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    Adam and Eve 
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 creep upon the earth."

The first man, created in God's image, and the first woman, created out of Adam's rib. Their eventual disobedience gave humanity its Original Sin.


  • Adam and Eve Plot: The original.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Many biblical scholars argue that Adam was the most handsome man and Eve the most beautiful woman, being directly created by God.
  • Double Standard: Some people have put the blame solely on Eve, others on Adam. Others put the blame on both.
  • The Exile / You Can't Go Home Again: Adam and Eve were permanently banished from the Garden of Eden for disobeying God.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Founder of the Human Race.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Disobeying God by eating the forbidden fruit is referred to as being the Original Sin, and as such all their descendants are born with inclination towards sin. While never fully erased, God does help humans resist it by sending prophets to teach his word and (according to Christians) by coming down to Earth as Jesus and dying for humanity's sins.
  • Killed Off for Real: Before the fall of man, humans didn't grow old or die. So because they disobeyed God, Adam, Eve, and all their descendants share this fate.
  • Meaningful Name: Adam was the first man, his name means "man". Eve was the first woman. Her name in Hebrew means "living one" or "source of life".
  • Methuselah Syndrome: Subverted, as back then the average lifespan was centuries, much longer than it is today. Adam, Eve and plenty of their offspring lived for centuries.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Couple in this case, until they eat the fruit. In many art, they are exploited for Fanservice. Even during the most prudish epochs of western history, nobody could deny that the nudity of Adam and Eve was an important plot point in the bible. This always gave artists an excuse to paint a couple each wearing only a single fig-leaf and still claim that it's purely religious art not meant to be titillating in any way.
  • Original Man: Many people believe they were this, after all they wore animal skins and must have worked with stone tools. Indeed, some interpretations have these two as Homo erectus, the original human being, while their offspring would have been various Homo populations such as Neanderthalensis and Sapiens.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: The Bible does not call the fruit an apple (Muslims call it Khuldi). The portrayal of said fruit as an apple is a Stealth Pun on the Latin word malus.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: You can also blame them for introducing humanity to sin and death.

    The Serpent 
You will 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.

A serpent who tempts Adam and Eve into their Original Sin. According to the Book of Revelation, the serpent was Satan.


  • Ambiguous Gender: While modern audiences remember it as a male character (and possibly Satan), a surprising amount of artists had portrayed it as a bizarre, half-snake half-woman entity, with a humanoid torso with female breasts and everything. Some people interpret this as a reference to Lilith, who in some versions of Genesis was Adam's first wife but fled (and in some versions was punished) because she didn't like the idea of being subservient to Adam. And this is disregarding the interpretation that the serpent wasn't even a literal serpent but instead an allegory for a difficult decision.
  • Big Bad: Of... practically everything, actually. As stated below, with one simple action he managed to ruin the paradise God created. According to the Book of Genesis, he is the reason we are able to die, the reason we know of good and evil and the reason we are not able to enter the Garden of Eden and never will.note 
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Despite causing the following: Mankind receiving knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden and being cursed, the existence of death, the existence of the entire human race, and the first evil act ever, the snake absolutely disappears off of the face of the earth after the whole "Eden" incident. It is possible that he is Satan, but The Bible is not explicit about this.
  • The Corrupter
  • Our Dragons Are Different: One interpretation. Before being made to crawl upon his belly he must have had legs. What would you call a walking, talking serpent with (at least) human level intelligence?
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Although in this case, he becomes physically abhorrent as a punishment for his morally abhorrent action.
  • Smug Snake: Figuratively and literally.
  • Talking Animal
  • Villains Never Lie: Everything it says to Eve is true. Its crime was not explaining that "eat it and die" was a threat, not a warning of poison, which it may not have understood itself.
  • Woman Scorned: If you interpret the Serpent as Lilith, this is one possible reason why s/he tried to tempt Adam and Eve with the fruit.
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    Cain 
"Am I my brother's keeper?"

The firstborn son of Adam and Eve, who took up farming. After God rejected his sacrifice in favor of Abel's, Cain killed his brother in a jealous rage.


