In the beginning   created   God   -   the heavens   and -   the earth.

Introduction to Genesis

Copyright©2006, 2011, 2014, 2015 by Daniel B. Sedory

 

    One of the most important facts to be aware of when reading the first few chapters of Genesis is its brevity! The words in these paragraphs are merely a summary of all that actually occurred at that time. Many of us have attended lectures where the speaker has used images projected from a computer screen. Well think of Genesis chapters 1 through 3 as a Power Point presentation from God. Each verse in chapter 1 is a bullet summary of God's actions during the days of Creation. Other important aspects of this book can be found by asking: When was Genesis written, for whom and why?

We see no need to question the wide-spread early acceptance of Moses as its author; in spite of various documentary hypotheses which oppose it. We also presume Moses obtained many of the facts recorded in Genesis 1-3 directly from God, including many of the details found in chapters 4 through 11.

Though Abraham may have had records of his immediate ancestors, which he could have passed down to his heirs, he probably had only a general knowledge of Noah and pre-Flood history—as evidenced by some widely differing accounts of those events in various cultures of his own time. There was a span of about 300 years from Abraham to Moses, but some family records and oral histories may have existed which Moses could have incorporated into Genesis. Moses himself lived around 1525 to 1405 BCE; we assume a date of about 1445 BCE for both the composition of Genesis and Israel's Exodus from Egypt. This makes the account we have of the Flood (Genesis 6:13 through 8:22) at least one thousand years after the fact; not to mention Creation itself!  That point is emphasized to show how far removed these early events were from those for whom the book was first written: The nation of Israel. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that references to earlier cultures or abstract concepts would be described in a manner familiar to the Israelites, and generally be discussed only if they were of significant relevance to them (such as the concept of "sin" entering the world in Chapter 3, and how it led to the destruction of everyone but Noah's family!).

Thus the purpose of the early chapters of Genesis was not to provide a detailed account of earth's history, but rather to describe for Israel (and all other nations), whom they were to worship, and why: The reason for going all the way back to the beginning of time was to explain that Israel's God was not some localized or national deity, like the many false gods they'd seen in the paintings and stone works of Egypt. No, the God of Israel is the Creator of the universe, the only one who rightly deserves to be worshipped by all nations! So in keeping with the author's intent, most of the book of Genesis concerns the birth of the nation of Israel: The lives of Abraham (12:1 - 25:11; whose name was changed from Abram to Abraham in 17:5), Isaac (25:19 - 35:29) and Jacob (37:1 - 49:33; who is first called Israel in 32:28, but named Israel by God in 35:10). The final chapters of this section concerning Israel, include the time of Jacob's whole family moving to Egypt (45:9 - 46:27) and its last verse (50:26), which declares the death of Joseph.



The Bullet points of chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis

[Scripture references (unless otherwise noted) are from the NET Bible; any emphasis is our own.]

 

NOTES for Genesis 1:1 through 2:3

1 [Return to Text]   (Hebrew: be-rē’-shiyth, בְּרֵאשִׁית). In (בְּ) (the) beginning (רֵאשִׁית), God (’e-lo-hiym; אֱלֹהִ֑ים) created (bah-rah’; בָּרָ֣א).

2 [Return to Text]   (Hebrew: hash-shah-ma-yim, הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם). The heavens, all space. God also created at least one 'plane of existence' beyond the three-dimensional universe we are confined to within our earthly bodies, a 'place' where both angels (currently) and humans in 'glorified bodies' (in the future) can dwell in the presence of God.

3 [Return to Text]   (Hebrew: ha-’ah-rets, הָאָֽרֶץ). The earth.

4 [Return to Text]   As Scripture states in John 1:3, "All things were created by him (Greek: panta di' autou egeneto; πάντα δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο), and apart from him (kai chōris autou; καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ) not one thing was created (egeneto oude hen; ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν) that has been created (ho gegonen; ὃ γέγονεν)."

5 [Return to Text]   "Even before ... you brought the world into being, you were the eternal God" (Ps 90:2), "Even from eternity I am He," (Is 43:13; NAU), and Jude 25: "Before (Greek: pro; πρὸ)  all (pantos; παντὸς)  time (tou aiōnos; τοῦ αἰῶνος),  and now (kai nun; καὶ νῦν),  and forever [or: for all eternity] (kai eis pantas tous aiōnas; καὶ εἰς πάντας τοὺς αἰῶνας).  Amen (amēn; ἀμήν)."

6 [Return to Text]  We know from Job 38:7 that all the angels were already present when God created the earth: "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" .... "and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"  (Man did not yet exist when God created the earth. In Job 1:6, "the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD," providing further proof of their supernatural nature!)

 

 

This page is still under construction; and will remain so for a very long time !!!

Revised: 19 December, 2009 and August 7, 2010.
Updated: September 3, 2010; November 28, 2010; February 17, 2011; September 3, 2011; July 30, 2014.
Last Update: December 30, 2015.