The Meaning of Genesis 15:5 Explained

Genesis 15:5

KJV: 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.

YLT: and He bringeth him out without, and saith, 'Look attentively, I pray thee, towards the heavens, and count the stars, if thou art able to count them;' and He saith to him, 'Thus is thy seed.'

Darby: And he led him out, and said, Look now toward the heavens, and number the stars, if thou be able to number them. And he said to him, So shall thy seed be!

ASV: And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and number the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

What does Genesis 15:5 Mean?

Verse Meaning

To the promise of descendants as innumerable as the dust (physical descendants from the land? cf. Genesis 13:16) God added another promise that Abram"s seed would be as countless as the stars. This is perhaps a promise of Abram"s spiritual children, those who would have faith in God as he did. Abram may not have caught this distinction since he would have more naturally taken the promise as a reference to physical children.

Context Summary

Genesis 15:1-21 - Abram's Vision Of The Future
Abram had good reason to fear the vengeance of the defeated kings; but the divine voice reassured him. For all of us there is need of a shield, because the world hates us; and for each God will be our compensation for every sacrifice we have made. Refuse to take even the shoe-latchets of Sodom, and God will be your exceeding great reward. The patriarch addressed God as Adonai Jehovah, which occurs only twice more in the Pentateuch. While he was pouring out the bitterness of his soul, the stars came out. Count these, said his Almighty Friend; and he believed. For the first time that mighty word occurs in Scripture, and the Apostle makes much of it. See Romans 4:9; Galatians 3:6. It was as good as done. Henceforth the patriarch reckoned on God's faithfulness. In olden times covenants were ratified by the parties passing between the pieces of the sacrifice. To give strong consolation, the Almighty confirmed His word with an oath. See Hebrews 6:18. But God must wait until the hour for interposition is fully come. [source]

Chapter Summary: Genesis 15

1  God encourages Abram, who asks for an heir
4  God promises him a son, and a multiplying of his seed
6  Abram is justified by faith
7  Canaan is promised again,
9  and confirmed by a sign, and a vision,
18  prophetic of the condition of his posterity till brought out of Egypt

What do the individual words in Genesis 15:5 mean?

And 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 be your offspring
וַיּוֹצֵ֨א אֹת֜וֹ הַח֗וּצָה וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ הַבֶּט־ נָ֣א הַשָּׁמַ֗יְמָה וּסְפֹר֙ הַכּ֣וֹכָבִ֔ים אִם־ תּוּכַ֖ל לִסְפֹּ֣ר אֹתָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ כֹּ֥ה יִהְיֶ֖ה זַרְעֶֽךָ

וַיּוֹצֵ֨א  And  He  brought 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Hifil, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: יׄוצֵאת 
Sense: to go out, come out, exit, go forth.
הַח֗וּצָה  outside 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular, third person feminine singular
Root: חוּץ  
Sense: outside, outward, street, the outside.
וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙  and  said 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אָמַר 
Sense: to say, speak, utter.
הַבֶּט־  Look 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Imperative, masculine singular
Root: נָבַט  
Sense: to look, regard.
נָ֣א  now 
Parse: Interjection
Root: נָא  
Sense: I (we) pray, now, please.
הַשָּׁמַ֗יְמָה  toward  heaven 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine plural, third person feminine singular
Root: שָׁמַיִם  
Sense: heaven, heavens, sky.
וּסְפֹר֙  and  count 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Imperative, masculine singular
Root: סָפַר 
Sense: to count, recount, relate.
הַכּ֣וֹכָבִ֔ים  the  stars 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: כֹּוכָב  
Sense: star.
תּוּכַ֖ל  you  are  able 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, second person masculine singular
Root: יָכֹל  
Sense: to prevail, overcome, endure, have power, be able.
לִסְפֹּ֣ר  to  number 
Parse: Preposition-l, Verb, Qal, Infinitive construct
Root: סָפַר 
Sense: to count, recount, relate.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר  And  He  said 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אָמַר 
Sense: to say, speak, utter.
ל֔וֹ  to  him 
Parse: Preposition, third person masculine singular
כֹּ֥ה  so 
Parse: Adverb
Root: כֹּה  
Sense: thus, here, in this manner.
יִהְיֶ֖ה  shall  be 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אֶהְיֶה 
Sense: to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out.
זַרְעֶֽךָ  your  offspring 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct, second person masculine singular
Root: זֶרַע  
Sense: seed, sowing, offspring.