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Literature: Book of Genesis
"In the beginning"...

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.


Genesis contains the following tropes (note, so many of them are Trope Namers, there's no point in noting the fact!):

  • Adam and Eve Plot: God's instructions to the first people are: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth".
    • Unbuilt, however as they are originally responsible for being kicked out of Paradise and causing all later generations to fall into sin.
  • Alcoholic Parent: After the flood, Noah plants a vineyard and gets so drunk he winds up passing out naked. His son Ham thinks this is hilarious and calls his brothers to come see. They respectfully cover him with a blanket instead, walking backwards so they won't have to see their dad naked.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Joseph invites his brothers into his palace for a meal, they're afraid he will attack them, seize them as slaves, and...take their donkeys?
  • Artistic License - Paleontology: The Book of Genesis and modern paleontology do not agree when it comes to the Creation account and the Flood.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played straight with the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel. Averted with the patriarchs, with the exception of Joseph, who is described as "attractive in form and figure".
  • Bed Trick: Jacob's wedding.
  • Cain and Abel: The Trope Maker.
  • 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.
  • Catch Phrase: "What is this deed that you have done?" is commonly used to mean "What the Hell, Hero?" or "You Monster!".
  • 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.
  • Circumcision Angst: It had to be a painful week the day the custom was commanded to Abraham.
    • Invoked by Simeon and Levi, who claim they will let Dinah marry the prince who raped her if every man from that village is circumcised. They agree, and for three days the village is defenseless, making it incredibly easy to take revenge.
  • Curse of Babel / Tower of Babel
  • Cycle of Revenge: What the mark of Cain was supposed to stop.
  • Death by Childbirth: Rachel.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Jacob wrestles all night with an angel and suffers no more than an injured hip. Better yet, the angel is hinted pretty strongly to be a manifestation of God Himself. Jacob is aghast when he realizes, but God gives him a blessing.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Jacob thinks his sons' reaction to the rape of Dinah is this. See Circumcision Angst (above) and Rape and Revenge (below).
  • The Drunken Sailor: Noah might qualify as the Ur Example. First he sails the Ark, then after the flood, he proceeds to plant a vineyard and get dead drunk.
  • The End of the Beginning: The conclusion to the story of Joseph. On one hand, the family of the patriarchs is now re-united, which is a refreshing development after generations of Sibling Rivalry. On the other hand, the Israelites are settled in a foreign land, which is not the promised land. See Cliff Hanger above. How long will this last?
  • The Exile: Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden as the final part of their punishment.
  • False Rape Accusation: Potiphar's wife accuses Joseph of trying to rape her (when in fact it was the other way around.)
  • Famous Ancestor: Chapter 10 is called "The Table of Nations" and it traces the lineage of many Middle Eastern peoples back to Noah's sons.
  • Fatal Flaw
    • Adam's ignorance.
    • Eve's greed.
    • Cain's anger.
    • Abel's self-righteousness.
    • Abraham & Sarah's need for a child.
    • Rebekah's need to make God's prophecies come true.
    • Esau's hunger.
    • Jacob's deceit.
    • Joseph's pride.
  • Flaming Sword / Everything's Better with Spinning: The flaming, whirling (in some translations) sword that was placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden to prevent Adam and Eve from getting back in.
  • Food As Bribe: Jacob was able to get his brother Esau to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew.
  • Forgiveness: a minor instance of this is when Jacob and Esau reconcile. Arguably the forgiveness story in the Genesis is that of Joseph and his brothers.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Noah cursed Canaan right after the flood.
    • The fact that Esau and Jacob struggle with each other while still in their mother's womb is a sign of their Sibling Rivalry in the future and the conflict between the tribes descended of them.
    • Joseph's dreams that his brothers and parents will bow down before him signals his future role as the saviour of the entire clan.
    • The order in which Perez and Zerah are born.
    • The blessings given by each patriarch to their sons/grandsons foreshadow the prominence that their respective tribes will gain.
  • Girl in a Box: According to para-text legend, Abraham placed Sarah in a box so the Egyptians wouldn't kill him to take her (because of her beauty).
  • Giving Them the Strip: This is how Joseph struggles free from Potiphar's wife after she tries to seduce him forcefully. It does make it difficult for him to explain why (a) she is claiming that he tried to rape her and (b) she has his clothes to prove it.
