HOME

TheInfoList




The Book of Genesis,, "''Bərēšīṯ''", "In
he
he
beginning" the first book of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a f ...

Hebrew Bible
and the Christian
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites. The ...
, is an account of the creation of the world, the early history of humanity, Israel's ancestors, and the origins of the
Jewish people Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2International Organization for Standardization, ISO 259 is a series of international standards for the romanization of Hebrew, romanization of Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew characters into Latin alphabet, La ...

Jewish people
. Its Hebrew name is the same as its first word, ''Bereshit'' ( "In the beginning"). It is divisible into two parts, the
primeval history The primeval history, the name given by biblical scholar Biblical studies is the academic application of a set of diverse disciplines to the study of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the boo ...
(chapters 1–11) and the ancestral history (chapters 12–50). The primeval history sets out the author's concepts of the nature of the deity and of humankind's relationship with its maker: God creates a world which is good and fit for mankind, but when man corrupts it with sin God decides to destroy his creation, sparing only the righteous
Noah In the traditions of Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of t ...

Noah
and his family to reestablish the relationship between man and God. The ancestral history (chapters 12–50) tells of the prehistory of Israel, God's chosen people. At God's command, Noah's descendant
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the , including , , and . In Judaism, he is the founding father of the , the special relationship between the and ; in C ...

Abraham
journeys from his birthplace (described as
Ur of the Chaldeans Ur Kaśdim ( he, אוּר כַּשְׂדִּים ''ʾur kaśdim''), commonly translated as Ur of the Chaldeans, is a city mentioned in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection ...
and whose identification with
Sumerian Ur
Sumerian Ur
is tentative in modern scholarship) into the God-given land of
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
, where he dwells as a sojourner, as does his son
Isaac Isaac, ''Isaák''; ar, إسحٰق/إسحاق, ; am, ይስሐቅ is one of the three patriarchs The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gener ...

Isaac
and his grandson
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State ...

Jacob
. Jacob's name is changed to 'Israel', and through the agency of his son
Joseph Joseph is a common masculine given name, derived from the Hebrew Yosef (יוֹסֵף). The form "Joseph" is used mostly in English, French and partially German-speaking (alongside "Josef") countries. This spelling is also found as a variant in th ...
, the
children of Israel The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, humanity. It was p ...
descend into Egypt, 70 people in all with their households and God promises them a future of greatness. Genesis ends with Israel in Egypt, ready for the coming of
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
and
the Exodus The Exodus (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ...

the Exodus
. The narrative is punctuated by a series of covenants with God, successively narrowing in scope from all mankind (the covenant with Noah) to a special relationship with one people alone (Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob). In
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
, the theological importance of Genesis centres on the covenants linking
God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Ted Honderich, Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxfo ...
to his
chosen people Throughout history, various groups of people have considered themselves to be the chosen people ( he, עם סגולה / העם הנבחר) of a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that ar ...
and the people to the
Promised Land The Promised Land ( he, הארץ המובטחת, translit. Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping Letter (alphabet), letters (thus ''wikt:trans-#Prefix, trans-'' + ''wikt:litter ...
. Christianity has interpreted Genesis as the prefiguration of certain cardinal Christian beliefs, primarily the need for
salvation Salvation (from : ''salvatio'', from ''salva'', 'safe, saved') is the state of being saved or protected from harm or a dire situation. In and , ''salvation'' generally refers to the deliverance of the from and its consequences."Salvation." ' ( ...
(the hope or assurance of all Christians) and the redemptive act of
Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label= Hebrew/ Aramaic ( AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity, the world's largest religion. He was a fir ...

Christ
on the Cross as the fulfilment of covenant promises as the
Son of God Historically, many rulers have assumed titles such as the son of God, the son of a God or the son of heaven. The term "son of God" is used in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical ...
. Tradition credits Moses as the author of Genesis, as well as the books of
Exodus Exodus or the Exodus may refer to: Religion *Book of Exodus, second book of the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Bible *The Exodus, the biblical story of the migration of the ancient Israelites from Egypt into Canaan Historical events * Jujuy E ...
, Leviticus,
Numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
and most of
Deuteronomy The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek ''deuteros'' + ''nomos'') is the fifth book of the Jewish , where it is called ''Devarim'' ( he, דְּבָרִים), "the words f Moses F, or f, is the sixth Letter (alphabet), let ...
, but modern scholars, especially from the 19th century onward, see them as a product of the 6th and 5th centuries BC.Davies (1998), p. 37


