This promise is related to several other references to the promise of descendants that God gave to Abram, now Abraham.
- Genesis 13:16 – seed as numerous as the dust of the earth.
- Genesis 15:5 – count the stars, so shall your seed be.
- Genesis 22:17 – seed will be as numerous as the stars and the sand on the seashore
But, there are three things different about this particular verse.
First – bowels: In verse 4 God said that he would have an heir from his body. The King James says from his “bowels.” Abram will have an heir from his “bowels.” Does this mean that God did not know that the bowels have nothing to do with the bowels? No. In Genesis 3:15 God knew that the woman carried the seed and science did not prove this until 180 years ago.
This word can also means “womb.” So, does Abram have a womb? So to speak, yes. That womb would be in Sarai. This is one reason why it was not enough for Hagar to have a son for Abram. Hagar was not his womb. Sarah was. This is on the same terms by which God describes a nake wife as the husband’s nakedness.
Second – seed: “Zera” – This word is translated as “descendants” in the New King James and offspring in others. Whereas, it is translated as “seed” in the King James. This is one time that the King James has the better translation.
The word is not plural but singular. At first glance we would say that it would be ok to translate the word as descendants. That is the meaning, right? But to translate it as descendants removes a deeper level of meaning. On the surface we can look ahead and know that this seed is Isaac. But, it has a deeper meaning. The original word literally means seed. It’s the same word used in Genesis 1 during creation.
To better understand the deeper meaning of the word seed, let’s go back to Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.
Then, let’s remember that in the pictograph of the Hebrew alphabet for Noah’s name means protected seed and grace, with the same two letters but reversed, means the protector of the seed. Grace secured God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 across the flood. The seed that God told about, the first mention of the Messiah in Genesis 3:15, came across in the ark through the undeserving favor or grace of God.
Therefore, the deeper meaning of Genesis 15:5 is that God is promising the coming of the Messiah through Abraham.
Am I stretching this? Not if you believe what Paul says:
Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.
Therefore, “Zera” should remain as seed not descendants.
If it is ONE seed then how do we explain counting the stars? It goes back to translation again. There is Genesis 15:5 again, Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
Third, – count & number: Both of these words are the same Hebrew word – Safar, which also means “rehearse or relate.” How do you relate or rehearse the stars?
According to God in Genesis 1:14 the stars were for a sign. Today we have a zodiac that is very similar to constellation signs found in many old cultures around the world.
Have you every asked how in the world do they get a Virgin or a lion out of a constellation? What the constellations look like are not by connecting the dots but by knowing the names and means of the brightest stars in each constellation, going to the brightest to the next to the brightest and so forth. Most of the pictures we still have but many of the names of the stars have been lost through time.
It is believed that through the names of the stars that even Adam understood the history of man and the coming of Jesus. Man, after the flood, customized the signs to center around him rather than God.
If this is true, could God have been saying to Abram, “Look at the stars and rehearse the stories told by them and the seed promised in the stories will come from you.”
Therefore, in light of Genesis 1:14, 3:15, and Galatians 3:16, verse 5 of Genesis 15 could be translated as follows: Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and rehearse the stars if you are able to relate to them.” And He said to him, “So shall your seed (the Promised Messiah) be.”
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