- Christogenea Internet Radio
On Genesis, Part 24: The Victories of Abraham
In our last presentation in this commentary on Genesis, we left Abram in The Wild West as the kings of Elam and Mesopotamia had pillaged Sodom and Gomorrah. Where the supposed defenders of those cities were faced with the prospect of battle, we read that “the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there [in the valley of Siddim]; and they that remained fled to the mountain.” So in their end, the depraved Sodomites proved to be cowards, and could not stand before the formidable invading armies. There it was also evident, that Sodom and its companion cities were not considered a part of the land of Canaan, but had been subjects of the kings of Mesopotamia, who at this time were themselves subject to the king of Elam, according to the account as it is presented here in Genesis chapter 14. That Elam had subjected the kings of Mesopotamia at this time is apparently something that the secular records have not revealed. However as we also explained, the history of this period in the 19th century BC is incompletely represented in surviving records. The only way in which any of the history of distant antiquity can be known is with the discovery and deciphering of ancient inscriptions.
But even without ancient inscriptions to support any particular event described in the Bible, we hope to have exhibited thus far in our Genesis commentary that the Scripture certainly is reliable, once it is properly correlated with what we can know from the historical and ancient records. Wherever there is ancient history which can be known, the knowledge does not conflict with the words of Scripture, and more often than not, supports Scripture. While the churches have never properly made the necessary correlations, all those who claim that the Bible is not historical are liars. Moses was not a fool writing fairy tales. Rather, he was educated as a prince in Egypt, and his books were respected for 2,000 years, as attested to in the words of Manetho, Hecataeus of Abdera, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo of Cappadocia, Flavius Josephus, and there is no reason to disrespect him today. While critics may find fault in each of those men, they were nevertheless serious scholars and historians of their own time, who were in turn respected by Christian scholars in Europe for many centuries. Attempts to discredit this history are only a couple of centuries old, and they all have one source: the Jewish culture of critique through which Jews have sought to subvert and deconstruct everything of value in European Christian society. But the pompous arrogance and abject ignorance of churchmen over those same centuries have failed to defend Christianity from the constant onslaught of Jewish propaganda, and now all of Christendom is in peril. But of course, the words of Moses are also upheld by Yahshua Christ. So even at the precipice of Sodom and Gomorrah, the substance of the unconditional promises of Yahweh God inform us that until the very end Abram shall remain victorious.
We had left our commentary where the kings of Elam and Mesopotamia, having been victorious over the Sodomites as they attempted to flee, “11 … took all the cavalry of Sodom and Gomorrha, and all their provisions, and departed.” So now we shall commence from that point, where we find that Lot had become a victim of these circumstances at a time which must have been only shortly after he had moved into Sodom:
12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
Perhaps if Lot had access to cable television news before he moved to Sodom, he would have heard reports that the kings of the cities of the plain were not paying their tribute to the king of Elam, and hesitated to move there. On the other hand, there would probably have been counter-reports from Sodom denying the claim and accusing the king of Elam of unfair oppression and violence for refusing to use the correct pronouns.
13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.
Here it may be wondered why Abram would have an Amorite as a confederate. But from his own pagan background, Abram may not even have been aware that the Canaanites were a cursed people. We cannot imagine that Abram knew everything that Moses had known as he wrote these accounts long after Abram had died. It is only apparent later in Scripture, where Abram sends to Haran for a wife for his son Isaac, that he somehow knew that his wife should be of his own kindred people, and that may have very likely been a Hebrew custom, as well as a custom of other tribes which seem to have survived antiquity intact. Yahweh God often employs both the peculiar circumstances of history and the historical ignorance of men to perform His Will. The later is evident among those who had opposed Christ in the Gospel accounts of the New Testament.
Furthermore, in all fairness, there is no telling from Scripture whom Canaan had married, or whether or not all Canaanites at this early time had been race-mixed with the Nephilim – in spite of the fact that it is now 1500 years since the time of the flood and the birth of Canaan. Therefore, while it is certainly apparent that the Canaanites were generally rejected to the point of demands for their complete annihilation only 430 years after this time, we nevertheless do not have the facts necessary by which to judge any individual early Canaanite.
