About the Book of Genesis
We do not know who wrote the Book of Genesis. And we do not know when that person wrote the book. There is an ancient tradition that Moses was the author. Modern Bible students have many other ideas. But we can see that Genesis is a very old book. Even the oldest books in the Bible refer to it (for example, Exodus 3:15; Job 28:25-29).
The author was not merely collecting ancient stories. And he was not merely recording ancient history. In fact, Genesis is a very careful account, which teaches the main principles in the Bible. The author describes the nature of God. The author explains God’s plan for a perfect world. The author describes *sin and *sacrifice. He speaks about God’s promise to forgive. And, he speaks about God’s promise to send Jesus. The Bible teaches that the author was not merely setting out his own ideas. Instead, the author wrote by the Holy Spirit of God.
v1 In the beginning, God created the skies and the earth. v2 The earth had no shape and it was empty. Everything was dark, and God’s Spirit moved gently over the waters.
v3 And God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And then there was light. v4 And God saw that the light was good. God separated light from darkness. v5 He named the light ‘day’ and he named the darkness ‘night’. There was evening and there was morning. That was the first day.
v6 And God said, ‘Let there be a *dome to divide the waters into two parts.’ v7 So then there was water above the *dome and there was water underneath it. It was exactly as God said. v8 God called the *dome ‘the sky’. And there was evening and there was morning. That was the second day.
v9 And God said, ‘Let the waters underneath the sky come together into one place. Let dry land appear.’ And it was so. v10 God called the dry land ‘earth’. And he called the waters that came together ‘seas’. And God saw that all those things were good. v11 And God said, ‘Let grass grow on the earth. Let plants grow there that have grain and seeds. And let trees grow there. They will be trees with fruits that have seeds. So then more grass and plants and trees will grow. Each one will be the same kind as the first one that it came from.’ And it was so. v12 Grass grew on the earth. Plants grew there that had grain and seeds. And trees grew there. They had fruits with seeds in them. Then more grass, plants and trees would grow like the first ones. And God saw that all those things were good. v13 And there was evening and there was morning. That was the third day.
v14 And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the sky in order to separate day from night. They will show clearly the seasons in the year. And they will show clearly when there must be special meetings. v15 And let them be lights in the *dome that is called the sky. They will be there to give light to earth.’ And it was so. v16 And God made two great lights. The larger light ruled the day, and the smaller light ruled the night. God made the stars too. v17 God put them in the sky in order to give light to the earth. v18 He put them there to rule over the day and night. He put them there to separate light from darkness. God saw that all those things were good. v19 And there was evening and there was morning. That was the fourth day.
v20 And God said, ‘Let very big groups of *creatures live everywhere in the waters. And let birds fly in the sky above the earth.’ v21 So God created large *creatures that live in the sea. And he created all the different *creatures that move everywhere in the seas. He also created all the birds that fly in the sky. God saw that all those things were good. v22 God *blessed them. And he said, ‘Have big families and grow in number. So then you will live everywhere in the seas. And you will fly everywhere in the skies.’ v23 There was evening and there was morning. That was the fifth day.
v24 And God said, ‘Let every kind of *creature grow upon the earth. That is, every kind that lives. That includes *cattle. It includes *creatures that crawl. And it includes all kinds of wild animals.’ And it was so. v25 God made all kinds of wild animals on the earth. He made all kinds of *cattle. And he made all kinds of *creatures that crawl. And God saw that all those things were good.
v26 Then God said, ‘Let us make people as an image that is like ourselves. Let people rule over the fish that are in the sea. Let them rule over the birds that fly in the air. Let them rule over the *cattle and wild animals on the earth. And let them rule over the *creatures that crawl.’
v27 So God created people so that they were like himself. He created people as his image. He created them as man and woman.
v28 God *blessed the people. And he said, ‘Have a large family and produce many *descendants. Live everywhere on the earth and rule over it. Rule over the fish that are in the sea. Rule over the birds that fly in the air. And rule over all *creatures that live on the earth.’
v29 God said, ‘Look! I have given to you every plant that has seeds. And I have given to you every tree that has seeds in its fruit. They are your food. v30 I have given all the green plants as food for the earth’s animals. They are also for the birds that fly in the air. And they are for every *creature that lives on the earth.’ And it was so.
v31 God saw everything that he had made. And it was really very good. There was evening and there was morning. That was the sixth day.
Chapter 1 describes how God created a perfect world. Everything that God made was perfect. God examined his own work. And he saw that it was good.
God made things that are both beautiful and complex. The body of an animal or man has a very complex structure. Even today, people cannot make machines that are so complex as an animal’s body.
But God did not merely make these things from nothing. He caused them to live. This is very wonderful.
God did not work by accident or chance. He had complete control over everything. We can see this because of his control over time. God created the sun so that it would appear at the right time each day. He created the seasons of the year. He arranged the movements of the moon and stars in the sky at night. These things do not happen by chance. They all happen at the right time because this is God’s plan.
God still has a perfect time for things to happen. Jesus was born at the right time (Matthew 1:17; Galatians 4:4). And Jesus will return at the right time (Matthew 24:36). God, our Father, has decided these things. And he still has a perfect plan (Ephesians 1:9-12).
