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God made a covenant with Abram in Genesis 15, specifically Verse 18

On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: [...]

This covenant is usually said to be bound to no condition on Abram's part, meaning, that God will bring the descendants of Abram into the promised land no matter their performance.

In chapter 17, there's again a covenant between God and Abram (soon to be called Abraham)

Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.”
(Gen 17:1)

I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
(Gen 17:8)

Since it's about Abraham's descendants and their inhabiting a promised land, it seems as though God is referring to the same covenant of chapter 15.

Yet, later, there is a condition:

God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.
(Gen 17:9-10)

This leaves me with two possibilities. 1) There are in fact two covenants or 2) This is the same covenant but chapter 17 explains the details of the covenant in chapter 15.

Both explanations are somewhat dissatisfying, at least for me.

So, are there in fact two covenants or is it just one?

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  • When a man gets married to a woman (or man to man, or woman to woman) - 1st they make a verbal commitment, then they get a marriage licence, then they have a ceremony in Jerusalem honeymoon in Israel, and then they have a ceremony in LA, and then another ceremony in small town Kansas. Did the couple get married a few times? Why do we need to have a discrete quantum, rather than a continuum view of the covenant?
    – Cynthia
    Mar 6, 2016 at 22:00
  • Your family must have more money than mine! Perhaps quantum works better because a relationship with God involves so much spooky action at a distance!
    – Ruminator
    Aug 1, 2018 at 11:17

10 Answers 10

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If you recall, Exodus 6:3 portrays God telling Moses that God had only previously been known as God Almighty (El Shaddai), specifically not as 'the LORD' (Yahweh). However, a cursory glance through Genesis shows that the patriarchs most certainly DID know God by his name, Yahweh (Gen 4:26 and Gen 15:6-8 are just two examples). This discrepancy is merely one of many that led scholars to consider that these stories are a combination of different traditions. In one tradition, the patriarchs did not know the name Yahweh before Exodus 6:3. In another tradition, God was always known by the name Yahweh.

It is interesting to note in your example that God is exclusively known and referred to as Yahweh in Genesis 15, whereas God is referred to as Elohim in all of Genesis 17 after verse 1.

My proposed answer to your question is that there was only one covenant between God and Abram/Abraham. However, Gen 15 and Gen 17 are merely two different tellings of this one story -- two tellings from two different traditions that disagreed over the name by which God was known.

Bibliography:
http://biblehub.com/interlinear/genesis/15.htm
http://biblehub.com/interlinear/genesis/17.htm
http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/bad368008.shtml http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidbokovoy/2014/01/the-death-of-the-documentary-hypothesis/
http://www.cs.umd.edu/~mvz/bible/dev-doc-hyp.pdf

PS: Today, source-critical Pentateuchal scholarship does not rest solely, or even heavily, on the different uses of God's name. It is merely a simple point of reference in this example as it serves both to introduce source criticism and a potential answer to this question. It's certainly easier to reference God's name than to parse through differences in Hebrew vocabulary, syntax, worldview, and theology.

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Paul was aware of the difference between Genesis 15 and Genesis 17 and shows that this was a very important anomaly that allowed Abraham to not only be the father of his physical, circumcised descendants but to also be the father of his uncircumcised seed:

Rom 4:8  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.  Rom 4:9  Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.  Rom 4:10  How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.  Rom 4:11  And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:  Rom 4:12  And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

By being justified by faith while uncircumcised he did not pass on the obligation of circumcision to his faith-children.

Abraham believes -> Is justified by faith -> Receives the sign of circumcision as the seal of approval for his faith (circumcision)

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This leaves me with two possibilities. 1) There are in fact two covenants or 2) This is the same covenant but chapter 17 explains the details of the covenant in chapter 15.

There is a third option: The covenant between YHWH and Abraham unfolds over several chapters: 12-22. It begins in Chapter 12 with YHWH calling Abram (75 YO) out of his hometown and promises him land and children. (Gen 12:1-3)

Eventually, during a drought, Abram doubts the promise of the land. He leaves and goes to Egypt.

Later, YHWH reminds Abram of the covenant in Gen 15. In this light, Abram’s frustration makes more sense. He was promised a nation and he doesn’t have a single child yet! YHWH also gives Abram a bit more information about the covenant and a sign of His faithfulness with the offerings.

