Tradition has it that Moses wrote the book of Genesis. Moses would have relied on the eyewitness accounts and written accounts of what had happened in the history of the world and in the founding of the Jewish nation, and he wrote it down in a unified book.
Creation and disobedience
Genesis means “the beginning”. Genesis is just that — an account of the beginning of the world: God’s creation of the universe, our world, land, sea, plants, birds, fish, animals and human beings in the form of one man and one woman, Adam and Eve.
God gave Adam and Eve one command, warning them that disobedience would result in their separation from God, death. They disobeyed and they were separated from God – and banished from the garden that God had given them. He told them that their lives would be filled with suffering, but also promised that one day, a redeemer would come.
After these main events, which fill the first 3 chapters of the book, there is a brief history of the world, describing the flood, which covered the whole earth, and the introduction of different languages in the world, resulting in different nations.
Early Jewish history
In chapter 12 God calls a man, Abram, and he becomes the father of the Jewish nation. God has a special place for the Jews in world history, and from this point in the Bible, nearly everything in the Old Testament is about the Jewish nation. God promised to bless Abram, who later became Abraham, and make of him a great nation. He was promised a son, who would inherit God’s promise of blessing. When Abraham was already 100 years old, this promise was finally fulfilled. Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Jacob inherited God’s promise of blessing.
Jacob had 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob’s favorite son was Joseph. His brothers hated him, sold him as a slave to Egypt to try and get rid of him. But God saved Joseph, and he was eventually appointed 2nd ruler in Egypt. The whole earth was affected by a famine, but God used Joseph, in Egypt, to provide for the Egyptians. Jacob sent his sons to buy food from Egypt, and as a result, Joseph and the family were reunited. Jacob and the whole family went to Egypt to live there. God had prophesied this, and also that they would become slaves (see Genesis 15:13-14), which happened indeed. This is recorded in the next book of the Bible, Exodus.
Lessons from the book of Genesis
The book of Genesis is very important for our world view, since it explains how it all started. This world, including us humans, did not come into existence by mere chance but was carefully designed by a Creator. Genesis also explains why God’s good world now contains so many bad things. And it makes clear that God did not abandon humanity altogether after they turned their backs on Him. He does still care for our well-being! You need to know these basic truths in order to understand the rest of the Bible and in order to answer life’s biggest questions.
In our five Read Scripture courses, we offer introductions on every single Bible book, starting with the book of Genesis. The courses are totally free, and after completing a course you will receive a certificate. Feel free to sign up and try it for yourself!