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GENESIS (jĕn'ĕ-sĭs). The first book of the Bible. In the Jewish tradition the book is named from its first word berēshîth (“in the beginning”). The name Genesis, which means “beginning,” derives from the LXX and is found also in the Latin tradition (Liber Genesis). While much of the book is concerned with origins, the name Genesis does not reflect its total scope, for the larger portion of the book consists of the history of the patriarchs and concludes with the record of Joseph’s life.

I. The Authorship of Genesis. The question of the authorship of Genesis has been the subject of debate for over two centuries. Tradition ascribes the book to Moses, but the application of source-critical methodology has partitioned Genesis into a number of sources attributed to various authors writing at widely diverse times in Israelite history. The identification of these sources (known simply as J, E, D, P, etc.) is based on several criteria such as style, usage of the divine name, alleged contradictions, linguistic peculiarities, and development of the Israelite religion. More recent trends have tended to modify this approach, putting less emphasis on traditional historicist methodology and more on literary or canonical concerns.

The concept of Mosaic authorship does not demand the belief that Moses was the first to write every word of each account in the Book of Genesis. It is generally understood today to mean that much of his work was compilation. Many historical accounts in Genesis predate Moses by great expanses of time. There is no reason why he could not have arranged these ancient accounts into the literary structure of the book.

Proponents of the Mosaic authorship of Genesis point to such evidence as the author’s knowledge of Egypt (Gen.13.10) and the Egyptian language (Gen.41.43-Gen.41.45), archaisms in the language of Genesis (such as imprecision in the gender of certain nouns and pronouns), ancient customs recorded in Genesis that are paralleled in other cultures of the second millennium b.c., and the orderly and purposeful arrangement of the book (G. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 1964, pp. 101-9).

II. Archaeological Background of Genesis. Excavations at a number of sites in the ancient Near East have tended to support the antiquity and historical integrity of significant portions of the Book of Genesis. For example, excavations at Yorgan Tepe, the site of ancient Nuzi, have yielded thousands of tablets, most of which have been dated to the fifteenth century b.c. These tablets record several legal and societal practices that are strikingly similar to customs recorded in the patriarchal narratives. For example, Rachel’s theft of the household gods of Laban (Gen.31.34) may be understood against the background of the Nuzi custom of determining inheritance rights by the possession of the family gods. Apparently Rachel wished to insure her husband’s right to the property she felt was his (cf. Gen.31.14-Gen.31.16). Also, the practice of taking a concubine to produce an heir when a married couple was childless is well known, both in Genesis (Gen.16.3; Gen.30.4, Gen.30.9) and the Nuzi material (R. K. Harrison, The Archaeology of the Old Testament, 1966, pp. 23-29). The similarity between the customs of Nuzi and those of the patriarchs gives strong support to the origin of the patriarchal accounts in a period very early in Hebrew history.

It has been asserted that the mention of camels in numerous passages in Genesis may be an anachronism, because evidence for the domestication of camels cannot be found before the end of the twelfth century b.c. (W. F. Albright, The Archaeology of Palestine, 1949, pp. 206-7). However, camel bones have been discovered at Mari (twenty-fifth/twenty-fourth centuries) and in Palestine (2000 to 1200) at various archaeological sites. Evidence for the domestication of the camel may be found in texts from the Old Babylonian period (c. 2000/1700) and a Sumerian text from Nippur (K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament, 1966, pp. 79-80).

III. Content of the Book of Genesis. The Book of Genesis may be divided roughly into three parts. Gen.1.1-Gen.1.31-Gen.11.1-Gen.11.32 record events from the Creation to the death of Terah, the father of Abraham. Gen.12.1-Gen.12.20-Gen.36.1-Gen.36.43 constitute a history of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Gen.37.1-Gen.37.36-Gen.50.1-Gen.50.26 present a sustained narrative that records the account of Joseph.

The first section begins with the account of creation. It is sometimes asserted that there are two creation narratives (Gen.1.1-Gen.2.4; Gen.2.4-Gen.2.25) that give contradictory accounts of the order of the creative events. In the second account, which is attributed to the “J” writer, man appears to have been created before vegetation (Gen.2.5; cf. Gen.2.7). This is different from the order of Gen.1.1-Gen.1.31, which is attributed to the “P” writer. However, the words for vegetation may connote “weeds” and “cultivated plants.” The word translated “shrub” connotes weeds or brush in its other usages in the OT (Job.30.4, Job.30.7) and the word “plant” frequently refers to edible or cultivated grasses. The purpose of the account is to show that weeds and the need for cultivation were a result of the curse (cf. Gen.3.18-Gen.3.19). It is not necessary to understand the accounts to contradict one another.

There were other ancient cultures that produced creation accounts. For example, the Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elish depicts the origin of the physical phenomena. It is commonly held that the Genesis accounts are dependent on the Babylonian creation account. Yet an examination of the two accounts yields little evidence on which to base such an assertion.

Linguistic evidence for such dependence has been sought in the word tehôm (“deep”), which occurs in Gen.1.2 (B. S. Childs, Myth and Reality in the Old Testament, 1962, pp. 37-38). This word is said to find a counterpart in the word Ti’âmat, the name of a goddess in Enuma Elish. However, there is strong evidence against such a parallel. First, the word Ti’âmat does not contain the gutteral “h,” which is present in the Hebrew word. One would expect the word to be spelled with an aleph in Hebrew, not a hē. Second, the Ugaritic material possesses the word thm, which is evidently the same word that appears in Hebrew as tehôm.

It may also be noted that the style and content of the two accounts are vastly different. The Babylonian account depicts the Creation as taking place as a result of the sexual union of the gods Apsû and Ti’âmat. It is patently mythical and pagan in its orientation.

However, similarities remain, particularly in the order of the creative events. A. Heidel says of this consonance between the accounts: “Our examination...shows quite plainly that the similarities are not so striking as we might expect....In fact, the divergences are much more far-reaching and significant than are the resemblances, most of which are not any closer than what we should expect to find in any two more or less complete creation versions...” (A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, 1963, p. 130).

The fall of the human race is recorded in Gen.2.1-Gen.2.25-Gen.3.1-Gen.3.24. This event had profound significance, not only for man’s relationship to God but for his relationships to others as well. No longer does an intimate relationship with God exist, as it did in the Garden. Murder (Gen.4.8, Gen.4.23) and the lust for renown (Gen.4.17, Gen.4.23-Gen.4.24; Gen.6.1-Gen.6.4) now characterize the human race. These conditions led to the destruction of the race by a flood.

The question of the universality of the Flood (Gen.6.5-Gen.9.17) cannot be answered precisely from the biblical texts because of the ambiguity of the word “all” in the statement “all the high mountains... were covered” (Gen.7.19), which in Hebrew need not be understood in an absolute sense. Yet, it is difficult to conceive of the Noahic flood only as a local phenomenon in view of the fact that the waters apparently covered Mount Ararat (Gen.8.3-Gen.8.4). The presence of a flood account in many ethnological contexts, as well as the evidence of fossils found in various sites throughout the world are often appealed to as support for a universal flood (A. M. Rehwinkel, The Flood, 1951, pp. 127-52, 210-37). See also DELUGE FLOOD.

The human race’s effort to establish a name for itself culminated in the erection of the Tower of Babel (Gen.11.1-Gen.11.9). The destruction of the tower by divine intervention was accompanied by the confusion of language, which led to the geographical distribution of the race (Gen.11.8) and probably to the dialectical and linguistical differences that characterize human language today.

The patriarchal accounts that begin at Gen.12.1 are of great importance to the theology of both Testaments, for they record the first formal statement of the promise to Abraham. The promise, which later was put into the form of a covenant (Gen.15.12-Gen.15.21), guaranteed an inheritance to the people of God in all ages.

The Genesis narratives set forth Abraham’s faith as the central element in his relationship with God (Gen.15.6). His faith was given concrete expression in his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac according to the word of God (Gen.22.1-Gen.22.9; cf. James 22:22-Gen.22.23).

The Genesis narratives give the least attention to the patriarch Isaac. But the promise is not absent from the account of his life (Gen.26.23-Gen.26.25). The narrative concerning Jacob also centers on the continuation of the promise-covenant in the patriarchal line. The elements of the promise were reiterated to him when he was forced to flee his home because he had deceived his father (Gen.27.18-Gen.27.45).

Jacob is the progenitor of the twelve tribes of Israel (Gen.35.22-Gen.35.23). When his name was changed from Jacob to Israel he gave a name to the Hebrew tribes (Gen.32.27-Gen.32.28).

A large portion of Genesis records the life of Joseph, Jacob’s son by Rachel. Basic to this narrative is its recounting of the way in which the Hebrews came to reside in the land of Egypt. It was due to a famine that was apparently widespread in Egypt and Canaan. Joseph had wisely provided for such emergencies, and Jacob and his sons came to Egypt to pasture their flocks. Joseph recognized his family, from whom he had been separated for many years, and settled them in the land of Egypt (Gen.47.11-Gen.47.12).

The narratives concerning Joseph provide the historical background for the Book of Exodus, which records the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt and their subsequent exodus from that land. These narratives also look back to the period of Egyptian bondage mentioned in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen.15.13-Gen.15.14).

Bibliography: H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, 1950; Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, vol. 1, 1961; vol. 2, 1964; Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, 1967; Walter Brueggemann, Genesis: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, 1982.——TEM

GENESIS jĕn’ ə sis (בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית, using the first word of the book in beginning, LXX γένεσις, G1161, beginning).

This article assumes that authorship of Genesis may rightly be attributed to Moses. No statement in the book makes that claim, nor does any other OT book. The NT makes assertions, as we shall see, that point to Mosaic authorship of the book. With this assumption and the case standing as it does, it is almost impossible to treat the material of this article under the captions usually resorted to, except in a general way. The captions to be by-passed are “background” and “date.” In like manner headings such as “place of origin,” “destination” and “occasion” can receive only brief treatment. For if Moses wrote the book, he would have completed the task at least before 1240 b.c., the latest possible date for Israel’s crossing the Jordan after his death. “The place of origin would have been the Sinaitic peninsula or the Plains of Moab.” No definite “occasion” for writing the book could be fixed. The “purpose” of writing is nowhere stated in the OT. It could be surmised with some validity that the book was written to lay the groundwork for the remaining books of the Pentateuch. The material therefore falls into the following outline:


The importance of the book.

Men have waxed eloquent in singing the praises of this, the first book of the Bible, and justly so. It contains first of all great theology, and has been rightly labeled as “the starting point of all Theology” (Fritsch, The Layman’s Bible Commentary). It gives a basically adequate answer to the question how the world originated, how man originated, how sin came into the world, how man fell from grace, how God gave the hope of redemption to fallen man, how sin spread, how a great judgment was visited upon the sinful world in the Flood, how a remnant of the human race was providentially saved, how the human race again spread abroad still proudly asserting itself. All this is presented from a theological point of view. The rest of the book deals with the unique preparations that were made to let redemption grow out of one branch of the human family under the guidance of the Father of all mankind.

Aside from its theological importance there is its importance as great lit. Genesis compares favorably with other works of lit. that give their own national version of Creation and the Flood. The skill of the author in portraying God’s activity in the guidance of creation and of history is inimitable. The charm with which the important characters of sacred history are set forth has entranced young and old through the ages. The manner in which the tale keeps moving from one climax to another is most effective. From the standpoint of good lit., the book has never lost its appeal through the ages.

Of the many things that could yet be said in praise of the importance of Genesis, is the rare combination of depth and simplicity. Subjects most vital to man, involving his deepest needs and aspirations, are dealt with in an almost childlike simplicity, which allows the young mind to catch the essence of the divine revelation with comparative ease. Like all inspired Scripture the first book in the series is still the stream through which the lamb can wade and through which the elephant must swim.

One fact stressing the extreme importance of this book is yet to be noted, and that is the frequent references to it made both by the rest of the OT as well as by the NT. True, many of the references made by the OT writers are not made by page and verse; but they are there and they stand out. To mention one summarizing example from the NT, Luke 24:27 represents the risen Lord as tracing back Messianic prophecy to Moses and all the prophets. Genesis can hardly be set aside in a reference so broad.


Interesting is another approach made of a recent date (Frey, Botschaft des Alten Testaments) which finds four major subjects treated, labeling them as: The Book of Beginnings (1-11); The Book of Faith (12-25); The Book of Struggle (26-35); and The Book of Guidance (Füehrung) (36-50).

Still other outlines may have their validity, for it is extremely difficult to press the rich contents of so striking a book as Genesis into the mold of an outline that may be helpful. Usually an outline catches some important feature of the contents and fails to do justice to other features.


The approach most popular still in our day is practically that of source analysis—many writers producing many sources, which have all been skillfully woven together into one grand whole by an unknown editor (commonly called the Redactor, and referred to as R).

This article will not attempt a portrayal that covers the whole of this approach but without undertaking any direct refutation it will attempt at least to sketch the newer developments that have taken place in this field. Around the turn of the cent. the major sources were designated as J, E, D, and P—J operating mostly with the divine name Yahweh (also spelled Jahweh); E, using the divine name Elohim by preference; D marked by material that is both hortatory and legal in character, as such material appears in Deuteronomy; and P setting forth the kind of material that priests would cultivate and cherish, such as the provisions of Leviticus (Lev 1-16).

Presently it began to appear to scholars that even past the Mosaic Age it would be far more likely for a nation like Israel to preserve the record of its experiences not in books, such as might be kept in a literary age, but in living tradition that was passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation. Attention was directed to tradition as the major source of Israel’s history. This should have set aside the entanglement with the problems of the written sources. Still the so-called achievements in this latter field were kept and operated with as having achieved relative validity. It was not realized that men cannot operate with both approaches simultaneously. But it must be admitted that with this shift of emphasis the richness of the traditions of Israel began to be studied and appreciated as never before.

In the meantime the search after sources had produced findings that gave even the adherents of these hypotheses of sources some serious misgivings. For example the P source had been broken down into component parts labeled consecutively as P, Pg, P1, P2, P3. Similar additional subsources were discovered for J and the rest—an obviously impossible array of sources that even the most astute ingenuity of scholarship could hardly accept seriously. The minor sources were dismissed and new reconstruction of at least JEDPR were and are being attempted.

The inadequacy of this approach again became evident in that entirely new sources were demanded on every side. The original J had been broken up into J1 and J2. J1 really had nothing in common with J2 except possibly the use of the divine proper name Yahweh. So, chiefly championed by Eissfeldt, L (Lay Source) was suggested as a helpful substitute for J1. It was also found necessary to bring another new source into the picture labeled N (nomadic stratum). In addition Noth felt that there was quite a bit of evidence for the similarity that is rather obvious when J and E are viewed side by side; and so he advocated a G source (gemeinsame Grundlage—common foundation) for both. A bit earlier men like Robert H. Pfeiffer had postulated an S source (S or Seir). Some appeared on the scene advocating that a K (Kenite) source is also clearly in evidence. Besides sources such as G2, L2, and J2 were currently approved in many cases.

It must be admitted that some writers roundly reject the validity of the newest sources, and claim that such proliferation defeats its own purpose and causes only confusion. One writer from this camp ventures the assertion that recourse to other than the basic standards like JE and P “has proved to be so much tilting at windmills” (Fritsch, The Anchor Bible).

One trend of source criticism as it still prevails in our day should, in passing, be noted. Much attention is given in such studies to the way in which a book may have originated. Surprisingly little is made of the contents and message of the book. So a thorough and much used textbook of introduction to the OT devotes about 150 pages to critical problems and only casually touches upon a few matters of true interpretation, indicating the meaning and value of the contents of the books treated. In the second place it is rather significant that even so notable a work as the IB, in an introductory article by the general editor makes the admission: “For fifty years no full-scale commentary has been produced in the English language on the whole Bible.” During these “fifty years” source criticism had its day and dominated all Pentateuchal studies. Meager were the fruits it produced in constructive interpretation during its heyday.

It could be argued feasibly that if Moses resorted to writing in the cases just referred to, he may well have written the rest of the framework that surrounds these portions written by him. It also appears as feasible that the material from Exodus to Deuteronomy demands some such substructure as Genesis, a fact that Moses could well have sensed and taken steps to provide such a broader base, using such materials as were accessible at the time, in the form of ancient traditions that had been well preserved. Such an approach to the problem has as much to commend it as the hypothetical results of modern criticism, a fact which is tacitly admitted even by the trs. of the RSV, which captions the first book, as did the KJV trs.: “The First Book of Moses.”

When passages like John 5:46f. (in which Jesus refers to the “writings” of Moses) are introduced to indicate that Jesus Himself may have asserted in them that Moses was the author of the writings commonly attributed to him, they cannot be dismissed casually with the statement: “Jesus was not at the time discussing the authorship of the Pentateuch.” It all depends on how far one cares to extend the authority of the words of Jesus. That He incidentally combined with His statement a claim that Moses wrote these books could indeed have been done in the interest of reassuring His followers on this additional important question for years to come. It is true that “Moses” in this context could mean the writings commonly attributed to Moses. It is equally true that it might be a pronouncement on the authorship of these writings.

It is quite proper, therefore, for the Wycliffe Bible Commentary to come forth with the assertion (p. 1): “It is safe to claim Moses as the responsible author of the book” (Moody Press, Chicago [1962]). Or one may say, with The New Bible Commentary (ed. Francis Davidson, Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids [1958]): “No reason has yet been produced which categorically requires that the belief in the Mosaic authorship should be abandoned” (p. 75). We hold the theory of Mosaic authorship of Genesis to be fully as feasible as the theory of source analysis.

It cannot be denied that it is eminently reasonable to believe that Moses used available documents or solid traditions currently in circulation, in the compiling of Genesis.

