Genesis and Genealogies

Sometimes it gets a little challenging to read through all the genealogies in a book of the bible like Genesis. “The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal…” etc., etc. You ever wonder if God is testing your faith by checking how determined you are to read the bible? Even though it might feel like it sometimes, God isn’t doing that!

Actually the genealogies in Genesis are central to the story of the whole bible. Scan back through Genesis and notice a couple of things. In Genesis 3:15 when God curses the serpent for encouraging Eve’s sin, he says:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.” 

This pronouncement is called the Protoevangelium, the first gospel. The promise of One who will ultimately defeat the serpent and conquer evil extends from Eve through Eve’s offspring throughout history. What happens then is Genesis begins tracking Adam and Eve’s offspring beginning with Cain and Abel, through the years to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

You might even notice Genesis is broken into sections that begin with the phrase “These are the Generations of…” (See 2:1; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27 – If you look as you finish reading the rest of Genesis you can find five more.) 

Genesis is tracing Eve’s offspring through the generations and giving clues to the character of the people whose stories are included in the narrative. Notice the comments on Noah’s character in 6:9. Think about what is being communicated about the character of Noah’s son Ham in 9:18-29. Notice the comment about Abram in 15:6.

So, it matters that Genesis 11 traces Abram’s lineage through the generations back to Noah, because Genesis 5 traces Noah’s family tree all the way back to Seth, Adam and Eve’s son. Abraham is Noah’s offspring, Noah is Seth’s offspring, Seth is Eve’s offspring.

Even as the downhill spiral of man after Adam and Eve sin is documented in chapters 1-11, Genesis connects our story to the gospel, the coming of the promised offspring of Eve. 

Don’t get discouraged! Take a few minutes and try to connect the dots when you come to a genealogy. You’ll get another chance in Genesis 35.