The Gospel of Genesis is highly structured and artistic. You can observe this from earlier posts on Genesis with its prologue and ten books and the way each is organized. But now I am going to add an observation regarding a pattern that emerges from the whole. The chart below gives you where each book starts over on the left and then a brief reminder as to the content of that book on the right.
First of all, “After the flood” reminds us of the author’s “new creation” motif. He wants us to understand “Abraham’s Son” in the same way. Each of these times is a fresh start of sorts. But each time the first book tells us about the seed of the serpent and the second book tells us about the seed of the woman. Where there is a third book in the sequence it tells us again that one of the seed of the woman had three sons.
Thus the first book narrates creation, the fall of Adam and his descendants through Cain to the evil Lamech. And the second book restarts with a reference to creation and gives us the descendants through Seth — ten generations of the seed of the woman through Lamech and his son Noah. The third book then tells us again that Noah had three sons. This was information we already had from the previous book but it is where the third book restarts the story.
The fourth book then uses the phrase “after the flood” and gives us the table of the seventy nations complicit in the Tower of Babel episode. They are being likened to Cain and his seed in several ways including the way this falls in the pattern. The fifth book also uses the phrase “after the flood” to restart the story but then it gives us another genealogy of ten generations of the seed of the woman ending with Terah as the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. This is where the sixth book resumes the story telling us again that Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.
Books seven and eight also begin using the same key phrase — this time “Abraham’s Son.” First we find out about the 12 sons of Ishmael. The second book tells us about the descendants of Isaac including the list of the 12 sons of Jacob. The stories surrounding the births of Ishmael and Isaac as the “two” sons of Abraham are recounted in the sixth book but here are very briefly recapitulated.
Here the pattern breaks as we do not see another book beginning with someone having three sons that we had already been told about. Instead the pattern is a comparison of two sons. As with Ishmael and Isaac above it now will be with Esau and Jacob. In both cases, like the Cain and Abel story, the younger is lifted up by God over the older. Curiously the Esau story restarts with the note that Esau took two Canaanite wives (as is the case with all of these restarts we already know this). Remember as well that the evil Lamech (seventh from Adam through Cain) took two wives and that the Canaanites were under God’s curse pronounced by Noah. This is why the patriarchs knew it was important to find one’s wife from their kin because they were not Canaanites.
Thus the pattern of Book 1: creation/seed not chosen, Book 2: creation/chosen seed, Book 3: Noah had three sons, Book 4: new creation/seed not chosen, Book 5: new creation/chosen seed, Book 6: Terah had three sons, Book 7: new creation/seed not chosen, Book 8: new creation/chosen seed, Book 9: Esau took two Canaanite wives/seed not chosen, Book 10: chosen seed.