Authorship of Genesis
The authorship of Genesis is bound up with the greater authorship of the Pentateuch as a whole (see “Authorship of the Pentateuch”). Additionally, a number of points can be made for the Mosaic authorship of Genesis in particular.
Moses is the most reasonable person from this time to have written this book. The rest of the Jews were uneducated slaves, but he was educated in Egypt (Acts 7:22). Not only could Moses read and write, but he was the only one with access to family records (Gen. 5:1; 10:1; 25:19), which were probably brought to Egypt by Jacob (Gen. 46). Waltke writes, “Moses’ superb training, exceptional spiritual gifts and divine call uniquely qualified him to compose the essential content and shape of Genesis and of the Pentateuch.”
Later authors claim that Moses was the author of Genesis (Deut. 1:8; 2 Kings 13:23; 1 Chron. 1). While Jesus never directly states that Moses wrote Genesis, he did claim that Moses wrote the Torah in general (Lk. 16:29; 24:27). Moreover, circumcision arises from Genesis (Gen. 17:12), and this is attributed to Mosaic authorship, which Jesus included in “the Law of Moses” (Jn. 7:23; cf. Acts 15:1).
Exodus clearly builds upon an earlier work. Archer writes, “The fact that Ex. 1:1 begins with the word and (Hebrew) suggests that it was intended to follow some preceding book.” Moreover, Exodus 1:1 uses the same phrase as Genesis 46:8 (“Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt…”). The author was aware that he was building upon an earlier work: Genesis.
Other early OT books allude to the creation account of Genesis. Waltke notes that Psalm 8 (1,000 BC) and Psalm 104 (1,350 BC) both allude to the creation account in Genesis, which would date the book very early. Moreover, the Ten Commandments build off of the creation account in Genesis: Why shouldn’t I commit adultery? Because God created marriage (Gen. 2:24). Why shouldn’t I worship other gods? Because there are no other gods. Why should I take Sabbath? Because God created in seven days. This interlocking of the Hebrew Scriptures presupposes an early date for these books.
The repeated expression “toledot” is used throughout the book of Genesis. This Hebrew word is translated as “generations, offspring, or inheritance,” and it is repeated throughout the book of Genesis, which further implies the unity of authorship (Gen. 2:4; 5:1; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 36:1).
Regarding the canonicity of Genesis, Grisanti writes, “No extant Christian or Jewish source has ever raised questions about the legitimacy of the canonicity of Genesis.”
Major themes in Genesis
Genesis is a book about beginnings. It explains the beginning of the universe, humanity, sin, Satan, and God’s plan through the nation of Israel.
Genesis introduces us to the eternal God. He is the unique Creator of the universe. Unlike ancient Near Eastern myths, God is supreme and unique—without equals. There is no cosmic battle at creation. He creates by fiat.
Genesis gives us insight into the human condition. It explains what it means to be made in the image of God. It also explains that without God we are cursed to find meaning, significance, and community in fallen circumstances.
Genesis shows us that God judges and saves. Noah and his seven family members serve as a paradigm or archetype for God’s wrath and mercy.
Genesis shows us the beginning of God’s plan to rescue humanity. After humanity rises up against God, he scatters them (Gen. 11), but seeks to gather them through Abraham (Gen. 12). This is where we are introduced to the notion of an unconditional covenant (Gen. 12, 15, 18, 22).
Genesis introduces us to the seed. We get glimpses in his promise to send a man—born of a woman—to destroy the Serpent (Gen. 3:15; cf. Gal. 4:4; 1 Jn. 3:8). The Hebrew term toledoth (“These are the descendants of”) appears throughout the text of Genesis. Throughout the book, the reader is encouraged to follow how God is going to redeem humanity through “the seed of the woman.” Who is this seed? Is it Abel? No, he dies a martyr’s death. Is it Seth? Is it Abraham? Joseph? As we continue through the narrative, we discover that God will send a king through the line of Judah. As we reach the NT, we discover the fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
Genesis shows us that God works through sinful people. Specifically, he works through lying, impulsive, greedy, and evil people. He works through dysfunctional families, broken homes, and people without hope. As you read through Genesis, note how God enters into broken lives to bless people who trust him and bring about his purposes and plan.
Begin the series by doing some reading on the integration between science and Scripture. It’s difficult to press through the book of Genesis without addressing the apologetic and interpretive questions regarding Genesis.
Week 1: Read Evidence Unseen (2015) chapters 3 (“The Origin of the Universe”) and chapter 4 (“The Organization of the Universe”). Watch William Lane Craig’s two infographic videos called “The Kalam Cosmological Argument” and “The Fine-Tuning of the Universe.”
Week 2: (The Origin of Life). Read the paper this night and explain the apologetic for design on the molecular level.
Week 3: (Evolution and Creation). Read the paper on this and explain the evidence for and against evolution.
Week 4: (God of the Gaps). Read the paper on this and discuss.
We suggest covering several chapters of Genesis per week. However, Genesis 1-11 is especially important, so you might consider just doing one chapter a week through this section. Here is our suggested teaching series for Genesis:
Genesis 1: Creation
Genesis 2: Humanity
Genesis 3: The Fall
Genesis 4: Cain and Abel
Genesis 5-8: The Flood Consider reading this article on the Flood for this week: “The Genesis Flood: Global or Local?”
Genesis 9-11: Humanity spreads
Genesis 12-13: Abraham
Genesis 14: Melchizedek and Christ Consider reading this for this week.
Genesis 15-17: Abraham’s covenants
Genesis 18-19: Sodom and Gomorrah
Genesis 20-22: Abraham sacrifices Isaac Consider reading this for this week.
Genesis 23-27: Esau. (Genesis 23:1 to 25:18 can be summarized with the notes given below in the commentary. Also chapter 26 can be summarized too. This chapter is really about Isaac digging and fighting over water wells)
Genesis 27-31: Jacob: Part 1
Genesis 31-36: Jacob: Part 2
Genesis 37-39: Joseph: Part 1
Genesis 40-50: Joseph: Part 2
Commentary on Genesis
Genesis 1:1-2:3 (Creation of the Cosmos)
Theologians have taken different interpretations of Genesis 1 and 2. For a detailed explanation of the various views, see our earlier article, “Different Views of Genesis 1-2.”
(1:1) “In the beginning, God…” Different from, “In the beginning, mindless matter…” Or “In the beginning, molecules and motion…”
This passage shows that God existed before the universe and distinct from the universe. If this passage is true, then pantheism, polytheism, and all idolatry are false. Isaiah writes that God created the universe “all alone” (Isa. 44:24).
God is the focus of the Bible’s opening chapter. Kidner writes, “This word dominates the whole chapter and catches the eye at every point of the page: it is used some thirty-five times in as many verses of the story.” While the book of Genesis is a book of beginnings for the universe, earth, life, humanity, and Israel, God conspicuously has no beginning. He already existed prior to creation.
Jeremiah refers to the creation account to denounce idolatry: “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens” (Jer. 10:11). Likewise, the psalmist writes, “all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens” (Ps. 96:5).
Day 1: light and darkness
(1:2) Here we zoom in from the general statement about the creation of the universe to just the Planet Earth. Billions of years must have transpired during this time. While an entire universe existed, the author is only concerned with the Planet Earth.
The earth is “formless and void” (Hebrew tohu wabohu). We see this identical expression later, when Isaiah writes, “Thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited” (Isa. 45:18). During the Exile from Israel, Jeremiah writes, “I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light” (Jer. 4:23).
The term “Spirit” (Hebrew ruah) can also be translated as “wind.” For instance, after the Flood, God sends a “wind” (ruah) to dry the land. Yet Waltke notes, “The rûaḥ is modified by ʾelōhîm, which in the rest of this chapter always means ‘God,’ not ‘mighty.’ Thus, Spirit better fits the context.” Moreover, the Spirit of God is found “hovering” over the surface, which doesn’t fit with a wind. Sailhammer notes, “The image of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters is similar to the depiction of God in Deuteronomy 32:11 as an eagle ‘hovering’ (yeraḥēp̱) over the nest of its young, protecting and preparing their nest.”
Later God brings water from the “deep” (Hebrew tehôm) to flood the Earth (Gen. 7:11).
(1:4) A repeated theme through the book of Genesis is the fact that God “sees” what is happening on Earth. Here he sees that creation is “good.” Later in Genesis 6, we see that creation had depreciated to a depraved state. In Genesis 3, Eve “saw” that the forbidden fruit was “good,” which is a clear contrast to what God sees.
Regarding the repetition of God “separating” the creation into light and dark, day and night, land and water, Derek Kidner writes, “This way lies cosmos… and the other way chaos.”
(1:5) Why does God name his creation? Gordon Wenham writes, “In the OT, to name something is to assert sovereignty over it; cf. 2:20; 2 Kgs 23:34; 24:17.”
Day 2: Separating waters (the “expanse”)
(1:7-8) The expanse refers to the waters in the sky (rain clouds) and the waters of the earth (oceans, rivers, lakes, etc.).
Day 3: Land and seed-bearing plant life
Sailhammer wonders if there is a connection here with the later Flood (Gen. 6) and the parting of the Red Sea (Ex. 14). God is sovereign over the land and the water.
Wenham notes, “Unlike the works of the first two days, the work of the third involved no new creation, but more an organization of existing material.”
Day 4: Sun and moon (separating day and night)
Moses devotes a lot of ink to describing the creation of the sun, moon, and stars. Wenham writes, “The most obvious reason for the detail in the fourth day’s description is the importance of the astral bodies in ancient Near Eastern thought. In neighboring cultures, the sun and the moon were some of the most important gods in the pantheon, and the stars were often credited with controlling human destiny (cf. Hasel, AUSS 10  12–15). So there is probably a polemic thrust behind Genesis’ treatment of the theme.”
(1:16) Wenham writes, “The sun and moon are not given their usual Hebrew names שׁמשׁ and ירח here, which might suggest an identification with Shamash the sun god or Yarih the moon god. Instead they are simply called ‘the larger’ and ‘the smaller light.’”
(1:17-19) Here is further separation. God creates order in the chaos.
Day 5: Sea life and sky life
(1:20) The word here for “birds” is pretty broad, even including insects. Kidner writes, “Fowl (av, rv) or birds (rsv) are literally ‘flying things’, and can include insects (cf. Deut. 14:19, 20).” Wenham writes, “This comprehensive term is used here of water creatures, in v 24 of land animals, in 9:10 of birds and land animals, and 9:16 of man and animals; in other words, of all animate creation in which there is “the breath of life” (נפשׁ חיה; 1:30).”
(1:21) Kidner writes, “The sea monsters (tannînîm) (rv, rsv; whales, av) are specially noteworthy, since to the Canaanites this was an ominous word, standing for the powers of chaos confronting Baal in the beginning.” Waltke writes, “Hebrew poets adopt pagan imagery, but not pagan theology. The primeval monsters, which symbolize rebellion in ancient Near Eastern myths, are here depicted as merely a few of God’s many creatures, depending upon and ultimately serving God.” This further supports the theory that Moses was writing an apologetic against the ancient Near Eastern deities.
(1:22-23) Note that immediately after God creates life that he blesses life.
Day 6: Animals and humans
(1:24-25) In verses 11-12, Moses states that the Earth brought forth the plant life. In this passage, we see similar language (“Let the earth bring forth living creatures” v.24), but it teaches that God was the one who ultimately created them (“God made the beasts of the earth” v.25).
(1:26) We see impersonal language for the other life forms (“Let there be…”), but with humans we see personal language (“Let Us make…”).
What does it mean to be made in God’s image? See our earlier article “Humans Bear the Image of God.”
God gave this same command to Noah after the Flood (Gen. 9:1), and patriarchs remind us of this command as well (17:2, 20: 28:3; 35:11; 48:4; 47:27).
(1:29-30) Wenham writes, “God’s provision of food for newly created man stands in sharp contrast to Mesopotamian views which held that man was created to supply the gods with food.”
(1:31) Repeatedly throughout this chapter, God called his creation good. Here he concludes by calling it “very good.”
Day 7: God’s rest
Note that there is a conspicuous absence of “evening and morning” language in this final day.
(2:1) The creation account of Genesis 1 refers to “the heavens and the earth,” not just the Garden of Eden. This is an inclusio that bookends Genesis 1:1.
How firm should we be in our interpretation of Genesis 1?
What are some of the boundaries we should firmly hold to? What are some areas of disagreement that we might have that aren’t as important?
What does this chapter of Scripture tell us about God? What does it tell us about his method of creation?
Genesis 2:4ff (Creation of humanity)
(2:4) There is question as to whether the expression “this is the account (toledot)” is a conclusion or introduction. Kidner understands it as an introduction, while P.J. Wiseman holds it as a conclusion. Waltke writes, “The account pertains to what the cosmos has generated, not the generation of the cosmos.”
(2:5-6) It seems that these verses correspond to the Earth being “formless and void” in Genesis 1:2. This account zooms in on the importance of humanity. I can’t find a good explanation for the “mist” mentioned here, and why there is no rain. A huge gap must occur between the plant life and creation of humans in verse 7.
Creation of Adam
(2:7) While Moses explains that Adam was created from the dust, he goes on to describe the grandeur of humans throughout the rest of the chapter. After the Fall, humans return to the dust (Gen. 3:19; cf. Job 10:8-9). Wenham writes, “‘Shaping’ [‘formed’] is an artistic, inventive activity that requires skill and planning (cf. Isa 44:9–10).” We are God’s masterpiece and artwork.
Creation of Eden
(2:8) Waltke writes, “The likely etymology of the word is a Hebrew term meaning pleasure, delight, or lush fecundity.”
He doesn’t call it the Garden of Eden, but the Garden in Eden. Eden seems like the larger territory, and the Garden was a smaller subsection in it.
The LXX translates the “garden” as paradeisos (“parkland”), which is where we get our modern term “paradise.”
(2:9) The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the Garden—presumably next to each other (cf. Gen. 3:3). What a vivid picture of choosing life or death!
(2:10) Moses gives a lot of details about these rivers, treating them as historical. Waltke writes, “The geographic depictions express the historical basis of the account.” Wenham notes that no one is able to identify the Pishon and the Gihon.
Later, these rivers (specifically the Euphrates) serve as the boundaries for Israel (Gen. 15:18).
(2:12) Manna is later described as being similar to bdellium (Num. 11:7), which “is a yellowish aromatic resin.”
The onyx stone was later used in the Temple (Ex. 25:7; 1 Chr. 29:2) and the priests’ vestments (Ex. 28:9, 20). Kidner writes, “There is reason to identify it with lapis lazuli, but not with certainty.”
