Genesis 1-12The Voice (VOICE)
Out of nowhere, time, space, and all the living whirl forth as God speaks the universe into existence. With the utterance of His voice, creation takes form, chaos yields to order, light eclipses darkness, and emptiness fills with life. Not long after God creates the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, the story takes a tragic turn when the first couple disobeys the clear instruction from God not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As a result, humanity falls from God’s intended perfection. The disastrous consequences of this decisive act are demonstrated in Cain’s murder of Abel, Noah’s flood, and the Tower of Babel.
1 In the beginning, God created everything: the heavens above and the earth below. Here’s what happened: 2 At first the earth lacked shape and was totally empty, and a dark fog draped over the deep while God’s spirit-wind hovered over the surface of the empty waters. Then there was the voice of God.
God: 3 Let there be light.
And light flashed into being. 4 God saw that the light was beautiful and good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God named the light “day” and the darkness “night.” Evening gave way to morning. That was day one.
God: 6 Let there be a vast expanse in the middle of the waters. Let the waters above part from the waters below.
7 So God parted the waters and formed this expanse, separating the waters above from the waters below. It happened just as God said. 8 And God called the vast expanse “sky.” Evening gave way to morning. That was day two.
God: 9 Let the waters below the heavens be collected into one place and congregate into one vast sea, so that dry land may appear.
It happened just as God said. 10 God called the dry land “earth” and the waters congregated below “seas.” And God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good.
God: 11 Earth, sprout green vegetation! Grow all varieties of seed-bearing plants and all sorts of fruit-bearing trees.
It happened just as God said. 12 The earth produced vegetation—seed-bearing plants of all varieties and fruit-bearing trees of all sorts. And God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good. 13 Evening gave way to morning. That was day three.
God: 14-15 Lights, come out! Shine in the vast expanse of heavens’ sky dividing day from night to mark the seasons, days, and years. Lights, warm the earth with your light.
It happened just as God said. 16 God fashioned the two great lights—the brighter to mark the course of day, the dimmer to mark the course of night—and the Divine needled night with the stars. 17 God set them in heavens’ sky to cast warm light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good. 19 Evening gave way to morning. That was day four.
God: 20 Waters, swarm with fish and sea creatures. Let birds soar high above the earth in the broad expanse of sky.
21 So God created huge sea creatures, all the swarm of life in the waters, and every kind and species of flying birds—each able to reproduce its own kind. And God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good. 22 And God spoke this blessing over them:
God: Be fruitful and multiply. Let creatures fill the seas. Let birds reproduce and cover the earth.
23 Evening gave way to morning. That was day five.
God: 24 Earth, generate life! Produce a vast variety of living creatures—domesticated animals, small creeping creatures, and wild animals that roam the earth.
It happened just as God said. 25 God made earth-creatures in a vast variety of species: wild animals, domesticated animals of all sizes, and small creeping creatures, each able to reproduce its own kind. God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good. And God paused.
God: 26 Now let Us conceive a new creation—humanity—made in Our image, fashioned according to Our likeness. And let Us grant them authority over all the earth—the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, the domesticated animals and the small creeping creatures on the earth.
27 So God did just that. He created humanity in His image, created them male and female. 28 Then God blessed them and gave them this directive: “Be fruitful and multiply. Populate the earth. I make you trustees of My estate, so care for My creation and rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that roams across the earth.”
The crown of God’s creation is a new creature, a creature that can sound the heartbeat of its Creator. That creature, made male and female, reflects God’s own relational richness. The human family is to join God in the ongoing work of creation. The earth below and the sky above with all their inhabitants are too beautiful and too good to be left alone. They need the tender care and close attention that only God’s favored creature can give.
God (to humanity): 29 Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant that grows on the earth and every fruit-bearing tree. They will be your food and nourishment. 30 As for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and every small creeping creature—everything that breathes the breath of life—I have given them every green plant for food.
And it happened just as God said. 31 Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness. Evening gave way to morning. That was day six.
2 So now you see how the Creator swept into being the spangled heavens, the earth, and all their hosts in six days. 2 On the seventh day—with the canvas of the cosmos completed—God paused from His labor and rested. 3 Thus God blessed day seven and made it special—an open time for pause and restoration, a sacred zone of Sabbath-keeping, because God rested from all the work He had done in creation that day.
God’s rest on the seventh day is a model for the kind of Sabbath rest He wants for His people.
