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Milo SKinner & Hal Skinner 1980–2015


A young man and his grandpa who have reminded me to love the souls around me while they’re near, and then when they’re gone, to never forget their stories and the reasons why we love them still.

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ne sentence guides everything I write. It came out of the mouth of a journalism prof who taught my Newswriting 101 class at Kent State University: “Write as though the person reading just arrived from Mars.” Welcome to Earth. This is a book about Genesis, the first book in a collection of books called the Bible. Many people around the world consider the Bible a sacred library, written by people who were inspired by God, Creator of the universe. Genesis is the story of Creation: the beginning of life, humanity, and civilization. It’s a book full of weird and wild stories. • a talking snake • God making Eve from Adam’s rib • fallen angels and human women making baby giants • a flood that covers the entire planet • a 100-year-old man and his 91-year-old wife having a baby Bible experts don’t always know what to make of these stories. But they’ve got their educated guesses. I report those theories from a wide range of scholars: traditional as well as progressive. I try to do it objectively so you don’t see my opinion coming through. That’s often easy for me to do because I’m as confused as the next guy. I also write this way because I want you to think for yourself. I keep the words casual. I’m not a Bible scholar. Any Bible scholar would tell you that with glee. I’m a news journalist who graduated from seminary with a degree in biblical studies. I cover the Bible beat. I’m just another grunt trying to get the story right. If you’re curious about what the book of Genesis teaches and what a wide range of Christian Bible experts have to say about it—and if you don’t mind a little dry humor here and there— hang on to this book. I was thinking of you when I wrote it.

A WORD OF   THANKS Publishers call this a “complex book” when they’re being polite. Words. Photos. Paintings. Maps. All of these have to be carefully and brilliantly displayed on every two-page canvas inside the book covers. I needed a little help to pull that one off.

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From pitching the book idea to sending the finished book to the printer, here are a few kind souls who helped along the way: • Steve Laube, my agent and cherished business partner • Terry Glaspey, the acquisitions editor who pitched my book to his publishing team • Bob Hawkins, Harvest House president, who gave the book his blessing • Gene Skinner, who edited the book like nobody’s business, polishing the words • Janelle Coury, the designer who made the book look gorgeous • A multitude of others from here to there, unknown by me yet considered with gratitude God bless them every one.


Stephen M. Miller

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CONTENTS INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .







When and Where Did It Happen? 



Genesis at a Glance 

GENESIS 1: Where Life Got Its Start . . . . . . . . . . . . . Where NASA and Genesis Agree   How Do We Resemble God?  Why Are We Here? 



Six Days of Creation 



GENESIS 2: One Couple, One Paradise. . . . . . . . . . . How to Say God’s Name 


Adam Named Every Animal? 


GENESIS 3: Evicted from Paradise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Devil of a Snake 


200,000-Year-Old Eve 


How Adam’s Original Sin Messed Us Up 


GENESIS 4: World’s First Dysfunctional Family . . . . Why God Rejected Cain’s Offering 


GENESIS 5: Adam’s Family Tree. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . People Lived for Centuries?  Methuselah: Flood Victim? 

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Genesis: What’s It About?  Who Wrote It? 

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GENESIS 6: Humans Go Bad. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Flood Cruise. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



God: “I’m Sorry I Made You” 

GENESIS 7: Waterworld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gopher Wood? 


Bible Flood Story Versus Iraqi Flood Story 


GENESIS 8: Disembarking the One-Year Captain’s Log, Star Date 600 


GENESIS 9: Rainbow: How God Signs

a Contract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


GENESIS 10: The World’s Family Tree. . . . . . . . . . . .


GENESIS 11: Babel: Big-Mouth Tower . . . . . . . . . . . .


How Babylon Got Its Name 


Iraq’s Version of How We Got Different Languages 


GENESIS 12: Abraham Leaves Home at Age 75. . . .


GENESIS 13: Abraham and Lot Part Company. . . . .


GENESIS 14: Abraham to the Rescue . . . . . . . . . . . .



Mystery Man Melchizedek 


Abraham to the Rescue: History or Myth? 


GENESIS 15: Contract with God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

GENESIS 16: Sarah’s Backup Plan for a Baby. . . . . . 84 Legal: Surrogate Moms 


GENESIS 17: Cutting on the Dotted Line. . . . . . . . . . Abraham’s New Name 




GENESIS 18: Sarah Is Going to Be a Mom. . . . . . . . .

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GENESIS 19: Sodom and Gomorrah Toasted. . . . . .


Sister” Trick Again. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


What Happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? 


GENESIS 20: Abraham Pulls the “She’s My

GENESIS 21: It’s a Boy for 91-Year-Old Sarah. . . . . . Beer Well 





GENESIS 22: Abraham Almost Sacrifices Isaac. . . . Finding Jesus in Isaac’s Story  Sacrifice Hill: Moriah 



GENESIS 23: RIP Sarah. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . World’s Oldest Jewish Shrine 


GENESIS 24: Rebekah Says “I Do”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 GENESIS 25: Jacob and Esau: Trouble

with Twins. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Esau: Call Him Red 


GENESIS 26: Isaac’s Lie: Like Father, Like Son . . . .


GENESIS 27: Stealing Dad’s Dying Wish. . . . . . . . . .



Wrong Wife. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


What Good Is a Blessing? 


GENESIS 28: Jacob’s Surprising Dream. . . . . . . . . . Sweet Dreams: A Dream Interpreter’s Guidebook 


GENESIS 29: Jacob Wakes Up with the

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GENESIS 30: Jacob’s Assets: Kids and Critters . . . .


GENESIS 31: Jacob Leaves with no Goodbye. . . . . .


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GENESIS 32: Jacob Wrestles a Mystery Man. . . . . .



Little Sis Dinah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Smackdown: The Story Behind the Wrestling Match  136

GENESIS 33: Esau to Jacob: How About a Hug?. . . . GENESIS 34: Avenging the Rape of

GENESIS 35: Rachel Dies Giving Birth

to Benjamin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Why Reuben Slept with Dad’s Wife  Jacob’s Tribe 



GENESIS 36: Climbing Esau’s Family Tree. . . . . . . .


the Nile River. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


GENESIS 37: Selling Little Bro’ Joe Down

GENESIS 38: Judah: “Oops, I Slept with My

Daughter-in-Law” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

GENESIS 39: Joseph, Sexually Harassed

by a Cougar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Who Got Potiphar Mad? 



