Bible Study

Genesis part XXIV: A lesson in repentance and salvation

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide 

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Jacob sends his sons to buy corn in Egypt

Scripture in focus: Genesis 42

42:1 > ”Why do you look at one another?” Jacob noticed that perhaps at the mention of the word “Egypt”, the brothers looked at one another in a strange way. He wanted to know why, but they couldn’t tell him that they sold Joseph to Egypt; they lived with this terrible secret and guilt for 20 years. 

42:2 > The famine was not letting up and the only way for Jacob’s family to obtain food was to go into Egypt and buy it. 

42:3-4 > Ten of the eleven brothers obeyed their father’s order and immediately set out for Egypt. Benjamin was the youngest and Jacob’s favorite and he didn’t want anything to happen to him so he kept him away from the world.

42:5-8 > Prophesy of a young Joseph’s dreams are fulfilled from verses 9 and 37:5-11 when his brothers paid respect by bowing down to him. Joseph was now a mature adult and Egyptian in appearance and mannerism therefore, his brothers didn’t recognize him. Joseph knew them, though, and he was about to put them through a series of tests.

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42:9 > Joseph remembers the dreams he had when he was young. This was God’s doing. He recalled the dreams to Joseph’s memory to guide him accordingly. He was to be used as an instrument for the correction and restoration of the brothers (blueletterbible.org) and therefore, he had to keep his true identity under wraps for now… like a secret agent! He knew his brothers weren’t spies, but he didn’t want to break his role as ruler, so he accused them of being such to hear what they’ll say.

42:10-11 > The brothers replied that they all had the same father and therefore not likely spies.

42:12-13 > Still in character, Joseph accuses the brothers of espionage. The brothers knew they didn’t deserve this rough treatment. After all, they only wanted to obtain food and return home to their waiting father. Feeling the pressure to defend themselves, they told Joseph that they were 12 brothers, but “the youngest is this day with our father” (Benjamin) and “one is not” for they thought Joseph to be dead by now. If they only knew!

42:14-16 > If Joseph’s heart soared (after hearing that his father and youngest brother was still alive) and broke a little (hearing that his own brothers pronounced him to be dead), he did not show any emotion in front of them. He sticks to the spy accusation. Besides, he didn’t trust his brothers’ words when it came to Benjamin. He had to see Benjamin with his own eyes to make sure that they didn’t do something similar to Benjamin as they did to him. One of the brothers had to be elected to go back to Jacob’s house to bring Benjamin down into Egypt to make sure that they were telling the truth. 

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42:17 > Joseph gives the brothers a taste of the suffering he endured when he was brought into Egypt as a slave by putting them in prison. There, they’ll consult which brother will go up again to Canaan and bring Benjamin. Three days in prison (Joseph spent 3 years) was also enough to humble them and so, they were willing to do whatever Joseph demanded. 

42:18-20 > Joseph visits his brothers on the 3rd day to give orders. He feared God meaning that he did not want his brothers to fear him; he wanted them to trust him. If they were really honest men as they said they were, then they’ll do as he says. 

42:21 > The guilt returns tenfold! The brothers confer that they were guilty of the sin concerning their brother Joseph. After selling Joseph, they probably never talked of it again, but being imprisoned in Egypt for three days made them realized the error of their sin and it took twenty-two long years.

They’ve reached the first step to salvation by being convicted of their sins. Before we even ask forgiveness, we must identify our sins. 

42:22 > Reuben reminds his brothers that he told them not to lay a wicked hand on Joseph (37:21-22). They hearken unto him by not killing Joseph and although the Word does not say, it does seem probable that Reuben went out of sight from his brothers for a little while. Perhaps he took a stroll to try to figure how to get Joseph out of the pit and back home again when his brothers took Joseph out of the pit and sold him to the passing Ishmaelites.

42:23 > The brothers spoke freely thinking that Joseph was an Egyptian hence the reason he was using an interpreter, but Joseph understood every word which tumbled from their lips. See, in order for the relationship between the brothers to be restored, God had to work on their hearts so they can repent, be forgiven, heal, and move on. It probably grieved Joseph, but he had to let God have His way. 

42:24 > Overcome with emotion, Joseph wept. He knew this was God’s doing after hearing his brothers confess their sins and especially Reuben’s concern for him. After he composed himself, he returned to speak with his brothers. Simeon was kept as a hostage.

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42:25-28 > Joseph’s commands are carried out by a steward or deputy and the brothers – except Simeon – was sent on their way to Canaan. It was only when they stopped to take care of their beasts, that one of them opened his sack only to find his money restored. The money that he paid for the grain! Something was not right and their guilty conscience returned when they pondered “What is this that God has done to us?” 

Salvation is a free gift for everyone. We cannot buy it or obtain it by material means.

42:29-35 > The brothers return home and relate all that had befallen them while in Egypt to their father. And lo and behold! When every brother opened their sack, the money they paid to the steward was restored. Again, salvation is a free gift. We cannot buy it. Restoration is a joyful affair for all involved. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit (Psalm 51:12).

With Simeon in prison and with the restored monies, the brothers must return to Egypt for they could be accused of thievery and Simeon could be hanged.

42:36 > Jacob thinks everything is against him. With Joseph presumed dead and Simeon in an Egyptian prison, he did not want to lose another son. Jacob indirectly blamed the other sons for Joseph’s death. Also, he was so overwhelmed, he only thought of himself and how his happiness and comfort was being ripped apart. As Christians, we were never meant to be comfortable. Joseph was certainly not comfortable when he was taken from the pit and sold into Egypt, but he approached the attitude differently. When bad things happen and our world is shaken up, instead of the “Woe is me” attitude, approach it as knowing the situation would work together for the good (Romans 8:28). Even if you cannot see it, trust God.

42:37 > As the eldest, Reuben spoke on behalf of his brothers. “Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee” he doesn’t mean that children should be killed, but he put the life of his two sons at stake to show his father that he would do everything in his will to make sure Benjamin returns home safe and sound. He takes responsibility for Benjamin’s safety.

42:38 > But Jacob refused to send his precious son into Egypt clinging to the fact (and blame) that Joseph was no more with him. His remark also showed that he didn’t care if Simeon spent the rest of his life in an Egyptian prison for he was not of Rachel. 

Up next: The return to Egypt

Additional Notes/Recap

^ I love discovering little nuggets in God’s Word and this chapter in Genesis brings it home where it concerns salvation and restoration. Joseph showed that when power is used properly, it benefits everyone. 

Reference/Aids

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayer

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XXIII: Pharaoh promotes Joseph

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

God never forgets us, but yet, we tend to forget all about Him until that minute of need arises and we remember Him. Never start your day without God. The first thing you must do when you first open your eyes on mornings is to thank Him and engage in prayer with Him, for He must be the first Person we communicate with each day.

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Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and is promoted

Scripture in focus: Genesis 41 

41:1-7 > Two years after the chief butler is taken out of prison, the Pharaoh has two disturbing dreams startling him out of sleep both times. The river, he is standing by in the dream is the Nile. The Egyptians’ life revolved around this river and they worshipped it (of course!). Cows (kine) were also worshipped, so it’s no wonder the Pharaoh dreamt of cows. As for ‘corn’, the term is a generic term for any grain and the Egyptians used the cows to trample the ‘ears’ of the grain which would’ve looked something like this barley here:

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The Nile is the longest river in the world and it flows through 11 countries. Without this river, Egyptian civilization wouldn’t have existed due to the arid climate.

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41:8 > The next morning, Pharaoh sends for all the impressive magicians and wise men, but they, too, were astounded and couldn’t interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Oh, the sorcery of those so-called dream experts! They’ve just set the stage for Joseph to enter into Egyptian history.

41:9-13 > The chief butler suddenly remembers Joseph and relates his dream account and experience to Pharoah.

41:14 > The timing of God is perfect. A few years passed, and Joseph must’ve been feeling neglected, for he was an innocent man imprisoned in a strange land. See, during the times that we may feel isolated from God or we’re continuously praying and seeing no results, these are the times God is working in/through us to develop our character, to transforming it into that of the image of Jesus Christ. During the time Joseph was in prison, God was doing just that for him and that’s why when it was time for Joseph to get out of prison, it was done quickly, for it was done in God’s timing (also see Psalm 81:5-7).

When we look back at a younger Joseph, he shared his dreams with his brothers in a self-glorifying way and standing before Pharaoh in the following chapters, we see how humbled he has become, and even wiser. 

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41:15-16 > Now, 30 years of age, Joseph stands before Pharaoh. He is given an opportunity to glorify himself, but he’ll have none of it, instead choosing to glorify God. A sharp contrast to the so-call Christian actors and singers we have lately who, when given the opportunity, shine the light on ‘self’. 

