The Toledot Structure Of Genesis


For the past couple of centuries, critical scholars have argued that the differences between Genesis 1 and 2 indicate that they are from two different sources which are contradictory. Those who understand that the biblical accounts actually describe God’s creation of the cosmos see them as complementary, but still have encountered issues with regard to how they fit together. This study argues that a critical factor is the transition verse of Gen 2:4 hinging on the key Hebrew word tôlĕdôt, a term which has been difficult to translate. Drawing on the increasingly accepted understanding that the term is part of a technical phrase which should be understood as “this is what became of” as well as the generally accepted observation that this phrase serves as a structural indicator for the entire book, the study proposes that the initial creation account is a preface to the overall book. It then demonstrates that by showing how the phrase ties together the various sections of the book demonstrate sequentially what became of the creation which God proclaimed as very good (Gen 1:21). As such it provided a critical foundation for the embryo nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai where Moses shared God’s revelation that the people had been called for a purpose, which would ultimately lead to redemption of the entire world. Seeing the book as a carefully crafted unit built on the tôlĕdôt phrase highlights the importance of the creation account preface not only to explain origins to us as well as the nation of Israel, but the nature of the world in which we live.