Genesis (Bereshit) Introduction

Genesis (Bereshit) Cover

Book Name: Genesis is the first book of the English Bible and it’s base Hebrew text corresponds to the first book of Torah called Bereshit בְּרֵאשִׁית. Bereshit can be said and spelled eight different ways – Bereshit, Bereishit, Bereshis, Bereishis, B’reshith, Beresh’t, Beresheet, or Bereishees. All of them are correct.

The first time “Genesis” is used to refer to this text was by the seventy-two Jewish translators of the Greek Septuagint (LXX). Later Jerome, using the Septuagint, used this name in his Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible.  William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale depended heavily upon the Latin Vulgate and Luther’s German translations; so continued the tradition of calling this text “Genesis”.  I am sure you know Genesis means “beginning” or “origin

The Rabbis refer to the first book of Torah as “Bereshit” בְּרֵאשִׁית because it is the first word in the text. Bereshit בְּרֵאשִׁית has three meanings — “in the beginning“, “at the start“, or “at the head (of all things, in this case).” The translation “in the beginning” has become the most popular way to translate Bereshit and from what I’ve read all other translations are strongly opposed. In the world of translation, this has become a very political issue.

In Jewish tradition, there are three additional names used when referring the text of the first book of Torah. They are Sefer Bereshit which may mean book of beginnings, Sefer Rishon meaning the First Book, and Sefer Beri’at Ha’olam which translates to the Book of the Creation of the world. The oldest known reference to this text by the Rabbis is Sefer Maseh Bereshith, Book of Creation.

Gen. ChaptersParshaiotCopyright
Bereshit – Genesis 1:1 – 6:8
Halftorah: Isaiah 42:5-43:10
Brit: Rev. 22:6-21
Noach – Genesis 6:9 – 11:32
Halftorah: Isaiah 54:1-55:5
Brit: Mt. 24:36-46
Lech Lecha – Genesis 12:1 – 17:27
Halftorah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Brit: Ro. 4:1-25
Vayera – Genesis 18:1 – 22:24
Halftorah: 2 Kings 4:1-37
Brit: Lu. 1:26-38; 24:36-53
Chayei Sarah – Genesis 23:1 – 25:18
Halftorah: 1 Kings 1:1-31
Brit: Mt. 1:1-17
Toldot – Genesis 25:19 – 28:9
Halftorah: Malachi 1:1- 2:7
Brit: Ro. 9:1-13
Vavetze – Genesis 28:10 – 32:2 (3)
Halftorah: Hosea 11:7-14:9 (10)
Brit: Jn. 1:19-51
Vayishlach – Genesis 32:3 (4) – 36:43
Halftorah: Obadiah 1:1-21
Brit: Heb. 11:11-20
Vayeshev – Genesis 37:1 – 40:23
Halftorah: Amos 2:6-3:8
Brit: Mt. 1:1-6, 16-25
Miketz – Genesis 41:1 – 44:17
Halftorah: 1 Kings 3:15 – 4:1 40*
Brit: Mt. 27:15-46
* Shabbat Chanukkah, Ronni vSimchi Zechariah 2:14-4:7
Shabbat/Rosh Chodesh, Isaiah 66:1-24; 1 Peter 2:45-10
Machar Chodesh 1 Samuel 20:18-42
Vayigash – Genesis 44:18 – 47:27
Halftorah: Ezekiel 37:15-28
Brit: Lu. 6:12-16
Vayechi – Genesis 47:28 – 50:26
Halftorah: i Kings 2:1-12
Brit: 1 Peter 1:1-9
KJV – Public Domain
1917 JPS – Public Domain

Understanding Genesis (Bereshit): These are extremely ancient writings and are perhaps some of the most debated and misunderstood text in all of the Scriptures. The views on these text are very wide even within Judaism.

Genesis (Bereshit) Stats:

Genesis (Bereshit) is the first book of the Torah of Moses.

KJV English Stats 1

Chapters: 50
Letter Count: ?
Word Count: 38,267
Verse Count: 1,533

Additional English Stats:
Shortest Chapter: 16 (with 16 verses)
Longest Chapter: 24 (with 67 verses)
Commands: 106
Promises: 71
Predictions: 326
Distant Messages from God: 95
Prophecies: 56

Hebrew Stats 2

Parsha Count: 12
Letter Count: 78,063
Word Count: 20,614
Verse Count 3: 1,563
Double Count 4: 30
Shortest Parsha: the 12th parsha called Vayechi
Longest Parsha: See Chart Below

Unique Hebrew Stats:
Scribal Practices 5: 7 (See Genesis Scribal Practices)

  • Enlarged: 4 (1.1; 30.42; 34.31, 50.23)
  • Diminished: 3 (2.4; 23.2; 27.46)
  • Dotted: 5 (16.5, 18.9, 19.33, 33.4, 37.12)
  • Raised (erect): 0
  • Others: 1 (43.26 unexpected dagesh)

