Genesis Commentary

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William | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Dec 11 2010 10:26 PM

I am a new leader of our adult bible study.  We are going through the book of Genesis.  We have just covered Genesis 15 and I am wanting to find some really good commentary that has great academics and some good application.

Any suggestions?


Posts 286
Mathew Voth | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 11 2010 11:12 PM

John Walton's commentary in the NIV Application Series is very good, but not yet in Logos :(

Wenham's Word Commentary is, and is very good, though more academic. Check out Matthew's in the New American Series as well.

Posts 533
Jonathan Burke | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 11 2010 11:43 PM

I would always recommend reading the JPS commentary series, which are invariably scholarly and well thought out works providing a different perspective.The JPS Genesis commentary was written by the well respected Nahum Sarna, who wrote very well researched work which I find highly accessible.

I strongly second the recommendation of Wenham's commentary, and would also recommend Victor Hamilton (NICOT), and the relevant volume in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds series, since the Genesis commentary was written by Walton.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 12 2010 1:28 AM

It's hard to find a scholarly exegetical commentary that also contains application notes. Usually you get either one or the other. You're also limited by the fact that only a few commentary sets can be bought one volume at a time in Logos, so unless you're prepared to buy a whole set, you'd have only a few to choose from. I think the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary volume on Genesis & Exodus would be a good compromise. It can be bought stand-alone. It's by some well-respected scholars (somewhere on the conservative evangelical end of the spectrum, I think). It's based on the New Living Translation. It is mostly an exegetical commentary, but has a brief bit of application (about a paragraph) at the end of each section. I own it but am not extremely familiar with it, and unfortunately I can't find any reviews of it online other than the brief quotes in the Logos product description page which apply to the series as a whole, and as I'm sure you know there can be much variability in quality from volume to volume within a commentary set.

Here's an excerpt:

6. The Lord’s covenant promise to Abram (15:1–21)


15:1 I will protect you. Lit., "I am your shield." This word "shield" is from the same verbal root (mgn [TH4042, ZH4481]) that was used by Melchizedek for "defeated" (14:20).

15:6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. The construction of this Hebrew sentence requires precise analysis. The verb "believe" used with its conjunction (a Waw disjunctive) is clearly not to be interpreted as in sequence with the verses that came before it. If the text had wanted to say that this faith came about after the object lesson of the stars (15:5), it would have used the Waw consecutive construction ("And then Abram believed"). But this sentence begins with a Waw on a perfect and could not be a Waw consecutive or the tense would be put into the future. Here we have instead a form of the Waw disjunctive to mark a parenthetical clause. For those who argue that Abram came to faith here after seeing the stars in the object lesson, there remains the question of what kind of faith prompted him to leave Ur (Heb 11:8). They end up saying it was faith but not true saving faith because it was here that God declared him righteous. But that interpretation is untenable. It does not do justice to the way the text is written, and it is theologically problematic. The Bible says that it was by faith that Abram left Ur.


Abram the conqueror, Abram the man who gave all the possessions and people back to their king, now stood very much alone, and perhaps began to be overcome with a sense of fear. But the Lord brought his fears to an end with words of comfort: "Do not be afraid … I will protect you" (15:1, see note). God was Abram’s protection. God was also the one who would provide for him. But when the Lord said, "Your reward will be great," Abram immediately thought of the promises and responded: "What good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son?" Abram’s vision had not been blinded by Bera’s offer (14:22–24); he still had one dominant hope, the promise of a seed (12:2–3). (It may be that this word "reward" in God’s promise is what inspired the psalmist to think of children as a reward from the Lord in Ps 127:3). But without a child, Abram was concerned that the inheritance would go to his household servant, Eliezer. That was the custom of those days, but God would have none of it. He did not even use the servant’s name, but said, "No, your servant will not be your heir." Instead, a son would be coming from the loins of Abram. To underscore the extent of the fulfillment of the promise, God then showed Abram the stars, pointing out that Abram’s descendants would be as numerous as they were (22:17; 26:4). The divine word that created the stars also promised to Abram innumerable descendants.

The text then says that "Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith" (15:6, see note). This is the central statement about Abram’s saving faith. More than that, this statement is quoted three times in the New Testament (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6; Jas 2:23) as the foundational passage for the doctrine of justification by faith. Righteousness was credited to him for faith alone, and not for works. Genesis 15:6 therefore makes an important statement about Abram; and it has been strategically placed here as an introduction to the formal cutting of the covenant—God cut the covenant with Abram the believer, the one to whom he had reckoned righteousness (15:10).

