Study Guide

Book of Genesis Quotes

  • Creation

    Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." (NRSV 1:26)

    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (KJV 1:26)

    Humankind is pretty powerful here (dominion!). But wait a second—who's with God? What's with the "us"? For some thoughts on that, check out "God" under in our "Figures" section.

    So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (NRSV 1:27)

    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (KJV 1:27)

    First came man, then came woman. That's how the story goes, right? So where is it here? Here, man and woman get the go simultaneously. Why do you think people tend to focus more on the second creation story?

    These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (NRSV 2:4)

    These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (KJV 2:4)

    God already created the heavens and the earth, didn't he? Why the repeat? And what's the difference between this verse and what goes down in 1:1-2:4?

    [T]hen the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. (NRSV 2:7)

    And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (KJV 2:7)

    Creation is a pretty hands-on endeavor in this verse. But if you remember back to the first creation story, God just says the word and things spring into existence. What's the effect of these two stories on their own? Together?

    So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (NRSV 2:21-22)

    And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. (KJV 2:21-22)

    Ah, here we go. This is the one where woman is created out of man. Talk about fodder for misogynistic POVs. But let's not overlook God in this passage. Again, he's got a hands-on attitude, playing the part of anesthesiologist, surgeon, and… human builder?

    In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. (NRSV 6:7)

    In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. (KJV 6:7)

    All that hard work God did back in the early chapters of Genesis is wasted. Or is it? Could we have this third creation story without the first two? At least literarily—no. The flood story is chock full of allusions to the original creation stories. We dare you to find 'em all.

    God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. (NRSV 9:1) 

    And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. (KJV 9:1)

    We feel like we've heard this before. Oh, that's right—God said the same thing to the animals and the humans in Genesis 1. And keep your ears open, because it's not the last time God will speak these words.

  • Sibling Rivalry

    In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. (NRSV 4:3-5)

    And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (KJV 4:3-5)

    Siblings just love the whole "but he started it!" shtick. Well, here, God started it. And the narrator gives us no explanation about why he preferred one offering over the other. Is this God being flippant?

    But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac." (NRSV 21:9-10)

    And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. (KJV 21:9-10)

    Looks like Sarah is calling the shots concerning Ishmael and Isaac. Does this sibling rivalry have more to do with a rivalry between Mom and Dad?

    When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob. (NRSV 25:27-28)

    And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. (KJV 25:27-28)

    Once again, the parents seem to be fueling the fire. Are all children's issues in Genesis related to their parents' actions? Are there any hands-off parents?

    Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob." (NRSV 27:41)

    And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob. (KJV 27:41)

    Uh oh. Esau is verging toward Cain's solution here, plotting to kill his brother for stealing his blessing. How else does Esau and Jacob's story echo Cain and Abel's?

    When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister; and she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!" (NRSV 30:1)

    And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. (KJV 30:1)

    Let the baby-making contest begin. Yep, here it is: our first sister rivalry. How are the rivalries between sisters different from those between brothers? Does this baby-making rivalry hold less weight? More? Why?

    Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. (NRSV 37:3)

    Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. (KJV 37:3)

    Daddy gives his favorite son a posh Brooks Brothers suit. How does he expect his other sons to react? Are Joseph's brothers to blame?

    His brothers said to him, "Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?" So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words. (NRSV 37:8)

    And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. (KJV 37:8)

    Joseph really needs to learn when to keep his mouth shut. But it turns out his dreams are actually prophetic—within the course of Genesis, they'll come true. So is this a God-ordered sibling rivalry?

    They said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams." (NRSV 37:19-20)

    And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. (KJV 37:19-20)

    It's kind of ironic that the most poignant example of brotherly harmony we've seen in Genesis comes in the form of a band of dudes plotting criminal acts. Against their brother.

    Then Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers agreed. (NRSV 37:26-27)

    And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. (KJV 37:26-27)

    When sibling rivalry is between more than just two siblings—as in the case of Joseph and his brothers—things get a little more complicated. Judah seems to have a sound mind. But does he do enough to save his brother?

  • Infertility

    Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, "You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. (NRSV 16:1)

    Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. (KJV 16:1)

    At first, Sarah is gung-ho about the idea of Hagar being her surrogate. The desire for children is so strong that she doesn't really think about what it will mean for another woman to bear her husband's child. Spoiler alert: it causes some problems.

