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Genesis 1-11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Preamble. The Creation of the World

Chapter 1

The Story of Creation.[a] In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth [b]and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters—

Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good. God then separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Evening came, and morning followed—the first day.[c]

Then God said: Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other. God made the dome,[d] and it separated the water below the dome from the water above the dome. And so it happened. God called the dome “sky.” Evening came, and morning followed—the second day.

Then God said: Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear. And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared. 10 God called the dry land “earth,” and the basin of water he called “sea.” God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. And so it happened: 12 the earth brought forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw that it was good. 13 Evening came, and morning followed—the third day.

14 Then God said: Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the seasons, the days and the years, 15 and serve as lights in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth. And so it happened: 16 God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night, and the stars. 17 God set them in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. 19 Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day.

20 Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky. 21 God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of crawling living creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw that it was good, 22 and God blessed them, saying: Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth. 23 Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day.

24 Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: tame animals, crawling things, and every kind of wild animal. And so it happened: 25 God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said: Let us make[e] human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.

27 God created mankind in his image;
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female[f] he created them.

28 God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.[g] Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. 29 [h]God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; 30 and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. 31 God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.

Chapter 2

Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. [i]On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.

I. The Story of the Nations

The Garden of Eden. This is the story[j] of the heavens and the earth at their creation. When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens— there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, for the Lord God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man[k] to till the ground, but a stream[l] was welling up out of the earth and watering all the surface of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man[m] out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,[n] and placed there the man whom he had formed. [o]Out of the ground the Lord God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river rises in Eden[p] to water the garden; beyond there it divides and becomes four branches. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it is the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 The gold of that land is good; bdellium and lapis lazuli are also there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it is the one that winds all through the land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it is the one that flows east of Asshur. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. 16 The Lord God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden 17 except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die.[q]

18 The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.[r] 19 So the Lord God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name. 20 The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.

21 So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, 23 the man said:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called ‘woman,’
    for out of man this one has been taken.”[s]

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.[t]

25 The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.[u]

Chapter 3

Expulsion from Eden. Now the snake was the most cunning[v] of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know[w] good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

When they heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day,[x] the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. The Lord God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.” 11 Then God asked: Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat? 12 The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.” 13 The Lord God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”

14 Then the Lord God said to the snake:

Because you have done this,
    cursed are you
    among all the animals, tame or wild;
On your belly you shall crawl,
    and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.[y]
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
They will strike at your head,
    while you strike at their heel.[z]

16 To the woman he said:

I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
    in pain[aa] you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
    and he shall rule over you.

17 To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat from it,

Cursed is the ground[ab] because of you!
    In toil you shall eat its yield
    all the days of your life.
18 Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you,
    and you shall eat the grass of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
    from which you were taken;
For you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.

20 The man gave his wife the name “Eve,” because she was the mother of all the living.[ac]

21 The Lord God made for the man and his wife garments of skin, with which he clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said: See! The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever? 23 The Lord God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. 24 He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Chapter 4

Cain and Abel. The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, saying, “I have produced a male child with the help of the Lord.”[ad] Next she gave birth to his brother Abel. Abel became a herder of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the ground.[ae] In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the ground, while Abel, for his part, brought the fatty portion[af] of the firstlings of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and dejected. Then the Lord said to Cain: Why are you angry? Why are you dejected? If you act rightly, you will be accepted;[ag] but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it.

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.”[ah] When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 God then said: What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 Now you are banned from the ground[ai] that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 If you till the ground, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a constant wanderer on the earth. 13 Cain said to the Lord: “My punishment is too great to bear. 14 Look, you have now banished me from the ground. I must avoid you and be a constant wanderer on the earth. Anyone may kill me at sight.” 15 Not so! the Lord said to him. If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged seven times. So the Lord put a mark[aj] on Cain, so that no one would kill him at sight. 16 Cain then left the Lord’s presence and settled in the land of Nod,[ak] east of Eden.

Descendants of Cain and Seth. 17 [al]Cain had intercourse with his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. Cain also became the founder of a city, which he named after his son Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael; Mehujael became the father of Methusael, and Methusael became the father of Lamech. 19 Lamech took two wives; the name of the first was Adah, and the name of the second Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal, who became the ancestor of those who dwell in tents and keep livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal, who became the ancestor of all who play the lyre and the reed pipe. 22 Zillah, on her part, gave birth to Tubalcain, the ancestor of all who forge instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubalcain was Naamah. 23 [am]Lamech said to his wives:

“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
    wives of Lamech, listen to my utterance:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
    a young man for bruising me.
24 If Cain is avenged seven times,
    then Lamech seventy-seven times.”

25 [an]Adam again had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth. “God has granted me another offspring in place of Abel,” she said, “because Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named him Enosh.

At that time people began to invoke the Lord by name.

Chapter 5

Generations: Adam to Noah.[ao] This is the record of the descendants of Adam. When God created human beings, he made them in the likeness of God; he created them male and female. When they were created, he blessed them and named them humankind.

Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when he begot a son in his likeness, after his image; and he named him Seth. Adam lived eight hundred years after he begot Seth, and he had other sons and daughters. The whole lifetime of Adam was nine hundred and thirty years; then he died.

When Seth was one hundred and five years old, he begot Enosh. Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he begot Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. The whole lifetime of Seth was nine hundred and twelve years; then he died.

When Enosh was ninety years old, he begot Kenan. 10 Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years after he begot Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters. 11 The whole lifetime of Enosh was nine hundred and five years; then he died.

12 When Kenan was seventy years old, he begot Mahalalel. 13 Kenan lived eight hundred and forty years after he begot Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters. 14 The whole lifetime of Kenan was nine hundred and ten years; then he died.

15 When Mahalalel was sixty-five years old, he begot Jared. 16 Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years after he begot Jared, and he had other sons and daughters. 17 The whole lifetime of Mahalalel was eight hundred and ninety-five years; then he died.

18 When Jared was one hundred and sixty-two years old, he begot Enoch. 19 Jared lived eight hundred years after he begot Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. 20 The whole lifetime of Jared was nine hundred and sixty-two years; then he died.

21 When Enoch was sixty-five years old, he begot Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he begot Methuselah for three hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. 23 The whole lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 Enoch walked with God,[ap] and he was no longer here, for God took him.

25 When Methuselah was one hundred and eighty-seven years old, he begot Lamech. 26 Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years after he begot Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters. 27 The whole lifetime of Methuselah was nine hundred and sixty-nine years; then he died.

