This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways.
This is Part 1 (of 3) in Section 1: "The Early Old Testament".
Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
Genesis chapter 11 (NLT)
27 This is the history of Terah's family.
Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran had a son named Lot. 28 But while Haran was still young, he died in Ur of the Chaldeans, the place of his birth. He was survived by Terah, his father. 29 Meanwhile, Abram married Sarai, and his brother Nahor married Milcah, the daughter of their brother Haran. 30 Now Sarai was not able to have any children.
31 Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai, and his grandson Lot (his son Haran's child) and left Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But they stopped instead at the village of Haran and settled there. 32 Terah lived for 205 years and died while still at Haran.
Genesis Chapter 12 (NLT)
1 Then the LORD told Abram, "Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you."
4 So Abram departed as the LORD had instructed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. 5 He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth - his livestock and all the people who had joined his household at Haran - and finally arrived in Canaan.
6 Traveling through Canaan, they came to a place near Shechem and set up camp beside the oak at Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, "I am going to give this land to your offspring.
Genesis chapter 13 (NIV)
2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. 5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. 8 So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left."
10 Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord , like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord .
14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you."
Genesis chapter 14 (NLT)
1 About this time war broke out in the region.
Genesis chapter 15 (NLT)
1 Afterward the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great."
2 But Abram replied, "O Sovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son? Since I don't have a son, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no children, so one of my servants will have to be my heir." 4 Then the LORD said to him, "No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own to inherit everything I am giving you." 5 Then the LORD brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, "Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that - too many to count!" 6 And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous because of his faith.
7 Then the LORD told him, "I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land." 8 But Abram replied, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure that you will give it to me?" 9 Then the LORD told him, "Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." 10 Abram took all these and killed them. He cut each one down the middle and laid the halves side by side. He did not, however, divide the birds in half. 11 Some vultures came down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away.
12 That evening, as the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep. He saw a terrifying vision of darkness and horror. 13 Then the LORD told Abram, "You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, and they will be oppressed as slaves for four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. 15 (But you will die in peace, at a ripe old age.) 16 After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, when the sin of the Amorites has run its course."
17 As the sun went down and it became dark, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. 18 So the LORD made a covenant with Abram that day and said, "I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River - 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites."
Genesis chapter 16 (NIV)
1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me." 6 "Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?"
"I'm running away from my mistress Sarai," she answered.
9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." 10 The angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count." 11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:
"You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."
Genesis chapter 16 (TEV)
13 Hagar asked herself, "Have I really seen God and lived to tell about it?" So she called the Lord, who had spoken to her, "A God Who Sees." 14 That is why people call the well between Kadesh and Bered "The Well of the Living One Who Sees Me."
15 Hagar bore Abram a son, and he named him Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old at the time.
Genesis chapter 17 (GWT)
1 When Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to him. He said to Abram, "I am God Almighty. Live in my presence with integrity. 2 I will give you my promise, and I will give you very many descendants." 3 Immediately, Abram bowed with his face touching the ground, and again God spoke to him,
4 "My promise is still with you. You will become the father of many nations. 5 So your name will no longer be Abram [Exalted Father], but Abraham [Father of Many] because I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will give you many descendants. Many nations and kings will come from you. 7 I will make my promise to you and your descendants for generations to come as an everlasting promise. I will be your God and the God of your descendants. 8 I am also giving this land where you are living--all of Canaan--to you and your descendants as your permanent possession. And I will be your God."
15 God said to Abraham, "Don't call your wife by the name Sarai anymore. Instead, her name is Sarah [Princess]. 16 I will bless her, and I will also give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she will become [a mother of] nations, and kings will come from her." 17 Immediately, Abraham bowed with his face touching the ground. He laughed as he thought to himself, "Can a son be born to a hundred-year-old man? Can Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman, have a child?" 18 Then Abraham said to God, "Why not let Ishmael be my heir?" 19 God replied, "No! Your wife Sarah will give you a son, and you will name him Isaac [He Laughs]. I will make an everlasting promise to him and his descendants. 20 I have heard your request about Ishmael. Yes, I will bless him, make him fertile, and increase the number of his descendants. He will be the father of 12 princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But I will make my promise to Isaac. Sarah will give birth to him at this time next year."
22 When God finished speaking with Abraham, he left him.
Genesis chapter 18 (GWT)1 The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oak trees belonging to Mamre as he was sitting at the entrance of his tent during the hottest part of the day. 2 Abraham looked up, and suddenly he saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran to meet them, and he bowed with his face touching the ground. 3 "Please, sir," Abraham said, "stop by to visit me for a while. 4 Why don't we let someone bring a little water? After you wash your feet, you can stretch out and rest under the tree. 5 Let me bring some bread so that you can regain your strength. After that you can leave, since this is why you stopped by to visit me."
They answered, "That's fine. Do as you say."