    Then one said, "I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?" (NRSV 18:10-12)

    And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my Lord being old also? (KJV 18:10-12)

    Oh, menopausal humor. Sarah cracks up at the thought of having a baby at her age. Is this comedy? Cynicism? Lack of trust? Are we supposed to be laughing along with her or scolding her for her levity?

    Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. (NRSV 25:21)

    And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. (KJV 25:21)

    Isaac makes an effort to help his wife out. Although, to be fair, he kind of needs a son, too.

    Then she said, "Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, that she may bear upon my knees and that I too may have children through her." (NRSV 30:3)

    And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. (KJV 30:3)

    First things first: "go into her" = have sex with her. Genesis loves it some euphemisms. Back to the story: didn't Rachel learn the surrogacy lesson from Sarah? Are the results any different his time?

    When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. (NRSV 30:9)

    When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. (KJV 30:9)

    Even though Leah has children, she decides to use her maid Zilpah as a surrogate to produce more. Is this about being fruitful and multiplying (God's words, not ours), or is it just about beating Rebekah?

  • Covenants

    For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. (NRSV 6:17-18)

    And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. (KJV 6:17-18)

    Up first on Let's Make a Deal is Noah. And boy is he a big winner. Good thing, too. Otherwise, humanity would be no more. Oh, and Genesis would end at chapter 6.

    Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." (NRSV 9:8-11)

    And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. (KJV 9:8-11)

    Now we get the deets of the covenant. Turns out, God is promising never again to destroy life—by water, that is. How about adding nuclear war to that promise? But really, why do you think God hedges his bets here? Is he planning another worldwide destruction?

    On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgas***es, and the Jebusites." (NRSV 15:18-21)

    In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgas***es, and the Jebusites. (KJV 15:18-21)

    Time for covenant #2: this time with Abraham. Back in the day, the world seemed smaller than it does now (wherever you are right now, they probably didn't know it existed). So promising all this land is a game changer. We'll take Venus and Saturn, too, please.

    When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous." Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. (NRSV 17:1-5)

    And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. (KJV 17:1-5)

    He already got the promise of land, and now he's getting the promise of offspring. And lots of 'em. Without kids, the land won't mean squat, so it seems like a pretty good follow up. Just one thing: this time, Abraham has to keep up his end of the bargain. If he's not blameless, then the deal's off.

    I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. (NRSV 17:7)

    And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. (KJV 17:7)

    This covenant is no small potatoes. It's not just a promise from God to Abraham, but to all of Abraham's descendants, too. Why is God comfortable making this deal before he's even met the people?

    And Abraham said to God, "O that Ishmael might live in your sight!" God said, "No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year." (NRSV 17:18-21)

    And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. (KJV 17:18-21)

    Which is better, a covenant with God or becoming a great nation? And why can't God make a covenant with Ishmael and Isaac?

    When they had made a covenant at Beer-sheba, Abimelech, with Phicol the commander of his army, left and returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. And Abraham resided as an alien many days in the land of the Philistines. (NRSV 21:32-34)

    Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days. (KJV 21:32-34)

    Here, Abraham and Abimelech make a covenant between themselves. Yep, that's right—God deals with human beings in the same way that they deal with each other. When you think of it that way, the covenant anthropomorphizes God, by making him seem even more human.

    Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army. Isaac said to them, "Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?" They said, "We see plainly that the Lord has been with you; so we say, let there be an oath between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you so that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord." (NRSV 26:26-29)

    Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army. And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? And they said, We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the Lord. (NRSV 26:26-29)

    Abimelech wants to piggy-back on the blessings reserved for the chosen people. Isaac is favored by the deity, and Abimelech wants in. Our guess: if God wanted Abimelech to be blessed, he would've just done it.

    Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, "The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about their children whom they have borne? Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I; and let it be a witness between you and me." (NRSV 31:43-44)

    And Laban answered and said unto Jacob, These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and these cattle are my cattle, and all that thou seest is mine: and what can I do this day unto these my daughters, or unto their children which they have born? Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee. (KJV 31:43-44)

    Here we get one final human-human contract in Genesis. The covenant is a pretty mundane, even economic way of dealing with people. But is it different when God does it?