Abram doubts the promise again, this time the seed element, and has a son with Hagar. YHWH reminds Abram about the covenant again, adding even more details and a sign (circumcision) to help Abram remember. (Gen 17) YHWH goes on to instruct Abram to “walk perfectly before Him” and then changes his name (shem = name and character) to Abraham. This implies that Abram has to change his behavior.

Finally, in Gen 22, YHWH tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his promised son. Abraham passes this test. He knows, "God will provide" (vs 8) Following the offering of the ram, YHWH restates the covenant one more time, this time with emphasis, “I will bless bless you and multiply multiply you" (vs 17)

This is foreshadowing of the three tests of the Hebrews in the wilderness (Ex 15:22-27) and the three tests of Yashua in the wilderness.

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Why choose just these two places in Gen 15 & 17. There are many more places where God made these promises to Abraham, viz: Gen 12:1-3, Gen 13:14-17, 15:1-17, 17:1-27, 18:9-15, 22:15-18. The promises in these are all about:

  • the promise of the land of Cainan
  • the promise of countless descendants (and by extension Messiah)
  • the promise of a "great name"

Several contain the critical phrase, "Abraham believed and ..." Further, Both Ishmael and Isaac were circumcised which is mentioned in Gen 17 and 21. Thus, by my count, the Abrahamic covenant promises are mentioned six times in Genesis, in various forms and to different degrees of detail. Some had formal ceremonies, others just the promises and requirements.

Further, circumcision is not the only "human" requirement as part of this Abrahamic covenant.

  • In Gen 12:1 we have the first - Abraham had to leave his homeland in Ur. In Gen 13:14-18, Abraham had to give up the best land and move to Mamre.
  • In Gen 15, God binds Himself with an oath and a ceremony for which Abraham had to provide sacrificial animals.
  • In Gen 17, the rite of circumcision is introduced PLUS the requirement of, "walk before me faithfully and be blameless." (V1).
  • In Gen 22 Abraham had to try to sacrifice his son.
  • Lastly, we have recorded in Abraham:

Gen 26:5 - because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

This same Abrahamic covenant of the Land and the many descendants was renewed with:

  • Isaac in Gen 26:1-5
  • Jacob in Gen 28:10-15

Circumcision was instituted as a "sign" of this covenant, Heb: “oth”, Gen 17:10, 11, 13, Rom 4:11. It was not the covenant itself but a sign of the covenant. [I note that Baptism and Communion forms a similar function in the Christian Church today; but this is another question.]

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    It's clear that the progression from promises alone in Gen 12 to a full covenant in Gen 15 is significant (and this is the point of Hebrew 6:13-18). Although the promises are repeated many times, I don't think we should flatten all their occurrences - so I think it's wrong to call the promises of Gen 12 "covenant promises". But the relationship between Gen 15 and 17 is different from 12 and 15. What sort of different I'm not sure yet ;)
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 29, 2023 at 22:43
  • Interesting perspective. So each time Abram does what God asks, God adds a new requirement to the one covenant? Apr 30, 2023 at 2:18
  • @RevelationLad - even more interesting is the fact that God Told Abraham to leave Ur before any promise was fulfilled.
    – Dottard
    Apr 30, 2023 at 3:02
  • The Bible is clear the first time God made a covenant with Abram is in Genesis 15:18. That Abram and God interacted prior does not allow you to claim God entered into a covenant. The one covenant theory means that after making covenant with Abram, God arbitrarily added circumcision to the terms of the covenant. Not satisfied with Abraham's obedience and faith, God added the sacrifice of Isaac before backing off and settling on the terms. And to top it off, despite continually asking Abraham for more all God was able to add to His side of the covenant was new names for Abram and Sarai. Apr 30, 2023 at 5:24
  • @RevelationLad - what rule-book of covenants are you reading from? Are you suggesting that Gen 12 & 13 were not covenant promises as most theology texts teach. gotquestions.org/Abrahamic-covenant.html
    – Dottard
    Apr 30, 2023 at 7:39
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Covenants may be given or without without obligations. In commenting on Genesis 15 Jon D. Levenson says:

