Summary of the Book of Genesis

Genesis is the title given to the first book of the Pentateuch by its Greek translators. The word means "origin" or "beginning"; truly, Genesis is a book of beginnings. It describes the beginning of man and the universe which he inhabits, the beginning of sin, the consequent beginning of an effort at redemption, and the beginning of the Hebrew nation through whom this redemption was to come. The book of Genesis, together with the early chapters of Exodus, describes the steps which led to the establishment of the theocracy. Two ideas are seen to be predominant in this book- the people of God and the promised land. Genesis has a character which is both special and universal. It embraces the entire world as it speaks of God as the Lord of the whole human race; yet, as an introduction to Jewish history, it makes the universal interest subordinate to the national. Its design is to show how God first revealed himself to the patriarchs of the Hebrew race in order to make of them a people who would serve as his witnesses on the earth. This is the inner principle of unity which pervades the entire book. The contents of Genesis may be conveniently outlined in the following manner: I. The Beginnings of History (1-11), II. The Story of Abraham (12-25), III. The Story of Isaac (25:19-26; 35), IV. The Story of Jacob and Esau (27:1-37:1), V. The Story of Joseph (37-50).