Once again, the word translated as plain here is plural, and it actually means oak, as it also is in the Septuagint translation of this verse. So Abram dwelt among the oaks of Mamre. Since the man who had escaped had also known that he should run and inform Abram of what had happened to Lot, it is evident that he must have been one of the servants of Lot who had known Abram, and where he was located, before the two men had became divided.
14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.
Notice that the concept of a brother and a brother’s son, as Lot is described above in verse 12, are interchangeable in the Hebrew Scriptures. We must also note that the word Dan here evidently refers to ancient Leshem, a city to the north of Galilee which a certain portion of the children of Dan had later taken for themselves, as it is recorded in Joshua chapter 19 (19:47). But this event did not occur during the life of Moses, and it is improbable that he himself had used the term anachronistically here. The word Dan is also found here in all of the manuscripts of the Septuagint. Instead, it is certain that this reveals a later hand in the text, but perhaps only a scribe who thought to substitute Dan for Leshem thinking that in that manner the name of the place would be more familiar and relevant to readers. Of course, we would hope that the Scripture is free of innovations, but with so many copyists over so long a time, they are inevitable and there are probably others which are not so easily detected.
This anomaly, and other errors, are found in the account of this incident by Flavius Josephus:
 When Abram heard of their calamity, he was at once afraid for Lot his kinsman, and pitied the Sodomites, his friends and neighbors [this and other statements here are only conjecture];  and thinking it proper to afford them assistance, he did not delay it, but marched hastily, and the fifth night fell upon the Assyrians, near Dan, for that is the name of the other spring of Jordan; and before they could arm themselves, he slew some as they were in their beds, before they could suspect any harm; and others, who were not yet gone to sleep, but were so drunk they could not fight, ran away. Abram pursued after them, till, on the second day, he drove them in a body unto Hoba, a place belonging to Damascus; and thereby demonstrated that victory does not depend on multitude and the number of hands, but the alacrity and courage of soldiers overcome the most numerous bodies of men, while he got the victory over so great an army with no more than three hundred and eighteen of his servants, and three of his friends: but all those that fled returned home ingloriously.
First, Josephus There Josephus had also confounded these kings with Assyrians, which is historically inaccurate, and also seems to have estimated the number of Amorites with Abram as having been only three, as if Mamre had no servants or kinsmen of his own besides his two brothers. It is much more likely that Mamre also had a considerable house and brought to the battle many of his own servants. Then Josephus had also called the place where Abram had caught up with these armies after the name Dan. But he attributed to it another meaning other than that of the name of Lemesh which had been changed to Dan by the Israelites much later. But the Dan which Josephus describes is not found in Scripture, except that dan is also a portion of the name of the Jordan. So it is very unlikely that any other Dan but the later city of the Danites is intended here in this passage.
As we had noted in relation to previous chapters, the fact that Abram was able to collect and equip 318 men here for war serves to inform us that the number of his household must have at least been close to four times that number, and this is after the division with the household of Lot who must have also had sufficient of his own servants. But in any event, the armies of Chedorlaomer and the kings with him must have been many times greater in number than 318.
Although it is evident that Abram also had the assistance of Mamre and his Amorites, in the next verse it seems that the victory certainly belonged to Abram:
15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
This seems to be worded in a manner which indicates that Abram alone had taken this action at night, and that therefore he and his servants alone had gotten the victory. At night a small army would have a larger advantage, in that its smaller numbers would not be readily detectable to the enemy. Then, being in a position in which battle was not expected, the enemy would be more easily frightened and put to flight, just as Jephthah had put the Midianites to flight with a like number of men and even without weapons, in Judges chapter 7.
Where the text here names a place called Hobah, the Hebrew word חובה or chowbah (# 2327) seems instead to be a form of a verb חבה or chobah which is to secrete (# 2247), and that chowbah therefore means hiding, as it is defined by Strong’s. So it seems that Abram’s servants had pursued these troops to a hiding place on the left, or evidently, to the west of Damascus.
Now, upon Abram’s victory, we read:
16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
The people, including Lot, would have been considered booty, and most likely they would be sold in the markets as slaves. This was a common punishment for cities in an empire, which rebelled and would not pay their tribute in submission to the emperor. The number of people must have been considerable, since Sodom and Gomorrah, having been tributary cities with their own kings, must have been fair-sized cities. Where we read “and the women also”, perhaps Lot was already married, although we are not informed of that in the earlier portions of this account. It is more likely that the women are mentioned here because they were treated differently than men in such circumstances, being a somewhat different sort of prize to a conquering army. Six hundred years later, as it is described in the writings of the Greek poets, the illustrious men among the victors at Troy would take the noble women of the city for themselves as concubines, a subject of which the Greek Tragic Poets had written quite frequently.
