Exegesis of the Book of Genesis

The Book of Genesis begins with a description of the divine creation as the foundation of the universe. Moreover, the verses of the Book of Genesis have always been the subject of theological interest because they are the introduction and the background of the Pentateuch. The aim of this paper is to examine the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis that deal with the depiction of God as the Founder and Creator of life in its fullness. As a result, these chapters stress the all-embracing control of God, reveal the principles of Mosaic law, emphasize the creative and saving nature of God, who has withdrawn the universe from chaos just as he has withdrawn the Jews from Egypt.

The first two verses of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis deal with the description of the actual creation of the matter “ex nihilo,” which includes everything that took place on the first day of divine creation when the heavens and the earth occurred. The term “creation” in this context may mean not only the creation “ex nihilo” but also the emphasis on the appearance of something new and perfect because the notion of “creation” is attributed to God as a creative Subject in the Bible. The chaos that precedes God’s creation is a state of the universe that cannot be the result of God’s action because it reveals the symptoms of sin.

The second verse symbolizes the transitional stage that has to become harmonious further due to the beginning of God’s creation that takes place in the third verse that says: “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3 NIV). According to Unger (2003), the first verse narrates the relative but not absolute beginning and the first chapter deals with the description of the creation of the universe as a human being knows it but not the occurrence of everything in general.

In the verses 1:3-5 there is a scheme for every day of creation: the act of Word, its result, the evaluation of this result by God as good, the numeration of the days. There are different interpretations of the word “day”.  First, the days of creation may be the indefinable long geological eras that preceded the appearance of a human being on earth. Secondly, the days may be actual daily periods, when God created the world. Lastly, the days can be the twenty-four hours, during which God’s creative activity led to the occurrence of the universe.

The first creative word of God produced light. The power of God’s word reflects beauty and grandeur. The light that is presupposed here is physical light. Its creation caused a momentary victory because the light dispersed the darkness. Such contrasting of the light and the darkness has a crucial symbolic meaning as an opposition of evil and good. The God as the embodiment of the absolute light, wisdom, good, and power conquers the darkness and evil.

On the second day, God separated the “waters from waters” (Gen. 1:6 NIV). That means that God separated the atmospheric waters from those that covered the earth. On the third day, God created the dry land with its vegetation (Gen. 1:9-13 NIV). The former is a part of a well-ordered universe, and that was God who created it. In addition to that, God defined the boundaries of Earth and Seas.

On the fourth day, “God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars” (Gen. 1:16 NIV). They might have occurred earlier but the luminaries became seen only on the fourth day of God’s creation. On the fifth day, Gd created living creatures, such as birds. Further, on the fifth day, God created not only wild animals, which would be domesticated by a human being, but also a man. Thus, this day became a culmination of the process of God’s creative activity: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;” (Gen. 1:27 NIV).

The word “image” does not mean the appearance of God in the literary sense of the word because God is a spirit and does not possess a physical embodiment.  On the contrary, to be created in the image of God means that people have God’s essence and share with Him some attributes that condition their ability to spiritually communicate with God. Among such attributes are the facts of a personal modus of an individual’s existence, striving for truth, justice, wisdom, love, and holiness. Being similar in some aspects to God means an intellectual capacity to understand things, emotions of love, and realize them in life.

The creation of a man in God’s image was purposeful. Human beings had to rule the earth, which means to be the representatives of God as a sovereign divine Lord. In addition to that, being similar to God in some aspects, human beings were able to become creators on their level too. Having created a man and a woman, God blessed them and gave them an ability to multiply.

This cosmogonical scenery that the first chapter narrates corresponds to the Weltanschauung of the ancient man and his naïve sensitive perception and does not have anything in common with the modern scientific worldview. Thus, it is wrong to comprehend the verses literally. On the contrary, it is necessary to seek for the deep symbolic meaning that approaches the reader to a spiritual being.