28 When Lamech was one hundred and eighty-two years old, he begot a son 29 and named him Noah, saying, “This one shall bring us relief from our work and the toil of our hands, out of the very ground that the Lord has put under a curse.”[aq] 30 Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years after he begot Noah, and he had other sons and daughters. 31 The whole lifetime of Lamech was seven hundred and seventy-seven years; then he died.

32 When Noah was five hundred years old, he begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.[ar]

Chapter 6

Origin of the Nephilim.[as] When human beings began to grow numerous on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God[at] saw how beautiful the daughters of human beings were, and so they took for their wives whomever they pleased. Then the Lord said: My spirit shall not remain in human beings forever, because they are only flesh. Their days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years.

The Nephilim appeared on earth in those days, as well as later,[au] after the sons of God had intercourse with the daughters of human beings, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.

Warning of the Flood. [av]When the Lord saw how great the wickedness of human beings was on earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but evil, the Lord regretted making human beings on the earth, and his heart was grieved.[aw]

So the Lord said: I will wipe out from the earth the human beings I have created, and not only the human beings, but also the animals and the crawling things and the birds of the air, for I regret that I made them.[ax] But Noah found favor with the Lord.

These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man and blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10 Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 But the earth was corrupt[ay] in the view of God and full of lawlessness. 12 When God saw how corrupt the earth had become, since all mortals had corrupted their ways on earth, 13 God said to Noah: I see that the end of all mortals has come, for the earth is full of lawlessness because of them. So I am going to destroy them with the earth.

Preparation for the Flood. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood,[az] equip the ark with various compartments, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you shall build it: the length of the ark will be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.[ba] 16 Make an opening for daylight[bb] and finish the ark a cubit above it. Put the ark’s entrance on its side; you will make it with bottom, second and third decks. 17 I, on my part, am about to bring the flood waters on the earth, to destroy all creatures under the sky in which there is the breath of life; everything on earth shall perish. 18 I will establish my covenant with you. You shall go into the ark, you and your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 Of all living creatures you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, one male and one female,[bc] to keep them alive along with you. 20 Of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal, and of every kind of thing that crawls on the ground, two of each will come to you, that you may keep them alive. 21 Moreover, you are to provide yourself with all the food that is to be eaten, and store it away, that it may serve as provisions for you and for them. 22 Noah complied; he did just as God had commanded him.[bd]

Chapter 7

Then the Lord said to Noah: Go into the ark, you and all your household, for you alone in this generation have I found to be righteous before me. Of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs, a male and its mate; and of the unclean animals, one pair, a male and its mate; likewise, of every bird of the air, seven pairs, a male and a female, to keep their progeny alive over all the earth. For seven days from now I will bring rain down on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and so I will wipe out from the face of the earth every being that I have made. Noah complied, just as the Lord had commanded.

The Great Flood. Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came upon the earth. Together with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, Noah went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. Of the clean animals and the unclean, of the birds, and of everything that crawls on the ground, two by two, male and female came to Noah into the ark, just as God had commanded him. 10 When the seven days were over, the waters of the flood came upon the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month: on that day

All the fountains of the great abyss[be] burst forth,
    and the floodgates of the sky were opened.

12 For forty days and forty nights heavy rain poured down on the earth.

13 On the very same day, Noah and his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of Noah’s sons had entered the ark, 14 together with every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, every kind of crawling thing that crawls on the earth, and every kind of bird. 15 Pairs of all creatures in which there was the breath of life came to Noah into the ark. 16 Those that entered were male and female; of all creatures they came, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

17 The flood continued upon the earth for forty days. As the waters increased, they lifted the ark, so that it rose above the earth. 18 The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth, but the ark floated on the surface of the waters. 19 Higher and higher on the earth the waters swelled, until all the highest mountains under the heavens were submerged. 20 The waters swelled fifteen cubits higher than the submerged mountains. 21 All creatures that moved on earth perished: birds, tame animals, wild animals, and all that teemed on the earth, as well as all humankind. 22 Everything on dry land with the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 The Lord wiped out every being on earth: human beings and animals, the crawling things and the birds of the air; all were wiped out from the earth. Only Noah and those with him in the ark were left.

24 And when the waters had swelled on the earth for one hundred and fifty days,

Chapter 8

God remembered Noah and all the animals, wild and tame, that were with him in the ark. So God made a wind sweep over the earth, and the waters began to subside. The fountains of the abyss and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the downpour from the sky was held back. Gradually the waters receded from the earth. At the end of one hundred and fifty days, the waters had so diminished that, in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.[bf] The waters continued to diminish until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains appeared.

At the end of forty days Noah opened the hatch of the ark that he had made, [bg]and he released a raven. It flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth. Then he released a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth. But the dove could find no place to perch, and it returned to him in the ark, for there was water over all the earth. Putting out his hand, he caught the dove and drew it back to him inside the ark. 10 He waited yet seven days more and again released the dove from the ark. 11 In the evening the dove came back to him, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! So Noah knew that the waters had diminished on the earth. 12 He waited yet another seven days and then released the dove; but this time it did not come back.

13 [bh]In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the water began to dry up on the earth. Noah then removed the covering of the ark and saw that the surface of the ground had dried. 14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.

15 Then God said to Noah: 16 Go out of the ark, together with your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives. 17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you—all creatures, be they birds or animals or crawling things that crawl on the earth—and let them abound on the earth, and be fertile and multiply on it. 18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives; 19 and all the animals, all the birds, and all the crawling creatures that crawl on the earth went out of the ark by families.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and choosing from every clean animal and every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 When the Lord smelled the sweet odor, the Lord said to himself: Never again will I curse the ground because of human beings, since the desires of the human heart are evil from youth; nor will I ever again strike down every living being, as I have done.

22 All the days of the earth,
    seedtime and harvest,
    cold and heat,
Summer and winter,
    and day and night
    shall not cease.

Chapter 9

Covenant with Noah. [bi]God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them: Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth. [bj]Fear and dread of you shall come upon all the animals of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon all the creatures that move about on the ground and all the fishes of the sea; into your power they are delivered. Any living creature that moves about shall be yours to eat; I give them all to you as I did the green plants. Only meat with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat.[bk] Indeed for your own lifeblood I will demand an accounting: from every animal I will demand it, and from a human being, each one for the blood of another, I will demand an accounting for human life.

[bl]Anyone who sheds the blood of a human being,
    by a human being shall that one’s blood be shed;
For in the image of God
    have human beings been made.

Be fertile, then, and multiply; abound on earth and subdue it.

