Bible summary by chapter: Genesis

Saturday, 22 January 2011


·         Chapters 1-11 – primeval history: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Babel
·         Chapters 12-50 – protohistory of the people of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph
·         Cycles of life, survival, fertility (often miraculous), offspring, continuity
·         The three matriarchs – Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel – are all barren.
·         Primogeniture is subverted three times: Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Ephraim and Manasseh
·         Competing brothers: see above – also Cain and Abel
·         Competing women: Hagai and Sarah, Leah and Rachel
·         Fraternal relationships destroyed by crime and guilt (Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and brothers), but restored after trials and a period of separation (Jacob and Esau, Joseph and brother)


God created the heaven, the earth, plants, animals and man in six days. Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters. Divided light and darkeness. Firmament dividing waters (the sea) from waters (where rain comes from). Land and sea demarcated. Creatures, man and woman – be fruitful and multiply. No wrestling with sea creatures as in Psalms and Job. Priestly source – holy separation – God not polluting Himself?


God blessed the seventh day; man created from dust. Tree of Life and Knowledge – the injunction. Four rivers running from Eden. Woman created from Adam’s rib: ‘bone of my bone and flesh or my flesh’. Naked and not ashamed.


The serpent deceived Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit; fig leaves over genitals. God (walking in the garden, as per J source) curses the serpent (crawl on his belly forever; he would bruise the heel of the seed of woman, the seed would bruise his head), Eve (childbirth) and Adam (toil). Expulsion from Eden. Tunic covering. Cherubim to guard Tree of Life. Eve only named after the Fall.


Abel kept sheep, Cain tilled the earth. They bring offerings to the Lord of firstborn and of fruit – God respected Abel’s gift, but not Cain’s (for reasons that aren’t clear). Cain very angry, and kills Abel. God curses Cain; mark of Cain, so he wouldn’t be killed. Cain dwelt in Nod, east of Eden. Cain's son Enoch founds a city he names after himself. Generations of Cain. A new son for Adam and Eve – Seth – to replace Abel.


Family history of the line of sons from Adam to Noah. Adam lives to 930. Methuselah = 969.


Wickedness in the earth increased; God is regretful, and decides to destory the world; God commands Noah to build an ark. Covenant established with Noah. Noah’s sons = Shem (semitic), Ham (southern peoples; the father of Canaan) and Japhet (northern peoples).


Noah (who is 600), his family, and animals (clean and unclean) enter ark; flood covers whole earth; all humans and land creatures outside ark destroyed. Waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.


A wind passes over the earth, and the waters recede. A kind of second creation – waters and land separated, along with a second injunction for all creation to be fruitful and multiply. Noah, his family and the animals exit the ark, having landed on mount Ararat. Dove and olive leaf. Noah made a burnt offering to God. God, soothed, promises never again to destroy the earth, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.


God blesses Noah and family. Be fruitful and multiply again. Outlines new diet – no eating of flesh with blood in it (see also Lev 17:11). Murder punishable by death, for man is made in the image of God. Covenant - never agin to destroy the earth by water. The sign of this covenant is the rainbow. Noah, a farmer with a vineyard, gets drunk. Ham sees his father’s nakedness, while Shem and Japheth cover it. Noah curses Canaan, the son of Ham, saying that his descendants will serve the descendants of Shem. Noah dies at 950.


Family history of Shem, Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah. Nimrod = mighty hunter. An ethnology of the known world.


Tower of Babel built. Lord scatters and confounds the people from Babel – self-defeating because the original aim was to prevent themselves being scattered over the whole earth. Family history of Shem’s descendants to Abram. Abram’s father = Terah. Wife = Sarai. Son-in-law = Lot. Abram’s story starts in Ur in the Chaldeans (Babylon).


