In the Beginning

Genesis is the first book in the Bible. The word ‘Genesis’ means ‘beginning’.

Genesis is a book about things that happened a long time ago. It tells us about the lives of many important people. It tells us about Adam and Eve; Cain, Abel and Noah. It also tells us about Abraham and Sarah; Isaac and Ishmael; Jacob; and Joseph and his brothers. We can learn from those people's lives.

The Book of Genesis also teaches us many important things that we need to know. It teaches us about the world, about ourselves, and about God.

It explains that God made the world. It tells us that God filled the world with beautiful plants and animals. It tells us that he made men and women like him. And everything was very good.

It explains how the first man and woman refused to obey God. And it explains that everyone has trouble and pain because of this.

It also tells us about God’s promise to forgive people and to bless them. And it tells us that God decided to send Jesus to the world.

Chapter 1

God makes the earth

1 In the beginning, God began to make the earth and the heavens and everything in them. 2 The earth was without shape. Nothing was alive on it. Deep water covered the earth. There was no light. Everywhere was dark. The Spirit of God moved above the water.

God was present before he made the earth. He made everything.

3 God said ‘I want light to appear.’ And there was light. 4 God looked at the light. And he saw that it was good. He separated the light from the dark. 5 God called the light ‘day’. He called the dark ‘night’. Evening passed and morning came. This was the first (1st) day.

Verse 3 God spoke and told the light to appear.

Verse 5 Light appeared when it was morning. It was dark at night. One day is a time of light and a time of dark.

6 Then God said ‘A wide space will appear between the waters. So the waters will separate. Some of the water will stay above the space. The rest of the water will stay below the space.’ 7 So God made a wide space. He separated the water under the space from the water above it. And what God said happened. 8 God called the wide space ‘sky’. Evening passed and then it was morning. This was the second (2nd) day.

9 God said ‘The water under the sky will gather in one place. And dry ground will appear.’ And what God said happened. 10 God called the dry ground ‘land’. He called the water (that he put in one place) ‘sea’. God looked at what he had made. And he saw that it was good.

11 God said ‘Plants will grow in the land. They will make seeds. And fruit trees will grow, with seeds inside the fruit. Then they can make more plants and trees. These plants and trees will be the same as the plants and trees that they have come from.’ And it was like that. 12 So plants and trees began to grow in the ground. The plants and trees made seeds, so that more of the same plants and trees could grow. God looked at what he had made. And he saw that it was good. 13 Evening passed, and then it was morning. This was the third (3rd) day.

14 God said ‘There will be lights in the sky. They will separate the day from the night. They will show the seasons, days and years. 15 The lights in the sky will give light to the earth.’ And this happened. 16 God made two great lights. The brightest light ruled over the day. The less bright light ruled over the night. God also made the stars. 17 God put the lights and stars in the sky to give light on the earth. 18 They were to rule over the day and night. And they separated the light from dark. God looked at what he had made. And he saw that it was good. 19 Evening passed, and then it was morning. This was the fourth (4th) day.

‘Lights’ mean something bright that shines. (That is not the same as the light in verse 3.)

20 God said ‘The waters will be filled with fish and other living things. And birds will appear and fly in the sky, above the earth.’ 21 So God made big animals to live in the sea. He made every different living thing that filled the sea. God made every different bird and flying thing in the sky. God looked at what he made. And he saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them. He said ‘Have many young ones, and grow in number. Fill the water in the seas. And let the birds also have many young ones so that they will grow in number on the earth.’ 23 Evening passed and then it was morning. This was the fifth (5th) day.

‘Birds’ means any living thing that can fly (for example insects).

Everything that God made would have young ones. These would be the same as the parents.

24 God said ‘I will make different animals come up from the ground. I will make livestock and wild animals. There will be other small animals to move along the ground. I will make many different animals to live on the earth.’ And what God said happened. 25 So God made the different wild animals and the different livestock. He made all the different animals that move along the ground. God looked at what he had made. And he saw that it was good.

Livestock in verse 24 are animals that are not wild. For example, cows kept for milk. Livestock usually live in a village or farm. They live near people, and people feed them.

Wild animals do not live near people. They sometimes kill other animals to eat. Some of them eat plants and fruit.

26 God said ‘We will make man. Men and women will be like us. They will rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky. They will rule over the livestock. And they will rule over the earth. They will rule over the animals that move along the ground.’

‘Man’ means people. In verse 26 ‘man’ does not mean one person. It means the first people that God made to live on the earth.

When God uses ‘us’, he is speaking as the Trinity. That is, the three persons of God. They are God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. All were present when God made the earth.

27 So God made man. He made man to be like God. God made them. He made some males, and some females. 28 God blessed them. He said, ‘Grow in number. Fill the earth and rule over it. Rule over the fish of the seas and over the birds of the sky. Rule over every different living animal that moves on the ground.’

God made men and women to be ‘like’ him. This means that people could think. And they could understand what God wanted them to do. God blesses men and women.

God tells the man and woman to grow in number. He means that they are to have many children. He tells the man and woman to rule over the earth. This means that they have authority over all the earth and everything in it. But they are to care for everything.

29 Then God said, ‘Look! I give you every plant on the earth that has seeds in it. I give you every tree that has fruit with a seed in it. They are yours. The seeds and fruits will be food for you. 30 And they will be food for all the animals on the earth. They will be food for all the birds in the sky and for all the animals that move along the ground. Everything that has life can eat every green plant.’ And what God said happened.

31 God looked at everything that he had made. And he saw that it was very good. Evening passed. And then it was morning. This was the sixth (6th) day.

Chapter 2

1 So God finished making the earth and everything in it. He made the whole world.

2 The seventh (7th) day came. And God stopped working, because he had finished making the earth. God rested on the 7th day. 3 God blessed the 7th day. He made it a special day, because he had finished making the earth. God did not work on that day.

God makes a man and a woman

4 This is what happened when God made the earth and everything in it.

When the Lord God made the heavens and the earth, 5 there were no plants or trees growing on it. That was because God had not sent any rain. And there was no man to work and care for the ground. There was no man to care for things that grow from the ground. 6 But streams came up from the earth. And they made all the top of the ground wet. 7 Then the Lord God made a man from the ground. He gave life to the man. He put air from himself into the nose of the man. And the man became alive.

Lord is a special name for God. It means that he is above all other things. And it means that he has authority over everything.

‘Man’ in verse 7 means one man. It is the report of how God made the first man.

8 The Lord God planted a garden. This was east of Israel. It was in a place called Eden. And he put the man that he made in the garden. 9 And the Lord God made different trees grow from the ground. These trees were good to look at. The fruit from the trees was good to eat. In the middle of the garden were two trees. One was the tree that lets you live for ever. And the other was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Eden was a very good place to live. It had everything that the man needed in it.

Knowledge means to know or understand something. Evil is the opposite of good. It is bad. There is nothing good in evil.

10 A river began in Eden. It went through Eden. And it gave water for the ground. It separated into four smaller rivers. 11 The name of the first river is the Pishon. It goes through the whole of the land of Havilah. There is gold in this land. 12 The gold there is good. Bdellium and onyx stone are also in Havilah.

Bdellium is something that smells nice. It comes out from certain trees when you cut them. Onyx is a valuable stone.

13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It goes through the whole of the land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris. It goes along the east side of the Asshur. The name of the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God put the man into the Garden of Eden. The man was to work on the ground and work in the garden. 16 Then the Lord God told the man, ‘You can eat the fruit from any tree in the garden. 17 But you must not eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The day when you eat this fruit you will die.’

18 Then the Lord God said, ‘The man should not be alone. I will make a helper for him.’

The helper was someone to live with the man and help him.

19 The Lord God had made all the animals and birds. He made them from the ground. And he brought them to the man to hear what names the man would give them. Whatever the man called each living thing would be its name. 20 So the man gave names to the livestock, the birds of the air, and all the other animals.

But the man did not find a helper. 21 So the Lord God made the man go to sleep. While the man was sleeping, the Lord God took a rib from the man. Then he closed up the place that he took the rib from. He closed up that part of the man’s body with skin. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman.

23 Then the man said to God, ‘At last, this is one like me. She has bones taken from my bones. And her body is from my body. I will call her ‘woman’ because God took her out of a man.’ 24 Because of this, a man will leave his father and mother to be with his wife. And the two people will become like one person.

The Lord God made the man sleep. This is not the same as the man going to sleep because he wants to. The man will not wake up until God lets him.

A rib is a bone inside the middle of the body. God made woman from the rib that he took from the man. And he brought the woman to the man. Verse 24 God wanted men to leave their mother and father. He wanted them to marry a woman. The man and the woman would become a separate family.

25 The man and his wife did not wear any clothes. But they did not feel ashamed.

Chapter 3

The man and woman turn away from God

1 God made many wild animals. But the snake was the most cunning (clever and evil) of them all. The snake asked the woman, ‘Did God really say, “Both of you must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’

2 The woman replied, ‘We can eat fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But God said, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden And you must not touch it. You will die if you touch that fruit.” ’

4 But the snake said to the woman, ‘You will not die. 5 God knows that when you eat the fruit from this tree you will be like him. You will understand. And you will know good and evil.’

Satan is in the snake. Cunning means that the snake will not always say what is true. Satan wants to stop the woman believing what God said. He wants the woman to disobey God. The woman tells the snake that they must not touch the tree in the middle of the garden. God did not tell the woman this. God told the woman that she must not eat the fruit from it. Satan tells the woman that she will not die if she eats the fruit from the Tree of knowledge of good and evil. This is not true. Satan tells the woman that if she eats the fruit she will be like God.

If the man and the woman eat the fruit, they will be like God. They will understand what good and evil is. That is how they will be like God. When God made the man and the woman, he did not put anything bad into them. So they did not know about evil.

6 The woman looked at the fruit. She saw that it was good to eat. And she thought that it would be good to know about good and evil. So, she took some fruit and ate it. She gave some to her husband who was with her. And he ate it. 7 Then they saw that they had no clothes. And they felt ashamed. So, they joined leaves from fig trees together to cover their bodies.

Fig trees grew in the Garden of Eden. They are fruit trees.

8 In the evening the man and the woman heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden. They hid behind the trees. They hid because they did not want the Lord God to see them. 9 The Lord God called out to the man. He asked ‘Where are you?’

10 The man replied, ‘I heard you in the garden. I was afraid because I had no clothes. So I hid from you.’

11 The Lord God said, ‘Who told you that you had no clothes? Have you eaten from the tree that I told you not to eat from?’

12 The man said, ‘The woman that you put here – she gave me some fruit from the tree. So I ate it.’

The man is saying that the woman was wrong to give him the fruit to eat. And he is saying that God was wrong to put the woman in the garden.

13 The Lord God asked the woman, ‘What have you done?’ The woman replied, ‘The snake told me that I would not die if I ate the fruit. So I ate the fruit.’

The woman is saying that the snake told her something that was not true. So, she is saying that the snake was wrong. But the woman was wrong to believe the snake instead of God.

14 The Lord God said to the snake, ‘Because you have done this, out of all the livestock and wild animals I will only curse you. I tell you that you will move across the ground on your stomach. And you will eat dust. You will do this for the whole of your life.

15 I will make you and the woman enemies. Your descendant and her descendant will always be enemies. He will hit your head and you will hurt his foot.’

Verse 14 ‘Curse’ means make or ask that bad things will happen to someone or something. God is speaking the curse. So, he does not ask for something bad to happen. He makes what he says happen to the snake.

‘Dust’ is the dry top part of the ground. Many very small pieces of this make ‘dust’.

‘Eat dust’ means that the snake will always have its head low in the dust. And everything that it eats will have dust on it.

Verse 15 God is speaking of ‘the woman’s descendant’. He means Jesus. Jesus would come and destroy Satan.

16 The Lord God said to the woman, ‘I will make it more painful for you while you are pregnant. And I will make it very painful for you when you give birth. You will still want to be with your husband. He will rule over you and be like a master.’

Pregnant’ is when a baby is growing inside a woman before it is born.

God tells the woman that her husband will have authority over her in the marriage.

17 The Lord God said to Adam, ‘You listened to your wife. You ate the fruit from the tree after I said, “You must not eat from this tree.” Because you did this, I will curse the ground. You will have to work for a long time before any food plants grow from it. It will be like this for the whole of your life. 18 Thistles and thorns will grow out of the ground. You will eat the plants that grow in the fields. 19 But you will have to work for a long time before you have any food to eat. You will do this until you return to the ground. This is where you came from. I made you from the ground. And you will return to the ground.’

Adam is the name of the man. It means ‘All people’.

Adam did what his wife said. He did not do as God had said. He ate the fruit. So God cursed the ground.

Thistles and thorns are plants that are painful to touch. They are not food plants. But they grow quickly, and cover up food plants. Because God has cursed the ground, Adam will have to work for a very long time to grow food plants. God lets food plants grow for Adam. But he has to work for them.

Verse 19 ‘Until you return to the ground’ means that the man will work for food for his whole life. Then one day he will die. And people will bury his body in the ground.

20 Adam gave the woman a name. He called her Eve. This was because she would be the mother of all people.

All people on earth are descendants of Adam and Eve.

21 The Lord God made clothes for Adam and Eve to wear. He made them from animal skins.

22 The Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us. He understands good and evil. He must not eat the fruit from the tree that lets him live for ever. If he does, he will live for ever. He will not die.’ 23 So, the Lord God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden. Adam had to work on the ground that he came from. They could not return to the garden. 24 Then God put cherubim and a sword of fire at the east of the garden. The sword went from side to side. So, no one could go near to the tree that lets him live for ever.

Cherubim are angels. They are God’s servants. A sword is like a long knife. God put swords at the east of the Garden of Eden. He made the swords of fire. No one could go past the cherubim and swords of fire. No one could ever go back into the Garden of Eden.

Chapter 4

Cain and Abel

1 Adam had sex with his wife Eve. And she became pregnant. Some time passed and she gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the help of the Lord I have given birth to a son.’

Eve knows that God has authority over life and death.

2 After some time had passed, Eve gave birth to Cain’s brother. She called him Abel. When they had grown, Abel kept sheep. And Cain worked on the land.

3 Some time passed. Then one day Cain brought to God some of the fruit that he had grown. The fruits were an offering to the Lord God. 4 But Abel brought fat pieces from some of the first young ones of the animals that he kept. The Lord God was happy with Abel and his offering. 5 But the Lord God was not happy with Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry. His face looked sad.

Abel chose the first-born young animals to give to God. He killed them, and then he gave God the fat pieces. This is the best part of the meat from the animal.

Cain is angry because God is not happy with him and his offering. But God is happy with Abel and his offering.

Instead of trying to please God, Cain shows God that he is angry.

6 Then God said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why do you look sad? 7 If you do what is right, I will be happy with you. But if you do wrong things, sin will be like a wild animal at your door. It will be like an animal that wants to eat you. But you must be its master.

God is telling Cain this. If he does wrong things, sin will destroy him. Sin is bad. It came into the world (and into people) when Adam and Eve went against God in the Garden of Eden. God is telling Cain that Cain must have authority over sin. Then Cain will not do wrong things. Then God will be happy with Cain and his offering.

Cain kills Abel

8 One day Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out to the field.’ While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel. And he killed him.

9 Some time passed and God said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel, your brother?’ Cain replied, ‘I do not know. Must I always keep my brother safe?’

God’s question sounds like the question that he asked Adam and Eve. That was when they hid in the Garden. God knows that Cain has killed Abel. God is giving Cain time to say what is true. (He is giving him time to say that he killed Abel.) But Cain does not tell God what he has done.

10 Then the Lord God said, ‘What have you done? Listen! The blood of your brother is like a dead person calling out to me from the ground.’

God is saying that Abel’s blood is like a person. It is crying out to God to punish Cain for the death of Abel.

11 Then God said, ‘I have cursed you. I will not let you grow food in the ground. This is because it is wet with your brother’s blood. This is because you killed your brother. 12 When you work on the land, no plants will grow in it. There will be no plants that you can eat. You will travel from place to place. You will not live in one place.’

Cain would have to travel from place to place to find food. The ground will not let any plants grow when Cain works on it. This is because of God’s curse.

13 Cain said to the Lord, ‘What you are doing to me is too much. 14 From today, you will not let me work on the land. You will not be with me. I will be like a traveller without a home. If someone sees me, they will kill me.’

Cain is not sorry that he killed his brother. He did not tell God what he had done. He is not sorry about that either. Cain thinks that God is doing too much to him. That is why he is sorry.

15 But God said to Cain, ‘I will not let anyone kill you. If anyone kills Cain, I will hurt that person 7 times more.’ Then the Lord God put a mark on Cain. This was to let other people know that they must not kill Cain. 16 Cain went away from God. He went to live in the land of Nod, which is East of Eden.

17 Cain had sex with his wife. After some time she gave birth to Enoch. Cain was building a city. He called the city Enoch because it was his son’s name. 18 Enoch was the father of Irad. Irad was the father of Mehujael. Mehujael was the father of Methushael. Methushael was the father of Lamech.

19 Lamech married 2 women. One was called Adah and one was called Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal. Jabal was the father of the people who live in tents and keep livestock.

Lamech went against what God wanted by marrying 2 women. As more people were born, sin came into their lives.

People can live in tents. In Old Testament times, they were made of material or animal skins. You can take tents down and move them. Then you put them back up in another place.

21 Jabal had a brother called Jubal. Jubal was the father of the people who play the harp and flute.

People use harps and flutes to make music.

22 A son was born to Zillah. His name was Tubal-Cain. He made tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain had a sister. Her name was Naamah.

Bronze and iron are both metals.

23 Lamech said to his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech hear my words. A man hurt me, so I killed him. I killed a young man because he hurt me. 24 If a man kills Cain, then God will hurt him 7 times more. So I will hurt the man who hurts me 77 times more.’

Because Adam and Eve went against God, sin has come into humans. As time passes, sin becomes worse. Lamech is happy because he killed the young man. He wants to tell people what he has done. He does not think that he has done anything wrong.

25 Adam had sex with Eve. And she gave birth to a son. She called him Seth. Eve said, ‘God has given me another child because Cain killed Abel.’ 26 Seth became the father of Enosh.

At this time, men began to worship and to praise the name of God.

Chapter 5

The descendants of Adam and Eve

1 This is a report of Adam’s family. When God made man, he made him like God. 2 God made both male and female. He blessed them. When God made them, he called them ‘man’.

‘Man’ in verse 2 means both males and females.

3 When Adam was 130 years old, he had a son. The son was like Adam. Adam called him Seth. 4 After Seth was born, Adam was alive for 800 years. During this time, he had other sons and daughters. 5 Adam was 930 years old when he died.

6 When Seth was 105 years old, he had a son. He called him Enosh. 7 After Seth became the father of Enosh, Seth was alive for 807 years. During this time, he had other sons and daughters. 8 Seth was 912 years old when he died.

9 When Enosh was 90 years old, he had a son. He called him Kenan. 10 Enosh was alive for 815 years. During this time, he had other sons and daughters. 11 Enosh was 905 years old when he died.

12 When Kenan was 70 years old, he had a son. He called him Mahalalel. 13 After Kenan became the father of Mahalalel, Kenan was alive for 840 years. During this time, he had other sons and daughters. 14 Kenan was 910 years old when he died.

15 When Mahalalel was 65 years old, he had a son. He called him Jared. 16 After he became the father of Jared, Mahalalel was alive for 830 years. During this time, he had other sons and daughters. 17 Mahalalel was 895 years old when he died.

18 When Jared was 162 years old, he had a son. He called him Enoch. 19 After Jared became the father of Enoch, Jared was alive for 800 years. During this time, he had other sons and daughters. 20 Jared was 962 years old when he died.

21 When Enoch was 65 years old, he had a son. He called him Methuselah. 22 After that, Enoch did as God wanted for 300 years. During this time, he had other sons and daughters. 23 Enoch lived on earth for 365 years. 24 Enoch did as God wanted for all this time; then Enoch was no more. God took Enoch to be with him.

Verse 24 God took Enoch to be with him. So Enoch did not die.

25 When Methuselah was 187 years old, he had a son. He called him Lamech.

This is not the same Lamech as the one who killed a young man (4:23).

26 After Methuselah became the father of Lamech, Methuselah was alive for 782 years. During this time, he had other sons and daughters. 27 Methuselah was 969 years old when he died.

28 When Lamech was 182 years old, he had a son. 29 He called his son Noah. Lamech said ‘He will help us in our difficult work on the land. Our hands hurt when we work the land. That is because the Lord God cursed it.’ 30 After Noah was born, Lamech was alive for 595 years. During this time, he had other sons and daughters. 31 Lamech was 777 years old when he died.

32 When Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Chapter 6

1 People began to grow in number all over the earth. And daughters were born to them. 2 The sons of God saw the daughters. They thought that the daughters of men were beautiful to look at. They took the daughters of men as their wives. They took anyone that they wanted.

The sons of God were men who were like gods.

3 The Lord said, ‘I will not let men and women live for ever. One day they will die. I will not let them live for more than 120 years. Then they will die.

4 The Nephilim lived on the earth at that time. (They also lived on the earth after this time.) This is when the sons of God had children with the daughters of men. People thought that the Nephilim were great men and leaders.

5 The Lord God saw how bad men and women had become. God saw that they thought only of evil things. 6 He was sad that he had made men and women. And he was sad that he had put them on the earth. 7 So the Lord God said, ‘I made men and women, but I will take them off the earth. I will take men and animals off the earth. I will take animals that move across the ground and the birds in the air off the earth. Because I am very sad that I made them.’ 8 But God was happy with Noah.

Men and women have gone against God. God feels very sad. God is always sad when we sin (go against what God wants). God was happy with Noah. Noah and his family worshipped God.

God saves Noah

9 This is a report of Noah. Noah was a good man. He was the only man at that time who obeyed God. The people who lived near him could not find anything wrong with what he did. 10 Noah was the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

11 God saw that everything on the earth was bad. People began to hurt and kill each other. And they did everything that was wrong. 12 God saw how bad the earth had become. All the people were doing bad things. 13 He said to Noah, ‘I am going to destroy all the people. The earth is bad because of them. I am going to destroy the people and the earth. 14 Make yourself a boat. Use wood from cypress trees. Make rooms in the boat. Cover the inside and outside of the boat with pitch.’

Cypress trees are trees with hard wood. Pitch stops water coming into the boat.

15 ‘This is how you will build the boat. The boat must be 150 metres long, 25 metres wide and 15 metres high.

16 Make a roof for the boat and put windows 45 centimetres high along the top of it. Put a door in the side of the boat. Make 3 floors on top of each other (lower, middle and top floor). 17 I am going to cover the earth with water. I will destroy all life under the heavens. Everything that has my life in it will die. 18 But I will make a covenant with you (Noah). You will go into the boat. You and your sons will go into the boat. And their wives and your wife will go with you. 19 You must bring 2 of all the different animals into the boat. They must be male and female. They will stay alive with you. 20 Bring 2 of every different bird. And bring 2 of every different animal and 2 of every different animal that moves along the ground. All these will come to you, and they will stay alive with you. 21 You must take every different food on the earth. Store this for food for you and the animals.’

22 Noah did everything that God had told him.

Chapter 7

God Destroys his Creatures

1 Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark (large boat) with your wife and family. I have found you to be righteous in these times.’

Righteous means that God sees Noah as someone who does what is right. At that time, Noah was telling people that God was going to destroy the earth. Noah told them that they must stop doing wrong. But the people would not listen to him.

2 God said ‘Take 7 of every different clean animal. Take a male and a female together. Take 2 of every different unclean animal. Take a male and a female together. 3 Take 7 of every kind of bird. Take males and females. Do this so that they will have young ones again. Then the different animals and birds will not die.

Clean animals are animals that God accepts as a sacrifice. Unclean animals are those that God does not accept as a sacrifice. God told Noah to take more clean animals so that Noah could make sacrifices to God.

4 In 7 days, I will send rain down to the earth. It will rain for 40 days and 40 nights. I will destroy every living thing that I have made on the earth.’

5 Noah did everything that God told him.

6 Noah was 600 years old when God sent the rain to cover the earth with water. 7 Noah and his wife went into the boat. And his sons and their wives went into it. They all went into the boat to be safe from the water that would cover the earth. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals came to Noah. Also, pairs of birds and pairs of all the animals that move across the ground came to him. 9 Both males and females came to Noah and went into the ark. Everything happened as God had told Noah. 10 After 7 days had passed, God sent the waters to cover the earth.

God told the animals to go to Noah. God did not destroy those animals that went into the ark. Noah and his family listened to God. And they did what he told them. And God kept them safe.

11 On the 17th day of the 2nd month all the water below the earth came up and covered the earth. All the water in the heavens came down on the earth. At that time, Noah was 600 years old. 12 Rain fell on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights.

13 On the day that the rains began, Noah and his sons went into the boat with their wives. (Noah’s sons are Shem, Ham and Japheth.) 14 With them was every different wild animal and every different livestock animal. They also had with them every kind of animal that moves along the ground, and every different kind of bird and flying thing. 15 Pairs of every animal alive came to Noah and went into the boat.

The things that lived in the sea were safe in the waters. (See 1:21-25.)

16 The animals were male and female of every different animal. This happened as God told Noah. Then Noah went into the boat and God shut the door.

17 For 40 days, the waters came on the earth. More water came and lifted the boat high above the ground.

18 The waters rose and covered the earth. The boat was safe on top of the water. 19 More water came and covered every high mountain on the earth. 20 And even more water came. It covered all the mountains. The water was more than 20 feet higher than the top of the mountains. 21 Everything still living on the earth died. Birds, livestock and wild animals died. Every animal that moved across the ground died. All the people living on the earth died. 22 Everything that was alive on the dry land died. 23 Every living thing on the earth died. Men and animals died. The animals that move across the ground and the birds of the air died. God destroyed all of them. Only Noah and his family, and the animals that were in the boat stayed alive.

