- 1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2. And the earth was chaos and emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the primeval water, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.1
3. And God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light.
4. And God saw the light, that it was good. And God divided between the light and the darkness.
5. And God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And it became evening, and it became morning – the first day.
6. And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and let it be a divider between the waters.”
7. And God made a firmament, and it divided between the waters which were below the firmament and the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so.
8. And God called the firmament “heavens,” and it became evening, and it became morning – the second day.2
9. And God said, “Let the waters beneath the heavens be gathered into one place and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
10. And God called the dry land “earth,” and the collection of water he called “seas,” and God saw that it was good.
11. And God said, “Let the earth sprout forth herbage - plants producing seed; fruit trees producing fruit after their own kind, having seed within themselves - upon the earth, and it was so.
12. And the earth brought forth herbage – plant producing seed after their own kind, and trees producing fruit containing their own seed, after their own kind – and God saw that it was good. 3
13. And it because evening, and it became morning – the third day.
14. And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide between the day and the night, and they shall be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years.
15. “And they shall be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to shine upon the earth.” And it was so.
16. And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night, and (also) the stars.
17. And God appointed them in the firmament of the heavens to shine upon the earth;
18. And to govern in the day and in the night, and to divide between the light and the darkness, and God saw that it was good.
19. And it became evening, and it became morning – the fourth day.
20. And God said, “Let the water teem with small aquatic creatures, living souls, and let birds fly over the earth, over the surface of the firmament of the heavens.”
21. And God created the great crocodiles, and every living soul that moves, which inhabits the water, after its own kind; and every winged bird after its own kind; and God saw that it was good.
22. And God blessed them saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the water in the seas, and the birds will multiply on the land.”
23. And it became evening, and it became morning – the fifth day.
24. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living souls after their own kind – beasts and crawling things, and land animals after their own kind.” And it was so.
25. And God made the land animals after their own kinds, and the beasts, and everything that crawls upon the ground, and God saw that it was good.
26. And God said, “Let us make man in our own image and likeness, and they will have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, and over the beasts and over all the earth, and over the crawling things that crawl upon the earth.”
27. And God created the man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that crawls upon the earth.”
29. And God said, “Behold, I have given to you every plant bearing seed which is upon the surface of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit that contains seed – it will be yours for food.
30. “And for every land animal, and for every bird of the sky, and for every crawling thing upon the land which has in it a living soul: (even) every green plant.” And it was so.
31. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And it became morning, and it became evening – the sixth day.
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Commentary Chapter 1
Commentary for Chapter One
We may note that the Genesis account speaks of “chaos” and that implies that material was already in existence, and from that material the earth was created. Therefore, the Hebrew does not support the doctrine, common among other sects, of creation ex nihilo, i.e. creation out of nothing. That is particularly important, because one of the arguments between the creationists and their opponents has been over various methods used to date the age of the earth, such as the decay of uranium 238 to lead 206, which suggests that the age of the earth is about 4.5 billion years. But for Latter-day Saints, this is no problem, because the pre-existent material from which the earth was formed could easily have been 4.5 billion years old, while the time from Adam could still be exactly what is listed in the Bible.
There are numerous creation stories associated with early civilizations in the Ancient Near East. The Sumerian creation stories were long considered to be the oldest.1 Among the Sumerian stories is one of the creation of man by the goddess, Nin-ti, whose name is most interesting, because Nin means “lady,” but ti is a Sumerograph which can mean either “rib” or “life.” Thus Nin-ti can be translated either as “Lady of life” or “Lady of the rib.” The second is particularly intriguing because of the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib as recorded in the Bible.
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With the rise of Assyriology in the 19th century and the discovery of cuneiform creation material, it was assumed that the biblical account must have been derived from the “earlier” Sumerian and Akkadian stories. The chronology was based on the assumption that the so-called books of Moses were written no sooner than the time of the Exodus – if one assumes Mosaic authorship – and considerably later if one accepts the hypothesis of multiple authors and redactors of a later time period. But for Latter-day Saints, it is important to point out that while the compilation of the material may have been done by Moses, we know that writing began with Adam and that means that the original creation story was the one dealing with the creation of Adam by Elohim and Jehovah, and that the creations stories of neighboring cultures were likely based on that account and not vice versa.