[bm]God said to Noah and to his sons with him: See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you: the birds, the tame animals, and all the wild animals that were with you—all that came out of the ark. 11 I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth. 12 God said: This is the sign of the covenant that I am making between me and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come: 13 I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and every living creature—every mortal being—so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being. 16 When the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature—every mortal being that is on earth. 17 God told Noah: This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and every mortal being that is on earth.

Noah and His Sons. 18 [bn]The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from them the whole earth was populated.

20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21 He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and lay naked inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness, and he told his two brothers outside. 23 Shem and Japheth, however, took a robe, and holding it on their shoulders, they walked backward and covered their father’s nakedness; since their faces were turned the other way, they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah woke up from his wine and learned what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said:

“Cursed be Caanan!
    The lowest of slaves
    shall he be to his brothers.”

26 He also said:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem!
    Let Canaan be his slave.
27 May God expand Japheth,[bo]
    and may he dwell among the tents of Shem;
    and let Canaan be his slave.”

28 Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood. 29 The whole lifetime of Noah was nine hundred and fifty years; then he died.

Chapter 10

Table of the Nations.[bp] These are the descendants of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, to whom children were born after the flood.

The descendants of Japheth: Gomer,[bq] Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras. The descendants of Gomer: Ashkenaz,[br] Diphath and Togarmah. The descendants of Javan: Elishah,[bs] Tarshish, the Kittim and the Rodanim. From these branched out the maritime nations.

These are the descendants of Japheth by their lands, each with its own language, according to their clans, by their nations.

The descendants of Ham: Cush,[bt] Mizraim, Put and Canaan. The descendants of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.

Cush[bu] became the father of Nimrod, who was the first to become a mighty warrior on earth. He was a mighty hunter in the eyes of the Lord; hence the saying, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter in the eyes of the Lord.” 10 His kingdom originated in Babylon, Erech and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar.[bv] 11 From that land he went forth to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir[bw] and Calah, 12 as well as Resen, between Nineveh and Calah,[bx] the latter being the principal city.

13 Mizraim became the father of the Ludim, the Anamim, the Lehabim, the Naphtuhim, 14 the Pathrusim,[by] the Casluhim, and the Caphtorim from whom the Philistines came.

15 Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, and of Heth;[bz] 16 also of the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward, the clans of the Canaanites spread out, 19 so that the Canaanite borders extended from Sidon all the way to Gerar, near Gaza, and all the way to Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, near Lasha.

20 These are the descendants of Ham, according to their clans, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations.

21 To Shem also, Japheth’s oldest brother and the ancestor of all the children of Eber,[ca] children were born. 22 The descendants of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud and Aram. 23 The descendants of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash.

24 Arpachshad became the father of Shelah, and Shelah became the father of Eber. 25 To Eber two sons were born: the name of the first was Peleg, for in his time the world was divided;[cb] and the name of his brother was Joktan.

26 Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were descendants of Joktan. 30 Their settlements extended all the way from Mesha to Sephar, the eastern hill country.

31 These are the descendants of Shem, according to their clans, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations.

32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their origins and by their nations. From these the nations of the earth branched out after the flood.

Chapter 11

Tower of Babel.[cc] The whole world had the same language and the same words. When they were migrating from the east, they came to a valley in the land of Shinar[cd] and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky,[ce] and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had built. Then the Lord said: If now, while they are one people and all have the same language, they have started to do this, nothing they presume to do will be out of their reach. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that no one will understand the speech of another. So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel,[cf] because there the Lord confused the speech of all the world. From there the Lord scattered them over all the earth.

Descendants from Shem to Abraham.[cg] 10 These are the descendants of Shem. When Shem was one hundred years old, he begot Arpachshad, two years after the flood. 11 Shem lived five hundred years after he begot Arpachshad, and he had other sons and daughters. 12 When Arpachshad was thirty-five years old, he begot Shelah.[ch] 13 Arpachshad lived four hundred and three years after he begot Shelah, and he had other sons and daughters.

14 When Shelah was thirty years old, he begot Eber. 15 Shelah lived four hundred and three years after he begot Eber, and he had other sons and daughters.

16 When Eber[ci] was thirty-four years old, he begot Peleg. 17 Eber lived four hundred and thirty years after he begot Peleg, and he had other sons and daughters.

18 When Peleg was thirty years old, he begot Reu. 19 Peleg lived two hundred and nine years after he begot Reu, and he had other sons and daughters.

20 When Reu was thirty-two years old, he begot Serug. 21 Reu lived two hundred and seven years after he begot Serug, and he had other sons and daughters.

22 When Serug was thirty years old, he begot Nahor. 23 Serug lived two hundred years after he begot Nahor, and he had other sons and daughters.

24 When Nahor was twenty-nine years old, he begot Terah. 25 Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years after he begot Terah, and he had other sons and daughters.

26 When Terah was seventy years old, he begot Abram,[cj] Nahor and Haran.

II. The Story of the Ancestors of Israel

Terah. 27 These are the descendants of Terah.[ck] Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran begot Lot. 28 Haran died before Terah his father, in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.[cl] 29 Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai,[cm] and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and brought them out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to go to the land of Canaan. But when they reached Haran, they settled there. 32 The lifetime of Terah was two hundred and five years; then Terah died in Haran.[cn]

Footnotes:

  1. 1:1–2:3

    This section, from the Priestly source, functions as an introduction, as ancient stories of the origin of the world (cosmogonies) often did. It introduces the primordial story (2:4–11:26), the stories of the ancestors (11:27–50:26), and indeed the whole Pentateuch. The chapter highlights the goodness of creation and the divine desire that human beings share in that goodness. God brings an orderly universe out of primordial chaos merely by uttering a word. In the literary structure of six days, the creation events in the first three days are related to those in the second three.

    1.light (day)/darkness (night)=4.sun/moon
    2.arrangement of water=5.fish + birds from waters
    3.a) dry land=6.a) animals
    b) vegetationb) human beings: male/female

    The seventh day, on which God rests, the climax of the account, falls outside the six-day structure.

    Until modern times the first line was always translated, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Several comparable ancient cosmogonies, discovered in recent times, have a “when…then” construction, confirming the translation “when…then” here as well. “When” introduces the pre-creation state and “then” introduces the creative act affecting that state. The traditional translation, “In the beginning,” does not reflect the Hebrew syntax of the clause.

