第一部分：上帝与亚伯兰立约-God's Covenant with Abram：创世记15章[Gen.15] ；
第二部分：从夏甲生以实玛利-Birth of Ishmael Through Hagar：创世记16章[Gen.16]；
第三部分：名字和割礼作为立约的记号-Names and Circumcision as Signs of Covenant：创世记17章[Gen.17]。
上帝与亚伯兰立约-God's Covenant with Abram
With the passing of time Abram begins to be concerned that he and Sarai still have no children. How can his offspring inherit the land if there are no children? Must the inheritance come only through the children of his headservant, Eliezer, whom he could adopt in order to preserve his line of inheritance? Abram is genuinely puzzled. So God reassures Abram that he himself will have children, who in turn will multiply exceedingly. When God also restates his earlier promise that Abram’s descendants would inherit the land, Abram asks God for a sign that his promise is true. God graciously overlooks Abram’s insecurity and instructs Abram to prepare for a covenant after the manner in which agreements are commonly sealed during this time. By the prevailing custom the covenanting parties pass between the split carcasses of animals which have been specially killed for the ceremony, as if the covenantors are saying, “This same fate be to all my herds and flocks should I not keep my promise.” God’s passage through the pieces of slain animals comes in the appearance of a blazing torch, whereupon the promise is sealed. Interestingly, God alone passes through the carcasses, indicating the unique one-sidedness of this covenant. Just before this covenanting takes place, God appears to Abram in his sleep and tells him that his descendants will serve as slaves in a foreign land before returning to possess the land of Canaan. Subsequent text bears out the detailed accuracy of God’s prophetic vision to Abram when the Hebrew nation is later enslaved in Egypt for some 400 years. Perhaps the most significant statement at this point in the record of Abram is the fact that, when God promises Abram children, Abram believes God. As will soon be evident, Abram is still not so sure that children will come through himself and Sarai, but never again will he fail to trust that by God’s power he will somehow have offspring. As the account of God’s covenanting with Abram begins, God may also be addressing Abram’s fear of revenge from the Eastern kings whom Abram has recently defeated.
从夏甲生以实玛利-Birth of Ishmael Through Hagar
Almost ten years have passed since God renewed his promise that Abram would have children. Although both Abram and Sarai continue to believe that it will happen, Sarai apparently begins to wonder if the promise specifically includes her as the mother of Abram’s offspring. Despite her faith in the promise, Sarai finally convinces herself that she is not a part of God’s plan and comes up with an idea to help make the promise come true. She suggests that Abram take as a secondary wife her Egyptian maidservant, Hagar. By the custom of the times it is altogether proper, even if somewhat personally humiliating, for a woman of Sarai’s position to give her servant to her husband for the purpose of bearing children. Children born under such an arrangement may inherit as natural children. Therefore, when viewed from a strictly human perspective, Sarai’s suggestion is both unselfish and ostensibly designed to bring about God’s promise to Abram. With Hagar’s pregnancy, however, it soon becomes clear that the plan is fraught with problems. Pride, jealousy, and alienation of affections naturally arise in such a mixture of relationships, and in the end Hagar runs away from her mistress. However, Hagar is instructed to return and be submissive. God promises Hagar that the descendants of her son, Ishmael, will be countless, but prophesies that Ishmael and his offspring will be characterized by hostility, particularly against his brothers. (It is noteworthy that in centuries to follow there will be conflict in the Middle East between the Arabs, who descend from Ishmael, and the Jews, who are descendants from Ishmael’s stepbrother, a son soon to be born.)
名字和割礼作为立约的记号-Names and Circumcision as Signs of Covenant
The Genesis record is silent as to what events transpire over the next few years. However, the door to history is once again opened some 13 years after Ishmael’s birth. At this time God appears once again to Abram in order to restate his promises and to confirm his prior covenant with Abram. Two signs are given to mark the occasion. The first involves the changing of Abram’s and Sarai’s names. Whereas “Abram” has meant exalted father, his new name, “Abraham,” signifies the father of many. And whereas “Sarai” has meant princess, God adds a dignity befitting a princess who is the mother of many in making the slight change to “Sarah.” A happy part of God’s appearance to Abraham is the surprise announcement that Sarah herself will bear the son of promise. Abraham’s response to that announcement has been viewed by many to be one of skepticism in which Abraham pleads with God to let Ishmael, instead, be the honored son. However, the text seems to indicate quite to the contrary—that in fact Abraham laughs in joyous amazement that after all these years he and Sarah will actually have a child of their own just as promised, despite the increasing human odds against it. Even the son’s name, “Isaac” (which means “he laughs”), will memorialize this outburst of Abraham’s happiness. Although Abraham is overjoyed at the prospect of fathering a son through Sarah, nevertheless it is obvious that Abraham has become attached to his son Ishmael. Therefore Abraham asks that Ishmael be able to share in God’s blessings. God assures Abraham that Ishmael, as well as Isaac, will have many descendants, but makes it clear that it will be through Isaac’s lineage that the covenant will be honored. As a second sign of God’s covenant with his chosen people, God institutes the rite of circumcision for all the males in Abraham’s household, including servants and others not naturally a part of the family by birth. With this inclusion of those who are not direct descendants of Abraham there is even now a striking affirmation of God’s promise to bless “all peoples on earth.” The rite of circumcision is not itself a novel practice in these times. Evidence points to such a custom among Ethiopians, Syrians, Phoenicians, and even some Egyptians. However, in those societies the rite is normally associated with the child’s coming of age at puberty and being accepted into the community. The circumcision commanded by God is distinct in that it takes place in early infancy and is imbued with great religious significance. The act of cutting off the male foreskin is not to be thought of as merely, or even primarily, hygienic. Rather, this symbolic ritual represents consecration and dedication as well as spiritual purity. Circumcision of the young males is to be a sign of God’s covenant with all of the descendants of Abraham, both male and female, and a reminder of the obligation of righteousness therein. Perhaps most importantly, circumcision foreshadows the purity of lineage through which all the world will someday be blessed.
Smith, F. LaGard. The Daily Bible® - In Chronological Order (NIV®) . Harvest House Publishers. Kindle 版本.