The Bible is sacred to billions of people throughout the world. It is the fundamental book of the Jewish people, describing the way in which the Jewish people developed and became unified and instructing believers how they should serve God. Christianity adopted the Bible as part of its Holy Scripture and the Koran, Islam's holy book, features many of the characters that appear in the Bible.
Many Bible stories present people's actions and the ways in which they coped with hardships and challenges. These stories are meant to provide readers with explanations for various phenomena they see in the world around them and to guide them to behave as moral and good people.
One of the first stories in the Book of Genesis describes the actions of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and was intended to explain the reason for the existence of need, grief and pain in the world.
The Garden of Eden is described in the Bible as a perfect place, which God created so that Adam and Eve would be provided with everything they needed. Their lives were simple and innocent and they enjoyed all the bounty of the Garden of Eden, except the fruit of the tree of knowledge, which was forbidden to them.
Evil entered this perfect world in the form of the snake, who enticed Eve to defy the explicit prohibition, eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge and share it with Adam. The punishment for this act was swift and harsh. Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden and sentenced to a life of hardship and suffering.
The character of Samson is unique among the judges who ruled the people during the period preceding that of the kings. Before he was even born, Samson's parents were told that he would one day save Israel from the Philistines, and the spirit of God surged through him in his youth.
Chapter 14 of the Book of Judges tells of one of the acts that attested to Samson's heroism and strength. While walking alone on the outskirts of the Philistine city of Timna, Samson ran across a young lion that roared at him and stood poised to attack. Although carrying no weapon, Samson was not intimidated by the lion. He was bolstered by the spirit of God and charged the lion, killing it with his bare hands.
The story continues, describing how Samson returned to the spot afterward and discovered that a swarm of bees had nested in the lion's carcass. He ate of their honey and later composed his well known riddle "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet".
God commanded Jonah to go eastward to the great city of Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian empire, to caution its inhabitants against their bad behavior. Jonah feared the mission and tried to flee as far away as possible. He went westward, arrived at the sea port of Jaffa and boarded a ship bound for the islands of Tarshish.
A great storm arose at sea, threatening to sink the ship. Jonah asked the sailors to throw him overboard and save themselves. God brought forth a great fish, which swallowed Jonah. He spent three days inside the fish's belly, where he repented for his actions and prayed that God would save him. God forgave him thanks to his sincere repentance, the fish spat him out on to dry land and Jonah Jonah proceeded to perform the mission God had assigned him.
It is customary to read the Book of Jonah, which epitomizes the strength of repentance and forgiveness, in synagogue during the Yom Kippur prayers.