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Figures

The Deity (God)

The Big Other. The Guy Upstairs. The Top Dog. The Power That Be. Creator. Judge. Father. Whatever it is that comes to your mind when you think of "God," chances are Genesis will offer you a few sur...

Adam and Eve

"The Fall"?Adam and Eve usually get a pretty bad rap. After all, their story is normally referred to as The Fall—that can't be good. See, these two are leading a totally idyllic existence: in the...

Cain and Abel

Let the Violence BeginCain: the first murderer.This guy is Adam and Even's firstborn son, but he sure doesn't live up to the title of third man on earth. Nope, he ups and kills his brother. His mot...

Noah and Sons

Noah's Ark.No doubt you've heard of it. We mean, come on. This story is portrayed on little babies' blankies. That's popularity for you. Not even Shakespeare gets that kind of attention. (Although...

Abraham

Abraham is kind of a big deal. He's like George Washington is for Americans or like Joss Whedon for Buffy fans.Everything that happens to this guy in some way anticipates what it meant to be a...

Sarah

Sarah is the diva of Israel. Her big claim to fame is that God chooses her (over all of Abraham's other wives) to be the mother of the deity's favorite nation. Way to go, Sarah. This lady is the st...

Lot

Lot is one unlucky dude.Bad things just keep happening to this poor guy. He's an immigrant, just like Abraham, but he gets the super short end of the stick.His dad Haran dies prematurely, and so Lo...

Hagar

Time to face the hard facts: Hagar's story is basically that of an abused woman. Three basic facts about Hagar make her, in the social world of Genesis, little better than a dirty, tossed-around ra...

Isaac

Isaac has some big shoes to fill. We're talking about Abraham's son here. Anyone remember George Washington's son? No? That's because he couldn't outshine his dad—or maybe it's because he didn't...

Rebekah

The Wind Beneath His WingsRemember that mom who plotted murder for her daughter's spot on the cheerleading squad? Well, Rebekah eerily reminds us of her. This biblical lady finds her fulfillment by...

Jacob

Given his rap sheet, it's kind of a wonder that Jacob always tops the list of favorite baby names in the U.S.His first offense? Enticing his brother into trading his birthright for stew. Yep, lenti...

Esau

Let's face it, Esau is a bit of a blockhead. If you think about it, Jacob walks all over him, but he's almost too dumb to feel bad for.Brotherly Not-So-LoveThe few sentences describing the birth of...

Laban

Remember Jacob? He's kind of questionable. And we're not the only ones who think so. Laban's main function in Genesis is to give Jacob a run for his money. This guy is the only character who manage...

Rachel

Big LoveRachel is Jacob's second wife, but his first choice. She gets to bask in the sunshine of being the favorite wife, so much so that God feels sorry for her sister, Leah, and gives her sons (2...

Leah

Second FiddleThey say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The narrator offers that "Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favored" (29:17 KJV). It's not clear if this means Leah...

Dinah

Woman on the LooseDinah's cautionary tale stands oddly alone right smack in the middle of the rest of the narratives about Jacob's family (34:1-31). Sometimes Dinah's story is read as a finger-wagg...

Tamar

The First FeministLike an ancient, widowed Rapunzel, Tamar is a young woman hidden away in her father's house. Why? Oddly enough, it's because of her reputation as a man-killer. Literally. Every ma...

Joseph

Dream, Dream, Dream If ever a kid were precocious, it was Doogie Howser. Oh, we mean Joseph. Yeah, Joseph.In a Brady Bunch-type family, Joseph is the golden child. Basically, little Joey is a...

Joseph's Brothers

The Good, the Bad, and the JealousJoseph's ten older brothers are the jealous type. Dad loves Joseph more, so they come snapping along with their irrational hatred (37:4) and put their heads togeth...

Potiphar And His Wife

Can You Say "Vixen"?Potiphar is Joseph's first boss once he's sold into slavery. He's one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard. He can't say enough about Joseph, or give him enough resp...

Pharaoh

Wanted: A Right Hand ManPharaoh (a.k.a. the king of Egypt), has some troubling nightmares, and can't find anyone to help until he hears through the grapevine that a stellar dream interpreter is loc...
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