Introduction to the Book of Genesis

Book of Genesis
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The book of Genesis chronicles the creation of the world—the universe, the earth, humankind, and all other forms of life. As the book of beginnings, it reveals the ageless plan within God's heart to have a people of his very own, set apart to worship him.

Book of Genesis

  • Author: Moses is credited as the author of Genesis.
  • Date Written: Genesis was written around BC 1450-1410.
  • Written To: The book was written to the people of Israel and all future readers of the Bible.
  • Landscape: Genesis is set in the Middle East region. Places in Genesis include the Garden of Eden, the Mountains of Ararat, Babel, Ur, Haran, Shechem, Hebron, Beersheba, Bethel, and Egypt.
  • Historical Context: The accounts in Genesis span about 2,000 years of Israel's history from creation to Israel’s arrival on the outskirts of the already inhabited Promised Land.

Genesis is the opening book of the Christian Bible and first of the five books of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Within the Hebrew Bible, Genesis belongs to the Jewish Torah, a Hebrew term meaning "the law," "teachings," or "instructions."

Genesis is called the book of beginnings or book of origins. The Greek word genesis means "origins," "birth," or "beginnings." The ancient Hebrews called the book Bereshith, meaning "In the beginning," which are the first words of the text. It is also sometimes referred to as the "First Book of Moses."

Key Themes in the Book of Genesis

The book of Genesis sets the stage for the rest of Scripture. Without the foundation of Genesis, the remainder of the Bible would fail to make sense.

The main theme in Genesis is beginnings. The book recounts the origins of the heavens and earth, of all created things, of the human family, of God’s covenant relationship with humans, of sin, of redemption, of nations, languages, and God’s chosen people Israel.

Genesis teaches us about the problem of sin and God’s plan of salvation. It reveals the character of God and his relentless pursuit to restore the broken fellowship between human beings and himself.

The stories in Genesis reveal the nature of God as Creator and Redeemer; the value of human life (created in God's image and for his purpose); the terrible consequences of disobedience and sin (separating man from God); and the wonderful promise of salvation and forgiveness through the coming Messiah.

Key Characters

  • Adam and Eve, the first man and first woman, were created in the image of God. Through their transgression (the Fall of Man), sin entered the human race.
  • Noah became the second father of the human race. By his time, widespread corruption on the earth caused God to send a great flood leaving only a remnant of life on earth. God’s grace preserved the lives of Noah and his family. Then God made a covenant to never again destroy the earth by flood.
  • Abraham and Sarah were chosen to be the father and mother of Israel, God's chosen people.
  • Isaac and Rebekah fulfilled God's miraculous promise to Abraham to make his descendants into a great nation.
  • Jacob's sons would grow up to lead the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • Through Joseph, the Hebrew people became a nation and settled in the land of Egypt.

Key Verses

Genesis 1:27
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (NIV)

Genesis 2:18, 20-24
The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." ...But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,'
for she was taken out of man."

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (NIV)

Genesis 12:2-3
"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." (NIV)

Outline of the Book of Genesis

  • Creation Story - Genesis 1:1-2:3.
  • Adam and Eve's Story - Genesis 2:4-5:32.
  • Noah's Story - Genesis 6:1-11:32.
  • Abraham's Story - Genesis 12:1-25:18.
  • Isaac's Story - Genesis 25:19-28:9.
  • Jacob's Story - Genesis 28:10-36:43.
  • Joseph's Story - Genesis 37:1-50:26.