Genesis 15: A Covenant Confirmed

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 24–25

Earlier in Abraham’s life, the Lord promised him many things concerning his posterity, including the promise that they would be as numerous as the “dust of the earth” (Genesis 13:16). By the time of the events in Genesis 15, Abraham and Sarah still did not have any children. In this chapter, the Lord helped Abraham know that his promises would still be fulfilled.
Abraham and another man looking at stars

Understanding the Scriptures

Genesis 15

Steward (v. 2)Servant in charge of other servants 
One born in mine house (v. 3)Someone born to one of my servants 
Mine heir (v. 3)The one who receives my possessions when I die 
Bowels (v. 4)Body 
Abroad (v. 5)Outside, an open space 
Whereby (v. 8)How 
Heifer (v. 9)Young cow 
Divided them in the midst (v. 10)Cut them in half 
Carcases (v. 11)Dead bodies 
Horror (v. 12)Feeling 
Afflict (v. 13)Trouble 
Go to thy fathers (v. 15)Die 
Hither (v. 16)Here 
Iniquity (v. 16)Sin 

Genesis 15:6—Help from the Joseph Smith Translation

JST, Genesis 15:9–12 gives helpful additions to Genesis 15.

Genesis 15:9–17—What Was Abraham Doing in These Verses?

Genesis 15:9–17 describes an ancient Middle Eastern custom of making or “cutting” a covenant. After the individual making the covenant cut the animal (or animals) in two, he walked between the two pieces as if to say, “If I do not keep my covenant, may I become as this animal.” In this case, the burning lamp represented the Lord’s presence and gave Abraham assurance that the Lord would fulfill His covenant.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you study Genesis 15.

Activity A iconExplain the Symbolism

Highlight the words in Genesis 15:1 that describe what the Lord said he was for Abram. Write about how the Lord is those same things for those who make and keep covenants with him.

Activity B iconFinish These Sentences

  1. 1.

    Abraham was concerned that … (see vv. 3, 7–8)

  2. 2.

    The Lord reassured Abraham by … (see vv. 1, 17)