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Genesis 15:12 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror [and] great darkness fell upon him.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And as the sun was just going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, a horror, a great darkness, fell upon him.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— And it came to pass, when, the sun, was about to go in, and, a deep sleep, had fallen upon Abram, lo! a terror—a great darkness, was falling upon him.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And the sun is about to go in, and deep sleep hath fallen upon Abram, and lo, a terror of great darkness is falling upon him;
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— And when the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a great and darksome horror seized upon him.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— And when the Sunne was going downe, a deepe sleepe fell vpon Abram: and loe, an horrour of great darkenesse fell vpon him.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— And about sunset a trance fell upon Abram, and lo! a great gloomy terror falls upon him.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Avram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
And when the sun 8121
{8121} Prime
שֶׁמֶשׁ
shemesh
{sheh'-mesh}
From an unused root meaning to be brilliant; the sun; by implication the east; figuratively a ray, that is, (architecturally) a notched battlement.
was going down, 935
{0935} Prime
בּוֹא
bow'
{bo}
A primitive root; to go or come (in a wide variety of applications).
z8800
<8800> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Infinitive (See H8812)
Count - 4888
a deep sleep 8639
{8639} Prime
תַּרְדֵּמָה
tardemah
{tar-day-maw'}
From H7290; a lethargy or (by implication) trance.
fell 5307
{5307} Prime
נָפַל
naphal
{naw-fal'}
A primitive root; to fall, in a great variety of applications (intransitively or causatively, literally or figuratively).
z8804
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
upon x5921
(5921) Complement
עַל
`al
{al}
Properly the same as H5920 used as a preposition (in the singular or plural, often with prefix, or as conjugation with a particle following); above, over, upon, or against (yet always in this last relation with a downward aspect) in a great variety of applications.
´Avräm אַברָם; 87
{0087} Prime
אַבְרָם
'Abram
{ab-rawm'}
Contracted from H0048; high father; Abram, the original name of Abraham.
and, lo, x2009
(2009) Complement
הִנֵּה
hinneh
{hin-nay'}
Prolonged for H2005; lo!.
an horror 367
{0367} Prime
אֵימָה
'eymah
{ay-maw'}
From the same as H0366; fright; concretely an idol (as a bugbear).
of great 1419
{1419} Prime
גָּדוֹל
gadowl
{gaw-dole'}
From H1431; great (in any sense); hence older; also insolent.
darkness 2825
{2825} Prime
חֲשֵׁכָה
chashekah
{khash-ay-kaw'}
From H2821; darkness; figuratively misery.
fell 5307
{5307} Prime
נָפַל
naphal
{naw-fal'}
A primitive root; to fall, in a great variety of applications (intransitively or causatively, literally or figuratively).
z8802
<8802> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Active (See H8814)
Count - 5386
upon x5921
(5921) Complement
עַל
`al
{al}
Properly the same as H5920 used as a preposition (in the singular or plural, often with prefix, or as conjugation with a particle following); above, over, upon, or against (yet always in this last relation with a downward aspect) in a great variety of applications.
him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

See commentary on Genesis 15:9-21.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Genesis 15:12-16

_ _ We have here a full and particular discovery made to Abram of God's purposes concerning his seed. Observe,

_ _ I. The time when God came to him with this discovery: When the sun was going down, or declining, about the time of the evening oblation, 1 Kings 18:36; Daniel 9:21. Early in the morning, before day, while the stars were yet to be seen, God had given him orders concerning the sacrifices (Genesis 15:5), and we may suppose it was, at least, his morning's work to prepare them and set them in order; when he had done this, he abode by them, praying and waiting till towards evening. Note, God often keeps his people long in expectation of the comforts he designs them, for the confirmation of their faith; but though the answers of prayer, and the performance of promises, come slowly, yet they come surely. At evening time it shall be light.

