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 (
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 (
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.
The first section begins with the account of creation. It is sometimes asserted that there are two creation narratives (
There were other ancient cultures that produced creation accounts. For example, the Babylonian creation epicdepicts 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
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
The question of the universality of the Flood (
The human race’s effort to establish a name for itself culminated in the erection of the
The patriarchal accounts that begin at
The Genesis narratives set forth Abraham’s faith as the central element in his relationship with God (
The Genesis narratives give the least attention to the patriarch Isaac. But the promise is not absent from the account of his life (
Jacob is the progenitor of the twelve tribes of Israel (
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 (
The narratives concerning Joseph provide the historical background for the
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,
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 (
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 (
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
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 ). Or one may say, with The New Bible Commentary (ed. Francis Davidson, Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids ): “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 ).
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 , p. 120. See also G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology, Philadelphia: Westminster , 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
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 Pentateuch...is 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 , 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 , 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
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
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 (
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 (
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
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
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 (
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 (
Woman’s position over against man is also more fully outlined in the account of
For man’s moral growth and development God had in deep wisdom provided two trees (
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
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 (
Of the successive stories that cover the material of Genesis, the first “story”—that of heaven and earth—runs from
This then leads to the story of Noah (
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—
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
The story of the call of Abraham (
Abraham’s nephew, Lot, had associated himself with Abraham in the departure from
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 (
In this connection the sacrifice that was made according to
In the next chapter (
A high point in the relationship of the two contracting partners in the covenant is reached in
The episode that transpires in
In its opening account,
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 (
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.
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 (
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 (
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 (
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.
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(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 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)
I. GENERAL DATA
1. The Name
2. Survey of Contents
3. Connection with Succeeding Books
II. COMPOSITION OF GENESIS IN GENERAL
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
(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
III. STRUCTURE OF THE INDIVIDUAL PERICOPES
1. The Structure of the Prooemium (Genesis 1-2:3)
2. Structure of the 10 Toledhoth
IV. THE HISTORICAL CHARACTER
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
(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
V. ORIGIN AND AUTHORSHIP OF GENESIS
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, 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
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,
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
(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
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.,
(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
(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:
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.
(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
(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
(b) False Basis of Hypothesis:
(c) Improbability That Distinction ofIs 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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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 (
2. Structure of the Ten Toledhoth:
The ten toledhoth are found in
1. The Toledhoth of the Heavens and the Earth (Genesis 2:4-4:26):
(1) The Biblical Text.
(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 (
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 (
(1) The Biblical Text.
(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:
(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 (
4. The Toledhoth of the Sons of Noah (Genesis 10:1-11:9):
(1) The Biblical Text.
(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;
5. The Toledhoth of Shem (Genesis 11:10-26):
10 generations (see under II, 1).
6. The Toledhoth of Terah (
(1) The Biblical Text.
After the introduction (
(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
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
Nor can we quote in favor of a division into sources the passage
Sarah’s age, too, according to
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 (
(1) The Biblical Text.
Containing 10 parts (see under II, 1), namely
(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
(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.
9. The Toledhoth of Esau (Genesis 36:1-37:1):
In 7 divisions (see under 1), namely
(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
(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
(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 (
(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
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
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
(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
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
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 (
Just as little is it an argument against the Mosaic times that Hebron is mentioned in
Further, the mention of Da in 14:14 does not necessarily favor the view that this chapter did not originate until after
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."