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Highlights for the Reading of the Bible: Genesis

Highlights for the Reading of the Bible in Genesis - texts explained and practical lessons


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Summary of the book of Genesis in “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial”

*** si pp. 14-17 Bible Book Number 1—Genesis ***

CONTENTS OF GENESIS
9 Creation of the heavens and the earth, and the preparation of the earth for human habitation (1:1–2:25). Reaching back evidently through billions of years of time, Genesis opens with impressive simplicity: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Significantly, this opening sentence identifies God as the Creator and his material creation as the heavens and the earth. In majestic, well-chosen words, the first chapter continues on to give a general account of the creative work relative to the earth. This is accomplished in six time periods called days, each beginning with an evening, when the creative work for that period is undefined, and ending in the brightness of a morning, as the glory of the creative work becomes clearly manifest. On successive “days” appear the light; the expanse of the atmosphere; dry land and vegetation; the luminaries to divide day and night; fish and fowl; and land animals and finally man. God here makes known his law governing kinds, the impassable barrier making it impossible for one kind to evolve into another. Having made man in His own image, God announces His threefold purpose for man on earth: to fill it with righteous offspring, to subdue it, and to have in subjection the animal creation. The seventh “day” is blessed and pronounced sacred by Jehovah, who now proceeds ‘to rest from all his work that he has made.’ The account next gives a close-up, or magnified view, of God’s creative work as regards man. It describes the garden of Eden and its location, states God’s law of the forbidden tree, relates Adam’s naming of the animals, and then gives the account of Jehovah’s arranging the first marriage by forming a wife from Adam’s own body and bringing her to Adam.
10 Sin and death enter the world; “seed” foretold as deliverer (3:1–5:5). The woman eats the forbidden fruit and persuades her husband to join her in rebellion, and so Eden becomes defiled through disobedience. God immediately points to the means by which his purpose will be accomplished: “And Jehovah God proceeded to say to the serpent [Satan, the invisible instigator of the rebellion]: ‘ . . . And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.’” (3:14, 15) Man is expelled from the garden, to live in pain and sweatful toil among thorns and thistles. Finally, he must die and return to the ground from which he had been taken. Only his offspring may hope in the promised Seed.
11 The ravages of sin continue outside Eden. Cain, the first man-child born, becomes the murderer of his brother Abel, a faithful servant of Jehovah. Jehovah banishes Cain to the land of Fugitiveness, where he brings forth offspring later wiped out by the Deluge. Adam now has another son, Seth, who becomes father to Enosh; at this time men begin to call on the name of Jehovah in hypocrisy. Adam dies at 930 years of age.
12 Wicked men and angels ruin the earth; God brings the Deluge (5:6–11:9). The genealogy through Seth is here given. Outstanding among these descendants of Seth is Enoch, who sanctifies Jehovah’s name by “walking with the true God.” (5:22) The next man of notable faith is Enoch’s great-grandson Noah, born 1,056 years after Adam’s creation. During this time something occurs to increase the violence in the earth. Angels of God forsake their heavenly habitation to marry the good-looking daughters of men. This unauthorized cohabitation produces a hybrid race of giants known as the Nephilim (meaning “Fellers”), who make a name, not for God, but for themselves. Jehovah therefore announces to Noah that He is going to wipe out man and beast because of the continuing badness of mankind. Only Noah finds favor with Jehovah.
13 Noah becomes father to Shem, Ham, and Japheth. As violence and ruination continue in the earth, Jehovah reveals to Noah that He is about to sanctify His name by means of a great flood, and He commands Noah to build an ark of preservation, giving him detailed building plans. Noah promptly obeys and gathers his family of eight persons, together with beasts and birds; then, in the 600th year of his life (2370 B.C.E.), the Flood begins. The downpour continues for 40 days, until even the tall mountains are covered by as much as 15 cubits (c. 22 ft) of water. When, after one year, Noah is finally able to lead his family out of the ark, his first act is to offer a great sacrifice of thanksgiving to Jehovah.
14 Jehovah now blesses Noah and his family and commands them to fill the earth with their offspring. God’s decree gives permission to eat meat but demands abstinence from blood, which is the soul, or life, of the flesh, and requires the execution of a murderer. God’s covenant nevermore to bring a deluge upon the earth is confirmed by the appearance of the rainbow in the heavens. Later, Ham shows disrespect for Jehovah’s prophet Noah. Learning of this, Noah curses Ham’s son Canaan, but he adds a blessing showing that Shem will be specially favored and that Japheth also will be blessed. Noah dies at 950 years of age.
15 Noah’s three sons carry out God’s command to multiply, producing 70 families, the progenitors of the present human race. Nimrod, grandson of Ham, is not counted in, evidently because he becomes “a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” (10:9) He sets up a kingdom and starts to build cities. At this time all the earth has one language. Instead of scattering over the earth to populate and cultivate it, men decide to build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that they can make a celebrated name for themselves. However, Jehovah thwarts their intention by confusing their language, and so scatters them. The city is called Babel (meaning “Confusion”).
16 God’s dealings with Abraham (11:10–25:26). The important line of descent from Shem to Terah’s son Abram is traced, supplying also the chronological links. Instead of seeking a name for himself, Abram exercises faith in God. He leaves the Chaldean city of Ur at God’s command and, at 75 years of age, crosses the Euphrates on his way to the land of Canaan, calling on the name of Jehovah. Because of his faith and obedience, he comes to be called “Jehovah’s friend [lover],” and God establishes his covenant with him. (Jas. 2:23; 2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8) God protects Abram and his wife during a brief stay in Egypt. Back in Canaan, Abram shows his generosity and peaceableness by allowing his nephew and fellow worshiper, Lot, to select the best part of the land. Later, he rescues Lot from four kings who have captured him. Then, returning from the fight, Abram meets Melchizedek, king of Salem, who as priest of God blesses Abram, and to whom Abram pays tithes.
17 God later appears to Abram, announcing that He is Abram’s shield and enlarging on the covenant promise by revealing that Abram’s seed will become as the stars of heaven for number. Abram is told that his seed will suffer affliction for 400 years but will be delivered by God, with judgment upon the afflicting nation. When Abram is 85 years old, Sarai his wife, still childless, gives him her Egyptian maidservant Hagar that he may have a child by her. Ishmael is born and is viewed as the possible heir. However, Jehovah purposes differently. When Abram is 99 years old, Jehovah changes his name to Abraham, changes Sarai’s name to Sarah, and promises that Sarah will bear a son. The covenant of circumcision is given to Abraham, and he immediately has his household circumcised.
18 God now announces to His friend Abraham His determination to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their heavy sin. Angels of Jehovah warn Lot and help him to flee from Sodom with his wife and two daughters. However, his wife, lingering to look at the things behind, becomes a pillar of salt. In order to procure offspring, Lot’s daughters get their father intoxicated with wine, and through intercourse with him, they bear two sons, who become the fathers of the nations of Moab and Ammon.
