Category Archives: Know the Book

Books of Samuel (1 Samuel & 2 Samuel) – Know the Book

The books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel follow Ruth in the Old Testament canon. Understanding Ruth as a break in the flow of the Israelite chronology, we see the Books of Samuel continuing the sad story of Israel’s movement away from God. However, 1 Samuel opens with a hopeful story of change. Unfortunately, that change doesn’t bring the needed change of heart. Judges closes with the comment, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). 1 Samuel opens with the coming birth of the priest, prophet and judge, Samuel.

Samuel soon replaces the weak priest, Eli, and his corrupt sons. For a moment it seems as though Israel is back on track. But Samuel stumbles in much the same way as Eli. He is a weak father and raises rebellious sons. The people ostensibly are fearful of accepting his sons as their future judges so, as Samuel ages, they demand a king “like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). terribly displeased by the demand Samuel is told by God to allow  them a king. In a foreboding comment God tells Samuel, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8:7). In my judgment, this is the key verse of 1 Samuel. The implications of their rejection of God would lead to immediate consequences but to problems humanity faces today.

What follows next is the story of King Saul, the first monarch over a united Israel. 1 Samuel traces his humble beginnings, his rise to royal superiority, his two major sins which cost him and his family the kingdom, and finally his death in the final chapter. It is in 1 Samuel that we meet David, son of Jesse. Herein, David is anointed by Samuel to be king after Saul. But David is forced to flee when Saul directs his rage at David and seeks to kill him. As the book of 1 Samuel comes to a close, David is still an exile and living among the Philistines. Saul and his son Jonathan are killed in battle and their bodies disgraced by the Philistines. 1 Samuel is an unhappy picture of Israel’s first experience with a monarch.

2 Samuel

2 Samuel Bible2 Samuel could have been named “David.” The book is a continuation of the history of the monarchs begun in 1 Samuel. This book deals almost exclusively with David, his rise to power and the consolidation of his rule. We also are shown the dysfunctional nature of David’s own family.

As the book opens, David learns of the death of Saul. Although Saul pursued David and sought to kill him, David always showed humility towards God’s anointed (1 Samuel 24:6; 2 Samuel 1:11, 12). David is next make King of Judah, not the entire nation. A son of Saul would serve as the puppet King of Israel. Son, the puppet king was killed and David was made King over all 12 tribes (c.f. 2 Samuel 5:1-5).

After an abortive attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, David succeeds. Israel has peace all around (2 Samuel 7:1). The peace is short-lived and Israel again battles the Philistines and the Ammonites.  This later war is the background for a tragic milestone in the life of David. While the battle rages, David consorts with Bathsheba and to this adulterous union a child is born. To cover his sin David resorts to scheming which eventually leads to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband. David thinks his sin his covered but is soon confronted by the courageous Nathan, a prophet of God. The consequences of the sin cause the death of the child and a never-ending conflict within David’s own family.

Soon comes the incestuous rape of David’s daughter by his son Amnon (half-brother to the victim Tamar).  Another son, Absalom (brother to Tamar and half-brother to Amnon) avenges the rape by killing Amnon two years later. Absalom flees but later returns to Jerusalem. In time, he will lead a civil war to dethrone his father David. David briefly flees Jerusalem but soon Absalom is killed and the kingdom restored to David. We note that despite his sins, David was still a man after God’s own heart. His penitent heart, although imperfect, pleased God. As 2 Samuel ends, David is found worshiping God and being blessed by Him.

Technical Details

1 Samuel and 2 Samuel were often included with 1 Kings and 2 Kings. In fact, the similarity between the four books produced a division once labeled as 1, 2, 3, and 4 Kingdoms. ((Archer, Gleason, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 1994))

1 Samuel and 2 Samuel were written somewhere between the 8th and 10th century BC. The books offer no direct claim of authorship. However conservative scholars generally hold that Samuel, perhaps along with prophets Nathan and Gad worked together to author the books. Jews assert the authority of the books from ancient times. Whomever the physical author(s), the Holy Spirit is behind the authorship. Some non-canonical sources may have been used at the direction of the Holy Spirit. 2 Samuel 1:18 references the book of Jashar. ((Bergen, Robert D. 1, 2 Samuel. Vol. 7. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996. Print. The New American Commentary)) Use of existing sources is not troublesome and his common across both the Old Testament and the New.  Scholars with a low view of Scripture frequently assert that Bible books are little more than collections of various community writings and oral traditions. We do not deny the use of sources but, again, any material used would have the approval of the Holy Spirit.

