We invite you to explore these Bible stories about heroes, both men, and women, who served God selflessly, obediently, courageously, and faithfully.
All the following Bible stories are from the classic book, “Bible Heroes – Stories from the Bible,” written by Mary Lathbury (DeWolfe, Fiske & Company, 1898).
We offer this public domain work for you and are seeking other material as a resource for you and for families.
The introduction of the book, written by Bishop John H. Vincent, is dedicated to Mothers and refers to the Bible as a textbook for life.
He reminds us that these stories are “not a substitute for the Word—only little approaches to it through which young feet may be guided by her who holds a place next to the great Teacher in His work with little children.”
Jesus said of children, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14,KJV.
These characters serve as wonderful examples, for adults and children, of heroes living exemplary lives according to God’s principles- being selfless servants and willing to serve courageously, obediently, and faithfully.
“. . . whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:43-45. KJV.
All the following Bible Stories are by Mary A. Lathbury
ABRAHAM—THE FATHER OF THE FAITHFUL
“The people who lived four thousand years ago were very much like children who easily forget. They told their children about the great flood, but nearly all forgot to tell them of the good God who is the Father of us all, whom we should always love and obey. Yet there is always one, if not more, who remembers God, and keeps his name alive in the world.
Abram had tried to do right, though there was no Bible in the world then, and no one better than himself to help him but God, and one day He called Abram, and told him to go away from his father’s house into another country.
“A land that I will show thee,” said the Lord, “and I will make of thee a great nation.”
“He also made Abram a wonderful promise,—
“In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”
“He meant that sometime the Savior should be born among Abram’s children’s children, and that He should be the Savior of all the nations of the earth.
“Abram did just what God told him to do. He took Sarai, his wife, and Lot, his nephew, and some servants, and cows, and sheep, and camels, and asses, and went into the land of Canaan. When they rested at night Abram and Lot set some sticks in the ground, and covered them with skins for a tent, and near by they made an altar, where Abram offered a sacrifice, for that was the only way they could worship God when the earth was young.
“Abram went down into Egypt when there was a lack of food in Canaan, but he came back to Bethel, where he made the altar before, and worshipped God there.
“He was very rich, for his cattle and sheep had grown into great herds and flocks, though he had sold many in Egypt for silver, and gold, and food. Abram and Lot moved often, for their flocks and herds soon ate up the grass. Then they rolled up the tents, and loaded the camels and asses, and went where the grass was thick and fresh.
“They could easily live in tents, for the country was warm. But Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen sometimes quarreled. And so Abram spoke kindly to Lot, and told him to take his servants, and flocks, and herds, and go where the pastures were good, and he would go the other way. So they parted, and Lot went to the low plains of the Jordan, but Abram went to the high plains of Mamre, in Hebron, and there he built another altar to the Lord, who had given him all that country—to him and to his children forever.
“There were warlike people in Canaan, and once when they had carried off Lot from Sodom, Abram took his servants and herdsmen and went out to fight. He had more than three hundred men, and they took Lot away from the enemy, and brought him back to Sodom. It was here that Abram met a wonderful man, who was both a king and a priest. His name was Melchisedek, and he brought Abram bread and wine, and blessed him there.
“After this, God spoke to Abram one evening, and promised that he should have a son, and then while Abram stood outside his tent, with the great sky thick with stars above him, God promised him that his children’s children should grow to be as countless as the stars. That was hard to believe, but Abram believed God always and everywhere.
“Still no child came to Abram and Sarai, and Abram was almost a hundred years old, but God spoke to him again, and told him that he should be the father of many nations.
“He told Abram that a little boy would be born to them, and his name would be Isaac, and God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “Father of many people,” and Sarai’s to Sarah, which means “Princess.”
“Abraham was sitting in his tent one hot day, when three men stood by him. They were strangers, and Abraham asked them to rest beneath the tree, and bathe their feet, while he brought them food. So Sarah made cakes, and a tender calf was cooked, and these with butter, and milk, were set before the men. But they were not men of this world; they were angels, and they had come to tell Abraham and Sarah once more that their little child was sure to come. Then the angels went away, but one of them, who must have been the Lord Himself in an angel’s form, stopped to tell Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, because the people who lived there were so very wicked, and Abraham prayed Him to spare them if even ten good men could be found in them, for he remembered that Lot lived in Sodom. But the Lord never forgets. The two angels went to Sodom and stayed with Lot until morning, when they took him and all his family outside the city, and then the Lord said to him, “Escape for thy life—look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain.”
