Chapter OneThe First Book of Moses Called Genesis
The words, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," have evoked considerable debate; but without apology, that is how this book begins. In the words of one of the historic creeds: "I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." These words are only the beginning of this book of beginnings-a prologue to a prologue. Genesis gives more than an account of creation. It also describes other beginnings-humanity's Fall into sin and the start of God's elaborate rescue mission for all peoples. It tells what happened first in many important respects (creation, sin, judgment, languages, races, marriage); but at the center of Genesis lies God's sovereign call to Abram and Sarai, a couple of idol worshipers in the Middle East.
Author and Background The Book of Genesis was written and compiled by Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai. Biblical and extrabiblical evidence points to this fact. Jesus clearly assumes Mosaic authorship of Genesis in the statement, "Moses therefore gave you circumcision" (compare also Acts 15:1). Since the reason for circumcision is mentioned only in Genesis 17, Jesus had to be referring to Moses' compilation of the story. Second, both Jewish and Christian tradition unanimously agree with this biblical testimony: Moses compiled and wrote the Pentateuch, the fi rst fi ve books of the Bible, in the Wilderness of Sinai. This would place his authorship of Genesis around the fifteenth century B.C.
Many scholars since the nineteenth century have denied Moses' authorship of Genesis. Instead, some of these scholars have suggested that the Pentateuch, including Genesis, was compiled at a later date, perhaps in the sixth century B.C. According to this analysis, anonymous editors used at least four documents to piece together the Pentateuch. These four documents were identified by tracing the divine names, such as Elohim and Yahweh, through the Pentateuch, and by tracing certain variations in phraseology and word choice. The four documents are called: the J document, which uses Yahweh for God; the E document, which uses Elohim for God; the P or Priestly document; and the D or Deuteronomic document. More recently, this dissection of the Pentateuch has been challenged, and no real consensus has emerged from the ensuing scholarly debate.
By appreciating the unified structure of Genesis, Moses' guiding hand in the compilation and authorship of Genesis can be discerned. Certainly, Moses used other literary sources to piece together his narrative. Sometimes these sources are identifi ed (see Gen. 5:1). Moses presumably edited these older documents to make them understandable to his readers-the second Israelite generation after the Exodus. And later prophets updated the language for the ensuing generations of Israelite readers.
But after all the analysis, it is clear that Moses wrote and compiled Genesis to encourage the early Israelites while they were preparing to enter the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. The content of Genesis would have been especially significant to them. It explains why their ancestors went to Egypt in the first place, why their nation was destined for another Promised Land, and why God had revealed Himself so dramatically to them in the wilderness.
Principal Message Genesis, the book of beginnings, has two parts. The fi rst part (chs. 1-11) serves as a prologue to the second part (chs. 12-50), the book's main event-God's sovereign work in Abraham's family to accomplish His good will for all nations. This prologue (chs. 1-11) provides keys that unlock the rest of the book and the rest of the Bible as well.
Four key concepts presented in Genesis 1-11 are crucial for comprehending the rest of the Bible. First, the God who entered the lives of Abram and Sarai is the same God who created the entire universe. He is the only true and living God-Yahweh, the Creator and the Savior of the world. Second, all people have rebelled against God, their benevolent Creator, and His good will for them. Humanity has inherited a state of sinfulness from Adam and Eve's rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Third, God judges and will judge the actions of all people. God, by sending the Flood, made it clear to Noah and to everyone that human wickedness is entirely unacceptable. God cannot let evil reign free in His creation. Fourth, sin continues to plague all of humanity-even after the Flood. Although the Flood did not wash away sin, God, as the second half of Genesis (chs. 12-50) reveals, has a plan to save humanity from its own evil deeds.
The first part of Genesis provides the setting for the story of Abram and Sarai (chs. 12-50). Their world is populated by a broad spectrum of people groups, each with its own language, customs, values, and beliefs, and all have adopted their own imaginary gods.
The main story of Genesis-God's plan to bless all nations through Abraham's descendants-starts in chapter 12. It begins with God's call to Abram and Sarai (Abraham and Sarah) to become the parents of a new people-a new nation. This new nation would become God's tool for blessing all peoples. Even though Abram and Sarai were merely an elderly couple with the means to travel, God chose to begin His plan of redemption for the entire world with them. The description of their experiences demonstrates the irruption (the breaking into from without) of God's blessing into their lives. Central to God's blessing was His covenant with Abraham-the Abrahamic covenant (see 12:1-3; 15:1-21). God, the awesome Creator of the entire universe, freely chose to make everlasting promises to Abraham and his descendants. These promises in the Abrahamic covenant were the foundation for all of God's subsequent promises and covenants in the Bible. Genesis is not merely a beginning; it provides the foundation for the rest of the biblical narrative.