  • Being Evil Sucks: According to Islam, he felt really bad after killing Abel but he never really repented.
  • Cain and Abel: Duh, they're the Trope Namer.
  • Cursed with Awesome: God marked him so that any damage done to him would happen to his attacker sevenfold.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The world's first. Check his quote.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Murdering his brother when all he had to do was do what his brother did.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Foolish to Abel's responsible. Tradition holds that Cain only offered his spare produce while Abel offered the best of his livestock.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Murdered his brother because of it.
  • Joker Immunity: The ur-example. He commits the first murder and is protected from retribution ever after by his mark. It was intended to prevent a Cycle of Revenge. It did not work.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: This indirectly kicked off the circumstances that led to Cain murdering Abel. What happened was that God asked both Cain and Abel to give him sacrifices. Cain sacrificed his vegetables, while Abel sacrificed his livestock and gave God meat. God decided that Abel's sacrifice was more worthy, which pissed Cain off enough to kill Abel over it.
  • Name of Cain: Trope Maker.
  • Red Right Hand: God gave him a mark to protect him from harm, specifically anyone who might seek vengeance upon him for Abel's death. Exactly what kind of mark is not canonically specified, and interpretations vary.
  • The Resenter: Bible commentators indicate that Cain was this due to his parents having been driven out of the garden of Eden. He also resents God for picking Abel's sacrifice over his own (and murders Abel over this resentment), to which God responds by asking why he's downcast and pointing out that if Cain had done right he would've been picked.
  • Walking the Earth: After Cain murdered his bother, he became a wanderer until he settled in the Land of Nod.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's not really explained why God rejected Cain's sacrifice in favor of Abel's. Cain sacrificed produce, while Abel sacrificed livestock, but the Bible doesn't really make it clear whether God simply prefers meat, whether Cain didn't give his best produce, or whether it was because Cain didn't sacrifice enough. It is later stated that he only sacrificed the things he didn't really care for or need while Abel sacrificed his best products. Upping the ante by sacrificing his brother was not appreciated.

    Abel 
"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?"

The second son of Adam and Eve, who took up shepherding. Was killed by his elder brother Cain due to the latter's jealousy.


  • Cain and Abel: The Abel, as shown by his righteous actions which made him favored by God.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Responsible to Cain's foolish. Tradition holds that the reason why God favored him was that Abel sacrificed the absolute best of his flock while Cain only sacrificed his spares.
  • Killed Off for Real: The first.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: This inadvertently got him killed. He sacrificed meat to God by sacrificing his livestock, while his brother Cain sacrificed the vegetables growing in his field. God decided that Abel had given him a better sacrifice, and for this Cain killed him out of jealousy.
  • Rightly Self-Righteous: His one piece of dialogue makes him come off as one. Cain did not like being lectured by his little brother.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Not in the story where he's from, but after his death, in Matthews 23:35, Jesus calls Abel "righteous", and Christian tradition sometimes calls Abel the first martyr.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Subverted since he dies, and Adam and Eve have another son after his death.

    Enoch 
He spent his life in fellowship with God, and then he disappeared, because God took him away.

A descendant of Seth, Adam and Eve's third son. Apparently was taken by God into Heaven.


    Methuselah 
And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years.

Son of Enoch and grandfather of Noah.


  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Doing a bit of math, one can see that he died in the year of the Great Flood. It's never explained if he died in it or before it, since he's not among the eight humans who went aboard the Ark. (In the Talmud, he dies the week before, and a week of mourning is held inside the Ark.)
  • Methuselah Syndrome: The Trope Namer.

    Nimrod 
He was a mighty hunter before The Lord.

A mighty hunter who founded Babylon. Tradition holds that he attempted to build the Tower of Babel.


  • Biblical Bad Guy: Nimrod was instrumental in the building of the infamous Tower of Babel, and was punished for his hubris in trying to reach the heavens.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Of Babylon.
  • You Keep Using That Word: His name was, for a long time, synonymous with "hunter". Now, thanks to Warner Bros. cartoons, it's used to mean someone stupid or incompetent.
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    Noah 
There went in two and two unto Noah into the Ark, the male and the female.

He and his family were called by God to build a boat filled with one male and female of each animal while He flooded the world. Afterwards, God made a covenant with him to never flood the world again.


  • Can't Hold His Liquor: The first in the Bible to get drunk and expose himself.
  • Cassandra Truth: The Flood.
  • Cool Boat: The Ark, big enough to house at least two of every animal and Noah's entire family.
  • The Drunken Sailor: Possibly an Ur-Example. First he builds and sails the Ark; then after he lands he proceeds to plant a vineyard and gets dead drunk.
  • Foreshadowing: "Cursed be Canaan!"
  • Improbable Age: Building a boat when you're 500.
  • Methuselah Syndrome: The last person to live over 900.
  • Only Sane Man: Noah, along with his family, were the only God-fearing people and as a result could see that the moral depravity of everyone around them was harming themselves and breaking God's laws.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Witnessing all your friends and neighbors (even children) dying in a terrible flood (for no reason other than that they were allegedly "not good enough") will do that to you. This is probably why, after he harvested the grapes he planted when the flood waters receded, he ended up not only drinking the wine, but getting completely wasted. The nonchalant reactions of his oldest two sons to him being passed out naked suggests that this was perhaps a regular occurrence.
  • They Called Me Mad!!: They called me mad, but I'll show them, I'll bring two of every animal on The Ark, and lets see who's laughing when they're drowning and I'm floating! (Except the floating ones and the swimming ones.)
  • Truthin Television: Even if one doesn't believe in the Abrahamic faiths (this troper does), there's a chance Noah was based on a real person sometime during the later Stone Age or early Bronze Age, there is evidence that a large flood swept across the Middle and Near East during this time due to the Black Sea overflowing after all. Not to mention all the other flood stories that are strangely similar in theme and set up...

    Canaan 
A grandson of Noah and ancestor of the Canaanites.

