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THE first five Books of the Bible were composed by Moses, and are commonly called the Pentateuch, a word of Greek original, being compounded of two words signifying five, and book. The first book is intitled Genesis, from a Greek word, which signifies generation; and is so called, because it contains the history of the Creation of the World, and the genealogy of the Patriarchs. It comprehends a period of about 2369 years; beginning with the creation of the World, and ending with the death of Joseph. Genesis is the oldest Book in the World. It relates some circumstances which took place before the existence of mankind, and which could be derived only from immediate revelation. Moses was assisted in the composition of it by the Holy Spirit. The truth of the book is confirmed by the testimony of our Saviour and His Apostles, who have sited many passages from it in the New Testament.
Verse 1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.] In the beginning of time, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, made, of nothing, the whole frame of the World; both the heaven and the earth, and the other elements, with all the inhabitants of them.
Psal. xxxiii. 6. Acts xiv. 15. and xvii. 24. Heb. xi. 3.
- God created,] The Hebrew word, Elohim, which is here, and generally throughout the Old Testament, rendered, "God," is a plural substantive, and yet is here and elsewhere joined to a singular verb. By which sort of expression it is very reasonably supposed, that the inspired writer designed to intimate the Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Godhead: namely, as the plural noun denotes the plurality of Persons, so the singular verb joined to it denotes the Unity of the Godhead.-See note on ver. 26.
2. And the earth was without form and void ;] A confused heap, without any order or shape. Having no animals or plants, with which we now see it adorned.
and darkness was upon the face of the deep.] Nothing was to be seen for want of light; which lay buried, as all things else did in that great abyss, or confused heap of matter, before-mentioned.
-the Spirit of God moved] That is, the Divine Spirit (the third person in the blessed Trinity) by moving on the waters, operated toward the order and ornament of what was confused before. The word moved seems used to express that act of the Holy Spirit, by which he imparted motion, activity, and life to the particles of matter, lying yet in a mixed and shapeless heap.
3. And God said,] Wherever in the history of the creation we read these words, He said, the meaning must be understood to be, He willed. For this is the admirable power of God, that with Him to will is to effect, to determine is to perform.
4. And God saw the light that it was good:] He approved it, as agreeable to his design and accommodated to the use of the World.
and God divided the light from the darkness.] Appointed that they should constantly succeed one another.
5. And the evening and the morning were the first day.] By the evening is here denoted one whole course of darkness; and by the morning, the next following whole course of light. The evening is mentioned before the morning, probably because the darkness was before the light, according to the history of the creation.-Hence the natural day of the Jews begau in the evening. Levit. xxiii. 32.
6. And God said, let there be a firmament &c.] God willed, that there should be a large, clear, airy distance, or space, betwixt those upper waters, which are gathered into clouds, and those below on the earth.-See Jer. x. 12 and li. 15.
The proper meaning of the word here translated the firmament, is the expansion. Thus God is said to stretch out the Heavens as a curtain, and to spread them out as a tent to dwell in.-Ps. civ. 2. Isaiah xl. 22.
11.-Whose seed is in itself.] The meaning is, that the plant should include in itself its proper seed, by means of which it should be afterwards propagated from one generation to another.
14-Let there be lights] The light produced at
first was now distributed into several luminaries, distant from the earth, "in the firmament of heaven."
-to divide &c.] Partly to make a perpetual and constant division between day and night; and partly to be certain and natural signs for man's direction in the common affairs of life; and partly to make a distinction of seasons, summer and winter, years, months, weeks, days, hours. As also to direct mankind afterwards in their solemn festivals.
17. And God set them] By repeating this so often, Moses intended to fix in the people's mind this notion; that though the heavenly bodies be very glorious, yet they are but creatures made by God, and set or appointed by his order, to give us light. And therefore, He alone is to be worshiped, not they,The most early idolatry is supposed to have been that of worshiping the celestial lights.
21.-Whales] or great fishes of all sorts.