_ _ II. The preparatives for this discovery. 1. A deep sleep fell upon Abram, not a common sleep through weariness or carelessness, but a divine ecstasy, like that which the Lord God caused to fall upon Adam (Genesis 2:21), that, being hereby wholly taken off from the view of things sensible, he might be wholly taken up with the contemplation of things spiritual. The doors of the body were locked up, that the soul might be private and retired, and might act the more freely and like itself. 2. With this sleep, a horror of great darkness fell upon him. How sudden a change! But just before we had him solacing himself in the comforts of God's covenant, and in communion with him; and here a horror of great darkness falls upon him. Note, The children of light do not always walk in the light, but sometimes clouds and darkness are round about them. This great darkness, which brought horror with it, was designed, (1.) To strike an awe upon the spirit of Abram, and to possess him with a holy reverence, that the familiarity to which God was pleased to admit him might not breed contempt. Note, Holy fear prepares the soul for holy joy; the spirit of bondage makes way for the spirit of adoption. God wounds first, and then heals; humbles first, and they lifts up, Isaiah 6:5, Isaiah 6:6, etc. (2.) To be a specimen of the methods of God's dealings with his seed. They must first be in the horror and darkness of Egyptian slavery, and then enter with joy into the good land; and therefore he must have the foretaste of their sufferings, before he had the foresight of their happiness. (3.) To be an indication of the nature of that covenant of peculiarity which God was now about to make with Abram. The Old Testament dispensation, which was founded on that covenant, was a dispensation, [1.] Of darkness and obscurity, 2 Corinthians 3:13, 2 Corinthians 3:14. [2.] Of dread and horror, Hebrews 12:18, etc.

_ _ III. The prediction itself. Several things are here foretold.

_ _ 1. The suffering state of Abram's seed for a long time, Genesis 15:13. Let not Abram flatter himself with the hopes of nothing but honour and prosperity in his family; no, he must know, of a surety, that which he was loth to believe, that the promised seed should be a persecuted seed. Note, God sends the worst first; we must first suffer, and then reign. He also lets us know the worst before it comes, that when it comes it may not be a surprise to us, John 16:4. Now we have here,

_ _ (1.) The particulars of their sufferings. [1.] They shall be strangers; so they were, first in Canaan (Psalms 105:12) and afterwards in Egypt; before they were lords of their own land they were strangers in a strange land. The inconveniences of an unsettled state make a happy settlement the more welcome. Thus the heirs of heaven are first strangers on earth, a land that is not theirs. [2.] They shall be servants; so they were to the Egyptians, Exodus 1:13. See how that which was the doom of the Canaanites (Genesis 9:25) proves the distress of Abram's seed: they are made to serve, but with this difference, the Canaanites serve under a curse, the Hebrews under a blessing; and the upright shall have dominion in the morning, Psalms 49:14. [3.] They shall be suffers. Those whom they serve shall afflict them; see Exodus 1:11. Note, Those that are blessed and beloved of God are often sorely afflicted by wicked men; and God foresees it, and takes cognizance of it.

_ _ (2.) The continuance of their sufferings — four hundred years. This persecution began with mocking, when Ishmael, the son of an Egyptian, persecuted Isaac, who was born after the Spirit, Genesis 21:9; Galatians 4:29. It continued in loathing; for it was an abomination to the Egyptians to eat bread with the Hebrews, Genesis 43:32; and it came at last to murder, the basest of murders, that of their new-born children; so that, more or less, it continued 400 years, though, in extremity, not so many. This was a long time, but a limited time.

_ _ 2. The judgment of the enemies of Abram's seed: That nation whom they shall serve, even the Egyptians, will I judge, Genesis 15:14. This points at the plagues of Egypt, by which God not only constrained the Egyptians to release Israel, but punished them for all the hardships they had put upon them. Note, (1.) Though God may suffer persecutors and oppressors to trample upon his people a great while, yet he will certainly reckon with them at last; for his day is coming, Psalms 37:12, Psalms 37:13. (2.) The punishing of persecutors is the judging of them: it is a righteous thing with God, and a particular act of justice, to recompense tribulations to those that trouble his people. The judging of the church's enemies is God's work: I will judge. God can do it, for he is the Lord; he will do it, for he is his people's God, and he has said, Vengeance is mine, I will repay. To him therefore we must leave it, to be done in his way and time.

_ _ 3. The deliverance of Abram's seed out of Egypt. That great event is here foretold: Afterwards shall they come out with great substance. It is here promised, (1.) That they should be enlarged: Afterwards they shall come out; that is, either after they have been afflicted 400 years, when the days of their servitude are fulfilled, or after the Egyptians are judged and plagued, then they may expect deliverance. Note, The destruction of oppressors is the redemption of the oppressed; they will not let God's people go till they are forced to it. (2.) That they should be enriched: They shall come out with great substance; this was fulfilled, Exodus 12:35, Exodus 12:36. God took care they should have, not only a good land to go to, but a good stock to carry with them.

