Part One.
Old Testament Books

Genesis

1. Book by book: Introduction to Genesis

Introduction

The Pentateuch

The Pentateuch, the name by which the first five books of the Bible are designated, is derived from two Greek words, pente, "five," and teuchos, a "volume," thus signifying the fivefold volume. Originally these books formed one continuous work, as in the Hebrew manuscripts they are still connected in one unbroken roll. At what time they were divided into five portions, each having a separate title, is not known, but it is certain that the distinction dates at or before the time of the Septuagint translation. The names they bear in our English version are borrowed from the Septuagint, and they were applied by those Greek translators as descriptive of the principal subjects—the leading contents of the respective books. In the later Scriptures they are frequently referred to under the general title, The Law or The Book of the Law. since, to give a detailed account of the preparations for and the delivery of, the divine code, with all the civil and sacred institutions that were peculiar to the ancient economy, is the object to which they are exclusively devoted.

They have always been placed at the beginning of the Bible, not only on account of their priority in point of time, but as forming an appropriate and indispensable introduction to the rest of the sacred books. The numerous and oft-recurring references made in the later Scriptures to the events, the ritual, and the doctrines of the ancient Church would have not only lost much of their point and significance, but would have been absolutely unintelligible without the information which these five books contain. They constitute the groundwork or basis on which the whole fabric of revelation rests, and a knowledge of the authority and importance that is thus attached to them will sufficiently account for the determined assaults that infidels have made on these books, as well as for the zeal and earnestness which the friends of the truth have displayed in their defense.

Author

The Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch is established by the concurring voices both of Jewish and Christian tradition; and their unanimous testimony is supported by the internal character and statements of the work itself. That Moses did keep a written record of the important transactions relative to the Israelites is attested by his own express affirmation. For in relating the victory over the Amalekites, which he was commanded by divine authority to record, the language employed, "write this for a memorial in a book" (Hebrew, "the book"), (Exodus 17:14), shows that that narrative was to form part of a register already in progress, and various circumstances combine to prove that this register was a continuous history of the special goodness and care of divine providence in the choice, protection, and guidance of the Hebrew nation.

First, there are the repeated assertions of Moses himself that the events which checkered the experience of that people were written down as they occurred (see Exodus 24:4-7; 34:27; Numbers 33:2).

Secondly, there are the testimonies borne in various parts of the later historical books to the Pentateuch as a work well known, and familiar to all the people (see Joshua 1:8; 23:6; 24:26; 1 Kings 2:3, etc.)

Thirdly, frequent references are made in the works of the prophets to the facts recorded in the books of Moses (compare Isaiah 1:9 with Genesis 19:1; Isaiah 12:2 with Exodus 15:2; Isaiah 51:2 with Genesis 12:2; Isaiah 54:9 with Genesis 8:21, 22; compare Hosea 9:10 with Numbers 25:3; Hosea 11:8 with Genesis 19:24; Hosea 12:4 with Genesis 32:24, 25; Hosea 12:12 with Genesis 28:5; 29:20; compare Joel 1:9 with Numbers 15:4-7; 28:7-14; Deuteronomy 12:6, 7; 16:10, 11; compare Amos 2:9 with Numbers 21:21; Amos 4:4 with Numbers 28:3; Amos 4:11 with Genesis 19:24; Amos 9:13 with Leviticus 26:5; compare Micah 6:5 with Numbers 22:25; Micah 6:6 with Leviticus 9:2; Micah 6:15 with Leviticus 26:16, etc.)

Fourthly, the testimony of Christ and the Apostles is repeatedly borne to the books of Moses (Matthew 19:7; Luke 16:29; 24:27; John 1:17; 7:19; Acts 3:22; 28:23; Romans 10:5). Indeed the references are so numerous, and the testimonies so distinctly borne to the existence of the Mosaic books throughout the whole history of the Jewish nation, and the unity of character, design, and style pervading these books is so clearly perceptible, notwithstanding the rationalistic assertions of their forming a series of separate and unconnected fragments, that it may with all safety be said, there is immensely stronger and more varied evidence in proof of their being the authorship of Moses than of any of the Greek or Roman classics being the productions of the authors whose names they bear.

But admitting that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, an important question arises, as to whether the books which compose it have reached us in an authentic form; whether they exist genuine and entire as they came from the hands of their author. In answer to this question, it might be sufficient to state that, in the public and periodical rehearsals of the law in the solemn religious assemblies of the people, implying the existence of numerous copies, provision was made for preserving the integrity of "The Book of the Law." But besides this, two remarkable facts, the one of which occurred before and the other after the captivity, afford conclusive evidence of the genuineness and authenticity of the Pentateuch.

The first is the discovery in the reign of Josiah of the autograph copy which was deposited by Moses in the ark of the testimony, and the second is the schism of the Samaritans, who erected a temple on Mount Gerizim, and who, appealing to the Mosaic law as the standard of their faith and worship equally with the Jews, watched with jealous care over every circumstance that could affect the purity of the Mosaic record.