The biblical creation account is therefore unique, and this is also recognized even by some non-LDS commentators. For example, Gordon Wenham points out that the early attempts to suggest that the Genesis account was dependent on the Akkadian story enuma elish had to be abandoned, as did later attempts to view it as dependent on the creation myth Atrahasis or even on Egyptian material. He states: “. . . the known links of the Hebrew patriarchs with Mesopotamia and the widespread diffusion of cuneiform literary texts throughout the Levant in the Amarna period (late 15 century) make it improbable that the writers of Genesis were completely ignorant of Babylonian and cognate mythology.
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Most likely they were conscious of a number of accounts of creation current in the Near East of their day, and Gen. 1 is a deliberate statement of Hebrew view of creation over against rival views. It is not merely a demythologization of oriental creation myths, whether Babylonian or Egyptian; rather it is a polemical repudiation of such myths.” 2
Nevertheless, these myths are interesting for Latter-day Saints, precisely because we may assume that they derived from an original, true account, as noted above. Another example of a Sumerian creation story is that of “Enki and Ninmah.”
3 Enki and Ninmah deals with the creation of mankind. Nammu asks her son Enki how to create man to do the work of the gods, who are complaining. He gives her instructions on how to pinch off clay above the abzu and create man. She apparently does that and then there is a feast. Enki and Ninmah, Nammu's assistant, get drunk and Ninmah tries to create men, but her men are all defective.
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Of course, there are other aspects of creation that are also present in the cuneiform sources. For example, there is the concept of the holy mountain. This mountain is often the first land that rises out of the waters during the creation process. In the Sumerian sources, the gods associated with the holy mountain are the Anunnaki, which are called (d)A.nun.na.ku6.ku3.ga, “the Anunna of the holy mountain.” The holy mountain, or du6.ku3, was the center point of the world at the creation and emerged from the great deep, or absu. This center of the world was often represented symbolically in a room in the city temple, and that room was also called the du6.ku3. 4Back to Top
Another aspect of creation, viz. the creation of animals, is mentioned in the following:5
1. When the gods in their assembly had made [the world],
2. And had created the heavens, and had formed [the earth],
3. And had brought living creatures into being [...],
4. And [had fashioned] the cattle of the field, and the beasts of the field, and the creatures [of the city],—
5. After [they had ...] unto the living creatures [...],
6. [And between the beasts] of the field and the creatures of the city had divided [...]
7. [And had ...] all creatures, the whole of creation [...],
8. [And had ...], which in the whole of my family [...],
p. 124 p. 125
9. [Then did] Nin-igi-azag [fashion] two small creatures [...].
10. [Among] all the beasts he made [their form] glorious
11. [...] the goddess Gula ... [...]
12. [...] ... one white [and one black ...]
13. [...] ... one white and one black [...]
14. [...] ... [...]
[The rest of the text is missing]
In terms of the creation of man, there is an interesting account of the Babylonian god, Marduk, creating the world, but when it was time to create man, he literally begat the first man using his divine consort, Aruru. 5Back to Top
Another Version of the Creation of the World by Marduk.
OBV. Pp. 130-131
- 1. The holy house, the house of the gods, in the holy place had not yet been made;
2 . No reed had sprung up, no tree had been created.
3. No brick had been laid, no building had been set up;
4. No house had been erected, no city had been built;
5. No city had been made, .no creature had been created.
6. Nippur had not been made, E-kur had not been built;
7. Erech had not been created, E-ana had not been built;
8. The Deep had not been created, Eridu had not been built;
p. 132 p. 133 9. Of the holy house, the house of the gods, the habitation had not been made.
