God’s promise to Abraham

God made a promise to Abraham that He would bless him and multiply his seed. What exactly was that promise or was there more than one promise? (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. Unless otherwise stated King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used. ESV = English Standard Version.)

The promise that most can name is that God would bless the faithful man Abraham and he would have many offspring. But also God had given context that promise of many children (many descendents) with a promise that He would give him the land of Canaan in each direction, northward, southward, eastward and westward, from where he was standing, as a perpetual promise forever.

Genesis 13: 14-17 And the LORD said to Abram [later changed his name to Abraham], after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15 For all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed for ever. 16 And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall your seed also be numbered. 17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it to you.

In this passage there is no doubt that God would give Abraham many descendants.

Genesis 17:19 And God said, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son indeed; and you shall call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant [agreement] with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed [descendants] after him.

And we know Sara was too old to bear children but God miraculously opened her womb and she bore a son, Isaac.

Hebrews 11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead [so old that he was close to death], so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

Genesis 22:17 That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

From Isaac God made a mighty nation for Himself and many other nations. These became a multitude of people. Many people. But what about this verse?

Genesis 15:5 And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell (סָפַר caphar (saw-far’)) the stars, if you be able to number (סָפַר caphar) them: and He said to him, So shall your seed be.

Was God telling Abraham that prophesied in the stars, or their names, would be the record of the Christ to come, who will be his offspring? This is often related to the gospel in the stars. But there is no doubt that this is a prophesy of Christ.

Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Christ.

You see how important it is to get the tense of the translation correct. The word “seed” in the latter prophesy (of Genesis 15:5) is singular, one, that is, Christ.

In the ESV we read:

Genesis 15:5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be,”

which is quoting from what should be the same Hebrew text.

But the Hebrew word סָפַר caphar translated ‘tell’ in the KJV is translated in the ESV as ‘number’ and hence the translator got the wrong meaning. The Hebrew word also can mean ‘declare’ or ‘speak’, meaning what they say to Abraham. The English word ‘tell’ has both meaning to ‘number or count’ as well as to ‘tell, speak or declare’. It is a far better translation and it captures the correct translation of the original Words of God. It is about Christ and there is only one.

Additional Reading

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