Genesis 1-11

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Home > The Old Testament > Genesis > Genesis 1-11b

Subpages: Chapters 1  •  2-3  •  4-6a  •  6b-9  •  10-11b

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This section should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Scope of page. The story in Genesis up to the Flood is repeated in the Pearl of Great Price in Selections from the Book of Moses (the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 1:1-6:13). Discussion of the Genesis account should appear on this wiki page and its subpages. Discussion of additional understanding derived from Moses is better suited for the wiki pages addressing Moses.

Relationship to Genesis. The relationship of Chapters 1-11b to the rest of Genesis is discussed at Genesis.

Outline. An outline of the complete book of Genesis, including Chapters 1-11b, is found at Genesis: Outline and page map.

Story. Chapters 1-11b are the Adam-Noah cycle, the first of the four story cycles in Genesis. The Adam-Noah Cycle tells the origin of mankind and consists of seven major sections:

  • Ten generations pre-flood: Adam cycle (Genesis 1-6a)
  • Chapter 1: God: the creation. God intentionally creates the earth, including mankind, over a period of time designated as seven days.
  • Chapter 2-3: Adam & Eve: the fall. God places Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden and instructs them to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They nevertheless do eat, recognize and are ashamed of their nakedness, and are driven out of the Garden. Their nakedness is covered by aprons of fig leaves which they make for themselves and by coats of skins given to them by God. They become like God in knowing good and evil.
  • Chapter 4: Cain and Lamech: murder (non-birthright genealogy). God instructs Cain to be accepted by doing well. Cain instead kills his brother Abel. Unlike Adam & Eve, Cain denies his sin, but he is nevertheless convicted and driven out of society. Cain's descendant Lamech also becomes a murderer like his ancestor Cain.
  • Chapter 5-6a: Adam to Noah (birthright genealogy). The birthright genealogical line from Adam to Noah's three sons is set forth. While Noah is righteous, mankind in general is wicked.
  • Ten generations post-flood: Noah cycle (Genesis 6b-11b)
  • Chapter 6b-9: Noah: the flood. The Lord instructs Noah to build an ark in which he and his family are saved alive while the rest of creation is destroyed. The Lord then blesses Noah and gives him commandments. Finally, Noah's son Ham discovers Noah's nakedness, for which Noah curses Ham's son Canaan.
  • Chapter 10-11a: Nimrod & the Tower of Babel (non-birthright genealogy). At Babel the people attempt to build a tower to reach up to heaven. Rather than destroy the people, God scatters them.
  • Chapter 11b: Noah to Abraham (birthright genealogy). The birthright genealogical line from Noah's son Shem to the three sons of Terah (including Abraham) is set forth.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Genesis 1-11b include:

  • Blessings & cursings, and covenants.
  • Nakedness.
  • Accountability.
  • Genealogy.


This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

The Stories of the Creation & Fall and of the Flood[edit]

  • There are many parallels between the stories of the Creation and the Flood on the one hand, and on the other hand the corresponding story of the Flood. In both sets of stories:
  • All types of animal come to Adam to be named (Gen 2:19). All types of animal come to Noah to be placed on the ark (Gen 7:2).
  • There is concern with nakedness. Adam & Eve are embarrassed to discover their nakedness, make themselves aprons out of fig leaves, and are given coats of skins from God (Gen 3:7-10, 21). When Noah learns that his nakedness was seen by his son Ham, he curses Ham's son Canaan (Gen 9:20-28).


  • The two non-birthright genealogies.
  • The non-birthright genealogical list before the Flood does not cover a full ten generations but extends only through Generation 8, with emphasis on Lamech in Generation 7 (Gen __). The corresponding non-birthright genealogical list after the flood likewise does not cover a full ten generations but extends only through Generation 15, with emphasis on Nimrod, king of Babel, in Generation 13 (Gen __).
  • The two birthright genealogies.
  • The birthright genealogical list for Generations 1-10 from Adam to Noah ends with Noah's three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen 5:32). The corresponding birthright genealogical list for Generations 11-20 from Noah's son Shem to Abraham ends with Terah's three sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran (Gen 11:26).
  • But the pre-Flood genealogy is followed by a story about the general wickedness of all mankind, whereas the post-Flood genealogy has no narrative story.

