Although you will not find it on any best seller list, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time. Every year, it easily maintains its position as the top seller in the world. It is absent from best seller lists because its annual sales figures are so high that they dwarf the sale of every other book, year after year. It sells best because it is living, powerful and of universal appeal. All of Western civilisation hangs on its principles. It has enriched language with hundreds of expressions including ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’; ‘thorn in the flesh’; ‘feet of clay’; ‘two-edged sword’; the land of milk and honey; ‘faith will move mountains’; and ‘at the eleventh hour.’ Some of history’s most influential authors looked to it for inspiration. This study, preceded by a quiz, can be used to test the reader’s knowledge of this first book of the Bible; as material for group Bible study; or simply for gathering inspiration.
Prayer before studying Torah:
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam, Asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotaV v’tzivanu la’asok b’divrei Torah.
We bless you, Adonai our God, Sovereign King, Who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to engage with the words of the Torah. Amen.
1. What was there before Creation?
2. What was Eden?
3. Name the three sons of Adam and Eve
4. Why was Abel’s offering accepted while Cain’s was rejected?
5. Based on Genesis 5:24, describe the two ways to get into heaven.
6. Why, in Genesis 6:11-13, did God decide to destroy the earth and its inhabitants?
7. How many of each kind of animal was Noah told to preserve in the Ark? (Gen 7:1-3)
8. From which of Adam’s sons was Enoch (of translation fame) descended?
9. How old was Noah at the time of the flood (Gen7:6)?
10. How long did the waters flood the earth?
11. Why did God prohibit the shedding of one man’s blood by another?
12. Who was Noah’s youngest son?
13. Give a chronological account of God’s first creation
14. What do ‘Adam,’ ‘Eve’ and ‘Cain’ mean?
15. Name the kind of wood Noah was directed to use in building the ark; the dimensions of the ark; its number of levels; and the period of time taken to build it.
16. What parallels can you find between God’s post-diluvian pact with Noah and His pact with people who follow Jesus Christ as Messiah?
The book of Genesis
The book of Genesis constitutes the first part of the Judaeo-Christian Bible known as the Torah or Pentateuch. Bereshit is the Hebrew transliteration for “In the beginning,” with which words the Bible starts. Genesis describes the creation of the world, the growth of its human population and the calling out of a special people who were eventually to become a light to the world.
Bereshit (‘In the Beginning’): The first word in the Bible, in Genesis chapter 1, is Bereshit (translated “in the beginning” and is followed by information about events that predate all history, presented with a credibility that transcends any myth. It cannot be regarded as science, since it deals with the beginning, which no science has ever attempted to describe. Rather, it is an inspired revelation from the Creator of the universe; and the highest and best intelligence of all ages has received and accepted it. According to preacher, teacher and author James Burton Coffman, it presents the only believable account of creation ever to receive the serious attention of thoughtful minds. “In the beginning” says nothing of when the beginning occurs, declaring only that there was indeed a beginning, and that the source of that beginning was the will and power of the eternal God.
Life in Paradise: The second chapter of Genesis reviews certain phases of creation, and presents humanity as a new focus of interest. The fact that Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of (Hebrew Gan) Eden highlights the primeval innocence before the entrance of sin into Paradise, as well as the kind of climate in which the garden was situated. In Gan Eden, God used the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as a test of Adam and Eve’s fidelity. Unfortunately for mankind, they failed the test. The disaster arose not from the fruit of the forbidden tree but from their eating of it in violation of God’s commandment.
Paradise Lost: Anything forbidden has always held a fascination for human beings, and in tempting Adam and Eve, the evil one went straight to the point of humanity’s greatest vulnerability. Genesis 3 details the temptation and fall of humanity, resulting in their expulsion from Eden; the death penalty they incurred; and the judgment on both the serpent and its instigator, our adversary ha-satan.
Fratricide: eating of the forbidden tree might have seemed a minor act to Adam and Eve, but with the death of Abel, the true nature of their sin became visible in its horrific consequences. As devastating as that murder must have been, it was but the beginning of that great avalanche of evil on earth that would soon engulf all humanity in the Great Deluge.
