There are customs and traditions throughout the Bible. Some of the customs have made themselves into our own culture after all these years. Look through the customs below that are found in the Book of Genesis and see how many you recognize. They are listed in the order they appear in the scriptures.
People say, “You can’t get blood out of a turnip.” That expression comes about when God looked with favor on Abel’s offering of a blood sacrifice, but on Cain’s offering of fruits and vegetable from the soil, He did not look with favor (Genesis 4:4). God required a living blood sacrifice. Perhaps that is why we today use the expression, “You can’t get blood out of a turnip.”
God gave Noah a covenant with a sign in Genesis 9:17 consisting of three parts: (1) never again will the world be destroyed by a flood; (2) as long as the earth remains, the seasons will always come as expected; and (3) a rainbow will be visible when it rains as a sign to all that God will keep His promises. The earth’s order and seasons are still preserved, and rainbows still remind us of God’s faithfulness to His word.
The Bible repeats, “And God saw that it was good” referring to the third day of Creation (Genesis 1:10-12). Therefore, Tuesday is favored in some Orthodox circles for marriages. Also, I will bless thee . . . and multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven (Genesis 22:17). Because of what God told Abram, in some Jewish circles, the marriage ceremony is performed at night in the open, under the stars. This custom developed because the stars are associated with God’s assurance to Abram.
In Genesis 6:1-4 and 21:9-14, Sarah followed a custom of her day when she gave Hagar to Abraham to bear a child. If a wife was childless she could give a slave girl as a wife to her husband. If the wife were to bear a son later, the son of the slave-wife could not be driven away. This is probably why Abraham was so reluctant to send Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness when God commanded him to do so.
When Issac goes to meet his wife whom his father’s servant has found, Rebekah veils her face (Genesis 24:65). Because of this, brides still cover their faces with veils on their wedding day.
In Genesis 29:27, Laban said Jacob could marry Rachel after Jacob and Leah fulfilled the week. In this verse the word “week” is used as a synonym for the word “year.” The Rabbis interpreted this to mean that the wedding celebration should last for a whole week. This is why newly weds today usually celebrate a week before returning to work, but in the Bible it was an entire year.
After Rachel gave birth to Benjamin on the road to Bethlehem, Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave in Genesis 35:20. It is considered a symbol of respect for the deceased. It also marks a place of burial that is an indication to all who want to visit the grave later. Today, we still use tombstones to mark the graves of the deceased.
When Jacob saw Joseph’s bloodstained coat thinking his beloved son was dead, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and mourned for many days (Genesis 37:34). Tearing one’s clothes and wearing sackcloth were signs of mourning, much like wearing black today. David tore his clothes when he heard of the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:11). Job did the same thing when he heard about the death of his children (Job 1:20).
In Genesis 48:18, Jacob put his right hand on the heads of his grandsons when he blessed them. The right hand in biblical times and today means the hand of power. That’s why we give the “right hand of fellowship.” It is important to note that Jesus sits on the right hand of God the Father.
In the Bible, Jacob had two wives. According to biblical customs, the husband and first wife were buried together rather than the last wife as is done today. Even though Rachel was Jacob’s favorite wife, he was not buried with her because she was his second wife. Jacob was buried with Leah, his first wife (Genesis 49:31).