Structure

Genesis appears to be structured around the recurring phrase ''elleh toledot'', meaning "these are the generations," with the first use of the phrase referring to the "generations of heaven and earth" and the remainder marking individuals—Noah, the "sons of Noah", Shem, etc., down to Jacob. The ''
toledot Toledot, Tol'dot, Toldos, or Tol'doth ( — Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the I ...
'' formula, occurring eleven times in the book of Genesis, delineating its sections and shaping its structure, serves as a heading which marks a transition to a new subject: * Genesis 1:1 (narrative) In the beginning * Genesis 2:4 (narrative) Toledot of Heaven and Earth * Genesis 5:1 (genealogy) Toledot of Adam * Genesis 6:9 (narrative) Toledot of Noah * Genesis 10:1 (genealogy) Toledot of Shem, Ham, and Japheth ** ''Genesis 11:1 (narrative without toledot) The tower of Babel'' * Genesis 11:10 (genealogy) Toledot of Shem * Genesis 11:27 (narrative) Toledot of Terach * Genesis 25:12 (genealogy) Toledot of Ishmael * Genesis 25:19 (narrative) Toledot of Isaac * Genesis 36:1 & 36:9 (genealogy) Toledot of Esau * Genesis 37:2 (narrative) Toledot of Jacob It is not clear, however, what this meant to the original authors, and most modern commentators divide it into two parts based on the subject matter, a "primeval history" (chapters 1–11) and a "patriarchal history" (chapters 12–50). While the first is far shorter than the second, it sets out the basic themes and provides an interpretive key for understanding the entire book. The "primeval history" has a symmetrical structure hinging on chapters 6–9, the flood story, with the events before the flood mirrored by the events after; the "ancestral history" is structured around the three patriarchs
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the , including , , and . In Judaism, he is the founding father of the , the special relationship between the and ; in C ...

Abraham
,
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State ...

Jacob
and
Joseph Joseph is a common masculine given name, derived from the Hebrew Yosef (יוֹסֵף). The form "Joseph" is used mostly in English, French and partially German-speaking (alongside "Josef") countries. This spelling is also found as a variant in th ...
. (The stories of
Isaac Isaac, ''Isaák''; ar, إسحٰق/إسحاق, ; am, ይስሐቅ is one of the three patriarchs The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gener ...

Isaac
do not make up a coherent cycle of stories and function as a bridge between the cycles of Abraham and Jacob.)


Summary

There are two distinct versions of God's creation of the world in Genesis.
God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Ted Honderich, Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxfo ...
creates the world in six days and consecrates the seventh as a day of rest (which would then be known as Sabbath in Jewish culture). God creates the first
humans Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species ...
,
Adam and Eve Adam (Hebrew: ''ʾĀḏām'') and Eve ( ''‎‎Ḥavvā'') according to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, were the first man and woman. They are central to the belief that humanity is in essence a single family, with everyone des ...

Adam and Eve
, and all the animals in the
Garden of Eden In Abrahamic religions, the Garden of Eden (Hebrew language, Hebrew: – ''gan-ʿĒḏen'') or Garden of God ( – ''gan-Yahweh, YHWH''), also called the Terrestrial Paradise, is the Bible, biblical paradise described in Book of Genesis, Genesi ...

Garden of Eden
but instructs them not to eat the fruit of the
tree of knowledge of good and evil . The Tree of Knowledge is on the right. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil ( hbo, עֵ֕ץ הַדַּ֖עַת ט֥וֹב וָרָֽע; , ) is one of two specific trees in the story of the Garden of Eden The Garden of Eden ( he, גַּ ...
. They promise not to, but a talking
serpent Serpent or The Serpent may refer to: * Snake Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes . Like all other squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote Amniotes (from Greek ἀμνίον ''amnion'', " ...
, portrayed as a deceptive creature or
trickster In mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that som ...

