Given that, in my experience, not all Hebrew Interlinear or Greek Septuagint texts are strictly literal, is the second person singular personal pronoun explicitly expressed in Genesis 15:1-5 in reference to the Word of Yahweh?

Gen 15:1-5 - After these events, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram replied, “O Lord GOD, what can You give me, since I remain childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Abram continued, “Behold, You have given me no offspring, so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the LORD came to Abram, saying, “This one will not be your heir, but one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” And the LORD took him outside and said, “Now look to the heavens and count the stars, if you are able.” Then He told him, “So shall your offspring be.”

4 Answers 4


Actually, in the passage of Gen 15:1-5, there are no pronouns referring to YHWH/God. The two highlighted pronouns in the question are implicit and only implied by the grammar of the verb which is נָתַן (nathan) which means "to give, put, set".

In both cases the verb is 2nd person masculine singular. The subject of both verbs is אֲדֹנָ֤י יֱהוִה֙ = Adonay YHWH = Lord LORD/Jehovah because Abram's comments are directed specifically to God.

  • 2
    I don't think it's accurate or helpful to say the pronouns are "implied" when the verbs are inflected in another language. The subject is still expressed, just in a different way than in languages like English.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 25 at 13:58

As Dottard pointed out, the 2nd person pronoun is not literally in the Hebrew verse, but is implied because of the action of giving (nathan, Strong's H5414) originating from YHVH. But, nice catch in capitalizing "Word" of YHVH. The translations don't capitalize it. It is Strong's H1697, "dabar" which is defined in BDB 2a as divine communication from YHVH. (Biblehub) But, how does Abram have a "vision" of speech?

The word / messenger / angel was with God in the beginning (John 1:1). It is entirely possible that Abram's vision was of God's messenger, the Angel of the Lord.


General Observations
The NT explains the last statement is one of the most important in the Old Testament.

Genesis 15 (ESV)

1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O LORD God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Romans 4:3

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (Also Galatians 3:6; James 2:23)

It is also necessary to remember the final understanding of an Old Testament passage is not fully revealed until the New Testament.

Romans 16:13

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages

For example, consider what YHVH says to Abram in their next encounter.

Genesis 17:4

Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.

In OT history, Abram did become the father of many nations: Israelites, Ishmaelites, Edomites, and likely others. Nations is גּוֹי which also is translated, Gentiles. In NT history Abraham became the father of many Gentiles when they believed in God as he did. Therefore, the complete meaning of what was told Abram was not understood until after Christ. The same is true in Genesis 15.

Specific Application
Genesis 15:1-5 begins by stating the word of YHVH came to Abram in a vision, מּחזה, not a dream, חלום. Abram carries on a discussion as if YHVH was present and the word of YHVH responds and brings Abram outside. Once outside Abram is told to look to heaven and number the stars.

What begins in a "vision" is described as progressing to an actual event.

"The" word of YHVH is דבר־יהוה. There is no article with דבר. The literal text is simply word YHVH. It is interpreted as the word of YHVH because it is assumed YHVH is not actually present. Yet דבר־יהוה could be taken as identifying YHVH as מלאך יהוה is in Genesis 16.

Genesis 16:7

The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur

Mal'āḵ YHVH found Hagar after Dāḇār YHVH came to Abram. Both have similar composition. Mal'āḵ YHVH to Hagar is considered a theophany. There is no reason Dāḇār YHVH should be understood differently.

The unpointed, מּחזה which is translated as vision could be understood as light as from a window, a place of seeing (cf. 1 Kings 7:4-5). Therefore, the unpointed text could be taken as saying after these things Dāḇār YHVH came to Abram in the light, where light means a place of seeing. The picture is Dāḇār YHVH entering Abram's tent. When Dāḇār YHVH enters, He came to Abram in the light, the additional light coming in when someone enters.

Abram is taken outside; told to look up to the heavens and number the stars, if he is able. Since it is day (cf. Genesis 15:12) the only star visible is the sun. It is also possible the sun's light from the moon would be visible, but the idea Abram sees the innumerable stars in the night sky which are as sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17), is not given in this encounter, nor is it possible if the sun has not set.

A practical explanation of what Abram saw at that moment in time was only the sun, symbolic of Isaac, and the moon, symbolic of Ishmael. When seeing this, Abram believed YHVH and it was credited to him as righteousness.

After this, Abram is told to get a 3-year old heifer, a 3-year old goat, a 3-year old ram, a turtle dove, and a young pigeon. When he returns with the animals, he kills them and cuts them in half. What takes place continues to be described as a real event, not a "vision." Realism is added by saying Abram needed to drive away birds of prey who landed on the carcasses. Then Abram goes into a deep sleep and YHVH, not Dāḇār YHVH, once again speaks.

When the New Testament identifies the Word of God as having a physical presence, such as becoming flesh, it is appropriate to reconsider OT passages in this light. In Genesis 15, Dāḇār YHVH should be understood as a theophany. Just as the Word would eventually come to His own; He first came to Abram, who received Him.

A translators choice of pronouns will reflect the choice of understanding the initial encounter as real or just a vision and deciding at what point the narative moves from vision to actual events.


The word of the LORD mentioned in Genesis 15 is the prophecy and covenant that became the book mentioned in Exodus 17:14 that Moses received before the upcoming events at Mt Sinai in Exodus 20. The Amalekites written about as cursed in the book were descended from Esau and are not of the ancestry of the Israelites through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This would be the stories of Genesis and how Moses himself authored the entire Torah after receiving the Ten Commandments and Law of Moses in It began as the word of the LORD spoken to Abram in Genesis 15 about this ancestry as numerous as the stars.

That the LORD in Genesis 15:1-5 is mentioned in first person, second person, and third person from the perspective of the author being One is not Trinitarian doctrine. It is however an example of Modalism theology which was declared heresy by the Trinitarian theology during the Council of Nicaea

So in Genesis 15 there is the word, LORD, you, and He.

The LORD speaking to Abram in 1,2,3 person where the author is the Holy Spirit? 1st person: I am your shield (verse 1) 2nd person: you can count them (verse 5) 3rd person: He took him outside (verse 5)

That the vision of Abram as the “WORD” being the same as the LORD, but then distinct as He that took Abram outside and said is also not Trinitarian doctrine. The Trinitarian theology is not mentioned in Genesis 15, it is possible however to interpret a Modalism interpretation. God is in three modes as the WORD which is the prophecy and covenant spoken to Abram about Isaac, God is the LORD and He that took Abram outside to look at the stars, and God is the shield and reward. Modalism is only a form of poetry.



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