9-11: The ritual of cutting animals in half and passing between them is found both in the Bible and in Mesopotamia. The parallel in Jeremiah 34.17-22 makes it likely that the essence of the ritual is a self-curse: those walking between the pieces will be like the dead animals if they violate the covenant. In the case at hand, remarkably, it is the LORD, symbolized by the "smoking oven" and "flaming torch" (15.17) who invokes the self-curse, and nothing is said about any covenantal obligations Abram is to fulfill. This type of covenant is called a covenant of grant, which is a reward for past loyalty, and does not involve any obligations upon the grantee. The same pattern is prominent in texts about the covenant with David (2 Samuel 7.8-16; Psalm 80.20-37).1

Genesis 15 describes a covenant of grant. There are no obligations placed on Abram; it is the same type of covenant God establishes with David. The covenant in Genesis 17 comes with obligations: circumcision. It is possible to side-step the obligation placed on Abraham since circumcision is called a sign. However, the terms of the covenant in Genesis 17 are different for both parties.

In his speech before the Sanhedrin, Stephen states the two are different. He describes the one in Genesis 15 as a promising and Genesis 17 as the covenant of circumcision:

2 And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. 5 Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot's length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. 6 And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. 7 ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. (Acts 7 ESV)

Stephen calls the possession of land a promise, ἐπαγγέλλομαι, which the BDAG explains:

ἐπαγγέλλομαιto declare to do something, with the implication of obligation to carry out what is stated, promise, offer a. of human promises and offers... b. of God: promise2

Unlike Genesis 15, which came without obligation, Stephen recognizes circumcision was imposed in Genesis 17. To distinguish between the two, he calls the first ἐπαγγέλλομαι, promise to and the second διαθήκη, covenant.3

Stephen's description of the events of Genesis 15 also deviates from the LXX:

In that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, To thy seed I will give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates. (Genesis 15:18)
ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ διέθετο Κύριος τῷ ῞Αβραμ διαθήκην λέγων· τῷ σπέρματί σου δώσω τὴν γῆν ταύτην, ἀπὸ τοῦ ποταμοῦ Αἰγύπτου ἕως τοῦ ποταμοῦ τοῦ μεγάλου, ποταμοῦ Εὐφράτου

The LXX uses the verb διατίθημι from which διαθήκη, covenant is derived, Stephen replaces διατίθημι with the verb ἐπαγγέλλομαι, the act of making a promise. ἐπαγγέλλομαι is used just twice in the LXX (cf. Esther 4:7, Proverbs 13:12), neither of which describe making a covenant. What Stephen has done is make clear the distinction between the two covenants. The one without obligations he attributes to God's act of promising; the one with obligations he calls the covenant of circumcision.

The difference between the two is significant. Abram's response to what Stephen calls the act of promising is central to the Gospel:

Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6)
(Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23)

In addition, it may seem as if Genesis 17 merely repeats God's side of the covenant, land as a possession. However, that requires overlooking the birth of Ishmael which occurred between the two covenants. That is, Ishmael was born under the covenant given in Genesis 15, yet he is excluded from the covenant in Genesis 17. Abraham protests this exclusion:

And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” (Genesis 17:18)

Abraham understands the covenant just spoken excludes Ishmael and he intercedes on Ishmael's behalf. God responds with "no" but does agree to bless Ishmael:

19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.” (Genesis 17)

Paul also recognizes there are two different covenants. He also uses Stephen's ἐπαγγέλλομαι (see Galatians and Romans) and he gives this explanation:

21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. (Galatians 4)

Paul's use of Hagar and Ishmael makes sense only if we accept Stephen's description of two covenants, one in Genesis 15 the other in Genesis 17; these are known by two different women and two different sons. Ishmael was born under the first covenant; Isaac under the second. Hagar, the slave woman is Sarai's slave, not Abram's. Under the Genesis 15 covenant Ishmael legally belongs to Sarai and is called Abraham's son born according to the flesh. Unless God changed the terms of the covenant, Ishmael is excluded only if Genesis 17 is a different covenant. If there is only one, then God broke the first to exclude Ishmael.

