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When it all began, the breath of God floated over the waters. God made the earth, the sky, the sea, and everything in them. The sky surrounded the earth and was reflected in the water. Now life could be born!
Creatures of the Water
God said, "Let the waters swarm with living things!" And God created the great sea snakes, the fish, and all the creatures that slide and swim in the water.
Creatures of the Air
God said, "Let birds fill the air!" And God created the birds flying in the sky above the earth, and all the creatures with wings.
Creatures of the Land
God said, "Let the earth be filled with wild animals and all kinds of creatures that run and jump and crawl on the ground!" God saw that it was beautiful. Then God said, "Let more and more and more animals fill the water, the air, and the earth!"
Names for the Animals
God grew a great big garden, and put Adam, a man, in it. God brought all the animals to Adam so that Adam could give them each a name: cow, tiger, turtle, mosquito, and parrot; hippopotamus and swallow, jellyfish and elephant, wolf, lion, rabbit, eel, and antelope. For each animal Adam met, he invented a name.
The Lying Snake
The snake was sly and sneaky. He said to eve, "Taste the fruit that God told you not to eat." eve ate the fruit and gave some to Adam. Then they saw that they were not strong like God. They were weak, and naked, as naked as the snake! And they were ashamed.
Abel offered to God the lambs from his flock. His brother Cain offered to God some fruit of the earth that he was proud to have grown. God loved Abel's lamb, but he wasn't interested in Cain's fruit. Cain became angry and killed Abel. Then God punished Cain by sending him away.
Animals on the Ark
Soon there was so much fighting on the earth that God wanted to destroy everything he had made. But God loved Noah. So God said to him, "The rain will fall for forty days and forty nights, and everything will be covered with water. Build an ark, a big boat. Bring with you two of each kind of animal that lives on the earth."
When the rain stopped and the water began to dry up, Noah sent out a raven. And the raven flew away, black against the black of the sky and the water. At night, the raven came back, because he could not find a place to land.
Noah waited seven more days, and he sent out a dove. The dove flew away, and when she returned, white against the morning sky, she held in her beak a small olive branch: the earth was dry!
The Animals Leave the Ark
Noah and his family left the ark. He let all the creatures go — the beetles, crocodiles, and crabs, hedgehogs, hyenas, and scorpions, zebras, ladybugs, and all the others. Before long, there would be thousands of animals on the earth again. And the beautiful rainbow from God shone above them.
Abraham wanted to please God. He was ready to sacrifice Isaac, his son, his only child, to God. But the angel of God called to him, "No! No! Don't hurt your boy!" Then Abraham saw a ram whose horns were caught in the bushes. He offered the ram to God, and God promised him, "You will have as many children as there are stars in the sky!"
The Frogs of Egypt
God's people were slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, would not let them go. God said to Moses, "Stretch your stick over the marsh!" Immediately, frogs jumped out by the thousands, and they covered everything in Egypt. What a plague!
The Mosquitoes and the Flies
Then God said to Moses, "Hit the ground with your stick!" And the dust of the ground turned into mosquitoes that buzzed and bit the animals and the people. But Pharaoh still said "No!" Then came the flies. The big flies were everywhere: in houses, even in the king's palace. What a plague!
Then God made the wind blow, and the wind brought grasshoppers. There were so many grasshoppers that no one could see the sun! The grasshoppers ate everything: wheat, vegetables, the leaves of trees. What a plague! Pharaoh was stubborn. He still said "No!" But not for much longer ...
The Bees of Canaan
Finally, Pharaoh let the Israelites go. The people of God walked in the desert, and Moses showed them the way. They went to the country that God gave them: Canaan, the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey, the sweet honey from the bees.
God was angry with Balaam and sent an angel to block Balaam's path. Three times, the donkey saw the angel and stopped. Three times, Balaam beat his donkey. Then God made the donkey talk. The donkey said, "Why do you beat me, Master? I have always carried you well!" Then Balaam saw the angel too and he bowed down to listen to what God wanted to say.
God made Samson very, very strong. But in Samson's country there were enemy soldiers everywhere. Samson caught three hundred foxes. He tied their tails together, two by two. Then he put a torch between their tails and let them run wild in the enemies' fields: their wheat, their grapevines, and their olive trees all burned to the ground.
"As the deer who wants to drink looks for water from the river, My soul looks for God. I am thirsty for God."
The Sparrow and the Swallow
"The sparrow has found a safe place, and the swallow has found a nest for its babies. Like them, I am safe in your house, oh Lord, my God!"
The Sparrow and the Stork
"God, you have planted big trees. In the cedars the sparrow builds its nest, and the stork lives in the cypress tree."
God said, "Look at the hippopotamus! I'm the one who made him! He eats grass like an ox. What a nice back! What a beautiful belly! His legs are tough; his bones are strong. Yes, he is a masterpiece!"
The Ants and the Lizards
There are some little creatures that are very extraordinary. All summer long, the tiny ants store up food for the winter, and the lizards walk around at home in the king's palace!
The Cats of Babylon
There was a time when the people of God were prisoners in Babylon. Jeremiah the prophet told them what the Lord said: "Look at these idols made of wood, gold, and silver! Don't be afraid, they are not gods; cats walk right over them. You worship the only true God."
In Babylon, when Darius was king, no one was allowed to pray to God. But Daniel prayed in his room. Someone told the king, and Daniel was punished; he was thrown into the lion's den. The next day, the king came to see: Daniel was alive! The lions did not hurt him! And King Darius believed in Daniel's God.
God was angry with Jonah. He sent a big storm at sea. Then Jonah said to the sailors, "It's my fault! Throw me overboard!" God sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah. For three days and three nights Jonah prayed in the belly of the fish. And the fish spit Jonah onto the shore.
The Cow and the Bear
Isaiah the prophet said, "One day a child will be born. God's spirit will be in him, and he will bring peace: the wolf will live with the lamb, the cow and the bear will be friends, and the baby will play with the cobra. The love of God will fill the earth just like the water fills the sea!"
The Sheep and the Shepherds
One night, on a hillside, shepherds were watching their sheep. An angel came to them, surrounding them with the light of God. The angel said to them, "I bring you news of great joy: today, a Savior is born. He is a baby lying in a manger."
The Dove of Jesus
Jesus came to the edge of the Jordan River to be baptized by John, a prophet of God. When Jesus was baptized and came out of the water, the Spirit of God came down in the form of a dove. And the people heard a voice from heaven saying, "Here is my son; I love him with all my heart!"
An Egg or a Scorpion?
Jesus said to the people, "Imagine a father who, when his child asks for an egg, would give him a scorpion! God is the best of fathers. Ask! He will give you everything that is good for you."
The Demons and the Pigs
Jesus met a man possessed by demons who wanted to hurt him. Jesus said to the demons, "Get out of him!" The demons begged, "Then let us go into these pigs!" Jesus let them go. And the whole herd of pigs threw themselves into the sea. Then the man and his country were free from the cruel demons.
Jesus said to the people, "Don't be afraid! You are all precious to God. Look at the little sparrows: God, your Father, takes care of them. And you are more special to him than all the sparrows in the sky!"
Excerpted from Animals of the Bible FOR YOUNG CHILDREN by Marie-Hélène Delval Aurélia Fronty Copyright © 2005 by Bayard Éditions Jeunesse as Les Animaux de la Bible pour les petits . Excerpted by permission of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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