Nor is it unreasonable to hold with the Bible Commission of the Roman Catholic Church, of 1906, that though Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, he may have employed qualified persons as secretaries to work under his direction for the compiling of certain source materials; cf. Echter Bible, etc. Allowance may even be made for post-Mosaic editorial additions or alterations of a later date. By this we mean that the names of towns as they are listed here and there in Genesis, may have been changed to agree with the names that these towns held at a later date, a perfectly legitimate modernizing.

There is also another view on the authorship of Genesis advocated by Aalders which allows for the possibility that an author may have compiled the work “at a comparatively later date” (prob. during the early days of the monarchy) but will have “made use of the extensive Mosaic literature together with some pre-Mosaic material” (The New Bible Commentary, p. 34, Eerdmans Publishing Company [1958]).

Unique problems.

Quite a number of unique problems are encountered when one enters upon a study of Genesis. Almost the first to stare the student in the face is the problem of the apparent conflict between the modern world-view and that of this book. The difference of approach could even be magnified to the point where the two viewpoints are regarded as utterly irreconcilable. However one need not be unduly alarmed at the prospect. It is now commonly conceded that obviously the writer of the Genesis creation-account cannot have had the intention of providing a scientific theory of creation, cast in terms of modern science. He was so guided by the Spirit of inspiration that he set forth basic truths of revelation in terms that were precise enough as to the truth conveyed, but yet were elastic enough to allow for the possibility of present-day scientific approaches that have been well established. The emphasis in the account of Genesis lies upon the omnipotence and mercy of the Creator. A God who can be loved and worshiped is represented in action in a manner calculated to bring a man to his knees as he beholds what God did to bring this world and man into being. The time factor involved is certainly a subject of secondary importance. In fact, in the manner in which the account is written, it is quite clear that certain processes that may have required the lapse of a large measure of time are allowed for. Without a question the well-ordered nature of God’s creation as well as the wisdom with which all things were made, all stand forth rather prominently. Many scientists can gratefully accept Genesis and many theologians gladly accept the numerous validated findings of science.

Of an entirely different nature are the instances in the Scripture that seem to fail to fit smoothly into the picture of interpretation. There is the question of the historical character of the old patriarchs: Did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob actually live and do the things recorded here? Did these events actually take place in their lives? That they were uniquely led by divine providence is rather apparent. But does an unusual measure of providential leading make an account unhistorical? More of God’s overruling power may have been manifested in one man’s life than in another. Besides, archeology has done valiant service in demonstrating in the record of the lives of the patriarchs that the background of these lives corresponds precisely with the state of affairs that prevailed in these lands as archeology retraces these records. Unger remarks, “The great service archaeological research is performing in this early period of Biblical history is to demonstrate that the picture of the patriarchs as presented in Genesis fits the frame of contemporary life....Today archaeology compels a more general respect for the historical quality of the patriarchal stories.” He adds that it “has had a momentous role in dealing a fatal blow to radical theories and in compelling a greater respect for the historical worth of the patriarchal narratives” (Merrill F. Unger, Archaeology and the OT, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House [1954], p. 120. See also G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology, Philadelphia: Westminster [1957], Ch. III, pp. 40ff.)

A matter that could cause the careful reader of Genesis some measure of difficulty is the fact that after one has read the largely narrative account of Genesis, the style of the record becomes so radically different in vocabulary and subject matter as one gets into material such as Exodus 21-23. Could one and the same man be found to have such diversity of style as is here in evidence? A still different style appears as one explores the material of Deuteronomy. But is not this difficulty alleviated by the simple observation that at these points a total change of subject-matter is to be found? The writer is no longer telling how God dealt with the patriarchs, but is recounting laws that he set forth for the guidance of the nation. Style and vocabulary had to change under such circumstances. So, too, they had to change again when Moses, before his end, addressed touching admonitions to the nation he had guided for so many years, as is the case in much of the material that goes to make up Deuteronomy.

Is not the argument convincing that J largely and almost exclusively used the name Yahweh for the divine being, whereas E used Elohim? Cannot this speak strongly in favor of a clear separation of these two sources? No easy solution to the problem involved has yet been offered by either side in the argument. Criticism can hardly offer a valid parallel where a writer of the Mosaic period can be shown to have known only one name for the Deity. Besides, the obvious fact that names are to be used according to their meaning is totally ignored in this case. Observe, by way of a good parallel, the fine distinction that the NT makes in the use of the two names “Jesus’ and “Christ.” Add to this the many exceptions where J uses Elohim and E uses Yahweh.

Is there not a large measure of agreement among critics as to the major issues of source analysis? Answer: First of all, issues of this sort are not settled by majority vote. The majority often has been wrong. Besides, a large number of passages can be cited from the pen of critics admitting many unsolved problems. Critics are today more than ever before divided over the results of their investigations. Bentzen admits that “the present situation concerning the question of the rather in suspense. Especially among the scholars of the younger generation there exists a definite scepticism toward the Documentary Hypothesis” (A. Bentzen, Introduction to the OT, Copenhagen: G. E. C. Gad [1958], Vol. II, p. 23). Nielsen, writing as a representative of an Oral Tradition theory objects to the older literary criticism: “One can and must doubt whether the method by which literary criticism finds difficulties in the text and afterwards solves them is the right one. In other words one may doubt the correctness of the fundamental view and the methods of literary criticism.” (E. Nielsen, Oral Tradition London: SCM Press [1954], p. 94.) Observe also how many findings are couched in cautious terminology, using frequently words such as “could” and “might.”

Somewhat striking besides is the fact that after many sources have been detected by the methods of criticism there are still certain materials left over that cannot be traced to any of the sources or redactors with which men operate, like the famous ch. 14 of Genesis. (Cf. also: Exod 15:1-19; 19:3b-8; and Deut 32.)

Attention also should be drawn to the fact that when the theology of Genesis is set forth the custom prevails to present not the theology of the book as a whole but to fragmentize it into the separate theologies of J, E, P, etc. The total impact of the book is lost, and the hypothetical theologies of unidentified writers are emphasized. The form in which the book has providentially come down to us is ignored, though the editor, or redactor—whoever he may have been—may have been highly praised by the present-day writer for his skill in organizing. It is not the theology of Genesis that is offered, but the hazy theologies of J, E, and P.

There is another unwholesome trend which may be observed in dealing with the book as a whole, the trend which thinks in terms of the incredibility of the history of the early patriarchs. It is taken for granted that one cannot accept as facts the things set forth as having been experienced by the fathers of old. Their encounter with the divine being in assumed human or angelic form, their providential deliverance from danger, the overwhelming instances of divine providence particularly in the life of Joseph—all these are thought to tax belief beyond what confidently may be accepted. Subjective feelings are not the final measure of miracles.

Theology of Genesis.

This is not a theology of the various so-called sources, but a theology of the book as a whole.

On the doctrine concerning God some distinct points of view emerge and some features obviously are missing. A full-rounded concept of God could hardly be conveyed by one brief book, esp. since the doctrine of God also was subject to more abundant revelation as time went on.

The God who does appear in this book is sole and supreme monarch of the universe and of His people. A latent monotheism is to be discovered in the book. It is a long while until statements like Deuteronomy 6:4 can appear, but Genesis prepares for them. It is equally obvious that this God of the patriarchs is omnipotent: He can create whatever He is pleased to bring into being, and He does all his work by the use of His potent word. He knows all things, though this fact is hinted at rather than fully revealed. He knows of the hiding of our first parents in the garden, and of Sarah’s secret laughter in the tent. He is present also far from the ancestral home, as Jacob to his amazement discovers (Gen 28:16); he is virtually omnipresent.

In His workings God is supremely wise, for all things that He creates bear the stamp of being most excellently adapted to their designed use and purpose. An integrated universe comes into being from His hands. At the same time concern for the well-being of His creatures leads Him to give abundant evidence of His deep mercy and love, esp. toward those creatures who are the crown of His creation, the children of men.

This God reveals Himself to His children. Some measure of mystery surrounds the manner in which He does it. The sacred writers were not given a revelation concerning how revelation in days of old came from God to men, at least not as far as the mechanics of the method were concerned. God did at times appear (one may not be able to say precisely in what guise) and in these theophanies He spoke understandably to the chosen recipients of His revelation. Sometimes His message was conveyed to men in the stillness of the night in a dream (31:11); sometimes the mysterious agent “the angel of the Lord” functioned on such occasions (again 31:11). These experiences on the part of the patriarchs were real and do not savor of an overly lively display of religious credulity.

A rather clear picture of who and what man is also begins to appear in the context of this book. Man is a creature, made according to a preconceived design, with a material as well as a non-material side to His being. He is from the outset a creature that has a free will, for He can assent to, or He can say, “No,” to temptation. God’s image is stamped upon man. True, what the image of God precisely embraces is nowhere defined but it is asserted with emphasis that this belongs to His native endowment (1:27). Equally mysterious is the somewhat representative character of the first man (“in Adam all die,” 1 Cor 15:22). He is the first of human beings in more than in the mere sense of numerical priority. Again this representative character is not set forth in so many words.

This man is represented from the outset as a superior being as he comes forth as God’s handiwork, free from the taint of sin. Being led by the tempter, he allows himself to aspire to be like God, and rises in proud disobedience against the express will of his Creator, taking of the fruit “whose mortal taste brought death into the world and all its woe.” The immediate consequences of this willful act are seen to be an unwholesome fear of God, a desire to shun His presence, and a sense of shame, together with many other distortions of what had been a “good” character. Sin’s capacity for rapid growth is indicated by the record that tells how the first son of our first parents slew his own brother in cold blood. In fact, as the record points out, sin rages up and down through the world, filling it with violence, even to the point where the Creator Himself had to use drastic means—the Flood—to curb this monstrous evil. When a new development sets in and the children of men increase in numbers, soon they are defying the basic ordinance of the Almighty and are building a rallying point in the form of a huge tower. That man stands in need of help from on high is, by this account, represented negatively rather than positively. It soon becomes obvious that sin again is reaching horrible dimensions, when the abnormal development of Canaanite sexual depravity comes to light, or when the incident of Sodom and Gomorrah throws its lurid light on the pages of Sacred Writ.

That there is a grace mighty to save also soon becomes apparent. For hardly had Adam fallen, even before his well-deserved punishment is appointed, when strong evidence appears that God will not deal with men after their sins in ruthless justice, nor reward strictly according to their iniquities. He gives a rich promise, as Genesis 3:15, rightly interpreted, clearly shows. It is promised that one capable of breaking the power of the evil one will in due time appear, born of a woman. An incidental trace of the unmerited grace that God will make operative is to be found also in this that the Creator provides garments for these children of His whom He had to oust from the blessed garden of Eden (3:23). In a similar manner God’s attitude toward fallen man is indicated by the rainbow in the sky after the great Flood, which was a token of grace indicating a stable world-order not again to be visited by a Flood. In fact, God’s undeserved goodness found solid expression finally in the covenant that He made freely with Abraham, not because of Abraham’s superior merit but because of the Lord’s abounding favor (Gen 15).

So there are to be found the basic elements of redemption even at this early date: grace on the part of God; faith on the part of man. For Genesis 15:6 plainly states that when Abraham believed the Lord’s promises, “He reckoned it to him as righteousness,” a passage that figures prominently in the upbuilding of Paul’s theology (Rom 4:3, 9, 22, 23). Genesis comes close to saying that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

It may also be noted that some clear thoughts on the subject of judgment are set forth in this early record. Abraham knows God as the God who is the fair and unimpeachable judge of all the earth (Gen 18:25). There are no soft notions of an indulgent father of mankind, but a sense of the necessity of divine justice visiting sin’s consequences upon the guilty—thoughts like this are strongly underscored by incidents like the destruction of Sodom (19:1-28).

Even more strongly the concept of divine providence is maintained and exemplified. In that food is expressly provided in creation for man’s needs, divine providence shows its face. The unique manner in which the patriarchs are guided and guarded in their ways conveys the same thought. In fact, perhaps nowhere in Scripture is the evidence of providential guidance exemplified more prominently than in the narrative that centers about Joseph.


The record of Creation, it is contended in our day, was handed down from generation to generation in a long tradition. It was perpetuated in a record that went from mouth to mouth. Those who were qualified to give it shape and form did so with masterful skill and great theological insight, being no doubt skillfully guided by the Spirit of God. Was it in final form as it came to Moses, or did Moses perhaps give it some final form? God only knows.

The account as given in the first two chs. has something majestic about it. Being sanctified prose, it still reads almost like a great epic poem. It moves in solemn cadences to a great climax in the record of God’s Sabbath, having just before recorded the sublime story of the creation of man. At the same time, in words coming from the lips of the divine Creator, it maps out with surprising effectiveness God’s mandate to man, to “have dominion” over all created things. This includes man’s control progressively advancing from step to step subduing all creatures under his dominion (1:28). Man had rare duties and rare prerogatives and a nobel destiny outlined for him by God. Man was not left to his own devices to determine what his Creator expected of him. Still the mandate was given with such latitude of movement for man that God could hardly have stressed man’s moral accountability more heavily.

In ch. 2 God’s work of creation, how it proceeded and what it involved, is more fully unfolded. These details could have been inserted at their proper place in the time sequence of ch. 1, but that would have interrupted the marvelous progression that is so much in evidence in ch. 1. There was something of lowliness in the story of man—he was fashioned “of dust from the ground” (2:7). This fact so effectively disclosed at this point counterbalances the story of the high dignity that marked the previous chapter’s account. All this in spite of the fact that man had the distinct imprint of the image of God in his being.

Woman’s position over against man is also more fully outlined in the account of 2:21ff. What had in ch. 1 been stated all too briefly (“male and female he created them”) is now expanded in a report also most instructive and helpful. There is no clash between these two accounts. They obviously are intended to supplement one another.

For man’s moral growth and development God had in deep wisdom provided two trees (2:9) with important directives for man’s instruction in regard to the tree of knowledge. One must regard their nature as being almost sacramental. The full possibilities of the tree of life have not been perpetuated in the traditions relative to this second tree. One still gains the impression that nothing needful for man’s future development had been omitted.

Basic for the understanding of man, as far as man can understand the deep things of human nature, is some instruction about the origin of evil. This is provided in ch. 3. Many questions are left unanswered, perhaps because the mystery of iniquity is too great for mankind to fully comprehend it. The record of the Fall reveals some basic guidelines that dare never be overlooked. Man, as he came from the hand of God, was without moral deficiency. Sin did not originate from within man. A personal tempter brought it into the world. Man let himself be beguiled by the mysterious serpent. At a much later time it is made obvious that in the last analysis this tempter was none other than Satan (Rev 12:9). It is impossible to determine why the tempter is not more clearly identified. Man was not cursed as a consequence of the Fall, although grievous burdens were laid upon him lest he forget the deep tragedy of the whole experience—that the ground is cursed and brings forth thorns and thistles; toilsome labor and death are to be his lot. But, the case is not hopeless. In some strange way Adam was enlightened to see that, from the woman, life would come for mankind; for he designates his wife by the name “of Eve,” which word means “life.” Further indications of hope for fallen man appear also in this that one born of woman is to administer a crushing defeat (“crush the head”) to the tempter in the course of time, a promise reiterated in Romans 16:20. Additional evidence of God’s merciful attitude toward fallen man appears in this that he made personal provision for clothing those who had now become aware of a certain shameful nakedness (Gen 3:21).

Something of a deeply mysterious nature also surrounds the tree of life. It was for man’s own good that he was barred from access to this tree. For to have partaken of it would have meant irremediable involvement in the state of sin and so the loss of the hope of redemption (v. 22). The ch. has the memorable close that shows cherubim guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden lest man eat of the second forbidden tree and be caught in the toils of hopeless death.

In ch. 4 the slaying of Abel shows what horrible potentialities lie in sin. At the same time, this fratricide was the first step in the direction of separating the human race into two groups—the beginning of the sharp antithesis—church and world. Those who were the lineal descendants of Cain (properly called “Cainites”) from this point on are seen to live a life immersed in this world and its delights and pursuits. In the seventh generation from Adam this group reached a more intense development of worldly values (nomadism, music, mastery of metals, 4:20-24). On the other hand Seth (4:25f.) was the ancestor among whose descendants the worship of the Lord flourished—public worship even at this early date. The people of this group may be designated as “Sethites.” The table of ancestry of the Cainites is given in 4:17-25. The line of descent of the Sethites is presented in ch. 5. Both groups must be noted if one is to understand how the history of the nations unfolds.

Of the successive stories that cover the material of Genesis, the first “story”—that of heaven and earth—runs from 2:4 to 4:26. It is rightly designated as being the story of heaven and earth because the interests of both areas are deeply involved in these two. The second story—that of Adam—runs from 5:1 to 6:8, and indicates in its closing remarks how esp. the Sethites forfeited their identity by letting their children intermarry with the godless Cainites. From that point on, corruption grew so fast it was not long before only one righteous man was left on the face of the earth—Noah.

This then leads to the story of Noah (6:8-9:29), a period of history which was dominated by the lone figure of this venerable patriarch. Within this story is contained the record of the universal Flood, telling particularly how God mercifully spared Noah and his family in the days when He wiped out all living creatures that were left outside the ark. The rainbow as token of God’s covenant mercy overarches this story and brings it to a gracious conclusion.

That we may not forget that all human families, as far as we are able to detect, stem from the stock of Noah, the next story—10:1-10:32—gives the genealogies of the sons of Noah and so traces the whole human family back to a second common ancestor—Noah.

In spite of their ancestral unity, it was not long before a new rift in the races of mankind developed as a result of man’s manifest disobedience to the command of the Lord in that they refused to keep spreading abroad on the face of the earth and sought to concentrate their strength and accomplishments about the great tower as rallying point. The mysterious confusion of tongues resulted, which helped to make obvious how deeply divided sinners had become from one another in spite of their common ancestry. This confusion could well have been allowed by the Almighty in order to prevent the consolidation of future opposition to the divine will.

