Don Isaac Abravanel, sometimes spelled Abarbanel (1437-1508) was a profound Jewish thinker, seminal scholar, and prolific Biblical
commentator. His preface to the Book of Exodus affords Bible students a compact overview of Genesis
as well as the second book of the five books of Moses. Here we bring a synopsis of it.

“Now these are the names of the Sons of Israel, who came into Egypt
with Jacob; every man came with his household.”

Divine wisdom, Abravanel asserts, had plenty of good reasons for dividing up the five books of Moses, as
it did, the focus here being on Exodus’ organic outgrowth from Genesis. He lists four rationales for that
link or connector. Below are the first two. See Abravanel’s World for the remaining two.

1) Genesis recounts the deeds and formidable challenges that faced remarkable individuals.
Among other men of renown, we single out Adam, Noah, Shem, Eber, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and
his sons. After Genesis concludes the narratives of these outstanding personages, Exodus
follows. It covers the Hebrew people collectively. Thus, in Exodus we read about how the
fledgling Hebrew nation languished in the Egyptian exile and servitude. Divine miracle and
redemption set them free. Later, at Sinai, the encampment heard God’s voice bellow the ten
commandments. Finally, Exodus pertains to the Tabernacle, home of the mystical Shechinah.

2) The divine Torah’s main purpose, Abravanel writes, is to hone and perfect the Hebrew people,
the Creator’s hand-picked flock. We speak of the refinement of body and soul, accomplished
through the observance of the commandments. When the Torah desired to elaborate on the
Chosen People’s mission and destiny, it began with Genesis, and a meticulous chronology of the
Hebrews’ illustrious forbears. Veritably, Jews descend from the very finest of human stock. They
are anything but a hodgepodge of nationalities, banding together under a creed or religion.
Hebrews neatly trace their lineage to humanity’s luminaries, really an ethical proving ground, if
you will. Genesis, then, lays out the Jews’ rich heritage, starting with Adam. In short shrift,
Adam’s unworthy descendants are merely mentioned in passing. In contrast to the holy seed,
the undesirables, let us label them, lacked character, moral fiber. Hebrews hail from Adam’s
third son, Seth, a moral giant. The divine spark passed through him and continued to Noah,
Shem, Eber, and the three patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

In this manner, Abravanel develops his preface to the Book of Exodus, advancing four reasons that
illustrate just how gracefully it segues from Genesis.