10. All lands were sea.
11. At that time there was a movement in the sea;
12 . Then was Eridu made, and E-sagil was built,
13. E-sagil, where in the midst of the Deep the god Lugal-dul-azaga 1 dwelleth;
14. The city of Babylon was built, and E-sagil was finished.
15. The gods, the Anunnaki, he created at one time;
16. The holy city, the dwelling, of their hearts' desire, they proclaimed supreme.
17. Marduk laid a reed upon the face of the waters,
18. He formed dust and poured it out beside the reed.
19. That he might cause the gods to dwell in the habitation of their hearts' desire,
p. 134 p. 135
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20. He formed mankind.
21. The goddess Aruru together with him created the seed of mankind.
22. The beasts of the field and living creatures in the field he formed.
23. He created the Tigris and the Euphrates, and he set them in their place;
24. Their names he declared in goodly fashion.
25. The grass, the rush of the marsh, the reed, and the forest he created,
26. The green herb of the field he created,
27. The lands, the marshes, and the swamps;
28. The wild cow and her young, the wild calf; the ewe and her young, the lamb of the fold;
29. Plantations and forests;
30. The he-goat and the mountain-goat ... him.
31. The Lord Marduk laid in a dam by the side of the sea,
32. [He ...] a swamp, he made a marsh,
p. 136 p. 137 33. [...] he brought into existence.
34. [Reeds he form]ed, trees he created;
35. [...] he made in their place.
36. [Bricks he laid], buildings he set up;
37. [Houses he made], cities he built;
38. [Cities he made], creatures he created.
39. [Nippur he made], E-kur he built;
40. [Erech he made, E-an]a he built.
[The rest of the Obverse and the beginning of the Reverse of the tablet are wanting.]
1. [...] the decree [...]
2. [...] ... [...]
3f. Thy exalted minister is Papsukal, the wise counsellor of the gods.
5. May Nin-aha-kudû, the daughter of Ea,
p. 138 p. 139
6. Purify thee with the pure censer,
7. And may she cleanse thee with cleansing fire!
8f. With a cup of pure water from the Deep shalt thou purify thy way!
10. By the incantation of Marduk, the king of the hosts of heaven and earth,
11. May the abundance of the land enter into thee,
12. And may thy decree be accomplished for ever!
13f. O E-zida, thou glorious dwelling, thou art dear unto the hearts of Anu and Ishtar!
15. May (Ezida) shine like the heavens, may it be bright like the earth, may it [be glorious] like the heart of heaven,
16. [And may ...] be firmly established!
Of course, the premier cuneiform creation account, referred to above, is the Enuma elish, and the interested reader can readily get English translations of that for more detailed study. 6
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1. Sumerian writing and Egyptian writing appear at roughly the same time, i.e. around 3000 B.C. But the earliest examples are mainly the so-called “economic texts” which are nothing more than records of sales. “So-and-so sold three sheep to so-and-so.” The real literature developed several centuries after that, and was in full blossom by the time of the third dynasty of Ur (late third millennium).
2. Wenham, Gordon J., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 1, Genesis 1-15, Waco: Word Books, 1982, p. 9
3. See C. Benito, “Enki and Ninmah” and “Enki and the World Order,” Ph.D. dissertation, Philadelphia, 1969
4. cf. Akio Tsukimoto, Untersuchungen zur Totenpflege (kispum) im alten Mesopotamien, Dissertation at Tübingen, Neukirchen/Vluyn, 1985, p. 208
5. This is also taken from King’s Seven Tablets of Creation, pp. 130f.
6. A translation by Speiser appears in ANET (p. 60ff), and it is also completely translated by King, and there are much more recent editions of his Seven Tablets . . .
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- 1. And the heavens and the earth were completed and all their hosts.1
2. And on the sixth day God finished the work which he had done, and on the seventh day he ceased from all the work which he had done. 2
3. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on it he ceased from all his work of creating which God had performed.
4. This is the account of the heavens and the earth and of their being created on the day that the Jehovah God made the earth and the heavens;3
5. And every shrub of the field before it existed on the earth, and every grass of the field before it germinated, because Jehovah God had not yet made it rain upon the earth, and no man existed to work the ground.