God is perfect. God did not create the world so that there would be wars, cruelty or evil behaviour. He wanted men and women to be his friends. So, he gave them a perfect world. And he provided plants as their food. God was generous and kind. And God’s attitudes have never changed (Hebrews 13:8). But, as we shall see in chapter 3, men and women were not loyal to God. This is the reason for the troubles in this world. God never wanted people to suffer.
Notes on the verses
Verse 1 ‘In the beginning’. The *Hebrew word for ‘beginning’ here is also the *Hebrew title of this book. The usual English title, Genesis, is from a Greek word for ‘beginning’. (Greek is the language that the people in Greece speak. And the New Testament writers wrote in Greek.)
‘God’. God has always existed. And he will exist always. There has never been a time before God. And there will never be a time after God. The *Hebrew word here for God is ‘Elohim’, which is plural. But the *Hebrew word for ‘created’ means that only one person did it. This is because there is one God. The Bible says that he is God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. So Christians sometimes call him ‘the Trinity’ – in other words, ‘three in one’. God plans things and he speaks. But he is not an ordinary person like us. He is the only real God. This entire book called Genesis is about God. (Look at John 1:1-10.)
God ‘created’. The *Hebrew word here for ‘create’ means to make something from nothing. Only God makes something from nothing. The writer uses that word in verse 1, and he uses it in verses 21 and 27 also.
‘The skies and the earth’. That means everything. The writer reminds us about it in Genesis 2:1, 4.
Verse 2 The earth had ‘no shape’ and it was ‘empty’. Until God works, there is only confusion. There is no plan and so there is no system.
‘Everything was dark’. This is like a description or picture for us. It shows what it is like to live without God.
God’s Spirit ‘moved gently’ over the waters. Some birds can hover. It means that they are staying in the same place in the air. But still they are moving their wings. God’s Spirit also did this, like a bird that is looking after its young birds. That was because God cares about his *creation. And so he wants to protect it.
‘The waters’. We are not sure what that means. It might also mean dark gases. It might mean a ‘cloud that consists of darkness’. Or it might mean darkness and waters. The older English texts say ‘the face of the deep’, which means the surface of the sea.
Verse 3 ‘God said’. The words that God speaks are powerful. So when God ordered something to happen, that thing happened immediately.
Let there be ‘light’. We need light in order to live. And when we have light, we can see. We can see what God creates. Light is also like a description or picture for us. It shows what real life with God is like. And it shows what God’s *blessing is like. Also, what it is like when someone is good and holy. God made the light in order to show us his character. Darkness is also like a description or picture. It shows what *sin and death are like.
Verse 4 ‘Good’. Everything that God does is good. That includes every part of his work. It does not only mean the complete work.
Verse 5 ‘The first day’. We do not know how long a day was. The *Jews’ day started at sunset. And the first day consisted of evening and morning. So probably it was like our day. But in the Bible, the word ‘day’ can also mean something special that happens. It means that in the phrase: ‘the day of the *Lord’. It also means that in the phrase: ‘the day of judgement’. (Judgement means when God will punish people for their *sin.)
He ‘named’ the light. When a person gave a name to something, that action often had this special meaning. It meant that the person ruled over that thing.
Verse 8 ‘Sky’. Many Bibles say ‘*heaven’ here. But it does not mean the place where God and the *angels are.
Verse 11 ‘Plants’. These are the first things in *creation that are alive. They are the first things that grow.
Verse 14 ‘Lights’. God was forming the calendar. It included night and day. It included the moon’s movements. (That is, where it was at different times.) And it included the seasons in the year. In the *Old Testament, *religious festivals had to be at the right time each year. (Festivals are happy events that people organise because of some special reason.) Those special times in the year included the time when people harvested their crops.
The sun and moon are just parts of God’s *creation. They are not gods. The one real God rules over them. But some people used the names ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ as the names of false gods. So the writer does not use those names here, otherwise people might have been confused. People might have thought that he meant those false gods.
‘Special meetings’. The *Jews watched the sun’s and moon’s movements. From those, the *Jews worked out each year’s calendar. And from the calendar, they could see when special *religious meetings would be.
Verse 20 Very many ‘*creatures’. When God gives something, he often gives plenty of it. He is generous.
Verse 21 God ‘created’. This was a special phase in *creation. So here the writer uses the special word for ‘created’, as he did in verse 1.
Verse 22 ‘Have big families and grow in number.’ In many English Bibles, this is ‘be *fruitful and multiply’. God gives that command many times to people. It means much more than ‘have large families’. It also means ‘live at peace’. So then the families do not kill each other. They are able to farm and they can produce good harvests. It also means ‘live in a way that pleases God’. We read about that in the *New Testament too. In Galatians 5:22, the writer describes it as the ‘fruit that the Spirit produces’. That ‘fruit’ means good things that please God in our lives. God wanted his people to obey him. He promised that they would be peaceful then. They would not be ill, and they would get rich. That was very important when God’s people were very few. Today, God does not always make his people rich. When they can serve him, that is a reward in itself. And they will have a reward in *heaven too. Look at verse 28 below.
Verse 24 ‘*Creatures that crawl’. Some *creatures live both on land and in the sea. The writer may include those here. He may include insects too. And he may also include reptiles. (A reptile is an animal with hard skin and cold blood. One example is a snake.)