4 This is the detailed story of the Eternal God’s singular work in creating all that exists. On the day the heavens and earth were created, 5 there were no plants or vegetation to cover the earth. The fields were barren and empty, because the Eternal God had not sent the rains to nourish the soil or anyone to tend it. 6 In those days, a mist rose up from the ground to blanket the earth, and its vapors irrigated the land. 7 One day the Eternal God scooped dirt out of the ground, sculpted it into the shape we call human, breathed the breath that gives life into the nostrils of the human, and the human became a living soul.
When human body meets divine spirit, soul is born. Divine breath and sculpted earth come together to make up the living soul. For thousands of years, philosophers and theologians have posed the question: what is a human being? Here God gives the answer.
8 The Eternal God planted a garden in the east in Eden—a place of utter delight—and placed the man whom He had sculpted there. 9 In this garden, He made the ground pregnant with life—bursting forth with nourishing food and luxuriant beauty. He created trees, and in the center of this garden of delights stood the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river flowed from Eden to irrigate the garden, and from there it separated into four smaller rivers. 11-12 The first, the Pishon, flows around the land of Havilah—a rich land plentiful in gold of premium quality, bdellium, and onyx stones. 13 The second, the Gihon, flows around the entire land of Cush. 14 The third, the Tigris, flows east of Assyria, and the fourth is the Euphrates.
15 The Eternal God placed the newly made man in the garden of Eden in order to work the ground and care for it. 16 He made certain demands of the man regarding life in the garden.
God: Eat freely from any and all trees in the garden; 17 I only require that you abstain from eating the fruit of one tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Beware: the day you eat the fruit of this tree, you will certainly die.
After God gives man this directive, He realizes something is missing.
18 It is not good for the man to be alone, so I will create a companion for him, a perfectly suited partner.
19 So out of the same ground the man was made from, the Eternal God sculpted every sort of animal and every kind of bird that flies up in the sky. Then He brought them to the man and gave him the authority to name each creature as he saw fit: whatever he decided to call it, that became its name. 20 Thus the man chose names for domesticated animals, birds, and wild beasts. But none of these creatures was a right and proper partner for Adam.
The authority to name something is unique to humanity. To name is to share in God’s creative act.
21 So the Eternal God put him into a deep sleep, removed a rib from his side, and closed the flesh around the opening. 22 He formed a woman from the rib taken out of the man and presented her to him.
23 Adam: At last, a suitable companion, a perfect partner.
24 Now this is the reason a man leaves his father and his mother, and is united with his wife; and the two become one flesh. 25 In those days the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Genesis provides an image of the ideal marriage: One man. One woman. In a one-flesh relationship. For life. These four elements constitute the ideal, as Jesus reminds His followers (Matthew 19:4–5). Anything less, anything more, or anything other misses the ideal. In marriage two individuals, who once lived as “me,” come together as “we” in one flesh and one life. No earthly bond can match the intimacy of this divinely sanctioned union.
3 Of all the wild creatures the Eternal God had created, the serpent was the craftiest.
Serpent (to the woman): Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat fruits from the trees of the garden?
Eve: 2 No, serpent. God said we are free to eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 We are granted access to any variety and all amounts of fruit with one exception: the fruit from the tree found in the center of the garden. God instructed us not to eat or touch the fruit of that tree or we would die.
Serpent: 4 Die? No, you’ll not die. God is playing games with you. 5 The truth is that God knows the day you eat the fruit from that tree you will awaken something powerful in you and become like Him: possessing knowledge of both good and evil.
6 The woman approached the tree, eyed its fruit, and coveted its mouth-watering, wisdom-granting beauty. She plucked a fruit from the tree and ate. She then offered the fruit to her husband who was close by, and he ate as well. 7 Suddenly their eyes were opened to a reality previously unknown. For the first time, they sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths. 8 Then they heard the sound of the Eternal God walking in the cool misting shadows of the garden. The man and his wife took cover among the trees and hid from the Eternal God.
The story of humanity’s sin begins with a tree and ends on a tree: first, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and finally, the cross on which Jesus dies. The first tree offers fruit that leads to death, but the second offers a death that leads to eternal life.
God (calling to Adam): 9 Where are you?
Adam: 10 When I heard the sound of You coming in the garden, I was afraid because I am naked. So I hid from You.
God: 11 Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the tree in the center of the garden, the very one I commanded you not to eat from?
Adam (pointing at the woman): 12 It was she! The woman You gave me as a companion put the fruit in my hands, and I ate it.
Since Adam and Eve, people have been blaming others for their mistakes. Adam has the audacity to blame God for his.