6. And a mist arose from the earth and moistened the entire surface of the ground.
7. And Jehovah God formed the man – dust from the ground – and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.
8. And Jehovah God planted a garden in Eden to the east, and he placed there the man whom he had formed.
9. And Jehovah God made sprout from the ground every tree that was pleasant looking and good to eat, and the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
10. And a river went forth from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided and because four heads.
11. The name of the first is Pishon. That is the one that encompasses the entire land of Havilah, where the gold is. 4
12. And the gold of that land is good. There is (also) bdellium and the onyx stone.
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13. And the name of the second river is Gihon. That is the one that goes encompasses the entire land of Cush.
14. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, the one which goes to the east of Assyria; and the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15. And Jehovah God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and care for it.
16. And Jehovah God commanded the man saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat,
17. “But of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die.”
18. And Jehovah God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper corresponding to him.” 5
19. And Jehovah God formed from the ground every beast of the field and every bird of the skies, and he brought it to the man to see what he would call it, and whatever the man, the living soul, would call it, that would be its name.
20. And the man called the names of every beast and bird of the skies, and every animal of the field, but for man he did not find a helper corresponding to him.
21. And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept, and he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh behind it.
22. And Jehovah God built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man.
23. And the man said, “This time it is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. Therefore she shall be called woman, because this was taken from man.”
24. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25. And the two of them were naked, the man and the woman, but they were not ashamed.
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Chapter 2 Top
1. The translation given in the text above for this verse is based on the Hebrew vowel points, but these vowel points were inserted centuries after the text was written. The original text was written only with consonants, and therefore a word could be read in several ways. For example, the first word in this verse without vowel points is simply ויכלו (wyclw). The vowels were supposed to be supplied in the mind of the reader, who was familiar with the language. But as time went by, the native speakers of Hebrew were few and far between, so the Jewish scholars (Masoretes) living in Tiberias decided to create a system of signs that could be added above and below the consonants to represent the vowels and they understood them. Now the first word in our current verse, without vowels, could be read either as an active or as a passive verb, i.e. either “they finished” or “(they) were finished.” Thus the verse could have been read as: “They (i.e. the Gods) finished the heavens and the earth and all their hosts.” This would work fine for Latter-day Saints, especially in view of what we know from the book of Abraham. And that may indeed have been the intent of the original author, but the Masoretes carefully avoided anything that could smack of polytheism, so they made it a passive form, meaning that the subjects could only be “heavens” and “earth.”
2. The word wyšbot is translated in the KJV as “rested,” and that may be a good translation, but it is not the usual word for “rest” and it seems to have a special, cultic sense of ceasing from work.
3. The name “Jehovah God” is chosen instead of the KJV “Lord God” for reasons discussed below in the commentary.
4. It is interesting that the text does not merely say that Havilah is a land “where there is gold,” which would mean that is only one of many lands with gold. Rather, it says “where THE gold is,” using the definite article to emphasize that Havilah is a veritable storehouse for the precious metal.
5. verses 18 and 20 “Helper corresponding to him” – The Hebrew phrase is ‘ezer kenegdo and this suggests a type of equality in status.
Commentary Chapter 2
The first three verses are a continuation of the creation story in chapter 1. Verse 4 begins a different creation account.
Genesis 2:4 is the first time that the name, Yahweh, or Jehovah is used. In the KJV it is translated as “Lord” because the Jews always used the euphemism “Adonai” (i.e. “Lord”) when reading that divine name. But literally it appears in the text as “Yahweh Elohim” or “Jehovah God.” There is only one other time in the Hebrew Bible where the names of Yahweh and Elohim appear in apposition outside of Genesis 2 and 3, and that is Exodus 9:30. The KJV translates this combination as “Lord God.” It might actually be a device intended to indicate that Jehovah was doing the creating at this point, and that he was doing it as one of the “Gods” involved in creation. That assumption is possible because Elohim is not only the name of Heavenly Father, but it is also the plural form of “god/God.” In any case, it is important – especially for LDS readers – to be aware that this reference is to Christ in his pre-mortal form of Yahweh/Jehovah, and not to the Father (who was the actor in chapter 1 of Genesis). For that reason, I will translate יהוה אלוהים (Yahweh elohim) as “Jehovah God” to avoid any possible confusion. However, verse 7 indicates that Jehovah God formed man, and LDS readers will be aware that we are offspring of our Heavenly Father, therefore this may be a case where the contribution of the Son was to form the earth and provide the elements for the body of man, but the Father then created that body and put a spirit in it, hence they both played a role in that process.