Regarding the gold, Wenham writes, “[‘Gold’] was widely used in covering the sacred furniture, such as the ark, altar of incense, lampstand, in the holiest parts of the tabernacle. Paradise in Eden and the later tabernacle share a common symbolism suggestive of the presence of God.”
(2:13) Scholars disagree over where to locate “Cush.” It could refer to Ethiopia (Isa. 20:3, 5; Jer. 46:9). However, in Genesis 10:8, “it means the Cassites, the successors to the old Babylonian empire who were at home in the hills of western Iran.” This would identify the river with one in Mesopotamia. Kidner believes there were two areas called Cush, and holds that this is the Cassites.
Wenham writes that “most ancient and modern commentators… identify this Gihon with the Nile.”
Where was Eden? Wenham writes, “In Eden a great river rises, and after leaving the garden, splits up into four rivers including the Tigris and Euphrates. On this basis alone we should conclude that Eden lies somewhere in Armenia near the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates.” He adds, “Fewest problems are posed by the view of Haupt (see Driver, 58) and Speiser that the garden was located near the head of the Persian Gulf. Here three of the rivers converge, and if the fourth is an Arabian stream or the Persian Gulf itself, all four meet… The greatest difficulty with this view is that, according to Genesis, the rivers as they flow from Eden split into four, whereas on Speiser’s location they flow toward Eden to converge there (cf. Driver, 39). Speiser does not face this problem, but is this perhaps yet another example of the way in which Genesis takes up old mythological motifs, radically transforming them to suit its purposes? Maybe the reversed flow of the rivers suggests that paradise is beyond man’s present experience. Their names affirm that there was a garden there, but maybe the insoluble geography is a way of saying that it is now inaccessible to, even unlocatable by, later man (cf. 3:24).”
Kidner agrees, “The area, then, may be a relatively compact one, above the Persian Gulf into which the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, among others, make their way. This gulf, whose tidal flow sets up ‘a natural irrigation and drainage’ of the estuary region, according to P. Buringh, fitting it for ‘vegetation’ and ‘fruit trees’ even in primitive times, could be the ‘river’ of verse 10—for an ancient name for the Gulf was nar marratum, bitter river—and the ‘four heads’ would then be the four mouths from which the respective rivers are traced here, explorer fashion, upstream.”
Humans in the Garden
For application and implications of this section, see our earlier article “Humans Bear the Image of God.”
(2:15) Wenham sees language of the Tabernacle and Temple here. It’s the same word used to “keep” the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 17:9), to “keep” the Law (Lev. 18:5), and to “keep charge” or guard the Tabernacle from intruders (Num. 1:53). In this context, they should have guarded the Garden from the Serpent. Waltke writes, “As priest and guardians of the garden, Adam and Eve should have driven out the serpent; instead it drives them out.”
There’s further difference between the biblical account and the Pagan account here. Wenham writes, “Both Enuma elish and the Atrahasis epic also speak of man being created to work to relieve the gods (Enuma elish, 6:33–36; A Codex Alexandrinus, 1.190–97). But the biblical narrative gives no hint that the creator is shuffling off his load onto man: work is intrinsic to human life.”
Sailhammer writes, “A more suitable translation of the Hebrew leʿoḇḏāh ûlešomrāh would be ‘to worship and to obey.’” He later writes, “The man and the woman were created ‘for worship’ (leʿobḏāh, 2:15).” He bases this translation (which I cannot find in any English translation or commentary) on the fact that the Hebrew word for Garden is masculine, but the pronoun “it” is feminine in Hebrew. He also states that the punishment of the Fall mirrors this blessing in the Garden—namely to work the ground.
If Sailhammer contends that “worship” here refers to our service for God, then I would agree with him. Yet I suspect he believes that worship here refers to an old covenant worship service (singing?). This seems utterly bizarre. I can’t see how the pronoun changes the meaning of the Hebrew terms “to cultivate” and “to keep.” I also can’t see how Sailhammer missed Genesis 3:18-19 where God tells Adam that the ground is “cursed” with “thorns and thistles.” It isn’t the action of labor that is the punishment, but our relationship to it that is the punishment.
The Garden and the Temple both contain similar language, because both reflect what it is like to come into God’s presence. But we shouldn’t import the later Temple worship retrospectively into the Garden. Instead, the Garden shows God’s ideal, and the later Temple was a way of trying to get back into God’s presence. As believers in the new covenant, we have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us as we worship the Lord in our lifestyle and ministry (Rom. 12:1-2). This later definition of worship (i.e. Rom. 12:1-2) fits better with what we see in Genesis 2:15.
This passage shows that work is not a curse in and of itself.
(2:16-17) God knows what is good and evil. In the next verse, he demonstrates this to Adam. He says, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Even after seeing God’s good provision in his wife, he still chose to carve out his own moral path.
(2:20) Why doesn’t God just give Eve to him first? Why go through all the trouble of bringing the animals to him? Waltke writes, “Adam must realize that it is not good to be alone. Rather than squandering his most precious gift on one who is unappreciative, God waits until Adam is prepared to appreciate the gift of woman.”
(2:21) I wonder if putting Adam to sleep shows that he had no role in creating this provision. Like Abraham sleeping when he gets the covenant (Gen. 15:12) or Jacob sleeping when he heard about the covenant (Gen. 28:11-13), Adam sleeps when God provided and labored for him.
Matthew Henry noted that Eve wasn’t created out of Adam’s head (to be above him) or out of his feet (to be beneath him), but made from his rib (to be beside him).
(2:22) God is the father of the bride in this wedding ceremony, bringing Eve to Adam.
(2:23) This is written in meter. Adam speaks poetry the first time he sees Eve.
Does Adam naming Eve make him sovereign over her? Not at all. For one, biblical leadership is a stewardship given by God—not to be abused. Secondly, in this same passage, Adam names himself as well (“Man”).
(2:24) In marriage, we are to leave our parents. Wenham writes, “In modern Western societies where filial duties are often ignored, this may seem a minor point to make, but in traditional societies like Israel where honoring parents is the highest human obligation next to honoring God, this remark about forsaking them is very striking.” The NT authors pick up on this passage to ground their ethics about sex and marriage (Mt. 19:5; Mk. 10:7, 8; 1 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 5:31). Our ethics about sex are grounded in our creation and design by God.
(2:25) The first humans enjoyed a perfect relationship with God and each other. This sets up for the great and terrible Fall described in the following chapter.
Genesis 3 (The Fall)
They should have had the faith to throw the Serpent out of their Garden, but instead, the Serpent throws them out.
Note in this section how Satan argues with Eve. He uses half-truths, subtle questioning, and attacks the character of God. He only speaks twice, but he doesn’t need to speak that much. Once he implants his idea into the couple’s mind, they are taken with it. This passage shows the power of truth, and how we need to take our thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5).
As you read this chapter, ask yourself: “What can we learn about how Satan operates from this chapter? What can we learn about God’s grace from this chapter? What can we learn about human nature from this chapter?” (See also “Total Depravity”).
(3:1) This is no ordinary Serpent. He’s a theologian. Also… he talks! He was “more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” He is a created being, yet he’s the wisest of any other created being. Later in the book of Revelation, we discover that he is, without a doubt, Satan (Rev. 12:9; 20:2).
It’s rare that the author would explain who this Serpent is. Wenham writes, “Explicit characterization of actors in the story is rare in Hebrew narrative, so it seems likely that in noting the snake’s shrewdness the narrator is hinting that his remarks should be examined very carefully.”
Crafty (or “shrewd”) can be understood as a positive virtue of the wise (Prov. 12:16; 13:16) or a negative quality (Job 5:12; 15:5; Ex. 21:14; Josh. 9:4). Satan was given incredible wisdom and intelligence, but since he fell, this has turned into a perverted intellect.
In the ancient Near East, snakes “were symbolic of life, wisdom, and chaos.”
“Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” This is a skeptical and cynical attitude toward God’s incredible provision and the freedom he gave to humanity in Genesis 2:16 (“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely”).
Kidner notes, “The incredulous tone—‘So God has actually said …?’—is both disturbing and flattering: it smuggles in the assumption that God’s word is subject to our judgment.”
Notice that Satan refers to God as “God,” rather than the “Lord God.” Wenham writes, “God is just the remote creator, not Yahweh, Israel’s covenant partner.”
(3:2-3) Eve already starts to lose the battle in her first rebuttal: (1) She doesn’t mention “every” tree; (2) She refers to “God,” rather than the “Lord God;” using Satan’s definition of God—not the true definition; (3) she adds restrictions that God never added, in that she wasn’t even allowed to touch the tree. This is the first recording of faulty religious thinking: She has (1) a low view of God’s provision, (2) a low view of God, and (3) a hyper-restrictive view of God’s will.
(3:4) Why is the Serpent called “crafty”? We find out in this verse. He never calls on the woman to eat the fruit. Instead, he carefully persuades her that God is not good. Note that the first doctrinal denial in the Bible is judgment (“You surely will not die!”). Today, God’s judgment is still denied by many skeptics and so-called Christian teachers.
(3:5) The original sin—in fact, the root of all sin—was the desire to be “like God.” We’d rather be at the center of the universe, than accept a good world where God rules.
In reality, God had already made these two “like” himself. He made humans in his image and “likeness” (Gen. 1:26).
(3:6) Up until this point, God was the one who saw what was “good.” Here the woman is usurping this role, determining “the good” for herself.
(3:7) God had “made” an entire world and universe for humanity (1:7, 1:11, 1:26, 1:31; 2:18). Here, the humans “made” something for themselves: loincloths.
(3:8) Satan and Eve were discussing “God” (the Creator) in their conversation, but Moses reintroduces Him as the “Lord God” (the Covenant-Maker). God still wants to make a covenant with his people.
The sound of God walking has significance. What used to be a pleasant sound has become a terrifying sound. We’re already seeing that something is wrong in the narrative, because the first humans flee from the sound of God, rather than turning to him for forgiveness and love. Sailhammer writes, “In Deuteronomy 5:25 and 18:16 (cf. Exod 20:18–21), when the Lord came to Sinai, the people “heard the sound of the Lord our God” (lišmōʿ ʾeṯ-qôl yhwh ʾelōhênû). The response of Adam in the garden was much the same as that of Israel at the foot of Sinai. When the people heard the sound of the Lord at Sinai, they were afraid “and stayed at a distance and said …, “Do not have God speak to us or we will die’ ” (Exod 20:18–19). So also Adam and his wife fled at the first sound of the Lord in the garden.”
(3:10) We are naturally still afraid to come into God’s presence after we sin. We’d rather hide from him, than to come into his presence (Jn. 3:19-20). We can either approach God out of fear or out of faith (1 Jn. 4:18-19).
(3:11) Because of his order of questioning, we can assume that God views Adam as the most responsible, Eve as the second most responsible, and Satan as the third most responsible.
There is chiasm here as well. He speaks to Adam, Eve, then the Serpent. Then he curses the Serpent, Eve, and then Adam.
It’s interesting that God carefully questions the human, but not Satan. Why not? Waltke notes that he has no need to question Satan, because he has already rejected redemption.
(3:12) The woman was supposed to be God’s great provision for Adam. It was not good for him to be alone (2:18), so he was given Eve. Remember, when he first met Eve, he burst into poetry (2:23). Now, he is using God’s good provision against God in his argument, blaming her for the catastrophe in which he finds himself.
(3:13) Eve doesn’t accept responsibility. She blames the Serpent instead.
(3:14) Waltke writes, “This symbolizes abject humiliation (Ps. 44:25; 72:9) and total defeat (Isa. 25:12; Mic. 7:17) in the Bible.”
(3:15) Which seed are you? The seed of the woman or the seed of the Serpent?
Regarding this passage, Kidner writes, “‘To love and to cherish’ becomes ‘To desire and to dominate’.”
(3:17) Even though Eve played a role in Adam’s fall, God didn’t blame Eve. He held Adam responsible. Often a person will have a moral fall and blame others. While they might have given us the opportunity to sin, we are still held responsible for listening or following them.
(3:20) He names Eve. We already argued that Adam’s naming of the animals showed his sovereignty over them. Here we see the beginning of the curse. Just as God predicted that Adam would rule over his wife, we see this control start immediately in this verse.
There is also a message of hope here. God had predicted that Eve’s descendant would crush the Serpent. Here we see that Eve would produce offspring. But who would this figure be? It isn’t until Jesus that we see this prediction come into fruition.
(3:21) While the humans tried to cover their shame with loincloths, God gave them entire tunics. God must have killed an animal to give these skins. Is this the first hint of substitutionary atonement in the Bible? Francis Schaeffer wrote, “In Genesis 3:7 we learn that Adam and Eve found out that they were “naked” and so they “sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” That is, immediately after their rebellion as they came face to face with what had previously been their great joy and their great fulfillment—themselves in open communion with God—they were now afraid and tried to cover themselves. But in 3:21 God took this covering away and gave them a coat of skins: “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” Probably these were the first animals to die. This indicates, I believe, that man could not stand before God in his own covering. He needed a covering which could cover his shame. Furthermore, he needed a covering from God—a covering of a specific nature—a covering that required sacrifice and death, a covering not provided by man but by God. One would want to be careful not to press this into a dogma, but it is my opinion that this was the beginning of the Old Testament sacrificial system looking forward to the coming of the One who would crush Satan’s head. If this is so, God Himself provided this picture. In the same way, in the reality which this pictures, the Father in His love sent the Son.”
Kidner disagrees. He writes, “It is unduly subtle, and a distraction, to foresee the atonement here.”
(3:22) The first humans had become like God, but they were no longer with God.
What if Hitler could’ve lived for 800 years or 8,000 years? How much damage could he have caused with a longer life? How awful would it be if humans could live in a sinless state forever?
(3:24) Wenham writes, “In Israel pictures of cherubim adorned the walls of the tabernacle and temple (Exod 26:31; 1 Kgs 6:29), a pair of solid cherubim formed the throne of God on the ark (Exod 25:18–22), and a very large pair guarded the inner sanctuary of the temple (1 Kgs 6:23–28).”
Why were the cherubim stationed on the east? Wenham writes, “Again one is reminded of the orientation of the tabernacle and temple, which were entered from the east.”
Genesis 4 (Cain and Abel—the first murder)
(4:1) The Hebrew emphasizes Eve’s role here—not God’s. It’s as if she’s saying, “I gave birth… and God helped.” Hannah didn’t have this attitude in the birth of Samuel. She attributed the birth solely to God: “The Lord kills and makes alive” (1 Sam. 2:6). Similarly, Mary believed that God sovereignly acted for the birth of her son: “the Mighty One has done great things for me” (Lk. 1:49). Eve might have been focusing on her role over God’s role in the birth of Cain. When she gives birth to Seth, she has a different attitude: “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel” (Gen. 4:25).