There is the strongest reason, then, for believing that the Pentateuch, as it exists now, is substantially the same as it came from the hands of Moses. The appearance of a later hand, it is true, is traceable in the narrative of the death of Moses at the close of Deuteronomy, and some few interpolations, such as inserting the altered names of places, may have been made by Ezra, who revised and corrected the version of the ancient Scriptures. But, substantially, the Pentateuch is the genuine work of Moses, and many, who once impugned its claims to that character, and looked on it as the production of a later age, have found themselves compelled, after a full and unprejudiced investigation of the subject, to proclaim their conviction that its authenticity is to be fully relied on.

Inspiration and canonical authority

The genuineness and authenticity of the Pentateuch being admitted, the inspiration and canonical authority of the work follow as a necessary consequence. The admission of Moses to the privilege of frequent and direct communion with God (Exodus 25:22; 33:3; Numbers 7:89; 9:8); his repeated and solemn declarations that he spoke and wrote by command of God; the submissive reverence that was paid to the authority of his precepts by all classes of the Jewish people, including the king himself (Deuteronomy 17:18; 27:3); and the acknowledgment of the divine mission of Moses by the writers of the New Testament, all prove the inspired character and authority of his books. The Pentateuch possessed the strongest claims on the attention of the Jewish people, as forming the standard of their faith, the rule of their obedience, the record of their whole civil and religious polity. But it is interesting and important to all mankind, inasmuch as besides revealing the origin and early development of the divine plan of grace, it is the source of all authentic knowledge, giving the true philosophy, history, geography, and chronology of the ancient world.

Finally, the Pentateuch "is indispensable to the whole revelation contained in the Bible; for Genesis being the legitimate preface to the law; the law being the natural introduction to the Old Testament; and the whole a prelude to the gospel revelation, it could not have been omitted. What the four Gospels are in the New, the five books of Moses are in the Old Testament." Robert Jamieson

Contents of Genesis

The Book of Genesis treats the history of the kingdom of God on earth from the time of the creation of the world down to the beginning of Israel's stay in Egypt and to the death of Joseph; and it treats these subjects in such a way that it narrates in the first part (Genesis 1:1-11:26) the history of humankind; and in the second part (Genesis 11:27-50:26) the history of families; and this latter part is at the same time the beginning of the history of the chosen people, which history itself begins with Exodus. 1.

Though the introduction, Genesis 1-11, with its universal character, includes all humankind in the promise given at the beginning of the history of Abraham (12:1-3), it is from the outset distinctly declared that God, even if He did originally set apart one man and his family (Gen. 12-50), and after that a single nation (Exodus 1), nevertheless intends that this particularistic development of the plan of salvation is eventually to include all humankind. The manner in which salvation is developed historically is particularistic, but its purposes are universal.

Link with the next Bible books

The history of the chosen people, which begins with Exodus 1, at the very outset and with a clear purpose, refers back to the history as found in Genesis (compare Exodus 1:1-6, 8 with Genesis 46:27; 50:24), although hundreds of years had elapsed between these events; which years are ignored, because they were in their details of no importance for the religious history of the people of God. But to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 the promise had been given, not only that he was to be the father of a mighty nation that would recognize him as their founder, and the earliest history of which is reported in Exodus and the following books of the Pentateuch, but also that the Holy Land had been promised him.

In this respect, the Book of Joshua, which gives the story of the capture of this land, is also a continuation of the historical development begun in Genesis. The blessing of God pronounced over Abraham, however, continued to be efficacious also in the later times among the people who had descended from him. In this way Genesis is an introduction to all of the books of the Old Testament that follow it, which in any way have to do with the fate of this people, and originated in its midst as the result of the special relation between God and this people. But in so far as this blessing of God was to extend to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3), the promises given can be entirely fulfilled only in Christ, and can expand only in the work and success of Christian missions and in the blessings that are found within Christianity.

Accordingly, this book treats first of beginnings and origins, in which, as in a kernel, the entire development of the kingdom of God down to its consummation is contained. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Detailed outline

