The Book of Bereshit
Genesis, the first book of the Torah
The Book of Genesis
Genesis Chapters 1-11
In these chapters, the thought of Israel is geared to answer universal questions. In so doing Scriptures serve to set forth the world views and the values of the civilization of Israel’s foundational literature.
However much of the material they contain may derive in the last analysis from ancient myths, the spirit of these chapters is to deal with the early traumatic history of humanity: exile (The Garden of Eden), murder (Cain and Abel), natural disaster (The Flood), and technological catastrophe (The Tower of Babel).
In understanding this early recount of human’s history, not as a series of unconnected events but, as a process driven by meaning and a clear goal the Hebrew Scriptures bequeathed one of its most innovative contributions to human thought
Genesis Chapters 12- 50
“Those whose identities are rarely questioned and who have never known exile or subjugation of land and culture,” wrote Anthony D. Smith, Professor Emeritus of Nationalism and Ethnicity at the London School of Economics, “have little need to trace their ‘roots’ in order to establish a unique and recognizable identity.”
Which should help to explain the Jewish concern for roots. The stories found in Genesis chapters 12 to 50 aim at satisfying the need for origins, history, and the belief in destiny, cultural individuality, and unique collective solidarity. These chapters also testify that Judaism does not begin with religion but with peoplehood.