Introduction

The Book of Genesis is one of the two important key books of the Bible. The book that opens the Old Testament (Genesis) and the book that opens the New Testament (Matthew) are the two books which I feel are the key to the understanding of the Scriptures.

Before beginning this study, I would like to suggest that you read the Book of Genesis through. If you find it possible to read through it at one sitting, you will find it very profitable.

Let me give you a bird’s–eye view of Genesis, a view that will cover the total spectrum of the book. There are certain things that you should note because the Book of Genesis is, actually, germane to the entire Scripture. The fact of the matter is that Genesis is a book that states many things for the first time: creation, man, woman, sin, Sabbath, marriage, family, labor, civilization, culture, murder, sacrifice, races, languages, redemption, and cities.

You will also find certain phrases that occur very frequently. For instance, “these are the generations of” is an important expression used frequently because the Book of Genesis gives the families of early history. That is important to us because we are members of the human family that begins here.

In this book you will find mention of the covenant. There are frequent appearances of the Lord to the patriarchs, especially to Abraham. The altar is prominent in this book. Jealousy in the home is found here. Egypt comes before us in this book as it does nowhere else. The judgments upon sin are mentioned here, and there are evident leadings of Providence.

Major Divisions of the Book

Where would you divide the Book of Genesis if you divided it into two parts? Notice that the first eleven chapters constitute a whole and that, beginning with chapter 12 through the remainder of the book, we find an altogether different section. The two parts differ in several ways: The first section extends from creation to Abraham. The second section extends from Abraham through Joseph. The first section deals with major subjects, subjects which still engage the minds of thoughtful men in our day: the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the Tower of Babel. The second section has to do with personalities: Abraham, the man of faith; Isaac, the beloved son; Jacob, the chosen and chastened son; and Joseph, his suffering and glory.

Although that is a major division, there is another division even more significant. It has to do with time. The first eleven chapters cover a minimum time span of two thousand years—actually, two thousand years plus. I feel that it is safe to say that they may cover several hundred thousand years. I believe this first section of Genesis can cover any time in the past that you may need to fit into your particular theory, and the chances are that you would come short of it even then. At least we know the book covers a minimum of two thousand years in the first eleven chapters, but the second section of thirty–nine chapters covers only three hundred and fifty years. In fact, beginning with Genesis 12 and running all the way through the Old Testament and the New Testament, a total time span of only two thousand years is covered. Therefore, as far as time is concerned, you are halfway through the Bible when you cover the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

This should suggest to your mind and heart that God had some definite purpose in giving this first section to us. Do you think that God is putting the emphasis on this first section or on the rest of the Bible? Isn’t it evident that He is putting the emphasis on the last part? The first section has to do with the universe and with creation, but the last part deals with man, with nations, and with the person of Jesus Christ. God was more interested in Abraham than He was in the entire created universe. And, my friend, God is more interested in you and attaches more value to you than He does to the entire physical universe.

May I say that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are merely the introduction to the Bible, and we need to look at them in this fashion. This does not mean that we are going to pass over the first eleven chapters. Actually, we will spend quite a bit of time with them.

Genesis is the “seed plot” of the Bible, and here we find the beginning, the source, the birth of everything. The Book of Genesis is just like the bud of a beautiful rose, and it opens out into the rest of the Bible. The truth here is in germ form.

One of the best divisions which can be made of the Book of Genesis is according to the genealogies—i.e., according to the families.

  • Gen. 1–2:6 Book of Generations of Heavens and Earth
  • Gen. 2:7–6:8 Book of Generations of Adam
  • Gen. 6:9–9:29 Generations of Noah
  • Gen. 10:1–11:9 Generations of Sons of Noah
  • Gen. 11:10–26 Generations of Sons of Shem
  • Gen. 11:27–25:11 Generations of Terahf
  • Gen. 25:12–18 Generations of Ishmael
  • Gen. 25:19–35:29 Generations of Isaac
  • Gen. 36:1–37:1 Generations of Esau
  • Gen. 37:2–50:26 Generations of Jacob

All of these are given to us in the Book of Genesis. It is a book of families.

Genesis is an amazing book, and it will help us to look at it from this viewpoint.

(McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 1: Genesis 1-15. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.)

Poems & Quotes

Genesis 1 Introduction

You can not put one little star in motion,
You can not shape one single forest leaf,
Nor fling a mountain up, nor sink an ocean,
Presumptuous pigmy, large with unbelief!
You can not bring one dawn of regal splendor,
Nor bid the day to shadowy twilight fall,
Nor send the pale moon forth with radiance tender,
And dare you doubt the One who has done all?
          –Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Genesis 3:14–4:5

I asked for strength that I might achieve–
He made me weak that I might obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things–
I was given grace that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy–
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men–
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life–
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I received nothing that I asked for,
All that I hoped for.
My prayer was answered.
          –Author unknown

Genesis 10:1–11:3

"The tenth chapter of Genesis is a very remarkable chapter. Before God leaves, as it were, the nations to themselves and begins to deal with Israel, His chosen people from Abraham downward, He takes a loving farewell of all the nations of the earth, as much as to say, 'I am going to leave you for a while, but I love you. I have created you: I have ordered all your future; and their different genealogies are traced.'"
        –From The Divine Unity of Scripture, by Adolph Saphir

For Israel's Peace

Not just today, but every day
For the peace of Israel we must pray.
Driven and homeless, lonely, too,
Their only crime is to be born a Jew.
Across our world resounds the cry,
Of a stricken race which cannot die.
Through centuries the nations fall,
But Jews still weep at the Wailing Wall.
O Father above, the debt we owe
To this race should cause our prayers to flow
In a daily stream of faith that they
Shall find release from hatred's flay.
Give us the vision, Lord, to see
That love for Jews is love for Thee.
        –Clara Bernhardt in "Christian Witness"

Genesis 18:9–19:5

"I have a little bit of–I don't suppose you'd call it a poem–but someone has refined the statement that Matthew Henry made concerning the creation of Eve. And since we're talking now about Sarah, the wife of Abraham, why I think it's proper to read this at this particular time. Will you listen? 'Not from his head, that she might rule over him, not from his feet that she might trample on him, but from his side that she might be equal to him, from under his arm that he might protect her, and from under his heart that he might love her.' And that may I say is the true marriage relationship as given in the creation of Eve and now we see it exemplified in the life of Sarah."
        –Dr. J. Vernon McGee