Cain means to “acquire, get, possess.” This might be foreshadowing of what Cain will be like.
(4:2) Abel means a “vapor or breath.” This foreshadows his life on Earth.
(4:3-4) We’re not sure how much time has passed. Since these people lived for extremely long ages, it’s possible that centuries have passed. We simply do not know.
Regarding Cain’s offering, Waltke writes, “Cain first fails at the altar, and because he fails at the altar, he fails in the field. Because he fails in his theology, he will fail in his ethics.”
(4:5) Religious people often become bitter with God, when they aren’t blessed how they want to be. For Cain, this turned into a wild rage against the one who got the blessing: Cain.
(4:6) If though Cain is clearly in the wrong, God tries to counsel him. He asks questions to help Cain understand why he’s bitter. Of course, God knows the answers to these questions, but questions are helpful to the one being questioned.
(4:7) Cain doesn’t respond to this question. He punishes God in silence.
When we act on God’s truth, it very often changes our feeling-state (Jn. 13:17; Acts 20:35). Feelings should never control our actions, but they should serve as warning lights to us. If we’re feeling lousy, it’s an opportunity to figure out why. Larry Crabb describes feelings like an oil light on your car. When you see the light, you should get under the hood and fill the oil. Imagine if you solved the oil light by smashing the light! The light doesn’t solve the problem, rather it alerts you to the deeper problem.
(4:8) What do you think motivated Cain to do this?
(4:9) God didn’t need to ask this question. He already knew that Abel’s blood was crying out to him from the ground (v.10). This is similar to a mother asking her teenage son, “How was school today?” when she already received a phone call from the office that afternoon. God was giving Cain an opportunity to be honest and change his heart—even after committing murder.
(4:11-12) Why didn’t God just strike him dead on the spot? God can sovereignly choose to give us the punishment we deserve, or wait to see if we will later change our hearts toward him.
(4:13) God could have struck him dead, but he banished him instead. Interestingly, Cain felt like his punishment was “too great to bear.” This is often the attitude of the unrepentant. They are so self-focused that any punishment is too great. But what about his dead brother? What did Abel deserve? Murder?
(4:14) Instead of fearing God, he’s fearing the consequences.
(4:15) What was this sign or mark? We’re not sure, but it shows that God is still protective. All civilization comes from this man—this murderer. Humanity looks impressive, but because they’re divorced from God, they’re weak, distorted, and selfish.
(4:17) Massive amounts of time must have transpired in this time, because he founds a city.
(4:19) Bigamy is a rejection of God’s design (Gen. 2:24).
(4:20-22) Culture expands during this time to tent-making, tending flocks, music, and metallurgy.
(4:23-24) Here we see the descendants of Cain: brutal, intimidating his wives, and writing poems about revenge. While God gave protection to Cain, Lamech extends this to unlimited revenge, a chilling picture of humanity apart from God. Note that we don’t even see the young man or what he did to Lamech. It must be so insignificant that Moses doesn’t even record it.
(4:25-26) Here we see a different line that stands in contrast to the line of Cain. This line began to “call on the name of the Lord.”
We see the social effects of sin. Cain’ descendants were far worse than him.
God counsels Cain—even though he was such an evil and wicked man.
God hates fake and phony religious worship. Cain was trying to fake his dedication to God by bringing his second best.
Genesis 5 (Humans are doomed to die)
I’m not sure what importance to take from this chapter of Scripture. In his devotional For the Love of God, Carson notes that the repeated refrain, “And he died… And he died… And he died…” shows that humans are infected with mortality—doomed to die.
(5:24) It’s strange that all of these men died, but Enoch interrupts the process, because “God took him.”
The text connects us to the person of Noah (v.29).
Genesis 6-8 (The Flood)
For this section, read “The Genesis Flood: Global or Local?”
It must have been embarrassing to build a massive ark in the middle of an arid desert. During this time, Noah was preaching (2 Pet. 2:5). Were people ridiculing him during this time?
Noah may have wrestled with trusting God throughout this entire building project, until the first drops of rain started to patter on the roof of the Ark. Faith is this way for us. We can’t see the conclusion, but will we trust God during the interim?
God judged the people during the time of Noah, and he will return to judge humanity again (Mt. 24:37).
Noah wasn’t perfect. He later got drunk and went streaking when he got off the Ark! Yet God saw his faith.
I wonder how Noah felt seeing humanity wiped out like this. The text never tells us. This probably occurred before human governments and during anarchy when everyone was incredibly depraved.
Genesis 9 (After the Flood)
(9:1) God blesses Noah and the three sons—even though Noah would get drunk and Ham would dishonor his father. God blesses us even when he knows we will later sin, even in disgraceful ways.
He repeats the original command to Adam: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). Why does God keep repeating this to the first humans?
(9:2) Creation knows that humans are at the top of the food chain. Creation knows that humans are coming for them. Before, the animals freely came to Noah on the Ark (through a miraculous means!), but now, they are going to flee from him and his family into the wild.
(9:3) Were people vegetarians before this time? (see comments on Gen. 1:29-30)
(9:4) Why couldn’t the people eat animals with blood in it? The blood of an animal symbolized its life (i.e. when the blood drained, the animal ceased moving). The law for Israel made this even more explicit (Lev. 3:17; 7:26–27; 19:26; Deut. 12:16–24; 1 Sam. 14:32–34). Blood later becomes a symbol for atonement (Lev. 17:11).
(9:5) He repeats three times that he will require our lifeblood.
(9:6) The Boondock Saints quote this line of Scripture.
Does this passage support the notion of capital punishment? I think so, though this is definitely disputed and open for debate. See our earlier article, “Capital Punishment.”
(9:7-11) God makes a covenant with Noah never to flood the Earth again.
(9:18) The Canaanites later took original possession of the land of Israel, and they were massively depraved. It makes sense that Moses wants to show that they came from Ham—their depraved ancestor.
(9:19) The nations of the world came through these three men. Chapter 10 unpacks these nations in particular.
(9:20) A significant amount of time must have passed—at least long enough to plant crops and ferment wine. Why does Moses emphasize this right here? Why was this Noah’s first reaction after coming off of the Ark?
(9:28-29) Noah was 600 years old when the Flood happened. He lived another 350 years after the Flood.
Genesis 10 (All the nations of the world)
There isn’t much to say about this chapter. It tells us how Noah’s three sons went on to populate the world (cf. Gen. 9:19). It also gives us insight into the first recorded human tyrant: Nimrod. He ruled over Babel, which would later become Babylon. This is a type throughout the Bible for human empires in rebellion to God.
(10:8) We can translate Nimrod’s name “we shall rebel.” He was a “mighty one” (NASB) or “mighty warrior” (NIV). The same term is used of Goliath the “champion” (1 Sam. 9:1) and the “mighty men, who were of old” (Gen. 6:4). Waltke writes, “The Hebrew means ‘tyrant,’ linking Nimrod with the infamous tyrants of 6:4.”
Just because he was “before the Lord,” this doesn’t mean that God approved of him. This expression also comes up to refer to how the earth was “corrupt in the sight of God” (Gen. 6:11).
(10:10) Even though Nimrod was so powerful, his nation was Babel. In chapter 11, we see the futility of Babel.
Genesis 11 (The Tower of Babel)
This account depicts what human autonomy can accomplish if God is not in the picture.
(11:2) Shinar is the whole land of Mesopotamia according to Waltke.
God commanded them to “fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1). Instead, they “settled” in one location.
(11:3) They begin building and manufacturing bricks to create fortresses for themselves.
(11:4) They wanted to build a city and tower that would defy God. Waltke notes, “Cities in the ancient Near East were not designed to be lived in but were intended for religious and public purposes.”
In Mesopotamia, they didn’t build watch towers for defensive purposes (like they did in Canaan). Instead, this was a “ziggurat” (which comes from Akkadian, zaqāru “to build high”). When Jacob saw a vision of a ladder to heaven, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:17). Waltke writes, “The ziggurat culminated in a small shrine at the top, often painted with blue enamel to make it blend with the celestial home of the gods. Here the addition ‘to the heavens’ shows they are vying with God himself. The Lord, not humankind, dwells in the heavens.”
The people found their identity in a world without God by coming together in a massive population and massive building project.
(11:5) Is God against cities? No, in fact he will create his own city in Revelation 21-22. Here he is against human autonomy and pride that defies his rule.
(11:6) This sounds like hyperbole. Yet the point is true. If human were totally unified, they could accomplish so much! But the problem with progress is this: Just because we can do something doesn’t mean that we should do something. Without God, human blur the lines between these two things.
(11:7) God intervenes to disrupt their language, slowing down their unified progress. At the end of history, humans work their way back together to form a one-world government. This entire time humanity has been trying to get back to Babel, standing in defiance of God.
At Pentecost (Acts 2), God brought people together through the Cross. God isn’t against unification. Instead, he knows that unification without Christ will result in evil—not good. So after the Cross, God united human language to bring the different people’s together at Pentecost. Now, the Church can all have the same language to unite us, and now, under God’s leadership, “now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them” (Gen. 11:6).
(11:8) God’s intervention had its desired effect.
(11:9) Waltke writes, “The narrator parodies Akkadian bāḇ-ilu, meaning ‘gate of god,’ with its Hebrew phonological equivalent bāḇel, meaning ‘confusion.’ Babel likely refers to the city of Babylon (cf. 10:10, with the same Hebrew word). The mention of Shinar (10:10; 11:2) and Babel/Babylon connects this city and its tower with Nimrod’s antigod kingdom. Nimrod built cities that replicated the original Babel and its ziggurat.”
(11:10-27) The purpose of this genealogy is to connect Shem (the Semites) to Abraham (the Jews). It narrows God’s view of all people to the Semites, then narrows it further to one type of Semitic people: the Jews.
(11:28-29) What a strange family tree! Three brothers: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Nahor married his dead brother’s daughter (Milcah). They were also polytheists: “Joshua 24:2 shows that Terah and his forbears ‘served other gods’; his own name and those of Laban, Sarah and Milcah point towards the moon-god as perhaps the most prominent of these. Certainly Ur and Haran were centres of moon worship, which may suggest why the migration halted where it did (31). Terah’s motive in leaving Ur may have been no more than prudence (the Elamites destroyed the city c. 1950 bc); but Abram had already heard the call of God (Acts 7:2–4).”
(11:30-31) Families often stuck together in clans in the ancient Near East. It was a form of protection and community. Terah took Abram, Lot (Abram’s nephew), and Sarai (Abram’s wife). They wanted to get out of Ur of the Chaldeans and go to Canaan.
They made it as far as Haran. But this is a territory—not to be confused with Abram’s brother. Waltke writes, “Haran. Not to be confused with the personal name, Haran the place is located on the bank of the Balikh River, 550 miles (885 km) northwest of Ur and close to the present-day Syrian-Turkish border. Like Ur, it was an important center of moon worship.” This family was right in the center of Paganism when God found them.
(11:32) Terah dies. Abram is now the patriarch of the family—with his nephew Lot and his wife Sarai.
Timeline for Abraham’s life
Abram was 10 years older than Sarai (Gen. 17:17).
Abram was 75 went he got his calling in Haran (Gen. 12:4).
Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born (Gen. 16:16).
Abram was 99 years old when God gave him circumcision (Gen. 17:1).
God called Abraham a prophet (Gen. 20:7).
Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old when Isaac was born (Gen. 21:5).
Sarah died at 127 years old (Gen. 23:1).
Abraham died at the age of 175 (Gen. 25:7).
Genesis 12 (Abram’s covenant stated)
In the previous chapter, God scattered humanity across the globe. In this chapter, he initiates his plan to gather humanity through the Jewish people and the Messiah. The people of Babel wanted a name, but were confused. Now God wants to give a name through Abram.
When Abram (later renamed “Abraham”) was still in Haran, God called him to leave to become a blessing to the world. He must have felt uncomfortable making this decision.
(12:1) God called Abram to leave his:
“Country” He would need to leave his culture and everything he was familiar with.
“Relatives” Jesus taught that we need to place our love for God even before our loved ones (Mt. 10:37). This is shocking to us today, but much more so back then. Today we’ll leave our families at the call of our company or career. In those days, the family stayed together for life—often in the same household.
“Father’s house” Abram would find security and financial provision by staying back with his father. God called him out of this security.
God called Abram to leave all of this, but he didn’t even tell him where the land was! He promised to show him this land in the future. But first, he wanted to see if Abram was willing to go.
(12:2) God didn’t bless Abram as an end in itself. He blessed Abram so he could bless others in return.
(12:3) God promised to judge anyone who cursed Abram, and reward anyone who helped him. Abram would eventually bless all people on Earth. Of course, when Abram died, this hadn’t happened. Therefore, this refers to someone in Abram’s line: the future Messiah.
(12:4-5) What would you have done if you were Abram? He picked up his stuff and went. Lot, Sarai, and his clan went with him.
(12:6-7) The Canaanites won’t be driven from the land until the time of Joshua. God promised this land to Abraham and his descendants here.
(12:8) What does it mean to “call on the name of the LORD”? Seth did it too (Gen. 4:26). This must have been some sort of prayer, turning from the false deities to the true God.
(12:10) Later Abraham’s descendants would leave Egypt.
(12:11-13) What a coward! The text calls her “the woman.” This treats Sarai like an object—not a person.
Abram starts off so strong, but he falls into fear pretty quickly.
(12:14) How beautiful could she be? She was elderly at this point!
(12:15-16) Abram profited off of this lie.
(12:17-19) Did Pharaoh have sex with her? He “took her as his wife.”
Later in the Exodus, Pharaoh will plead with the Jewish people to leave Egypt because of God’s wrath.
Could you pick up and leave your comfort and security if God called you?
God didn’t tell Abram where he was going, and he didn’t tell him how he would bless all nations through him. We often want details on our calling, but God sometimes keeps it sort of vague.
Genesis 13 (Abram and Lot split up)
(13:1) They went on to the Negev.
(13:2) He may have had wealth from Pharaoh (see Gen. 12:15-16).
(13:3) God blocked him going to Egypt. Instead, he brings him back to where he was at first.
(13:5-7) There wasn’t enough territory for both Abram and Lot. Apparently, their men were bickering with each other.
(13:8-12) Lot goes east, and Abram goes west. Some commentators see a theme of “going east” as being “separation from God” in the book of Genesis. Adam and Eve went “east” and the people of Babel travelled “east” (Gen. 11:2).
Was Lot materialistic looking at Sodom and Gomorrah as though they were “the garden of the LORD”? He looked at this place like it was paradise—even though it was a place of extremely wicked people (v.13).