  • Good Is Not Soft: In Genesis 12:3, God says to Abraham that He will bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him.
  • Guile Hero: This seems to be something of a family trait for Abraham and his descendants.
    • Abraham tries to deceive the Egyptians about his relationship with Sarah, which leads to an Idiot Ball and a What the Hell, Hero? response from the Egyptians.
    • Rebecca is the MasterMind behind securing the greater blessing for her favourite son, Jacob.
    • Jacob thoroughly deserves his reputation as "The Deceiver" with respect to his treatment of Esau and Laban, the latter being a Manipulative Bastard himself.
    • Rachel (who is Rebecca's niece and Laban's daughter and therefore shares some of the same guileful gene pool as Jacob) outsmarts her father and successfully removes his household idols.
    • Joseph, being the son of Jacob and Rachel, tops the list by successfully carrying out an elaborate Xanatos Gambit to reunite the family (see below), and also saves an entire nation from a famine in the process.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Nephilim
  • Hero of Another Story: Ishmael becomes an important patriarch to Muslim people, just as his half-brother Isaac is to Jews and Christians.
    • Also, whereas Genesis 37 - 50 focuses mainly on Joseph, Judah has his own story to tell. It's Judah's descendants who go on to become the most important.
  • How We Got Here: Tradition holds that the narrator is Moses, and that Genesis was written during the Exodus to record Israel's history leading up to that time.
  • Incest Is Relative:
    • Lot and his daughters.
    • Abraham's wife, Sarah, is later revealed to be also his half-sister. This is used as an excuse on multiple occasions to pretend Sarah is just "his sister" so certain powerful men won't kill Abraham to get her. (It only ends in trouble both times.)
    • Some attempts to answer the question "where did Cain get his wife?" allude to this possibility.
  • Jews Love to Argue: Abraham makes the trope by haggling with God Himself in a bid to spare Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • Just So Story: The creation story, naturally.
    • The story of the Fall explains that, as a consequence, snakes lost their legs and have to crawl on their stomachs, men have to till the soil to produce food, and women have pain in childbirth.
    • Also, the explanation given by the Tower of Babel story for all the world's different languages and dialects: apparently, God didn't want visitors, so He disrupted their communication so they wouldn't understand one another.
    • The Flood also gives the origin of rainbows as a sign of God's promise not to drown the earth again.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: Joseph's brothers bow down before him four times. The first three times, they do not realise that it is Joseph. The fourth and final time, they bow before him fully aware of his identity and in reverence. Technically, only the fourth exemplifies the trope.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Dinah's brothers avenge their sister by going back on their word and wiping out the entire clan of the man who raped her while they are not feeling that well....
  • 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 six sons and a daughter, while her sister Rachel struggles to conceive.
  • Long Lived: Everyone before The Great Flood. Adam lived to 930; Methuselah lived to 969.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: God's command of humanity to "be fruitful and multiply".
    • Onan was killed by God for refusing to have a child with Tamar, his dead brother's wife, as per the laws of levirate marriage (in short, he was required to marry his brother's wife and their first son would be his brother's, to continue on his brother's family line). Of course, he told her he would (thus avoiding public shaming and being cast out of his family) and then performed coitus interruptus to prevent it, so he was arguably sort of an Asshole Victim.
  • Manly Tears: Joseph in particular is prone to this.
  • Matzo Fever: Potiphar's wife really likes their new slave. I mean, really likes him. She wants to schtup him.
  • Meaningful Echo: The phrase "Am I in the place of God?" is first uttered by Jacob out of frustration, when Rachel says she must have a child by him or she will die. One generation later, their son, Joseph, uses almost exactly the same phrase but under happier circumstances, while reassuring his brothers that he has forgiven them and that they have nothing to fear from him.
  • Meaningful Name: Every single one of them, starting with the Meaningful Rename of Abraham and Sarah (formerly Abram and Sarai).
    • Also, Jacob becomes Israel after wrestling with an angel.
    • Jacob's ten sons and two grandsons by Joseph have the dozen tribes named after them.
  • Misplaced Retribution: After Ham laughes at the sight of his father Noah naked. When the latter wakes up, he curses Ham's son Canaan.
  • Nephilim: The first of the Bible's two mentions of them, born of mortal women and the "sons of God." (They are angels, according to extra-canonical texts.)
  • Never My Fault: God confronts Adam and Eve with the eating from the Tree Of Knowledge. Adam blames Eve (and God for creating her in the first place), and Eve blames the serpent.
