Over the next few weeks, we will be serialising a paper by Bro B.Burt (Cov West) for those who did not see it when it was first published.

We will reproduce this in short ‘snippets’ to make it easier to digest and comment upon should you wish to do so.


            An obvious feature of the book of Genesis is the repeated phrase “these are the generations of”.  These occur as follows:


Ref Section
2v4 These are the generations of the heavens & the earth
5v1 This is the book of the generations of Adam
6v9 These are the  generations of Noah
10v1 These are the generations of the sons of Noah
11v10 These are the generations of Shem
11v27 These are the generations of Terah
25v12 These are the generations of Ishmael
25v19 These are the generations of Isaac
36v1 These are the generations of Esau
36v9 These are the generations of Esau
37v2 These are the generations of Jacob


Biblical scholars have historically taken this phrase to mark the introduction of a new section of the book, relating to the descendants of the person named in the phrase. Because scholars are convinced that it is a commencement phrase, James Moffatt in his translation actually moves Gen.2v4a back to before ch.1v1!  But when Genesis is examined carefully it will be seen that the phrase actually marks the conclusion of a section.  Ch.2v4 clearly does refer back to the section 1v1 to 2v3.  All the details we have about Adam, apart from his age at the birth of Seth & his age at death (5v3-5) precede Ch.5v1.


Ch.5v1 actually refers to “the book of the generations of Adam”.  The Hebrew word is the normal word for “book” as used, for example in Nahum 1v1 “The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite”.  Adam (who was a prophet – compare Gen.2v23-24 “Adam said” with Mt.19v5 “[God] said”) could have written all of Gen.4 – he died during the lifetime of Jabal, Jubal & Tubal-Cain, so he would have known them but not their children.  Gen.4v3 say that “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground…” – brought to whom?  His father, standing at the altar?  So throughout the book of Genesis, the person named in the phrase “these are the generations of…” would have known / experienced the events in the narrative previous to the phrase which contains his name.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.
Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.