The three strangers
“And the Lord hid them in the little town of Zoar, while a great rain of fire fell upon the wicked cities of the plain, until they became a heap of ashes. Only Lot’s wife looked back to see the burning cities, and she became a pillar of salt.
“The next morning when Abraham looked from Hebron down toward the cities of the plain, a great smoke was rising from them like the smoke of a furnace.
“At last the Lord’s promise to Abraham and Sarah came true. A little son was born to them, and they called him Isaac. They were very happy, for though Abraham was a hundred years old, no child had ever been sent them.
“When he was about a year old they made a great feast for him, and all brought gifts and good wishes, yet the little lad Ishmael, the son of Hagar, Sarah’s servant, mocked at Isaac. Sarah was angry, and told her husband that Hagar and her boy must be sent away. So he sent them out with only a bottle of water and a loaf of bread; for God had told Abraham to do as Sarah wished him to do, and He would take care of little Ishmael, and make him the father of another nation.
“When the water was gone, and the sun grew very hot, poor Hagar laid her child under a bush to die, for she was very lonely and sorrowful. While she hid her eyes and wept, saying,
“Let me not see the death of the child,” she heard a voice out of heaven telling her not to be afraid.”
Hagar in the desert
“Arise, lift up the lad,” said the voice, “for I will make him a great nation.”
“And God opened her eyes to see a well of water near. Then she filled the empty bottle, and gave the boy a drink, and God took good care of them ever after, though they lived in a wilderness.
Ishmael grew up to be an archer, and became the father of the Arabs, who still live in tents as Ishmael did.
But the Lord let a strange trial come to the little lad Isaac, also. His father loved and obeyed God, but there were heathen people around them, who worshipped idols, and sometimes killed their own children as a sacrifice to these idols. Abraham brought the best of his lambs and cattle to offer to the Lord; but one day the Lord told Abraham to take his only son Isaac and offer him upon a mountain called Moriah as a burnt sacrifice to God. Abraham had always obeyed God, and believed his word, and now, though he could not understand, he rose up early in the morning and took his young son, with two servants, and an ass loaded with wood, to the place of which God had told him.
“They were three days on the journey, but at last they came to the high place, where the city of Jerusalem was afterward built, and to the very rock upon which the temple was built long afterward, with its great altar and Holy of Holies.
On Mount Moriah
“Abraham had left the young men at the foot of the mount, and went with Isaac to the great rock on the top of the mount.
“My father,” said Isaac, “where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
“My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering,” said his father, still obeying God, and believing His word, that Isaac should be the father of many nations.
“Abraham made an altar of stones, and bound Isaac and laid him upon it, but when his hand was lifted to offer up the boy, the Lord called to him from heaven. “Lay not thine hand upon the lad,” said the voice, “for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thine only son from me.”
“Then Abraham turned and saw a ram with its twisted horns caught in the bushes, and he offered it to the Lord instead of his son. How glad and grateful Abraham must have been that morning, when he came down the mountain, with Isaac walking beside him, to think that he had still obeyed God when it was hard to do so.
“Abraham was an old man when Sarah died. They had lived together a long lifetime, and he mourned for her many days. He bought a field close by the oak-shaded plain of Mamre in Hebron, and there in a rocky cave he buried her. He was called a Prince of God by the Canaanites because he lived a true, faithful life.
“A few years after he also went to God, and his body was laid beside Sarah’s in the cave-tomb. Ishmael came up from the south country to mourn with Isaac at the burial of their father, the Friend of God, and Father of the faithful.
Lathbury, Mary A., “Bible Heroes – Stories from the Bible,” Boston, DeWolfe, Friske & Co, 1898
NOAH AND THE GREAT FLOOD
“As the people of the earth grew to be many more and spread over the plains and hills, they also grew very wicked. They forgot God, and all the thoughts of their hearts were evil. Only Noah still worshipped God and tried to do right.
“The people had destroyed themselves, and so God said to Noah:
“The end of all flesh is come; make thee an ark of gopher wood.”
“He told Noah to make it of three stories, with a window in the top, and a door in the side. It was to be a great floating house, more than four hundred feet long and full of rooms, and it was to be covered with tar within and without, so that the water should not creep in.”
“I bring a flood of waters upon the earth,” said the Lord, “and everything that is in the earth shall die.”
“This was to be the house of Noah, with his wife, and his three sons and their wives, during the great flood.
“Does the house seem large for eight people? God had told Noah to make room for a little family of every kind of bird and beast that lived, and to gather food of all kinds for himself and for them.”