  • No Doubt The Years Have Changed Me: Joseph's brothers are unable to recognise him after twenty years of separation. It's not surprising, considering that they last saw him as the Annoying Younger Sibling whom they sold to slavery, and now he's the Vizier of Egypt and Pharaoh's Number Two.
  • Once Upon a Time: In the beginning...
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Nephilim
  • Pals with Jesus: Several characters are on speaking terms with God, but Enoch is probably the only one who can claim to be a friend.
    Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
    • Abraham and God seem pretty friendly too.
  • Parental Favoritism: A recurring theme, one that sets the stage for much of the drama.
  • Perpetual Storm: The Great Flood was caused a storm which lasted for 40 days, followed by 150 days of flooding and 220 days of drying out.
  • Polyamory: Almost every man from Abraham's time and onwards, except for Isaac and Joseph.
  • Priest King: Melchizedek, a Canaanite priest-king noted for giving food and blessing to Abraham and Sarah. He is also noted for acknowledging the Abrahamic God, although it's not entirely clear whether Melchizedek was a true monotheist or merely worshipped God as the chief deity of a larger pantheon.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: In Joseph's story, Joseph, the Pharaoh, the pharaoh's baker and the pharaoh's chief butler all have prophetic dreams. It's implied that God is sending those dreams, hence why Joseph (who is favored by God) is able to interpret them.
  • 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.)
  • Revenge Before Reason: Cain was marked to prevent this. Later one of his descendants killed again, showing the mark thing didn't work.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Seth who was born after Abel's death. Eventually all humans share him as an ancestor though Noah.
  • 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: Joseph's dreams that he will rule over his brothers.
  • Sibling Rivalry: A running theme in the Genesis. It begins with Cain and Abel, continues through Jacob and Esau and even ventures into the domain of The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry with Rachel and Leah. Joseph's relationship and his brothers headed down the same track, until Joseph broke with the trend and forgave his brothers, thereby reuniting the family.
  • Signature Item Clue: Potiphar's wife gets hold of Joseph's cloak as he runs away from her. She later produces the cloak to support her claim that he tried to rape her.
    • Tamar takes Judah's staff and cloak as tribute for payment when she is disguised as a prostitute, so that she can later produce them as evidence that he's the father of her baby.
  • Soiled City on a Hill: The world before The Great Flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • Something Completely Different: The story of Judah's involvement with Tamar is told right in the middle of the Joseph narrative, which carries on afterwards as if nothing happened.
  • 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, with salt.
  • The Trickster: Abraham and all his descendants.
  • The Underworld: All characters expect to "go down to Sheol" after death. The words "go down" suggests that Sheol is conceived of as a somewhat depressing afterlife, and there's apparently no difference in the fate of good and bad people. The concept of "Sheol" changes over the course of the Old Testament to resemble the modern Christian concept of "Heaven" more closely.
  • Vice City: Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • God to Eve, when he finds out she has eaten the Forbidden Fruit.
    • Pharaoh to Abram, when he learns that the woman he's taken to his harem is actually Abram's wife and not just his sister, as he'd claimed.
    • Abimelech to Isaac, when the latter tries to play the same trick on the Philistines in relation to his wife Rebecca.
    • Esau to Jacob (although not face-to-face), for deceitfully taking the blessing their father had meant for Esau.
    • Jacob to a 17-year-old Joseph, for going around telling everyone about his dream that his brothers and parents will all bow down before him.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Potiphar's wife uses the garment that Joseph left behind while giving her the strip as evidence that he tried to rape her.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Joseph plays one when he demands that the brothers give up Benjamin to be his slave and themselves return to Canaan safely. That way, he ensures that either he gets to keep Benjamin with him (if his brothers treat Benjamin like a dispensable family member, as they treated Joseph years ago), or his brothers show a sufficient Character Arc by refusing to leave Benjamin in Egypt, in which case he reconciles with all of them and brings his entire clan over to Egypt. Luckily for the Israelites, the latter plan eventuates.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Eden.
    • Jacob never saw his parents again after stealing Esau's inheritance.
  • Youngest Child Wins: A recurring theme.

The BibleSacred LiteratureBook of Exodus
    Literature/The BibleBook of Exodus
Works and DaysNon-English LiteratureBook Of Ecclesiastes
The BibleClassic LiteratureBook of Exodus

alternative title(s): Book Of Genesis; Genesis
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