These two books offer strong historical reporting of the earlier days of the monarchy. But they also show Jehovah working carefully in human history to bring about his will and his plans. The pattern of blessing and cursing is instructive to Christians today.

Your comments are welcomed and desired.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.





Romans – Know the Book

Book of Romans; is the most profound book in the Bible. Written by Paul it plumbs the depths of theology and offers  magnificent pearls for every reader. It is a book that raises praises to the Almighty God and centers the readers thoughts upon Jesus his inestimable Son.

Tragically, many errant doctrines are taught based upon misunderstandings of this grand volume. Although it is rich in doctrine it must not be set above other inspired writings.  In 1522 Martin Luther did exactly that. He declared the Gospel of John and Paul’s writings to be more important to the Christian. In comparison to Paul’s writings Luther said of the Book of James it is an epistle full of straw, because it contains nothing evangelical.” He could not reconcile James and Paul and on one occasion said “ I almost feel like throwing Jimmy [James] into the stove, as the priest in Kalenberg did.” While Romans is great it must not be made superior to other inspired books. It can, should and must be understood as part of the greater whole.

Luther was not the only one to sense the greatness of Romans. The letter is placed first among all other letters and immediately follows Acts as the sixth book of Scripture. Dating can confidently be placed within a span from about 57AD – 64 AD. Nero was the Emperor and Paul was probably writing from Greece.

Paul was writing to Christians in Rome that he had not met. The Spirit had not yet allowed Paul to travel to the west although it’s clear Paul desired to make such a journey. He would make the journey later but would do so in bonds (Acts 27:1 ff). It is probable, but not an absolute certainty, that Paul died in Rome at the hands of an executioner.

What can we say of the purpose of Romans? Given the weighty topics, one might say that Paul’s purpose was doctrinal or even theological. But that creates another question: Why write such a deep letter to people he did not know (Romans 1:10)? You might expect such a letter to the Corinthians or the Philippians but why the Romans? We can only speculate. It is unlikely that Rome had ever been visited by an apostle. That being the case Rome may have lacked the depth of the revelation given through miraculous gifts of the spirit. Paul’s letter was to provide the knowledge they needed until such time as an apostle could visit and give the power of the Holy Spirit to some in that great city. Again, this is only speculation. Some who received such a gift could have traveled to Rome. Indeed many there were known by Paul. But it is not unreasonable to suggest that Paul’s meaty letter was to supply what was lacking in his readers.

Romans meets an important need today. In a time when God’s direct revelation has ceased, Romans provides a rich supply of teaching on redemption, salvation, grace, mercy and the relationship of works and law to the present day. Romans met a need in the first century and certainly meets a need today.

It is important to remember that Christianity first arose from within Judaism (Acts 2:41, 47). The Jewish economy and the entire Levitical Priesthood served as the backdrop of this new faith. Nevertheless there were great differences. So while it is necessary to understand Judaism we must also understand how faith in Jesus now completes Judaism and stands alone as the only path unto the Father (John 4:6). Paul shows those differences and brings to the table the grand conclusion that God’s chosen people, the Jews, must find their salvation in the one they despised: Jesus Christ.

Romans is a marvelous book which must be studied for a lifetime. Every return to the tome brings deeper understandings. It must also be studied together in context of the entire Bible. Romans will not contradict any other teaching of God’s word. When studied together with those other books, the reader will grow greatly in the knowledge of his Lord.