19 God protects Sarah from contamination by Abimelech of the Philistines. The promised heir, Isaac, is born when Abraham is 100 years old and Sarah about 90. Some five years after this, the 19-year-old Ishmael pokes fun at Isaac, the heir, resulting in the dismissal of Hagar and Ishmael, with God’s approval. Some years later, God tests Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac on one of the mountains of Moriah. Abraham’s great faith in Jehovah does not waver. He attempts to offer up his son and heir but is stopped by Jehovah, who provides a ram as a substitute sacrifice. Jehovah again confirms His promise to Abraham, saying that He will multiply Abraham’s seed like the stars of heaven and the grains of sand that are on the seashore. He shows that this seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies and that all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves by means of the Seed.
20 Sarah dies at the age of 127 and is buried in a field that Abraham buys from the sons of Heth. Abraham now sends his chief household servant to obtain a wife for Isaac from the country of his relatives. Jehovah guides the servant to the family of Nahor’s son Bethuel, and arrangements are made for Rebekah to return with him. Rebekah goes willingly, with her family’s blessing, and becomes the bride of Isaac. Abraham, on his part, takes another wife, Keturah, who bears him six sons. However, he gives these gifts and sends them away and makes Isaac his sole heir. Then, at the age of 175, Abraham dies.
21 As Jehovah had foretold, Isaac’s half brother Ishmael becomes the head of a great nation, founded upon his 12 chieftain-sons. For 20 years Rebekah remains barren, but Isaac keeps on entreating Jehovah, and she gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob, of whom Jehovah had told her the older would serve the younger. Isaac is now 60 years old.
22 Jacob and his 12 sons (25:27–37:1). Esau becomes a lover of hunting. Failing to appreciate the covenant with Abraham, he returns from the hunt one day and sells his birthright to Jacob for a mere swallow of stew. He also marries two Hittite women (and later an Ishmaelite), who become a source of bitterness to his parents. With his mother’s assistance, Jacob disguises himself as Esau in order to obtain the firstborn’s blessing. Esau, who had not revealed to Isaac that he had sold the birthright, now plans to kill Jacob when he learns of what Jacob has done, so Rebekah advises that Jacob flee to Haran to her brother Laban. Before Jacob leaves, Isaac blesses him again and instructs him to take as a wife, not a pagan, but someone from his mother’s household. At Bethel, on his way to Haran, in a dream he sees Jehovah, who reassures him and confirms the covenant promise toward him.
23 At Haran, Jacob works for Laban, marrying his two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Though this polygamous marriage is brought on him by a trick of Laban, God blesses it by giving Jacob 12 sons and a daughter through the wives and their two maidservants, Zilpah and Bilhah. God sees to it that the flocks of Jacob increase greatly and then instructs him to return to the land of his forefathers. He is pursued by Laban, but they make a covenant at the place called Galeed and The Watchtower (Hebrew, ham•Mits•pah′). Resuming the journey, Jacob is reassured by angels and grapples at night with an angel, who finally blesses him and changes his name from Jacob to Israel. Jacob peacefully negotiates a meeting with Esau and travels on to Shechem. Here his daughter, Dinah, is violated by the Hivite chieftain’s son. Her brothers Simeon and Levi take revenge by slaughtering the men of Shechem. This displeases Jacob because it gives him, as a representative of Jehovah, a bad name in the land. God tells him to go to Bethel to make an altar there. On the trek out of Bethel, Rachel dies while bearing to Jacob his 12th son, Benjamin. Reuben violates Rachel’s maidservant, Bilhah, the mother of two of Jacob’s sons, and for this he forfeits the birthright. Soon afterward Isaac dies, at 180 years of age, and Esau and Jacob bury him.
24 Esau and his household move to the mountainous region of Seir, the accumulated wealth of Esau and Jacob being too great to permit their dwelling together any longer. The lists of Esau’s offspring as well as the sheiks and the kings of Edom are given. Jacob continues dwelling in Canaan.
25 To Egypt for the preservation of life (37:2–50:26). Because of Jehovah’s favor and some dreams that he causes Joseph to have, the older brothers come to hate Joseph. They scheme to kill him but instead sell him to some passing Ishmaelite merchants. Dipping Joseph’s striped garment in the blood of a goat, they present it to Jacob as evidence that the young lad of 17 has been killed by a wild beast. Joseph is taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, the chief of Pharaoh’s bodyguard.
26 Chapter 38 digresses momentarily to give the account of the birth of Perez to Tamar, who, by strategy, causes Judah her father-in-law to perform the marriage due toward her that should have been performed by his son. This account again underlines the extreme care with which the Scriptures record each development leading to the production of the Seed of promise. Judah’s son Perez becomes one of the ancestors of Jesus.—Luke 3:23, 33.
27 Meanwhile, Jehovah blesses Joseph in Egypt, and Joseph becomes great in Potiphar’s household. However, difficulty pursues him when he refuses to reproach God’s name by fornication with Potiphar’s wife, so he is falsely accused and thrown into prison. There he is used by Jehovah in interpreting the dreams of two fellow prisoners, Pharaoh’s cupbearer and his baker. Later, when Pharaoh has a dream that greatly worries him, Joseph’s ability is called to his attention, so that he is quickly brought to Pharaoh from his prison hole. Giving the credit to God, Joseph interprets the dream as forecasting seven years of plenty, to be followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh recognizes “the spirit of God” upon Joseph and appoints him prime minister to handle the situation. (Gen. 41:38) Now 30 years of age, Joseph administers wisely by storing up foodstuffs during the seven years of plenty. Then during the worldwide famine that follows, he sells the grain to the people of Egypt and of other nations who come to Egypt for food.
28 Eventually Jacob sends his ten older sons to Egypt for grain. Joseph recognizes them, but they do not recognize him. Holding Simeon as hostage, he demands that they bring their youngest brother back with them on the next trip for grain. When the nine sons return with Benjamin, Joseph reveals himself, expresses forgiveness toward the ten guilty ones, and instructs them to get Jacob and move to Egypt for their welfare during the famine. Accordingly, Jacob, with 66 of his offspring, moves down to Egypt. Pharaoh gives them the best of the land, the land of Goshen, in which to dwell.
29 As Jacob draws close to death, he blesses Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph, and then calls his own 12 sons together to tell them what will happen to them “in the final part of the days.” (49:1) He now gives in detail a series of prophecies, all of which have since come to remarkable fulfillment. Here he foretells that the scepter of rulership will remain in the tribe of Judah until the coming of Shiloh (meaning “He Whose It Is; He to Whom It Belongs”), the promised Seed. After thus blessing the heads of the 12 tribes and giving commands concerning his own future burial in the Land of Promise, Jacob dies at the age of 147 years. Joseph continues to care for his brothers and their households until his own death at 110 years of age, at which time he expresses his faith that God will again bring Israel into their land and requests that his bones too be taken to that Land of Promise.