24 The waters covered the earth for 150 days.

Chapter 8

The water goes away

1 Then God thought of Noah, and all the animals in the boat. He sent a wind to blow over the whole world. And the waters began to go down. 2 Water stopped coming up from below the earth. And water stopped coming down from heaven. The rain stopped falling from the sky. 3 The waters went down, and at the end of 150 days the water had almost gone. 4 On the 17th day of the 7th month, the boat settled on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The water continued to go down until the 10th month. On the 1st day of the 10th month the tops of the mountains appeared.

6 After 40 more days, Noah opened the window in the boat. 7 He sent out a raven. The raven flew back to the boat. Then it flew away from it again. It did this several times until the earth was dry. 8 Noah also sent out a dove. He sent the dove to see if the water had gone from the top of the ground. 9 But the dove could not find anywhere to stand. This was because still there was water over all of the ground. So it returned to Noah in the boat. Noah put out his hand and took the dove back into the boat. 10 He waited for 7 days. Then he sent the dove out again. 11 The dove returned to him in the evening. It carried a fresh olive leaf in its mouth. Then Noah knew that the waters had gone down. 12 He waited for 7 more days. Then he sent the dove out again. This time, it did not return to Noah.

A raven is a big black bird. A dove is a white bird. Olives are small round fruits. They grow on an olive tree. An olive leaf is a leaf from this tree.

13 It was the 1st day of the first month. Noah was now 601 years old. The water that covered the earth was gone. The earth was dry. Noah removed the top of the ark. He saw that the top of the ground was dry. 14 Some time passed. On the 27th day of the 2nd month, the earth was completely dry.

15 God said to Noah, 16 ‘Come out of the boat. Bring your wife, your sons and their wives with you. 17 Bring every different living animal out of the boat. Bring out the birds and the animals. And bring out those animals that move across the ground. Bring them out so that they may have young ones. Then they can grow in number on the earth.’

18 Noah came out of the boat. His wife, and his sons and their wives came too. 19 All the animals came out of the boat. Those that moved across the ground, and the birds came too. Every different animal came out of the boat.

God makes a promise to Noah

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord. He took some of the clean animals and birds. And he sacrificed a burnt offering on the altar.

When Noah leaves the ark, he worships God. He builds an altar to do this. He makes a sacrifice on the altar. He does this before anything else. He thanks God for keeping them safe.

21 The Lord smelled the sacrifice and was happy with it. He said (in his heart) ‘I will never again curse the ground because of men and women. I will never curse it even when they think of doing wrong. They think of doing wrong from the time that they are children. But still I will never destroy all the living animals again, as I have done.

22 As long as the earth is here, the time for planting will come each year. The time for getting the plants out of the ground will come each year. Cold and heat, and summer and winter will always come. They will never stop. Day and night will never stop.’

As long as the earth is here, the seasons will carry on as before. God made the earth like this.

Chapter 9

1 God blessed Noah and his sons. He said ‘Have many children and fill the earth with them. 2 Every animal will be afraid of you. All the birds will be afraid of you. And every animal that moves across the ground will be afraid of you. All the fish in the sea will be afraid of you. You will have authority over all of them. 3 All living animals will be food for you. Before, I gave you the green plants to eat. Now I give you everything.

4 But you must not eat meat that still has the blood of life in it.

5 Men must not kill other men. Animals must not kill men. If an animal kills a man, kill the animal. If a man kills another man, kill the man.

6 God made men like himself. So, if anyone kills a man or a woman, a man must kill him. 7 You must have many children, so that the number of people on the earth will grow.’

8 God said to Noah and his sons that were with him, 9 ‘I will make my promise with you, and with all your descendants, 10 and with all the animals on the earth. 11 This is my promise. I will never destroy all life on the earth again. I will never cover the earth with water again.’ 12 God said, ‘I will show you that I have made a promise with you, and every living animal. It is a promise for all that live on the earth, now and as long as the earth is here. 13 I have put my rainbow in the sky. It will show you the promise between me and everything on the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth, a rainbow will appear. 15 Then I will remember my promise. Never again will the waters destroy all life. 16 When I see a rainbow in the clouds, I will remember my promise to you. It is for all time. It is a promise between God and every thing that lives on the earth.’ 17 God said to Noah, ‘This will show you the promise that I have made. My promise is between me and all life on earth.’

18 The names of Noah’s sons were Shem, Ham and Japheth. Ham had a son called Canaan. They all came out of the ark with Noah. 19 All the people who are on the earth are descendants of Noah’s three sons.

20 Noah worked on the ground. He planted a vineyard.

21 He drank some of the wine that he made. And he became drunk. He lay inside his tent and fell asleep. He was not wearing any clothes. 22 Ham, Canaan’s father, saw that Noah was not wearing any clothes. He went outside. He told his two brothers what he had seen. 23 Shem and Japheth took some clothes and put them across their shoulders. They walked into Noah’s tent. They kept their backs to Noah, so that they could not see him. Then they covered their father with the clothes. They did not look at their father’s body because there were no clothes on it.

A vineyard is a field planted with grapes. Grapes are small round fruits that people use to make wine. Wine is a drink containing alcohol.

24 Noah woke up from his sleep. He found out what his youngest son (Ham) had done. 25 He said ‘Cursed be Canaan! He will be a slave to his brothers.’ 26 Noah also said, ‘Blessings to the Lord, the God of Shem! Let Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 Let God make the land of Japheth grow. Let Japheth receive the good things of Shem. Let Canaan be his slave.’

Noah knows that Shem’s blessings will come from God. He asks for good things for the descendants of Japheth and Shem, because they did the right thing. Noah asks for a curse on the descendants of Ham because he did the wrong thing.

28 Noah was alive for 350 years after God covered the earth with water. 29 Noah’s whole life lasted for 950 years. Then he died.

Chapter 10

These things happened after the things that we read about in Chapter 11.

1 This is the story of Shem, Ham and Japheth. They are Noah’s sons. After God covered the earth with water, they had sons.

The Japhethites

2 These are the sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras. 3 These are the sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah. 4 These are the sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittim and the Rodanim.

The Kittim are people who went to live in Cyprus.

5 These people lived by the sea. They lived in groups. Each group went to live in a different place. Each group spoke its own language.

The Hamites

6 These are the sons of Ham: Cush, Mizraim, Put and Canaan. 7 These are the sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca. 8 These are the sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 9 Cush was the father of Nimrod. Nimrod grew into a great soldier on the earth. Nimrod was a great hunter in front of the Lord. That is why people say ‘Like Nimrod, a great hunter in front of the Lord’.

‘In front of the Lord’ means, ‘God knew that Nimrod was a great hunter.’ Nimrod beat many groups of people, living in many lands. He became a king.

10 The first of Nimrod’s lands were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria. This is where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir and Calah. 12 He also built Resen. Resen is between Nineveh and Calah, which is a large city. 13 Mizraim was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, 14 Pathrusites, Casluhites (this is where Philistines came from) and Caphtorites.

All these groups of people came from the descendants of Mizraim. They all lived in their own land.

15 Canaan was the father of Sidon, who was born first. Canaan was also the father of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. After some time had passed, the Canaanite families separated, 19 and the land of Canaan went from Sidon to Gerar, as far as Gaza. It went to Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are all descendants of Ham. They lived in groups in their own parts of the land. Each group spoke their own language.

The Semites

21 Shem also had sons. Shem’s older brother was Japheth. All the sons of Eber are descendants of Shem. 22 These are the sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram. 23 These are the sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshech. 24 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah. Shelah was the father of Eber. 25 Eber had 2 sons. He called one Peleg. When he was alive, people began to live in different places on the earth. So he called him Peleg. He called the other son Joktan.

Peleg means to go away from each other.

26 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. 30 The land where they lived went from Mesha to Sephar. This is in the land with hills in the east. 31 These are the descendants of Shem. They lived in groups in their own parts of the land. Each group spoke their own language.

32 All these people (verses 2-13) are descendants of Noah, through many years. They went to live in different parts of the earth. This happened after God covered the earth with water.

People were living in groups. They lived in different parts of the earth. And each group spoke a different language. Chapter 11 shows us why this happened.

Chapter 11

The events in verses 1-9 happened before the events that we read about in chapter 10.

1 At this time, everyone who lived on the earth spoke one language. 2 People moved to the East. They reached a large flat piece of land called Shinar. They stayed and lived there. 3 They said to each other, ‘Let us build a city with a tower. We will first make bricks and heat them until they are hard. They used brick instead of stone. They used tar to hold the bricks together.

You use bricks to build things. If you cook them like bread, they go hard. Tar is black and sticky. It becomes soft when hot and hard when cold.

4 They said, ‘Let us build a city with a tower. The tower will go up into the heavens. Then people will remember us. If we build a tower then we will not have to go and live in different places.’

5 But the Lord came down. He came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The Lord said, ‘Because they all speak the same language, they can build this tower. What will they do after this? 7 Let us go down. Let us make them speak in different languages. Then they will not understand each other.’ 8 So God separated the people, and they went to live in different lands. They stopped building the city. 9 That is why people called the city Babel. It was because the Lord gave the people different languages. They could not understand each other. From that time, the Lord separated the people. They lived in different countries all over the earth.

A tower is a very tall building. The name ‘Babel’ means that God confused the people.

10 This is the report of the descendants of Shem. Two years after the earth was dry, Shem was 100 years old. He became the father of Arphaxad. 11 After he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem was alive for 500 years. He had other sons and daughters.

12 When Arphaxad was 35 years old, he became the father of Shelah. 13 After he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad was alive for 403 years. He had other sons and daughters.

14 When Shelah was 30 years old, he became the father of Eber. 15 After he became the father of Eber, Shelah was alive for 403 years. He had other sons and daughters.

16 When Eber was 34 years old, he became the father of Peleg. 17 After he became the father of Peleg, Eber was alive for 430 years. He had other sons and daughters.

18 When Peleg was 30 years old, he became the father of Reu. 19 After he became the father of Reu, Peleg was alive for 209 years. He had other sons and daughters.

20 When Reu was 32 years old, he became the father of Serug. 21 After he became the father of Serug, Reu was alive for 207 years. He had other sons and daughters.

22 When Serug was 30 years old, he became the father of Nahor. 23 After he became the father of Nahor, Serug was alive for 200 years. He had other sons and daughters.

24 When Nahor was 29 years old, he became the father of Terah. 25 After he became the father of Terah, Nahor was alive for 119 years. He had other sons and daughters.

26 When Terah was 70 years old, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

27 This is the report of the descendants of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. Haran became the father of Lot. 28 While Terah was alive, Haran died. Haran died in Ur, the land of the Chaldeans. This was where Haran was born. 29 Abram married Sarai. Nahor married Milcah. Milcah was Haran’s daughter. Haran was the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Sarai could not give birth to children. She did not have any children.

31 Terah took his son Abram, and Abram’s wife, Sarai. Terah took his grandson Lot. (Lot is the son of Haran.) They all left Ur, the land of the Chaldeans. They began to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they stayed there. 32 Terah was alive for 205 years. He died in Haran.

Chapter 12

1 The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your land and your people. Leave your father’s house. Go to the land that I will show you.’

The Lord spoke to Abram, before Terah took them all to Haran. This is when Abram lived in Ur of the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans did not worship God. They worshipped a moon god. Terah (Abram’s father) worshipped other gods. We can read about this in Joshua 24:2.

2 (The Lord said), ‘I will make you the father of many children. I will bless you. Everyone will know your name. You will be a blessing to other people.’ 3 ‘I will bless people who bless you. I will curse people who curse you. I will bless all the people on the earth through you.’

Some people will say good things to Abram or do good things for Abram. God will make good things happen to those people. Some people will say bad things to Abram or do bad things for Abram. God will make bad things happen to those people.

But Jesus Christ is a descendant of Abram. And by Jesus, God will bless all the people on the earth.

4 Abram left Haran as the Lord told him. Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. 5 Abram took his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot. Abram took everything that was theirs. He took their slaves and the servants that he had in Haran. They all left to go to the land of Canaan. And they arrived there.

Abram does what God tells him to do.

Someone’s nephew is his brother’s son.

6 Abram walked through the land. He went as far as the big tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time, Canaanites lived in this land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram. The Lord said ‘I will give this land to your children.’ So Abram built an altar to the Lord because the Lord had appeared to him.

The people of Canaan did not worship God. The big tree of Moreh is a place where the Canaanites worshipped other gods. Abram built an altar to worship God. The Canaanites would see Abram worshipping God. But Abram was not afraid. Abram knew that this place belonged to God.

8 Abram left Shechem. He went to the hills. The hills are east of Bethel. This is where he put his tent. Bethel was to the west of his tent. Ai was to the east of his tent. Abram built an altar there to worship the Lord and he prayed to the Lord. 9 Then Abram took his tent and left that place. He began to go to the Negev.

The Negev is a dry land. It goes to the South.

10 There was a famine in the land. So Abram went to live in Egypt for a while. He went there because the famine was very bad.

A famine happens because there is no water in the land. And no rain has fallen for a long time. Nothing can grow in the ground because there is no water. So there is no food for people or their animals. Egypt did not often have famines because the River Nile went through the land.

11 When Abram was going into Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, ‘I know that you are a very beautiful woman. 12 When the people of Egypt see you they will say, “This is his wife.” They will kill me. But they will not kill you. 13 Tell them that you are my sister. Then they will do good things for me because of you. They will not kill me. Because they will think that you are my sister.’

Pharaoh (this is the name of a king of Egypt) may want to take Sarai as one of his wives. If he knows that she is Abram’s wife, Pharaoh will have to kill Abram.

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the people saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 Pharaoh’s officers saw her. They said good things about her to Pharaoh. They took Sarai to Pharaoh’s palace. (Pharaoh is the name for all the kings of Egypt.)

A palace is a large house for a king.

16 Pharaoh did good things for Abram because of Sarai. He gave him sheep and cows. He also gave Abram male and female donkeys. And he gave him camels and male servants and female servants.

Donkeys and camels are animals. People use them to carry things, and to ride on.

17 But the Lord made Pharaoh and the people in the palace very ill. The Lord did this because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram to come before him. Pharaoh said, ‘You have done this to me. You did not tell me that she was your wife! 19 You told me “She is my sister”, so I took her to be my wife. Now, here is your wife. Take her and go!’ 20 Pharaoh told his men what to do with Abram. They sent Abram away with his wife and everything that they had.

People of Egypt thought it was important to say what was true. Abram did not do this. God made Pharaoh and the people in the palace ill. This was to stop Pharaoh from taking Sarai as his wife. It would be wrong for Pharaoh to take Sarai for his wife. God stopped Pharaoh from doing something wrong.

God had blessed Abram. God would not let Pharaoh take Abram’s wife. God had made a promise to Abram. This was that Abram would have many descendants. God always keeps his promise.

Chapter 13

1 Abram went from Egypt to the Negev. He took his wife and everything that he had. Lot went with him.

2 Abram had many valuable things. He had cows, silver and gold.

Silver is a valuable metal.

3 Abram left the Negev. He went from place to place until he came to Bethel. He came to the place between Bethel and Ai. This is where he had put his tent before. 4 This is where Abram had built an altar to worship God. There, Abram called out to the Lord.

5 Lot was moving from place to place with Abram. Lot also had cows, sheep and tents. 6 The ground could not grow enough food for all the animals to eat. The ground could not grow enough food for Abram’s animals and for Lot’s animals. Abram and Lot could not stay together. They had too many animals and people with them. 7 Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen began to quarrel. At that time, Canaanites and Perizzites also lived in the land.

Herdsmen are men who keep cows and other animals safe.

8 Abram said to Lot, ‘We must not quarrel with each other. Your herdsmen and my herdsmen must not quarrel with each other. There must be no more quarrelling because we belong to the same family.’

9 ‘The whole land is in front of you. We must separate. If you go to the left, I will go to the right. If you go to the right, I will go to the left.’

10 Lot looked up. He saw the flat land of Jordan. He saw that it had water. It was like the garden of the Lord. It was like the land of Egypt, towards Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose the flat land of Jordan. He went towards the East.

The Canaanites and Perizzites did not worship God. It was not good for them to see people who worship God quarrelling with each other.

Lot chose the land that he thought was the best.

12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan. Lot lived in the cities of the land that he had chosen. Lot put his tents near Sodom. 13 The men of Sodom were very bad. They sinned against the Lord.

14 After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, ‘Look up from where you are. Look to the north and south. Look to the east and west. 15 I will give you all the land that you can see. I will give it to you and your descendants for all time. 16 I will make your descendants like the dust of the ground. If anyone can count the pieces of dust, they can count your descendants.’

Dust is the dry top of the ground. No one can count dust on top of the ground. There are too many small parts. God is telling Abram that his descendants will be too many to count.

17 The Lord said, ‘Go and walk through all this land. Because I am giving it to you.’ 18 Abram moved his tents. He went to live near the big trees of Mamre. This is at Hebron. Abram built an altar here. This was so that he could worship the Lord.

Chapter 14

1-4 Now there were many kings living in that land, at that time. They fought against each other. One fight was when Kedorlaomer had ruled over the other kings for 12 years. And in the next year, 5 kings made one group like that and fought against him. Kedorlaomer joined with 3 other kings. So, it was 4 kings against 5 other kings.

The 4 kings were Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim. And these fought a war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela. Bela is another name for the town Zoar. They fought in the Valley of Siddim. (That is the Salt Sea.) 5 In the 14th year, Kedorlaomer and the kings with him beat the Rephaites. This was in Ashteroth Karnaim. They beat the Zuzites in Ham. They beat the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim. 6 And they beat the Horites in the country of Seir. This was as far as El Paran near the land of dry sand. 7 They then went back. They went to En Mishpat. (That is Kadesh.) They took the whole land of the Amalekites. They also took the land of the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar. 8 Then, the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is Zoar) went to fight. This was in the Valley of Siddim. 9 They fought against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar. There were 4 kings fighting against 5 kings. 10 The Valley of Siddim had many holes in the ground. The holes were filled with tar. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah ran away. And some of their men fell into the tar. The rest of the men ran away to the hills. 11 The 4 kings took everything in Sodom and Gomorrah. And they took all the food. Then they went away. 12 They also took Abram’s nephew. This is Lot. They took everything that Lot had. That was because Lot lived in Sodom.

13 A man ran away from the kings. He told Abram the Hebrew everything that had happened. Abram lived near the big trees of Mamre the Amorite. Mamre was a brother of Eshcol and Aner. These men would fight with Abram. 14 Abram heard that the kings caught his nephew. He called 318 men. These men knew how to fight. They were born into Abram’s household. Abram and the men went after the men who took Lot. They went as far as Dan.

Household means everyone who lived with Abram. They did not have to be Abram’s family.

15 During the night, Abram separated his men into 2 groups. Then they attacked the men who took Lot. Abram followed them as far as Hobah. Hobah is North of Damascus. 16 Abram took back everything that the men took from Sodom. He brought back his nephew Lot. Abram also brought back the women and other people.

17 Abram beat Kedorlaomer and the kings with him. He returned, and the king of Sodom came out to meet Abram. This was in the Valley of Shaveh. (That is the Kings’ valley.) 18 Melchizedek was the king of Salem. He brought out bread and wine. Melchizedek was a priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed Abram. He said ‘Abram is blessed by God Most High who made heaven and earth. 20 Blessed is God Most High. He gave your enemies to you.’ Abram gave king Melchizedek a 10th of everything.

Abram gave Melchizedek a 10th of everything taken in war. This was a king’s part.

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give me the people. Keep everything else.’ 22 But Abram said ‘I have raised my hand to the Lord God Most High. He made heaven and earth. And I have made a promise to him. 23 I promised not to take anything from you. I will not take even a part of your shoe. So you can never say “I made Abram rich.” 24 The men who went with me may take their part. They may take their part of anything that we took. They are Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their part.’

The people who won a war took things. They took things from the people whom they had beaten. The leader gave these things to the men who had fought. Abram promised God that he would not take anything from the king of Sodom. The people of Sodom sinned against God. But Abram lets the men who fought with him have their things.

Chapter 15

1 After this, Abram had a dream. God spoke to Abram in this dream. God said, ‘Do not be afraid Abram. I will keep you safe. And I will give you many good things.’

2 But Abram said, ‘Lord, I have no children. I want you to give me a son. You have not given me a son. So Eliezer of Damascus will inherit everything that I have.’

Inherit means to have someone’s things when they die.

Eliezer of Damascus was Abram’s servant. Abram did not have any children. When Abram died, there was no son to continue the family.

In the Old Testament, the oldest servant could have his master’s things when his master died.

3 Abram said ‘You have not given me any children. So a servant in my house will inherit everything that I have.’ 4 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Eliezer will not inherit everything that you have. You will have your own son. He will inherit everything that you have.’ 5 Then the Lord took Abram outside. The Lord said, ‘Look up at the heavens. Count the stars. You cannot count them because there are too many.’ Then the Lord said, ‘This is how many descendants you will have.’ 6 Abram believed the Lord. And God said that Abram was righteous. God said this because Abram believed.

7 The Lord also said to Abram, ‘I am the Lord. I brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans. I did this to give you this land. It will be yours to take.’ 8 But Abram said, ‘My Lord, how will I know that I can take this land?’ 9 The Lord said to Abram, ‘Bring me a young cow, a goat and a male sheep. Each animal must be 3 years old. Also bring a dove and a young pigeon.’

A dove is a bird. A pigeon is a bird.

10 Abram brought all the animals and birds to God. Abram cut each one in half. He put the halves opposite each other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 Some other birds came. These birds liked to eat dead animals. But Abram sent them away.

12 The sun went down. Abram fell asleep. It was very dark. He felt afraid. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Be sure of this. Your descendants will live in a country which is not their own. They will be strangers there. They will be slaves. People will do bad things to them. This will go on for 400 years. 14 But I will judge the people who made them slaves. After this, your descendants will leave that land. They will take many valuable things. 15 And yet, you will have a long life. You will have a long, good and quiet life. Then you will die very happy. 16 After 4 generations, your descendants will come back here. The Amorites sin against me. But I will not do anything against them. I will not do anything until the 4th generation (of your people).’

One generation is how old a man is when his son is born. Two generations is how old the son is when he has a son.

The Amorites did not worship the Lord God. They worshipped other gods. They sacrificed children to these gods.

17 The sun went down. It became dark. Abram saw a smoking pot of fire. He also saw a light made of fire. Both of these passed between the halves of the animals.

The fire shows that God is present.

In the Old Testament, people would walk between halves of animals. They did this to show that they made a promise (covenant). God is passing between the halves of the animals. This is to show that he is making a covenant (promise) with Abram.

18 On that day, the Lord made a covenant with Abram. The Lord said, ‘I give this land to your descendants. I give them the land from the river of Egypt to the River Euphrates. 19 This is the land where these people live: Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.’

The land that God is giving to Abram’s descendants belongs to these people. Abram’s descendants will beat these people. Then they will take the land.

Chapter 16

1 Abram’s wife was Sarai. She did not have any children. She had a servant from Egypt. The servant’s name was Hagar. 2 Sarai said to Abram, ‘The Lord has stopped me having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Her children will be mine.’ Abram agreed to do this.

Sarai wants Abram to have a son. God has told Abram that he will have many descendants. But neither Abram nor Sarai will wait for God to keep his promise.

3 Abram had been living in Canaan for 10 years. Sarai took Hagar. She gave Hagar to Abram to be his wife.

4 Abram had sex with Hagar. And Hagar became pregnant. Hagar knew that she was pregnant. Because of this, she would not respect Sarai.

Sarai gave Hagar to Abram. ‘To be his wife’ means that Abram would have sex with Hagar. This is so that Abram could have a son. Sarai is still Abram’s wife.

5 Sarai said to Abram, ‘It is because of you that this has happened. What Hagar is doing is wrong. I gave her to you. And now she is pregnant. So now she does not respect me. The Lord will say who is right, you or me.’ 6 Abram said to Sarai, ‘Do whatever you think is right. Do what you want to do with Hagar.’ Then Sarai did bad things to Hagar. So Hagar ran away.

Abram and Sarai went against God. They would not wait for God to give them a son. Hagar is pregnant. But Abram and Sarai are quarrelling. Abram is the family leader. He should have told Hagar to respect Sarai. Respect here means this. Hagar knows that Sarai has authority over her. She knows that Sarai is her mistress. She should show that she knows this.

7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar. She was by some water in the land of dry sand. The water was by the road to Shur. 8 The angel said, ‘Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from? Where are you going?’ Hagar replied, ‘I am running away from Sarai. I am her servant.’

The angel calls Hagar the servant of Sarai. He does not call Hagar ‘Abram’s wife’. God’s plan was for Abram and Sarai to have a son. But they would not wait for God to give them a son.

Hagar replies to the angel. She says that she is Sarai’s servant. She does not say that she is Abram’s wife.

9 The angel of the Lord told Hagar, ‘Go back to Sarai. You are her servant. Do whatever she tells you to.’

10 The angel also said, ‘I will make the number of your descendants grow. They will be too many to count.’ 11 The angel of the Lord said,

‘You will have a child.

You will have a son.

You must name him Ishmael.

Because the Lord has heard how sad you are.

12 He will be a wild man.

He will be like a donkey.

He will fight against everyone.

And everyone will fight against him.

He will think that everyone is his enemy.

He will think that his brothers are his enemies.’

Ishmael means ‘God hears’.

Wild donkeys lived in the land of dry sand.

13 Hagar said to the Lord ‘You are the God who sees me.’ And she said ‘I have seen the One who sees me. And he has let me live.’ 14 That is why they called the well ‘Beer Lahai Roi’. The well is between Kadesh and Bered.

‘Beer Lahai Roi’ means ‘well of the One who lives and has seen me’.

Hagar came from Egypt. People in Egypt worshipped different gods. Now Hagar has spoken with the living God.