Bridge: Genesis 5 covers the time from Adam to Noah, between the Creation and the Flood – a period of 1,656 years. Its main purpose is to trace the line of people who continued to honour God in those generations leading up to the Deluge.
Lifting of Holy Spirit: in Genesis 6, the progressive worsening of wickedness results in God’s Spirit withdrawing from earth, and the pronouncement of judgment on everyone living except Noah. One of the most significant chapters in the Bible, it is referenced numerous times in the New Testament, as it is scheduled to be repeated at the end of the age.
Cruise by ark: in Genesis 7, Noah enters the ark he has spent a century building. This chapter highlights the discriminatory use of various names for God. Thus, Yahweh (covenant name) commands Noah to enter the ark, but Noah did as Elohim (name signifying the eternal power and authority of God) commanded him.
The Flood: Genesis 8 gives an account of the period of the ark’s floatation; its coming to rest; the disembarkation; Noah’s burnt offering; and God’s response. The Flood is a type and symbol of that ultimate sentence of death yet to be executed for man’s rebellion against the Creator.
The fall of Noah and the sign of the rainbow: as if to dispel any idea of even the righteous Noah being the Saviour of the world, in Genesis 9, the great hero of the Flood is presented as a weak and sinful man. Nevertheless, the Adamic blessing is conveyed to Noah, investing him with the status of a second father of humanity. This chapter also details the Rainbow Covenant into which God entered not only with Noah but with the whole earth. Indeed, the rainbow adorns the throne of God Himself (Revelation 4:4), and encircles the head of the Rainbow Angel, who holds open the redemptive Word of God for mankind. (Revelation 10:1)
One God, one race: the fundamental teaching of Genesis 10 is that all the nations of the earth are descended from a single ancestor, and are therefore of “one blood.”
The Rainbow Covenant
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, for all future generations. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
Genesis 9: 12-16, NIV.
Lessons from Genesis
Patience can be defined as a willingness to exchange one’s personal timetable for the exact pace ordained by God; as well as an inner peace that comes from accepting that leading. The One Who has all the time in the world cannot be hurried. Noah did everything just as God commanded him. (Genesis 6:22 and 7:5). God gave explicit instructions for building a gigantic ark, to be constructed by a single family using unsophisticated tools. The task took over 100 years, yet Noah unwaveringly followed God’s instructions, abiding by God’s schedule, never forgetting that the finished product would be a boat built God’s way and according to God’s timetable. Thus, he is a good example of good time stewardship. To do anything great is a matter of waking each morning and learning to bless the timetables of God.
Answers to questions
1. Darkness, water, and God’s hovering spirit
2. A garden planted by God for Adam’s habitation, to the east
3. Cain, Abel and Seth
4. Abel’s offering came from the firstborn of his flock. He put God first. Cain’s offering was ‘some of the fruits,’ i.e., nothing special. God had cursed the earth, therefore Cain’s offering was from cursed earth, while Abel’s was from blood sacrifice, God’s preferred way to cover sin.
5. (I) Dying in faith; and (ii) walking with God so closely that dying becomes unnecessary
6. Because of the violence and corruption of the people in it.
7. Seven (pairs) of each kind of bird and clean animal, and two of each kind of unclean animal.
8. Seth, the youngest
9. 600 years old
10. 150 days (roughly 5 months)
11. To instill respect for the image of God in mankind, and because the life is in the blood.
13. Day 1 – light (day) vs. darkness; Day 2 – sky (inter-water expanse); Day 3 – Land (vs. sea), with vegetation; Day 4 – sun, moon and stars; Day 5 – creatures of the sea and air; Day 6 – phyla, species, reproduction. Man
14. Adam = man, Cain = living and Seth = acquired/brought forth.
15. Cypress. 450 x 75 x 45 ft. 3 levels. Over 100 years.
16. The rainbow is equivalent to the Cross: a sign of God’s everlasting covenant never to abandon us.