Subject/Purpose of the Book of Genesis
Subject: The work is comprised of several 'toledoths,' or generations. These include the generations of creation, Adam, Noah, Noah's sons, Shem, Terah, Ishmael, Isaac, Esau, and Jacob. The first eleven chapters are taken up with the beginning of the worlds, the nations, and the wickedness of men which occasioned God's judgment. Most important was the fall of man in the Garden, the world-wide flood, and the rebellion at Babel. The rest of the book is taken up with the lives of the patriarchs, detailing the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
Purpose: Purpose: to show the superiority of YHWH over the nature deities and gods of the Egyptians, and his desire to bless a cursed world through Abraham and his seed, Israel.
Genesis served as a polemic against the Egyptian nature deities, demonstrating to Israel that YHWH was the originator of the universe, and therefore superior to the pagan nature deities. The first eleven chapters serve to demonstrate to Israel the world's need for blessing. The world was blessed by God in creation, but curses entered the world through the introduction of sin by Adam. God repeatedly attempted to bless man, but man would not accept His blessings, choosing rebellion instead. Abraham is introduced in chapter twelve as the vessel whom God chose to mediate His blessings to the world.
Genesis also serves to demonstrate to Israel the foundations of the theocracy from the beginning of time. It answers vital questions pertaining to the identity of the nation of Israel, such as the way they came to be the people of God, why they should journey to and conquer Canaan, and how they came to be slaves in Egypt.
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