The Book of Genesis: Summary & Analysis

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  • 0:04 Book of Beginnings &…
  • 1:14 Genesis 6-9
  • 1:56 Genesis 11
  • 2:26 Genesis 12-23
  • 5:25 Genesis 28-32
  • 6:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debbie Notari
This lesson offers a brief survey of the Book of Genesis. Genesis is a part of the Hebrew Torah - the first five books of the Old Testament - and is filled with intriguing stories, some of which are meant to explain why the world is the way it is today.

The Book of Beginnings

The name 'Genesis' is an English translation of the Hebrew word for the first book in the Torah, Bereishith. The word literally means 'in the beginning.' Genesis is the first of the five books of the Written Torah as well as the Christian Old Testament. It is generally believed to be written by Moses. There are too many stories in the book of Genesis to summarize in detail, so we will examine some key sections and provide an overall survey of the lessons found within.

Chapters 1-3, Adam and Eve

Genesis 1-3 gives an account of how God created Earth and everything on it, including man. He forms the first man, Adam, out of the soil, and then creates the first woman, Eve, from one of Adam's ribs. God then places the couple in a stunning garden full of all of the trees and plants that one can imagine.

In the garden, there is one fruit tree from which the couple cannot eat, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In response to temptation, Eve first partakes of the forbidden fruit after being tricked by a serpent. She then offers the fruit to Adam. After being confronted by God and cursed, the two are expelled from the Garden of Eden, where they will now experience a difficult life until they die. This part of Genesis explains how both sin and death enter the world.

Genesis 6-9, The Flood

In these chapters, we see the famous story of Noah. There is so much sin on Earth that God decides to destroy all living creatures except two of each species, and one righteous man, Noah, along with his wife, his three sons and their wives.

Noah builds a massive ship, although there was little water. But Noah trusts God, and as his whole world is destroyed in a worldwide flood, his family is safe. After the flood, God places a rainbow in the sky, promising never to destroy the world with a flood again. He also says, 'While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease' (8:22). By this, God establishes the seasons.

Genesis 11

In this chapter, we see the creation of different languages. God looks down from Heaven and sees that the people of earth are getting more and more powerful. They are trying to build a very high tower (the Tower of Babel) that will 'reach into heaven' (11:6). He remarks: 'Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do' (11:6). So, God scatters the people by giving them different languages to speak. This explains how languages were created.

Genesis 12-23

Genesis chapters 12-23 is devoted to the story of Abram, whose name God changed to Abraham, and his wife, Sarai, whose name was changed to Sarah. We will just refer to them as Abraham and Sarah from now on.

Abraham walks closely with God, listening to his voice and following his laws. God calls Abraham to leave his home, saying, ' I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed' (12:1b-3). So, at age 75, Abraham leaves with his wife and nephew, Lot, not knowing where he is going. But God promises Abraham that his descendants will outnumber the stars!

But Sarah, being quite elderly, has more difficulty believing she can possibly have a child. So she suggests that Abraham sleep with her maid, Hagar. When Hagar becomes pregnant, she looks down on Sarah; Hagar has accomplished something that clearly Sarah cannot. Sarah gets so upset that Hagar flees into the desert. God sends an angel to comfort her, and tell her to return to Sarah's service. Her son, too, will be great. She bears that son, Ishmael, who does in fact become the father of all Arab nations. Abraham is 86 when Ishmael is born.

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