The story found in 11:10-32 (the descendants of Shem) makes it obvious that the writer is aiming to concentrate on some part of the family of Shem, and that he knew well how the families of the earth were integrated.

With ch. 12, beginning actually with 11:27, there is the special history of the chosen race, although this story is captioned as being that of Terah. In some way, perhaps as a prominent figure among his contemporaries, Terah could at first have outranked Abraham, but there can be no doubt that the Abraham story runs from 11:27 to 25:11. Terah seems to have died comparatively early and to have vanished from the scene at Haran.

The story of the call of Abraham (12:1ff.) is of the utmost importance. It is, of course, basic for the understanding of the sacred history that follows. It towers above the accompanying narratives though it is not even said in what manner God appeared to Abraham. It is stated that in a surprising act of faith, Abraham obeyed the call. (Note: In 12:3 the KJV tr. “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” has much to support it, esp. in view of the Messianic implications indicated in Gal 3:15-18.)

Genesis 12:10ff. gives an unbiased and entirely truthful account of Abraham’s sojourn in Egypt with Sarah. It becomes apparent that though Abraham may have manifested surprising courage of faith in accepting the challenge of his call, yet he was far from being a perfect saint. Recent discoveries, however, relieve Abraham of some of his alleged weakness. It appears that in the Hurrian society of Mesopotamia there remained traces of a fratriarchal organization. The other marriage and inheritance laws and customs of the patriarchs also have been brilliantly illustrated by the Hurrian culture evidenced by the documents from Nuzi. There are marriage documents from Nuzi in which a wife, unrelated by blood to her husband, is adopted into the status of sistership. This legal status of sistership for a wife brought with it certain rights and protections. This special status was characteristic of the upper classes of society. The Hittites, it appears, did not recognize this peculiar custom. Apparently the wife-sister relationship was expected to give a woman a status that would make her free from improper approaches and thus make her husband safe in an unfriendly land. Abraham claimed this protection for both her and himself. It did not work in Egypt where Hurrian law was not followed. God in His providence preserved Sarah and Abraham anyway. Abraham tried it again in Gerar with the same result. Possibly he also tried it elsewhere with good results. Isaac later tried it again, prob. before a different Philistine king, with no better success. The whole strange situation is seen to be in accord with Nuzi law and good ethics in the early patriarchal times. The data are given extensively by Speiser (E. A. Speiser, Oriental and Biblical Studies, Philadelphia, Univ. of Penna. Press [1967], pp. 68-72).

Abraham’s nephew, Lot, had associated himself with Abraham in the departure from Ur of the Chaldeans. Nevertheless, as later developments show, his family did not constitute good material for incorporation with the chosen race. A separation had to take place. It ultimately appears that Lot gravitated toward Sodom, apparently finding a certain attraction for the type of life that prevailed in those wicked cities. Remarks like 13:13 indicate that an unusual measure of depravity was beginning to prevail in Canaan. The passage 15:16 points in the same direction.

There were more facets to Abraham’s character than we might first suppose. He even filled the role of a deliverer from the perils of war, and as a warrior of no mean ability himself. He displayed fine family loyalty for his nephew, going to battle for him (ch. 14).

Chapter 15 records how God made a covenant with Abraham, promising him many descendants and also revealing to him that before better days came, a troubled and painful future awaited his descendants down in the land of Egypt. The shift of location down into Egypt did not come upon Abraham’s descendants as a total surprise. Both the stay in that land plus the affliction there incurred, together with the disclosure that God would ultimately deliver the nation—all these coming events were communicated already to Abraham.

In this connection the sacrifice that was made according to 15:7-11, 17 is merely the record of the sacrifice by which the covenant was sealed in a formal fashion. The “smoking fire pot” (15:17), and “a flaming torch” (15:17), constitute one single picture and symbolize light, for light is the symbol of God’s presence. God Himself indicated by this sign language that He personally had entered into a compact with Abraham. All this involved sign langguage, which in those days was readily understood.

Chapter 16 introduces a time of waiting. The fulfillment of God’s promises did not come quickly. The period of waiting was a time of testing of the faith. Only under due tensions will faith grow and mature. This period of waiting extended over a number of decades. Under such circumstances people are inclined to resort to devices that are calculated to help God along. In the last analysis such devices are questionable and give evidence of a lack of faith. In this case they gave rise to family tensions, jealousy, friction, estrangement. Hagar bore a son, but he was not to be a child of promise. Abraham still had to wait quite a number of years before the true son appeared. Though the procedure followed was sanctioned by prevailing customs of that day, it still did not meet with divine approval, nor conform to the original promise God had given.

In the next chapter (ch. 17) further promises were given to Abraham, but nothing more. Faith subsists on promises. It is even indicated to this man approaching the age of one hundred years that a number of nations would trace back the beginning of their existence to this venerable patriarch. For the present, Abraham had to content himself with a unique sign of the covenant—circumcision. At least two constructive thoughts must be associated with this rite, one, the removal of impurity, and second, the sanctifying of life at its source, which rightly may be classed as a thought involving Messianic implications. In the obedience of faith, Abraham sees to it that he and his whole household take the obligations of this half-sacramental rite upon themselves. At the same time, Abraham learns that Ishmael will not rank as the son of promise. He will achieve some distinction as a son of Abraham. The promised one must be waited for, until the time is ripe in the Lord’s sight.

A high point in the relationship of the two contracting partners in the covenant is reached in ch. 18. The Lord condescends to meet with Abraham as an intimate friend, sharing food with him and sharing some of His divine secrets of judgment, as a man would with a confidential associate. A major catastrophe is about to occur near Abraham’s home. God would have him know what it is and what it involves, and He comes in a special visit to apprise the man of what is about to take place. Abraham appears to good advantage. Being a man of faith, he is not self-centered. Impending calamity rouses deep sympathy on Abraham’s part and shows him to be bold in prayer and much concerned about the well-being of others. Abraham’s prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah is not petty haggling, but intercession at its best.

Chapter 19 deals with ugly things. Sin has made tremendous inroads into the lives particularly of the Canaanites. Sin in its more repulsive forms is in evidence. It is not to be wondered at that the Almighty Himself, through His angels, takes the desperate situation in hand, and thereby sets up a severe warning for all the inhabitants of the land. Homosexuality in its grimmer aspects, venting its spite on helpless strangers, is the particular sin in which the iniquity of these people found its expression. For the sake of the intercessory prayer of a righteous man, the Lord spares at least those few persons in the city who may be less infected by this basic immorality. Even in that family group one member perishes, Lot’s wife, one who takes divine commandments somewhat lightly and is disobedient to a clear divine warning. The conclusion of the ch. indicates how one family that was saved had been infected by the unholy example of the surroundings in which the family had lived for a few years.

The episode that transpires in ch. 20 is not a doublet of the one recorded in 12:10ff. The location, the characters involved, and the details of the two are quite different from one another.

In its opening account, ch. 21 gives indication how great the happiness was that reigned in the household of Abraham at the birth of the son long promised. Isaac’s name in itself already means laughter; and the laughter referred to in this connection is not the laughter of amusement, but laughter of joy unspeakable over the fact that God had so faithfully kept His promise. When the two sons of Abraham grew up and failed to get along well together, this led to the dismissal of the son of the slave woman. Though her expulsion was divinely sanctioned, God compensated to her what she had to forfeit and gave to Ishmael also the hope of a challenging future, all for the sake of His servant Abraham.

Chapter 22 contains one of the best known of the stories of the OT. It should be noted in particular that the idea of offering a son to the Lord in a physical sacrifice on an altar did not originate with Abraham. God, however, does not follow mere whimsies in dealing with the children of men. It may well be that Abraham needed to be put to the test in this way, that he might become aware of the fact that he was threatened by the danger of loving this child of his old age more than even the Lord Himself. He had to face the issue squarely: Whom did he love the most, the Lord or Isaac? Hard though the test was, the Lord did not suffer Abraham to be tested above that which he was able. That God “provides” (v. 14) in the most difficult emergencies was the point that particularly impressed Abraham. Abraham had virtually made the spiritual sacrifice of his son to the Lord. At the same time, this episode may be regarded as a standing protest against child sacrifice: such sacrifice is not willed by God. It also must be obvious that this sacrifice has Messianic overtones. God was willing to offer His own Son for the saving of mankind (Rom 8:32). There is much about this ch. that still perplexes the children of God. It has unplumbed depths.

Chapter 23. An overly detailed account of the transactions connected with the purchase of a burial ground when Sarah died seems to be what this ch. presents. Possession of the land of Canaan was an item that loomed up large in the thinking of all Israelites from the time when first God promised this land to Abraham. Why should He not want at least token possession in the case of his wife’s place of burial? Viewed thus, the incident takes on increased importance as the act of a man of faith. With quiet dignity Abraham goes through all the necessary legal transactions to acquire at least this much of the soil of the land.

Chapter 24. This tale could be viewed as a somewhat romantic one charmingly told. It is far more than that. Perhaps there was hardly a woman to be found in the land who was not in some manner infected with loose and ungodly Canaanite thinking and immoral idolatry. To have secured a wife for Isaac from this type of stock would have imperiled the faith and the morals of the descendants of Abraham. With fine discretion Abraham commissions the servant of his house (Abraham was by this time, no doubt, too old to undergo the rigors of journey to Mesopotamia) and instructs him on the subject of the issues involved in this transaction. The servant was a man worthy of so fine a master and carried out his commission in the spirit in which it was given. Rebekah’s prompt acceptance could well have been regarded as token that the servant’s prayer at the well had been answered.

Chapter 25. Abraham’s second marriage with Keturah is a matter of historical record. Everything relating to the great father of the people of Israel is important. Most likely this marriage was entered upon after the death of Sarah. The children of this marriage are the fathers of the nations that had been foretold as coming from Abraham’s line (17:5). At this point the Ishmael story is woven into the narrative. As a descendant of Abraham, Ishmael is important; aside from that he merits brief attention (vv. 12-18). Then comes the beginning of the Isaac story (25:19-35:29), covering a major section of the Book of Genesis. In the Isaac story, Isaac stays pretty much in the background, being overshadowed in the first part of it by Abraham, as long as his father still lived, and then yielding place to his more famous son, Jacob. All this is partly due to the fact that Isaac was an ordinary person, pushed into the background by characters more important and more aggressive than he. He had the misfortune of being the son of a great father. Besides, it was the nature of the man Isaac to be unaggressive and somewhat phlegmatic by disposition. He stayed put quietly, inaugurated no new policies, hardly did an original thing. He perhaps never asserted himself. Two sons are born of this father, one of them uniquely a child of promise (v. 23). These twins also present quite a contrast, being radically different in disposition from one another (vv. 19-34). In the brief sketch given they are effectively set off one against the other. In Jacob’s acquiring of the birthright of the first-born, Jacob should not be unduly blamed. Preeminence had been promised him before his birth (v. 23). Furthermore Esau displayed little of a sense of appreciation of higher values in that he so readily disposed of his prerogative, selling his birthright. Such a sale of a birthright was not unique. An instance is recorded in the Nuzi texts, where a birthright was sold for three sheep! (C. F. Pfeiffer: The Biblical World, Grand Rapids: Baker [1966], p. 423.) It becomes quite obvious on reading the chapter that Jacob was the man who was better suited for outstanding leadership in the family.

Chapter 26 contributes some scenes from Isaac’s life. None are particularly striking; some are similar to those found in Abraham’s life. He repeated his father’s procedure when he dwelt near Gerar (later in the land of the Philistines) by claiming his wife as his sister. The grace of God watched also over Isaac. He had a dispute about wells with some of the shepherds of the general area, just as did his father, but he remained in the pattern of life established by his father. Verses 23-25 give the account of the one instance in his life when the Lord appeared to him and renewed the promises that had in the previous generation been granted to Abraham. Isaac, for all that, enjoyed the great respect of his neighbors, and even of kings, and must have been more of a prominent figure than is sometimes supposed (26:26ff.). That he too was a man of faith goes without saying.

Chapter 27. This ch. tells how Isaac blessed his sons. Though in no sense can one condone the deception that Jacob and Rebekah planned to perpetrate, it should be noted from the outset that every participant in the action was more or less at fault. Jacob’s fault already has been conceded. Rebekah was the originator of the deception practiced. Isaac, no doubt, knew of the word spoken by the Lord (25:23), but chose to try to invalidate it because of his favorite Esau. Esau on his part acted as though he had never sold his birthright. Out of all this moral confusion and deception came a result that was in harmony with the Lord’s will in regard to the matter. Overruling providence controlled the final issue. The man of God’s choice was given the better blessing, and was thereby marked to all intents and purposes as the man that carried the line of promise in this chosen family.

Chapter 28. In the light of the entire outcome in this instance, Isaac clearly confirmed the blessing that he had unintentionally at first bestowed upon Jacob (28:4). Nothing less than the ultimate murder of his brother was in Esau’s mind, yet he refrained from committing it while his parents were still alive. No other course was left open for Jacob than to leave the land, not in headlong flight, but in an adventure to which his parents consented. There is good ground for believing that Jacob by this time was truly repentant of his misdeed in the matter of securing his father’s blessing. For this reason God appeared to him with gracious promises for reassurance and guidance, in the well-known Bethel incident, marked by the ascending and descending of angels on a ladder. They served as symbols of God’s providence and protection and served to comfort a lonely, homesick and penitent sinner. Jacob had not realized that God’s providence would manifest itself away from the familiar setting of the ancestral home. He had never fully comprehended the meaning of God’s omnipresence. The words of the vow (v. 20ff.) are not an expression of mercenary bargaining of a shrewd man cautiously looking out for his own advantage. Jacob is merely reiterating the promises that the Lord had just made to him (v. 15). Jesus refers to this incident in a manner that shows that the passage also foreshadowed His own intimate communion with His heavenly Father (John 1:51). It still must be noted that Jacob vowed to establish a shrine to mark the spot of his memorable experience.

Chapter 29. One of the lovely Biblical romances is presented at the beginning of this chapter. It was love at first sight, at the well. To have seven years pass like seven days marks a man deeply in love. At this point it becomes obvious that Laban is a crafty fellow, who will stop short at nothing where his own material advantage is at stake. Crafty Jacob has a craftier prospective father-in-law. They are matching wits continually. He who has so subtly deceived his brother must learn what it means to be deceived. So divine retribution goes to work to correct Jacob’s wayward propensities. In spite of all the craftiness of men, the Almighty keeps the situation totally under His control. Divine providence overrules human craft and cunning.

There is another unpleasant side to the matter. Jacob became a bigamist. True, it was by accident rather than by design. Nowhere in the narrative is a word of censure spoken on Jacob’s bigamy, but in its own way the sacred record shows how sinful and unwholesome such a situation could become. It resulted in family intrigues and petty bickerings; in lack of family discipline and petty jealousies; in fact, in an entirely unwholesome atmosphere. That spiritual values had to be pushed into the background under such circumstances is obvious. Besides, on a broader scale tensions were building up between Jacob’s family and Laban’s. Mistrust and manifold connivings were the order of the day, until the situation became unbearable. Jacob had to leave Mesopotamia and return to the land of promise. He received divine sanction for the return. Providence was able to retrieve some good from the unwholesome ways of men. It should yet be noted that the significant names that were given by the mothers to the twelve sons of Jacob indicated that a spark of faith still was glowing beneath the surface of things.

Chapter 30. As the family grew so did the flocks grow in size so as to become very large. Jacob resorted to a number of devices to get the advantage over his father-in-law in the matter of acquiring the new-born stock. It is not said that the devices employed produced results, but it is indicated that it pleased the Lord to let Jacob rather than Laban acquire wealth of herds. All this tended to increase the feelings of rivalry and jealousy that prevailed between the two camps.

Chapter 31. Finally, the situation became unbearable for Jacob. God intervened on Jacob’s behalf and approved of his return to the land of his fathers. His wives were entirely on his side, for their father had treated their husband shamefully. Again, quite cleverly Jacob took advantage of a situation that allowed him to make the most of the distance between the two herds. As soon as word was brought to Laban, he set out on an expedition calculated to exact revenge. Again the Lord intervened and forbade Laban from resorting to any punitive measure. He smoothly played the part of the father-in-law who had been deprived the opportunity to take affectionate leave of his daughters and grandchildren. One thing Laban could charge against those who had fled: some one of their number had taken Laban’s household gods (teraphim). No one except Rachel knew that it was she who did it. For according to the witness of the Nuzi documents, possession of the household deities guaranteed the right to the ancestral inheritance. By a clever ruse (not entirely honest), Rachel prevented her father from discovering the offender and the gods; and all this gave rise to a burst of indignation on Jacob’s part that relieved feelings long pent up. This explosion seemed to clear the atmosphere and led at least to some kind of half-amicable settlement between the two parties. When a heap of stones was raised to commemorate the agreement, Laban still implied, in a memorable word, full of suspicion and mistrust, that Jacob was a man who could under no circumstances be trusted (v. 49) and had to be restrained by solemn oaths and pledges. For the sake of peace, Jacob entered upon the prescribed agreement and the matter was regarded as settled.

Chapter 32. The tension of the narrative builds up. A report came to Jacob that Esau was approaching with 400 men, gathered, beyond a doubt, for the purpose of executing the revenge that Esau had vowed to take after he lost the paternal blessing. Jacob could not begin to muster an equal force, though he had a goodly number of shepherds. Humanly, Jacob was almost at his wit’s end. Then it was that Jacob was granted a vision of a host of angels at Mahanaim near the confluence of the Jordan and the Jabbok. This host never apparently went into action, but they were revealed as indicating the protective resources that the Lord could have put into action for Jacob. Repeatedly Jacob resorted to prayer. He also resorted to careful precautionary measures to appease his brother, setting up sizable numbers of sheep, oxen, camels and asses as a gift for Esau. He who in such situations submitted gifts to another, acknowledged the superior position of the one for whom the gifts were intended, a wise move of appeasement. By sending these gifts, one after the other, the calculated impact of the act was reinforced. Should Esau prove hostile, some of the groups involved might have effected an escape. As night approached, Jacob brought the remainder of his herds and personnel across the ford of the river. Then he had recourse to desperate prayer, wrestling with a mysterious man (perhaps the angel of the Lord) through a good part of the night. No one will ever completely understand the mysterious encounter involved. Somehow Jacob knew that his opponent was God and insistently sought His blessing. Men rightly believed in those days that he who encountered God face to face must die (Exod 33:20). When Jacob named the place Peniel (Gen 32:30, “face of God”) he commemorated the fact that he had survived the experience of direct encounter with God.

