Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Book of Genesis

Go To

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • A fairly common one is that neither the serpent nor Eve did anything wrong. One version is that they were simply in the right to choose knowledge over ignorance; a less generous one is that they were deliberately set up to fail. It doesn't help that the serpent is the only character in the story who never lies.
    • When Noah is described as "a just man and perfect in his generations," does it mean that he was truly just and morally perfect? Or was he simply the best of a bad generation, who wasn't so perfect compared to later heroes – as evidenced by the fact he doesn't plead for God to spare the world, the way Abraham later does for Sodom and Gomorrah, and that all he does after the Flood is get drunk and curse his grandson for a sin the boy's father committed? Alternatively, are his post-Flood actions a sign of character-damaging trauma from having survived the world's destruction?
    • Advertisement:
    • Lot's rather... questionable offer to the gang rapists at Sodom has some questioning how righteous he really was, though many seem to forget that before he offered them his daughters, the text states he went out and closed the door behind him, thereby leaving himself vulnerable to the rapists while protecting both his daughters and his guests. Furthermore, Lot had to protect his guests due to Sacred Hospitality, even at the risk of his own family. He was actually taking a huge risk by offering his daughters, as they would been seen as unclean and defiled, unfit for marriage. Lot's bloodline could have ended as a result.
    • Why is Isaac so passive throughout his life compared to his father Abraham and son Jacob? Some scholars think it might be a sign of PTSD due to nearly dying at his own father's hands, or else a sign that he was born with a mental disorder... which might be a reason why Abraham was willing to sacrifice him.
    • Advertisement:
    • The entire Binding of Isaac story raises questions about Abraham, Isaac and God.
      • Was Abraham truly willing to sacrifice his son, or did he have faith all along that God would stop him? Might he even have been testing God to see if He would act morally by stopping him or not? If he really was willing, should we admire it, or should we be appalled? Does he truly love Isaac and agree to sacrifice him as a selfless act of devotion to God, or does he secretly want to be rid of his passive, possibly disabled son (see above), with God stopping him to teach him Isaac's worth?
      • Was Isaac a child or a young adult at the time? Was he completely helpless at his father's hands, or did he lie down willingly on the alter for God's sake? Does the fact that afterwards, he and Abraham are never shown directly interacting again imply that the incident estranged them?
      • Did God intend to stop Abraham all along, or did He actually want him to sacrifice Isaac, but then change His mind? Was His goal really for Abraham to put Isaac on the altar, or did He want him to argue for Isaac's life the way he had for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, meaning that Abraham actually fails the test rather than succeeding?
    • Advertisement:
    • Why does Rebekah help her son Jacob cheat his brother Esau out of their father's blessing? Is it a shameless act of Parental Favoritism? Or does she objectively realize that Jacob's character makes him better suited to be Isaac's heir? For that matter, is Isaac really fooled by Jacob's disguise, or – since he does briefly recognize his voice – does he only pretend to be fooled because he belatedly realizes that Jacob is the more suitable heir, but knows that the Hot-Blooded Esau will never willingly give up his blessing?
    • Shechem: Dinah's rapist, or just her defiler? The Hebrew word that many versions translate as "rape" can actually just mean "defilement" in the sense of "the filthy heathen defiles the girl by having sex with her" in this case. Levi and Simeon's murderously violent reaction to their sister's violation suggests that he did indeed rape her, but Shechem's belief that he could cut a deal with them for her hand in marriage (and willingness to be circumcised, which his people would have viewed as being not that far off from Crippling Castration, and even convincing them to go through with it too) suggests it might have been more in the "defilement" category.
    • Joseph's Restrained Revenge against his brothers may also have been a Secret Test of Character, putting them into a position where they could again sell their half-brother (and their father's favorite) into slavery, as they had done with him years prior.
    • When Judah offers to become a slave in Benjamin's place, does he truly expect to be enslaved and not know that the Egyptian governor is Joseph? Or by watching "the man" carefully, has he already recognized him as Joseph and resolved to move him to reveal himself and reconcile the family?
  • Broken Base: This, alongside the Book of Revelation, is one of the most divisive books of the Bible. Let's just leave it at that.
    • One reason for the debate is that after the nations we know today as Judea and Israel were founded, a system of scribes were set up to preserve the holy books, copying the books EXACTLY as they had been written. This was considered a profession you had to train for, and is one of the reasons the Bible is considered a historical document. Now obviously, the scribe system hadn't been set up until long after Genesis, so the picture isn't going to be as clear. Also, these are very bare-bones accounts up to Abraham's time, which has some scholars contending that they must have originally been preserved only as oral accounts up to then.