The stories of Adam & Eve (the Fall) and of Cain & Abel (murder)[edit]

  • There are many parallels between these two stories. In both stories:
  • God gives an instruction that is violated. Adam & Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil after being instructed not to (Gen 2:17; 3:2-6). Cain kills Abel after God tells him to instead "do well" in order to be accepted (Gen 4:6-7).
  • God inquires about the violation of his instruction. God inquires of Adam & Eve "Where art thou?" They explain that they hid because they were naked, he inquires whether they learned this through eating of the forbidden fruit, and they admit having done so (Gen 3:9-13). God inquires of Cain "where is Abel thy brother?" Cain denies knowledge of Abel's whereabouts, but God convicts his of Abel's murder (Gen 4:9-10).
  • God pronounces curses upon the offenders. Among other curses pronounced upon Adam, Eve, and the serpent, Adam is told "cursed is the ground for thy sake (Gen 3:17). Cain is told that the ground will no longer yield its strength to him (Gen 4:12).
  • The offenders are driven out. Adam & Eve are drive out of the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:23-24), and thus out from from God's presence (__). Cain is driven away both from God's face and from the society of mankind as a fugitive (Gen 4:14-16).
  • The offenders are protected from potential aggravation of their situation. Adam & Eve are prevented from eating the tree of life and living forever in their sins by the placement of cherubim and a flaming sword (Gen 3:22-24). When Cain expresses concern that he will be executed as a murderer by anyone who finds him, he is protected by a warning of divine vengeance and marked "lest any finding him should kill him" (Gen 4:15).
  • The offenders become like their father. Adam & Eve become as gods, knowing good and evil (Gen 3:5, 22). Lamech, after murdering his great grandfather, expresses that he will be protected by a warning of vengeance similar to Cain (Gen 4:24).

Blessings & cursings, and covenants[edit]



Identifying principal blocks of text[edit]