Chapter 33. The event took an entirely unexpected turn. Beneath a hard surface there dwelt in Esau’s character a soft emotional nature. At the sight of his brother all thoughts of revenge were dispelled. The brothers embraced, kissed, and wept. The hour of extreme danger was past. God had also intervened and had somehow moved Esau’s heart and directed it toward kindliness. Esau would have established closer bonds of fellowship, but the more sober Jacob recognized the somewhat unstable emotional character of his brother and contented himself with the reconciliation that had been effected. This episode of sojourn in Mesopotamia is brought to an effective close by the erection of an altar at the point of entrance into the land of promise, an altar commemorating God’s grace and protective care. From this point on, a number of highly revealing incidents are reported that indicate the course that events are taking. The first of these is the Dinah incident.

Chapter 34. This incident indicates how carefree Jacob’s children moved about among the Canaanites, seemingly unaware of the moral contamination that Canaan represented. Dinah carelessly associated with the young people of the land and paid the price. Her seducer, a young Canaanite prince, was ready to enter upon matrimony. An agreement was reached with the family of Hamor, but treachery lurked behind it all. The brothers of Dinah were determined to take thoroughgoing vengeance on all the people of the town. Suddenly, the sons of Jacob appear in a very unfavorable light—they are murderers, truce-breakers, men given to waging bloody feuds. They are not at all men worthy of the caliber of their ancestor Abraham. They are beginning to represent a high state of deterioration. It is becoming apparent that Israel as a tribal group cannot continue to stay in Canaan without paying the price of total moral corruption. Something like the bondage in Egypt is imperative. Jacob’s sons executed a horrid blood-bath, recklessly endangering their own family safety, and giving themselves a bad name. Minority groups that they were, they could easily have been exterminated if the native Canaanites had banded together for purposes of reprisal. Jacob freely admits that possibility as he rebukes his sons for their rash and wanton murder. Divine providence, undeserved though it was, watched over the group, for God had high purposes in mind for this race.

Chapter 35. Jacob had made a significant vow (28:22) at the time when he was about to leave the borders of the land of promise. God helped him remember this and fulfill his vow, establishing a sanctuary at Bethel. At the same time, God explicitly laid His promises, formerly made to Abraham and Isaac, upon Jacob, the bearer of the line of promise. The change of name to “Israel” was confirmed at this time. Before the permanent settlement in Canaan took place, Benjamin was born and Rachel died at his birth, to Jacob’s great grief. In one brief v. inserted at this point, it is indicated that even the first-born of the sons of Jacob had become infected with typical Canaanite immorality, committing incest with a secondary wife of his father. Jacob, however, upon his return to the ancestral home, found his father still alive. Rebekah had died. In a way she paid the price for her participation in Jacob’s treachery to gain the father’s blessing, for she never lived to see him again after he left the land. Not long after this Isaac also died.

Chapter 36. The whole ch. is concerned with the story of Esau. So much attention is given to the line of Esau because he was Jacob’s brother. In later years the descendants of Esau—the Edomites—displayed a very unbrotherly attitude toward Israel. Israel kept alive the sense of kinship by chs. like this.

Chapter 37. The intriguing Jacob story runs from this point to the end of the book. Jacob, however, is overshadowed somewhat by his illustrious son Joseph. Still, Jacob is always behind the scene and the controlling factor in most of that which is done. Just because Joseph informed on his brothers in his earlier youth, he can not be quickly written off as a cheap tattletale or a spoiled young man. In his attitude toward his brothers he did betray a measure of immaturity and indiscretion. On the other hand, Jacob’s preference for Joseph can easily be understood. Most, if not almost all of the brothers, had displayed a lack of spiritual character. The evidence about Joseph indicates that he had godly qualities from his youth. God chose to reveal the future to the young boy. His father recognized his spiritual kinship with this son. He apparently had privately resolved to appoint Joseph as the head of the household to succeed himself. The “long robe with sleeves” (37:3), was to mark Joseph as his potential successor. Jacob erred in the manner in which he went about this disclosure. Without a doubt Joseph was a brilliant young man of admirable character. His brothers being what they were, one could hardly have expected them to take any different attitude toward him than they did.

The brothers of Joseph had rashly penetrated into the very area of danger not too far removed from the city of Shechem. Fearing for their safety Jacob dispatched Joseph to check on them, little dreaming that Joseph would thereby be exposed to danger. In fact, it amazes the reader that the great-grandchildren of father Abraham should be capable of thinking in terms of murder of their brother, just because they were jealous of him. So, on beholding him approaching, they planned to dispose of him. Reuben, the first-born, had enough of a sense of right and wrong left, to advocate at least a cooling-off period. He hoped to liberate his brother later. Judah proposed to sell him to traders so that he could be brought to the slave-market in Egypt, hardly a kindly alternative. With a certain callousness the brothers send the “long robe with sleeves” dipped in blood to their father, utterly deceiving him and causing him untold grief. He who had excelled in deceit in his younger years is now deceived by his own sons and the experience is painful.

Chapter 38. While Joseph faced a precarious future in Egypt, strange and unholy things were marking the careers of his brothers back in Canaan. This ch. furnishes a typical example of the growing moral degeneracy of the family, esp. in the case of Judah, who became involved, though in a sense unintentionally, with his own daughter-in-law. The ugly mess is described in all its repulsiveness. While Joseph languished in prison his brothers were corrupting themselves. To have been exposed to this type of Canaanite corruption could have ruined the family. Going down to Egypt, or something similar, had become a necessity.

Chapter 39. Joseph’s career began at the lowest rung of the ladder. He was at first only a common slave, but he seems to have had such unusual gifts of administration and such perseverence in the faithful use of them that his master, Potiphar, soon discovered what a rare treasure he had in Joseph. Besides, the obvious blessing of the Lord was also in evidence. Joseph became master, or steward, of Potiphar’s household. A sudden danger confronted the goodlooking young man—his master’s wife became enamored of him. That Joseph’s adherence to the ancestral religion was more than something learned by rote became apparent. In the hour of temptation, Joseph disclosed the deep well-spring of his whole life in the word: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (39:9). Love spurned turns to hate. Joseph, entirely in the right, is libelled, thrown into prison (slaves had no legal rights) and allowed to languish there for years. God seemed to have forgotten him, but Joseph had not forgotten God. He served Him just as faithfully in prison as he did when he was a free man. The prison warden recognized faithful service, and put him in charge of all prison administration. The whole experience served indirectly to prepare Joseph for the sudden rise to high position that was presently to occur.

Chapter 40. Busied with the affairs of the prison, quite unexpectedly a new avenue of activity opened up to Joseph—the gift of dream interpretation. The royal butler and the royal baker, both officials of the royal household, but languishing in prison for reasons unknown to us, had dreams in the same night. Without his design or plan, Joseph unexpectedly began to function as interpreter (cf. 37:5ff.), and the sequel proved that his interpretation was entirely correct. A glimmer of hope seemed to appear on the scene for a moment, for Joseph pleaded with the butler to remember him when liberated. The butler readily promised—and promptly forgot his promise.

Chapter 41. Pharaoh had two dreams which God used to convey knowledge to one farther removed from Him. When the news of the dreams spread, the butler was suddenly reminded of his promise and hastened to the king to inform him of Joseph’s ability. Joseph is speedily summoned for appearance in court. He interpreted the dreams with such obvious authority that the correctness of his interpretation was immediately apparent to all. Important is Joseph’s confession in this connection: “God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” Joseph’s loyalty to the Lord had not wavered. He offered suggestions for the king to proceed in the existing situation. With amazement the king admits the brilliant helpfulness of the suggestions given, and, after brief consideration, appointed Joseph as national food administrator. At once he launched into his new career with becoming zeal and energy. He inaugurated a policy of grain reserves to be accumulated during the impending seven years of plenty. In all the busy whirl of activity, home and the ancestral family are not forgotten (vv. 50-52). The seven years of plenty passed swiftly, only a few vv. in the record being given to the subject. Against this broad backdrop of history play the events of the history of that little group up in Pal. that constitute the family of Joseph.

Chapter 42. The thread of the narrative of the family of the chosen people is resumed. The famine was not limited to Egypt, but affected Canaan too. The news of Egyp. grain supplies reached Jacob’s ears. Necessity compelled him to send his sons down to the old granary of the nations—Egypt. Almost at once upon entering the land they encountered Joseph, never even remotely aware of his identity. Joseph followed a course of procedure with the object of discovering whether they were the same cruel, impenitent rascals that he had found them to be back in their homeland. When the collective prison sentence was pronounced, Reuben, speaking for all, reminds them how they merited just what they are now receiving, when they treated Joseph as they did near Dothan. Joseph was deeply moved to discover that a change for the better seems to have taken place. One night in prison sufficed for present purposes; only Simeon was remitted to prison as hostage for them all. When the money given for the grain was found in the bag of one of their number on the way home, they all saw the hand of God in what was happening to them. The corrective measures were beginning to bear their fruit. That Simeon did not return added to Jacob’s grief, which was still further enhanced by the prospect of not being able to go down to Egypt unless their youngest brother was brought along.

Chapter 43. The grain brought from Egypt was consumed, and a second journey to Egypt became imperative. The whole plan of Joseph was designed for the rehabilitation of the brothers, not as subtle revenge, which was farthest of all from Joseph’s thoughts. When Jacob at first remonstrated, being unwilling to risk sending Benjamin along, it was Judah who pledged his life for Benjamin’s and finally persuaded his father to take the hard step involved.

Chapter 44. Upon arriving in Egypt, the brothers found a situation created by Joseph which put them to the test as to whether they would sacrifice one of their number selfishly for their own safety. Once they had sacrificed Joseph to their unscrupulous ambitions. Would they now do the same with regard to Benjamin? The missing cup incident brought them all back to Egypt, to the food administrator. Benjamin appeared to be guilty. Would they give him up and save their own lives? Judah stepped into the breach. In a deeply moving speech, he volunteered to stay behind in prison, if only Benjamin were allowed to go home. Twenty years before this such an attitude would have been impossible.

Chapter 45. The carefully designed plan had fully achieved its purpose. Joseph had to reveal himself to his brothers. Immediately they were filled with grave apprehensions. Joseph, however, pointed out the providential side of all that had transpired. The existence of a future nation, to which God had assigned a most important role, was being safeguarded. Steps were promptly taken to move Jacob and his household into the protective care of Joseph.

Chapter 46. God had answered the prayer of His servant, renewing His promise to Jacob and guaranteeing his return to Canaan in due time. Ample provision was made for the family of Jacob by assigning to it the good pasture land of Goshen. Everything was made official by presenting Jacob at Pharaoh’s court.

Chapters 47 and 48. The physical needs of the family were amply guaranteed for the duration of the famine. Some account of how the famine was met in Joseph’s administration follows quite properly at this point. Briefly the successive steps taken were disclosed: Money was exhausted; cattle were sold for grain; and finally the Egyptians, on their own suggestion, were compelled to sell themselves and their lands. These measures were not tyrannical but a matter of desperate necessity. Jacob finally died as he had lived his last years, by the light of God’s promises.

Chapter 49. This ch. records the blessing with which Jacob blessed his sons before his end. He turned prophet before his end and spoke by divine enlightenment. Outstanding among the blessings was the word applicable to Judah (vv. 8-12). Verse 10 brings a reference to a somewhat vague figure (“until he comes to whom it belongs”). This implies that the qualities of leadership, inherent in the tribe of Judah, shall blossom forth in one individual to perfection. The marginal tr. “until Shiloh comes” indicates this approach more clearly. For “Shiloh” is “a man of rest.” In this man Judah’s strivings come to rest; this man brings peace. Reuben (vv. 3, 4) was passed by. So were Simeon and Levi (vv. 5-7). Preeminence was appointed for Judah (vv. 8-12).

Chapter 50. After Jacob’s death a memorable meeting of the twelve sons took place. The eleven were still apprehensive that Joseph had merely postponed the revenge that he might take upon his brothers until the father had passed from the scene. But nothing was farther from Joseph’s thoughts than revenge. The full scope of God’s dealings is beautifully described in the momentous word (v. 20): “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” Joseph passed from the scene reassuring his people that God would remember them. In token of faith that it would be so, Joseph exacted a promise of his brothers that when they should leave for the true homeland they would take his bones along for burial. On the note of faith and hope rests this first Biblical book, a solid foundation stone of all of God’s later revelation to men.


A massive Bibliography might be added. For the good of the average reader, only such of the many works consulted as may be accessible to him are included and, for the most part, such as are specifically referred to in the above article. B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (1950), 1-10, 60-100; C. A. Simpson, The Interpreter’s Bible (1952); M. F. Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament (1954); G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology, Ch. III (1957), 40ff.; H. Yunker, Echter Bibel, Das Alte Testament (1958); The New Bible Commentary, ed. F. Davidson (1958); C. T. Fritsch, The Layman’s Bible Commentary (1958); G. von Rad, Genesis, tr. by John Marks (1962); C. Westermann, A Thousand Years and a Day, tr. by Stanley Rudman (1962); K. M. Yates, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1962); H. Frey, Botschaft des AT, Genesis (1964).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)



1. The Name

2. Survey of Contents

3. Connection with Succeeding Books


1. Unity of the Biblical Text

(1) The Toledhoth

(2) Further Indication of Unity

2. Rejection of the Documentary Theory

(1) In General

(a) Statement of Theory

(b) Reasons Assigned for Divisions

(c) Examination of the Documentary Theory

(i) Style and Peculiarities of Language

(ii) Alleged Connection of Matter

(iii) The Biblico-Theological Data

(iv) Duplicates

(v) Manner in Which the Sources Are Worked Together

(vi) Criticism Carried to Extremes

(2) In View of the Names for God

(a) Error of Hypothesis in Principle

(b) False Basis of Hypothesis

(c) Improbability That Distinction of Divine

Names Is without Significance

(d) Real Purpose in Use of Names for God

(i) Decreasing Use of Yahweh

(ii) Reference to Approach of Man to God, and Departure from Him

(iii) Other Reasons

(iv) Systematic Use in History of Abraham (e) Scantiness of the Materials for Proof

(f) Self-Disintegration of the Critical Position

(g) Different Uses in the Septuagint


1. The Structure of the Prooemium (Genesis 1-2:3)

2. Structure of the 10 Toledhoth


1. History of the Patriarchs (Genesis 12-50)

(1) Unfounded Attacks on the History

(a) From General Dogmatic Principles

(b) From Distance of Time

(c) From Biblical Data

(d) From Comparison with Religion of Arabia

(2) Unsatisfactory Attempts at Explaining the Patriarchal Age

(a) Explanation Based on High Places

(b) The Dating Back of Later Events to Earlier Times

(c) The Patriarchs as heroes eponymi

(d) Different Explanations Combined

(3) Positive Reasons for the Historical Character of Genesis

Individuality of Patriarchs, etc.

2. The Primitive History of Genesis 1-11

(1) Prominence of the Religious Element

(2) Carefulness as Regards Divergent Results of Scientific Research

(3) Frequent Confirmation of the Bible by Science

(4) Superiority of the Bible over Pagan Mythologies Babylonian and Biblical Stories


1. Connection with Mosaic Times

2. Examination of Counter-Arguments

(1) Possibility of Later Additions

(2) "Prophecy after the Event" Idea

(3) Special Passages Alleged to Indicate Later Date

Examination of These


1. Lays Foundation for the Whole of Revelation--Creation, Fall, Man in Image of God, Sin, etc.

2. Preparation for Redemption--Promises and Covenants


I. General Data.

1. The Name:

The first book of Moses is named by the Jews from the first word, namely, bere’shith, i.e. "in the beginning" (compare the Bresith of Origen]). In the Septuagint it is called Genesis, because it recounts the beginnings of the world and of mankind. This name has passed over into the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) (Liber Genesis). As a matter of fact the name is based only on the beginning of the book.

2. Survey of Contents:

3. Connection with Succeeding Books:

II. Composition of Genesis in General.

1. Unity of the Biblical Text:

(1) The Toledhoth.

The fact that Genesis is characterized by a far-reaching and uniform scheme has, at least in outline, been already indicated (see I, 2 and 3). This impression is confirmed when we examine matters a little more closely and study the plan and structure of the book. After the grand introitus, which reports the creation of the world (1:1-2:3) there follows in the form of 10 pericopes the historical unfolding of that which God has created, which pericopes properly in each case bear the name toledhoth, or "generations." For this word never signifies creation or generation as an act, but always the history of what has already been created or begotten, the history of generations; so that for this reason, 2:4a, where mention is made of the toledhoth of heaven and of earth, cannot possibly be a superscription that has found its way here from 1:1. It is here, as it is in all cases, the superscription to what follows, and it admirably leads over from the history of creation of the heavens and the earth in Ge 1 to the continuation of this subject in the next chapter. The claim of the critics, that the redactor had at this place taken only the superscription from his source P (the priestly narrator, to whom 1-2:3 is ascribed), but that the section of P to which this superscription originally belonged had been suppressed, is all the more monstrous a supposition as 2:4a throughout suits what follows.