Ruth – Know the Book

The book of Ruth is perhaps the sweetest story of love and devotion found in the Old Testament. The story is first centered on Naomi, a tragic character facing a desperate life following the death of her husband and both of her sons. Left in a distant land with only two young daughters-in-law it seems she is destined for poverty. Instead, a surprising turn early in the book brings love devotion and the continuance of the line of Jesus Christ Continue reading Ruth – Know the Book

Joshua – Know the Book

Joshua was the great Israelite leader after Moses. Moses has passed this life but the task of bringing the children of Israel into the promised land is unfinished. It will fall to Joshua to bring them over the Jordan River and into the land they had heard of for 40 years. The book of Joshua records that journey and the conquest of Canaan. It is the sixth book of the Bible and the first book in the subdivision of History. Although it is a near seamless continuation of the Pentateuch and picks up where Moses left off in Deuteronomy, it is not part of the Pentateuch.

Joshua is a war-filled volume. Stories of military victories abound. But underlying the marches, battles and conquering lies a key premise.

“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5-9)

The key premise which underlies all that Joshua does is this: Remain faithful to God and he will bless you richly. This always has been God’s desire and remains so even today. One can imagine how encouraging this promises was.

Joshua had been a witness to all that God had done for Israel. Joshua first comes to our attention as the military commander that defeated  Amelek in Exodus 17:13. He is later spoken of as Moses’ assistant (Exodus 24:13). But Joshua’s trust in God is shown in Numbers 13:16 ff when he is selected as one of a dozen spies sent to reconnoiter the promised land. Joshua and Caleb alone argue that the land can be taken with God’s help but the people believe the other 10 spies. Because of their lack of faith the Israelites wander 40 years through the wilderness before coming into Canaan. Joshua and Caleb alone are the survivors of the entire journey.

Joshua and the War for Canaan

Joshua records the military conquest of the region of the world we today regard as greater Palestine. The nations of Israel and Lebanon occupy the bulk of the so-called promised land while smaller portions of Syria and Jordan are also included.

The military campaign can be said to begin in Joshua 2 when spies were sent into the promised land (c.f. Numbers 13). Why would an omnipotent God need spies? Obviously, he would not. The spies here and in Numbers were for the benefit and trying of the people. In  the Mosaic account the people failed. They believed the bad report of the 10 spies while rejecting the words of Joshua and Caleb. It is an interesting irony here that Joshua is again involved with espionage against the enemy. The difference being that this time the people trusted God and moved ahead.

After crossing the Jordan River the Israelites encamped at Gilgal (Joshua 5:10). From there they staged their first march against the heavily fortified Jericho. The city was given into their hands without a battle through the design of Jehovah God (Joshua 6:20-21). A second city, Ai, was next attacked but the result was a stunning defeat. Sin in the Israelite camp was to blame (Joshua 7:10-12).

The book records further conquests in two major campaigns, one in the south and another in the north. Although victorious in battle the work of completely routing the Canaanite nations was not completed. The remaining nations would prove a thorn in the side of national Israel for many generations.

Joshua and the Land

God first promised this land to Israel through the patriarch Abraham (Genesis 12:7). Now it is time to possess the land. Joshua is tasked with dividing the land into portions assigned to each of the 12 tribes and cities which were given to the Levites ((The Levites are not one of the numbered tribes. They are especially redeemed by God to his service. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, children of tribeless Joseph, make up the difference for a total of 12 tribes plus the Levites.))

When the settlements are done, 9 of the 12 tribes settle exclusively west of the Jordan. Gad, Reuben and half  of Manasseh settle east of Jordan and technically outside the promised land. However their inheritance was approved and blessed by Moses long before the conquest began.

The tribes will remain in their settled areas until the northern kingdom is exiled by Assyria years later.

Joshua: Authorship, Dating and Technical Details

The book of Joshua has long been attributed to Joshua the son of Nun although there is no direct claim of authorship. The author certainly has a knowledge of the inner workings of this period of Israelite history.

Joshua makes reference to the Book of Jasir (Joshua 10:13). This book is thought by scholars to have been written as early as the desert wanderings of Israel prior to the conquest. There is no reason to discard the claim of authorship by Joshua and therefore it’s dating just after the conquest of the land. While Joshua, like Moses before him, seems to record the details of his own death that is not surprising or troubling. Indeed the Holy Spirit is the author of the book and is able to provide Joshua with those details.

