The first of the dynastic epics I mentioned on Friday begins in Genesis, chapter 12. God speaks to a man named Abram, and tells him to leave his home and family behind him and to set off into the unknown – “to the land I will show you”. And Abram does it, having his name changed along the way…
The next 38 chapters tell the story of the first three generations of Abram’s family – his children, Isaac & Ishmael, his grand children, Jacob and Esau, and Jacob’s many children. Along the way, we encounter (in no particular order) tales of romance, hospitality, betrayal, murder, revenge, scheming & swindling, incest, jealousy, sibling rivalry, politics, prophecy and prostitution.
Looking at that list, I find myself surprised at just how much is packed in, the extreme highs and lows the protagonists reach. But, despite their best efforts at screwing everything up, God can be found working in the background to bring about the “blessing of all the families of the earth”. As one of the characters says at the climax of his portion of the story, “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good…”
Genesis ends with the death of this hero and sets up the next book in the series, which begins, “Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”
It’s a very human story, but the overall narrative is one of God’s faithfulness to Abram and his family through the many ups and downs. In the RRC stock it can be found in the many translations of the Bible, in very broad brush-strokes in the “Great Family” Godly Play set, and in a variety of DVD versions.
What’s your favourite story from this bit of Genesis? And is there anything that you’ve found yourself surprised by?