In the Beginning
Genesis 1:1−6:8
Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary (CCAR Press)

Genesis Breishit English translation

1:1] When God was about to create heaven and earth, 2] the earth was a chaos, unformed, and on the chaotic waters’ face there was darkness. Then God’s spirit glided over the face of the waters, 3] and God said, “Let there be light!”—and there was light. 4] And when God saw how good the light was, God divided the light from the darkness; 5] God then called the light Day, and called the darkness Night, and there was evening and there was morning, [the] first day.

6] God then said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it divide water from water!” 7] So God made the expanse, separating the waters beneath the expanse from the waters above the expanse—and so it was. 8] God then called the expanse Sky, and there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

9] God then said, “Let the waters beneath the sky be collected in one place, so that the dry ground may be seen!”—and so it was. 10] And God called the dry ground Earth, and called the collected waters Seas. And when God saw how good it was, 11] God said, “Let the earth grow vegetation, seed-bearing plants, fruit trees on the earth that bear fruit, each true to its type, with its seed in it!”—and so it was. 12] The earth brought forth vegetation, seed-bearing plants, each true to its type, and trees bearing fruit, each true to its type, with its seed in it. And God saw how good it was, 13] and there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

14] God then said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky, to separate day from night, to be markers for sacred seasons, for days and years, 15] and to be lights in the expanse of the sky, spilling light upon the earth!”—and so it was. 16] Thus God made the two great lights: the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night and the stars. 17] God set them in the sky’s expanse to spill light upon the earth, 18] to govern the day and the night, to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw how good it was. 19] And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

20] God then said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let the birds fly over the earth, across the face of the expanse of the sky!” 21] God then formed the great sea monsters, and every living creature that creeps, with which the waters swarm, all true to their types, and every winged bird, each true to its type; and God saw how good it was. 22] God then blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the waters of the seas, and let the birds multiply in the earth!” 23] And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

24] God then said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every type: domestic animals and creeping things and wild animals, each true to its type!”—and so it was. 25] Thus God made the wild animals, each true to its type, and the domestic animals, each true to its type, and every creature that creeps on the ground, each true to its type; and God saw how good it was. 26] God now said, “Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness; and let them hold sway over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over the beasts, over all the earth, over all that creeps upon the earth.” 27] So God created the human beings in [the divine] image, creating [them] in the image of God, creating them male and female. 28] God then blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and tame it; hold sway over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, and over every animal that creeps on the earth.” 29] And God said, “Look, I have given you all the seed-bearing plants on the face of the earth, and every tree that has in it seed-bearing fruit—these are yours to eat. 30] And to every land animal, and to every bird of the sky, and to all that creeps on the earth in which is the breath of life, I [give] all green vegetation for food.”—and so it was. 31] God then surveyed all that [God] had made, and look—it was very good! And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1] Completed now were heaven and earth and all their host. 2] On the seventh day, God had completed the work that had been done, ceasing then on the seventh day from all the work that [God] had done. 3] Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, and ceased from all the creative work that God [had chosen] to do.

4] This is the chronicle of heaven and earth when they were created, on the day God Eternal made earth and heaven. 5] No shrub of the field was yet on the earth, no plant of the field had yet sprung up—for God Eternal had not poured rain down upon the earth, and there was not a soul to till the soil— 6] though a flow would emerge from the earth and water the surface of the soil. 7] Then God Eternal fashioned the man—dust from the soil—and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that the man became a living being.

8] To the east, God Eternal planted a garden in Eden, setting the man there whom [God] had formed. 9] Then, out of the soil, God Eternal grew trees alluring to the eye and good for fruit; and in the middle of the garden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of All Knowledge. 10] A river went forth from Eden to water the garden; from there it divided and became four branches. 11] The first was named Pishon—that one flows around the land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12] The gold of that land is fine; bdellium is there, and onyx stone. 13] The second was named Gihon—that one flows around the land of Cush. 14] The third was named Tigris—that one flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15] So God Eternal took the man, placing him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16] God Eternal then commanded the man, saying, “You may eat all you like of every tree in the garden— 17] but of the Tree of All Knowledge you may not eat, for the moment you eat of it you shall be doomed to die.”