Joshua ends much like Deuteronomy.

“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Also like Deuteronomy we see the end of an era. Joshua dies as does High Priest Eleazar. The pages are turning to a new era for Israel. Sadly they will not be good.

Deuteronomy – Know the Book

Deuteronomy is the final book of the Pentateuch and the fifth book of the Bible. The Hebrew name suggests a “second law” or more specifically a retelling of the Law given at Sinai. Deuteronomy is also a summary of the Hebrew journeys and travails from Sinai until and including the death of Moses and the appointment of Joshua as the new leader of God’s people. In some respects it is like a walk down memory lane for Moses.

Deuteronomy includes some material not previously included in the preceding four books. Nevertheless it is largely a restating or summary of the preceding four.

There are many important passages in Deuteronomy but one that strikes me is Moses challenge near the very end of his life. It is found in Deuteronomy 30:15-20

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them,  I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Moses provides a stark contrast between the ways of the world and God’s ways. It was important for Israel to remember this clash between good and evil as they prepared to enter the promised land. The coming life of ease (as compared to their desert wanderings) could be deadly for their souls. I cannot help but think that there is a message within that passage for modern man too.

Deuteronomy: Authorship, Dating and Technical Details

The long standing traditional position points to Mosaic authorship sometime in the 13th or 14th century. More recently a number of scholars have posited a 7th century date. But there is no reason to discard the traditional date and the date which seems to be given by the book itself.

Some are troubled with chapter 34 where Moses offers the details of his own death and offers certain post death details about the mourning for him. Such is not troubling at all if one understands and accepts the concept of divine inspiration. The author here is not Moses but the Holy Spirit. Moses, like all other Bible writers, is only a conduit through which the Spirit operates. It would be nbo surprise that the eternal Spirit could instruct Moses to write of things he could not otherwise know.

Like the other four books of the Pentateuch, there is controversy among scholars as to the nature of the authorship. Some more liberal scholars hold to the documentary hypothesis of authorship which posits the existence of several different sources and one or more editors or redactors. A discussion of the documentary hypothesis is far beyond the scope of this article however Wayne Jackson offers some insight in high criticism at his website. More material is available about the so-called JEDP theory at Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry.

As the CARM article notes, Jesus held these books to be written by Moses (c.f. Luke 24:44; Mark 10:4-8; Mark 7:10; mark 10:3; Mark 8:4). So far as I am concerned that is sufficient.

Numbers – Know The Book

Numbers is the fourth book of the Bible. It is a continuation of Exodus and describes the ongoing work of God among the Israelite people. In that sense Leviticus becomes almost a parenthetical statement concerning the lives of the priests and detailing the various religious ordinances that would govern the people. We should not draw too tight a line between Numbers and Leviticus as many spiritual laws are revealed in the fourth book also.

Numbers is so named because the first event recorded in the book is a census of the people. Later events include details of rebellion in Numbers 11:1-3 and their stunning refusal to enter the promised land because of evil reports from 10 of the spies sent into the land. That rebellion would result in a 40 year wandering in the wilderness.

The name for this book in the Hebrew Bible was Bemidbãr which roughly translates into “the wilderness of.” The Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint or LXX) used the name “Numbers.”  Truly the book does focus more on the wilderness wanderings than the census.

Numbers is an exciting book filled with descriptions of conflict, political intrigue, spies and warfare. Throughout the book however we always see the mighty hand of God caring for and providing for the needs of his people. We should remember that God had promised to use this nation to bring a blessing for all men into the world. Jesus would come through this nation, specifically the tribe of Judah, over 1400 years later.

The first census detailed in chapter one counts 603,550 men from age 20 upward able to go to war (Numbers 1:44). This number did not include the Levites who were set aside for Tabernacle service.