Paul's questionable allegory makes a further allusion to the distinction between the two covenants by calling the first from Mount Sinai in Arabia. Arabia is the land given by God to Ishmael in response to Abraham's request when the second covenant is given.

The covenant of circumcision is the human requirement to the second covenant. Isaac would be born under the second covenant and Ishmael was blessed with land, albeit different from Isaac, because Abraham circumcised him after hearing the second covenant.


1. Jon D. Levenson, The Jewish Study Bible, Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 35-36
2. Fredrick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The University Chicago Press, 2000, p. 356
3. Another way of distinguishing between the two would be to call them by Abraham's name at the time they were given. Genesis 17 would be the Abrahamic Covenant. Genesis 15 would be the Abramic Covenant.

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  • I have now provided an answer as well.
    – Dottard
    Apr 29, 2023 at 22:34
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I agree that there was only one covenant described in both Genesis 15 and again in 17 and that it was conditional to both belief (Genesis 15:6) and obedience (Genesis 17:1). Some say that it was unconditional but that defies the very nature of what a covenant is - a covenant is a conditional agreement.

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  • And what 'conditions' would apply to an Everlasting Covenant - do you think ?
    – Nigel J
    May 18, 2018 at 11:46
  • 1
    Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! Some tips for the future. This is an academic site interested in evidence based answers. So, this site is looking for longer answers that provides rationale to support your opinion. The evidence can be grammatical or contextual, biblical or extra biblical; just provide references to your sources. Thanks.
    – alb
    May 22, 2018 at 13:00
  • Who defines a covenant as inherently conditional? Please edit this to add some supporting references for what you say.
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 4, 2018 at 2:20
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(1) This is the covenant in between the pieces. The Jews call it Brit Bein HaBetarim.

Genesis 15:18 NKJV

On the same day, the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:

“To your descendants, I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— 19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”

There is the promise of a Son to carry the inheritance.

Genesis 17:19 NKJV

Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him."

(2) This is the covenant of circumcision or the covenant of the Sign.

Genesis 17:9-14 NKJV

And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.

12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

(3) This is the covenant of the Oath

God's covenant is cemented in the verse below:

Genesis 22:15-18 NKJV

Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore, and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

The inheritance, circumcision, and the Son of promise go together.

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Q: Are Genesis 15 and 17 two different covenants with Abram/Abraham?

Absolutely!

The Genesis 15 covenant was made with him while his name was Abram, "Exalted Father": "On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, 'To your descendants I have given this land,'" (Genesis 15:18) / The Genesis 17 covenant was made with him with the changing of his name to Abraham, "Father of a Multitude of Nations": "My covenant is with you... Your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations," (Genesis 17:4).

The promises of each covenant are distinctly different: Genesis 12:2 "I will make you into a great nation" and Genesis 15:18 "To your descendants I have given this land" / Genesis 12:3 "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" and Genesis 22:18 "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." That was fulfilled in Christ:

Galatians 3:8,14,16,17

The gospel (was preached) beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'All the nations shall be blessed in you... (It is) in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham (comes) to the Gentiles... (For) the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed... that is, Christ... (For) the Law, which came 430 years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify (that) promise."

The signs are different:

Genesis 17:8-11

I will give to you and to your descendants after you... all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession... This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.

Matthew 26:26-28

Now while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body.' And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is being poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.'

The inauguration in blood is different: Genesis 15:10 Heifer, goat and ram cut in two and a dove and pigeon

Hebrews 9:15-22,26

(Christ) is the mediator of a new covenant... For where there is a covenant, there must of necessity be (a) death ... Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood... and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness...but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

To whom the promises of each pass down to are different: Genesis 15 (Abramic/Land) covenant passes down to Isaac, Jacob, Jacob's twelve sons and their descendants exclusively. / Genesis 17 (Abrahamic/Blessings on all nations) covenant passes down through Christ to all the families of the earth, for "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life."

Genesis 15 covenant gives a little piece of Land to a select family of the earth.

Genesis 17 covenant gives blessings of eternal life to all the world through the promise of the Seed Heir of Abraham, Jesus Christ.

Secret: Genesis 17 Covenant is the New Covenant of Luke 22.