Now in verse 10 we are given the impression that the kings had fallen, and now they reappear. But the verse may have been better translated, so we shall read it from the New American Standard Bible: “Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who survived fled to the hill country.” So this does not necessarily mean that every king and soldier fell into a tar pit. Rather, the phrases fell into or fell upon are often used to describe an encounter, even if it is often for purposes of violence, and here it only means that they encountered the tar pits, where at least some of the troops fell into them and did not survive.
17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.
This suggests that Chedorlaomer himself fell, but the reference to slaughter may only convey his defeat here, speaking of his armies. The Hebrew word שוה or shaveh (# 7740) is a plain, and therefore the phrase translated as “valley of Shaveh” should have been rendered “valley of the plain” and may be just another reference to the valley of Siddim. Here the reference to the “king’s valley” is probably meant to describe the valley of Siddim as having belonged to Sodom. But in the Septuagint also, shaveh here is rendered as a proper name.
Now a name, or actually a title, about which there is much speculation is introduced:
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
The word melchizedek (# 4442) is a title which is formed from a compound of two Hebrew words, מלך or melek (# 4428) and צדק or tsedeq, (# 6664). The word melek means king, and tsedeq means right, whether natural, moral or legal, according to Strong’s Concordance. The word שלם, shalem or salem, means peace, as Paul of Tarsus had also interpreted it in Hebrews chapter 7. There Paul made an analogy of this Melchizedek and said “1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” The Greek word translated in the King James Version as descent is ἀγενεαλόγητος, which is actually a record of descent. This fleshly Melchizedek must have had descent, but it is simply not recorded.
If Paul of Tarsus could not identify this Melchizedek or his origins, we should certainly not venture to identify him. But this does not mean that Melchizedek is God, or perhaps some other otherworldly being, since Melchizedek is here in the flesh. Rather, because Melchizedek could not be identified from the information which Moses had provided here, Paul used him as an analogy, because here it is evident that Melchizedek is also a type for Christ, who, as God in the flesh truly also had no mother or father, nor a beginning of days. While as a man He had professed for Yahweh to be His father, as an example to men, in truth it was later revealed that He is Yahweh, and therefore He is also the Father, but He does not have a father. So Paul had said there that Melchizedek was “made like unto the Son of God”, or in other words, he was used as a type for Christ at a later time, and explicitly in the 110th Psalm, a Psalm of David, to which Paul was also referring. But he was not Christ, as Paul only says that he was “made like unto” Christ.
In 2 Peter chapter 2 (2:5) the apostle had described the patriarch Noah as “the eighth proclaimer of righteousness”, where it is evident that the oldest living male in line from Adam was considered the “proclaimer of righteousness”, which is the only manner in which Noah could have been considered the eighth of anything in Scripture. It was also customary that the eldest son is the family ruler, so he is like a king in that respect. So this is also a type for the Melchizedek priesthood, and we read in the aforementioned Psalm that “1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 2 The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. 4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Yahshua Christ, being “firstborn among many brethren”, as Paul had described Him in Romans chapter 8, is now the only proper holder of that title, “proclaimer of righteousness”, and therefore also its king.
Here in Genesis it is further apparent that this Melchizedek, king of Salem, is also ruling in the midst of the enemies of Yahweh, in the land of Canaan, although Scripture has not yet declared them as His enemies, so that is not yet revealed. So the Psalm which makes a type for Christ out of this Melchizedek also goes on to describe the ultimate victory of Abram where it reads in its final verses: “5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. 6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. 7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.” That day we still await, but we can be certain that it is coming. So after his victory over the king of Elam, a worldly king, Melchizedek, who represents here the kingdom of heaven, served Abram with bread and wine. But in the end, Christ would serve Abram in a much more significant way, by preserving all of his children and keeping His promises and He is the true Bread of Life which sustains them.