41:17-24 > Pharaoh tells Joseph his dream and we’re given additional details. In 41:4, we see the ill-favored and lean-fleshed cows eat up the fat and healthy cows and in 41:21, we see that despite eating the fat cows, the skinny cows remained the same instead of becoming fat.

41:25-32 > Joseph interprets the dreams telling the Pharaoh that the dreams are one and was repeated twice (in one night) for God was going to bring it to pass (v. 32). He reveals that the dream is a warning of severe famine, after seven years of good harvests.

41:33-36 > Joseph offers advice to the Pharaoh.

41:37-38 > Pharaoh approves the proposed advice and his servants were also in agreement. The Egyptians might not have understood the “Spirit of God” (the first mention of the Holy Spirit coming upon a man in the Bible) fully, but they knew that God had assisted Joseph.

41:39-44 > Joseph is promoted to a position of great authority. He is now the number two man in Egypt; the Vizier (Prime Minister) to the Pharaoh.

41:45 > “And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-paaneah” Various proposals have been given for the meaning of Joseph’s Egyptian name, the top two being “The Salvation of the World” and “God Speaks and He Lives”. Joseph is also given Asenath as wife; she was the daughter of the priest of On.

The Egyptians were sun worshippers and in Joseph’s time, the centre of sun worship in Lower Egypt was the temple of Atum (see notes below about this deity) at On (later called Heliopolis by the Greeks). Two obelisks were originally erected at On by Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (c.1504 – 1450BC); they were called Cleopatra’s Needle and had nothing to do with Cleopatra. Today, those obelisks can be seen in Central Park, New York and on the Embankment in London.

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The Obelisk of On (Heliopolis) via Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

41:46-49 > The seven years of plenty came to pass. It’s important to note, that, like Jesus, Joseph begins the Lord’s work at 30 years old, both on orders from God.

41:50-52 > Sons are born to Joseph, before the first year of the famine. The firstborn, he called Manasseh meaning “One Who Causes Me to Forget” for God made Joseph forget all his previous pain and trial. Ephraim means “Fruitful” for God made him fruitful in Egypt. His sons were given Hebrew names for although Joseph forgot his pain, he did not forget the faith of his fathers.

41:53-56 > The 7 years of the famine begins and it not only affected Egypt, but also in surrounding countries such as Arabia, Syria, Palestine, etc.

41:57 > All the neighboring nations came to Egypt to buy corn.

Fun Fact: Egypt was once known as the breadbasket of the world because of the Nile.

Up next: Joseph’s family comes to Egypt and his dreams of teenage years come to pass.

Additional Notes/Recap

^ The probable kings during Joseph’s period in Egypt – enslavement and rise to power – were said to be Khakheperre Senusret II/Sesostris II (ca. 1897-1878 BC) and Khakheperre Senusret III/Sesostris III (1878-1843 BC) which would’ve been the 12 Dynasty. I’ll love to do further research into this Dynasty! I’ll publish my findings at a later time.

^ Atum or Atem or Tem was also known as the great he-she was a creator god. He was the first and most important god to be worshipped in Iunu (Heliopolis, Lower Egypt) for the ancient Egyptians believed that Atum (the setting sun) rose from the waters of chaos (Nun) and created all the gods. Later, Ra (the rising sun) would become the main god. 

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REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayer

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XXII: Joseph interprets dreams

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

Let us continue to praise the holy name of our Lord. Let us sing hallelujah until He comes again. Let us lift up our voices to the sky and magnify our King! Jesus Christ is coming back again; never be afraid to let the world know.

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Joseph resists temptation; ends up in prison

Scripture in focus: Genesis 39

39:1 > So, the Ishmaelites brought Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, an officer of the Pharaoh and captain of the guard (meaning that Potiphar was a highly trusted official in the Egyptian government).

39:2-3 > God was with Joseph. Even while he was a servant in Potiphar’s house, God blessed him tremendously. Although Potiphar might not have known Jehovah for he was a sun worshipper (Ra), he knew where the blessings came from. And just by seeing Joseph work honestly and diligently, Potiphar knew that Jehovah was real.

39:4-6 > Joseph now had favor with both God and man. Potiphar liked and trusted him so much that he made Joseph the head servant or steward of his house committing all his business to Joseph’s care. Remember, when Joseph first came to Egypt, it was foreign to him. He didn’t know any of the customs, the culture, or the language, so he had to rise early and stay up late to do his job and to also learn the ways of the Egyptian.  

All of this was setting the wheels in motion for something much bigger in Joseph’s future despite being a slave.

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39:7 > Joseph was said to be handsome in form and in appearance, so it was not long when he caught the roving eyes of Potiphar’s wife. “Lie with me,” said the predator to the prey. She tries to seduce Joseph into adultery, a sin God loathes. Some suggested that Potiphar was most likely a eunuch and the marriage was that of a ceremonial arrangement. But whether he was a eunuch or not, Egyptian women (in the ancient world) did not care for any code of morality. Even if they were married, they’ll seduce and sleep with whoever the eye desires.

39:8-9 > Joseph refuses her advances and tries to reason with her. He calls adultery a “great wickedness” and “a sin against God”. He told her that Potiphar has been nothing but good to him and he refused to partake in this wicked thing. He lets her know that although it might be alright with Potiphar, it wouldn’t be all right with God for a man should never share his wife.

We like to call sin by another enticing name, but Joseph calls it what it is: sin. 

39:10 > Potiphar’s wife persisted, though. Joseph’s reasoning went into her right ear and out her left. And as the days went by, she continues to make advances against him. But Joseph resisted the temptation. He had to tell her no EVERY DAY! proving that he was faithful to God in his actions. He knew that if he sinned, he would’ve sinned not only against Potiphar but also against God (Psalm 51:4). He also made sure to never be caught in her company alone as evidenced in the following verse.

Joseph was in the world (Egypt), but his faith and devotion in God helped him to stay on the right track and to kick temptation in the face.

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39:11-12 > “And it came to pass about this time” biblical scholars note that this could’ve been a year after the woman of the house began making her bold sexual advances towards Joseph. She made sure none of the men were in the house so she could trap Joseph when he came to do his business (inspect the accounts etc.). She ambushed Joseph, grabbing him by his garment, but he fled from the scene quickly leaving his garment behind. This is what we must do when faced with temptation: run as fast as we can away from the lust of the flesh! 

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When God provides a way of escape, take it. (1 Corinthians 10:13).

39:13-18 > Potiphar’s wife makes unjust sexual allegations against Joseph when she realized that Joseph had no intention in taking her up on her offer. Her lust turns to hatred and she eventually accuses Joseph of rape and Joseph has no way to defend himself for there wasn’t a witness present. This brings to mind Jesus’ silence before his accusers.

39:19-20 > Potiphar had no way of knowing that his wife was lying, but in his eyes, his wife was telling the truth for she had a piece of Joseph’s garment as “evidence”. He put Joseph in prison instead of killing him. Even throughout this “trial” God was protecting Joseph for he was innocent.

39:21-23 > Joseph prospers in prison because of God. He has been blessing Joseph throughout the trials he endured. The Lord was with him no matter what. As a slave in Potiphar’s house, Joseph learned the business side of things. While in prison, he gained insight into the administrative skills that would not only save his family one day but also the world. The work of the prisoners soon prospered because God was with Joseph.

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The butler and the baker

In this chapter, we see two dreams in one night by two men (the baker and the butler) while they’re in prison with Joseph who is 28 years at the time. But did you ever notice that dreams associated with Joseph came in pairs? Joseph dreamt 2 dreams, the butler and the baker’s dreams complemented each other and the Pharaoh had two dreams which also complemented each other.

Scripture in focus: Genesis 40

40:1-3 > Joseph meets the chief baker and the chief butler after they offended the Pharaoh. We’re not told what crimes they committed, but because of their occupations, we’ll have to go with food. And whether it was minor or major, the Pharaoh could care less. If he feels offended, he has the authority to throw anyone in prison.

40:4 > Although Joseph had a position of high ranking authority in prison he never misused his position, instead, using it to serve. Just as Jesus humbled Himself and served.

40:5-7 > Joseph was all about the people as we see from these verses. He was concerned about the baker and the butler instead of feeling sorry for himself. This paints a picture of how kind-hearted Joseph was.

40:8 > The men revealed that they’re sad because there was no one to interpret their dreams. Ancient Egyptians practiced the interpreting of dreams in order to foretell the future (oneiromancy) and they had their own dream interpreters, but Joseph let the men know that interpretations – and any foretelling of the future for that matter – belonged to God. Seeing that the men were disturbed by their dreams, Joseph invites them to relate their dreams to him for he was confident God knew what the dreams were about. 

