To finish up our study of the Pentateuch, I would like to provide a list of the key people, places, events, dates and background that are found in the Pentateuch and Joshua and Judges. These are the important items that happen in these books. Hopefully, this brief study will provide a small help in knowing where something occurred in the Bible and be provided a very brief summary of that person, event, or date. Obviously, I cannot be comprehensive with every person like Moses or Adam, as (1) that would be a giant book, (2) there are already many great books out there on them, and (3) this is a brief high level overview. This is just scratching the surface on some of these items and you will probably see that there are many details that are not included for sake of time and space.
Really, the purpose of these posts will be to help bring some stories back to mind and provide any help in the form of study. Today, we will focus on the main characters that are seen from Genesis through Judges.
Adam-the first man, formed from the earth’s dust to be a living being to inhabit the earth that God furnished. God placed mankind in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it, commanding him to eat the fruit of the trees freely, but promising death if he should eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Gen 1-5
Eve-the first woman, a completer for Adam made by God; one that corresponded to his nature, taken from his own body to become one with him, his wife. Deceived by the serpent and failing to recognize the goodness of God and His commandment, disobeyed the command and ate of the fruit giving it to Adam as well Gen 2-4
Cain-son of Adam & Eve, twin to Abel, brother to Seth. Cain murdered his brother Abel because of religious envy. God forced Cain to acknowledge his act, driving him from the ground, making him a wandered in the earth though protecting him from blood vengeance Gen 4 . The line through which secular culture is advanced (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 60-61). Tiller of the fields
Abel-son of Adam & Eve, twin to Cain, brother to Seth. Murdered by his brother Cain. Gen 4. Keeper of the flocks
Seth-son of Adam & Eve, brother to Cain & Abel. It is through the line of Seth that God’s plan of redemption will move, Gen 4-5 (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 61).
Enoch-father of Methuselah, lived 365 years, walked faithfully with God and then was no more because God took him away, Gen 5
Noah-walked with God, escaped the purifying wrath of God to become the new head of mankind, worshipping in the day of salvation in the gift of covenant under God’s blessing though sin was still at work. After inspecting the corruption and violence in the earth, God told Noah of His plan for a life destroying flood and that He would deliver Noah and his family with a remnant of animal life. Noah was directed by God to build an ark to carry them through the flood. Gen 6-9
Shem-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Sons of Shem included the descendants of Aram and Arphaxad, the father of all the sons of Eber (the line through which the blessing flowed); lived in the eastern hill country, Gen 10-11
Ham-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Ham broke loyalty with his father Noah when Noah became drunk, and then cursed Ham’s son Canaan. Sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan from whom the lands of Arabia, including the Assyrians, Africa, and Canaan were settled, Gen 10-11
Japheth-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras and were the peoples who spread into the maritime territories of the earth, Gen 10-11
Abraham-a man of faith, receives God’s covenant promises and models for his heirs covenant loyalty to God in the face of threats to the fulfillment of the promises; fearful Abraham, seeks to aid God’s promises by fathering a son through Hagar causing division in the family. God grants Abraham a son through his wife Sarah and she delivers Isaac, the line through which God will fulfill his promise of multitudes of offspring, Gen 11-25
Sarah-Abraham’s wife; despite her unbelief in God’s provision of a child, she gives birth to a son, Gen 11-25
Lot-relative of Abraham, Lot fathers nations, as does Abraham, but through the breach of family to nations who themselves will breach family loyalty, Gen 13, 18-19
Hagar-Sarah’s maid, mother of Ishmael, fathered by Abraham, Gen 16
Ishmael-son of Hagar and Abraham; under God’s blessing, becomes a nation with twelve tribes, fulfilling God’s promise that he would live in defiance of all his relatives, Gen 16, 21
Abimelech-Philistine king whom God controls his actions in order to protect Abraham, Gen 20 Abraham lied to him that sarah was his sister and not his wife. Abimelech spoke to God and God spared him. Abimelech gave Abraham all sorts of servants and gifts. He was healed and his wife was able to have children as Abraham prayed for him. Covenant with Abraham over a well that Abraham dug and gave 7 lambs for
Isaac-son of Abraham and Sarah; the line through which God will fulfill His promise of multitudes of offspring. In contrast to Abraham, Isaac fails to lead his sons to respect God’s gift of the blessing. God provides Isaac with twin offspring and Isaac chooses to Jacob, the younger to receive the blessing. The Lord calls Isaac to the land of Canaan, renewing the Abrahamic promises to bless him and make him a blessing to all the earth because of Abraham’s obedience, though Isaac endangered the family by following the bad example of Abraham (lying about her being his sister) at Gerar, Gen 25- God fulfills His plan of blessing Isaac even through the unbelief and disobedience of the family.
Rebekah-wife of Isaac; Rebekah schemes with Jacob to get the blessing for Jacob against Isaac and Esau. Was also barren but Isaac prayed and she gave birth, she was 60 years old when she gave birth.