Verse 26 God created people to live in nature. Also, he created them to rule over nature. People are like animals in many ways. However, people are also different from animals. God made them special. God created people to be like himself. God said, ‘Let every kind of animal grow on the earth.’ But he specially ‘created’ people. People can love and they can think. They can know whether their behaviour is right or wrong. People wanted to know God and they wanted to obey him. God made people rulers over everything else that God had made. God said, ‘Let us make people’ because God consists of three persons. Those are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is three persons in one God.
People as a ‘true image like ourselves’. People (the man and the woman) were the only parts of God’s *creation that were like God himself. God did not create anything else that was like himself.
Let people ‘rule’. God gave work to man. Also, God gave responsibility to him.
Verse 27 God ‘created’ people. Here the writer uses that special word again. God was kind to people. People are special to God.
Verse 29 In the beginning, it seems that people and animals did not eat meat. But later Abel (Adam’s son) looked after animals (Genesis 4:2). God did not tell people to kill animals for food until Genesis 9:2-3.
God gave the command that people should have families. He made plants and trees that have seeds. That was so that more plants and trees would grow for food. They would produce food for people and animals.
Verse 31 It was really ‘very good’. God is perfect. And everything that God made was perfect. It was exactly as he had planned.
v1 So God had created the skies and the earth. And he had created the many *creatures in them. He had completed his *creation.
v2 By the seventh day, God had finished his *creation. He had finished that work that he had done. He rested on the seventh day. He rested from all the work that he had done. v3 So God *blessed the seventh day. He considered it different from the other days. He rested then from his work that he had done. He rested from his *creation. That was why he considered it different.
v4 This is the true story about how God created the earth and skies. v5 The *Lord God made the earth and the skies. There were no green plants on the earth, because the *Lord God had not yet sent rain to the earth. There were not yet any people, so nobody could work with the soil. v6 Then a mist came up from the earth, and the mist watered all the soil. v7 Then the *Lord God formed a man from dust that was on the earth. God breathed into the man’s nostrils (the holes in the nose). The breath that God breathed into him made the man live. So the man became a person, who was alive.
v8 The *Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. God put the man that he had formed into that garden. v9 God made all the trees grow there that are pleasant to look at. And their fruit is good to eat. Also, in the middle of the garden, there were these two trees. There was the tree that makes people live. And there was the tree that makes people know right things and wrong things.
v10 A river flowed out of Eden and it watered the garden. The river divided there into four rivers. v11 The first river is called Pishon. It flows all through the region called Havilah. v12 There is good gold in Havilah. There is also bdellium (a kind of sticky stuff that smells good). And there is onyx (a valuable kind of stone). v13 The second river is called Gihon. It flows all through the region called Cush. v14 The third river is called the Tigris. It flows along the east side of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
v15 The *Lord God took the man. And he put the man in the garden that was in Eden. God told the man to work with the soil in the garden. God told him to take care of the garden. v16 The *Lord God gave these orders to Adam. ‘You can eat from all the other trees in the garden. You can eat from them as much fruit as you want. v17 But you must not eat fruit from the tree that makes you know right things and wrong things. You will die on the day when you eat that fruit. That is why you must not eat it.’
v18 Then the *Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper as a partner for him.’
v19 So the *Lord God had formed from dust all the animals on land. And he had formed all the birds that fly in the air. God brought the animals and birds to Adam. God wanted to see what names Adam would give to them. That was why he brought them to him. Whatever name Adam gave, that was the name for each *creature. v20 Adam gave names to all *cattle. He gave names to all the birds that fly in the air. And he gave names to all the wild animals on the earth. But none among them was a good helper that could be Adam’s partner. v21 So the *Lord God made Adam sleep deeply. While Adam slept, God took one rib out of Adam. (A rib is a bone in the top part of someone’s body.) Then God closed up the place where that bone had been. v22 The *Lord God made a woman from the rib (bone) that he had taken out of the man. Then God brought her to the man.
v23 Then the man said, ‘This, at last, is my bone and *flesh. I shall call her “woman”, because she came out of man.’ v24 Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and he joins his wife. Then the two people become one person.
v25 And the man and his wife were both naked. And they did not think that it was wrong.
Everything that God created was perfect. And everything was wonderful. But men and women had a special place in God’s plan. Firstly, God created a perfect world for the first man to live in. Then God prepared a special home for the man. This home was in a beautiful garden (or farm) that God had planted. God made the man (called Adam) from dust that was on the earth. Then God breathed his Spirit into the man, so that the man was alive (verse 7). Afterwards, God provided a wife (called Eve) for the man.
Notes on the verses
Verse 1 God completed his *creation. However, he is still working. He has not stopped. But it is different work. He now looks after all that he created.
Verse 2 God repeated that he finished his work. This means the work that he did in *creation. It must be very important for us to know this.
Verse 3 God made the seventh (7th) day special. God made us like himself. After we work for six (6) days, we need one different day. *Jews keep Saturday (the seventh day in the week) special, because of this verse. And it is also because of God’s command in Exodus 20:10. Christians keep Sunday (the first day in the week) special, because Jesus rose from death on the first day. It does not matter whether our special day is the first or seventh day in our week. It is important that we keep one day in a week different. We *worship God together on that day, if we can. We need to have a rest for one day each week to keep our bodies healthy. When we have God’s *blessings, we have duties as well. He has provided a day when we should rest. But we must make it special for God. This is like a description or picture for us. It shows to us something about Jesus. He was dying for us on the cross. That was his work. Then he said, ‘It is finished.’ He had finished that work. But now he lives in heaven to pray for us. God has promised a ‘rest’ for Christians in heaven. That rest will last always. But it does not mean that we shall do nothing there. We shall praise God and we shall serve him.