  • Lies and Deceit

    But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (NRSV 3:4-5)

    And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (KJV 3:4-5)

    In the history of biblical interpretation, the serpent is the quintessential deceiver. But didn't God deceive a little, too? He told them that they would die the day they ate from the tree. Yet he keeps them alive a bit longer. Why? Or do we need to read God's words differently?

    Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" And the Lord said, "What have you done? Listen; your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground!" (NRSV 4:9-10)

    And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. (KJV 4:9-10)

    Here goes Cain, trying to lie to God. That doesn't go over so well. But why not? Is it because God is all-knowing? Is he just setting Cain up? Or does God only know about the murder because the blood itself fills him in?

    When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife'; then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account." (NRSV 12:11-13)

    And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account." (KJV Genesis 12:11-13)

    Abraham's little fib actually works out pretty well for him. Not only does he come out of Egypt alive, but he leaves as a super-rich man. And hey, if it worked once, why not give it another go: Abraham tells this very same fib again in 20:2. This time, he argues that—technically—Sarah is his half-sister. We can't decide if that makes it better or worse.

    When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister"; for he was afraid to say, "My wife," thinking, "or else the men of the place might kill me for the sake of Rebekah, because she is attractive in appearance." (NRSV 26:7)

    And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. (KJV 26:7)

    Like father, like son. Isaac takes a page out of his dad's playbook and fibs to Abimelech that Rebekah is his sister. It turns out pretty well for Isaac, too. Apparently lying leads to safety and wealth in Genesis. Who knew?

    Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. (NRSV 27:15-16)

    And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which werewith her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son: And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck. (KJV 27:15-16)

    No, it's not Halloween. Rebekah is disguising Jacob as Esau so that he can steal Esau's blessing from poor ol' blind Isaac. Seems pretty low. But remember, Rebekah is only trying to follow what she thinks is God's will (see 26:23).

    But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. (NRSV 29:23)

    And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. (KJV 29:23)

    Here's the sitch. Laban's supposed to give Rachel to Jacob, who agreed to serve seven years for her. Instead, he gives him Leah. This is what we call a bed trick—and it's all over literature.

    Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel's saddle, and sat on them. Laban felt all about in the tent, but did not find them. And she said to her father, "Let not my Lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the way of women is upon me." So he searched, but did not find the household gods. (NRSV 31:34-35)

    Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel's furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent, but found them not. And she said to her father, Let it not displease my Lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched, but found not the images. (KJV 31:34-35)

    "Hey Teach, I can't participate in gym class today. The custom of the women is upon me." It's the oldest trick in the book and Laban falls right for it. Good thing, too. Otherwise, Rachel would've been dead (see 31:32).

    Only on this condition will we consent to you: that you will become as we are and every male among you be circumcised. Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people. (NRSV 34:15-16)

    But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. (KJV 34:15-16)

    The brothers promise that Shechem can marry Dinah if he and every other Hivite are circumcised. Shechem agrees, and while he and his posse are recovering from the procedure, the brothers slaughter the entire village. That's a little more than a white lie.

    Then they took Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, "This we have found; see now whether it is your son's robe or not." (NRSV 37:31-32)

    And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no. (KJV 37:31-32)

    This is more than a lie—it's total machination. Joseph's brothers take the prized coat that his father gave him, dip it in blood, and then bring it back to his father, pretending that Joseph is dead. Just think about that for a second.

    She put off her widow's garments, put on a veil, wrapped herself up, and sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. She saw that Shelah was grown up, yet she had not been given to him in marriage. When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a prostitute, for she had covered her face. (NRSV 38:14-15)

    And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife. When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. (KJV 38:14-15)

    Is it possible that lying is the only right and proper way for a woman to act justly in a man's world?

    "The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside." (NRSV 39:17-18)

    The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. (KJV 39:17-18)

    Or so Potiphar's wife tells her husband. In reality, she was the one who tried to force Joseph into the sack. What purpose does this passage serve? What does Potiphar's wife add to the mix?

    When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. "Where do you come from?" he said. They said, "From the land of Canaan, to buy food." (NRSV 42:7)

    And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. (KJV 42:7)

    What a perfect set-up. Joseph's brothers have no idea who he is—he totally plays it up—and it allows Joseph to toy with his brothers and get some payback for selling him into slavery. Plus, it creates all sorts of wonderful ironies. And we love ironies.