15 Some time passed. Hagar had a son. Abram was his father. Abram gave Hagar’s son a name. The name of Hagar’s son was Ishmael. 16 Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.

Chapter 17

1 Abram was 99 years old. The Lord appeared to him. The Lord said ‘I am God Almighty. Walk before me. And do nothing wrong.’

Almighty’ means that God is the Lord of everything. He had power over everything. God says that Abram is his friend. He knows that Abram worships him. God knows that Abram does what is right for God.

2 ‘I will fix my covenant. My covenant will be between me and you. I will make the number of your descendants grow.’

God had told Abram this in chapter 15. But Abram and Sarai did not wait for God. So Abram used Hagar to have a son. Now God is fixing the covenant between them.

3 Abram fell to the ground. He put his face to the ground. God said to him,

4 ‘This is what I will do. This is my covenant to you. You will be the father of many people.’

Abram will have many descendants. They will live all over the earth, in many different countries.

5 ‘Your name is not Abram any longer. Now your name is Abraham. This is because you are the father of many people. I will make this happen. 6 I will give you many descendants. These will make many different groups of people. Some of your descendants will be kings.

7 My covenant will be for all time. It is between me and you. And it will be between me and your descendants and their sons. (It will be for all time.) I will be your God. I will also be the God of all your descendants. 8 You are a foreign person here. This is the land of Canaan. I will give you all of Canaan. I give it to you and all your descendants. And I will be their God.

9 This is what you must do. You must do as I tell you. Then you will keep my covenant. You, and all your descendants must keep it. 10 This is my covenant with you and with all your descendants. This is what you must do to keep my covenant. This is for every male who lives with you. You must circumcise them. 11 You must be circumcised too. This will show that the covenant is between you and me. 12 You must circumcise every generation of males. Do this when they are 8 days old. This is for every male that lives with you. Circumcise servants and slaves bought with money. This includes males that are not your children. 13 They may be born in your household. Or you may have bought them with your money. Circumcise all males. This is my covenant in your body. It will be for all time.’

Covenant in your body’ means that being circumcised shows that the people are living in God’s promise.

14Circumcise every male. If you do not circumcise someone, I will separate him from his people. Because my covenant is broken.’

Circumcision showed that a person worshipped God. If he is not circumcised, the covenant with God is broken. Every father had to circumcise his son. This showed that they were both living in God’s covenant.

15 God also said to Abraham, ‘As for your wife Sarai, you must not call her Sarai. Her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her. I will give you a son through her. I will bless her. And she will be the mother of many descendants. Some of her descendants will be kings.’ 17 Abraham fell to the ground. He put his face to the ground. Abraham laughed. He said to himself, ‘I am 100 years old. That is too old to have a son. Sarah is 90 years old. That is too old to have a child.’ 18 Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael may have your blessing.’ 19 God said to Abraham, ‘No, your wife Sarah will have a child. You must call him Isaac. I will make my covenant with him. It will be for all time. My covenant will be for him and all his descendants.’

God tells Abraham that Sarah’s child, Isaac, will live under God’s covenant. Isaac will continue Abraham’s family line. Ishmael is Hagar’s child.

‘Isaac’ means ‘he laughs’.

20 God said, ‘I have heard what you want for Ishmael. I will bless him. He will have many descendants. 12 rulers will come from his descendants. His descendants will be great people. 21 But I will make my covenant with Isaac. Isaac will be Sarah’s child. He will be born before one year has passed.’

22 God had finished speaking to Abraham. So God left Abraham.

Again, God tells Abraham that Isaac will have the covenant with God. But God will also bless Ishmael because Abraham has asked him to.

But God’s covenant is with Isaac because he will be Abraham and Sarah’s son. This is what God had promised.

23 On that day, Abraham went to Ishmael. He also went to all the males born into his household. Also, he went to every male that he had bought with money. Abraham went to every male in his household. He circumcised them. He did this because God had told him to do it. 24 Abraham’s circumcision happened when he was 99 years old. 25 Ishmael’s circumcision happened when he was 13 years old. 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised on the same day. 27 Abraham circumcised every male living in his household. This included males bought with money. It also included foreign males living in Abraham’s household. He circumcised them all on that day.

Chapter 18

1 The Lord appeared to Abraham. This happened near the big trees of Mamre. Abraham was sitting by the door of his tent. 2 Abraham looked up. He saw 3 men. He hurried to meet them. He bowed to the ground.

In verse 2, ‘bowed’ means that Abraham bent his body until his face was at the ground. Abraham knew that they had authority. He was showing them that he knew it.

This is a visit from the Lord. Abraham did not know this at that time.

3 Abraham said to them, ‘If it makes you happy, my lords, do not go past me.

4 ‘Let us bring some water for you. Then you can all wash your feet. Then you can rest under this tree.’ 5 Abraham said, ‘Let me get you some bread. Then you will be ready to continue with your journey. I will do this now because you have come to me.’ The men replied, ‘Very well, do as you have said.’ 6 Abraham hurried to the tent. This is where Sarah was. He said to her, ‘Quick, get some good flour. Make bread with it.’ 7 Then Abraham ran to his cows. He chose a baby cow. He gave it to a servant. The servant quickly prepared it for the men to eat. 8 Then Abraham brought some butter, milk and the meat from the cow. He put all these in front of the men. The men ate the food. And Abraham stood near them. He stood under a tree.

9 The men asked Abraham ‘Where is Sarah, your wife?’ Abraham replied, ‘She is in the tent.’ 10 Then the Lord said, ‘I will return to you at this time, after one year has passed. And you and Sarah your wife will have a son.’ Sarah was in the tent. She heard what the Lord said. She heard it because the tent was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were very old. Sarah was past the age of giving birth to a child. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself. She thought ‘I am too old. And my husband is too old. I cannot have this baby now.’ 13 The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Sarah laughed. She said, “I am too old to have a child.” ’ 14 The Lord said, ‘Nothing is too difficult for the Lord. At this time next year, I will return to you. I will return to you and Sarah will have a son.’ 15 Sarah was afraid. So she did not say what was true. She said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But the Lord said, ‘Yes, you did laugh.’

16 The men got up. They were leaving. They looked down in the direction of Sodom. Abraham walked with them. He walked with them for part of their journey. 17 Then the Lord said, ‘Will I tell Abraham my plan?’ 18 ‘Abraham’s descendants will be great people. They will be very powerful. Because of him, everyone on the earth will receive my blessing.’

See Genesis 12:2-3.

19 ‘I chose him. Then he will teach his children and everyone in his household. He will teach them to know me. He will teach them to do what is right. Then I will keep the promise that I made to him.’ 20 The Lord said to Abraham, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great. The people who live there are evil.’

21 ‘I will go down to Sodom and Gomorrah. I will see what they have done. I will see if it is as bad as the outcry against them. Then I will know how badly they have sinned.’

22 The men turned away. They went towards Sodom. But Abraham remained with the Lord.

23 Then Abraham went near to the Lord. Abraham asked, ‘Will you kill your people with the evil people? 24 There might be 50 people who know you in the city. Will you still destroy the city? Or will you let the people live, because of the 50 people who know you? 25 The ruler of all the earth will do what is right! So, you will not kill the people who know you. You will not kill them along with the evil people. You will not do the same thing to the people who know you, as you do to the evil people. I know that you would not do such a thing!’

Abraham is God’s friend. That is why Abraham can say this to God.

26 The Lord said, ‘Because of 50 people who know me in the city of Sodom, I will not destroy that place and everybody in it.’ 27 Then Abraham spoke again. ‘I have been brave enough to speak to the Lord. I know that I am nothing but dust and ashes.’

Dust is on the top of the ground. It is dry. It blows away easily. When something burns, ashes are left. Abraham is saying that he is nothing.

28 Then Abraham asked, ‘What if there are 45 people in the city who know you. Will you destroy the city, because there are only 45 good people there?’ The Lord said, ‘Because of 45 people who know me in the city, I will not destroy it.’ 29 Abraham spoke to God again. ‘What will you do if only 40 good people are there?’ The Lord said, ‘Because of 40 good people I will not destroy the city.’ 30 Then Abraham said ‘Please do not be angry. Let me speak. What if there are only 30 people who know you there?’ The Lord answered, ‘I will not destroy the city if I find 30 good people in the city.’ 31 Abraham said ‘I have been brave. I have spoken to the Lord. What if only 20 good people are there?’ The Lord said, ‘Because of 20 good people I will not destroy the city.’ 32 Abraham said, ‘Please do not be angry. Let me speak once more. What if only 10 good people live there?’ The Lord answered, ‘Because of 10 good people I will not destroy the city.’ 33 The Lord had finished speaking with Abraham. So the Lord left him. And Abraham returned home.

Lot is living in Sodom. Lot is Abraham’s nephew. Abraham does not want God to kill Lot and his family. That is why Abraham asks ‘what if only 10 good people live there?’

Chapter 19

1 The 2 angels arrived at Sodom. It was evening. Lot was sitting at the city gate. Lot saw the angels. He got up to meet them. He bowed down. He put his face to the ground. 2 Lot said ‘My lords, please come to my house. You can wash your feet and stay the night there. You can continue your journey early in the morning.’ The angels replied, ‘No, we will stay the night in the square.’

The square is a large open space. It is in the middle of the city. People often meet there.

3 But Lot asked them to stay with him again. So they went with Lot. The angels went to Lot’s house. Lot prepared a meal for them. He made special bread. The angels ate the food.

This special bread was quick to make. It did not have any yeast. Cooks put yeast in other bread to make it rise.

4 They had not yet gone to bed. All the men from every part of Sodom came to the house. Old and young men came. They were all outside the house. 5 The men said ‘Where are the men who are staying with you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them’ 6 Lot went outside to the men. He shut the door of his house. 7 Lot said, ‘No, my friends. Do not do this bad thing. 8 I have 2 daughters. They have never had sex with a man. Let me bring them out to you. You can do whatever you want with them. But do not do anything to these men. They are staying at my house. I cannot let anyone hurt them.’ 9 The men from the city said ‘Get out of our way. You are a foreign person in this city. Now you are telling us what to do! We will do worse things to you.’ They pushed Lot. They began to break the door of his house. 10 The 2 men inside the house pulled Lot. They pulled him back into his house. They shut the door. 11 Then they made the men outside blind. They made the young men blind. They also made the old men blind. This was so that they could not find the door to the house.

Blind means that the men could not see anything.

12 The 2 men spoke to Lot. They said, ‘Do you have any people belonging to you here? Do you have men who are going to marry your daughters? Do you have sons or daughters? Do you have any people belonging to you in the city? If you do, get them out of here. 13 We are going to destroy this city. The outcry against this city is great. God has sent us to destroy it.’ 14 Lot went out. He spoke to the men who were going to marry his daughters. Lot said to them, ‘Hurry! Leave this place because the Lord is going to destroy this city.’ But the men laughed.

15 At dawn, the angels said to Lot, ‘Hurry! Take your wife. And take your 2 daughters that are here. If not, you will all be killed when the city is destroyed.’ 16 Lot did not go with the angels at once. So the angels held on to Lot’s hand. And they held the hands of his wife and his 2 daughters. The angels led them away from the city, because the Lord was merciful to them.

Lot and his family did not want to leave Sodom. They would be leaving everything that they had.

17 As soon as the angel brought them out he said, ‘Run! Your life is in danger. Do not look back. Do not stop anywhere on this land. Run to the mountains or you will die.’ 18 But Lot said, ‘No! Please, my lords! 19 You are happy with me, your servant. You have been very kind to me. You have saved my life. But I cannot run to the mountains. This evil will over take me. Then I will die.’

20 Lot said, ‘Look! Here is a town. It is near. I can run to it. And the town is small. Let me run to it. The town is very small. Then I will stay alive.’ 21 The angel said to Lot, ‘Very well, I will let you do what you have asked. I will not destroy the town of which you speak. 22 But run to the town quickly. I cannot do anything until you get to the town.’ (The name of the town was Zoar.) 23 The sun had risen in the sky. Then Lot reached Zoar.

24 Then the Lord made it rain. He made it rain burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah. The burning sulphur came from the Lord. It came out of the heavens.

God used hot sulphur to destroy the cities. Sulphur is yellow. It burns quickly with a lot of heat. But when it gets cold, it becomes like stone. Hot sulphur covered the cities and the people in them. It would burn them. Then it would become like stone over everything in the city.

25 So the Lord destroyed those cities. He killed everyone who lived in those cities. And he killed all the plants that grew on that land.

26 But Lot’s wife looked back at the city. And she changed into a large piece of salt.

The angel had told Lot and his family not to look back (verse 17).

27 Early the next morning, Abraham returned to where he had stood before God. 28 He looked down towards Sodom and Gomorrah. And he looked down towards all the land near the cities. He saw thick smoke. It was rising from the land. It was the smoke from a big fire.

29 God destroyed the cities of that land. And Lot lived in these cities. But God had remembered Abraham. God brought Lot out of the cities, before he destroyed them.

30 Lot was afraid to live in Zoar. So, he and his 2 daughters stayed in the mountains. Lot and his 2 daughters lived in the rocks in the side of the mountain. 31 The oldest daughter said to the youngest daughter, ‘Our father is old. And there is no other man here. So, we will not have any man to marry us. Then we will not have children. Everyone on the earth wants to have children. 32 Let us cause our father to drink wine. Then we will have sex with him. Then our family will continue.’

Drinking too much wine makes you drunk.

33 That night they gave their father wine to drink. And the oldest daughter had sex with him. Lot did not know when she came to him. And he did not know when she left him. 34 The next day the oldest daughter said to the youngest daughter, ‘Last night I had sex with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight. Then you can have sex with him. Then our family line will continue through him.’ 35 So that night, they gave their father wine to drink. And the youngest daughter had sex with her father. He did not know when she came to him. And he did not know when she left him. 36 Both of Lot’s daughters would give birth to a baby. This was because they had both had sex with their father. 37 The oldest daughter had a son. She called him Moab. All the Moabites of today are his descendants. 38 The youngest daughter also had a son. She called him Ben-Ammi. All the Ammonites of today are his descendants.

Chapter 20

1 Abraham moved on to the land of Negev. He lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a time he stayed in Gerar. 2 While he was there, he told people that Sarah was his sister. Because of this, Abimelech sent for Sarah. Abimelech is the king of Gerar. He wanted Sarah to be his wife.

3 But God spoke to Abimelech in a dream. God said, ‘You are a dead man. This is because of the woman that you have taken. She is a married woman.’ 4 But Abimelech had not gone near Sarah. He said, ‘Will you destroy people who have not done anything wrong? 5 Abraham said to me “I am her brother.” Sarah said to me “I am his sister.” I did not know that I was doing anything wrong.’ 6 God spoke to Abimelech in a dream. God said, ‘You did not know that you were doing wrong. I knew that. So I kept you from sinning against me. I did not let you touch her. 7 Give her back to her husband. He is a prophet. He will pray for you. Then you will live. If you do not give her back, be sure of this. You and your household will die.’

8 Early the next morning, Abimelech called together his officers. He told them what had happened. They were very afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham to him. Abimelech said, ‘What have you done to us? What have I done against you? Why have you brought this bad sin on me? You should not have done this to me.’ 10 Abimelech asked Abraham, ‘Why did you do this?’ 11 Abraham said, ‘Because I thought that the people here were not afraid of God. They will kill me because of my wife.’

Verses 1-11 are like Genesis 12:11-20. Again, Abraham does not think that God will keep him safe.

12 Abraham said, ‘But she is my sister. She is the daughter of my father. But she is not the daughter of my mother. And she became my wife. 13 God caused me to leave my father’s household. Then I said to her, “This is how you can show your love for me. Everywhere we go, say to people, ‘He is my brother’.” ’

14 Abimelech brought sheep and cows. He also brought male and female slaves. He gave them to Abraham. He gave Sarah, Abraham’s wife back to him. 15 Abimelech said, ‘Here is my land. Live anywhere you want to live.’ 16 He said to Sarah, ‘I have given your brother 1000 pieces of silver. This is to show everyone that you did nothing wrong.’ 17 Then Abraham prayed to God. And God made Abimelech well again. He also made his wife and his female slaves well again. So, they could have children again. 18 God had made them unable to have children. God had done this because of Abraham’s wife, Sarah.

Chapter 21

1 The Lord was good to Sarah. He kept his promise to her. 2 Sarah became pregnant. She gave birth to a son. Abraham was his father. Abraham was old. This happened at the time that God said it would.

See Genesis 18:10.

3 Abraham called his son Isaac. This is the son that Sarah gave birth to. 4 Isaac was 8 days old. Abraham circumcised him. This is what God had told him to do.

See chapter 17.

5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. 6 Sarah said, ‘God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears about my son will be happy with me.’ 7 She also said, ‘Who would think that I would have a child? But I have given Abraham a son, even when he is old.’

8 The child grew, and his mother weaned him. On that day, Abraham gave a big feast.

Weaned means that Isaac did not have to drink his mother’s milk any more.

A feast is a time of eating and drinking.

9 Sarah saw that Ishmael was laughing at Isaac. Ishmael was Hagar’s son. Hagar was the slave from Egypt. 10 Sarah said to Abraham, ‘Send that slave woman and her son away. He must never have a part in the inheritance. He will not have a part with my son Isaac.’

Inheritance is what someone receives after a person dies.

11 This made Abraham very sad, because it was about his son Ishmael.

Ishmael is Hagar’s son. He is also Abraham’s son.

12 God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be sad about the boy Ishmael and your female servant. Listen to Sarah. Do whatever she tells you, because I will continue my promise through Isaac. 13 I will also make many people from the descendants of Ishmael, too. I will do that because he is your son.’

14 Abraham was awake early the next morning. He took some food. And he took a bottle that someone had made out of animal skin. He filled it with water. He put the food and water on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent Hagar and her son Ishmael away. She went to the desert of Beersheba.

The desert of Beersheba is dry and hot. There is not very much water there.

15 After they had drunk the water, Hagar put her son under a bush. 16 She thought, ‘I cannot watch the boy die.’ As she sat near the boy, she began to cry. Then she went away from him. She sat down. She was not very far away from him. 17 God heard the boy crying. The angel of God spoke to Hagar from heaven. He said ‘What is the matter Hagar? Do not be afraid. God has heard the boy crying, while the boy is lying there. 18 Lift the boy up. Take him by the hand. I will make him into a great people.’

God has told Hagar this, when she ran away from Sarah (16:10).

19 Then God opened Hagar’s eyes. She saw a well of water. Hagar filled the bottle with water. And she gave the boy a drink. 20 God was with the boy while he grew up. The boy lived in the desert. He became an archer.

A desert is a hot, dry place. It has lots of sand. There is not much water there.

An archer is someone who can use a bow and arrows to kill an animal. An arrow is like a stick with a sharp point at the end.

21 The boy lived in the desert of Paran. And his mother found a wife for him. The wife was from Egypt.

22 At that time Abimelech and Phicol, his officer, said to Abraham, ‘God is with you in everything that you do. 23 Tell me that you will not do things in a false way. You will not do anything false with me or with my children or with my descendants. Do this before God. You live here as a foreign person. Be kind to me, as I was to you.’ 24 Abraham said ‘I will do as you say.’

25 Then Abraham told Abimelech about a well of water. Abimelech’s servants had said that the well belonged to them and not to Abraham. 26 Abimelech said ‘I do not know who has done this. You did not tell me before. I only heard about it today.’ 27 Abraham brought sheep and cows. He gave them to Abimelech. The two men made a promise. 28 Abraham separated 7 young female sheep from the other sheep. 29 Abimelech asked Abraham ‘Why have you separated 7 young female sheep? What does this mean?’ 30 Abraham replied ‘Take these 7 young female sheep from my hand. You know that I dug this well. This shows that you know it.’ 31 So he called that place Beersheba. He called it that because the 2 men made a promise there.

Beersheba means ‘well of seven’ or ‘well of the promise’.

32 So they made a promise at Beersheba. Abimelech and Phicol, his officer, returned to the land of the Philistines.

33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba. He called on the name of the Lord who is for ever. That is the Lord who never changes.

A tamarisk tree is a tree that can grow without using much water.

34 Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.

Chapter 22

1 Some time passed. God wanted to see how faithful Abraham was. God said to him, ‘Abraham!’ Abraham replied, ‘Here I am.’ 2 God said ‘Take your son. Take your only son Isaac, whom you love. Go to the place of Moriah. Sacrifice your son there, as a burnt offering. Do this on a mountain. I will tell you which mountain.’

3 Abraham got up early the next morning. He put a blanket on his donkey. He took 2 servants, and his son Isaac. He cut wood for the fire for the burnt offering. He started to go to the place that God had told him. He took the wood with him. 4 On the 3rd day, Abraham looked up. He saw the place. It was not too far away. 5 Abraham spoke to his servants. He said ‘Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there. We will worship God. Then we will come back to you.’

Abraham shows that he has faith in God. He says ‘we will come back to you’. He does not say ‘I will come back to you’.

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering. He gave it to Isaac to carry. Abraham carried the fire and the knife. And the 2 of them went on together. 7 Isaac spoke to Abraham. He said ‘Father?’ Abraham replied ‘Yes my son?’ Isaac said, ‘The fire and the wood are here. But where is the lamb, the lamb for the burnt offering?’

A lamb is a young sheep. In the Old Testament people killed lambs as a sacrifice to God.

8 Abraham replied, ‘God will give himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the 2 of them went on together.

9 They came to the place that God told them. Abraham built an altar. He put the wood on it. He tied his son Isaac. And he put him on top of the wood on the altar. 10 Then Abraham took the knife in his hand to kill his son.

11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him. He said ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ Abraham replied ‘Here I am.’ 12 The angel of the Lord said, ‘Do not put a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God. I know this because you have not kept your son from me. And he is your only son.’

To fear God means to have faith in him. And it means to do whatever God says. Abraham believed that God would keep his promise. God’s promise was that Abraham would have many descendants. Abraham believed that God would not let Isaac die for ever. He believed that God had the power to bring Isaac back from death. (See Hebrews 11:17-19.)

These verses remind us that Jesus died for us. Jesus died for us, as the lamb died to save Isaac.

Jesus was the ‘lamb of God’ (John 1:29). He was sacrificed for us. He died instead of us.

13 Abraham looked up. He saw a ram, caught in a bush. He took the ram. Abraham sacrificed it as a burnt offering. He sacrificed the ram instead of his son.

A ram is a male sheep.

14 Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide.’ And it is still said ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided’.

Provide means to give someone what they need.

So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will give me what I need.’ And it is still said ‘On the mountain of the Lord, he will give us what we need.’

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham again. He called from heaven. 16 The angel said, ‘I tell you this, says the Lord. You did not keep your son from me. And he was your only son. 17 Because you have done this, I will bless you. I will make your descendants as many as the stars. They will be as many as the stars that are in the sky. They will be as many as the pieces of sand by the sea. Your descendants will take the cities of their enemies. 18 I will bless everyone on the earth through your descendants. I will do this because you obeyed me.’ 19 Abraham returned to his servants. Together they left for Beersheba.

20 Some time passed. Someone told Abraham ‘Milcah is also a mother. She has given birth to sons through your brother Nahor. 21 They are: Uz, the first born, his brother Buz, Kemuel, (who is the father of Aram), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel. 23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milcah gave birth to these 8 sons. Nahor was the father of these 8 sons. Nahor was Abraham’s brother. 24 Nahor had a slave wife. Her name was Reumah. She also had sons. They were Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maacah.

Chapter 23

1 Sarah lived for 127 years. 2 She died in Kiriath Arba (that is Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Abraham was very sad because Sarah had died. He sat by her body and cried. He cried because she was dead.

3 Then Abraham got up and said, 4 ‘I am a foreign person among you. Sell me some land for a burial place here so that I can bury my dead.’ 5 The Hittites replied, 6 ‘My lord, you are a powerful person among us. Bury your dead in any burial place that you choose. No one will refuse what you ask. You may have a burial place belonging to any of us. Then you can bury your dead.’ 7 Abraham got up. He bowed down before the people of the land, in front of the Hittites.

‘Bowed’ means that he bent his body. (See 18:2.)

8 He said to the Hittites ‘As you will let me bury my dead, listen to me. Speak with Ephron son of Zohar for me. 9 Speak to him so that he will sell me the burial place in Machpelah. This belongs to him. It is at the end of the field. Ask Ephron to sell it to me. I will pay the full price. It will be a place to bury my dead among you.’ 10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting with his people. He spoke so that all the Hittites could hear him. They were at the city gate. 11 Ephron said ‘No my lord. Listen to me. I give you the field. And I give you the burial place that is in the field. I give it to you now. I give it to you in front of all my people. Bury your dead.’ 12 Abraham bowed down to the Hittites again. 13 He said to Ephron, ‘Listen to me. I will pay you the price of the field. Accept the price from me. Then I can bury my dead there.’ Abraham said this so that everyone could hear him. 14 Ephron replied to Abraham, 15 ‘Listen to me, my lord. The land is worth 400 shekels of silver. But that is nothing between you and me. Bury your dead there.’

People used shekels to measure weight.

Ephron is telling Abraham how much the land will cost. But he is still saying that he will give it to Abraham. (But Ephron knows that Abraham will not accept the field. He knows that Abraham wants to buy it.)

16 Abraham agreed to this price. He weighed the amount of silver, that Ephron had asked for. All the Hittites heard that this amount was 400 shekels of silver. Abraham used the weights that the people who sell things use.

17 Ephron’s field in Machpelah, near Mamre, now belonged to Abraham. The field, the burial place in it and all the trees in the field now belonged to Abraham. They recorded the field as belonging to Abraham. 18 It now belonged to Abraham. They did this in front of all the Hittites at the city gate. 19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife. He did this in the burial place in the field of Machpelah. This is near Mamre. (Mamre is at Hebron.) This is in the land of Canaan. 20 They recorded the field and the burial place as belonging to Abraham. The Hittites sold it to him. They sold it as a burial place to bury his family.

