The name Genesis means "origin." The book tells about the creation of the universe, the origin of human
beings, the beginning of sin and suffering in the world, and about God's way of dealing with people. Genesis can be
divided into two main parts:
1) Chapters 1-11 The creation of the world and the early history of the human race.
Here are the accounts of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, and the
Tower of Babylon.
2) Chapters 12-50 The history of the early ancestors of the Israelites. The first is
Abraham, who was notable for his faith and his obedience to God. Then follow the stories
of his son Isaac and grandson Jacob (also called Israel), and of Jacob's twelve sons, the
founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Special attention is given to one of the sons,
Joseph, and the events that brought Jacob and his other sons with their families to live in
While this book tells stories about people, it is first and foremost an account of what
God has done. It begins with the affirmation that God created the universe, and it ends
with a promise that God will continue to show his concern for his people. Throughout the
book the main character is God, who judges and punishes those who do wrong, leads and
helps his people, and shapes their history. This ancient book was written to record the
story of a people's faith and to help keep that faith alive.
Outline of Contents
Creation of the universe and of human beings 1.1-2.25
The beginning of sin and suffering 3.1-24
From Adam to Noah 4.1-5.32
Noah and the flood 6.1-10.32
The tower of Babylon 11.1-9
From Shem to Abram 11.10-32
The patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob 12.1-35.29
The descendants of Esau 36.1-43
Joseph and his brothers 37.1-45.28
The Israelites in Egypt 46.1-50.26
The Story of Creation
1 In the beginning, when God created the universe, 2 the earth was formless and desolate.
The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit
of God was moving over the water. 3 Then God commanded, "Let there be light"-and light
appeared. 4 God was pleased with what he saw. Then he separated the light from the darkness,
5 and he named the light "Day" and the darkness "Night." Evening passed and morning
came-that was the first day.
6-7 Then God commanded, "Let there be a dome to divide the water and to keep it in two
separate places"-and it was done. So God made a dome, and it separated the water under
it from the water above it. 8 He named the dome "Sky." Evening passed and morning
came-that was the second day.
9 Then God commanded, "Let the water below the sky come together in one place, so
that the land will appear"-and it was done. 10 He named the land "Earth," and the water which
had come together he named "Sea." And God was pleased with what he saw. 11 Then he commanded,
"Let the earth produce all kinds of plants, those that bear grain and those that bear
fruit"-and it was done. 12 So the earth produced all kinds of plants, and God was pleased
with what he saw. 13 Evening passed and morning came-that was the third day.
14 Then God commanded, "Let lights appear in the sky to separate day from night and to
show the time when days, years, and religious festivals a begin; 15 they will shine in the sky
to give light to the earth"-and it was done. 16 So God made the two larger lights, the sun to
rule over the day and the moon to rule over the night; he also made the stars. 17 He placed
the lights in the sky to shine on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and the night, and to separate
light from darkness. And God was pleased with what he saw. 19 Evening passed and
morning came-that was the fourth day.
20 Then God commanded, "Let the water be filled with many kinds of living beings, and
let the air be filled with birds." 21 So God created the great sea monsters, all kinds of creatures
that live in the water, and all kinds of birds. And God was pleased with what he saw.
22 He blessed them all and told the creatures that live in the water to reproduce and to fill the
sea, and he told the birds to increase in number. 23 Evening passed and morning came-that
was the fifth day.
24 Then God commanded, "Let the earth produce all kinds of animal life: domestic and
wild, large and small"-and it was done. 25 So God made them all, and he was pleased with
what he saw.
26 Then God said, "And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble
us. They will have power over the fish, the birds, and all animals, domestic and wild,
large and small." 27 So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created
them male and female, 28 blessed them, and said, "Have many children, so that your
descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in
charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals. 29 I have provided all kinds of grain and
all kinds of fruit for you to eat; 30 but for all the wild animals and for all the birds I have provided
grass and leafy plants for food"-and it was done. 31 God looked at everything he
had made, and he was very pleased. Evening passed and morning came-that was the sixth
2 And so the whole universe was completed. 2 By the seventh day God finished what he
had been doing and stopped working. 3 He blessed the seventh day and set it apart as a
special day, because by that day he had completed his creation and stopped working. 4 And
that is how the universe was created.
The Garden of Eden
When the Lord God made the universe, 5 there were no plants on the earth and no seeds
had sprouted, because he had not sent any rain, and there was no one to cultivate the land;
6 but water would come up from beneath the surface and water the ground.
