Genesis 2:4 begins with a very important phrase: “These are the Generations…” Ira YA, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” They are in Hebrew the “toledots” of Genesis and appear 11 times. Each time it specifically begins the story of a generation related to a key figure in the Book. This, the first one, is going to tell us the story of Adam and Eve. That’s why we begin with another account of God’s creating him and Eve. Then in Chapter five, when God’s story moves on to the following generation we learn all about Adam and Eve’s descendants down to Noah. Chapter 6 introduces us to Noah and flood. Chapter 10 begins the story of Noah’s sons and in Chapter 11 we see God’s selection of Shem as the line from which He will fulfill the promise he gives to Adam and Eve of a coming “seed of the woman” that will save them from their sin. At the end of Chapter 11 we meet Terah and are introduced to Abraham. A brief excursion occurs in Chapter 25 with the introduction of the line of Ishmael and is then followed by the line of Isaac with his two sons Esau and Jacob. Chapter 36 begins with the list of Esau’s descendants and then chapter 37 begins the story of Jacob and the twelve sons ending the book with the story of Joseph, a redeemer in his own right!

Many of the modern translations use the word “story” instead of “generations” because of it being in a narrative form like all stories. Thus we can see that the Bible, from it’s beginning is really a “story.” It’s a true story and it’s “His Story.” I wonder if that’s where we got the word “history” from? It might be connected to the change in God’s name we see here. Instead of Elohim, as we have throughout chapter 1, we now have Yahweh-Elohim. In English translation it’s usually translated as “The Lord God.” The change of the name is significant because there is a move from God as the creator God of all things to the God who redeems and has a personal relationship with his people as we’ll see from this point on. In the first chapter we might say that God builds the house but now he begins building a home. Kent Hughes talks about this: “Significantly, the only place in chapters 2–4 that it is not used is 3:2–5, when the serpent and Eve consciously avoid the personal name of God as she is lured toward sin. Gordon Wenham, the eminent Genesis commentator, remarks, ‘The god they are talking about is malevolent, secretive, and concerned to restrict man: his character is so different from that of Yahweh Elohim that the narrative pointedly avoids the name in the dialogue.’”[1] Satan and Eve speak of a God that is trying to keep something good from Adam and Eve. He’s not a God who can be trusted. He’s the God who is holding back the truth. But the truth is, God is the ever-loving God who always has our best interest foremost in mind. That’s what “The Lord God” signifies. Any contrary view echoes the view of Satan as he addressed Eve.

According to ancient folklore many pagan religions, especially those in Egypt, attributed supernatural powers over someone by knowing their name. Isis, the Egyptian Goddess, wanted so bad to have power of the great “Ra.” She achieved her own divinity by learning his name. One website said, “Whosoever could learn the secret (of Ra’s name), to that one—god or man—would belong the dominion over all the world, and even Ra himself must be in subjection. Jealously did Ra guard his secret, and kept it ever in his breast, lest it should be taken from him, and his power diminished.” The true God loves His subjects and shares his name with them. Since he is the one and only true God he is not afraid. But entrusts himself to his creation. Barth says, “The God whose creative work is to be described is from the very outset called Yahweh Elohim: the God who reveals His name to Israel; who under this name has chosen and called Israel and has dealt with it as its Lord.”[2] This one true God will come to his people in the flesh and his name was “Jesus.” He would entrust himself to his own people and they would hang him on the cross.

[1] Hughes, R. Kent. 2004. Genesis: Beginning and Blessing. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] Barth, Karl, Geoffrey William Bromiley, and Thomas F. Torrance. 2004. Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of Creation, Part 1. Vol. 3. London; New York: T&T Clark.