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Genesis INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION
The name Genesis means “origin”. The book tells about the creation of the universe, the origin of the human race, the beginning of sin and suffering in the world, and about God's way of dealing with humanity. Genesis can be divided into two main parts: (1) 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 (chapters 1—11). (2) 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, who were 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 Egypt (chapters 12—50).
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 the human race 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
Introduction
The title of this book in the Hebrew Bible comes from the first word of the book, Bereshith, “In the beginning.” The English title, Genesis, a Greek word meaning “origin,” comes from the title of this book in the ancient Greek Septuagint Bible, simply by borrowing it without translating. The title is appropriate since Genesis is a book of beginnings: the beginning of the universe and the planet earth, the origin of all earth's life forms and human beings, the first entry of sin and suffering into the world through the human inclination to disobey God and to presume they know better than God what is right or wrong.
The beginnings of God's chosen people—the Israelites—follow these “pre-historical” accounts with the story of Abraham and Sarah and all of the Israelites' earliest ancestors (chapters 12–50). Abraham is famed for his great faith and his willingness to follow the call of God to leave his homeland in the region of the Upper Euphrates River and to venture to a new land, where God promised that many of his descendants would one day live. The stories of his son, Isaac, and his grandsons, Esau and Jacob, follow. The twelve sons of Jacob (also called Israel) become the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel as Jacob, his sons, and their households (“souls,” according to Exod 1.5) settled into life in the Nile Delta in Lower Egypt, where they had been forced by famine to seek food and work. It may have appeared then that the light of God's promise was growing dim as they were forced by their desperate circumstances to abandon their homes and livelihoods in the land of promise.
But Genesis tells how God's providence intervened in the person of Joseph, a great-grandson of Abraham and one of the twelve sons of Jacob. In a fit of jealousy the other brothers had sold the young Joseph into slavery in Egypt, but thanks to his bright mind and the providence of God, Joseph had risen to power in Egypt as vizier, reporting directly to Pharaoh. Joseph's careful planning enabled Egypt to get through the “lean years” of famine by storing up grains during the good years for later rationing. It was also Joseph's gracious generosity that led him to forgive his brothers and care for his family in their desperation. All through the book, the central character is God, the creator and gracious provider.
Outline
The Creation of the Universe, Earth, and Human Beings (1.1—2.25)
The Beginning of Sin and Suffering in Human Life (3.1-24)
From Adam to Noah (4.1—5.32)
Noah and the Great Flood (6.1—10.32)
The Tower of Babel (11.1-9)
From Shem to Abraham (11.10-32)
The Israelite Ancestors: Abraham, Isaac and 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)