40:9-11 > The butler gives an account of his dream. With keywords such as “vine” and “branches”, this brings to mind John 15:1-17. Also, the 3 branches represented 3 days in this dream and it also foretold Jesus’ 3 days and 3 nights (Matthew 12:40).

40:12-15 > Joseph interprets the butler’s dream and it’s good. He requests the butler’s kindness, but the butler won’t remember him until the time was right which was God’s perfect timing: two years later.

40:16-19 > The baker is delighted with the interpretation and decides to tell his dream to Joseph also. His joy is shortlived, though. Now, imagine had the baker told Joseph his dream first and the butler decided not to tell his because of fear of bad news, how would he have known to mention Joseph’s name to the Pharaoh two years later? All things work together for good (Romans 8:28).

40:20-23 > Three days later, the Pharaoh celebrates his birthday by restoring the butler to his position and hanging the baker thus fulfilling Joseph’s interpretations. Also, this is one of two instances where birthdays are mentioned specifically in the Bible, the other being King Herod. Both kings made a feast and in both cases, a man was killed. The baker was hung and John the Baptist was beheaded.

Until we all meet again to lift up our Savior, may peace be unto you in Jesus’s Name. 

Up next: Joseph’s rise to greatness

Additional Notes/Recap

^ It certainly took Joseph a while (11 years) to reach to the top. When he was sold into slavery, he was only 17 years old (37:2). When he was promoted by the Pharaoh, he was 30 (41:46); before that, he was in prison for 2 years (41:1).

^ Butler literally means “cupbearer of the king” and he would’ve been the one to serve Pharaoh his drinks. 

^ Unless Joseph was moved to another facility, but reading chapter 40, we see that he was still imprisoned (40:3), the prison was called “the house of the captain of the guard” (40:3), “his lord’s house” (40:7), and a “dungeon” (40:15).

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayer

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XXI: Joseph dreams of greatness and is sold

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

When you’re happy, pray. When you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, pray. When blessed, stressed, in distress, mad, glad, sad, upset, over the moon, pray. No matter what we’re going through or the situation we’re in, always take time to pray for God loves and values our prayer relationship with Him. 

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Joseph dreams of greatness

Scripture in focus: Genesis 37

37:1 > Jacob continues to live in Canaan, at Hebron.

37:2-4 > We meet a 17-year-old Joseph, Jacob’s favorite child thus causing his brothers to resent him. They also view Joseph as a tattler for he carried their evil report their father. In these opening chapters, we can already see that this is a troubled family given that Jacob failed to learn his lesson where favoritism is concerned (25:28). He gave Joseph a coat of multi-colors. This colorful coat or long-sleeved robe or tunic set Joseph apart from his brothers.

37:5-8 > Joseph has his first dream and he told it to his brothers. They hated him even more for they thought he was full of himself. Even if Joseph didn’t understand the dream, they did, knowing that one day, little Joseph would reign over them. It involves sheaves of wheat meaning that his status over his brother will have to do with food as we see in later chapters.

37:9-11 > Yet, Joseph had another dream and he told it to his brothers once again and then his father. “Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.” The sun was symbolic of his father, the moon his mother and the 11 stars were his brothers. It can also refer to Jesus coming from the Israelite nation (Revelation 12:1).

Jacob scolds Joseph not believing that his own flesh and blood would be elevated above everyone in the family. Yet, Jacob pondered over the meaning of the dream.

Joseph was having these dreams for he was chosen of God and God speaks to some people in dreams. Some dreams are not meant to be told to others and Joseph fell short of wisdom in this area.

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37:12-14 > Jacob’s sons fed his flocks in Shechem (50 miles north of Hebron) and they were gone quite some time so Jacob decides to send Joseph to check up on them.

37:15-17 > Joseph encounters a traveler and asks after his brothers and their flocks. The man directs him to Dothan, a place of two wells.

37:18-20 > Joseph’s brothers plot their revenge when they see him coming from a distance. They spitefully call him a “dreamer” and plot to take away his life while concealing the murder. When jealousy surpasses hatred, it can turn into murder. On top of it, they were going to sin further by lying to their father.

Dothan was a plain country located between the hills of Samaria and Mount Carmel, a thriving Canaanite city in Joseph’s day. It was a convenient site for merchants to use as the main trade route on their way to Egypt. Today, the site of the city is marked by Tel Dothan, a mound in the town of Jenin.

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Images of Dothan via Google Search

37:21-22 > Reuben was not included in the plot. However, he overheard it and was immediately against it. As the eldest, he felt that it was his duty to deliver Joseph out of the hands of his bloodthirsty brothers. He talked them into sparring Joseph’s life by proposing to throw him into a pit; his intention to rescue Joseph later and bring him back to their father.

37:23-28 > Joseph is stripped of his special coat as soon as he came upon them and cast into an empty waterless pit (Also reference Zechariah 9:11). His brothers might have thought that Joseph was at their mercy, but he was really at God’s mercy. On top of it, they sat down to have a meal while Joseph pleaded for them to let him go (see 42:21). Then, behold! A company of Ishmaelites came into play which would change the course of destiny for Joseph thus fulfilling God’s purpose for him. Had his brothers known that this was God’s will all along, they would’ve probably ignored Reuben and kill Joseph, but they wouldn’t have liked God’s vengeance! 

Judah proposes that instead of killing Joseph they sell him to the Ishmaelites. It seems that Leah’s sons (Reuben & Judah) had no intention in killing Joseph, but the sons of the handmaids really wanted to.

And Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver.

37:29-30 > Reuben was absent during the time of the sale. He was horrified to discover that Joseph was gone from the pit. He tore his clothes off as an expression of mourning for he thought Joseph was dead. His grief showed how much he really wanted to rescue Joseph back in verse 22. “whither shall I go?” Reuben is conflicted in his feelings. Should he flee or should he go back home to face his father?

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37:31-35 > After telling Reuben what they did with Joseph, the brothers devised a scheme by killing a kid goat and dipping Joseph’s coat in the blood so it’ll look as if Joseph was killed by a wild beast. They send the bloody coat with a messenger to Jacob who confirms that the coat did belong to his favorite son. Heartbroken, Jacob mourns the loss of Joseph for many years refusing to be comforted by his sons and daughters. This was very cruel on behalf of the brothers involved in this scheme.

37:36 > Meanwhile, Joseph ends up in the court of a high Egyptian official by the name of Potiphar. 

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The Judah-Interlude

The story only gets worse.

Before we continue with Joseph’s account in Egypt and how he became great, we come to the Judah-Interlude. We’ll see the wickedness and immorality of Joseph’s elder brother in this chapter as he mistook his own widowed daughter-in-law for a shrine prostitute, has intercourse with her and threatens to burn her alive for prostitution until it is revealed that he was the father of the child she had conceived. 

Scripture in focus: Genesis 38

38:1-5 > Judah separates from his brethren, marries a Canaanite woman by the name of Shuah and fathers three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah.

38:6-7 > Judah chose a suitable wife for his firstborn, Er. Her name was Tamar (her name signifies a “palm tree”). But Er was exceedingly wicked that God had to strike him dead.

38:8-10 > According to the custom/law of levirate marriage if a man dies before providing heirs, it was the duty of his brother/s to marry his wife and to give her heirs. The child was then considered the son of the brother who died given that the living brother acted in his place. This law was later incorporated in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. But Onan was not down with this for the son was going to be called a son of Er and not his. He didn’t care for Er’s name to be carried on and didn’t care that this applied only for the firstborn. If Onan had no intention to be responsible and had his heart set on his desires (using Tamar for his own sexual gratifications), then he shouldn’t have married her. God also struck him down for his wickedness.

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38:11 > Judah unfairly proposes that his widowed daughter-in-law return to her father’s house and wait until Shelah come of age to marry her in order to fulfill the obligation of his late brothers. However, Judah had already lost two sons and he had no intention of giving his third son into marriage to Tamar.

38:12 > Judah’s wife Shuah died. He mourns her loss and when his time of mourning was over, he went to town with his friend, Hirah.

38:13 > Tamar is told that Judah is in Timnath to “sheer his sheep”. In the ancient world, this event (“sheering of sheep”) was associated with festivity and licentious behavior characteristic of pagan fertility-cult practices (bible-studys.org).

38:14-18 > There is no way that Tamar was going to remain childless especially after seeing that Shelah was grown and should be married to her. Na uh! So she sets a trap for Judah by playing the harlot (by wearing the veil suggested prostitution). Judah sees her but doesn’t recognize her. Lust clouds his eyes, they negotiated a price (a young goat) and they had sex and she conceives by him. It’s amazing how Judah told her to remain a widow for years, but shortly after grieving, he’s seeking pleasure from a prostitute.