Sources such as Strong’s Concordance, state that שלם or salem (# 8004) is peaceful, and also “an early name for Jerusalem”, although apparently that has no documentation older than an assertion made by Flavius Josephus in Book 1 of his Antiquities . The name of another nearby city, שילה or shiloh, is from a related word which means tranquil (# 7886), and it was also used as an epithet for Christ. So we read in Genesis chapter 49 that “10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”
[1 Antiquities of the Judaeans, Flavius Josephus, Book 1, paragraph 180.]
Many other things may be conjectured concerning this Melchizedek, but it is clear that he was a man in the flesh, who required sustenance in the flesh, for which reason he also accepted a tithe from Abram. Some apocryphal sources attempt to identify him with certain patriarchs and their folly is not worth repeating here. Perhaps some family of the children of Noah were preserved in the original tradition, and perhaps this Melchizedek was only the eldest son of a certain surviving family line. It is apparent that the eldest male line of the entire Adamic family must have been carried down from Japheth through Gomer, according to Genesis chapter 10. However all of that is irrelevant, because all we can do is make conjectures.
This individual referred to as Melchizedek is symbolically very significant, and his account helps to establish a recognition of the prophetic harmony of Scripture, which here is found in the coordinated inspiration of Moses, David and Paul which could have only come from Yahweh God Himself. As Paul continued his analogy in Hebrews chapter 7 he wrote: “4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. 5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: 6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” Now, having the blessings of the earthly Melchizedek as a foreshadow of the blessings to come upon his descendants in the form of the Christ, was an additional victory for Abram.
Paul used this analogy to prove to his fellow Hebrews, who were expected to know the Scripture and who would therefore know both this chapter of Genesis and the 110th Psalm, that Christ, whom the Psalm prophecies as the holder of this priesthood of Melchizedek, is therefore a priest superior to the Levitical priesthood, because while Levi was yet in the loins of Abram, Abram had paid his tithe to this Melchizedek, and men paid tithes to their superiors. The Levitical priests were worthy of tithes since they were the administrators , teachers and judges in the Kingdom. So if Abram paid a tithe to Melchizedek, then Levi could not be superior to He who holds the office of the priesthood of Melchizedek. But then Paul explained that Melchizedek, Abram’s better, had nevertheless blessed him because Abram had the promises of God. Therefore Christ should be considered superior to Levi, as He came to change the priesthood. So Paul explained in subsequent verses that “11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” And of course, David in that 110th Psalm had indicated that change by making mention of Melchizedek in reference to his Lord.
Later, Christ would cite that same Psalm in reference to Himself, where He challenged His adversaries, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 22, and we read: “41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” In the Psalm, where we read in the popular translations that “the Lord said unto my Lord”, the Hebrew word for the first Lord is the name of Yahweh, but for the second it is only a title, אדון or adon.
Now, after Melchizedek had brought Abram both bread and wine, we read:
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
The text certainly seems to imply that Abram had tithed Melchizedek a portion of the recovered goods in the presence of the king of Sodom, who evidently had made no protest. This leaves us curious to wonder what the king of Sodom knew and thought of this Melchizedek, and that question must also remain unanswered. Evidently, since Abram won the booty, the king of Sodom was in no position to object, but he did want his people:
21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
Under the circumstances, as he had been defeated, this seems not to have been a demand, but only an appeal. The request was reasonable, even if it cannot be told if the king had cared more for his people, or for himself, as otherwise it is apparent that he may have had nobody else over whom to rule. However at least many of those people must have also been of his own kin. Abram had won these people and the goods fairly in war, so they belonged to him if he wanted to keep them, at the risk of further war with the king of Sodom.
But Abram never had wanted either his people or his goods:
22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: 24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.
Abram had pursued the king of Elam only to recover what was in his own interest, which is his nephew Lot and his household. So here he refuses to take a profit for himself from the fruits of Sodom, which is an allegory in itself. In his words, he had a further victory over the king of Sodom, as he refused to be ingratiated by him or allow him to occupy a morally superior status. But here, while he himself would not profit, neither could Abram deny those who risked their lives along with him from enjoying their share of the spoils. So Abram decided the fate of the goods of Sodom without taking anything for himself.
Later, as it is recorded in Genesis chapter 23, when Ephron the Hittite sought to gift Abram with a plot of land for the burial of his wife, Abram refused and insisted on paying for it, not wanting to accept a gift from a Hittite. Here he wanted nothing from a Sodomite.