God (to the woman): 13 What have you done?
Eve: It was the serpent! He tricked me, and I ate.
14 God (to the serpent): What you have done carries great consequences.
16 (to the woman) As a consequence of your actions,
17 (to the man) Because you followed your wife’s advice
20 The man named his wife Eve because she was destined to become the mother of all living. 21 The Eternal God pieced together the skins of animals and made clothes for Adam and Eve to wear.
In Hebrew “Eve” sounds like the word meaning “life-giver.”
God: 22 Look, the human has become like one of Us, possessing the knowledge of good and evil. If We don’t do something, he will reach out his hand and take some of the fruit from the tree of life, eat it, and live forever.
23 So the Eternal God banished Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden and exiled humanity from paradise, sentencing humans to laborious lives working the very ground man came from. 24 After driving them out, He stationed winged guardians[a] at the east end of the garden of Eden and set up a sword of flames which alertly turned back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
4 Now Adam and Eve discovered the pleasures of lovemaking, and soon Eve conceived and gave birth to a son whom they named Cain.
Eve (excited): Look, I have created a new human, a male child, with the help of the Eternal.
One of the first things Adam and Eve do after being banished from the garden of Eden is to make a baby. Despite the pain of childbirth, Eve speaks with joy of the birth of her son. She certainly suffers and could have easily died in childbirth, but the desire to reproduce and the joy of joining with God in the creative process brings great reward. Every parent knows the risks and rewards of bringing forth the next generation.
2 Eve went on to give birth to Cain’s brother, Abel. Abel grew up to become a shepherd, and Cain grew up to become a farmer. 3 After he had learned how to produce food from the fields, Cain gave the Eternal One an offering—some of the crops he had grown from the ground. 4 For his part of the offering, Abel gave God some tender lamb meat—the choicest cuts from the firstborn of his flock. The Eternal One accepted Abel and his gift of lamb, 5 while He had no regard for Cain and what he presented. Because of this, Cain became extremely angry and his face fell.
God notices Cain’s reaction and confronts him.
Eternal One (to Cain): 6 Why are you angry? And why do you look so despondent? 7 Don’t you know that as long as you do what is right, then I accept you? But if you do not do what is right, watch out, because sin is crouching at the door, ready to pounce on you! You must master it before it masters you.
Jealousy is eating at Cain’s heart. Left unattended, it consumes him.
8 Cain spoke to his brother Abel. When they were in the field, Cain’s envy of his brother got the better of him, and he attacked and killed Abel.
Eternal One (to Cain): 9 Where’s your brother Abel?
Cain: I have no idea. Am I supposed to be responsible for where he goes and what he does?
Eternal One: 10 What have you done? Listen! I can hear the voice of your brother’s blood crying out to Me from the ground! 11 And now you are cursed, cut off from the ground—the ground that opened up and received your brother’s innocent blood, spilled by your own murderous hand! 12 From now on, when you till the ground, it will no longer yield for you its strength and nourishment. You will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.
Cain: 13 My punishment is more than I can bear! 14 Today You have banned me from the soil and hidden me from Your presence! I will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me will want to kill me!
Eternal One: 15 That’s not the case! Whoever kills you will suffer My vengeance and pay the penalty seven times!
Then God put a special mark on Cain, so that no one who came in contact with him would try to kill him.
16 Then Cain went away from the Eternal’s presence and settled in the land of Nod, a place for wanderers, to the east of Eden. 17 Cain made love to his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. Cain built a city there and named it Enoch after his son. 18 And this is how their family progressed: Enoch’s son was Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael. Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.
19 Now Lamech married two wives, Adah and Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal. His descendants are those who make their homes in tents and keep livestock. 21 Jabal’s brother’s name was Jubal, and his descendants are musicians who play instruments such as the lyre and the pipe. 22 Zillah, Lamech’s other wife, gave birth to Tubal-cain. Now he was a bronze- and ironsmith, and his sister was Naamah.
23 One day, Lamech announced to his wives:
Lamech: Adah and Zillah, listen to me!
25 Meanwhile, Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to another son and named him Seth.
Eve (to herself): God has given me another child to replace Abel, since Cain killed him.
26 After many years passed, Seth became the father of a son and named him Enosh. This was about the time when people began to worship and call on the name of the Eternal One.
5 Here now is the account of Adam’s descendants. You remember, when God created humans, He made them in His own likeness. 2 He created them male and female; and after creating them, God put a special blessing on them and named them “humanity.”
