Genesis 15:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 15:12, NIV: "As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him."

Genesis 15:12, ESV: "As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him."

Genesis 15:12, KJV: "And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him."

Genesis 15:12, NASB: "Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him."

Genesis 15:12, NLT: "As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him."

Genesis 15:12, CSB: "As the sun was setting, a deep sleep came over Abram, and suddenly great terror and darkness descended on him."

What does Genesis 15:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Abram, the man who will soon be renamed Abraham, is in the midst of a covenant ritual between himself and the Lord. In the previous verses, the Lord instructed Abram to bring to him five animals. Abram cut a heifer, goat, and ram in half, arranging the halves opposite of each other and chasing birds of prey away from them. This attack on the covenant promise is symbolic of Israel's future captivity under Egypt.

At this point in the story, the sun is going down. Previously, God had instructed Abram to look at the stars (Genesis 15:5). That moment either took place within Abram's vision or on the previous night. On this night, at dusk, Abram seems supernaturally overpowered by a deep sleep and a great and dreadful darkness.

In the following verses, the Lord will speak to Abram in a dream or vision as he sleeps or after Abram is awakened. The upcoming words will prophesy the slavery of Abram's descendants in Egypt, their eventual exodus, and their conquest of the sinful nations of Canaan.