Now as Genesis chapter 15 begins, we learn how Abram had his victories, as he must have found further favor in the eyes of God through his actions, and for that reason he would have greater victories even if he himself had resisted:
1 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
If Yahweh God is a man’s shield, then no harm can possibly come to him. So Abram could stay in a tent without walls or towers and keep his flocks, his servants, his silver and his gold unmolested, and even take his servants to defeat kings and armies much greater and much more numerous than his own.
But now Abram seems to display doubt, probably not because of his own lack of faith, but instead, because of the seeming impossibility of what he had been promised:
2 And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
It must be several years, at least, since Abram was first called to depart from Haran, so by this time he must have been approaching 80 years of age. Some time later, in Genesis chapter 16, when Ishmael was born, Abram is said to have been 86 years of age.
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
Here Abram attempts to declare before Yahweh that Eliezer of Damascus would be appointed as his heir. But Abram had already been promised in Genesis chapter 12 that “I will make of thee a great nation” and “unto thy seed will I give this land” (Genesis 12:3, 7). Then later, in chapter 13, he was promised further and told to “14 … Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.”
4 And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
So Abram had attempted to substitute another man for his seed, and Yahweh soundly rejected that substitution. In the end, Abram would prevail in spite of himself, when he finally sired Ishmael, and then more significantly, when he sired Isaac. So as Paul of Tarsus wrote in Romans chapter 4, the promise would be certain to all of the seed, meaning the seed of Abram, through the righteousness of faith, which is the faith that Abram himself had exhibited as he acted according to the promises of God. As Paul had also explained, those promises would be fulfilled “as it is written”, so they would not be fulfilled in any other manner, such as some act of substitution.
Therefore Yahweh next explains it to Abram once again, stressing the nature of His promise, and after He had just insisted to him that “he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir”, a statement which could not be any more explicit, we read further:
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
If Yahweh God would not let Abram himself substitute for his seed, then we cannot imagine today that we may find substitutes, or even attempt to substitute ourselves for Abram’s seed. Eliezer was a man born of Abram’s own house, and ostensibly he was a man of his own kindred or nation, who must have also served Abram’s father in Ur and Haran. Yet for the sake of the promises of God, that they would be fulfilled “as it is written”, Eliezer would not be accepted by Yahweh as Abram’s heir, for the express reason that He had said “he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.”
So finally, the promises are clear to Abram, and he does not again falter, where we now read:
6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
This is the faith of Abram, which is the substance of what Abram had believed, which is that “he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir” and “So shall thy seed be”. That is what Abram had believed, that is what is written, and perhaps 1,912 years after the birth of Isaac, or around 57 AD, Paul of Tarsus wrote in his epistle to the Romans: “13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect…” This only means that the promises are to all of that chosen seed independent of the law, so the law which came later has no effect on the promise. But one still must be of Abram’s seed, which came only from his loins and from no others, to have a part in that promise.
So Paul continued and wrote: “16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all…” But the faith of Abraham is not faith like that of Abraham. It is not faith in the same degree as the faith which Abraham had displayed. The Greek word πίστις which is translated as faith is merely a belief that something is true. Abraham believed that his seed would become numerous and inherit the world, and that is the faith of Abraham. So in relation to that same thing, Paul continued, where we shall cite two more verses of Romans chapter 4: “17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. 18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.”
Abraham believed in hope against hope, because he found it incredible that he should have children since his wife was barren and at an advanced age. So now, in four more verses from that chapter, Paul wrote: “19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.”
Paul had also said that Yahweh God “calleth those things which be not as though they were” in response to the promise made to Abram that “a father of many nations have I made thee”, a promise which does not appear until Genesis chapter 17 (17:5). So with this, we cannot imagine that any nation which existed at the time when the promises were made could possibly ever be or become heirs to the promises to Abram. That would include the Genesis 10 Adamic nations as well as nations of any other race. Abram was not promised that many nations would become his seed. Rather, he was promised that his seed would become many nations. So those nations did not exist at this time, but they would indeed exist by the time of Christ and the apostles, and it is those nations to whom they brought the Gospel.