26.-Let us] The ancient Christians looked upon this as a plain intimation of a plurality of persons in the Godhead. They considered that it was to the Son, or Word, that God said, "let us make man." He speaks to one who has the power of creating. John i. 1, 2, 3. The Old Testament furnishes more instances of a similar kind: "Behold the man is become as one of us;" "Let us go down, and there confound their language;" "Whom shall I send, and who shall go for us? Gen. iii. 22. xi. 7. Isaiah vi. 8.
in our image, after our likeness:] We are not to suppose from this passage that God is of the same bodily form as man. God is a Spirit, and without body and corporeal parts, except when he chooses to assume such for particular purposes. The meaning is that man was made approaching to the divine likeness in understanding, freedom of choice, spirituality, immortality, &c. in righteousness and true holiness likewise, as may be gathered from Eph. iv. 24.-See also Col. iii. 10.
28-have dominion] God at the beginning gave mankind dominion (that is, an impressed awe and anthority) over every living thing, as a defence against the beasts of prey, which would otherwise have destroyed them.-By the dominion God gave him over the creatures, Adam, though naked and defenceless, had full security that they could not hurt him; and he had a convincing proof of this by their obedience, when they were brought before him.
29.-Behold, I have given you every herb &c.] Here God assigns mankind their food; and makes no mention at all of beasts, but only of plants and fruits of the earth. The allowance was expressly enlarged after the flood, when He gave them every
living thing for meat, as well as the herbs, Chap. ix. 3.
31.-very good.] Exactly fitted to the ends and uses, for which He designed it.-Whatsoever is evil, is not so by the Creator's action, but by the creature's defection.
The narrative contained in this chapter redounds greatly to the honour and glory of God: for the work of creation is an illustrious display of the Divine Wisdom, Power, and Goodness. When the Psalmist had enumerated the great mercies of God to His creatures in various instances, Ps. civ. he exclaimed, ver. 24, " O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches."-2dly. The works of Creation demonstrate the all-sufficient power of God, who made heaven and earth by His word; nay, who can produce a world with no more labour than by barely willing it to be. Lastly, the Divine Goodness is highly magnified in the works of Creation. Before the world was made, God was infinitely happy in Himself, and wanted not his creatures to add any thing to Him., But His good pleasure and free grace disposed Him to create them, and impart a share to His own happiness to them.
Verse 1-all the host of them.] The word "host" is plainly used to signify every thing that is in heaven or in earth; or, as we say, in the whole world, which in Hebrew is always expressed by these two words, "heaven and earth."-The several creatures are called "host" or army, because of their vast variety and excellent order.
3.-blessed the seventh day,] That is, ordered it to be observed, as a day for praising Him, and for obtaining His blessings: and no doubt it was observed by all good men from Adam to Moses. sanctified] That is, set it apart, that it might preserve to all ages the memory of the Creation and the Creator; man being by an express law obliged to commemorate them fifty two times a year. And as the neglect of this law brought in idolatry and infidelity, so the breach of it has ever since been punished most remarkably, by a judicial hardness of heart, forgetfulness of God, and exemplary judgments; as numberless offenders have confessed.
4. These are the generations &c.] This is a faithful account of the generation, or original of the world.
7.-of the dust of the ground,] This original of man's body may teach us humility; when we are inclined to be lifted up, because we are made after God's image, the thoughts of the dirt, out of which we are taken, may humble and lay us low.
8. And the Lord God planted a garden] or had planted, probably on the third day: "eastward," that is, eastward of Judea, or of the desert of the Amorites, where Moses wrote these books, in a country, long after called "Eden" from its pleasantness and fruitfulness.
9.-the tree of life] So called, because he, that ate of it, would have lived for ever, either by virtue of that tree, or by the appointment of God; as the sacraments are means of grace.-This garden being a type of heaven, perhaps God intended by this tree to represent that immortal life, which He meant to bestow upon man with Himselt. Revel. xxii. 2.
-tree of knowledge of good and evil.] A tree, which would make those that should eat of it sensible of good and evil. It was so called, as being the appointed test of the obedience or disobedience of our first parents, procuring "good" or happiness in the former case: and "evil" or misery in the latter.