6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to find Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three measures of flour, knead it, and make bread." 7 Then Abraham ran to the herd and took one of his best calves. He gave it to his servant, who prepared it quickly. 8 Abraham took cheese and milk, as well as the meat, and set these in front of them. Then he stood by them under the tree as they ate.
9 They asked him, "Where is your wife Sarah?" He answered, "Over there, in the tent."
10 The LORD said, "I promise I'll come back to you next year at this time, and your wife Sarah will have a son."
Sarah happened to be listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were old. Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 And so Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, "Now that I've become old, will I enjoy myself again? What's more, my husband is old!"
13 The LORD asked Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Can I really have a child now that I'm old?' 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will come back to you next year at this time, and Sarah will have a son."
15 Because she was afraid, Sarah denied that she had laughed. But the LORD said, "Yes, you did laugh."
16 Then the men got up to leave. As Abraham was walking with them to see them off, they looked toward Sodom. 17 The LORD said, "I shouldn't hide what I am going to do from Abraham. 18 After all, Abraham is going to become a great and mighty nation and through him all the nations of the earth will be blessed. 19 I have chosen him so that he will direct his children and his family after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. In this way I, the LORD, will do what I have promised Abraham." 20 The LORD also said, "Sodom and Gomorrah have many complaints against them, and their sin is very serious. 21 I must go down and see whether these complaints are true. If not, I will know it."
22 From there the men turned and went on toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing in front of the LORD.
Genesis chapter 18 (NLT)
23 Abraham approached him and said, "Will you destroy both innocent and guilty alike? 24 Suppose you find fifty innocent people there within the city - will you still destroy it, and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn't do such a thing, destroying the innocent with the guilty. Why, you would be treating the innocent and the guilty exactly the same! Surely you wouldn't do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?" 26 And the LORD replied, "If I find fifty innocent people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake."
27 Then Abraham spoke again. "Since I have begun, let me go on and speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose there are only forty-five? Will you destroy the city for lack of five?"And the LORD said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five."
29 Then Abraham pressed his request further. "Suppose there are only forty?"And the LORD replied, "I will not destroy it if there are forty." 30 "Please don't be angry, my Lord," Abraham pleaded. "Let me speak - suppose only thirty are found?"And the LORD replied, "I will not destroy it if there are thirty."
31 Then Abraham said, "Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue - suppose there are only twenty?"And the LORD said, "Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty."
32 Finally, Abraham said, "Lord, please do not get angry; I will speak but once more! Suppose only ten are found there?"And the LORD said, "Then, for the sake of the ten, I will not destroy it."
33 The LORD went on his way when he had finished his conversation with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his tent.
Genesis chapter 19 (TEV)
1 When the two angels came to Sodom that evening, Lot was sitting at the city gate. As soon as he saw them, he got up and went to meet them. He bowed down before them 2 and said, "Sirs, I am here to serve you. Please come to my house. You can wash your feet and spend the night. In the morning you can get up early and go on your way."
But they answered, "No, we will spend the night here in the city square."
3 He kept on urging them, and finally they went with him to his house. Lot ordered his servants to bake some bread and prepare a fine meal for the guests. When it was ready, they ate it.
4 Before the guests went to bed, the men of Sodom surrounded the house. All the men of the city, both young and old, were there. 5 They called out to Lot and asked, "Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them out to us!" The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with them. 6 Lot went outside and closed the door behind him. 7 He said to them, "Friends, I beg you, don't do such a wicked thing! 8 Look, I have two daughters who are still virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want with them. But don't do anything to these men; they are guests in my house, and I must protect them." 9 But they said, "Get out of our way, you foreigner! Who are you to tell us what to do? Out of our way, or we will treat you worse than them." They pushed Lot back and moved up to break down the door. 10 But the two men inside reached out, pulled Lot back into the house, and shut the door. 11 Then they struck all the men outside with blindness, so that they couldn't find the door.
12 The two men said to Lot, "If you have anyone else here-sons, daughters, sons-in-law, or any other relatives living in the city-get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The Lord has heard the terrible accusations against these people and has sent us to destroy Sodom." 14 Then Lot went to the men that his daughters were going to marry, and said, "Hurry up and get out of here; the Lord is going to destroy this place." But they thought he was joking.
15 At dawn the angels tried to make Lot hurry. "Quick!" they said. "Take your wife and your two daughters and get out, so that you will not lose your lives when the city is destroyed." 16 Lot hesitated. The Lord, however, had pity on him; so the men took him, his wife, and his two daughters by the hand and led them out of the city. 17 Then one of the angels said, "Run for your lives! Don't look back and don't stop in the valley. Run to the hills, so that you won't be killed." 18 But Lot answered, "No, please don't make us do that, sir. 19 You have done me a great favor and saved my life. But the hills are too far away; the disaster will overtake me, and I will die before I get there. 20 Do you see that little town? It is near enough. Let me go over there-you can see it is just a small place-and I will be safe." 21 He answered, "All right, I agree. I won't destroy that town. 22 Hurry! Run! I can't do anything until you get there."
