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Genesis xv

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image of Vetus Testamentum

The story of Abraham in Gen. xi 27-xxv 10 (11) is structured by two different literary layers in Gen. xv. The basic layer, consisting of V. 7-11, 17, 18, was originally connected with Gen. xiii 18. It must be assigned to the pentateuchal redaction, because it builds upon both Gen. xiii 14-17 and the priestly mentions of departure in xi 31; xii 4b, 5. The pentateuchal redaction wanted to demonstrate that Jahwe will not take back his promise of land for the descendants of Abraham, because he has obliged and laid upon himself a conditional curse in the presence of Abraham. Within the conception of the pentateuchal redaction Gen. xv 7ff.* has the function to finish the first part of the story of Abraham (xi 27-xiii 18; xv 7ff.*), which is dominated by the subject "the land for Abraham and his descendants". The subject of the second part (xv 1-xxv 11) can be described as "the descendants of Abraham and his life until his death".A later redactor integrated V. 1-6*, 12-16, 19-21. He wanted to emphasize that the faith of Abraham, trusting God to fulfill his promise of a physical heir and unnumbered descendants (V. 1-6*), gives Jahwe reason to lay upon himself a conditional curse in order to guarantee the promise of the land. This is furthermore the reason, why Jahwe told Abraham that the promise of land will only be fulfilled in a distant future (V. 12-16). In the view of the redactor Gen. xv is the starting point of the second part of the story of Abraham, in which he wanted to tell how Jahwe fulfills his promise of protection and of a physical heir for Abraham (xv 1bα, 4).


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