10. And a river went out of Eden] It should seem that Paradise lay on the united stream of the rivers Tigris (called in Scripture Hiddekel) and Euphrates; which in former times divided into two branches above the garden, and two more below. Pison and Gihon were the westerly and easterly branches below the garden, which empty themselves into the Persian Gulph. These two have long lost their names. The course of the rivers has undergone great alterations since the time of which Moses is writing; indeed, they have long since been united, so as to join the sea in one
11.-Havilah,] Or the eastern tract of Arabia Felix, which was famed not only for its gold, but also for its aromatic gums and pearls, which ever of these is intended by "Bdellium
13.-Ethiopia.] Not the country so called in Africa, but another in Asia, adjoining to the easterly mouth of the Euphrates; called in Hebrew Cush; and now called by the Persians Chusistan.
17.-thou shalt not eat of it:] It was fit to lay upon Adam this small restraint, to make him sensible, that though he had dominion over all things, yet he was not their Lord, but a servant of the most High, who required this abstinence in token of his subjection, and to prove his obedience to Him. But still some ask, why should his obedience be tried in such an instance as this? not considering that a trial of it could scarce have been made in any of the moral precepts, which there was no opportunity of violating. For what could tempt him to idolatry, or to take God's name in vain, or to murder his wife? How was it possible to commit adultery, when there was nobody but he and she in the world? How could he steal, or what room was there then for coveting,
when God had put him in possession of all things? It had been in vain to forbid that, which could not be done: and it had been virtue to abstain, not from that to which there was no temptation, but from that which invited them to transgress. I speak of them in the plural number, because it must be remembered that this prohibition was given, not to. Adam only, but to Eve also. Chap. iii. 1. 2.
thou shalt surely die.] This does not signify, as appears by the event, that he should instantly die, but that he should become mortal. Chap. iii. 19.
18. It is not good] Not so comfortable an estate, that the man should live alone. I will make him an helper, of his own nature, meet for him.
22. And the rib-made he a woman,] Which was as easy for the Divine power to do, as to make the man himself out of the Earth.
and brought her unto the man.] Presented and gave her to him to be his wife. God Himself thus joined them together in marriage.
23.-shall be called Woman,] Shall partake of my name, as she doth of my nature.
24. Therefore shall a man leave &c.] Shall dwell with his wife, rather than with his father and mother, and be joined to her in the closest affection, as if they were but one person, and had but one soul and one body; an obligation arising from the singular union of the flesh of our first parents, one of whom was taken out of the other.
25.—were not ashamed.] Because they were innocent, and had committed no sin to be ashamed of.
If we consider, what God is; how great, almighty, and wise He appears to be by the creation of the world; and how beneficent and gracious He is to man: if further we consider what man was in his original state, how dignified and distinguished above all other creatures: we cannot. now, in this our present forlorn condition, make any doubt of the reasonableness and justice of confessing and repenting of those sins, whereby we have degraded our nature, and offended so gracious a Being, our Maker, our Benefactor, and our God. And to make us thoroughly sensible why we ought to repent, was the main design of the inspired writer, in describing to us the original and happiness of mankind, and the great riches of the Divine Goodness. That very "shame," which in a state of innocence we were strangers to, but which we now inherit by a natural descent, ought to excite our re pentance and self-abhorrence.
We have here an account of the state of man, both before and after his fall: that he was created in
he image of God, and placed in Paradise, in a state of trial, in order to a greater happiness and an immortal life, if he should keep the covenant which God made with him and his posterity. This covenant, through temptation of the Devil, he broke; and was thereby turned out of Paradise, became subject to sin, and to the punishment of sin, which is misery, afflictions, and death after all: and this was the occasion of that universal corruption, which we see in the world. But then this transgression, gave occasion to God to manifest, together with His justice and holiness in the punishment of sin, another of His glorious perfections, His infinite goodness and mercy. For seeing man in this deplorable condition, He had compassion on him, and forthwith made him this promise of life and comfort, That "the seed of the woman," one who was not to have a man for his father, "should bruise the head of that serpent," the devil, which had beguiled her.