  • Designated Hero:
    • Due to Values Dissonance, Lot can come off as this for unbelievers when he offers his daughters to the rapists. Yet he's described as a righteous man in the New Testament.
    • Jacob gets a mild case in the story of Dinah's violation. Shechem violated Dinah and kept her at his home while trying to persuade her brothers to give her to him in marriage. Dinah's brothers objected. They went too far in their revenge, killing people who had nothing to do with it, but one can certainly sympathize with their motives. Does Jacob care that they saved his daughter from being married to the guy who violated her? No, he's worried that they've endangered his whole family by making it "a stench in the nostrils" of the surrounding peoples. Mainly because the brothers had asked for the whole city of Shechem to be circumcised, a sign of the covenant with God among the Hebrews, as part of the dowry for the wedding, and with all the men incapacitated, they were able to attack. The underhanded use of circumcision in such a way would not reflect kindly on the Hebrews as a whole, as no one would be willing to trust a tribe which uses their sacred bond with God as a weapon.
    • Jacob in general, in fact: he swindles his brother Esau out of his blessing, makes a poor husband to his wives with his favoritism to Rachel driving them to vicious sisterly rivalry (dragging their handmaidens into the feud by making them his concubines as well), and does rather poorly as a father as well in view of the murderous envy his favoritism to Joseph stirred up in his other sons. Even so, God continues to favor him to the end.
  • Designated Villain: Dinah's brothers. The narrative takes a dim view of their getting revenge for Dinah's rape. However, the major problem with this view is that they pretty much butchered the whole city instead of the one guy, the prince, who actually raped Dinah, and took the women into slavery. The reason they managed to do that is because they convinced them all to get circumcised, an act which would have meant they were all now part of the pact with God and his followers. Circumcision is a sign that a man is a part of Judaism, so for Dinah's brothers to use it in such an underhanded way destroys the idea that the Hebrew nation is trust worthy to her neighbours. In the long run, it turns out that they just felt like the honour of their tribe was soiled when Dinah was raped, and didn't care what she felt. Now is it so hard to see why they were in the wrong?
    • Ham in that many question how stumbling upon your naked drunk father and laughing about it to your your brothers warrants having your bloodline cursed into slavery. Scholars suggest he did something worse like castrating and/or raping his father in his sleep.
  • Double Standard: Some people have put the blame of eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge solely on Eve, others on Adam. Others put the blame on both.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The men of Sodom attempt to gang rape a pair of angels to show that they are indeed full of sin.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • For being mentioned in all of one line, Methuselah is the subject of a lot of extra-biblical stuff.
    • Nimrod is amazingly popular in folklore (the Tower of Babel was apparently built on his orders and he tried to have Abraham killed) and pop culture (shares the name as a villain from The X-Men).
    • Melchizidek makes exactly one very brief appearance, but is important enough that Abram of all people venerates him as a king and priest and pays him a tribute. He's even name-checked again in the Book of Psalms (which is quoted in turn in the New Testament), where he is theologized as something of a Messianic Archetype— not that Melchizidek is like the Messiah, but that the Messiah is like Melchizidek. There are also those who say that he was in fact Noah's son Shem, who would have been about 430 years old at the time, certainly deserving some reverence.
  • Values Dissonance: Kill everybody, even the animals! Then kill the whole town. All of them. Let's just say that those moments are a big reason for why there's a massive Broken Base and leave it at that.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: Besides the creation story (no, we are not going to open that can of worms here), there is Melchizedek, the High Priest who gave Abraham and Sarah bread, wine, and a blessing in the name of their God. Some uphold him as a metaphor or foreshadowing of Christ, others just see him as some priest-king-dude who did something nice for Abraham and Sarah.
  • The Woobie:
    • Isaac. His own father almost killed him. Later, his wife Rebecca and son Jacob conspire against him to trick him into giving Jacob the blessing.
    • Hagar becomes Abraham's concubine with his wife Sarah's consent and bears him a much-desired son, Ishmael. Later, once Sarah herself conceives and gives birth to Isaac, she has Abraham evict Hagar and Ishmael, who have to wander around in the wilderness before God intervenes.
    • Leah. She was into marriage with a man who doesn't love her but prefers his other wife, who is also Leah's sister. At the very least, God takes pity on her and allows her to bear more children than her sister.
    • Joseph. Sold by his brothers to slavery, then wrongly accused of rape. It takes a while before he earns his happy ending.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: