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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Genesis - Introduction

Genesis, meaning “beginning,” contains two major parts: the primeval history (chs. 1–11 ), which tells how human self-assertion brought the world to the brink of destruction; and the history of Israel's ancestors (chs. 12–50 ), which relates how the LORD, in an awesome and inexplicable act of grace, chose the clan of Abraham as the instrument for the rehabilitation of humankind. Yet for a variety of reasons, whether perceptible or hidden, the divine promise was not immediately realized. Even the existence of the next generation (i.e. Israel itself) was often uncertain. And as Genesis concludes, the clan has been delivered from famine through divine providence, only to become enslaved in Egypt.

When succeeding generations heard this part of their story freshly interpreted in light of new experiences, they understood that the crises of the present were not unique and were enabled to hope that the ancient promise would yet be realized.

The material concerning Abraham and Sarah and their descendants differs from the account of primeval time in that it can be placed within the context of the ancient Near Eastern culture of the second millennium B.C.E.

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Oxford University Press

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