hast not given seed: and lo my servant born in my house, shall be my heir.
4 And immediately the word of the Lord came to him, saying: He shall not be thy heir: but he that shall come out of thy bowels, him shalt thou have for thy heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said to him: *Look up to heaven and number the stars if thou canst. And he said to him: So shall thy seed be.
6 *Abram believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice.
7 And he said to him: I am the Lord who brought thee out from Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land, and that thou mightest possess it.
8 But he said: Lord God, whereby may I know that I shall possess it?
9 And the Lord answered, and said: Take me a cow of three years old, and a she-goat of three years, and a ram of three years, a turtle also, and a pigeon.
10 *And he took all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid the two pieces of each one against the other: but the birds he divided not.
11 And the fowls came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
12 And when the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a great and darksome horror seized upon him.
13 And it was said unto him: *Know thou beforehand that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land not their own, and they shall bring them under bondage, and afflict them four hundred years.
14 But I will judge the nation which they shall serve, and after this they shall come out with great substance.
15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace, and be buried in a good old age.
16 But in the fourth generation they shall return hither: for as yet the iniquities of the Amorrhites are not at the full until this present time.
17 And when the sun was set, there arose a dark mist, and there appeared a smoking furnace, and a lamp of fire passing between those divisions.
18 *That day God made a covenant with Abram, saying: To thy seed will I give this land, from the river of Egypt even to the great river Euphrates.
19 The Cineans, and Cenezites, the Cedmonites,
20 And the Hethites, and the Pherezites, the Raphaim also,
21 And the Amorrhites, and the Chanaanites, and the Gergesites, and the Jebusites.
1: Year of the World 2092, Year before Christ 1912.
5: Romans iv. 18.
6: Romans iv. 3.; Galatians iii. 6.; James ii. 23.
10: Jeremias xxxiv. 18.
13: Acts vii. 6.
18: Genesis xii. 7. and xiii. 15. and xxvi. 4.; Deuteronoomy xxxiv. 4.; 2 Paralipomenon ix. 26.; 1 Kings iv. 20.[3 Kings iv. 24.?] and 3 Kings iv. 21.