GENESIS 40: Joseph, Dream Interpreter

Behind Bars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joseph’s Timeline 



Was Potiphar a Butcher and Eunuch? 



GENESIS 41: Pharaoh Dreams It,

Joseph Explains It. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What Exactly Is Joseph’s Job? 

GENESIS 42: Joseph’s Big Brothers


Come Calling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Taste of Their Own Medicine 



Seven-Year Drought Written in Stone 

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GENESIS 43: Benjamin’s Egyptian Adventure . . . . .


the Test. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


GENESIS 44: Joseph Puts Big Brothers to Telling the Future with a Drink 


GENESIS 45: Joseph’s Reveal:

“I Am Your Brother” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joseph, Father of the God 



GENESIS 46: When the Jews Became Egyptians. . .


into Slaves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Land o’ Goshen 


GENESIS 47: Joseph Turns Egyptians Five Nomads Turned Away 


GENESIS 48: Jacob’s Kind Words for

Two Grandkids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


GENESIS 49: Jacob Blesses His Sons Goodbye. . . .


GENESIS 50: Jacob: Embalmed for a Road Trip. . . .


NOTES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




The Art of Embalming Jacob and Joseph  Up Next: Jews Wear Out Their Welcome 

191 192

ART CREDITS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209 INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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GENESIS AT A GLANCE Generations One Through Ten: Way Back When Six days to create the universe (Genesis 1) Adam, Eve evicted from paradise (Genesis 2–3) Cain murders brother Abel (Genesis 4) Humanity’s ten-generation family tree (Genesis 4–5) Noah’s waterworld (Genesis 6–9) Noah’s family tree (Genesis 10–11) Abraham’s Story: Circa 2100 BC Abraham moves from Iraq to Israel (Genesis 12–13) Abraham rescues kidnapped nephew Lot (Genesis 13–14) God promises Abraham sons and land (Genesis 15–18) Sodom and Gomorrah are toast (Genesis 19) Abraham’s family drama and the birth of Isaac   (Genesis 20–21) Abraham almost sacrifices Isaac (Genesis 22) Sarah dies (Genesis 23) Finding a wife for a 40-year-old bachelor (Genesis 24) Abraham dies (Genesis 25) Isaac starts a family (Genesis 25–26) Jacob’s Story: Circa 1900 BC Jacob steals brother Esau’s blessing (Genesis 27) Jacob dreams of a stairway to heaven (Genesis 28) Headache of a family: Four women, thirteen kids   (Genesis 29–31) Tense reunion with Esau (Genesis 32–33) Jacob goes home (Genesis 34–35) Esau’s Arab descendants (Genesis 36) Joseph’s Story: Circa 1800 BC Brothers sell him to slave traders (Genesis 37) Judah sleeps with daughter-in-law (Genesis 38) Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt (Genesis 39–41) Painful family reunion (Genesis 42–45) Jacob moves family to Egypt, dies (Genesis 46–50)

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When God created the universe, he started with existing material that was formless and dark, the Bible says. With that, he began to separate and organize that material. NASA astrophysicists use similar words to describe the birth of the universe. They say it’s made up mostly of mysterious substances called dark energy and dark matter.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. Genesis 1:1-2


n the beginning God did not create. Instead, “God started to create.” That’s what some Hebrew lingo specialists say. God created (1:1) comes from a Greek translation of the original Hebrew language. And the Greek translator wasn’t up on his Hebrew, some Jewish scholars say. What difference does it make? The corrected version emphasizes that creation was a process. The question debated among Christians today is how long that process took—one week or an eon of weeks.

Genesis 1

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When the universe was young, it was nearly smooth and featureless. As it grew older and developed, it became organized.  1

Astrophysicists estimate that only about 5 percent of the universe is organized into objects we can see, such as planets and stars. Seventy percent is dark energy, sometimes cryptically described as a property of space: empty, but with such characteristics as the ability to allow the universe to expand. The rest of the universe, an estimated 25 percent, is dark matter: exotic particles that can’t be seen—possibly axions, hypothetical particles 500 million times lighter than an electron.

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least 300 years before Moses could have written Genesis—if he wrote it, as Jewish tradition says he did. Some scholars theorize that the Genesis writer may have heard that famous Babylonian story but wanted everyone to know it was God who created the world and everything in it— not Marduk or any other supposed god.


God said, “Let there be light” (1:3), and light exploded into the darkness. Creation began with a burst of light. Some Christians say they see elbow room for the big bang theory—with God pulling the trigger on creation’s big boom. But the Genesis story of creation isn’t about the “how,” most scholars quickly add. It’s about the “who.” It preaches that God is the source of everything in the universe. God had competition. Throughout the ancient Middle East, centuries before scholars say Moses or anyone else could have written Genesis, stories circulated about various gods creating the world. A god named Marduk gets the credit in one legend from Iraq, where many historians say civilization started. Marduk was the top god of that region, known as Babylon. Babylonian writers described him as the lord of heaven and earth. A copy of Marduk’s creation story turned up in the ruins of an Assyrian library in northern Iraq. The story is called Enuma Elish (When Above), taken from the story’s opening words: “When the sky above… ” One version of this story dates to the 1700s BC. That’s at

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On day two—whether that was 24 hours later or an eon of 24 hours later—God gives his next command: “Let there be a huge space between the waters” (1:6 nirv). This “huge space” is everything we humans can see, from the brown dirt of earth to clouds in the blue sky above. Some old-school Bible translations call this room the “firmament” (nkjv). People in ancient times seemed to think of the sky as a hard dome protecting the earth from an ocean above the sky: “Can you help God spread out the skies? They are as hard as a mirror that’s made out of bronze” (   Job 37:18 nirv). The ancients also seemed to think that the sky was blue because of the water above the clear dome. Ancient Middle Eastern legends older than Moses also say water played important

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Did God create the entire universe in just six 24-hour days, as a literal read of Genesis suggests? Christians debate this hot topic. The creation story isn’t rocket science, most Bible scholars say. Or any other kind of science. So they say we shouldn’t look for a scientific timeline in the creation story. Otherwise, we’ll have a tough time explaining…  • A literal six-day creation when it wasn’t until day four that God created the sun and moon—our tools for measuring 24-hour days (1:14). • Plants growing on day three—which was one day before God created the sun, which produces plant food (radiation). There’s more poetry than science at work here, most Bible experts agree. The rhythmic flow includes lines repeated throughout what sounds to some folks like the lyrics of a song. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light…  Evening passed and morning came, marking the first day (1:3,5). God said, “Let there be a space between the waters”…  Evening passed and morning came, marking the second day (1:6,8).