(13:13) Foreshadows chapter 19!
(13:14-18) God repeats his promise to Abram about the land.
Genesis 14 (The Mysterious Melchizedek)
(14:1-4) Amraphel, Arioch, Chedorlaomer, and Tidal went to battle against Bera, Birsha, Shinab, Shemeber, and Zoar. These five armies revolted against Chedorlaomer’s confederacy.
(14:2) Kidner writes, “The first two royal names are, suitably enough (perhaps by a twist), compounds of ‘evil’ and ‘wicked’.”
(14:5-7) Chedorlaomer won his battle with various cities and tribes.
(14:8-12) Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zoar rose up to challenge Chedorlaomer. They failed as well, getting stuck in tar pits (v.10). Chedorlaomer sacked Sodom and Gomorrah (v.11), and stole some people including Lot—Abram’s nephew (v.12).
(14:13-16) Abram took his allies (Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner) and battled Chedorlaomer with 318 men. They recaptured the booty, as well as the captured people, including Lot. It’s interesting that all of these kings couldn’t defeat Chedorlaomer, but Abram could. Of course, these “kings” were probably small “chieftains” or “clans.” He only needed 318 men to fight them and win.
(14:21-24) Sodom tried to reward Abram with the booty, but Abram refused to be rewarded for the battle.
Genesis 15 (Abram’s covenant signed)
(15:1) Why would Abram be afraid? Maybe he was getting older, and he was wondering if God would really come through.
(15:2-3) Abram complains that he has no heir. Abraham’s practice of having the adopted son Eliezer being “son of his house” (Gen. 15:2) was common practice (according to the Nuzi texts). It was also customary to set this aside in light of a biological son (as Abraham did, when Isaac was born).
(15:4-5) God reaffirms the fact that Abram will have an heir. Abram later interprets this to mean that he should sleep with his servant Hagar.
(15:6) Abram believed God’s promise, and God considered Abram righteous as a result. The NT authors pick up on this passage frequently, seeing a parallel with the Christian’s faith in Christ.
(15:7-11) Abram still struggled with doubt (“How may I know that I will possess it?”). His faith wasn’t perfect faith, but God still considered him righteous for the faith he did express. He made a covenant with Abram. Today, we sign contracts with ink, paper, and notaries present, but in the ancient Near East, they had a more gruesome method: They split animals in two, and both people would walk down the middle of the splayed animal parts. As their feet squished on the gory bodies beneath their feet, the two people would forge their contract. This method served as a grisly way of saying, “If one of us breaks this promise, then this is what will happen to the one who breaks it!” (cf. Jer. 34:18-20)
(15:12) Did God communicate all of this in Abram’s dream (v.12)?
(15:13-16) God predicts the book of Exodus and the book of Joshua here. The Jewish people were sent into slavery for 400 years, God punished Pharaoh for his cruelty, and he eventually led the people to conquer Canaan. God waited because “the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (v.16 NIV). Even with these wicked nations, God shows incredible patience.
(15:17-21) God never asked Abraham to walk through the line of animals, signing the contract (Gen. 15:7-12, 17). God did this all alone. In fact, Abraham was asleep when God approached him (v.12). Therefore, Abraham wasn’t a participant in the covenant; he was a recipient of it. This wasn’t a bilateral agreement; it was unilateral one (compare with Exodus 19:5). It was as if God was saying, “Abraham, I’m going to fulfill my end of the bargain, whether you’re obedient or not.” Moreover, God specifically stated that the land of Israel was included in this agreement (Gen. 15:18-20).
This passage shows God’s promise, prophecy, and patience. He made an unconditional promise to Abram. He made perfect prophecies about the future of the Exodus and the conquering of Canaan. And he has incredible patience in carrying out his plan.
This passage shows that God is looking for faith. Eventually Abram even messes up, sleeping with Hagar. He even asks for confirmation of God’s word by asking for a contract. He didn’t have perfect faith. Yet God still honored his decision to have faith.
Genesis 16 (Abram and works: the birth of Ishmael)
God promised to give Abram a son and an entire nation. Since he was so old, he began to wonder if this was really going to happen in a supernatural way. Since God told Abram that the son would come through him (Gen. 15:4), he started to devise a way for this to happen. He decided that he would marry another woman (Hagar) to impregnate. Paul contrasts Abraham’s faith in God’s promise in Genesis 15 with the works mentality of Genesis 16 (see Gal. 4:22ff).
(16:1) The problem was Sarai’s old age. How could God’s promise possibly come true? Sarai begins to look at her handmaiden Hagar—a young Egyptian woman. The gears begin to turn.
(16:2-5) The practice of using a surrogate for a barren woman was customary at the time. Waltke writes, “The practice of surrogate motherhood for an infertile wife through her maidservant seemed to be an acceptable social practice, as can be judged from Gen. 30:3–12, the Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1700 b.c.; ‘The Code of Hammurabi,’ ANET, 172, par. 146.) a Nuzi text (ca. 1500 b.c.), an Old Assyrian marriage contract (nineteenth century b.c.), and a Neo-Assyrian text. According to the Old Assyrian marriage contract, after the chief wife procured an infant for her husband, she could sell the surrogate mother whenever she pleased. According to the Code of Hammurabi, however, she could not sell her.” Was polygamy a good idea? Not at all! In fact, we see the disastrous consequences of this decision in the rest of the book, as well as the rest of the Bible (see “What about Polygamy?”).
Eventually after ten years of dialogue or debate, Abram gave in and slept with Hagar. Immediately, tension arose between Sarai and Hagar (v.4) and Sarai blamed the conflict on Abram!
(16:6) Instead of playing a hands on role, Abram backed away and allowed Sarai to mistreat Hagar.
(16:7-9) The angel of the Lord (a preincarnate Jesus?) mended the situation. He spoke to Hagar and sent her back to Sarai.
(16:10-12) God makes a similar promise to Hagar, as he did with Abram. Her descendants would be too difficult to count. Ishmael’s name means “God hears.” Ishmael’s sons would be persecuted, but they would also persecute others too. They would live to the east of the Jews.
(16:13) This makes me think that she is viewing God himself (Christ in a preincarnate form?).
(16:14-16) Ishmael was born when Abram was 86 years old.
Genesis 17 (God gives Abram and Sarai new names)
Thirteen years pass. Abram was probably thinking that God was okay with his maneuver to have a surrogate son through Hagar. Yet God appeared to him at the age of 99 years old to reaffirm his original covenant.
(17:1-4) God reaffirms (or reminds?) Abram of his covenant with him.
(17:5) What is the significance of this name change?
“Abram” comes from the Hebrew ab (“father”) and ram (“exalted” or “to be high”). This either refers to Abram’s father Terah, or to Abram himself.
“Abraham” comes from the Hebrew ab (“father”) and raham (“crowd” or “the multitude”). Instead of focusing backward on Abram or Terah, the new name looks forward to the people he’ll impact in the future.
(17:6) God predicts his national impact and the king coming from Israel.
(17:7-8) He emphasizes his adoption of the Jewish people and their real estate in the land of Canaan.
(17:9-14) He gives a “sign” of the covenant: circumcision. This would normally happen on the eighth day (v.12), which was the best medical day to perform this surgery. It also included any foreigners who adopted the Jewish faith (v.12). Failure to keep the covenant meant that individuals would be thrown out of the spiritual community (v.14).
(17:15-16) Sarai is renamed to Sarah. Waltke notes, “Both Sarai and Sarah are probably dialectical variants meaning ‘princess.’ The promise that she will bear kings supports this interpretation. Sarai, her birth-name, probably looks back on her noble descent, whereas Sarah, her covenantal name, looks ahead to her noble descendants.”
(17:17) Abraham laughed in his mind about this promise… how could this be possible?
(17:18-19) Abraham wanted God to conform with his own plan, rather than following God’s plan. God vetoes Abraham’s plan.
(17:20) God still blesses Ishmael, but works through Isaac instead. Ishmael’s descendants can be found in Genesis 25:12-16.
(17:21) God predicts the birth of Isaac within the next year.
(17:22-27) Abraham had all of his household (including Ishmael) circumcised. Ishmael was 13 when this happened, and Abraham was 99… This must’ve been delicate surgery!
Based on verse 5: Ben Stuart notes that Abram must have felt embarrassed to carry this name (“father of a multitude”) when he was 99 years old! Imagine going back to the clan and telling people to call you this. It must have been comedic or embarrassing. The significance rests in the fact that God gives us a new identity before any sort of change occurs. He saw Abraham as a father of the multitude first, and then he brought this about in the future.
Based on verse 18: Abraham wanted to keep his plan of works intact. Have you ever had a plan for your life and God interrupts it? The same thing is happening here. Abraham wanted God to conform to his own plan, but God is a stern negotiator!
Genesis 18 (Abraham’s bargain)
In this chapter, we see Abraham plead with God over the fate of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham speaks with all the savvy of a Middle Eastern man who is bargaining for a good deal. He sounds like an auctioneer, “Do I hear 50? Okay, 50! Do I hear 40…?”
But he isn’t manipulating God. He is basing his bargain on God’s righteous character (Gen. 18:25). Abraham is probably bargaining for his nephew, Lot.
(18:1-2) This seems to be God himself. He is called the LORD (Yahweh) by Moses. He is accompanied by two angels (v.2). Humans are never allowed to worship angels (Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; 22:9; Heb. 1:2-4, 13), but Abraham bows and worships God here.
(18:3-8) Abraham prepares some choice food for his guests.
(18:10) God again announced the birth of Isaac through Sarah (cf. Gen. 17:21).
(18:12-15) This promise is so naturalistically absurd that Abraham had also laughed at it (Gen. 17:17-18). She lied to cover-up this laugh (v.15), but God seems to have been patient with her.
(18:16-22) The two angels leave, but God stays behind to discuss his plan with Abraham. He declares judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (vv.21-22). The “outcry” probably refers to the cry of the poor or the cry of their blood (Gen. 4, Abel).
(18:23-33) Abraham must be concerned about his nephew Lot. He barters with God based on his character (v.25). He starts with 50 righteous (v.24), then 45 righteous (v.28), then 40 righteous (v.29), then 30 righteous (v.30), then 20 righteous (v.31), then finally 10 righteous (v.32). With each new offer, the reader will pick up on the fact that Abraham is not demanding anything, but merely asking based on God’s character.
This chapter shows God’s great love and mercy for people. He doesn’t desire judgment. The men of Sodom were “wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord” (Gen. 13:13). Earlier, we read, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave” (Gen. 18:20). Yet God will spare judgment on the small remnant of people who do not fit this category.
This chapter also shows the power of intercession. God was willing to listen Abraham’s requests. We must remember that Abraham wasn’t demanding anything, but asking for God’s mercy based on God’s own character.
Genesis 19 (The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah)
This passage is by far the least explicit denunciation of same-sex acts (SSA). Because the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is mixed with male rape (not consensual sex), this passage isn’t as clear as the other denunciations in the Bible about this subject. Yet a close reading will show that this passage is at the very least unfavorable to SSA. Genesis 19:1-13 states (NLT):
1 That evening the two angels came to the entrance of the city of Sodom. Lot was sitting there, and when he saw them, he stood up to meet them. Then he welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground.
2 “My lords,” he said, “come to my home to wash your feet, and be my guests for the night. You may then get up early in the morning and be on your way again.” “Oh no,” they replied. “We’ll just spend the night out here in the city square.”
3 But Lot insisted, so at last they went home with him. Lot prepared a feast for them, complete with fresh bread made without yeast, and they ate.
Lot “urged them strongly” not to stay in the public square at night. We might ask: What was Lot so afraid of? The reader doesn’t need to wonder very long when he reads the next verse.
4 But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house.
Notice that it was “the men of Sodom” who were wicked—not the women. The author of Genesis uses the word “people” elsewhere in his book, so he could have made this condemnation gender-neutral (Gen. 11:6; 14: 16, 21). This should tip us off to the fact that there is something immoral happening with the men in particular.
5 They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”
Again, the men of Sodom were looking for the men who were visiting Lot.
6 So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him.
7 ”Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing.”
Again, Lot was speaking with the brothers—not the sisters. Note that Lot calls their desire a “wicked thing.” Elsewhere, in the book of Genesis, we read, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked (Hebrew ra’a) exceedingly and sinners against the Lord” (Gen. 13:13). This is the same Hebrew word used here. Moreover, in the chapter before, God told Abraham, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave” (Gen. 18:20). Something immoral was occurring in Sodom, and chapter 19 gives us an up close and personal narrative to describe it.
8 Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection.”
9 “Stand back!” they shouted. “This fellow came to town as an outsider, and now he’s acting like our judge! We’ll treat you far worse than those other men!” And they lunged toward Lot to break down the door.
The men of Sodom were outraged that Lot would judge their same-sex acts. In effect, they were saying, “Who are you to judge us?” Notice that Lot called their desire to commit SSA wicked—not just their action. This was also stated before any violence had occurred.
10 But the two angels reached out, pulled Lot into the house, and bolted the door.
11 Then they blinded all the men, young and old, who were at the door of the house, so they gave up trying to get inside.
12 Meanwhile, the angels questioned Lot. “Do you have any other relatives here in the city?” they asked. “Get them out of this place—your sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone else.
13 For we are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it.”
Why would God enact corporate capital punishment on these cities? In Leviticus, we read that God brought judgment on Canaan because of the practices of the people (Lev. 18:25, 27). God held them responsible for these acts—even though they didn’t have his explicit moral law. The same principle happened in Sodom.
Now that we have offered an interpretation of this passage, let’s consider some of the popular objections held against our interpretation.
Objection #1: The Hebrew word for “knowing” (yada) does not refer to sexual intercourse.
Some interpreters argue that the Hebrew word for “knowing” (yada) doesn’t refer to sex. Instead, translated literally, it simply means “to know.” Therefore, when the men wanted “to know” Lot’s guests, nothing harmful was intended.
Of course, we agree that the literal translation of yada means “to know.” However, there are a number of reasons for inferring that this should be taken to mean sexual intercourse—not simply “making someone’s acquaintance.”
First, “yada” refers to sexual intercourse in many places throughout the book of Genesis. Consider several examples:
(Gen. 4:1) Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” (Adam “knew” his wife, and this resulted in childbirth)
(Gen. 4:17) Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. (Cain “knew” his wife, and this resulted in childbirth)
(Gen. 4:25) Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” (Again, Adam “knew” his wife again, and it resulted in a baby being born)
(Gen. 24:16) The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.
(Gen. 38:26) Judah recognized them, and said, “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not have relations with her again.
