The Royal Promise In Genesis: The Often Underestimated Importance of Genesis 17:6, 17:16 and 35:11 -- By: Daniel S. Diffey

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 62:2 (NA 2011)
Article: The Royal Promise In Genesis: The Often Underestimated Importance of Genesis 17:6, 17:16 and 35:11
Author: Daniel S. Diffey


The Royal Promise In Genesis:
The Often Underestimated Importance of Genesis 17:6, 17:16 and 35:11

Daniel S. Diffey

Summary

There are three specific instances in which a royal promise is made to an individual in the book of Genesis. Scholarship has largely viewed these as incidental within the larger framework of the major themes found in the book of Genesis. This short note seeks to correct this misunderstanding by demonstrating that the promise that kings will come from Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob is integrally linked with the themes of fruitfulness, seed (offspring), and land. Thus, the theme of kingship is a much more important theme than is often held.

1. Introduction

There are three explicit references to the royal promise in the book of Genesis: 17:6, 17:16, and 35:11. In each of these passages the person being referred to (either Abraham, Sarah, or Jacob) is promised that ‘kings will come from’ him or her. Since there are only three such references it could easily be assumed that these passages form a minor or even superficial theme that should not garner a lot of attention. Even from those commentators who do consider the promise of kings to be somewhat significant, there is a tendency to either generalise or gloss over the meaning of the royal promise. This is usually done by listing these passages with a few other passages from Genesis that deal with kingship like 36:31 or 49:10. Even T. D. Alexander, who has written widely on this subject, glosses over these verses. This can be seen most evidently in his work The Servant King where none of these verses are considered key texts in his chapter on Genesis 3-50 entitled

‘Intimations of the Royal Line’. These verses are dealt with briefly with several other verses in the span of only two paragraphs.1

This short note is by no means comprehensive. The intention of this note is to bring these passages into more prominent discussion and to highlight a few aspects of these passages which have been overlooked by the majority. The promises of kings found in Genesis 17:6, 17:16, and 35:11 are much more than minor coincidences, they are an integral part of the promise to Abraham, Sarah and then subsequently to Jacob. T...

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