Some Notes:

The English language has no gender-neutral pronouns. So when the words man, he, him, etc are used, they mean "Generic human being" unless the context specifically says otherwise. Only women get words devoted just to them.

Thou, Thee, and Thine are singular pronouns. You and Your are plural in the 16th Century English the King James Bible was translated into. This actually makes the message clearer than our habit of using "you" as both a singular and a plural.

In many scriptures I have changed the King James (English) spelling to American spelling (labour=labor, for example. I understand those in England still spell it with a u). Also, in some scriptures I have changed the "-eth" to a simple "s." Spelling standards weren't set in English until the mid 1800's, well after the translating of the KJV. So I see no problem with making these simple changes that don't affect the meaning of the scripture but make it easier for our modern mouths and ears to deal with.

Genesis 15- God Speaks to Abraham

After the battle to rescue Lot, God speaks to Abram.

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.”

Abram had just given up the material reward normally due one who just rescued several entire cities. God is telling him that his reward is in God, not material goods.

2 And Abram said, “LORD God, what will thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?”

3 And Abram said, “Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is my heir.”

It was the custom of those times that if a man did not have a child, he made a servant, especially one born in his home, his heir. He adopted him. If the man later had a child, then the servant would lose his position as main inheritor, but would still be rewarded at the time of the man’s death.

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.”

God promises Abram a biological descendant.

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.”

Actually, with math we can number the visible stars and have been able to for many millennium. However, when you figure in the stars that can’t be seen, especially in the time of Abram before telescopes were invented, it gets much more difficult.

Most of those in the Middle East today can rightfully claim Abram as their ancestor, either through Isaac or Ishmael or one of Abraham’s other children that will be born later.

6 And he believed in the LORD; and God counted it to him for righteousness.

Faith in God has always been the criteria for salvation. Mankind has never been able to be righteous enough to save himself, even under the Mosaic Law. Those who had faith in God under the Law did the best they could to keep it, but it wasn’t the keeping of the Law that saved them. It was their faith. Righteousness is the result of salvation, not its cause.

Abram was in need of a savior just like you and me. His salvation came through the Blood of Christ just like ours. He looked ahead to the fulfillment of the Promise. We look back.

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.”

God is making sure His identity is known to Abram. There was so much idolatry, that He wanted to make sure Abram understood He was the same Deity that had begun to deal with him in the beginning.

8 And he said, “LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?”

“How do I know that I will inherit the land You have promised me?”

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.”

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 carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.

It was an ancient custom that to confirm a contract between two people, they would sacrifice animals, divide them in half, and each party walk through the middle of the pieces. Then they often shared a meal together. This symbolized what would happen to the breaker of the covenant.

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;

The oldest Hebrew translations we have available render this as “they shall be in the land until four hundred years from now and be afflicted.” This would have had Israel leaving Egypt two hundred years after Jacob’s entering the country instead of four hundred. This fits with the new timeline much better and explains several dating problems we run into. For example, when giving the genealogy, there appears to only be four generations between Levi and Moses- an impossibility if four hundred years have passed, but just right for two 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 shall be buried in a good old age.”

“All this will happen after you have died.”

16 “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”

This confirms the two-hundred years captivity preceded by two-hundred years of wondering by Isaac and Jacob. Four generations could only be four hundred years at the time before the flood when men had their first child after age 100. Though this happens with Abraham now, it is obviously not the norm. It appears the norm for a first child is around thirty.

Today, with our life spans of 80 years (instead of 180 as in Abram’s time) we count a generation to be around forty years. So four generations in his time would only be roughly 200 years for the captivity; 400 from the time Abram’s seed begins to be “a stranger in the land,” the time of this promise.

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.

18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

The “River of Egypt” was not the Nile (which flowed down the middle of the country), but a much smaller river that marked the boundary of Egypt at that time. Israel did own this land during the reign of Solomon.

19 “The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,

20 “And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,

21 “And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

God lists the people whose lands Abram’s descendants would take. These are mostly descendants of Ham.

The people named cover from the Euphrates River to the “River of Egypt” on both sides of the Jordon River. Exactly the land God said in verse 18.