Christ in the Scriptures
According to the New Testament, Adam is "a type of Him who was to come" (Rom. 5:14). In other words, Adam's life in some ways points vividly to Jesus. Consider that both individuals entered the world through a special act of God, as sinless men. But while Adam is the head of the old creation, Christ is the head of a new creation.
Melchizedek (whose name literally means "king of righteousness") is a strange and shadowy fi gure who suddenly appears in Genesis 14. He is the king of Salem (which means "peace"); the Bible calls him "the priest of God Most High." Some scholars believe that this one who was, in the words of Hebrews 7:3, "made like the Son of God," was in fact Christ Himself. Christ, after all, is known as the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).
Joseph's character and experiences (chs. 39-50) foreshadow the coming of the Messiah in that both Joseph and Christ are objects of special love by their fathers, hated by their brothers, rejected as rulers over their brothers, conspired against and sold for silver, condemned though innocent, and raised from humiliation to glory by the power of God.
I. The stories of Creation and the Fall 1:1-3:24
A. Creation: the seven days 1:1-2:3 B. Creation: the making of man and woman 2:4-25 C. The fall of humankind and God's judgment on Adam and Eve 3:1-24
II. The family of Adam and Eve 4:1-5:32
A. Cain and Abel 4:1-26 B. The family history of Adam and Eve 5:1-32
III. The Flood 6:1-9:29
A. The sons of God and the daughters of men 6:1-4 B. The choosing of Noah 6:5-22 C. The arrival of the Flood 7:1-24 D. The abating of the waters 8:1-22 E. The aftermath 9:1-29
IV. The early nations and the Tower of Babel 10:1-11:32
I. Abram and Sarai (Abraham and Sarah) 12:1-25:34
A. Abram and Sarai and their early experiences in the land of Canaan 12:1-15:21 B. Abram and Sarai's search for a son 16:1-22:24 C. Abraham and Sarah's last days 23:1-25:34
II. Isaac and Rebekah 26:1-27:45
A. Isaac and Abimelech 26:1-33 B. Isaac's blessing on his two sons Jacob and Esau 27:1-45
III. Jacob and Esau 27:46-36:43
A. The sending of Jacob to Laban 27:46-28:5 B. Esau's marriage to a daughter of Ishmael 28:6-9 C. God's self-revelation to Jacob at Bethel 28:10-22 D. Jacob's family 29:1-30:24 E. Jacob's dealings with Laban in Padan Aram 30:25-31:55 F. The reconciliation of Jacob and Esau 32:1-33:20 G. Dinah and her brothers 34:1-31 H. The last days of Isaac 35:1-29 I. The family records of Esau 36:1-43
IV. Joseph (with two interludes) 37:1-50:26
A. Joseph's dreams and a family nightmare 37:1-36 B. Interlude 1: Judah and Tamar 38:1-30 C. Joseph's humiliation in Egypt 39:1-40:23 D. Joseph's exaltation in Egypt 41:1-57 E. Joseph's reunion with his family 42:1-47:31 F. Interlude 2: Jacob's last days 48:1-50:14 G. Joseph's last days 50:15-26
The History of Creation
In the a beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness 1 was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the h darkness He called Night. 2 So the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 Then God said, "Let there be a 3 firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 Then God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, "Let the earth n bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the o fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth"; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great 4 lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the s lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 Then God said, "Let the waters abound with an abundance of living 5 creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the 6 firmament of the heavens." 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind"; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over 7 all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 So God created man a in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that 8 moves on the earth."
29 And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is 9 life, I have given every green herb for food"; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
2 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
4 This is the 1 history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 before any e plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; 6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Life in God's Garden
8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made o every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; 2 it is the one which goes toward the east of 3 As syria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 Then the Lord God took 4 the man and put him in the garden of Eden to 5tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it vyou6 shall surely w die."
18 And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to 7 Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He 8 made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
23 And Adam said:
"This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called 9Woman, Because she was taken out of 1 Man."
24 There fore a man shall leave his father and mother and be 2 joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
The Temptation and Fall of Man
3 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"