7 Then the Lord God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it; he
breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live.
8 Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the East, and there he put the man he
had formed. 9 He made all kinds of beautiful trees grow there and produce good fruit. In the
middle of the garden stood the tree that gives life and the tree that gives knowledge of what
is good and what is bad.
10 A stream flowed in Eden and watered the garden; beyond Eden it divided into four rivers.
11 The first river is the Pishon; it flows around the country of Havilah. (12 Pure gold is found
there and also rare perfume and precious stones.) 13 The second river is the Gihon; it flows
around the country of Cush. 14 The third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria, and
the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 Then the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it.
16 He told him, "You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, 17 except the tree that gives
knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you
do, you will die the same day."
18 Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable
companion to help him." 19 So he took some soil from the ground and formed all the animals
and all the birds. Then he brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and
that is how they all got their names. 20 So the man named all the birds and all the animals;
but not one of them was a suitable companion to help him.
21 Then the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he
took out one of the man's ribs and closed up the flesh. 22 He formed a woman out of the rib
and brought her to him. 23 Then the man said,
"At last, here is one of my own kind-
Bone taken from my bone, and flesh from my flesh.
'Woman' is her name because she was taken out of man."
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become
25 The man and the woman were both naked, but they were not embarrassed.
3 Now the snake was the most cunning animal that the Lord God had made. The snake
asked the woman, "Did God really tell you not to eat fruit from any tree in the garden?"
2 "We may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden," the woman answered, 3 "except the tree
in the middle of it. God told us not to eat the fruit of that tree or even touch it; if we do, we
4 The snake replied, "That's not true; you
will not die. 5 God said that because he
knows that when you eat it, you will be like
God and know what is good and what is
6 The woman saw how beautiful the tree
was and how good its fruit would be to eat,
and she thought how wonderful it would be
to become wise. So she took some of the
fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it. 7 As soon as they had
eaten it, they were given understanding and realized that they were naked; so they sewed
fig leaves together and covered themselves.
8 That evening they heard the Lord God walking in the garden, and they hid from him
among the trees. 9 But the Lord God called out to the man, "Where are you?"
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden; I was afraid and hid from you, because I was
11 "Who told you that you were naked?" God asked. "Did you eat the fruit that I told you
not to eat?"
12 The man answered, "The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it."
13 The Lord God asked the woman, "Why did you do this?"
She replied, "The snake tricked me into eating it."
God Pronounces Judgment
14 Then the Lord God said to the snake, "You will be punished for this; you alone of all the
animals must bear this curse: From now on you will crawl on your belly, and you will have to
eat dust as long as you live. 15 I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring
and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her
16 And he said to the woman, "I will increase your trouble in pregnancy and your pain in
giving birth. In spite of this, you will still have desire for your husband, yet you will be subject
17 And he said to the man, "You listened to your wife and ate the fruit which I told you not
to eat. Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse. You will have to
work hard all your life to make it produce enough food for you. 18 It will produce weeds and
thorns, and you will have to eat wild plants. 19 You will have to work hard and sweat to make
the soil produce anything, until you go back to the soil from which you were formed. You
were made from soil, and you will become soil again."
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all human beings. 21 And
the Lord God made clothes out of animal skins for Adam and his wife, and he clothed
Adam and Eve Are Sent Out of the Garden
22 Then the Lord God said, "Now these human beings have become like one of us and
have knowledge of what is good and what is bad. They must not be allowed to take fruit
from the tree that gives life, eat it, and live forever." 23 So the Lord God sent them out of the
Garden of Eden and made them cultivate the soil from which they had been formed. 24 Then
at the east side of the garden he put living creatures and a flaming sword which turned in
all directions. This was to keep anyone from coming near the tree that gives life.
Cain and Abel
4 Then Adam had intercourse with his wife, and she became pregnant. She bore a son and
said, "By the Lord's help I have gotten a son." So she named him Cain. 2 Later she gave
birth to another son, Abel. Abel became a shepherd, but Cain was a farmer. 3 After some time
Cain brought some of his harvest and gave it as an offering to the Lord. 4 Then Abel brought
the first lamb born to one of his sheep, killed it, and gave the best parts of it as an offering.
The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, 5 but he rejected Cain and his offering. Cain
became furious, and he scowled in anger. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry?
Why that scowl on your face? 7 If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling; but
because you have done evil, sin is crouching at your door. It wants to rule you, but you must