Lord calls Abram out of his own country, to Canaan, Bethel and Egypt (because of famine). ‘I will make you a great nation…I will bless those that bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.’ Canaan promised to Abram, appearing to him. Abram builds an altar at the spot on which this happens - Shechem. He also builds an altar at Bethel. Abram lies to Egyptians about Sarai, telling them she is his sister – he fears that, because she is beautiful, they will kill him so they can marry her. Sarai is taken to the Pharoah’s house. The Lord plagues Egypt because of Sarai. When he finds out the truth, the Pharoah rebukes Abram, saying he might have taken Sarai as his wife.


Abram moves back to Bethel, where he had built the altar. Abram is rich in livestock, gold and silver. Lot departs to the plains of Jordan because the land is not big enough for both of them. Lot’s land includes Sodom, where the people were wicked. Abram moves to Canaan. The Lord promises land and many descendants to Abram at Hebron, where Abram builds an altar.


The four kings of the cities in the region of Sodom and Gomorrah rebel against the confederation of five kings of nations ruling over them. War between kings in vale of Siddim; Lot taken captive in the war by the five kings. Abram brings back Lot. Melchizedek (priest-king bringing bread and wine) blesses the Lord and is given a tithe. Abram refuses a reward because he wants noone to say a man has made him rich – he wants all credit to go to the Lord.


Lord’s word comes to Abram; Lord tells Abram the future of his descendants – as numerous as the stars in the sky. Lord makes covenant with Abram. Abram believed in the Lord, and it was accounted as righteousness in him. Abram has a troubling dream of his descendants being strangers in a foreign land for four hundred years, but eventually becoming prosperous. Abram is promised land.


Sarai is barren. Hagar, an Egyptian maidservant, is given to Abram. Hagar conceives. Hagar flees to wilderness after harsh treatment from Sarai, then is instructed by an angel of the Lord to return. Ishmael is born to Hagar and Abram – he will be a wild man, with every man’s hand against him, but he will beget a multitude. The well where Hagar is told this is called Beer Lahai Roi (you are the God who sees).


Abram (father of man) becomes Abraham (father of many nations); Sarai becomes Sarah. Canaan is promised. Circumcision is introduced to Abraham’s household as a sign of the covenant. The Lord promises that Abraham will bear a son – not Ishmael (who will nonetheless father a multitude), but Isaac, through Sarah. The covenant is established with the progeny of Isaac.


The Lord and two angels appear to Abraham. Abraham invites them to a meal. They say Sarah will have a son. Sarah laughs inwardly – the Lord hears this and challenges Sarah. Afraid, Sarah denies that she laughed. Abraham reasons with the Lord about Sodom – the Lord says he will not destroy Sodom if there are 50, 45, 40, 30, 20 or 10 righteous people found within it.


Two angels met Lot in Sodom, and are invited in as his guests. The inhabitants demand to ‘know’ the guests. Lot offers them his two virgin daughters instead, but the people of Sodom are persistent, so the angel strike them with blindness. Lot and family leave Sodom, hurried out by the angels. The angels tell him to escape to the mountains, but Lot asks to escape to the city of Zoar instead. Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed; Lot’s wide is turned to a pillar of salt. Lot’s daughters get Lot drunk, then sleep with him to preserve his lineage. The sons of this incestuous union are Ammon and Moab.


Abraham moves to Gerar, saying to Abimelech (king of Gerar) that Sarah is his sister. God tells Abimelech to restore Sarah to Abraham. Abimelech protests his innocence, and the Lord says it is because of his integrity of heart that he did not let Abimelech touch her. Abimelech rebukes Abraham, but then gives gifts and land to Abraham. The womb of Abimelech’s wife is reopened – it had closed during the incident with Sarah.


Isaac is born. Sarah wants Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham does so under God’s instruction. Ishmael and Hagar preserved in the desert by a well. Ishmael grows up to be a archer. Abraham makes covenant with Abimelech at Beersheba. Abimelech clears up a dispute about an important well, which his servants had seized.


