The first five books of the Bible are called the Law or Torah (instruction). They are also known as the Pentateuch, which literally means “five volumes.” The first in this series of books is Genesis, a name which comes from the Septuagint (Greek) translation of Genesis 2:4, “This is the book of the generation (genesewv) of heaven and earth…” The word means “creation or generation.”1 The Hebrew name for the book is “Bereshit,” which is the opening word, “beginning.”
Genesis is a book of beginnings. It records:
- The beginning of the universe and earth;
- The beginning of the humanity and families;
- The beginning of sin and atonement;
- The beginning of nations and languages;
- The beginning of worship and prayer;
- The beginning of musicians and craftsmen;
The history recorded in the book of Genesis spans about 2400 years, beginning with the creation account and culminating with the death of Joseph in Egypt. This is by far the longest period of time covered in any Bible book.
There are several key individuals in Genesis. Adam was the first man, fashioned with the dust of the earth and brought to life by the breath of God. Eve, his wife, was made from a rib out of Adam’s side. These two dwelt in the garden of Eden until they fell to temptation, eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had commanded they not eat. In the next generation, we find Abel who was devoted to God and his brother Cain who was not. Fast forward eight generations and we come to Noah. The world was corrupt, but Noah found grace in God’s sight. Noah was commissioned to build an ark for the saving of his household from a worldwide flood that would purge the wickedness from the earth. He built the ark as instructed by God; so he, his family and the animals which God had sent to him were saved. Fast forward another ten generations and we come to Abraham, who is identified as the father of the faithful. He received a threefold promise from God which would become the hub for the rest of the Bible. A great nation would come from him (Israel), a prosperous land would be given to that nation (Canaan), and all nations would be blessed through his Seed (Jesus). Abraham begot Isaac and Isaac begot Jacob, who would be the father of Israel. He would have 12 sons from which the 12 tribes of Israel would come. There are a few notable sons among them. Israel’s priesthood would come through the tribe of Levi. The first king of Israel would come through the tribe of Benjamin. The Messiah would come through the tribe of Judah.
Genesis has several Messianic prophecies and allusions:
- 3:15, He would be victorious over the devil;
- 12:3, All nations would be blessed in Him (cf. 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14);
- 14:18, Melchizedek, both a priest & king, was a foreshadow of the Messiah (prince of peace, prince of righteousness);
- 22:8, The LORD will provide a Lamb for Himself;
- 49:10, He would be the Lawgiver from Judah, identified as Shiloh (peace) whom the people should obey.
Next week, we continue with Exodus…
1 Easton’s Bible Dictionary