The Torah/Bereishit


Creation of Light (engraving by Gustave Doré from the 1865 La Sainte Bible)

As told in Genesis 1:1–6:8, this is the story of the Torah reading Bereishit:



When God began creation, the earth was unformed and void, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and God’s wind swept over the water.

God spoke and created in six days:

  • First day: God separated light from darkness.
  • Second day: God separated the waters, creating sky.
  • Third day: God gathered the water below the sky, creating land and sea, and God caused vegetation to sprout from the land.
  • Fourth day: God set lights in the sky to separate days and years, creating the sun, the moon, and the stars.
  • Fifth day: God had the waters bring forth living creatures, and blessed them to be fruitful and multiply.
  • Sixth day: God had the earth bring forth living creatures, and made man in God’s image, male and female, giving man dominion over the animals and the earth, and blessed man to be fruitful and multiply. God gave vegetation to man and to the animals for food.
  • Seventh day: God ceased work and blessed the seventh day, declaring it holy.
The Creation of Adam (fresco circa 1509 by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel)

The Garden of Eden


Before any shrub or grass had yet sprouted on earth, and before God had sent rain for the earth, a flow would well up from the ground to water the earth. God formed man from the dust, blew the breath of life into his nostrils, and made him a living being. God planted a garden in the east in Eden, caused to grow there every good and pleasing tree, and placed the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and bad in the middle of the garden. A river issued from Eden to water the garden, and then divided into four branches: the Pishon, which winds through Havilah, where the gold is; the Gihon, which winds through Cush; the Tigris, which flows east of Asshur; and the Euphrates. God placed the man in the garden of Eden to till and tend it, and freed him to eat from every tree of the garden, except for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, warning that if the man ate of it, he would die.

The Garden of Eden (1828 painting by Thomas Cole)

Announcing that it was not good for man to be alone and that God would make for him a fitting helper, God formed out of the earth all the beasts and birds and brought them to the man to name. The man Adam named all the animals, but found no fitting helper. So God cast a deep sleep upon the man and took one of his ribs and fashioned it into a woman and brought her to the man. The man declared her bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and called her woman. Thus a man leaves his parents and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh. The man and the woman were naked, but felt no shame.

The Fall of Man (16th Century painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder)

Adam and Eve


The serpent (נָּחָשׁ, nachash), the shrewdest of the beasts, asked the woman whether God had really forbidden her to eat any of the fruit in the garden. The woman replied that they could eat any fruit other than that of the tree in the middle of the garden, which God had warned them neither to eat nor to touch, on pain of death. The serpent told the woman that she would not die, but that as soon as she ate the fruit, her eyes would be opened and she would be like divine beings who knew good and bad. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing in appearance, and desirable as a source of wisdom, she ate some of its fruit and gave some to her husband to eat. Then their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked; and they sewed themselves loincloths out of fig leaves.

Adam and Eve Driven out of Eden (engraving by Gustave Doré from the 1865 La Sainte Bible)

Hearing God move in the garden, they hid in the trees. God asked the man where he was. The man replied that he grew afraid when he heard God, and he hid because he was naked. God asked him who told him that he was naked and whether he had eaten the forbidden fruit. The man replied that the woman whom God put at his side gave him the fruit, and he ate. When God asked the woman what she had done, she replied that the serpent duped her, and she ate. God cursed the serpent to crawl on its belly, to eat dirt, and to live in enmity with the woman and her offspring. God cursed the woman to bear children in pain, to desire her husband, and to be ruled by him. And God cursed Adam to toil to earn his food from the ground, which would sprout thorns and thistles, until he returned to the ground from which he was taken.

Adam named his wife Eve, because she was the mother to all. And God made skin garments to clothe Adam and Eve.

Remarking that the man had become like God, knowing good and bad, God became concerned that he should also eat from the tree of life and live forever, so God banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil. God drove the man out, and stationed cherubim and a fiery ever-turning sword east of the garden to guard the tree of life.

Death of Abel (engraving by Gustave Doré from the 1865 La Sainte Bible)

Cain and Abel


Eve bore Cain and Abel, who became a farmer and a shepherd respectively. Cain brought God an offering from the fruit of the soil, and Abel brought the choicest of the firstlings of his flock. God paid heed to Abel and his offering, but not to Cain and his, distressing Cain. God asked Cain why he was distressed, because he had free will, and if he acted righteously, he would be happy, but if he didn't, sin crouched at the door. Cain spoke to Abel, and when they were in the field, Cain killed Abel. When God asked Cain where his brother was, Cain replied that he did not know, asking if he was his brother’s keeper. God asked Cain what he had done, as his brother’s blood cried out to God from the ground. God cursed Cain to fail at farming and to become a ceaseless wanderer. Cain complained to God that his punishment was too great to bear, as anyone who met him might kill him. So God put a mark on Cain and promised to take sevenfold vengeance on anyone who would kill him. Cain left God’s presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Lamech followed Cain


Cain had a son, Enoch, and founded a city, and naming it after Enoch. Enoch’s great-great-grandson Lamech took two wives: Adah and Zillah. Adah bore Jabal, the ancestor of those who dwell in tents and amidst herds, and Jubal, the ancestor of all who play the lyre and the pipe. And Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who forged implements of copper and iron. Lamech told his wives that he had slain a lad for bruising him, and that if Cain was avenged sevenfold, then Lamech should be avenged seventy-sevenfold.

The Death of Adam (painting circa 1452–1466 by Piero della Francesca)

Adam’s line


Adam and Eve had a third son and named him Seth, meaning “God has provided me with another offspring in place of Abel.” Seth had a son named Enosh, and then men began to invoke the Lord by name. After the birth of Seth, Adam had more sons and daughters, and lived a total of 930 years before he died. Adam’s descendants and their lifespans were: Seth, 912 years; Enosh, 905 years; Kenan, 910 years; Mahalalel, 895 years; and Jared, 962 years. Jared’s son Enoch walked with God 300 years, and when he reached age 365, God took him. Enoch’s son Methuselah lived 969 years and his son Lamech lived 777 years. Lamech had a son Noah, saying that Noah would provide relief from their work and toil on the soil that God had cursed. When Noah had lived 500 years, he had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Wickedness among men


Divine beings admired and took wives from among the daughters of men, who bore the Nephilim, heroes of old, men of renown. God set the days allowed to man at 120 years. God saw how great man’s wickedness was and how man’s every plan was evil, and God regretted making man and became saddened. God expressed an intention to blot men and animals from the earth, but Noah found God’s favor.