Number of Mitzvot: 3

  • Positive: 2 (1.28 / 9.7, 17.10)
  • Negative: 1 (32.33)
בְּרֵאשִׁית — Parashot Bereshit
Genesis Torah Stats
# Hebrew English # of Letters # of Words # of P’sukim
(Verses)
# of Lines in
Torah Scroll
1 בְּרֵאשִׁית Bereshit 7,235 1,931 146 241
2 נֹחַ Noach 6,907 1,861 153 230
3 לֶךְ-לְךָ Lech-Lecha 6,336 1,686 126 208
4 וַיֵּרָא Vayeira 7,862 2,085 147 252
5 חַיֵּי שָׂרָה Chayei Sarah 5,314 1,402 105 171
6 תּוֹלְדֹת Toledot 5,426 1,432 106 173
7 וַיֵּצֵא Vayetze 7,512 2,021 148 235
8 וַיִּשְׁלַח Vayishlach 7,458 1,976 153 237
9 וַיֵּשֶׁב Vayeshev 5,972 1,558 112 190
10 מִקֵּץ Miketz 7,914 2,022 146 255
11 וַיִּגַּשׁ Vayigash 5,680 1,408 106 178
12 וַיְחִי Vayechi 4,448 1,158 85 148

The source of these stats: Akhlah: The Jewish Children Learning Network

Genesis (Bereshit) Outline:

The outline used on this website for Genesis (Bereshit) Chapters 1 – 11 comes from the greatest Jewish scholar of the 20th Century Rabbi/ Professor Umberto Cassuto. His work was translated by Professor Israel Abrahams from the University of Cape Town. The books A Commentary on the Book of Genesis Part One and A Commentary on the Book of Genesis Part Two are published by Varda Books in Skokie, Illinois.

Section One: The Story of Creation (1:1-2:3)

  1. Introductory verse (1.1)
  2. The Story of the First Day (1.2-5)
  3. The Story of the Second Day (1.6-8)
  4. The Story of the Third Day (1.9-13)
  5. The Story of the Fourth Day (1.14-19)
  6. The Story of the Fifth Day (1.20-23)
  7. The Story of the Sixth Day (1.24-31)
  8. The Story of the Seventh Day (2.1-3)

Section Two: The Story of the Garden of Eden (2:4 – 3:24)

  1. Transition verse from previous section (2.4)
  2. Creation on Man (2.5-7)
  3. The Planting of the Garden (2.8-14)
  4. Adam’s Task in the Garden of Eden (2.15-17)
  5. Creation of the Woman (2.18-25)
  6. Adam’s Sin (3.1-7)
  7. The Judgment and the Sentence (3.8-21)
  8. The Expulsion (3.22-24)

Section Three: The Story of Cain and Abel (4.1-26)

  1. The Birth and Occupations of Cain and Able (4.1,2)
  2. The Story of the Murder (4.3-8)
  3. The Murder’s Sentence (4.9-16)
  4. The Decendants of Cain (4.17-22)
  5. Lemech’s Song (4.23,24)
  6. The Birth of Seth and Enosh (4.1-7)

Section Four: The Book of the History of Adam (5.1-6.8)

  1. Rubric of the Section (5.1a)
  2. Adam (5.1b-5)
  3. Seth (5.6-8)
  4. Enosh (5.9-11)
  5. Kenan (5.12-14)
  6. Mahalalel (5.15-17)
  7. Jared (5.18-20)
  8. Enoch (5.21-24)
  9. Methuselah (5.25-27)
  10. Lamech (5.28-31)
  11. Noah (5.32)
  12. The Story of the Sons of God and the Daughters of Men (6.1-4)
  13. Punishment is decreed on the Generation of the Flood, but Grace is shown to Noah (6.5-8)

Genesis Resources:

 

Genesis (Bereshit) Scribal Practices:

This is an visual introduction to the scribal practices in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew language contains 22 letters plus 5 additional final forms. I have been able to confirm from a trained scribe that each of these letters are both enlarged and diminished throughout the TaNaK. In Genesis (Bereshit), we have three enlarged letters (two which are final forms) and three diminished letters.

These scribal practices have a practical application. However, over the centuries Chabad and other Jewish philosophies have ascribed various meanings to each of them. For transparency sake, I will say we are not completely sure of their meanings. However, there are some very interesting ideas. Some even believe these are the “jots and tittles” Yeshua discussed.

These scribal practices are discussed throughout the Midrash. It’s my intention to do an article about each instance. For now I am providing you a visional reference of them.

Of the twelve parshaiot in Genesis (Bereshit) seven of them contain some type of scribal practice. In Parsha Bereshit we have two of them. The first is an enlarged bet and the second is a diminished hey.

Enlarged Bet

In Genesis (Bereshit) 1:1 we have our first enlarged Hebrew letter. It is an enlarged Bet. This verse reads “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1.1 Enlarged Bet

Genesis 1.1 Enlarged Bet

I believe what I have learned about this scribal writing derives from Kabbalah. The question is asked, “Why does the Torah begin with the letter bet  and not aleph ?” The answer is the bet symbolizes a door. It is open on the left side and all that is on that side belongs to man. However, everything on the right side, which is closed belongs to HaShem.