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son who looked just like him. He was Adam’s spitting image, and so resembled God too. Adam named him Seth. 4 After Seth was born, Adam lived another 800 years, and he had other sons and daughters as well. 5 So Adam was 930 years old when he died.
6 When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered a son named Enosh. 7 After Enosh was born, Seth lived another 807 years, and he also had other sons and daughters. 8 He was 912 years old when he died.
9 When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered a son named Kenan. 10 After Kenan was born, Enosh lived another 815 years, and he had other sons and daughters too. 11 He was 905 years old when he died.
12 When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered a son named Mahalalel. 13 After Mahalalel was born, Kenan lived another 840 years, and he had other sons and daughters. 14 He was 910 years old when he died.
15 When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered a son named Jared. 16 After Jared was born, Mahalalel lived another 830 years, and he, too, had other sons and daughters. 17 He was 895 years old when he died.
18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he fathered a son named Enoch. 19 After Enoch was born, Jared lived another 800 years, and he had other sons and daughters. 20 He was 962 years old when he died.
21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered a son named Methuselah. 22 After Methuselah was born, Enoch lived in a close relationship with God for 300 more years; he also had other sons and daughters. 23 He lived to be 365 years old, 24 but Enoch had such a close and intimate relationship with God that one day he just vanished—God took him.
Enoch leaves this world in an unusual way. He is taken without experiencing death. But he is not the last.
25 When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered a son named Lamech. 26 After Lamech was born, Methuselah lived another 782 years, and he also had other sons and daughters. 27 He was 969 years old when he died.
28 When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son 29 named Noah. He named him this because he predicted, “From out of the ground the Eternal cursed will now come someone who will bring relief from our work and painful toil.” 30 After Noah was born, Lamech lived another 595 years, and he had other sons and daughters. 31 He was 777 years old when he died.
32 Now by the time Noah was 500 years old, he had fathered three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
6 As human beings began to multiply and spread across the surface of the earth as God commanded, they had lovely daughters. 2 The sons of God saw how beautiful the humans’ daughters were, and they decided to take any daughters they wanted as their wives.
Eternal One: 3 My life-giving Spirit will not sustain human beings forever because they are, after all, made of flesh. Therefore, I will put a limit on their lifespan of about 120 years.
Throughout Scripture God is described as spirit and humans as flesh. God’s statement emphasizes the eternal, life-giving nature of spirit and the mortal, dependent nature of flesh. Without God’s Spirit-breath sustaining humanity, life itself is not possible. Humans are totally dependent on God. The upper limit of human life is set at roughly 120 years; but the change comes gradually, and Aaron is the last of the patriarchs to live beyond the limit.
4 Now at that time and for some time to come, a great warrior race[b] lived on the earth. Whenever the sons of God would have sex with the humans’ daughters, the women bore them children who became mighty warriors. In the days of old, they became famous heroes, the kind people tell stories about!
By Noah’s time nearly all people are drugged on the fumes of their egos. Wickedness has become the number one, all-consuming human addiction.
5 The Eternal One saw that wickedness was rampaging throughout the earth and that evil had become the first thought on every mind, the constant purpose of every person. 6-7 At that point God’s heart broke, and He regretted having ever made man in the first place.
Eternal One: I know what I’ll do. I will wipe humanity, My special creation, from the face of the earth—humans, animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I ever made them.
8 But there was one person whom the Lord could not let go of—Noah—because this man pleased Him.
9 Here is the account of Noah and his descendants. Noah was a good man, a right-living man, the best man of his generation; and he walked closely with God. 10 Noah fathered three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11-12 They lived at a time when the world had become vile and corrupt. Violence was everywhere. God saw that the earth was in ruins, and He knew why: all people on earth except Noah had lived corrupt lives and ruined God’s plans for them. He had to do something.
Eternal One (to Noah): 13 Noah, I have decided to wipe out all the living creatures I have made because they are spreading violence throughout the earth. Watch! I will destroy them with the earth. 14 I want you to build an ark. Build it out of cypress wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with tar. 15 Here’s how you will do it: build the ark 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. 16 Put a roof[c] on the ark and leave a gap of 18 inches below the roofline for air to circulate. Put the door of the ark in its side, and build it with lower, middle, and upper decks. 17 Look! I am going to unleash a torrent and flood the earth to destroy all flesh under the heavens which breathes the breath of life. Everything that is on the earth will die.