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By the seventh day God created the earth and heavens, and all their multitude (Gen. 2:1 NIV). The multitude means angels or stars that burn in the skies and resemble military lines. The seventh day was the day of rest. This day was blessed because it symbolized the end of the divine creation.

God referred to as “The Lord” created the first man Adam when there were no plants on the fields. That means that there was nothing prepared for the existence of human beings. In addition to that, God hasn’t sent rain to the earth. In this chapter, the name “The Lord” is used to name God. In Hebrew, that name sounds like “Jehovah.” This name presupposes a symbolic meaning: “Jehovah is that name of God, which denotes that he alone has his being of himself and that he gives being to all creatures and things” (Henry, p. 5).

That is significant because God created a man according to his divine design while being Jehovah. First, having created a human being from the dust of the ground, God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7 NIV) as an artist. God here resembles a talented potter, who puts a clay vessel into shape. The Lord created the first man from earth. Although a human being was not identical to God in the moment of his creation, he was able to approach the image of God further. So a human being becomes a moral creature that can communicate with God and serve Him in order become a person, a living spirit.

The first human being started living in Eden, the garden with perfect conditions in paradise, which became the place of challenge and test for obedience. The description of paradise (Gen. 2:8 NIV), its trees (Gen. 2:9 NIV), and a river that began in that place (Gen. 2:10 NIV) ends up with a commandment: a person ccan enjoy everything in paradise but cannot eat the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17 NIV). The forbidden fruit grew on the tree “of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:9 NIV).

The possibility of a catastrophic outcome for the human being has to increase with the increase of their self-sufficiency in the attitude towards life and, as a result, unsuccessful attempts to manipulate it. The tree of knowledge was a means to preserve and prolong the life of Adam and Eve in a blissful state.

In the 16th verse the verb “to command” has been used for the first time in the Old Testament. This is the first God’s commandment that deals with life and death, good and evil. Commandments embody not only blessings but also prohibitions. A human being was free to enjoy all possible amenities of earth apart from one thing. A person could eat all fruit of every plant in Eden except the fruit from the tree of knowledge.

The ultimate destination of a man, according to the Book of Genesis, was to realize a spiritual ministration. The selection of words in the Book of Genesis testifies to such an idea. God put Adam and Eve in Eden so they could cultivate it. That symbolizes a moral maxim that there is no difference what work a human being does, because every activity has to be a ministration.

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In addition to that, having created a human being in His image, God endowed them with a capacity to be conscious of the embedded moral responsibility. God settled the first couple in Eden with special conditions so as to teach them how to be obedient. Moreover, God warned them about the moral dilemma: the necessity to choose between life and death in accordance with their obedient behavior or insubordination.

The verses 18-25 of the second chapter of the Book of Genesis deal with the description of God’s creation of the institute of marriage. First, Adam was alone, but then God created Eve as a helper that resembled him and could become Adam’s partner. The resemblance here means that Eve shared the common nature with Adam within which they supplemented each other. The highest point of this unity was the marriage that made them one flesh. Due to the equal state of Adam and Eve, the second chapter of the Book of Genesis does not appeal to the notion of supremacy. Adam and Eve constituted a physical and spiritual unity, lived with dignity without sin. They were obedient and happy.

In addition to that, both Adam and Eve were naked. They did not wear any clothing because they lived in a perfect place that knew no sin and evil. The nakedness of Adam and Eve has not only a literal meaning. It presupposes that both were not shy about being together and did not suspect each other of possessing dishonorable and evil intentions. Therefore, the nakedness of Adam and Eve is a symbol of the original innocence of the first couple.

In conclusion, the analyzed first two chapters of the Book of Genesis were examined in an exegetical manner. The first chapter deals with the depiction of the seven days of divine creation, whereas the second chapter tells about the crown of God’s creation – human beings and their life in Eden. It must be acknowledged that the analyzed passages of the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis are not only a literal description of the divine creation and the occurrence of human beings as a result of God’s power, but also a symbolical interpretation of those happenings that refer to many other places from the Bible and reveal the symbolical dimension of the Scripture.

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