Judah 74,600
Dan 62,700
Simeon 59,300
Zebulon 57,400
Issachar 54,400
Naphtali 53,400
Reuben 46,500
Gad 45,650
Asher 41,400
Ephraim 40,500
Benjamin 35,400
Manasseh 32,200


Numbers: The End of an Era

Numbers brings us to the very end of an era. It encompasses a period from  the beginning of the wanderings until the death of the key leaders including Miriam (Numbers 20:10, and Aaron (Numbers 20:22-29).

The Israelites have yet to enjoy the promised land. Their faithless and dependence on what they could see themselves had caused their wanderings. But that period is fast coming to an end. Soon they will stand on the shores of Jordan and look into the promised land. What could have been  theirs in just a couple of weeks has now taken almost 40 years to attain.

Numbers: Authorship, Dating and Technical Details

Like the rest of the Pentateuch, Moses is the author. The words he records are guided by God and are trustworthy. Numbers was likely written near the end of Moses’ life. He has seen the death of his sister and brother and must know that his time is near. In Deuteronomy he will face his own demise.

Numbers has been attacked by those who hold to a lower view of Scripture as being unreliable and even impossible. Gleason Archer did a fine job of defending the Numbers account and the reader is directed his work,  A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. One central problems detractors face is the refusal to acknowledge the powerful, even supernatural working of Jehovah among his people. Once you decide that God cannot do something you are left with little more than words on a page.

Leviticus – Know the Book

Leviticus, the third book of the Bible, Old Testament and Pentateuch is a mystery to many people. Following the exciting stories of Genesis and Exodus Leviticus seems to bog down in arcane rules and regulations for Israelite worship. Indeed, Leviticus is the bane of those who try to read through the entire Bible.  It can be a challenge.

But Leviticus provides crucial explanations of ancient sacrificial processes which culminated in the death of Jesus at Calvary. Many of the offerings detailed in Leviticus are reviewed in the New Testament book, Hebrews. In some ancient Jewish writings this book is called the “priest’s law.”

It is important to understand the Old Testament background and the Law of Moses if one wishes to fully appreciate the New Testament. An understanding of the Law of Moses helps us understand the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25) which is the law under which Christians live today. The Law of Moses was a teacher (Galatians 3:24) to help us gain that understanding.

So, don’t give up on Leviticus!

Leviticus – Purpose

The immediate purpose of Leviticus was to teach the newly ordained priests how to serve before God. The tribe of Levi, one of the 12 sons of Israel, was selected by God to serve uniquely as priests (Numbers 3:1-13). They were further subdivided, based upon lineage, into groups for specific duties in and around the Tabernacle and later the Temple.

God’s desire for worship was at the heart of their service. They were to care for the things of God with extreme precision. They were servants of God, chosen to represent the people before the Almighty. Any deviation from God’s revealed plan was deadly (Leviticus 10:1-2; 2 Samuel 6:5-9).

There is another purpose which is not so clear. God is holy. He is not like his creation and must not be viewed as such. The details of Leviticus make plain that God expects worship which is on his terms. Those who would approach him otherwise suffer the consequences of their deeds. Man could not draw near to God except through his prescribed sacrifices, offerings and celebrations.

Leviticus also lays the groundwork for the coming of a Redeemer. In what is a key verse of the book, God says to the people”

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life” (Leviticus 17:11)

Blood would be a central part of their offerings and blood would be the offering that saves men today from sins. It is the currency by which Jesus purchased his church (Acts 20:28; c.f. Matthew 16:18).

Authorship, Dating and Technical Details

Leviticus is a part of the Pentateuch which was penned by Moses. The contents are God’s words to Israel but they flow through Moses. The message was given as part of the Law while Israel was encamped at Mt. Sinai.

A cursory glance will demonstrate a vast difference between the priestly office of Leviticus and that found in  the days of Jesus. By the first century the priesthood was corrupted into a form barely noticeable. Inasmuch as there is no Temple today, there is no such priesthood today. Indeed the ancient priesthood was changed with the coming of Jesus and his establishment as a new High Priest (Hebrews 7:12).

Leviticus is a rich book which deserves our attention even if it requires a bit more work.


Exodus – Know the Book

PDExodus is the second book of the Bible, the Old Testament and the Pentateuch. It begins with the same general story as Genesis ends with but over 400 years later. The initial tenor of the narrative is set in Exodus 1:8

“Now there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph.”