    Abraham 
"I will bless those who bless you. But I will curse those who curse you. And through you I will bless all nations."

A descendant of Noah, and the father of all Abrahamic faiths. In Genesis, he is called by God to leave his home and become a great nation.


  • Angel Unaware: Is rewarded for entertaining three of these with a long-awaited son in his old age.
  • Bargain with Heaven
  • The Chosen One
  • Cool Old Guy
  • Famous Ancestor: Many Middle Eastern peoples trace their ancestry to Abe.
  • Idiot Ball: Locked his wife Sarah in a box while passing through Egypt, for fear that she would be taken by the Egyptians on account of her beauty. He didn't stop to think that maybe, just maybe the box would have to pass through customs.
  • I Lied: Well, more like told a half-truth. He told the Egyptians (who found her in the above incident) that Sarah was his sister. (She was his half-sister, as well as his wife.) He did this to protect himself from being killed by the men in order to obtain her. (Which they never did, even upon finding out the truth.) The lie causes all sorts of mayhem. Oh, and this happened more than once.
  • Human Sacrifice: Abraham was almost sacrificed (according to a Midrash), but escaped. Later, he almost sacrificed Isaac, but just barely didn't.
  • Macho Masochism: An ur-example.
  • Meaningful Rename: God has him change his name from Abram (High father) to Abraham (Father of many).
  • The Mourning After: Averted. After Sarah dies, he marries another (much younger) woman named Keturah. (Who some believe is his concubine Hagar, by another name, though this is unlikely.)
  • Parental Favoritism: He preferred Isaac over Ishmael, but was ready to sacrifice Isaac to God when God told him to. Good thing it was just a test. The Genesis account indicates that Abraham actually pleaded with God for Ishmael to receive some sort of blessing from God as well. Isaac was really The Chosen One Because Destiny Says So.
  • Parents as People
  • Sacred Hospitality: God is debating whether to destroy the city of Sodom. Abraham bargains God down to letting the city survive if there are ten good men. God's messengers go to Sodom, and they meet Lot and his family. The Sodomites want to rape them. Lot's even willing to let them rape his daughters rather than these men. The city is destroyed.

    Sarah 
"Alas for me! shall I bear a child, seeing I am an old woman, and my husband here is an old man? That would indeed be a wonderful thing!"

The wife of Abraham.


    Ishmael 
"His hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him."

Son of Abraham and Sarah's handmaid Hagar.


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    Isaac 
"Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."

The son of Abraham and Sarah, and the father of Jacob and Esau.


  • Brick Joke: His name means "To laugh" because that's what his mother Sarah did when an angel told her she will be pregnant in her old age.
  • Human Sacrifice: Narrowly averted. God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son, but stopped him in the last minute. Turns out it was a Secret Test of Character.
  • Kissing Cousins, Love at First Sight and Perfectly Arranged Marriage: With his wife and cousin Rebecca.
  • Like Father, Like Son: When a famine hits the land, Isaac and Rebekah migrate to Gerar in the Philistines' country. He tells the natives that "Rebekah is my sister", just as Abraham had done in Egypt and Gerar. Abimelech gets suspicious when he sees Isaac and Rebekah "sporting", or passionately caressing Rebekah, and he calls Isaac out, asking "Why did you say 'She was my sister'?" Isaac responded that they might have killed him and taken her for his wife, and Abimelech warns the other Philistines not to harm Isaac or Rebekah
  • Out of Focus: Of the four patriarchs, he's by far the least focused on.
  • Parental Favoritism: Abraham seems to have preferred him over his older brother, Ishmael, and his six younger brothers by Abraham's second wife Keturah. Granted, that was because God basically told him to. He in turn preferred Esau to Jacob.
  • Vague Age: It's never made clear if he was a child or a young adult at the time of his near-sacrifice by Abraham.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Compared to Ishmael. By the time Abraham had other sons, Isaac's status as the winner was firmly established.

    Rebekah 
"Two nations fight in your womb. The lesser will defeat the greater, the older shall serve the younger."

The wife of Isaac. She favors her younger son Jacob, and conspires with him to give him the greater blessing.


  • Because Destiny Says So
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Abraham's messenger prays for a girl to come out who meets the criteria for a worthy wife: physically attractive, a member of the right family, virginal, kind, hard-working, and willing to accept that she'll have to migrate to the other side of the Fertile Crescent. Rebekah comes out mere moments later... and she meets exactly that description.
  • Guile Heroine
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Though she had less of a problem with it than the other matriarchs; she and Isaac prayed together and were able to conceive without Isaac ever taking a concubine/second wife.
  • Nature Adores a Virgin: A specific part of her beauty/appeal at her first appearance is mentioned as being her youth and virginity.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Her favoring of Jacob causes a big rift between the two brothers and their later descendants, and causes her to never see her "golden child" again.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Esau's Canaanite wives "vex" her.
  • Parental Favoritism: Favored Jacob to the point of deceiving his father Isaac into giving him the better inheritance.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: With Isaac.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: She helps Jacob on the path to becoming ancestor of the greatest nation on earth as God foretold, but she never sees her son again and the enmity between his and his brother Esau's descendants would last for centuries.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Offers Abraham's messenger a place to stay, plus water for himself and all his camels.

