In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
God gives us His brief and precise account of creation, culminating in the sixth day with the creation of a man, Adam, and
the forming of a woman, Eve, followed by the institute of marriage, ordained as part of His creative work.
On the seventh day God rested from His work, blessed it and made it holy.
The narrative now continues from Gen 2:5 with an account of creation and events that followed from Adam’s viewpoint.
On the sixth day, God puts Adam in the Garden of Eden to take care of it. Adam is able to eat from any tree in the garden
with one exception: he is not permitted to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If he does, then his death
will surely follow. It is after this that Eve is formed as a wife for Adam. God tells them they are to fill the earth with their
Soon after, Satan, in the guise of a serpent, puts doubt in Eve’s mind concerning the forbidden tree and persuades her she
could eat from it after all. Eve succumbs, then persuades Adam to do the same. As a consequence of this sin (disobedience
of God’s word), God pronounces three curses, one each for Satan, Eve and Adam. The curse on Satan initiates the spiritual
warfare that continues to exist between him and God, but at the same time foretells its outcome. The woman is to endure
pain in childbirth and is reduced to being subordinate to her husband, and man is henceforth to toil for his food.
Cain and Abel
Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel, who grow to be a shepherd and farmer respectively. When they make their
offerings to God, Abel’s is accepted but Cain’s rejected. This rejection has an adverse impact on Cain, which eventually
leads him to kill his brother. He is consequently banished by God to the land of Nod, East of Eden, where he builds a city
named after his son Enoch. His great-great-great-grandson is Lamech, the first person recorded to violate God’s ordinance
of marriage by taking more than one wife.
The generations of Adam
The generations of Adam are the genealogical link from Adam to Noah and the flood. Of the descendants of Adam, Enoch
(not Cain’s son) is a righteous man who, from the age of sixty-five, preaches the coming of God’s judgement. He is spared
death and taken to heaven at the age of 365 years.
In time, mankind becomes contaminated by Nephilim, the hybrid offspring of the sons of God (fallen angels) and the
daughters of men, and grows to be so wicked that God decides to destroy the earth’s inhabitants with a flood. Noah and his
family are righteous people and are to be spared this fate, so God instructs Noah to build an ark for his family and many
animals. Following the death of Enoch’s son Methuselah, the flood comes and drowns the whole earth.
After the flood abates, God makes a covenant with Noah never again to destroy the earth in this way, and gives the
rainbow as a reminder of this covenant.
Not long after, Noah plants a vineyard, becomes drunk one evening, is offended by his son Ham’s behaviour towards him
and so foretells the fate of Ham’s offspring, Canaan: a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
The Table of Nations
[Gen 10, 11:10–32]
From Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, we get all the nations of the earth. Abraham is descended from Shem.
The Tower of Babel
As the population grows, men resist spreading throughout the earth and begin to build the tower of Babel, thinking it will
establish them in one place. But God confounds their language, causing them to divide and scatter abroad as He had
The Patriarchal Period
Abraham and Isaac
[Gen 12:1 - 25:11]
The call of Abraham
Abram (Abraham) was born when his father, Terah, was 130, and Sarai (later, Sarah), his wife, was born ten years later to
his stepmother. Terah takes Abram, Sarai and Lot and moves north from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran in Padanaram.
A few years after settling in Haran, and following Terah’s death, God gives Abram a sevenfold promise and directs him to
move south to Canaan, a land God promises to Abram’s descendants.
A famine forces Abram to travel to Egypt where, for his own safety, he pretends Sarai is his sister (she is, in fact, his half-
sister [Gen 20:12]). His fears seem justified when Sarai is taken into the king’s house. Because of Sarai, Abram receives
many gifts of livestock and slaves, but the deception is realised when God plagues the king and his household. Abram and
his family have to leave, but he now has the king’s protection and is able to return safely to the area of Bethel rich in
The parting with Lot
Abram and Lot’s herds have become so great that there is now insufficient pasture for them both, causing quarrels
between Abram’s and Lot’s herdsmen. They agree to separate, with Lot being given the choice of whether to stay in the
land or move away. Lot chooses to leave and moves near Sodom.
God renews his covenant with Abram, who then moves to Mamre (Hebron) where he builds an altar to God.