  2. 1:2 This verse is parenthetical, describing in three phases the pre-creation state symbolized by the chaos out of which God brings order: “earth,” hidden beneath the encompassing cosmic waters, could not be seen, and thus had no “form”; there was only darkness; turbulent wind swept over the waters. Commencing with the last-named elements (darkness and water), vv. 3–10 describe the rearrangement of this chaos: light is made (first day) and the water is divided into water above and water below the earth so that the earth appears and is no longer “without outline.” The abyss: the primordial ocean according to the ancient Semitic cosmogony. After God’s creative activity, part of this vast body forms the salt-water seas (vv. 9–10); part of it is the fresh water under the earth (Ps 33:7; Ez 31:4), which wells forth on the earth as springs and fountains (Gn 7:11; 8:2; Prv 3:20). Part of it, “the upper water” (Ps 148:4; Dn 3:60), is held up by the dome of the sky (vv. 6–7), from which rain descends on the earth (Gn 7:11; 2 Kgs 7:2, 19; Ps 104:13). A mighty wind: literally, “spirit or breath [ruah] of God”; cf. Gn 8:1.
  3. 1:5 In ancient Israel a day was considered to begin at sunset.
  4. 1:7 The dome: the Hebrew word suggests a gigantic metal dome. It was inserted into the middle of the single body of water to form dry space within which the earth could emerge. The Latin Vulgate translation firmamentum, “means of support (for the upper waters); firmament,” provided the traditional English rendering.
  5. 1:26 Let us make: in the ancient Near East, and sometimes in the Bible, God was imagined as presiding over an assembly of heavenly beings who deliberated and decided about matters on earth (1 Kgs 22:19–22; Is 6:8; Ps 29:1–2; 82; 89:6–7; Jb 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). This scene accounts for the plural form here and in Gn 11:7 (“Let us then go down…”). Israel’s God was always considered “Most High” over the heavenly beings. Human beings: Hebrew ’ādām is here the generic term for humankind; in the first five chapters of Genesis it is the proper name Adam only at 4:25 and 5:1–5. In our image, after our likeness: “image” and “likeness” (virtually synonyms) express the worth of human beings who have value in themselves (human blood may not be shed in 9:6 because of this image of God) and in their task, dominion (1:28), which promotes the rule of God over the universe.
  6. 1:27 Male and female: as God provided the plants with seeds (vv. 11, 12) and commanded the animals to be fertile and multiply (v. 22), so God gives sexuality to human beings as their means to continue in existence.
  7. 1:28 Fill the earth and subdue it: the object of the verb “subdue” may be not the earth as such but earth as the territory each nation must take for itself (chaps. 10–11), just as Israel will later do (see Nm 32:22, 29; Jos 18:1). The two divine commands define the basic tasks of the human race—to continue in existence through generation and to take possession of one’s God-given territory. The dual command would have had special meaning when Israel was in exile and deeply anxious about whether they would continue as a nation and return to their ancient territory. Have dominion: the whole human race is made in the “image” and “likeness” of God and has “dominion.” Comparable literature of the time used these words of kings rather than of human beings in general; human beings were invariably thought of as slaves of the gods created to provide menial service for the divine world. The royal language here does not, however, give human beings unlimited power, for kings in the Bible had limited dominion and were subject to prophetic critique.
  8. 1:29 According to the Priestly tradition, the human race was originally intended to live on plants and fruits as were the animals (see v. 30), an arrangement that God will later change (9:3) in view of the human inclination to violence.
  9. 2:2 The mention of the seventh day, repeated in v. 3, is outside the series of six days and is thus the climax of the account. The focus of the account is God. The text does not actually institute the practice of keeping the Sabbath, for it would have been anachronistic to establish at this point a custom that was distinctively Israelite (Ex 31:13, 16, 17), but it lays the foundation for the later practice. Similarly, ancient creation accounts often ended with the construction of a temple where the newly created human race provided service to the gods who created them, but no temple is mentioned in this account. As was the case with the Sabbath, it would have been anachronistic to institute the temple at this point, for Israel did not yet exist. In Ex 25–31 and 35–40, Israel builds the tabernacle, which is the precursor of the Temple of Solomon.
  10. 2:4

    This is the story: the distinctive Priestly formula introduces older traditions, belonging to the tradition called Yahwist, and gives them a new setting. In the first part of Genesis, the formula “this is the story” (or a similar phrase) occurs five times (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10), which corresponds to the five occurrences of the formula in the second part of the book (11:27; 25:12, 19; 36:1[9]; 37:2). Some interpret the formula here as retrospective (“Such is the story”), referring back to chap. 1, but all its other occurrences introduce rather than summarize. It is introductory here; the Priestly source would hardly use the formula to introduce its own material in chap. 1.

    The cosmogony that begins in v. 4 is concerned with the nature of human beings, narrating the story of the essential institutions and limits of the human race through their first ancestors. This cosmogony, like 1:1–3 (see note there), uses the “when…then” construction common in ancient cosmogonies. The account is generally attributed to the Yahwist, who prefers the divine name “Yhwh” (here rendered Lord) for God. God in this story is called “the Lord God” (except in 3:1–5); “Lord” is to be expected in a Yahwist account but the additional word “God” is puzzling.

  11. 2:5 Man: the Hebrew word ’adam is a generic term meaning “human being.” In chaps. 2–3, however, the archetypal human being is understood to be male (Adam), so the word ’adam is translated “man” here.
  12. 2:6 Stream: the water wells up from the vast flood below the earth. The account seems to presuppose that only the garden of God was irrigated at this point. From this one source of all the fertilizing water on the earth, water will be channeled through the garden of God over the entire earth. It is the source of the four rivers mentioned in vv. 10–14. Later, with rain and cultivation, the fertility of the garden of God will appear in all parts of the world.
  13. 2:7 God is portrayed as a potter molding the human body out of earth. There is a play on words in Hebrew between ’adam (“human being,” “man”) and ’adama (“ground”). It is not enough to make the body from earth; God must also breathe into the man’s nostrils. A similar picture of divine breath imparted to human beings in order for them to live is found in Ez 37:5, 9–10; Jn 20:22. The Israelites did not think in the (Greek) categories of body and soul.
  14. 2:8

    Eden, in the east: the place names in vv. 8–14 are mostly derived from Mesopotamian geography (see note on vv. 10–14). Eden may be the name of a region in southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), the term derived from the Sumerian word eden, “fertile plain.” A similar-sounding Hebrew word means “delight,” which may lie behind the Greek translation, “The Lord God planted a paradise [= pleasure park] in Eden.” It should be noted, however, that the garden was not intended as a paradise for the human race, but as a pleasure park for God; the man tended it for God. The story is not about “paradise lost.”

