Genesis 15:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 15:5, NIV: "He took him outside and said, 'Look up at the sky and count the stars--if indeed you can count them.' Then he said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.'"

Genesis 15:5, ESV: "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.”"

Genesis 15:5, KJV: "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."

Genesis 15:5, NASB: "And He took him outside and said, 'Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'"

Genesis 15:5, NLT: "Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, 'Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That's how many descendants you will have!'"

Genesis 15:5, CSB: "He took him outside and said, "Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then he said to him, "Your offspring will be that numerous.""

What does Genesis 15:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, reassuring Abram of God's protection and reward. Abram responded with heartfelt concerns, pointing out that the Promise-maker still had not given to him any children. God assured Abram once more that his heir would be his own flesh and blood, not a servant. The Hebrew phrasing used in the prior verse explicitly referred to a biological child—a literal, natural "son" for Abram.

Now God somehow shows Abram the stars. Given that this encounter is described as a vision, it's hard to know if this look at the stars was an illusion, or an actual trip outside. Later verses suggest that this part of the story happens prior to sunset (Genesis 15:12). In any case, God directs Abram to look up and count the stars above, if he was able. Of course, Abram could not count the stars. Neither could he count the dust on the earth, which God had pointed to in making a similar promise in Genesis 13:16.

God assures Abram once more that his offspring would be so numerous as to be uncountable.