Only on the ground of this correct explanation of the term toledhoth can the fact be finally and fully explained, that the toledhoth of Terah contain also the history of Abraham and of Lot; the toledhoth of Isaac contain the history of Jacob and Esau; the toledhoth of Jacob contain the history of Joseph and his brethren. The ten toledhoth are the following: I, Ge 2:4-4:26, the toledhoth of the heavens and the earth; II, 5:1-6:8, the toledhoth of Adam; III, 6:9-9:29, the toledhoth of Noah; IV, 10:1-11:9, the toledhoth of the sons of Noah; V, 11:10-26, the toledhoth of the sons of Shem; VI, 11:27-25:11, the toledhoth of Terah; VII, 25:12-18, the toledhoth of Ishmael; VIII, 25:19-35:29, the toledhoth of Isaac; IX, 36:1-37:1, the toledhoth of Esau (the fact that 36:9, in addition to the instance in verse 1, contains the word toledhoth a second time, is of no importance whatever for our discussion at this stage, as the entire chapter under any circumstances treats in some way of the history of the generations of Esau; see III, 2:9); X, 37:2-50:26, the toledhoth of Jacob. In each instance this superscription covers everything that follows down to the next superscription.

The number 10 is here evidently not an accidental matter. In the articles EXODUS, LEVITICUS, DAY OF ATONEMENT, also in EZEKIEL, it has been shown what role the typical numbers 4, 7, 10 and 12 play in the structure of the whole books and of the individual pericopes. (In the New Testament we meet with the same phenomenon, particularly in the Apocalypse of John; but compare also in Matthew’s Gospel the 3 X 14 generations in Mt 1:1 ff, the 7 parables in 13:1 ff, the 7 woes in 23:13 ff.) In the same way the entire Book of Le naturally falls into 10 pericopes (compare LEVITICUS, II, 2, 1), and Le 19 contains 10 groups, each of 4 (possibly also of 5) commandments; compare possibly also 18:6-18; 20:9-18; see LEVITICUS, II, 2, 21, VI. Further, the number 10, with a greater or less degree of certainty, can be regarded as the basis for the construction of the pericopes: Ex 1:8-7:7; 7:8-13:16 (10 plagues); 13:17-18:27 (see EXODUS, II, 2:1-3); the Decalogue (20:1 ff); the first Book of the Covenant (21:1-23:13; 23:14-19), and the whole pericope 19:1-24:18a, as also 32:1-35:3 (see EXODUS, II, 2, 4, 6). In the Book of Genesis itself compare further the 10 members from Shem to Abraham (11:11-26), as also the pericopes 25:19-35:29; 37:2-50:26 (see III, 2, 8, 10 below), and the 10 nations in Ge 15:19 ff. And just as in the cases cited, in almost every instance, there is to be found a further division into 5 X 2 or 2 X 5 (compare, e.g. the two tables of the Decalogue); thus, too, in the Book of Genesis in each case, 5 of the 10 pericopes are more closely combined, since I-V (toledhoth of Shem inclusive) stand in a more distant, and VI-X (treating of the toledhoth of Terah, or the history of Abraham) in a closer connection with the kingdom of God; and in so far, too, as the first series of toledhoth bring into the foreground more facts and events, but the second series more individuals and persons. Possibly in this case, we can further unite 2 toledhoth; at any rate I and II (the primitive age), III and IV (Noah and his sons), VII and VIII (Ishmael and Isaac), IX and X (Esau and Jacob) can be thus grouped.

(2) Further Indication of Unity.

In addition to the systematic scheme so transparent in the entire Biblical text of the Book of Genesis, irrespective of any division into literary sources, it is to be noticed further, that in exactly the same way the history of those generations that were rejected from any connection with the kingdom of God is narrated before the history of those that remained in the kingdom of God and continued its development. Cain’s history (4:17 ff) in Jahwist (Jahwist) stands before the history of Seth (4:25 f J; 5:3 ff P); Japheth’s and Ham’s genealogy (10:1 ff P; 10:8 ff P and J) before that of Shem (10:21 ff J and P), although Ham was the youngest of the three sons of Noah (9:24); the further history of Lot (19:29 ff P and J) and of Ishmael’s genealogy (25:12 ff P and J) before that of Isaac (25:19 ff P and J and E); Esau’s descendants (36:1 ff R and P) before the toledhoth of Jacob (37:2 ff P and J and E).

In favor of the unity of the Biblical text we can also mention the fact that the Book of Genesis as a whole, irrespective of all sources, and in view of the history that begins with Ex 1 ff, has a unique character, so that e.g. the intimate communion with God, of the kind which is reported in the beginning of this Book of Genesis (compare, e.g. 3:8; 7:16; 11:5 J; 17:1,22; 35:9,13 P; 18:1 ff; 32:31 J), afterward ceases; and that in Ex, on the other hand, many more miracles are reported than in the Book of Genesis (see EXODUS, III, 2); that Genesis contains rather the history of mankind and of families, while Exodus contains that of the nation (see I, 2 above); that it is only in Exodus that the law is given, while in the history of the period of the patriarchs we find only promises of the Divine grace; that all the different sources ignore the time that elapses between the close of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus; and further, that nowhere else is found anything like the number of references to the names of persons or things as are contained in Genesis (compare, e.g. 2:23; 3:20; 4:1,25, etc., in J; 17:5,15,17-20, etc., in P; 21:9,17,31, etc., in E; 21:6; 27:36, etc., in J and E; 28:19, etc., in R; 49:8,16,19, etc., in the blessing of Jacob); that the changing of the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah from Ge 17:5,15 goes on through all the sources, while before this it is not found in any source. Finally, we would draw attention to the psychologically finely drawn portraits of Biblical persons in Genesis. The fact that the personal pronoun hu’ and the noun na`ar are used of both masculine and feminine genders is characteristic of Genesis in common with all the books of the Pentateuch, without any difference in this regard being found in the different documents, which fact, as all those cited by us in number 1 above, militates against the division of this book into different sources. Let us now examine more closely the reason assigned for the division into different sources.

2. Rejection of the Documentary Theory:

(1) In General.

(a) Statement of Theory:

Old Testament scholars of the most divergent tendencies are almost unanimous in dividing the Biblical text of Genesis into the sources the Priestly Code (P), Jahwist and Elohist, namely Priestly Codex, Jahwist, and Elohist. To P are attributed the following greater and connected parts: 1:1-2:4a; 5; a part of the story of the Deluge in chapters 6-9; 11:10 ff; 17; 23; 25:12 ff; 35:22b ff; the most of 36. As examples of the parts assigned to J we mention 2:4b-4:26; the rest of the story of the Deluge in chapters 6-9; 11:1 ff; 12 f; 16; 18 f, with the exception of a few verses, which are ascribed to P; chapter 24 and others. Connected parts belonging to the Elohist (E) are claimed to begin with chapters 20 and 21 (with the exception of a number of verses which are attributed to P or J or R), and it is thought that, beginning with chapter 22, E is frequently found in the history of Jacob and of Joseph (25:19-50:26), in part, however, interwoven with J (details will be found under III, in each case under 2). This documentary theory has hitherto been antagonized only by a few individuals, such as Klostermann, Lepsius, Eerdmans, Orr, Wiener, and the author of the present article.

(b) Reasons Assigned for Divisions:

As is well known, theory of separation of certain books of the Old Testament into different sources began originally with the Book of Genesis. The use made of the two names of God, namely Yahweh (Yahweh) and Elohim, caused Astruc to conclude that two principal sources had been used in the composition of the book, although other data were also used in vindication of theory; and since the days of Ilgen the conviction gained ground that there was a second Elohist (now called E), in contradistinction to the first (now called the Priestly Code (P), to whom, e.g., Ge 1 is ascribed). This second Elohist, it was claimed, also made use of the name Elohim, as did the first, but in other respects he shows greater similarity to the Jahwist. These sources were eventually traced through the entire Pentateuch and into later books, and for this reason are discussed in detail in the article PENTATEUCH. In this article we must confine ourselves to the Book of Genesis, and limit the discussion to some leading points. In addition to the names for God (see under 2), it is claimed that certain contradictions and duplicate accounts of the same matters compel us to accept different sources. Among these duplicates are found, e.g., Ge 1:1-2:4 a the Priestly Code (P), and 2:4b ff J, containing two stories of creation; Ge 12:9 ff J; 20:1 ff E; 26:1 ff J; with the narrative of how Sarah and Rebekah, the wives of the two patriarchs, were endangered; chapters 15 J and 17 the Priestly Code (P), with a double account of how God concluded His covenant with Abraham; 21:22 ff E and 26:12 ff J, the stories of Abimelech; chapters 16 J and 21 E, the Hagar episodes; 28:10 ff J and E and 35:1 ff E and the Priestly Code (P), the narratives concerning Bethel, and in the history of Joseph the mention made of the Midianites E, and of the Ishmaelites J, who took Joseph to Egypt (37:25 ff; 39:1); the intervention of Reuben E, or Judah J, for Joseph, etc. In addition a peculiar style, as also distinct theological views, is claimed for each of these sources. Thus there found in P a great deal of statistical and systematic material, as in 5:1 ff; 11:10 ff; 25:12 ff; 36:6 ff (the genealogies of Adam, Shem, Ishmael, Esau); P is said to show a certain preference for fixed schemes and for repetitions in his narratives. He rejects all sacrifices earlier than the Mosaic period, because according to this source the Lord did not reveal himself as Yahweh previous to Ex 6:1 ff. Again, it is claimed that the Elohist (E) describes God as speaking to men from heaven, or through a dream, and through an angel, while according to J Yahweh is said to have conversed with mankind personally. In regard to the peculiarities of language used by the different sources, it is impossible in this place to enumerate the different expressions, and we must refer for this subject to the different Introductions to the Old Testament, and to the commentaries and other literature. A few examples are to be found under (c) below, in connection with the discussion of the critical hypothesis. Finally, as another reason for the division of Genesis into different sources, it is claimed that the different parts of the sources, when taken together, can be united into a smooth and connected story. The documents, it is said, have in many cases been taken over word for word and have been united and interwoven in an entirely external manner, so that it is still possible to separate them and often to do this even down to parts of a sentence or to the very words.

(c) Examination of the Documentary Theory:

(i) Style and Peculiarities of Language:

Against the claim that P had an independent existence, we must mention the fact of the unevenness of the narratives, which, by the side of the fuller accounts in Ge 1; 17 and 23, of the genealogies and the story of the Deluge, would, according to the critics, have reported only a few disrupted notices about the patriarchs; compare for this in the story of Abraham, 11:27,31 f; 12:4b f; 13:6a 11b,12a; 16:1a,3,15 f; 19:29; 21:1b,2b-5; 25:7-11a; and in its later parts P would become still more incomprehensible on the assumption of the critics (see III below). No author could have written thus; at any rate he would not have been used by anybody, nor would there have been such care evinced in preserving his writings.

(i) Alleged Connection of Matter:

The claim that the different sources, as they have been separated by critics, constitute a compact and connected whole is absolutely the work of imagination, and is in conflict with the facts in almost every instance. This hypothesis cannot be consistently applied, even in the case of the characteristic examples cited to prove the correctness of the documentary theory, such as the story of the Deluge (see III, 2, in each case under (2)).

(ii) The Biblico-Theological Data:

(iii) Duplicates:

In regard to what is to be thought of the different duplicates and contradictions, see below under III, 2, in each case under (2).

(iv) Manner in Which the Sources Are Worked Together:

But it is also impossible that these sources could have been worked together in the manner in which the critics claim that this was done. The more arbitrarily and carelessly the redactors are thought to have gone to work in many places in removing contradictions, the more incomprehensible it becomes that they at other places report faithfully such contradictions and permit these to stand side by side, or, rather, have placed them thus. And even if they are thought not to have smoothed over the difficulties anywhere, and out of reverence for their sources, not to have omitted or changed any of these reports, we certainly would have a right to think that even if they would have perchance placed side by side narratives with such enormous contradictions as there are claimed to be, e.g. in the story of the Deluge in P and J, they certainly would not have woven these together. If, notwithstanding, they still did this without harmonizing them, why are we asked to believe that at other places they omitted matters of the greatest importance (see III, 2, 3)? Further, J and E would have worked their materials together so closely at different places that a separation between the two would be an impossibility, something that is acknowledged as a fact by many Old Testament students; yet, notwithstanding, the contradictions, e.g. in the history of Joseph, have been allowed to stand side by side in consecutive verses, or have even intentionally been placed thus (compare, e.g. Ge 37:25 ff). Then, too, it is in the nature of things unthinkable that three originally independent sources for the history of Israel should have constituted separate currents down to the period after Moses, and that they could yet be dovetailed, often sentence by sentence, in the manner claimed by the critics. In conclusion, the entire hypothesis suffers shipwreck through those passages which combine the peculiarities of the different sources, as e.g. in Ge 20:18, which on the one hand constitutes the necessary conclusion to the preceding story from E (compare 20:17), and on the other hand contains the name Yahweh; or in 22:14 ff, which contains the real purpose of the story of the sacrificing of Isaac from E, but throughout also shows the characteristic marks of J; or in 39:1, where the so-called private person into whose house Joseph has been brought, according to J, is more exactly described as the chief of the body-guard, as this is done by E, in 40:2,4. And when the critics in this passage appeal to the help of the redactor (editor), this is evidently only an ill-concealed example of a "begging of the question." In chapter 34, and especially in chapter 14, we have a considerable number of larger sections that contain the characteristics of two or even all three sources, and which accordingly furnish ample evidence for protesting against the whole documentary theory.

(v) Criticism Carried to Extremes:

All the difficulties that have been mentioned grow into enormous proportions when we take into consideration the following facts: To operate with the three sources J, E and P seems to be rather an easy process; but if we accept the principles that underlie this separation into sources, it is an impossibility to limit ourselves to these three sources, as a goodly number of Old Testament scholars would like to do, as Strack, Kittel, Oettli, Dillmann, Driver. The stories of the danger that attended the wives of the Patriarchs, as these are found in Ge 12:9 ff and in 26:1 ff, are ascribed to J, and the story as found in Ge 20:1 ff to E. But evidently two sources are not enough in these cases, seeing that similar stories are always regarded as a proof that there have been different authors. Accordingly, we must claim three authors, unless it should turn out that these three stories have an altogether different signification, in which case they report three actual occurrences and may have been reported by one and the same author. The same use is made of the laughter in connection with the name Isaac in Ge 17:17; 18:12; 21:6, namely, to substantiate the claim for three sources, P and J and E. But since 21:9 E; 26:8 J also contain references to this, and as in 21:6 JE, in addition to the passage cited above, there is also a second reference of this kind, then, in consistency, the critics would be compelled to accept six sources instead of three (Sievers accepts at least 5, Gunkel 4); or all of these references point to one and the same author who took pleasure in repeating such references. As a consequence, in some critical circles scholars have reached the conclusion that there are also such further sources as J1 and Later additions to J, as also E1 and Later additions to E (compare Budde, Baudissin, Cornill, Holzinger, Kautzsch, Kuenen, Sellin). But Sievers has already discovered five subordinate sources of J, six of the Priestly Code (P), and three of E, making a total of fourteen independent sources that he thinks can yet be separated accurately (not taking into consideration some remnants of J, E and P that can no longer be distinguished from others). Gunkel believes that the narratives in Genesis were originally independent and separate stories, which can to a great extent yet be distinguished in their original form. But if J and E and P from this standpoint are no longer authors but are themselves, in fact, reduced to the rank of collectors and editors, then it is absurd to speak any more of distinct linguistic peculiarities, or of certain theological ideas, or of intentional uses made of certain names of God in J and E and the Priestly Code (P), not to say anything of the connection between these sources, except perhaps in rare cases. Here the foundations of the documentary theory have been undermined by the critics themselves, without Sievers or Gunkel or the other less radical scholars intending to do such a thing. The manner in which these sources are said to have been worked together naturally becomes meaningless in view of such hypotheses. The modern methods of dividing between the sources, if consistently applied, will end in splitting the Biblical text into atoms; and this result, toward which the development of Old Testament criticism is inevitably leading, will some day cause a sane reaction; for through these methods scholars have deprived themselves of the possibility of explaining the blessed influence which these Scriptures, so accidentally compiled according to their view, have achieved through thousands of years. The success of the Bible text, regarded merely from a historical point of view, becomes for the critic a riddle that defies all solutions, even if all dogmatical considerations are ignored.

(2) In View of the Names for God.

(a) Error of Hypothesis in Principle:

The names of God, Yahweh and Elohim, constituted for Astruc the starting-point for the division of Genesis into different sources (see (1) above). Two chief sources, based on the two names for God, could perhaps as a theory and in themselves be regarded as acceptable. If we add that in Ex 6:1 ff, in the Priestly Code (P), we are told that God had not revealed Himself before the days of Moses by the name of Yahweh, but only as "God Almighty," it seems to be the correct thing to separate the text, which reports concerning the times before Moses and which in parts contains the name Yahweh, into two sources, one with Yahweh and the other with Elohim. But just as soon as we conclude that the use made of the two names of God proves that there were three and not two sources, as is done from Ge 20 on, the conclusive ground for the division falls away. The second Elohist (E), whom Ilgen was the first to propose (see (1) above), in principle and a priori discredits the whole hypothesis. This new source from the very outset covers all the passages that cannot be ascribed to the Yahweh or the Elohist portions; whatever portions contain the name Elohim, as P does, and which nevertheless are prophetical in character after the manner of J, and accordingly cannot be made to fit in either the Jahwistic or the Elohistic source, seek a refuge in this third source. Even before we have done as much as look at the text, we can say that according to this method everything can be proved. And when critics go so far as to divide J and E and P into many subparts, it becomes all the more impossible to make the names for God a basis for this division into sources. Consistently we could perhaps in this case separate a Yahweh source, an Elohim source, a ha-’Elohim source, an ’El Shadday source, an ’Adhonay source, a Mal’akh Yahweh source, a Mal’akh ’Elohim source, etc., but unfortunately these characteristics of the sources come into conflict in a thousand cases with the others that are claimed to prove that there are different sources in the Book of Genesis.