Jacob-son of Isaac and Rebekah, younger brother of Esau, husband of Rachel and Leah. Jacob exhibits unbelieving faith in the covenant promises, and seeks to grasp God’s promise by buying the birthright from Esau who despised his birthright. Jacob’s sin fulfills the plan of God to bless Jacob, but requires the discipline of flight to protect himself from his wronged brother, but also to find a proper wife.
Esau-son of Isaac and Rebekah, older brother of Jacob. Esau despised and sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob. Also called Edom because of the red stew.
Laban-uncle of Jacob, father of Rachel and Leah. Laban allowed Jacob to live with him in Paddan Aram, for Jacob’s compensation for working for him, Laban offered his daughter Rachel in marriage. Laban deceived Jacob and gave him Leah as wife first because she was the older daughter. Jacob loved Rachel however and worked for Laban another 7 years so that he might make Rachel his wife. After Jacob’s family increases, Laban’s attitude toward Jacob changes—Jacob’s household and flocks increase, he requests leave, flees from Laban, who then pursues him.
Rachel-wife of Jacob; mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Barren; stole Labans idols.
Leah-wife of Jacob; mother of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah
Reuben-firstborn of Jacob and Leah; disqualified himself from leadership of the family by committing incest and slept with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah Gen 35
Simeon-second son of Jacob and Leah; sought revenge for Dinah’s rape by killing every male in the city in which they lived
Levi-third son of Jacob and Leah; sought revenge for Dinah’s rape by killing every male in the city in which they lived
Judah-fourth son of Jacob and Leah
Joseph-first son of Jacob and Rachel; Jacob’s favorite son and choice to manage the family. Joseph experiences two dreams that indicate that he will lead their family, inciting jealousy in his 11 brothers. They sell him into slavery, telling Jacob that he is dead. Joseph thrives in Egypt, works in the household of Potiphar, but is then put into prison after claims that he seduced Potiphar’s wife. Joseph through the power of the Lord tells the meanings behind dreams of fellow prisoners, and after two years is connected to Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of Egypt. During famine, Joseph has the opportunity to reconcile with his brothers and father who visit Egypt to purchase grain for their family, Gen 37-50.
Benjamin-second son of Jacob and Rachel; God completes His promise to Jacob by giving him twelve sons, ending with Benjamin’s birth and the death of Rachel, Gen 35.
Dinah-daughter of Jacob and Leah; experienced rape at the hand of Shechem a Hivite, who then requested that Dinah become his wife. Shechem and his father Hamor spoke to Jacob and his sons about this request and agreed that Dinah might be given to Shechem in marriage if the men of the region become circumcised. The men agreed, and were circumcised, three days after, Simeon and Levi sought revenge for the rape of their sister and killed all the males in the region Gen 34
Tamar-daughter-in-law of Judah; Tamar was married to Judah’s son Er, who was wicked in the sight of the Lord and was killed. Tamar became pregnant through her father-in-law when he refused to give his other son Shelah to her as husband, Gen 38.
Potiphar-when Joseph was sold into slavery, Potiphar purchased Joseph from the Ishmaelites. Joseph was blessed by the Lord and Potiphar saw this, and elevated him to second in command of his household, Gen 39.
The Cupbearer-offended Pharaoh and was put into the same prison as Joseph; Joseph was assigned to attend to the cupbearer. The Cupbearer experienced a dream in which a vine grew in front of him, and it grew three branches. On the vine, the branches grew into clusters of grapes which he squeezed into the cup of Pharaoh. Joseph interpreted his dream through the power of the Lord to mean that in three days, the Cupbearer would be restored to his prior position. Once Joseph interpreted the dream, he asked that the Cupbearer remember him to Pharaoh so that he might be released from prison. Just as Joseph had interpreted the dream, so it came to be; however the Cupbearer did not remember him to Pharaoh, Gen 40.
The Baker-offended Pharaoh and was put into the same prison as Joseph; Joseph was assigned to attend to the baker. The Baker experienced a dream in which three baskets of bread were on his head, and on the top basket, all types of baked goods were there for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating the bread out of the basket. Joseph interpreted his dream through the power of the Lord to mean that in three days, the Baker would be killed by Pharaoh. Just as Joseph had interpreted the dream, so it came to be, Gen 40.
Manasseh-firstborn son of Joseph, Gen 48
Ephraim-second son of Joseph; received blessing from Jacob (Israel) even though he was the younger son, Gen 48.
Moses-a Levite through whom which God uses to deliver Israel. God uses many mighty signs and wonders, showing that He is God, causing Moses to trust in Him.
Miriam-sister of Moses, she hid among the reeds to watch what would happen to the papyrus basket that Moses was placed in as an infant. Miriam watched as the basket floated to Pharaoh’s daughter and offered to provide her with a wet nurse (her mother), Ex 2.
Pharaoh’s daughter-bathing in the Nile, found the papyrus basket in which the infant Moses was floating. Pharaoh’s daughter took Moses and he became her son, Ex 2.
Jethro-Moses’ father-in-law, a Midianite priest, Zipporah is daughter
Aaron-brother of Moses, mouthpiece of Moses through which Israel is delivered.