trickster
, convinces Eve into eating it against God's wishes, and she convinces Adam, whereupon God throws them out and curses both of them — Adam was cursed with getting what he needs only by sweat and work, and Eve to giving birth in pain. This is interpreted by Christians as the fall of humanity. Eve bears two sons, . Cain works in the garden, and Abel works with meat; they both offer offerings to God one day, and Cain kills Abel after God liked Abel's offering more than Cain's. God then curses Cain. Eve bears another son,
Seth Seth,; el, Σήθ ''Sḗth''; ; "placed", "appointed") in , , , , and , was the third son of and brother of , their only other child mentioned by name in the . According to , Seth was born after Abel's murder by Cain, and Eve believed that ha ...
, to take Abel's place. After many
generations of Adam"Generations of Adam" is a genealogical concept recorded in in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah. These texts ar ...
have passed from the lines of Cain and Seth, the world becomes corrupted by human
sin In a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, ...

sin
and
Nephilim The Nephilim (; ) are mysterious beings or people mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. They are large and strong; the word ''Nephilim'' is loosely translated as '' giants'' in some Bibles but left untranslated in others. Some traditional Jewish expl ...
, and God wants to wipe out humanity for their wickedness. However,
Noah In the traditions of Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of t ...

Noah
is the only good human; so first, he instructs the righteous
Noah In the traditions of Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of t ...

Noah
and his family to build an and put examples of all the animals on it, seven pairs of every clean animal and one pair of every unclean. Then God sends a
great flood A flood myth or deluge myth is a myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods, or supe ...
to wipe out the rest of the world. When the waters recede, God promises he will never destroy the world with water again, making a rainbow as a symbol of his promise. God sees mankind cooperating to build a great tower city, the
Tower of Babel The Tower of Babel ( he, , ''Migdal Bavel'') narrative in Book of Genesis, Genesis 11:1–9 is an origin myth meant to explain why the world's peoples speak different languages. According to the story, a united human race in the generations ...

Tower of Babel
, and divides humanity with many languages and sets them apart with confusion. From a long family tree down from Noah to a man named Abram, God instructs the man Abram to travel from his home in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
to the land of
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
. There, God makes a promise to Abram, promising that his descendants shall be as numerous as the stars, but that people will suffer oppression in a foreign land for four hundred years, after which they will inherit the land "from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
". Abram's name is changed to 'Abraham' (father of many) and that of his wife Sarai to
Sarah Sarah (; ar, سَارَة ) born Sarai ( ''Sāray'') is a biblical matriarch and prophetess In religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, ...

Sarah
(princess), and God says that all males should be
circumcised Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin from the human penis. In the most common procedure, the foreskin is opened, adhesions are removed, and the foreskin is separated from the glans. After that, a circumcision device may be placed, and ...

circumcised
as a sign of his promise to Abraham. Due to her old age, Sarah tells Abraham to take her Egyptian handmaiden,
Hagar Hagar ( he, הָגָר, ''Hāgār'', of uncertain origin; ar, هَاجَر ; gr, Ἁγάρ, ''Hagár''; la, Agar) is a biblical figure. According to the , she was an slave, a handmaiden of (then known as ''Sarai''), whom Sarah gave to her o ...

Hagar
, as a second wife (to bear a child). Through Hagar, Abraham fathers
Ishmael Ishmael ''Ismaḗl''; Classical/Qur'anic Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of t ...
. God then plans to destroy the cities of
Sodom and Gomorrah Sodom and Gomorrah () were two legendary biblical cities destroyed by God for their wickedness. Their story parallels the Genesis flood narrative The Genesis flood narrative is the flood myth A flood myth or deluge myth is a myth Myt ...
for the sins of their people. Abraham protests but fails to get God to agree not to destroy the cities (his reasoning being that everybody there is evil, except for Abraham's nephew Lot). Messengers save Abraham's nephew
Lot Lot or LOT may refer to: Common meanings Areas *Land lot, an area of land *Parking lot, for automobiles *Backlot, in movie production Sets of items *Lot number, in batch production *Lot, a set of goods for sale together in an auction; or a quantit ...
(who was living there at the same time) and his family, but
his wife ''His Wife'' is a 1915 American silent Silent may mean any of the following: People with the name * Silent George, George Stone (outfielder) (1876–1945), American Major League Baseball outfielder and batting champion * Brandon Silent (born 19 ...

his wife
looks back on the destruction, (even though God commanded not to) and turned into a pillar of salt for going against his word. Lot's daughters, concerned that they are fugitives who will never find husbands, get Lot drunk so they can become pregnant by him, and give birth to the ancestors of the
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'aba'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'ba'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an anci ...
ites and
Ammon Ammon (Ammonite language, Ammonite: 𐤏𐤌𐤍 ''ʻAmān''; he, עַמּוֹן ''ʻAmmōn''; ar, عمّون, ʻAmmūn) was an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking nation occupying the east of the Jordan River, between the torrent ...