The writer beats that drum through six wonderfully pulsing choruses. Parallelism like that is a hallmark of Hebrew poetry—just as rhyme, in English, clues us that the writer is more into poetry than history. Not that we can’t have both. But if we’re reading history from a poet… we’d want to know it. That’s what a good many Christians say. Those who lobby for a creation process extending over billions of years quote the Bible: “A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). Those who lobby for six literal days of creation say they’re simply repeating what the Bible story itself clearly says: days, not eons. Many scholars admit that the word “day” alongside the mention of morning and evening clearly suggests a 24-hour day. Yet some are quick to add that we should keep in mind the literary genre we’re reading—a genre they say is more poetry than history or science. Yet if Gallup pollsters are right, almost half of America reads the story literally—some 42 percent.  2

Genesis 1

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HUMANS GO BAD God saw that human evil was out of control… God said, “I’ll get rid of my ruined creation.” Genesis 6:5,7 msg


t takes humans just ten generations to thoroughly pollute God’s creation morally and spiritually. God’s solution: a do-over. As the Genesis writer tells it, the main problem seems to start with some mysterious sons of God (6:2). Whoever they were, they fell in lust with Earth’s beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives. Bible experts can only guess who these sons of God were. Two popular guesses: • Celestial spirits, possibly angels. This is the oldest known interpretation, popular among Jews and early Christians alike. It shows up in the Jewish writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, of the historian Josephus (AD 37–100), and in the Christian writings of churchmen from the AD 100s and 200s—leaders such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen. • Kings and other leaders. Beginning as early as the middle of the AD 100s, many religious leaders—Jews as well as Christians—came up with this view. Some argue that the sons of God could not have been angels because Jesus suggested that angels don’t get jiggy with

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Fall of the giants. “Fallen angels” is what early Jewish and Christian writers offered as their best guess for the mysterious “sons of God” who married human women. The reason for that guess: Wives of the “sons of God” gave birth to children who grew into giants called Nephilites, from the Hebrew word that means “fallen ones.”

sex: “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven” (Mark 12:25). Whoever the sons of God are, they produce super-sized kids: giant Nephilites (6:4). The Bible mentions Nephilites just one other time. They will show up in the report that Joshua and other Jewish scouts bring back to Moses after exploring what is now Israel.

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Really? Humans are such a disappointment that God says it was a mistake to create them? If Moses wrote this book as part 1 of the first five books in the Bible, as ancient Jewish tradition says he did, then why did Moses later write, “God is not a man… he does not change his mind” (Numbers 23:19)? Some Bible experts argue that the two statements don’t clash. They say God wasn’t sorry in the sense that he was surprised and that he wished he could go back and uncreate humans. Instead, he was sorry perhaps in the way parents might be bitterly disappointed and deeply hurt by terrible decisions their children make. A parent might say, “I’m sorry I ever brought you into this world.” But Mom or Dad don’t mean that literally. It’s an exaggerated way of expressing extreme sorrow.

GOD: “I’M SORRY I MADE YOU” God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place. Genesis 6:6 msg

We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them (Numbers 13:33 tniv).

it takes Noah to build a boat 150 yards long, 25 yards wide, and 15 yards high (137 by 23 by 14 m). Then he’s going to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes (6:17).

The word “Nephilim” means “fallen ones,” as in warriors who fell in battle. That fits the context, since the Genesis writer calls them famous warriors born from the sons of God who had sex with human women. For future reference, God decides to limit the human lifespan to no more than 120 years (6:3)—and, in fact, lifespans after the coming flood will drop off to about a tenth of what they had been, from the max of nearly 1000 years. In the meantime, God is going to limit the current crop of humans to however long

Genesis 6

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WATERWORLD For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper… Finally, the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, rising more than twenty-two feet [9 m] above the highest peaks. Genesis 7:17,19-20


ne week before the flood, God tells 600-year-old Noah to load a boat with family, critters, and enough supplies to last the year they will need to live on the boat. The critters include “a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female” (6:19) along with seven pairs (7:2) of all the birds and all the kosher animals God had approved for eating and for sacrificing. What’s odd is that it wasn’t until the time of Moses that God spelled out exactly which animals were kosher and which were “ceremonially unclean” (Deuteronomy 14). Yet many scholars say that God’s instruction to Noah shows that the kosher laws were in place many centuries before Moses wrote them down. 52

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Noah’s Asian ark. A life-sized replica of Noah’s boat dominates a Christian theme park on Ma Wan Island in Hong Kong. Noah could have parked two of his boats side-byside on a football field, though at 150 yards (137 m) long, they would have taken up a few rows of seats past both end zones. The boat was about half the size of a typical cruise ship.

There are eight humans on the boat: Noah, his wife, his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth (7:13), and his sons’ wives. In what could sound like a mass migration, the animals entered the boat in pairs, male and female… representing every living thing that breathes (7:9,15). Scientists today have no idea how many species of animals there are. Estimates range from 3 million to 50 million. That’s a lot of animals for eight people to tend during the year everyone stayed on the boat. Some students of the Bible lower that number by saying God didn’t need one of every kind of species. One pair of dogs would do, for example. So they drop the number to around 20,000 representatives of each species. Work the math, and you’d have each human tending around 2500 pairs of critters, feeding and watering them every day. Which raises the question of where their food and freshwater

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came from. Some estimates say Noah would have needed about 70 percent of the boat’s storage space for the water alone. Unless he somehow tapped into the rainwater. Many Bible scholars today don’t spend time trying to make the math work. They concede that it doesn’t. Others insist that if it’s in the Bible, God somehow made it work. Perhaps he put the animals in a long stretch of hibernation—that’s one of many long-shot theories. When the flood starts, it comes from high and low, from the sky and possibly from underground springs and massive aquifers: Springs of the great deep… floodgates of the heavens (7:11 niv). The Disi Aquifer—buried beneath the desert on Saudi Arabia’s northern border with Iraq and Jordan—spreads out to about half the size of Iraq. Yet some scholars say the phrase reads like parallelism in Hebrew poetry. One

