Book Overview - Genesis
The Preacher's Complete Homiletic
ON THE FIRST BOOK OF MOSES CALLED
CHAPTERS I. to VIII.
By the REV. JOSEPH S. EXELL, M.A.
Author of the Commentaries on Exodus and the Psalms
CHAPTERS IX. to L.
By the REV. THOMAS H. LEALE, A.K.C.
Author of the Commentaries on Ecclesiastes and Ezekiel
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
LONDON AND TORONTO
THE PREACHER'S COMPLETE HOMILETIC
ON THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
WITH CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES, INDEXES, ETC., BY VARIOUS AUTHORS
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BOOK OF GENESIS
THE Book of Genesis is probably the most important contained in the Bible; it forms the basis of all revelation; is necessary to account for the moral condition of man, and his consequent need of redemption by Christ. The history, doctrine, and prophecy of all the inspired writings take their rise in its narrative, and without it would be unintelligible to us.
The Book has an HISTORICAL importance. It informs us of the creation of the world—of the coming forth of man to inhabit it, and of his development into a family, a tribe, a nation. It also contains the record of many great and influential lives, and presents them with the pictorial vividness, with the simplicity and pathos of primitive times. The great historical divisions of the Book are—
1. The introduction, from Gen to Gen 2:3.
2. "The generations of the heavens and the earth," beginning with Gen, and extending on through the history of the fall to the birth of Seth, Gen 4:3. "The book of the generations of Adam," from Gen 5:1 to Gen 6:8.
4. "The generations of Noah," giving the history of Noah's family till his death, from Gen to Genesis 9
5. "The generations of the sons of Noah," giving an account of the overspreading of the earth, Gen to Gen 11:9.
6. "The generations of Shem." the line of the promised seed, down to Abram, Nahor, and Haran, the sons of Terah, Gen to Genesis 26.
7. "The generations of Terah," the father of Abraham, from whom also in the female line the family was traced through Sarah and Rebekah, Gen to Gen 25:11.
8. "The generations of Ishmael," from Gen . "The generations of Isaac," containing the history of him and his family from the death of his father to his own death, Gen 25:19 to end of Genesis 35.
10. "The generations of Esau," Gen
11. "The generations of Esau in Mount Seir," Gen to Gen 37:1.
12 "The generations of Jacob," Gen to end of chapter.
Thus the Book of Genesis contains the history of the world's early progress, as presented in the lives of the most influential men of the times. It is therefore most important, certainly most interesting, and supremely reliable, as the outcome of a Divine inspiration then for the first time given to man. The Book has a DOCTRINAL importance. It narrates the creation of man, with his temporal and moral surroundings. It teaches the Divine origin of the soul; that life is a probation; that communion with God is a reality; that man is gifted with moral freedom; that he is subject to Satanic influence, and that a violation of the law of God is the source of all human woe. Here we have the only reliable account of the introduction of sin into the world; the true philosophy of temptation, the true meaning of the redemptive purpose of God, the universal depravity of the early race; and we have exemplified the over-ruling providence of God in the history of the good. The Book has an ETHICAL importance. It teaches the holy observance of the Sabbath as a day of rest and prayer; the intention and sanctity of marriage; and in its varied characters the retribution of deceit and envy. The morals of the book are most elevating, and are especially emphatic in their appeal to the young. Nor are these principles contained merely in cold precept, but are invested with all the force and reality of actual life. Hence they are rendered pre-eminently human, attractive, and admonitory. The book has a POLITICAL importance. It traces the growth of social and national life; it indicates the method of commerce during the ancient times; it also proves that the national life of men may be rendered subservient to Divine ideas, and be made the medium for the advent of spiritual good to humanity.
THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE BOOK OF GENESIS
There can be little doubt but that the Book of Genesis was written by Moses, as were the other Books of the Pentateuch. The author of Exodus must have been the author of Genesis, as the former history is a continuation of the latter, and evidently manifests the same spirit and intention. The use of Egyptian words, and the minute acquaintance with Egyptian life and manners displayed in the history of Joseph, harmonize with the education and experience of Moses; and, although the evidence in favour of the Mosaic origin of Genesis is necessarily less full and direct than that for the subsequent books, yet, considering its possession of the linguistic peculiarities common to the whole five, its bearing upon the progressive development of the Jewish history, and the testimony borne to it in the New Testament, it comes to us as the authentic work of an author who wrote as he was inspired by the Holy Ghost.
THE SOURCES FROM WHICH THE AUTHOR OF GENESIS GATHERED HIS INFORMATION
We are aware that the Inspired Penmen used their best native efforts in the attainment of facts, and in the method of their narration. They did not indolently rely on the aid of the Holy Ghost to make known to them events which were within their own power to ascertain. Hence, in writing the Book of Genesis, Moses would avail himself of all possible help that could be obtained from human sources. It is possible that the account of the Creation may have been derived by tradition from Adam, who, we may suppose, would be Divinely informed as to the method of his own existence, and of the world around him. This may have been the case; but it is quite as probable that the process of Creation was revealed to Moses, as doctrines in after times were made known to the inspired writers, and written by them under the direct instruction of God. On this supposition only can we account for the plain, minute, and yet majestic revelation of this important week of Divine work. That Moses was aided by authentic documents—by family genealogies—by tradition, and very likely, by the narratives of eye-witnesses—is probable. This help would be most welcome to him. And certainly, in the use of these varied materials, he has shown a master-hand in weaving them all into such a beautiful and harmonious plan, and in bringing out from them things of secondary importance, so many hints of the great redemptive truths to be more fully disclosed in subsequent ages.
THE STANDPOINT FROM WHICH THE BOOK OF GENESIS SHOULD BE READ
The Book of Genesis should not be exclusively studied from a scientific point of view. The object of the writer was not to present the world with a geological, botanical, or astronomical account of its different strata, of its varied plants, and of the ever-changing heavens,—but to make known the fact of the Creation as appropriate at the commencement of a Divine revelation to man, and as supplying a need that otherwise could not be met. Thus he writes from the standpoint of an ordinary observer of things, and to men, irrespective of their education, and makes known to them the power, wisdom, and goodness of God in fitting up the home in which the human family was to reside. Thus the book of Genesis is a history, and not a treatise on any scientific question—or on the philosophy of human existence; but it is emphatically a narrative, authentic and most instructive to mankind. And, although a few critics of the Materialistic school may venture to impugn its veracity, the unfoldings of time, and the outworkings of science, are their constant refutation.
the Second Week after Epiphany