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Introduction to the Books of the Bible

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BOOK : Genesis

Description : 1st book of the Pentateuch (meaning "five-volumed book"), the Law of Moses

Author: probably Moses

Date written : somewhere about 1400 BC (Latter part of Moses' life)

Chapters : 50

Brief Synopsis:

•  Otherwise known as the book of beginnings:

•  Beginning of the world, beginning of mankind

•  Beginning of Sin, beginning of judgment, beginning of salvation

•  Beginning of the Hebrew people (who become the nation of Israel )

•  Abram (renamed Abraham) is considered the father of the Hebrew, a man of faith
•  Jacob (renamed Israel) starts out a twister, becomes a man of God
•  The family of Israel eventually end up in Egypt where they settle.


Outline :


Ch.1-11 Creation, The Fall, early peoples, the Flood, aftermath 

Ch.1 & 2 Creation 
Ch.3 The Fall 
Ch.4-6 Early Peoples  
Ch.6-8 The Flood 
Ch.8-11 The aftermath 

Ch 11-50 The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob (and Joseph) 

Ch.11-25 Abraham 
Ch.25-28 Isaac 
Ch.29-36 Jacob ( Israel ) 
Ch.37-50 Joseph  


Key Verses :


1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (i.e. a perfect world)



2;16,17 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
3:23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  


The Flood

6:5-8 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved  that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.   So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth --men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.  


12:1-3 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."  
15:6   Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.  



25:21 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant
27:28,29 (Blessing Jacob by ‘mistake') May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness-- an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed."



30:1-34  Jacob's sons
32:24,28 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak… Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."



37:3-5   Now Israel  loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.
37:26,27,36   Judah said to his brothers, "What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?  Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother,our own flesh and blood."His brothers agreed…. the Midianites  sold Joseph  in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard.
39:2-4   The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.   When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household,   and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 
41:39,40   Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders.
46:2,3  And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, "Jacob! Jacob!" "Here I am," he replied. "I am God, the God of your father," he said."Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt , for I will make you into a great nation there.
50:18-20  His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said. But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  




•  Difficulties with the Creation story

•  Some see the seven days of Creation as 7 24-hour periods

•  Others see it as 7 eras or long periods

•  Some see it as seven days when God revealed it to Moses

•  Some believe in literal creation, within a short period of time

•  Some believe in evolution

•  Mechanical evolution means a world without purpose or meaning

•  Guided evolution is perfectly feasible, ‘meaning' coming from God's purpose

•  Mechanical Evolution still has many ‘holes' e.g. how can you account for sexual reproduction?

•  You are likely to opt according to your starting point – there is no God or there is a God – and often that has more to do with personal factors than scientific possibilities.     


•  Difficulties with the Fall
•  Some see it as an analogy although it is written as history
•  Without it there is no explanation why ‘sin' appears in every single human being
•  The effects shown exactly replicate the problems we have when we sin.

•  The fact that they were not killed by God is an indication of His mercy and grace and a long-term plan (seen through the New Testament) whereby He knew this would happen and acted accordingly, bringing Israel into being as an environment into which to speak and reveal Himself and into which He would eventually send His Son, Jesus Christ.


•  Difficulties with the Flood

•  Some believe the flood was worldwide – there are indicators around the world of such a catastrophe, yet genetic indicators in human races suggest an alternative.
•  Some suggest the flood was limited to a large area of the Middle East.

•  Difficulties with God asking Abraham to kill Isaac

•  The truth was that God never wanted it to happen but just wanted Abraham to demonstrate his trust in the Lord.  


The Geography of Genesis

Geographically we see the Garden of Eden being in Mesopotamia, the area from which Abram was called by God, to go and settle in Canaan (what we now call Israel).

By the end of the book Jacob's family has grown and ends up in Egypt.



 Recommended Reading in Genesis for beginners


- Gen 1 & 2

The Fall & its consequences

- Gen 3

Enoch – example of ‘walking with God

- Gen 5:18-24

Abram's call to Canaan & God's promises

- Gen 12:1-5

Abram – faith the basis of righteousness

- Gen 15:6

Isaac's miraculous birth

- Gen 21:1-7

Providence – hidden hand of God - Rebekah

- Gen 24

Sovereignty – birth of Jacob & Esau

- Gen 25:19-26

Fulfilment of prophecy – Jacob & Esau

- Gen 25:27-34, 27:1-40

Jacob – God - Israel

- Gen 32:22-30

Joseph's future foretold

- Gen 37:1-11

Prophecy fulfilled

- Gen 41


- Gen 45:5-8, 50:19,20



New Testament Significance:


•  Abraham is a one of THE key Old Testament figures who is referred to in the New Testament:
•  revered by the Jews and often referred to by Jesus and the apostles – see Mt 3:9, Mt 8:11, Lk 1:55,73, Lk 13;16, Lk 16:23-30, Lk 19:9, Lk 20:37, Jn 8:39-58, Acts 3:13,25, Acts 7:2,5,8,16,17,32, Acts 13:26
•  seen as the example of faith and righteousness – see Rom 4, Gal 3, Heb 11:8,11,17,19,  Jas 2:21,23
•  Gen 1:27 is used by Jesus as the basis of family life and for refuting divorce (see Mt 19:4-6)

•  Noah and the flood are used as historical instances by Jesus (see Mt 24:37-40) and Peter (2 Pet 2:5,9) in teaching.


Concluding Comments: 


•  Genesis reveals God creating a perfect world
•  Although some object to the idea of two new unique individuals (Adam and Eve), the reality is that although there are similarities with some animals, there are also distinct differences which reflect us being made “in the image of God” (See Gen 1:27). Somewhere in history there had to be a change to create a difference between animals and humans .
•  (We might add that the idea of being made “in the image of God” [and different from animals] usually includes the abilities to communicate, think, plan, reason, invent, create, write, work, order, purpose and enter into the fullness of what they were designed to be . Put another way,   God has given us self-consciousness, imagination and conscience, and ability to grow and develop.)
•  It also shows us the introduction of Sin (NB. We define sin as ‘self-centred godlessness which results in unrighteousness (unrighteousness is destructive behaviour contrary to the way God has designed us to work best)
•  As noted above, the fact that God did not destroy Adam and Eve is an indication of a long-term plan to achieve an incredible outcome whereby sinful mankind can be won over (some at least) by God's love and exercise their free will to return to Him and His design for them.
•  Theologians suggest there is a glimpse of this long-term plan in God's words of judgment on Satan (the serpent), “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring   and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Gen 3:15) Their ‘offspring' will include Jesus Christ who will destroy Satan's power over us, through the Cross, which in itself was inspired by Satan working through individuals.
•  God clearly chose to reveal Himself through interaction through individuals and then through a nation, Israel .
•  Allowing Israel's family to develop into what was tantamount to a nation or different race in Egypt established a scenario in which God would reveal Himself as their deliverer while at the same time revealing Himself as the all-powerful judge of the world who can bring judgment on those who clearly deserve it, and who will not change in any other way.


Bible Studies on this site:

Gen 1 -11 - “In the beginning
Gen 12-24 - “Abraham's Story
Gen 27-37 - “Jacob's Story

Gen 38-50 - “Joseph's Story