  • "These are the generations of X." The phrase "These are the generations of X" is used to break up Genesis into its major constituent parts, as shown on this complete outline of Genesis. This phrase can be understood as "These are the descendants of X," or "This is what followed after X." This phrase appears six times in the Adam-Noah Cycle of Genesis at the beginning of each of six major blocks of text.
  • Gen 2-3: Adam & Eve and Gen 4: Cain & Abel. This wiki treats Gen 1-11a as containing one additional major break at 4:1 introduced by the phrase "And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain ..."
  • It is easy to find a break in the text between these two stories:
  • At Gen 4:1 the action clearly shifts from Adam & Eve and their experience in the Garden to the relationship between two new characters, Cain & Abel. This break in the unities of time, place, character, and action indicates that the story has clearly moved from one episode to another.
  • It is harder to justify why this break between the two stories of Adam & Eve and of Cain & Abel means they should be treated as two separate blocks of text and not merely as two halves of a single block of text:
  • As stated above, this would make the break at Gen 4:1 the only major break to not be signaled with some variation of the phrase "These are the generations of X."
  • The stories of Adam & Eve and of Cain & Abel also share a common structure and themes, which serves to tie these two stories very closely to each other.
  • The justification for treating the two stories of Adam & Eve and of Cain & Abel as two separate blocks of text rests on the judgment that the Adam-Noah Cycle is better balanced, and the relations between major blocks of text within the cycle are more easily perceived, when the two stories are treated as separate blocks of text:
  • The story of the Flood in Gen 6b-9 is about the same length as the combined stories of the Creation and the Fall in Gen 1-3. The Lord's blessing in the Creation story and cursings in the story of the Fall both correspond to the blessings in the story of the Flood. And the concern in the story of the fall regarding nakedness is mirrored in the story of Noah's garment at the end of the story of the Flood.
  • It is easy to see a correspondence in form between the non-birthright genealogy and story of the Tower of Babel in Gen 10-11a and the non-birthright genealogy and stories of murder by Cain and Lamech in Gen 4. It is much harder to see any correspondence between the non-birthright genealogy and story of the Tower of Babel in Gen 10-11a and the story of Adam & Eve in Gen 2-3.
  • As a practical matter, treating the two stories of Adam & Eve and of Cain & Abel as two separate blocks of text does not make it much harder to think of them as a combined pair if someone prefers to do so. But treating them as merely two halves of a single block of text would make it much harder to recognize how all or a portion of the combined block of Gen 2-4 might correspond to another block of text such as the Flood in Gen 6b-9a or the genealogy and Tower of Babel in Gen 10-11a.
  • Other breaks in the text are minor. Other breaks in the text exist, but are treated here as indicating breaks only within individual blocks of text, and not breaks between major blocks of text, because: (1) none of these other breaks are introduced by the phrase "These are the generations of X," contrary to the pattern in Genesis overall and in Genesis 1-11a; (2) none would improve the balance, simplicity, or explanatory power of the outline for Genesis 1-11a; and (3) all would result in blocks much shorter than any other major block of text, contrary to a bias in favor of finding equally sized blocks whenever justified by the text.
  • Gen 4: Cain and Lamech. The stories of Cain and Lamech are separated in the text by a genealogical list and are separated in time by five intervening generations. But these two stories are treated as parts of the same major block of text, both for the three reasons stated above, as well as the fact that the Cain and Lamech block of text has great internal unity of theme as they are both murderers and the Lamech story concludes with Lamech explicitly comparing himself to his ancestor Cain.
  • Gen 6a: General wickedness. It would be easy to lump Gen 6:1-8 in with the story of the Flood, rather than attaching it to the end of the genealogy from Adam to Noah, if the phrase "These are the generations of Noah" had not been placed in Gen 6:9, and if it did not sound in Gen 6:9 like the author had begun pulling his next three chapters of material from another source that just happened to begin by covering some of the the same historical ground.
  • Gen 6b-9: Noah's nakedness. The story of Noah's nakedness seems to just be tacked on to the end of the story of the Flood. It is not treated here as a separate major bock of text in Gen 1-11a for the same three reasons stated above. In addition, the concern with nakedness corresponds to the concern expressed in the story of the Fall, and thus should not be separated from the story of the Flood unless the story of Adam & Eve and the Fall is merged into the same major block of text as the stories of Cain and Lamech.
  • Gen 11a: Tower of Babel. It would be easy to separate the story of the Tower of Babel from the genealogy from Noah to Abraham based on the text shifting from a genealogical list to a narrative story. But all three reasons listed above suggest that the genealogical list and the following story should be treated as part of the same major block of text, and in addition the story is set during the same time covered by that list and thus is appropriate as to time.
  • Gen 1, 2-3: The Creation and the Fall. The best view is probably to treat Chapter 2, in which Adam and Eve are placed in the Garden of Eden, as being part of a single story that also includes Chapter 3, in which they partake of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and are cast out of the Garden. But since this view is not universal, the subject deserves explanation.
  • Arguments in favor of grouping Chapters 2-3:
  • The entire story in Chapters 2-3 is characterized by consistent unities of time, place, action, and theme. Except for the first five verses, everything in Chapters 2-3 happens in the Garden, and everything that happens in the Garden happens in Chapters 2-3. In Chapter 2 Adam is placed in the Garden and allowed to eat from the tree of life, but is instructed not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil upon penalty of dying (Gen 2:8-9, 15-17). Eve is then also placed in the Garden, and Adam & Eve are unashamed of their nakedness (Gen 2:21, 25). The story then continues in Chapter 3 with the serpent persuading Eve to violate the commandment given in Chapter 2 to not eat the fruit and denying the penalty of dying that God had associated with that commandment back in Chapter 2 (Gen 3:4-5). Upon eating the fruit, Adam & Eve are no longer unashamed of their nakedness (Gen 3:7). God then appears and discusses with Adam & Eve these same two subjects of nakedness and eating the fruit (Gen 3:10-13) that were introduced in Chapter 2. The story concludes at the ends of Chapter 3 with Adam & Eve being driven from the Garden into which they were placed in Chapter 2, receiving a gift of coats to cover the nakedness they had not been ashamed of back in Chapter 2, and being prevented from eating of the other tree that was specifically named early in Chapter 2 (Gen 3:21-24). This unity makes it hard to see Chapter 3 as an entirely new story, but easy to see the beginning of Chapter 3 as instead introducing a turning point in a single story that begins in Chapter 2 and concludes in Chapter 3.
  • Starting the story of the Fall with the appearance of the serpent would put the commandment and its violation in separate stories, and would thus disrupt the symmetry of the pattern repeated in both the stories of Adam & Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit and of Cain murdering his brother Abel.
  • It is common, however, to treat Chapter 2, in which Adam & Eve are both placed in the Garden of Eden, as part of the Creation narrative of Chapter 1 rather than the Fall narrative of Chapter 3. But the creation narrative of [Gen 1:1-2:3] is organized around a seven-fold pattern corresponding to the seven creative periods that, until the very last verse, ends each of those seven periods with the phrase "And the evening and the morning were the X day." The end in Gen 2:3 of this pattern of counting out seven days indicates the end of the story of the creation and the beginning of a new story that is organized around a different pattern. The beginning of the next story in Gen 2:4 is also indicated by the phrase "These are the generations of ...", which in Genesis always introduces a major new block of text. These two patterns for organizing the text of Genesis would both have to be violated in order to group the initial placement of Adam & Eve into the Garden in Chapter 2 as part of the same story as the seven part creation story in Chapter 1.

