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Sefer Bereshit - Genesis

Sefer Bereshit -

The Book of Genesis

The Book of Genesis (i.e., Sefer Bereshit [סֵפֶר בְּרֵאשִׁית]) is concerned with beginnings: the creation of the universe and the origin of humanity. It quickly moves from universal history (Adam, Noah, Babel) to the history of the Abraham, the first Jew. The remainder of the book focuses on the lives of the Jewish patriarachs, and especially the story of Joseph. The book ends with the entire family of Jacob migrating to Egypt to escape famine through the auspices of Joseph.

There are fifty chapters in Genesis (20,512 words, 78,064 letters), divided into twelve weekly readings. Click on a name in the list for a summary of the contents:

1

 

 

Bereshit

In the beginning

Gen 1:1-6:8

2

 

 

Noach

Noah

Gen 6:9-11:32

3

 

Lekh Lekha

Go forth yourself!

Gen 12:1-17:27

4

 

Vayera

And He appeared

Gen 18:1-22:24

5

 

Chayei Sarah

Life of Sarah

Gen 23:1-25:28

6

 

Toldot

Generations

Gen 25:9-28:9

7

 

Vayetzei

And he went out

Gen 28:10-32:2

8

 

Vayishlach

And he sent

Gen 32:3-36:43

9

 

Vayeshev

And he settled

Gen 37:1-40:23

10

 

Miketz

At the end of

Gen 41:1-44:17

11

 

 

Vayigash

And he drew near

Gen 44:18-47:27

12

 

Vayechi

And he lived

Gen 47:28-50:26

Hear the Parashah Names

About the word "Bereshit"

The word bereshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית) can mean "in the beginning" or "at the start" or "at the head of (all things)," etc. (notice the term rosh (ראשׁ, "head") appears embedded in the word as its shoresh (root)).  In Jewish tradition, the word can refer to either the first weekly Torah portion (parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading (called "parashat Bereshit") or to the first book of the Torah itself (called "Sefer Bereshit").  When used to refer to the first book of the Torah, bereshit is sometimes called sefer rishon (the First Book) or sefer beri'at ha'olam (the Book of the Creation of the world).  The ancient Greek translation of the Torah (i.e., the Septuagint) called the book "Genesis" (Γένεσις: "birth", "origin") instead of using the translation of the first Hebrew word (בְּרֵאשִׁית), i.e., ἐν ἀρχῇ, for the book's title. The translated term "Genesis" was used in subsequent Latin and English translations of the book.

As a bit of textual trivia, if you connect the last word of each book of the Torah can tell the story of the entire Torah... Genesis ends with the word be'mitzraim (בְּמִצְרָיִם), "in Egypt"; Exodus ends with ma'sehem (מַסְעֵיהֶם), "their journeys"; Leviticus ends with "Sina"i (סִינָי); Numbers ends with "Jericho" (יְרֵחוֹ), and Deuteronomy ends with "Israel" (יִשְׂרָאֵל). If you string these words together you get something like, "The people were in Egypt, but they journeyed, first to Sinai, then to Jericho, and finally into the land of Israel."

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