The book of Genesis is truly an epic work. Consider the amount of years that pass in this book alone, and the generations it covers. What other work is like it? What other book of this scope attempts to explain such feats as how the world began and where humans come from, not to mention direct interaction with God Himself? The narrative is so wonderful and the book flows like a grand story. The five books of Moses (the Torah or the Pentateuch) are held in high esteem among Jewish people to the degree that they are complete in themselves, not just the stories, but the necessary wisdom and laws contained therein. Certainly it is the foundation for all future scripture is contained within it, as well as a picture of our Creator.
We may forget that at the time of Jesus there was no New Testament – it had yet to be written. Those that would ultimately write it would have a thorough knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures (not just the Torah but the rest of the Old Testament, or Tanakh) and would frequently cite the Hebrew scriptures to illustrate their points about the Messiah. Jesus Himself quoted many times from the Torah in His teachings.
Often Christians feel the need to be familiar with the New Testament, but are not as familiar with the Old Testament. Jesus said “I did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” In other words, He was stating that He was the fulfillment of the prophecies written in the Old Testament – the fulfillment of Judaism in a sense, though only the start of Christianity. In other words, Christianity is not a new religion – it is Judaism fulfilled. All followers of Christ would do well to be just as familiar with the Hebrew scriptures as with the New Testament writings.
As a Christian who has went out of his way a bit to learn about Judaism, and try to grasp a more ‘Jewish’ understanding, I would say my appreciation of Genesis, and the Old Testament in general, has grown profoundly. Though our modern translations may read easily or eloquently, there are definitely elements that are missed. I cannot read Hebrew as of the time of this writing, but I imagine that if I could, I would get an even more full picture of all that is really going on in the scriptures.
That said, I hope you enjoy my commentary on Genesis and read along yourself so you get the full context. You will notice I did not comment on every verse. Not only would this become tedious, but some verses are self-explanatory and others have been either taught enough already, or have a common interpretation that most would agree is accurate and well-known, in which cases I didn’t bother repeating. But by all means – if I miss something or if you have a question, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks and enjoy,