The great flood
“So Noah did all that the Lord had told him to do, and seven days before the great storm he heard the Lord calling:
“Come thou and all thy house into the ark,” and that very day, Noah with his wife and his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japtheth, and their wives, went into their great black house, and through the window in the top came flying the little families of birds and insects, from the tiny bees and humming birds, to the great eagles, and through the door on the side came the families of animals, two by two, from the little mice to the tall giraffes, and the elephants, and when all had come the Lord shut them in.
“It rained forty days and forty nights, and the waters rose higher and higher, covering the hills, and creeping up the mountains, so that every living thing died except Noah, and all that were with him in the ark.
“But after ten months the tops of the mountains were seen, and Noah sent out a raven and a dove. The raven flew to and fro, but the dove came back into the ark, because she found no place to rest her foot.
“After seven days Noah sent her out again, and she returned with an olive leaf in her bill, and then Noah knew that the waters were going away.
“After seven days again he sent out his good little dove, and she did not come back. So Noah was sure that the earth was getting dry, and that God would soon tell him to go out of the ark.
“And so he did. Think how glad the sheep and cows were to find fresh grass, and the birds to fly to the green trees.
“What a silent world it must have been, for there were none but Noah and his family in all the earth. Noah did not forget how God had saved them, and he made an altar of stone, and offered beasts and birds as a sacrifice. When he looked up to the sky there was a beautiful rainbow. It was God’s promise that there should be no more floods upon the earth. He still sends the rainbow to show us that He is taking care of this world, and will always do so.
“Perhaps the people who lived after this—for Noah’s children’s children increased very fast—did not believe God’s promise, for they began to build a great tower, or temple, on the plain of Shinar; or perhaps they had grown proud and wicked, and wanted a temple for the worship of idols; but the Lord changed their speech, so that they could not understand each other, and they were scattered over other countries; and so each country began to have a language of its own.”
ISAAC THE SHEPHERD PRINCE
Before Abraham died, he thought much about his dear son Isaac, to whom he was going to leave all that he had. The young man had no mother, no sister, and soon he would have no father. So the old man called his old and faithful servant, and told him to go on a journey into the land of his fathers, and bring back with him a wife for his son Isaac.
The children of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, lived there still, and Abraham wished for his son Isaac a wife of his own people, who should be both good and beautiful, and not like the heathen women of Canaan.
So the old servant listened to Abraham and promised to do all that he commanded.
He loaded ten camels with presents for his master’s family away in Syria, and Abraham said:
“The Lord shall send His angel before thee,” and from his tent door he saw the little caravan of camels and servants, as they set out across the plain, toward the land beyond the river Jordan.
There was a desert to cross and many dangers to meet, but the old servant believed in the God his master worshipped, and was not afraid.
When he came to Haran, he stopped outside the town by a well of water. It was early evening, and the women were coming each with a water-jar on her shoulder, to draw water.
The old man prayed that the Lord would show him which among these daughters of the men of the city, was the one who was to be his young master’s wife.
Before his prayer was ended, Rebekah, of the family of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came bearing her pitcher on her shoulder. She looked very kind and beautiful, and when she had filled her pitcher, the old man asked her for a drink of water. Then she let down the pitcher upon her hand saying:
“Drink, my lord,” and asked if she should also give water to his camels. While she was giving him a drink, the man showed her some golden jewels that he had brought, and when he had asked her name, and knew that God had sent her to him for his young master, he gave them to her, and worshipped the Lord who had led him to the house of his master’s brother.
Then Rebekah ran in and told Laban, her brother, and the old servant of Abraham had a warm welcome at the door of Nahor’s house.
“Come in, thou blessed of the Lord,” they said.
And after they had cared for the camels and the men, there was a hurrying of servants to prepare a feast, but the old man would not taste food until he had given the message of his master. Then the father and brother of Rebekah, saw that the Lord had sent for her, and they said:
“Let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the Lord hath spoken.”
And the old servant bowed his face to the ground worshipping the Lord who had led him.
Then there was feasting and giving of costly gifts, and preparing to take a long journey, for the old servant was in haste to get back to his master, and Rebekah, who was willing to go, took her maid-servants and rode away into a far country to be the wife of Isaac.
When Isaac was walking in his field at sunset, thinking and praying to God, he looked up and saw that the camels were coming, and he hastened to meet them. When the old servant told Rebekah that it was his young master, she alighted from her camel, and covered herself with a long veil as was the custom of the Syrian women. When the old servant had told the story of his journey, he gave Rebekah to Isaac, and he took her to the tent that had been his mother’s, and she became his wife, so that he was no longer lonely and sad.
Isaac lived to a very great age, and had two sons, Jacob and Esau. He was a gentle, quiet man, fond of his family, his flocks, and herds, and at the place where his father and mother were buried, he lived among the fields and oak groves of Hebron until he died.
