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The first book of The Bible. Literally everything begins here. From the story of how God created the world, the first peoples and finally the patriarchs of the Israelites.
The Biblical book following on Genesis is the Book of Exodus.
Genesis contains the following tropes:
- Adam and Eve Plot: The Trope Namer. God's instructions to the first people are: "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it."
- And Man Grew Proud: Then Man built a tower intended to reach heaven. Which is why language classes are needed in the present day.
- Alcoholic Parent: After the flood, Noah plants a vineyard and gets so drunk he winds up passing out naked. One son, Ham, tells the other two about it, implicitly also involving an attitude or action by Ham that brings Noah disgrace. The other walk in backwards so they don't see anything and respectfully cover their father with a blanket. For this, Noah curses Ham's son Canaan to be a "servant of servants" to all other lines of descent. The curse on Canaan and not Ham himself is baffling, and it can be seen as a drunk mind not thinking straight; although the consequence thereof is actually more lenient, in that the curse is inherited by only one branch of Ham, not all four. (So no, the African is not under some "Curse of Ham" )
- Apocalypse How: The Great Flood destroys all humanity and all land animals on the planet, except what is saved on Noah's ark. Theories exist about Nephilim surviving atop the outside of the ark, and debates abound on where the giants came from after the flood (Anakites, Goliath, etc.).
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Played straight with the matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel. As for the patriarchs, the only one whose physical beauty is mentioned is Joseph.
- Bed Trick:
- Jacob's wedding. He had worked for Laban for seven years in order to get permission to marry Laban's daughter Rachel. Laban swapped Rachel out for her older sister Leah on the night of the wedding, which Jacob didn't find out until it was too late. So Jacob had to work yet another seven years to earn a marriage to Rachel, whom he really wanted. Cue the Sibling Rivalry soon to follow.
- Tamar, a widow of Judah's (two wicked) sons, was due a marriage to the one last remaining son, as per the rules of levirate marriage. After Judah gave the "wait 'til he's all grown up" excuse to refrain, which Tamar learned not to buy, Tamar met Judah on the road in prostitute disguise, taking his staff and sigil as payment. When Judah realized what had happened and she explained her reasons, thus were his eyes opened to his own hypocrisy and lack of ethic and realized she was not such a poisonous person after all.
- Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Jacob may have pinned the Angel of the Lord, but not without a great counter from the angel: an attack on the hip, thus a permanent limp afterward.
- Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Joseph makes the Israelites swear that they would take his body with them when they left Egypt and bury him in the land of his fathers. Joseph's intention may have been an incentive to the Israelites to complete their exodus and to brave their warfare against the Canaanites, as to turn back and return to Egypt would be breaking their promise to him. Joseph was eventually reburied in Israel.
- But Liquor Is Quicker: Lot's daughters got their own father drunk to have sex with him. The influence of Sodom and Gomorrah was a real epidemic, rubbing off on even the best of them.
- Cain and Abel: The actual Cain-Abel conflict, in which Abel is more favorable before God than his brother Cain, and the latter kills the former out of envy. All future rivalries for God's anointing can be seen as minor Call-Backs to this event (Esau seeking to kill Jacob as one later on in this very book).
- Cassandra Truth: When Lot tells his family about God's plan to destroy their town, his soon-to-be sons-in-law laugh at him, thinking he's joking.
- A Chat with Satan: In the 3rd chapter, the serpent, the most cunning of God's creation, convinces the first man and woman the one tree God ordered to abstain from they should eat from by appealing to their desire for beauty, great wisdom, and to be god-like. Naturally, eating from the tree only manages to get the two expelled from Paradise and cursed with mortality and toil that will be passed to all their descendants. The serpent doesn't get away scot-free, as God puts enmity between the serpent and all human descendants. Interestingly, the whole Old Testament never indicates whether the serpent is Satan; only later in Christian writings are the two connected, specifically the Book of Revelation.
- Circumcision Angst:
- Many men were left feeling sore the day Abraham applied the commanded custom.
- Invoked by Simeon and Levi, who claim they will let Dinah marry prince Shechem who raped her if every man from that village is circumcised. They agree, and for three days the village is defenseless, giving the bandits an incredibly easy opening to take revenge and fill their greedy pockets with the loot.
- The Clan: The Twelve Tribes of Israel descended from Abraham and Isaac, who had their own clans. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the three patriarchs of the Hebrew people.
- Cliff Hanger: Will the Israelites permanently settle in Egypt or go back to their homeland? They went to the latter the hard way.
- Completely Unnecessary Translator: The translator in Joseph's story. While there were probably many people for whom the translator proved indispensable, one case where he wasn't needed at all was when Joseph's own brothers showed up. He employed one anyway to conceal his relation to them.
- Curse of Babel / Tower of Babel
- Cycle of Revenge: Defied at the start. After Cain kills Abel, he fears that others would come and kill him to avenge Abel, which would likely begin a cycle of murders and wipe out the human race before too long. However, God put a mark on Cain to prevent anyone from murdering him.
- Also defied when Esau's quest of revenge on Jacob for having stolen his blessings finally subsides. (Having also prospered in the meantime may have been a help.)
- Again defied one generation later, when Joseph understands that his brothers have come a long way since they since they sold him into slavery; so he decides to stop all the head games and reconcile with them instead of punishing them.
- Death by Childbirth: Rachel dies when she has Benjamin due to the pain of labor, something established in chapter three to be a result of the Fall of Man.
- Death Faked for You: After the brothers sell Joseph to Egypt, they "explain" Joseph's sudden disappearance to their dad — they dip his robe in blood and making it look like he was attacked by wild animals, and they let him put the "clues" together.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Jacob wrestled an angel for an entire night (though many scholars believe Jacob was actually wrestling with God via theophany). The angel had to resort to cursing Jacob's hip in order to win, and Jacob still obtained a blessing (which remains in effect to this day) before he let the angel leave. Jacob earned a nickname for that feat, "Israel", literally meaning "Wrestles with God."