Chapter 24

1 Abraham was now very old. He had been alive for many years. The Lord had blessed him in every way. 2 Abraham had a servant. This servant had authority over everything in Abraham’s household. Abraham said to him ‘Put your hand under my thigh.’

In Old Testament times, people did this to show that they were making a promise.

The thigh is the top part of the leg.

3 Abraham said ‘I live among the Canaanites. But I want you to make a promise to me. Make a promise to me in front of the Lord who is the God of heaven. He is also the God of earth. Say that you will not get a Canaanite wife for my son. 4 You must go to my country. Go to my relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.’ 5 The servant asked Abraham ‘What if the woman will not come back with me to this land? Must I take your son to the country that you came from?’ 6 Abraham replied ‘You must not take my son back there. 7 The Lord, who is the God of heaven, brought me from there. He brought me out of my father’s household. That was in the land where I was born. The Lord spoke to me. He made a promise to me. He said “I will give this land to your descendants.” Because of this, the Lord will send His angel to go before you. He will send him so that you can get a wife for my son. Get the wife from the land that I was born in. 8 Perhaps the woman will not come back. Then you do not have to do as I have told you. But do not take my son back to that land.’ 9 The servant put his hand under Abraham’s thigh. The servant said that he would do everything that Abraham had said.

The servant agreed to do what Abraham said. He did this in front of the Lord. He put his hand under Abraham’s thigh. This was to show Abraham that he was making a promise to him.

10 The servant took 10 of his master’s camels. He left. He took many good things with him. These were from his master. He started to go to Aram Naharaim. He made his way to the town of Nahor.

The town of Nahor was in the direction of Aram Naharaim.

The servant took good things from his master. These were gifts for the lady who would become Isaac’s wife, and for her mother and father.

11 The servant was outside the town. He made the camels go down on their knees. They were near the well. It was almost evening. At this time, women came to the well to get water. 12 The servant prayed to God. He prayed ‘Lord, God of my master, Abraham. Help me to do what I promised. And be kind to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing by this well. The daughters of the people who live in the town are coming out. They are coming to get water from the well. 14 May this happen. I will say to a girl “Please put your water pot down the well so that I may have a drink.” She may say, “Drink and I will give water to your camels”. Then let her be the wife that you have chosen for your servant Isaac. I want you to do this. Then I know that you have been kind to my master Abraham.’

15 The servant was still praying when Rebekah came out. She had her pot on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel. Bethuel was the son of Milcah. Milcah was the wife of Abraham’s brother, Nahor. 16 The girl was very beautiful. She had not had sex with a man. No man had slept with her. She went down to the well. She filled her pot with water. And she came up again. 17 The servant hurried to meet the girl. He said ‘Please give me some water from your pot.’ 18 The girl replied ‘Drink my lord. She quickly took the pot from her shoulders. She held the pot in her hands and gave him a drink. 19 After she had done this, she said ‘I will get water for your camels too. I will do this until they have finished drinking.’ 20 So Rebekah quickly emptied her pot. She emptied the water into the place where animals drank. She ran back to the well. She took more water from the well. She took enough for all the camels. 21 The servant did not say anything. But he watched the girl. He wanted to see if the Lord had shown him a wife for Isaac.

22 The camels finished drinking. The servant took out a gold nose ring. It weighed a beka. He also took out two gold bracelets. They weighed 10 shekels.

A beka is half a shekel. You wear bracelets on your arm.

23 The servant asked ‘Whose daughter are you? Please tell me. Is there room in your father’s house for me and my men to spend the night there?’ 24 She replied ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel. He is the son of Milcah (his mother) and Nahor (his father).’ 25 She said ‘We have plenty of dry grass and food for the camels. And we have room for you. You can stay the night with us.’ 26 Then the man bowed down. He worshipped the Lord. 27 He said ‘Praise to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham. He is kind and faithful to my master. And the Lord has been kind to me. He has led me on a journey to my master’s relatives.’

A relative is someone belonging to your family or to your parents’ family. For example, your brother’s son is a relative.

28 The girl ran on before the servant. She told her mother’s household about what had happened.

29 Rebekah had a brother. His name was Laban. 30 Laban saw the nose ring and the bracelets. The bracelets were on his sister’s arms. He heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her. So Laban went out to the servant. He found him standing by the camels, near the well. 31 Laban said ‘You are blessed by the Lord. Why are you standing out here? Come, I have prepared the house for you and a place for your camels.’ 32 So the servant went to the house. He took everything off the camels. Someone brought dried grass and food for the camels. And they brought water so that he could wash his feet. And the men with him could wash their feet.

Camels sleep on dried grass. And they eat it.

33 They gave him food. But the servant said ‘I will not eat. Not until I tell you why I have come here.’ Laban said, ‘Then tell us.’

34 The servant said ‘I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has given my master many blessings. My master is very rich. The Lord has given him sheep and cows, and silver and gold. He has also given him male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 Sarah was my master’s wife. She gave him a son even when she was very old. My master has given his son everything that belongs to him. 37 My master made me make a promise. He said, “You must not get a Canaanite woman to be a wife for my son. I live in the land of the Canaanites. 38 Go to my father’s family and to my own relatives. And get a wife for my son.” 39 I asked my master “What if the woman will not return with me?” 40 My master said “The Lord will send His angel with you. You will find what you want on your journey. You will get a wife for my son. Get a wife from my own relatives. 41 Go to my relatives’ house. If they will not let you take her, you will be free from your promise.”

42 I came to the well today. I prayed to the Lord. I prayed “Lord, God of my master Abraham. If you will, let me find a wife for my master’s son. This is why I have travelled. 43 Look. I am standing by a well. If a girl comes to get water, I will say to her, ‘Please let me drink some water from your jar.’ 44 She may say to me, ‘Drink and I will get some water for your camels too.’ Then I will know that she is the wife for my master’s son. She will be the wife that the Lord has chosen.”

45 While I was still praying, Rebekah came out. She carried her pot on her shoulder. She went down to the well, and got some water. I said to her “Please give me a drink.” 46 She quickly took her pot off her shoulder. She said, “Drink. And I will get water for your camels too.” So I drank. And she gave water to the camels. 47 I asked her “Whose daughter are you?” She said, “I am the daughter of Bethuel. He is the son of Nahor. Milcah is Bethuel’s mother.” Then I put the ring in her nose. I put the bracelets on her arms. 48 And I bowed down. I worshipped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master, Abraham. The Lord led me to this girl. She is the granddaughter of my master’s brother. The Lord led me to her, for my master’s son. 49 If you want to say, “No” then tell me. Or if you want to say, “Yes” then tell me. Then I will know what to do.’

50 Laban and Bethuel replied ‘These things are from the Lord. We cannot go against the Lord. 51 Here is Rebekah. Take her and go. She will become the wife of your master’s son. This is as the Lord has said.’

52 Abraham’s servant heard what they said. He bowed to the ground in front of the Lord. 53 Then the servant brought out things made from gold and silver. He brought out special clothes. He gave them to Rebekah. He also gave valuable things to her brother and to her mother.

54 Then the servant ate and drank. And the men with him ate and drank. They stayed the night there. The next morning they woke up. The servant said, ‘Let me go back to my master.’ 55 Rebekah’s brother and mother replied ‘Let her stay with us for 10 days or so. Then you can go.’ 56 The servant said ‘Do not stop me. The Lord has given me what I need. Let me go now. Then I can go to my master.’ 57 The brother and mother said ‘Let us call the girl. Let us ask her what she wants to do.’ 58 So they called out to Rebekah. They asked her ‘Will you go with this man?’ Rebekah said ‘I will go.’ 59 So they sent their sister Rebekah away. And her nurse went with her. They went with Abraham’s servant, and his men. 60 And her brother and mother blessed Rebekah. They said ‘Our sister, may you be the mother of thousands, and the mother of ten thousands. May your descendants take the gates of their enemies.’

Her mother and brother are asking that Rebekah will have many children. And they are asking that her children will take the land of their enemies.

61 Rebekah and her female servants left. They rode on camels. And they went back with the servant. The servant took Rebekah and left.

62 Isaac came from Beer Lahai Roi because he was living in the Negev.

Beer Lahai Roi is a well.

63 It was evening. And Isaac went out to the field to meditate. He looked up. And he saw camels coming near.

Meditate means to think a lot about something for a long time.

64 Rebekah looked up. She saw Isaac. She got down from her camel. 65 She asked the servant ‘Who is that man in the field? Who is that man coming to meet us?’ The servant replied ‘He is my master’. Rebekah covered herself with her veil.

A veil hid her face from Isaac. It is a piece of material. To cover herself with a veil showed Isaac that she was not married.

66 The servant told Isaac everything that happened. 67 Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother’s tent. Isaac married Rebekah. Rebekah became his wife. And Isaac loved Rebekah. So, Isaac was happy again, after the death of his mother.

Chapter 25

1 Abraham took another wife. Her name was Keturah. 2 She gave birth to Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. The descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4 Midian became the father of Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah. 5 When he died, Abraham left everything that was his to Isaac. 6 When he was still alive, he gave gifts to the sons of the other wives. He sent these sons away from Isaac. He sent them to the land of the east.

7 Abraham’s whole life was 175 years. 8 And he died when he was very old. He joined his people who had died before him. 9 Isaac and Ishmael buried him. They were his sons. They buried Abraham in the burial place of Machpelah. This is near Mamre. It is in the field of Ephron, the son of Zohar. He is a Hittite. 10 Abraham bought this field. He bought it from the Hittites. They buried Abraham there with his wife, Sarah.

11 After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac. Isaac is Abraham’s son. Isaac then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

12 This is a report of Ishmael. Ishmael is Abraham’s son. Sarah’s female servant gave birth to Ishmael. Her name was Hagar. She was from Egypt. 13 These are the names of Ishmael’s sons. The list starts from the first-born son and ends with the last born son. Nebaioth was the first born son of Ishmael. Then there were Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedmah. 16 These were all Ishmael’s sons. And these were the names of the 12 groups of people. They separated and lived in their own land. They ruled over the 12 groups of people. 17 Ishmael was alive for 137 years. He took his last breath and died. He joined his people who died before him. 18 Ishmael’s descendants lived in the lands from Havilah to Shur. These are near Egypt, towards Asshur. And they were always at war with each other.

The Lord told Hagar this in chapter 16, verse 12.

19 This is a report of what happened to Isaac. He was Abraham’s son. Abraham became the father of Isaac. 20 When Isaac was 40 years old, he married Rebekah. Rebekah was the daughter of Bethuel. Bethuel was an Aramean from Paddan Aram. She was the sister of Laban the Aramean. 21 Rebekah could not have children. So Isaac prayed to the Lord for Rebekah. The Lord did as Isaac asked. And Isaac’s wife, Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies inside her were fighting with each other. Rebekah said ‘Why is this happening to me?’ So Rebekah went to ask the Lord. 23 The Lord said to Rebekah, ‘The two who are in your body will separate. And they will be two groups of people. Two groups of people will separate from your body. One group will be stronger than the other. And the older will be like servants to the younger.’

In Old Testament times, the youngest son would always be like a servant to the oldest son. But this time, God chose the youngest son to be master over the oldest son.

24 The time came for Rebekah to give birth. There were two babies inside her. 25 The first baby to come out was red. Hair covered the whole of his body. They called him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out. His hand was holding the back of Esau’s foot. They called him Jacob. Isaac was 166 years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

27 Time passed and the boys grew. Esau became a good hunter. He liked being in the country. Jacob was a quiet man. He stayed among the tents. 28 Isaac liked to eat the meat from the animals that Esau killed. So he loved Esau. But Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 One day, Jacob was cooking a meal. Esau came back from the country. He was very hungry. 30 He said to Jacob ‘Quick let me have some of that red food! I am very hungry.’ (That is also why he was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, ‘You must first sell me your birthright.’

Edom means red. In the Old Testament, the oldest son had the birthright. This means that he would be the leader of his family when his father died. And he would get two parts of the things that had belonged to his father.

32 Esau said ‘Look I am going to die now. What good is my birthright to me?’

Esau is not thinking about what will happen in the future. He is only thinking of what he can have now.

‘I am going to die’ – Esau is not going to die. He means that he has not eaten for some days. He feels very hungry and wants the food.

33 Jacob said ‘First, say a promise to me.’ So Esau said a promise to Jacob. He promised to sell his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and the meal made from seeds. Esau ate and drank. Then he got up and left. So Esau showed that he did not care about his birthright (he did not think that it was important).

Now Jacob had the birthright. Jacob is the younger son. Jacob will receive God’s promise that he made with Abraham. This promise passed on to Isaac. When Isaac dies, it will pass to Jacob. This is what God told Rebekah in verse 23.

Chapter 26

1 There was a famine in the land. This had happened before, when Abraham was alive. Isaac went to Gerar to visit Abimelech. He was the king of the Philistines. 2 The Lord appeared to Isaac. He said ‘Do not go to Egypt. Live in the land that I tell you to live in. 3 Stay in this land for a time. And I will be with you. And I will bless you. I will give these lands to you and your descendants. I will say again the promise that I told your father Abraham. 4 I will give you many descendants. They will be as many as the stars in the sky. And I will give these lands to them. Through your descendant, I will bless everyone on the earth. 5 This will happen because of Abraham. He kept all my laws and obeyed me.

6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.

Verse 5 – God will bless everyone on the earth by sending Jesus Christ.

7 The men of Gerar asked Isaac about his wife. He said, ‘She is my sister.’ He was afraid to say ‘She is my wife.’ He thought ‘The men of Gerar may kill me. They may kill me because of Rebekah. They may kill me because she is beautiful.’

See 12:11-14.

8 Isaac stayed in Gerar for a long time. One day Abimelech, the king of the Philistines, looked down from his window. Abimelech saw Isaac touching his wife, Rebekah.

Abimelech saw that Isaac and Rebekah were married. He knew this by the way that Isaac touched Rebekah.

9 Abimelech called Isaac to come to him. Abimelech said ‘She is your wife! Why did you say, “She is my sister”?’ Isaac replied ‘I thought that someone might kill me because of her.’ 10 Abimelech said ‘What have you done to us? One of my men might have had sex with your wife. Then we would have done wrong.’ 11 Abimelech told his people, ‘I will kill anyone who hurts this man.’

12 Isaac planted crops in the land. They grew well. They grew to 100 times the amount that he planted. This was because the Lord blessed him.

The Lord kept his promise. He blessed Isaac because he did not go to Egypt. He blessed him, even when Isaac did not tell the truth to the Philistines about Rebekah.

Crops are plants. They can be any plants that people or animals eat.

13 Isaac became rich. His riches continued to grow. Then Isaac became very rich. 14 Isaac had many sheep, goats and cows. He also had many servants. He had so many that the Philistines became angry with him. They thought that he had more than they had. And they wanted what he had. That is why they were angry. 15 When Abraham was alive, his servants had dug many wells. Now, the Philistines filled them in again. They did this because they did not want Isaac to get rich. 16 Abimelech said to Isaac ‘You have become too powerful for us. Go and live away from us.’

17 So Isaac moved away from that place. He put his tents in the Valley of Gerar. And he stayed there. 18 Isaac dug the wells again. They were the wells that Abraham had dug. But the Philistines filled them with the ground. This happened when Abraham died. Isaac opened them. He gave them the same names as his father had given them. 19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley. They found a well there. It was full of fresh water. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarrelled with Isaac’s herdsmen. They said ‘The water belongs to us!’ So Isaac called the well Esek. He called it that because they quarrelled with him.

Herdsmen are people who keep cows and other animals safe.

Esek means quarrel.

21 So Isaac’s men dug another well. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarrelled about that one. Isaac called that well Sitnah.

Sitnah means to go against someone.

22 Isaac moved on from Sitnah. He dug another well. No one quarrelled with him about this well. He called it Rehoboth. He said ‘Now the Lord has given us space. We will have good things in this land.’

Rehoboth means to have space or room.

23 From that place, Isaac went to Beersheba. 24 That night the Lord appeared to him. The Lord said ‘I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, because I am with you. I will bless you. I will give you many descendants because of my servant Abraham.’

This is the promise that God gave to Abraham.

25 Isaac built an altar. He called out to the Lord. He put his tent there. And his servants dug a well.

26 During that time, Abimelech came to Isaac. He came from Gerar. He came with Ahuzzath his officer and with Phicol the officer of his army.

Abimelech is a name for all the kings of the Philistines. Phicol is a family name.

27 Isaac asked them ‘Why have you come to me? You were like an enemy. And you sent me away.’ 28 They replied ‘We saw that the Lord is with you. So we said to one another, “There should be a promise between us and you.” So, let us make a promise with you. 29 Promise that you will not hurt us. We did not hurt you. We did only good to you. And we sent you away as friends. And now the Lord is blessing you.’ 30 Then Isaac made a large meal for them. And they all ate and drank.

Eating a meal together showed that they all agreed to keep the promise.

31 Early the next morning, they made a promise to each other. And Isaac sent them away. They left without fighting. 32 The same day, Isaac’s servants came to him. They told him about a well that they had dug. They said, ‘We have found water!’ 33 Isaac called the well Shibah. And the name of the town is Beersheba.

Shibah means ‘promise’ or ‘7 (seven)’.

Beersheba means either ‘Well of the promise’ or ‘Well of seven’.

(In Genesis 21:28-31 Abraham gave Abimelech 7 (seven) sheep to show that he agreed to a promise.)

34 When Esau was 40 years old, he got married. He married Judith. She was the daughter of Beer the Hittite. He also married Basemath. She was the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 This made Isaac and Rebekah very sad.

Abraham had wanted Isaac to marry a woman from his own relatives (see chapter 24). But Esau married women from the land that he lived in. At this time, he did not go back to his relatives to find a wife.

Chapter 27

1 Isaac became old. He could not see anything. He could not see because his eyes were weak. He called for Esau. Esau was his oldest son. Isaac said, ‘My son.’ Esau replied, ‘Yes’. 2 Isaac said ‘I am an old man. I do not know when I will die. 3 Now get your bow and arrows. Go out into the country. Kill some wild animals for me.’

Bow in verse 3 means something to kill an animal. People use bows to shoot arrows. An arrow is like a stick with a sharp point at the end.

4 Isaac said, ‘Prepare the food that I like to eat. And bring it to me. Bring it to me so that I can eat it. Then I can give you my blessing before I die.’

In the Old Testament, a father gave his blessing to the oldest son. This son has the birthright. Isaac does not know that Esau sold his birthright. (See 25:31-34.) Esau does not tell Isaac that he has sold his birthright.

5 Rebekah listened to what Isaac said to Esau. Esau went out into the country. He went to kill an animal and bring back the meat.

6 Rebekah said to Jacob ‘I heard your father say this to Esau. 7 “Bring me some meat. And prepare the food that I like to eat. Bring it to me. Then I can give you my blessing. I will bless you in front of the Lord. I will do this before I die.” ’ 8 Rebekah said ‘Now my son, listen carefully. And do as I tell you. 9 Go out to the animals. Bring me two nice looking goats. Bring me two young goats. Then I will prepare some food that your father likes to eat. It will be prepared how he likes it. 10 Then take the food to your father to eat. Then he will give you his blessing before he dies.’ 11 Jacob said ‘Hair covers my brother’s skin. But my skin does not have any hair. 12 My father may touch me. Then he will know that I am telling him lies (words that are not true). Then he will not bless me. He will curse me.’ 13 Jacob’s mother said, ‘My son. Let the curse fall on me. Do what I say. Go and get the things that I told you.’ 14 Jacob went and got the goats. He brought them to his mother. She prepared some food. She prepared the food that Isaac liked to eat. 15 Then Rebekah took some of Esau’s clothes. They were his best clothes. Rebekah had them in her house. She put them on Jacob, her younger son. 16 She covered Jacob’s hands with the skin from the goats. She also covered the part of his neck that had no hair.

Goats have hair on their skin. Rebekah did this to make Isaac think that Jacob was Esau. If Isaac touched Jacob, he would think that Jacob was Esau. He would think that because of the hair on the skin.

17 Then she gave Jacob (her son) the food that Isaac liked to eat. And she gave him some bread that she had made.

18 Jacob went to his father. He said ‘My father.’ Isaac replied ‘Yes, my son. Who is it?’ 19 Jacob said ‘I am Esau. I am your first born son. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my meat. Then you can give me your blessing.’ 20 Isaac asked his son ‘My son. How did you find it so quickly?’ Jacob replied, ‘The Lord your God helped me find it.’

Jacob says ‘the Lord your God’. Jacob does not call God his own God.

21 Isaac said to Jacob ‘Come near to me so that I can touch you. Then I will know if you really are my son Esau.’ 22 Jacob went close to his father. Isaac touched him. He said ‘The voice is that of Jacob. But the hands are those of Esau.’ 23 Isaac did not know that it was Jacob. He did not know because he could feel the hair on Jacob’s hands. They felt like Esau’s hands. So Isaac blessed Jacob. 24 Isaac asked ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ Jacob replied ‘I am.’ 25 Isaac said ‘My son, bring me some of your meat. I will eat it. Then I can give you my blessing.’ So Jacob brought the food to him. Isaac ate it. Then Jacob brought some wine. And Isaac drank it. 26 Then Isaac said ‘Come here my son. And kiss me.’ 27 So Jacob went to Isaac and kissed him. Isaac smelled the clothes that Jacob wore. Then Isaac blessed him. He said, ‘The smell of my son is like the smell of a field. It is like a field that God has blessed. 28 May God give you rain for your crops. Then may he give you a good harvest of crops, and grapes for wine.

Crops are plants. They can be any plants that people or animals eat. Harvest means the amount of crops that grow in the field.

29 May you be the master of many peoples living in many countries. And may they bow down to you. Be master over your brothers. May the sons of your mother bow down to you. May people who curse you receive curses. And may people who bless you receive blessings.’

Bow down. Bow here means to bend your body (as in 18:2).

This is what God told Rebekah in 25:23.

30 Isaac finished blessing Jacob. And Jacob left him. Then Esau came in from the country. He had killed an animal. 31 Esau prepared the food that Isaac liked to eat. Then he took the food to Isaac. Esau said ‘My father. Sit up and eat some of my meat. Then you can give me your blessing.’

Esau does not know what Jacob has done. He does not know that Jacob has received the blessing.

32 His father Isaac asked ‘Who are you?’ Esau replied ‘I am your son. I am your first born son Esau.’ 33 Isaac shook and trembled. He said ‘Who was it who killed the animal? Who brought it to me? I ate it, just before you came. And I blessed him. And he will get the blessing!’

Isaac trembled. He now knows what Jacob has done. He knows that he cannot take his blessing away. The son that he loves cannot receive the blessing. Isaac knows that now. Isaac knows that God will bless Jacob and not Esau.

34 Esau understood what his father had said. And he cried aloud. He said ‘Bless me. Bless me as well my father!’ 35 But Isaac said ‘Your brother came to me. He deceived me. And he took your blessing.’ 36 Esau said ‘Jacob is the right name for him. He has deceived me two times. He took my birthright. And now he has taken my blessing!’ Then Esau asked ‘Do you have any blessing left for me?’

Jacob means ‘He deceives’. This is what ‘deceives’ means. Jacob says things that are not true. And he does things that are not right.

37 Isaac replied ‘I have made him master over you. And I have made all his relatives his servants. I have given him crops and wine. So what can I do for you my son?’

Isaac is saying that there is no blessing left for Esau.

38 Esau said ‘My father! Do you have only one blessing? My father! Bless me as well!’ Then Esau wept aloud.

39 Isaac replied ‘You will not grow rich from the earth. You will not have rain to make your crops grow. 40 You will have to fight for everything. And your brother will rule over you. But after a time, you will break away from him, and from his descendants.’

This is the only blessing that Isaac could give Esau. He could not take back the blessing that he gave to Jacob.

41 Esau did not forget what Jacob had done. He hated Jacob because of the blessing that Isaac gave him. Esau said, ‘My father will die soon. Then I will kill my brother.’ 42 Someone told Rebekah what Esau had said. She sent for Jacob. She said to him ‘Your brother Esau wants to kill you. When he thinks about killing you, it helps him to feel better. 43 Now my son, do what I tell you. Go to my brother Laban. He lives in Haran. 44 Stay with him for a time. Stay there until your brother is not angry with you. 45 When Esau is not angry with you, I will send someone to tell you. When he forgets what you did to him, you can come back from Haran. I do not want to lose both of you in one day.’

Rebekah thinks that Esau and Jacob will kill each other. Or that God will kill Esau, if he kills Jacob.

Jacob stayed in Haran for 20 years. Rebekah did not see Jacob again.

46 Rebekah said to Isaac ‘I do not like living with Esau’s wives. I do not like it because they are Hittites. My life will be worse if Jacob marries a Hittite woman (a woman from the people of this land).’

Isaac does not want Jacob to marry a woman from the country that they live in. Rebekah knows this. She knows that Isaac will send Jacob away to find a wife. Isaac will send Jacob back to his relatives. Then Esau will not kill Jacob.

Chapter 28

1 Isaac called for Jacob. Isaac blessed him. He told him ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go now to Paddan Aram. Go to the house of Bethuel. He is your mother’s father. Take a wife from there. Take a wife from the daughters of Laban. He is your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty bless you. May he make you rich. And may he give you many descendants so that your descendants become a group of people. 4 May God give to you the blessing that he gave to Abraham. And may he give it to your descendants. Then you can take the land in which you live as a foreign person. This is the land that God gave to Abraham.’ 5 Isaac sent Jacob on his journey. Jacob went to Paddan Aram. He went to Laban, who was the son of Bethuel the Aramean. Laban was the brother of Rebekah. Rebekah was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

6 Esau heard that Isaac blessed Jacob. He knew that Isaac sent Jacob to Paddan Aram. And he knew that Isaac told Jacob to take a wife from Paddan Aram. Esau knew that Isaac told Jacob ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman.’ 7 Esau knew that Jacob obeyed his father and mother. And that Jacob went to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau knew that Isaac did not like the Canaanite women. 9 So Esau went to Ishmael. He married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth. Mahalath is also the daughter of Ishmael. Ishmael is the son of Abraham. Esau married Mahalath. And he kept his other wives.