    Esau 
And he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

The elder of Isaac's two sons, whom Isaac favors. A strong, yet foolish hunter that gets tricked out of his birthright and blessing.


  • Cain and Abel: The trope might just as well have been called Jacob and Esau. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for some porridge, Jacob tricks Isaac into giving him Esau's blessing, Esau tries to kill Jacob, Jacob runs away and comes back with gifts for Esau. End result: Esau repents, makes up with Jacob, and accepts gifts from Jacob. The thing is, it's kind of hard to tell who is Abel and who is Cain in this scenario.
    • God actually forbid Israelites from fighting Edomites because they are brothers.
  • Carpet of Virility: Esau was such a hairy man that when Jacob tricked Isaac (who had gone blind in his old age) into thinking he was Esau, he wore a goat skin to simulate Esau's hairiness.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: Presumably dark skinned given the setting.
  • Evil Twin: To Jacob. Unlike most examples, he's not truly evil, just short-sighted, and he and Jacob are Different as Night and Day.
  • Easily Forgiven: When meeting Jacob again for the first time in years, Jacob is terrified that Esau will try to get revenge on him and sends him dozens of gifts. To his surprise, Esau has already forgiven him.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Edom", a name approximately meaning "red" in Hebrew. He gets it after selling his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of red soup.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The very, very Foolish to Jacob's Responsible. This mirrors Cain and Abel earlier in Genesis.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: His descendants founded the city-state of Edom, who continued to harass their Israelite brothers.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Rebekah does not like the Canaanite women he married.
  • Polyamory: As many men of that time and place did, Esau was married to Adath, Basemath, and Oholibama, three local Canaanite women.
  • Rated M for Manly: Why Isaac favors him over Jacob; Isaac admires Esau's hunting skill.
  • Self-Made Man: He is not The Chosen One, but after the Time Skip, he already has a lot of wealth and status to his name (almost as much as Jacob).
  • Sins of Our Fathers: While Esau himself forgave Jacob, his descendants, the Edomites, weren't as kind, as they continued to harass the Israelites for a long time.

    Jacob/Israel 
"Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man."

The younger, more thoughtful son of Isaac. His sons go on to found the nation of Israel.


  • Badass Israeli: Jacob's half the Trope Namer. In fact, He fought God Himself (or an angel, depending on which interpretation you read) and almost won, but then God (or the angel) broke his hip after fighting him all day and all night. Jacob gained the nickname "Yisrael", which means "Struggles with God", or the more popular translation, "Israel", which means "Let God prevail", meaning he struggled with God and let Him win.
  • Bride and Switch: Jacob was in love with Rachel and wanted her, but her parents tricked him into having Leah first, getting another seven years of work from him.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Right in the middle of one. Also applies to his relatives on this list, but he's the one who has to deal with it from all sides.
  • Founder of the Kingdom
  • Guile Hero: And how. He gets it from his mother's side of the family.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: Disguising himself as Esau in order to get the firstborn blessing, the impersonation works except for one detail Isaac noticed — Jacob didn't bother to disguise his voice.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Or rather like mother, like son.
  • Love at First Sight: Towards Rachel.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Jacob's name means deceiver, and he is often shown using tricks to get his way. He even, at his mother's request, tricked his father into giving him the better inheritance.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • When Laban confronts him and accuses him of stealing his household idols, Jacob says (without knowing who did it) that whoever stole them will die. Not too long after that, Rachel dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Traditional interpretations attribute this to Jacob unknowingly cursing her for taking the idols (probably for her own use, which is also considered worthy of punishment). The fact that she dies in childbirth is attributed to her hiding the MacGuffins in her menstruation couch.
    • His Parental Favoritism leads to Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, although this eventually becomes a case of Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! for the brothers.
  • One True Love: Rachel is so much the love of his life that occasionally, he refers to her as his only wife, and makes it sound as if her sons are his only children. What's worse, he talks like this in front of all his other children.
    [To Judah, one of his ten other sons] You know that my wife bore me two sons...
  • Overprotective Dad: Becomes this to Benjamin after Joseph's apparent death.
  • Parental Favoritism: Jacob was Rebecca's favorite, and later Jacob preferred his second youngest son, Joseph. Notice a pattern here?
  • Polyamory: With the sisters (and his cousins) Leah and Rachel. It wasn't his idea, though; he wanted Rachel but was stuck with Leah after the Bride and Switch. Like most other accounts of polygamy in the Bible, it ends badly, here in the form of an ugly Sibling Rivalry.
  • The Trickster: His very name means "deceiver", and true to form, he tricks Esau out of his birthright and Isaac out of the blessing that he would give to Esau. That said, Jacob himself gets on the receiving end of trickery when he tries to marry Rachel.
  • Unwanted Harem: He ends up having thirteen kids with four different women despite the fact that he only intended to marry Rachel.
  • Youngest Child Wins: According to later books in The Bible his nation will produce the savior of mankind while Esau's will vanish from the earth.