Highlights of Genesis in "Insight on the Scriptures

*** it-1 p. 921 Genesis, Book of ***

[Box on page 921]
HIGHLIGHTS OF GENESIS
A record of God’s creating and preparing the earth for human habitation, of mankind’s role in God’s purpose, and of God’s dealings with men of faith during some 2,300 years of early human history
Covers the period from the beginning of the physical creation down to the death of Joseph in Egypt (1657 B.C.E.)
Creation of physical heavens and earth, and the preparation of the earth for human habitation (1:1–2:25)
Sin and death enter world; “seed” foretold as deliverer (3:1–5:5)
Serpent deceives woman; she and Adam partake of forbidden fruit
Serpent, woman, and Adam sentenced; woman’s seed to crush serpent
Cain, firstborn son of Adam and Eve, murders his brother Abel
In fulfillment of God’s judgment, Adam dies at 930 years of age
Wicked angels and men ruin earth; God brings global Flood (5:6–11:9)
Noah is born in line of Adam’s son Seth; in his day disobedient angels marry women and father the Nephilim, who indulge in violence
Jehovah decrees destruction by a deluge but instructs Noah to build an ark for the preservation of his family and basic animal kinds
Floodwaters overwhelm the whole earth; all humans, flying creatures, and land animals outside ark perish
After the Flood, Jehovah prohibits eating blood, authorizes death penalty for murder, and establishes rainbow covenant, promising never to bring another deluge
During the second generation born after the Flood, people begin to build a tower, defying God’s purpose for them to spread abroad; Jehovah confuses their language, scattering them
Jehovah’s dealings with Abraham (11:10–25:26)
Shem’s descendant Abram leaves Ur in obedience to God’s call
In Canaan, Abram is promised that his seed will receive the land
Lot separates from his uncle Abram, settles near Sodom, is taken captive, and afterward is freed by Abram; Melchizedek blesses Abram
Abram takes Hagar as concubine, and she gives birth to Ishmael
Jehovah changes Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah; covenant of circumcision is established
Jehovah’s angel informs Abraham that Sarah will bear a son—Isaac
Told of judgment upon Sodom, Abraham pleads for the righteous
Angels urge Lot and his family to leave Sodom; Lot’s wife perishes for disobedience
Isaac is born; Ishmael’s taunts at Isaac’s weaning lead to dismissal
In obedience to Jehovah, Abraham attempts to sacrifice Isaac, and he receives assurance respecting the covenant promises
After Sarah’s death, Abraham arranges to get a wife for Isaac
Isaac’s wife Rebekah gives birth to Esau and Jacob
Jacob (Israel) and his 12 sons; to Egypt for the preservation of life (25:27–50:26)
After Jacob had bought the birthright from Esau for a meal and later, at Rebekah’s urging, procured the blessing Isaac intended for Esau, Jacob departs for Paddan-aram, seeking a wife
Rebekah’s brother Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah; then Jacob marries Rachel; by Leah and Rachel and their two maidservants, Jacob has 11 sons and a daughter Dinah before leaving Paddan-aram with his family
Jacob wrestles with an angel, and his thigh joint is put out of place; he desperately clings to the angel in order to receive a blessing, and his name is changed to Israel
After a peaceful meeting with Esau, Jacob resides at Succoth and then at Shechem, where Dinah is violated
Rachel dies when giving birth to Jacob’s 12th son, Benjamin
Out of hatred for Joseph, Rachel’s firstborn, his half brothers sell him; he becomes a slave to Potiphar in Egypt
Imprisoned on false charges, Joseph comes into circumstances that bring his ability to interpret dreams to Pharaoh’s attention
Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams regarding a famine and is made second ruler in Egypt
Famine in Canaan forces Jacob’s sons to go to Egypt for food; in time Joseph reveals himself to his half brothers
Jacob and his household move to Egypt; Joseph cares for them
Jacob dies in Egypt after pronouncing prophetic blessings on Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and on his own 12 sons