Bring your own boat. For 40 days—which may mean simply “a long time”—rain fell and underground springs erupted. Some scholars say the flood may have covered not the world as we know it, but the world as the ancients knew it—where civilization began, along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Sixteen hundred feet (500 m) below the nearby desert lies the massive Disi Aquifer, a hidden lake half the size of Iraq. The Bible says Noah’s ark ran aground somewhere in the Ararat Mountains. At 16,854 feet (5137 m), Mount Ararat is the highest in the range. The Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient story from Iraq, tells a similar flood story with a boat running aground on 8609-foot (2624 m) Mount Nimush.

characteristic of Hebrew poetry is that it used parallel ideas, much like some English poetry uses parallel sounds (rhyming). In this case, water coming from high and low may have had more to do with the amount of water than

Genesis 7

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Mountaintop dock. Noah’s ark ran aground somewhere in the Ararat Mountains, the Bible reports. An old Christian tradition pinpoints the highest peak in the range: Mount Ararat, altitude 16,854 feet (5137 m) high and sitting on the far side of the range from where civilization grew up in the Fertile Crescent alongside the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. An Iraqi story older than Moses says a boat that survived the flood ran aground much closer to civilization, on Mount Nimush—possibly Pir Omar Gudrun (aka on Google Maps: Jabal Birah Magrun), altitude 8609 feet (2624 m).

Did the Genesis writer copy some of the flood story from an earlier story found in Iraq? Bible experts don’t agree, of course. Some say the two stories are different enough that it’s unlikely one writer borrowed from the other. More likely, the scholars say, the writers are telling different versions of the same story. Others scholars say there are enough similarities that the Genesis writer likely had heard the earlier flood story, which Here are some of the parallels that scholmany scholars say predated Moses by at least a couple of centuries—maybe more. Jewish ars say they see when they compare the Gentradition credits Moses as the Genesis writer. esis flood story and the flood tablet excerpt Some scholars speculate that the Gen- from the Epic of Gilgamesh. esis writer used this popular story to teach people about the one true God.

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Epic of Gilgamesh

A god decides to wipe out the human race.

“The Lord said, ‘I will wipe this “The gods… decided to send the human race I have created from flood.” the face of the earth’ ” (6:7).

A god warns one man.

“God said to Noah, ‘I have decided to destroy all living creatures’ ” (6:13).

“Ea [a god] said [to Utnapishtim, the Noah of Gilgamesh]… ”

Order: Build a boat.

“Build a large boat” (6:14).

“Tear down this house and build a boat.”

Order: Pack what you need to start over.

“Bring a pair of every kind of animal” (6:19).

“Take on board everything you need to start over, the seeds of a new life.”

Shipbuilding specs

“Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide… Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof    ” (6:15-16).

“Every side of the cube-shaped boat measured 200 feet.”


“Waterproof it with tar, inside and out” (6:14).

“I poured enough asphalt inside to coat 1163 square feet.”

Hero obeys.

“Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him” (6:22).

“I told Ea, my lord: ‘My lord, what you have ordered I will be honored to do.’ ”

Final warning

“Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth” (7:4).

“Sun god Shamash set the time: ‘When morning breaks.’ ”

All aboard.

“The Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the boat’ ” (7:1).

“Board the ship.”

Seal the door.

“The Lord closed the door behind them” (7:16).

“Batten down the hatches.”

Everything out- “Everything that breathed and side died. lived on dry land died” (7:22). Rain ends.

“For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper” (7:17)

“The entire human race had returned to clay.” “When the seventh day arrived the South Wind… finally ceased.” Continued on page 58.

Genesis 7

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ABRAHAM AND LOT PART COMPANY Abram and Lot had so many animals that the land could not support both of them together. Genesis 13:6 ncv


icked out of Egypt, Abraham and his entourage head back to what is now southern Israel. An area called the Negev (13:1). That’s a Hebrew word for “dry.” Lots of rocks and dirt, though some good grazing pasture during springtime rains. There are two households in the caravan: Abraham’s family along with the family of his nephew, Lot, who apparently grew up an orphan. Lot’s father, Abraham’s brother

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Competitive grazing. A couple of addax, also known as white antelope or screwhorn antelope, graze head-to-head in the Negev. It’s a badlands kind of landscape in south Israel. Abraham landed here after leaving Egypt. Then he moved north to greener pastures in what became the heartland of Israel, near Jerusalem. In time, even that land couldn’t sustain his herds along with those of his nephew Lot. When their herders started arguing over grazing fields, the two men split up gracefully.

Haran, died before the family left the city of Ur in south Iraq. Apparently, Lot’s Grandpa Terah took care of him. And over the decades it seems Lot developed a close bond with his Uncle Abraham, who may have become his father figure. From the parched Negev, the two men move their herds north, eventually camping between Bethel and Ai (13:3). There, they graze their livestock in the valleys and on the slopes of the rolling hills. The area lies about

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Abraham takes the high road. When Abraham and Lot move to separate camps, Abraham stays in the Judean Hills of Canaan. Lot moves to the cities of the plain in the Jordan River Valley, settling near the city of Sodom. Some theories place Sodom north of the Dead Sea. Others link Sodom and Gomorrah to ruins beside the Dead Sea’s southern shallows. Some scholars speculate that the area was once a fertile plain—an extension of the Jordan River Valley— with streams that flowed north into the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on earth and the drainage pit of the Middle East.

Genesis 13

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CONTRACT WITH GOD The Lord made an agreement with Abram and said, “I will give to your descendants the land between the river of Egypt and the great river Euphrates.”

Incoming. A vulture plays its part in a Tibetan ritual called “sky burial.” Birds of prey are allowed to eat the bodies of the dead. Abraham, in a vision, drives away vultures trying to eat the carcasses of five animals he sacrificed. Some scholars say the vultures are a symbol of attacks that Abraham’s descendants will have to fight off. Others say, why get so poetic about a few hungry vultures?

him what is now Israel and parts of neighboring Arab nations, Abraham seems to get a tad skeptical. He asks, “How can I be sure?” (15:8). Genesis 15:18 ncv This story takes place in a vision—and it’s the only story that explicitly says God appears to Abraham in a vision, though God may have ere’s the odd part. Abraham, probably in done so many times before. his 80s, doesn’t seem to have any trouble “Don’t be afraid!” God tells Abraham, “I believing God’s promise to give him a natural- will protect you and reward you greatly” (15:1 born son. But when God also promises to give cev).