Furthermore, in all subsequent cases where the word Yahweh appears, it will be translated by the traditional English “Jehovah” rather than merely as “Lord” (which is the usual practice in the KJV and is based on Jewish usage as indicated above).
The Hebrew version of this verse also presents us with a mini-chiasmus - heavens-earth-creation-Yahweh-creation-earth-heavens – with Christ (Yahweh/Jehovah) in the middle. Gen. 2:11 Havilah is usually associated with the Arabian peninsula, and it has been suggested that the Pishon was the now dry Wadi Batin river system.1 Josephus presented the more far-fetched idea that the Pishon was actually the Ganges river of India,2 but that river has its sources in the western Himalayas.
Gen. 2:13 Cush is translated in the KJV as “Ethiopia,” but the term in Hebrew may have been used at one time to refer to Babylonia, which was ruled for a while by a dynasty of Kassite rulers. And given the geography mentioned in these verses, it is more likely that Babylonia is intended.3 And since the eastern edge of the Babylonian extended into present-day Iran, it is likely that Gihon was the name for the present day Karun River in Iran. If that is the case, then the Hebrew word sovev, which is usually translated as “surround” or “encompass” may in this case mean “borders on the far side.” If that is the case, then the same might be true of the use of that same word in verse 11.
Gen. 2:14 The Euphrates and Tigris rivers both run through modern-day Iraq. Therefore, this account suggests that the Garden of Eden must have been located near the Persian Gulf in the southern portion of modern-day Iraq. However, we know from Joseph Smith that it was actually located elsewhere. So we must assume that this section of Genesis contains material that was brought in by later redactors in an attempt to locate the Garden of Eden in the Middle East. Oddly enough, the account in Moses (3:13-14) also mentions two Middle East locations (Assyria and Ethiopia), even though we know from modern revelation that the Garden of Eden was located in present-day Missouri.4 Is this a contradiction? Perhaps not. It is conceivable that the same names have been used for more than one location, and in any case, there was a drastic change in geography when the earth was divided in the days of Peleg (see Genesis 10).
1. see James A. Sauer, “The River Runs Dry,” in Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 22, No. 4, July/August 1996, pp. 52-54, 57, 64
2. Josephus, Antiquities, I, i, 3
3. Although Josephus (loc. cit.) must have followed the usage of his day and assumed it was Ethiopia, because he equates the Gihon with the Nile.
4. See Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. III, p. 74
Chapter 3Back to Top
- 1. And the serpent was more clever than any other beast of the field which Jehovah God had made, and he said to the woman, “Did God really say to you, ‘do not eat from any tree in the garden?’”
2. And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat from the trees of the garden.
3. “But from the tree that is in the middle of the garden God said, ‘You shall not eat from it, and do not (even) touch it, lest you die.’”
4. But the serpent said to the woman, “You shall not surely die!
5. “For God knows that in the day that you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like the Gods, knowing good and evil.”
6. And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable to make one wise; and she took of the fruit and ate it, and she also gave it to her husband, and he ate it.
7. And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves and made aprons for themselves.
8. And they heard the voice of Jehovah God (who was) walking in the garden during the time of day when there was a breeze, and the man and the woman hid from the presence of Jehovah God in the midst of the trees of the garden.
9. And Jehovah God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
10. And he said, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid.”
11. And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I told you not to eat from it?”
12. And the man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me some of the fruit and I ate it.”
13. And Jehovah God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent led me astray and I ate it.”
14. And Jehovah God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed above all other animals and all the beasts of the field. You shall go upon your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.
15. “And I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heal.” 1
16. To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain and your conception. In pain you will bring forth children, and your desire will be toward your husband, and he will rule over you.”
