The book of
Nature of the book. Genesis,
'the Book of Beginnings,' is the
indispensable introduction to the
entire Bible, the foundation of all
revealed truth. The book takes its
name from the title given to it by
the Septuagint (Greek)Version,
derived from the heading of its ten
parts he biblos geneseos (2:4; 5:1; 6:9;
10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1;
37:2). The title of the book in the
Hebrew is beeresit ('In the
1. The beginning of the earth
as man's habitation
God. In the first phrase of revelation occurs
the declaration of the existence of God, whose
eternal being is assumed and asserted, and in no
sense argued and defined. He is presented here as
the infinite First Cause, the Originator and
Creator of all things.
'In the Beginning.' Evangelical scholars
have taken a variety of positions concerning the
significance of the creation account in Gen 1: 1-2:3.
The opening words of Genesis have been
commonly assumed to refer to the original
creation of the universe. Some scholars prefer,
however, to envision a relative beginning,
allowing events such as Satan's fall (cf. Ezk
28:13-14; Isa 14:12) and the geological ages of
the earth to precede 1:1 or 1:2 (the Gap Theory).
The issue of a relative beginning (re-creation)
principally revolves around three considerations:
1. Is the phrase, 'in the beginning,' absolute or
relative? 2. Does the word 'create' (Heb. bara)
possibly mean 'fashion' or re-create'? 3. How do
Gen 1:1 and 1:2 fit together grammatically and
chronologically (i.e., is it possible that a gap
The phrase, 'in the beginning', is construed by
most Hebrew scholars as absolute. It should be
noted though that the phrase, 'in the beginning'
of John 1:1 antedates the 'in the beginning' of
Gen 1:1 in any case.
The Hebrew term bara' has the basic meaning
'create' in distinction from the word yasar (to
fashion, form). In most of its OT usages bara'
speaks of 'creating something new' or 'bringing
into existence' (cf. Isa 41:20; 43:1; Ezk 21:30;
28:13, 15). As a result, most exegetes argue thatbara' serves as testimony to God's ex nihilo (out
of nothing) creation.
The phrase, 'Now the earth was formless and
empty,' has been rendered, 'and the earth became
.' to portray a chaotic visitation of divine
judgment upon the original earth. To place a gap
in 1:2 is untenable by the Hebrew text, which
shows that all three clauses are circumstantial
either to the main clause in 1:1 or that in 1:3. If a
gap exists it must occur prior to 1:1 rather than
after it. Gen 1:1-2 appear as a unit and serve as a
summary introduction to the creative activity that
follows. Although the gap theory framework
seems to be declining in support, it does
commend itself as a potential explanation for the
fall of Satan and for the findings of modern
science that suggest long geological ages in
Creation and the six days of Genesis
1. The six days of creation in Gen 1 can represent
either (1) literal 24-hour days of creation,
(2) literal 24-hour days of divine revelation of
creation, (3) extended geological ages or epochs
preparatory for the eventual occupancy of man,
or (4) a revelatory framework to summarize
God's creative activity, asserting that 'by him all
things were created: things in heaven and on
earth .' (Col 1:16).
3-5. First day-light. The account of God's
first creative acts contains several important
affirmations. (1) God created by his word ('and
God said'). The rest of Scripture echoes the power
of God's creative word, culminating in the
incarnate Word (Jn 1:1) who fulfills God's work
of redemption. (2) The creation of light before
the sun, moon, and stars (the agents of light)
reminds us that light ultimately proceeds from
God and only secondarily from His created
'lamps.' (3) The light also prefigures the 'light of
God' come to earth in the person of Christ
(Mt 4:16, Jn 1:3-9). (4) The state of Gen 1:3 is to
be renewed in the New Jerusalem, where 'the city
does not need of the sun or the moon to shine on
it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the
Lamb is its lamp' (Rev 21:23).
6-8. Second day-firmament. The second
day involved the separation of the mixture of
atmospheric waters from the terrestrial waters.
The separation of the waters may well have
resulted in vast amounts of subterranean and
atmospheric waters (vapor) that remained in
place until the cataclysm of the Flood.
9-13. Third day-land, sea, plants. After
the separation from the atmospheric waters on
the second day, the terrestrial waters were
separated from the land to constitute the earth
and to form the seas, making possible luxuriant
plant and tree growth.
14-19. Fourth day-sun, moon, and
stars. God now fills the universe He formed on
the first day. These heavenly bodies (together with
the vast galaxies in space) are now given
responsibility as the source of light and heat on
earth, Concerning the order of the creation that
places light before the sun and stars, see the 'First
20-23. Fifth day-sea life and birds
created. As God created the universe on the first
day and filled it with the astral bodies on the
fourth day, He filled the waters and atmosphere
(created on the second day) on the fifth day,
bringing forth fish and birds.
