What is…

[read the of Book of Genesis]

Genesis is the first book in both the Hebrew and Christian Bible.

Who wrote Genesis? The author was Moses (see Pentateuch). It is likely that Moses compiled and edited earlier writings (originals now lost) from Adam and other ancient patriarchs.

“After all, the events of Genesis took place long before Moses was born, whereas he was a direct participant in the events recorded in the other four books of the Pentateuch. It is reasonable that Adam and his descendants all knew how to write, and therefore kept records of their own times (note the mention of “the book of the generations of Adam” in Genesis 5:1).

These records (probably kept on stone or clay tablets) were possibly handed down from father to son in the line of the God-fearing patriarchs until they finally were acquired by Moses when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt.

During the wilderness wanderings, Moses compiled them into the book of Genesis, adding his own explanatory editorial comments where needed. Genesis is still properly considered as one of the books of Moses, since its present form is due to him, but it really records the eye-witness records of these primeval histories, as written originally by Adam, Noah, Shem, Isaac, Jacob and other ancient patriarchs. The respective divisions of Genesis can be recognized by the recurring phrase: ‘These are the generations of…’

The archaeologist P.J. Wiseman has shown that these statements probably represent the ‘signatures,’ so to speak, of the respective writers as they concluded their accounts of the events during their lifetimes [Dr. Henry M. Morris, The Defender’s Study Bible (Iowa Falls, Iowa: World Bible Publishers, 1995), p. 1-2.].

The 5 books of Moses were collectively called the Pentateuch, a word of Greek origin meaning “the 5-fold book.” The Jews called them the Torah, i.e., “the law.”

It is probable that the division of the Torah into five books proceeded from the Greek translators of the Old Testament. The names by which these several books are generally known are Greek.

The first book of the Pentateuch is called by the Jews Bereshith, i.e., “in the beginning”, because this is the first word of the book. It is generally known among Christians by the name of Genesis, i.e., “creation” or “generation,” being the name given to it in the Septuagint [Septuagint] as designating its character, because it gives an account of the origin of all things. It contains, according to the usual computation, the history of about 2,369 years.

Genesis is divided into 2 principal parts.

  1. The first part (1-11) gives a general history of mankind down to the time of the Dispersion.

  2. The second part presents the early history of Israel down to the death and burial of Joseph (12-50).

There are 5 principal persons brought in succession under our notice in this book, and around these persons the history of the successive periods is grouped, viz.,

  1. Adam (1-3)
  2. Noah (4-9)
  3. Abraham (10-25:18)
  4. Isaac (25:19-35:29), and
  5. Jacob (36-50).

In this book we have several prophecies concerning Christ (3:15; 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; 49:10).

The author of this book was Moses. Under divine guidance he may indeed have been led to make use of materials already existing in primeval documents, or even of traditions in a trustworthy form that had come down to his time, purifying them from all that was unworthy; but the hand of Moses is clearly seen throughout in its composition.

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