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Abraham, in the vision, is not impressed. He asks, “What good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son?” (15:2). Abraham is afraid that a slave instead of a son will inherit the estate God has given him. When God says Abraham will have his own flesh-and-blood son along with descendants “too many to count” (15:5 ncv), Abraham essentially says, “Sounds good to me.” The writer reports it this way: Abram believed the Lord. The Lord was pleased with Abram because he believed. So Abram’s faith made him right with the Lord (15:6 nirv). Some students of the Bible interpret the verse something like this: “Abram believed in the Lord, and because of that the Lord saved him.” Even Paul, in the New Testament, will use this verse to emphasize how important it is to trust God for salvation. Yet most Bible experts say that’s not what’s going on with Abraham. He’s not getting saved. He’s already God’s man. Instead, scholars say, Abraham is simply trusting that God will do what he said and give him a son. God is happy Abraham trusts him that much. The Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith (15:6). Scholars debate what that means. In the New Testament, Paul will quote this line to show that the way to righteousness and God’s approval is to trust God. In other words, we can’t earn righteousness by doing a lot of good stuff and obeying a church manual full of rules. “People are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners” (Romans 4:5). If Abraham is any example, righteousness leads to good things for the God-approved soul and the people in his or her life.

After God sees Abraham’s response, God reacts with another promise: a nation. The boundaries of this nation stretch far beyond what is now Israel. Some say King Solomon grew his kingdom to fit God’s promise. Solomon’s influence reached as far north as the Euphrates River in what is now Syria, and as far south as “the river of Egypt” (15:18 nasb). That’s possibly the Nile River or Wadi El-Arish, which is now usually a dry riverbed along Israel’s border with Egypt. Or maybe the writer was talking about some other stream. This promise seems to trip Abraham. He doesn’t seem to take the leap of faith. Instead, he asks, “How can I be sure that I will own this land?” (15:8 ncv). Most Bible experts say this question is no big deal. It doesn’t seem to bother God. Scholars say Abraham asked the question because he knew he wouldn’t be alive to see his descendants create a nation there. But he would be alive to see his son. That’s what Bible experts say is the difference between Abraham’s two responses to God’s two promises. Faith the first time. Questioning the next. Both are okay.

ODD ANIMAL SACRIFICES God tells Abraham to kill five animals: a three-year-old cow a three-year-old goat a three-year-old male sheep (ram) a dove a young pigeon

Abraham cuts the large animals in half but not the birds. He presents them to God. As Abraham waits for God to respond, vultures swooped down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away (15:11). Some

Genesis 15

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Super-sized Promised Land. The Genesis writer says God promises Abraham a homeland that stretches from the Euphrates River in what is now Syria to “the river of Egypt” (15:18 nasb), possibly as far as the Nile River, though many Bible experts say it’s more likely a stream closer to modern Israel, such as Wadi El-Arish, just across Israel’s southern border.

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Slaves for sale. Egyptians prepare to sell Nubian slaves from what are now southern Egypt and Sudan. God told Abraham the Jews would spend 400 years enslaved in a foreign nation, but that they eventually “will return here to this land” (Genesis 15:16). Abraham’s descendants “lived in Egypt for 430 years” (Exodus 12:40).

scholars see this as a symbol of tough times ahead for Abraham’s descendants. Others say it’s a sign that the faith of Abraham will protect them. Of course, many scholars say, no symbolism may have been intended. It could have been just a few hungry birds. In a nighttime dream or a vision, God appears to Abraham. God predicts that Abraham’s descendants will spend 400 years enslaved in a foreign land, which scholars say is a reference to their slavery in Egypt. But God also promises an exodus: “Your descendants will return here to this land” (15:16). Suddenly, Abraham sees a flaming torch (15:17) and a smoking firepot—perhaps a bit like a censer that priests use in church. Apparently levitating, the torch and pot pass between the halves of the dead critters.

It’s anyone’s guess what that meant to Abraham. But in the context of the Genesis writer’s report, it seems the ritual somehow sealed God’s promise to give the land to Abraham’s descendants. Perhaps it was a way of assuring Abraham, who wondered how he could possibly know that his descendants would get this land. Some scholars guess that God borrowed and adapted this ritual from Abraham’s world. Ancient documents from the city of Mari, in Abraham’s former part of the planet alongside the Euphrates River, describe similar rituals for making a treaty. The documents say that when a person walks between the split carcasses, it’s a way of enacting a treaty—of saying, “I’m in.”

Genesis 15

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ABRAHAM ALMOST SACRIFICES ISAAC God said… “Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.” Genesis 22:1-2 msg


t’s not just murder that the Bible says God asks Abraham to commit. It’s butchering and a barbecue. That’s what a burnt offering (22:2) is, if the Jewish law Moses later wrote followed a tradition that dates back to Abraham’s time and perhaps earlier: “Kill the animal… sprinkle its blood on all sides of the altar… cut the animal to

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“Don’t hurt him.” An angel stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. As Abraham looks up, he sees a ram caught in some bushes. This male sheep becomes a substitute sacrifice, taking Isaac’s place. Some Bible experts say they see in this a foreshadowing of Jesus’s sacrifice for humanity.

pieces… with the head and fat… burn all its parts on the altar” (Leviticus 1:11-13 ncv). Some wonder if the Genesis writer was a bit nervous about reporting this story. One clue: He uses an unusual word to identify God. The celestial being who asks Abraham to perform this seemingly ungodly human sacrifice isn’t “the Lord,” which is the English version of God’s Hebrew name Yahweh. Instead, the writer says it is “the God.” If Moses wrote Genesis and the rest of the first five books in the Bible, as Jewish tradition says he did, there’s only one other time he uses this word to describe “the God.” It’s when Exodus Jews stand terrified at the foot of Mount Sinai after receiving the Ten Commandments

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during a lightning storm. Moses tells them that the God “has come in this way to test you” (Exodus 20:20). The God also decided to test Abraham (22:1 cev). Why? That’s the big question. Is it because Abraham’s God, Yahweh, a name literally translated “I Am,” is “I Don’t Know”? All-knowing God is not sure what Abraham will do when put to the test? Or is God building Abraham’s faith even stronger than before? Or has God scripted a living prophecy that points to Jesus? Some 2000 years later, New

Testament writers will see Jesus in this story— as the Son offered in a sacrifice by the Father.