Highlights of Genesis in "The Watchtower" (1983)

*** w83 6/15 pp. 24-25 Genesis Inspires Faith, Hope and Courage ***

By reading Genesis carefully you will derive great benefit from this stirring account of faith, hope and courage. In doing this, however, you may have questions. Some of those queries may be answered as we take a closer look at the Bible’s opening book.

The Pre-Flood World

●1:26—How was man made in the image and likeness of God?
God’s form is unknown to man. (Deuteronomy 4:15-20) But man was made in Jehovah’s image and likeness in that he was created with such attributes of God as justice, wisdom, power and love. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 12:13; Isaiah 40:26; 1 John 4:8) Since these qualities are also possessed by God’s Son, the Word, Jehovah appropriately said to him: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.”—John 1:1-3, 14.
●4:17—Where did Cain get his wife?
Adam “became father to sons and daughters.” (Genesis 5:4) So Cain took one of his sisters as a wife. Later, God’s Law to the Israelites did not permit the marriage of a fleshly brother and sister.—Leviticus 18:9.
●6:6—In what sense did Jehovah ‘feel regrets’ that he had made men?
Here the Hebrew word translated “felt regrets” pertains to a change of attitude or intention. Jehovah is perfect and therefore did not make a mistake in creating man. But He did have a change of mental attitude as regards the wicked pre-Flood generation. God turned from the attitude of Creator of humans to that of a destroyer of them because of his displeasure over their wickedness. Jehovah was sorry that the wickedness of man called for a great destruction of life, but he was obliged to act in order to uphold his righteous standards. The fact that he preserved some humans shows that his regrets were confined to those who had gone bad in word and deed.—2 Peter 2:5, 9.

Mankind Enters a New Era

●8:11—If the trees were ruined by the Flood, where did the dove get the olive leaf?
Undoubtedly the Flood waters did adversely affect many trees. However, the olive is quite a hardy tree. So an olive tree might have remained alive under water for some months during the Deluge. With the abating of the Flood waters, an olive tree that had been submerged would again be on dry ground and could put forth leaves, one of which could easily be obtained by the dove. On the other hand, the olive leaf carried to Noah by the dove could have been taken from a fairly young sprout that had come up after the Flood waters had abated.
●9:24, 25—Why did Noah curse Canaan when Ham was the offender?
Very likely Canaan was guilty of some abuse or perversion against the person of his grandfather Noah, and Ham witnessed this without interfering. Instead, Noah’s son Ham appears to have spread the story, whereas Shem and Japheth acted to cover their father. Therefore, they were blessed, the likely perpetrator Canaan was cursed, and the bystander and talebearer Ham suffered through the shame brought upon his offspring. Although the Scriptures do not provide all the details, the important point is that Jehovah caused Noah to utter the prophecy and God brought about its fulfillment when the Canaanites who were not destroyed by the Israelites were put under servitude to those descendants of Shem.—Joshua 9:23; 1 Kings 9:21.
●10:25—How was the earth “divided” in the days of Peleg?
Peleg lived from 2269 to 2030 B.C.E. His name meant “division,” and if he was given that name at birth, it was prophetic of a notable division that occurred during his lifetime. It was then that “the earth [or, “earth’s population”] was divided.” The Bible record indicates that it was “in his days” that Jehovah caused a great division by confusing the language of Babel’s builders and ‘scattering them over all the surface of the earth.’—Genesis 11:9; see also 10:1, 6, 8-10; 11:10-17.

Patriarchs With Abiding Faith

●15:13—How was the foretold 400-year affliction of Abram’s offspring fulfilled?
This period of affliction ran from 1913 to 1513 B.C.E. When Abraham’s son Isaac was weaned at about 5 years of age in 1913 B.C.E., his half brother Ishmael (then about 19 years old) ‘poked fun’ at him. The seriousness of this mocking of Abraham’s heir is clear from Sarah’s reaction and Jehovah’s approval of her insistence that Hagar and her son Ishmael be sent away. (Genesis 21:8-14; Galatians 4:29) This 400-year period of affliction ended with the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1513 B.C.E.
●19:30-38—Did Jehovah condone Lot’s getting drunk and fathering sons by his two daughters?
Jehovah condones neither incest nor drunkenness. (Leviticus 18:6, 7, 29; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Moreover, Abraham’s nephew Lot deplored the “lawless deeds” of Sodom’s inhabitants and evidently grieved over the wrong conduct in which he himself got involved, for the Examiner of hearts viewed him as “righteous.” (2 Peter 2:8) The very fact that Lot’s daughters got him intoxicated suggests that they realized he would not consent to having sexual relations with them while he was sober. But as aliens in the land, his daughters felt that this was the only way to prevent the extinction of Lot’s family. The account is in the Bible not to arouse erotic thoughts but to reveal the relationship of the Moabites and the Ammonites to Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites.
●28:12, 13—What was the significance of Jacob’s dream involving a “ladder”?
This “ladder” (which may have looked like a rising flight of stones) indicated that there is communication between earth and heaven. It showed that angels minister between Jehovah and humans having his approval.—Compare John 1:51.
●31:19—What were the teraphim that Rachel stole from Laban?
The teraphim were family gods or idols. Archaeological findings in Mesopotamia indicate that possession of such images had a bearing on who would receive the family inheritance. Possibly Rachel had this in mind and reasoned that she was justified in taking the teraphim because of her father Laban’s deceptive dealings with her husband Jacob. (Genesis 31:14-16) But there is no indication that Jacob ever tried to use the teraphim to gain the family inheritance. At the latest, these idols were disposed of when Jacob buried all the foreign gods turned over to him by his household.—Genesis 35:1-4.
●44:5—Did Joseph actually use a cup to read omens?
Joseph was determined to test his brothers, who did not recognize him. So he commanded his servant to fill their bags with food, place each one’s money in the mouth of his bag and put Joseph’s silver cup in the mouth of Benjamin’s bag. In all of this, Joseph was representing himself as an administrator of a pagan land. Hence, the cup and what was said about it evidently were part of a subterfuge. As a faithful worshiper of Jehovah, Joseph did not really use the cup to read omens, even as Benjamin did not actually steal it.
●49:10—Is there a difference between a scepter and a commander’s staff?
Yes. A scepter is a baton carried by a ruler as a symbol of royal authority. The commander’s staff is a long rod serving as a token of power to command. Jacob’s reference to both of them evidently indicated that significant authority and power would reside with the tribe of Judah until the coming of Shiloh. This descendant of Judah is Jesus Christ, the one upon whom Jehovah has bestowed heavenly rulership. Christ holds royal authority and possesses the power to command.—Psalm 2:8, 9; Isaiah 55:4; Daniel 7:13, 14.