18] Then God Eternal considered, “It is not good that the man be alone—I will make him a helpmate.” 19] So God Eternal formed the wild animals and the birds of the sky out of the soil, and brought the man to see what he would call each one; and whatever the man called it, that became the creature’s name. 20] The man gave names to every domestic animal and to the birds of the sky, and to all the wild animals, but for [himself] Adam found no helpmate. 21] Then, throwing the man into a profound slumber, so that he slept, God Eternal took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in that place. 22] Now God Eternal built up the rib taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man, 23] and the man said, “This time— / bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! / Let this one be called woman, / for this one is taken from man.” 24] So it is that a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and they become one flesh.

25] Now the two of them were naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed. 3:1] Of all the wild animals that God Eternal made, the serpent was the most cunning. It said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You may not eat of any tree in the Garden’?” 2] The woman said to the serpent, “Of any tree in the Garden we may eat the fruit; 3] but God said, ‘Of the fruit of the tree in the middle of it do not eat, and do not [even] touch it, or you will die.’” 4] But the serpent said to the woman, “You most certainly will not die! 5] On the contrary: God knows that when you do eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing all things.” 6] So when the woman saw how good to eat the tree’s fruit would be, and how alluring to the eyes it was, and how desirable the insight was that the tree would bring, she took some of its fruit and ate; and then she gave some to her man who was with her, and he ate. 7] Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and, realizing that they were naked, they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves skirts.

8] At the breezy time of the day, they heard the sound of God Eternal walking about in the Garden; and the man and his woman hid themselves from God Eternal among the trees. 9] But God Eternal called out to the man, saying, “Where are you?” 10] He said, “I heard the sound of You in the Garden; I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.” 11] Then [God] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat the fruit of the tree that I forbade you to eat?” 12] The man said, “The woman whom You gave me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, so I ate.” 13] God Eternal then said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent tricked me into eating it.”

14] Then God Eternal said to the serpent, “Because you did this, you—out of all the beasts, all the wild animals—are under a curse: on your belly shall you crawl, eating dust all the days of your life. 15] And between you and the woman, / and between her seed and your seed, / I am setting enmity: / They shall strike at your head, / and you shall strike at their heel.” 16] And to the woman, [God] said, “I am doubling and redoubling your pains of pregnancy; / with pain shall you bear children, / yet your craving shall be for your man, / and he shall govern you.” 17] Now to the man, [God] said, “Because you hearkened to your wife and ate of the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘Do not eat of it,’ the soil is now cursed on your account: Only through pain shall you eat of it, as long as you live. 18] It shall sprout thorns and thistles for you, when you would eat the plants of the field! 19] By the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread, till you return to the earth—that earth you were taken from; / for dust you are, / and to dust you shall return.”

20] The man called his wife’s name Eve, for she would be the mother of all the living. 21] And God Eternal made outfits out of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. 22] God Eternal then said, “Look, the humans are like us, knowing all things. Now they may even reach out to take fruit from the Tree of Life and eat, and live forever.” 23] So the Eternal God drove them out of the Garden of Eden to work the soil from which they had been taken, 24] expelling the humans and stationing Cherubim to the east of Eden, and the flaming blade of a flashing sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life.

4:1] The man now was intimate with his wife; she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain, saying, “Both I and the Eternal have made a man.” 2] She then continued, giving birth to his brother Abel. Abel became a shepherd, while Cain tilled the soil.

3] [One day,] in the course of time, Cain brought some of his harvest as an offering to the Eternal, 4] and Abel, too, brought [an offering] from among the choice lambs of his flock and their fattest parts. The Eternal approved Abel and his offering, 5] but did not approve Cain and his offering. Cain was filled with rage; his face fell. 6] The Eternal One then said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? / Why your fallen face? / 7] Would you not do well to lift it? / For if you do not do well— / sin is a demon at the door; / you are the one it craves, / and yet you can govern it.”

8] Cain now thought about his brother Abel. . . . Then, when they were in the field, Cain turned on his brother Abel and killed him. 9] Then the Eternal One said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” And he replied, “How should I know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10] And [God] said, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood is shrieking to Me from the ground! 11] Now you are cursed by this very soil, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hands. 12] When you till the soil, no longer shall it give you its yield. You shall become a rootless wanderer on the earth.” 13] Cain then said to the Eternal One, “My punishment is too heavy to bear! 14] Seeing as now You have expelled me from the face of the soil and I must hide from Your face, I am become a rootless wanderer on the earth, and anyone who finds me might kill me!” 15] “Not so,” said the Eternal One. “Should anyone kill Cain, he would be avenged sevenfold.” And the Eternal gave Cain a sign, that none who came upon him would kill him. 16] Cain then went away from before the Eternal, and settled in the Land of Nomads, east of Eden.