Verse 1.-the serpent]-That this was the devil's act, in the serpent, we have the authority of Christ himself, who says, "he was a murderer from the beginning;" John viii. 44. plainly in allusion to this seduction of our first parents, and the mortality thereby induced. The same appears also from the Apostle, who calls the devil or Satan, "the great dragon, that old serpent, which deceiveth the whole world." Rev. xii. 9. and xx. 2. 10.
4.-Ye shall not surely die:] The devil here denies God's truth, and deserves the character which our Saviour gives him, "of a liar." John 8. 44. From this first lie that was told in the world by the devil himself, he seems to be more particularly called by our Saviour, "the Father" of lies.-Unbelief is not only a great sin of itself, but one great cause of all other sins. It may be truly. called the Mother of sin, as the devil is the Father: for it was that, which by his instigation brought forth sin at first into the world; and it is that which still maintains and keeps it. When the ser pent assaulted our first parents, the first attack he made was upon their faith; and when that was shaken, he soon overcame them.
It is by a method of false reasoning, similar to that, by which Satan first deceived Eve, that men still deceive themselves and rest satisfied in the commission of sin. For although God has declared of many sins, that they, which do them, "shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven;" still men commit them, and persuade themselves that they shall escape punishment, and "shall not surely die." Let us practically remember that, what God has spoken, is truth, and will be accomplished; and that what contradicts the truth must be a' lie.
5.-your ejes shall be opened.] The eyes of your understanding, which are now half shut, shall
be fully opened, and ye shall be full of divine knows ledge, like your Maker; or like the angels of God; who are frequently called " Gods" in Scripture.
- knowing good and evil.] An Hebrew mode of speaking, signifying as much as to know every thing, or a very enlarged knowledge, as in 2 Sam. xiv. 17 and 20. And on the contrary to know or speak neither good nor evil is to know or speak nothing at all. Deut: i. 39. Gen. xxxi. 29.
6.-did cat,] Her sin was great and various; being guilty of ambition, incredulity, ingratitude, curiosity, inordinate desire, open rebellion against God, and the drawing aside of her husband, and the involving him in sin, and their posterity in misery also. She greatly added to her sin by alluring her husband. Hence St. Paul speaks of her, as if she had been the only transgressor; "Adam was not deceived; but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." 1. Tim. ii. 14. So horrible a thing is it in the eye of God, to be the cause or mover of another's sin.
7. And the eyes of them both were opened,] Their understandings were indeed " opened," not in the sense the tempter had promised; but in a manner that discovered to them their own folly, degeneracy, and shame.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God] The sound of the Majestic Presence, or the glory of the Lord, approaching nearer to the place, where they were.
9.-Where art thou?] God asks this, not as being ignorant where Adam was, but as intending to awaken him, now become guilty, to a confession of his crime. Thus Chap. iv. 9. God says "where is Abel thy brother?" Of whom, when Cain refused to give an account, the Lord said immediately (to shew that he needed not to be informed), "the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground."
10.-because I was naked ;] They became sensible that they were divested of their inward purity; they also blushed at their bodily nakedness, of which before they were not ashamed. This shame was part of their punishment; and it is entailed upon their posterity, as a standing memorial of the sins that occasioned it, being an impression from God upon their spirits: for no other account can be given of its being so universal as it is.
12.-The woman whom thou gavest to be with me,] He throws the blame upon his wife, which however he did not intend should rest there, but recoil back upon his Creator. "I have eaten," says he, "but the woman gave me of the tree:" even the woman, "whom thou gavest to be with me," or to be my companion. Thus we are apt to excuse and palliate our faults, by laying that load upon others, with which we ought to charge ourselves. From the beginning man bath always
been apt to lay the blame of his faults where it can least lie, upon goodness and perfection itself. The very first sin, that man was guilty of, he endeavoured to throw upon God. And his posterity are still apt to excuse themselves the same way.