  1. The history of humanity: 1:1-11:26
    1. Creation: 1:1-2:25
    2. The fall of man: 3:1-4:26
      1. Adam and Eve: 3:1-24
      2. Cain and Abel: 4:1-26
    3. Genealogy from the fall to the flood: 5:1-32
    4. The flood: 6:1-9:29
      1. The wickedness of man: 6:1-4
      2. God's decision: 6:5-7
      3. Noah: 6:8-10
      4. God speaks to Noah: 6:11-21
      5. Noah's response: 6:22
      6. God speaks to Noah: 7:1-4
      7. Noah's response: 7:5-16
      8. Life in the ark: 7:17-24
      9. Release from the ark: 8:1-19
      10. God's covenant: 9:1-17
      11. Generations of Noah: 9:18-19
      12. Sins of Noah's family: 9:20-29
    5. From the flood to Abraham: 10:1-11:26
      1. Generations of the sons of Noah: 10:1-32
      2. The tower of Babel: 11:1-9
      3. Generations of Shem: 11:10-26
      4. Generations of Terah: 11:27-32
  2. The patriarchal history of Israel: 11:27-50:26
    1. Abraham: 11:27-25:10
      1. Abraham's birth and ancestry: 11:26-30
      2. His wanderings: 11:31-13:1
        1. From Ur to Haran: 11:31-32
        2. From Haran to Canaan: 12:1-9
        3. To Egypt and back: 12:10-13:1
      3. Abraham and Lot: 13:2-14:24
        1. Dispute and division: 13:2-13
        2. God's promise to Abraham: 13:14-18
        3. Lot captured by the kings of the east: 14:1-24
      4. The covenant: 15:1-20
      5. Ishmael: 16:1-16
      6. Circumcision: 17:1-27
      7. A promised son: 18:1-15
      8. Sodom and Gomorrah: 18:16-19:38
      9. Abraham visits Abimelech: 20:1-18
      10. Isaac born and Ishmael driven out: 21:1-21
      11. Abraham and Abimelech: 21:22-34
      12. Proposed sacrifice of Isaac: 22:1-19
      13. The death and burial of Sarah: 23:1-20
      14. Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah: 24:1-67
      15. Abraham and Keturah: 25:1-6
      16. Abraham's death and burial 25:7-10
    2. Isaac: 25:11-35:29
      1. Birth of Isaac: 21:1-8
      2. Marriage to Rebekah: 24
      3. Isaac and his sons: 25:19-35:29
      4. Covenant renewed: 26:1-5
      5. Deception of Abimelech: 26:6-33
      6. Marriage to Judith and Bashemath: 26:34-35
      7. Isaac deceived by Jacob: 27:1-45
      8. Jacob's flight to Haran: 27:46-28:5
      9. Death of Isaac: 35:27-29
    3. Jacob: 28:10-36:43
      1. His birth: 25:19-26
      2. Rivalry between Jacob and Esau: 25:27-27:45
        1. The birthright: 25:27-34
        2. The blessing: 27:1-45
      3. The flight to Haran: 27:46-29:14
      4. Jacob's marriages to Leah and Rachel: 29:15-30
      5. Life in Haran: 29:31-30:43
      6. Return to Canaan: 31:1-55
      7. Preparations to meet Esau: 32:1-23
      8. Jacob's wrestling match: 32:24-32
      9. Peace with Esau: 33:1-17
      10. Jacob and his family in Canaan: 33:18-45:28
      11. Jacob's final days and death: 46:1-50:14
    4. Joseph: 37:1-50:26
      1. Joseph's early life: 37:1-36
        1. His coat: 37:1-4
        2. His dreams: 37:5-11
        3. Sold into slavery: 37:12-36
        4. The sin of Judah: 38:1-30
      2. Joseph the slave: 39:1-40:23
        1. In Potiphar's house: 39:1-20
        2. In prison: 39:21-40:23
      3. Joseph the prime minister: 41:1-45:28
        1. Preparation for famine: 41:1-57
        2. Joseph and his brothers: 42:1-45:28
        3. Joseph and his family in Egypt: 46:1-50:21
        4. Joseph's death: 50:22-26

2. Helpful summaries of Genesis

Bird's eye view

God provides redemption to remedy humanity's sin by providing a covenant and a chosen race.

Reading plan

The following reading plan, taking one reading per day, enables you to read through Genesis in twenty-four days.

Genesis 1-2

Genesis 3-5

Genesis 6-7

Genesis 8-10

Genesis 11-12

Genesis 13-15

Genesis 16-18

Genesis 19-20

Genesis 21-22

Genesis 23-24

Genesis 25

Genesis 26-27

Genesis 28-29

Genesis 30

Genesis 31-32

Genesis 33-34

Genesis 36-36

Genesis 37-38

Genesis 39-40

Genesis 41-42

Genesis 43-44

Genesis 45-46

Genesis 47-48

Genesis 49-50

Verses to memorize

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Genesis 9:13

I have set my rainbow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

Genesis 50:20a

"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good." kjv

Statistics

First Old Testament book

50 chapters

1,533 verses

38,267 words

Famous sayings found in Genesis

"Sweat of your brow" Genesis 3:19

"My brother's keeper" Genesis 4:9

"Dust of the earth" Genesis 13:16

Names/titles given

First book of Moses

First book of the Law

First book of the Pentateuch ("Pentateuch" means "five books/scrolls.)

Hebrew title: Bereshith: "In the beginning."

Greek title in Septuagint: Genesis: "origin, source, generation, beginning."

Latin title in Vulgate: "The book of generations"

Helpful keys to turn to in understanding Genesis

Key words/phrases

"Beginning"

beginning of the world. 1.1-2.25.

beginning of sin. 3.1-24.

beginning family. 4.1-26.

beginning of God's work to restore humankind. 11.27-12.3.