Second, the context supports our interpretation. In verse eight, we read that Lot’s daughters haven’t “known any man” (ESV). The same word (yada) is used. Obviously, the daughter’s knew their father (a man) in a personal sense, but not in a sexual sense.
Third, Judges 19 is a strikingly similar story, where “yada” refers to sex. In this passage, a man’s house was surrounded by the men of Gibeah, and in order to satiate this rape mob, the owner of the house pushed his concubine out of the door. Thus we read, “They raped her [yada] and abused her all night until morning” (Judg. 19:25). Therefore, in a strikingly similar story, the term yada refers to sex—not harmless greetings.
Fourth, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible rendered “yada” as sexual intercourse. The Septuagint translated yada with the Greek term sungenometha, which refers to sexual intercourse—not mere knowledge of another person. Moreover, other translations give render this as sexual intercourse:
(NASB) Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.
(NLT) Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!
(NIV) Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.
Objection #2: The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was inhospitality and materialism—not SSA.
Some interpreters point out that Ezekiel 16:49 states, “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.” Thus, these interpreters argue that if the sin of Sodom was simply SSA, then why does Ezekiel emphasize materialism instead?
We would retort by stating that Ezekiel is adding to the sin of Sodom, but he isn’t subtracting from it. Just because he adds the sin of materialism to the list of Sodom’s sins, this doesn’t subtract from the fact that they also performed SSA in Sodom. In fact, when we read the complete context, we see that there were more issues in Sodom and Gomorrah than just materialism. In verse 50, we read, “Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.” The word “abominations” (Hebrew tow’ebah) is the same term used in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 to denounce SSA. Moreover, early rabbinic commentators held that Sodom’s sin was sexual. Biblical scholar Thomas Schmidt writes, “The second century BC Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs labels the Sodomites ‘sexually promiscuous’ (Testimony of Benjamin, 9:1) and refers to ‘Sodom, which departed from the order of nature’ (Testament of Naphtali, 3:4). From the same time period, Jubilees specifies that the Sodomites were ‘polluting themselves and fornicating in their flesh’ (16:5, compare 20:56). Both Philo and Josephus plainly name same-sex relations as the characteristic view of Sodom.”
Objection #3: The sin of Sodom was the fact that these men wanted to have sex with angels—not men.
Jude 7 (cf. 2 Pet. 2:4-10) states that the sin of Sodom was that the men went after “strange flesh.” Some interpreters argue that this passage denounces humans trying to have sex with angels—not with men.
However, in response to this view, we should point out the obvious: the mob didn’t know that these men were angels! As is often the case with angelic visitation, the individuals do not know that they are speaking with an angel (cf. Judg. 13:16; Heb. 13:2). Of course, the “strange flesh” refers to men pursuing other men. The context is pornea (or “gross immorality”), so we know that the author has sexual immorality in mind. Moreover, just as the angels slept with human women (which was outside of their design), so too, the men of Sodom slept with other men (which was also outside of their design; Gen. 2:24).
Some interpreters argue that the sin of Sodom was rape—not consensual sex. This is a valid point. Yet, we should point out that the violence and rape do not begin in the narrative until Lot calls their desire “wicked” (Gen. 19:7). Their request to “know” the men was not necessarily a request to rape them. It isn’t until Lot calls this “wicked” that the men begin to force down the door (v.9).
Because of the ambiguity, we think it’s wise not to build a serious doctrine on this passage. The sin could be either SSA or gang rape, or both. Since other passages speak much more clearly about the subject of SSA, we shouldn’t appeal to this passage as important to the subject of the ethics of SSA.
(19:14) Lot’s sons-in-law didn’t believe in God’s judgment. Lot was so morally compromised that they couldn’t take him seriously.
(19:15-16) Why did Lot hesitate? He had invested fully into a materialistic lifestyle.
The angels needed to pull him along like a parent dragging her kids to the dentist.
(19:19-20) This shows Lot’s lack of faith. God went out of his way to rescue Lot (even pulling him by the hand as he hesitated), but he’s still not sure if he’ll survive God’s judgment. Compare his speech with Abraham’s in the previous chapter.
Kidner writes, “The warning to ‘remember Lot’s wife’ (Luke 17:32) gives us reason to see ourselves potentially in the lingering, quibbling Lot himself, wheedling a last concession as he is dragged to safety. Not even brimstone will make a pilgrim of him: he must have his little Sodom again if life is to be supportable.”
(19:24) God judged the cities. Did this really happen? Sodom and Gomorrah were referenced in extrabiblical accounts and their supposed geography is covered with pitch and intensely heated rock. These cities were said to be destroyed by fire, according to the Bible. Walter Kaiser writes,
One site, known as Bab edh-Dhra, contains the remains of a heavily fortified and settled community, dating from 3150 to 2200 BC. In 1965 and 1967, Paul Lapp began his excavation of the site of Bab edh-Dhra. These explorations were continued by Walter Rast and Thomas Schaub in 1973. The excavations revealed a huge fortification wall some twenty-three feet thick surrounding the city, with mud-brick houses and a Canaanite temple inside the walls. Outside the city was an enormous cemetery where thousands of people lay buried in several kinds of tombs. One tomb, for example, held some 250 individuals along with a wealth of goods. But what startled the excavators was the huge layers of ash reaching many feet in its depths. Moreover, so hot and intense had been the flames that destroyed this site that the bricks had turned red permanently from the intense heat.
They noted that the houses burned from the “top down,” rather than from the “bottom up.” Bryant Wood writes,
The evidence would suggest that this site of Bab edh-Dhra is the biblical city of Sodom… What they discovered was that the fire started on the roof of the building, then the roof burned through, collapsed into the interior, and then the fire spread inside the building. And this was the case in every single charnel house that they excavated. Now this is something quite difficult to explain naturally…. How do you explain the burning of these charnel houses in a cemetery located some distance from the town?
Regarding the largest of these charnel houses (A-22), Wood writes,
More intriguing than the mere fact that the charnel house was destroyed by fire, however, is the way in which it was burned—from the inside out…. It is now evident that the roof, engulfed in flames, collapsed into the building and caused the interior burning…. The destruction of the charnel houses at Bab edh-Dhra was brought about by the roofs first being set on fire, then collapsing, causing the interiors of the buildings to burn. This is entirely consistent with the Biblical description of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when “the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens” (Gn 19:24).
(19:26) Why was Lot’s wife turned into salt? Waltke notes, “In the biblical world, a site was strewn with salt to condemn it to perpetual barrenness and desolation (e.g., Deut. 29:23; Judg. 9:45; Ps. 107:34; Jer. 17:6).”
In speaking about the judgment of his Second Coming, Jesus said, “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; 29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife” (Lk. 17:28-32). Jesus believes that Lot’s wife was not just a furtive glance, but perhaps a longing to stay in the city.
Lot’s wife isn’t even given a name (unlike Abraham’s wife, Sarah). What was Lot’s wife like? We’re not supposed to remember her name, age, ethnicity… we’re supposed to remember her mistake. Even though angels came, her heart was still in the city.
Josephus claims to have seen Lot’s wife as a pillar of salt. He writes, “But Lot’s wife continually turning back to view the city as she went from it, and being too nicely inquisitive what would become of it, although God had forbidden her so to do, was changed into a pillar of salt; for I have seen it, and it remains at this day” (Josephus, Antiquities, 1.203). However, this is rather hard to believe that a salt monument could last for two thousand years.
(19:29) Abraham’s faith might have extended to his nephew Lot. This might explain why God was so merciful with him—despite his lack of faith.
God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah
God’s judgment is a function of his perfect character. Imagine a cruel dictator that never judges the corruption in his nation. We don’t admire such a leader, but despise him. God is “righteous” or “right.” As a consequence, he has the “right” to judge. Judgment doesn’t create problems, but solves them.
God is reluctant to judge people. Remember, Abraham “bargains” with God over judging the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
We don’t get to decide if God will judge. Are you prepared for judgment day? The day God judged them, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah woke up, thinking that it was business as usual. But in reality, judgment was hanging over their heads.
Origin of the Moabites and Ammonites
(19:30-38) The Moabites and Ammonites become antagonists with Israel in the following centuries. The came from this incestuous relationship between Lot and his two daughters. The daughters date-rape-drugged their father into sleeping with them, getting him so drunk that his inhibitions were lowered. Of course, Lot was not an innocent victim. If you get so drunk that you could sleep with your daughter, you are a guilty participant. Kidner writes, “His legacy, Moab and Ammon (37f.), was destined to provide the worst carnal seduction in the history of Israel (that of Baal-Peor, Num. 25) and the cruellest religious perversion (that of Molech, Lev. 18:21).”
Lot’s daughters watched Lot’s compromise his whole life. So they were compromised too. They learned this from their dad.
Summary of Lot’s life
Lot sounds like he was a true believer. The NT calls Lot “righteous” (2 Pet. 2:8). This could either mean that he was relatively righteous (compared to the men of Sodom), or more likely that he was righteous because of his meager faith. In short, Lot was a carnal believer. Sadly, like many Christians today, Lot had split devotions between God and materialism/hedonism.
Lot longed for the materialism/hedonism of Sodom. Originally, he moved “near Sodom” (Gen. 13:12 NIV). The next time we see him, he was “living in Sodom” (Gen. 14:12). Finally, in Genesis 19, he was “sitting in the gateway of the city” (Gen. 19:1); that is, he was one of the central leaders of Sodom!
Instead of having a “tent” like Abraham (Gen. 12:8), Lot had a “house” (Gen. 19:2). He was living in a settled lifestyle with the materialism and hedonism of Sodom. Lot thought that he had it all together.
He calls the men of Sodom his “brothers” (Gen. 19:7). He identified with these people, rather than with the people of God. Could you really call a rape mob your “brothers”?
Lot didn’t have any impact on the world around him. He was compromised by it, instead. Apparently, Lot “felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds” (2 Pet. 2:8). Yet, instead of taking a stand, he cowered in compromise.
Lot was unable to lead even his own family. He couldn’t even lead his wife and family. We don’t know what happened to his “sons” (Gen. 19:12). His wife looked back, longing for Sodom and was judged (Gen. 19:26).
The drunken incest of his daughters was only a further sign of his ungodly leadership in the home. Namely, where did Lot’s daughters learn such an idea? Lot taught them too well! They watched their morally compromised father for their entire lives, and when they saw an opportunity, they didn’t have a pang of their conscience to stop them.
Lot’s life ended in one of the worst ways possible. No money. No home. He lost his wife and sons. He entered into a creepy, incestuous family instead. The Moabites and Ammonites turn into the some of the worst enemies to the nation of Israel.
Are you taking your chances on what materialism and hedonism has to offer?
Do you have your own convictions?
Genesis 20 (Abraham’s cowardice is repeated with Abimelech)
Critical scholars believe that this chapter is an interpolation or a distorted repetition of chapter 12, where Abraham pawned Sarah off as his sister to the Pharaoh of Egypt. This is surely a mistake. It never dawns on these scholars that Abraham could have committed such a cowardly sin twice. For those of us in touch with the extent of our own sin nature, we can surely see that our besetting sins could reappear even years down the road. Cowardice and fear must have been something Abraham struggled with his entire life.
(20:1-2) Abraham lived in the land of the Philistines during this time (Gen. 21:34). Again, he presented Sarah as his sister, rather than his wife.
(20:3-7) Abimelech hadn’t slept with Sarah (v.4). God visited Abimelech in a dream to warn him of judgment for what he had done (v.3). God had mercy on Abimelech for this because of his ignorance (v.6), yet he warned Abimelech that he would bring judgment if he didn’t change course (v.7).
(20:8-10) Abimelech brought the issue to Abraham.
(20:11-13) Abraham justified his sin, because Sarah was his half-sister. Of course, this is gross (!), but the laws against incest hadn’t been given yet in Israel’s history (Lev. 18:9, 11; Deut. 27:22; Ezek. 22:11). At the same time, Abraham should’ve known better.
(20:14-16) Abimelech sends Abraham off with goods and land—most likely to smooth over what happened.
(20:17-18) Abraham prayed for Abimelech’s household to be healed of any judgment.
Abraham struggled with fear throughout his life. We don’t see a picture of a saint here—but a sinner. Yet God used him and blessed him nonetheless.
Genesis 21 (The birth of Isaac)
(21:1-8) Abraham waited 25 years to see God fulfill his promise about Isaac! Isaac literally means “he laughs.” This was a pun on the laughter both Abraham and Sarah had when they received this promise (Gen. 17:17-18; 18:12-15). God turned Sarah’s sarcastic laughter into joyful laughter (v.6). Isaac probably reached the age of three or so (v.8; see 2 Macc. 7:27). Waltke writes, “The Egyptian Instruction of Any (7.19), addressed to his disciple, speaks of ‘the mother’s breast in your mouth for three years.’”
(21:9-10) Tensions arose between Ishmael and Isaac. The Hebrew word for “mocking” can also be rendered “laughter.” Ishmael continued to laugh incredulously at Isaac’s birth. Sarah called for Ishmael and his mother Hagar to be driven out.
(21:11-13) This bothered Abraham, but God promised to provide for Hagar and Ishamel. He promised to make a nation out of Ishmael as well.
(21:14-21) Abraham sent them away with supplies. Hagar panicked in the wilderness and left Ishmael a hundred feet away, because she couldn’t stand watching him die of dehydration (v.16). God provided for them in the wilderness as he promised. Ishmael became an archer (v.20), and he married an Egyptian woman (v.21).
(21:22-34) Abimelech (from the last chapter) knew that Abraham was a true prophet of God (cf. 20:7). Abimelech asked Abraham to swear that he would be honest with him. Abraham swore to this, but also mentioned that Abimelech’s men had seized a well he had dug. They made a covenant over the well. Abraham gave Abimelech seven lambs, and Abimelech promised that the well was Abraham’s. Abraham was the first Jewish man, but he lived as a foreigner in the land of the Philistines (v.34).
Genesis 22 (Abraham sacrifices Isaac)
(22:1) Kidner writes, “Abraham’s trust was to be weighed in the balance against common sense, human affection, and lifelong ambition; in fact against everything earthly.”
(22:5) Abraham knew Isaac would be spared or raised from the dead (Gen. 21:12; Heb. 11:17-19).
(22:13) This is the language of substitution.
Second decision call?
Genesis 23 (Sarah dies)
Sarah died at the age of 127. Abraham didn’t own property to bury her, so he bought a cave site from the Hittites.
Genesis 24 (Isaac marries Rebekah)
(24:1) What a life!
(24:2) The reference to putting the hand “under the thigh,” refers to grabbing the genitals. For an article on cussing in the Bible, see 1 Corinthians 4:13 “Did Paul Swear?”
