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Articles Bible Study Facts Genesis


God’s providence

God’s providence. When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, the outcome could have been tragic. But God in his providence brought good out of their evil actions (50:20). This was a foreshadowing of God’s bringing the ultimate good—eternal salvation for… Read More »God’s providence

The Land of Goshen

The Land of Goshen probably covered a small area. But it was very fertile and was a good place to raise sheep and cattle (46:28–34).

“God sent me”

Joseph’s words “God sent me” reveal his faith in the providence of God who used his brothers’ evil act for great good—the preservation of Joseph and all his family (45:7). That same preserving providence of God is at work today… Read More »“God sent me”


Money in the form of coins did not come into use until around the sixth century b.c. In Joseph’s time, in the nineteenth century b.c., items such as spices, gems, or precious metals were used as money.


Signets were seals that bore a unique mark representing their owner. Some signets were worn around the neck; others were worn as rings (41:42). The signet was pressed into soft clay to leave an impression of its mark. Signet impressions… Read More »Signets


Cupbearers (40:1) were high-ranking officials who served the kings of the ancient Near East. Their job was dangerous: before bringing any drink to the king, they tasted it to make sure that it had not been poisoned.

Levirate marriage

Levirate marriage is the practice of a man marrying the widow of his deceased brother, if she had no children (38:8). A child of this second marriage would provide security for the widow and would carry on the name of… Read More »Levirate marriage

A long walk!

A long walk! Jacob sent Joseph to see how his brothers were doing, as they tended their sheep (37:14). Joseph headed northward, probably walking, and didn’t find his brothers until he came to Dothan (v. 17). The journey would have… Read More »A long walk!


Terebinths are huge, spreading trees that grow to a height of 20–26 feet (6–8 m). They have reddish-green leaves and red berries that grow in clusters. A perfumed, oily resin flows out of the bark when it is cut. Terebinths… Read More »Terebinths


The name Succoth (33:17) means “booths.” A booth was a temporary dwelling resembling a tent or a hut. Most of the people around Succoth were nomads, and they probably lived in tents or booths.

The Jabbok River

The Jabbok River. The Hebrew word for “wrestle” is abbaq. This has led many scholars to believe that the Jabbok River (32:22) was named after Jacob’s famous wrestling match with God.

Giving servants

Giving servants as gifts to the bride (29:24) was very common in OT times. Doing so provided the newly married woman the help she would need in running a household. Having servants also gave the wife a position of status… Read More »Giving servants

A father’s blessing

A father’s blessing (ch. 27) was not just a symbolic gesture. It established the identity of the heir, granting him all the privileges of that position. The father’s blessing was even seen as in some way shaping his future.


Tents were temporary shelters made of cloth and were often woven from black goat’s hair. The tent was held up by ropes and poles. Most tents were rectangular in shape. Because nomadic families moved often, they had little furniture. Tents… Read More »Tents

Family ties

Family ties. Laban took responsibility for his sister Rebekah (24:29-51). Apparently their father, who was still alive, was unable to do so.

Two biblical firsts

Two biblical firsts. The burial of Sarah (23:19) is the first biblical record of a burial. Abraham’s purchase of the burial plot is also the first biblical record of a business transaction.

What is the Negeb?

What is the Negeb? The Negeb (20:1) is a dry area of rolling hills in southern Israel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived there. Hagar sought refuge in the Negeb. Later, it provided refuge for Israelites fleeing from invading armies.

The city gate

The city gate was a place where leaders made key decisions (Prov. 31:23; Lam. 5:14). Lot’s presence at the city gate (Gen. 19:1) shows that he had a position of importance in Sodom.


Isaac means “he laughs.” When Abraham and Sarah heard that they were going to have a son in their old age, they both laughed (17:17; 18:12). When Isaac was born, however, they and all their friends laughed with joy (21:6)!

Taking servants as wives

Taking servants as wives. It was common in ancient cultures for a married man to take a servant as a wife (16:2). But this was contrary to God’s original design for marriage (2:24).

Non-Levite Priests?

Non-Levite Priests? Melchizedek (14:17–21) and Jesus Christ are the only approved priests in the Bible who were not Levites. The NT book of Hebrews explains why this is important.

Believed the Lord

Abram believed the Lord, and that was the basis for God counting him as righteous. Such faith remains the basis for God’s justification of Christians in the NT (Gal. 2:16).


Altars were tables or platforms used for presenting sacrifices to God. They could be built of stone, mud-brick, or dirt mounds. The first altar mentioned in the Bible is the one Noah built after the flood (8:20; see also 12:8).

What did the Tower of Babel look like?

What did the Tower of Babel look like? The Tower of Babel (11:1–9) probably resembled the ziggurats of ancient Mesopotamia. The most famous of these is the Great Ziggurat of Ur. Its remains can be seen today in southeastern Iraq.

Sinful pride and rebellion

Sinful pride and rebellion against God brought negative consequences to the builders of the Tower of Babel, introducing the many languages that now exist around the world.

Extending an olive branch

Extending an olive branch. The universal symbol for peace—a dove with an olive branch—is based on the Bible story of the flood (8:11).

Favor in the eyes of the Lord

Favor in the eyes of the Lord. “Favor” (6:8) is another word for God’s grace. Of all the people living at the time of the flood, only Noah and his family found favor in God’s sight.

Two men who never died

Two men who never died. Enoch and Elijah are the only people in the Bible who did not die a natural death. Instead, they were “taken by God.”


Cherubim (3:24) are angels who guard holy places. They appear in various places in the Bible. “Cherubim” is the Hebrew plural form of “cherub.”

The Euphrates

The Euphrates (2:14) is the longest and most important river in southwest Asia. Early settlers depended on the river for commerce and agriculture. The Euphrates and Tigris rivers form what is today the Shatt-al-Arab, a waterway that flows into the… Read More »The Euphrates

In the Beginning

In the Hebrew Bible, the title of Genesis is In the Beginning, the book’s first words. The English title is related to the Greek word genesis, which means “beginning.”