38:19-23 > Tamar disappears into thin air after the deed was done. Or did she? Tamar made haste back to her father’s house and put back on the garments of her widowhood so no one would suspect a thing. All she had to do now was wait for the birth. Judah sends a friend to pay Tamar and to retrieve the pledge (signet, bracelets, and staff) he left with her, but there was no trace of her so Judah gave up the pledge leaving it with her. If he had only known!

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38:24 > When news reached Judah that his daughter-in-law played a harlot, he found it easy to pass judgment on her sin by condemning her to burn. He didn’t stop to think about his very own sins for in his eyes, Tamar had committed adultery and she should pay for her wicked sin.

38:25-26 > Tamar was shrewd. By keeping Judah’s pledge, she easily vindicates herself when she stood in the court. She sent a messenger to Judah with his pledge and just like that, the tables were turned. “She hath been more righteous than I” Judah eventually realized that he was in the wrong for not keeping his word in his refusal to give his son Shelah to Tamar and for committing fornication with her. She was only after what was hers (inheritance rights).

38:27 > Tamar is having twin boys.

38:28-30 > Zarah (meaning “splendor”) stuck out his hand first and the midwife ties a scarlet thread around his wrist that she might know whose hand the firstborn belong to. However, Zarah pulls his hand back and his brother Pharez (meaning “breach”) came out of his mother’s womb as the firstborn. Pharez is listed as an ancestor of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:3 and Luke 3:33. He came into the messianic line which went through Boaz and Ruth and King David (Ruth 4:18-22).

Despite Judah and Tamar’s works, God chose them to be in the line of the Messiah. What beautiful and glorious grace!

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Until we all meet again to lift up our Savior, may peace be unto you in Jesus’s Name. 

Up next: Joseph interprets Pharoah’s dreams

Additional Notes/Recap

^ The multi-colored coat signified privilege, favor, and birthright. 

^ The Ishmaelites were descendants of Ishmael and of Abraham through Keturah and Midian (25:1-2) and were also known as Midianites. The Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt in 37:25-28 were Arab traders who sold to the Egyptian Pharaohs. The balm was for healing and the spicery and myrrh were sweet smelling perfumes.

^ History timeline puts Joseph’s arrival in Egypt at c.1679BC.

^ Potiphar means “the one whom Ra has given” or “the one who was placed on earth by Ra”. Either way, his unique name meant he belonged to the sun and Ra was Egypt’s sun god.

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^ Despite his early failures, Judah rose to a position of leadership later on in life and is even blessed by his father as such a leader among the 12 brothers in 49:8-10. He is the founder of the tribe of Judah and is symbolized as a lion. Later on, Christ is called the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5).

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayer

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XX: Back to Beth-el and Esau’s legacy

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

Put God first and watch Him work. Don’t ever think that anything is too big for God to handle and go at it alone. NOTHING on the face of this earth is ever too big for our King! Even if/though evil and wickedness upset your life, God will use them to bring about good. He knows what He’s doing so trust Him. 

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Jacob returns to Beth-el; deaths of Rachel and Isaac

Scripture in focus: Genesis 35

35:1 > God tells Jacob to return to Beth-el (House of God) where he should’ve returned to in the first place instead of Shechem. We find ourselves in difficult situations when we do not go where God tells us in the first place. I can testify to this as well.

35:2-4 > Spiritual preparations are made for the trip to Beth-el including bathing and changing into clean clothes and the putting away of idols which were perhaps taken from the temple of Shechem (34:25-26) and Rachel probably still had her father’s idols (31:19), but once Jacob set his heart on God once again, his family followed. His act shows the leadership role that men have within the family. The earrings had to go too, for they were probably linked with pagan significance.

When we become Christians, we should clean house for sometimes, there are other objects/items that elevate another god.

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35:5-6 > The family traveled from Shechem to Beth-el with God’ protection.

35:7 > Jacob builds an altar in Beth-el calling it El-beth-el (God of the House of God) repairing his relationship with God. It’s like the prodigal son coming home.

35:8 > Soon after they came to Beth-el, Deborah died. She came with Rebekah as a companion from Haran (24:59) and seemed like a beloved family member. She was buried at the bottom of the hill/mountain on which Beth-el stood under an oak which was called Allon-bachuth (‘oak of weeping’) because of the mourning for her loss.

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35:9 > Jacob has returned to his first love (Revelation 2:4-5), the relationship is restored, and he is blessed by God.

35:10-15 > God talks with Jacob:

  • v. 10: In 32:28, Jacob was promised a new name: Israel. Here, God confirms it.
  • v. 11: He is God Almighty. He is all we’ll ever need for He is sufficient. The nation and company God promised Jacob certainly came to pass in the nation of Israel (named after Jacob) and the 12 tribes of which were many nations. The kings God spoke of consisted of David, Solomon among others and especially the King of Kings.
  • v. 12: The promised land (Canaan) will be given to Jacob in due time.
  • v. 13: After conversing with Jacob, God departs.
  • v. 14-15: Jacob set up a pillar of stones, poured a drink offering upon it (water or wine) and poured oil to make a covenant. Jacob establishes the name of the place as Beth-el.

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35:16-17 > We’re not sure how long Jacob and his family stayed in Beth-el, but here, we see them heading for Ephrath (also called Bethlehem). And the time for Rachel to give birth came, but the labor was difficult. She was having another son and the midwife offered words of comfort through this difficulty.

35:18 > On her last breath, a dying Rachel named her son Ben-oni meaning ‘Son of my sorrow’, but Jacob named him Benjamin (‘Son of my right hand/strength’). Her prayer from 30:24 was answered, but all she found was sorrow instead of sweet victory. Her death is in fulfillment to the curse Jacob pronounced on the one who stole Laban’s idols in 31:32. Benjamin was Jacob’s last and 12th son. 

35:19-20 > Rachel is buried near Bethlehem and Jacob erects a monument in her memory. In Matthew’s day, Rachel weeps at Ramah over the slaughter of the children in Bethlehem (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18). This analogy of Rachel weeping is compared to the grief of Israel in exile.

Rachel’s Tomb has become a popular site of pilgrimage for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The tomb is marked by a small white domed Ottoman.

Today, Jewish graves are covered with stones for they tend to place a stone whenever they visit a grave thus following Jacob’s example of placing stones on Rachel’s grave.

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Stones on Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem via Wikipedia

35:21 > Jacob spreads his tent in a place for his flocks, a mile from Bethlehem. It is the supposed place where the shepherds were watching their flocks when the angel came to them to report the birth of Christ (Luke 2:8). Edar means ‘flock’.

35:22 > Reuben was the firstborn, but because of his sin (incest), it cost him his birthright and he was replaced by Joseph (49:3-4; Deuteronomy 22:30; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2). This was a sin against the entire family.

35:23-26 > A list of Jacob’s sons chosen by God’s grace.

35:27 > Jacob finally makes it home after more than 20 years and he gets to see his father Isaac one last time before his death.

35:28-29 > Isaac lived to be 180 years old. He died in good old age and was buried by his twin sons, Jacob and Esau where Abraham and Sarah were buried. This is the last time we’ll see the brothers together.

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Esau’s family

Scripture in focus: Genesis 36

36:1 > An account is given of Esau who was surnamed Edom from the red pottage he dramatically sold his birthright for to his brother Jacob.

36:2-5 > Record of Esau’s wives, sons, and daughters. Bashemath means “fragrance”, Reuel “friend of God/God is a friend”, Eliphaz “God is gold/God is fine gold” and Adah “ornament/beauty”.

36:6-8 > Esau takes all of his possessions and moves into another country (Seir) for the land couldn’t contain both his and Jacob’s abundant blessings.

36:9 > The Edomites descended from Esau and they were neighbors to the Israelites (Numbers 20:21; Deuteronomy 23:7).

36:10-19 > An account is given on the sons of Esau. “Dukes” meant tribal leaders.

36:20-30 > The genealogy of Seir is accounted to show the ancient inhabitants before they were driven out and succeeded by Esau and his sons.

36:31-43 > A record of the Kings of Edom. 

Until we all meet again to lift up our Savior, may peace be unto you in Jesus’s Name. 

Up next: Joseph’s dreams upset his brothers.

Additional Notes/Recap

^ With Benjamin’s birth, the 12 tribes of Israel were complete. 

^ Bethlehem means ‘house of bread’. In Micah 5:2, it’s referred to as Bethlehem Ephratah. 

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayer

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XIX: Jacob’s name is changed, a twintastic reunion, and revenge for a sister.

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

Brothers and sisters, we should put our trust entirely, not in man, but in the Father. Not in this ‘do what thou wilt’ society, but in the Holy Spirit. Not in the baseless music spewing from our radio, but in the Psalms and spiritual songs. Trust in the name of the Lord our God always. 

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Before we begin, I’m trying a new format/structure from today. I hope it makes studying the verses/chapters a little easier. If it doesn’t, I’ll revert back to the old method.