10 Jacob left Beersheba. He went towards Haran. 11 He came to a place. And he stayed there for the night. He stayed there because the sun had gone down. He took a stone. He put it under his head. And he lay down and went to sleep. 12 He had a dream. In the dream, he saw some steps. The steps went from the earth, into heaven. The angels of God went up and down the steps. 13 The Lord stood above the steps. He said ‘I am the Lord. I am the God of your father Abraham. And I am the God of Isaac. I will give you the land that you lie on. I will give it to you and to your descendants. 14 Your descendants will be as many as the dust of the earth. They will go to the west and to the east. They will go to the north and to the south. I will bless the people of the earth because of one of your descendants.

This is the promise that God made to Abraham. See 13:16.

15 I am with you. And I will watch over you everywhere you go. I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you. Not until I have done what I have promised you.’

God tells Jacob that he will always be with him.

16 Jacob woke from his sleep. He thought ‘The Lord is in this place. And I did not know.’ 17 Jacob was afraid. He said ‘How great this place is! This must be the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.’

18 In the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head. He made it stand up straight in the ground. He poured oil on top of it.

The oil was probably olive oil. Olives grow on trees. Pouring oil on something showed that it belonged to God.

19 Jacob called that place Bethel. The name of the place was Luz. But Jacob called it Bethel.

Bethel means house of God.

20 Then Jacob made a promise. He said ‘I want God to be with me and to watch over me, while I am on this journey. I want him to give me food to eat and clothes to wear. 21 I want to return to my father’s house. If God does all these things, then the Lord will be my God. 22 This stone that I have put here will be God’s house. And from every thing that God gives me, I will give God one tenth.

Chapter 29

1 Jacob continued on his journey. He came to the land where the people from the east live. 2 He saw a well in a field. Three groups of sheep lay by the well. They lay there because the sheep had water from that well. A large stone covered the top of the well. 3 Shepherds waited until all the sheep were there. Then they removed the stone from the well. And they gave their sheep water to drink. After this, they put the stone back on the top of the well.

Shepherds are people who keep sheep safe.

4 Jacob asked the shepherds ‘My brothers, where are you from?’ The shepherds replied, ‘We are from Haran.’ 5 Jacob said ‘Do you know Laban? He is Nahor’s grandson.’ The shepherds replied ‘Yes, we know him.’ 6 Jacob asked them ‘Is he in good health?’ They replied ‘Yes he is. Here comes his daughter with the sheep. Her name is Rachel.’ 7 Jacob said ‘Look. The sun is high in the sky. It is not the right time to bring all the sheep together. Give the sheep water. And take them back to the fields.’ 8 The shepherds said ‘We cannot do that. We have to wait until all the sheep are here. Then we can remove the stone and give the sheep water.’

9 When Jacob was speaking, Rachel came. She brought her father’s sheep with her. She was a shepherdess.

A shepherdess is a woman who keeps sheep safe.

10 Jacob saw Rachel. She was the daughter of Laban. Laban was Jacob’s mother’s brother. Jacob saw Laban’s sheep. So Jacob went to the stone on the well. He removed it from the well. Then he gave water to Laban’s sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel. He began to cry aloud.

Jacob cried because he was happy to find his relatives.

12 Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of Laban. He told him that he was a son of Rebekah. And Rachel ran in front of Jacob. She told her father.

13 Laban heard what Rachel said. He hurried to meet Jacob. Jacob was the son of Laban’s sister. He put his arms round Jacob. And he kissed him. Laban brought Jacob to his home. And Jacob told Laban why he had come to him. 14 Then Laban said ‘You are my own relative.’ Jacob stayed with Laban for a whole month.

15 Then Laban said to Jacob ‘You should not work for me for nothing because you are my relative. Tell me what I should pay you.’ 16 Laban had 2 daughters. The name of the older daughter was Leah. The name of the younger daughter was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes. But Rachel was beautiful. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. He said ‘I will work for you for 7 years. In return, I want your daughter Rachel.’ 19 Laban said ‘It is better to give her to you than to another man. Stay here with me.’ 20 Jacob worked for 7 years to have Rachel. But the years passed quickly. They seemed like a few days to Jacob because he loved Rachel very much.

21 After 7 years, Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife. My time is finished. And I want to marry her.’ 22 Laban called all the people in that place together. He gave a feast. 23 Evening came. But Laban took his daughter Leah. And he gave her to Jacob. And Jacob married her. 24 Laban gave his female servant to Leah. Her name was Zilpah. Zilpah was now Leah’s servant. 25 When morning came, Jacob saw Leah! Jacob said to Laban, ‘What have you done to me? I worked for you to have Rachel. Why have you deceived me?’ 26 Laban replied ‘In this land, we do not give the younger daughter first. We do not give her before the older daughter. 27 Finish Leah’s marriage week. Then we will give you the younger daughter also. And you must work for another 7 years.

Jacob deceived Isaac. Now Laban has deceived Jacob. (For ‘deceive’, see 27:36.)

A marriage week was the 7 days of the feast. A feast is a time of eating and drinking.

28 So Jacob did this. He finished the week with Leah. 29 Then Laban gave Rachel to Jacob to be his wife. Laban give his female servant Bilhah to Rachel. Bilhah was now one of Rachel’s servants. 30 Jacob married Rachel also. He loved Rachel more than he loved Leah. Jacob worked for Laban. He worked for 7 more years.

31 The Lord saw that Jacob did not love Leah. So he let her give birth to children. But the Lord did not let Rachel give birth to children. 32 Leah became pregnant. She gave birth to a son. She called him Reuben. She said ‘It is because the Lord has heard. He has heard how sad I am. My husband will love me now because I have given birth to a son.’ 33 Leah became pregnant again. She gave birth to another son. She said ‘The Lord gave me another son. Because he knows that I am not loved.’ She called this son Simeon. 34 Leah became pregnant again. And again she gave birth to a son. She said ‘I have given my husband 3 sons. So now he will want to stay with me.’ She called this son Levi. 35 Leah became pregnant again. She gave birth to a son. She said ‘This time I will praise the Lord.’ She called this son Judah. Then she stopped having children.

Chapter 30

1 Rachel now knew that she could not have any children. She knew that she could not give Jacob any children. So, she did not like her sister because her sister had children. Rachel said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I will die.’

In Old Testament times, it was very important for women to have children. It was a blessing.

2 Jacob became angry with Rachel. He said ‘Am I God? God has stopped you from giving birth to children!’ 3 Rachel said ‘Here is Bilhah. She is my female servant. Have sex with her so that she can have children for me. Through her, I can build a family.’

This is like what Sarah did with Hagar.

4 So Rachel gave her servant Bilhah to Jacob. Jacob took her as a wife. 5 She became pregnant. And she gave Jacob a son. 6 Rachel said ‘God has done what is right to me. He has listened to me. And he has given me a son.’ Because of this, she called the baby Dan. 7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah became pregnant again. She gave Jacob another son. 8 Rachel said ‘I have fought with my sister. And I have won.’ She called this baby Naphtali.

9 Leah saw that she had stopped having children. So she took her female servant. Her name was Zilpah. She gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Zilpah became pregnant. And she gave Jacob a son. 11 Leah said ‘This is very good.’ And she called the baby Gad. 12 Leah’s servant gave Jacob another son. 13 Leah said ‘I am very happy! Women will call me happy.’ So she called this baby Asher.

14 It was the time to get the wheat in from the fields. Reuben went out into the fields. He found some mandrake plants. He brought them to Leah, his mother. Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me some of the mandrake plants that your son gave to you.’

Wheat is part of a plant. People use it to make flour.

People thought that mandrake plants could help a woman become pregnant.

Rachel thought that the plants would help her to have a child. That is why she wanted them. But only God could give her a child.

15 But Leah said to Rachel ‘You took my husband. Was not that enough? Now you want my son’s mandrakes too!’ Rachel said, ‘You must give me some of your son’s mandrakes. Then Jacob can sleep with you tonight.’ 16 In the evening, Jacob came in from the fields. Leah went out to meet him. She said ‘You must sleep with me tonight. I have bought you with my son’s mandrakes.’ So Jacob slept with Leah that night. 17 God listened to Leah. And she became pregnant. She gave Jacob a 5th son. 18 Leah said ‘God has paid me because I gave my servant to Jacob.’ She called her son Issachar. 19 Leah became pregnant again. And she gave Jacob a 6th son. 20 Leah said ‘God has given me this valuable gift. Now my husband will want to stay with me because I have given him 6 sons.’ She called this son Zebulun. 21 Some time passed. And Leah became pregnant again. She gave birth to a daughter. She called her daughter Dinah. 22 Then God remembered Rachel. He listened to her. And he let her give birth to children. 23 She became pregnant. She gave birth to a son. Rachel said, ‘I am not ashamed any more because God has given me a son.’ 24 Rachel called her son Joseph. She said ‘May the Lord give me another son.’

25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob spoke to Laban. He said ‘Let me go on my way. Let me go so that I can go back to my own land. 26 Give me my wives. Give me my children. I have worked for you to have them. Then I will go on my journey. You know how much I have worked for you.’ 27 Laban said to Jacob ‘If you are happy with me then please stay. I know that the Lord has blessed me. That is because you are here.’ 28 Laban continued, ‘Say what you want. And I will pay it.’ 29 Jacob said ‘You know how much I have worked for you. And you know how many more animals you have. 30 You had a small number of sheep and goats before I came. Now the number of them is much bigger. And anywhere that I have been, the Lord has blessed you. But now I want to give my family what they need.’ 31 Laban asked ‘What must I give you?’ Jacob replied, ‘Do not give me anything. But do one thing for me. Then I will still care for your animals. And I will see that nothing bad happens to them. 32 Let me go among all your animals today. And let me remove any animal that has a mark on it. Let me remove any animal that has more than one colour on its skin. I will take them from your sheep and from your goats. These animals will be what I receive from you. 33 And this will show that I am honest. You can check on my animals when you want to. I may have a sheep or a goat that does not have more than one colour on its skin. Then you can say that I have taken it from you.’ 34 Laban said ‘I agree to this. It will be as you have said.’ 35 On that same day, Laban went to his animals. He quickly removed any animal that had more than one colour on its skin. And he gave them to his sons to care for. 36 Then Laban went away. It would take Jacob 3 days to reach Laban. While this was happening, Jacob cared for the rest of Laban’s animals.

Laban has deceived Jacob. He has taken all the animals that should be Jacob’s. And he has given them to his own sons to care for. Then he has gone away before Jacob knows what he has done.

37 Jacob took branches cut from trees. He took them from the poplar tree, the almond tree and the plane tree. He made white lines on them. He did this by taking the outside part of the wood from some of the branch. Then he could see the white part of the branch. 38 Then he put the branches in the place where the animals drank. They were in front of the animals when they came to drink. Sometimes it was the right time when the animals came to drink. 39 They would have sex and become pregnant. They did this in front of the branches. And they gave birth to young ones that had more than one colour on their skin. 40 Jacob kept the animals separate from Laban’s animals. Then he separated Laban’s animals. He separated the female animals from the male animals. And he would only let the female animals have sex with his own black male sheep. 41 Jacob waited until the time was right for the stronger female animals. Then he put the branches in front of them, when they had sex with his own black male animals. 42 But if the female animals were weak, he did not put the branches in front of the animals. So Jacob put the weak animals with Laban’s animals. But Jacob kept the strong animals. 43 By doing this, Jacob became very rich. He had many animals, female servants and male servants and camels and donkeys.

Chapter 31

1 Jacob heard Laban’s sons saying, ‘Jacob has taken everything that our father had. He has got rich from things belonging to our father.’ 2 And Jacob saw that Laban was not as nice to him as he had been before.

Laban does not want Jacob to leave because Jacob has God’s blessing.

3 Then the Lord said to Jacob ‘Go back to the land where your fathers lived. Go back to your relatives. I will be with you.’ 4 Jacob sent someone to go to Rachel and Leah. Jacob said that they must come to the field where he was. He was with his animals. 5 Jacob said to Rachel and Leah, ‘Your father is not as nice to me now, as he was before. I have seen that he is not so nice. But the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know how I have worked for your father. I have worked as well as I can. 7 But your father has changed what I receive in return for working. He changed it many times. But God has not let him hurt me. 8 Sometimes Laban said, “The animals with different colours on their skin will be your payment.” Then the animals gave birth to young ones with different colours on their skins. Sometimes he said, “The animals with marks on them will be your payment.” Then the animals gave birth to young ones with marks on them. 9 In this way God took your father’s animals, and gave them to me. 10 I had a dream. It was at the time when the animals became pregnant. I looked up. I saw that the male animals had different colours on their skin. 11 The angel of God spoke to me in the dream. He said “Jacob.” I replied, “Yes.” 12 And the angel said, “Look up. See all the male animals have different colours on their skin. I have seen the bad things that Laban has done to you. 13 I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel. This is where you poured oil on the stone. And this is where you made a promise to me. Now leave this land. Go back to the land where your father lived.” ’ 14 Then Rachel and Leah replied, ‘We no longer have any part of our father’s inheritance. 15 He thinks of us as foreign people. He sold us. Then he used what he received for us on himself.’

‘He sold us’ means that Laban gave Leah and Rachel to Jacob in return for Jacob’s work.

16 They said, ‘Everything that God took from our father belongs to us, and to our children. So you must do what God tells you.’

17 So Jacob put his children and wives on camels. 18 He took all his animals, and everything that he had got in Paddan Aram. He left to go to his father Isaac. He left to go to the land of Canaan. 19 Before they left, Laban went to cut wool from his sheep. While he was gone, Rachel took his household gods.

Wool grows on the back of a sheep. It is the coat from the animal.

The household gods are small gods that someone made out of wood or metal. Laban worshipped these gods.

20 Jacob did not tell Laban the Aramean that he was going away. 21 So Jacob ran away. He took everything that he had. He went across the river. He went towards the hill country of Gilead.

22 After 3 days, someone told Laban that Jacob had run away with his family. 23 Laban took his relatives and followed Jacob. He followed him for 7 days, and then he found him. He found him in the hill country of Gilead. 24 Then God came to Laban the Aramean. He appeared to him in a dream at night. God said to Laban, ‘Be careful what you say to Jacob. Do not say that you will do anything to him.’

25 Jacob had put up his tent in the hill country of Gilead. And Laban found him. So Laban and his relatives also put up their tents in this place. 26 Laban said to Jacob, ‘What have you done? You have deceived me. And you have taken my daughters as if you caught them in a war. 27 Why did you keep it a secret that you were leaving? You deceived me. Why did you not tell me that you were leaving? I would have sent you away with joy and singing to music. 28 You did not even let me kiss my grandchildren goodbye. Or let me kiss my daughters goodbye. What you have done is not right. 29 I have the power to hurt you. But last night the God of your father came to me. He said, “Be careful what you say to Jacob. Do not say that you will do anything to him.” 30 I know that you want to return to your father’s house. But why did you take my gods?’ 31 Jacob replied, ‘I was afraid. I thought that you would try to stop me. And I thought that you would try to take your daughters away from me. 32 But if you find your gods with anyone here, that person will die. While our relatives watch, you may look for anything that belongs to you. If you find anything then take it.’ Jacob did not know that Rachel had taken her father’s gods.

33 So Laban went into Jacob’s tent. Then he went into Leah’s tent. He also went into the female servants’ tent. But he did not find anything. When he left Leah’s tent, he went into Rachel’s tent. 34 Rachel had taken the household gods. She put them inside the seat that she sat on to ride her camel. Then she sat on them. Laban looked through everything in the tent. But he did not find the gods. 35 When he went into Rachel’s tent, she said, ‘Do not be angry with me my lord. I cannot stand up in front of you. It is the time of my monthly blood loss.’ So, Laban looked for the gods, but he did not find them.

In Old Testament times, when a woman had her monthly blood loss, she was ‘unclean’. And anything that she sat on was unclean. (It tells us this in Leviticus 15:20.)

Rachel was lying about the household gods. She had stolen them.

36 Then Jacob became angry with Laban. He asked him ‘What have I done wrong? What have I done against you? Why have you followed me? 37 Now you have looked through everything that I have. And what have you found that belongs to you? If you have found anything, put it in front of your relatives and mine. Let them say which one of us is right. 38 I have worked for you for 20 years. Your animals have all given birth to young ones. I have not eaten any of your male animals. 39 I did not bring you animals killed by wild animals. I paid you for them. You said that I must pay for any animals that someone took in the day or night.’

40 Jacob said, ‘This is what it was like to work for you: I could not get away from the heat of the sun in the day. It felt like it was eating me. And the night-time was so cold that I could not sleep. 41 It was like this for 20 years. That is the time that I have been working for you, in your household. I worked for 14 years to pay you for your daughters. Then I worked for 6 years for your animals. And you changed what I received from you many times. 42 The God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac was with me. If he were not, then you would have sent me away with nothing. But God has seen what you have done to me. He has seen how I have worked for you. And last night he told you that he knew what you had done.’

The God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Fear of Isaac are all names for God. God is very powerful and has authority over everything. Fear means to know that.

43 Laban replied ‘These women are my daughters. Their children are my children. The animals are my animals. But what can I do today about my daughters or about their children? 44 Let us make a promise between you and me. And let it show what has happened between us.’ 45 So Jacob took a large stone and made it stand up. 46 He said to his relatives, ‘Go and get some stones.’ So they went and got some stones. They put them together on the ground. Then they all ate a meal together, near the heap of stones.

When people made a promise, they often ate a meal together.

47 Laban called the place Jegar Sahadutha. Jacob called it Galeed.

Jegar Sahadutha are Aramaic words. Galeed is a Hebrew word. Both mean that the stones showed that people made a promise there.

48 Laban said ‘These stones show that we made a promise today.’ That is why Jacob called that place Galeed. 49 That place also had the name ‘Mizpah’. That was because Laban said ‘May the Lord watch you and me when we are away from each other. 50 Remember that God is watching you. If you do wrong to my daughters, God will see it. And if you marry any other women, remember this. God is watching you. Even if no one else is with you, God will know.’

51 Laban also said ‘I have set this stone up. And I have set the heap of stones by it. They are between you and me. 52 I will not go past the stones to your side to hurt you. And you must not go past them to my side to hurt me. The stones will show where we can go. 53 Let the God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, the God of their father say who is right between us.’ So Jacob made a promise in the name of God. 54 He offered a sacrifice to God in the hill country. He asked his relatives to eat a meal with him. After they had eaten, they stayed the night there.

55 Early the next morning, Laban woke. He kissed his grandchildren. And he kissed his daughters. He blessed them. Then he left and went back to his home.

Jacob ran away from Laban because he was afraid. But God had already told Jacob that he would be with him (verse 3).

Jacob should have put his trust in God. He should have told Laban that he was leaving. And he should have trusted God to keep him safe.

Chapter 32

1 Jacob continued to go to his father’s house. And the angels of God met him.

Now Jacob had to meet Esau. Jacob had deceived Esau out of his blessing. Then he had left Isaac’s house because Esau wanted to kill him.

Jacob had seen the angels of God before (28:12).

Now, God sent his angels to meet Jacob to show that he was with him.

2 Jacob saw them and said, ‘This is where God’s army is!’ So he called that place Mahanaim.

3 Jacob sent men with messages in front of him. He sent them to his brother Esau. He was in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 Jacob told his men, ‘This is what you must say to my master Esau: Your servant Jacob says, “I have been staying with Laban. I have stayed there until now. 5 I have cows and donkeys, sheep and goats. And I have male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord so that you will be happy with me.” ’

6 When the men returned, they said to Jacob, ‘We went to your brother Esau. And now he is coming to meet you. And he has 400 men with him.’ 7 Jacob was very frightened and worried. So he separated his people into 2 groups. He also separated the animals. 8 He thought ‘If Esau attacks one group, the other group may be safe.’

9 Then Jacob prayed, ‘God of Abraham and God of my father Isaac, Lord, you said to me “Go back to your country. And go to your relatives and I will do good things for you.” 10 I am not worth all the kind things that you have done for me. You have stayed with me. And I am not worth this. When I crossed the River Jordan, I only had my stick. But now I can make 2 groups of good things from what I have. 11 I pray that you will save me from my brother Esau. Because I am afraid that he will come and attack me. He may also attack my family. 12 But you have said, “I will give you many good things. I will make your descendants as many as the pieces of sand by the sea. They are so many that they cannot be counted.” ’

God had said this to Jacob in 28:14.

13 Jacob stayed the night in that place. He chose a gift for Esau from everything that he had. 14 He chose 200 female goats, 200 female sheep and 20 male sheep. 15 Also he chose 30 female camels, with their young ones, 40 cows and 10 male cows and 20 female donkeys and 10 male donkeys. 16 He told his servants to care for them. He separated each group of animals from the other groups. Jacob said to his servants ‘Go before me. Keep some space between each group of animals.’ 17 He told the servant at the front, ‘When my brother Esau meets you and asks, “Who do you belong to? Where are you going? Who do all these animals belong to?” 18 You must say, “They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift that he has sent to my lord Esau. And Jacob is coming behind us.” ’ 19 Jacob also told the other servants who followed a group of animals ‘You are to say the same thing to Esau, when you meet him. 20 And you must say “Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.” ’ Jacob thought ‘Esau will be pleased with my gifts. Then he will not hurt me.’ 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on before him. But he spent the night with his people.

Jacob prays in verses 9-12 for God to keep him safe from Esau. But perhaps he does not trust God to keep him safe. Maybe he makes plans to please Esau with gifts so that Esau will not hurt him. He does this even when God has promised to give him too many descendants to count. But perhaps he does not completely trust God.

22 That night Jacob took his 2 wives, 11 sons and 2 female servants. And he sent them over the part of the River Jabbok that was not very deep. 23 After he had sent his people across, he sent everything that was his over the stream. 24 Jacob was alone. And a man came and fought with him. The man fought with Jacob until it was day.

This man was God who came to Jacob as an angel. (See Hosea 12:4-5.)

This part of the River Jabbok was not very deep and about 20 miles north of the Dead Sea.

25 The man saw that he was not beating Jacob. So, he touched Jacob’s hip. And Jacob’s hip broke as he fought with the man. 26 Then the man said ‘Let me go because now it is day.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go until you bless me.’

27 The man asked Jacob ‘What is your name?’ Jacob replied ‘Jacob’. 28 Then the man said ‘Your name will not be Jacob any more. Your name will be Israel. This is because you have fought with God. And you have fought with men. And you have shown that you are strong.’

29 Jacob said ‘Please tell me your name.’ But the man said ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed Jacob there. 30 So Jacob called that place Peniel. He said ‘I saw God face to face. And I did not die.’

‘Hip’ is part of the body. It is at the top of the leg.

Jacob fought with the man (God). Jacob was showing that he was stronger. But this man still broke Jacob’s hip.

Israel means ‘fights with God’, ‘Prince of God’, or ‘May God keep me safe’.

A prince is the son of a king. By changing Jacob’s name, God gave him a new beginning.

The descendants of Jacob, now called Israel, are called the 12 tribes of Israel.

Peniel means ‘face of God’.

31 The sun rose in the sky as Jacob passed through Peniel. And Jacob could not walk very well because of his hip.

32 Even today, the Israelites do not eat the part of an animal joined to the hip. This is because God touched Jacob’s hip.

The Israelites were the descendants of Israel.

The hip is part of the body. It is at the top of the leg.

Chapter 33

1 Jacob looked up. He saw Esau with 400 men coming towards him. So, he separated his children into groups. Some went with Leah, some with his 2 female servants and Joseph went with Rachel. 2 He put his female servants and their children at the front of the group. Then came Leah and her children. But Jacob put Rachel and Joseph at the back of the group. 3 Jacob went in front of the group. He bowed down to the ground. He did this 7 times as he came close to his brother Esau.

4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob. And he hugged him. He hugged Jacob’s neck. And Esau kissed him. And they both wept.

5 Then Esau looked up. He saw the women and children. He asked ‘Who are these people with you?’ Jacob replied, ‘They are the children that God has given to me.’ 6 Then the female servants and their children came to Esau. As they came close to him, they bowed down. 7 Then Leah and her children came and bowed down in front of Esau. Last of all, Joseph and Rachel came and bowed down to Esau. 8 Esau asked ‘Why did you send all those animals in front of you?’ Jacob replied, ‘So that you would be happy to see me, my lord.’ 9 But Esau said ‘Keep your animals for yourself my brother. I have enough of my own.’ 10 But Jacob replied ‘No! If you are happy to see me, accept these as a gift from me. I was afraid to see you. I was as afraid as if I could see the face of God. But I have seen you. And I did not die. 11 Please accept the gift that I brought to you. Accept it because God has given me many good things. And I have everything that I need.’ So, Esau accepted the gifts because Jacob wanted him to.

12 Then Esau said ‘Let us go on our way. I will go with you.’ 13 But Jacob said, ‘My lord, the children are young. And many of the animals have young ones. If we go too far in a day, then the animals will die. 14 So my lord should go in front of me. I will move along slowly with the animals and children. I will come to you my lord, in Seir.’

15 Esau said ‘Then let me leave some of my men with you.’ But Jacob replied ‘You do not have to do that. All I want is for you to be happy with me.’

Jacob was not going to go to Seir.

16 So Esau began his journey back to Seir. 17 But Jacob went to Succoth. He built a hut for himself. And he made places for his animals to sleep. That is why they called the place Succoth.

Succoth means huts. Jacob probably stayed there for some time.