    Rachel 
Rachel was lovely in form and beautiful.

Jacob's second wife, whom he loves the most.


  • Animal Theme Naming: Rachel means "ewe."
  • Antagonistic Offspring: She removes Laban's household idols, presumably as a long-overdue Take That! for the misery he's caused her and her sister Leah.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: She is described as more beautiful than her sister, who, while she isn't a bad person, is certainly angry and bitter.
  • Death by Childbirth: Poor Benjamin!
  • Guile Heroine: Stole Laban's idols and hid them in her menstruation couch.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Unlike Leah, it took her fourteen years to conceive her first son, Joseph.
  • Mate or Die: Threatens Jacob with "Give me children or I'll die" when she is jealous of her sister pumping out children for Jacob.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted; her excuse for not getting up to let guards search was "It's that time of the month."
  • Sibling Rivalry: With Leah, because Leah was able to give Jacob lots of sons.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Jacob's favored wife bore his favorite sons, one of which becomes a Prince.

    Leah 
Leah had tender eyes.

Rachel's older, not-as-beautiful sister, and Jacob's first wife. Due to Jacob favoring Rachel, she grows bitter to both her and Laban.


  • Animal Theme Naming: Leah means "cow."
  • Archnemesis Dad: The main reason for Leah's unhappy married life is her father's eagerness to marry off both daughters at the same time to the same man and get free labour from his son-in-law. In time, both sisters grow to dislike their father enough to counsel Jacob to flee with all his livestock without telling Laban.
  • Bride and Switch
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: It wasn't until Jacob was in his death bed does the reader find out Leah had died before him.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Because God takes pity on her for being the lesser wife in Jacob's eyes, she conceives very easily, while her sister remains infertile for a long time.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Leah gets one of these moments long after her death, when Jacob says that he wants to be buried in the place where he buried Leah.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: She remains The Unfavorite throughout her married life simply because she had the misfortune to be tricked into marriage to a man whose One True Love was her sister.
  • Sibling Rivalry: With Rachel, because Rachel was Jacob's favorite wife.
  • The Unfavorite: Is this to Jacob, who considers her younger sister Rachel his One True Love. However, she more than makes up for this by finding favor with God and praising Him upon the birth of Judah. Indeed, she is ultimately buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs instead of Rachel, and through Judah, it is her descendants who survive while the rest of the Israelites are wiped out.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Exactly what "tender eyes" are supposed to be is unclear. Some versions say she had "lovely" eyes, others say she had "weary" eyes.

    Laban 
Jacob's uncle, brother of Rebekah, and father of Rachel and Leah. He manipulates his nephew into indentured servitude in exchange for marrying both of his daughters.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Laban is almost single-handedly responsible for all the angst faced by his daughters and their sons. His deception in marrying both daughters to Jacob leads to an intense rivalry between them, which in turn damages the relationship between their sons, almost to the point of fratricide.
  • Evil Uncle: The man's got some talent. He manages to be Archnemesis Dad to his daughters and Arch-Enemy to his nephew/son-in-law.
  • Light Is Not Good: His name translates to "white," but he's a Jerkass.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Not only did he trick his son-in-law into marrying both of his daughters, but he went out of his way to keep Jacob working for him.
  • Overprotective Dad: In Genesis 31:49 (which is frequently engraved on "Mizpeh" jewelry), he says "The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another". In the next verse (31:50) Laban sternly warns Jacob: "If thou shalt afflict my daughters, or if thou shalt take other wives beside my daughters, no man is with us: see, God is witness betwixt me and thee." In other words, Laban is saying "God is watching you; may He smite you with a curse if you dare mistreat my daughters in any way".
  • Stealth Pun: Keeps culling the sheep without speckles or spots from Jacob's herds, before Jacob turns the tables on him with primitive methods of breeding.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: The first time we see him (in the context of his sister Rebecca's wedding), he seems like a Nice Guy. By the time Jacob goes to work for him, he's turned into a Manipulative Bastard par excellence.
  • The Trickster: One-ups Jacob, himself an accomplished trickster, by tricking him into years of service to marry Rachel.

    Joseph, son of Jacob  
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 colors.

The firstborn son of Jacob's favored wife Rachel, and Jacob's eleventh child overall. After being sold into slavery to Egypt by his jealous brothers, he works his way into becoming the Pharaoh's chancellor.


