Why are these stories in here? Are they for me to follow? Are they for me to formulate moral positions? Are they there to explain how things work in the world?
Are these early stories really lessons for little ones?
Jacob and Rebekah could be stars in a soap opera. A modern re-do of their story could rival Destiny, that lawyer series starring Glen Close.
Jacob stole from his brother; his brother did not kill him; he was blessed.
Jacob wrestled with God; God did not kill him; he was blessed.
Afterwards, Jacob was generous to his brother; his brother did not kill him; he was blessed.
He was one of the least deserving guys to receive such blessings.
That might be a lesson for us. We may wrestle with God. We may wrong others. We may, in spite of ourselves, be blessed.
Joseph’s saga shows that there are no new sins under the sun. Partiality and extreme sibling rivalry. Child trafficking and slavery. Neglectful, vengeful, and exploitative family members and dens of thugs. Rich urban women—like Potiphar's wife—can take their turn at being exploitative and deceitful—not just leaving it to hunting and gathering nomadic types like Eve and Rebekah.
Yet, Joseph inspires with the possibility that even the exploited, and the neglected, by the grace of God, can rise above circumstances and shine like stars in dark places.
That is a powerful story for children.
Some general reflections...
If you simply start reading Genesis, with no preconceived notions—nearly impossible—but if you try—you don’t see any descriptions of God that we give to him based on later passages of Scripture. You do not see the terms omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. Theologians, though I find them very helpful, can sometimes function outside the narrative of scripture in assigning God traits. Many works of popular devotional literature call God these things, creatng systems for interpreting his actions that are certainly not laid out in Genesis. I am thinking in particular of the view of God's sovereignty that says he is completely unchanging, controls all actions of men, and that every particular thing that happens is His specific will.
These stories hold some problems for that view, I think.
The God of Genesis seems to be so far, a God creating, relating, contemplating, urging, bargaining, recompensing, and revealing himself to humanity.
If I understand Christopher JH Wright, the main take-away from these stories should be the actions of God in granting grace. Creating a beautiful Garden in which to live, with no initial effort for man. Granting Abraham wealth and promise, based not on his actions, but on his belief. His continued blessings on this flawed, but fascinating family, including Jacob and his sons. A study human nature and interacting with the divine. Agree?