God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac asks where the lamb is to be sacrificed before he is himself bound. God prevents the human sacrifice, and a ram caught in a thicket by the horns is sacrificed instead. God reconfirms covenant – through Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. A list of the descendants of Nahor, Abraham’s brother.


Sarah dies at the age of 127. Abraham purchases field of Ephron to use the cave as a burying place for Sarah. Sarah is buried.


Abraham doesn’t want Isaac to marry a Canaanite. A servant is dispatched to find a wife – one who must be willing to follow him back, because he does not want Isaac to leave the land that God has promised to Abraham. Servant goes to Nahor in Mesopotamia with camels. By a well, the servant prays that he may take as Isaac’s wife the woman who, when he asks for water, offers him water for his camels as well. Rebekah does so. Servants offers Rebekah a nose bring and bracelets. Rebekah’s brother, Laban, agrees to the marriage. Rebekah puts on a veil when she first sees Isaac. They are happily married.


Abraham marries Keturah. Abraham dies, and is buried in Ephron next to Sarah. A list of Ishmael’s descendants. When pregnant, Rebekah is told by the Lord that two nations are contending within her, and that the older shall serve the younger. Jacob and the already prodigiously hairy Esau are born. Esau is a hunter, Jacob is a mild man who dwells in tents. Esau is the favourite of Isaac, but Jacob is the favourite of Rebekah. sells birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage (= a meal of soup or stew).


Famine – the Lord tells Isaac not to go to Egypt, but to remain in Gerar with Abimelech. Covenant reaffirmed to Isaac. Isaac pretends that Rebekah is his wife, and is rebuked by Abimelech. Abimelech commands no man to touch Rebekah. Isaac becomes mighty. Abimelech commands him to leave, so he goes to dwell in the vallety of Gerar, redigging the wells of his father that the Philistines had filled in. Some squabbles about the ownership of wells. Lord appears to Isaac at Beer-sheba – Isaac builds an altar there. Abimelech, seeing that the Lord is with Isaac, reconciles himself with Isaac. Esau marries two Hittite women, to the displeasure of his parents.


Isaac is old and has dimmed eyes. He commands Esau to hunt and bring him food, that he may be blessed. Rebekah tells Jacob to take two goats for food to give to Isaac in Esau’s stead. She covers his hands and neck with goat’s hide, so he appears to be an hairy man, and not a smooth man. Jacob deceives Isaac into blessing him and not Esau. Rebekah advises Jacob to sojourn with his uncle Laban until Esau’s wrath has subsided.


With Isaac’s blessing, Jacob goes to Laban to find a wife. Esau marries a daughter of Ishmael. Jacob sleeps in Bethel, with a stone for his pillow. He dreams of a ladder from heaven to earth, with angels descending from it. The Lord promises the land on which Jacob lies to him and to his seed. Isaac sets up an altar at this place.


Jacob, journeying to Laban, comes across a stone that is kept over the opening of a well. When the well is used to water the flocks, it is removed by the shepherds. Rachel, the daughter of Laban, approaches with her flock, and Jacob single-handedly removes the stone from the well for her. Jacob and Laban meet; Jacob agrees to work for seven years for Laban in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Laban switches Rachel for Leah, his other daughter at the wedding. (The trick worked because the bride would have been veiled.) Laban’s reason is that the elder daughter must be married first. Laban agrees to give Rachel to Jacob in return for another seven years worth of work. Leah bears Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah.


Rachel, out of frustration, gives her maid Bilhah to Jacob in a surrogate mother arrangement. Bilhah bears Dan and Naphtali. Gad and Asher are born to another maid, Zilpah. Leah then bears Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah. Rachel bears Joseph. Jacob negotiates a deal with Laban to start building a flock of sheep and goats for himself. Jacob will have the speckled, spotted and brown sheep. Jacob peels braches so they have white streaks in them. The sheep conceive in sight of these branches, and taking their visual cue from the striped branches, produced pied sheep. Jacob puts the branches in front of the stronger sheep rather than the weaker ones, so the pied sheep are the stronger. In this way, Jacob’s flock grows significantly.