- Disproportionate Retribution: Several, with some notable examples being:
- Noah curses his son Ham for failing to avert his eyes when Noah was drunk and naked (the curse inherited by only one son, mind you).
- After Shechem's rape of their sister Dinah, Jacob takes his sons to task for their reaction as an instance of this. See "Circumcision Angst" (above) and Rape and Revenge (below).
- Young Joseph may have been a bit of a bratty brother, with his habit of tattling on his older brothers and announcing his dreams of superiority, but trying to murder him and then selling him into slavery in response? Definitely over-the-top.
- Don't Look Back: During the escape to safety away from Sodom and Gomorrah, God warns Lot, as well as his wife and daughters, to not stop to look back on the smoldering cities (Gen 19:15-17). Lot's wife does just as they were told not to do, confirming what happens when someone looks back: she becomes a pillar of salt (which probably means the brimstone sea swept her away because she stopped).
- Driven by Envy:
- Among notable examples are Cain, Esau, and Joseph's elder brothers.
- Some may say the same of Jacob on two occasions, though others would say (on the first, at least) that Jacob simply did not trust that Esau would responsibly handle the birthright, as Esau appears to less often think spiritually.
- Enemy to All Living Things: Part of Cain's curse. Similarly the prediction of Ishmael and his descendants, at least toward all his relatives. During the Joseph narrative, it's not shown to include against the Midianites, however... nor against the Israelites, for that matter, until after the founding of Islam (which extends to more than just Ishmaelites).
- Forbidden Fruit
- Foreshadowing: Noah cursed Canaan right after the flood.
- Girl in a Box: Abraham placed Sarah in a box so the Egyptians wouldn't kill him to take her (because of her beauty).
- Half-Human Hybrid: Nephilim, offspring of humans and angels (in some interpretations). It depends on what is meant by "sons of God" and "daughters of men" (Gen 6:1-5).
- Hero of Another Story: Ishmael becomes an important patriarch to Muslim people, just as his half-brother Isaac is to Jews and Christians.
- Incest Is Relative:
- Lot and his daughters.
- Sarah is revealed to be half-sister to her husband Abraham. Reducing Sarah to simply "his sister" is a cop-out Abraham has used twice (at least) to save himself from being murdered by powerful men who want his sister. (It threatens to blow up in his face both times.)
- Some speculations about where Cain got his wife allude to this possibility.
- Last-Minute Baby-Naming: Happens a lot, most memorably with Jacob's sons.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Sarah is infertile for most of her adult life, while her maidservant gets pregnant by sleeping with Abraham once. Rebekah does eventually conceive, but not without divine intervention...and it almost kills her. Leah pumps out seven sons and a daughter, while her sister Rachel struggles to conceive and is done-in by giving birth to her second.
- Long Lived: Everyone prior to The Great Flood: the progenitor of mankind, Adam himself (930 years) is third place to Noah (950 years), who is runner-up to Methuselah (969 years).
- Noah, being trans-diluvian, is the post-Flood longevity winner.
- If generations are not omitted, then Noah's son Shem (602 years) and descendent Eber (464 years) are the two (we know of), however, who are contemporary also with their descendant Abraham, besides his own immediate family (naturally). If that's the case, Eber slightly outlives Abraham.
- Marry Them All: Not only does Jacob work seven years to marry Rachel and then another seven because he discovers he was given her older sister Leah instead, resulting in marriage to both, but due to Sibling Rivalry, they also bring their maidservants into it: first Bilhah, because Rachel is barren for a long time; then Leah's comeback Zilpah, because, well, Leah is the less favored wife and has to keep up. Thus, four wives of Jacob who give birth to a total of twelve sons (and tribes) and at least one daughter.
- Matzo Fever: Potiphar's wife really likes their new slave... really, really likes him. She wants to schtup him.
- One-Scene Wonder: Melchizedek, a Godly king of Salem. Add to that the fact that Biblically nothing expands on who he is or where he came from.
- People have speculated, based on "without father or mother, without genealogy..." in Hebrews 7:3, that Melchizedek is an early appearance of Jesus.
- The Book of Jasher and Jewish tradition state that Adonizedek (possibly the same man) is also Noah's son Shem. This is assuming no generations were omitted.
- Whether or not generations were omitted, another possibility of Melchizedek is that he was Eber (the namesake of "Hebrew").
- Our Giants Are Bigger: Nephilim
- Parental Favoritism: A recurring theme, one that sets the stage for much of the drama.
- Rape and Revenge: Jacob's daughter is raped by a Canaanite prince, and her brothers destroy every man in the prince's village for it. (Jacob was not impressed.)
- Replacement Goldfish: Seth who was born after Abel's death. Eventually all humans were descended from him.
- Rule of Three: God appears to Abram with two of his agents.
- Sacred Hospitality: As far as Lot is concerned, the safety of his guests is more important to him than that of his own daughters.
- Secret Test of Character: Abraham is told to sacrifice his son in order to prove his faith.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The one about Joseph ruling over his brothers.
- Soiled City on a Hill: First, the world before the Great Flood; second, Sodom and Gomorrah. All of the land of Canaan is worsening until it becomes this by the time of Exodus.
- Supporting Harem: Jacob's family, with Rachel as the lead, and Leah and the two concubines as the supporters.
- Taken for Granite: Lot's wife.
- Trickster Archetype: Abraham and all his descendants. His grandson Jacob is even named as a prediction.
- Vice City: Sodom and Gomorrah.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Eden.
- Youngest Child Wins: A recurring theme.