Jacob’s name is changed

Scripture in focus: Genesis 32

32:1-2 > Jacob is met by an angelic host at Mahanaim. They were with him all the time for God never abandons his own. Jacob can now see the angelic host because he chose to separate himself from the world (Laban). When we separate from the world, the believer is given greater insight.

Mahanaim, meaning “double camp” (Jacob’s camp & the camp of the heavenly hosts), was located east of the Jordan River in Gilead near the River Jabbok (now call the River Zarqa). We’ll see more of Mahanaim later on in Numbers, Joshua, and 2 Samuel.

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The Zarqa River via jo.geoview.info

32:3-5 > Jacob sends messengers before him to Esau, who now resides in the land of Seir. Jacob also wants his brother to know that he is a man of wealth now and he is not coming to take anything away from him. He even humbled himself before his brother addressing Esau as “lord”. Twenty years is such a long time for these two!

32:6-8 > When the messengers returned and informed Jacob that his twin was coming to meet him with an army of 400 men, Jacob was greatly distressed. He was thinking of how he wronged Esau in the past and this fear crippled him. Instead of trusting God’s “two camps”, he divided the people with him, thus creating his own “two camps”.

32:9-12 > Realizing that his method was wrong, Jacob turns to God and prays for deliverance. His prayer was full of faith and thanksgiving.

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32:13-21 > Jacob sends Esau’s gifts to pacify him. I tend to smile whenever I read these passages, for Jacob didn’t even know what his brother’s feelings were towards him after 20 years and he’s trying to get on his good side. And if he really trusted God 100%, he would’ve led and not hid. He surrendered everything, but himself.

32:22-23 > Jacob sends all his possessions over the river. Only God can help him now.

Jacob was now alone. God had to get him alone to deal with him. He was also empty. Jabbok is significant here for it means “to empty itself” in Hebrew. According to a fired up sermon by my pastor many months ago, God had to bring Jacob to a place of empty. When we have nothing, this is the time that we discover God is the rock at the bottom.

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32:24-25 > Jacob wrestles with a man until the break of dawn. The man here was either the Angel of the Lord also identified as the pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ in the OT or an angel representing God (see Exodus 3:2; Hosea 12:4; John 1:18). This was a fight of faith and God wanted Jacob to empty himself and to encourage his faith. The divine being touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh and the hip bone was moved out of place, suggesting that he could’ve bested Jacob at any time. 

32:26 > Even though Jacob lost to a greater man, he clung desperately, pleading to be blessed. The fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much and faith in prayer lays hold on God even if we have to wrestle all night until the breaking of dawn. Jacob was not stopping until he got an answer from God and he sought it with weeping (also refer to Hosea 12:3-5). That fleshly nature which had not been conquered by God had to be done. He had to give up his self-will/reliance and depend SOLELY on God for all of his needs.

When you go into battle with God, you only win by losing. 

32:27-29 > Jacob’s name is changed to Israel, a compound of two words: sarah (“struggle” or “fight”) and el (“God”). Israel means “God rules” or “God’s fighter”. How beautiful! The being refused to tell Jacob his name for he knew Jacob knew it already. He blessed Jacob right where they wrestled and this blessing is the passing away of the old life (Jacob) into the new (Israel). I view it as a sort of baptism then.

32:30 > Jacob called the place Peniel meaning “Face of God”. No one can look the Father in the face and live, so the being Jacob wrestled with was a form of God’s Spirit (see Hosea 12:4).

32:31-32 > The sun of righteousness shone upon Jacob as a token of goodwill, but now, he also walked with a limp to remind him that without God, there is no victory. The Israelites abstain from eating the sinew for it is a reminder of Jacob’s encounter with God.

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The twins have a short reunion

Scripture in focus: Genesis 33

33:1-2 > Jacob prepares his family to meet his brother.

33:3 > Before his meeting with God, Jacob was not prepared to face his twin first. Now, he’s willing to lead the procession and by bowing down 7 times, Jacob showed submission and humility to his elder brother who was now lord of a country. Seven means “spiritually complete”.

33:4-7 > Esau warmly greets his brother and they both wept in joy and probably from relief. Esau was happy to see that his twin was alive after 20 years in exile. Jacob worried for nothing after all. What was in the past will remind there, for there was no need to drag it up again. They had so much to talk about and Jacob gave God thanks for everything.

“And he said, the children which God hath graciously given thy servant” I love how Jacob referred to his children as gifts from God for that’s what they are: a gift and a loan, something which many parents tend to forget and some would go as far as to dictate the grown child’s life hindering him/her from doing God’s work.

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Jacob & Esau reunion via Google Search

33:8-9 > Jacob’s gift to his brother was a token of goodwill. In the eastern countries, it’s the norm to carry gifts for friends. But Esau had enough already.

33:10 > “I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God” Here, Jacob acknowledges how much God has changed his twin, as he couldn’t find a trace of malice on Esau’s face. Esau had made peace with God and he was obviously happy to see Jacob.

33:11 > Jacob urges Esau until he took the gifts. With Jacob giving of the gifts, he was showing how sorry he was and with Esau accepting, Esau was forgiving Jacob. 

“I have enough” both brothers had been blessed bountifully by God and could, therefore, contend that they had enough (1 Timothy 6:6).

33:12-14 > Esau wanted Jacob to follow him back to his home in Seir, but Jacob knew if he drove the animals hard, they will die and he tells Esau so. He wanted to take his time so he tells Esau to go on ahead and he’ll follow him to Seir.

33:15-16 > Esau wants to leave some of his men with Jacob to show him the way to Seir and to also guard him, but Jacob respectfully declines the offer. Esau returns that day to Seir.

33:17 > Jacob journeys to Succoth (meaning “booths”). The Bible doesn’t tell us if Jacob had indeed gone to Seir, so we’re not sure if this journey takes place after he spent some time in Seir or if Jacob allowed Esau to go a few days beyond him and then headed south.

33:18-20 > Jacob eventually comes to Shechem, buys land for a tomb from the sons of Hamor and sets up an altar with his new name El-elohe-Israel meaning “God of Israel”. Before he died (50 years later in Egypt), Jacob gave this land to Joseph (48:22), whose bones were buried there 400 years later after God’s people left Egypt (Joshua 24:32). Joseph’s tomb can still be seen today in Shechem, which is modern-day Nablus, but public access is said to be limited.

It was also here in Shechem, that Jacob’s well became a vital scene in the ministry of Jesus 1,900 years later (John 4:5-6).

Dinah is ravished and her brothers take revenge

Scripture in focus: Genesis 34

When the Bible shows its leaders and heroes in such terrible, stark truth, we can know for sure that it is a book from God. Men don’t write about themselves and their ancestors like this. (blueletterbible.org)

In 31:13, God instructs Jacob to return to Beth-el, but instead, he chose to take his family to the ungodly Shechem. In the process, Dinah is defiled which causes her brothers to take revenge on her behalf, thus distressing Jacob. Dinah was the only sister to the 12 sons of Jacob.

34:1 > Dinah went out to visit some local girls she has become acquainted with or was going out to make friends with them (the world). But she was young, beautiful, unattached, and worse, unsupervised. She would’ve been considered fair game by the local men who saw her. Also, she would’ve been around 13-17 years of age. 

34:2-4 > Shechem saw how beautiful Dinah was to look upon and takes her by force. After violating her, he tries to express his love for her. His “love” was not godly love. He was a prince so he thought he was entitled to have whatever he wanted including Dinah. After the forcible rape, Shechem tries to justify his love and desire for marriage by asking his father Hamor to get Dinah to be his wife. Had he so loved Dinah, he would’ve married her first. Him professing his love for her is inexcusable for the sin he committed against her will. 

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Dinah making friends with the world via Google Search

34:5-6 > Jacob seems to take the news of defilement of his daughter calmly when Hamor came to reason with him. At this time, Dinah was detained at the palace with Shechem, flattered that a handsome prince cared about her well being. We also have to remember that she was young and naive and would’ve believed every caring word which dropped from the prince’s mouth.

34:7 > Jacob’s sons came from the field as soon as they heard. They were ashamed and angry. Dinah was supposed to be living a holy life as she was part of the covenant people. Nevertheless, the brothers will protect their sister’s honor by taking revenge in a sinful manner.

34:8-12 > Hamor and Shechem seek to arrange Dinah’s marriage even proposing intermarriage (v9), but their negotiating method was also insulting to Jacob’s family (v12). Not once, Hamor apologized for the sin his son had committed nor did he make Shechem apologize for he thought marriage would’ve sufficed for the crime.

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34:13-17 > If it’s one thing Jacob’s offsprings knew to do well is to deceive and they did just that with Hamor and Shechem. Dinah would be Shechem’s wife if father and son agree to their terms: every male of the city should submit to circumcision. What a sinful proposal!