Fourteen years previously there had been battles between two sets of kings of whom five had formed an alliance under
Chedorlaomer. After twelve years’ servitude they rebelled; then in the thirteenth year war broke out between them. In the
fourteenth year, Sodom and Gomorrah are defeated and the people and their goods, including Lot and his family, are
taken. When Abram learns of this he takes 318 armed and trained servants from his household and pursues the captors to
Dan. Abram defeats Chedorlaomer and returns with all the people and their possessions, including Lot and his family. On
his return, Abram is met by Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the God most high, who brings bread and wine,
blesses Abram and receives a tithe from him.
The Abrahamic covenant
God makes an unconditional covenant with Abram by putting him into a deep sleep while the covenant ritual is performed
by God alone. This covenant promises Abram’s seed will inherit the land of Canaan from the Sichor [river of Egypt] to the
The birth of Ishmael
Sarai, lacking faith in the promised seed in herself, gives her Egyptian handmaiden Hagar to Abram for a concubine. Once
Hagar knows she has conceived, she begins to despise Sarai and enmity grows between them. With Abram’s approval,
Sarai deals harshly with Hagar and she consequently flees from them. She is intercepted by the angel of the Lord who tells
her to return to her mistress and foretells her descendant’s destiny. Hagar bears Abram a son and calls him Ishmael, as
instructed by the angel of the Lord. Abram is now eighty-six years old.
Circumcision and name changes
Four years later God confirms His covenant with Abram, introduces circumcision as the sign of the covenant and changes
Abram’s and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham expresses his concern that Sarah is too old to have children,
but is told by God that she would indeed bear him a son in a year’s time. This same day all the men of Abraham’s
household are circumcised.
Soon after, the Lord and two angels visit Abraham and Sarah and the promise of a child by Sarah is renewed. Hearing this
from within Abraham’s tent, Sarah laughs to herself because of her age, but she is rebuked and the promise affirmed.
The two angels leave for Sodom and the Lord mentions the fate due Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham barters with the Lord
concerning it, eventually getting agreement that Sodom and Gomorrah will not be destroyed even if only ten righteous
men are found there.
Sodom and Gomorrah
The two angels arrive at the gate of Sodom and are met by Lot, who insists they accept his hospitality for the night. Before
they retire, men and boys from all parts of the city surround Lot’s house demanding the visitors be handed over for their
sexual gratification. Lot refuses, even going so far as to offer his two virgin daughters in an attempt to dissuade them.
They press Lot at the door, but all are struck with blindness by the angels. The angels explain to Lot what is about to
happen. They ask him to warn his sons-in-law of Sodom’s fate, and to take them from the city with him. But they don’t
take him seriously and Lot’s warnings to leave are ignored.
The next morning the angels insist that Lot, his wife and two daughters leave the city as they cannot complete their
mission all the time the family remain there. They head for Zoar, but, despite being warned not to do so, Lot’s wife looks
back at Sodom and becomes a pillar of salt.
Lot fears to stay in Zoar, so goes to live on a nearby mountain in a cave. Later, he is made drunk by his two daughters,
who commit incest with him and bear sons, Moab and Benammi. These two sons become the fathers of the Moabites and
Abraham and Abimelech
Abraham journeys south to Gerar where, in fear of what he thinks is a godless people, he again says that Sarah is his
sister. Abimelech, king of Gerar, takes Sarah into his house, but is warned by God in a dream that he is not to touch her.
The next morning, Abimelech tells all his servants about the dream, then rebukes Abraham for the deceit, yet presents him
with much silver, livestock and servants, and returns Sarah to him.
The birth of Isaac and a covenant with Abimelech
When Abraham is a hundred years old, Sarah gives birth to Isaac. After Isaac is weaned, Ishmael begins to mock him.
Sarah protests to Abraham, wanting Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away, saying that she does not want Ishmael to
be heir with Isaac. Abraham is deeply worried about this, but God gives His approval, assuring Abraham that Ishmael
would survive to be the father of a great nation. The next morning, Abraham gives provisions to Hagar and Ishmael and
sends them into the desert where, through God’s intervention, they are later rescued from dying of thirst. Ishmael grows
to become an archer and lives in the wilderness of Paran where he marries an Egyptian woman.
