Commentary of the Old and New Testaments


By Joseph Benson


IT may not be improper to observe, before we enter on the work of illustrating the Sacred Volume, that the Holy Scriptures, or Holy Writings, are termed the BIBLE, or Book, (from the Greek βιβλος by way of eminence, as they constitute the best book that ever was written. The great things of God’s law and gospel are here recorded, that they might be reduced to a greater certainty, might spread farther, remain longer, and be transmitted to distant places and ages more pure and entire, than possibly they could be by tradition. That part of the Bible which we call the OLD TESTAMENT contains the acts and monuments of the church of God from the creation almost to the coming of Christ in the flesh, which was about four thousand years: the truths then revealed, the laws enacted, the prophecies given, and the chief events that concerned the church. This is called a Testament, or Covenant, because it was a declaration of the will of God concerning man in a federal way, and had its force from the designed death of the great Testator, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,”

Revelation 13:8. It is called the Old Testament with relation to the New, which doth not cancel, but crown and perfect it, by bringing in that better hope which was typified and foretold in it.

This part of the Old Testament we call the PENTATEUCH, or five-fold volume, because it contains the five books of Moses. These books were, probably, the first that ever were written; for we hear no mention of any writing in all the book of Genesis, nor till God bid Moses write, Exodus 17:14. However, we are sure these books are the most ancient writings extant.

The first of them, named in the Hebrew, from the first word, Bereshith, but which we call Genesis, Moses probably wrote either while he was a shepherd in Midian, or rather, after he had been on the mount with God. And as he framed the tabernacle, so he did the more excellent and durable frame of this book, according to the pattern shown him in the mount; into which it is better to resolve the certainty of the things contained therein, than into any tradition that might be handed down to the family of Jacob.

GENESIS is a name borrowed from the Greek: it signifies the original, or generation. Fitly is this book so called; for it is a narrative of originals and generations: the creation of all things; the original happiness and fall of mankind; the entrance of sin and death into the world; the fate of Adam and his posterity before the flood; the general corruption of the human race, and the deluge sent to punish it; the preservation of Noah and his family in the ark, and their repeopling the earth; the invention of arts, the rise of nations, and the confounding of languages; and especially the planting of the church, and the state of it in its early days, with God’s marvellous providences toward the families of Lot and Nahor, of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and their improvement of the same. In short, it contains a divinely-inspired, and therefore perfectly authentic history of the great and surprising events of two thousand three hundred and sixty-nine years. The beginning of the New Testament is also called GENESIS, Matthew 1:1 : “The Book of the GENESIS, or GENERATION, of Jesus Christ.” Lord, open thou our eyes, that we may see the wondrous things of thy LAW and GOSPEL!