Basis for Faith, Hope and Courage

Genesis clearly gives us a basis for faith, hope and courage. It inspires faith in Jehovah and hope in the promised “seed” of blessing. (Genesis 3:15; 22:18) This book also helps us to face the future with courage, as did early witnesses of Jehovah.
Those servants of God were “reaching out for a better place, . . . one belonging to heaven,” and Jehovah “has made a city ready for them.” (Hebrews 11:15, 16) As they looked ahead to the Kingdom arrangement, may we, too, place our confidence in it. And, like those witnesses of Jehovah, may we have true faith, hope and courage.

Highlights of Genesis in "The Watchtower" (2004) -1

*** w04 1/1 p. 28 par. 1 - p. 31 par. 7 Highlights From the Book of Genesis—I ***

“GENESIS” means “origin,” or “birth.” This is a fitting name for a book that relates how the universe came into being, how the earth was prepared for human habitation, and how man came to reside upon it. Moses wrote this book in the wilderness of Sinai, possibly completing it in 1513 B.C.E.
The book of Genesis tells us about the world before the Flood, what happened as the post-Flood era began, and how Jehovah God dealt with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. This article will consider highlights from Genesis 1:1–11:9, basically up to the time when Jehovah began dealing with the patriarch Abraham.

THE WORLD BEFORE THE FLOOD

(Genesis 1:1–7:24)
The opening words of Genesis, “in the beginning,” reach back billions of years into the past. The events of the six creative “days,” or time periods of special creative works, are described as they would have appeared to a human observer had he been present on the earth. By the end of the sixth day, God created man. Although Paradise is soon lost because of man’s disobedience, Jehovah gives hope. The very first prophecy of the Bible speaks of a “seed” who will undo the effects of sin and bruise Satan in the head.
During the following 16 centuries, Satan succeeds in turning aside from God all humans except a few faithful ones, such as Abel, Enoch, and Noah. For example, Cain murders his righteous brother Abel. “A start [is] made of calling on the name of Jehovah,” apparently in a profane way. Reflecting the violent spirit of the day, Lamech composes a poem about how he killed a young man, allegedly in self-defense. Conditions deteriorate as disobedient angelic sons of God take women as wives and produce violent giants called Nephilim. Yet, faithful Noah builds the ark, courageously warns others of the impending Deluge, and escapes its devastation with his family.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