18 But I will make a pact with you, Noah—a covenant agreement. To survive, you and your family—you, your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives—must go into the ark. 19 And, out of all the living creatures I have made, you must bring two of each kind into the ark with you, to keep them alive. Bring one male and one female of each kind. 20 Bring all kinds of birds, all sorts of animals, and all varieties of creatures that creep on the ground in pairs, so that each species will survive. 21 Also, you must bring food with you. Bring every kind of food that may be eaten, and store it all inside the ark. That way, you and all of the creatures will have enough food to eat.
22 So Noah listened to God, and he built the ark. He did everything God asked him to do.
7 Eternal One (to Noah): It’s time! Go into the ark now. Take your entire household with you, because I see that you are the only one in this generation who lives right before Me. 2 Take the animals with you. Take seven pairs of all ritually acceptable animals, both the male and female; and take one pair of any animal that isn’t acceptable, both the male and female. 3 And take seven pairs of the birds of the sky, too, also male and female, so that we can keep each kind alive on the earth. 4 Seven days from now, I will send a massive rain to cover the earth. The rain will last 40 days and 40 nights, and every living thing I have made will be wiped off the face of the earth.
In distinguishing between animals that are ritually acceptable and unacceptable, God is anticipating the instructions He will give His people later regarding holiness and purity (Leviticus 11:1–47; Deuteronomy 14:4–20). Some animals are ritually acceptable for sacrifices, so they are suitable for food. Other animals are not to be offered to God or eaten. Ultimately, what enters human bodies matters to God; after all He made them.
5 Noah did everything the Eternal One asked him to do.
6 Noah was 600 years old when the flood waters swept over the earth. 7 Noah and his wife, his sons and their wives, all went into the ark in order to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Noah made sure to take along all of the animals (both ritually acceptable and unacceptable), the birds, and all the small creeping creatures 9 in pairs by males and females, just as God had told him to do. They all went into the ark with him, two by two. 10 After seven days, the rains began and waters flooded the earth.
11 On the 17th day of the 2nd month in Noah’s 600th year, all of the subterranean waters erupted from the depths of the earth and burst skyward, covering the land. The casements of the heavens cracked open, 12 dousing heavy rains over the watery earth for 40 days and 40 nights.
13 On the same day, Noah, his wife, his sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth), and his sons’ wives went into the ark, and all were secured within it. 14 Inside the ark they had with them all sorts of wild animals, domesticated animals, small creeping creatures, and all kinds of birds, that is, every winged creature. 15 All of them went along into the ark to Noah in pairs—all flesh into which God had breathed the breath of life. 16 All those in the ark, males and females of all living flesh, went in just as God had told them to do. And the Eternal One shut them all in for the duration of the flood.
17 The deluge continued for 40 days on the earth. 18 The waters kept rising until they lifted up the ark so it floated safely over the land; 19 the torrent continued to swell and increase in momentum until the highest mountain peaks beneath the heavens were covered. 20 In fact, the waters rose and pitched so forcefully over the earth that the mountain peaks disappeared beneath 22 feet of water. 21 And all flesh that moved upon the earth died out—birds, domesticated animals, wild animals, all of the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all human beings. 22 Everything and everyone on the dry land in which God had breathed the breath of life died. 23 God wiped out every living thing from the face of the earth. Every creature He had made—humans, animals, creeping things, and birds—was wiped off the surface of the earth. Only Noah was left and those with him inside the ark. 24 And the waters raged upon the earth for 150 days.
8 But God remembered Noah and all of the wild and domesticated animals with him in the ark. When it was time, God sent the wind to blow over all of the earth, and the waters began to subside. 2 The subterranean waters from the depths of the earth and the casements of the heavens were again closed. The drenching rains that once fell from above finally stopped. 3 All of the waters gradually receded from the land. At last, after 150 days, the waters abated; 4 and on the 17th day of the 7th month, the ark at last came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the 10th month. On the 1st day of the 10th month, the tops of the mountains began to appear.
6 After 40 more days, Noah opened a window he had built into the ark, 7 and he sent one of the ravens out into the sky. The raven flew back and forth until all of the waters had dried up on the land. 8 He then sent out a dove to see if the waters had subsided from the surface of the land. 9 But the dove found no place to land safely, and it returned to the ark. The waters were still covering the surface of the whole earth. So Noah put out his hand and brought the dove back into the ark. 10 Noah waited another seven days, and then he sent the dove out again from the ark. 11 This time the dove came back to him in the evening, and there, in its beak, was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew then that the waters had begun to retreat from the land. 12 For good measure, Noah waited another seven days. Once more, he sent out the dove. This time, it didn’t return.
