Initially I was going to use either my New King James or ESV translation for this read-along, but I recently acquired an Orthodox study bible so I thought it might be interesting to read it. There are extra books included in the Old Testament accepted by the Orthodox church that I’ve always wanted to read and what better time than this read-along? So here we go ……..
The name Pentateuch is used to refer to the first five books of the old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. A Greek word meaning “five scrolls”, it was popularized during the first century, however the Hebrew speaking Jewish people called these five books the Torah or “instruction”. It is best read as a five-book volume.
Genesis begins with the breaking of the relationship between God and man and continues with the restoration of it through his convenant with Abraham.
The author of Genesis is unknown. There is no evidence to connect anyone to it, however as the other books of the Torah are connected to Moses and most of biblical literature treats the Torah as a unit, a sensible guess would label Moses as the author, although at least some of the material would have existed before his time.
|Presentation of the Torah (1860)|
Genesis 1-11 (Primeval History)
……. In the beginning God made heaven and earth.
Chapter 1 takes us from the beginning of creation to the end of the sixth day.
In the beginning, the earth was “invisible and unfinished”. …
- Day 1: God made light and divided it from the darkness.
- Day 2: God divided the waters from the “firmament” and made Heaven
- Day 3: God gathered the waters together and called the waters, “Sea” and the land, “Earth” The Earth bore grasses and (fruit) trees each according to their seed.
- Day 4: God made the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night, dividing light from darkness, as well as signs for seasons, days and years.
- Day 5: God made creatures of the sea and birds of the air.
- Day 6: God had the Earth bring forth living creatures according to their kind. He made man in His image, giving him dominion over living things, then he created woman. Everything the plants and trees produce are food for man and the animals.
|The Garden of Eden (copy of Jan Brueghel 1661)|
Frederik Bouttats the elder
source Art UK
- Day 7: God rested, and blessed this day, sanctifying it.
There had been no rain and when God made Man; a huge fountain came out of the Earth, watering it and God made man from the dust.
God made a garden (The Garden of Eden) where every beautiful tree grew including the tree of “learning the knowledge of good and evil”. A river with four heads flowed through the garden, Pishon circling the land of Havilah, Gihon which circles Ethiopia, the Tigris near the Assyrians and the Euphrates.
God placed man in the garden, commanding him not to eat of the tree of good and evil, then decided,
“It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Although God brought all the animals and birds, as none were comparable to Adam, God put him to sleep, removed a rib and turned it into “woman”. She was “flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone” and they were one.
They were naked and unashamed.
|Adam and Eve chased out of theTerrestrial Paradise (1841)|
source Wikimedia Commons
The serpent tempted the woman, promising she’d be like God if she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She complied and convinced Adam to eat as well, but when they heard God, they hid. Their sin was revealed whereupon Adam blamed the woman and the woman blamed the serpent. As punishment, God declared the serpent would crawl on its belly and would have enmity with man and vice versa, women would have pains at childbirth and be subject to their husbands, and men would toil the earth for survival. And finally the woman was named: “So Adam called his wife’s name Life, because she was the mother of all living.”
Because God was concerned that the pair would also eat of the tree of life and live forever, he clothed them and cast them out of the garden, stationing a cherubim with a fiery sword at the door.
Rather than literally die, Adam and Eve’s (Life’s) old paradisical life died to them and they entered a new harsher one.
Eve gives birth to a son called Cain and next, a brother, Abel is born. Abel was a shepherd and Cain a tiller (farmer); both brothers bring sacrifices to God but while God “respected” Abel’s offering, he did not “respect” Cain’s.
“… Did you not sin, even though you brought it rightly, but did not divide it rightly?”
Cain in his anger and jealousy rose up and killed his brother. When God asked where Abel was, Cain gives the famous response:
“I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
However, God knows his sin and curses him from the earth which will no longer give him sustenance but He also forbids anyone to kill Cain who goes to dwell in the land of Nod, opposite Eden.
Cain has a son, Enoch, whom he names the city he builds after, then proceeds a genealogical list of Cain’s family.
Adam and Eve have another son, Seth.
We have a list of the descendents of Adam, beginning with Seth. Some live 700 or even 900 years, others in the hundreds. The list ends with Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Men began to exist in great numbers on the Earth and the sons of God began to marry the daughters of men (I’m puzzled by the distinction between the two). God was grieved at men’s wickedness on earth as “every intent of the thoughts within his heart was only evil continually.” He planned to destroy all he had created but Noah “found grace in the presence of Lord God.” He commanded Noah to build an ark.
“And behold, I am bringing a flood of water on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life. Whatever is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you: and you shall go into the ark — you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. From every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you …”
Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came. It rained forty days and nights. Water covered the highest mountains and all mankind was blotted out. The waters stayed for 150 days.
|The Deluge (1834)|
The rains ceased and God sent a wind to help the water subside. On the seventh month and the seventeenth day the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. On the first day of the tenth month, the tops of the mountains could be seen. Noah sent out a raven and a dove but neither could find a resting place. Seven days later, after being sent out, the dove returned with an olive leaf. The waters had receeded! Seven days later the dove returned not and Noah left the ark, building an altar to sacrifice to the Lord. The Lord promised never again to send a flood to destroy man even though man’s inclination was to do evil.
|Dankgebet nach Verlassen der Arche Noah (1901)|
source Wikimedia Commons
God now appears to give Noah a new authority over the animals and says that “every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” (assuming because of the flood there will not be enough vegetation and man will now have to eat meat to survive?) God makes a covenant with Noah never to destroy the earth again and sets a rainbow in the sky as a sign. Noah becomes a husbandman and plants a vineyard but becomes drunk and naked. Ham tells his brothers of his father’s indiscretion but Shem and Japheth cover their father without looking at him. Noah later curses Ham and blesses his other two sons. Noah died at 950 years of age.
We receive the geneology of Noah through his three sons, mentioning Nimrod who was a descendent of Ham and became giant-like and built cities.
Mankind has one language and speech and decides to build a city and temple to hold themselves in unity and power, but God descends and confuses their language so they were unintelligible to each other. He then scattered the people over the earth and the city and tower were called Babel because of it.
Now follows a geneology of Shem to Terah (most people are only living 100-300 years now), the father of Abram. Terah also had sons named Nahor and Haran, who begot Lot. Terah led his family out of Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan and when they reached Haran, they dwelt there.
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