1:16—How could God produce light on the first day if the luminaries were not made until the fourth day? The Hebrew word rendered “make” in verse 16 is not the same as the word for “create” used in Genesis chapter 1, verses 1, 21, and 27. “The heavens” that included the luminaries were created long before the “first day” even began. But their light did not reach the surface of the earth. On the first day, “there came to be light” because diffused light penetrated the cloud layers and became visible on the earth. The rotating earth thus began to have alternating day and night. (Genesis 1:1-3, 5) The sources of that light still remained invisible from the earth. During the fourth creative period, however, a notable change took place. The sun, the moon, and the stars were now made “to shine upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:17) “God proceeded to make” them in that they could now be seen from the earth.
3:8—Did Jehovah God speak to Adam directly? The Bible reveals that when God spoke to humans, it was often through an angel. (Genesis 16:7-11; 18:1-3, 22-26; 19:1; Judges 2:1-4; 6:11-16, 22; 13:15-22) God’s chief spokesman was his only-begotten Son, called “the Word.” (John 1:1) Very likely God spoke to Adam and Eve through “the Word.”—Genesis 1:26-28; 2:16; 3:8-13.
3:17—In what way was the ground cursed, and for how long? The curse pronounced on the ground meant that cultivating it would now become very difficult. The effects of the cursed ground, with its thorns and thistles, were so keenly felt by Adam’s descendants that Noah’s father, Lamech, spoke of “the pain of our hands resulting from the ground which Jehovah has cursed.” (Genesis 5:29) After the Flood, Jehovah blessed Noah and his sons, stating His purpose that they fill the earth. (Genesis 9:1) God’s curse on the ground was apparently lifted.—Genesis 13:10.
4:15—How did Jehovah “set up a sign for Cain”? The Bible does not say that a sign or a mark was placed on Cain’s person in any way. The sign likely consisted of a solemn decree that was known and observed by others and that was intended to prevent his being killed out of revenge.
4:17—Where did Cain get his wife? Adam “became father to sons and daughters.” (Genesis 5:4) So Cain took one of his sisters or perhaps one of his nieces as a wife. Later, God’s Law to the Israelites did not permit the marriage of a fleshly brother and sister.—Leviticus 18:9.
5:24—In what way did God ‘take Enoch’? Enoch was apparently in mortal danger, but God did not allow him to suffer at the hands of his enemies. “Enoch was transferred so as not to see death,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Hebrews 11:5) This does not mean that God took him to heaven, where he kept on living. Jesus was the first one to ascend to heaven. (John 3:13; Hebrews 6:19, 20) Enoch’s being “transferred so as not to see death” may mean that God put him in a prophetic trance and then terminated his life while he was in that state. Under such circumstances, Enoch did not suffer, or “see death,” at the hands of his enemies.
6:6—In what sense can it be said that Jehovah “felt regrets” that he had made man? Here the Hebrew word translated “felt regrets” pertains to a change of attitude or intention. Jehovah is perfect and therefore did not make a mistake in creating man. However, he did have a change of mental attitude as regards the wicked pre-Flood generation. God turned from the attitude of the Creator of humans to that of a destroyer of them because of his displeasure with their wickedness. The fact that he preserved some humans shows that his regrets were confined to those who had become wicked.—2 Peter 2:5, 9.
7:2—What was used as a basis for making a distinction between clean and unclean animals? The basis of distinction evidently pertained to the use of sacrifices in worship and not to what could and could not be eaten. Animal flesh was not a part of man’s diet prior to the Flood. The designations “clean” and “unclean” for food came into existence only with the Mosaic Law, and they ended when it was abolished. (Acts 10:9-16; Ephesians 2:15) Apparently, Noah knew what was suitable for sacrifice in the worship of Jehovah. As soon as he left the ark, he “began to build an altar to Jehovah and to take some of all the clean beasts and of all the clean flying creatures and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar.”—Genesis 8:20.
7:11—Where did the water causing the global Flood come from? During the second creative period, or “day,” when the earth’s atmospheric “expanse” was formed, there were waters “beneath the expanse” and waters “above the expanse.” (Genesis 1:6, 7) The waters “beneath” were those already on earth. The waters “above” were huge quantities of moisture suspended high above the earth, forming a “vast watery deep.” These waters fell upon the earth in Noah’s day.

Lessons for Us:

1:26. Being made in God’s image, humans have the capacity to reflect godly attributes. Surely we should try to cultivate such qualities as love, mercy, kindness, goodness, and patience, reflecting the One who made us.
2:22-24. Marriage is God’s arrangement. The marriage bond is permanent and sacred, with the husband serving as head of the family.
3:1-5, 16-23. Happiness is dependent on our recognizing Jehovah’s sovereignty in our personal life.
3:18, 19; 5:5; 6:7; 7:23. Jehovah’s word always comes true.
4:3-7. Jehovah was pleased with Abel’s offering because he was a righteous man of faith. (Hebrews 11:4) On the other hand, as his actions indicated, Cain lacked faith. His works were wicked, marked by jealousy, hatred, and murder. (1 John 3:12) Moreover, he probably gave little more than superficial thought to his offering and merely went through the motions of presenting it. Should not our sacrifices of praise to Jehovah be wholehearted and accompanied by a proper attitude and right conduct?
6:22. Although it took many years to build the ark, Noah did just what God had commanded. Noah and his family were therefore preserved through the Deluge. Jehovah speaks to us through his written Word and gives direction through his organization. It is to our benefit to listen and obey.
7:21-24. Jehovah does not destroy the righteous along with the wicked.

MANKIND ENTERS A NEW ERA

(Genesis 8:1–11:9)
With the pre-Flood world gone, mankind enters a new era. Humans are granted permission to eat meat but with the command to abstain from blood. Jehovah authorizes the death penalty for murder and establishes the rainbow covenant, promising never to bring another Deluge. Noah’s three sons become the progenitors of the entire human race, but his great-grandson Nimrod becomes “a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” Rather than spreading out to populate the earth, men decide to build a city named Babel and a tower to make a celebrated name for themselves. Their intentions are thwarted when Jehovah confuses their language and scatters them earth wide.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

8:11—If the trees were ruined by the Flood, where did the dove get the olive leaf? There are two possibilities. Since the olive is quite a hardy tree, it might have remained alive under water for some months during the Deluge. With the abating of the floodwaters, an olive tree that had been submerged would again be on dry ground and could put forth leaves. The olive leaf carried to Noah by the dove could also have been taken from a fairly young sprout that came up after the floodwaters had abated.
9:20-25—Why did Noah curse Canaan? Very likely Canaan was guilty of some abuse or perversion against his grandfather Noah. Though Canaan’s father, Ham, witnessed this, he did not interfere but appears to have spread the story. However, Noah’s other two sons, Shem and Japheth, acted to cover their father. They were blessed for this reason, but Canaan was cursed, and Ham suffered as a result of the shame brought upon his offspring.
10:25—How was the earth “divided” in the days of Peleg? Peleg lived from 2269 to 2030 B.C.E. It was “in his days” that Jehovah caused a great division by confusing the language of Babel’s builders and scattering them over all the surface of the earth. (Genesis 11:9) Thus, “the earth [or, the earth’s population] was divided” in the days of Peleg.