(b) False Basis of Hypothesis:

(c) Improbability That Distinction of Divine Names Is without Significance:

(d) Real Purpose in Use of Names for God:

But now it is further possible to show clearly, in connection with a number of passages, that the different names for God are in Genesis selected with a perfect consciousness of the difference in their meanings, and that accordingly the choice of these names does not justify the division of the book into various sources.

(i) Decreasing Use of Yahweh:

from this passage down to Ge 37:2 the name is not found. It is accordingly clear that in the history of the patriarchs there is a gradual decrease in the number of times in which the name Yahweh occurs, and in each case the decrease is more marked; and this is most noticeable and clearest in the history of Joseph, manifestly in order to make all the more prominent the fact that the revelation of God, beginning with Ex 3:1 ff, is that of Yahweh. These facts alone make the division of this text into three sources J, E and P impossible.

(ii) Reference to Approach of Man to God, and Departure from Him:

(iii) Other Reasons:

[’Elohim] can, further, in many cases be explained on the basis of an implied or expressed contrast, generally over against men (compare Ge 22:8,12; in the second of these two passages the fear of God is placed in contrast to godlessness); Ge 30:2; 31:50; 32:2 f; compare with 32:4 and 8; 32:29; 35:5; or on the basis of an accommodation to the standpoint of the person addressed, as in 3:1-5 (serpent); 20:3,6,11,13,17; 23:6; 39:9 (Gentiles); or on the basis of grammar, as in 23:6; 32:3; 28:17,22; because the composition with the proper name Yahweh could never express the indefinite article (a prince of God, a camp of God, a Bethel or house of prayer); or finally in consequence of the connection with earlier passages (compare 5:1 ff with chapter 1; 21:2,4; 28:3 ff; 35:9 ff with chapter 17). A comparison of these passages shows that, of course, different reasons may have induced the author to select the name Elohim, e.g. 23:6; 28:12; 32:12.

(iv) Systematic Use in History of Abraham:

That the names for God are systematically used is finally attested by the fact that in the history of Abraham, after the extensive use of the name Yahweh in its beginning (see above), this name is afterward found combined with a large number of other and different names; so that in each case it is Yahweh of whom all further accounts speak, and yet the name of Yahweh is explained, supplemented and made clear for the consciousness of believers by the new appellations, while the full revelation of His being indeed begins only in Ex 3 and 6:1 ff, at which place the different rays of His character that appeared in earlier times are combined in one brilliant light. The facts in the case are the following. In the story of Abraham, with which an epoch of fundamental importance in the history of revelation begins, we find Yahweh alone in Ge 12 f. With the exception of chapter 23, where a characteristic appellation of God is not found, and 25:1-11, where we can claim a decadence in the conception of the Divinity (concerning 23:6; 25:11; see above, the name of Yahweh is retained in all of these stories, as these have been marked out (III, 2, 6); but beginning with chapter 14 they do not at all use any longer only one name for God. We here cite only those passages where, in each ease, for the first time a new name for God is added, namely, 14:18, ’El `Elyon; 14:19, Creator of heaven and of earth; 15:2, ’Adhonay; 16:7, the Angel of Yahweh; 16:13, the God that seeth; 17:1, ’El Shadday; 17:3, ’Elohim; 17:18, ha-’Elohim; chapters 18 f, special relation to the three men (compare 18:2 and 19:1); 18:25, the Judge of the whole earth; 20:13, ’Elohim constructed as a plural; 21:17, the Angel of God; 24:3, the God of heaven and the God of the earth; 24:12, the God of Abraham.

(e) Scantiness of the Materials for Proof:

If we add, finally, that to prove the hypothesis we are limited to the meager materials found in Ge 1:1 through Ex 6:1 if; that in this comparatively small number of chapters Ge 40 to Ex 2 cannot be utilized in this discussion (see above under (d); that all those passages, in which J and E are inseparably united must be ignored in this discussion; that all other passages in which J and E are often and rapidly interchanged from the very outset are suspiciously akin to begging the question; that Ge 20:18, which with its "Yahweh" is ascribed to R, is absolutely needed as the conclusion of the preceding Elohim story; that in 21:33 with its "Yahweh" (Yahweh) in the Jahwist (Jahwist), on the other hand, the opening Elohim story from E, which is necessary for an explanation of the dwelling of Abraham in the south country, precedes; that the angel of Yahweh (22:11) is found in E; that 2:4-3:24 from J has besides Yahweh the name Elohim, and in 3:1b-5 only Elohim (see above); that in 17:1; 21:1 P Yahweh is found; that 5:29, which is ascribed to J, is surrounded by portions of the Priestly Code (P), and contains the name Yahweh, and would be a torso, but in connection with chapter 5 the Priestly Code (P), in reality is in its proper place, as is the intervening remark (5:24 P); that, on the other hand, in 4:25; 6:2,4; 7:9; 9:27; 39:9 Elohim is found--in view of all these facts it is impossible to see how a greater confusion than this could result from the hypothesis of a division of the sources on the basis of the use made of the names of God. And then, too, it is from the very outset an impossibility, that in the Book of Genesis alone such an arbitrary selection of the names for God should have been made and nowhere else.

(f) Self-Disintegration of the Critical Position:

The modern critics, leaving out of consideration entirely their further dissection of the text, themselves destroy the foundation upon which this hypothesis was originally constructed, when Sievers demands for Ge 1 (from P) an original Yahweh Elohim in the place of the Elohim now found there; and when others in Ge 18 f J claim an original Elohim; and when in 17:1-21:1 the name Yahweh is said to have been intentionally selected by P.

(g) Different Uses in the Septuagint:

Naturally it is not possible to discuss all the pertinent passages at this place. Even if, in many cases, it is doubtful what the reasons were for the selection of the names for God, and even if these reasons cannot be determined with our present helps, we must probably, nevertheless, not forget that the Septuagint in its translation of Genesis in 49 passages, according to Eerdman’s reckoning, and still more according to Wiener’s, departs from the use of the names for God from the Hebrew original. Accordingly, then, a division of Genesis into different sources on the basis of the different names for God cannot be carried out, and the argument from this use, instead of proving the documentary theory, has been utilized against it.

III. The Structure of the Individual Pericopes.

In this division of the article, there is always to be found (under 1) a consideration of the unity of the Biblical text and (under 2) the rejection of the customary division into different sources.

The conviction of the unity of the text of Genesis and of the impossibility of dividing it according to different sources is strongly confirmed and strengthened by the examination of the different pericopes. Here, too, we find the division on the basis of the typical numbers 4,7,10,12. It is true that in certain cases we should be able to divide in a different way; but at times the intention of the author to divide according to these numbers practically compels acceptance on our part, so that it would be almost impossible to ignore this matter without detriment, especially since we were compelled to accept the same fact in connection with the articles EXODUS (II); LEVITICUS (II, 2); DAY OF ATONEMENT (I, 2, 1), and aIso EZEKIEL (I, 2, 2). But more important than these numbers, concerning the importance or unimportance of which there could possibly be some controversy, are the fundamental religious and ethical ideas which run through and control the larger pericopes of the [toledhoth] of Terah, Isaac and Jacob in such a way that it is impossible to regard this as merely the work of a redactor, and we are compelled to consider the book as the product of a single writer.

1. The Structure of the Prooemium (Genesis 1-2:3):

The structure of the proemium (Ge 1:1-2:3) is generally ascribed to P. Following the introduction (Ge 1:1,2; creation of chaos), we have the creation of the seven days with the Sabbath as a conclusion. The first and the second three days correspond to each other (1st day, the light; 4th day, the lights; 2nd day, the air and water by the separation of the waters above and the waters below; 5th day, the animals of the air and of the water; 3rd day, the dry land and the vegetation; 6th day, the land animals and man; compare also in this connection that there are two works on each day). We find Exodus also divided according to the number seven (see EXODUS, II, 1; compare also Ex 24:18 b through 31:18; see EXODUS, II, 2, 5, where we have also the sevenfold reference to the Sabbath idea in Ex, and that, too, repeatedly at the close of different sections, just as we find this here in Genesis); and in Le compare chapters 23; 25; 27; see LEVITICUS, II, 2, 2; the VIII, IX, and appendix; and in Ge 4:17 ff J; 5:1-24 P; 6:9-9:29; 36:1-37 I (see under 2, 1,2,3,1).

2. Structure of the Ten Toledhoth:

The ten toledhoth are found in Ge 2:4-50:26.

1. The Toledhoth of the Heavens and the Earth (Genesis 2:4-4:26):

(1) The Biblical Text.

(a) Ge 2:4-25, Paradise and the first human beings;

(b) 3:1-24, the Fall;

(c) 4:1-16, Cain and Abel;

(d) 4:17-26, the Cainites, in seven members (see under 1 above) and Seth. The number 4 appears also in 5:1-6:8 (see under 2); 10:1-11:9 (see under 4); and especially 11:27-25:11 (under 6). Evidently (a) and (b), (c) and (d) are still more closely connected.

(2) Rejection of the Division into Sources (Ge 1:1-2:4 a P and 2:4b through 4:26 J).

Ch 2 does not contain a new account of creation with a different order in the works of creation. This section speaks of animals and plants, not for their own sakes, but only on account of their connection with man. The creation of the woman is only a further development of Ge 1. While formerly the critics divided this section into 2:4-4:26 J, they now cut it up into J1 and j2 (see under II, 2, 1 (c) (because, they say, the tree of life is mentioned only in 2:9 and 3:23, while in 2:17 and 3:3 ff the Divine command is restricted to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But it is impossible to see why there should be a contradiction here, and just as little can we see why the two trees standing in the midst of the garden should no~t both have had their significance (compare 2:9; 3:3). It is further asserted that a division of J is demanded by the fact that the one part of J knows of the Fall (6:9 ff), and the other does not know of such a break in the development of mankind (4:17 ff). But the civilization attained by the Cainites could certainly have passed over also to the Sethites (see also 6:2); and through Noah and his sons have been continued after the Deluge. Then, too, the fact that Cain built a city (4:17), and the fact that he became a fugitive and a wanderer (4:12), are not mutually exclusive; just as the beginnings made with agriculture (4:12) are perfectly consistent with the second fact.

2. The Toledhoth of Adam (Ge 5:1-6:8):

(1) The Biblical Text.

(a) Ge 5:1-24, seven generations from Adam to Lamech (see under 1, and Jude 1:14);

(b) Ge 5:25-32, four generations from the oldest of men, Methuselah, down to the sons of Noah;

(c) 6:1-4, intermingling of the sons of God and the sons of men; (d) 6:5-8, corruption of all mankind. Evidently at this place (a) and (b), (c) and (d) correspond with each other.

(2) Rejection of the Division into Sources (Genesis 5 P with the Exception of 5:29 (see II, 2, 2 (e)); 5:29; 6:1-8 J).

Genesis 6:7 J presupposes chapter 1 P; as, on the other hand, the fact that the generations that, according to chapter 5 the Priestly Code (P), had in the meanwhile been born, die, presupposes the advent of sin, concerning which only J had reported in chapter 3. In the case of the Priestly Code (P), however, in 1:31 it is said that everything was very good.

3. The Toledhoth of Noah (Genesis 6:9-9:29):

(1) The Biblical Text.

Seven sections (see 1 above) viz:

(a) Ge 6:9-22, the building of the ark;

(b) 7:1-9, entering the ark;

(c) 7:10-24, the increase of the Flood;

(d) 8:1-14, the decrease of the Flood;

(e) 8:15-19, leaving the ark;

(f) 8:22-9:17, declaration of a covenant relation between God and Noah;

(g) 9:18-29, transfer of the Divine blessing upon Shem.

(2) Rejection of the Division into Sources (Genesis 7:1-5,7-10,12,16b,17,22 f; 8:2b,3a,6-12,13b,20-22; 9:20-27 J, the Rest from P).

In all the sources are found the ideas that the Deluge was the punishment of God for sin; further, the deliverance of the righteous Noah and his wife and three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth and their wives; the deliverance of the different kinds of animals; the announcement of the covenant relations between God and mankind after the Deluge; the designation of the Deluge with the term mabbul and of the ark with tebhah. In the Babylonian account, which without a doubt stands in some connection with the Biblical, are found certain measurements of the ark, which in the Bible are only in the Priestly Code (P), as also the story of the sending out of the birds when the flood was decreasing, and of the sacrifices of those who had been delivered, which in the Bible are said to be found only in J; and these facts are a very powerful argument against the division into sources. Further, the Priestly Code (P), in case the critics were right, would have contained nothing of the thanks of Noah for his deliverance, although he was a pious man; and in the case of J we should not be informed what kind of an ark it was into which Noah was directed to go (Ge 7:1 ); nor how he can already in Ge 8:20 build an altar, as he has not yet gone out of the ark; and, further, how the determination of Yahweh, that He would not again curse the earth but would bless it, can be a comfort to him, since only P has reported concerning the blessing (9:1 ff). Even if the distinction is not always clearly made between clean and unclean animals, and different numbers are found in the case of each (6:19 f; 7:14-16 the Priestly Code (P), over against 7:2 f in J), yet this is to be regarded merely as a lack of exactness or, perhaps better, rather as a summary method of procedure. The difficulties are not even made any easier through the separation into sources, since in 7:8 f in J both numbers and the distinction between the two kinds of animals are used indiscriminately. Here, too, in J we find the name Elohim used. The next contradiction that is claimed, namely that the Deluge according to J lasted only 61 days, and is arranged in 40 days (7:4,12,17; 8:6) plus 3 X 7 = 21 days (8:8,10,12), while in P it continues for 1 year and 11 days (7:11,24; 8:3-5,14), is really a self-inflicted agony of the critics. The report of the Bible on the subject is perfectly clear. The rain descends for 40 days (7:12 J); but as in addition also the fountains of the deep are broken up (7:11 P), we find in this fact a reason for believing that they increased still more (7:24 P and 7:17 J). The 40 days in 8:6 J cannot at all be identified with those mentioned in 7:17; for if this were the case the raven would have been sent out at a time when the waters had reached their highest stage, and even according to J the Deluge covered the entire world. In general see above, II, 2, 1 (c).

4. The Toledhoth of the Sons of Noah (Genesis 10:1-11:9):

(1) The Biblical Text.

(a) Ge 10:2-5, the Japhethites;

(b) 10:6-20, the Hamites;

(c) 10:21-32, the Shemites;

(d) 11:1-9, the Babylonian confusion of tongues. Evidently (a) to (c) is to be regarded as in contrast to (d) (compare also 11:1,9 J in addition to 10:32 P).

(2) Rejection of the Division into Sources (Genesis 10:1-7,20,22 f,31 f the Priestly Code (P), the Rest Belonging to J).

The distribution of Genesis 10 between P and J is actually ridiculous, since in this case J does not speak of Japheth at all, and the genealogy of the Hamites would connect directly with the Priestly Code (P), a phenomenon which must have been repeated in 10:24 ff. The Jewish Midrash, in addition, and possibly correctly, counts 70 peoples (compare 46:27; Ex 1:5; Nu 11:16,25; Lu 10:1).

5. The Toledhoth of Shem (Genesis 11:10-26):

10 generations (see under II, 1).

6. The Toledhoth of Terah (Ge 11:27-25:11):

(1) The Biblical Text.

After the introduction (Ge 11:27-32), theme of the history of Abraham is given in Ge 12:1-4 a (12:1, the promise of the holy land; 12:2, promise of many descendants; 12:3, announcement of the double influence of Abraham on the world; 12:4a, the obedience of Abraham’s faith in his trust upon the Divine promise). In contrast to the first three thoughts which characterize God’s relation to Abraham, the fourth is placed, which emphasizes. Abraham’s relation to God (see under (d)). But both thoughts give complete expression to the intimate communion between God and Abraham. On the basis of these representations, which run through the entire story and thus contribute materially to its unification, this section can also be divided, as one of these after the other comes into the foreground. These four parts (12:4b through 14:24; 15:1-18:15; 18:16-21:34; 22:1-25:11) can each be divided again into four subdivisions, a scheme of division that is found also in Ex 35:4-40:38; Le 11-15; 16 (compare EXODUS, II, 2, 7; LEVITICUS, II, 2, 2, III and IV; DAY OF ATONEMENT, I, 2, 1), and is suggested by De 12-26 (compare also my book, Wider den Bann der Quellenscheidung, the results of the investigation of which work are there reproduced without entering upon the details of the argument).

(a) Ge 12:4 through 14:24, in which the reference to the promised land is placed in the foreground; see 12:1, and the passages and statements in parentheses in the following: (i) 12:4b-8, Abraham’s journey to Canaan (12:5 the Priestly Code (P), 6,7,8 J); (ii) 12:9-13:4, descent to Egypt from Canaan, and return (12:9,10; 13:1-4J); 13:5-18, separation from Lot (13:6 the Priestly Code (P), 7,9 J, 12a the Priestly Code (P), 14 f,17,18 J); chapter 14, expedition against Chedorlaomer, etc. (Abraham is blessed by the priest-king of the country, and receives as homage from the products of the country bread and wine (14:18 f), while he in return gives tithes (14:20)). The division of this section (12:4b through 14:24) is to be based on the similarity of the closing verses (12:8; 13:4; 13:18).

(b) Ge 15:1-18:15, unfolding of the promise of descendants for Abraham by this announcement that he is to have a son of his own; compare 12:2 and what is placed in parentheses in the following: chapter 15, Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham (15:2,3 JE, 4 J, 5 E, 13,14,16,18 J). The promise is not fulfilled through Eliezer, but only through an actual son (15:3,1); 16:1-16, Hagar gives birth to Ishmael as the son of Abraham. Hagar’s son, too, namely Ishmael, is not the genuine heir, notwithstanding the connection between 16:10 and 12:2 (compare 17:18-20 P); chapter 17 the Priestly Code (P), promise of the birth of Isaac given to Abraham (17:2-17,19,21); 18:1-15, Sarah also hears that Isaac is promised (18:10,12-15).

