“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your wage shall be very great”?

I don’t like the above translation of Genesis 15.1. It seems misleading.

But it is relevant to the way Romans 4.4 gets translated:

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

Now this statement occurs in the middle of a great deal of commentary on Genesis 15. It seems, frankly, to come out of nowhere.

I noticed recently however that the Greek word does not have to be translated as “wages.” “Reward” is a common translation of the same Greek word.

In the context of “one who works” it makes sense that translators would think of “wages.”

But what about the context of a discussion of Genesis 15?

Genesis 15.1:

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

This “reward” is precisely the promise that Abram believes and so is justified–the main topic of Romans 4. And the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures in Paul’s day, the Septuagint (or LXX as it is commonly abbreviated) uses the same word that our English translations produce as “wages.”

In my opinion, Genesis 15.1 should count as context to Romans 4.4 and affect how we translate the word.

“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

Now to the one who works, his reward is not counted as a gift but as his due.

1 thought on ““Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your wage shall be very great”?

  1. Sam

    i like the KJV & NIV:

    (Gen 15:1) “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”

    (Gen 15:1) “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.””

    They both present the LORD as Abraham’s “reward”

    Reply

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