God’s Agreement With Abram

Chapter 15 After all these things happened, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. God said, “Abram, don’t be afraid. I will defend you and give you a great reward.”

But Abram said, “Lord God, there is nothing you can give me that will make me happy, because I have no son. My slave Eliezer from Damascus will get everything I own after I die.” Abram said, “You have given me no son, so a slave born in my house will get everything I have.”

Then the Lord spoke to Abram and said, “That slave will not be the one to get what you have. You will have a son who will get everything you own.”

Then God led Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky. See the many stars. There are so many you cannot count them. Your family will be like that.”

Abram believed the Lord, and because of this faith the Lord accepted him as one who has done what is right. He said to Abram, “I am the Lord who led you from Ur of Babylonia.[a] I did this so that I could give you this land. You will own this land.”

But Abram said, “Lord God, how can I be sure that I will get this land?”

God said to Abram, “We will make an agreement. Bring me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a dove, and a young pigeon.”

10 Abram brought all these to God. Abram killed these animals and cut each of them into two pieces. Then he laid each half across from the other half. He did not cut the birds into two pieces. 11 Later, large birds flew down to eat the animals, but Abram chased them away.

12 The sun began to go down and Abram got very sleepy. While he was asleep, a very terrible darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “You should know this: Your descendants will live in a country that is not their own. They will be strangers there. The people there will make them slaves and be cruel to them for 400 years. 14 But then I will punish the nation that made them slaves. Your people will leave that land, and they will take many good things with them.

15 “You yourself will live to be very old. You will die in peace and will be buried with your family. 16 After four generations your people will come to this land again and defeat the Amorites. That will happen in the future because the Amorites are not yet guilty enough to lose their land.”

17 After the sun went down, it got very dark. The dead animals were still on the ground, each animal cut into two pieces. Then a smoking firepot[b] and a flaming torch passed between the halves of the dead animals.[c]

18 So on that day the Lord made a promise and an agreement with Abram. He said, “I will give this land to your descendants. I will give them the land between the River of Egypt[d] and the great river Euphrates. 19 This is the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”

Hagar the Servant Girl

Chapter 16 Sarai was Abram’s wife, but she did not have any children. She had an Egyptian slave named Hagar. Sarai told Abram, “The Lord has not allowed me to have children, so sleep with my slave. Maybe she can have a son, and I will accept him as my own.” Abram did what Sarai said.

So after living ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai gave her Egyptian slave to Abram as a second wife. Abram slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When Hagar realized this, she became very proud and began to feel that she was better than Sarai her owner. Then Sarai said to Abram, “My slave girl now hates me, and I blame you for this. I gave her to you, and she became pregnant. Then she began to feel that she is better than I am. I want the Lord to judge which of us is right.”

But Abram said to Sarai, “She is your slave. You can do anything you want to her.” So Sarai was cruel to Hagar, and Hagar ran away.

Hagar’s Son Ishmael

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring of water in the desert. The spring was by the road to Shur. The angel said, “Hagar, Sarai’s slave girl, why are you here? Where are you going?”

Hagar said, “I am running away from Sarai.”

The angel of the Lord said to her, “Sarai is your owner. Go home to her and obey her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said, “From you will come many people—too many people to count.”

11 Then the angel of the Lord said,

“Hagar, you are now pregnant,
    and you will have a son.
You will name him Ishmael,[e]
    because the Lord has heard that you were treated badly.
        12 Ishmael will be wild and free
    like a wild donkey.
He will be against everyone,
    and everyone will be against him.
He will move from place to place
    and camp near his brothers.”

13 The Lord talked to Hagar. She began to use a new name for God. She said to him, “You are ‘God Who Sees Me.’” She said this because she thought, “I see that even in this place God sees me and cares for me!” 14 So the well there was called Beer Lahai Roi.[f] It is between Kadesh and Bered.

15 Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son, and Abram named the son Ishmael. 16 Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born from Hagar.

Circumcision—Proof of the Agreement

Chapter 17 When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him. He said, “I am God All-Powerful.[g] Obey me and live the right way. If you do this, I will prepare an agreement between us. I will promise to make your people a great nation.”