  • Annoying Younger Sibling: The 17-year-old Joseph tell tales about his brothers to his father and openly announces his dreams of ruling over them. Thankfully, he becomes nicer over time.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: "Joseph was handsome in form and appearance." Additionally, according to Muslim tradition, "One half of all the beauty God apportioned for mankind went to Joseph; the other one half went to the rest of mankind."
  • Big Brother Instinct: Joseph's reaction on seeing Benjamin for the first time in more than 20 years: "God be gracious to you, my son. He then has to leave the room to regain his composure.
  • Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage: Joseph's marriage with Asenath seems to be an example of this. However, in view of Joseph's monogamy, the birth of his two sons, and the absence of any contrary statement in the Bible, it could also be a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
  • Chaste Hero: He resisted the advances of his master Potiphar's wife.
  • Chick Magnet: Implied in the biblical episode involving Potiphar's wife. Dwelt on in much greater detail in the Islamic tradition, where women are so distracted by his good looks that they cut their hands while peeling apples when he is around.
  • Completely Unnecessary Translator: To conceal his true identity, Joseph uses an interpreter to speak to his brothers.
  • Dramatic Irony: The brothers insist before the Vizier of Egypt that they are "honest men". They don't realize that the Vizier is the brother whose death they faked after having sold him into slavery 20 years ago.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: God gives this to several people including Joseph, though only Joseph has the gift of interpreting them.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Joseph's life story.
  • Forgiveness: Joseph's forgiveness of his brothers brings to an end generations of Sibling Rivalry, which began with Cain and Abel, and continued through Jacob and Esau, and then Rachel and Leah.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Joseph's accusations of espionage and theft against his brothers are completely false. But his brothers see this as retribution for what they did to him years earlier, and feel that they are being justly punished.
    Judah: [to Joseph, unaware of his true identity] What can we say, my lord? How can we defend ourselves? God has uncovered our guilt.
  • Giving Them the Strip: He escapes from the clutches of a rather enthusiastic Mrs. Potiphar by leaving his garment in her hands. The garment ends him up in prison.
  • The Good Chancellor: He saves countless lives and livestock through his efficient administration during the seven years of famine. Harsher in Hindsight, though, as his economic policies result in the State gaining ownership over all privately owned property, which wasn't a problem until later when it was in the hands of the Pharaoh who first oppressed the Hebrews.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Joseph persists with The Plan (see Xanatos Gambit below) despite the obvious pain it causes his brothers and father.
  • Guile Hero: No matter where he is placed, Joseph finds a way to climb to the top of the organisation through sheer intelligence, charisma, and competence. His administration over the 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine ensures that the entire nation survives. Moreover, he lays a successful trap for his brothers to find out if they have really changed over the years. He gets it from his father and also to an extent from his mother.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Joseph became one to Potiphar, then to his warden in prison, and eventually to Pharaoh; he was so efficient that Potiphar and the warden felt they didn't need to supervise him, and Potiphar even lost track of all his affairs because Joseph took care of them all.
  • In-Universe Catharsis: After twenty years of estrangement, Joseph cries uncontrollably at the moment of his reconciliation with his brothers.
  • Made a Slave: By his brothers.
  • Matzo Fever: He unwittingly infected Potiphar's wife with this.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: His brothers last saw him being caravanned off to a life of slavery. Twenty years later, he is the second-most powerful man in Egypt and is effectively running the famine-struck country.
  • Not So Stoic: He bears his own slavery and imprisonment with fortitude but breaks down in Manly Tears several times when dealing with his own family.
  • Oh, Crap!: The brothers fall into a Stunned Silence after Joseph's self-revelation. It takes several reassurances and Cooldown Hugs from Joseph to coax them back into speech.
  • Parental Favoritism: He was the favorite son of Jacob, being the first child of his favorite wife. Joseph himself averts this trope in relation to his own two children, Manasseh and Ephraim. He isn't very happy when Jacob resorts to his old habit of favoring the younger child by giving the greater blessing to Ephraim.
  • Rags to Riches: He eventually becomes second in power to Pharaoh, and is sometimes described as being a prince.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Zig-Zagged. As the Vizier of Egypt, Joseph acts like The Good Chancellor and is ultimately praised by the people for saving their lives. However, when dealing with his brothers (before having revealed his true identity), Joseph takes full advantage of his power and makes them suffer for what they did to him.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: A small-scale version: the fancy robe Jacob gave him is believed to traditionally signify a father's choice of successor as head of the family. And of course, he got the real deal when Pharaoh made him second-in-command of all Egypt.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them! / Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Joseph's cat-and-mouse game with his brothers - in which he detains them on false charges and planted evidence - may be classified as either of these.
  • The Stool Pigeon: He gave bad reports of his half-brothers to their father.
  • Thrown Down a Well: This was the brothers' original plan regarding how to dispose of Joseph, until Judah suggested that they might as well sell him.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Leaving his garment in Mrs. Potiphar's hands was not a good idea, as Joseph discovered, for it made it difficult to convince anyone that it wasn't what it looked like.
  • Xanatos Gambit: By forcing his brothers to decide whether they will allow Benjamin to be enslaved to guarantee their own safety, Joseph ensures that there are only two possible outcomes (both in his favor). Outcome A: The brothers, caring little for Benjamin, leave him in Egypt, in which case Joseph is re-united with his one full brother; Outcome B: The brothers, having gained in moral character since the time they sold Joseph, refuse to part with Benjamin, in which case Joseph reconciles with all of them. Happily for all parties, Outcome B eventuates.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Naturally, in keeping with several generations of family tradition. Though he's not really the youngest of Jacob's children, let alone his sons, he is one of the youngest.

