Chapter OneThe First Book of Moses, Called
I. The Beginnings of Human History (1:1-11:26) A. Origin of the Universe and Life (1:1-2:25) 1. Summary of All Creation (1:1-2:4) 2. Expanded Creation Account of Adam and Eve (2:5-25) B. Origin of Sin (3:1-24) 1. Temptation and the Fall (3:1-6) 2. Consequences of the Fall (3:7-24) C. Origins of Civilization (4:1-5:32) 1. Cain: Pagan Culture (4:1-24) 2. Seth: A Righteous Remnant (4:25-26) 3. Genealogical History of the Pre-flood Patriarchs (5:1-32) D. The Great Flood: God's Judgment on Primeval Civilization (6:1-8:19) 1. Universal Depravity (6:1-8, 11-12) 2. Noah: Preparation to Save a Righteous Remnant (6:9-22) 3. Final Instructions and the Flood (7:1-8:19) E. Humanity's New Beginning (8:20-11:26) 1. The Posterity of Noah (8:20-10:32, Especially Shem, 10:21-31; 11:10-26) 2. The Tower of Babel (11:1-9) 3. Genealogical Links Between Shem and Abraham (11:10-26)
II. The Beginnings of the Hebrew People (11:27-50:26) A. Abraham (11:27-25:18) 1. Abram's Family Background (11:27-32) 2. Abram's Call and Journey of Faith (12:1-14:24) 3. God's Formal Covenant With Abram (15:1-21) 4. Hagar and Ishmael (16:1-16) 5. Abrahamic Covenant Sealed by a New Name and Circumcision (17:1-27) 6. Abraham's Promise and Lot's Tragedy (18:1-19:38) 7. Abraham and Abimelech (20:1-18) 8. Abraham and Isaac, the Son of Promise (21:1-24:67) 9. The Posterity of Abraham (25:1-18) B. Isaac (25:19-28:9) 1. Birth of Esau and Jacob (25:19-26) 2. Esau Sells His Birthright to Jacob (25:27-34) 3. Isaac, Rebekah and Abimelech II (26:1-17) 4. Dispute About Wells and the Move to Beer-sheba (26:18-33) 5. The Patriarchal Blessing (26:34-28:9) C. Jacob (28:10-37:2a) 1. Jacob's Dream and Journey (28:10-22) 2. Jacob With Laban in Haran (29:1-31:55) 3. Jacob and Esau Reconciled (32:1-33:17) 4. Jacob's Return to the Promised Land (33:18-35:20) 5. The Posterity of Jacob and Esau (35:21-37:2a) D. Joseph (37:2b-50:26) 1. Joseph and His Brothers in Canaan (37:2b-36) 2. Judah and Tamar (38:1-30) 3. Joseph's Testing and Promotion in Egypt (39:1-41:57) 4. Joseph and His Brothers in Egypt (42:1-45:28) 5. Joseph's Father and Brothers Settle in Egypt (46:1-47:26) 6. Jacob's Last Days, Final Prophecies and Death (47:27-50:14) 7. The Joseph Summary (50:15-26)
Date of Writing c. 1445-1405 B.C.
Genesis appropriately stands as the first book of the OT and serves as an essential introduction to the whole Bible. The book's title in Hebrew is derived from the first word of the book, bereshith ("in the beginning"). "Genesis," the title in our English Bible, is derived from the Greek translation of the Hebrew title and means "the origin, source or beginning of something." Genesis is "the book of beginnings."
The author of Genesis is nowhere designated in the book itself. The testimony of the rest of the Bible, however, is that Moses was the author of the entire Pentateuch (i.e., the first five OT books) and thus of Genesis (e.g., 1 Ki 2:3; 2 Ki 14:6; Ezra 6:18; Neh 13:1; Dan 9:11-13; Mal 4:4; Mark 12:26; Luke 16:29, 31; John 7:19-23; Acts 26:22; 1 Cor 9:9; 2 Cor 3:15). Also, ancient Jewish writers and the early church fathers unanimously testify that Moses was the author/editor of Genesis. Insofar as the entire history of Genesis antedates Moses' life, his role in writing Genesis was largely to integrate, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, all the available written and oral records from Adam to the death of Joseph that are now preserved in Genesis. Perhaps an indication of the historical records used by Moses when writing Genesis is found in the 11 occurrences of the phrase, "these are the generations of" (Heb 'elleh toledoth),which also may be translated as "these are the histories by" (see 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2).