24-31. Sixth day-land life and man
created. Man was created (not evolved) and
appeared as the crown and goal of all God's
creative activity with regard to the earth as man's
special home. The expression 'Let us' (1:26)
intimates the Triune God's counsel and activity in
man's creation (cf. Jn 1:3; Col 1:16), as well as
God's foreordained redemptive plan and purpose
for man upon the earth (Eph 1:4-6). Man was
given dominion over the earth.
2. Man in Eden
1-3. God's rest. God rested from His
creative work of Gen 1 on the seventh day. This
sabbath rest of God became the basis of the
Mosaic Sabbath (Ex 20:11) and a type of the
believer's rest in God's redemption to be realized
in Christ. Elohim, the generic name of God,
4-6. Edenic climate. The creative work of
God is summarized and the prediluvian climate
is described: 'but streams came up'. This passage
may suggest that prior to the Flood the earth was
watered by vapor from subterranean water (cf.
7. Man's creation. The creative act of 1:27
is here described in detail. YHWH (Yahweh,
traditionally vocalized Jehovah, printed Lord),
the redemptive name of Deity, is introduced in w.
4, 7, when man filled the scene and assumed
control of the earth recreated for him. In His
Jehovah character, God is introduced in special
revelatory and redemptive relationship to man.
8-14. The Garden of Eden. It was
provided for unfallen man, 8-9. Its location, 1014,
was somewhere in the Tigris-Euphrates
region, evidently in the easternmost end of the
Fertile Crescent (the moonshaped rim of ancient
civilization, with one point at Palestine-Syria and
the other point in the lower Tigris-Euphrates
Valley). The Hiddeqel is the ancient name of the
Tigris River (Babylonian Idigla, Diglat). The
Pishon and the Gihon were probably smaller
channels that connected the Tigris and the
Euphrates as ancient river beds. The
accumulation of vast deposits of silt has changed
the coastline of the Persian Gulf, pushing it
farther out to sea.
A.H. Sayce and others located Eden near Eridu,
anciently on the Persian Gulf (Higher Criticism
and the Verdict of the Monuments). Friedrich
Delitzsch (Wo Lag das Paradies?) placed it just
N of Babylon where the Tigris and the Euphrates
come close together. But changing topography
renders any precise location now only a guess. It
is significant, however, that both archaeology and
the Bible concur that the Eastern Mediterranean
Basin and the region immediately to the E of it
(Breasted's Fertile Crescent) is indeed the cradle
15-17. Man's testing in Eden. Created
innocent, placed in a perfect environment, man
was put under a simple test of obedience, to
abstain from eating the fruit of 'the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil.' The penalty for
disobedience was death - immediate spiritual
death (Mt 8:22; Eph 2:1-5), eventual physical
death (Rom 5:12; 1 Cot 15:21-22). 'Altogether,
Adam lived 930 years, and then he died' (Gen
5:5), and ever afterward death has 'reigned' in
the fallen human family (Rom 5:14).
18-22. Man provided a companion.
The Lord God declared that a sexless or unisexual
race would not be good and enunciated His
purpose to create 'a help suitable to man to be in
his presence' (lit.), 'a helper suitable for him'
(AV). Adam named the animals and birds; but
these, although companions in a sense, were not
suitable partners on the same physical, mental,
moral and spiritual plane as he.
21-23. Woman created. (Cf. 1:27). The
Lord God made woman from the man, and
presented her to him. Only in this manner could
man have 'a helper suitable for him.' Man is
man by that spirit by which he differs from the
beast. Gen 2:21-23 with 2:7 presents the details of
man's creation in distinction to 1:26-27 which
presents the general truth that man was created,
not evolved, and that woman was created in man
(issâ, because she was taken out of is, man).
24-25. Marriage instituted. The union of
husband and wife prefigured the union of Christ
and His church, the woman becoming a picture
of the church as Christ's Bride (Eph 5:28-32; cf.
Mt 19:5; 1 Cor 6:16; Eph 5:31).
3. The Fall Of Man
1. The Tempter. This verse introduces
Satan, identified by subsequent Scripture (2 Cor
11:3, 14; Rev 12:9; 20:2), with his tool the Edenic
serpent. Though the serpent (Satan) is presented
here, many interpreters believe that he is
introduced in Ezk 28:12-19 and Isa 14:12-14
where the king of Tyre and the nation of Babylon
reflect the rise and fall of an exalted angelic
being, Lucifer (Satan). The Edenic serpent
(Satan's agent) was not a writhing serpent, which
was the result of God's curse (Gen 3:14), but
doubtless the most cunning and beautiful of
God's animal creatures.