JACOB, A PRINCE OF GOD
Jacob and Esau were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah.
They did not look alike as twins often do, and they were very unlike in all their ways. As they grew up, Esau loved the forests and wild places. He made bows and arrows, and was a hunter, and brought home wild birds and deer, for his father was very fond of such food. Jacob helped his father with the flocks, and learned how to cook food from his mother, who loved him more than she loved Esau.
One day Esau came home from hunting tired and hungry, and smelled the delicious soup of red lentils that Jacob was making. He begged Jacob to give him some, and Jacob, who wanted to be eldest, and have the right to the blessing that fathers gave to the first-born in those days, said:
“Sell me this day thy birthright,” and Esau gave him all his rights as the first born, for a little food which he might have had as a free gift.
Jacob wanted to be counted in the great promise that God had given to Abraham, but Esau despised it.
Afterward, when Isaac was old and his eyes were dim, he called Esau, and asked him to go out into the fields and shoot a deer, and cook the venison that he loved, so that he might eat it and bless his first born before he died.
Rebekah heard it, and told Jacob to bring kids from the flock, which she cooked and served as venison. Then she dressed Jacob in the clothes of Esau, and told him to say that it was Esau who had brought the venison. Isaac said:
“The voice is the voice of Jacob,” but he put his hands on him, and believed it was Esau, and blessed him.
When Esau came home and brought venison to his father, Isaac said:
“Who art thou?” and when Esau said, “I am thy son, thy first-born, Esau,” the old man trembled, and told Esau the blessing had been given to another.
Poor Esau cried out with grief, “Hast thou but one blessing?” “Bless me, even me also, O my father.”
And so Isaac blessed him, but he could not call back the blessing of the first-born. The Lord knew that Jacob would grow to be a good man, and love the things of God best, and that Esau would always love the things of this world best, yet it was wrong of Jacob and Rebekah to deceive, for we may not do evil that good may come.
Isaac blessing Jacob
After this Esau hated his brother, and said he would kill him.
So Isaac called Jacob, and, blessing him again, sent him away into Syria to the house of Laban, where Rebekah had lived, and where Abraham’s servant went to find her for his master’s son.
One night, when he was not far on his way, he lay down to sleep, with a stone for his pillow, on a hillside that looked toward his home, and he dreamed a wonderful dream. He saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, and a vision of angels who were going up and down upon it.
Above it stood the Lord, who spoke to Jacob, and gave to him the promise that He had first given to Abraham, and told him that He would go with him, and bring him again into his own land.
Jacob was afraid when he woke, for he had seen the heavens opened, and had heard God’s voice. He made an altar of the pillow of stone, and called it Bethel—the House of God—and then he vowed that the Lord should be his God, and he added,—
“Of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give a tenth unto thee.”
When Jacob came to Haran, he saw the well from which his mother used to draw water. There were three flocks of sheep lying by it, waiting for all the flocks to gather in the cool of the day to be watered. Soon Rachel, the daughter of Laban, came leading her father’s flocks, and one of the shepherds told Jacob whose daughter she was.
So Jacob rolled the stone from the well, and watered the flocks of Laban, his mother’s brother. Then he kissed Rachel, and told her that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
There was great joy in Laban’s house because Jacob had come, and after he had stayed a month with them Laban asked him to stay and take care of his flocks, and he would pay him for his work.
Since the day he had seen Rachel leading her father’s flocks he had chosen her in his heart to be his wife. So he said that he would work for Laban seven years, if at the end of that time he would give him Rachel for his wife. Laban was quite willing to do so, and the seven years seemed to Jacob but a few days, for the love he had to Rachel. But, according to the custom of that country, the younger daughter could not be given in marriage before the elder, and so Laban gave his daughter Leah also, and both Leah and Rachel became the wives of Jacob, for Jacob lived in that far away time and country of the early world when men were allowed to take more than one wife, and when each man was both king and priest over his family and tribe, and worshipped God by offering burnt sacrifices upon an altar.
After twenty years of work with Laban, in which he had earned many flocks and herds for himself, Jacob took his wives and the little sons God had sent him, and his flocks and herds, and started on a journey to his old home. Isaac was still alive, and Jacob longed to see him. He had lived long in Haran for fear of his brother Esau, and now he must travel through Edom, Esau’s country, on his way to his old home.
As he was on his way some of God’s angels met him, and he was strengthened. Still he feared Esau, and sent some of his men to tell his brother that he was coming.
The men came back, saying that Esau, with four hundred men, was coming to meet them.