34:18-19 > The proposal pleased Hamor and Shechem for Shechem was lovesick over Dinah and would’ve done anything her brothers told him to do. He didn’t hesitate to get it done right away for he was honorable in his men’s eyes (a shining example) and he was willing to right his wrong by marrying Dinah.

34:20 > The gate of the city is where courts of justice and perhaps important/urgent meetings were held. Hamor and Shechem addressed the men of the city of entering into a possible allegiance with Jacob’s family.

34:21 > Because they’ve held a meeting with Jacob and his sons, Hamor and Shechem decided that they were peaceful and harmless as they bothered no one. Also, seeing how blessed Jacob’s family was, Hamor and Shechem tried to show the men of the city how they can reap beautiful benefits as well.

34:22 > On one condition, though: all the men had to be circumcised.

34:23 > By intermarrying, all the wealth and riches of Israel will come into the hands of the Canaanites.

34:24 > Men, eh? They’ll do anything for wealth and women! They were brought and sold that every part of Jacob’s wealth would be shared with them and they’ll marry women, perhaps even more beautiful than their women, and so, EVERY male was circumcised. 

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34:25 > On the 3rd day when they knew the men of the city were in pain/sore and the men wouldn’t be able to defend themselves for the wounds were inflamed and the men might have been nursing fevers, Levi and Simeon struck the city slaying all the grown males, thus massacring innocent lives in the process.

34:26 > Hamor and Shechem are killed and Dinah is rescued.

34:27-29 > After “justifying” this murder, it doesn’t stop there. Jacob’s sons plundered the city as if it was the entire city that defiled Dinah, took their livestock, their children, their women, and all worldly possessions they laid their hands on.

34:30 > Jacob is displeased with his sons’ wicked actions, but he doesn’t rebuke them. Instead, he’s more concerned about his safety in the land and rightly so, but Jacob lacked parenting skills. 

34:31 > Levi and Simeon does not care. Should Shechem had treated their sister like a prostitute? Should they have just looked the other way and allowed Shechem to marry their sister while disgracing their good name? They forbid! Somewhere in this tone, they blame their father, the protector, and leader of the family, for not doing anything on his only daughter’s behalf. 

Until we all meet again to lift up our Savior, may peace be unto you in Jesus’s Name.

Up next: Jacob returns to Beth-el and Esau’s legacy

Additional Notes/Recap

^ Although angels are “higher” beings than us, they are ordained by God to minister to us as they did to Jesus (Matthew 4:11) and to be our servants (Hebrews 1:14).

^ Dinah venturing out to visit the land (just as the prodigal son was enticed by the world) – whether out of curiosity or of a friendly gesture – brings to mind James 4:4 which warns us that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Dinah was captivated by the evil world of Shechem and her focus was on the pretty things. She failed to see the lurking dangers around her for she was blind to reality. Because of her wandering away from home – and Jacob refusing to take leadership over the situation – Dinah ruins the good name of her family and a whole city was destroyed in her name. 

^ In Genesis 49:5-7, Jacob calls out Simeon and Levi’s true nature and prophecized that the two tribes will be divided. God did divide both tribes, later on, scattering them among Israel. Because of their lack of faithfulness, the tribe of Simeon was terminated and was incorporated into the tribal area of Judah. The tribe of Levi was very faithful to God although they, too, were scattered. They rejected the worship of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26-28) and was called a blessing. 

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayer

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XVIII: Rachel conceives and Jacob leaves Laban

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

Let us worship the LORD with singing and shouts of joy for His mercies endureth forever! Let us be thankful for breath and continue to praise and exalt His Name above ALL others!

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God remembers Rachel and she conceives 

Scripture in focus: Genesis 30

In this chapter, we’ll see why bigamy (more than one wife) is a violation of God’s ordinance. 

Leah had 4 children and Rachel had none. She was envious of her sister, desperate to have children and so, she blamed Jacob for her barrenness (30:1). Jacob reminds Rachel that it was God who had withheld the blessing of children to her (30:2). Desperate, Rachel offers her handmaid Bilhah to her husband (30:3-4). She became a mother through Bilhah (30:5) and named the son Dan meaning “judgment”. This was Jacob’s 5th child (30:6). Bilhah conceived yet again (30:7) and Jacob’s 6th son was named Naphtali meaning “wrestle” (30:8). A baby making contest to see who’ll bear the most children? Oh, this was personal now, and Leah had to get into this contest for the score was currently 4-2. What did Leah do? Yes, you guessed it: she gave her maid Zilpah to her husband to have more children by her (30:9)!

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Zilpah conceives and bares Jacob’s 7th son; Leah named him Gad meaning “troop” or “fortune” (30:10-11). Zilpah bears Jacob a second son that Leah named Asher meaning “happy” (30:12-13). “for the daughters will call me blessed”: here we see Leah more concerned about the status this child will bring her than the child itself. She’s focused on the praise she’ll get for it was an embarrassment for women of her time to not have children. She now had 6 and while her sister could boast about having two, they did not come from Rachel’s womb directly and this was Leah’s advantage.

Reuben was playing in the field during wheat harvest and he found some mandrakes which he took to his mother (30:14). Here’s a funny story: the first time I read this verse (I was very young), I thought mandrakes were animals (I thought they were ducks, to be honest) and I thought it weird that Rachel begged Leah for ducks! Later, I’ll come to find out that mandrakes were actually considered as an aphrodisiac and were referred to as “love-apples” back in those days. Still resentful of Jacob’s preference for Rachel, Leah tells her off, but Rachel suggests a trade: “Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son’s mandrakes.” (30:15). The hostility between the sisters was very real. And if they were ever close, this hostility forced them apart. This is why God forbids the marrying of sisters later on (Leviticus 18:18). Leah accuses Rachel of stealing her husband, when in fact, I’m certain she knew that Jacob only loved one woman and that was Rachel. His heart already belonged to her at the well.

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Eager, Leah goes to meet Jacob in the field when he’s coming in from feeding his flocks and plainly tells him that he was hers for the night for she earned it (30:16). Base on verses 15-16, it’ll seem that Jacob spent all his time in Rachel’s tent. He also wanted to please Rachel so he did what she wanted even to sleeping with Leah. God answered Leah’s prayer and she bore her 5th son, Jacob’s 9th (30:17) which she named Issachar meaning “reward” (30:18). Leah conceived yet again and bore another son Zebulun meaning “dwelling” for although she bore so many children for her husband, she was still unloved and he did not live with her. He lived with Rachel and visited Leah (30:19-20).

Leah gives birth to Jacob’s only daughter which she called Dinah meaning “justice” (30:21).

God remembers Rachel and opens her womb; she gives birth to Joseph (meaning “may he add”) and he was the 11th child and favorite of Jacob’s (30:22-24). Jacob knows that it was time to return to Canaan and he expresses this to Laban. Many years have passed since he served Laban and he was homesick (30:25-26). Laban practiced occult divination (“I have learned by experience”), but he also realized that his blessings were because of God blessing Jacob and he wanted Jacob to stay so he can continue to enjoy the blessings (30:27). Laban tries to trick Jacob into staying (30:28), but Jacob reminds him that he did not serve for a salary, but for his wives and how he cared for the cattle (30:29). He also reminds Laban that it was because of him (Jacob) and God that Laban now had such a huge herd of cattle and he was ready to provide for his growing family (30:30). 

Laban wants to know what it’ll take for Jacob to stay; Jacob was willing to work for Laban and building a herd for himself (30:31). He proposes a plan to Laban and it was an agreeable deal to both parties (30:32-34). After the deal was made, the flocks are separated (30:35-36). Jacob took rods from the almond (hazel) and chestnut tree, took off the bark in some places (“pilled white strakes in them”), left it on in others thus making white strakes (30:37. Breakdown via bible-studys.org). His method of breeding was blessed by God and his wealth increased (30:38-43). 

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Jacob leaves Laban secretly

Scripture in focus: Genesis 31

Laban’s sons saw Jacob’s wealth increasing and being extremely jealous, they start to complain instead of being grateful (31:1). Even Laban had become hostile towards Jacob (31:2). God tells Jacob to return home (31:3) and so he calls his wives to explain the situation (31:4-13). The sisters inquire after their inheritance (31:14). The women do not feel like their father’s kin. Instead, they felt like bondwomen (slaves) who were sold for naught given that their father had spent their money on himself rather than giving them their portion (31:15). The wives were sold to Jacob (thanks to his free labor of 14 years) so they belonged to him and they supported his decision 100% (31:16).

Jacob leaves Laban without even saying goodbye and Rachel steals her father’s idols (31:17-21).