13 On the 1st day of the 1st month in Noah’s 601st year, the waters had dried up from the land. Noah removed the covering of the ark, looked out, and saw that the land was nearly dry. 14 By the 27th day of the 2nd month, the earth was completely dry. 15 God came to Noah with a message.
Eternal One (to Noah): 16 It’s time. Leave the ark now, you and your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives. 17 Release every animal with you on the ark—everything of flesh: birds, animals, and every creeping thing—so that they may be fruitful, multiply in great numbers, and fill the land and the sky again.
18 So Noah left the ark with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives. 19 And every animal, every small creeping thing, and every bird—everything that moves on the earth—left the ark with him as new families—a new generation.
20 Once he was back on dry land, Noah built an altar—a special offering table—for the Eternal One. He took some of every ritually acceptable animal and of every acceptable bird, and he gave them to God on the altar as a burnt offering. 21 When the Eternal smelled the delicious aroma of the sacrifice, He was moved.
Eternal One (to Himself): Never again will I curse the ground because of humankind, even though every thought of the mind and inclination of the heart is set on evil from the time they are young. Never again will I destroy every living creature as I have done. 22 As long as the earth endures, nothing will put a stop to planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.
9 God spoke a blessing over Noah and his sons.
Eternal One: Be fruitful, multiply, and populate the earth! 2 All the animals on the earth, all the birds in the sky, all the creatures that creep along the ground, and all the fish of the sea will now be afraid and run from you; they have been handed over to you. 3 Every living thing that moves will be available to you as food. Just as I once gave you the green plants to eat, I now give you everything. 4 But listen carefully: Do not eat any meat with its life-blood still in it. 5 More than that, do not spill the blood of any human. If anyone spills your blood, I will hold him responsible. It makes no difference whether it is a man or an animal, both will be accountable to Me! If someone murders a fellow human being, then I will require his life in return.
6 Whoever sheds the blood of a human,
All life is sacred. Human life is especially so. Protecting it is of utmost importance to God. He takes this so seriously and personally because He made humanity to reflect Him. We are His earthly representatives, made in His image. To murder another person is to mount an attack on the One who created him.
8 But God was not finished. He had more to say both to Noah and his sons.
Eternal One: 9 Look, for I am now going to make a pact, a special covenant, with you and all your descendants. 10 This covenant also extends to every living creature in the world—the birds, the domesticated animals, and every wild animal on the earth—as many as emerged with you from the ark. 11 As part of this covenant, I promise you I will never again wipe out all living flesh by means of flooding waters. Never again will a flood destroy the earth. 12 As a sign of this perpetual covenant I now make between Me and you and all living creatures along with you, as well as all future generations, 13 I will hang a rainbow among the clouds. It will serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 And from now on, whenever a cloud rises over the earth and a rainbow appears in the sky, 15 I will remember My covenant—My promise I have made between Me and you and all living creatures. No waters will ever again turn into a flood powerful enough to destroy all living creatures. 16 When that rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember this eternal covenant I have made with all living creatures.
17 Look for the rainbow, and remember My promise. With it I sign the covenant I have made between Me and all the living creatures residing on the earth.
18 Now Noah’s sons who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham, by the way, was the father of Canaan.) 19 Yes, these three, Noah’s sons, went on to populate the entire earth.
20 Now Noah became a farmer and decided to plant a vineyard. 21 One day he drank too much of the wine he had made and fell into a deep, drunken sleep in his tent. As he lay there stark naked, 22 Ham (the father of Canaan) peeked in and saw his father’s exposed body. After leaving the tent, he told his two brothers what he had seen. 23 So Shem and Japheth took a large cloak and laid it across their shoulders, and they walked backward into the tent. They never looked behind, as they covered their father’s nakedness. Out of respect, they purposely kept their faces turned away, so they wouldn’t see their father lying there naked. 24 When Noah regained consciousness and realized what his youngest son had done, 25 he uttered this curse:
Noah: A curse upon your son, Canaan!
Noah’s words are not idle words. As the story unfolds, the importance of this curse becomes clear. But as the ancients knew, and we now have forgotten, words have power. It was with a word that God created the heavens above and the earth below. Now Noah’s words create a new reality, a harsh reality for Ham and his children.
28 From the time the flood was over, Noah lived another 350 years. 29 In all, Noah lived 950 years, and then he died.
10 Here is the account of the descendants of Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, who fathered many children after the flood.
