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16 and said, “I solemnly swear by my own name,[a] decrees the Lord,[b] that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you,[c] and I will greatly multiply[d] your descendants[e] so that they will be as countless as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of[f] the strongholds[g] of their enemies. 18 Because you have obeyed me,[h] all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another[i] using the name of your descendants.”

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  1. Genesis 22:16 tn Heb “By myself I swear.”
  2. Genesis 22:16 tn Heb “the oracle of the Lord.” The phrase refers to a formal oracle or decree from the Lord.
  3. Genesis 22:17 tn The use of the infinitive absolute before the finite verbal form (either an imperfect or cohortative) emphasizes the certainty of the blessing.
  4. Genesis 22:17 tn Here too the infinitive absolute is used for emphasis before the following finite verb (either an imperfect or cohortative).sn I will greatly multiply. The Lord here ratifies his earlier promise to give Abram a multitude of descendants. For further discussion see R. B. Chisholm, “Evidence from Genesis,” A Case for Premillennialism, 35-54.
  5. Genesis 22:17 tn The Hebrew term זֶרַע (zeraʿ) occurring here and in v. 18 may mean “seed” (for planting), “offspring” (occasionally of animals, but usually of people), or “descendants” depending on the context.
  6. Genesis 22:17 tn Or “inherit.”
  7. Genesis 22:17 tn Heb “gate,” which here stands for a walled city. To break through the gate complex would be to conquer the city, for the gate complex was the main area of defense (hence the translation “stronghold”).
  8. Genesis 22:18 tn In the Hebrew text this causal clause comes at the end of the sentence. The translation alters the word order for stylistic Because you have obeyed me. Abraham’s obedience brought God’s ratification of the earlier conditional promise (see Gen 12:2).
  9. Genesis 22:18 tn The denominative verb בָּרַךְ (barakh) is active in the Piel and passive in the Pual. Here it is in the Hitpael which is typically middle or reflexive. Traditionally it is rendered as passive (“will be blessed”) here. Some reference grammars consider the Hitpael to be passive on rare occasions but their examples can be disputed. The LXX translates with a passive spelling, but this does not mean the Hebrew is passive. For example, the LXX uses a passive spelling for the Hitpael in Gen 3:8 where the Hebrew says “they hid themselves from the Lord.” The English understanding of the Greek’s passive spelling does not mean that the Hebrew is passive, i.e., “they were hidden;” it merely reflects translation issues going from Hebrew to Greek (or from Semitic to Indo-European) and may reveal the broader range of meanings that the Greek spelling can convey. The Hitpael is better understood here as middle or reflexive/reciprocal, as in its other instances (Gen 26:4; Deut 29:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 65:16; Jer 4:2). One option would be to treat it like the middle voice Niphal cases in Gen 12:3; 18:18 and 28:14, “they may find blessing through your descendants.” This extends to the nation the Lord’s promise to Abraham to bless those who bless him. But one may expect the continued use of the Niphal for that and a distinct middle voice meaning of the Hitpael here. The Hitpael can mean to pronounce blessings on each other, as in Isa 65:16 where the expression of blessing each other through (or in the name of) the true God is parallel to taking oaths in the Lord’s name (as opposed to holding oneself accountable to other gods). For other examples of blessing formulae using an individual as an example of blessing, see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11. To pronounce blessings referring to the divinely blessed Israel who possesses its enemies’ gates (v. 17) also acknowledges Israel’s God. So the surface statement “they will bless themselves” (an option acknowledged in the note in the NASB) in the name of, or in light of, Abraham’s blessed descendants implies more than the speech act itself. It implies at least acknowledgment of Israel’s God and allows room for being allegiant to or joining with Israel’s God. This thought is consistent with being made great and successful internationally in v. 17 and is not opposed to the iterations with the Niphal of being able to receive blessing by blessing Israel.

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