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Three days after Jacob’s departure, Laban gets word of his flight and pursue after him (31:22-23). God comes to Laban in a dream to warn him about harming Jacob (31:24). Laban catches up to Jacob (31:25) and tries to shame him (31:26-28). He then basically tells Jacob, “You’re lucky  I can’t hurt you as was my earlier intention for God is on your side”. Take note that Laban called God, “Jacob’s God” and not his, for he was a pagan worshipper, but he still accuses Jacob of stealing his idols (31:29-30). Jacob answers truthfully (31:31) and proclaims his innocence and is confident that no one from his entourage had taken said idols and proclaims death on whoever had stolen them not knowing that it was his beloved Rachel (31:32). Laban searches the tents of Jacob and Leah going into Rachel’s own last (31:33-34). Rachel deceives her father (like father, like daughter) by lying about her menstruation cycle; he stopped searching after coming up empty-handed (31:35). To further understand why everything she was sitting on was considered “unclean” refer to Leviticus 15:19.

Jacob grew angry and rebukes Laban (31:36-42). How did the father-in-law reply? He claims ownership of everything and everyone that Jacob toiled hard for (31:43). Jacob and Laban eventually make a covenant (31:44-50). They erect a pillar of barrier between them representing separation and bringing to mind Genesis 2:24 (31:51-52). I think this is symbolic in Jacob leaving the world (Laban) behind in order to focus on God with all of his heart. 

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They then swore by the one they worshipped (31:53). Terah was an idol worshipper; his son Abraham worshipped the one true God, but it was not known who Nahor (Abraham’s brother) worshipped. Jacob gives thanks to God for protecting him throughout everything by offering sacrifice (31:54). Laban gets a proper goodbye, departs and returns to his place and this is the last we’ll hear of him (31:55).

Up next: Jacob wrestles with a heavenly being (God? An Angel?) and reunites with his twin. 

Additional Notes/Recap

^ “On my knees” refers to the custom where the husband impregnated the surrogate while the surrogate reclined on the lap of the wife, and how she might even recline on the wife as she gave birth. The symbolism clearly showed the child was legally the child of the mother, not the surrogate, who merely “stood in” for the wife both in conception and birth. (blueletterbible.org)

^ Bilhah and Zilpah were not wives, but concubines/surrogates. Surrogates are there to bear children for families who desire them and therefore; they have no rights over the child not even in the naming process.

^ Jacob’s principles for prosperity (via blueletterbible.org):

– Don’t make wealth your goal (Genesis 30:25-26)
– Don’t be afraid to work for others and try to increase their wealth before or as you work to increase your own wealth (Genesis 30:27)
– Work hard, dedicating yourself to your employer’s success (Genesis 30:2631:38-42)
– Trust God (Genesis 30:31-33)

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayers

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XVII: A mother and son conspiracy, a vision, and love at first sight

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

Let us boldly and confidently approach the throne whenever we need a sense of direction, whenever our burdens increase, when we feel like we’re drowning; when we struggle. Get honest with God. Approach with confidence. Take comfort – and advantage – knowing that we have a Mediator to plead on our behalf. 

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Rebekah & Jacob conspire to obtain Isaac’s blessings

Scripture in focus: Genesis 27

Isaac is now old in age and blind and he believed that it was his time to die so he called Esau to his deathbed to make a request (27:1-4). Inside these 4 opening chapters, we see that Esau was right there to answer his father when he was called (Behold, here am I). Yes, he was his father’s favorite and there might be nothing redeemable about Esau at this point, but I figured that he loved his father. Isaac thought his time had come to die so he wanted to put his affairs in order, but first, he wanted to eat his favorite son’s savory meat. Isaac was 137 at this time and he lived 43 more years (35:28) so it seemed that he was being dramatic. And he also wanted to bless Esau ignoring the fact that this was the same son who bartered his birthright and married heathen women. Despite all of that, he still loved and favored Esau. Despite God’s warning, he schemed in an attempt to bless the son who despised his birthright.

Oh, Isaac knew his motive was wrong, but he didn’t care.

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Isaac also wanted to give Esau the best blessings, but Rebekah heard and a deceptive plan was born for Jacob to deceive his father (27:5-10). Jacob was nervous as he reminded his mother that his twin was a hairy man, but he was willing to go along with the plan even as his mother was prepared to bear the brunt of being cursed should it occur (27:11-14). Let us pause for a bit and look at the drama thus far: not one of these actors are innocent. Isaac knew fully well that God chose Jacob from the very beginning to be blessed, yet, he wanted to do things his way. Esau agreed with his father’s plan even after agreeing to give Jacob his birthright, so he breaks a promise to his twin. Rebekah was eavesdropping when she heard her husband’s intentions to bless Esau in secret so instead of waiting for God, she and Jacob took matters into their own hands.

Rectifying the matter, Rebekah made Jacob “feel” like Esau (27:15-16). After preparing the savory meat and bread, she gave the dish to Jacob which he takes to his father impersonating Esau (27:17-19). Isaac doesn’t believe what he is hearing for hunting takes time (27:20). Jacob could’ve stopped the deceit right here and come clean, but instead, he brought God into it. Isaac was still in doubt so he asked the impersonator to come closer so he can feel if it’s really his beloved son (27:21-23). He was still highly suspicious because of the voice, but Jacob held on firmly saying that he was, in fact, Esau (27:24). Isaac happily ate the venison (27:25) and asked Jacob to kiss him perhaps to get a better smell of his clothing (27:26-27). But you know what bugged me? The fact that he loved Esau’s venison so much, but he couldn’t the difference in taste. 

And Isaac unknowingly blessed Jacob (27:28-29). God’s will be done as He prophesied in 25:23 and 26:23

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Jacob made haste and left his father’s tent just as Esau came back from his hunt bearing savory meat expecting to be blessed (27:30-31). He only wanted the blessing which was super selfish of him. Poor Isaac when he realized he was duped (27:32-33)! He tried to go against God’s will. He thought he had beaten God when he blessed Esau when in fact, it was Jacob. God’s will, would ALWAYS be done regardless of man fighting it. And that’s why Isaac trembled. 

Esau is anguished and begs his father to bless him (27:34), but it was already too late (27:35) and Esau angrily vents about his birthright blaming someone else for his sins; still expecting some sort of blessing (27:36-38). Although Esau wept, his tears were not of repentance; he simply felt sorry for himself (Hebrews 12:15-17). Isaac gives Esau a limited blessing (27:39-40). Esau is suddenly bitter and filled with hatred for his twin and he had murder in his heart vowing to kill Jacob as soon as Isaac died. If he only knew Isaac was not going to die immediately! (27:41). Someone overhears Esau’s murderous intention and tells it to Rebekah who didn’t hesitate to call Jacob to let him know of his brother’s wickedness (27:42). Rebekah tells him that he must flee to the dwelling place of her brother Laban for a few days until Esau’s anger cooled (27:43-45). Little did she know that Jacob’s few days turned out to be more than 20 years and this was the last time that she’ll be seeing her favorite son.

Rebekah masks her intentions with a lie to get Isaac to allow Jacob to leave (27:46).

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Jacob’s vision

Scripture in focus: Genesis 28

Isaac calls, blesses and warns Jacob about taking a Canaanite woman as a wife, instead instructing him to go to Padan-aram (28:1-2). Jacob was now heir to the Promised Land and the Canaanites were to be dispossessed of the land of Canaan. Also, it was time for Jacob to get married for he was 70 years old. Jacob is given the blessing of Abraham, the aspect of the birthright Esau despised (28:3-5). When Esau witnessed the blessing his twin was given and that Jacob obeyed his parents (28:6-7), and that the Canaanite women were not marriage material (28:8), Esau adds wives by marrying back into the line of Abraham through the family of Ishmael (28:9). He was trying to win back favor with his father.

Jacob left home alone; no servants accompanying him on this journey (28:10),  he used stones for pillows (28:11) and then he dreamed (28:12). This vision showed that Jacob had access to heaven, that God was nearer than he thought. The “ladder” was most likely a stairway. This is a symbolic picture of Jesus (John 1:51). He is the ladder. He is the Mediator between heaven and earth. God speaks to Jacob in 28:13-15. This was no doubt, a life-changing experience for Jacob after meeting God in this personal way. He awakens from the dream thinking that God wouldn’t have been present in a place like that (28:16). God is EVERYWHERE! We cannot hide from Him for He’ll find us. David knew this (Psalm 139:7). Jacob was afraid (a respectful fear) and called the place “dreadful” (the usage here has to do with reverence. How “awesome” is this place!) for God dwell there (28:17).

Jacob marked the site as a special significance calling the place Beth-el which means House of God (28:18-19). He then made a vow unto God (28:20-22). Jacob also mentioned tithing (the tenth). Tithing pleases God and even now, He blesses those who tithe 10% of their income to Him. 