This verse portends a coming enslavement which will only be broken by the mighty hand of God through a series of calamities, or plagues, which befall the Egyptians. This is a continual story of God’s deliverance of his people which divides rather neatly at Exodus 15. The first 15 chapters declare God’s attention to his people; the calling of Moses and the conflict between Moses and Pharaoh. Chapter 15  is a song of deliverance after the pursuing Egyptians are destroyed in walls of collapsing water in the Red Sea.

The remaining 25 chapters detail an interval of encampment at Mount Sinai where God delivered the Law to Moses. Within those chapters we find the 10 Commandments which are a part of the larger Law of Moses.

If there is a key verse in the book I would point to Exodus 5:1.

“…Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go’…”

The bondage of the Hebrews is a type of the bondage we endure today from sin. As God broke the bonds of wicked Pharaoh he will also break the bonds of Satan upon men today. The call to “…let my people go…” resounds today as it did then.

Authorship, Dating and Technical Details

Like Genesis, the authorship of the book is attributed to Moses.

“And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in  the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?” (Mark 12:26)

The statement Jesus speaks of is found in Exodus 3:1-4 and Exodus 3:17. Thus Jesus attributes the book to Moses.

Dating is connected with authorship. As with Genesis it would almost certainly have been written during the period of Israelite wandering.

Exodus finds its great significance in the demonstration of God’s interest and care for his people. The law, revealed in Exodus and Leviticus, will be the same law in effect when Jesus is born.

Genesis – Know the Book

Genesis is the first book of the Bible,  the first book of the Pentateuch and the first book of the Old Testament. It covers a longer period of time than any other book in the Bible. Genesis stretches from “the beginning” (Genesis 1:1) until the entrance of Jacob’s family into Egypt and the death of both Joseph and his father Jacob (Israel). Between these two events lie some of the grandest stories of Scripture.

The volume begins with the Biblical account of Creation. It pictures God acting out of his own will and bringing into existence all that has ever been. The Fall of man is recorded in Genesis 3 but along with the dark story comes the first messianic prophecy of the coming Christ (Genesis 3:15). The story of Noah and the Ark follow which details God’s hatred of sin and his decision to destroy his creation except for Noah and his family. Beginning in Genesis 12 and continuing until the end of the book we read of the Patriarchs and the formative years of the Hebrews. The roller coaster ride of Joseph’s life serves as somewhat of an interlude but provides the background for the Hebrew presence in Egypt.

Many key verses are possible in this 50 chapter book. But I have chosen Genesis 3:15 for it begins to unveil God’s redemptive plan for lost mankind.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.”

Authorship, Dating and Technical Details

There is no explicit comment as to who penned the book of Genesis. However a very strong tradition points to Moses and even Jesus gives him the nod for authorship.

“Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.  If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?  Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:22-24).

Circumcision, here mentioned by Jesus as being given by Moses, is found in Genesis 17:12. Internally, the book appears as a seamless prologue to the book of Exodus which Jesus directly attributes to Moses (Mark 12:26) as does the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 9:19).

Obviously the date of composition is closely tied to authorship. If we are correct that Moses is the author then it seems most reasonable that Genesis was composed during the 40 years of wandering recorded elsewhere in the Penteuchal record.

Some are puzzled that Moses could write of the Creation and of events that predated his own birth by several centuries. However Moses was only writing that which he was inspired to write. As Gleason Archer says  “Moses seems to have served as a Spirit-guided compiler and interpreter of the pre-existent material which had come to him from his forebears in oral and written form.” ((Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Moody Press, 1994, pg 193)) We would add, and I think Dr. Archer would agree, that all of the material in chapters 1 and 2 likely came directly from the Holy Spirit as no one was there to make an oral record.

Genesis is significant in that it gives us a thorough history of God’s earliest interactions with man. It shows he cared enough to immediately begin careful plans for man’s redemption. Sin and its unavoidable consequences are revealed through the narrative of Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel and the Noahic flood. Yet in all those cases hope was extended through the grace of our Creator.