Did Moses write Genesis? That’s an easy one. Of course, it was Moses. Sometime I should write a longer article on this, but here are just a few reasons why.
1. The liberal viewpoint is that the “Five Books of Moses” sprang from the Hammarabi Code and Chaldean mythology. Yet Moses himself wrote, “What nation is there … that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law” (Deut. 4:8). If you break down the semantics of that verse, it is incredible in its implications. Other nations had their laws, but these words imply that these laws were entirely different because they were received from God and not man. In criticism of the liberal theory, Sayce writes, “… on the spiritual and religious side, there is a gulf between them that cannot be spanned.” The Code is so full of legendary nonsense that it is impossible that such a highly detailed account as Genesis evolved from this.
2. Some say there is no internal evidence for a Mosaic authorship. Au contraire! Every book of the Bible necessitates a pedigree of known authorship in order for it to have been included in the Hebrew Canon. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus and the New Testament writers refer to the “book of Moses” (Mark 12:26) and “Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:43-45). The messianic prophecies of Genesis were considered to be from Moses by the Jews at the time of Jesus. If Jesus and the Apostles accepted without equivocation that the Genesis prophecies about the Messiah were from the “Law of Moses,” then they had the divine authority to pronounce it so. The internal evidence is found in the New Testament and everywhere in scripture that the “books of Moses” are referred to.
3. Some say it is “obvious” that Moses did not write the account of his own death and burial. Who did write it then? Only God and Moses were present at his burial. It is just as likely that Moses predicted that “no one knows his grave to this day” (Deut. 34:6) as it was for Joseph to prophesy what would happen to his bones hundreds of years after his death (Gen. 50:25). Even if Joshua or a later scribe wrote this passage, he was still prophesying things that only the Spirit could reveal.
4. A larger question becomes how much of the books of Moses were garnered directly from spoken divine inspiration — “The Lord spoke unto Moses … all the words of the Lord” — without the aid of human sources and later redaction. The two are not mutually exclusive and certainly the Semitic people knew the story of Genesis. Moses recognized “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” without need of greater explanation. The problem for Moses is that he was an orphan raised by a pagan king’s daughter. While in slavery for several generations many of the Hebrews had forgotten the name of God (Ex. 3:13). So it is likely that until Moses encountered the household of Jethro, he knew little of the specific history contained in Genesis. Jethro was a descendant of Abraham through his second wife Keturah. At the time of Moses, the Midianites were worshipping the one true God and even knew the dwelling place of the shekinah glory of God on Mount Horeb. According to rabbinic tradition, the book of Job is a Midianite story that was told to Moses through Jethro. So it is not unlikely that Genesis was told to Moses through Jethro. Since the Israelites and the Midianites were related, it’s also likely that the tradition from which Genesis was scribed was carried on through Jethro, the priest of Midian. He is Moses’ counselor, “So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said” (Ex. 18:24).
5. Another fascinating and often neglected study is the question of how 2500 years of history could have been remembered without error. This simple answer to this question is that Genesis was divinely inspired, given to Moses through the audible voice of God in the presence of the shekinah glory. However, without discounting divine inspiration in the process, it is also possible that the story of Genesis could have easily been transmitted through only six intervening lifetimes! Biblical chronology shows us the following:
- Adam lived 687 years to the birth of Methusalah;
- Methusalah lived 628 years to the birth of Shem;
- Shem lived 452 years to the birth of Isaac;
- Isaac lived 77 years to the birth of Levi;
- Levi lived 70 years to the birth of Amram;
- Amram lived 61 years to the birth of Moses.
There is a 553-year-long contemporaneous history during which these men could have spoken to one another. Thus Amram’s children, Moses, Aaron and Miriam, brought the history of mankind through a priestly order into the Sinai desert whether in the form of a memorized oral tradition or in actual writing. Another theory is that Joseph wrote Genesis while ruling Egypt and then all the writing of the Egyptian libraries were later made available to Moses prior to the Exodus. If one were to lean toward this argument of a transmitted written tradition, it is more likely that it passed through Levi, the father of the priestly caste, or Judah, the direct ancestor of the Word made flesh.