17] Cain then was intimate with his wife, who became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch; he became the founder of a city, and he named the city after his son, Enoch. 18] To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad begot Mehiyael, and Mehiyael begot Metushael, and Metushael begot Lamech. 19] Lamech took two wives: one was named Adah and the other was named Zillah. 20] Adah bore Jabal—he was the progenitor of tent dwellers and herders. 21] And his brother’s name was Jubal—he was the progenitor of all who play the lute and the long flute. 22] As for Zillah, she too bore: Tubal-Cain, a smith, progenitor of every artisan who makes copper and iron tools; and Naamah was Tubal-Cain’s sister. 23] Now Lamech said to his wives Adah and Zillah, “Hearken to me, wives of Lamech, / give ear to my speech: / because of my bruise I’ve slain a man, / because of my wound, a lad. / 24] Cain is avenged sevenfold, / and Lamech seventy-seven!”

25] Adam once again was intimate with his wife, and she bore a son and gave him the name “Seth”—“since God has given me another offspring in place of Abel”—for Cain had slain him! 26] As for Seth, to him too was born a son, and he named him Enosh. Then it was that people began to invoke the Eternal.

5:1] This is the written record of the human line from the day God created human beings, making [them] in the likeness of God, 2] creating them male and female, blessing them, and naming them “Humans” on the day they were created. 3] Adam had lived 130 years, when he begot in his likeness, after his image; and he named him Seth. 4] After begetting Seth, Adam lived 800 years; and he begot sons and daughters. 5] The years of Adam’s life came to 930; then he died.

6] Seth had lived 105 years when he begot Enosh. 7] After begetting Enosh, Seth lived 807 years; and he begot sons and daughters. 8] The years of Seth’s life came to 912; then he died.

9] Enosh had lived 90 years when he begot Kenan. 10] After begetting Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years; and he begot sons and daughters. 11] The years of Enosh’s life came to 905; then he died.

12] Kenan had lived 70 years when he begot Mahalalel. 13] After begetting Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years; and he begot sons and daughters. 14] The years of Kenan’s life came to 910; then he died.

15] Mahalalel had lived 65 years when he begot Jared. 16] After begetting Jared, Mahalalel lived 830 years; and he begot sons and daughters. 17] The years of Mahalalel’s life came to 895; then he died.

18] Jared had lived 162 years when he begot Enoch. 19] After begetting Enoch, Jared lived 800 years; and he begot sons and daughters. 20] The years of Jared’s life came to 962; then he died.

21] Enoch had lived 65 years when he begot Methuselah. 22] After begetting Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years; and he begot sons and daughters. 23] The years of Enoch’s life came to 365. 24] Enoch walked with God and then was no more, for God had taken him.

25] Methusaleh had lived 187 years when he begot Lamech. 26] After begetting Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years; and he begot sons and daughters. 27] The years of Methuselah’s life came to 969; then he died.

28] When Lamech had lived 182 years he begot a son, 29] and he named him Noah, saying, “This one shall console us for our work, for the hard labor of our hands, and for the soil that the Eternal has condemned.” 30] After begetting Noah, Lamech lived 595 years; and he begot sons and daughters. 31] The years of Lamech’s life came to 777; then he died.

32] When Noah had lived 500 years, he begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

6:1] Now as people began to multiply on the earth, daughters were born to them, 2] and when the divine beings saw how fair were the human women, they took wives for themselves, as they chose. 3] Then the Eternal One said, “My spirit will not forever endure the humans, as they are but fallible flesh—their lifespan shall be [only] 120 years.” 4] The Nephilim were on earth in those days; and afterward, too, when the divine beings mated with the human women, they bore for them those heroes who from of old enjoyed great renown.

5] When the Eternal saw how great was the wickedness of human beings in the earth, that the direction of their thoughts was nothing but wicked all the time, 6] the Eternal regretted having made human beings on earth, and was heartsick. 7] So the Eternal thought: “I will wipe the humans whom I created from off the face of the earth—the humans, [and with them] the beasts, the reptiles, the birds of the sky—for I rue the day I made them.” 8] But Noah found favor in the Eternal’s sight.

Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary, copyright (c) 2016 by CCAR Press. All rights reserved. Translation of Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy from NJPS © 1962, 1985, 1999; CJPS © 2006. Used and adapted by CCAR Press with permission from The Jewish Publication Society and the University of Nebraska Press. No part of this translation may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, distributed, or be transmitted without express written permission from the Central Conference of American Rabbis. For permission, please contact CCAR Press.