    The garden in the precincts of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem seems to symbolize the garden of God (like gardens in other temples); it is apparently alluded to in Ps 1:3; 80:10; 92:14; Ez 47:7–12; Rev 22:1–2.

  15. 2:9 The second tree, the tree of life, is mentioned here and at the end of the story (3:22, 24). It is identified with Wisdom in Prv 3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4, where the pursuit of wisdom gives back to human beings the life that is made inaccessible to them in Gn 3:24. In the new creation described in the Book of Revelation, the tree of life is once again made available to human beings (Rev 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19). Knowledge of good and evil: the meaning is disputed. According to some, it signifies moral autonomy, control over morality (symbolized by “good and evil”), which would be inappropriate for mere human beings; the phrase would thus mean refusal to accept the human condition and finite freedom that God gives them. According to others, it is more broadly the knowledge of what is helpful and harmful to humankind, suggesting that the attainment of adult experience and responsibility inevitably means the loss of a life of simple subordination to God.
  16. 2:10–14 A river rises in Eden: the stream of water mentioned in v. 6, the source of all water upon earth, comes to the surface in the garden of God and from there flows out over the entire earth. In comparable religious literature, the dwelling of god is the source of fertilizing waters. The four rivers represent universality, as in the phrase “the four quarters of the earth.” In Ez 47:1–12; Zec 14:8; Rev 22:1–2, the waters that irrigate the earth arise in the temple or city of God. The place names in vv. 11–14 are mainly from southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), where Mesopotamian literature placed the original garden of God. The Tigris and the Euphrates, the two great rivers in that part of the world, both emptied into the Persian Gulf. Gihon is the modest stream issuing from Jerusalem (2 Sm 5:8; 1 Kgs 1:9–10; 2 Chr 32:4), but is here regarded as one of the four great world rivers and linked to Mesopotamia, for Cush here seems to be the territory of the Kassites (a people of Mesopotamia) as in Gn 10:8. The word Pishon is otherwise unknown but is probably formed in imitation of Gihon. Havilah seems, according to Gn 10:7 and 1 Chr 1:9, to be in Cush in southern Mesopotamia though other locations have been suggested.
  17. 2:17 You shall die: since they do not die as soon as they eat from the forbidden tree, the meaning seems to be that human beings have become mortal, destined to die by virtue of being human.
  18. 2:18 Helper suited to him: lit., “a helper in accord with him.” “Helper” need not imply subordination, for God is called a helper (Dt 33:7; Ps 46:2). The language suggests a profound affinity between the man and the woman and a relationship that is supportive and nurturing.
  19. 2:23 The man recognizes an affinity with the woman God has brought him. Unlike the animals who were made from the ground, she is made from his very self. There is a play on the similar-sounding Hebrew words ’ishsha (“woman,” “wife”) and ’ish (“man,” “husband”).
  20. 2:24 One body: lit., “one flesh.” The covenant of marriage establishes kinship bonds of the first rank between the partners.
  21. 2:25 They felt no shame: marks a new stage in the drama, for the reader knows that only young children know no shame. This draws the reader into the next episode, where the couple’s disobedience results in their loss of innocence.
  22. 3:1 Cunning: there is a play on the words for “naked” (2:25) and “cunning/wise” (Heb. ‘arum). The couple seek to be “wise” but end up knowing that they are “naked.”
  23. 3:5 Like gods, who know: or “like God who knows.”
  24. 3:8 The breezy time of the day: lit., “the wind of the day.” Probably shortly before sunset.
  25. 3:14 Each of the three punishments (the snake, the woman, the man) has a double aspect, one affecting the individual and the other affecting a basic relationship. The snake previously stood upright, enjoyed a reputation for being shrewder than other creatures, and could converse with human beings as in vv. 1–5. It must now move on its belly, is more cursed than any creature, and inspires revulsion in human beings (v. 15).
  26. 3:15 They will strike…at their heel: the antecedent for “they” and “their” is the collective noun “offspring,” i.e., all the descendants of the woman. Christian tradition has seen in this passage, however, more than unending hostility between snakes and human beings. The snake was identified with the devil (Wis 2:24; Jn 8:44; Rev 12:9; 20:2), whose eventual defeat seemed implied in the verse. Because “the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8), the passage was understood as the first promise of a redeemer for fallen humankind, the protoevangelium. Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. A.D. 130–200), in his Against Heresies 5.21.1, followed by several other Fathers of the Church, interpreted the verse as referring to Christ, and cited Gal 3:19 and 4:4 to support the reference. Another interpretive translation is ipsa, “she,” and is reflected in Jerome’s Vulgate. “She” was thought to refer to Mary, the mother of the messiah. In Christian art Mary is sometimes depicted with her foot on the head of the serpent.
  27. 3:16 Toil…pain: the punishment affects the woman directly by increasing the toil and pain of having children. He shall rule over you: the punishment also affects the woman’s relationship with her husband. A tension is set up in which her urge (either sexual urge or, more generally, dependence for sustenance) is for her husband but he rules over her. But see Sg 7:11.
  28. 3:17–19 Cursed is the ground: the punishment affects the man’s relationship to the ground (’adam and ’adamah). You are dust: the punishment also affects the man directly insofar as he is now mortal.
  29. 3:20 The man gives his wife a more specific name than “woman” (2:23). The Hebrew name hawwa (“Eve”) is related to the Hebrew word hay (“living”); “mother of all the living” points forward to the next episode involving her sons Cain and Abel.
  30. 4:1 The Hebrew name qayin (“Cain”) and the term qaniti (“I have produced”) present a wordplay that refers to metalworking; such wordplays are frequent in Genesis.
  31. 4:2 Some suggest the story reflects traditional strife between the farmer (Cain) and the nomad (Abel), with preference for the latter reflecting the alleged nomadic ideal of the Bible. But there is no disparagement of farming here, for Adam was created to till the soil. The story is about two brothers (the word “brother” occurs seven times) and God’s unexplained preference for one, which provokes the first murder. The motif of the preferred younger brother will occur time and again in the Bible, e.g., Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and David (1 Sm 16:1–13).