17. And to the man he said, “Because you listened to the voice of your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you saying, you will not eat from it, the ground will be cursed for your sake. With toil you will eat from it all the days of your life.
18. “And it will cause thorns and thistles to sprout forth for you, and you will eat the plants of the fields.
19. “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, until you return to the ground, for you were taken from it, for you are dust, and you will return to dust.”
20. And the man called the name of his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
21. And Jehovah God made garments of skins for the man and for the woman and clothed them.
22. And Jehovah God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us knowing good and evil, and now let him not stretch forth his hand and take from the Tree of Life and eat (of it) and live forever.”
- 23. And Jehovah God sent him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.2
- 24. And he drove the man out and he dwelled east of the Garden of Eden; (and he placed) the Cherubim and the flaming, revolving sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life.
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1. “Seed” is a literal translation of the Hebrew word, and it is used here because it is part of the language with we are familiar as regards this scene. But elsewhere it will be translated as “posterity” or some similar word, because that is the real intended meaning.
2. “Cherubim” – this is not clear. About the only time we hear or use this word in LDS parlance is in connection with the Garden of Eden story. It appears to refer to some type of angel, and there are the words karibu and kuribu in Akkadian, which seem to refer to some type of lower deity which intercedes for man. Other than that, there is not much light to shed on the appearance of this word here.
Commentary Chapter 3
Gen. 3:7 Aprons are mentioned. We may note that the Hebrew word here for aprons is the same as that used for the aprons used by the priests as described in the book of Exodus.
Gen. 3:8 Jehovah God – as LDS readers are aware, both the Father and Son were present in the Garden, so this is another case where that designation is used to indicate both those beings (cf. commentary to chapter 2).
Gen. 3:21 God makes garments for Adam and Eve. The word kutonet is the same one used for the priestly garments mentioned in Leviticus 8:7 where Moses is dressing the sons of Aaron in their priestly garb, and it is clear in that context that these garments are worn under other clothing.
In terms of parallels in other literature from the Ancient Near East, there is one that is particularly close, as Speiser points out:
“Such motifs as sexual awareness, wisdom, and nature’s paradise are of course familiar from various ancient sources. It is noteworthy, however, that all of them are found jointly in a single passage of the Gilgamesh Epic. There (Tablet I, column iv, lines 16ff., ANET, p. 75), Enki was effectively tempted by the courtesan, only to be repudiated by the world of nature; ‘but he now had wisdom, broader understanding’ (20). Indeed, the temptress goes on to tell him, ‘You are wise Enkidu, you are like a god’ (34); and she marks his new status by improvising some clothing for him (column ii, lines 27f., ANET, p. 77). It would be rash to dismiss such detailed correspondence as mere coincidence.”Of course, we would agree with Speiser that this is no coincidence, but whereas he assumes the biblical account was borrowed from the Gilgamesh Epic, we would argue the reverse. As noted earlier, we believe that the story as contained in the Bible existed not only before the biblical material was compiled, but also before the other Ancient Near Eastern stories were created. Chapter 3 Top
E. A. Speiser, Genesis: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (= The Anchor Bible, Vol. I), New York: Doubleday 1983, p. 26f.
Chapter 4Back to Top
- 1. And the man had relations with Eve, his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and she said, “I have obtained a man from the Lord.”
2. And again she bore his brother Abel, and Abel was a shepherd, but Cain was a tiller of the soil.
3. And after many days Cain brought some of the fruit of the ground as an offering for Jehovah.
4. And Abel also brought some of the first-born of his sheep, and some of their fattest parts, and Jehovah had regard for Abel and for his offering.
5. But for Cain and his offering he did not have any regard. And Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.
6. And Jehovah said to Cain, “Why have you become angry, and why has your countenance fallen?
7. “Is it not so, that if you do what is good, there will be exaltation, but if you do not do what is good, sin lies at your door and desires you, but you may control it.”2
8. And Cain said to Abel, his brother, “Let’s go out to the field.” And as they were out in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and killed him. 3
9. And Jehovah said to Cain, “Where is Abel, your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10. And he said, “What have you done? The voice of the blood of your brother cries out to me from the ground!
