New International Version
Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.
King James Bible
And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.
Darby Bible Translation
And he took all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid the half of each opposite its fellow; but the birds he did not divide.
World English Bible
He brought him all of these, and divided them in the middle, and laid each half opposite the other; but he didn't divide the birds.
Young's Literal Translation
and he taketh to him all these, and separateth them in the midst, and putteth each piece over against its fellow, but the bird he hath not divided;
Genesis 15:10 Parallel
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
Divided them in the midst - The ancient method of making covenants as well as the original word, have been already alluded to, and in a general way explained. See Genesis 6:18. The word covenant from con, together, and venio, I come, signifies an agreement, association, or meeting between two or more parties; for it is impossible that a covenant can be made between an individual and himself, whether God or man. This is a theological absurdity into which many have run; there must be at least two parties to contract with each other. And often there was a third party to mediate the agreement, and to witness it when made. Rabbi Solomon Jarchi says, "It was a custom with those who entered into covenant with each other to take a heifer and cut it in two, and then the contracting parties passed between the pieces." See this and the scriptures to which it refers particularly explained, Genesis 6:18. A covenant always supposed one of these four things:
1. That the contracting parties had been hitherto unknown to each other, and were brought by the covenant into a state of acquaintance.
2. That they had been previously in a state of hostility or enmity, and were brought by the covenant into a state of pacification and friendship.
3. Or that, being known to each other, they now agree to unite their counsels, strength, property, etc., for the accomplishment of a particular purpose, mutually subservient to the interests of both. Or,
4. It implies an agreement to succor and defend a third party in cases of oppression and distress.
For whatever purpose a covenant was made, it was ever ratified by a sacrifice offered to God; and the passing between the divided parts of the victim appears to have signified that each agreed, if they broke their engagements, to submit to the punishment of being cut asunder; which we find from Matthew 24:51; Luke 12:46, was an ancient mode of punishment. This is farther confirmed by Herodotus, who says that Sabacus, king of Ethiopia, had a vision, in which he was ordered μεσους διατεμειν, to cut in two, all the Egyptian priests; lib. ii. We find also from the same author, lib. vii., that Xerxes ordered one of the sons of Pythius μεσον διατεμειν, to be cut in two, and one half to be placed on each side of the way, that his army might pass through between them. That this kind of punishment was used among the Persians we have proof from Daniel 2:5; Daniel 3:29. Story of Susanna, verses 55, 59. See farther, 2 Samuel 12:31, and 1 Chronicles 20:3. These authorities may be sufficient to show that the passing between the parts of the divided victims signified the punishment to which those exposed themselves who broke their covenant engagements. And that covenant sacrifices were thus divided, even from the remotest antiquity, we learn from Homer, Il. A., v. 460.
Μηρους τ' εξεταμον κατα τε κνισοῃ εκαλυψαν,
Διπτυχα ποιησαντες, επ' αυτων δ' ωμοθετησαν.
"They cut the quarters, and cover them with the fat; dividing them into two, they place the raw flesh upon them."
But this place may be differently understood.
St. Cyril, in his work against Julian, shows that passing between the divided parts of a victim was used also among the Chaldeans and other people. As the sacrifice was required to make an atonement to God, so the death of the animal was necessary to signify to the contracting parties the punishment to which they exposed themselves, should they prove unfaithful.
Livy preserves the form of the imprecation used on such occasions, in the account he gives of the league made between the Romans and Albans. When the Romans were about to enter into some solemn league or covenant, they sacrificed a hog; and, on the above occasion, the priest, or pater patratus, before he slew the animal, stood, and thus invoked Jupiter:
Audi, Jupiter! Si prior defecerit publico consilio dolo malo, tum illo die, Diespiter, Populum Romanum sic ferito, ut ego hune porcum hic hodie feriam; tantoque magis ferito, quanto magis potes pollesque! - Livii Hist., lib. i., chap. 24.
"Hear, O Jupiter! Should the Romans in public counsel, through any evil device, first transgress these laws, in that same day, O Jupiter, thus smite the Roman people, as I shall at this time smite this hog; and smite them with a severity proportioned to the greatness of thy power and might!"
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
LibraryGod's Covenant with Abram
'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. And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness. And He said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And He said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Kate Lee's Secret
Palestine Eighteen Centuries Ago
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So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."
Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.
He shall tear it open by the wings, not dividing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is burning on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces.
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