    Judah 
The fourth child of Jacob and Leah, and Jacob's fourth child overall. While not the most prominent of the brothers in Genesis, he lends his name to the word "Judaism."
  • The Atoner: Earlier, he sold his father's favorite son into slavery. Later, he is remorseful enough to pledge his own freedom to save his father's other favorite son.
  • Bed Trick: Subject to Tamar's.
  • Four Is Death: Inverted. Judah is Jacob's fourth child and the only one whose lineage has carried into modernity. In fact, the terms we use to describe those people today (Jews/Jewish/Judaism) all reference Judah.
  • Hero of Another Story: In the long-run, it's Judah's descendants who become the most illustrious. During his lifetime, his brother Joseph is The Hero.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: He offers himself as a slave to Joseph in exchange for Benjamin's freedom to avoid breaking his father's heart a second time. What makes this even more impressive is that Judah is resigned to the fact that his mother Leah's children will always be worth less in Jacob's eyes than Rachel's children.
  • Hypocrite: Is willing to put Tamar to death for adultery despite having slept with some random prostitute himself. Upon realizing that she was the prostitute he realizes his error.
  • Made a Slave: He was the one to suggest selling Joseph into slavery.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: He almost had Tamar put to death for adultery before realizing that he was the one at fault.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: His leading his brothers in selling Joseph into slavery ends up saving not only the whole family, but millions of other people from famine, as it enables Joseph to rise to power in Egypt and create a system of food storage and distribution. The fact that he redeems himself personally with his offered Heroic Sacrifice for Benjamin only makes it better.
  • Only Sane Man: During times of crisis, it's Judah who finds the sensible proposals. He manages to persuade Jacob to let Benjamin go with them to Egypt. In Egypt, it's again Judah who takes the initiative and bargains for Benjamin's freedom with Joseph.
  • Parental Favoritism: While Jacob favored his children with Rachel overall, Judah was the favorite among those not mothered by her, and he was given the greatest blessing of the brothers. This is because his older brothers Reuben, Simeon, and Levi did things that Jacob didn't like (the former slept with their father's handmaid, the latter two killed the people of Shechem).
  • Rousing Speech: Judah's famous monologue of Heroic Sacrifice proves to be the catalyst to the family's reconciliation, causing Joseph to break down in Manly Tears and reveal his identity.

    Benjamin 
The second and last child of Jacob and Rachel, and Jacob's twelfth and youngest son overall, whose birth killed his mother.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Benjamin evokes this response both in Judah (although his protection is more for their father's sake than for Benjamin alone) and in Joseph. One of the motivations behind Joseph's Xanatos Gambit might be to rescue Benjamin from his half-brothers if it turns out they have been treating him as poorly as they treated Joseph.
  • Parental Favoritism: Benjamin is subjected to this nearly as much as Joseph was before him. However, fortunately, his brothers don't hate him for it.
  • Replacement Goldfish: After Joseph's disappearance, Jacob dotes on Benjamin as his "replacement" favorite, as Benjamin is his only other son by Rachel and Joseph's full brother. However, given that Jacob continues to mourn for Joseph despite keeping Benjamin close to him, it is implied that Benjamin remains Always Second Best.
  • Vague Age: His birth is recounted before Joseph is sold into slavery, which should place him at least in his early twenties, more likely older, when the family reunites in Egypt. The list of Jacob's descendants who travelled to Egypt also includes his ten sons. But his brothers still call him "the lad" at that point, both they and his father are extremely protective of him, and this combined with his passive role in the narrative often leads him to be portrayed as a child or teenager in art or dramatic adaptations.
  • The Voiceless: Despite being the subject of monumental angsting and drama for three chapters, Benjamin doesn't get even one spoken word of dialogue. The only time he isn't just a passive figure and does something is when he returns Joseph's embrace and cries. Otherwise, he is only mentioned to demonstrate the feelings or moral progress of other characters, such as Jacob's bereavement, Joseph's Big Brother Instinct or Judah's Character Arc.