Laban’s sons are resentlful that Jacob has all the best sheep. Laban is resentful too. If Laban said, the streaked sheep shall be Jacob’s wages, the sheep were all born streaked; the same if Laban changes his mind and stipulated the streaked or the grey-spotted as Jacob’s wages. The Lord tells Jacob to leave. Rachel and Leah support this course of action. Jacob secretly leaves Laban for Canaan. Unbeknownst to Jacob, Rachel steals Laban’s images. Laban chases Jacob, and does not find the images, despite searching for them. Jacob and Laban make peace covenant, and set up stones at Galeed, which either promise not to cross into the other’s territory.


Angels of God meet Jacob. Jacob divides up his servants bearing Esau gifts, so that if he attacks one group, the others will escape. Jacob sends off his servants bearing gifts in successive droves. Jacob wrestles with a ‘man’ who dislocates Jacob’s hip. Jacob doesn’t let the man go until he blesses him. The man changes Jacob’s name to Israel (‘strives with God’). To this day, the children of Israel do not eat the meat around the hip socket, out of remembrance to Jacob.


Jacob and Esau meet and are reconciled. Esau receives Jacob’s gift; Esau returns to Seir; Jacob journeys to Succoth, then Shechem and erects an altar.


Shechem son of Hamor, a local prince, rapes Dinah, the daughter of Leah. Hamor seeks to negotiate a marriage between Shechem and Hamor with Jacob. Simeon and Levi demand that all the men of Shechem be circumcised. They then kill all the men of Shechem when they are in pain, and plunder the city. Jacob is worried about how to Canaanites will react to the massacre, but Simeon and Levi are unrepentant.


The Lord commands Jacob to set up an altar at Bethel, and put aside all foreign gods. God reaffirms covenant to Jacob, and changes his name to Israel. Deborah, the maid of Rebekah who has never been mentioned before, dies. Rachel bears Benjamin then dies. She is buried in Bethlehem. Reuben lies with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. Isaac dies at the age of 180.


Esau marries Adah, Aholibamah and Bashemath from Canaan, has children, many cattle, and dwells in Mt Seir. The descendants of Esau are named.


Jacob dwells in Canaan. Jacob makes Joseph, his favourite, a coat of many colours. He is resented by his brothers. Joseph’s first dream: his bound sheaf rose, and the brothers’ sheaves fell down before it. Joseph’s second dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. The brothers are again resentful, but Jacob bears the dream in mind. Joseph is told by his father to report on his brothers and their flocks. He is told by a man that they have gone to Dothan. The brothers see him coming, and want to kill him and cast him into a pit, but Reuben prevents this. Instead, Joseph is cast into a pit, but by the time Reuben comes to recover him, he has been sold to Ishmaelites. Reuben rips his clothes in anguish. The brothers dip Joseph’s tunic in goat’s blood and show it to their father. Jacob goes into mourning. Jospeh is taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, an officer of the Pharaoh.


Judah sleeps with Shuah, bares Er, Onan and Shelah. Er marries Tamar. Er is killed by the Lord for an unspecified wickedness. Tamar marries Onan, who spills his seed on the ground (could be masturbation, or coitus interruptus). The Lord, displeased, kills Onan also. Tamar is instructed by Jacob to dwell at her father’s house until Judah’s third son, Shelah, reaches maturity. Judah’s wife dies, and Tamar realises Judah will never give his last son to fulfill the obligation to her. So, when Judah goes up to Timnah to shear his sheep, Tamar disguises herself as a harlot, and lies with Judah. Judah gives Tamar a signet, cord and staff to Tamar, as the pledge of his payment. Tamar then disappears. Three months later, she is found to be pregnant, and is condemned to be burnt as a harlot. Tamar is produced, and shows her signet, cord and staff. The reproved Jacob admits that he has not been righteous, because he did not give Shelah to Tamar as promised. Tamar has twins. One puts his hand out of the womb. The nurse puts a scarlet thread round this hand, but the other baby pops out first. The baby born first is called Perez, and the baby born second, with the scarlet thread round his wrists, is called Zerah.