The garden in Eden, 2:4-25
Verse 4 This story seems similar to the one in chapter 1. This story in chapter 2, however, is the story about man. It is about how God made everything ready for man. The *Hebrew word for ‘true story’ means family or children. It refers back to the many *creatures in verse 1. It can mean past history. Or it can mean future history. Writers use that same word in other places in the Bible. And in those places it means future history.
Verse 7 God made the first man from dust. But God made him special. God breathed into him. God’s breath made the man alive. The same *Hebrew word for ‘breath’ means ‘spirit’ also. So God gave his Spirit to the man, so that his Spirit would live in the man. God also made the man able to breathe air. That was so that the man could live on the earth. Man’s spirit lives as well as his body. But that is not true for animals. God did not breathe his Spirit into animals. The writer says that God formed man. So, God made man as a potter forms a pot. (A potter makes pots skilfully from *clay.) That shows to us how clever God is. It shows to us that we must serve him. And we must obey him as our master. We must obey him because he created us.
Verse 8 Eden seems to be the name of a region.
Verse 12 Bdellium may be a particular kind of tree. The tree produces a sticky stuff (also called bdellium). People use that sticky stuff to make perfume. (Perfume is a liquid that smells nice.) Or the word might mean pearls. (Pearls are shiny white little balls of hard material. They are valuable. People use them to make things beautiful.) Onyx is a kind of valuable stone. We are not certain exactly what these two things are.
Verses 11-14. We do not know the Pishon River today. Nor do we know the Gihon River. However, it is important to know this. Eden was an actual place. This is all true. The rivers flowed out of the garden. They came to places outside it. And so they helped things to live there too. Water is very important in a hot area. Look at Ezekiel chapter 47.
Verse 15 God took care of Adam. And God took Adam to the garden that God had prepared for him. God gave work for Adam to do. Adam’s work was to look after the garden. A better word than ‘garden’ here might be ‘farm’ (like an African farm called a ‘shamba’). The garden was not just a pretty place with flowers and trees. But it was important for food also.
Verse 17 God gave Adam an important command. So Adam was responsible to God. As we shall see in chapter 3, Adam did not obey God’s command. In the garden, Adam had the freedom to be a friend of God. But Adam did not want this freedom. Instead, he wanted the freedom to do whatever things he wanted to do. He wanted to live his own life, without God’s friendship. So Adam chose to do evil things, although God had warned him about the results of such a decision.
‘You will die.’ Death was not part of God’s original plan for men and women. God wanted them to live always and to be his friends. But when men and women began to do evil things, the result was death. Their bodies did not die immediately. But their spirits were dead, because they were not still friends of God. And so they could not go to be with God in heaven when their bodies died.
Adam’s decision to do evil things causes death for everyone. But Christ brings life to everyone who trusts him (1 Corinthians 15:21). Our spirits become alive immediately when we trust Christ. We must confess our *sins to God and we must invite him into our lives. Then we become friends of God. And we shall have a place in heaven. Christ has defeated death, but our bodies still die (1 Corinthians 15:26). But when Christ returns, God will change us (1 Corinthians 15:51). Then Christians who have died will become alive again. And we shall always live with God.
Verse 20 God gave Adam control over everything in the garden. So, Adam chose the name for each animal and bird that was there.
God was very careful that Adam should have a good partner to be his wife.
Verse 21 God made Adam from the dust. But God made Eve from Adam’s own body. This is also like a description or picture of Christ and the church (all the real Christians everywhere). See Ephesians 5:31-32. The Bible also describes the church as ‘the bride of Christ’ and ‘the body of Christ’ (Ephesians 5:23-27). So the church is united with Christ. And the church serves Christ. But the church is also separate from Christ. Christ does not control Christians. Christians have the freedom to make their own decisions.
Verse 23 Adam was very pleased with the woman that God gave him.
Verse 24 Marriage is God’s plan for a man and a woman. Marriage should last for life. A man and his wife become a new family. They live together and they work together, under God’s rules.
Adam and Eve do not obey God, 3:1-7
v1 Now the snake was the most clever among all the wild animals that the *Lord God had made. The snake said this to the woman: ‘Did God say that you can eat the fruit from all the trees in the garden?’
v2 This is how the woman answered the snake. ‘We can eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. v3 But God said, “You must not eat the fruit from a certain tree. That tree is in the middle of the garden. Do not even touch it, otherwise you will die.” ’
v4 But the snake replied to the woman, ‘You will not die. v5 But when you eat the fruit, your eyes will open. God knows that. You will be like God and you will know right things and wrong things.’
v6 So the woman saw that the fruit was good to eat. And she saw that it was lovely to look at. She also thought that it would make her wise. She then took some fruit and she ate it. She also gave some fruit to her husband and he ate it. v7 Then their eyes opened. They realised that they were naked. They sewed together leaves from a fig tree to cover themselves. (Figs are sweet fruit with many seeds.)
v8 The man and woman heard God walk in the garden in the cool evening. They hid away from God. They hid among the trees in the garden. v9 But the *Lord God called aloud to the man. God said, ‘Where are you?’