18 After Jacob left Paddan Aram he arrived at the city of Shechem. This is in Canaan. He put up his tent near the city. 19 He bought the piece of ground where he put up his tents. He bought it from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. He paid 400 pieces of silver for the land. 20 Jacob built an altar there. And he called the altar El Elohe Israel.

Chapter 34

1 Dinah was the daughter of Leah and Jacob. One day she went out to visit the women who lived in the land. 2 Shechem was the son of Hamor the Hivite. Hamor was the ruler of the land. When Shechem saw Dinah, he took her. And he had sex with her. Dinah did not want this to happen. 3 He liked Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, very much. And he loved her. He spoke kind words to her. 4 And Shechem said to Hamor his father ‘Get me this girl. I want her for my wife.’ 5 Jacob heard what had happened to his daughter. But his sons were out in the fields with his animals. So, Jacob did not do anything until his sons came home. And he did not say anything.

6 Shechem’s father Hamor went to talk to Jacob. 7 Now Jacob’s sons heard what had happened. And they came in from the fields at once. They were very angry. They were angry because Shechem had done a very bad thing by having sex with Dinah. It was so bad that the whole of Jacob’s family were ashamed because of it. Shechem should not have done this.

8 Hamor said to them, ‘My son Shechem loves your daughter. Please give her to him so that she can be his wife. 9 And make marriages with our people. Give your daughter to us. And take our daughters for wives for your people. 10 You can live among us. You can live anywhere you want to in this land. Live here. And buy and sell things here. Buy land and houses here.

Hamor wanted the Hivites to have some of Jacob’s riches.

11 Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers ‘Perhaps what I say will make you happy. Then I will give you whatever you ask. 12 Tell me what you want me to pay for your daughter. Tell me the gift that I should bring. It can be as large as you want it to be. I will pay whatever you ask me. But give me the girl as my wife.’

13 Because of what Shechem did to Dinah, Jacob’s sons planned to deceive Shechem. And they deceived his father Hamor too. 14 They said ‘We cannot do what you want. We cannot give our sister to an uncircumcised man. We would be ashamed to do this. 15 You must do one thing. Then we will agree to what you want. You must circumcise all your males. Then you will become like us. 16 Then we will give you our daughters so that your people can marry them. And we will marry your daughters. We will live among you. And we will be like one people with you. 17 But you must agree to circumcision. Or we will take our sister and leave this place.’

18 What Jacob’s sons suggested seemed good to Hamor and his son Shechem. 19 Shechem’s people liked him very much. So, he and his father agreed at once to do what Jacob’s sons told them. Shechem agreed with them because he loved Dinah. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the city gate. And they spoke to their people. 21 They said ‘These men are our friends. Let them live in our land. And they can sell things to us, and buy things from us. This land is big enough for them. We can marry their daughters. And they can marry our daughters. 22 But we must do what the men say. If we do not, then they will not agree to live among us. They say that we have to circumcise all our males. This is because their men are circumcised. 23 If they live among us, their things and animals will become ours. So let us agree to be circumcised. And then they will live among us.’ 24 All the men who were at the city gate agreed with Hamor and Shechem. And they circumcised every male in the city.

25 And 3 days after the men were circumcised, they were still all in a lot of pain. And at this time, 2 of Jacob’s sons, Dinah’s brothers, attacked the men with their swords. The 2 brothers were Simeon and Levi. And they killed every male in the city.

For ‘swords’ see 3:24.

The men in the city could not fight Simeon and Levi. They were in too much pain.

26 Simeon and Levi killed Hamor and his son Shechem with their swords. And they took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left. 27 All Jacob’s sons saw that the men of the city were dead. So they took everything from the city. It was the city where Shechem had sex with their sister. 28 They took all the animals and everything in the city. And they took everything that was out in the fields. 29 They carried away everything valuable. And they took all the women and children, and everything from the houses in the city. 30 When they returned to Jacob, he said, ‘You have brought trouble on me. You have made me like a bad smell to the Canaanites and Perizzites, by what you have done. These people also live in this land. We do not have many men. If the Perizzites and Canaanites attack, they will destroy us all.’ 31 But Levi and Simeon replied ‘Shechem should not have used our sister as if she were a prostitute.’

Chapter 35

1 After these things had happened, God said to Jacob, ‘Go to Bethel. Live there. Build an altar to worship the God who appeared to you. He appeared to you when you were running from Esau.’ 2 So Jacob told his household. He told everyone who was with him, ‘Throw out all the foreign gods that you have with you. Wash your body. And change your clothes.’ 3 ‘Then we will go to Bethel. There I will build an altar to worship God. We will worship the God who answered me. He answered me when I was in trouble. And he has been with me everywhere that I went.’ 4 So the people gave all their foreign gods to Jacob. And they gave him the rings from their ears. And Jacob buried them under the oak tree at the place called Shechem.

To wear rings in their ears sometimes meant that they worshipped foreign gods.

5 Then they began their journey. And the fear of God fell on all the towns near to them. So, no one attacked or followed them.

The fear of God can mean that God caused something to happen in the towns. Or it might mean this. The people there knew that God was with Jacob. God kept Jacob and his household safe on their journey.

6 Jacob and everyone with him arrived at Luz. (That is Bethel.) This is in the land of Canaan. 7 And he built an altar there. And he called the place El Bethel. Because that was where God appeared to him. He appeared to him when he was running from his brother Esau.

El Bethel means God of Bethel.

8 Deborah was Rebekah’s nurse. (She was travelling with Jacob.) Deborah died. Jacob buried her under the oak tree below Bethel. That is why they call the place Allon Bacuth.

An oak tree is a tall strong tree. Allon Bacuth means oak tree of weeping.

9 After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again. And God blessed Jacob. 10 God said to Jacob ‘Your name is Jacob. But your name will no longer be Jacob Your name will be Israel.’ So God called Jacob Israel.

God tells Jacob what he told him in 32:28.

11 And God said to Jacob, ‘I am Almighty God. You will have many descendants. Your descendants will be a great people. Some of your descendants will be kings. 12 I give you the land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give this land to your descendants that come after you.’

God is making to Jacob the promise that he made to Abraham (17:1-8) and to Isaac (26:3).

13 Then God went from Jacob. He went from that place. It was the place where he spoke with Jacob. 14 Jacob set up a stone. This was at the place where God spoke to him. He poured a drink offering on the stone. He also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God talked to him Bethel.

16 Then they left Bethel. When they were still several miles from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth. She had a lot of difficulty. 17 As she was having so much difficulty, the woman helping her said, ‘Do not be afraid. You have another son.’ 18 Rachel was dying. And with her last breath, she gave a name to her son. The name was Ben-Oni. But Jacob, his father, called him Benjamin.

Ephrath is now called Bethlehem.

Ben-Oni means ‘son of my trouble.’

Benjamin means ‘son of my right hand.’

19 Rachel died. They buried her on the way to Ephrath. 20 Jacob set up a stone over the place where he buried her. This stone shows where Jacob buried Rachel.

21 Israel moved on again. He put up his tents beyond Migdal Eder.

Ephrath became Bethlehem. Israel in verse 21 is the other name for Jacob.

22 Israel stayed in that place. And Reuben went to Bilhah and had sex with her. Bilhah was his father’s concubine. And Israel heard what had happened.

Jacob had 12 sons:

23 The sons of Leah were Reuben, who was the first of her sons, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Rachel’s female servant, Bilhah were Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Leah’s female servant, Zilpah were Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.

27 Jacob arrived home. He arrived at his father Isaac’s home. This is in Mamre near Kiriath Arba (that is Hebron.) This is where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 28 Isaac was alive for 180 years. 29 Then he died. And he joined his people who had died before him. He was an old man when he died. And his sons, Esau and Jacob buried him.

Chapter 36

1 This is a list of the descendants of Esau. (Esau is also called Edom.) 2 Esau took women from Canaan to be his wives. They were: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite and Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite 3 and Basemath, the daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth. 4 Adah had a son called Eliphaz. Basemath had a son called Reuel. 5 Oholibamah had 3 sons: Jeush, Jalam and Korah.

6 Esau took his wives, sons and daughters and everyone in his household. Also, he took his animals and everything that he had got in Canaan. And he went to a land some miles from his brother Jacob. 7 They both owned too much to stay together in the same place. There was not enough land for all their animals. 8 So Esau (that is Edom) lived in the land of Seir.

9 This is a list of the descendants of Esau. They lived in the hill country of Seir. All the Edomites are his descendants. 10 These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz, the son of Adah who was Esau’s wife. Reuel, the son of Basemath, who was Esau’s wife. 11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam and Kenaz. 12 Esau’s son Eliphaz also had a concubine. Her name was Timna. She had a son called Amalek. These were the grandsons of Esau’s wife Adah. 13 The sons of Reuel were: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were grandsons of Esau’s wife Basemath. 14 Esau’s wife Oholibamah was the daughter of Anah. And she was the granddaughter of Zibeon. Her sons were: Jeush, Jalam and Korah.

15 These were his descendants who were head of their tribes: The sons of Eliphaz (who was the first born son of Esau): Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16 Korah, Gatam and Amalek. These were the heads of their tribes who were descendants of Eliphaz in Edom. They were grandsons of Adah. 17 The sons of Esau’s son Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were the heads of their tribes who were descendants of Reuel in Edom. They were grandsons of Esau’s wife Basemath. 18 The sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah were Jeush, Jalam and Korah. These were the leaders of their tribes who were descendants of Esau’s wife Oholibamah. She was the daughter of Anah. 19 These were the sons of Esau (that is Edom) and these were their leaders of their tribes.

20 These were the sons of Seir the Horite. They lived in that place. They were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21 Dishon, Ezer and Dishan. These sons of Seir in Edom were leaders of the Horite tribes. 22 The sons of Lotan were Hori and Homam. Timna was Lotan’s sister. 23 The sons of Shobal were Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho and Onam. 24 The sons of Zibeon were Aiah and Anah. This was the same Anah, who found the hot water in the desert. He found it when he took his father’s donkey to eat grass. His father’s name was Zibeon. 25 The children of Anah were Dishon and Oholibamah daughter of Anah. 26 The sons of Dishon were Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran and Keran. 27 The sons of Ezer were Bilhan, Zaavan and Akan. 28 The sons of Dishan were Uz and Aran. 29 These were the leaders of the Horite tribes: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30 Dishon, Ezer and Dishan. These were the leaders of the Horite tribes in the land of Seir.

31 These kings ruled in Edom. This was before any Israelite king ruled in this land: 32 Bela the son of Beor became king of Edom. He ruled a city called Dinhabah. 33 When Bela died, Jobab, son of Zerah became king after him. 34 When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites became king after him. 35 When Husham died, Hadad, son of Bedad became king after him. Bedad beat Midian in the country of Moab. He ruled a city called Avith. 36 When Hadad died, Samlah from Masrekah became king after him. 37 When Samlah died, Shaul from Rehoboth on the river, became king after him. 38 When Shaul died, Baal-Hanan son of Acbor became king after him. 39 When Baal-Hanan son of Acbor died, Hadar became king after him. He ruled over a city called Pau. His wife’s name was Mehetabel daughter of Matred, the daughter of Me-Zahab.

40 These were the leaders of their tribes. They were descendants of Esau: Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43 Magdiel and Iram. These were the leaders of the tribes of Edom. They lived in different places in the land. These are the descendants of Esau. All the Edomites were his descendants.

Chapter 37

1 Israel (Jacob) lived in Canaan. This is where his father had lived.

2 This is what happened to Jacob’s family:

Joseph was Jacob’s son. He was 17 years old. He kept the sheep safe with his brothers. These were the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah. Bilhah and Zilpah were his father’s wives. Now Joseph told Jacob bad things about his brothers. 3 Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph. He loved him more than he loved any of his other sons. This was because Joseph was born when Jacob was old. And Jacob made a special coat for him. 4 Joseph’s brothers knew that Jacob loved him more than them. And they hated Joseph. They could not say anything nice to him.

5 Joseph had a dream. And he told his brothers about it. And his brothers hated Joseph even more than they did before. 6 Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Listen to what happened in my dream: 7 We were out in the field tying the crops into bundles. And my bundle stood up. And your bundles each stood in a circle with mine in the middle. And all your bundles bowed down to my bundle.’ 8 Joseph’s brothers said to him ‘Do you think that you will be like a king to us? Will you rule over us?’ And they hated him even more. They hated him because of what Joseph told them about his dream. 9 Then Joseph had another dream. And he told his brothers about it. He said ‘Listen to me. I have had another dream. This is what happened. The sun and moon and 11 stars bowed down to me.’ 10 Joseph told his father and his brothers about the dream. His father was angry with him. Jacob said, ‘What is this dream that you had? Do you think that your mother and me, and your brothers will come and bow down in front of you? Do you really think that this will happen?’ 11 Joseph’s brothers felt very angry with him. But Jacob thought about what Joseph had said.

12 Some time passed. Joseph’s brothers had taken their father’s sheep to eat grass. This was near the place called Shechem. 13 And Israel (Jacob) said to Joseph ‘You know that your brothers have taken my sheep to eat grass. They are near Shechem. I want you to go to them.’ Joseph replied ‘Very well.’ 14 So Israel said to Joseph ‘Go and see your brothers. Come back and tell me how everything is with them. And tell me if the sheep are all right.’ Then Israel sent Joseph off from the Valley of Hebron. And Joseph arrived at Shechem. 15 A man found Joseph walking in the fields. He asked Joseph ‘What are you looking for?’ 16 Joseph replied ‘I am looking for my brothers. They have taken the sheep to eat grass. Can you tell me where they are?’ 17 The man said ‘They have moved away from here. I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph followed his brothers. And he found them near the place called Dothan. 18 But his brothers recognised Joseph, while he was still far away. And before he had arrived at the place, they planned to kill him. 19 They said to each other ‘Here comes the man who dreams! 20 We will kill him. And we will throw him down this dry well. We will that say a wild animal ate him. Then he will not dream again!’ 21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to save Joseph. He said ‘We should not kill him. 22 Do not have his blood on your hands. Throw him into this dry well in the desert. But do not attack him.’ Reuben said this to save Joseph from his brothers. Then later Reuben would save Joseph and take him back to his father.

23 So Joseph arrived at where his brothers were. He was wearing his special coat. They took his coat off him. 24 And they took Joseph. And they threw him into the dry well.

25 Then the brothers sat down to eat their meal. They looked up and saw a group of Ishmaelites coming towards them. They came from the place called Gilead. The Ishmaelites had camels that carried spices, balm and myrrh. They were on their way to Egypt. There they would sell them.

Ishmaelites were also called Midianites and Medanites. Ishmael, Midian and Medan were all sons of Abraham.

People put spices in food.

Balm is an oil to help make cuts better. It also makes ill people better.

Myrrh comes from the leaves of a special kind of rose (a flower). People put it in a drink. The ill people drink it. It helps to stop the pain.

26 Judah said to his brothers, ‘We could kill our brother. We could then say that we did not kill him. But then we will not get anything. 27 Let us sell him to the Ishmaelites. Then we will not have to kill him. After all, he is our brother. He is our own relative.’ His brothers agreed to what Judah said. 28 When the Midianite merchants (men who buy and sell things) came to them, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the dry well. And they sold Joseph for 20 pieces of silver. They sold him to the Ishmaelites. And the Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt.

29 Reuben returned to the dry well. And he saw that Joseph was not there. He tore his clothes because he was very worried. 30 Reuben went back to his brothers. He said ‘The boy is not there! Where can I go now?’

Reuben could be worried because he is the oldest son. And he will have to tell his father that Joseph is gone.

31 Then the brothers got Joseph’s special coat. They killed a goat. And they put the blood from the goat on to Joseph’s coat. 32 They took the special coat back to their father. They told him ‘We found this. Look at it. Tell us if it is your son’s coat.’ 33 Israel (that is Jacob) saw that it was Joseph’s coat. He said ‘It is my son’s coat! A wild animal has eaten him. The animal has torn Joseph to pieces.’ 34 Then Jacob tore his own clothes. He did this because he was very sad. He put on clothes made from sackcloth because he was very sad. He wore sackcloth for many days.

Sackcloth is a kind of material. People wore it when they were sad.

35 All Jacob’s sons and daughters came to him. They tried to make Jacob feel less sad. But Jacob was very sad. Jacob said ‘I will be sad until I die. I will be sad because my son is dead.’ And he wept because Joseph was dead. 36 While this was happening, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt. They sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officers. Potiphar had authority over all of Pharaoh’s guards.

Chapter 38

Judah lived in the middle of the Canaanites. This chapter shows what happened then. He married a Canaanite woman. But God wanted the Jews to keep themselves separate from foreign people. Sometimes God’s people mix with people who do not know God. Sometimes they marry them. This chapter shows what trouble can happen then.

1 At that time, Judah left his brothers. He went to stay with a man from the town of Adullam. His name was Hirah. 2 Then Judah met the daughter of Shua, a Canaanite man. Judah married her. 3 She became pregnant, and gave birth to a son. She called him Er. 4 She became pregnant again, and gave birth to another son. She called him Onan. 5 She gave birth to another son. She called him Shelah. She gave birth to Shelah at the place called Kezib. 6 Judah got a wife for his oldest son, Er. Her name was Tamar. 7 But God saw that Er, the first born son of Judah, was bad. So the Lord made him die. 8 Then Judah said to Onan ‘Marry your dead brother’s wife. You must do this because you are her dead husband’s brother. You must have a son for your dead brother.

In the Old Testament, if a man died before his wife had children, his brother must marry the dead man’s wife. If the wife then had a son, they called that son the child of the dead brother.

9 But Onan did not want Tamar to have his child. He knew that a child like that would not belong to him. So when he had sex with his brother’s wife Tamar, he made his semen go on to the ground. So Tamar could not become pregnant. He would not give Tamar a child for his dead brother.

Semen comes out of the man’s sex part when he has sex. It can cause the woman to become pregnant. Onan did not want Tamar to have a child, so he did not let his semen go into her.

10 What Onan did was wrong. So God made him die also. 11 So Judah said to Tamar ‘Go to your father’s house. And live there as a widow. Live there until my son Shelah is older.’ Judah thought ‘Shelah may also die, because his brothers died.’ So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.

A widow is a woman whose husband has died.

Judah thinks that Shelah may die if he marries Tamar. Judah does not plan to give Shelah to Tamar as a husband.

12 A long time passed. And Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua died. When Judah had stopped being sad because of her, he went to the place called Timnah. He went to some men who were cutting the wool from his sheep. And Judah’s friend, Hirah the Adullamite went with him. 13 Someone told Tamar ‘Your husband’s father is going to Timnah to get the wool off his sheep.’

Wool covers sheep. It grows on their skin like hair. People use wool for making material.

14 So Tamar took off her widow’s clothes. And she covered herself with a veil. She did not want anyone to know who she was. That is why she did this. Then she sat at the place called Enaim. This is on the road going to Timnah. Tamar knew that Jacob’s son Shelah had grown into a man. And he had not married her. That is why she did this. 15 Judah saw her. And he thought that she was a prostitute. He thought that because she had covered her face. 16 He did not know that she was his son’s widow. And he went over to her while she was at the side of the road. He said ‘Let me sleep with you.’ Tamar asked, ‘If I sleep with you, what will you give me?’ 17 Judah replied ‘I will send a young goat from my animals.’ Tamar said, ‘You will have to give me something to show that you will do as you say.’ 18 Judah asked ‘What should I give you?’ Tamar replied ‘Give me your seal and the cord that holds it. And give me the staff in your hand.’ So Judah gave them to her. And he slept with her. And she became pregnant.

A prostitute is someone (usually a woman) who has sex with another person for money or things.

People used seals to make a mark on something. Each person or family had their own seal. A cord went round a person’s neck. The seal went on the cord.

A staff is a long stick. Some people cut the top of their staff in a special way. So, other people would know whom the staff belonged to.

19 After this, Tamar left Judah. And she took off her veil. And she put her widow’s clothes on again.

20 Judah sent his friend, the Adullamite with a young goat back to where the woman had been. Judah wanted to get his seal, cord and staff back from the woman that he had slept with. But the Adullamite could not find the woman. 21 The Adullamite asked some men who live there ‘Where is the shrine-prostitute? Where is the woman who was by the road at Enaim?’ But the men said, ‘There has not been any shrine-prostitute here.’

A shrine-prostitute sat at a place where people went to worship foreign gods.

22 So Judah’s friend went back to Judah. He said ‘I did not find her. The men who lived there said, “There has not been any shrine-prostitute here.” ’ 23 So Judah said ‘Let her keep the things that I gave to her. People will laugh at me if you go back there again. I sent a young goat for her. But you could not find her.’

24 Then, 3 months later, someone told Judah ‘Your dead son’s wife, Tamar, is pregnant. She has been a prostitute.’ Judah said ‘Bring her out. And burn her to death!’ 25 So they brought Tamar out. They were going to kill her. But she sent a message to her dead husband’s father. She said ‘The man who owns these things has made me pregnant. Look at them. See if you know who the seal and cord and staff belong to.’ 26 Judah saw that the things belonged to him. He said ‘She is more righteous than I am. That is because I would not give her to Shelah my son. Judah did not sleep with Tamar again. And he did not marry her.

27 The time came for Tamar to give birth. And she had two babies. 28 As she was giving birth, one baby put out his hand. So, the woman who was helping Tamar tied something red to that baby’s arm. She said ‘This baby came out first.’ 29 But the baby put his hand back inside Tamar. And his brother came out. And the woman said ‘So you have come out!’ And Tamar called him Perez. 30 Then his brother came out. He had something red on his arm. And Tamar called him Zerah.

Perez means ‘pushing out’.

Chapter 39

Joseph’s brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. Genesis now goes back to what happened to Joseph after that.

1 Now the Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt. And they sold Joseph as a slave. Potiphar was one of Pharaoh’s officers. He had authority over all the guards. And Potiphar bought Joseph from the Ishmaelites. 2 The Lord was with Joseph. And the Lord made good things happen to him. And Joseph lived in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar was Joseph’s Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph. And everything that Joseph did was good. Potiphar saw that too. 4 So Potiphar was happy with Joseph. And Joseph became Potiphar’s special servant. Potiphar gave Joseph authority over his household. And Joseph kept safe everything that belonged to Potiphar. 5 Potiphar gave Joseph authority over everything that belonged to him. Then God blessed that household, because of Joseph.

6 So Joseph kept safe everything that belonged to Potiphar. Potiphar did not think about anything in his household. The only thing that Potiphar thought about was the food that he ate. Now, Joseph was a handsome man.

7 And after some time had passed, Potiphar’s wife saw that Joseph was handsome. She said ‘Come to bed with me!’ 8 But Joseph would not do as she asked. He said ‘I care for my master’s household. And my master does not think about anything in the house. I keep safe everything that belongs to him. 9 No one has more authority in this house than I do. My master keeps nothing from me except you. That is because you are his wife. I could not do such a bad thing. And I will not sin against God.’ 10 Potiphar’s wife spoke to Joseph every day. But he still would not go to bed with her. He would not even be with her. 11 One day Joseph went into the house to work. And there were no other servants there. 12 Potiphar’s wife took hold of Joseph’s coat. She said ‘Come to bed with me!’ but Joseph left his coat in her hand. And he ran out of the house.

13 Potiphar’s wife saw that he left his coat in her hand. She saw that he had run out of the house. 14 So she called her household servants. She said to them ‘Look, the Hebrew that Potiphar brought to us has no respect for us! He came in here to sleep with me. But I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream he ran out of the house. But he left his coat next to me.’ 16 Potiphar’s wife kept the coat next to her until Joseph’s master, Potiphar came home. 17 Then she told him this story: ‘That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me. He wanted to sleep with me. 18 But I screamed for help. And he left his coat next to me. And he ran out of the house.’

19 Joseph’s master heard the story that his wife told him. She said ‘This is what your slave did to me.’ And Potiphar was very angry. 20 Joseph’s master took Joseph, and put him in prison. He put Joseph in the king’s prison. 21 The Lord was with Joseph while he was in prison. He was kind to Joseph, and the keeper of the prison liked Joseph. 22 So this man gave Joseph authority over all the people in prison. And Joseph cared for everything that was in the prison. 23 The keeper did not think about anything that Joseph had authority over. For the Lord was with Joseph. And everything that Joseph did went well.

Chapter 40

1 Some time later, 2 workers made the king of Egypt angry. He had many workers. He had a cupbearer and a baker. They did something to make him angry.

The cupbearer had authority in the king’s household. He would make sure that the king’s wine was safe for the king to drink.

2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officers. He was angry with the cupbearer and the baker. 3 And Pharaoh put them in the same prison that Joseph was in. 4 The man who had authority in the prison put Joseph over them. And Joseph was over them. And they were there for some time. 5 And each of them - the cupbearer and the baker - had a dream. Both had a dream on the same night. And each dream had a different meaning.

6 Joseph came to them the next day. And he saw that they were worried. 7 So Joseph asked them both ‘Why are you sad today?’ 8 They replied ‘We both had dreams, but there is no one to tell us what they mean.’ Joseph said ‘Only God knows the meaning of dreams. But tell me your dreams.’

9 So the cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He told Joseph, ‘In my dream I saw a fruit plant in front of me. 10 And there were 3 branches on the plant. As soon as new leaves came, flowers came. And they became fruit. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand. And I took the fruit. And I put the juice into Pharaoh’s cup. Then I put the cup in his hand.’

12 Joseph said ‘This is what your dream means. The 3 branches are 3 days. 13 In 3 days, Pharaoh will lift up your head. Then he will let you come out of this prison. And you will be Pharaoh’s cupbearer again. You will put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand. You did that when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when these things happen, remember me. And be kind to me. Tell Pharaoh about me. Then I will get out of this prison. 15 Truly, men took me from the land of the Hebrews. I did not want to leave there. And even here, I have not done anything wrong. I should not be in this prison.’

Verse 12 ‘lift up your head’ means ‘you will be important again’.