GOD SAYS PLEASE We don’t see it very clearly in most English Bible translations, but many scholars say they see it in the original Hebrew language: God’s compassion in the way he phrases his stern command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Four layers of compassion: • “Please,” or as Young’s Literal Translation puts it, “I pray thee.” • “Take your son.”


This isn’t just a story about something that happened more than 2000 years before Jesus was born. Not according to many Bible scholars. It’s a story about Jesus. Bible experts say they see the Genesis writer foreshadowing Jesus throughout the story. • Abraham put the wood on Isaac’s shoulder (22:6 cev). “Carrying his cross, Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill” (   John 19:17 msg). • Three days later Abraham… saw the place (22:4 cev). It was a three-day journey from Beersheba to Mount Moriah. The son of Abraham was supposed to die on the third day but lived. The Son of God “was raised from the dead on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:4). • Abraham… tied up his son Isaac (22:9 ncv). “Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up” (   John 18:12). • “You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son” (22:12). What Abraham was prepared to do because of his love for the Lord, God actually did because of his love for the world: “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son” (   John 3:16 cev). • Abraham… took the ram and sacrificed it… in place of his son (22:13). “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 ncv).

Genesis 22

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• “Your only son.” • “Whom you love so much” (22:2). It’s as though God is saying, “I know this is a lot to ask. I hate to put you through it. But I need to ask you to give me your son as a sacrificial offering.” The Genesis writer tells us almost nothing about the human-interest angle to the story. How did Abraham feel about what God told him to do, for example? The closest thing we get to a reaction from Abraham comes in the list of preparations he makes. • Abraham got up early. • He saddled his donkey…  • He chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering (22:3)

Wouldn’t a person who is thinking clearly chop the wood first and saddle the donkey later? Some Bible scholars say they wonder if this is a clue that Abraham was stunned and disoriented. The Genesis writer doesn’t tell us how old Isaac is. Jewish legend says he is 37, and news of Abraham’s plan to kill him shocks Sarah to death at age 127. But many students of the Bible say it seems unlikely that a 37-year-old man would willingly lay on top of a sacrificial altar while his 136-year-old father raises a knife to kill him. Besides, Abraham describes his son as a boy (22:5), not a man. Whatever Isaac’s age, he is strong enough to carry the firewood: Abraham put the wood on Isaac’s shoulder (22:6 cev). Abraham takes two of his servants with him. When Abraham sees his hilltop destination

Abraham was here? One Jewish tradition says Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac on a sacred rock that is now inside the golddomed Muslim shrine, the Dome of the Rock—Jerusalem’s most famous landmark. It sits on top of the Jerusalem ridge of hills across the valley from the sunlit ridge known as the Mount of Olives.

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Abraham’s long walk to sacrifice Isaac. Jerusalem is about a three-day walk from Abraham’s home in Beersheba. Jewish tradition says Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac on the Jerusalem hilltop that 1000 years later would become the home of Jerusalem’s first temple, built by King David’s son, Solomon.


God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in the land of Moriah… on one of the mountains (22:2). But the Genesis writer never tells us where that is. In all of the Bible, there is only one other mention of Moriah: “Solomon began to build the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah” (2 Chronicles 3:1 gw). Jerusalem seems to track nicely with the one clue the Genesis writer gives us: On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance (22:4). Abraham lived in Beersheba. It would have taken him about three days to walk to Jerusalem, some 55 miles (90 km) north along a meandering caravan trail.

Genesis 22

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Overpriced bean soup. Jacob gives his famished twin brother, Esau, a bowl of lentil soup. In return for the favor, Jacob gets at least double his normal inheritance—and possibly the entire family estate.

Abraham took another wife (25:1 nasb), but the writer doesn’t say when. Scholars say Abraham may have married Keturah (25:1) while Sarah was still alive. Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me Abraham’s six sons with Keturah each prosome of that red stew!”…  duce a kingdom of descendants. Most famous:   “All right,” Jacob replied, “but trade Midian, father of the Midianites. They grow me your rights as the firstborn son.” into a nation east of Israel, in what are now Genesis 25:30-31 parts of the Arab countries of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Midianites become a mixed bag in Jewt’s a shocker of a finale for Abraham’s life. He’s ish history, good and bad. Moses will marry about 136 years old when Sarah dies, yet it could sound as though during the 40 years or a Midianite. But Midianites will later raid the so that he has left, he remarries and fathers half Jewish homeland each harvest season until a Jewish hero named Gideon rallies a strike force a dozen more sons. Some Bible experts say they don’t read it of 300 men to drive them out. When Abraham dies at the ripe old age of that way, though.


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one hundred seventy-five (25:7-8 cev), his sons Isaac and Ishmael reunite to bury him east of Hebron in Machpelah Cave… beside his wife Sarah (25:9-10 cev). In time, Isaac’s descendants will grow into a dozen tribes that unite to form the Jewish nation. But before that, his older brother, Ishmael, will father a dozen sons. Descendants of those sons grow into a dozen Arab tribes that live mainly as herders throughout what is now Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

They often attacked the descendants of his brothers (25:18 ncv), just as an angel had predicted before Hagar gave birth to Ishmael: “He will attack all his brothers” (16:12 ncv).

NOT IDENTICAL TWINS Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, can’t have children— the same problem Isaac’s mother, Sarah, had for perhaps 70 years. Rebekah remains infertile for 20 years. A kid drought in both of these generations seems


It was so monumentally stupid of Esau to trade his rich inheritance for a bowl of red bean soup, people couldn’t resist nicknaming him Red. At least that’s one theory about why people gave him that name immediately after he made the trade. The Genesis writer seems to have a hard time understanding why Esau would show such contempt for his rights as the firstborn (25:34). Esau isn’t the only one in his family who was called Red. His descendants were called Red as well. The Hebrew word for “red” is “edom.” Edomites would live on the far side of the Dead Sea, where the Arab nation of Jordan is today. They would not be particularly kind to the Jews in the centuries ahead. Once, when Jewish refugees were fleeing to Edom to escape invaders from what is now Iraq, warriors of Edom “stood at the crossroads, killing those who tried to escape” (Obadiah 1:14).