11. “And now you are cursed by the ground, which opened its mouth to receive the blood of your brother from your hand.
12. “For when you work the ground, it will not yield its strength to you. You will be an aimless wanderer in the land.”
13. And Cain said to Jehovah, “My punishment is more than I can bear.
14. “Behold, today you have driven my away from the soil and I must hide from your presence; and I will become an aimless wanderer in the land. And it will come to pass that anyone who finds me might kill me.”
15. And Jehovah said to him, “Not so. Anyone who slays Cain will suffer sevenfold retribution.” And Jehovah put a mark on Cain so that anyone who might find him would not strike him.
16. And Cain went out from the presence of Jehovah and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
17. And Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city and called the name of the city after his son, Enoch.
18. And Irad was born to Enoch, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehugael fathered Methusael, and Methusael fathered Lamech.
19. And Lamech married two women: the name of the first was Adah, and the name of the second Zillah.
20. And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who live in tents and (keep) cattle.
21. And his brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all who play the lyre and the pipes.
22. And Zillah also had a child, Tubal-Cain, a forger of all devices of copper and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.
23. And Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zillah, “Hear my voice, wives of Lamech. Give ear to my words! For I have slain a man for wounding me, and a boy for hurting me.
24. “For Cain will be avenged seven fold, but Tubal-Cain seventy seven!”
25. And Adam had relations with his wife again, and she bore a son, and she called his name Seth, “for God has set for me another seed in the place of Abel, for Cain slew him.”
26. And Seth also had a son, and he called his name Enos. Then he began to call upon the name of Jehovah.4
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1. “. . . from the Lord” is literally “with the Lord.” And there is a play on words because the Hebrew words for “Cain” and “obtained” have similar sounds (i.e. assonance).
2. It is not clear whether the word שאת (vocalized as śe’et in the MT) refers to exaltation such as that in the Celestial Kingdom, or whether it merely refers to cheerfulness. It is from a root that means “to lift/be lifted up.” So either understanding is possible. “Do what is good . . .” The Hebrew word could also be translated as “do well,” “perform well,” etc. But in this context, the Lord seems to be telling him that if he does what is good and right before the Lord, he will be exalted.
3. The phrase “Let’s go out to the field” is in Italics, because it is not in the Masoretic text. It is, however, found in the Septuagint, the Syriac text and the Samaritan text, so its absence from the Masoretic text is probably just a scribal omission (mistake).
4. The most literal rendering of the Masoretic text would be “. . . it was begun to call upon the name . . “ This is a difficult passage. The verb in Hebrew is pointed as a passive, hence the awkward “it was begun.” The Latin version (Vulgate) assumes an active form, with Enos as the subject, “he began . . .” This would make good sense, and it would be possible to read the Hebrew text that way if we ignore the vowels that were put there by the Masoretes of Tiberias. The Peshitta (Syriac) text seems to agree with the Vulgate. Since this ultimately seems theologically sound, I have translated the verb as an active rather than a passive form.
Commentary Chapter 4
Gen. 4:4-5 Various explanations have been given for why God respected Abel’s offering but not Cain’s. In the final analysis, there is probably an explanation in the fact that in later Mosaic law, the Israelites are explicitly told to offering the “firstlings of their flocks,” and it has to be perfect (Lev. 22:20-22). And there is also a hint of the reason in the Lord’s response to him in v. 7, where he suggests that there was a problem with Cain’s behavior or attitude.Chapter 4 Top
Chapter 5Back to Top
- 1. This is the genealogical record of Adam in the day that God created Adam. He created him in the likeness of God.
2. He created them male and female and blessed them, and he called their name Adam (i.e. “man”) in the day of their creation.
3. And Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when he fathered (a son) in his likeness and in his image, and he called his name Seth.