16 The baker heard that Joseph had given a good meaning to the cupbearer’s dream. So he said, ‘I also had a dream: I had 3 baskets of bread on my head.

17 The top basket contained many different cooked things for Pharaoh. But birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.’

18 Joseph said ‘This is what your dream means. The 3 baskets are 3 days. 19 In 3 days, Pharaoh will lift off your head. And he will hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat your body.’ 20 Now on the 3rd day it was Pharaoh’s birthday. He gave a feast for all his officers. He lifted up the heads of the baker and the cupbearer. He did this in front of all his officers.

21 He let the cupbearer be his own cupbearer again. So, the cupbearer put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand again.

22 But Pharaoh hanged the baker. This is what Joseph said would happen. He had told the baker what his dream meant.

23 But the cupbearer did not remember Joseph. The cupbearer forgot about Joseph.

Chapter 41

1 Then 2 years passed and Pharaoh had a dream. In his dream, he was standing by the River Nile. 2 And 7 cows walked out of the river. They were fat and good to look at. They ate the plants at the side of the river. 3 After them, 7 other cows came out of the river. They were thin. And their bones were close to their skin. They stood next to the cows already on the side of the river. 4 And the thin cows ate the 7 fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5 He went to sleep again. And he had another dream. He dreamed that 7 food plants were growing on one branch. They were fat and good to look at. 6 After them, 7 other food plants grew. They seemed thin and burned by the east wind. 7 Then the thin food plants ate the 7 fat plants. Then Pharaoh woke up. It was a dream. 8 In the morning, Pharaoh was worried. So, he sent for all the men who could tell the meaning of dreams. He also sent for all the wise men in Egypt. Pharaoh told them about his dreams. But no one could tell Pharaoh what his dreams meant.

In the Bible God speaks to people in their dreams. The Egyptians did not worship God. But they knew that dreams had meaning. So, it was important to them to know the meaning of their dreams.

9 Then the cupbearer said to Pharaoh, ‘Now I remember the wrong that I have done! 10 Two (2) years ago, Pharaoh was angry with his servants. He put the baker and me in prison. 11 One night we both had a dream And each of our dreams had a different meaning. 12 A young Hebrew man was there with us. He was a servant of the man with authority over all the men who watched the people in prison. We told the Hebrew our dreams. And then he told each of us the meaning of our dream. 13 And everything happened as he had told us. You gave me my job as cupbearer again. And you hanged the baker.’

The cupbearer had authority in the king’s household. He would make sure that the king’s wine was safe for the king to drink.

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph. And they quickly brought him from the prison. Joseph washed himself. He removed the hair that grew on his face. And he put on clean clothes. Then he stood in front of Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh spoke to Joseph. He said, ‘I had a dream. And no one can tell me what it means. But I have heard people saying that you can tell the meaning of dreams.’ 16 Joseph replied, ‘I cannot do this. But God will give Pharaoh the answer that he is looking for.’ 17 Then Pharaoh said, ‘In my dream, I stood at the side of the River Nile. 18 Then 7 cows came out of the river. They were fat, and good to look at. And they ate the plants at the side of the river. 19 After them, 7 more cows came out of the river. They were thin and they were not good to look at. I have not seen cows as bad looking as these in Egypt before. 20 The thin bad looking cows ate the fat cows that came out of the river first. 21 They ate the 7 fat cows. But you could not see that they had eaten them. They looked thin before they ate the fat cows. They still looked as thin after they ate them. Then I woke up. 22 In my dream, I also saw 7 food plants. They grew from one branch. They were fat and good to look at. 23 After them, 7 other plants grew. They seemed thin and burned by the east wind. 24 The thin plants ate the fat plants. I told those dreams to my men who can tell the meaning of dreams. But they could not tell me the meaning of my dreams.’

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, ‘Pharaoh’s dreams both have the same meaning. God has shown Pharaoh what God is going to do. 26 The 7 fat cows are 7 years. And the 7 good food plants are 7 years. Both dreams have the same meaning. 27 The 7 thin cows that came out of the river mean 7 years. And the 7 bad plants mean 7 years. Both dreams mean 7 years of famine. 28 This is what your dreams mean. God has shown Pharaoh what he is going to do. 29 There will be plenty of food for 7 years. All through the land of Egypt, there will be food. 30 But 7 years of famine will follow. People will forget the 7 years of plenty. And famine will destroy the land of Egypt. 31 No one will remember the first 7 years, when there was plenty of food. They will not remember them because the famine will be so bad. 32 God gave you 2 dreams with the same meaning. This is because God has decided what he will do. And he will do it soon. 33 Now Pharaoh should look for a clever man. He should look for a man who knows what is right and wrong. Tell him to rule over the land of Egypt. 34 Pharaoh should choose some officers. They must take 1/5th (20%) of the food grown in Egypt, in the 7 years of plenty. 35 They must store all the food from these good years. Pharaoh will have authority over what happens to the food. 36 This food should be stored. So the people in Egypt will have enough food, when the 7 years of famine come.’

37 Pharaoh thought that Joseph’s plan was good. And he told it to all his servants. 38 Pharaoh said to them, ‘This man has the Spirit of God in him. Can we find anyone else like him?’ 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘God has made these things known to you. There is no one more clever than you. 40 You will have authority in my palace. All my people will do whatever things you tell them. Only I will be greater than you because I am the king.’ 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I give you authority in the whole land of Egypt.’ 42 Then Pharaoh took his king’s ring from his finger. And he put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed Joseph in clothes of good material. And he put gold on Joseph’s neck. 43 Joseph rode in a chariot. All the people knew that only Pharaoh had more authority in Egypt. Men shouted, “Bow down!” So, Joseph had authority over everything in the land of Egypt.

A palace is a large house for a king. Horses pull chariots. And important people ride in chariots.

44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh. But nobody in Egypt will do anything, unless you tell them to.’ 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah. He also gave him a wife. She was called Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera. He was priest of On. So Asenath became Joseph’s wife. Everyone knew that Joseph had authority in all the land of Egypt.

On was a place where people worshipped the sun-god.

46 Joseph was 30 years old when he became Pharaoh’s special servant. And Joseph started to work at once. And he travelled all over Egypt. 47 During the 7 years of plenty, lots of food grew in the land. 48 Joseph got all this food. He got all the food that they grew in the 7 years of plenty. He stored it in cities in Egypt. He stored the food near the fields where it grew. 49 Joseph stored large quantities of food. It was like the sand by the sea. Joseph stopped keeping records of the food. He stopped because there was too much food to measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, Joseph became a father. Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, gave birth to 2 sons. 51 Joseph called his first born son Manasseh. That was because Joseph said ‘God made me forget all my trouble. And he made me forget all the people who live with my father.’ 52 Joseph called his second son Ephraim. That was because Joseph said, ‘God has made me have children. I have had them in the land where bad things happened to me.’

53 Then the 7 good years, when there was plenty of food in Egypt, ended. 54 And the 7 years of famine began. This is what Joseph said would happen. There was a famine in all the other countries. But there was food for all the people in Egypt. 55 The people of Egypt began to go hungry. And they cried out to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph. And do as he tells you.’ 56 The famine was over the whole country. Then Joseph opened the places where he had stored the food. And he sold it to the Egyptians because the famine was very bad in all of Egypt. 57 And people from other countries came to Egypt. They came to buy food from Joseph. They came because the famine was very bad all over the world.

Chapter 42

The story goes back to Jacob and his family. Jacob is living in Canaan. He does not have any food. But he knows that there is food in Egypt.

1 Jacob heard that there was food in Egypt. So he said to his sons, ‘Why do you keep looking at each other? 2 I have heard that there is food in Egypt. Go there and buy some for us. Buy it so that we do not die.’

God was planning to save his people.

3 Then 10 of Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt. They went to buy food. 4 But Israel (Jacob) did not send Benjamin. Jacob was afraid that something bad might happen to him. That is why he did not send him. He was Joseph’s brother. 5 Jacob’s sons were among the people who went to Egypt, to buy food. They went to Egypt because there was famine in Canaan.

6 Now Joseph was the man who had authority in the land. He was the man who sold food to all the people. Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt. And they bowed down to him. They put their faces to the ground.

Joseph’s first dream had showed his brothers bowing down to him.

7 As soon as Joseph saw the men, he knew that they were his brothers. But he did not tell them who he was. And he spoke words to them that were not kind. He asked them, ‘Where do you come from?’ They replied ‘From the land of Canaan. We have come to buy food.’ 8 Joseph knew that they were his brothers. But they did not recognise Joseph. He spoke to his brothers through a man who could speak Hebrew. That is why they did not recognise him.

Joseph was only 17 years old when they sold him as a slave. He now looked like an Egyptian. He did not have hair on his face. And he wore special clothes. He was a man with authority.

9 Then Joseph remembered his dream about his brothers. He said to them, ‘You have come to see where you can attack our land.’ 10 They replied ‘No my lord! Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. We are honest men. We are not enemies.’ 12 But Joseph said ‘No! You have come to see where you can attack us.’ 13 And Joseph’s brothers replied ‘We were 12 brothers, the sons of one man. He lives in Canaan. The youngest brother is with our father. And one brother is not with us any more.’ 14 Joseph said ‘It is as I told you. You have come to see where you can attack us. You are enemies! 15 I will see if what you say is true. This is how I will see it. As Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place. You will not leave until your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you to get your brother. I will keep the other brothers in prison. Then I will know if what you said is true. If you are not saying what is true, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are enemies!’

Joseph said ‘As surely as Pharaoh lives’, to show that he meant what he said.

17 And Joseph put his brothers in prison for 3 days.

18 On the 3rd day Joseph said to them ‘Do what I say. Then you will stay alive, because I believe in God.’

Joseph showed his brothers that he had authority in Egypt. Now he showed them that he was under God’s authority.

19 Joseph said ‘If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay in prison. The other brothers can go back to Canaan. And take food back with you, because your families are hungry. 20 But you must return to Egypt. And you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know that what you say is true. And you will not die.’ And the brothers said, ‘Yes, we will do what you say.’

21 They said to each other, ‘This is happening because of what we did to Joseph. He asked us not to kill him. We saw how sad he was. But we would not listen. That is why we are in this trouble.’ 22 Reuben said, ‘I told you not to do wrong to the boy. But you would not listen! Now we will have bad things done to us.’ 23 Joseph had a man who could speak Hebrew. Joseph spoke to this servant in the Egyptian language. The servant then spoke to the brothers in Hebrew. Joseph understood what the brothers said. But they did not know that.

The brothers still did not know that this important man was Joseph. They thought that he was an Egyptian. They did not know that he spoke Hebrew too.

24 Joseph turned away from his brothers. And he began to weep. But then he turned to face them again. And he spoke to them again. Then Joseph had Simeon taken from them. And the servants tied Simeon’s hands. This happened in front of the other brothers. 25 Then Joseph told servants to fill the brothers’ bags with food. And he told them to put each man’s silver back into his bag. And he told them to give the brothers food for their journey. And the servants did what Joseph told them.

Silver is a valuable metal. The brothers brought silver to pay for the food.

26 Then the brothers put their food on to their donkeys. And they left. 27 They travelled until it was night. Then they stopped. One of the brothers opened his bag to get food for his donkey. And he saw his silver inside his bag. 28 He said to his brothers, ‘They have given back my silver. Here it is in my bag.’ All the men were surprised. And they were very frightened. They said, ‘What has God done to us?’

29 Some time passed. And they arrived at Canaan. They went to their father Jacob. And they hold Jacob everything that had happened to them. 30 They said, ‘There is a man who is lord over the land. He spoke words to us that were not kind. And he said that we were enemies. He said that we were looking for a place to attack Egypt. 31 But we said to him “We are honest men. We are not enemies. 32 We are 12 brothers, all the sons of one father. One brother is not with us any more. And the youngest brother is with our father in Canaan.” 33 Then the man who is lord over the land said, “I want to know if your are honest men. This is how I will know. You must leave one of your brothers here, with me. Then take food for your hungry families and leave. 34 But you must bring your youngest brother to me. So, I will know that you are not enemies. And I will know that you are honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you. And you can buy and sell things in the land.” ’

35 The brothers emptied their bags. And in their bags, they found each man’s silver! The brothers and their father saw the bags of silver. And they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them ‘You have taken my children away from me. Joseph is not here any more. And Simeon is not here any more. And now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!’ 37 Then Reuben said to Jacob, ‘I will bring Benjamin back to you. If I do not, then you can kill both of my sons. Trust me with Benjamin. I will bring him back.’ 38 But Jacob said, ‘My son will not go with you. He will not go with you because his brother is dead. He is the only one left. Something bad may happen on your journey. I am an old man. If something bad happened to him, I would die. I would die because I would be so sad.’

Benjamin is Jacob’s youngest son. Benjamin’s mother was Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved his other wives. Jacob thinks that Joseph, Rachel’s other son is dead. Jacob shows that he loves Benjamin more than he loves his other sons. Even when Simeon is in prison, Jacob does not want Benjamin to go to Egypt.

Chapter 43

1 Time passed. And the famine was still bad in the land. 2 Jacob and his household ate all the food from Egypt. So Jacob said, ‘Go back to Egypt, and buy some more food.’ 3 But Judah said, ‘The man told us many times, “Unless your brother is with you, you will not see my face again. ” 4 You must send Benjamin with us. Then we will go and buy food for you. 5 But if you do not send Benjamin, we will not go. Because the man said to us, “Unless your brother is with you, you will not see my face again.” 6 Israel (that is Jacob) asked, ‘Why did you bring this trouble on me? You should not have told the man that you had another brother.’ 7 The brothers replied, ‘The man asked us many questions about our family. He asked, “Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?” We only answered his questions. We did not know that he would say, “Bring your brother here.” 8 Then Judah said to Israel (that is Jacob), ‘Send the boy with me. And we will go at once. Then we, and you, and our children will not die.

Verse 8 ‘we will not die’ Judah says this because he would bring back food from Canaan.

9 Judah said, ‘I will make you a promise. I will keep Benjamin safe. He will be with me. I will bring him back to you. If I do not, then you can say that it was because of me. And you can say this for all of my life. 10 Now say what you want to do. We have wasted much time, talking about this. We could have gone to Egypt and returned twice.’

11 Then their father Israel (Jacob) said to them, ‘If you must take Benjamin, do what I tell you. Put some of the best things from the land in your bags. And take them to the man as a gift. Take some balm, some honey and some spices. Also take some myrrh, and pistachio nuts and almond nuts.

All these gifts were wanted and liked in Egypt. The Egyptians usually had to buy them from other countries. People put spices in food.

Balm is an oil to help make cuts better. It also makes ill people better.

Myrrh comes from the leaves of a special kind of rose (a flower). People put it in a drink. People drink it when they are ill. It helps to stop the pain.

12 Jacob said, ‘Take 2 times the amount of silver with you. This is because you must give back the silver that they put back into your bags. It may have been a mistake. 13 Also take your brother Benjamin. And go back to the man at once. 14 I pray that God Almighty will help you. I pray this: When you go to the man, may he show you mercy. And may he let your older brother and Benjamin return with you. As for me, if I lose my sons, then I lose them.

15 So the brothers took the gifts. And they took twice as much silver. They also took Benjamin and they hurried to Egypt. When they arrived there, they went to Joseph.

16 Joseph saw that Benjamin was with them. He said to a servant who worked in his house, ‘Take these men to my house. Kill an animal and prepare it for a meal. These men will eat with me at noon.’ 17 The servant did as Joseph told him. He took the men to Joseph’s house. 18 The brothers were frightened when the servant took them to Joseph’s house. They thought, ‘He has brought us here because of the silver that was in our bags. Someone put it back in when we came here the first time. He wants to attack us. And he will take us to be slaves. And he will take our donkeys.’ 19 So the brothers went to Joseph’s servant. And they spoke to him at the door to Joseph’s house. 20 They said, ‘Please sir. The first time we came here, we came to buy food. 21 But on our journey back, we stopped because it was night. We opened our bags. And each of us found the same amount of silver that he brought to Egypt. We brought it to pay for the food. It was in our bags. So we have brought the silver back with us. 22 We have also brought more silver. We have brought it so that we can buy food. We do not know who put the silver back into our bags.’ 23 The servant replied, ‘Do not worry. Everything is all right. Do not be afraid. Your God, the God of your fathers put the silver there. I received your silver.’ Then the servant brought Simeon out to his brothers. 24 The servant took the men into Joseph’s house. He gave them water to wash their feet. And he gave them food for their donkeys. 25 The brothers prepared their gifts. They made them ready for when Joseph would come at noon. They had heard that they were to eat there.

26 Joseph arrived. And they gave him the gifts that they had brought into his house. And they bowed down before him. They bowed down to the ground. 27 Joseph asked them if they were all right. Then he said ‘How is your old father whom you told me about? Is he still alive?’ 28 The brothers replied, ‘Your servant, our father is still alive. And he is well.’ And they bowed down low to Joseph. 29 Joseph looked about. And he saw his brother Benjamin, who was his mother’s son. Joseph asked, ‘Is this your youngest brother? Is this the one that you told me about?’ And Joseph said to Benjamin, ‘God be kind to you, my son.’ 30 Joseph loved his brother very much and he hurried away. He hurried away because he wanted to weep. He went into his own room. And he wept there. 31 When he had finished weeping, he washed his face. And he returned to his brothers. And he stopped himself from weeping. He said, ‘Give them the food.’ 32 Joseph sat away from his brothers. And he ate there. The brothers sat together. And the Egyptians, who ate there, sat together. The Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, because that would make the Egyptians ashamed. 33 The brothers sat in front of Joseph. The servants told them to sit in special places, from the oldest to the youngest. And the brothers were surprised.

The brothers were surprised because Joseph knew their ages.

34 The servants gave the brothers food from Joseph’s table. And they gave Benjamin 5 times more food than his brothers. So the brothers ate and drank wine with Joseph.

Chapter 44

1 Joseph told his servant, ‘Fill the men’s bags. Give them as much food as their animals can carry. And put each man’s silver in the top of the bag. 2 Then take my silver cup. And put it in the top of the youngest man’s bag. Put it with the silver that he brought to pay for his food.’ And the servant did as Joseph said. 3 Morning came, and the men went on their journey with their donkeys. 4 They had not gone very far away from the city. Then Joseph said to his servant, ‘Go after those men. Go now. And when you find them, say to them. “Why have you done bad things? We did only good things for you. 5 You have taken my master’s own cup. It is the cup that he drinks from. And he uses it to know what will happen. What you did is wrong.” ’

6 So Joseph’s servant went after the men. He found them. And he said the words that Joseph had told him. 7 But the men said to him, ‘Why do you say these things my lord? Your servants would not do a thing like that!’ 8 We even gave back the silver that we found in our bags. We found it when we returned to Canaan. But we gave it back. So why would we take silver or gold from your master’s house? 9 If any one of us has this cup, they will die. And the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.’ 10 The servant said, ‘Very well. It will be as you say. Whoever has the cup, will become my slave. The rest of you will go free.’ 11 Each man quickly put his bag on the ground and opened it. 12 Then the servant began to look in the bags. He began with the oldest man’s bag. And he finished with the youngest man’s bag. And he found the cup in Benjamin’s bag. 13 When this happened they tore their clothes. They tore them because they were very upset. Then they put their bags back on their donkeys. And they returned to the city.

14 Joseph was still in his house. And Judah and his brothers arrived. And they threw themselves on the ground in front of Joseph. 15 Joseph said, ‘What have you done? Do you not know about a man like me? I can find out what people do.’ 16 Judah said, ‘I do not know what to say to you, my lord. There is nothing that we can do. We cannot show you that we did not do this. God knows that we have done wrong. We are your slaves. We are all your slaves. One man owns the bag where you found your cup. He is your slave too.’ 17 But Joseph said, ‘I would not do a thing like that! Only the man whose bag contained the cup will be my slave. The rest of you can return to your father. You may go as friends.’

18 Then Judah went up to Joseph. He said, ‘Please my lord. Let me speak to you. You are like Pharaoh, but please do not be angry with me. 19 My lord asked us “Do you have a father? Or a brother?” 20 And we replied, “We have a father. He is old. And he has a young son. This son was born when our father was old. His brother is dead. And he is the only remaining son of his mother. And his father loves him.” 21 Then you said, “Bring him to me so that I can see him.” 22 And we said, “The boy cannot leave his father. If he leaves him, his father will die.” 23 But you said to us “Your youngest brother must come with you. If he does not come, you will not see my face again.” 24 We returned to our father. And we told him what you said. 25 Some time passed. And our father said, “Go back and buy some more food.” 26 But we said, “We cannot go. We can only go if our youngest brother comes with us. Unless our youngest brother is with us, we cannot see the man’s face again.” 27 My father said to us, “My wife gave birth to 2 sons. 28 One of them went away from me. And I said, ‘He has been eaten by a wild animal.’ And I have not seen him after that. 29 If you take my youngest son from me, something bad may happen to him. Then I will die, because I will be so sad.” ’ 30 Judah said, ‘I could go back to my father. But my father lives because of this boy. And if the boy is not with us, then my father will die. He will die because he is so sad. He will die because we did not bring the boy back. 31 He will see that the boy is not with us. And he will die. Because we did not bring the boy back to him, he will be so sad. 32 I promised my father that I would keep the boy safe. I said, “I will bring the boy back. If I do not, then you can say that it was because of me. You can say this for the rest of my life!” 33 Please let me stay here. Let me stay as your slave instead of the boy. And let the boy return with his brothers. 34 I cannot go back to my father. Not if the boy is not with me. No! Do not let me see how sad my father will be.’

In chapter 44, Joseph wants to know if his brothers have changed. He wants to know this. Will they let Benjamin stay in Egypt, so that they can return to Canaan? Judah shows that he has changed. He says that he will stay in Egypt, as a slave. He will stay so that Benjamin can go home to his father.

In verse 34, Judah remembers when Jacob thought that Joseph was dead. He remembers how sad Jacob was.

Chapter 45

1 After Judah said this, Joseph could not stop himself from crying. In front of all his servants he shouted, ‘Make everyone leave me!’ So there was no one with Joseph except his brothers. And he told his brothers who he was. 2 And Joseph wept loudly. And the Egyptians heard him. And Pharaoh’s household knew about it. 3 Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers did not answer him. They did not answer him because they were too frightened. They were frightened because Joseph was with them.

The brothers were frightened because they had sold Joseph, as a slave. They did not know what Joseph would do to them.

4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come close to me.’ When they did this he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph. I am the one that you sold into Egypt! 5 Now, do not worry. And do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me. Do not be angry with yourselves because God sent me! He sent me in front of you. He sent me so that I could save people from dying. 6 There has been a famine for 2 years, in this land. And no food will grow for another 5 years. 7 But God sent me in front of you, so that you would stay alive. And to make sure that your descendants live. 8 So you did not send me here. God sent me here. He made me an officer to Pharaoh. I have more authority than any other officer. I have authority over all of Egypt. And I rule all Egypt.’

In 40:15, Joseph says that he should not be in prison. But everything that happened to him was in God’s plan. Now Joseph knows that. God wanted Jacob and his family to stay alive when there was famine. That is why God did this.

9 ‘Now hurry back to my father. Say to him, “This is what your son Joseph says. ‘God has made me lord over all Egypt. Come to me. Come now. 10 You can live in the place called Goshen. You and your children can live there. And your grandchildren can live there. And all your animals and everything that you have can live there. And you will be near me. 11 I will give you everything that you need. Because there are still 5 years of famine to come. If you do not come, you and your household will have nothing.” 12 You can all see that I am Joseph. And so can my brother Benjamin. 13 Tell my father how much authority I have in Egypt. And tell him about everything that you saw here. And bring my father here quickly.’ 14 Then he hugged his brother Benjamin. And he wept. And Benjamin hugged Joseph. And Benjamin wept. 15 Then Joseph kissed all of his brothers. And he wept over them. After this, his brothers talked to him.

16 Pharaoh heard that Joseph’s brothers were in Egypt. And Pharaoh and his officers were happy. 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Tell your brothers, “Do this. Put food on your donkeys’ backs. And return to Canaan. 18 And bring your father. And bring your families. Bring them back to me. I will give you the best land in Egypt. And you will have everything that Egypt can give you.” ’ 19 Pharaoh said, ‘You must also tell them, “Do this. Take some carts from Egypt. They are for your wives and children. And get your father. Then come here.”

The carts were for the women and children to sit on. Then they would not need to walk on the long journey. Carts have wheels and animals pull them. (Chariots and cars all need wheels to move.)

20 Do not worry. You do not have to bring everything from your own country. The best of everything in Egypt will be yours.” ’

21 So the sons of Israel (that is Jacob) did this. Joseph gave them carts as Pharaoh told him. He also gave them food for their journey. 22 Joseph gave each brother new clothes. But he gave Benjamin 300 pieces of silver and 5 sets of clothes. 23 And Joseph sent these things to his father:

          10 donkeys carrying the best things from Egypt

          10 female donkeys carrying food and bread

          and other food for the journey.

24 Then Joseph sent his brothers on their journey. As they left he said, ‘Do not argue on the way!’

25 So the brothers left Egypt. And then they arrived in Canaan, where their father Jacob was. 26 They told him, ‘Joseph is still alive!’ He rules over all of Egypt.’ Jacob was surprised. And he did not believe what they said. 27 So the brothers told Jacob everything that Joseph had said to them. And Jacob saw the carts that Joseph sent to carry him back to Egypt. So Jacob began to be happy. 28 And Israel (that is Jacob) said, ‘I am sure! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die.’

Chapter 46

1 So Israel (Jacob) left Canaan. He took everything that was his. When he came to Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to God, the God of his father Isaac. 2 And God spoke to Israel in a dream at night. He said, ‘Jacob! Jacob!’ And Jacob replied, ‘Yes.’ 3 God said, ‘I am God. I am the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go to Egypt. I will make you have many descendants there. 4 I will go to Egypt with you. And I will bring you back again. And you will be with Joseph when you die.’

