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Genesis: Major Stories and What They Teach Us

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Genesis: First Book in the Bible

The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible starting with Genesis, the book of beginnings. The Old Testament has a lot of stories. Knowing those stories will help you know what is going on in the entire Bible.

While it is challenging to report on every one of the stories in this article, the major ones are provided to give you an idea of what happened. It would be wise to read the rest stories to fill in the gaps.



The complete story of Creation is found in Genesis 1. God created everything in six days and rested on the seventh day. On the sixth day, He created man and he was called Adam.

God gave Adam a helpmate who was named Eve after they sinned. Up until then, she didn't need a name. She was not named until Genesis 3:20. She was called "woman" before then.

Adam and Eve

God placed the man and woman in the Garden of Eden, and they had everything they needed. God gave them only one command. They were not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil that was in the middle of the garden. However, they could eat from the other trees. They were naked and innocent because no sin had entered the world.

People misquote the Bible and say it was an apple that Eve ate, but the Bible never said it was an apple. It merely said it was the fruit of the tree that the woman ate. Remember, she was not named before the Fall.

A talking serpent beguiled the woman and provoked her to disobey God and to eat from the tree. He challenged what God had told them and said they wouldn't die. The woman ate and gave the man some to eat. After they had eaten, their eyes were opened and they saw they were naked and they became ashamed. They covered themselves in fig leaves to hide their private parts, but that was not acceptable to God. God killed an animal and covered the man and woman in the skin of the slain animal. It was the first blood sacrifice in the Bible.

After they disobeyed God, they were separated from God in their relationship with Him. He had to banish them from the Garden of Eden so they would not continue in their disobedience. Outside of the garden, they had to endure punishment for their misbehavior.

The talking serpent who used to stand up straight was punished by having to crawl on its belly. The woman would endure labor pains in childbirth, and the man was to work from the sweat of his brow for the rest of his life.

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Noah and the Ark

Another story is found in Genesis 6-9 about Noah. God commanded him to build an ark at the time when it didn't rain from above as it does today. God gave Noah the exact stipulations and Noah and his family built the ark. The people made fun of Noah for building an ark when there was no chance of rain.

As soon as the ark was finished and Noah had put two animals of each kind inside the ark, the rain came from above for the first time and it rained for forty days and forty night. The only people who were saved were Noah and his family, which included his wife, three sons, and their wives. It was a total of eight people who were saved. Afterward, the earth had to be populated again. That's why eight is regarded as the number of new beginnings.

God made a covenant with Noah that He would not destroy the world again with water. He put a rainbow in the sky as a sign to remind people of that promise.

Tower of Babel

The story of the Tower of Babel is found in Genesis 11:1-9 about the descendants of Noah who spoke the same language with a common speech.

The people stopped at the land of Shinar after God told them to keep moving and be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. After 130 years the entire group was still staying together and disobeying God.

They decided to build a tower to heaven which was against God's will. God couldn't let them continue in their disobedience. Therefore, He confused their speech so they could not understand what each other was saying. Then, God scattered them over the face of the earth.

The word “babble” is in our language which means "confused speech." About 6,700 languages are in the world today because of what happened with the people who disobeyed God.

Abraham and Sarah

This story starts in Genesis 12. Abram's name was changed to Abraham, and he became the father of many nations. Abram was 75 years old when God promised him a son. By faith, Abram believed God even though his wife was old and barren. When God told Sarai she would have a son in her old age, she laughed.

Sarai asked her husband to sleep with her handmaid so she could bear a son for her. Hagar did have a son named Ishmael, but that was not the son of promise. When Abraham turned 100 years old and Sarah turned 90, God opened up her womb and they received the son of promise and named him Isaac which means "laughter." ]

When Isaac was still a lad, God tested Abraham's faith by telling him to take his son of promise to Mt. Moriah and sacrifice him. Abraham was faithful and obeyed God even though God had told him earlier that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham did as he was told and took Isaac to the mountain and laid him on the altar. Just as the knife was coming down, God stopped the sacrifice and provided a ram in the bushes to be sacrificed instead.

When Isaac turned 40 years old, his father decided it was time for him to marry. At that time it was permissible to marry relatives instead of pagans. Isaac's cousin Rebekah was chosen. She gave birth to twin boys, Esau and Jacob. Esau was the firstborn and should have inherited everything, but one day he came in from hunting and was hungry. He exchanged his birthright for a bowl of stew that Jacob was cooking. Therefore, Jacob goes down in biblical history being in the line of the genealogy instead of Esau.

After cheating his brother out of his birthright Jacob flees to his uncle where he prospers and earns his two wives, Leah and Rachel. Jacob's name was changed to Israel, and by his wives and their handmaidens he had twelve sons who become the twelve tribes of Israel, and a daughter, Dinah.


The Story of Joseph

The story of Joseph is found in Genesis Chapters 37 through 50. Joseph was Jacob's favorite son. His brothers became jealous and sold him into slavery when he was 17 years old.

Joseph had the gift of interpreting dreams. After being in slavery for 13 years, he interpreted Pharaoh's dreams. Pharaoh made him second in charge in Egypt. What the brothers did for evil, God did it for good for Joseph when he was 30 years old.

When there was a famine in the land where Joseph's father and brothers lived, the brother went to Egypt to get grain. They did not recognize Joseph because he was darker from living in Egypt. Besides, he was dressed in Egyptians royal clothes. Joseph recognized them and wept.

He revealed himself to his brothers and sent for his father. Therefore, Joseph's family moved to Egypt where they stayed. It was through Joseph that the Hebrews ended up in Egypt. Their story covers the rest of the Pentateuch in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

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