(c) Ge 18:16-21:34, the double influence of Abraham on the world; compare 12:3 and what is in parentheses in the following: 18:16-19:38, the pericope dealing with Sodom; (i) 18:16-33, Abraham’s petition for the deliverance of Sodom; (ii) 19:1-11, the sin of the Sodomites, while Lot shows some of the characteristics of Abraham; (iii) 19:12-28, story of the destruction, in connection with which Lot receives the benefit of his relation to Abraham (19:16,19,21,22); (iv) Lot ceases to be a part of this history after this destruction; 20:1-18, Abraham with Abimelech (20:6,9 E, 18 R, punishment; 20:7,17, intercession); 21:1-21, Ishmael ceases to be part of this history (21:13,18,20 E); 21:22-34, Abraham’s agreement with Abimelech (the latter seeks Abraham’s friendship and fears his enmity, 21:27,23 E).

(d) Ge 22:1-25:11 ff, Abraham’s faith at its culminating point; compare 12:4a and what is in parentheses in the following: (i) 22:1-19, the sacrifice of Isaac (22:2,12 E, 16,18 R); (ii) chapter 23, purchase of the place to bury the dead, which act was the result of his faith in the promised land; (iii) chapter 24 is introduced by 22:20-24, which has no independent character. With the twelve descendants of Nahor compare the twelve sons of Jacob, the twelve of Ishmael (25:12 ff; 17:20), and on the number 12 see Ex 24:18-30:10, under EXODUS, II, 2, 5; Le 1-7 under LEVITICUS, II, 2, 2, i, and under EZEKIEL, I, 2, 2. Ch 24 itself contains the story of how a wife was secured for Isaac from among his relatives (the faith in the success of this plan is transmitted from Abraham to his servant); (iv) 25:1-11, the sons of the concubine of Abraham (J and R) cease to be a part of this history; transfer of the entire inheritance to the son of promise (Jahwist); burial in the ground bought for this purpose (P) (all of these concluding acts stand in close connection with Abraham’s faith). In reference to the force of the names of God in connecting Ge 11:27-25:11, see above under II, 2, 2 (d).

(2) Rejection of the Division into Sources (Genesis 11:27,31 f; 12:4b,5; 13:6a,11b,12a; 16:1a,3,15 f; 17; 19:29; 21:1b,2b-5; 23; 25:7-11a P; 14 from an unknown source; 15:6; 20:1-17; 21:8-32; 22:1-13,19 E; 15:1-3; 21:6 JE; 20:18; 22:14-18; 25:6 R; all else belongs to J).

Through the passages ascribed to P breaks are caused in the text of J in Ge 11:28 f; 12:4a (Lot); in chapter 16, where the conclusion is lacking; in 18:1 (the reference of the pronoun); in 24:67 (Sarah’s death); in 25:1 ff (no mention of Abraham’s death). On the other hand P presupposes the text of J in 11:31 f; 12:4b; 16:1b; 19:29. In the case of E we need mention only the abrupt break in 20:1; and, finally, the text of the Priestly Code (P), leaving out of consideration the larger sections (chapters 17 and 23), is entirely too meager to constitute an independent document.

We will here discuss also the so-called duplicates (see under II, 2, 1, a and c). The different stories concerning the danger in which the wives of Abraham and Isaac were involved in Ge 12:9 ff J; 20:1 ff E; 26:1 ff J directly presuppose each other. Thus, in 20:13, the Elohist (E), Abraham regards it as a fact that such situations are often to be met with, and consequently the possibility of an occurrence of such an event could not have appeared so remarkable to an Oriental as it does to a modern critic; chapter 26:1 suggests the story in 12:9 ff. The words used here also show that the three stories in question did not originate independently of each other (compare 26:7; 20:5; 12:19-26:7; 20:11; 12:12-26:10; 20:9; 12:18-26:3; 20:1; 12:10 (gur); see under II, 2, 1, c). The two Ishmael pericopes (chapters 16 J and P and 21 E) differ from each other throughout, and, accordingly, are surely not duplicates. The two stories of the conclusion of a covenant in chapters 15 J and 17 P are both justified, especially since in 17:7 the author speaks of an "establishment" of the covenant which already existed since chapter 15. Ge 17 P and 18:1 ff J are certainly intended to be pendants, so that it is impossible to ascribe them to different authors; compare the analogous beginning of theophanies of Yahweh in 17:1 and 18:1 (even the pronoun referring to Abraham in 18:1 J, unless taken in connection with chapter 17 the Priestly Code (P), is without any context), also the laughing of Abraham and of Sarah (17:17; 18:12 f; see under II, 2, 1 (c)), the prominence given to their age (17:17; 18:11 f), and the designation of the time in 17:11; 18:10,14.

Nor can we quote in favor of a division into sources the passage Ge 21:14 f E, on the ground that Ishmael is described here as being so small that he could be laid upon the shoulder of his mother and then be thrown by her under a shrub, while according to the Biblical text he must have been 15 years of age (16:16; 21:5 P). For the original does not say that he was carried on her shoulders; and in Mt 15:30 it is even said of adults that they were thrown down. On the other hand, also according to E, Ishmael could not have been so small a child, for in Ge 21:18 b he is led by the hand, and according to 21:9 he already mocks Isaac, evidently because the latter was the heir of the promise.

Sarah’s age, too, according to Ge 20 E, does not speak in favor of a division into sources. That she was still a beautiful woman is not claimed here. Evidently Abimelech was anxious only for a closer connection with the powerful Abraham (compare 21:23,17). Then, too, all the sources ascribe an advanced age to Sarah (compare 21:6 J and E; 18:12 f J; 17:17 P).

7. The Toledhoth of Ishmael (Genesis 25:12-18):

Twelve princes descended from Ishmael (see under 6 (d)).

8. The Toledhoth of Isaac (Genesis 25:19-35:29):

The correct conception of the fundamental thought can be gained at once in the beginning of this section (Ge 25:22 f): Yahweh’s oracle to Rebekah, that the older of the twins, with whom she was pregnant, should serve the younger; also in Ro 9:10 ff with reference to Mal 1:2 f; and finally, the constant reference made to Esau in addition to Jacob until the former ceases to be a factor in this history in Ge 36. Accordingly in the end everything is made dependent on the one hand on Jacob’s election, notwithstanding his wrongdoings, on the other hand, on Esau’s rejection notwithstanding his being the firstborn, or in other words, upon the perfectly free grace of God; and all the different sources alike share in this fundamental thought. But in dividing between the different parts of this section, we must particularly draw attention to this, that in all of these parts both thoughts in some way or other find their expression.

(1) The Biblical Text.

Containing 10 parts (see under II, 1), namely

(a) Ge 25:19-26, the birth of Esau and Jacob;

(b) 25:27-34, Esau despises and loses his birthright;

(c) 26:1-35, Isaac receives the blessing of Abraham, which afterward is transmitted to Jacob, while Esau, through his marriage with heathen women, prepares the way for his rejection (26:34 f);

(d) 27:1-40, Jacob steals the blessing of the firstborn;

(e) 27:41-45, Jacob’s flight out of fear of Esau’s vengeance;

(f) 27:46-28:9, Jacob is sent abroad out of fear of his brother’s bad example;

(g) 28:10-32:33, Jacob in a strange land and his fear of Esau, which is overcome in his contest of prayer in Peniel on his return: 28:10-22, the ladder reaching to heaven in Bethel when he went abroad; 29:1-30:43, twenty years with Laban (see 31:38); 31:1-54, Jacob’s departure from Mesopotamia; 32:1-33, his return home;

(h) chapter 33, reconciliation with Esau, who returns to Seir (verse 16; compare 32:4), while Jacob becomes the owner of property in the Holy Land (33:19 f);

(i) 34:1-35:22, Jacob remains in this land, notwithstanding the slaughter made by his sons Simeon and Levi (compare 34:30; 35:5); the new appearance of God in Bethel, with a repetition of the story of the changing of Jacob’s name, with which the story of Jacob’s youth is closed, and which presupposes the episode at Bethel (compare 35:1,6b,9-15 with 28:10 ff), and which is not in contradiction with the first change in the name of Jacob in chapter 32 (compare the twofold naming of Peter in Joh 1:43 and Mt 16:18). Esau is yet mentioned in Ge 35:1,7, where there is a reference made to Jacob’s flight before him;

(j) 35:23-29, Jacob’s 12 sons as the bearers of the promise; while Esau is mentioned only as participating in Isaac’s burial, but inwardly he has no longer any part in the history of the kingdom of God, as is seen from chapter 36, and in 32:4; 33:16 is already hinted at. In this section, too, evidently there are groups, each of two parts belonging together, namely (a) and (b) describing the earliest youth; (c) and (d) in which Isaac plays a prominent part; (e) and (f) both of which do not exclude but supplement each other in assigning the motives for Jacob’s flight; (g) and (h) Jacob’s flight and reconciliation; (i) and (j) Jacob both according to family and dwelling-place as the recognized heir of the promise.

(2) Rejection of the Division into Sources.

As Ge 25:29 f,26b; 26:34 f; 27:46-28:9; 29:24,29; 31:18; 35:6a,9-12,15; 35:22b-29; 36:6-30,40-43 are ascribed to the Priestly Code (P), it is clear that these are in part such ridiculously small extracts, that we should be justified in attributing them to a sensible author. The whole sojourn in Mesopotamia is ignored in the Priestly Code (P), according to the critics, except the brief notices in 29:24,29; 33:18. Further, the parts of the rest of the text cannot in many cases be dispensed with; as, e.g. we do not know in 25:26b who was born; nor in 26:34 f who Esau was; nor in 27:46 who Jacob was; nor in 29:24 who Laban was; nor in 29:24,29 in what connection and for what purposes Leah and Rachel are mentioned. P makes no mention of any promise given to Isaac, which is, however, presupposed in 35:12 and later in Ex 2:24. In Ge 28:1 ff P is most closely connected with J (compare 12:1-3, the blessing of Abraham, and chapter 24). It is, further, impossible to separate the sources E and J in chapter 28 (ladder reaching to heaven); compare 28:10-12,17 f,20-22 E; 28:13-16 J; 28:19, and the name of God in 28:21 R, and this proposed division actually becomes absurd in chapters 29 f in the story of the birth of Jacob’s children, which are said to be divided between the sources J and E.

9. The Toledhoth of Esau (Genesis 36:1-37:1):

In 7 divisions (see under 1), namely

(a) Ge 36:1-5 R, Esau’s family; the different names for Esau’s wives, as compared with 26:34 f; 28:7-9 the Priestly Code (P), are doubtless based on the fact that oriental women are apt to change their names when they marry; and the fact that these names are without further remark mentioned by the side of the others is rather an argument against the division into sources than for it;

(b) 36:6-8, Esau’s change of abode to Seir, which, according to 32:4; 33:14,16, already took place before Jacob’s return. Only in case that Esau (35:29) would have afterward remained for a longer period in Canaan, could we think of a new separation in this connection. It is more probable that at this place all those data which were of importance in connection with this separation are once more given without any reference to their difference in point of time;

(c) 36:9-14, Esau as the founder of the Edomites (in 36:9 the word [toledhoth] is repeated from verse 1, while the narrative of the descendants of Esau begins only at this later passage in so far as these were from Seir; compare 36:9 with 36:5, and above, under II, 1);

(d) 36:15-19, the leading line of the sons of Esau;

(e) 36:20-30, genealogy of the original inhabitants of the country, mentioned because of their connection with Esau (compare 36:25 with 36:2);

(f) 36:31-39, the elective kingdoms of Edom;

(g) 36:40-43, the Edomites’ chief line of descent, arranged according to localities. We have here accordingly geographical accounts, and not historical or genealogical, as in 36:15 ff,20 ff (30); compare also 36:40,43, for which reason we find also names of women.

10. The Toledhoth of Jacob (Genesis 37:2-50:26):

(1) The Biblical Text.

The key to the history of Joseph is found in its conclusion, namely, in Ge 50:14-21, in the confession of Joseph, in the light of his past, namely, that God has ended all things well; and in 50:22 ff, in his confidence in the fulfillment of the Divine promise in the lives of those God has chosen; compare also Ps 105:16 ff. According to the two viewpoints in Ge 50:14-26, and without any reference to the sources, this whole pericope (37:2-50:15) is divided into two halves, each of five subdivisions, or a total of ten (see under II, 1). In the exact demonstration of this, not only the contents themselves, but also regard for the different names for God will often render good service, which names, with good effect, are found at the close and in harmony with the fundamental thought of the entire section, namely,

(a) 37:2-39:6a, Joseph enters Potiphar’s house (4 pieces, see under 6, 1, namely 37:2-11, the hatred of the brethren, 37:12-36, selling Joseph, 38:1 ff, the Yahweh-displeasing conduct in the house of Judah, compare 38:7,10, 39:1-6, Yahweh’s pleasure in Joseph, in contrast to;

(b) 39:6b-23, Joseph is cast into prison, but Yahweh was with him (39:21,23);

(c) 40:1-41:52, the exaltation of Joseph, which at the end especially is shown by the naming of Ephraim and Manasseh as caused by God, but which for the present passes by the history of his family (4 pieces, namely, 40:1, interpretation of the dreams of the royal officials, 41:1-36, interpretation of the two dreams of Pharaoh, 41:37-46a, the exaltation of Joseph, 41:46b-52, Joseph’s activity for the good of the country);

(d) 41:55-46:7, Joseph becomes a blessing to his family; compare the promise of God to Jacob in Beersheba to be with him in Egypt in 46:2 ff with 45:6-9 (in four pieces, namely, 41:53-57, the general famine, 42:1-38, the first journey of the brothers of Joseph, 43:14-4:34, the second journey (in four subdivisions,

(i) 43:1-14, the departure,

(ii) 43:14-34, the reception by Joseph,

(iii) 44:1-7, final trial of the brethren,

(iv) 44:18-34, the intercession of Judah); 45:1-46:7, Joseph makes himself known and persuades Jacob to come to Egypt);

(e) 46:8-47:26, Joseph continues to be a blessing to his family and to Egypt (in 4 subdivisions, of which the 4th is placed in contrast to the first 3 exactly as this is done in 10:1-11:9 and 11:27-25:11, namely, (46:8-27, list of the descendants of Jacob, 46:28-34, meeting with Joseph, 47:1-12, Jacob in the presence of Pharaoh, 47:13-26, the Egyptians who have sold themselves and their possessions to Pharaoh laud Joseph as the preserver of their lives). From this point on the attention is now drawn to the future:

(f) 47:27-31, Jacob causes Joseph to take an oath that he will have him buried in Canaan (compare 47:30 J with chapter 23 P) ; in (e) and (f) there is also lacking a designation for God;

(g) chapter 48, Jacob adopts and blesses Ephraim and Manasseh (compare also the emphasis placed on the providential guidance of God in 48:8 f,11,15 f, especially 48:16 and 20 ff);

(h) 49:1-27, Jacob blesses his 12 sons and prophesies their future fate (here, 49:18, appears the name of Yahweh, which had disappeared since chapter 40; see under II, 2, 2 (d), and other designations for God, 49:24 f);

(i) 49:28-33, Jacob’s death after he had again expressed the wish, in the presence of all his sons, that he should be buried in Canaan;

(j) 50:1-13, the body of Jacob is taken to Canaan. In these 10 pericopes again we can easily find groups of two each, namely, (a) and (b), Joseph’s humiliation (sold, prison); (c) and (d), Joseph becomes a blessing to Egypt and to his family; (g) and (h), blessing of the, grandchildren and the sons of Jacob;

(i) and (j), Jacob s death and burial; here too the name of God is lacking as in (e) and (f).

(2) Rejection of the Division into Sources.

IV. The Historical Character.

1. History of the Patriarchs: (Genesis 12-50):

(1) Unfounded Attacks upon the History.

(a) From General Dogmatic Principles:

In order to disprove the historical character of the patriarchs, the critics are accustomed to operate largely with general dogmatic principles, such as this, that no nation knows who its original founder was. In answer to this it can be said that the history of Israel is and was from the beginning to the end unique, and cannot be judged by the average principles of historiography. But it is then claimed that Abraham’s entire life appears to be only one continuous trial of faith, which was centered on the one promise of the true heir, but that this is in reality a psychological impossibility. Over against this claim we can in reply cite contrary facts from the history of several thousands of years; and that, too, in the experience of those very men who were most prominent in religious development, such as Paul and Luther.

(b) From Distance of Time:

(c) From Biblical Data:

Finally, the attempt has been made to discover in the Bible itself a pre-Mosaic stage in its ideas of man concerning God, which is claimed to contradict the higher development of Divine ideas in the patriarchs, for which purpose the critics appeal to Eze 23:3,1; 20:7 ff; Jos 24:14 ff. But at these places it is evident that the idolatry of the people is pictured as apostasy. And when in Ex 6:2 ff the name of Yahweh is as a matter of fact represented as something new, it is nevertheless a fact that in these very passages the revelation given is connected with the history of the patriarchs. The same is true of Ex 3:1 ff. The whole hypothesis that the religion before the days of Moses was polytheistic has not been derived from the Bible, but is interpreted into it, and ends in doing violence to the facts there recorded (compare my book, Die Entwicklung der alttestamentlichen Gottesidee in vorexilischer Zeit).

(d) From Comparison with Religion of Arabia:

The critics further compare the pre-Mosaic religion of Israel with the low grade of religion in Arabia in the 5th century after Christ; but in order to do this, they must isolate Israel entirely, since all the surrounding nations at the time of the Tell el-Amarna Lettershad attained to an altogether different and higher stage of religious development and civilization.

(2) Unsatisfactory Attempts at Explaining the Patriarchal Age.

