Does anyone have thoughts on the significance of this formula used twice in vs. 1-6? Robert Alter points out that patriarchal dialogue with God is usually introduced differently: this is a more prophetic formula. When I read over it not realising it was anomalous, I was simply struck by the way the section opened with the word of the LORD, and closed with faith in that word as righteousness. I thought the structure was throwing emphasis on these things in a particular way. Does the unusualness of the formula serve just to emphasise the word more, or is it linked to Abraham's prophetic office in some way that distinguishes this from other communications with God (even with Noah, there is a more simple, conversational style)? -- Something else quite striking in the notes on this chapter (Ruben bought me Alter's 'Books of Moses': it's not a sole reliable translation but I think his literary insight is richly wonderful) is the light in darkness motif, and the bringing 'out of' motif: ie, in the first section God draws Abraham outside; in the second God identifies as the LORD who brought him out of Ur (which will change later into 'out of Egypt'). In the first section there is darkness lit by innumerable stars, associated with the promise of seed. In the second, there is a far more profound darkness, with all available light concentrated in that lone smoking torch passing through the pieces of the animal: the light of God making his covenant. So these two sections are linked in various ways, but not in the way that God speaks ... it raises questions.