Using a solemn ceremony, God "cut the covenant" (karath berith [TH3772/1285, ZH4162/1382]) with Abram (15:7–10, 18). In making such a binding covenant, God was guaranteeing to the patriarch the fulfillment of the promises (15:7, 18–21). Abram obeyed God’s instructions and gathered the animals for the ceremony; he severed (15:10) three animals, a heifer, a goat, and a ram (15:9), and also set out a dove and a young pigeon. The idea of "cutting a covenant" literally involved cutting the animal as the symbolism of the oath, indicating that the maker of the covenant was staking his own life on his word. During the ceremony a sudden horror came upon Abram, as unclean birds of prey swooped down on the offering’s animals—clearly a bad omen in anybody’s book. Then Abram was covered with a terrifying darkness (15:11–12). God’s announcement of the enslavement (15:13–14) clarified the meaning of the attacking birds. There would be a period of 400 years of bondage for Abram’s descendants before the complete fulfillment of the covenant. But Abram could be assured that nothing could interfere with the plan to fulfill the covenant, not his death, not even a long enslavement. Egypt, like the birds of prey, would oppose the covenant Israel had, and try to destroy them or hinder its fulfillment. But ultimately the covenant would be fulfilled. When Abram got up and drove the birds of prey away, this symbolized his task to protect the covenant as much as possible.

One of the reasons for the Israelites’ long term of bondage in Egypt had to do with God’s justice toward the Amorites. God told Abram that the sins of the Amorites had not yet warranted their destruction (lit., "were not yet full"—15:16). In order to give the Promised Land to Israel, the inhabitants of the land had to be dispossessed—it was part of the curse on Canaan (9:25). God would give Israel the land, but not one day before the justice of God allowed it. God would tolerate the sins of the Amorites until they were fully deserving of judgment. Thus, the fulfillment of the promises to Abram involved a retributive judgment on the people of the land. Until then, God would send the family to Egypt, where it could become a great nation and where God could discipline them to make them fit to receive the promises. Abram’s seeing all this in advance was horrible on the one hand, but on the other hand it was comforting, for nothing could interfere with God’s plan to fulfill his promise.

Then, after sunset, God revealed himself with the image of a smoking firepot and a flaming torch (15:17), two objects that were connected with sacrificial ritual in the ancient world. Fire represents the consuming, cleansing zeal of the Lord, as well as his unapproachable holiness—two things that are interrelated (cf. Isa 6:3–7). Abram saw nothing else in the vision except these fiery elements as they passed between the pieces of the slaughtered animals. Thus, the holy God came down and cut the covenant with Abram. Since God could not swear by anyone greater, he swore by his own life (Heb 6:13). In other words, this was a unilateral covenant; its promises were absolutely sure because they did not depend on what Abram or his descendants might do. Of course, people would have to believe if they were to participate in the blessings of this covenant.

At the end of his proclamation, God specified the boundaries of the Promised Land—from the River of Egypt (probably the Wadi el-Arish) to the great river (the Euphrates). Israel has never possessed all this land in its entirety. In the days of the conquest, the Canaanite tribes listed (15:19–21) were largely dispossessed, but not completely. In the days of David and Solomon, Egypt still controlled the coastal region, and the Philistines and other groups remained a hindrance in the land promised to Israel. So the promise of the land was never fulfilled; it remained a hope for the believing Israelites and was carried forward in the royal psalms and messianic passages (Ps 72:8–17). And at Israel’s darkest moment, when it was being expelled from the land, the New Covenant reiterated the old promise of their dwelling in a land in complete peace and prosperity (Isa 54:1–14; Jer 31:31–37; Ezek 36:24–36). The restoration to the land after the Exile would not fulfill the promises made to the fathers, not without the coming of the Messiah, the forgiveness of sins, or the pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh. This hope will find ultimate fulfillment in the creation of a new heaven and a new earth where everlasting peace and righteousness will exist.

For Abram, God’s message was clear: In spite of the prospects of death and suffering (enslavement in bondage), he and his descendants would eventually receive the promises, for God had sworn to it. So Israel could be encouraged by this at the time of the Exodus and in subsequent times of distress. They would be encouraged, just as we are, that nothing can separate us from the love of God. God’s solemn covenant assures his chosen people of the ultimate fulfillment of all his promises, and those promises are bound to be fulfilled in a far more glorious way than anyone could have even imagined.

The Israelites under Moses would also notice the significant parallel wording at the beginning of this chapter and the beginning of the law: "I am Yahweh who brought you out of Ur" (15:7) parallels Exodus 20:2, "I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt." This would have assured the Israelites that in spite of their bondage, in spite of the attempt to kill all the males, in spite of the armies of Egypt, God would judge their oppressors and deliver them.

This passage is an encouragement for New Testament believers as well. God affirms solemnly that he will fulfill all his promises to us that concern salvation and all his blessings that pertain to this life and the life to come (cf. 2 Pet 1:3–4) despite suffering, persecution, and even death. God has promised us eternal life, and death cannot nullify that promise. But because of the suffering and death in this world, for the promises of God to be fulfilled there must be a resurrection; otherwise our faith is in vain (1 Cor 15:12–19). The Bible is clear: God will keep his promises to us, even if, like Abram, we die without receiving all the promises. Ultimately all the promises will be fulfilled in the life to come.

