The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
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Bible Study

 
Genesis
 
    Genesis is the first book of the Pentatench, which name is a Greek word meaning "five rolls; fivefold volume". The Pentateuch is really one book in five parts (Genesis through Deuteronomy). Showing that it was originally one book, the Pentateuch is referred to in many places as "the book [singular, not plural] of the law of Moses". (Nehemiah 8:1; Joshua 8:31; 2 Chronicles 17:9) Its division into five rolls (which would facilitate handling) is probably older than the Septuagint, but it is in that Greek version that the fivefold division of "the law" is first found. "Genesis" means "origin; beginning". It is the name the Septuagint gives to that first Bible book. In the Hebrew Bible Genesis takes the opening word "Bereshith" as its name, meaning "in the beginning".

    Who was the writer of Genesis? If we establish this, then the writer of the entire Pentateuch becomes known, as its five books were "the book of the law", and all by one writer. The answer appears in the first recorded command to write: "The LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book." Further testimony is: "And Moses wrote." "The LORD said unto Moses, Write." "Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys." Then the record discloses that Moses completed his writing work: "Moses . . . made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished."-—Exodus 17:14; 24: 4; 34: 27; Numbers 33: 2 ; Deuteronomy 31: 24-26.

    Many prophets and later Bible writers credited Moses with the first five books, referring to them as the "law of Moses". The disciple James speaks of "Moses . . .being read in the synagogues". Paul said: "Moses writeth that the man that doeth the righteousness which is of the law shall live thereby." (Acts 15:21; Romans 10:5, Am. Stan. Ver.; Leviticus 18: 5) The crowning testimonial evidence comes from the lips of Christ Jesus himself: "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" (John 5: 46, 47) So what matters it that in these latter days a host of higher critics vying for attention spout forth an unending torrent of theories? Moses' writer-ship, never questioned for 3,000 years, cannot be successfully contested.

    The Pentateuch was started after Moses was authorized to write, which was in 1513 B.C., just after the exodus. It was completed forty years later. (Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 31: 24-26) But the question arises, how did Moses come to know the history of man back to Adam in Eden? Doubtless by word of mouth. And it did not necessarily need to pass through so many mouths. Five human links connect Adam and Moses. These links are Methuselah, Shem, Isaac, Levi and Amram. Their lives overlapped, and Methuselah lived during the last 243 years of Adam's life, and Amram was Moses' father. To bolster this chain of oral communication were such men as Lamech, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, etc. As a potent memory-helper the infallible spirit of Jehovah God would cause these men to remember correctly, and would direct the one He authorized to write it down, namely Moses. (John 14:26) Its authenticity is attested to by the unnumbered references to it by the prophets and other Bible writers, including the apostles, and by Christ Jesus' quoting of it. Many of its prophecies have been marvelously fulfilled, and others are now seen to be in course of fulfillment. All this assures that it could never have had an earthly origin. God's spirit dictated, Moses wrote, and the record is sure.

    Genesis is the most ancient history in the world. The first verse reaches far back into time, saying with impressive simplicity: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Twenty-six short verses later and 42,000 long years have elapsed. God's creative work in six 7,000-year days has been described. Day and night, descension of rings, the appearance of dry land and the gathering of seas, plant life, lights to rule by day and by night, animal life, followed by higher forms of land animals, topped finally by the creation of man and woman, all these miraculous events of 42,000 years pass fleetingly before the eyes. The majestic power of the Creator is seen at work.—1:1-31.

    The blessedness of the first human pair is short-lived. They are placed in Eden, are given God's law as a guide, and receive a glorious divine mandate. Then diabolical religion appears. Satan, then named Lucifer, rebels, seduces Eve, and she converts her husband to her new-found religion. From that point onward sorrow and suffering and death enter the earthly scene. Thus that first world of righteousness passed away. But a ray of hope shines for righteously disposed descendants: God declares his Edenie covenant, and a Seed to come is promised that will crush all rebels.—2:1-3: 24. Cain, the first man-child born, murders Abel, the first earthly witness of Jehovah. Religion's grip is strengthened; men call creatures by the name of the Lord in hypocrisy. Events mount to a climax: riotous living begins, wicked angels materialize as giants, good ones cohabit with women to produce a mongrel race of hybrids, and general corruption and degeneracy reach a peak. Jehovah announces an earth-cleansing flood. Only Noah and his family ride out the deluge in the ark. The first unrighteous or ungodly world is washed away, and the historical record has advanced us to A.M. 1656. (Anno Mundi means "in the year of the world".)—4:1-7: 24.

    After the flood Noah and his family worship Jehovah, hear the everlasting covenant, and have restated to them the divine mandate. Nimrod rockets to infamy as an ambitious world dictator. He organizes religion and politics, and seeks to unify his total-state structure by a tower of Babel. Instead, disunity by confusion of language and by many divisive races and kingdoms follows.—8:1-11: 9.

    Four hundred and twenty-seven years of the post-flood period elapse, and Jehovah speaks a blessed promise to Abraham, a promise to bless the obedient through Abraham's seed. Thereafter the Genesis account concerns itself with presenting the history of Abraham's household and the passing on of the promise to Isaac and Jacob. In Canaan land Ishmael is born to Abraham by a slave woman. The covenant of circumcision is established. Abraham sees the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Isaac is born, and with Ishmael's mocking of the five-year-old Isaac a 400-year period of affliction begins on God's people. Isaac is nearly sacrificed by his father, but is spared, and later marries Rebekah, who bears Jacob. Jacob's twelve sons become the twelve tribal heads of Israel.—12:1-35: 29.

    The account enters its final stages with the selling of the "dreamer" Joseph into Egypt. There he is advanced in the realm to a place second only to Pharaoh; this through an inspired interpretation of Pharaoh's dream warning of seven-year periods of plenty and famine. The touching drama of the reconciliation of Joseph and his brethren unfolds before the reader's eyes. Jacob and his household move into Egypt. Thereafter Jacob foretells Judah as the royal tribe and the one through whom the Messiah will come. The account closes with Joseph's death, after he foretells the exodus. And thus ends the first 2,369 years of human history.—37:1-50: 26.

    The bulk of the Genesis record concerns itself with the lives and families of three men: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In these men the nation of Israel was rooted, and the record concerning them leads into the birth of the typical Theocracy, which was used to foreshadow the abiding Theocracy through which Jehovah will vindicate his name. Throughout the book there is always cropping up the promise of the Seed. It was foretold in the third chapter, and was the substance of the Abrahamic promise. Hence the theme permeating the Genesis account is one of Theocracy and of vindication through the promised Seed of God's woman, violently emphasized at times by such God-vindicating acts of judgment as the global flood and the rain of fire on Sodom and Gomorrah.