After the affair of Genesis 14, Jehovah comes to Abram in a vision, tells him not to fear, that Jehovah is his shield and great reward. Abram wonders about his current heir, who is not of his birth, and Jehovah assures him he will have a heir of Abram’s seed.
Just how has Jehovah been speaking to Abram in previous verse? We are specifically told this is a vision. What about Adam/Eve, Cain, and Noah? Had they been having “visions” as finally mentioned in Genesis 15:1? Or were they actually hearing Jehovah’s voice through their ears?
Jehovah tells Abram the land he is in is his to inherit. Abram asks “how will I know it is mine to inherit?” Jehovah says:
Genesis 15:9 – And he said unto him, take me a heifer three years old, and a she-goat three years old, and a ram three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon. And he took him all these, and DIVIDED THEM IN THE MIDST, and laid each half over against the other: but the birds divided he not. And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
So Abram is already in communication with Jehovah, and to answer his question, Jehovah has Abram go through an animal ritual. They were cut open down the middle “divided them in the midst” and then laid over each other to form an odd shaped pentagon “they were laid each half over against the other”, and because they were cut open with exposed entrails, Abram had to swat the birds of prey away.
15:12 – And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram…
Is this sleep with a horror of great darkness the result of his animal ritual? Is this horror of great darkness Jehovah? It sure sounds like it because right after the darkness fell upon Abram, verse says as if pointing to the horror the verse indicated: “he says…”
This sounds like extispicy, haruspicy: divination/fortune telling using animal entrails. In this case Abram performed the ritual to expose the entrails and Jehovah performed the divination and only through Abram’s deep sleep could Jehovah communicate this divination.
15:17 – And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch that passed between these pieces.
The only pieces we know of are the pieces of animals, so it sounds like the end of the divination ritual involved a smoking furnace and flaming torch passing through this animal pentagon, and finally the sun going completely down.
- Abram was already in communication with Jehovah through his vision, why the need for the ritual?
- How can we explain a smoking furnace and flaming torch in this instance?
- We know there is smoke and flame, and the words furnace and torch can be non specific, so I’m not sure that an actual furnace and torch were involved here.
- The coincidence that this book is about Abram’s future and what sounds like a well known ritual of animal organ readings for knowledge of the future takes place doesn’t lend credence to the idea that Jehovah did not use ritual divination to foretell the future to Abram.
So the even bigger question, why the need for divination with Jehovah?