2 The descendants of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3 Now the descendants of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 4 The descendants of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5 The descendants of Japheth became the peoples who settled the coastal and island regions. They developed their own languages, their own families and cultures, and they would eventually become separate peoples.
6 The descendants of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. 7 Cush’s descendants were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. 8 Cush also fathered Nimrod, who was the first man on earth to be known as a powerful warrior. 9 He was also a skillful hunter before the Eternal One. That’s why you often hear people say, “So-and-so is like Nimrod, a skillful hunter before the Eternal.” 10 The center of his kingdom was in Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh; all are located in the land of Shinar. 11 From there, he traveled into Assyria and established the cities of Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, 12 and Resen, which lies between Nineveh and Calah—and that is one magnificent city! 13 Now Mizraim fathered Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, Casluhim (the ancestor of the people known as the Philistines), and Caphtorim.
15 Canaan fathered Sidon (his firstborn), Heth, 16 the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Soon all of the families of Canaan’s descendants would spread abroad. 19 As a result, the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon in the direction of Gerar all the way to Gaza; and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim all the way to Lasha. 20 All of these are descendants of Ham, who grew from a few initial families into a great people with their own languages, lands, and nations.
21 Now Shem (Japheth’s older brother) fathered a great number of children as well. He was the patriarch of all of the people of Eber. 22 His descendants include Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. 23 Aram’s descendants were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24 Now Arpachshad fathered Shelah, and Shelah fathered Eber. 25 Eber had two sons: one was named Peleg, which means “division,” because in his days, the earth was divided into many languages, and his brother’s name was Joktan. 26 Joktan fathered Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All of these peoples were descended from Joktan. 30 They lived in the territory that extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the eastern hill country. 31 Shem’s descendants also grew from a few initial families to become a great people with their own languages, lands, and nations.
32 So these are the families descended from Noah’s sons according to their known genealogies. These cultures would soon spread farther and farther across the earth after the flood.
According to Genesis, the sons and daughters of Noah established the first known cultures of the world.
11 There was a time when everyone on the earth spoke the very same language. 2 As many of these people began moving from the eastern regions into the western part of Mesopotamia, they settled down on a plain in the land of Shinar. 3 Since stone was not readily available, they discovered how to make bricks and use tar for mortar to build their structures.
People (to each other): Come on, let’s make bricks out of mud and bake them in the fire. Then we can build all we want. 4 Let’s go build ourselves a city with a huge tower that reaches into heaven. That way we will make a name for ourselves. If we don’t, we’ll run the risk of being scattered all over the earth.
The desire to settle in one place and build a city runs counter to God’s command to spread out across the earth. They want to make their mark on the world rather than conform to God’s plan for their lives. They want power and prestige. They want to ensure that they will not be scattered; that is, they want to choose their own destiny. But God has a different plan and purpose. He is the One who determines destiny.
5 The Eternal One came down and took a look at the city and the tower the children of Adam were building. He was not pleased.
Eternal One: 6 Will you look at that! The people are all together on this. With one language they are able to start this kind of project. This is only the beginning of what they will do. Soon they will think they can accomplish anything and everything on their own. 7 Let’s go down and break this up! If We confuse their language, they won’t be able to understand each other’s words.
8 This is how the Eternal scattered people from Shinar all across the surface of the earth. Since they were unable to communicate, they stopped working on the city and went their separate ways. 9 So this is why the city was called Babel:[d] because it was there that the Eternal confused the language of all the peoples and scattered them across the surface of the earth.
Once again the generations are recorded. This time the purpose is to link those who survived the flood with Abraham. God has a special plan for him.
10 Here is the account of the descendants of Shem, Noah’s son. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad. (This was about two years after the flood.) 11 After Arpachshad was born, Shem lived another 500 years, and he had other sons and daughters.
12 When Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he fathered Shelah. 13 After Shelah was born, Arpachshad lived 403 more years, and he had other sons and daughters.
14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he fathered Eber. 15 After Eber was born, Shelah lived 403 more years, and he had other sons and daughters.
16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he fathered Peleg. 17 After Peleg was born, Eber lived 430 more years, and he also had other sons and daughters.
18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he fathered Reu. 19 After Reu was born, Peleg lived 209 more years, and he had other sons and daughters as well.
20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he fathered Serug. 21 After Serug was born, Reu lived 207 more years, and he had other sons and daughters.
22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he fathered Nahor. 23 After Nahor was born, Serug lived 200 more years, and he had other sons and daughters as well.
