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In the very beginning, the world looked like nothing. The day and the night were all mixed together. Then God said, "LIGHT!"
God made the sky with its sun and moon and stars. God made the earth with its seas. God made the trees grow, and all the plants too. It was beautiful!
God made the animals: the very big ones and the very small ones. The ones that fly, the ones that run, the ones that crawl, the ones that swim. It was beautiful!
God gave the earth to men and women and their children so they could live there and make it even more beautiful!
Noah and the Flood
But then people became mean, so mean that God was sorry that he had given them the world. He wanted to destroy everything he had made. So God sent a flood to wash it all away.
But there was Noah. Noah loved God, and God loved Noah. God told Noah to build an ark. Noah brought two of every creature from the earth into this huge boat — even the birds and the snakes. Finally Noah went into the ark with his wife and his children, and God closed the door behind them.
It rained for forty days and forty nights. Then the water slowly went away and the earth dried out. Noah left the ark with his family, with the lions, the bears, the elephants, the doves, and the snakes. Among the gray clouds a colorful rainbow shone. This was God's promise that he would never, ever again destroy the earth like this.
Abraham and His Children
Abraham and Sarah were old and they didn't have any children. God said to Abraham, "Can you count the stars in the night sky? I promise you that your children and grandchildren will be like those stars — so many that no one will be able to count them!"
The next spring, Sarah gave birth to a baby boy. She called him Isaac, which means "God laughs."
Jacob was the son of Isaac. One night, he had a dream. He saw God's angels walking on a ladder of light that stretched from the earth to the sky. And God said to Jacob, "From now on, your new name will be Israel, which means 'God is strong!'"
Moses and the Israelites
Life in Egypt was hard for the children of Israel. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, made them work like slaves. Because there were so many Israelites, Pharaoh ordered his soldiers to kill the newborn babies.
One mother hid her baby in a basket and placed it by the edge of a river. Pharaoh's daughter found the basket. She took the baby in her arms and said, "Little one, you will be my son. You will be a prince in Egypt!" She called him Moses, which means "saved from the water."
Moses grew up. One day, in the desert, he saw a burning bush. The voice of God called to him from the fire, "Moses, Moses! My people are miserable. Go and lead them out of Egypt!"
The Israelites finally escaped from Egypt. Pharaoh sent his horses, chariots, and riders after them. But God divided the sea in two and let the Israelites pass. Then it closed up behind them, swallowing the chariots of Pharaoh, and all his horses and riders.
The Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. Moses climbed the mountain, and God spoke to him there. God gave Moses his commandments written on two stone tablets.
For forty years, the Israelites walked in the desert. At the end of this very long trip, they came to the Promised Land, the country that God gave them — the sweet land of Canaan!
Prophets and Kings
Samuel was a young boy. One night, God called to him: "Samuel! Samuel!" The child answered: "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." Samuel would become a prophet, someone who speaks in the name of God.
God sent Samuel to Bethlehem, to the house of Jesse, a man who had seven sons. The youngest was a shepherd named David. God had chosen him to become the king of Israel. Samuel laid his hand on David and blessed him.
God's people were at war. In the enemy army was a giant named Goliath. The Israelite soldiers were afraid of him. But little David said, "I am not afraid — God is with me. I will laugh at this giant!" David threw a stone with his sling. The stone hit Goliath in the forehead, and Goliath fell to the ground!
King Solomon was the son of David. One night, God spoke to him in a dream: "Ask me for anything you want, and I will give it to you." Solomon answered: "Lord, give me a heart that is wise, so that I might be a good king!" And God was happy with the answer.
King Solomon built a magnificent temple for the Lord. He put the stone tablets that God gave to Moses in the middle of the temple, in a gold box.
Jonah and the Giant Fish
There was a huge city called Nineveh. One day, God said to the prophet Jonah, "Go tell the people of Nineveh that I am going to destroy their city because they are very wicked!" But Jonah was afraid to go to Nineveh. He boarded a ship to flee far away from God.
God sent a raging storm. The ship was going to sink! Jonah said to the sailors, "God is angry. It is all my fault! Throw me overboard!" The sailors threw Jonah into the sea, and immediately the storm stopped. God sent a giant fish to swallow Jonah.
Jonah stayed in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. He prayed and he cried out, "From the bottom of the sea, from my deep despair, bring me back, Lord!" And God heard his prayer.
God told the giant fish to spit Jonah out on the shore. Then Jonah went to Nineveh. The people listened to him and promised not to do wicked things anymore. And God promised not to destroy their city.
Daniel and the Lions
In the kingdom of Persia, King Darius made a law that anyone who prayed to God would be killed. But Daniel still prayed in secret. The king learned about it and commanded that Daniel be thrown into a pit full of hungry lions.
When the king came to look inside the pit, he saw Daniel sitting with the lions. The lions had not hurt him. The king declared, "God of Daniel, you are great! There is no God greater than you!" And the king had Daniel taken out of the pit.
Excerpted from The Bible FOR YOUNG CHILDREN by Marie-Hélène Delval Götting Copyright © 2002 by Bayard Éditions Jeunesse as La Bible pour les tout-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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Posted April 18, 2012
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