Because Lot called it small, the town was named Zoar. 23 The sun was rising when Lot reached Zoar.
24 Suddenly the Lord rained burning sulfur on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah 25 and destroyed them and the whole valley, along with all the people there and everything that grew on the land.
26 But Lot's wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
* * * * *
27 Early the next morning Abraham hurried to the place where he had stood in the presence of the Lord. 28 He looked down at Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole valley and saw smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a huge furnace. 29 But when God destroyed the cities of the valley where Lot was living, he kept Abraham in mind and allowed Lot to escape to safety.
Genesis chapter 20 (TEV)
1 Abraham moved from Mamre to the southern part of Canaan and lived between Kadesh and Shur. Later, while he was living in Gerar, 2 he said that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.
3 One night God appeared to him in a dream and said, "You are going to die, because you have taken this woman; she is already married."
4 But Abimelech had not come near her, and he said, "Lord, I am innocent! Would you destroy me and my people? 5 Abraham himself said that she was his sister, and she said the same thing. I did this with a clear conscience, and I have done no wrong."
6 God replied in the dream, "Yes, I know that you did it with a clear conscience; so I kept you from sinning against me and did not let you touch her. 7 But now, give the woman back to her husband. He is a prophet, and he will pray for you, so that you will not die. But if you do not give her back, I warn you that you are going to die, you and all your people."
8 Early the next morning Abimelech called all his officials and told them what had happened, and they were terrified. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and asked, "What have you done to us? What wrong have I done to you to make you bring this disaster on me and my kingdom? No one should ever do what you have done to me. 10 Why did you do it?"
11 Abraham answered, "I thought that there would be no one here who has reverence for God and that they would kill me to get my wife. 12 She really is my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not of my mother, and I married her. 13 So when God sent me from my father's house into foreign lands, I said to her, "You can show how loyal you are to me by telling everyone that I am your brother.' "
14 Then Abimelech gave Sarah back to Abraham, and at the same time he gave him sheep, cattle, and slaves. 15 He said to Abraham, "Here is my whole land; live anywhere you like." 16 He said to Sarah, "I am giving your brother a thousand pieces of silver as proof to all who are with you that you are innocent; everyone will know that you have done no wrong."
17 Because of what had happened to Sarah, Abraham's wife, the Lord had made it impossible for any woman in Abimelech's palace to have children. So Abraham prayed for Abimelech, and God healed him. He also healed his wife and his slave women, so that they could have children.
Genesis chapter 21 (GWT)
1 The LORD came to help Sarah and did for her what he had promised. 2 So she became pregnant, and at the exact time God had promised, she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. 3 Abraham named his newborn son Isaac. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born. 6 Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. 7 Who would have predicted to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet, I have given him a son in his old age."
Genesis chapter 21 (TEV)
8 The child grew, and on the day that he was weaned, Abraham gave a great feast.
9 One day Ishmael, whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, was playing with Sarah's son Isaac. 10 Sarah saw them and said to Abraham, "Send this slave and her son away. The son of this woman must not get any part of your wealth, which my son Isaac should inherit." 11 This troubled Abraham very much, because Ishmael also was his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, "Don't be worried about the boy and your slave Hagar. Do whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that you will have the descendants I have promised. 13 I will also give many children to the son of the slave woman, so that they will become a nation. He too is your son."
14 Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar some food and a leather bag full of water. He put the child on her back and sent her away. She left and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15 When the water was all gone, she left the child under a bush 16 and sat down about a hundred yards away. She said to herself, "I can't bear to see my child die." While she was sitting there, she began to cry. 17 God heard the boy crying, and from heaven the angel of God spoke to Hagar, "What are you troubled about, Hagar? Don't be afraid. God has heard the boy crying. 18 Get up, go and pick him up, and comfort him. I will make a great nation out of his descendants." 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well. She went and filled the leather bag with water and gave some to the boy.
20 God was with the boy as he grew up; he lived in the wilderness of Paran and became a skillful hunter. 21 His mother got an Egyptian wife for him.
Genesis chapter 23 (TEV)
1 Sarah lived to be 127 years old. 2 She died in Hebron in the land of Canaan, and Abraham mourned her death.
Genesis chapter 25 (TEV)
1 Abraham married another woman, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac; 6 but while he was still alive, he gave presents to the sons his other wives had borne him. Then he sent these sons to the land of the East, away from his son Isaac. 7 Abraham died at the ripe old age of 175. 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in Machpelah Cave, ... 10 ...; both Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there.
11 After the death of Abraham, God blessed his son Isaac, who lived near "The Well of the Living One Who Sees Me."
The next file in this section (Part 2), is entitled: "The Bible Story Of Abraham's Grandsons Esau And Jacob".
The main Bible pages on this site:
|Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories|
|Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites|
|Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.|
|If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.|
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
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