24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he fathered Terah. 25 After Terah was born, Nahor lived 119 more years, and he had other sons and daughters.
26 When Terah had lived 70 years, he had fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
27 Here is the account of Terah’s descendants. Terah, as said, had fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. 28 While Terah was still alive, Haran died in the same land in which he was born—in Ur, the land of the Chaldeans. 29 However, Abram and Nahor lived on and married. Abram’s wife was named Sarai, and Nahor’s wife was named Milcah. Now Milcah was the daughter of Haran, who fathered both Milcah and Iscah. 30 But Sarai couldn’t conceive and didn’t have a child.
31 Terah took his son Abram and grandson Lot (Haran’s son) and his daughter-in-law Sarai (Abram’s wife). They left Ur of the Chaldeans together and traveled in the direction of the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Haran, they settled there. 32 Terah was 205 years old at that time, and he ended up dying in Haran.
12 One day, the Eternal One called out to Abram.
Eternal One: Abram, get up and go! Leave your country. Leave your relatives and your father’s home, and travel to the land I will show you.[e] Don’t worry—I will guide you there. 2 I have plans to make a great people from your descendants. And I am going to put a special blessing on you and cause your reputation to grow so that you will become a blessing and example to others. 3 I will also bless those who bless you and further you in your journey, and I’ll trip up those who try to trip you along the way. Through your descendants, all of the families of the earth will find their blessing in you.[f]
Out of all the descendants of Noah, God chooses Abram to have a special relationship with Him. He calls Abram to enter into a particular kind of relationship that changes the course of his life and the lives of his people forever. God has a plan to rescue the world from sin and destruction, and that plan begins with one man. He promises to make Abram a great nation, to bless and protect him, and ultimately to bring true and lasting blessing to the world through his children. To enter into that promise, Abram must do something daring; he must leave everything he knows and put his trust in God.
4-5 Without any hesitation, Abram went. He did exactly as the Eternal One asked him to do. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. He took with him his wife Sarai, his brother’s son Lot, all of their possessions, and all of the persons they had acquired for their household while in Haran; and they all set off toward the land of Canaan. When they reached Canaan, 6 Abram kept going through it to a sacred place called Shechem where the oak of Moreh stood. (At this time, the Canaanite people were living on this land, so Abram could not take it as his own.) 7 There the Eternal appeared to Abram.
Eternal One: I am going to give this land to your future generations.[g]
So, out of honor and respect, there Abram built an altar table to the Eternal One, who had appeared to him and spoken these words of promise. 8 After that, Abram traveled on to the hill country east of Bethel, and there he pitched a tent and made a home for himself and his family between Bethel in the west and Ai in the east. Here Abram built another altar table for the Eternal One, where he called upon the name of the Eternal frequently. 9 Then Abram journeyed south toward the Negev region.
This is the southernmost part of the land God promises to give Abram. One day his children will possess it.
10 Now at this time, there came a severe famine in the land of Canaan. Food was scarce, so Abram made his way to Egypt to live there for a while as a foreigner. 11 As Abram was about to enter Egypt, he pulled Sarai his wife aside.
Abram: Sarai, you are a very beautiful woman, and I am well aware that 12 when the Egyptians see you, they will say, “Look, she’s his wife”; then they will kill me and let you live so they can have you for themselves. 13 Tell them you are my sister so that nothing will happen to me because of you. In this way you can save my life.
Sarai is an unusually attractive woman. Even at her age of 65, Abram is afraid of what the Egyptian men might do when they see her and desire her. So he takes matters into his own hands and devises a half-truth to conceal their marriage. We learn later—when Abram repeats this half-truth to Abimelech (chapter 20)—that Sarai and Abram have the same father but a different mother.
14 So when Abram came into Egypt with Sarai and his family, the Egyptians did indeed see that Sarai was very beautiful. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they told Pharaoh just how beautiful she was. So Sarai was taken into Pharaoh’s house and made part of his harem. 16 She pleased the Pharaoh, so he treated Abram very well, giving him gifts of sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels. 17 But the Eternal One was not pleased and began afflicting the Pharaoh and his household with skin diseases because of what was happening to Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram to come before him.
Pharaoh: What have you done to me? Why didn’t you tell me this woman was your wife? 19 Why did you say she was only your sister, so that I felt free to take her to be one of my wives? Here she is—take your wife, and get out of here!
20 And Pharaoh gave his men orders to make sure Abram went on his way along with his wife and all of his belongings.
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