_ _ 4. Their happy settlement in Canaan, Genesis 15:16. They shall not only come out of Egypt, but they shall come hither again, hither to the land of Canaan, wherein thou now art. The discontinuance of their possession shall be no defeasance of their right: we must not reckon those comforts lost for ever that are intermitted for a time. The reason why they must not have the land of promise in possession till the fourth generation was because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. Israel cannot be possessed of Canaan till the Amorites be dispossessed; and they are not yet ripe for ruin. The righteous God has determined that they shall not be cut off till they have persisted in sin so long, and arrived at such a pitch of wickedness, that there may appear some equitable proportion between their sin and their ruin; and therefore, till it come to that, the seed of Abram must be kept out of possession. Note, (1.) The measure of sin fills gradually. Those that continue impenitent in wicked ways are treasuring up unto themselves wrath. (2.) Some people's measure of sin fills slowly. The Sodomites, who were sinners before the Lord exceedingly, soon filled their measure; so did the Jews, who were, in profession, near to God. But the iniquity of the Amorites was long in the filling up. (3.) That this is the reason of the prosperity of wicked people; the measure of their sins is not yet full. The wicked live, become old, and are mighty in power, while God is laying up their iniquity for their children, Job 21:7, Job 21:19. See Matthew 23:32; Deuteronomy 32:34.

_ _ 5. Abram's peaceful quiet death and burial, before these things should come to pass, Genesis 15:15. As he should not live to see that good land in the possession of his family, but must die, as he lived, a stranger in it, so, to balance this, he should not live to see the troubles that should come upon his seed, much less to share in them. This is promised to Josiah, 2 Kings 22:20. Note, Good men are sometimes greatly favoured by being taken away from the evil to come, Isaiah 57:1. Let this satisfy Abram, that, for his part,

_ _ (1.) He shall go to his fathers in peace. Note, [1.] Even the friends and favourites of Heaven are not exempted from the stroke of death. Are we greater than our father Abram, who is dead? John 8:53. [2.] Good men die willingly; they are not fetched, they are not forced, but they go; their soul is not required, as the rich fool's (Luke 12:20), but cheerfully resigned: they would not live always. [3.] At death we go to our fathers, to all our fathers that have gone before us to the state of the dead (Job 21:32, Job 21:33), to our godly fathers that have gone before us to the state of the blessed, Hebrews 12:23. The former thought helps to take off the terror of death, the latter puts comfort into it. [4.] Whenever a godly man dies, he dies in peace. If the way be piety, the end is peace, Psalms 37:37. Outward peace, to the last, is promised to Abram, peace and truth is his days, whatever should come afterwards (2 Kings 20:19); peace with God, and everlasting peace, are sure to all the seed.

_ _ (2.) He shall be buried in a good old age. Perhaps mention is made of his burial here, where the land of Canaan is promised him, because a burying place was the first possession he had in it. He shall not only die in peace, but die in honour, die, and be buried decently; not only die in peace, but die in season, Job 5:26. Note, [1.] Old age is a blessing. It is promised in the firth commandment; it is pleasing to nature; and it affords a great opportunity for usefulness. [2.] Especially, if it be a good old age. Theirs may be called a good old age, First, That are old and healthful, not loaded with such distempers as make them weary of life. Secondly, That are old and holy, old disciples (Acts 21:16), whose hoary head is found in the way of righteousness (Proverbs 16:31), old and useful, old and exemplary for godliness; theirs is indeed a good old age.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Genesis 15:12

And when the sun was going down — About the time of the evening oblation. Early in the morning, while the stars were yet to be seen, God had given him orders concerning the sacrifices, Genesis 15:5, and we may suppose it was at least his morning's work to prepare them, and set them in order; which when he had done, he abode by them praying and waiting 'till towards evening. A deep sleep fell upon Abram — Not a common sleep through weariness or carelessness, but a divine extasy, that being wholly taken off from things sensible, he might be wholly taken up with the contemplation of things spiritual. The doors of the body were locked up, that the soul might be private and retired, and might act the more freely. And lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him — This was designed to strike an awe upon the spirit of Abram, and to possess him with a holy reverence. Holy fear prepares the soul for holy joy; God humbles first, and then lifts up.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

[[no comment]]

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
deep:

Genesis 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
1 Samuel 26:12 So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw [it], nor knew [it], neither awaked: for they [were] all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them.
Job 4:13-14 In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, ... Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.
Job 33:15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
Daniel 10:8-9 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. ... Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.
Acts 20:9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

horror:

Psalms 4:3-5 But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. ... Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
Acts 9:8-9 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought [him] into Damascus. ... And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
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Gn 2:21. 1S 26:12. Jb 4:13; 33:15. Ps 4:3. Dn 10:8. Ac 9:8; 20:9.

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