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  • That's a really good first answer. Looks correct, systematic, logical. I like blockquotes but that's me. Good work. Jan 20 at 3:43
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    – agarza
    Jan 20 at 4:42
-1

Repetition or duplication is very common in the whole Bible. We find detailed accounts repeated even in the Book of Acts, such as the whole account of Paul's conversion. The repetition serves to emphasize, help to memorize and preserve the important accounts. Various sacrificial instruction verses are repeated in Torah.

Genesis ESV 17: 1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”..... 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

There is no mention of Gen 17 being a different covenant. The only difference the OP finds is the condition to keep (guard protect) the covenant. If this is the main concern then you should ask a more specific question about it (what constitutes the keeping). But there is no reason to indicate the passage is showing any different covenant. It only institutes the sign of the covenant, circumcision, which is to be kept by his descendants, accept God's promise and follow him. The institution of the circumcision makes no difference. The promise has been repeated since Genesis 12:7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

TSK cross-reference: Gen 13:15; Gen 17:3; Gen 17:8; Gen 26:3; Gen 28:13; Exod 33:1; Num 32:11; Deut 1:8; Deut 6:10; Deut 30:20; Ps 105:9-12; Rom 9:8; Gal 3:16; Gal 4:28.

The promise was made in Genesis 12, sacrifices happened in 15, and the command to observe circumcision in 17; the covenant is finalized from both sides. Which Paul later argued that the promise (not covenant) can be received by faith through the Messiah to be righteous (Gen 15:6).

Duplications in Torah

Unsurprisingly, this approach also answers a question that commentators have struggled with for generations. Between the many chapters in Torah, many Mitzvos and even historical parts are repeated twice or even three times. A good example is the repetition of the construction of the Tabernacle. First it is described at great detail when God is instructing Moses on how to build it. No less than a few chapters later, the Torah describes the actual construction of the Tabernacle – repeating all the same detail that was already laid out in the instructions just a few chapters earlier. 14th-century commentator on Torah Ralbag addresses this question head-on. He suggests[vi] that the ancient literary style was to duplicate points already made earlier. The ancient writer and reader didn’t find this to be an issue and as unnecessary as we do today. The ancient writer would liberally write points in duplication as per the writing style of the time. Ralbag would have been pleased to know that the historians have now unearthed this very reality. Archaeologists have found that ancient writings, of all genres, often duplicate points already made in repetition, just as we find in the Torah.[vii]

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    Other than both talking about a "covenant", there's not too much repetition between Genesis 15 and 17 at all, that I can see. And even if we acknowledge that there is lots of repetition, how does that answer whether it's one covenant or two?
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 11, 2022 at 12:11
  • @curiousdannii I have added details to prove or show the mere progression of the same covenant. There is only one covenant of promise with Abraham.
    – Michael16
    Jul 11, 2022 at 13:38
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aside from the point of the different sources the story in its current version want to represent the first covenant as merely a covenant of assurance for the possession of the land of Canaan as a response for the concern of Abraham ( it pertains only the land ) . this covenant has nothing to do with the covenant of ch 17

8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it? (NRSV)

the covenant of ch 17 had been made according to the initiative of God to begin to fulfill his own plan regarding becoming a god of a particular people and his plan and covenant now is simply to make Abraham into a multitude of nations and give him and his descendants the land of Canaan (which incidentally had been assured by an earlier covenant ) and to be a god for him and for his descendants after him and he gave him the token of this covenant which is circumcision

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty;[a] walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram,[b] but your name shall be Abraham;[c] for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring[d] after you. 8 And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.”

9 God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you (NRSV)

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    Welcome to the Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. We are glad you are here! Please take a moment to take the site tour and review some of our guidelines for participants.. Where you can, please use the > character before paragraphs to blockquote scriptural references. You will also note from these links that we would like to see participants who show their work. For controversial points, we encourage you to cite and reference scholars supporting this view. Mar 24, 2017 at 3:30
  • That being said, nearly all scholars agree that the Abrahamic Covenant are part of the same covenant - and I can provide numerous scholars such as Wenham, Cassuto and many others supporting this view (though perhaps not in the comments which limit responses to 500 characters) Mar 24, 2017 at 3:33

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