(24:3-9) Abraham makes his servant promise to get a wife for Isaac from his household—not from the Canaanites. He also makes him promise not to take Isaac to the Canaanite peoples.
(24:10) Aram-naharaim is between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia. This was from Abraham’s brother’s household. This town was mentioned in the 18th century in the Mari tablets.
(24:11-30) Since the servant knew that he had a promise of guidance from a supernatural source (v.7), he prayed for a supernatural sign: He will ask one of the girls for a drink from the well, and whoever additionally offers water for his camels will be the girl for Isaac (v.14). This came to fruition through Rebekah (v.19).
Rebekah was Nahor’s granddaughter (v.15). She was very beautiful, and she was an unmarried virgin (v.16). The servant felt like his sign had come true, and he visited with Rebekah’s brother, Laban (v.29).
Laban was crafty, and he saw the gold jewelry the servant had given her (v.30). Did he see a quick way to make a buck?
(24:31-49) Abraham’s servant recounts the entire story for Laban.
(24:50-51) Laban agreed to the marriage.
(24:55) Waltke notes, “The Hebrew is literally ‘days or ten.’ The amount of time is ambiguous. The Targums interpreted the phrase to mean ‘a year or ten minutes’; the LXX, as ‘a few days, say ten.’ It could mean a few days or a few years. Later, Jacob will unexpectedly remain twenty years (Gen. 31:38)!”
(24:57-58) Rebekah agreed to the marriage.
(24:67) This arranged marriage worked out well! They were in deep love, and Isaac found consolation for his dead mother. Perhaps he was still grieving over this.
Genesis 25:1-18 (Death of Abraham and fate of Ishmael)
(25:1-11) Abraham remarried after the death of Sarah, and he had more children. He must have been extremely old! Sarah died at the age of 127 (Gen. 23:1), and Abraham was ten years older than her (Gen. 17:17). This would place Abraham at least at the age of 137! He died at the ripe old age of 175 (v.7).
Despite the fact that Abraham had other children, the promise and inheritance went to Isaac alone. He did give his other children gifts, however (v.6).
Isaac and Ishmael reunite to bury their father (v.9), just as Isaac’s sons Jacob and Esau would reunite to bury their dad (Gen. 35:29). They buried him next to Sarah (v.10).
(25:12-18) Ishmael had a strong family ancestry, and God still chose to bless him. He had twelve tribes come from him (v.16), and he lived to the age of 137 (Gen. 25:17). They settled in “Havilah” which is “South Arabia.” The other land of “Shur” is “probably a reference to the Egyptian border forts along the line of the Isthmus of Suez in order to protect Egypt from the incursion of Asiatics.”
Genesis 25:19 (Isaac’s boys: Jacob and Esau)
(25:21) We’re seeing a repeated them here: Rebekah was barren, just like Sarah was barren. God worked supernaturally to bring about an heir.
(25:22) Even in a preborn state, the boys struggled with each other. We’re seeing foreshadowing for the rest of the account. Esau and Jacob will be at odds throughout most of their lives.
(25:23) God later refers to the Edomites as Israel’s brother throughout the rest of the Bible, because those people came from Esau (Num. 20:14; Deut. 23:7–8; Obad. 10; Mal. 1:2; Rom. 9:11–13).
Esau and Jacob
|Hairy (Gen. 25:25)||
Smooth (Gen. 27:11)
Skillful hunter (Gen. 25:27)
|Peaceful (Gen. 25:27)|
|Outdoorsman (Gen. 25:27)||
Homebody (Gen. 25:27)
Dad loved Esau (Gen. 25:28)
Mom loved Jacob (Gen. 25:28)
(25:29-31) Esau asked for Jacob’s stew. Jacob wanted to work a deal: the stew for Esau’s birthright.
(25:32) The text tells us that Esau was famished, but was he really about to die?
(25:33-34) Esau took the deal, and Jacob threw in a piece of bread. Moses tells us that “Esau despised his birthright.”
Hosea writes, “In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his maturity he contended with God” (Hos. 12:3). Kidner writes, “The two verbs of Hosea 12:3 enshrine in their Hebrew form his two names, recording the beginning and end of his pilgrimage from Jacob (‘āqab, ‘took by the heel’) to Israel (śārâ, ‘strove’).”
(25:26) Kidner writes, “Jacob, an existing name found elsewhere, means ‘May he be at the heels’—i.e. ‘May God be your rearguard’ (cf. on 17:19). But it also lends itself to a hostile sense, of dogging another’s steps, or overreaching, as Esau bitterly observed in 27:36. Through his own action Jacob devalued the name into a synonym for treachery; it is taken up in the Hebrew of Jeremiah 9:4 (3, MT) ‘every brother will utterly supplant’. But the tenacity which was his bane secured blessing in the end (32:26).”
Genesis 26 (Fighting over water wells)
(26:1-6) Famine strikes the land. Isaac thinks to go visit Abimelech, because his father had a good relationship with him. God tells him to stay put, and he reiterates the Abrahamic Covenant to him.
(26:7-11) I wonder where Isaac learned to lie like this! Surely he picked this up from his cowardly father (see Gen. 12, 20).
(26:12-23) Instead of becoming destitute in the famine, Jacob becomes rich. His fears were never realized. The Philistines began to envy his wealth (v.14), and they filled in the wells Abraham had dug (v.15). They were trying to pressure Isaac out of their land (v.16). Remember, Abimelech had made a covenant with Abraham that Abimelech would not touch these wells (Gen. 21:30-32).
Isaac dug a number of wells, and tried to rename them with their names from Abraham. But the local men quarreled over the wells. In such an arid place, men would frequently dispute over water sources like this (vv.18-22).
God reiterates the Abrahamic Covenant to Isaac in a dream (v.24). Isaac and Abimelech make a covenant, and they live in peace (vv.26-31).
(26:34-35) Esau fell into polygamy, and the text tells us, “They brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.”
Genesis 27 (Jacob deceives Esau)
(27:1-4) Isaac becomes very old, and he asks Esau to go hunt and prepare a good meal for him. Afterward, he will bless him and give him his inheritance.
(27:5-10) Because she loved Jacob more than Esau (Gen. 25:28), Rebekah set up a plot to deceive Isaac.
(27:11-12) Jacob wasn’t an innocent bystander. He was complicit in the deception. He even lied right to his father’s face, when directly asked (cf. 27:24).
(27:13-17) Rebekah cooked the food and covered Jacob in goatskins to make him seem hairy like Esau.
(27:18-29) Though Isaac was suspicious, he couldn’t see that well. He felt Jacob’s fur covering, and he smelled Jacob’s clothes that he stole from Esau. He gave the covenant to him.
(27:30-41) Esau wept bitterly and raised his voice, demanding a blessing. But Isaac kept to his earlier promise. This results in Esau deciding in his heart to kill Jacob after Isaac passes away. The author of Hebrews uses this account to refer the great responsibility we have in our power of freewill (Heb. 12:16-17). See (Hebrews 12:15-17) Did Esau lose his salvation?
He accepts defeat (27:33).
(27:42-46) Rebekah hears about Esau’s murderous intent, and she urges Jacob to flee and live with her brother Laban.
Genesis 28 (Jacob and the Stairway to Heaven)
Jacob is being hunted by Esau—a hunter!
(28:1) Like Abraham, Isaac didn’t want his son to interbreed with the Canaanites. Waltke notes, “Faith becomes endangered either by persecution or by accommodation.”
(28:2) Isaac sends Jacob to take a wife from one of his cousins (!).
(28:3-4) Isaac officially gives the Abrahamic Covenant to Jacob.
(28:8-9) What is the significance of Esau taking a wife from Ishmael’s line?
(28:10-16) Jacob is on the run. He uses a stone as a pillow (v.11). The “stairway” can be understood as a “staircase” or “ladder.” This is a “vivid foretaste of [Jesus] as the Way (John 1:51).” God promises the Abrahamic Covenant to Jacob (vv.13-15).
God was in the place, but Jacob couldn’t see it. Jacob is localizing the presence of God to a place. He thinks it was a coincidence that he went there.
(28:17-19) Waltke writes, “The Semites understood the name Babylon to have been derived from bāb-ilī, ‘gate of god’ (11:9). The identification of Bethel as the “gate of heaven” may be intended as a counterpoint to Babylon.”
(28:20-22) Jacob makes a vow with God—even though God had already promised this! “You get to be my God!”
He even gives him a tenth… What a deal!
Jacob a conditional faith. He makes all of God’s promises conditional (“If God will be with me…”).
Genesis 29-30 (Jacob—the deceiver—gets deceived)
(29:1) Jacob goes to find a wife as his father instructed (Gen. 28:2).
(29:3) It sounds like they would block this well to keep it preserved or maybe protected. They’d move the stone when they needed it.
(29:10) Was Jacob exceedingly strong to move this stone? This is a total reversal of how Isaac got his wife (Gen. 24). Jacob based his decision on physical attraction only—not prayer. He doesn’t seek God’s will.
(29:11) How did Rachel feel about Jacob kissing her and weeping? (Talk about an awkward first date!)
(29:15) Laban wants to pay Jacob. Is he trying to entice Jacob into staying on the property?
(29:17) What was wrong with Leah’s eyes? She was probably homely to look at. Note that her appearance is in contrast to Rachel who was “beautiful of form and face.” Waltke writes, “Literally ‘soft,’ this description likely implies that Leah’s eyes lack the fire and sparkle that orientals prize as beauty.” Gordon Wenham writes, “What makes eyes ‘soft’ (רך) is unclear; most commentators think it means they had no fire or sparkle, a quality much prized in the East. Whether her eyes were the only features that let her down is not said, but the glowing description of Rachel as having ‘a beautiful figure and a lovely face’ suggests Leah was outshone by her sister in various ways.”
(29:18-21) Jacob exploited Esau’s weakness. Now Laban will exploit Jacob. The time seemed to fly by (v.20). Note that Laban never explicitly agrees to giving Jacob his daughter Rachel. Jacob also uses the word “wife” rather than “Rachel” (v.21). Laban capitalizes on this.
(29:22-24) In ancient services like this, the bride was veiled (Gen. 24:65). It was also “evening” when the wedding took place. Like Jacob deceived Isaac, Laban put “goat skin on Leah’s hands and neck.” He switched the two.
(29:25) This seems like a comical line: “Behold, it was Leah!” Jacob had spent so much time working for the perfect wife, and he was betrayed.
Jacob was asking, “How could you switch these daughters out like that? Who would do such a thing??” (Of course, Jacob did this very thing with Esau!)
(29:26) “Jacob, we respect the first born in our country…” Something Jacob knew nothing about.
(29:27-30) Jacob agreed to work for another seven years to win Rachel as his wife. How did Leah feel this entire time??
(29:31-35) God loved Leah—even though her father, sister, and husband didn’t love her (30:1, 8). She tried to earn Jacob’s love through the birth of her son (v.32, 34). What a sad picture of an unloved woman! On her fourth child, she stops trying to win the approval of Jacob, and she instead praises God (v.35). On her sixth child, she returns to wanting Jacob as her husband (Gen. 30:20).
Rachel gave birth to Joseph, even though she was hopeless. She tried the mandrakes, but it didn’t work. She learns that God was the one who would give blessings.
12 sons of Jacob
Reuben (Gen. 29:32)
|Dan (Gen. 30:6) through Bilnah|
|Simeon (Gen. 29:33)||
Naphtali (Gen. 30:8) through Bilnah
Levi (Gen. 29:34)
|Joseph (Gen. 30:24)|
|Judah (Gen. 29:35) Here she stops trying to get Jacob to love her, and starts praising God instead||
Benjamin (Gen. 35:16-18). Rachel died giving natural birth to Benjamin
Gad (Gen. 30:11) through Zilpah
Asher (Gen. 30:13) through Zilpah
Issachar (Gen. 30:18)
Zebulun (Gen. 30:20)
Dinah (Gen. 30:21) a daughter
(30:15-16) Rachel sent Jacob to have sex with Leah for a handful of mandrakes.
(30:25-43) Jacob wants out from under Laban. He proposes a deal: Jacob will take the lousy sheep and goats, if Laban will let him go (v.32). Jacob uses some sort of method (Magic? Selective breeding?) for multiplying his flock. We’re not sure about his methods. The Hebrew does not imply that Jacob’s methods were the cause. It only records the effect. Kidner writes, “RSV inserts the words since and so, but the Hebrew is content to state the bare sequence, as in AV, RV, not pronouncing on cause and effect. Verse 39 is post hoc, not explicitly propter hoc.” Genesis 31:12 implies that God was blessing Jacob… All of these manipulative (magic?) tactics were pointless!
Genesis 31 (Jacob escapes from Laban)
(31:1-3) Laban’s sons accuse Jacob of stealing from their father. God tells Jacob to make his exit and return home.
(31:4-13) Jacob tells his wives that they need to leave, because Laban’s attitude had changed toward them. Jacob states that he had a clean conscience in working hard for Laban (v.6), yet Laban tried to swindle him. Jacob affirms God’s protection (v.7).
(31:14-16) Rachel and Leah agree.
(31:19) Was Rachel trying to steal from Laban in the way that Laban stole from them?
(31:20-55) Jacob didn’t tell Laban that they were leaving. He had a three day head start (v.22), yet Laban overtook him (v.23). God told Laban not to even speak to Jacob (v.24). Laban goes easy on Jacob because of this (v.29), but he is still angry about Jacob stealing his gods (v.30). Jacob promises to kill whoever took the gods, because he didn’t know Rachel did it (v.32). Rachel hid them under her camel’s saddle, and said she was having her period so she couldn’t get up! (v.35) Jacob argues with Laban, pointing out that he worked for him for 20 years without fault (vv.36-42). Laban and Jacob made a covenant not to hurt one another or pass by the stone pile, which served as a boundary (vv.43-55).
Genesis 32 (Jacob wrestles with God)
(32:1-2) Jacob named the place with angels “Mahanaim” which means “two camps” (cf. Gen. 32:7-10). Francis Schaeffer held that this means that Jacob was starting to see reality through the physical and the spiritual—the natural and the supernatural. This wasn’t just a camp for his men, but also for angels.
(32:3-5) Jacob has been gone for twenty years now, so he writes a message to Esau to gain peace with his brother. The last time they met, Esau was trying to kill him! How will Esau respond?
(32:9-12) Esau already had an army of 400 men coming to meet with Jacob (to kill him?!). Jacob was terrified (v.7), and he already set up part of his camp for a quick escape (v.8). In desperation, he turned to God for help. Jacob reminds God of his promise to him, and God’s historic record of faithfulness.
