The name Genesis means “origin.” The book tells about the creation of the universe, the origin of human beings, the beginning of sin and suffering in the world, and about God's way of dealing with people. Genesis can be divided into two main parts:
1) Chapters 1–11 The creation of the world and the early history of the human race. Here are the accounts of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, and the Tower of Babylon.
2) Chapters 12–50 The history of the early ancestors of the Israelites. The first is Abraham, who was notable for his faith and his obedience to God. Then follow the stories of his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob (also called Israel), and of Jacob's twelve sons, the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Special attention is given to one of the sons, Joseph, and the events that brought Jacob and his other sons with their families to live in Egypt.
While this book tells stories about people, it is first and foremost an account of what God has done. It begins with the affirmation that God created the universe, and it ends with a promise that God will continue to show his concern for his people. Throughout the book the main character is God, who judges and punishes those who do wrong, leads and helps his people, and shapes their history. This ancient book was written to record the story of a people's faith and to help keep that faith alive.
Outline of Contents
Creation of the universe and of human beings (1.1—2.25)
The beginning of sin and suffering (3.1-24)
From Adam to Noah (4.1—5.32)
Noah and the flood (6.1—10.32)
The tower of Babylon (11.1-9)
From Shem to Abram (11.10-32)
The patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (12.1—35.29)
The descendants of Esau (36.1-43)
Joseph and his brothers (37.1—45.28)
The Israelites in Egypt (46.1—50.26)
This book tells about a number of “beginnings”—the creation of the world and of the first man and woman. It also tells how God made a special covenant (agreement) with Abraham and promised to bless him and his descendants. Genesis also includes a number of stories about two of Abraham's descendants: his grandson Jacob, who was also known as Israel, and Abraham's great-grandson Joseph who became an important administrator (governor) and court official for the king (pharaoh) of Egypt.