Red-rock Petra. By candlelight, tourists gather at an ancient treasury, one of many facilities chiseled into the red-rock cliffs of Petra, stronghold capital of ancient Edom—homeland of Esau. (See the map on page 112.)

Genesis 25

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Rachel’s last child. A mother huddles with her newborn. After a hard delivery, Rachel barely had the life left to speak her son’s sad name. And she is gone.

to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau” (35:1). Bethel is where Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven. It’s also where God promised never to leave him, to bring him back, and to Rachel was dying. As she took her last give him this land: “I will do all I have prombreath, she named her son Benoni [Son ised” (28:15 cev). of My Sorrow], but his father named Jacob thinks of Bethel as a holy place: “the him Benjamin [Son of My Right Hand]. very gateway to heaven!” (28:17). He wants his Genesis 35:18 gw people presentable when they get there, so he says, “Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify fter Jacob’s sons massacre the men of yourselves, and put on clean clothing” (35:2). Shechem, God tells Jacob to leave. “Move Years earlier, Jacob had vowed to God, to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there “If you go with me and watch over me as I


Genesis 35

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Jacob has two primary wives and two secondary wives: Leah and her slave Zilpah, along with Rachel and her slave Bilhah. These women give birth to one dozen sons and a solitary daughter. Descendants of the 12 sons will become the 12 tribes of Israel.





Reuben (1) Simeon (2) Levi (3) Judah (4) Issachar (9) Zebulun (10) Dinah (11)

Gad (7) Asher (8)

Dan (5) Naphtali (6)

Joseph (12) Benjamin (13)

Numbers refer to birth order. child, goes into labor before they reach the region of Ephrath, possibly near what is now Bethlehem. David’s father, Jesse, was an “Ephrathite from Bethlehem” (1 Samuel 17:12). She delivers a son but dies moments later. The irony is that years earlier she had pled with her husband, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” (30:1). Now she gets both. With her dying breath, she names her son Ben-oni, “son of my sorrow” (35:18). Which is pretty much, Son of a Gun I Killed My Mother. Jacob apparently thought that was a

terrible name. So he renamed the boy Benjamin, which scholars say could mean either “son of my right hand” or “son of the south.” That’s where he is born, in Israel’s southland, possibly in the area that would become home to his tribe of descendants, the tribe of Benjamin. Though Rachel’s tomb is located about a mile north of Bethlehem, that site dates back only about a thousand years, to the Crusades. Many scholars say she probably died north of Jerusalem, as the Genesis writer describes it: still some distance from Ephrath (35:16 nrsv).

Genesis 35

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JUDAH: “OOPS, I SLEPT WITH MY DAUGHTER-IN-LAW” Judah saw her. He thought she was a prostitute because she had covered her face with a veil. He didn’t realize that she was his daughter-in-law. Genesis 38:15-16 nirv


ith Joseph now a slave in Egypt, the story jumps to Judah. He’s Joseph’s big brother who came up with the bright idea of selling little brother Joseph to slave traders. Judah’s sidebar of a tale spins around sex troubles. It all takes place during a stretch of about 22 years—after he and his brothers sell Joseph but before Jacob’s extended family moves down to Egypt to live with Joseph during a seven-year drought. Judah moves out on his own, away from Hebron, to the neighboring village of Adullam (see the map on page 147). He marries a Canaanite woman and has three sons. The oldest is Er, which sounds like a terrible name, but in Hebrew it means “wide awake.” Sons two and three: Onan and Shelah. Er marries a gal named Tamar, probably a

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“Recognize this, buster?” Judah had given his walking stick and his personal seal as collateral for payment when he thought he was having sex with a veil-covered prostitute. When his widowed daughter-in-law gave him back his staff and seal three months later and three months pregnant, he realized to his horror that he was the father.

Canaanite, many scholars guess. Er was very evil, and the Lord took his life (38:7 cev). Some Bible experts say the Genesis writer may have presumed this is what happened since many people in ancient times seemed to think

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that God micromanaged and that if people died young, it was God who pulled the plug. Judah tells his second son, Onan, “Go and marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. You must produce an heir for your brother” (38:8). Moses won’t give the Jews that law until several centuries later. But apparently the law of Moses, reported in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, is based on older customs. The law shows up in ancient records of the Assyrians, who lived in what is now northern Iraq, and in writings of the Hittites, a race of people who lived in what is now Turkey. By Judah’s time, some Hittites had migrated to what is now Israel, bringing their customs with them. If Onan and Tamar had a son, they would treat the boy as the son of Er. The boy would inherit whatever had belonged to his father— possibly including his father’s birthright as Judah’s oldest son. It was custom for the oldest son to get a double share of the family estate. Onan may have figured that if he kept Tamar from getting pregnant, the double share would go to him as Judah’s oldest surviving son. Onan didn’t want a child who would not be his own heir (38:9). So every time he had sex with Tamar, he withdrew before climaxing, to keep his swimmers away from Tamar’s eggs. Coitus interruptus. The opposite of God’s command: “Be fruitful and multiply, and repopulate the earth” (Genesis 9:7). The Lord took Onan’s life (38:10), the penalty for early withdraw. Again, some scholars say the Genesis writer may have presumed God killed Onan. But the traditional view is that the writer had a Reliable Source for his inside story. Judah has a problem. He has only one son

left. Tamar, looking like a black widow, has buried the first two. Now she’s saying, “Next.” Some ancient Middle Eastern records accuse serial widows of sorcery when their husbands keep dying on them like this. Judah promises Tamar she can marry son number three, Shelah, when he grows up. It’s not a promise Judah keeps. Tamar’s not going to take this lying down, figuratively speaking. Literally speaking, that’s exactly what she plans to do. She’s going to make a baby by turning a trick. Oddly, she doesn’t decide to trick Shelah, her no-show fiancé. She targets her father-inlaw, Judah. Some Bible experts say she seems to be following an ancient Hittite law, a copy of which is preserved from the 1200s BC. The original law may have been much older. The copy is written in wedge-shaped cuneiform letters pressed into clay and baked rock hard: If a man has a wife and the man dies, his brother should marry the widow. If the brother dies, his father should marry her (Hittite Law 193 of 200).

