2 | Invitation to Genesis
that have been preserved in a variety of forms. It contains several
family lists, as well as poetic passages of varying lengths. It also
includes explanations of how people and places got their names,
such as Beer-sheba (“the well of the oath”) or Israel (“he struggles
with God”). It incorporates the records of legal proceedings—such
as Abraham’s purchase of a burial cave—and of military campaigns.
The book also includes numerous stories that tell how particular
things came to be (for example, “Why is there a bow in the sky after
it rains?”). It weaves all of these materials together to document the
origins of humanity, the cause of its distress, and the beginnings of
the plan that God set in motion to restore order and harmony in the
world he created.
It’s traditionally believed that Genesis and the other “books of
Moses” (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) were written
or compiled by Moses, the leader who brought the people of Israel
out of Egypt. This is helpful to keep in mind when the Bible itself, or
later tradition, refers to the Book of Moses or the Law of Moses. These
books were eventually worked into the continuous story that runs
through the first quarter of the Bible.