Diminished Hey

In Genesis (Bereshit) 2:4 we have our first diminished Hebrew letter. It is an letter Hey. This verse reads “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.

Genesis 2.4 - Diminished Hey

Genesis 2.4 – Diminished Hey

Our next scribal practice, which is our second diminished letter, occurs in the fifth parsha called, “Chayei Sarah”.

Diminished Kaf

In Genesis (Bereshit) 23:2 we have our second diminished Hebrew letter. This verse reads in the KJV, “And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”

Genesis 23.2 - Diminished Kaf

Genesis 23.2 – Diminished Kaf

Our third and final diminished letter appears in parsha Toledot.

Diminished Qof

In Genesis (Bereshit) 27:46 we have our third diminished Hebrew letter. This verse reads in the KJV, “And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?”

Genesis 27.46 - Diminished Qof

Genesis 27.46 – Diminished Qof

Our fifth overall scribal practice is also our first sofit (final form) Hebrew letter. It appears in parsha Vayetze.

Enlarged Final Pey

In Genesis (Bereshit) 30:42 we have our second Enlarged Hebrew letter. It is an enlarged Pey Sofet. This verse reads “But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s.

Genesis 30.42 - Enlarged Final Pey

Genesis 30.42 – Enlarged Final Pey

Next, I have listed the only dotted text I know about. It appears in parsha Vayishlach. Our next scribal practice is contained in this parsha, too. It happens to be the second final form Hebrew letter.

Dotted Letters

In Genesis (Bereshit) 33:4 This verse reads: “And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they wept.

Genesis 33.4 Dotted Letters

Genesis 33.4 Dotted Letters

According to scribal tradition, the dotted letters is an ancient way to delete letters or at lease to call into question if those letters belong in the text.

Concerning a midrash on this text, I have been told but not verified yet, these dots suggest Esau tried to bite Jacob’s neck – (jugular vain).

Our third final form is very interesting. Final form letters appear at the end of a word. However, in this case it appears in the center of the word.

Enlarged Final Zayin

In Genesis (Bereshit) 34:31 we have our third Enlarged Hebrew letter. It is an enlarged zayin. This verse reads “And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

Genesis 34.31 - Enlarged Final Zayin

Genesis-34.31-Enlarged Final Zayin

In parsha Miketz we have our first questionable vowel point.

Unexpected Dagesh

Genesis (Bereshit) 43:26 our first questionable vowel point is a dagesh. This verse reads “And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed down to him to the earth. 

Genesis 43.26 - Unexpected Dagesh

Genesis 43.26 – Unexpected Dagesh

Our last scribal practice appears in our final parsha Vayechi and wouldn’t you know that it is a final form letter.

Enlarged Final Mem

Genesis (Bereshit) 50:23 contains our last final Form i This verse reads “And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation; the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were born upon Joseph’s knees.

Genesis 50.23 - Enlarged Final Mem

Genesis 50.23 – Enlarged Final Mem

Final Word

According to some traditions 49.12 has an enlarged Het. However, none of my texts show this tradition. For the sake of completeness I am adding it as a note but it’s not included in that stats listed above. However, I can’t provide a visual reference as I don’t have one. This verse reads, “His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.” Some translations use the word “darker” instead of “shall be red“.

Since you have finished reading all the background information about Bereshit. Let’s dive into reading the text. Click the caret below and select your preferred chapter.

Notes:

  1. KJV English Stats at taken from the Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible. Finnis Jennings Dake . © 1961 . Lawrenceville
  2. Hebrew Stats are pulled from various sources: Kefirah of the Week, Wikipedia, and other sources. Provided here are the total numbers. The specific numbers may be found on each parsha post. See the Parsha List for links to each post.
  3. Verses In the Hebrew text are called “pesukim”. Translated it means “sentences“.
  4. Hebrew Double Stats: “In the Hebrew, words are sometimes found duplicated. It is often the end of one sentence bumped up against the beginning of the next. E.g. “… was Noah. Noah began to…”.

    In any other language or philosophy, such doubling would go unnoticed. But Chabad philosophy seeks meaning in every detail, so they include this in their statistics,” says David Negley (member of a closed Messianic group on Facebook) Each double word instance has several teachings related to them. Listed here are the verses with the Double Counts in Genesis. (1:26 1:29 1:29 6:9 7:2 7:3 7:9 7:14 7:15 7:19 7:21 8:17 11:10 11:27 12:1 14:10 20:18 22:11 25:19 25:30 27:30 30:43 32:17 36:31 37:33 39:10 43:3 43:14 44:28 46:2)

  5. Scribal Practices: Are unique to the Hebrew language and are something that can’t be translated. They are enlarged letters, diminished letters, dotted letters, raised, and other unique features of the Hebrew language. Although they have practical applications additional meaning have been given to each of these instances. Much of the following information had been gathered from the Jewish Encyclopedia