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Introduction to the Book of Genesis


I. Writer


    It is said the first five books of the Bible were all written by Moses, and they are called “the Pentateuch”. This book is the first one of “the Pentateuch”.


II. The Time and Location the Book was Written


    Moses was a man living during about 1500-1400 BC. And the things described in this book were approximately during 4000 to 1800 BC, a total period of nearly 2300 years. How could Moses know the history long before him? Probably, he received revelations and inspirations from God when he was on the Mount Sinai and in the wilderness (see Acts 7:37-38).


III. The Importance of This Book


    1. The Book of Genesis is the first book of the whole Bible as well as the most important book of the Bible. Many significant topics are mentioned in this book, such as the revelation of God Himself, the origin of the universe and all things, the relation of God with human beings, the counsel of God’s redemption, the types of Christ, the guidance of God, the process of the ancient saints’ being dealt with, etc. We can say that each important biblical fact, truth, teaching and revelation is rooted in this book, as the unformed substance of the baby chicks has been early in the eggs.

    2) There are two books in the Bible which are especially hated by the devil, namely, the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelation. In the past two thousand years, the devil always tried to destroy the credibility of these two books and overthrew its records and accused the book of either “legend” or “superstition”. That is because the Book of Genesis speaks of God’s judgment upon the devil (see Gen. 3:14-15) and the Book of Revelation speaks of the execution upon it (Rev. 20:2-3, 10).


IV. General Description


    This book shows us God’s creation and the fall of man. God created all things and made the man to reign on the earth to represent Him and manifest His glory. However, man fell and failed all times in all cases. However, even though man was corrupted, God did not give up His original purpose and counsel. God always stretched out His hands to provide salvation and redemption when men fell in different stages. The fall and failure of man had presented chances to God to manifest His grace. It is revealed everywhere in this book that the coming Christ is the hope and redeemer of the fallen race.


V. Special Points


    1. In the New Testament, the Spirit has quoted the words from this book through the Lord’s servants for over sixty times. Our Lord also quoted from this book for several times (see Matt. 19:4-6; 24:37-39; Luke 11:51; John 8:44, 56; etc.).

2. The seeds of all the biblical truth are sown in this book and then sprout and grow and bear fruit.

3. The name of this book “Genesis” is given according to the Septuagint in Greek. There are no names of the books of the Old Testament in Hebrew. The Jews were accustomed to name each book by its first word. The first word of the first verse of the first chapter is “beginning”, so the Jews call this book “Beginning”. This book concerns the beginning of the heavens and the earth, the beginning of all things, the beginning of man, the beginning of sin, the beginning of redemption, the beginning of religion, the beginning of murder, the beginning of civilization, the beginning of genealogy, the beginning of the destruction of the world, the beginning of nation, the beginning of Babylon, the beginning of God’s call, the beginning of faith and promise, the beginning of the people of Israel and the beginning of the elect’s coming down to Egypt.

4. Different names of God appear in this book: “God” (Elohim, 1:1), “Jehovah” 2:4, “LORD” (“Adonai”, 18:27), “Jehovah-jireh” (22:14), “the Most High God” (14:20), “the Almighty God” (17:1), “the everlasting God” (21:33), etc. God revealed His many aspects to men so that we may receive much precious light from this book.

5. Though our Lord is not once mentioned in this book directly, the book is full of types concerning Christ: e.g. the sleeping of Adam (2:21-22) is the type of the death of Christ on the cross. Skin (3:21), firstlings of the flock (4:4), the ram (22:13), etc. are the types that the Lord sacrificed for us. The ark (6:41) is the type that Christ is the only salvation of human beings. Isaac is the type of Christ who obeyed unto death (22:1-10). Melchizedek is the type of Christ who is the priest according to another order (14:17-20). Joseph (chap. 37-50) is the type of the Lord who was the beloved Son of the Father and was hated and rejected and sold by his brothers and was finally exalted to become the blessing and redeemer of his brothers and married the gentile new wife.


VI. Key Verses


Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”” (1:26)

The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evilOf every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (2:9b, 16-17)

“Now the LORD has said to Abram: ‘Gent out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you’” (12:1).

“Abram believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (15:6).


VII. Key Words


  “Beginning” (1:1);

  “Corrupt” (6:11);


VIII. Outlines of the Book


A.   Histories of the ancient times (chap.1-10);

1.    Generations of the heavens and the earth (1:1-2:3);

2.    The beginning and fall of man (2:4-3:24);

3.    Man became under the sin and death (4:1-6:8);

4.    The world was condemned (6:9-8:14);

5.    Covenant and curse (8:15-9:28);

6.    Dispersion and election (11:1-32);

B.   Histories of the fathers of the elect (chap.12-50);

1.    Abraham’s being called and promised (chap.12-20);

2.    Isaac and the greater trial of his faith (chap.21-26);

3.    Jacob and the embryo of Israel (chap. 27-36);

4.    Joseph and going to Egypt of Jacob’s whole family (chap.37-50)


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

Translated by Mary Zhou