Ammon
ites. Abraham and Sarah go to the Philistine town of
Gerar Gerar ( ''Gərār'', "lodging-place") was a Philistine The Philistines were an ancient people who lived on the south coast of Canaan from the 12th century BC until 604 BC, when their polity, after having already been subjugated for centuries by ...

Gerar
, pretending to be brother and sister (they are half-siblings). The King of Gerar takes Sarah for his wife, but God warns him to return her (because she's really Abraham's wife), and he obeys. God sends Sarah a son and tells her she should name him
Isaac Isaac, ''Isaák''; ar, إسحٰق/إسحاق, ; am, ይስሐቅ is one of the three patriarchs The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gener ...

Isaac
; through him will be the establishment of the covenant (promise). Sarah then drives Ishmael and his mother Hagar out into the wilderness (because Ishmael is not her real son and Hagar is a slave), but God saves them and promises to make Ishmael a great nation. Then, God tests Abraham by demanding that he sacrifice Isaac. As Abraham is about to lay the knife upon his son, God restrains him, promising him numberless descendants (again). On the death of Sarah, Abraham purchases Machpelah (believed to be modern
Hebron Hebron ( ar, الخليل أو الخليل الرحمن ; he, חֶבְרוֹן ) is a State of Palestine, Palestinian. city in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judaean Mountains, it lies Above mean sea level, above ...

Hebron
) for a family tomb and sends his servant to Mesopotamia to find among his relations a wife for Isaac; after proving herself worthy, Rebekah becomes Isaac's betrothed.
Keturah Keturah ( he, קְטוּרָה, ''Qəṭūrā'', possibly meaning "incense"; ar, قطورة) was a wife (1917 Jewish Publication Society of America The Jewish Publication Society (JPS), originally known as the Jewish Publication Society of Amer ...
, Abraham's other wife, births more children, among whose descendants are the
Midian Midian (; he, מִדְיָן ''Mīḏəyān'' ; ar, مَدْيَن, Madyan; grc-gre, Μαδιάμ, ''Madiam'') is a geographical place mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and Quran. William G. Dever states that biblical Midian was in the "northwest A ...

Midian
ites. Abraham dies at a prosperous old age and his family lays him to rest in Hebron (Machpelah). Isaac's wife
Rebecca Rebecca, ; SyriacSyriac may refer to: *Syriac language, a dialect of Middle Aramaic * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages also known as Syriac in most native vernaculars * Syriac Christianity, ...

Rebecca
gives birth to the twins
Esau Esau ''Ēsaû''; la, Hesau, Esau; ar, عِيسَوْ ''‘Īsaw''; meaning "hairy"Easton, M. ''Illustrated Bible Dictionary'', (, , 2006, p. 236 or "rough".Mandel, D. ''The Ultimate Who's Who in the Bible'', (.), 2007, p. 175 is the elder son o ...

Esau
(meaning velvet), father of the
Edom Edom (; Edomite Edom (; Edomite: 𐤀𐤃𐤌 ''’Edām''; he, אֱדוֹם ''ʼÉḏōm'', lit.: "red"; akk, 𒌑𒁺𒈠𒀀𒀀 ''Uduma'') was an ancient kingdom in Transjordan located between Moab to the northeast, the Arabah Th ...

Edom
ites, and
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State ...

Jacob
(meaning one who deceives). Esau was a couple of seconds older as he had come out of the womb first, and was going to become the heir; however, through deception (Jacob lives up to his name), Jacob becomes the heir instead of Esau and gains his father's blessing. He then runs away (so that he wouldn't have to face Esau's anger) to his uncle where he prospers and earns his two wives,
Rachel Rachel () was a Biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form ...

Rachel
and
Leah Leah ''La'ya;'' from wikt:𒀖, () is an important figure in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the unloved wife of the Biblical patriarch Jacob. Leah was Jacob's first wife, and the older sister of his second (and favored) wife Rachel. She is the ...
. Jacob's name is changed to 'Israel', and by his wives and their handmaidens he has twelve sons, the ancestors of the twelve tribes of the Children of Israel, and a daughter,
Dinah In the Book of Genesis, Dinah (; ) was the daughter of Jacob, one of the Patriarchs (Bible), patriarchs of the Israelites, and Leah, his first wife. The episode of her violation by Shechem, son of a Canaanite or Hivite prince, and the subsequen ...