    Jacob's other sons 
The twelve sons of Jacob are: Reubennote , Simeonnote , Levinote , Judah, Dannote , Naphtalinote , Gadnote , Ashernote , Issacharnote , Zebulunnote , Joseph, and Benjamin. This section accounts for the brothers who don't already have their own folder.
  • Bash Brothers / Red Oni, Blue Oni: Simeon & Levi.
  • Bilingual Backfire: The brothers recall their betrayal of Joseph in front of the Vizier of Egypt, who doesn't speak Canaanite, or so they think.
  • Black Sheep: Dan is seen as this. He hated Joseph the most (folklore) and his land is associated with evil (Jeremiah). His most famous descendant is Samson.
  • Brick Joke: Jacob curses the tribe of Levi with being scattered in Israel. Sure enough, when the land is apportioned, the tribe of Levi are priests...who get no land grant, and live scattered among the people.
  • Gang of Hats: The tribe of Levi are all priests.
  • Hot-Blooded: Simeon.
  • Incest Is Relative: Reuben slept with the mother of 2 of his half-brothers. This led to him losing his birthright as firstborn.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Early on, the brothers have an arguable case against Annoying Younger Sibling Joseph, who comes across as something of a Spoiled Brat. After their selling of Joseph they lose the reader's sympathy until Joseph makes them suffer.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Poor Ruben, through and through. A prime example of this trope is when Ruben tries to persuade Jacob to let Benjamin travel with him to Egypt. As an indication of his sincerity, he tells Jacob he will let both his own sons be killed if he can't bring Benjamin back. Needless to say, Jacob isn't persuaded.
  • Out of Focus: This is especially true of the sons of the concubines. Despite being The Unfavorites, most of Leah's sons get individual characteristics: Judah is the Hero of Another Story, Ruben is the disgraced older brother, Dan is the Black Sheep, Simeon is a problem "wild child", Levi is the most pious one, Issachar is The Smart Guy and Asher is the peacemaker. Do we know anything about Naphtali and Gad, other than their genealogy?
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Judah became leader of the brothers because of various stuff his three older brothers did.
  • This Bear Was Framed: To explain Joseph's disappearance to the rest of the clan, the brothers smear goat's blood on his coat and send it to their father, Jacob, who concludes that Joseph must have been torn apart by wild animals.
  • Token Good Teammate:
    • Judah was the one who suggested selling Joseph to slavery instead of killing him.
    • Reuben was planning to take Joseph out of the pit and save him. Unfortunately, by the time he gets back, Joseph has been sold as a slave to the Ishmaelites.
  • The Unfavorites: Except for Benjamin, Jacob's other sons (by Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah) feel slighted in contrast to Joseph son of Rachel, when Jacob makes a multicolored coat and shows preferential treatment to Joseph. This motivates them to cast him into a pit and have him sold into slavery.

    Dinah 
Jacob's only known daughter, mothered by Leah. She was raped by a Hivite named Shechem, to which her brothers Simeon and Levi took major offense.
  • Girl in a Box: According to Jewish tradition, when her family went to visit Esau, Jacob was afraid Esau would want to marry her, so he locked her in a box. He is rebuked by God for doing so. According to this tradition, her destiny was to become Esau's wife (well, one of them, since by then he was already married to three pagan women), and serve as a Morality Pet for him.
  • Hostage Situation: Sort of. By custom, she was not allowed to leave the prince's tent by herself.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: When she was abducted and raped by the prince, she was going out to visit the women of the land.
  • Rape as Drama
    • Rape and Revenge: Her brothers avenge her by killing the prince who did it, as well as every adult male in his village.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Is Jacob's 13th child, and...well, see above.
  • Token Girl: The only daughter born to Jacob.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Apart from the fact that she eventually goes to Egypt with her family, we never know what happens to her after her brothers rescue her from Shechem, making her a tragic One-Scene Wonder. Some Midrashic tales say that Dinah gave birth to Shechem's daughter, who was spirited away to Egypt to be raised as the daughter of Potiphera, Priest of On, and that it was this daughter, Asenath, who was given in marriage to Joseph. The rather Unfortunate Implications of this tale is that it puts Joseph in a squicky uncle-niece relationship. However, most scholars dismiss this story as a Fanon attempt to make Joseph's sons of pure Jewish lineage. Others believe that she married her brother Simeon (at her request), because no one would want her now that she was no longer a virgin. According to this school of thought, it was a Sexless Marriage, simply to ensure that she would be provided for and protected.

    Tamar (daughter-in-law of Judah) 
Originally the wife of Judah's first two sons, but God put them both to death because of their wickedness. After Judah refuses to give her to his third son, she tricks Judah into sleeping with her.
  • Bed Trick: Tricked Judah into sleeping with her by disguising herself as a prostitute.
  • Cartwright Curse: She married Judah's first son, who died. Then she married Judah's second son, who practiced coitus interruptus and was killed by God as punishment.
  • Guile Heroine: Tamar turns the odds in her favor despite being a neglected, powerless widow trying to get a fair deal from the head of the family in a patriarchal society.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Briefly. She impersonates a hooker as part of a ploy to get her stingy father-in-law to do as he'd agreed and provide her with a new husband.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Her younger son Perez took his brother Zerah's place as first-born as they were being born. Zerah's arm emerged from her womb first, but then Perez burst forth ahead of him.

    Pharaoh (Genesis) 
The Pharaoh who appoints Joseph as his vizier.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: God gave him two prophetic dreams that Joseph interpreted.
  • No Name Given/Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": His real name is never given. Pharaoh is a title.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, there are other Pharaohs mentioned. In fact, it's likely that Joseph served under multiple Pharaohs.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He seems to appreciate Joseph a lot and is kind to his family when they arrive. He was willing to accommodate Joseph's relatives in Goshen, a particularly fertile area of Egypt where they would be able to graze their flocks (and also where they would be separate from the Egyptian populace, as Egyptians tended to look down on shepherds).

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