Key verses

Genesis 1:1; 3:15; 12:3

Key people

Adam

Eve

Cain

Abel

Seth

Noah

Flood

Babel

Abraham

Sarah

Lot

Sodom

Hagar

Ishmael

Isaac

Rebekah

Jacob

Esau

Laban

Rachel

Leah

Bilhah

Zilpah

12 sons of Jacob

Dinah

Joseph

Potiphar

Manasseh

Ephraim

Four key people

The four leading people in Genesis are found in chapters 12-50

Abraham

Isaac

Jacob

Joseph

Key events

Four critical events: 1-11

Creation

The Fall

The Flood

The Tower of Babel

Themes to study
Important people who are grouped with each other

Adam and Eve

Gain and Abel

Abraham and Lot

Isaac and Ishmael

Esau and Jacob

Joseph and his eleven brothers

Generations

Genesis has eleven units, focusing on the word "generations," in the phrase, "these are the generations."

  1. Introduction to generations: 1:1-2:3
  2. Creation of heaven and earth: 2:4-4:26
  3. Adam: 5:1-6:8
  4. Noah: 6:9-9:29
  5. Noah's sons: 10:1-11:9
  6. Shem: 11:10-26
  7. Terah: 11:27-25:11
  8. Ishmael: 25:12-18
  9. Isaac: 25:19-35:29
  10. Esau: 36:1-37:1
  11. Jacob: 37:2-50:26
Genealogies in Genesis

After the prologue where we find the true beginning of all things, we discover ten genealogies, each of which is introduced by the same Hebrew word meaning generation, account or record (Hebrew: Toledot).

These series of genealogies show how God's promise and line of godly descendants pass down through the generations. Both Luke and Matthew use the genealogical accounts to trace Jesus' descendants.

Matthew traces Jesus Christ's genealogy back to Abraham. Luke, however, goes right back to the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God!

"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." (Matthew 1:1).

"... the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." (Luke 3:38).

Covenants in Genesis
  1. The creation covenant: Genesis 1:26-28.
  2. Covenant with Adam: Genesis 3:14-19.
  3. Covenant with Noah: Genesis 8:20-9:6.
  4. Covenant with Abraham: Genesis 12:1-3.
  5. Covenant about Palestine: Genesis 15:18-21.
Genesis in the rest of the Bible
Themes from Genesis and the New Testament

The following list indicates the foundational importance of the book of Genesis to the New Testament. The first reference on each line is to the book of Genesis. This is followed by the topic. The last reference refers to the relevant verse or verses in the New Testament.

Unusual events and miracles in Genesis
Prayers in Genesis:

Links with Jesus

Jesus in Genesis

In Genesis Jesus is our Creator God.

Messianic predictions in Genesis

Jesus is the Seed of the woman, 3:15

Jesus is from the line of Seth, 4:25

Jesus is the son of Shem, 9:27

Jesus is a descendant of Abraham, 12:3

Jesus is a descendant of Isaac, 21:12

Jesus is a descendant of Jacob, 25:23

Jesus is from the tribe of Judah, 49:10

Types of Jesus in Genesis

(In the Bible the word "type" is used of historical facts which serve as illustrations of spiritual truths.)

Lessons to learn from Genesis

3. Chapter by chapter: outline of every chapter of Genesis

Genesis 1

Matthew Henry's introduction

The foundation of all religion being laid in our relation to God as our Creator, it was fit that the book of divine revelations which was intended to be the guide, support, and rule, of religion in the world, should begin, as it does, with a plain and full account of the creation of the world—in answer to that first enquiry of a good conscience, "Where is God my Maker?" (Job 35:10).

About this the pagan philosophers wretchedly blundered, and became vain in their imaginations, some asserting the world's eternity and self-existence, others ascribing it to a fortuitous concourse of atoms: thus "the world by wisdom knew not God," but took a great deal of pains to lose him. The holy scripture therefore, designing by revealed religion to maintain and improve natural religion lays down, at first, this principle of the unclouded light of nature, That this world was, in the beginning of time, created by a Being of infinite wisdom and power, who was himself before all time and all worlds. The entrance into God's word gives this light, Ps. 119:130. The first verse of the Bible gives us a surer and better, a more satisfying and useful, knowledge of the origin of the universe, than all the volumes of the philosophers. The lively faith of humble Christians understands this matter better than the elevated fancy of the greatest wits, Heb. 11:3.

We have three things in this chapter:

  1. A general idea given us of the work of creation ver. 1, 2.
  2. A particular account of the several days' work, registered, as in a journal, distinctly and in order. The creation of the light the first day, ver. 3-5; of the firmament the second day, ver. 6-8; of the sea, the earth, and its fruits, the third day, ver. 9-13; of the lights of heaven the fourth day, ver. 14-19; of the fish and fowl the fifth day, ver. 20-23; of the beasts, ver. 24, 25; of man, ver. 26-28; and of food for both the sixth day, ver. 29, 30.
  3. The review and approbation of the whole work, ver. 31.

Genesis 2

Matthew Henry's introduction

This chapter is an appendix to the history of the creation, more particularly explaining and enlarging on that part of the history which relates immediately to man, the favorite of this lower world. We have in it,

  1. The institution and sanctification of the Sabbath, which was made for man, to further his holiness and com fort (ver. 1-3).
  2. A more particular account of man's creation, as the center and summary of the whole work (ver. 1-7).
  3. A description of the garden of Eden, and the placing of man in it under the obligations of a law and covenant (ver. 8-17).
  4. The creation of the woman, her marriage to the man, and the institution of the ordinance of marriage (ver. 18, etc.).