Dinah
.
Joseph Joseph is a common masculine given name, derived from the Hebrew Yosef (יוֹסֵף). The form "Joseph" is used mostly in English, French and partially German-speaking (alongside "Josef") countries. This spelling is also found as a variant in th ...
, Jacob's favourite son of the twelve, makes his brothers jealous (especially because of special gifts Jacob gave him) and because of that jealousy they sell Joseph into slavery in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
. Joseph prospers there after the pharaoh of Egypt asks him to interpret a dream he had about an upcoming famine, which Joseph does through God. He is then made second in command of Egypt by the grateful pharaoh, and later on, he is reunited with his father and brothers, who fail to recognize him and plead for food. After much manipulation, Joseph reveals himself, forgives them for their actions, and lets them and their households into Egypt, where
Pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the conte ...

Pharaoh
assigns to them the
land of Goshen Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemica ...
. Jacob calls his sons to his bedside and reveals their future before he dies. Joseph lives to old age and tells his brothers that if God leads them out of the country, then they should take his bones with them.


Composition


Title and textual witnesses

Genesis takes its Hebrew title from the first word of the first sentence, ''Bereshit'', meaning "In the beginning (phrase), In beginning [of]"; in the Greek
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals Roman numerals are a that originated in and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe wel ...
it was called ''Genesis'', from the phrase "the generations of heaven and earth". There are four major textual witnesses to the book: the
Masoretic Text The Masoretic Text (MT or 𝕸; he, נוסח המסורה, Nusakh Ham'mas'sora) is the authoritative Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language ...
, the
Samaritan Pentateuch The Samaritan Pentateuch, also known as the Samaritan Torah ( he, תורה שומרונית ''torah shomronit''), is a text of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, written in the Samaritan script and used as Religious text, sacred scriptur ...
, the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals Roman numerals are a that originated in and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe wel ...
, and fragments of Genesis found at
Qumran Qumran ( he, קומראן; ar, خربة قمران ') is an archaeological site in the managed by 's Qumran National Park. It is located on a dry about from the northwestern shore of the , near the and of . The settlement was construc ...
. The Qumran group provides the oldest manuscripts but covers only a small proportion of the book; in general, the Masoretic Text is well preserved and reliable, but there are many individual instances where the other versions preserve a superior reading.


Origins

For much of the 20th century most scholars agreed that the five books of the
Pentateuch The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebre ...
—Genesis,
Exodus Exodus or the Exodus may refer to: Religion *Book of Exodus, second book of the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Bible *The Exodus, the biblical story of the migration of the ancient Israelites from Egypt into Canaan Historical events * Jujuy E ...
, Leviticus,
Numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
and
Deuteronomy The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek ''deuteros'' + ''nomos'') is the fifth book of the Jewish , where it is called ''Devarim'' ( he, דְּבָרִים), "the words f Moses F, or f, is the sixth Letter (alphabet), let ...
—came from four sources, the
Yahwist The Jahwist, or Yahwist, often abbreviated J, is one of the most widely recognized Source criticism (biblical studies), sources of the Pentateuch (Torah), together with the Deuteronomist, the Priestly source and the Elohist. The existence of the ...
, the
Elohist According to the documentary hypothesis The documentary hypothesis (DH) is one of the models used by biblical scholars to explain the origins and composition of the Torah (or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible: Book of Genesis, Genes ...
, the
Deuteronomist The Deuteronomist, abbreviated as either Dtr or simply D, may refer either to the source document underlying the core chapters (12–26) of the Book of Deuteronomy The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek ''deuteros'' + ''nomos' ...
and the
Priestly source The Priestly source (or simply P) is perhaps the most widely recognized source underlying the Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five boo ...
, each telling the same basic story, and joined together by various editors. Since the 1970s there has been a revolution leading scholars to view the Elohist source as no more than a variation on the Yahwist, and the Priestly source as a body of revisions and expansions to the Yahwist (or "non-Priestly") material. (The Deuteronomistic source does not appear in Genesis.) Scholars use examples of repeated and duplicate stories to identify separate sources. In Genesis, these include three different accounts of a Patriarch claiming that his wife was his sister, the two creation stories, and the two versions of Abraham sending Hagar and Ishmael into the desert. This leaves the question of when these works were created. Scholars in the first half of the 20th century concluded that the Yahwist is a product of the monarchic period, specifically at the court of
Solomon Solomon (; he, , ), ''Šlēmūn''; : سُلَيْمَان ', also : ' or '; el, Σολομών ''Solomōn''; : Salomon) also called Jedidiah (, ), was, according to the and Christian , a fabulously wealthy and wise monarch of the who suc ...