Outline and page map[edit]

This section contains an outline for Genesis 1-11b. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of the text. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

The outline below is summarized on this handout and is used here with the King James text

I. Adam-Noah cycle (1-11b)
• Book 1: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth ..." (1:1)
A. Story of the Creation (1)

  • Day 1: Light (1:1-5)
  • Day 2: Firmament dividing the waters (1:6-8)
  • Day 3: Dry land and plant life (1:9-13)
  • Day 4: Lights in the sky: sun, moon, and stars (1:14-19)
  • Day 5: Fish in the waters and birds in the firmament (1:20-23)
  • Day 6: Land animals and mankind, mankind in the image of God and blessed with dominion (1:24-31)
  • Day 7: Sabbath rest (2:1-3)

• Book 2: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth ..." (2:4)
B. Story of Adam and Eve in the Garden and the Fall (2-3)

a. Commandmant: Adam placed in Garden, commandment to not eat of tree of knowledge (2:4-17)
a. Eve also placed in Garden, unaware of nakedness (2:18-25)
b. Violation: Adam & Eve eat fruit and discover nakedness (3:1-7)
c. Trial: Where art thou? Adam & Eve ashamed of nakedness, admit eating fruit (3:8-13)
d. Judgment: Curses including ground, coats to cover nakedness, driven from Garden, Adam & Eve know good and evil like God, cherubim to prevent eating tree of life (3:14-24)

C. Stories of murders by Cain and Lamech connected by non-birthright genealogical list (4)

1. Two sons born to Eve (4:1-2)
2. Cain kills Abel (4:3-16)
a. Lord rejects Cain’s offering of produce (4:3-5)
a. Commandment: Lord instructs Cain not to sin (4:6-7)
b. Violation: Cain kills Abel (4:8)
c. Trial: Where is Abel? Cain denies knowledge but is convicted (4:9-10)
d. Judgment: Ground cursed, driven from God and man, marked to prevent vengeance (4:11-16)
3. Non-birthright genealogical list from Cain to Lamech's three sons (4:17-22)
2. Lamech kills Irad and will be avenged as Cain (4:23-24)
1. Seth as a son in place of Abel, and Seth’s son (4:25-26)

• Book 3: "This is the book of the generations of Adam ..." (5:1)
D. Birthright genealogical list from Adam to Noah's three sons (5) (5:1-32)

E. Story of pervasive wickedness and God's intent to destroy mankind (6a)(6:1-8)

• Book 4: "These are the generations of Noah ..." (6:9)
A'. Noah and The flood: Story of Re-creation (6b-9a)

a. Commandment to build ark in order to survive destruction (6:9-22)
b. Entering the ark as the flood begins (7:1-16)
c. Flood waters prevail over the earth and kill all living things (7:17-24)
d. God makes a wind that causes the waters to recede, the ark comes to rest (8:1-5)
c. Flood waters recede and the earth becomes habitable (8:6-14)
b. Leaving the ark, animals blessed to be fruitful (8:15-19)
a. Noah builds an altar and God gives blessings and commandments (8:20-9:19)
• Ground no longer cursed, not again smite entire earth (8:20-22)
• Fruitful, dominion, no murder, what can be eaten (9:1-7)
• Rainbow, no more flood (9:8-19)

B'. Noah's nakedness, Canaan cursed (9b) (9:20-29)

• Book 5: "Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth ..." (10:1)
C'. Non-birthright genealogical list from (10-11a) (10:1-32)

E'. Tower of Babel and God's scattering of mankind (11a) (11:1-9)

• Book 6: "These are the generations of Shem [Noah's son] ..." (11:10)
D'. Birthright genealogical list from Shem to Terah's three sons including Abraham (11b) (11:10-26)

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →


This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →


Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.

Subpages: Chapters 1  •  2-3  •  4-6a  •  6b-9  •  10-11b

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