Poor Jacob! He remembered the sin of his youth, when he had stolen the blessing from Esau, and he was afraid, and prayed God to protect him.
He sent his servants again to meet Esau with great presents of flocks, and herds, and camels, and after placing his wives and little ones in the safest place, he sent all that he had over the brook Jabbok, and he stayed on the other side to pray. It was as if he wrestled with a man all night, and when the day began to break the man wished to go, but Jacob said:
“I will not let thee go except thou bless me.”
So the man blessed him there, and call his name Israel; “for as a prince,” he said, “hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”
Then Jacob knew that the Lord Himself, in the form of a man, had been with him, and he had seen Him face to face.
And as the sun rose he passed over the brook. When he looked up he saw Esau and his men coming, and when he had told his family to follow him, he went straight before them, for he was no longer afraid to meet his brother.
Jacob’s prayer had been answered, and Esau ran to meet his brother, and throwing his arms around him, wept on his shoulder. Then they talked in a loving and brotherly way, and Esau returned to his home with the presents Jacob had given him, and Jacob went on his way into Canaan full of joy and thankfulness. He stopped a little while in a pleasant place to rest his flocks and cattle, but he longed to see the place where he first saw the angels of God, and heard the voice of the Lord blessing him, so they journeyed on to Beth-el, and there built an altar and worshipped God.
Meeting of Jacob and Esau
Again the Lord spoke to Jacob at Beth-el, and called him Israel, and blessed him.
After they left Beth-el, they came near to Bethlehem, where many hundred years afterward the Lord Jesus was born, and there another little son was born to Rachel, and there too God sent for her, and took her to Himself, and there her grave was made.
Jacob and Rachel
The little boy was named Benjamin, and was the youngest of Jacob’s twelve sons, who became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the princes of a great nation.
Jacob was almost home. His great family, with all the flocks and herds, had been long on the way, for they often spread their tents by the brooks in the green valleys, that the cattle might rest and find pasture, but at last the long caravan came slowly over the fields of Mamre to Hebron, and Isaac, whom the Lord had kept alive to see his son once more, was there in his tent waiting for him.
But soon after this he died, an hundred and eighty years old, and Esau came, and the two brothers laid their father in the cave that Abraham bought when Sarah died, and where he had buried Rebekah, and Jacob became patriarch in place of his father.
JOSEPH, THE CASTAWAY
Of all the sons of Jacob, Joseph and Benjamin were the dearest to him, because they were the sons of his beloved Rachel, who had died on the journey from Syria into Canaan. They were also the youngest of all the twelve sons. When Joseph was about seventeen years old, he sometimes went with his elder brothers to keep his father’s flocks in the fields. He wore a long coat striped with bright colors, which his father had given him, because he was a kind and obedient son, and could always be trusted.
Once he told his father of some wicked thing his brothers had done, and they hated him for it, and could not speak pleasantly to him.
Joseph had many strange and beautiful thoughts when he looked across the fields to the hills, and up into the starry sky at night. He also had some strange dreams that he told to his brothers. He said that he dreamed that they were binding sheaves in the field, and that his sheaf stood up, while the sheaves of his brothers bowed down to it.
Again he dreamed that the sun, and the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him.
His father wondered that he should have such thoughts, and reproached him saying, “Shall I and thy brethren indeed come and bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” and his brothers said,
“Shalt thou indeed rule over us?” and they hated him.
When they were many miles from home with the flocks their father sent Joseph to see if all was well with them. It was a long journey, and when they saw the boy coming they did not go to meet him, and speak kindly to him, but they said,
“Behold this dreamer is cometh. Let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say some evil beast hath devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”
But Reuben, the eldest, said,
“Let us not kill him; but cast him into this pit,” hoping to take him out secretly, and send him to his father.
So when Joseph came near, they robbed him of his coat of many colors, and cruelly cast him into a pit. After this they sat down to eat their bread, and looking up they saw a caravan coming. It was a company of Ishmaelites carrying costly spices down into Egypt to sell them.
Then Judah said,
“Why should we kill our brother? Let us sell him to these Ishmaelites.”
Then there passed by some Midianite merchants, and who drew Joseph out of the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, and he was carried down into Egypt.
Joseph sold to the Ishmaelites
Reuben, when his brothers went back to their flocks, went to the pit to try to save Joseph, but he was not there, and Reuben cried out,
“The child is not, and I, whither shall I go?”
The brothers who had been so cruel to Joseph brought his coat to their father, all stained with blood. They had themselves dipped it in the blood of a kid to deceive him, and he mourned long, and would not be comforted, for the beloved child that he believed had been torn in pieces by evil beasts.