  32. 4:4 Fatty portion: it was standard practice to offer the fat portions of animals. Others render, less satisfactorily, “the choicest of the firstlings.” The point is not that Abel gave a more valuable gift than Cain, but that God, for reasons not given in the text, accepts the offering of Abel and rejects that of Cain.
  33. 4:7 You will be accepted: the text is extraordinarily condensed and unclear. “You will be accepted” is a paraphrase of one Hebrew word, “lifting.” God gives a friendly warning to Cain that his right conduct will bring “lifting,” which could refer to acceptance (lifting) of his future offerings or of himself (as in the Hebrew idiom “lifting of the face”) or lifting up of his head in honor (cf. note on 40:13), whereas wicked conduct will make him vulnerable to sin, which is personified as a force ready to attack. In any case, Cain has the ability to do the right thing. Lies in wait: sin is personified as a power that “lies in wait” (Heb. robes) at a place. In Mesopotamian religion, a related word (rabisu) refers to a malevolent god who attacks human beings in particular places like roofs or canals.
  34. 4:8 Let us go out in the field: to avoid detection. The verse presumes a sizeable population which Genesis does not otherwise explain.
  35. 4:11 Banned from the ground: lit., “cursed.” The verse refers back to 3:17 where the ground was cursed so that it yields its produce only with great effort. Cain has polluted the soil with his brother’s blood and it will no longer yield any of its produce to him.
  36. 4:15 A mark: probably a tattoo to mark Cain as protected by God. The use of tattooing for tribal marks has always been common among the Bedouin of the Near Eastern deserts.
  37. 4:16 The land of Nod: a symbolic name (derived from the verb nûd, to wander) rather than a definite geographic region.
  38. 4:17–24 Cain is the first in a seven-member linear genealogy ending in three individuals who initiate action (Jabal, Jubal, and Tubalcain). Other Genesis genealogies also end in three individuals initiating action (5:32 and 11:26). The purpose of this genealogy is to explain the origin of culture and crafts among human beings. The names in this genealogy are the same (some with different spellings) as those in the ten-member genealogy (ending with Noah), which has a slightly different function. See note on 5:1–32.
  39. 4:23–24 Lamech’s boast shows that the violence of Cain continues with his son and has actually increased. The question is posed to the reader: how will God’s creation be renewed?
  40. 4:25–26 The third and climactic birth story in the chapter, showing that this birth, unlike the other two, will have good results. The name Seth (from the Hebrew verb shat, “to place, replace”) shows that God has replaced Abel with a worthy successor. From this favored line Enosh (“human being/humankind”), a synonym of Adam, authentic religion began with the worship of Yhwh; this divine name is rendered as “the Lord” in this translation. The Yahwist source employs the name Yhwh long before the time of Moses. Another ancient source, the Elohist (from its use of the term Elohim, “God,” instead of Yhwh, “Lord,” for the pre-Mosaic period), makes Moses the first to use Yhwh as the proper name of Israel’s God, previously known by other names as well; cf. Ex 3:13–15.
  41. 5:1–32 The second of the five Priestly formulas in Part I (“This is the record of the descendants…”; see 2:4a; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10) introduces the second of the three linear genealogies in Gn 1–11 (4:17–24 and 11:10–26). In each, a list of individuals (six in 4:17–24, ten in 5:1–32, or nine in 11:10–26) ends in three people who initiate action. Linear genealogies (father to son) in ancient societies had a communicative function, grounding the authority or claim of the last-named individual in the first-named. Here, the genealogy has a literary function as well, advancing the story by showing the expansion of the human race after Adam, as well as the transmission to his descendant Noah of the divine image given to Adam. Correcting the impression one might get from the genealogy in 4:17–24, this genealogy traces the line through Seth rather than through Cain. Most of the names in the series are the same as the names in Cain’s line in 4:17–19 (Enosh, Enoch, Lamech) or spelled with variant spellings (Mahalalel, Jared, Methuselah). The genealogy itself and its placement before the flood shows the influence of ancient Mesopotamian literature, which contains lists of cities and kings before and after the flood. Before the flood, the ages of the kings ranged from 18,600 to 36,000 years, but after it were reduced to between 140 and 1,200 years. The biblical numbers are much smaller. There are some differences in the numbers in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.
  42. 5:24 Enoch is in the important seventh position in the ten-member genealogy. In place of the usual formula “then he died,” the change to “Enoch walked with God” implies that he did not die, but like Elijah (2 Kgs 2:11–12) was taken alive to God’s abode. This mysterious narrative spurred much speculation and writing (beginning as early as the third century B.C.) about Enoch the sage who knew the secrets of heaven and who could communicate them to human beings (see Sir 44:16; 49:14; Hb 11:5; Jude 14–15 and the apocryphal work 1 Enoch).
  43. 5:29 The sound of the Hebrew word noah, “Noah,” is echoed in the word yenahamenu, “he will bring us relief”; the latter refers both to the curse put on the soil because of human disobedience (3:17–19) and to Noah’s success in agriculture, especially in raising grapes for wine (9:20–21).
  44. 5:32 Shem, Ham, and Japheth: like the genealogies in 4:17–24 and 11:10–26, the genealogy ends in three individuals who engage in important activity. Their descendants will be detailed in chap. 10, where it will be seen that the lineage is political-geographical as well as “ethnic.”
  45. 6:1–4 These enigmatic verses are a transition between the expansion of the human race illustrated in the genealogy of chap. 5 and the flood depicted in chaps. 6–9. The text, apparently alluding to an old legend, shares a common ancient view that the heavenly world was populated by a multitude of beings, some of whom were wicked and rebellious. It is incorporated here, not only in order to account for the prehistoric giants, whom the Israelites called the Nephilim, but also to introduce the story of the flood with a moral orientation—the constantly increasing wickedness of humanity. This increasing wickedness leads God to reduce the human life span imposed on the first couple. As the ages in the preceding genealogy show, life spans had been exceptionally long in the early period, but God further reduces them to something near the ordinary life span.
  46. 6:2 The sons of God: other heavenly beings. See note on 1:26.
  47. 6:4 As well as later: the belief was common that human beings of gigantic stature once lived on earth. In some cultures, such heroes could make positive contributions, but the Bible generally regards them in a negative light (cf. Nm 13:33; Ez 32:27). The point here is that even these heroes, filled with vitality from their semi-divine origin, come under God’s decree in v. 3.