Genesis 3

Matthew Henry's introduction

The story of this chapter is perhaps as sad a story (all things considered) as any we have in all the Bible. In the previous chapters we have had the pleasant view of the holiness and happiness of our first parents, the grace and favor of God, and the peace and beauty of the whole creation, all good, very good; but here the scene is altered. We have here an account of the sin and misery of our first parents, the wrath and curse of God against them, the peace of the creation disturbed, and its beauty stained and sullied, all bad, very bad. "How has the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed!" O that our hearts were deeply affected with this record! For we are all nearly concerned in it; let it not be as a tale that is told. The general contents of this chapter we have (Rom. 5:12), "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned." More particularly, we have here,

  1. The innocent tempted, ver. 1-5.
  2. The tempted transgressing, ver. 6-8.
  3. The transgressors arraigned, ver. 9, 10.
  4. On their arraignment, convicted, ver. 11-13.
  5. On their conviction, sentenced, ver. 14-19.
  6. After sentence, reprieved, ver. 20, 21.
  7. Notwithstanding their reprieve, execution in part done, ver. 22-24. And, were it not for the gracious intimations here given of redemption by the promised seed, they, and all their degenerate guilty race, would have been left to end less despair.

Genesis 4

Matthew Henry's introduction

In this chapter we have both the world and the church in a family, in a little family, in Adam's family, and an example given of the character of both in all ages, to the end of time. As all humankind was represented in Adam, so that great distinction of humankind into saints and sinners, godly and wicked, the children of God and the children of the wicked one, was here represented in Cain and Abel, and an early instance is given of the enmity which was put between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. We have here,

  1. The birth, names, and callings, of Cain and Abel, ver. 1, 2.
  2. Their religion, and different success in it, ver. 3, 4, and part of ver. 5.
  3. Cain's anger at God and the reproof of him for that anger, ver. 5-7.
  4. Cain's murder of his brother, and the process against him for that murder. The murder committed, ver. 8. The proceedings against him.
    1. His arraignment, ver. 9, former part.
    2. His plea, ver. 9, latter part.
    3. His conviction, ver. 10.
    4. The sentence passed on him, ver. 11, 12.
    5. His complaint against the sentence, ver. 13, 14.
    6. The ratification of the sentence, ver. 15.
    7. The execution of the sentence, ver. 15, 16.
  5. The family and posterity of Cain, ver. 17-24.
  6. The birth of another son and grandson of Adam, ver. 25, 26.

Genesis 5

Matthew Henry's introduction

This chapter is the only authentic history extant of the first age of the world from the creation to the flood, containing (according to the verity of the Hebrew text) 1656 years, as may easily be computed by the ages of the patriarchs. This is one of those which the apostle calls "endless genealogies" (1 Tim. 1:4), for Christ, who was the end of the Old Testament law, was also the end of the Old Testament genealogies; towards him they looked, and in him they centered. The genealogy here recorded is inserted briefly in the pedigree of our Savior (Luke 3:36-38), and is of great use to show that Christ was the "seed of the woman" that was promised. We have here an account,

  1. About Adam, ver. 1-5.
  2. Seth, ver. 6-8.
  3. Enos, ver. 9-11.
  4. Cainan, ver. 12-14.
  5. Mahalaleel, ver. 15-17.
  6. Jared, ver. 18-20.
  7. Enoch, ver. 21-24.
  8. Methuselah, ver. 25-27.
  9. Lamech and his son Noah, ver. 28-32. All scripture, being given by inspiration of God, is profitable, though not all alike profitable.

Genesis 6

Matthew Henry's introduction

The most remarkable thing we have on record about the old world is the destruction of it by the universal deluge, the account of which commences in this chapter, in which we have,

  1. The abounding iniquity of that wicked world, ver. 1-5, and ver. 11, 12.
  2. The righteous God's just resentment of that abounding iniquity, and his holy resolution to punish it, ver. 6, 7.
  3. The special favor of God to his servant Noah.
    1. In the character given of him, ver. 8-10.
    2. In the communication of God's purpose to him, ver. 13, 17.
    3. In the directions he gave him to make an ark for his own safety, ver. 14-16.
    4. In the employing of him for the preservation of the rest of the creatures, ver. 18-21.

Lastly, Noah's obedience to the instructions given him, ver. 22. And this about the old world is written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the new world have come.