This is the purpose of the Gospel, as it is stated in Luke chapter 1, in the words of the father of John the Baptist: “67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” For that same reason Paul wrote in Romans chapter 15 that “8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the [Nations] might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the [Nations], and sing unto thy name.” Those nations are the nations which came from Abram’s seed, as they are the substance of the fulfillment of the promises made to the fathers, and no substitutions were permitted by Yahweh God even when Abram himself had attempted to do so.
Earlier in that same chapter of Luke, we read in words attributed to Mary, the mother of the Christ child, in part and speaking of God: “54 He hath holpen [assisted] his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.”
This is what Abram believed, for which he was accounted as righteous. Abram was not accounted as being righteous merely because he went to Canaan, or because he was honorable before men, or because he saved Lot and had the courage to attack a mighty army with a comparatively few men, or because he would not take anything from the Sodomites. Abram was considered righteous only because he believed God Almighty when He told him “So shall thy seed be”. Abram was a pagan living in an immoral world. Abram did not choose God, but God chose him. As Paul of Tarsus wrote concerning Jacob and Esau, in Romans chapter 9, “15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”
So if Christians attempt to make anything else of Abram’s seed other than what is promised to Abram here, how could they ever be accounted righteous, believing something which is actually absolutely contrary to that same Word of God by which having believed, Abram was accounted righteous? To have the faith of Abraham can only be to believe what Abraham had also believed, and to be a part of the results of its fulfillment, “as it is written”. So in spite of poor interpretations of any other passage of Scripture, these words must be true and immutable. But the churches today and for the last 1,800 years have sought to substitute for Abram’s seed, to invent creative doctrines which allow for that substitution, and in the end they will also be rejected, just as Abram’s own proposition was rejected when he attempt to substitute Eliezer. In the end Christ shall say to them all “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”  To violate the Word of Yahweh God “as it is written” is certainly an act of iniquity.
[2 Matthew 7:23.]
The promise continues:
7 And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. 8 And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
As we have already explained when we discussed The Sojourn of Abram, in Exodus chapter 6 we learn that Yahweh was known only as “God Almighty” to Abram, Isaac and Jacob, although Moses himself had apparently used the Tetragrammaton, which we write and pronounce as Yahweh, when he later wrote these accounts.
Now as the dialogue continues, Yahweh commands that Abram arrange some sacrificial animals, the significance of which is obscure, but it certainly is revealed in ancient historical documents found in other sources:
9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.
Now Abram reacts and does according to what he must have been instructed, even though it is apparent that not all of the instructions for the arrangement were recorded:
10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. 11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
In the archive of cuneiform tablets containing government records discovered at the site of ancient Mari, which is on the Euphrates river at the eastern edge of what is now Syria, there is a letter containing a report from an official which reads in part: “To my lord say: Thus Ibal-Il, thy servant. The tablet of Ibal-Adad from Aslakka reached me, and I went to Aslakka to ‘kill an ass’ between the Hanu and Idamaras…” and then a little further on it reads “I established peace between the Hanu and Idamaras. In Hurra, in all of Idamaras, the Hanu are victorious, as a victor who has no enemy….” These seem to be two tribes or divisions struggling for power “in Hurra”, which is probably a reference to the land of the Hurrians otherwise called Hurru or Khuru in ancient texts. So the phrase “kill an ass” represented the making of a treaty, and a footnote in our source, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, informs us concerning the phrase that “… it means simply ‘make a treaty’, which was solemnized by the sacrifice of a young ass…” 
The significance of this act is found elsewhere, in a document titled The Soldier’s Oath discovered by archaeologists among the documents of the ancient Hittites. There we read lines describing actions involving portions of an animal which had been sacrificed and used in a ceremony involving the soldiers being bound to an oath, such as “(5) He places sinews (and) salt in their hands. He throws them on a flame and speaks as follows: ‘Just as these sinews split into fragments on the hearth, and just as the salt (10) is scattered on the hearth – whoever breaks these oaths, shows disrespect to the king of the Hatti land, and turns his eyes in hostile fashion upon the Hatti land, let these oaths seize him! (15) Let him split into fragments like the sinews, let him be scattered like the salt! Just as salt has no seed, even so let that man's name, seed, house, cattle (and) sheep perish!’”