v10 The man said, ‘I heard you in the garden. And I was afraid, because I was naked. So I hid.’
v11 God said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten the fruit that I told you not to eat?’
v12 The man replied, ‘You gave the woman to me so that she would be my partner. She gave the fruit to me and I ate.’
v13 Then the *Lord God said to the woman, ‘What have you done?’ The woman replied, ‘The snake tempted me and I ate.’
v14 The *Lord God said this to the snake: ‘Out of all the *cattle and wild animals, you are the animal that I *curse. You shall move on your stomach and you shall eat dust all your life. v15 I will make you and the woman enemies. Your *descendants and her *descendants will be enemies. The woman’s *descendant will badly hurt you, and you will hurt him a little.’
v16 God told the woman that she would have a lot of pain when she was *pregnant. And she would have a lot of pain when she had a baby. She would want her husband’s love, but he would rule over her.
v17 God told Adam, ‘You listened to what your wife said. You ate the fruit from the tree that I told you not to eat from. Now, because you have not obeyed me, the ground has a *curse. You will work hard all your life in order to get food from it.
v18 You will find thorns and thistles there. (Both are wild plants with sharp points along them.) You will eat wild plants.
v19 You will *sweat in order to grow food. That will happen until you die. And then people will bury you. I made you from the dust, and you will again be dust.’
v20 The man called his wife Eve. She would be the mother of all those that would live. That is why he gave her that name.
v21 And the *Lord God made clothes out of skin for Adam and Eve. They wore the clothes. v22 Then the *Lord God said, ‘Now, the man has become like us. He knows good things and evil things. Now, he might reach forward with his hand. Then he might pick fruit from the tree that makes people live. And then he might eat that fruit, and so he would live for always.’ v23 And so the *Lord God sent the man out of the garden that was in Eden. God sent him out for always. God had made the man out of the soil. And now God told him to work with the soil. v24 God forced the man to go out. Then God put *cherubim to guard the garden in Eden. They were at the east side of the garden. There was a sword with them and flames were coming from it. The sword moved in all directions to guard every way to the tree. That is, the tree that makes people live.
This chapter is a very important chapter because it helps us to understand the Bible’s message. Before the events in this chapter, the world was perfect. People had not *sinned. They obeyed God. And they were friends of God. Everything changed after the events in this chapter.
Satan (the devil) used a snake to test the first people (called Adam and Eve). Satan told them that they should not trust God’s words. And Satan encouraged them not to obey God.
The results of their action were terrible. They were afraid and they tried to hide from God. They could not continue their friendship with God.
But, even afterwards, God was kind to them. He killed an animal so that they could cover their bodies. And he made a promise to Eve that seems to refer to Jesus. *Sin has been a real problem for every person who has ever lived. Because of *sin, our world is not perfect. Because of *sin, we have many troubles. But Jesus came to free us from our *sins. When he died, he suffered the punishment for our *sins. We need to confess our *sins to God. And we need to invite God into our lives. Then we shall be friends of God.
Notes on the verses
Verse 1 God had made the snake. But *Satan was using it to do something against God’s command. The snake was able to talk to the woman. That shows that it was not an ordinary snake. There was only one tree whose fruit God had forbidden the woman to eat. But the snake made her want that fruit. The snake made her think that God was not speaking the truth. It made her think that God did not care about her and Adam.
Verse 3 The woman spoke as if God had given a very strict command. She said that God had ordered her and Adam, ‘Do not even touch it (the fruit).’ But God had not said that.
Verse 4 The snake then denied what God had said. The snake said, ‘You will not die.’
Verse 5 ‘Your eyes will open’. Writers in the Bible often say that. It does not mean that we cannot see things round us now. It means that we do not understand about God. The woman was greedy. She wanted the fruit and she wanted to be like God. However, God had made the woman like himself already. God had given power to her and her husband, so that they had power over everything else. The woman could have sent the snake away.
Verse 7 ‘Their eyes opened’. *Sin affects all parts of us. Adam and Eve were not actually blind before. But now they saw that they had done something wrong. In other words, they understood it with their mind. They ate the fruit with their bodies, because they were not obeying God with their mind. Then they felt ashamed because they were naked.
Adam and Eve suffer because they *sinned, 3:8-24
Verse 8 The writer described the garden very well. Before Adam and Eve ate that fruit, they had liked to meet God. But we can imagine how Adam and Eve then hid from God. However, people cannot really hide from God, although they may try!
Verse 12 Adam blamed his wife Eve. And Adam even blamed God, because God had given Eve to him!
Verse 13 Eve blamed the snake. People are afraid to say, ‘I did it. I *sinned.’
Verse 14 God punished the snake first.
Verse 15 Next, God punished *Satan, who had seemed to be like the snake. In the original *Hebrew text, God said that the woman’s ‘seed’ (*descendant) would ‘bruise *Satan’s head’. That means that Jesus would hurt *Satan badly. But *Satan’s ‘seed’ (*descendant) would only ‘hurt Jesus’ *heel’. In other words, he would annoy Jesus. But he would not hurt Jesus seriously. Here, the writer uses a different word. It means only ‘hurt in some way’. It does not have the special meaning ‘bruise’.