Genesis 7

Matthew Henry's introduction

In this chapter we have the performance of what was foretold in the previous chapter, both about the destruction of the old world and the salvation of Noah; for we may be sure that no word of God shall fall to the ground. There we left Noah busy about his ark, and full of care to get it finished in time, while the rest of his neighbors were laughing at him for his pains. Now here we see the purpose of his work as well as their carelessness. And this famous period of the old world gives us some idea of the state of things when the world that now is shall be destroyed by fire, as that was by water. See 2 Pet. 3:6, 7. We have, in this chapter,

  1. God's gracious call to Noah to come into the ark (ver. 1), and to bring the creatures that were to be preserved alive along with him (ver. 2, 3), in consideration of the deluge at hand, ver. 4.
  2. Noah's obedience to this heavenly vision, ver. 5. When he was six hundred years old, he came with his family into the ark (ver. 6, 7), and brought the creatures along with him (ver. 8, 9), an account of which is repeated (ver. 13-16), to which is added God's tender care to shut him in.
  3. The coming of the threatened deluge (ver. 10); the causes of it (ver. 11, 12): the prevalence of it, ver. 17-20.
  4. The dreadful desolations that were made by it in the death of every living creature on earth, except those that were in the ark, ver. 21-23.
  5. The continuance of it in full sea, before it began to ebb, one hundred and fifty days, ver. 24.

Genesis 8

Matthew Henry's introduction

In the close of the previous chapter we left the world in ruins and the church in straits; but in this chapter we have the repair of the one and the enlargement of the other. Now the scene alters, and another face of things begins to be presented to us, and the brighter side of that cloud which there appeared so black and dark; for, though God contend long, he will not contend for ever, nor be always wrath. We have here,

  1. The earth made anew, by the recess of the waters, and the appearing of the dry land, now a second time, and both gradual.
    1. The increase of the waters is stayed, ver. 1, 2.
    2. They begin sensibly to abate, ver. 3.
    3. After sixteen days' ebbing, the ark rests, ver. 4.
    4. After sixty days' ebbing, the tops of the mountains appeared above water, ver. 5.
    5. After forty days' ebbing, and twenty days before the mountains appeared, Noah began to send out his spies, a raven and a dove, to gain intelligence, ver. 6-12.
    6. Two months after the appearing of the tops of the mountains, the waters had gone, and the face of the earth was dry (ver. 13), though not dried so as to be fit for man till almost two months after ver. 14.
  2. Man placed anew on the earth, in which,
    1. Noah's discharge and departure out of the ark, ver. 15-19.
    2. His sacrifice of praise, which he offered to God on his enlargement, ver. 20.
    3. God's acceptance of his sacrifice, and the promise he made there on not to drown the world again, ver. 21, 22. And thus, at length, mercy rejoices against judgment.

Genesis 9

Matthew Henry's introduction

Both the world and the church were now again reduced to a family, the family of Noah. From this family we are all descendants. Here is,

  1. The covenant of providence settled with Noah and his sons, ver. 1-11. In this covenant,
    1. God promises them to take care of their lives, so that, They should replenish the earth, ver. 1, 7. They should be safe from the insults of the brute-creatures, which should stand in awe of them, ver. 2. They should be allowed to eat flesh for the support of their lives; only they must not eat blood, ver. 3, 4. The world should never be drowned again, ver. 8-11.
    2. God requires of them to take care of one another's lives, and of their own, ver. 5, 6.
  2. The seal of that covenant, namely, the rainbow, ver. 12-17.
  3. A particular passage of story about Noah and his sons,
    1. Noah's sin and shame, ver. 20, 21.
    2. Ham's impudence and impiety, ver. 22.
    3. The pious modesty of Shem and Japheth, ver. 23.
    4. The curse of Canaan, and the blessing of Shem and Japheth, ver. 21-27.
  4. The age and death of Noah, ver. 28, 29.

Genesis 10

Matthew Henry's introduction

This chapter shows more particularly what was said in general (9:19), about the three sons of Noah, that "of them was the whole earth overspread;" and the fruit of that blessing (9:1, 7), "replenish the earth." This is the only certain account extant of the origin of nations; and yet perhaps there is no nation but the Jews that can be confident from which of these seventy fountains (for so many there are here) it derives its streams. Through the lack of early records, the mixtures of people, the revolutions of nations, and distance of time, the knowledge of the lineal descent of the present inhabitants of the earth is lost; nor were any genealogies preserved but those of the Jews, for the sake of the Messiah, only in this chapter we have a brief account,

  1. Of the posterity of Japheth, ver. 2-5.
  2. The posterity of Ham (ver. 6-20), and in this particular notice is taken of Nimrod, ver. 8-10.
  3. The posterity of Shem, ver. 21, etc.

Genesis 11

Matthew Henry's introduction

The old distinction between the sons of God and the sons of men (professors and profane) survived the flood, and now appeared again, when men began to multiply: according to this distinction we have, in this chapter,

  1. The dispersion of the sons of men at Babel (ver. 1-9), where we have,
    1. Their presumptuous provoking design, which was to build a city and a tower, ver. 1-4.
    2. The righteous judgment of God on them in disappointing their design, by confounding their language, and so scattering them, ver. 5-9.
  2. The pedigree of the sons of God down to Abraham (ver. 10-26), with a general account of his family, and removal out of his native country, ver. 27, etc.