Tamar apparently decides to force a marriage with Judah. Tamar found out that her father-in-law Judah was going to Timnah to shear his sheep (38:13 cev). This is a festive season because it’s payday for shepherds. Lots of food and wine. Tamar changes out of her mourning clothes as a widow and apparently into the clothes of a shrine prostitute (38:21), whatever that looks like, complete with a veil to cover her face. Many shrines in the region are devoted to gods that supposedly control fertility in family, flocks, and fields. “Worshippers” hoping for more kids, more livestock, or a good harvest

Genesis 38

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Serfs up. Egyptian farmers harvest grain, cutting off tops of the stalks to collect the grain kernels they will grind into flour for bread. Joseph turns the people of Egypt into serfs who agree to sell the king their livestock and their land in exchange for grain that allows them to survive a seven-year drought.

JOSEPH’S BROTHERS MEET THE KING Two years into the drought, Joseph’s family Joseph made the people slaves from arrives from what is now Israel. one end of Egypt to the other. Joseph took five of his brothers with him Genesis 47:21 ncv and presented them to Pharaoh (47:2). As Joseph has instructed them, they assure the king they are just shepherds. Then they do icked twist. Joseph, who at age 17 had something apparently on their own. They ask managed to get himself sold to Egypt as a a favor: “There is no pasture for our flocks in slave, ends up buying the country, turning the Canaan. The famine is very severe there. So entire nation of Egypt into slaves for the king. please, we request permission to live in the Is this a success story or what? region of Goshen” (47:4). Joseph’s enslavement of Egypt takes place Lucky for them the king agrees—but one dusty year at a time as what will become a apparently without speaking directly to them, seven-year drought drags on. perhaps as regal protocol requires. He tells Joseph, his top can-do official, “Give them the


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Nile River Valley. See “Five Nomads Turned Away,” page 181.

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QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR PERSONAL REFLECTION GENESIS 1 1. God says, “Let us make human beings” (1:26). Who is the “us”? Miller reports several theories. Can you warm up to any of them?

2. In what ways do we resemble God (1:26-27)? 3. As you think about the universe, from stars in the sky to fish in the sea, what makes you feel most inclined to believe that there’s a Creator behind this creation?

GENESIS 2 1. Why do you think that after God finished his work of creation, “he rested” (2:2)? 2. Regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God told the man, “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die” (2:17). Adam ate it but didn’t die until age 930. Miller reports several theories to explain Adam’s long life. Which sounds most plausible to you?

3. How do you react to some Bible experts’ claim that we shouldn’t read the story of God creating Eve from Adam’s rib as a clinical procedure, but more like poetry?

GENESIS 3 1. Miller compares Genesis 3 to the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, in which a snake ate a plant at the bottom

of the sea. What do you think of the theory the Bible writer borrowed from an older story and used it to help teach people a lesson about sin?

2. What do you think of the theory that the Genesis writer does a little reverse engineering to explain why women don’t like snakes, childbirth hurts, and men have to work so hard to put food on the table?

3. Adam and Eve were booted out of the Garden of Eden and lost their connection with God. Most of us have probably felt that way from time to time. When that happens, what do you think it takes to reconnect with God?

GENESIS 4 1. Why do you think God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s offering? 2. Jewish law says, “Anyone who takes another person’s life must be put to death” (Leviticus 24:17). Why would you guess that God didn’t execute Cain for killing Abel?

3. Jewish tradition says the writer of Genesis was Moses (1400s or 1200s BC). The text says that Cain’s

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great-grandson, Tubal-cain, “became an expert in forging tools of bronze and iron” (4:22). The Iron Age did not start until about 1200 BC. How might Christians who put the story of Adam and Eve at 4000 BC respond?

GENESIS 5 1. God created humans to be “like himself” (5:1). Adam had a son named Seth who “was just like him—in his very image” (5:3). Do you think the writer is suggesting that humans in some way actually look like God?

2. These long lifespans reach almost 1000 years. Some scholars say this is accurate reporting. Others say

the writer was working with a different calendar. Still others say the high numbers are like an honorary doctorate—a way of showing respect. What you think?

3. Many Christians say that Enoch, like the prophet Elijah, never died. Do you think that’s what Genesis 5:23-24 teaches?

GENESIS 6 1. Who do you think these “sons of God” were? Why might the Genesis writer have included this story? 2. In only ten generations, people thoroughly pollute God’s creation morally and spiritually. In response,

God says, “I will destroy every living thing…I am sorry I ever made them” (6:7). How do you reconcile this with a loving God?

3. Noah’s ark would have been about half the size of a typical cruise ship today. How do you think that tracks with the report that God told Noah that the boat needed to hold “one pair of every kind of animal” (6:19) and the supplies needed to feed Noah’s family and the animals for a year?

GENESIS 7 1. Some Christians wonder how a flood could cover Mount Everest (29,000 feet, 8850 m) when geologists say there is not nearly enough water on the planet to do that. What’s your take on this?

2. Bible writers use the number 40 a lot. Flood rains fell 40 days (7:12). Moses met with God on Mount

Sinai for 40 days (Exodus 24:18). Jesus fasted 40 days (Matthew 4:2). Do you think we should read that number literally or as a way of saying “for a long time” or “for a few weeks”?

3. Noah demonstrated an incredible amount of faith in God. Have you ever had to put more faith in God than felt comfortable?

Questions for Discussion or Personal Reflection

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A QUICK GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE BIBLE Experience the Story from Genesis to Revelation A One-of-a-Kind Visual Guide to the Bible

You’ll feel as if you’re on the scene as the big events from the Bible unfold in this unique visual guide. Eye-catching 3-D maps (created with data from NASA) and plenty of other beautiful color graphics are paired with fast-paced, magazine-style accounts. You’ll find a fresh perspective on biblical highlights, including…  • Sinai Badlands Ahead: Moses Takes Jews on the Scenic Route • Herod the Not-So-Great: Arab King of the Jews • Jesus on the Road: Outside Galilee’s Comfort Zone With a touch of humor, seminary-educated newspaper journalist Stephen M. Miller draws from the finest current biblical scholarship to lead you on an informative and entertaining journey from Genesis to Revelation.

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A Visual Walk Through Genesis  
A Visual Walk Through Genesis  

Seminary-educated news journalist Stephen M. Miller reports on how it all started: Genesis the story of Creation. It's a book full of weird...