Genesis accurately records creation, the beginnings of human history, and the origin of the Hebrew people and God's covenant with them through Abraham and the other patriarchs. Its historical reliability as inspired Scripture is certified in the NT by the Lord Jesus (Mat 19:4-6; 24:37-39; Luke 11:51; 17:26-32; John 7:21-23; 8:56-58) and by the apostles (Rom 4; 1Cor 15:21-22, 45-47; 2Cor 11:3; Gal 3:8; 4:22-24, 28; 1 Tim 2:13-14; Heb 11:4-22;2 Pet 3:4-6; Jude 7, 11). Its historicity continues to be confirmed by modern archaeological discoveries. Moses was remarkably prepared by education (Acts 7:22) and by God to write this unique first book of the Bible.
Genesis provides an essential foundation for the remainder of the Pentateuch and all subsequent Biblical revelation. It preserves the only trustworthy record about the beginnings of the universe, humankind, marriage, sin, cities, languages, nations, Israel and redemptive history. It was written in accordance with God's purpose to give His covenant people in both the OT and NT a foundational understanding of Himself, creation, the human race, the fall, death, judgment, covenant and the promise of redemption through the offspring of Abraham.
Genesis divides naturally into two major parts. (A) Chs.1-11 provide an overview of human beginnings from Adam to Abraham and focus on five epochal events. (1) Creation: God created all things, including Adam and Eve whom He placed in the Garden of Eden (chs.1-2). (2) The Fall: Adam and Eve by their transgression introduced the curse of sin and death into human history (ch. 3). (3) Cain and Abel: This tragedy set in motion the two basic streams of history: humanistic civilization and a redemptive remnant (chs. 4-5). (4) The Great Flood: The ancient world had become so evil by the time of Noah's generation that God destroyed it by a universal flood, sparing only righteous Noah and his family as a remnant (chs.6-10). (5)The tower of Babel: When the post-flood world unified in idolatry and rebellion, God dispersed it by fragmenting language and culture and by scattering the human race throughout the earth (ch. 11).
(B) Chs. 12-50 record the beginnings of the Hebrew people and focus on God's ongoing redemptive purpose through the lives of Israel's four great patriarchs-Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. God's call of Abraham/Abram (ch. 12) and His covenantal dealings with him and his descendants form the pivotal beginning of the outworking of God's purpose concerning a Redeemer and redemption in history. Genesis concludes with Joseph's death and the impending bondage of Israel in Egypt.
Seven major features characterize Genesis. (1) It was the first book of the Bible written (with the possible exception of the book of Job), and it records the beginning of human history, sin, the Hebrew people and redemption. (2) The history in Genesis spans a larger period of time than the rest of the Bible combined, beginning with the first human couple, broadening to pre-flood world history, and then narrowing to Hebrew history as the redemptive stream that is traced throughout the remainder of the OT. (3) Genesis reveals that the material universe and life on earth are distinctly God's work and not an independent process of nature. Fifty times in chs. 1-2 God is the subject of verbs showing what He did as Creator. (4) Genesis is a book of firsts-recording the first marriage, first family, first birth, first sin, first murder, first polygamist, first musical instruments, first promise of redemption, and the like. (5) God's covenant with Abraham, which began with his call (12:1-3), was made formal in ch. 15 and was ratified in ch.17, is central to all of Scripture. (6) Genesis alone explains the origin of the 12 tribes of Israel. (7) It reveals how Abraham's descendants ended up in Egypt (for 430 years) and thus sets the stage for the exodus, the central redemptive event in the OT.
New Testament Fulfillment
Genesis reveals the prophetic history of redemption and a Redeemer as coming through the offspring of the woman (3:15), through the line of Seth (4:25-26), through the line of Shem (9:26-27) and through the descendants of Abraham (12:2-3). The NT applies Gen 12:2-3 directly to God's provision of redemption in Jesus Christ (Gal 3:16, 29). Numerous persons and events from Genesis are mentioned in the NT in relation to faith and righteousness (e.g., Rom 4; Heb 11:1-22), God's judgment (e.g., Luke 17:26-29, 32; 2 Pet 3:6; Jude 7, 11a) and the person of Christ (e.g., Mat 1:1; John 8:58; Heb 7).
In order to read the entire Old Testament in one year, the book of Genesis should be read in 21 days, according to the following schedule:
1-2 3-5 6-8 9-11 12-14 15-17 18-19 20-22 23-24 25-26 27-28 29-30 31-33 34-35 36-37 38-39 40-41 42-43 44-45 46-48 49-50
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1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And 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 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And 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. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto 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 called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon 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 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his 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 fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
30 And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar, a mount of the east.
31 These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.
32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.
The tower of Babel
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
The Spirit in the Old Testament
The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the eternal triune God (see Mark 1:11, note; see
article on The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, p. 1676). Although His full power was not revealed to
God's people until the ministry of Jesus (see article on Jesus and the Holy Spirit, p.