Verse 16 Next, God explained to the woman the results of her *sin. She would suffer pain. Even the happy time when she had a baby would cause pain. But a woman would still desire a husband and children. And, of course, in verse 15, God had promised that the woman would receive something good by her *descendant or child. Her *descendant would oppose the devil. Her *descendant would free people from the devil’s power, like someone who uses his foot to break a snake’s head. Jesus was the woman’s *descendant. And he did these things when he died for us (Galatians 4:4-5).
There is a special promise to women in 1 Timothy 2:15. This verse says, ‘God will save women during the birth of a child if they continue to trust him. He will do that if they continue to love him. He will do it if they are holy and modest.’
Verse 17 God explained to Adam the results of his *sin. Adam would have to work hard for his food.
Verse 18 The garden in Eden was a nice one, which God designed for Adam. But Adam would not continue to live in that kind of garden.
Verse 19 Adam would have to prepare his own garden.
Verse 20 Eve means ‘someone that gives life’.
Verse 21 In this verse, we see how God showed Adam to *sacrifice animals because of *sin. That was like a picture (or a special description). It showed what Jesus would suffer. People would kill Jesus too, like the animals. He, too, had to suffer because of people’s *sin.
Skin from an animal would protect people better than leaves protected them. (Look at verse 7.) Also, an animal’s skin was warmer than leaves.
Verse 22 Jesus suffered because of people’s *sin. So he knew what *sin was like. People had started to *sin. And *sin causes people to suffer. *Sin is very bad for people. So God did not want people to eat fruit from the tree that makes people live. That was because they would then always live in that bad state. So they would always continue to suffer terribly.
Verse 23 The *cherubim were God’s special servants that guarded *holy things and *holy places. Later, someone sewed a design onto the curtain that people put in the *Temple. In that design, there were pictures that showed *cherubim. When Jesus died, God tore that curtain into two pieces (Matthew 27:51). That action has a special meaning for us. It means that we can now come to God because of Jesus.
v1 Then Adam lay with his wife Eve. Eve became *pregnant and she had a baby. She called him Cain. She said, ‘With the *Lord’s help, I have gained a man.’ v2 Later she had another baby, Cain’s brother Abel.
Now Abel looked after sheep and Cain worked with the soil. v3 After some time, Cain brought some fruit from his land. He brought it because he intended to offer the fruit to the *Lord. v4 But Abel brought some pieces of meat with fat. They were from some sheep in his *flock. Those sheep were born first, before the other sheep were born. The *Lord was pleased with Abel. And he was pleased with Abel’s *offering. v5 But he was not pleased with Cain. And he was not pleased with Cain’s *offering. So Cain was very angry. And his face showed that he had a lot of hate.
v6 Then the *Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you so angry? Why does your face show a lot of hate? If you do the right thing, I will certainly accept you. v7 But if you do not do the right thing, *sin can come in. *Sin is like an animal that is waiting at your door. It has bent down low on the ground, so that it is ready to catch you. *Sin wants to overcome you, but you must rule over it.’
v8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out to the field.’ While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel. He killed Abel.
v9 Then the *Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ Cain replied, ‘I do not know. Should I be looking after him?’
v10 The *Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen. Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. v11 Now you have a *curse. And I am forcing you to go away from the land. You killed your brother and you made his blood fall to the ground. And the earth received his blood. v12 So when you work with the soil, it will not produce crops for you any longer. You will wander about on the earth and you will have no rest.’
v13 Cain said to the *Lord, ‘You are punishing me too severely. v14 Today you are forcing me to go away from the land. You are sending me away from you for always. I will wander about on the earth and I will have no rest. Anyone that finds me will kill me.’
v15 But the *Lord said to Cain, ‘For that reason, if anyone kills Cain, I will punish the killer 7 times.’ Then the *Lord put a mark on Cain. Therefore, if anyone found him, they would not kill him. v16 So Cain went away from God. And he lived in the region called Nod, which was east from Eden.
v17 Cain lay with his wife. She became *pregnant. And she had a baby, whom she called Enoch. Cain built a city. He called the city Enoch because of his son’s name. v18 Enoch was Irad’s father. Irad was Mehujael’s father. Mehujael was Methushael’s father. Methushael was Lamech’s father.
v19 Lamech had two wives. One wife was called Adah, and the other wife was called Zillah. v20 Zillah had a baby called Jabal. Jabal was the father of those that live in tents. They also look after *cattle. v21 Jabal’s brother was called Jubal. Jubal was the father of all those that play the *harp and *flute. v22 Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain. Tubal-Cain taught all those that worked with the metals called bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.
v23 Lamech said to his wives Adah and Zillah, ‘Listen to me. My wives, listen carefully. I have killed a man because I received an injury from him. He was a young man that hurt me. v24 If any person hurts Cain, God will punish that person 7 times. So if any person hurts me (Lamech), God will punish that person 77 times.’
v25 Adam lay with his wife again and she had a baby son. So she called him Seth. She said, ‘Cain killed Abel. But God has given to me another child instead of Abel.’ v26 Seth also had a son. He called his son Enosh. Then people began to call the *Lord’s name.
Adam and Eve had two sons, called Cain and Abel. God had promised in Genesis 3:15 that Eve’s *descendant would free people from the power of *sin. So perhaps Eve hoped that these *descendants would achieve this. If so, their lives would disappoint her. Cain, who was the first child ever to be born, became a murderer. And Abel, who tried to serve God, died at a very young age. Their lives show the effects of *sin.