Genesis 12

Matthew Henry's introduction

The pedigree and family of Abram we had an account of in the previous chapter; here the Holy Spirit enters on his story, and henceforward Abram and his seed are almost the only subject of the sacred history. In this chapter we have,

  1. God's call of Abram to the land of Canaan, ver. 1-3.
  2. Abram's obedience to this call, ver. 4, 5.
  3. His welcome to the land of Canaan, ver. 6-9.
  4. His journey to Egypt, with an account of what happened to him there. Abram's flight and fault, ver. 10-13. Sarai's danger and deliverance, ver. 14-20.

Genesis 13

Matthew Henry's introduction

In this chapter we have a further account about Abram.

  1. In general, of his condition and behavior in the land of promise, which was now the land of his pilgrimage.
    1. His removes, ver. 1, 3, 4, 18.
    2. His riches, ver. 2.
    3. His devotion, ver. 4, 18.
  2. A particular account of a quarrel that happened between him and Lot.
    1. The unhappy occasion of their strife ver. 5, 6.
    2. The parties concerned in the strife, with the aggravation of it, ver. 7.
  3. The making up of the quarrel, through Abram's prudence, ver. 8, 9.
  4. Lot's departure from Abram to the plain of Sodom, ver. 10-13.
  5. V God's appearance to Abram, to confirm the promise of the land of Canaan to him, ver. 14, etc.

Genesis 14

Matthew Henry's introduction

We have four things in the story of this chapter.

  1. A war with the king of Sodom and his allies, ver. 1-11.
  2. The captivity of Lot in that war, ver. 12.
  3. Abram's rescue of Lot from that captivity, with the victory he won over the conquerors, ver. 13-16.
  4. Abram's return from the expedition, (ver. 17), with an account of what passed,
    1. Between him and the king of Salem, ver. 18-20.
    2. Between him and the king of Sodom, ver. 21-24. So that here we have that promise to Abram in part fulfilled, that God would make his name great.

Genesis 15

Matthew Henry's introduction

In this chapter we have a solemn treaty between God and Abram about a covenant that was to be established between them. In the previous chapter we had Abram in the field with kings; here we find him in the mount with God; and, though there he looked great, yet, I think, here he looks much greater: that honor have the great men of the world, but "this honor have all the saints." The covenant to be settled between God and Abram was a covenant of promises; accordingly, here is,

  1. A general assurance of God's kindness and good-will to Abram, ver. 1.
  2. A particular declaration of the purposes of his love about him, in two things:
    1. That he would give him many descendants, ver. 2-6.
    2. That he would give him Canaan for an inheritance, ver. 7-21. Either an estate without an heir, or an heir without an estate, would have been but a partial comfort to Abram. But God promises both to him; and that which made these two, the promised seed and the promised land, comforts indeed to this great believer was that they were both typical of those two invaluable blessings, Christ and heaven; and so, we have reason to think, Abram saw them.

Genesis 16

Matthew Henry's introduction

Hagar is the main person in this chapter, an obscure Egyptian woman, whose name and story we never should have heard of if Providence had not brought her into the family of Abram. About her, we have four things in this chapter:

  1. Her marriage to Abram her master, ver. 1-3.
  2. Her misbehavior towards Sarai her mistress, ver. 4-6.
  3. Her conversation with an angel that met her in her flight, ver. 7-14.
  4. Her delivery of a son, ver. 15, 16.

Genesis 17

Matthew Henry's introduction

This chapter contains articles of agreement covenanted between the great Jehovah, the Father of mercies, on the one part, and pious Abram, the father of the faithful, on the other part. Abram is therefore called "the friend of God," not only because he was the man of his counsel, but because he was the man of his covenant; both these secrets were with him. Mention was made of this covenant (15:18), but here it is particularly drawn up, and put into the form of a covenant, that Abram might have strong consolation. Here are,

  1. The circumstances of the making of this covenant, the time and manner (ver. 1), and the posture Abram was in, ver. 3.
  2. The covenant itself. In the general scope of it, ver. 1. And, afterwards, in the particular instances.
    1. That he should be the father of many nations (ver. 4, 6), and, to show this, his name was changed, ver. 5.
    2. That God would be a God to him and his seed, and would give them the land of Canaan, ver. 7, 8. And the seal of this part of the covenant was circumcision, ver. 9-14.
    3. That he should have a son by Sarai, and so her name was changed, ver. 15, 16. This promise Abram received, ver. 17. And his request for Ishmael, (ver. 18) was answered, ver. 19-22.
  3. The circumcision of Abram and his family, according to God's appointment, ver. 23, etc.

Genesis 18

Matthew Henry's introduction

We have an account in this chapter of another interview between God and Abraham, probably within a few days after the former, as the reward of his cheerful obedience to the law of circumcision. Here is,

  1. The kind visit which God made him, and the entertainment which Abraham provided, ver. 1-8.
  2. Their conversation.
    1. The purposes of God's love about Sarah, ver. 9-15.
    2. The purposes of God's wrath about Sodom.
      God's purpose in destroying Sodom, ver. 16-22.
      The intercession Abraham made for Sodom, ver. 23, etc.

