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The Meaning of the Animal Rite in Genesis 15


The Meaning of the Animal Rite in Genesis 15 SAGE Publications, Inc.1981DOI: 10.1177/030908928100601903 Gerhard F. Hasel Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI 49103 USA The pericope of Gen 15:7-21 /1/, the age of which is highly disputed in modern scholarship /2/, contains an animal rite (vss 9-10, 17) whose meaning is variously interpreted. This essay will attempt (1) to review major interpretations of the animal rite in Gen 15:9-10, 17, (2) to investigate relevant religio-historical parallels with animal rites from ancient Near Eastern treaty texts, and (3) in view of the latter to reassess the animal rite in Gen 15:9-10, 17 with a view of elucidating its function and meaning. I. MAJOR INTERPRETATIONS A major 'interpretation of the animal rite in Gen 15 suggests that the disjecta membra of the animals symbolize the contracting covenant partners and the passing between the animal pieces indicates the union of the covenant parties /3/. This union has been conceived by some to be a "mystical- sacramental" /4/ one. Even where it is not so conceived, it is understood as a union that brings together into a close bond of fellowship two separated parties. The "union" interpretation, whether "mystical-sacramental" or otherwise, is felt
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