"In you all the families
of the earth shall be blessed."
Genesis comes by way of
the Latin, from a transliteration of the Greek term
meaning "origin," or "beginning." Genesis was given
to the Septuagint or Greek translation of the Hebrew
Scriptures. The Hebrew title comes from its first
word in Hebrew, Bereshith, meaning "in the
beginning." It describes the beginning of God’s
covenant relationship with His chosen people as well
as the origins of all human history.
The book does not name its author. However, the
authorship is closely related to the authorship of
the entire Pentateuch, which in the Hebrew is called
the Torah. The Old Testament, New Testament, church
and Jewish tradition ascribed the author of Genesis
and the first five books of the Law to Moses. Jesus
also viewed the author as Moses. Cf. Ex. 17:14;
24:4, 7; 34:27; Lev. 1:1-2; 4:1-2; 6:8-9, 24-25;
7:22-23, 28-29; Num. 33:1-2; Deut. 1:1; 31:9, 24;
Josh. 1:7-8; 8:32, 34; 22:5; I Kings 2:3; II Kings
14:6; 21:8; II Chron. 34:14; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 8:18;
8:1; Dan. 9:11-13; Mal. 4:4; Matt. 8:4; 19:7-8; 8:4;
Mk. 1:44; 7:10; 10:3-4; 12:26; Luke 5:14; 16:29-31;
20:37; 24:27, 44; John 5:45-47; 7:19, 23; Acts 3:22;
13:39; 15:21; 26:22; 28:23; Rom. 10:5, 19.
Moses was trained in the
"wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22) and was
capable of writing such a work. He probably could
have written the book in several languages and in
different scripts such as hieroglyphic, cuneiform,
and old Hebrew. There are details that only an
eyewitness could elaborate on (Ex. 15:27; Num.
2:1-31; 11:7-8). It would have been almost
impossible for an editor living in Canaan many
centuries later to obtain correctly the Egyptian
names, geography and customs.
The author writes under
the full inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit
(II Pet. 1:21). He probably also has access to both
oral and written traditions of early history.
Someone else would have appendixed the death of
Moses in Deut. 34.
The Babylonian account of
the creation of the world is full of polytheistic
mythology which is entirely different from the
details concerning creation in Genesis. It is
inferior to the Bible story and could not have been
the source of Moses’ account.
A good time for the composition of the book is
during the wilderness exile of Israel, or during his
years in Egypt (c. 1446-1406 B.C.). Cf. Judges
11:26; I Kings 6:1).
The book of Genesis is divided around the word
"generations." Each section begins with the phrase,
"These are the generations" (6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27;
25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2). The book has two major
divisions: the history of the human race
(1:1-11:19), and the history of the Hebrew race
(12:1-50:26). It is the story of the beginnings.
Most importantly, Genesis relates the beginning of
the history of redemption with the announcement of a
Redeemer (Gen. 3:15). Here are the beginnings of the
people God chose through whom the Messiah and Savior
"generations" (toledhoth) is used to
introduce each section of history.
Moses relates how Israel was selected to be God’s
chosen people in spite of man’s sin and depravity.
God called Abraham to become the father of a
righteous nation through whom He would bless all
mankind. The author makes it clear that the Lord did
not choose Abraham and his family because they were
more righteous, more faithful, more pious or
deserving in any way than any other ancient family.
His election is an act of grace. Therefore the
contents of the book are concerned only with events
that bear directly upon the selective plan of God in
His redemptive work.
Genesis covers from creation to about 1700 B.C.
Gen. 12:3c, "... And in you all the families of the
earth shall be blessed."
Moses writes in a straight forward, strictly sober
historical account of events. The writer uses no
more figurative language than any other gifted
historian. Archaeology has done much to restore
confidence in the historicity of Genesis.
GOD IN GENESIS:
God is seen revealing Himself in a covenant–love
relationship with His own chosen people. He reveals
His character and nature to man whom He has created.
The God of Abraham is the same God we have come to
love and worship. He has not changed. In Genesis we
see His power and wisdom, love and tender mercy,
justice and holiness, sovereignty and salvation,
faithfulness to His eternal purposes and grace
extended to fallen man. E. Y. Mullins summarizes the
Scriptures when he wrote:
God is the supreme
personal Spirit; perfect in all his attributes; who
is the source, support, and end of the universe; who
guides it according to the wise, righteous, and
loving purpose revealed in Jesus Christ; who
indwells in all things by his Holy Spirit, seeking
ever to transform them according to his own will and
bring them to the goal of his kingdom."
MAN IN GENESIS:
Man is seen as the crowning glory of the whole
creation, the object of God’s redeeming love, and
constantly sought as the companion of the LORD God.
He thinks, feels, wills, and alone of all creation
was made in the image of God (Gen. 2:4-25). He is a
spiritual, intelligent, moral, self-conscious and
personal being who is held accountable to his
creator. God gave man the power to choose either
good or evil. He may be free to reject God’s loving
provision, but he does not have the power to escape
God’s ways are beyond our
powers of comprehension. Man’s rebellion did not
catch God off guard. The redeeming sacrifice of
Christ on the Cross was no afterthought. Calvary was
planned by the LORD God before the foundation of the
universe was laid (I Pet. 1:18-21). His plan of
redemption was worked out only by means of God’s
sacrifice of Himself on the Cross through His son,
Jesus Christ. He planned the last detail our
salvation "before the foundation of the world."
Gen. 12-50 gives the
basic facts of the beginning of redemptive history.
God freely chose one man and his descendants through
whom "all the families of the earth shall be
blessed." This covenant life is by faith in Him who
calls. The book ends with the scene set for the next
act in the drama of redemption, the deliverance from
slavery in Egypt.
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