Joseph taken to Egypt, bought by Potiphar. He prospers and is made overseer. Joseph is tempted by Potiphar’s wife. When he resists her, she falsely accuses him, and he is thrown into prison. Joseph prospers in prison.


Pharaoh’s baker and butler are also cast into prison. Joseph interprets their dreams. The butler’s dream is that a tree sprouts three branches which bud, so the butler takes the grapes, presses them and then presents them in a cup to the Pharaoh. Joseph’s interpretation is that within three days, the butler will be restored as the Pharaoh’s cupbearer. Joseph asks that he be remembered by the butler to the Pharaoh. The baker’s dream is that he had three baskets of bread on his head, and that the birds pecked from the uppermost one. Joseph’s interpretation is that within three days, he will be hung and the bird will peck on his flesh. Sure enough, the butler restored, and the baker killed. The butler forgets to remember Joseph to the Pharaoh, however.


Pharaoh dreams that seven lean cows followed seven fat cows out of a river and ate them up; he also dreams that seven thin heads of corn devour seven healthy heads of corn on a single stalk. The butler recalls Joseph’s skill in interpreting dreams, and he is summoned before the Pharaoh. Crediting his interpretive skill to God, Joseph says the dreams prefigure seven years or plenty and seven years of famine. Joseph advises the Pharaoh to keep a reserve of corn. Joseph is promoted to a position of great authority. Joseph marries the daughter of a priest and has two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Jospeh controls the storehouses in the years of famine.


Jacob sends all his sons, apart from Benjamin, into Egypt to procure corn. The brothers bow down to Joseph; he accuses them of being spies and demands that Benjamin come to Egypt. Simeon is kept behind as a guarantor of the brothers’ return with Benjamin. The brothers’ money is placed in their sacks in with the corn when they return. Jacob refuses to let Benjamin go to Egypt.


Judah convinces his father to let the brothers go to Egypt with Benjamin. Joseph’s brothers go with Benjamin and money and gifts to Egypt again. They fear they will be accused of being thieves because of the money they found in their sacks, but Joseph has feast with his brothers, and favours Benjamin.


Joseph places a silver cup in the sack of Benjamin. When they leave Egypt, a steward overtakes them, searches them, find the cup, and accuses them of theft. Benjamin is required to stay in Egypt; Judah offers to take his place.


Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, and offers gifts and the land of Goshen to his father and brothers. The brothers return to Canaan. Benjamin is loaded with gifts and money. Jacob wishes to see Jospeh before he dies.


God orders Jacob (here called Israel) to go to Egypt. The entire family (including all the sons of the brothers) move to Egypt. Joseph is reconciled with his father.


Pharaoh meets Joseph’s father and brothers, and offers them the best land in Egypt. The famine worsens;money pours into Egypt, because it is the only place to buy corn. The Egyptians trade cattle and land for food. The family grow powerful in Egypt. Israel makes Joseph vow to bury him in Canaan.


Joseph and his two sons, Manesseh and Ephraim, meet Jacob. Jacob blesses Joseph’s two sons, saying the younger shall be greater.


Jacob gathers his twelve sons, commands, blesses and prophecies concerning them, and charges them to bury him with his father, Abraham and Sarah in the field of Ephron the Hittite. Reuben shall not excel, because he went up to his father’s bed. Judah shall be a lion – the sceptre shall not depart from him. Jacob dies.


Jacob is embalmed and mourned. Joseph, family and Egyptians bury Jacob in Canaan. Joseph forgives his brothers, who fall down before him. Joseph dies at the age of 110.