4. And after he fathered Seth, Adam lived eight hundred years and fathered sons and daughters.
5. And altogether Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.
6. And Seth was a hundred and five years old when he fathered Enos.
7. And after he had fathered Enos, Seth lived eight hundred and seven years and fathered sons and daughters.
8. And altogether Seth lived nine hundred and twelve years and he died.
9. And when Enos was ninety years old he fathered Cainan.
10. And after he had fathered Cainan, Enos lived eight hundred and fifteen years and fathered sons and daughters.
11. And altogether Enos lived nine hundred and five years and he died.
12. And Cainan was seventy years old when he fathered Mahalalel.
13. And Cainan lived eight hundred and forty years after he had fathered Mahalalel, and he fathered sons and daughters.
14. And altogether Cainan lived nine hundred and ten years and he died.
15. And Mahalalel was sixty five years old when he fathered Jared.
16. And Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years after he had fathered Jared and fathered sons and daughters.
17. And altogether Mahalalel lived eight hundred and ninety five years and died.
18. And Jared was a hundred and sixty two years old when he fathered Enoch.
19. And Jared lived nine eight hundred years after he had fathered Enoch, and he fathered sons and daughters.
20. And altogether Jared lived nine hundred and sixty two years and died.
21. And Enoch was sixty five years old when he fathered Methuselah.
22. And Enoch walked about with the Gods for three hundred years after he had fathered Methuselah, and he fathered sons and daughters. 2
23. And altogether Enoch lived three hundred and sixty five years.
24. And Enoch walked about with the Gods and was nowhere to be found, because God had taken him.
25. And Methuselah was one hundred and eighty seven years old when he fathered Lamech.
26. And Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty two years after he had fathered Lamech and fathered sons and daughters.
27. And altogether Methuselah lived nine hundred and sixty nine years and died.
28. And Lamech was one hundred and eighty two years old when he fathered a son.
29. And he called his name Noah saying, “This one will give relief from our work, and from the toil of our hands resulting from the ground which Jehovah has cursed.”
30. And Lamech lived five hundred and ninety five years after he had fathered Noah, and he fathered sons and daughters.
31. And altogether Lamech lived seven hundred and seventy seven years and he died.
32. And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah father Shem, and Ham and Japheth.
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1.ff The Hebrew word adam can be interpreted either as the word for “man” or as the proper name “Adam.” Thus the first verse could also be translated “This is the genealogical record of Adam in that day that God created man,” or even “This is the genealogical record of man in the day that God created Adam.” Similarly, in verse 2 we could translate “and he called their name man” or “and he called their name Adam” because Adam means “man.” We may note here that in Moses 6:9 we read “and he called their name Adam.”
2. “Walked about . . . “ The Hebrew word used here is not merely “walked” but rather a form which suggests a repetitive or persistent action. “. . . with the Gods.” The word here is not merely elohim, which would have been understood as the proper name of God the Father, and would have simply have been translated as “God.” But the Hebrew word is ha’elohim, containing the definite article, and therefore strongly indicating that this is to be taken, not as a proper name, but rather as the plural of God (i.e. “Gods”). The same occurs in 5:24.
Commentary Chapter 5
Gen. 5:22-24 What it means to walk about with the Gods is the subject of Moses 6:26ff. Note that Enoch does not live nearly as long as the other antediluvians. This is because he was “taken” before he could die a natural death, which is well known to Latter-day Saints. However, there are some interesting parallels in the literature of the Ancient Near East. For example, at the end of the Gilgamesh epic Utnapishtim is taken into close communion with the gods,1 and this also occurs in the Adapa myth.2 But they are not actually taken to heaven. However, in the ancient Sumerian writings there is an incantation that lists antediluvian sages, and number seven is Utuabzu, “who rose up to heaven.” Utuabzu was an advisor to the seventh antediluvian Sumerian king, Enmeduranki.3 In addition to being taken to heaven, the number seven is also a parallel, for Enoch is number seven in the list of the antediluvian patriarchs in Genesis.
1. see James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (henceforth ANET), second edition, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955, p. 95
2. ANET, p. 101ff.
3. For a fuller account of this see, Borger, Rykle, “Die Beschwörungsserie bit meseri und die Himmelfahrt Henochs, ” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, No. 33, 1974, pp. 183-196