Other objects such as yeast, bread and malt were also part of the sacrificial ritual, so we next read: “He places malt (and) malt loaf in their hands, (20) they crush them and he speaks as follows: ‘Just as they grind this malt loaf between mill stones, mix it with water, bake it and break it up—whoever breaks these oaths and does evil to the king (and) the queen, (25) the princes (and) to the Hatti land, let these oaths seize him! Let them grind their bones in the same way! Let him soak in the same way! Let him be broken up in the same way! Let a cruel fate be his lot!’ The men declare: ‘So be it!’” The declaration of the men is an acceptance of the terms of the oath. 
The ancient Greeks and Trojans evidently had the same custom, where oaths were accompanied with blood sacrifices. This is evident in the Iliad of Homer, as it was translated in the Loeb Classical Library edition, where in Book 4 from line 155 we read in words attributed to Agamemnon, speaking to Menelaus after he was hit with an arrow: “Dear brother, it was for thy death, meseems, that I swore this oath with sacrifice, setting thee forth alone before the face of the Achaeans to do battle with the Trojans, seeing the Trojans have thus smitten thee, and trodden under foot the oaths of faith. Yet in no wise is an oath of none effect and the blood of lambs and drink-offerings of unmixed wine and the hand-clasps, wherein we put our trust. For even if for the moment the Olympian vouchsafeth not fulfillment, yet late and at length doth he fulfill them, and with a heavy price do men make atonement, even with their own heads and their wives and their children.” 
The references to “the Olympian”, fulfillment and atonement by Agamemnon indicate an expectation that Zeus would uphold the oath and that the Trojans would be destroyed for having violated its terms. This is seen in yet another tablet, which has been titled God List, Blessings and Curses of the Treaty Between Suppiluliumas and Kurtiwaza, the kings of the Hittites and the Hurrians in the latter half of the 14th century BC. In the text of that tablet there is a long list invoking all of the gods of the surrounding nations, where it is apparent that the pagan Canaanites were accustomed to hedging their bets. Then we read in the terms of the oath: “If you, Kurtiwaza, the prince, and (you) the sons of the Hurri country do not fulfill the words of this treaty, may the gods, the lords of the oath, blot you out, (you) Kurtiwaza and (you) the Hurri men together with your country, your wives and all that you have. May they draw you like malt from its hull. Just as one does not obtain a plant from bubuwahi, even so may you Kurtiwaza with a second wife that you may take, and (you) the Hurri men with your wives, your sons and your country have no seed. These gods of the contracting parties may bring misery and poverty over you. May they overturn your throne, (yours), of Kurtiwaza. May the oaths sworn in the presence of these gods break you like reeds, you, Kurtiwaza, together with your country. May they exterminate from the earth your name and your seed (born) from a second wife that you may take. Much as you may seek uninterrupted peace for your country, from the midst of the Hurrians may that be banned. May the earth be coldness so that you fall down slipping. May the soil of your country be a hardened quagmire so that you break in, but never get across. May you, Kurtiwaza, and (you), the Hurrians, be hateful to the thousand gods, may they pursue you.” 
[3 Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3rd edition, James Pritchard, editor, 1969, Harvard University Press, p. 482; 4 ibid., p. 353; 5 Homer. The Iliad with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1924, https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0134%3Abook%3D4%3Acard%3D127, accessed August 4th, 2023; 6 Ancient Near Eastern Texts, pp. 205-206.]
So we may conclude that according to the ancient customs found here among the Hurrians, Hittites, Trojans and Greeks, all of whom were influenced by or who were once subjects of the Akkadian Empire, that when an animal or some other object is sacrificed for the purpose of making an oath, the parties to the oath are binding themselves to the same fate as the sacrificed animal if they fail to keep their obligations under the oath.
Now with that, here in Genesis a ritual is conducted wherein Yahweh God had intentionally bound Himself to the terms of the oath which he made to Abram, although nothing was required of Abram:
12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. 13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
So this is a prophecy of the coming captivity of Israel in Egypt. However it is evident that the reference to four hundred years is only an approximation which is inclusive of all of the time from this point when the promises are given and the oath is made until the time when the children of Israel would emerge from captivity in Egypt. But the actual number of years from the call of Abram to the giving of the law at Sinai was 430 years, as Paul had attested in Galatians chapter 3. The phrase “in the fourth generation” is also approximately accurate. Jacob went to Egypt, and Moses is the fourth generation from Jacob, which is evident in Genesis chapter 6 where the lineage of Moses is given from Jacob through Levi, Kohath and Amram. While several more generations were born in Egypt before the Exodus, the term “in the fourth generation” is nonetheless accurate. As for Abram, evidently he passed some time around 1780 BC, only about 115 years before Jacob went to Egypt. Isaac passed only 10 years before Jacob went to Egypt, according to our chronology.