  48. 6:5–8:22 The story of the great flood is commonly regarded as a composite narrative based on separate sources woven together. To the Yahwist source, with some later editorial additions, are usually assigned 6:5–8; 7:1–5, 7–10, 12, 16b, 17b, 22–23; 8:2b–3a, 6–12, 13b, 20–22. The other sections are usually attributed to the Priestly writer. There are differences between the two sources: the Priestly source has two pairs of every animal, whereas the Yahwist source has seven pairs of clean animals and two pairs of unclean; the floodwater in the Priestly source is the waters under and over the earth that burst forth, whereas in the Yahwist source the floodwater is the rain lasting forty days and nights. In spite of many obvious discrepancies in these two sources, one should read the story as a coherent narrative. The biblical story ultimately draws upon an ancient Mesopotamian tradition of a great flood, preserved in the Sumerian flood story, the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic, and (embedded in a longer creation story) the Atrahasis Epic.
  49. 6:6 His heart was grieved: the expression can be misleading in English, for “heart” in Hebrew is the seat of memory and judgment rather than emotion. The phrase is actually parallel to the first half of the sentence (“the Lord regretted…”).
  50. 6:7 Human beings are an essential part of their environment, which includes all living things. In the new beginning after the flood, God makes a covenant with human beings and every living creature (9:9–10). The same close link between human beings and nature is found elsewhere in the Bible; e.g., in Is 35, God’s healing transforms human beings along with their physical environment, and in Rom 8:19–23, all creation, not merely human beings, groans in labor pains awaiting the salvation of God.
  51. 6:11 Corrupt: God does not punish arbitrarily but simply brings to its completion the corruption initiated by human beings.
  52. 6:14 Gopherwood: an unidentified wood mentioned only in connection with the ark. It may be the wood of the cypress, which in Hebrew sounds like “gopher” and was widely used in antiquity for shipbuilding.
  53. 6:15 Hebrew “cubit,” lit., “forearm,” is the distance from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, about eighteen inches (a foot and a half). The dimensions of Noah’s ark were approximately 440 × 73 × 44 feet. The ark of the Babylonian flood story was an exact cube, 120 cubits (180 feet) in length, width, and height.
  54. 6:16 Opening for daylight: a conjectural rendering of the Hebrew word sohar, occurring only here. The reference is probably to an open space on all sides near the top of the ark to admit light and air. The ark also had a window or hatch, which could be opened and closed (8:6).
  55. 6:19–21 You shall bring two of every kind…, one male and one female: For the Priestly source (P), there is no distinction between clean and unclean animals until Sinai (Lv 11), no altars or sacrifice until Sinai, and all diet is vegetarian (Gn 1:29–30); even after the flood P has no distinction between clean and unclean, since “any living creature that moves about” may be eaten (9:3). Thus P has Noah take the minimum to preserve all species, one pair of each, without distinction between clean and unclean, but he must also take on provisions for food (6:21). The Yahwist source (J), which assumes the clean-unclean distinction always existed but knows no other restriction on eating meat (Abel was a shepherd and offered meat as a sacrifice), requires additional clean animals (“seven pairs”) for food and sacrifice (7:2–3; 8:20).
  56. 6:22 Just as God had commanded him: as in the creation of the world in chap. 1 and in the building of the tabernacle in Ex 25–31, 35–40 (all from the Priestly source), everything takes place by the command of God. In this passage and in Exodus, the commands of God are carried out to the letter by human agents, Noah and Moses. Divine speech is important. God speaks to Noah seven times in the flood story.
  57. 7:11 Abyss: the subterranean ocean; see note on 1:2.
  58. 8:4 The mountains of Ararat: the mountain country of ancient Arartu in northwest Iraq, which was the highest part of the world to the biblical writer. There is no Mount Ararat in the Bible.
  59. 8:7–12 In the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic, Utnapishtim (the equivalent of Noah) released in succession a dove, a swallow, and a raven. When the raven did not return, Utnapishtim knew it was safe to leave the ark. The first century A.D. Roman author Pliny tells of Indian sailors who release birds in order to follow them toward land.
  60. 8:13–14 On the first day of the first month, the world was in the state it had been on the day of creation in chap. 1. Noah had to wait another month until the earth was properly dry as in 1:9.
  61. 9:1 God reaffirms without change the original blessing and mandate of 1:28. In the Mesopotamian epic Atrahasis, on which the Genesis story is partly modeled, the gods changed their original plan by restricting human population through such means as childhood diseases, birth demons, and mandating celibacy among certain groups of women.
  62. 9:2–3 Pre-flood creatures, including human beings, are depicted as vegetarians (1:29–30). In view of the human propensity to violence, God changes the original prohibition against eating meat.
  63. 9:4 Because a living being dies when it loses most of its blood, the ancients regarded blood as the seat of life, and therefore as sacred. Jewish tradition considered the prohibition against eating meat with blood to be binding on all, because it was given by God to Noah, the new ancestor of all humankind; therefore the early Christian Church retained it for a time (Acts 15:20, 29).
  64. 9:6 The image of God, given to the first man and woman and transmitted to every human being, is the reason that no violent attacks can be made upon human beings. That image is the basis of the dignity of every individual who, in some sense, “represents” God in the world.
  65. 9:8–17 God makes a covenant with Noah and his descendants and, remarkably, with all the animals who come out of the ark: never again shall the world be destroyed by flood. The sign of this solemn promise is the appearance of a rainbow.
  66. 9:18–27 The character of the three sons is sketched here. The fault is not Noah’s (for he could not be expected to know about the intoxicating effect of wine) but Ham’s, who shames his father by looking on his nakedness, and then tells the other sons. Ham’s conduct is meant to prefigure the later shameful sexual practices of the Canaanites, which are alleged in numerous biblical passages. The point of the story is revealed in Noah’s curse of Ham’s son Canaan and his blessing of Shem and Japheth.
  67. 9:27 In the Hebrew text there is a play on the words yapt (“expand”) and yepet (“Japheth”).
  68. 10:1–32