The most important event in Cain’s and Abel’s lives happened when they decided to give a gift to God. After Adam and Eve *sinned, God killed an animal. Then, God used its skin as clothes, in order to cover Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). *Sin required a *sacrifice. Abel seemed to understand this principle. He realised that his own efforts could not please God. Something had to die. That is also why Jesus had to die for our *sins. Jesus is like the perfect *lamb of God (1 Peter 1:18-19). Nobody can please God by his or her own efforts. Instead, we must humbly confess our *sin to God. God forgives us because of Jesus.
But Cain did not realise that he needed to bring a *sacrifice. He chose some fruit as a gift to God. And Cain’s attitude was not humble. When God refused Cain’s gift, Cain was very angry. Cain did not try to find out his error. And he did not offer a *sacrifice. Instead, he felt very jealous. And that is why he killed Abel.
Cain’s *descendants were wicked people. They had many skills, but they refused to serve God. But Eve had another son. And his *descendants began to think about God again.
Notes on the verses
Cain and Abel, 4:1-16
Verse 1 Adam ‘lay with his wife’. In the *Hebrew, it is ‘Adam knew his wife.’ The *Hebrew name ‘Adam’ is the same as the *Hebrew word for ‘the man’. The *Hebrew name for ‘Eve’ means ‘alive’.
In *Hebrew, people’s names had meanings. So did places’ names. The writers often ‘played’ with words. In the same sentence, they often used two words that sounded nearly the same.
The name ‘Cain’ means ‘produced’.
Verse 2 The name ‘Abel’ means ‘breath’, ‘with a short life’, or ‘without meaning’. Maybe this refers to Abel’s short life.
Verses 3-5 God wanted people to offer to him animals rather than fruit. Later, people *sacrificed animals to God. The animals’ death was like a description or picture for us. It shows us how Jesus would die. In that way, he would suffer the punishment for our *sins. Abel took trouble to give God the best gift that he could give. The first *lambs were usually the healthiest ones and they were usually the fattest ones.
But Cain’s gift was not the *sacrifice of an animal. He brought some fruit that he had produced on his farm. He thought that his own efforts were enough to please God.
God knew what Cain and Abel were thinking. God showed Cain that he did not accept Cain’s *offering. God showed Abel that he accepted Abel’s *lamb. But we do not know how God showed those facts to them.
Verse 7 The writer describes *sin as if it is a wild animal. That ‘animal’ was bending down low on the ground and it was waiting. It was ready to jump suddenly onto Cain. And then it would catch Cain and it would overcome him. In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter writes this: ‘The devil is your enemy. He is like a lion. A lion walks about and he makes a loud noise. He walks about because he is looking for someone to eat.’ God wanted Cain to do the right thing. Cain too could kill an animal as a *sacrifice to God. Then God would be pleased with Cain. But Cain refused to live in the way that God wanted him to live. Cain’s attitudes were still wrong.
Verse 8 An important *Hebrew text does not include the words, ‘Let us go out to the field.’ But many other *Hebrew texts have it. The story about Abel’s death is very brief. We realise how bad it was. Cain killed his own brother, Abel, because Abel was a good man. And, Cain killed him because Cain’s deeds were evil (1 John 3:12).
Verse 9 God had known where Adam and Eve were hiding. But God had asked where they were. Then they would be able to say that they were sorry. They should have been sorry because they had not obeyed God. Similarly, God asked Cain what he (Cain) had done. Then he could say that he was sorry. But Cain was not sorry and he lied. But God knows what we are really like. So we cannot lie to God.
Verses 10-14 God has made people in his image. It is very evil to kill another person. We must allow God to be the judge over people. Later, God told the *Israelites how to punish murderers. He gave exact rules to the *Israelites about that. The word ‘cries’ here is a very strong word in *Hebrew. It is like a man’s cry for food when he is starving. Or it is like a woman’s cry when someone is *raping her. Abel himself could not still cry aloud, because Cain had killed him. But now it was as if Abel’s blood was crying aloud instead of Abel. Blood means murder, which God hates. God hears his people’s desperate cries. Abel’s body had died. So God had not saved Abel from that. But God punished Cain because Cain had killed Abel.
Verses 15-16 ‘More than seven times’. We do not know what ‘seven times’ means here. Perhaps it just means ‘very much’. In the Bible, numbers often have special meanings. The number 7 means that something is complete.
We do not know what Cain’s mark was. The name ‘Cain’ is like the *Hebrew word for ‘shall receive punishment’. All Cain’s life, the mark reminded him about his *sin. And it reminded him also that God was still protecting him. By means of that mark, God warned other people not to hurt Cain.
We do not know how many people there were on earth. The family grew quickly.
‘Nod’ means that someone is ‘wandering’.
Cain’s family, 4:17-24
Verses 17-19 We do not know who Cain’s wife was. Adam and Eve may have had other children.
It is not clear whether Cain built a city. It is possible that his son Enoch built it. The word for ‘city’ might in fact mean a very small place.
Verses 20-22 Cain’s *descendants had great skills. But they opposed God. And Lamech himself was a very evil man.
Verse 23 Lamech was proud about his *sin. He had killed a young man (perhaps even a boy) because the boy had hurt him! In the *New Testament, Jesus told Peter how many times he (Peter) should forgive people. It was a very large number, ‘70 times 7’. Maybe Jesus was thinking about Lamech then.