(a) Explanation Based on High Places:

In denying the historical character of the account of the patriarchs in Genesis, the critics are forced to contrive some scheme in explanation of the existence of these stories, but in doing this they make some bad breaks. Thus, e.g., they say that the Israelites when they entered Canaan found there the high places of the heathen peoples; and since if they wanted to make use of these in the service of Yahweh they must first declare them legitimate places of worship, this was done by inventing the history of the patriarchs, who long before this are said to have already consecrated all these places to the Yahweh worship. But how is it possible on this supposition to explain the story of Joseph, which transpired in Egypt? Then, too, the reasons for the origin of the other stories of the patriarchs would be enshrouded in a remarkable mystery and would be of very inferior character. Again, it is nowhere declared in the passages of Genesis that here come into consideration that they are reporting the beginnings of a permanent cult when they give an account of how God appeared to the patriarchs or when they erected altars in His honor. And, finally, while it is indeed true that the cult localities of the patriarchs are in part identical with those of later times (compare Bethel, Beersheba)--and this is from the outset probable, because certain places, such as hills, trees, water, etc., as it were, of themselves were suitable for purposes of the cult--yet such an identification of earlier and later localities does not cover all cases. And can we imagine that a prophetical method of writing history would have had any occasion in this manner to declare the worship of calves in Bethel a legitimate service?

(b) The Dating Back of Later Events to Earlier Times:

(c) The Patriarchs as heroes eponymi:

In the third place, it is said that the people have in the persons of the patriarchs made for themselves eponymous heroes. But why did they make so many at one time? In addition, Abraham cannot possibly be regarded as such a hero as Jacob or Israel is, and in exceptional cases also Isaac and Joseph (Am 7:9,16; 5:6,15). It is not correct to place genealogies like those in Ge 10:1 ff; 25:1 ff,13 ff on a level with the stories concerning the patriarchs. In the latter case we are dealing with individualities of pronounced character, who in the experiences of their lives represent great fundamental principles and laws in the kingdom of God--Abraham, the principle of the grace of God, to which faith on the part of man is the counterpart; Jacob, the principle of Divine election; Joseph, that of the providential guidance of life; while Isaac, it is true, when he becomes prominent in the history, evinces no independent character, but merely follows in the footsteps of Abraham (compare 26:1 ff,3 ff,15,18,24 ff), but is in this very imitative life pictured in an excellent way.

(d) Different Explanations Combined:

If we combine two or more of these different and unsatisfactory attempts at an explanation of the history of the patriarchs, we must become all the more distrustful, because the outcome of this combination is such an inharmonious scheme.

(3) Positive Reasons for the Historical Character of Genesis.

The individuality of the patriarchs as well as their significance in the entire development of the history of the kingdom of God, and their different missions individually; further, the truthful portraiture of their method of living, which had not yet reached the stage of permanent settlement; and, finally, the fact that the prophets, the New Testament and above all Jesus Himself regard their historical character as something self-evident (see (1b) above), make the conviction a certainty, that we must insist upon their being historical personages; especially, too, because the attacks on this view (see (1) above), as also the efforts to explain these narratives on other grounds (see (2) above), must be pronounced to be failures. To this we must add the following: If Moses were the founder of the religion of Israel, it would scarcely have been possible that a theory would have been invented and have found acceptance that robs Moses of this honor by the invention of the story of the patriarchs. Rather the opposite would be the case. Besides, this older revelation of God is absolutely necessary in order to make Moses’ work and success intelligible and possible. For he himself expressly declares that his work is based on the promises of God given to the fathers. Through this connection with the older revelation it was possible for Moses to win the attention and the confidence of the people (compare Ex 2:24; 3:6,13 ff; 4:5; 6:3,1; 15:2; 32:13 f; 33:1; compare also my book, Die Entwicklung der alttestamentlichen Gottesidee in vorexilischer Zeit, 117 ff; and Strack, Genesis, 93 ff).

Individuality of Patriarchs:

In so far as the history of the patriarchs contains miracles, they are in perfect harmony with the entire character of sacred history (compare EXODUS, III, 2); and as far as the number of miracles is concerned, there are in fact fewer reported in the days of the patriarchs than in the times of Moses.. On the view that the history of the patriarchs, which is earlier than the period of Moses, was an invention and not history, the opposite condition of affairs could be expected. Leaving out of consideration the unsatisfactory instances cited under V, 2, below, there is to be found also in the Book of Genesis absolutely no reference to indicate events of a later period, which would throw a doubt on the historical character of what is here reported. In every direction (e.g. in connection with theophanies and the cult worship), there is a noticeable progress to be seen in going from Genesis to Exodus, a fact which again is an important argument for the historical reliability of the contents of both books. Finally, we add the following. Ch 14 (the Chedorlaomer and the Melchizedek episodes) has through recent archaeological researches been brilliantly confirmed as far as the names are concerned, as also in reference to the political conditions of the times, the general historical situation and the chronology. In the same way the religious conditions of Egypt, as described in Ge 12, and in the entire history of Joseph, are so faithfully pictured that it is absolutely impossible to regard these accounts as the work of imagination. These accounts must be the outcome, on the part of the author, of a personal knowledge of these things and conditions, as they are absolutely correct, even to the details of the coloring.

2. The Primitive History of Genesis 1-11:

(1) Prominence of the Religious Element.

In the primitive history as recorded in the opening chapters of Genesis we must yet emphasize, more than is done elsewhere, that the chief interest for the Christian is found in the religious and moral teachings of this account; and that these teachings remain unshaken, even when chronological, historical, archaeological, physical, geographical or philological sciences would tempt us to reach negative conclusions. It is a wise thing, from the outset, not to be too timid in this direction, and to concede considerable liberty in this matter, when we remember that it is not the purpose of the Bible to give us scientific knowledge in scientific forms, but to furnish us with religious and ethical thoughts in a language which a childlike mind, that is open to Divine things, can understand.

(2) Carefulness as Regards Divergent Results of Scientific Research.

On the other hand, it is right over against the so-called "results" of these different sciences to be very critical and skeptical, since in very many cases science retracts today what with a flourish of trumpets it declared yesterday to be a "sure" result of investigations; e.g. as far as the chronology is concerned, the natural and the historical sciences often base their computations on purely arbitrary figures, or on those which are constructed entirely upon conclusions of analogy, and are far from conclusive, if perchance the history of the earth or of mankind has not at all times developed at the same pace, i.e. has moved upward and downward, as e.g. a child in its earlier years will always learn more rapidly than at any later period of its life.

(3) Frequent Confirmation of the Bible by Science.

But finally the Holy Scriptures, the statements of which at this period are often regarded slightingly by theologians, are regarded much more highly by men of science. This is done, e.g., by such scientists as Reinke and K.E. von Baer, who declare that Moses, because of his story of the creation, was a man of unsurpassed and unsurpassable scientific thought; or when many geological facts point to such an event as the Deluge in the history of the earth. The history of languages, as a whole and in its details, also furnishes many proofs for the correctness of Ge 10, and that chapter has further been confirmed in a most surprising manner by many other discoveries (compare the existence of Babel at a period earlier than Nineveh, and the colonizing of Assur by Babel). Then facts like the following can be explained only on the presupposition that the reports in Genesis are correct, as when a Dutchman in the 17th century built an ark after the measurements given in Genesis and found the vessel in every particular adapted to its purposes; and when today we again hear specialists who declare that the modern ocean sailing vessel is being more and more constructed according to the relative proportions of the ark.

(4) Superiority of the Bible over Heathen Mythologies.

Finally, the similarity of the Biblical and the Babylonian accounts of the creation and the Deluge, as these have been discovered by learned research (and we confine ourselves to these two most important reports)--although this similarity has been misinterpreted and declared to be hostile to the historical reliability and the originality of Ge 1 and Ge 6-9--does not prove what critics claim that it does. Even if we acknowledge that the contents of these stories were extant in Babylon long before the days of Moses, and that these facts have been drawn from this source by Israel, there yet can be no question that the value of these accounts, the fact that they are saturated with a monotheistic and ethical spirit, is found only in Israel and has been breathed into them only by Israel. For the inner value of a story does not depend upon its antiquity, but upon its spirit. But even this conception of the matter, which is shared by most theologians, cannot satisfy us. When we remember how Babylonian mythology is honeycombed by the grossest superstition and heathenism, and that our ethical feelings are often offended by it in the most terrible manner, it is really not possible to see how such a system could have had any attraction for Israel after the Spirit, and how a man who thought as a prophet could have taken over such stories. If Israel has been a pathfinder in the sphere of religion, as is acknowledged on all hands, why do the critics always talk of their borrowing from others? And then, since similar stories are found also among other nations, and as the natural sciences are anything but a unit in hostility to the Biblical narratives, all these factors can find a satisfactory explanation only on the supposition that there existed an original or primitive revelation, and that in Israel this revelation was transmitted in its greater purity, while among the other nations it was emptied of its contents or was perverted. In this way the universality of these stories can be explained, as also the inferiority in character of similar stories among the other nations.

Babylonian and Biblical Stories

The particularly close connection that exists between the Babylonian and the Biblical versions of these stories is in perfect harmony with the fact that it was from Babylon that the dispersion of mankind set in. The purity of the Biblical tradition is further attested by the fact that it reports the actual history of all mankind (see under I, 2), while the mythologies of other nations are restricted nationally and locally, i.e. the beginnings of the history of the individual nations and the beginnings of the history of mankind are identical, and the earliest history is always reported as taking place in the native land of the people reporting it. The fact that in earlier times there prevailed in Babylon too a purer knowledge of God, which, however, steadily degenerated, is proved by many data, and especially by the recently discovered fragment of a Deluge story, according to which the God who destroyed the world by the Flood and the God who delivered the one family is the same God, which is in perfect agreement with the Bible, but is in contradiction to the later Babylonian story. That in earlier times a purer conception of God prevailed, seems to be confirmed also by the experiences of the missionaries. Evolutionism, i.e. the development of a higher conception of God out of a lower, is nothing but an unproved theory, which at every step is contrary to actual facts. Compare also my book, Die Entwicklung der Gottesidee in vorexilischer Zeit, 129 ff, and Schmidt, Die babylonische Religion: Gedanken uber ihre Entwicklung, a dissertation in which the fact that religion naturally degenerates is proved also as far as the Greeks, the Egyptians, the East Indians and the Chinese are concerned.

V: Origin and Authorship of Genesis.

1. Connection with Mosaic Times:

That the Book of Genesis stands in some kind of literary connection with the succeeding books of the Pentateuch is generally acknowledged. But if this is the case, then the question as to the origin and the time of the composition of this whole body of books can be decided only if we take them all into consideration. In this article we have only to consider those facts which are found in Genesis for the solution of this problem. It is self-evident that the conclusion we have reached with reference to the literary unity of the book is of great importance for this question (see under II and III above). The historical character of the book, as demonstrated under IV above, also speaks emphatically for this claim that the literary composition of the book must have taken place when the memory of these events was still trustworthy, and the impression and experiences were still fresh and had not yet faded. Such individualistic and vivid pictures of historical personages as are reported by Genesis, such a faithful adherence to the accounts of the civilization in the different countries and districts and at different times, such detailed accounts of foreign customs, conditions and historical events, could scarcely. have been possible, if the Mosaic age with its powerful new impressions, the period of the Judges, with its characteristic apostasy, or even the division of Israel into two kingdoms, with its dire effects on the external union of the people, had all passed by before these accounts were actually written down. On the other hand, the highly developed prophetic conception of these events, and the skillful plan of the book demand that the author must have been a religious and ethical personality of the first rank. And as, finally, it is scarcely credible that Moses would have failed to provide for a systematic report of the great past of the people, for which account, before this and as long as only family histories were involved, there was no need felt, and as the subsequent books of the Pentateuch, which are acknowledged in a literary way to be connected with Genesis, in many of their parts expressly declare that Moses was their author (compare EXODUS, IV), the Mosaic authorship of this book is as good as proved. This is not to deny that older sources and documents were used in the composition of the book, such as perhaps the genealogical tables or the events recorded in Ge 14, possibly, too, some referring to the history of the times before the Deluge and before Abraham. This is probable; but as all the parts of the book have been worked together into a literary unity (see under II and III above), and as such sources are not expressly mentioned, it is a hopeless task to try to describe these different sources in detail or even to separate them as independent documents, after the manner refuted under II and III above, as a theory and in its particulars. And for the age of Genesis, we can refer to the fact that the personal pronoun here is still used for both genders, masculine and feminine, which is true also of the word na`ar ("youth"), a peculiarity which is shared also by the other books of the Pentateuch almost throughout.

2. Examination of Counter-Arguments:

(1) Possibility of Later Additions.

In itself it would be possible that from time to time some explanatory and interpreting additions could have been made to the original text, in case we find indications of a later period in some statements of the book. But that in this case these additions could not have been made by any unauthorized persons, but only officially, should, in the case of a book like Genesis, be regarded as self-evident. But in our times this fact must be emphasized all the more, as in our days the most radical ideas obtain in reference to the way in which sacred books were used in former times. And then it must be said that we cannot prove as an absolute certainty that there is a single passage in Genesis that originated in the post-Mosaic period.

(2) "Prophecy after the Event" Idea.

(3) Special Passages Alleged to Indicate Later Date (Ge 12:6; 13:7; 22:2; 36:31 ff; 13:18; 23:2; 14:14).

In Ge 12:6; 13:7, it is claimed that it is presupposed that at the time of the author there were no longer any Canaanites in the country, so that these verses belong to a much later period than that of Moses. But on this supposition these verses would be altogether superfluous and therefore unintelligible additions. For that in the time of Abraham the Canaanites had not yet been expelled by Israel, was a self-evident matter for every Israelite. As a matter of fact, the statements in both verses can easily be interpreted. Abraham leaves his native country to go into a strange land. When he comes to Canaan, he finds it inhabited by the Canaanites (compare 10:6,15; 9:25 ff). This could have made his faith to fail him. God, accordingly, repeats His promise at this very moment and does so with greater exactness (compare 13:7 with 13:1), and Abraham shows that God can trust his faith (13:7 f). The question whether the Canaanites no longer existed at the time the book was written, has nothing at all to do with the meaning of these verses. The same is true of 13:7, on account of the presence of the Canaanites and of the Perizzites, which latter tribe had probably come in the meanwhile and is not yet mentioned in Ge 10, but is mentioned in 15:20, and which makes the separation of Abraham and Lot only all the more necessary.

That in Ge 22:2 the land of Moriah is mentioned is claimed by the critics to be a proof that this passage was written after the times of David and even of Solomon, because according to 2Ch 3:1 the temple stood on Mt. Moriah. But as in this latter passage one particular mountain is called Moriah, but in Abraham’s time a whole country was so called, it is scarcely possible that Ge 22:2 could have been written at so late a period.

Just as little is it an argument against the Mosaic times that Hebron is mentioned in Ge 13:18; 23:2, which city, according to Jos 14:15; 15:13, is called Kiriath-arba, a name which Genesis also is acquainted with (compare 23:2), and which in its signification of "city of Arba" points to an originally proper name. Hebron is the older name, which was resumed at a later period, after it had in the meanwhile been supplanted by the Canaanitic name, just as the name of Salem, which occurs already in the Tell el-Amarna Letters, for a period of time gave way to the name of Jebus, but was afterward resumed. That Hebron was an old city and that it existed at a period earlier than the Arba mentioned in Jos 14:15; 15:13, and from whom its later name was derived, can be concluded from Nu 13:22.

Further, the mention of Da in 14:14 does not necessarily favor the view that this chapter did not originate until after Jos 19:47. Jud 18:29, where Leshem or Laish is changed into Da (2Sa 24:6; compare 24:2 and 24:15), does make the existence of another Da probable. Since in Ge 14:2,3,7,17 so many ancient names are mentioned, and as the author is most fully informed as to the conditions of the political complexion of the old nations of that time (14:5-7), it would be incomprehensible if he should not have made use of the ancient names Laish and Leshem. However, if this Da was really meant, we should at most have to deal with a revision, such as that pointed out above. Some other less important arguments against the origin of Genesis from the Mosaic times we can here ignore. The most important argument for the Mosaic origin of the book, in addition to those mentioned under 1, will now be discussed.

VI. Significance.

1. Lays Foundation for the Whole of Revelation:

2. Preparation for Redemption:


Against the separation into documents we mention, of older works: Havernick, Specielle Einleitung in den Pent; Hengstenberg, Beitrage zur Einleitung, II, III; Keil, Einleitung in das Altes Testament, and his Commentary on Gen; Ewald, Die Komposition der Genesis. Of later works: Orr, Problem of the Old Testament; Eerdmans, Die Komposition der Genesis; Moller, Wider den Bann der Quellenscheidung. Against the evolutionary theory: Orr, Problem of the Old Testament; Wiener, Wiener, Essays in Pentateuchal Criticism and Wiener, Origin of the Pentateuch; Green, Unity of Book of Genesis; Moller, Die Entwicklung der alttestamentlichen Gottesidee in vorexilischer Zeit (here also further lit.). On modern archaeological researches: Orr, Problem of the Old Testament; Jeremias, Das Altes Testament im Lichte des alten Orients; Urquhart, Die neueren Entdeckungen und die Bibel (to be used with caution; the work is reliable in the facts but not careful in its conclusions and in its account of Old Testament criticism). Further, compare the histories of Israel by Kohler, Konig, Kittel, Oettli, Klostermann, Stade, Wellhausen: the Commentaries on Genesis by Keil, Delitzsch, Dillmann, Lange, Strack, Gunkel, Holzinger; the Introductions to the Old Testament by Kuenen, Strack, Baudissin, Konig, Cornill, Driver; the Biblical Theologies by Marti, Smend, Budde, Schulz, Oehler. Finally compare Sievers, Metrische Studien, II: "Die hebraische Genesis."

Wilhelm Moller