Now for the sacrificial ritual which concludes the making of the covenant:
17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.
Here the smoking furnace and the burning lamp represent Yahweh God himself as a sign that His presence had passed between the pieces of the divided animals sacrificed in the making of the covenant. Passing between the pieces of the animals, Yahweh God attests that He should suffer the same fate as those animals if He fails to keep the terms of His covenant. This is the event to which Paul had referred in Hebrews chapter 6 where we read: “13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. 17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”
But the fact that by passing through the animals, Yahweh had bound Himself to the covenant, is revealed in another place in Scripture, in Jeremiah chapter 34 where we read: “8 This is the word that came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people which were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them; 9 That every man should let his manservant, and every man his maidservant, being an Hebrew or an Hebrewess, go free; that none should serve himself of them, to wit, of a [Judahite] his brother. 10 Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let them go. 11 But afterward they turned, and caused the servants and the handmaids, whom they had let go free, to return, and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids. 12 Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 13 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying, 14 At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear. 15 And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name: 16 But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom ye had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids. 17 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ye have not hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbour: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 And I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof, 19 The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the calf; 20 I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth. 21 And Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes will I give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which are gone up from you. 22 Behold, I will command, saith the LORD, and cause them to return to this city; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire: and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without an inhabitant.”
Here we see that although this is not described to this extent elsewhere in Scripture, when a covenant was made in ancient times, a sacrificial animal was divided, and the men who are bound or who bind themselves to the covenant are committing themselves to the same fate as the animal which was sacrificed in the making of the covenant. Evidently, Yahweh did not pass through the animals of the Jeremiah chapter 34 covenant, only the men did, and therefore only the men who had passed through the animals were responsible for abiding by the terms of that covenant.
But here in Genesis chapter 15, Abraham was bound to nothing, nothing was required of Abraham in the terms of the covenant, and all the obligations found in the promises were to be fulfilled by Yahweh Himself. So Yahweh passed through the parts of the animals, but not Abraham, who remained in the trance in which he evidently heard the words and saw the vision of the furnace and the burning lamp. Then, while other promises to Abraham which came later may have had conditions, such as that of the circumcision in Genesis chapter 17, to this point none of the promises to Abraham have any conditions or obligations for Abraham. So all of these promises are absolutely unconditional. But the obligation to see that they are fulfilled are fully on Yahweh, and here He has bound Himself to fulfill them without any possible excuse for not having to do so. Then, as Paul explained, since there is no greater than He, He could only swear upon Himself. Once Yahweh passed between those animals, the oath is sealed, and therefore the promises must be fulfilled as they were written, as Paul had also explained, and as he had also attested where he professed that God cannot lie.
But the churches are all lying, and they have been lying for 1,800 years. Out of all Christians, only Identity Christians accept the full Word of Yahweh God “as it is written”, or at least, as it was written in its original languages and form. This passage of Genesis chapter 15 describes what Abram had believed, it describes the meaning of the promises explicitly, the context proves that those meanings must be immutable. The churches are all lying, because Abram never believed what they claim for doctrine. In the end, Abram will have his final and ultimate victory, Yahweh God will keep His unconditional promises, and all the other races shall come to naught, because as Paul had also said in Romans chapter 4, Abram is destined to be the heir of the world. The world of Abram are the nations which came of his seed, and that is the world which Christ Himself had loved and had come to save.
Paul of Tarsus had told the Corinthians in chapter 10 of his first epistle to them that “1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” Then in chapter 15 of the same epistle: “57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Corinthians had that victory because they were also of the seed of Abraham, as Paul had professed. Identity Christians understand how that happened, and they believe God, since that is also an example of the faith of Abraham. This is only one example, however we shall discuss it further when we present Genesis chapter 17.
We are not quite finished with Genesis chapter 15, but we shall pause here, and Yahweh willing, return to discuss the final clause of this unconditional covenant which Yahweh had made with Abraham in the near future.