    Verse 1 is the fourth of the Priestly formulas (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 11:10) that structure Part I of Genesis; it introduces 10:2–11:9, the populating of the world and the building of the city. In a sense, chaps. 4–9 are concerned with the first of the two great commands given to the human race in 1:28, “Be fertile and multiply!” whereas chaps. 10–11 are concerned with the second command, “Fill the earth and subdue it!” (“Subdue it” refers to each nation’s taking the land assigned to it by God.) Gn 9:19 already noted that all nations are descended from the three sons of Noah; the same sentiment is repeated in 10:5, 18, 25, 32; 11:8. The presupposition of the chapter is that every nation has a land assigned to it by God (cf. Dt 32:8–9). The number of the nations is seventy (if one does not count Noah and his sons, and counts Sidon [vv. 15, 19] only once), which is a traditional biblical number (Jgs 8:30; Lk 10:1, 17). According to Gn 46:27 and Ex 1:5, Israel also numbered seventy persons, which shows that it in some sense represents the nations of the earth.

    This chapter classifies the various peoples known to the ancient Israelites; it is theologically important as stressing the basic family unity of all peoples on earth. It is sometimes called the Table of the Nations. The relationship between the various peoples is based on linguistic, geographic, or political grounds (v. 31). In general, the descendants of Japheth (vv. 2–5) are the peoples of the Indo-European languages to the north and west of Mesopotamia and Syria; the descendants of Ham (vv. 6–20) are the Hamitic-speaking peoples of northern Africa; and the descendants of Shem (vv. 21–31) are the Semitic-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia, Syria and Arabia. But there are many exceptions to this rule; the Semitic-speaking peoples of Canaan are considered descendants of Ham, because at one time they were subject to Hamitic Egypt (vv. 6, 15–19). This chapter is generally considered to be a composite from the Yahwist source (vv. 8–19, 21, 24–30) and the Priestly source (vv. 1–7, 20, 22–23, 31–32). Presumably that is why certain tribes of Arabia are listed under both Ham (v. 7) and Shem (vv. 26–28).

  69. 10:2 Gomer: the Cimmerians; Madai: the Medes; Javan: the Greeks.
  70. 10:3 Ashkenaz: an Indo-European people, which later became the medieval rabbinic name for Germany. It now designates one of the great divisions of Judaism, Eastern European Yiddish-speaking Jews.
  71. 10:4 Elishah: Cyprus; the Kittim: certain inhabitants of Cyprus; the Rodanim: the inhabitants of Rhodes.
  72. 10:6 Cush: biblical Ethiopia, modern Nubia. Mizraim: Lower (i.e., northern) Egypt; Put: either Punt in East Africa or Libya.
  73. 10:8 Cush: here seems to be Cossea, the country of the Kassites; see note on 2:10–14. Nimrod: possibly Tukulti-Ninurta I (thirteenth century B.C.), the first Assyrian conqueror of Babylonia and a famous city-builder at home.
  74. 10:10 Shinar: the land of ancient Babylonia, embracing Sumer and Akkad, present-day southern Iraq, mentioned also in 11:2; 14:1.
  75. 10:11 Rehoboth-Ir: lit., “wide-streets city,” was probably not the name of another city, but an epithet of Nineveh; cf. Jon 3:3.
  76. 10:12 Calah: Assyrian Kalhu, the capital of Assyria in the ninth century B.C.
  77. 10:14 The Pathrusim: the people of Upper (southern) Egypt; cf. Is 11:11; Jer 44:1; Ez 29:14; 30:13. Caphtorim: Crete; for Caphtor as the place of origin of the Philistines, cf. Dt 2:23; Am 9:7; Jer 47:4.
  78. 10:15 Heth: the biblical Hittites; see note on 23:3.
  79. 10:21 Eber: the eponymous ancestor of the Hebrews, that is, the one to whom they traced their name.
  80. 10:25 In the Hebrew text there is a play on the name Peleg and the word niplega, “was divided.”
  81. 11:1–9 This story illustrates increasing human wickedness, shown here in the sinful pride that human beings take in their own achievements apart from God. Secondarily, the story explains the diversity of languages among the peoples of the earth.
  82. 11:2 Shinar: see note on 10:10.
  83. 11:4 Tower with its top in the sky: possibly a reference to the chief ziggurat of Babylon, E-sag-ila, lit., “the house that raises high its head.”
  84. 11:9 Babel: the Hebrew form of the name “Babylon”; the Babylonians interpreted their name for the city, Bab-ili, as “gate of god.” The Hebrew word balal, “he confused,” has a similar sound.
  85. 11:10–26 The second Priestly genealogy goes from Shem to Terah and his three sons Abram, Nahor, and Haran, just as the genealogy in 5:3–32 went from Adam to Noah and his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. This genealogy marks the important transition in Genesis between the story of the nations in 1:1–11:26 and the story of Israel in the person of its ancestors (11:27–50:26). As chaps. 1–11 showed the increase and spread of the nations, so chaps. 12–50 will show the increase and spread of Israel. The contrast between Israel and the nations is a persistent biblical theme. The ages given here are from the Hebrew text; the Samaritan and Greek texts have divergent sets of numbers in most cases. In comparable accounts of the pre-flood period, enormous life spans are attributed to human beings. It may be an attempt to show that the pre-flood generations were extraordinary and more vital than post-flood human beings.
  86. 11:12 The Greek text adds Kenan (cf. 5:9–10) between Arpachshad and Shelah. The Greek listing is followed in Lk 3:36.
  87. 11:16 Eber: the eponymous ancestor of the Hebrews, “descendants of Eber” (10:21, 24–30); see note on 14:13.
  88. 11:26 Abram is a dialectal variant of Abraham. God will change his name in view of his new task in 17:4.
  89. 11:27 Descendants of Terah: elsewhere in Genesis the story of the son is introduced by the name of the father (25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2). The Abraham-Sarah stories begin (11:27–32) and end with genealogical notices (25:1–18), which concern, respectively, the families of Terah and of Abraham. Most of the traditions in the cycle are from the Yahwist source. The so-called Elohist source (E) is somewhat shadowy, denied by some scholars but recognized by others in passages that duplicate other narratives (20:1–18 and 21:22–34). The Priestly source consists mostly of brief editorial notices, except for chaps. 17 and 23.
  90. 11:28 Ur of the Chaldeans: Ur was an extremely ancient city of the Sumerians (later, of the Babylonians) in southern Mesopotamia. The Greek text has “the land of the Chaldeans.” After a millennium of relative unimportance, Ur underwent a revival during the Neo-Babylonian/Chaldean empire (625–539 B.C.). The sixth-century author here identified the place by its contemporary name. As chap. 24 shows, Haran in northern Mesopotamia is in fact the native place of Abraham. In the Genesis perspective, the human race originated in the East (3:24; 4:16) and migrated from there to their homelands (11:2). Terah’s family moved from the East (Ur) and Abraham will complete the journey to the family’s true homeland in the following chapters.
  91. 11:29 Sarai: like Abram, a dialectal variant of the more usual form of the name Sarah. In 17:15, God will change it to Sarah in view of her new task.
  92. 11:32 Since Terah was seventy years old when his son Abraham was born (v. 26), and Abraham was seventy-five when he left Haran (12:4), Terah lived in Haran for sixty years after Abraham’s departure. According to the tradition in the Samaritan text, Terah died when he was one hundred and forty-five years old, therefore, in the same year in which Abraham left Haran. This is the tradition followed in Stephen’s speech: Abraham left Haran “after his father died” (Acts 7:4).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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