Lessons for Us:

9:1; 11:9. No human scheme or effort can thwart Jehovah’s purpose.
10:1-32. The two records of genealogy surrounding the account of the Flood—chapters 5 and 10—connect the entire human race with the first man, Adam, through Noah’s three sons. Assyrians, Chaldeans, Hebrews, Syrians, and some Arabian tribes, are descendants of Shem. Ethiopians, Egyptians, Canaanites, and some African and Arabian tribes descended from Ham. Indo-Europeans are descendants of Japheth. All humans are related, and all are born equal before God. (Acts 17:26) This truth must affect how we view and treat others.

God’s Word Can Exert Power

The first part of the book of Genesis contains the only accurate account of early human history. In these pages, we gain insight into God’s purpose for putting man on the earth. How reassuring to see that no human efforts, like those of Nimrod, can prevent its fulfillment!
As you do the weekly Bible reading in preparation for the Theocratic Ministry School, considering what is stated under the section “Scriptural Questions Answered” will help you to understand some of the difficult Scriptural passages. The comments under “Lessons for Us” will show you how you can benefit from the Bible reading for the week. When appropriate, they can also provide the basis for a local needs part on the Service Meeting. Jehovah’s Word is indeed alive and can exert power in our lives.—Hebrews 4:12.

Highlights of Genesis in "The Watchtower" (2004) -2

*** w04 1/15 p. 26 par. 1 - p. 29 par. 8 Highlights From the Book of Genesis—II ***

FROM the creation of the first man, Adam, to the death of Jacob’s son Joseph, Genesis covers 2,369 years of human history. The first 10 chapters as well as 9 verses of the 11th chapter, covering the account from creation to the tower of Babel, were discussed in the preceding issue of this magazine. This article considers highlights from the remainder of Genesis, pertaining to God’s dealings with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

ABRAHAM BECOMES GOD’S FRIEND

(Genesis 11:10–23:20)
Some 350 years after the Flood, a man who proves to be very special to God is born in the line of descent of Noah’s son Shem. His name is Abram, later changed to Abraham. At God’s command, Abram leaves the Chaldean city of Ur and becomes a tent dweller in a land that Jehovah promises to give to him and his descendants. Because of his faith and obedience, Abraham comes to be called “Jehovah’s friend.”—James 2:23.
Jehovah takes action against the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and its nearby cities, while Lot and his daughters are preserved alive. A promise of God is fulfilled in the birth of Abraham’s son Isaac. Years later, Abraham’s faith is tested when Jehovah instructs him to offer this son as a sacrifice. Abraham is ready to obey but is stopped by an angel. There is no doubt that Abraham is a man of faith, and he is assured that by means of his seed, all nations will bless themselves. The death of his beloved wife, Sarah, brings much sorrow to Abraham.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

12:1-3—When did the Abrahamic covenant go into effect, and for how long? Jehovah’s covenant with Abram that “all the families of the ground will certainly bless themselves by means of [Abram]” apparently went into effect when Abram crossed the Euphrates on his way to Canaan. This must have been on Nisan 14, 1943 B.C.E.—430 years before Israel was delivered from Egypt. (Exodus 12:2, 6, 7, 40, 41) The Abrahamic covenant is “a covenant to time indefinite.” It remains in effect until the blessing of the families of the earth and the destruction of all God’s enemies have been accomplished.—Genesis 17:7; 1 Corinthians 15:23-26.
15:13—When was the foretold 400-year affliction of Abram’s offspring fulfilled? This period of affliction began in 1913 B.C.E. when Abraham’s son Isaac was weaned at about 5 years of age and his 19-year-old half brother, Ishmael, was “poking fun” at him. (Genesis 21:8-14; Galatians 4:29) It ended with the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1513 B.C.E.
16:2—Was it proper for Sarai to offer her maidservant Hagar as a wife to Abram? Sarai’s offer was in line with the custom of the day—that a barren wife was obligated to provide her husband with a concubine in order to produce an heir. The practice of polygamy first appeared in the line of Cain. Eventually, it became a custom and was adopted by some worshipers of Jehovah. (Genesis 4:17-19; 16:1-3; 29:21-28) However, Jehovah never abandoned his original standard of monogamy. (Genesis 2:21, 22) Noah and his sons, to whom the command to ‘be fruitful and fill the earth’ was repeated, were evidently all monogamous. (Genesis 7:7; 9:1; 2 Peter 2:5) And this standard of monogamy was reasserted by Jesus Christ.—Matthew 19:4-8; 1 Timothy 3:2, 12.
19:8—Was it not wrong for Lot to offer his daughters to the Sodomites? According to the Oriental code, it was a host’s responsibility to protect the guests in his home, defending them even to the point of death if necessary. Lot was prepared to do that. He bravely went out to the mob, closed the door behind him, and faced them alone. By the time he offered his daughters, Lot likely realized that his guests were messengers from God, and he may have reasoned that God could protect his daughters as He had protected his aunt Sarah in Egypt. (Genesis 12:17-20) Indeed, as the matter turned out, Lot and his daughters were kept safe.
19:30-38—Did Jehovah condone Lot’s getting drunk and fathering sons by his two daughters? Jehovah condones neither incest nor drunkenness. (Leviticus 18:6, 7, 29; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Lot actually deplored the “lawless deeds” of Sodom’s inhabitants. (2 Peter 2:6-8) The very fact that Lot’s daughters got him intoxicated suggests that they realized that he would not consent to having sexual relations with them while he was sober. But as aliens in the land, his daughters felt that this was the only way to prevent the extinction of Lot’s family. The account is in the Bible to reveal the relationship of the Moabites (through Moab) and the Ammonites (through Benammi) to Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites.