Adam’s family from Adam to Noah, 4:25-5:32
Verse 25 ‘Seth’ means that someone had ‘given’ something. God had given Seth to Eve. In other words, Seth was born. God had not forgotten his promise. God had promised that someone from among Adam’s *descendants would save the earth’s people (Genesis 3:15).
Verse 26 People began to ‘call the *Lord’s name’. People began to think about God. That may mean that they prayed to him. It may mean that they talked about him. And they talked also about everything that he did. It may mean that they possibly called themselves ‘the *Lord’s people’.
This chapter is very important. Its writer tells us about people that really lived. That is why it is important. He tells us what some people were like at that time. These events really happened.
v1 This is the account about Adam and his family. On the day when God created Adam, he made Adam like God. v2 God created man and woman. God *blessed them. He called them Adam on the day when he created them.
v3 When Adam had lived for 130 years, he became the father of a son. The son was like Adam himself. The son was like Adam’s own image. Adam called his son Seth. v4 After Seth was born, Adam lived for 800 more years. Adam had other sons and daughters. v5 His whole life lasted 930 years, and then he died.
v6 When Seth had lived for 105 years, he became Enosh’s father. v7 After Enosh was born, Seth lived for 807 more years. Seth had other sons and daughters. v8 His whole life lasted 912 years. Then he died.
v9 When Enosh had lived for 90 years, he became Kenan’s father. v10 After Kenan was born, Enosh lived for 815 more years. Enosh had other sons and daughters. v11 His whole life lasted 905 years. Then he died.
v12 When Kenan had lived for 70 years, he became Mahalalel’s father. v13 After Mahalalel was born, Kenan lived for 840 more years. Kenan had other sons and daughters. v14 His whole life lasted 910 years. Then he died.
v15 When Mahalalel had lived for 65 years, he became Jared’s father. v16 After Jared was born, Mahalalel lived for 830 more years. Mahalalel had other sons and daughters. v17 His whole life lasted 895 years. Then he died.
v18 When Jared had lived for 162 years, he became Enoch’s father. v19 After Enoch was born, Jared lived for 800 more years. Jared had other sons and daughters. v20 His whole life lasted 962 years, and then he died.
v21 When Enoch had lived for 65 years, he became Methuselah’s father. v22 After Methuselah was born, Enoch lived for 300 more years. Enoch was walking with God. He had other sons and daughters. v23 His whole life lasted 365 years. v24 Then Enoch walked with God and Enoch disappeared. God took him away.
v25 When Methuselah had lived for 187 years, he became Lamech’s father. v26 After Lamech was born, Methuselah lived for 782 more years. Methuselah had other sons and daughters. v27 His whole life lasted for 969 years, and then he died.
v28 When Lamech had lived for 182 years, he became the father of a son. v29 Lamech called his son Noah. He said, ‘We pray that this son will bring rest to us from this hard work. It is hard work to farm the ground because God has *cursed the ground.’ v30 After Noah was born, Lamech lived for 595 more years. Lamech had other sons and daughters. v31 His whole life lasted for 777 years, and then he died. v32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.
This chapter contrasts with Genesis 4:17-24. Chapter 4 contains a list of Cain’s *descendants. Cain’s *descendants had many skills, but they were very wicked. They became a very large family but they all died in the flood.
But Chapter 5 gives us a list of Adam’s *descendants by Seth. Among this large family were several people who really served God.
Especially, Enoch’s life interests us (verses 21-24). Enoch ‘walked with God’. This means that Enoch had a special relationship or friendship with God. In fact, his friendship was so special that God did not allow Enoch to die. Compare Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11-12.
Notes on the verses
Verse 1 The words in this verse show that it starts a new section in Genesis. (Look at Genesis 2:4; 6:9; 10:1.) It starts the account about Adam’s *descendants that came from his son Seth.
‘This is the account about Adam and his family.’ The *Hebrew text here actually means ‘the book about Adam’s family’.
Verses 3-32 It is possible that there are gaps in this account. A man in the list may have been the next person’s grandfather or *ancestor. He may not have been the actual father. However, it is likely that there are no gaps. That is because the writer gives exact ages. The earth might be a lot older than Genesis seems to show. Many people have that belief. However, scientists are not at all certain how old the earth is. It does not matter if days and years were a different length then. We know that God made the earth. And he made everything in it. If time was different then, it does not make God less wonderful. And it does not make man less wicked. We trust God.
At that time, people lived longer. Life was healthier. There were not so many illnesses.
Enoch (verse 18) and Lamech (verse 25) were also names of Cain’s *descendants.
In verse 22, Enoch ‘walked’ with God. The writer uses the same word here as when God was walking in Eden. You can read more about Enoch in Jude 14-15.
In verse 25, we read about ‘Methuselah’. We do not know what that name meant. Someone has said that it meant this: ‘When he dies, it will happen.’ (‘It’ here means the flood.) If so, Methuselah lived a long time because God gave extra time to wicked men. God gave them extra time so that they could change their behaviour. Also, the name may mean just ‘he dies’. That reminds us that we all die, even if we may live for a very long time.
In verse 29, Noah sounds like ‘rest’ in *Hebrew.
In verse 32, Noah’s sons were in fact born at different times.