(32:13-21) To calm Esau’s anger, Jacob set up a barrier of three herds as gifts. Before Esau could kill Jacob, he would need to pass through three gifts to calm him down.
(32:22) Jabbok means “emptying.”
(32:23-24) Jacob sent his family and possessions ahead of him, and he spent the night alone. His wealth is gone… His family is gone… He’s all alone. It took 20 years!
(32:25-32) A hand grabs him from behind. He must’ve jumped in fright! (“Is this Esau coming to kill me in the night?!”)
An anonymous person began to wrestle with Jacob. It’s dark so he can’t see him. When the man realized he couldn’t beat Jacob, he touched his hip and wrenched it out of the socket. Then the man pled with Jacob to let him go. Jacob demanded that he wouldn’t let him go unless he blessed him. So the man renamed Jacob as Israel, because he wrestled with God and won. Waltke comments, “Jacob’s new name represents a reorientation from supplanter and deceiver into prevailer.”
Jacob overcame God, because he clung to God and begged for a blessing.
“What is your name?” Last time he was asked this question, he said, “Esau.” Now, he admits, “Deceiver!”
Israel = “God commands” “Governed by God.”
As a result of this, Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life.
Jacob wasn’t domineering here. Hosea tells us that Jacob “wept and sought His favor” (Hos. 12:4). Hosea also notes that this was a theophany in the form of an “angel,” even though “he contended with God” himself (Hos. 12:3).
You might be wrestling with God all night like Jacob. He could’ve broken Jacob at the very beginning, but he allowed him to wrestle.
Why did God wound Jacob? It may have been a constant reminder—for every step he took—that God’s blessing came to him to “break him down.” Much like Paul’s blessing in the third heaven, God’s blessing comes to those who are weak (2 Cor. 12:2ff).
It takes Jacob years to understand God’s grace.
Was Jacob rewarded for fighting God? No, he was rewarded for wrestling with God and begging for his blessing. At this point in the narrative, his hope was completely lost. He fully expected his brother to kill him. Do we have this sort of faith to wrestle with God and pray for him to bless us?
Genesis 33 (Peace between Esau and Jacob)
(33:1) Esau shows up… and he’s bringing 400 men with him! How do you think Jacob was feeling as he saw Esau approaching?
(33:3) He bowed seven times, because this was the common practice between a vassal and his lord. Waltke writes, “Vassals writing to Pharaoh say, ‘Beneath the feet [of the king, my lord] seven times, and seven times I fall.’ Jacob greets Esau as a vassal greets a patron with the ceremony of a royal court: the solemnity of approaching as becomes rank (33:2–3, 6–7), the sevenfold obeisance (33:3), the submissive address of a ‘servant’ (33:5) to ‘lord’ (33:8, 13), the presentation of gifts of homage (33:10–11).”
(33:4) Jacob was never expecting this sort of a greeting!
(33:8-11) Esau initially rejects Jacob’s gift (vv.8-9), but eventually accepts (v.11).
(33:14) Esau wants to meet Jacob at Seir, and Esau leaves him behind because Jacob’s livestock and children are too slow.
(33:17) Jacob goes to Succoth instead.
Why doesn’t Jacob follow Esau to Seir? Is he avoiding him?
Application regarding Jacob
None of Jacob’s manipulative plans did anything. God had promised from the beginning that he would bless Jacob.
It took Jacob 20 years of pointless scheming to realize that God was good.
When God touches him, his hip instantly snaps. God is overwhelmingly powerful. Struggling with him is absurd.
Jacob’s one redemptive quality is that he held on to God during suffering.
Jacob had a lasting mark of his inadequacy.
Am I going to trust in my own ingenuity and personal striving, or will I trust in an all-powerful and all-knowing God?
Are you willing to receive a new name yet? Are you walking with a limp? Jacob didn’t need to walk 20 years to learn this.
This is a softening of the heart where we realize that God is in charge, and we need to trust in him.
Genesis 34 (Dinah is raped and revenged by her brothers)
(34:1-12) Dinah (Jacob and Leah’s daughter) gets raped by Shechem—the Hivite. Then Shechem has the audacity to try to win her hand in marriage! Jacob heard about this and waited to get his sons together before attacking.
Hamor (Shechem’s father) tries to smooth things over by intermarrying all of the sons and daughters.
(34:13-24) Jacob’s sons set up a scheme to attack this family. They call for the men to be circumcised. The men of the city agree to this, and all of them are circumcised.
(34:25-29) Three days after this tender operation, these men were still sore. Simeon and Levi slaughter all of the men without difficulty. The rest of the brother loot the city, and sell the women and children as captives.
(34:30-31) Jacob is angry with this. He seems to be angry because their actions might result in hurting his reputation and vitality in the land. Jacob is worried that they will invite battle from the other Canaanites.
Genesis 35 (Escape from Canaan)
(35:1) God tells Jacob to leave town. After the slaughter of the Hivites, Jacob’s family would be under attack.
(35:2-4) Jacob’s family disposed of all of their idols.
(35:5) God caused a terror to occur on the people of the land, so that they would be too afraid to harm Jacob’s family.
(35:6) They traveled to Luz (“Bethel”).
(35:10-12) God renamed Jacob as “Israel.” God also reaffirms the Abrahamic Covenant with him.
(35:16-19) Rachel only gave natural birth to Benjamin, and she died during delivery. How sad!
Jacob returns to his father Isaac, who lives to be 180 years old (v.29).
Genesis 36 (Esau’s line)
Esau took his wives from the women of Canaan. Esau produced the Edomites.
Genesis 37 (Joseph is betrayed)
(37:1) Jacob lived in Canaan. He never does see Esau again.
(37:2) Joseph is 17 years old when the story begins. He is tattling on his brothers.
(37:3) Jacob loved Joseph more than the other boys. He gives him a “varicolored tunic” or a “full-length robe,” which was probably a sign of royalty. The term is only ever used in 2 Samuel 13:18-19.
(37:4) This parental favoritism caused bitterness in the other boys.
(37:5-9) Joseph has two dreams: (1) the brothers’ sheafs bowed down to his sheaf and (2) the eleven stars (i.e. brothers) bowed down to him.
(37:10-11) Jacob rebuked Joseph for telling these dreams, but he kept them in mind. He had seen God move supernaturally before, so he was probably wondering what to make of these dreams.
(37:12-14) Jacob sent Joseph to help his brothers in the field. With all of this family bitterness, why did he send him into this situation unsupervised? Shechem is 50 miles from Hebron.
(37:15-17) Joseph was safer with a stranger, than he was with his brothers.
(37:18-20) The brothers were still bitter about the dreams, mentioning them twice as they plot against him (v.19-20). They were also bitter about the tunic (v.23).
(37:21-22) Reuben (the oldest) spares Joseph. He was trying to protect him in the well, so that he could return him to Jacob. His plan is a failure (v.29).
(37:23-28) The brothers stripped him and threw him in the well. They ate a meal over his “dead” body. They sold out their brother to Ishmaelite traders passing through. Judah stands out as the leader. It’s interesting that he thinks slavery is the way to treat his brother, rather than murder. Joseph pled with them (42:21).
(37:28) This adds to the historicity of this account. Joseph was sold for the correct price of a slave in the first half of the second millennium BC (~2,000 to 1,500 BC). The other periods do not have this price for a slave. James Hoffmeier writes, “When Joseph was sold to the traders, the cost is specified as twenty shekels of silver (Gen. 37:28). The shekel was a weight, not a coin, in the second millennium BC. Twenty shekels would have been around 9 ounces (260 g). As it turns out, this is the average price of a slave during the first half of the second millennium BC. In the second half of that millennium, the cost went up to thirty shekels, and in the early first millennium it shot up to fifty shekels.”
Later we learn that Joseph was begging to be led out (Gen. 42:21).
Guilt and envy really arise from this chapter.
(37:29-30) Reuben turns out to be a failure. He should have stood up to his brothers, as the oldest in the group.
(37:31) They concoct a plot to make it look like Joseph was mauled to death. They dip the tunic in goat blood, and they give it to Jacob. Remember, this is before DNA testing and CSI!
(37:32-36) Jacob couldn’t be comforted. Meanwhile, Joseph was sold to slavery in Egypt. Jacob—the deceiver—is now being deceived.
Talk about a dysfunctional family! Yet God was able to work through this family for their own good.
Here we see the weakness of Reuben, the poor leadership and discernment of Jacob, and the strength of Judah’s (carnal) leadership.
Genesis 38 (Judah’s three sons)
(38:1-5) Judah is a burgeoning (carnal) leader. He finds a Canaanite woman to sleep with, and she gives him three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah.
(38:6-7) Er married Tamar, but Er was evil. God took his life.
(38:8-10) Judah tells Onan to give Tamar kids. The law said that the brother of the deceased man could marry the widow to give her kids (Deut. 25:5–6; Ruth 4:5, 10, 17). Onan pulled out before he could impregnate Tamar, and God was very angry with this, and took his life. Onan was basically using this law of Levirate marriage to sleep with his sister-in-law, but he had no intention of getting her pregnant. He just wanted to use her for sex.
(38:11) Judah superstitiously thought the problem was with Tamar, rather than his sons.
(38:12-23) Judah’s wife dies. Tamar realizes that Judah really has no intention of giving her his final son, Shelah. She concocted a plan to get Judah to impregnate her. She pretended to be a prostitute, and slept with Judah.
(38:24-26) Judah’s men tell him that Tamar prostituted herself to become pregnant. Judah calls for her life. Yet Tamar shows him the signet ring and staff that he gave her when he slept with her. Judah realizes what happened, and also realizes that he sinned against her by not giving her his third son, Shelah.
(38:27-30) She gives birth to twins: Perez and Zerah.
What is the purpose of this narrative? Why does Moses begin writing about Joseph only to get derailed on this distorted story about Judah’s sons?
He must be comparing what it looks like to trust in God versus not to trust in God. Joseph could sleep with Potiphar’s wife, but he chose not to. Judah (and his sons) had their choice of eligible women, but chose Canaanites instead.
Genesis 39 (Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph)
(39:1-5) Potiphar bought Joseph from the Ishmaelite traders. Even though his family abandoned him, God was still with Joseph. Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his estate.
The expression “over the house” was used in ancient Egyptian (Gen. 39:4).
(39:6-12) Joseph was a good looking, well-built man. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him, but he refuses. She waited until he was alone and inside her quarters (v.11), and she propositioned him for sex (v.12). He fled from the scene (1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:22).
(39:13-20) Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of rape, and Potiphar threw Joseph into prison. Gene Getz speculates that Potiphar knew his wife was a liar. Otherwise, why wouldn’t he simply have Joseph killed? He may have thrown Joseph into prison to save face. On the other hand, Potiphar’s “anger burned” (v.19). So he may have actually believed Joseph tried to molest his wife.
So Joseph was imprisoned for doing the right thing… What a terrible end to the story, right?
(39:21-23) Potiphar and Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him, but God vindicated Joseph. Just as he rose up in Potiphar’s house, he rose up in the prison system, too.
This chapter shows Joseph rising to the top in two lousy situations, because he had faith in God.
Even with a dysfunctional family and a bad workplace, Joseph persevered in keeping his focus on God as his first priority. He viewed adultery as a sin against God (v.9). Consider the temptation of being an 18 year old man, and having an older, beautiful woman throw herself on you.
Sleeping with Potiphar’s wife would have given him even more power.
Joseph could’ve made a number of excuses: “I come from a dysfunctional family” or “My dad and brothers slept around” or “I’m 18 years old, and my hormones are raging!” or “What has God done for me lately?”
Genesis 40 (Joseph with the Cupbearer and Baker)
(40:1-4) Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker offended the Pharaoh, and they were thrown in prison. Joseph was in charge of watching over them in jail.
(40:5-8) The cupbearer and the baker both had a dream, and Joseph claimed that God could interpret it through him.
(40:9-15) The cupbearer had a dream of three vines producing wine for the Pharaoh. Joseph interpreted this to mean that in three days the Pharaoh would rescind his decision and bring the cupbearer back into service in his court. Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him when he got back in with Pharaoh. (This is Joseph’s ticket out!)
(40:16-19) The baker had a dream of three baskets of pastries on his head. Birds ate from them. Joseph said that the three baskets referred to three days’ time when Pharaoh would have him impaled on a pole! Then the birds will peck at his dead body!
(40:20-22) All of this came to fruition exactly as Joseph predicted.
(40:23) The cupbearer forgot all about Joseph in the prison.
Why would God move so supernaturally through this dream only to let Joseph rot in the prison? I’m sure Joseph felt like this was his ticket out of prison, but instead, the cupbearer forgot all about him.
When God moves supernaturally, this is a sign to us. But this isn’t always clear exactly how he’s going to work. Joseph thought that this answer to prayer meant that he would be taken out of prison immediately, but God had different plans. In fact, he rots in prison for another two years (41:1).
Joseph has a good attitude in suffering.
Joseph attributes the interpretation of the dream to God (v.8).
(Ps. 105:17-19 NLT) Joseph was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character.
Genesis 41 (Pharaoh’s Dream)
(41:1-4) Two years later… Joseph rotted in prison for two years of his life!
Pharaoh has another dream. Seven healthy fat cows came up out of the Nile River, then seven scrawny cows came up from the Nile and ate them. Pharaoh woke up and then fell back asleep. He had a second dream.
(41:5-7) The second dream was about seven fat stalks of grain, followed by seven shriveled stalks of grain. Again the seven shriveled stalks ate the fat stalks.
(41:8-15) Pharaoh called for his wise men and magicians to interpret the dream, but they couldn’t. The cup bearer told Pharaoh about Joseph’s gift of interpreting dreams, and Pharaoh sent for him to interpret his dream.
The word “magician” (Gen. 41:8) is Egyptian—not Hebrew.
(41:16) Joseph gave the authority to God—not himself. It would’ve been easy for Joseph to be bitter, but instead he immediately gives the glory and power to God.
(41:17-24) Pharaoh repeats his dream for Joseph.
(41:25-32) Joseph interprets the dream to predict seven years of prosperity and seven years of famine.
(41:33-36) Joseph suggests that Pharaoh should get a manager to run his finances and save for the economic recession in seven years.
(41:37-44) Pharaoh decides to put Joseph in charge, asking who else could do a better job?
(41:45-47) Instead of a one night stand with Potiphar’s wife, he gets a wife from the priest of Potiphera. He take charge of planning for the terrible recession.