Lessons for Us:

13:8, 9. What a beautiful model Abraham provides in handling differences! Never should we sacrifice peaceful relationships for the sake of financial gain, personal preferences, or pride.
15:5, 6. When Abraham was getting old and had not yet had a son, he spoke with his God about the matter. Jehovah, in turn, reassured him. The result? Abraham “put faith in Jehovah.” If we open our hearts to Jehovah in prayer, accept his reassurances from the Bible, and obey him, our faith will be strengthened.
15:16. Jehovah withheld the execution of his judgment upon the Amorites (or, Canaanites) for four generations. Why? Because he is a patient God. He waited until all hope of improvement was gone. Like Jehovah, we need to be patient.
18:23-33. Jehovah does not destroy people indiscriminately. He protects the righteous.
19:16. Lot “kept lingering,” and the angels almost had to drag him and his family out of the city of Sodom. We are wise not to lose our sense of urgency as we await the end of the wicked world.
19:26. How foolish to be distracted by or longingly look back at what we have left behind in the world!

JACOB HAS 12 SONS

(Genesis 24:1–36:43)
Abraham arranges for Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah, a woman having faith in Jehovah. She gives birth to the twins Esau and Jacob. Esau despises his birthright and sells it to Jacob, who later receives his father’s blessing. Jacob flees to Paddan-aram, where he marries Leah and Rachel and tends the flocks of their father for some 20 years before departing with his family. By Leah, Rachel, and their two maidservants, Jacob has 12 sons as well as daughters. Jacob grapples with an angel and is blessed, and his name is changed to Israel.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

28:12, 13—What was the significance of Jacob’s dream involving “a ladder”? This “ladder,” which may have looked like a rising flight of stones, indicated that there is communication between earth and heaven. God’s angels ascending and descending on it showed that angels minister in some important way between Jehovah and humans who have his approval.—John 1:51.
30:14, 15—Why did Rachel relinquish an opportunity to conceive in exchange for some mandrakes? In ancient times, the fruit of the mandrake plant was used in medicine as a narcotic and for preventing or relieving spasms. The fruit was also credited with the capacity to excite sexual desire and to increase human fertility or aid in conception. (Song of Solomon 7:13) While the Bible does not reveal Rachel’s motive for the exchange, she may have thought that the mandrakes would help her conceive and end her reproach of being barren. However, it was some years before Jehovah “opened her womb.”—Genesis 30:22-24.

Lessons for Us:

25:23. Jehovah has the ability to detect the genetic bent of the unborn and to exercise his foreknowledge and select beforehand whom he chooses for his purposes. Yet, he does not predetermine the final destiny of individuals.—Hosea 12:3; Romans 9:10-12.
25:32; 32:24-29. Jacob’s concern about obtaining the birthright and his wrestling all night with an angel to get a blessing show that he truly appreciated sacred things. Jehovah has entrusted us with a number of sacred things, such as our relationship with him and his organization, the ransom, the Bible, and our Kingdom hope. May we prove to be like Jacob in showing appreciation for them.
34:1, 30. The trouble that “brought ostracism” upon Jacob started because Dinah made friends with people who did not love Jehovah. We must choose our associates wisely.

JEHOVAH BLESSES JOSEPH IN EGYPT

(Genesis 37:1–50:26)
Jealousy moves Jacob’s sons to sell their brother Joseph as a slave. In Egypt, Joseph is imprisoned because he faithfully and courageously adheres to God’s moral standards. In time, he is brought forth from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, which foretell seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph is then made Egypt’s food administrator. His brothers come to Egypt seeking food because of the famine. The family is reunited and settled in the fertile land of Goshen. On his deathbed Jacob blesses his sons and utters a prophecy that gives sure hope of great blessings in centuries to come. Jacob’s remains are taken to Canaan for burial. When Joseph dies at the age of 110, his body is embalmed, eventually to be transported to the Promised Land.—Exodus 13:19.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

43:32—Why was eating a meal with the Hebrews detestable to the Egyptians? This may largely have been because of religious prejudice or racial pride. The Egyptians also detested shepherds. (Genesis 46:34) Why? Sheepherders may simply have been near the bottom in the Egyptian caste system. Or it could be that since the land available for cultivation was limited, the Egyptians despised those seeking pasture for flocks.
44:5—Did Joseph actually use a cup to read omens? The silver cup and what was said about it were evidently part of a subterfuge or stratagem. Joseph was a faithful worshiper of Jehovah. He did not really use the cup to read omens, even as Benjamin did not actually steal it.
49:10—What is the meaning of “the scepter” and “the commander’s staff”? A scepter is a baton carried by a ruler as a symbol of royal authority. The commander’s staff is a long rod denoting his power to command. Jacob’s reference to these indicated that significant authority and power would reside with the tribe of Judah until the coming of Shiloh. This descendant of Judah is Jesus Christ, the one upon whom Jehovah has bestowed heavenly rulership. Christ holds royal authority and possesses the power to command.—Psalm 2:8, 9; Isaiah 55:4; Daniel 7:13, 14.

Lessons for Us:

38:26. Judah was wrong in his dealings with his widowed daughter-in-law, Tamar. However, when confronted with his responsibility for her pregnancy, Judah humbly admitted his error. We too should be quick to acknowledge our mistakes.
39:9. Joseph’s response to Potiphar’s wife shows that his thinking was attuned to God’s thinking on the matter of morals and that his conscience was guided by godly principles. Should we not also strive for the same as we grow in accurate knowledge of the truth?
41:14-16, 39, 40. Jehovah can bring about a reversal of circumstances for those who fear him. When adversities strike, we are wise to put our trust in Jehovah and remain faithful to him.
They Had Abiding Faith
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph were indeed God-fearing men of faith. The account of their lives, contained in the book of Genesis, is truly faith-strengthening and teaches us many valuable lessons.
You can benefit from this account as you carry out your weekly Bible reading assignment for the Theocratic Ministry School. Considering the foregoing will help make the account come alive.

You can consult the references in: "Watchtower Online Library"
References Highlights from the weekly Bible reading: Genesis

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