About the time Hagar and Ishmael are sent away, there is an incident between King Abimelech and Abraham concerning a
well, but the two make a covenant enabling Abraham to sojourn freely in Philistine.
Abraham is tested
Some years later, Abraham’s faith is tested with a command from God to offer Isaac as a sacrifice at Moriah. Abraham
readily obeys, fully trusting in God, who had promised him a son. However, Isaac’s death is prevented at the last moment,
and Abraham is told by the angel of the Lord that the Lord has sworn, saying that through his seed all the nations of the
earth will be blessed because of his obedience.
The death of Sarah
Sarah dies soon after, age 127, and is buried in a cave in land purchased by Abraham at Mamre (Hebron).
A wife for Isaac
Abraham sends his chief servant to his relations in Haran to find a wife for Isaac. By divine intervention he finds Rebekah,
Abraham’s brother Nahor’s granddaughter. With her family’s approval he returns with her. Isaac accepts Rebekah and she
becomes his wife.
Abraham’s last days
Abraham marries Keturah and has four more sons by her. These sons are sent away with gifts rather than share in Isaac’s
Abraham dies at the age of 165 and is buried with Sarah in the cave at Mamre.
[Gen 25:19 - Gen 35:29]
The birth of Esau and Jacob
When Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, is pregnant, there seems to be a struggle between her unborn sons, causing her some
concern. When she takes her concern to the Lord, she is told there are two nations in her womb and that the elder will
serve the younger.
Rebekah gives birth to her twins and names them Esau and Jacob, the elder being Esau. Esau grows to be a hunter and is
favoured by Isaac, whereas Jacob is a ‘plain’ man and favoured by Rebekah.
Esau sells his birthright
Esau is so indifferent about his birthright that one day, when feeling particularly hungry, he rashly sells it to Jacob for some
broth. He later takes a Canaanite wife, which grieves his parents.
Isaac and Abimelech
The Abrahamic covenant is now renewed with Isaac; God then instructs him to sojourn in Gerar while there is a famine in
the land. Like his father before him, Isaac lies about Rebekah, pretending she is his sister. After some time, the deceit
concerning Rebekah is realised when King Abimelech sees Isaac sporting with her. From this time on, Isaac and Rebekah
are protected by Abimelech. Isaac is blessed and, to the envy of the Philistines, grows in prosperity. Following disputes
concerning wells, Isaac eventually moves and settles at Beersheba.
Jacob gets Esau’s blessing by deceit
As he approaches his final days, Isaac calls Esau to give him the blessing due to the firstborn. Instigated by his mother,
and with her help, Jacob fraudulently obtains his father’s blessing while Esau is still out hunting for venison to prepare a
meal his father had requested. Despite this deception, the blessing has to stand. To avoid Esau’s anger and threat to kill
Jacob, Rebekah advises Jacob to flee to his uncle Laban until things blow over.
Jacob flees to Haran
Also encouraged by Isaac for the purpose of finding a wife, Jacob leaves for his uncle Laban’s. On the way he rests for the
night and has a vision of a ladder between earth and heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. The Lord stood
above the ladder and promised Jacob he and his seed would inherit the land on which he is resting, and through his seed
all the families of the earth would be blessed – the same promises made to Abraham and Isaac.
Leah and Rachel
When Jacob arrives at his uncle Laban’s, he meets Rachel and falls in love with her. Not having a dowry, Jacob offers to
work seven years for the hand of Rachel. When the seven years are completed a great celebration is held, but after Jacob
retires to his tent it is Leah, Laban’s eldest daughter, who is sent to him. Then, in the darkness, he spends the night with
the wrong sister. Despite the deceit, having spent the night with Leah, Jacob is now considered married to her. He then has
to work another seven years for Rachel.
Jacob’s first eleven sons and a daughter
Because Jacob loves Rachel and not Leah, the Lord prevents Rachel from conceiving and Jacob’s first four sons are by
Leah. They are Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. Still unable to conceive, Rachel follows the custom of the time and gives
Jacob her handmaiden, Bilhah, as a concubine. Bilhah has two sons by Jacob, Dan and Naphtali. Leah now stops conceiving
and so gives Jacob her handmaiden, Zilpah, who bears him two children, Gad and Asher. Rachel, perhaps in desperation,
and presumably because she is in a position to do so, gives Leah a night with Jacob in exchange for mandrakes collected
by Reuben (mandrakes were considered an aphrodisiac). Leah conceives and Issachar is born. She is later able to conceive
again and has another son, Zebulun, and later a daughter, Dinah.