The name Pithom (“the house of Atum”), Potiphera (“the gift of Ra”), Asenath (“the favorite of Neith”), and Joseph’s title Zaphenath-pa’neah (Gen. 41:45 “Nourisher of the land of the living one”) are all Egyptian in origin. James Hoffmeier writes, “Joseph’s master, Potiphar, and his father-in-law, Potipherah (Gen. 41:45), share variations of the same name, which in Egyptian means ‘he whom Re (the sun-god) has given.’” All of this supports the historicity of this account.
(41:51-52) Joseph has two sons. He gives them Hebrew—not Egyptian—names. He must be genuinely happy, because he names his sons Manasseh (“forget”) and Ephraim (“fruitful”).
(41:53-57) Joseph’s work saved the whole nation, and in the next chapter, saves the burgeoning nation of Israel.
Joseph had to wait in prison for two years. This must have seemed meaningless at the time. Yet we discover at the end of the chapter that God was working a plan to save the whole nation of Egypt, the surrounding nations, and Israel. How many times do we go through suffering trusting that God is working out a larger plan in this way? (cf. Rom. 8:28)
Joseph didn’t accept the credit for himself. Even as he stood in front of Pharaoh, he didn’t take glory for being able to interpret the dreams. The longer we do Christian work, the more tempted we are to take the credit.
God was waiting to raise up Joseph, because he was waiting on Pharaoh getting his dream. If God had raised Joseph out of prison prematurely, then Joseph wouldn’t have risen into power.
We can’t be rigid in following God’s will. One day, Joseph was sold as a slave. Another day, he was second to Potiphar. Then back in prison. Now, he is the second man in all of Egypt.
Genesis 42 (Joseph has an unusual family reunion)
(42:1-2) Meanwhile, back home in Canaan, Jacob was enduring the famine, and he tells his sons to go get food from Egypt.
(42:3-4) Jacob may have been traumatized after losing his youngest son, Joseph. Here he won’t give up Benjamin—his next youngest.
(42:5-17) When the brothers get to Egypt, they bow in front of Joseph—not recognizing him (v.8). Remember, Joseph was now a fully grown man, completely shaven and made up to look like an Egyptian. Moreover, his brothers didn’t expect to see him here.
Joseph interrogates them, accusing them of being spies. He does this so that he could get them to bring Benjamin to him. He throws them in prison for three days (v.17).
(42:18-20) He decided to only keep one of them in prison, while the other nine returned home to fetch Benjamin.
(42:21-24) The brothers felt that this circumstance was a punishment from God. Joseph could understand the entire conversation, and it brought him to tears.
Joseph holds Simeon in custody—probably because Simeon was the most cruel and violent (34:25; 49:5-7).
(42:25-28) Joseph sends them back with food and their money. There is a great irony in the brothers being afraid and thinking God was cursing them (v.28). In reality, God was in the process of blessing them. This act also shows that Joseph wasn’t being malicious earlier in terrorizing his brothers. His interrogation and scare-tactics were for a purpose—to get Benjamin back and see if his brothers were repentant for selling him into slavery. Would the brothers repeat their sin and leave Simeon to rot in jail, or would they return?
(42:29-35) The brothers recount the story to Jacob.
(42:36) There is terrible irony in Jacob’s statement here too. In reality, Joseph wasn’t gone—and Simeon and Benjamin were in safe hands.
(42:37-38) Even though Reuben promises to watch over Benjamin with his life, Jacob refuses to release him.
Because Jacob had endured suffering, he was reticent to send his other son. When we go through pain and suffering, we clamp up our hands and often refuse to trust God ever again. In reality, God was working out a plan and everything was in control.
At the exact same time that Jacob and the boys thought God was cursing them, in reality God was actually blessing them.
Even at the end of their lives, the brothers were still expecting judgment, rather than grace from Joseph! (cf. Gen. 50:15) This broke Joseph’s heart to hear (Gen. 42:16-18).
Some hold that Joseph is putting them through this trial in order to see if they are repentant. Joseph also might not be sure if Benjamin is still alive. He’s trying to protect Benjamin.
Genesis 43 (The 9 Sons Return to Egypt)
(43:1-14) Eventually, the famine became so severe that Jacob sent his boys back to collect more food. Of course, Jacob didn’t want to send Benjamin, but Judah took responsibility for his safety (vv.8-9). Jacob told his boys to bring twice the money as before and bring some goods to smooth things over with the “man in Egypt” (Joseph).
(43:15-31) Joseph welcomed them with a large feast when they returned. The sons of Jacob explained the fiasco of having the money in their sacks, and they promised to repay everything. The household manger (of Joseph) told them not to worry about it (v.23). Joseph asked about his father (v.27), and his youngest brother Benjamin (v.29).
Joseph was overcome with emotion: How might he have been feeling? Betrayed? Hurt? Happy? Bittersweet?
(43:32-34) Joseph brought them to the banquet. He sat them in order from oldest to youngest. The brothers were filled with “astonishment” over this: How did this “Egyptian” know their ages in order? Was this a coincidence? A lucky guess? The brothers still weren’t seeing God’s provision behind everything.
We see more of the theme that the brothers were slow to see and recognize God’s blessing in their lives. Why? They were too consumed with guilt to recognize this.
Genesis 44 (Joseph frames Benjamin)
(44:1-12) Joseph sends the brothers back, and again, he packs their money in their sacks. He also adds one of his personal silver cups (v.2). Then Joseph sends his men to bust them with the silver cup (v.5). The men swore that whoever stole it would die (v.9). Benjamin was found with the cup (v.12). Remember, he was the youngest whom Jacob didn’t want to lose. Jacob’s worst fears were about to come to fruition. How would the brothers respond to this? Would they run back to their father like they did before? Would they try to cover it all up?
(44:13-34) The brothers returned to plead for Benjamin’s life, and they offer to all be slaves. As the ad hoc leader, Judah steps in to plead for mercy (v.18). Judah explains how Jacob would die if they don’t return with Benjamin, and Judah offers to stand in Benjamin’s place for him. Instead of being a malicious leader, this experience has turned Judah into a sacrificial leader.
Why does Joseph put his brothers through this turmoil? Is he vindictive? I don’t think so. He’s putting them through this to see if they have changed their hearts. It works. Judah turns from an evil leader into a sacrificial one.
God often lets us go through turmoil to break us of sinful patterns and thoughts.
Genesis 45 (Joseph reveals his identity)
(45:1-2) Joseph couldn’t stand the secret any longer. This really shows that he wasn’t tormenting his brothers, but that he had a purpose for putting them through the grief. He sent out all of his servants and wept loudly.
(45:3) His brothers were still in disbelief.
(45:4-5) Joseph tells them to stop beating themselves up. Remember, in the previous chapters, the reason the brothers were afraid was the fact that they thought they were under the judgment of God for their sin.
(45:6-8) After all of his personal suffering, Joseph was able to see through the eyes of faith: God was the one working through these evil circumstances. Instead of blaming his brothers, Joseph was able to identify God’s sovereign hand.
(45:9-15) Joseph tells them that there are still five more years of famine ahead of them. He directs them to bring Jacob—his father—to Goshen. He then weeps and kisses them. Only then do the brothers drop their guard.
(45:16-21) Pharaoh embraces Joseph’s plan to rescue his brothers and their families.
(45:22) Even though Benjamin was the youngest, he received the most blessing.
(45:24) Joseph tells the brothers not to blame shift about their crime. Instead because they are forgiven, they should tell it plainly to Jacob. It would still be easy for the brothers to fall back into their old ways of covering up the problem, and Joseph warns them not to do this.
(45:25-28) How do you think Jacob was feeling when he got this news about Joseph being alive—and then how must he have felt to discover Joseph’s new position in Egypt!
Genesis 46 (Jacob goes to Egypt with the entire family)
(46:1-7) God encouraged Jacob for making the decision to come to Egypt through a dream. God promised Jacob that he would die in Egypt, but he would be surrounded by his loved ones. Also, God would provide for his family in Egypt.
(46:8-27) Genealogies of Jacob…
(46:28-32) At long last, Jacob and Joseph reunite! The last time they saw each other, Joseph was a teenager.
(46:33-34) Joseph wants his family to be honest to Pharaoh—something they’re not used to! He also wants them to be insulated from the Egyptians, so that they don’t lose their spiritual and cultural identity.
Genesis 47 (Joseph saves Egypt and Canaan through the famine)
(47:1-5) Joseph presents his family to Pharaoh, and he gets a warm reception.
(47:6) When a good worker at a job suggests one of his friends or family, the boss is usually interested in hiring them. After having Joseph as a good leader, he wants to put his family to work.
(47:7-11) Is there any significance of the fact that Jacob blesses Pharaoh?
(47:12) Even the little kids had enough to eat during this horrible famine.
(47:13-27) Joseph made a huge profit off of the famine, but he still made a fair deal for the people who were selling him their land—letting them keep 80% (v.24). The people certainly felt okay about the exchange (v.25).
(47:28-31) Jacob lived to 147 years old. He made one last request to not be buried in Egypt.
Genesis 48 (Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons: Ephraim and Manasseh)
(48:1-3) As Jacob dies, he imparts his final words to his sons.
(48:4) Jacob repeats the Abrahamic Covenant to Joseph.
(48:15-16) Jacob viewed his wrestling with God as a form of redemption in his life that kept him on the right path of following God.
(48:19) Jacob intentionally blessed the younger son, Ephraim. This is a repeated theme throughout the book.
Genesis 49 (Jacob predicts the future of his sons)
(49:1) Jacob was a prophet in some sense.
Reuben lost his primogeniture because he slept with Jacob’s wife.
Simeon and Levi (vv.5-7)
Jacob curses them for their anger and violence. Jacob scatters them in with the other sons.
Judah gets the kingship.
He will be in the sea trade.
He will be a laborer
He will be venomous like a snake.
He pleads with God that he would somehow redeem his dysfunctional family (v.18).
He will fight back and forth with marauders.
He will be a connoisseur of good foods.
Will he be a free-roaming spirit?
Joseph is blessed for his perseverance.
Benjamin will be a fighter.
(49:28-33) Jacob died and joined his ancestors.
Genesis 50 (Joseph’s great insight into God’s sovereignty)
(50:1-3) Not only did Joseph mourn his father’s death, but so did the Egyptians. He had the Egyptians embalm Jacob—probably so the body could make the trip back to Canaan.
(50:4-14) Joseph asked permission from Pharaoh to go bury his father in Canaan, which was Jacob’s dying request.
Joseph must have been having a hard time in mourning for his dad. While the story ended well, he still missed out on years with his father. This must have been a bittersweet ending for him.
(50:15) Even after all of this grace, the brothers are still waiting for God to punish them!
(50:16-21) This broke Joseph’s heart to hear. So he broke down weeping and spoke kindly to his brothers. He also explained the great revelation of this whole story: God is sovereign and worked behind the scenes (Gen. 50:20).
(50:22) Joseph lives for 110 years, which was the ideal life span for an Egyptian—symbolic for wisdom or blessing. James Hoffmeier writes, “More than thirty references are known from Egyptian texts in which a 110-year life span is mentioned. It was a symbolic figure for a distinguished sagely man. One such example is Ptahhotep, who left to posterity a wisdom text from c. 2320 BC. Another individual was Amenhotep, son of Hapu, who served Pharaoh Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC). Often references to 110 years appear in prayers or wishes such as, ‘May I reach 110 years on earth such as every righteous man,’ and ‘May he [the god Amun] give me the 110 years as to every living righteous man.’ Could it be that Joseph’s age at death reflects the use of this Egyptian honorific number that represented the ideal life?”
(50:23-26) Even though God had provided so much for Joseph in Egypt, Joseph knew that God wanted his people back in Canaan. The author of Hebrews ties this in with the “seen” (i.e. blessings of Egypt) and the “unseen” (i.e. God’s promise through the Abrahamic Covenant). Joseph was able to see that God’s promise was more valuable than the comforts or success of Egypt (Heb. 11:22).
Joseph doesn’t get ulcers with bitterness and revenge.
God never appears to Joseph, as he did with Abraham.
How is Joseph such a rising statue of faith? It could be that Jacob (the manipulator) was carnal throughout most of his fatherhood. But because Joseph was the youngest, Jacob could’ve had a second chance to teach Joseph the ways of God.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 22). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Archer, Gleason L. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Third Edition. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1998. 114.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 27). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti. The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011. 171.
 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 47). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 60). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Sailhamer, J. H. (1990). Genesis. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (Vol. 2, p. 25). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Emphasis mine. Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 51). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 19). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
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 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 21). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 21). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
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 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 24). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 54). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 63). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 33). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 83). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 59). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
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 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 87). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
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 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 66). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
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 Sailhamer, J. H. (1990). Genesis. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (Vol. 2, p. 45). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Sailhamer, J. H. (1990). Genesis. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (Vol. 2, p. 48). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 89). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
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 Sailhamer, J. H. (1990). Genesis. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (Vol. 2, p. 52). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 93). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
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 Schaeffer, Francis A. Complete Works of Francis A Schaeffer: a Christian Worldview. Volume Two: A Christian View of the Bible as Truth. Westchester, III: Crossway, 1994. 75.
 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 77). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 86). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
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 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 97). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 222). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 169). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 179). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 179). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 179). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 181). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
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 Archer, Gleason L. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Third Edition. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1998. 179.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 252). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 262). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Thomas Schmidt, Straight and Narrow? (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1995). 88-89.
 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 145–146). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Kaiser, Walter C. The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001. 92.
 Interview with Bryant Wood. Cited in Kaiser, Walter C. The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001. 93.
 Bryant Wood, “The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah” The Bible and Spade (Summer, 1999) 67-80.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 279). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 146). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 293). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 154). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 328). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 331). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 168). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 254). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 161). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 162). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (pp. 382–383). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 390). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 170). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 392). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 405). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 16–50 (Vol. 2, p. 235). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 175). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 441). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (p. 446). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: a commentary (pp. 453–454). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Hoffmeier, James Karl. The Archaeology of the Bible. Oxford: Lion, 2008. 46.
 James Hoffmeier writes, “The type of work they did is also included. Several are labeled as hry-pr, literally ‘over the house.’ When Joseph enters Potiphar’s service, he is said to be ‘over his house’ (Genesis 39:4), this is, a household servant.” Hoffmeier, James Karl. The Archaeology of the Bible. Oxford: Lion, 2008. 46.
 Bromiley writes, “The Hebrew word for ‘magician’ used in Gen. 41:8, hartummim, is from Egypt (hry-hbt) hry-tp.” Bromiley, Geoffrey William. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1982. 1128.
 Archer, Gleason L. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Third Edition. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1998. 119.
 Hoffmeier, James Karl. The Archaeology of the Bible. Oxford: Lion, 2008. 46.
 Hoffmeier, James Karl. The Archaeology of the Bible. Oxford: Lion, 2008. 48.