The title of this book in the Hebrew is Bereshith, from the first word 'In the beginning.' Our title comes from the LXX, and signifies 'the source or fount' — that is, of the present system of the heavens and earth as they now exist. Genesis contains all the great principles of God's relationship with man, even to the bruising of Satan's head, and in type the union of Christ and the church by a woman being 'builded' out of a rib of Adam, and brought to the man. The creation is the first thing recorded; both the original creating out of nothing, and the ordering of the earth for man. See CREATION. Man in the image of God is created last, and all is declared to be 'very good.' See ADAM
A vast amount of learned labour has been lost in trying to account for the name of 'God' in Genesis 1 and 'Jehovah God' in Genesis 2 , often ending with the conclusion that Moses must have had two or more earlier accounts of the creation before him — one called the Elohistic (which used the name of God) and the other the Jehovistic (which had Jehovah God), and that he copied first a piece of the one, and then a piece of the other. Surely this is a very unworthy conclusion to arrive at respecting the work of God by Moses! In Genesis 1 it is God as Creator; but in Genesis 2 He is in relationship with man, and this calls forth the name of Jehovah (as Jehovah was the name by which He was afterwards especially known to Israel. See Exodus 6:2,3
.) The theory of Moses having copied from various documents, is carried all through the Pentateuch, and with many it has issued in the very sad result of undermining the inspiration of scripture, and attributing to the Lord, when He speaks of Moses having written the law, the use of the common tradition though it was not true!
Sin soon came in, and man, after hiding himself from God, was under sentence of death, and was driven out of Eden lest he should eat of the tree of life and live for ever in his sin. Then the way of approach for a sinner to God is revealed in Abel's sacrifice, and the blindness and hardness caused by sin in that of Cain. Though sin and death reigned, God had His witnesses in Enoch and Noah: the former yields a type of the rapture of the heavenly saints, and the latter of the deliverance of the earthly saints through judgement. God made a covenant with Noah in the new earth. In Babel began the spirit of independence of God. Language was confounded and the people were scattered. In Nimrod commenced conquest and royal power still in independence of God. See ABEL, CAIN, ENOCH, NOAH.
A new dealing of God commences in the call of Abraham to leave his country and his kindred. Promise was introduced in him both as to his natural seed in Israel, and blessing to all nations through his seed, Christ. He is separated to God by circumcision. In Abraham and Lot we have types of the heavenly man having power over the world, and the earthly-minded one mixing with the world. Melchisedec is introduced as the type of the priesthood of Christ in the millennium as the 'blessing' priest and king.
Respecting Isaac and Ishmael, the bondwoman and her son, type of the flesh under law, must be cast out, that Isaac the son of promise may inherit all: cf. Galatians 4:22-31
. But the son of promise must be offered up, and be received back as from the dead, then the covenant was established figuratively in resurrection. Isaac must not go to Mesopotamia, the country from whence the heirs of promise had been called out, therefore Abraham sent his steward to obtain a wife for his son — as the Holy Spirit is here now, gathering a bride for Christ. From Isaac spring Jacob and Esau: Jacob obtains his two wives Rachel and Leah, and with them and their maids he begets the heads of the twelve tribes, who are to possess the land as promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. After exercises with God, Jacob is called Israel.
In Joseph a new branch of the history commences: he is hated by his brethren and is sold to the Gentiles, but becomes their saviour — an evident type of Christ in His sufferings and His glory. Joseph takes a Gentile wife in his rejection, as Christ takes a bride outside of Israel. Jacob blesses his twelve sons, dies, and is buried in Canaan; and Joseph, before he died, being sure that God would visit them and bring them out of the land, bade them carry up his bones from Egypt. See ABRAHAM, ISAAC, JACOB, JOSEPH.