History & Literary - Genesis

The Jews, or Hebrews, take the name of the sacred books from the first word with which each begins; but the Greeks, whom our translators generally follow, take the names from the subject-matter of them. Thus, the first book is called by the Hebrews, Bereshith, which signifies “In the beginning,” these being the first words: but the Greeks call it Genesis, which signifies “production,” because the creation of the world is the first thing of which it gives an account. It likewise contains an account of the increase of mankind; of their corruption of manners, and its cause; of their punishment by the deluge (an event which, by scientific investigation and historical research, is placed beyond a doubt); of the origin of the Jewish people from Abraham; of the manner in which God was pleased to have them governed; and, particularly, of the nature of the special superintendence vouchsafed to the Jewish nation by the Creation. This comprehensive narrative reaches from the creation of the world till the death of Joseph, or a period of 2,369 years. In another part of the Scriptures, reference is made to the. Book of Jasher, and it is believed that Genesis is there meant; for Jasher signifies “the Just,” and according to St. Jerome, a learned Christian writer, the name of the Book of the Just, or the Authentic Book, was applied to it from its containing the history of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

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