Solomon
, 10th century BC, and the Priestly work in the middle of the 5th century BC (with claims that the author is
Ezra Ezra (; he, עֶזְרָא, '; fl. 480–440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (, ') and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scripture ...

Ezra
), but more recent thinking is that the Yahwist is from either just before or during the
Babylonian exile The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. After the Battle of Carchemish in ...
of the 6th century BC, and the Priestly final edition was made late in the Exilic period or soon after. As for why the book was created, a theory which has gained considerable interest, although still controversial, is "Persian imperial authorisation." This proposes that the Persians of the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
, after their conquest of Babylon in 539 BC agreed to grant Jerusalem a large measure of local autonomy within the empire but required the local authorities to produce a single law code accepted by the entire community. The two powerful groups making up the community—the priestly families who controlled the Temple and who traced their origin to Moses and the wilderness wanderings, and the major landowning families who made up the "elders" and who traced their own origins to Abraham, who had "given" them the land—were in conflict over many issues, and each had its own "history of origins", but the Persian promise of greatly increased local autonomy for all provided a powerful incentive to cooperate in producing a single text.


Genre

Genesis is an example of a
creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) is a symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objecti ...
, a type of literature telling of the first appearance of humans, the stories of ancestors and heroes, and the origins of culture, cities and so forth. The most notable examples are found in the work of Greek historians of the 6th century BC: their intention was to connect notable families of their own day to a distant and heroic past, and in doing so they did not distinguish between
myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the ca ...
,
legend A legend is a genre of folklore that consists of a narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfictional ( memoir, biography, news report, documentary, Travel literature, tra ...

legend
, and facts. Professor Jean-Louis Ska of the
Pontifical Biblical Institute The Pontifical Biblical Institute (also known as "Biblicum"), is a research and postgraduate teaching institution specialised in biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies. It is an institution of the Holy See entrusted to the Society of Jesus. ...
calls the basic rule of the antiquarian historian the "law of conservation": everything old is valuable, nothing is eliminated.Ska (2006), p. 169 Ska also points out the purpose behind such antiquarian histories: antiquity is needed to prove the worth of Israel's traditions to the nations (the neighbours of the Jews in early Persian Palestine), and to reconcile and unite the various factions within Israel itself.


Themes


Promises to the ancestors

In 1978 David Clines published his influential ''The Theme of the Pentateuch'' – influential because he was one of the first to take up the question of the theme of the entire five books. Clines' conclusion was that the overall theme is "the partial fulfilment – which implies also the partial nonfulfillment – of the promise to or blessing of the Patriarchs". (By calling the fulfilment "partial" Clines was drawing attention to the fact that at the end of Deuteronomy the people are still outside Canaan). The
patriarchs The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Or ...
, or ancestors, are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with their wives (Joseph is normally excluded).Hamilton (1990), p. 50 Since the name YHWH had not been revealed to them, they worshipped El in his various manifestations. (It is, however, worth noting that in the Jahwist source, the patriarchs refer to deity by the name YHWH, for example in Genesis 15.) Through the patriarchs, God announces the election of Israel, that is, he chooses Israel to be his special people and commits himself to their future. God tells the patriarchs that he will be faithful to their descendants (i.e. to Israel), and Israel is expected to have faith in God and his promise. ("Faith" in the context of Genesis and the Hebrew Bible means an agreement to the promissory relationship, not a body of a belief.) The promise itself has three parts: offspring, blessings, and land. The fulfilment of the promise to each patriarch depends on having a male heir, and the story is constantly complicated by the fact that each prospective mother –
Sarah Sarah (; ar, سَارَة ) born Sarai ( ''Sāray'') is a biblical matriarch and prophetess In religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, ...