5 Then Jacob left Beersheba. And Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their wives and children. They all sat on the carts that Pharaoh sent to take them to Egypt. 6 They also took all their animals and everything that they had got in Canaan. And Jacob and all his family went to Egypt. 7 He took his sons and grandsons, and his daughters and granddaughters. He took all his family to Egypt.

8 These are the names of the sons of Israel, (that is, the descendants of Jacob). Reuben was the first-born of Jacob. 9 The sons of Reuben: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. 10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. 11 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. 12 The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah, (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul. 13 The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron. 14 The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon and Jahleel. 15 These were the sons that Leah gave birth to in Paddan Aram. Jacob was their father. Leah also gave birth to a daughter, Dinah. These sons and daughters of Jacob’s were 33 in all. 16 The sons of Gad: Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli. 17 The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. Their sister was Serah. The sons of Beriah: Heber and Malkiel. 18 These were the children that Zilpah gave birth to. Jacob was their father. Leah gave Zilpah to Jacob as a wife. There were 16 children in all. 19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph. Their mother was Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 21 The sons of Benjamin were Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard. 22 These were the sons of Rachel, born to Jacob. There were 14 in all. 23 The son of Dan: Hushim. 24 The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem. 25 These were the sons born to Jacob. Their mother was Bilhah. Rachel gave her to Jacob as a wife. There were 7 in all. 26 Jacob’s descendants (not counting his son’s wives) were 66. All these people went with him to Egypt. 27 Jacob’s family came to 70 people. This included Joseph’s 2 sons. They were born in Egypt. All these were in Egypt with Jacob.

28 Now Jacob sent Judah in front of him. He sent him to Joseph, to learn how to get to Goshen. 29 Joseph had his chariot prepared. And he went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. Joseph saw Jacob. And Joseph hugged his father and wept for a long time.

Horses pull chariots. And important people ride in chariots.

30 Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now I am ready to die. Because I have seen for myself that you are still alive.’ 31 Then Joseph spoke to his brother and to his father’s household. He said, ‘I will go and speak to Pharaoh. I will say to him, “My brothers and my father’s household have come to me. They were living in Canaan. 32 The men are shepherds. They keep animals safe. And they have brought their animals and everything that they have.” 33 Pharaoh will call you to him and ask, “What is your job?” 34 Then you should answer, “We are herdsmen. This is what we have always done. And our ancestors were herdsmen.” Then Pharaoh will let you stay in the place called Goshen. Say this because Egyptians hate shepherds and herdsmen. And the Egyptians do not want to live near them.’

Goshen was a place where herdsmen lived. It had lots of grass for animals to eat. Joseph tells his brothers to say that they are herdsmen. Then the Egyptians would not want to live near them, and Pharaoh would send them to Goshen.

Chapter 47

1 Joseph went to Pharaoh. He told him, ‘My father and brothers, and all their animals are now in Goshen. They have come from Canaan. And they have brought everything that belongs to them.’ 2 Joseph chose 5 of his brothers. And he took them to Pharaoh. 3 Pharaoh asked the brothers, ‘What is your job?’ The brothers replied, ‘We are shepherds. And our ancestors were shepherds.’ 4 They said to Pharaoh, ‘We have come here because the famine is very bad in Canaan. We would like to stay here for a while because our animals do not have any grass to eat. Now, please let us, who are your servants, stay in Goshen.’ 5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is here for them. Your fathers and brothers can stay in the best part of the land. They can live in Goshen. You may know some of them who are good at what they do. If you do, then they can keep my own animals safe.’

7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in to Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 Then Pharaoh asked Jacob, ‘How old are you?’ 9 Jacob replied, ‘I have been alive for 130 years. My years have been few, and difficult. And I am not as old as my ancestors were.’

Abraham was alive for 175 years (25:7). And Isaac was alive for 180 years (35:28).

10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and left him. 11 So Joseph’s father and brothers stayed in Egypt. And Joseph gave them houses in the best part of the land. This was in the place called Rameses. Joseph did as Pharaoh had told him to.

Rameses is the Egyptian name for Goshen.

12 Joseph also gave food to his father, his brothers and all his father’s household. He gave them enough food for themselves and all their children.

13 But, because the famine was bad, no food grew in all of Egypt. Everyone in Egypt and Canaan was hungry and thin. This was because they had no food to eat. 14 Joseph had all the money in Egypt. He received it from the people in return for food. And Joseph brought all the money to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 Soon the people did not have any more money. Everyone came to Joseph and said, ‘Give us food. Do not let us die. We do not have any more money.’ 16 And Joseph replied, ‘Then bring me your animals. Because you do not have any more money, I will give you food. But you must give me your animals in return. 17 So the people brought their animals to Joseph. And he sold them food in return for their animals. They brought horses, sheep, goats, cows and donkeys. And Joseph sold them enough food for the year. They used their animals to buy the food. 18 The year ended. And the people came to Joseph again and said, ‘You know that we do not have any money. And our animals now belong to you. We have nothing left to sell. We only have our land and ourselves. 19 Do not let us die! And do not let our fields stay empty because we do not have seed to plant. Give us food. And we will be Pharaoh’s slaves. And our land will belong to Pharaoh. Give us seed to plant. Give it to us so that we will not die. And then our fields will not be empty.’

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. Because the famine was very bad, all the Egyptians sold their fields for food. So Pharaoh owned all the land. 21 And all the people in Egypt worked for Pharaoh. They were like slaves. 22 But Joseph did not buy the land belonging to the tribe of the priests. He did not buy it because Pharaoh gave the priests enough food. So the priests did not sell their land. 23 Joseph said to the people, ‘I have bought you and your land for Pharaoh. Now I will give you some seed to plant in the fields. 24 But when the plants are ready to eat, you must give 1/5th to Pharaoh. You may keep the other 4/5th. You may keep it for seed to plant again. And for food for you, your households and your children.’ 25 The people said, ‘You have not let us die. So we agree to be slaves of the king.’ 26 So Joseph made a law about the land of Egypt. The law was that 1/5th (or 20%) of all food grown, belonged to Pharaoh. Only the land belonging to the priests did not belong to Pharaoh. And this law is still obeyed today.

Verse 26, ‘still obeyed today’ means that the law was still obeyed when Genesis was written.

27 For all of that time, the Israelites stayed in Goshen. They had property there. And they had many children. 28 Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years. And he lived for 147 years in all.

29 The time came for Israel (that is Jacob) to die. So he called for his son Joseph. Jacob said to him, ‘If you agree, put your hand under my thigh. And promise that you will be kind to me. And promise that you will do as I ask. Do not bury me in Egypt.’

Joseph put his hand under Jacob’s thigh. He was promising to do as Jacob asked. He put his hand under Jacob’s thigh to show this. (See also 24:2.) The thigh is the top of the leg.

30 Jacob said, ‘When I die, carry my body out of Egypt. And bury me where my ancestors are buried. Joseph said, ‘I will do as you say.’ 31 Jacob said ‘Promise me.’ Then Joseph made a promise to him. And Israel rested on the top of his staff and worshipped there.

Chapter 48

1 Some time passed. And someone told Joseph, ‘Your father is ill.’ So, Joseph took his 2 sons, Manasseh and Ephraim with him. 2 Someone told Jacob, ‘Your son Joseph has come to you.’ So Israel made himself as strong as he could. And he sat up on the bed. 3 Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz. That is in Canaan. And he blessed me there. 4 He said to me, “I am going to make good things happen to you, and give you many descendants. I will make you into a great group of people. And I will give you this land. And your descendants will have this land when you die.” 5 Now you have 2 sons. They were born before I came to Egypt. They will be like my own sons. People will think of Ephraim and Manasseh as my sons, as they think of Reuben and Simeon as my sons. 6 Any children born to you after them will be your own children. They will inherit the land of their brothers. 7 Rachel died on our journey from Paddan. I was very sad. She died a few miles from Ephrath. So I buried her there, next to the road to Ephrath (that is Bethlehem).’

Ephraim and Manasseh will inherit along with Jacob’s other sons.

8 Joseph brought Ephraim and Manasseh to Jacob. And Jacob asked, ‘Who are these?’ 9 Joseph replied, ‘They are my sons. God gave them to me in Egypt.’ Then Israel said, ‘Bring them to me so that I can bless them.’ 10 Now Israel could not see very well. He could not see because he was old. So Joseph brought his sons close to Israel. And his father kissed them and hugged them. 11 Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never thought that I would see your face again. And now God has let me see your children too.’ 12 Then Joseph removed his sons from Jacob’s knees. And he bowed down. And put his face to the ground. 13 And Joseph took his 2 sons. He put Ephraim by Israel’s left hand. And he put Manasseh by Israel’s right hand. Then he brought his sons close to Israel.

Manasseh was the oldest son. This son usually received the blessing from his father. The father put his right hand on the head of the son who would receive his blessing.

14 But Israel put out his right hand. And he put it on Ephraim’s head. But Ephraim was the youngest son. Israel crossed his arms. And he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head. But Manasseh was the oldest son. 15 Then Israel blessed Joseph. He said, ‘May God bless these boys. He is the God in front of whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked. He is the God who has been my shepherd all my life, until this day. 16 He is the Angel who kept me safe. May he bless these boys. May they be called by my name, and the names of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac. And may they have many descendants and fill the earth.’

Verse 15 ‘in front of whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked’ means that Abraham and Isaac worshipped and obeyed God.

‘shepherd’ – a shepherd keeps sheep safe. They will not let anything bad happen to their sheep. Jacob is saying that God is like a shepherd. The sheep are the people who love and worship him. He keeps his people safe as a shepherd keeps his sheep safe.

Verse 16 ‘Angel’ – God appeared to Jacob as an angel (32:29).

‘Called by my name and the name of Abraham and Isaac’ means that they will be known as descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. God appeared to them and blessed them.

17 Joseph saw that his father put his right hand on Ephraim’s head. And Joseph thought that this was wrong. So he took hold of his father’s hand. And he moved it from Ephraim’s head. And he put it on Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to Jacob, ‘No my father. This son is the oldest. Put your right hand on his head.’ 19 But Jacob put his right hand on Ephraim’s head. And he said, ‘I know, my son, I know. Manasseh will also have many descendants. And he will become famous. But Ephraim his younger brother will be better known than he. And Ephraim’s descendants will become many tribes.’ 20 That day Jacob blessed them. He said, ‘In your name Israel will give this blessing. “May God be good to you, as he was to Ephraim and Manasseh.” ’ And Israel put Ephraim before Manasseh.

This blessing Jacob said was also said to other people for many years after this. Jacob is saying that God will be good to Ephraim and Manasseh. And people will remember how good God was to them.

21 Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘I will die soon. But God will be with you. And he will take you back to the land where your ancestors lived. 22 And you are over your brothers. So, I give you the part of the land that I took from the Amorites. It is the land that I fought for.

Jacob is giving Joseph an extra inheritance.

Chapter 49

1 Then Jacob called for his sons. He said, ‘Come here to me. Then I can tell you what will happen to you, in future years.

2 Sons of Jacob come together and listen. Listen to your father, Israel.’

Now Jacob says what is going to happen to each of his sons and to their descendants.

3 Jacob said, ‘Reuben you are my oldest son. You were my first child after I became a man. Of all my sons, you think yourself most important. And you are the strongest.

4 Yet you are as wild as the sea. People will no longer know you as the most important son (or first-born son) because you went to your father’s bed. And you slept with my concubine. This was a wrong thing to do. You made me ashamed.

5 Simeon and Levi are brothers. They use their swords only to hurt people.

Verse 4 See also 35:22.

Verse 5 See also 34:26.

6 I will not take part in their plans. They kill men when they are angry. And they hurt animals only because they want to. So, I will not meet with them.

7 May they be cursed because they are angry. This is because they are so cruel. And I will make your descendants live with other people. They will not have their own land. They will live all over the country of Israel.

8 Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will kill your enemies. Your father’s sons will bow down to you.

9 Judah is like a wild animal that has eaten its meal. He rests after eating. Nobody would want to wake a wild animal.

10 The royal sceptre will not leave him. And the staff of rulers will stay with him. It will stay with him until one man comes. That will be the man that it belongs to. And everyone will obey that man.’

Judah will be like a king. Then the person that God has chosen will come to take his place. Bible students think that this means King David, then Christ.

A royal sceptre is something that a king holds. Its shape is like a stick with a ball on the top.

11 Judah will tie his donkey to a vine. He will tie his horse to the best branch. He will wash his clothes in red wine.’

A vine is a plant. Grapes grow on it These make wine. Its branches grow over many things. Vines were valuable plants in Old Testament times.

Jacob is saying that Judah will be very rich. He will tie his horse to the best branch of a valuable plant. And he will wash his clothes in wine. He will be very rich.

12 His eyes are red from drinking lots of wine. And his teeth are white from drinking milk.’

Jacob is saying that Judah will have plenty of everything.

13 Zebulun will live by the sea. And his town will be a safe place for ships to stay. His land will go as far as Sidon.

14 Issachar is like a donkey. The donkey is lying down between 2 saddlebags.

15 He saw how good his resting-place was. And he saw how nice the country was. So he stayed there. And he worked like a slave for other people.’

Jacob is saying that Issachar is strong. He is saying that he will work like a donkey. Donkeys carry heavy things in their saddlebags. Issachar will work for other people, for food and a nice place to stay.

16 Dan will be a ruler for his people. His descendants will be like other tribes of Israel. They are a small tribe. But they will still be like the other tribes.

17 He will be as dangerous as a snake on the road. He will be like a snake that bites the feet of horses. Then the person falls off the horse.

18 I look to you to keep me safe Lord.’

Verse 18 Jacob says a small prayer, then he continues.

19 People will attack Gad, but he will attack them.

20 Asher will have good food. It will be good enough for kings to eat.’

The land where Asher lives will be good land. And he will grow very good food. The food will be so good that kings will buy it to eat.

21 Naphtali is like a wild animal. He runs free and has many young ones.

22 Joseph is like a vine that has lots of fruit. It grows by a well and the branches go over a wall.’

Jacob means that Joseph’s descendants will go and live all over the land.

23 His enemies hated him. And they attacked him.

24 But he stayed strong and beat them. That was because the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob (the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel) helped him.’

Mighty One is another name for God. It means that God is very strong. Shepherd is also a name for God (see 48:15). Rock of Israel, means that God is strong and does not change. Jacob is showing this. He knows that God has helped Joseph. He also knows that he is still helping him.

25 The Almighty (the God of Jacob) blesses you. So he gives you the blessings of the heaven above and the blessings of the deep that lies below. And he gives you the blessings of the breasts and womb.’

‘Blessings of heaven above’ and ‘blessings of the deep’ mean that God will give Joseph’s descendants good land and water to put on the land.

‘Blessings of the breasts and womb’ means that Joseph’s descendants, and their animals will have many young ones.

26 The blessings of your father are greater than the blessing of my ancestors. They go up to the top of the mountains that last for ever. They are for Joseph, who was separate from his brothers.

27 Benjamin is like a hungry wild animal. He kills an animal and eats it in the morning. In the evening, he gives what remains to his people.’

Jacob is saying that Benjamin will go out and kill his enemies in the morning. And he will return in the evening. In the evening, he will give what he has taken from his enemies to his people.

28 All these are the 12 tribes of Israel. And this is what their father told them. He told them when he blessed them. He told each son what would happen to his descendants.

Verse 28 ‘the 12 tribes of Israel’ – the descendants of each son would become a separate group of people.

29 Then Jacob said to his 12 sons, ‘I am about to die. So take my body from here. Take my body to Canaan. Bury me with my ancestors, in the grave in the field that belonged to Ephron the Hittite. 30 The grave is in the field of Machpelah. That is near Mamre in Canaan. Abraham bought this as a place to bury people. He bought it from Ephron the Hittite. Abraham bought the grave with the field. 31 That is where they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah. And it is where they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah. And this is where I buried Leah. 32 Abraham bought the field and the grave from the Hittites.’ 33 Jacob finished telling his sons what he wanted them to do. And he lay on his bed. He died. And he went to be with his ancestors who had died before him.

Chapter 50

1 Joseph hugged his father’s body. And he wept over him. And he kissed him. 2 Then Joseph spoke to his servants who were doctors. He told them to put special oil and material on Jacob’s body. They did this so that it would stay whole. And it would not smell. So, Joseph’s servants did as he said. 3 The servants did this for 40 days. Because that is how long it takes to put the special oil and material on a body. And the Egyptians were sad for 70 days because Jacob died.

People put oil and materials on a body to keep it and to stop it smelling. Because it would be a long time before they would bury the body.

Usually they only did this to rich and important Egyptians when they died.

‘The Egyptians were sad for 70 days’ means that they would show that they were sad. They did this when someone important died. Jacob was important in Egypt because he was Joseph’s father.

4 The days of showing that they were sad ended. And Joseph said to Pharaoh’s officers, ‘If you agree, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him: 5 “My father made me make a promise. He said, ‘I am going to die soon. Bury me in the grave that I dug myself. This is in Canaan.’ Now let me go and bury my father. Then I will return.” ’ 6 Pharaoh said, ‘Go and bury your father. Because he made you promise that you would.’

7 So Joseph went to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officers went with him. These were the important people who lived in Pharaoh’s palace. And the important people who lived in Egypt went with Joseph. 8 And every one in Joseph’s household went to bury Jacob. All his brothers and everyone in his brothers’ households went. They did not take their children or their animals. They left these in Goshen. 9 Chariots and men on horses went with them. Very many people went with Joseph to bury Jacob. 10 They came to Atad, near the River Jordan. They stopped at the place where people separated food plants. (They separated the good to eat parts from the parts that they could not eat.) And they stayed there for 7 days. And they showed that they were very sad. They were sad because Jacob died. 11 The people were showing that they were sad. The Canaanites saw this at Atad. And they said, ‘The Egyptians are showing that they are sad. This is because someone died.’ And they called that place Abel Mizraim. 12 So Jacob’s sons did what he had told them. 13 They carried his body to Canaan. And they buried him in the grave. That was in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre. Abraham had bought the grave from Ephron the Hittite. He had bought it with the field. 14 So Joseph buried his father. Then he returned to Egypt together with his brothers. And everyone who went with him returned too.

15 So Jacob was dead. And Joseph’s brothers were frightened. They said to each other, ‘We did a bad thing to Joseph. Perhaps he now wants to do something bad to us.’ 16 So they sent a message to Joseph. It said, ‘Your father said this to us before he died: 17 “This is what you are to say to Joseph: I, Jacob ask you to forgive your brothers the wrong that they did against you.” Now, please forgive our sins. Forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.’ When Joseph received their message, he wept. 18 Then his brothers came. And they bowed down to the ground in front of Joseph. They said, ‘We are your slaves.’ 19 But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be frightened. Only God judges. I will not.’ 20 ‘You wanted to hurt me. But God wanted what you did for his good plan. God is saving many lives because I am here. 21 So do not be frightened. I will give you what you need for you, and your children.’ And Joseph spoke kind words to them. So, they knew that he would not hurt them.

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt with all his father’s family. He lived for 110 years. 23 And he saw the 3rd descendants of Ephraim. And Makir, son of Manasseh put his children on Joseph’s knees.

Makir’s children were called Joseph’s children.

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die. But God will come and help you. And he will take you out of Egypt. He will take you to the land that he promised to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’ 25 And Joseph made the sons of Israel make a promise. He said, ‘God will come and help you. When this happens, you must carry my bones away from this place.’ 26 So Joseph died when he was 110 years old. And they put special oil and materials on his body. And they put his body in a special box.

Hundreds of years passed. Then God came to help the descendants of the sons of Israel, as he promised. Moses took Joseph’s bones from Egypt when his descendants (the Children of Israel) left. The report of this is in the book of Exodus. (This is the next book of the Bible).

In the book of Exodus 13:19 it says, ‘Moses took the bones of Joseph with him. This was because Joseph had made the sons of Israel make a promise. He had said, “God will come and help you. Then you must carry my bones with you, from this place.” ’


The descendants of the 12 sons of Israel became God’s people. They were called Jews. Christ was a descendant of Judah.

God spoke about Christ. He told Abraham that he would bless everyone on the earth, through his descendants.

Word List

Almighty (God)
God has the power to beat all his enemies. He is the Lord of everything.
a table, (usually stone) for burning animal and other gifts as a sacrifice to God.
parents, and their parents. People who lived before you did.
a servant from God to bring his messages.
someone who can use a bow and arrows to kill an animal or person.
a big boat that Noah built; a box that someone has made out of wood.
stick with a sharp point at the end. People kill animals or people with it.
in the Old Testament, the oldest son had the birthright. He would be the leader of his family when his father died. And he would get two parts of the things that had belonged to his father.
to say or do much good to a person.
the good things that God does for us. Asking God to help us and do good in us.
bow down
to bend your body until your face is at the ground.
the air that goes in and out of the mouth.
many things that people have tied together (like plants that you can eat).
burial place
a place to bury someone who has died.
animal to carry people or things. It can walk for a long time without needing a drink.
doing everything that we can to help someone or something and to make them happy.
a box that horses pull to carry men.
to cut off the skin from the end of the sex part of a boy or a man.
to cut off the skin from the end of the sex part of a boy or a man.
a woman who lives with a man but is not his wife, or known as his wife.
when people agree together. Or when God and a person or people agree to a special thing.
all the living things that God made are creatures.
a plant that people grow for food.
to say bad words against someone else.
to speak what is not true to another person.
descendant of
people born into the family of someone.
a hot, dry place. It has lots of sand. There is not much water there.
not obey.
an animal like a small horse. It carries things or people.
drinking too much alcohol makes you drunk.
the dry top part of the ground. Many very small pieces of this make ‘dust’.
things or people that are very bad. There is no good in them.
to believe in someone or something.
to be full of faith and not moving from what you think is true.
time when food plants do not grow.
a time of eating and drinking.
show love and not remember bad things against someone; when God does not remember the wrong things that we do.
the time between when a man is born and his child is born.
a small, sweet fruit that people make a drink (wine) from.
a place in the ground to put dead people.
to keep safe.
a lot of things on top of each other.
the place where God and Christ are. It is the future home of the people who know God.
the skies or the home of God.
a person who is a Jew or their language.
a man who keep cows and other animals safe.
what God is like. Holy is different and better than all other things. It is all good with no bad in it.
a special sugar made by insects called bees.
your household means everyone who lives with you. They do not have to be your family.
a person, not an animal or anything else that is alive.
to have something as a gift from someone who has died. God gives us gifts, but he has not died!
what a person gives for you to have when that person dies. We use the word for that gift when it becomes yours. We also use it for a gift that will be yours at a later date.
the home country of the Jews. God gave Jacob the new name, Israel. The children of Israel are Jews or Israelites.
a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
when people are happy because of what God has done for them.
person with authority to decide and say what is right or wrong.
it comes from fruit when you push it against something hard. You can drink it.
the keeper of a prison keeps the people in prison safe. They cannot get out of the prison.
knowledge means to know or understand something.
young sheep.
rules that tell us how to live.
animals that are not wild. Livestock usually live in a village or farm. They live near people, and people feed them.
someone with authority.
a special name for God that his people use.
help to those that are in need or difficulty. God has this love when he makes us good.
a woman who has authority over someone.
your brother’s son or your sister’s son.
a fruit from a tree or bush. The nut is inside something hard. You can eat nuts.
a kind of tree.
a gift to please God.
Old Testament
the first part of the Bible. It is the holy things that the writers wrote before Christ’s birth.
the angels in heaven have told God how bad the people are.
a building where the king lives.
what you get when you work for someone.
to say how good a person is. Or to tell God how great he is.
to talk to God.
the words that we say when we talk to God.
pregnant means that a woman will have a baby.
a man who gave gifts and sacrifices to God or to a foreign god.
all that is owned by someone.
a person who told other people what God wanted them to do.
a woman who sells her body to men for pleasure/sex.
to hurt someone for the wrong things that they have done.
someone who belongs to your family or to your parents’ family.
to make someone think of something that happened some time ago.
to think that a person has value and is important.
when God makes a person right with him. God sees them as clean, and not his enemies.
to ask God to forgive us by killing an animal.
the bad one, known also as the devil.
semen comes out of the man’s sex part when he has sex.
come to live.
move from one side to another and back again very fast many times.
people used shekels to measure weight.
a sheep farmer, who keeps the sheep safe.
a white metal that shines and is very valuable.
when people do things against God or other people. We do not follow the rules that God gives us. Then we are sinning.
a long stick.
a long metal knife to attack enemies.
black and sticky material.
a home or building that people have made from animal skins; a place to live in that people have made out of cloth. You can move a tent-house to different places.
a very high building.
when a person shakes.
family from one man. The first Jews were the 12 sons of Jacob. The family of each son became a tribe.
God who is three persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit [see Holy Spirit].
to follow something that you think is true.
something that is true; usually words that are true.
people that did not have circumcision.
when something is not right to use because God does not accept it.
when a person is not happy because of some bad thing.
a piece of material that covers a woman’s face.
plant that climbs. Its fruits are called grapes. Plant that grows grapes (to make wine).
place where grapes grow.
a drink that has alcohol in it; people make it from small, sweet fruit called grapes.
when we understand God’s word. When we know what is good and right. When we know what to do.
when we have trouble in our minds.
what we should do when we are with God. We can worship God with other people, or alone. It is when we sing. It is when we pray. It is when we praise God.

Book List

Warren W Wiersbe ~ Be Authentic ~ Victor Books

Warren W Wiersbe ~ Be Basic ~ Victor Books

Warrren W Wiersbe ~ Be Obedient ~ Victor Books

William Reyburn ~ A Handbook on Genesis ~ UBS

Bruce Metzger ~ The Oxford Companion to the Bible ~ Oxford

Bibles ~ NIV, NKJV, NLT, GNB


© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2003

This version published July 2003

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.