These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. – Genesis 2:4 (ESV)

The toledoth statements of Genesis (“These are the generations of…”) reveal the original divisions of the Genesis tablets before they were ordered and collated by Moses. If these were also colophons, then we can discover who wrote each section of Genesis.

The Divisions of Genesis

To demonstrate how this would’ve worked, let’s lay out the tablets in their original order:

Tablet 1 = Genesis 1:1 to 2:4a

Tablet 2 = Genesis 2:4b to 5:1a

Tablet 3 = Genesis 5:1b to 6:9a

Tablet 4 = Genesis 6:9b to 10:1a

Tablet 5 = Genesis 10:1b to 11:10a

Tablet 6 = Genesis 11:10b to 11:27a

Tablet 7 = Genesis 11:27b to 25:19a

Tablet 8 = Genesis 25:12 to 25:18

Tablet 9 = Genesis 25:19b to 37:2a

Tablet 10 = Genesis 36:1 to 36:43

Tablet 11 = Genesis 37:2b to Exodus 1:6

Split Verses

You’ll notice that many of the verses above are split right down the middle, with the first half of a verse ending one tablet and the last half of that verse beginning the next tablet. Why is it that the tablet divisions fall that way? It’s important to remember that in the original Hebrew Bible there were no chapter and verse divisions, or even any punctuation!

Punctuation was added in by the Rabbis centuries later, and chapter and verse divisions weren’t inserted into the text until the Geneva Bible was composed in the late 1500’s. These Bible scholars had no access to the archeological discoveries we know today, so they had no way of understanding colophons or how ANE (ancient near east) texts were written.

The chapter and verse numbers were added to make it easier to reference a specific part of the Bible, but they are NOT in the original text. Because of this, we must always be mindful to not allow ourselves to be bound by these chapter and verse divisions. Instead we should try to read our Bibles as if they were not even there.

If we look at Genesis 2:3-6, for example, it appears in our Bible like this:

3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground,
6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground

But with the understanding we have of ANE texts today, we now recognize that it would have made more sense to divide these words this way:

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground

So as we go through the tablets of Genesis, don’t let the split verses that start and end most of the tablets throw you off. Next time we’ll start studying the individual tablets, their content, and who wrote them.