Sarah
,
Rebekah Rebecca, ; Aramaic, Syriac: , ) from the Hebrew (lit., 'connection'), from Semitic root , 'to tie, couple or join', 'to secure', or 'to snare') () appears in the Hebrew Bible as the wife of Isaac and the mother of Jacob and Esau. According to ...
and
Rachel Rachel () was a Biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form ...

Rachel
– is barren. The ancestors, however, retain their faith in God and God in each case gives a son – in Jacob's case, twelve sons, the foundation of the chosen
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchic peri ...

Israelites
. Each succeeding generation of the three promises attains a more rich fulfilment, until through Joseph "all the world" attains salvation from famine, and by bringing the children of Israel down to Egypt he becomes the means through which the promise can be fulfilled.


God's chosen people

Scholars generally agree that the theme of divine promise unites the patriarchal cycles, but many would dispute the efficacy of trying to examine Genesis' theology by pursuing a single overarching theme, instead citing as more productive the analysis of the Abraham cycle, the Jacob cycle, and the Joseph cycle, and the
Yahwist The Jahwist, or Yahwist, often abbreviated J, is one of the most widely recognized Source criticism (biblical studies), sources of the Pentateuch (Torah), together with the Deuteronomist, the Priestly source and the Elohist. The existence of the ...
and
Priestly source The Priestly source (or simply P) is perhaps the most widely recognized source underlying the Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five boo ...
s. The problem lies in finding a way to unite the patriarchal theme of the divine promise to the stories of Genesis 1–11 (the
primeval history The primeval history, the name given by biblical scholar Biblical studies is the academic application of a set of diverse disciplines to the study of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the boo ...
) with their theme of God's forgiveness in the face of man's evil nature.Hendel, R. S. (1992). "Genesis, Book of". In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), ''The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary'' (Vol. 2, p. 935). New York: DoubledayKugler, Hartin (2009), p.9 One solution is to see the patriarchal stories as resulting from God's decision not to remain alienated from mankind: God creates the world and mankind, mankind rebels, and God "elects" (chooses) Abraham.Bandstra (2004), pp. 28–29 To this basic plot (which comes from the
Yahwist The Jahwist, or Yahwist, often abbreviated J, is one of the most widely recognized Source criticism (biblical studies), sources of the Pentateuch (Torah), together with the Deuteronomist, the Priestly source and the Elohist. The existence of the ...
) the
Priestly source The Priestly source (or simply P) is perhaps the most widely recognized source underlying the Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five boo ...
has added a series of covenants dividing history into stages, each with its own distinctive "sign". The first covenant is between God and all living creatures, and is marked by the sign of the rainbow; the second is with the descendants of Abraham (
Ishmaelites In the Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to re ...
and others as well as Israelites), and its sign is
circumcision Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin The foreskin is the double-layered fold of smooth muscle tissue, blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system that transport blood throughout the human body. Th ...
; and the last, which does not appear until the
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
, is with Israel alone, and its sign is
Sabbath In Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic people, Semitic-originated religions that claim descent from the Judaism of the ancient Isra ...
. A great leader mediates each covenant (
Noah In the traditions of Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of t ...

Noah
, Abraham,
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
), and at each stage God progressively reveals himself by his name (
Elohim ''Elohim'' (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ...

Elohim
with Noah,
El Shaddai El Shaddai ( he, אֵל שַׁדַּי, ''ʾēl šaday''; ) or just Shaddai is one of the names of the God of Israel. ''El Shaddai'' is conventionally translated into English as ''God Almighty'' (''Deus Omnipotens'' in Latin), but its original ...

El Shaddai
with Abraham,
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
with Moses).