Then Abram bowed down before God. God said to him, “This is my part of our agreement: I will make you the father of many nations. I will change your name from Abram[h] to Abraham,[i] because I am making you the father of many nations. I will give you many descendants. New nations and kings will come from you. And I will prepare an agreement between me and you. This agreement will also be for all your descendants. It will continue forever. I will be your God and the God of all your descendants. And I will give this land to you and to all your descendants. I will give you the land you are traveling through—the land of Canaan. I will give you this land forever, and I will be your God.”

Then God said to Abraham, “Now, this is your part of the agreement: You and all your descendants will obey my agreement. 10 This is my agreement that all of you must obey. This is the agreement between me and you and all your descendants. Every male must be circumcised. 11 You will cut the skin to show that you follow the agreement between me and you. 12 When the baby boy is eight days old, you will circumcise him. Every boy born among your people and every boy who is a slave of your people must be circumcised. 13 So every baby boy in your nation will be circumcised. Every boy who is born from your family or bought as a slave will be circumcised. 14 Abraham, this is the agreement between you and me: Any male who is not circumcised will be cut off from his people[j] because he has broken my agreement.”

Isaac—the Promised Son

15 God said to Abraham, “I will give Sarai,[k] your wife, a new name. Her new name will be Sarah.[l] 16 I will bless her. I will give her a son, and you will be the father. She will be the mother of many new nations. Kings of nations will come from her.”

17 Abraham bowed his face to the ground to show he respected God. But he laughed and said to himself, “I am 100 years old. I cannot have a son, and Sarah is 90 years old. She cannot have a child.”

18 Then Abraham said to God, “I hope Ishmael will live and serve you.”

19 God said, “No, I said that your wife Sarah will have a son. You will name him Isaac.[m] I will make my agreement with him that will continue forever with all his descendants.

20 “You mentioned Ishmael, and I heard you. I will bless him, and he will have many children. He will be the father of twelve great leaders. His family will become a great nation. 21 But I will make my agreement with Isaac, the son who Sarah will have. He will be born at this same time next year.”

22 After God finished talking with Abraham, God went up into heaven. 23 Then Abraham gathered together Ishmael and all the slaves born in his house. He also gathered all the slaves he had bought. Every man and boy in Abraham’s house was gathered together, and they were all circumcised. Abraham circumcised them that day, just as God had told him to do.

24 Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised. 25 And Ishmael, his son, was 13 years old when he was circumcised. 26 Abraham and his son were circumcised on the same day. 27 Also, on that day all the men in Abraham’s house were circumcised. All the slaves born in his house and all the slaves he had bought were circumcised.


  1. Genesis 15:7 Ur of Babylonia Literally, “Ur of the Chaldeans.” A city in southern Babylonia.
  2. Genesis 15:17 firepot A clay pot in which burning coals were placed to be used for starting new fires.
  3. Genesis 15:17 passed between … animals This showed that God “signed” or “sealed” the agreement he made with Abram. People showed that they were sincere in making an agreement by walking between the parts of animals that had been cut into pieces and saying something like, “May this same thing happen to me if I don’t keep the agreement.”
  4. Genesis 15:18 River of Egypt That is, the stream called “Wadi El-Arish.”
  5. Genesis 16:11 Ishmael This name means “God hears.”
  6. Genesis 16:14 Beer Lahai Roi This means “The well of the Living One who sees me.”
  7. Genesis 17:1 God All-Powerful Literally, “El Shaddai.”
  8. Genesis 17:5 Abram This name means “honored father.”
  9. Genesis 17:5 Abraham This name means “great father” or “father of many.”
  10. Genesis 17:14 cut off from his people This means he must be separated from his family and lose his share of the inheritance.
  11. Genesis 17:15 Sarai A name, probably Aramaic, meaning “princess.”
  12. Genesis 17:15 Sarah A Hebrew name meaning “princess.”
  13. Genesis 17:19 Isaac This name means “he laughs” or “he is happy.”