13.-beguiled] In this first act of the devil we may behold," as in a glass," the art he still useth to tempt us to sin, and bring us to destruction. His practice is uniformly to "beguile." He presents all things fair to our face, and suffers not evil to appear before us in its own deformed shape; for then every man would fly from it. When he would tempt a man to covetousness, he calls it thrift; and the same is the case with other vices.This is what the Scripture saith, "Satan is transformed into an Angel of light." 2 Cor. xi. 14,
Let the fatal example of the fall of Eve be a warning to others, how they listen to false arguments and wicked suggestions in opposition to divine truths. For though the tempter, since that time, has no more made use of serpents, in such a way, yet he has other instruments proper to work with, and often does the same thing by the tongues or pens of evil men who resemble serpents in their subtility.
14.-Because thou hast done this,] Because thou hast beguiled the man and woman, and caused them to transgress.-He therefore that is the cause and occasion of another's sin is as hateful to God as the doer, and is liable to as great, or rather greater punishment.
and dust shalt thou eat] That is, thou shalt eat thy food out of the dust, or together with the dust. 15.—I will put enmity &c.] This last particular more peculiarly refers to the devil or Satan, who made use of the serpent as an instrument, and is called a serpent, Rev, xii, 9. and xx. 2. “ Thy seed;" that is, the evil spirits, and all those who in wickedness resemble their father, the devil, John vi. 70. and viii. 44. Acts xiii. 10. " Her seed;" that is, the Messiah or Christ (who is peculiarly the seed of the woman, Isaiah vii. 14. Gal. iii. 16. and iv. 4). and His members, Eph. vi. 11. 12. Rev. xii. 13. "It shall bruise thy head;" that is, the seed of the woman shall destroy thy power, 1 John iii. 8. John xii. 31. Rev. xii, 7. 8. 10. Heb. ii. 14. 1 Cor. xv. 55, 56, 57. " Thoy shalt bruise his heel:" that is, Thou shalt persecute the woman's seed, but thou shalt not be able to destroy it. Gal. iv. 29,
God in the midst of judgment remembers mercy; and here promises a deliverance, the seed of a woman, who should break the head of the serpent, that is, should gain a complete victory over it. Though this promise was not fulfilled till four thousand years after, yet the benefits of it comwenced from this very time.
16.-1 will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception;] That is " thy sorrow in thy conception:" a figure of speech not unusual in Scrip
and thy desire shall be to thy husband,] It shall be subject to him: so the phrase is used, chap. iv. 7. See 1. Cor. xiv. 34.
17.- for thy sake;] Because of thy sin; which shall be punished partly by the barrenness of the earth, in its being " cursed," or not bringing forth fruit so plentifully, nor so easily as it did: and partly in mankind's being condemned to labour for necessary food.
18. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth] That is weeds, and noxious plants in general. We are not to suppose that thorns and thistles (or briars, as the original signifies), were now for the first time created; but they now became troublesome and injurious to the husbandman.-God condemned man to tail and misery, that he might look for rest somewhere else than on earth.
20-called his wife's name Eve;]" Eve" signifies life or life-giving.
21.-did-make coats of skins,] This is not to be understood literally. God is frequently said to do that, which is done by His order and appro bation. It is probable that they were the skins of beasts slain in sacrifice, which was then first instituted in ratification of the gracious covenant, just made by God with our first parents; and which was intended the better to represent to them their guilt, and that the promised seed (the Messiah) should vanquish the devil, and redeem them by shedding his blood.
22.-as one of us,] See note on chap. i. 26. 24-at the east of the garden of Eden] Rather, before the garden of Eden; for so the original also signifies.
Cherubims, and a flaming sword] That is, Angels with a flaming sword, which they turned every way, to keep any man from entering any more into the garden of Eden, and so to guard the way to the tree of life.
We here read how the first man that ever was born is represented as a murderer; and the first person that ever died, as murdered, Such were the sad effects of Adam's transgression. The guilt of it was manifested in his first-born, and its mischievous consequences in his second."
Verse 1.-Cain,] A name signifying possession or something gotten.
I have gotten a man &c.] She supposed probably that this first-born was to be the seed of the woman that should bruise the serpent's head.