Judaism's weekly Torah portions in the Book of Genesis

It is a custom among religious Jewish communities for a
weekly Torah portion It is a custom among religious Jewish communities for a weekly Torah portion to be read during Jewish prayer services on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. The full name, ''Parashat HaShavua'' ( he, פָּרָשַׁת הַשָּׁבוּעַ), is po ...
, popularly referred to as a ''
parashah The term ''parashah'' ( he, פָּרָשָׁה ''Pārāšâ'', "portion", Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian , Sephardi Hebrew, Sephardi , plural: ''parashot'' or ''parashiyot'', also called ''parsha'') formally means a section of a biblical book in the ...
'', to be read during
Jewish prayer Jewish prayer ( he, תְּפִלָּה, ; plural ; yi, תּפֿלה, tfile , plural ; : davening from Yiddish 'pray') is the recitation that forms part of the observance of . These prayers, often with instructions and commentary, ar ...
services on Saturdays, Mondays and Thursdays. The full name, he, פָּרָשַׁת הַשָּׁבוּעַ ''Parashat ha-Shavua'', is popularly abbreviated to ''parashah'' (also ''parshah'' or ''parsha''), and is also known as a '' Sidra'' (or ''Sedra'' ). The parashah is a section of the Torah (Five Books of Moses) used in Jewish liturgy during a particular week. There are 54 weekly parshas, or ''parashiyot'' in Hebrew, and the full cycle is read over the course of one Jewish year. The first 12 of the 54 come from the ''Book of Genesis'', and they are: # Chapters 1 – 6 (verses 1–8) Bereishit (parsha), Parashat Bereshit # Chap. 6 (v. 9 ''ff'') – 11 Noach (parsha), Parashat Noach # Chap. 12 – 17 Lech-Lecha (parsha), Parashat Lekh Lekha # Chap. 18 – 22 Vayeira (parsha), Parashat Vayera # Chap. 23 – 25 (v. 1–18) Chayei Sarah (parsha), Parashat Chayyei Sarah # Chap. 25 (v. 19 ''ff'') – 28 (v. 1–9) Toledot (parsha), Parashat Toledot # Chap. 28 (v. 10 ''ff'') – 32 (v. 1–3) Vayetze (parsha), Parashat Vayetzei # Chap. 32 (v. 4 ''ff'') – 36 Vayishlach (parsha), Parashat Vayishlach # Chap. 37 – 40 Vayeshev (parsha), Parashat Vayeshev # Chap. 41 – 44 (v. 1–17) Miketz (parsha), Parashat Miketz # Chap. 44 (v. 18 ''ff'') – 47 (v. 1–27) Vayigash (parsha), Parashat Vayigash # Chap. 47 (v. 28 ''ff'') – 50 Vayechi, Parashat Vayechi


See also

* Biblical criticism * Criticism of the Bible * Dating the Bible * Enûma Eliš * Genesis creation narrative * Genesis 1:1 * Historicity of the Bible * Mosaic authorship * ''Paradise Lost'' * Protevangelium * Wife–sister narratives in the Book of Genesis


Notes


References


Bibliography


Commentaries on Genesis

* * * * * * * * * Terence E. Fretheim, Fretheim, Terence E. "The Book of Genesis." In ''The New Interpreter's Bible''. Edited by Leander E. Keck, vol. 1, pp. 319–674. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994. . * * * Samson Raphael Hirsch, Hirsch, Samson Raphael. ''The Pentateuch: Genesis''. Translated by Isaac Levy. Judaica Press, 2nd edition 1999. . Originally published as ''Der Pentateuch uebersetzt und erklaert'' Frankfurt, 1867–1878. * Leon Kass, Kass, Leon R. ''The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis''. New York: Free Press, 2003. . * * * Gunther Plaut, Plaut, Gunther. ''The Torah: A Modern Commentary'' (1981), * * * Nahum M. Sarna, Sarna, Nahum M. ''The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation''. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989. . * Ephraim Avigdor Speiser, Speiser, E.A. ''Genesis: Introduction, Translation, and Notes''. New York: Anchor Bible Series, Anchor Bible, 1964. . * * * * *


General

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


Book of Genesis Hebrew Transliteration

Book of Genesis illustrated

Genesis Reading Room
(Tyndale Seminary): online commentaries and monographs on Genesis.



(Hebrew language, Hebrew – English at Mechon-Mamre.org)
Genesis at Mechon-Mamre
(Jewish Publication Society translation) * Various versions
Genesis (The Living Torah)
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's translation and commentary at Ort.org
Genesis (Judaica Press)
at Chabad.org
Young's Literal Translation (YLT)

New International Version (NIV)

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Westminster-Leningrad codex

Aleppo Codex

Book of Genesis in Bible Book

Genesis in Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, Latin, and English
– The critical text of the Book of Genesis in Hebrew with ancient versions (Masoretic, Samaritan Pentateuch, Samaritan Targum, Targum Onkelos, Peshitta, Septuagint, Vetus Latina, Vulgate, Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion) and English translation for each version in parallel. {{DEFAULTSORT:Book Of Genesis Book of Genesis, 6th-century BC books, Genesis 5th-century BC books, Genesis Torah books, 1