Genesis 19

Matthew Henry's introduction

In this chapter we find, 2 Pet. 2:6-8, that "God, turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, and delivered just Lot." It is the history of Sodom's ruin, and Lot's rescue from that ruin. We read (ch. 18) of God's coming to take a view of the present state of Sodom, what its wickedness was, and what righteous people there were in it: now here we have the result of that enquiry.

  1. It was found, on trial, that Lot was very good (ver. 1-3), and it did not appear that there was any more of the same character.
  2. It was found that the Sodomites were very wicked and vile, ver. 4-11.
  3. Special care was therefore taken for the securing of Lot and his family, in a place of safety, ver. 12-23.
  4. Mercy having rejoiced therein, justice shows itself in the ruin of Sodom and the death of Lot's wife (ver. 24-26), with a general repetition of the story, ver. 27-29.
  5. A foul sin that Lot was guilty of, in committing incest with his two daughters, ver. 30, etc.

Genesis 20

Matthew Henry's introduction

We are here returning to the story of Abraham; yet that part of it which is here recorded is not to his honor. The fairest marbles have their flaws, and, while there are spots in the sun, we must not expect any thing spotless under it. The scripture is impartial in relating the blemishes even of its most celebrated characters. We have here,

  1. Abraham's sin in denying his wife, and Abimelech's sin thereon in taking her, ver. 1, 2.
  2. God's conversation with Abimelech in a dream, in which he shows him his error (ver. 3), accepts his plea (ver. 4-6), and directs him to make restitution, ver. 7.
  3. Abimelech's conversation with Abraham, in which he chides him for the cheat he had put on him (ver. 8-10), and Abraham excuses it as well as he can, ver. 11-13.
  4. The good issue of the story, in which Abimelech restores Abraham his wife (ver. 14-16), and Abraham, by prayer, prevails with God for the removal of the judgment Abimelech was under, ver. 17, 18.

Genesis 21

Matthew Henry's introduction

In this chapter we have,

  1. Isaac, the child of promise born into Abraham's family, ver. 1-8.
  2. Ishmael, the son of the slave woman, cast out of it, ver. 9-21.
  3. Abraham's pact with his neighbor Abimelech, ver. 22-32.
  4. His devotion to his God, ver. 33.

Genesis 22

Matthew Henry's introduction

We have here the famous story of Abraham's offering up his son Isaac, that is, his offering to offer him, which is justly looked on as one of the wonders of the church. Here is,

  1. The strange command which God gave to Abraham about it, ver. 1, 2.
  2. Abraham's strange obedience to this command, ver. 3-10.
  3. The strange result of this trial.
    1. The sacrificing of Isaac was countermanded, ver. 11, 12.
    2. Another sacrifice was provided, ver. 13, 14.
    3. The covenant was renewed with Abraham hereon, ver. 15-19. Lastly, an account of some of Abraham's relations, ver. 20, etc.

Genesis 23

Matthew Henry's introduction

Here is,

  1. Abraham a mourner for the death of Sarah, ver. 1, 2.
  2. Abraham a purchaser of a burying-place for Sarah.
    1. The purchase humbly proposed by Abraham, ver. 3, 4.
    2. A fair deal, and agreed to, with a great deal of mutual civility and respect, ver. 5-16.
    3. The purchase-money paid, ver. 16.
    4. The premises conveyed and secured to Abraham, ver. 17, 18, 20.
    5. Sarah's funeral, ver. 19.

Genesis 24

Matthew Henry's introduction

Marriages and funerals are the changes of families, and the common news among the inhabitants of the villages. In the previous chapter we had Abraham burying his wife, here we have him marrying his son. These stories about his family, with their minute circumstances, are related in detail, while the histories of the kingdoms of the world then in being, with their revolutions, are buried in silence; for the Lord knows those who are his. The subjoining of Isaac's marriage to Sarah's funeral shows us that as "one generation passes away another generation comes." Here is,

  1. Abraham's care about his son's marriage, and the charge he gave to his servant about it, ver. 1-9.
  2. His servant's journey into Abraham's country, to seek a wife for his young master among his own relations, ver. 10-14.
  3. The providence which brought him to find Rebekah, whose father was Isaac's cousin, ver. 15-28.
  4. The treaty of marriage with her relations, ver. 29-49.
  5. Their consent obtained, ver. 50-60.
  6. The happy meeting and marriage between Isaac and Rebekah, ver. 61, etc.

Genesis 25

Matthew Henry's introduction

The sacred historian, in this chapter,

  1. Takes his leave of Abraham, with an account,
    1. Of his children by another wife, ver. 1-4.
    2. Of his last will and testament, ver. 5, 6.
    3. Of his age, death, and burial, ver. 7-10.
  2. He takes his leave of Ishmael, with a short account,
    1. Of his children, ver. 12-16.
    2. Of his age and death, ver. 17, 18.
  3. He begins the history of Isaac.
    1. His prosperity, ver. 11.
    2. The conception and birth of his two sons, with the oracle of God about them, ver. 19-26.
    3. Their different characters, ver. 27, 28.
    4. Esau's selling his birthright to Jacob, ver. 29-34.