Rachel is at last able to conceive and gives birth to Joseph.
Jacob’s flocks increase
Jacob now wants to leave, but Laban asks him to stay because he has seen how the Lord has blessed him. Jacob is asked
to name his wages and an agreement is made based on husbandry methods suggested by Jacob. In time, Jacob becomes
rich in cattle as well as other livestock and servants.
Jacob flees Laban
After twenty years’ service to Laban – fourteen for his two daughters and six raising livestock – Jacob leaves secretly while
Laban is out sheep shearing. Unbeknown to Jacob, Rachel has stolen some of her father’s images.
Three days have passed before Laban is told that Jacob has left. Laban goes after him, his party catching up with Jacob at
Mount Gilead. However, Laban is told in a dream by God to speak not to Jacob either good or bad. Laban questions Jacob,
wanting to know why he had left secretly, and mentions the stolen images. Jacob tells him that he was afraid he would
keep his daughters by force, then tells him if he finds his gods, then whoever has taken them should not live. The tents are
all searched, Rachel’s being left until last. When Laban comes to search her tent she makes excuses for not standing,
saying it is her time of month, preventing him from finding his gods she had hidden in the camel’s bags on which she is
Jacob is now angry with Laban for apparently making a false accusation, but the two make a pact over a meal and part
God meets Jacob
Jacob continues on his way and sends messengers ahead to his brother, Esau, but is alarmed when they return to report
Esau is on his way with four hundred men. Jacob prays to God for help, then gathers some livestock as a gift for Esau and
sends them on ahead in batches with some servants. The idea is that Esau will come across each successive band of
servants with a gift of livestock, then by the time Jacob meets Esau he will be appeased.
That evening, Jacob takes all his company and sends them ahead over the ford Jabbock. He remains alone and wrestles all
night with God. In the morning, God blesses Jacob and renames him Israel.
Jacob meets Esau
Jacob rejoins his family and sees Esau coming to meet him. He divides his company for safety, putting the handmaidens
and their children first, then Leah and her children, and last of all Rachel and Joseph. Despite Jacob’s concern, all is well
between them and there is an emotional reunion. Following some bartering, Esau accepts the gifts sent ahead and returns
to Seir, while Jacob travels to Succoth and then on to Shalem where he buys a parcel of land and settles there.
After some years at Shalem, Schechem, a Hivite, rapes Jacob’s daughter, Dinah. However, Schechem loves Dinah and his
father, Hamor, meets with Jacob in an attempt at appeasement, suggesting each allows their daughters to marry a son of
the other. Simeon and Levi deceive Hamor and Schechem by saying they could agree only if all their men were
circumcised. They could then live as one nation. This is agreed, and all Haman’s men are then circumcised in one day. On
the third day, when the men are sore, Simeon and Levi slaughter them all, including Hamor and Schechem, taking all their
wives, possessions and livestock. Jacob rebukes his sons, being fearful the surrounding inhabitants will rise against him
because of what they have done.
The birth of Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth son
Under instruction from God, Jacob moves to Bethel where he is again told by God his name is now Israel. God then repeats
His promise of the land being given to Jacob and his seed after him.
Soon after, Jacob journeys towards Ephrath (Bethlehem). On the way Rachel goes into hard labour and dies giving birth to
After burying Rachel, Jacob moves on and settles near Edah, close to Bethlehem. It is while they are there that Reuben
sleeps with Bilhah, one of his father’s concubines.
Isaac lives to 180 before he dies. He is buried by his sons, Esau and Jacob.
Chapter 36 gives us the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, who are the Edomites.
30-Day Reading Plan
This is a 30-day reading plan based on an average of 15 minutes per session - a total read time of 7½ hours.
The actual read times vary from 12 to 20 minutes to accommodate for practical read session end points. If the reading
times don’t suit you, then simply go at your own pace and note where you finished.
Please select your reading day below
New Testament History Books -
Old Testament History Books -
New Testament Epistles -
The Prophets -
The Poetry Books -