2-5. The woman tempted. Satan began by
questioning God's word: 'Did God really say .?'
then he denied its teaching: 'You will not surely
die.' Finally he substituted his own gospel, the
immanence of God: 'You will be like Elohim,' 5.
The woman's fall involved the basic ingredients
of temptation; (1) the lust of the flesh, 'the
woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for
food;' (2) the lust of the eyes, 'and pleasing to the
eye;' (3) the pride of life, 'and also desirable for
gaining wisdom' (cf. 1 Jn 2:16).
6-7. The Fall. The woman was deceived, but
Adam sinned knowingly (1 Tim 2:14-15). Both
lost their innocence, became conscious of sin and
shame, and tried to cover this guilt and
nakedness by some form of human effort
8-13. The Lord God seeks fallen man.
God's Sabbath rest of creation was broken by sin,
8, and He took the first steps in His new work of
redemption to rescue fearful, ashamed, alienated,
and confused fallen man. Adam hid from God,
because of a change in him, not in God, His self-provided
clothing seemed all right till God
appeared and then it was found to be worthless.
Similarly, sinners attempt to clothe themselves
with their own righteousness.
14-15. The curse of sin in the serpent.
Satan's tool, the serpent, was cursed and
transformed from what probably was an upright,
beautiful, intelligent animal to a revolting,
crawling snake, 14. But in connection with the
serpent not only was the deepest mystery of
redemption-atonement hinted (typified by Moses'
brazen serpent in Num 21:5-9; Jn 3:14-15; 2 Cor
5:21), but the first promise of a Redeemer was
made, 15. This predicted that He would be of the
human race, and would come through Abel,
Seth, Noah (Gen 6:8-10), Shem (9:26-27),
Abraham (12:1-3), Isaac (17:19-21), Jacob
(28:10-14), Judah (49:10), David (2 Sam 7:5-17),
culminating in Christ (Mt 1:1).
16. The curse and the woman. The
status of woman in the fallen state is outlined
and characterized by increased conception and
childbearing attended with pain and sorrow, and
the headship of the man, made necessary by the
disorder brought in by sin (1 Cot 11:7-9; Eph
5:22-25; 1 Tim 2:11-14).
17-19. The curse and the man. The
ground was cursed for fallen man's sake, for he
could not wisely use too much leisure in his fallen
condition, 17. Life was conditioned by inescapable
sorrow, 17. Verse 18 may suggest that a vegetarian
diet was prescribed. Light occupation of Eden
(2:15) changed to heavy labor, 18-19. Physical
death, 19, was pronounced (Rom 5:12-21),
although man had already demonstrated spiritual
death in his shame and fear in God's presence, 813
(cf. Eph 2.1-5; 4:18-19).
20-21. Unity of the race and typified
redemption. Adam named his wife Eve
('living') 'because she would become the mother
of all the living.' The unity of the human race in
Adam is here declared.
22-24. Expulsion from Eden. As a result
of disobedience man lost his innocence and
experienced knowledge of evil. Through this
knowledge conscience was awakened, and he
entered a new time period in which God dealt
with him not in innocence as in the garden but
under conscience. He was responsible to do all
known good and to avoid all known evil, and as a
sinner to come before God through his prescribed
means of redemption (the sacrificial system,
though not explicitly commanded here, appears
to now be operative, cf. Gen 4:3-5; 8:20; 12:7;
Man was accordingly expelled from Eden lest
by eating of the tree of life he should perpetuate
his misery. The cherubim at the gate of Eden
vindicated God's holiness against the
presumption of sinful man who, in spite of his
sin, would 'reach out his hand and take also
from the tree of life.' Later, in the Israelite
tabernacle, cherubim hovered over the sprinkled
blood in the holiest and portrayed the
maintenance of the divine righteousness through
sprinkled blood typifying the sacrifice of Christ
(Ex. 25:17-20; Rom 3:24-26).
4. The first murder
1-5. Cain and Abel and their worship.
Cain ('acquisition') was a type of a natural man
of the earth. His religion was of works, destitute of
saving faith, a sense of sin and need of
atonement (cf. 'the way of Cain,' Jude 11). How
mistaken Eve was concerning her first child,
when she said, 'With the help of the Lord, I have
brought forth a man.'