Posts 13413
Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 12 2010 4:28 AM

I'm preaching through Genesis 1-11 at the moment. As Rosie said, most of the best commentaries are only available in sets. But I've found most helpful in Logos:

Posts 2964
tom | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 12 2010 4:50 AM

William Bingham:

I am a new leader of our adult bible study.  We are going through the book of Genesis.  We have just covered Genesis 15 and I am wanting to find some really good commentary that has great academics and some good application.

Any suggestions?



Prepub: Walter Brueggemann, Genesis (Interpretation Series), Atlanta: John Knox, 1982.

Also on prepub, but coming in Jan: Studies on Genesis (11 vols.)

I have also suggested that this series be added to Logos: W. Sibley Towner, Genesis (Westminster Bible Companion), Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.


Posts 30
Todd Hinton | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 12:04 PM

Ross's Creation and Blessing is very good.

Posts 114
James Matichuk | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 1:21 PM

Can't go wrong with the holy trinity of Genesis Commentators: Waltke, Walton, Wenham.

Sadly only Wenham is in logos currently (as Mark points out Waltke is on pre-pub).

Westermann  is dated and too enamored with source criticism, but some helpful stuff there.

Brueggemann is always fun and challenging. I am curious about Goldingay's "Genesis for Everyone" (not in logos) which is a counterpoint to Tom Wright's NT For Everyone series now on Pre-Pub.

Posts 274
Greg Corbin | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 1:30 PM


 While I agree that some of the other recommendations are good commentaries I have another to commend to you. For your purposes, if I could only buy one commentary, it would be the Genesis volumes of the New American Commentary written by Ken Matthews. They are excellent. Scholarly, but with some good application.

Posts 103
Tim Hogan | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 3:24 PM

I can't think of a better one, though others are good, this is a 'can't do without' for me :) - blessings


Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 3:55 PM

William Bingham:

I am a new leader of our adult bible study.  We are going through the book of Genesis.  We have just covered Genesis 15 and I am wanting to find some really good commentary that has great academics and some good application.

Any suggestions?


Quite frankly, I do not recommend the WBC series.  It's not that they don't have good contributors or that the information is poor quality.  The problem with the WBC is the layout.  To put it bluntly, it stinks !  I have never seen such a poorly laid-out commentary in my life.  It's a real pain to wade through the material.  In Logos you get all of the pop-up notes for various textual and translation issues, but you still need to pagedown past the stuff.  Why they couldn't do it the way every other book in Logos is done is beyond me.  I'm currently reviewing Aune's three volumes on Revelation for my study on Revelation and am not enjoying it.  If you're not driven to put up with such nonsense it will probably be off-putting.  If your object is to lead a bible study, I don't think you need the problems that the format introduces.


יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

Posts 1984
Donnie Hale | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 4:25 PM

No one has mentioned this book yet - .

Pink's writing style makes you work, but he always has a nice balance between exposition and application. I especially appreciate his sovereignty-oriented view of God. He's not particularly academic, but I think I have enough of that in my Logos library (at least for now); so his work makes a good contribution from another angle.



Posts 383
Daniel Bender | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 4:40 PM

Todd Hinton:

Ross's Creation and Blessing is very good.

I used Ross' Creation and Blessing for a men's study and found it very helpful. Good exegetical  outlines and some application.

Other helpful choices currently in Logos are:

  • Wenham
  • Hamilton
  • Boice for application.


Posts 236
Michael March | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 8:00 PM

Let me add my voice of support for Arthur Pink.  He is great for bible study, always has a different insight (and he likes things in sevens, which is also fun!)...

Windows PC - Android Phone - Surface Pro 4

Posts 49
Jim Oesterwind | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 9:42 PM

Hi, William.  I suggest Paradise to Prison:  Studies in Genesis.  It is not available in Logos, however.  It is basic yet sturdy in its scholarship in my opinion.  I think it's a good fit for an adult study. It would be very accessible to the members of your group.


Jim Oesterwind

Heritage Baptist Church

Antioch, CA

Posts 57
Jim Carlile | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 10:59 PM

I recommend H. C. Leupold Commentary Collection (Includes his 2 volumes on Genesis). It is still on Pre-pub at $69.95, due to ship Dec 29th.

Also, the Expositor's Bible Commentary vol2 by Sailhammer

Posts 1514
Josh | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 13 2010 11:10 PM

Ariel's Bible Commentary: Genesis

Also, if your going to get Creation and Blessing, you might as while get this bundle, you get the Gensis Record for 5 bucks more.


Posts 31318
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 14 2010 12:03 AM

Jonathan Burke:
I would always recommend reading the JPS commentary series, which are invariably scholarly and well thought out works providing a different perspective.The JPS Genesis commentary was written by the well respected Nahum Sarna, who wrote very well researched work which I find highly accessible.

I strongly second this

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 260
Pastor Cleghorn | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 14 2010 8:11 AM

I agree. The Genesis Record as well as the commentary by Griffith Thomas are excellent.

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