Joshua-Moses successor as leader of Israel, Josh 1-18
Bezalel-chief craftsman and overseer (along with Oholiab) of the construction/building of the Tabernacle, Ex 31, 33
Nadab-son of Aaron, attempted to worship Yahweh by his own device (along with Abihu) by offering unauthorized fire before the Lord contrary to His command and was destroyed by God with holy fire from the sanctuary, Lev 10
Abihu-son of Aaron, attempted to worship Yahweh by his own device (along with Nadab) by offering unauthorized fire before the Lord contrary to His command and was destroyed by God with holy fire from the sanctuary, Lev 10
Caleb-one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, from the tribe of Judah. Upon the spies’ return from their exploration, contrary to the other 11 spies, Caleb encouraged Israel to invade that they might overcome the land (the other spies brought back fruit telling that the land was good, but were intimidated by the inhabitants and well fortified cities), Num 13. Caleb, for his faith in Yahweh’s provision, was spared during a plague and was allowed to enter Canaan, Deut 1
Korah-along with Dathan and Abiram led Israel to rebel against Moses and Aaron, but Yahweh vindicated their leadership by great judgments against them and all Israel. Moses warned them that Yahweh would show the next day who should lead Israel, who was holy, by choosing the censer of the man He honored. Moses rebuked Korah for presumption beyond the good gifts of God to Levi, seeking the priesthood also. Moses interceded with Yahweh against them, commanding them to be present the next day bringing a fire pan and censer, which they did along with 250 other community leaders. Yahweh commanded Moses, Aaron, and Israel to separate themselves as a result of Moses’ intercession. The power of the Lord was shown then who should leave Israel when the earth was opened and swallowed alive Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with the 250 men and their households validating Moses’ leadership, Num 16
Balak-king of Moab, fearing Israel, sent for Balaam, God’s prophet to curse Israel. Balaam sternly warned by Yahweh, reminded Balak that he could speak only what Yahweh had said, Num 22-24
Balaam-a prophet, hired by Balak to curse Israel; Balaam prophetically proclaimed Yahweh’s blessing on Israel. The Balaam narrative shows that God had begun to fulfill His promise to Abraham and that his seed had become a “great nation”. It showed that God was about to fulfill His promise to give Abraham’s seed the land. The narrative also shows that the curses of the nations could not thwart God’s promise to bless the nation of Israel, Num 22-24
Rahab-prostitute of Jericho who hid spies sent from Israel and lied to the king, urging him to send after them to the Jordan, leaving him to think they had fled. Rahab hid the spies under the flax on the room. Knowledge of God and all that He had done for Israel had come to Rahab, her response showed her faithfulness to God and she requested that God honor her and her family when Israel came to take Jericho. The spies gave an oath and escaped via a cord through a window; it was through the sign of the cord that Israel would know to not destroy Rahab’s house, Josh 2
Achan-upon the defeat of Jericho, Israel was instructed by the Lord to keep away from all “devoted things” and that the silver, gold, bronze, and iron from the city were to be put into the Lord’s treasury. Achan brought about Yahweh’s wrath against the people when he stole some of the things from Jericho, Josh 7
Eleazar-son of Aaron, priest during the time of Joshua’s leadership of Israel, Josh 14
Deborah-prophetess, judged Israel in Ephraim to settle disputes of the Israelites; worked alongside Barak, Jud 4
Barak-Recipient of the Lord’s command through Deborah to take 10,000 men of Naphtali and Zebulun to Mt. Tabor to defeat Sisera’s army at Kishon. Barak displayed cowardice and refused to carry out the Lord’s command unless Deborah would go with him. Deborah agreed to go, however Barak lost honor because Yahweh would kill Sisera by the hands of a woman (Jael), Jud 4
Gideon-because of Israel’s rebellion, they were given in to the hands of the Midianites. Yahweh commission Gideon to deliver Israel, by returning to Yahweh worship in Ophrah. Upon being commissioned by God, Gideon requests that a sign be performed to confirm that he was hearing from God. Gideon prepared unleavened bread and boiled goat that were miraculously consumed in fire on a rock. Gideon built an altar to the Lord at that place and named it Ophrah, Jud 6 (Judges Notes, p 17). Israel battles against Midian and Gideon displays wavering faith in God’s deliverance by asking for additional signs (a dewy fleece on dry ground and the next day a dry fleece on dewy ground). God uses a dream to reveal to Gideon that He will deliver Israel, Jud 6-7
Jephthah-was given the direct promise of Yahweh that victory will come over the Ammonites, but he will try to secure the victory by a foolish and unnecessary oath. The judgeship of Jephthat is characterized by ignorance and negligence of divine things and his manipulation of Yahweh, Jud 10-11
Samson-The judgeship of Samson is driven by his appetites, negligent of his Nazirite vow, selfish and uncaring about the face of his people, Jud 12-16.
Delilah-the person responsible for the downfall of Samson’s strength. Delilah seduced Samson to tell her the secret sources of his strength for a bag of silver from the Philistines, Jud 16