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The site of Bethel via thebiblejourney.org

Love at first sight

Scripture in focus: Genesis 29

Jacob arrives in the land of Mesopotamia/Syria which lay east of Canaan and comes to a covered well (29:1-3). He asks the shepherds what city they’re from and they responded that they were from Haran the very place Jacob was bound for (29:4). Just as he enquires about their knowledge of Laban, his (Laban’s) daughter Rachel comes with the flock of sheep to water them (29:5-6). What perfect timing! This is Jacob’s first glimpse of Rachel. He gives the shepherds advice (29:7), but I reckoned that he was trying to get rid of them so he can speak to Rachel. However, the shepherds did not want to violate the law of rolling the stone away to water the sheep (29:8). It seemed like the shepherds watered the sheep at a certain time daily and had to wait until the other shepherds were gathered so everyone can water their flocks. 

And Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them (29:9).

When Jacob saw Rachel coming nearer with the flock, he rolls the stone away from the well’s mouth and watered Rachel’s flock of sheep (29:10). He knew he had come to marry one of Laban’s daughters, so he had to make a great first impression. He then kissed Rachel in a way of civility and wept with happiness (29:11). He told her that he was a near kinsman of her father and his mother was her father’s sister and she ran and told her father these things (29:12). Laban rushes to greet him, welcome him into his home, and Jacob told him everything (29:13). Laban said that Jacob could stay for a month (29:14). Back in the ancient days, by tradition, a stranger can stay with someone for up to 3 days. If he’s still there on the 4th day, he’ll state his name and mission. If he’ll like to remain much longer, he’ll have to work in some agreed-upon way as we’ll see in verse 15. If Jacob wanted to remain, he must stay as a hired servant. 

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Laban had two daughters: the eldest being Leah and the youngest being Rachel (29:16). Leah’s eyes were not as beautiful as her sister’s; see how beauty always have such a HUGE role to play? (29:17). But Jacob loved Rachel and he seems to have from the very first moment they met. For him, it was love at first sight and he was willing to serve 7 years for her (29:18). Essentially, seven years was a dowry. But Laban had plans for Jacob. Oh, yes, yes, the deceiver was about to be deceived. Whatever we reap, we sow after all.

A deal is struck since Laban would prefer his daughter to marry a relation rather than a stranger (29:19). Jacob served seven years which seemed like a few days (29:20). I love how Jacob loved Rachel! Although he was not allowed to spend as much time with her – for there were rules regarding unmarried men and women – just the sight of her and the conversations they had in passing made the time seem shorter. Jacob was willing to wait for Rachel for 7 years. An important lesson on love here: TRUE LOVE WAITS. True love is not a princely kiss or all those make-believe stuff and lies we see on the teLIEvision.

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I’ve always admired the love Jacob had for Rachel. This is one of the greatest love stories of all time and I’ll like to dedicate a post at a later time to them.

By contract, Rachel was Jacob’s wife and the conditions were fulfilled, and now he wanted his wife (29:21). Laban made the marriage public (29:22), but when evening came, he switched Rachel for Leah (29:23). According to the wedding customs of those days, the bride was veiled until she was finally alone with her husband. However, it must have been dark by then and Jacob, unaware of the change of girls given that he was not expecting it, slept with Leah. And Laban gave Leah a wedding present in the form of a handmaid call Zilpah (29:24).

The next morning, Jacob realizes that he was deceived and calls Laban out on it (29:25). Jacob felt wronged. He served 7 years for beautiful Rachel, not tender-eyed Leah! How dare, Laban gave him the daughter that was not as beautiful as Rachel?! Laban’s deception is similar to that of what Jacob did to his brother Esau and father Jacob. Laban comes up with an excuse saying that the younger must not be given before the older in marriage (29:26). So why didn’t he say so when Jacob agreed to serve 7 years for the woman who stole his heart at the well? Laban tells Jacob to complete the wedding week with Leah and he’ll give Rachel to be his wife if he promises to serve another 7 years (29:27). Of course, Jacob would do just about anything to have Rachel as his wife, so he complied (29:28). Laban gifts Rachel a handmaid by the name of Bilhah for her wedding gift (29:29).

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He loved Rachel more than Leah for she was his choice from the very beginning; she was the woman he originally served 7 years for (29:30). But God loved Leah and He took compassion on her (29:31). Leah conceived and gave birth to Reuben meaning “behold, a son” and she thinks because he is the firstborn of Jacob, he’ll come to his senses and love her (29:32). Her second born was named Simeon meaning “hearing” for the Lord has heard her (29:33). Her third son was called Levi meaning “attachment” in the hope that her husband will love her and become attached to her after giving him something his beloved Rachel couldn’t: 3 sons (29:34). She called the 4th son Judah meaning “praise” and the Messiah sprung from this tribe and she stopped bearing for a while (29:35). 

Additional Notes/Recap

^ To add to 27:21-24, after Jacob received the blessing, he had to pay the consequences for his deceit: he never saw his mother after the fiasco, Esau wanted to kill him, his uncle Laban deceived him, but what probably hurt the most was being exiled from his family for years. 

^ Extra notes on Chapter 27: Had Isaac not been blind, Esau would’ve surely gotten the blessing he did not deserve. There is implied symbolism here as well of God having a favorite which was the Israelites, but they took their heritage for granted refusing the blessing that would come through Jesus Christ. The Israelites were the firstborn. They refused to accept the beautiful blessing and the Gentiles got it.

^ Jacob’s vow in 28:20-22 is the first vow we read of in scripture. 

^ Leah means “weary” while Rachel means “ewe” a female sheep. 

^ Although Jacob married two sisters, he let everyone know that Rachel was highly favored in his heart. Maybe he could’ve tried to love Leah equally, but it was impossible, for she was not as beautiful as Rachel. He even loved the sons of Rachel (Joseph and Benjamin) more than the others. 

^ The two greatest tribes came from Leah: Levi (the priestly tribe) and Judah (the royal tribe). And most importantly, the Messiah came from Leah, the less beautiful sister. She was neglected and despised (are you beginning to see the similarities of Jesus in many of these characters in Genesis? They set the stage for His eventual coming), but she didn’t blame God for her circumstance, instead, she praised Him. 

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XVI: Death, twins, birthright, and wives!

In case you missed it:

PART 15: The servant’s journey and Isaac meets Rebekah

PART 14: Abraham proves his faith and Sarah dies

PART 13: Abraham pulls the sister card again and Isaac is born

Part 12: Wicked cities are destroyed and Lot is saved

PART 11: Sarai’s name is changed and she is reproved for laughing

PART 10: The Promise of an Heir and Ishmael is Born

PART 9: God renews the promise and a kingly battle

PART 8: Language Confusion and Abram’s Blessing

PART 7: Noah’s Generation, a geographic history lesson

PART 6: Noah leaves the ark and God blesses him

PART 5: The wickedness of the world and the Great Flood

PART 4: The first murder and genealogy of the Patriarchs

PART 3: The Original Sin

PART 2: The making of mankind and the Sabbath

PART 1: Genesis: in the beginning

At the beginning of the month, I was reminded that God wants us to have relationships via one of my close colleagues. Not only marriageable relationships but friendly relationships as well. He wants us to embrace our brothers and sisters; to forgive where necessary. I am grateful and blessed by the people in my life for they were placed in it for a reason so I thank God always for them.

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Twins and birthright

Scripture in focus: Genesis 25

When I realized that we’ll be discussing twins today, I smiled thinking ‘how perfect!’ for it ties in wonderfully for the twin theme I’m doing this month. 😃 In this chapter, we learn that Abraham had more children and why Esau was dramatic in selling his birthright. 

Abraham took a wife, her name was Keturah and she bore him 6 sons and they were the fathers of various Arab countries (25:1-4) See note below in recap. Abraham gave his wealth and the Promised Land to Isaac the principal heir (25:5) but to the sons, he had by the concubines (Hagar & Keturah), he gave them gifts and send them eastward (Arabia & surroundings) away from Isaac for the flesh and the spirit cannot cohabit in peace (25:6). Abraham lived to be 175 years (Isaac would’ve been 75) and then he departs from this world in good old age (25:7-8). He is buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael where his wife Sarah was buried 38 years before (25:9-10). Isaac dwelled by Lahai-roi and God blessed him (25:11). Lahai-roi was near the wilderness of Beersheba and Paran, where Ishmael dwelt so these brothers were not far from each other.

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25:12-18 deals with the life and descendants of Ishmael. He had 12 sons and they were blessed right here on earth (25:13-16). These 12 princes had Egyptian ancestry and were Arabs. The genealogy is in their names. Nebajoth (Isaiah 60:7) was an Arab people (Nabathaeans) that inhabited all the country from the Euphrates to the Red Sea. Kedar (Isaiah 21:13) meaning ‘dark’ or ‘mighty’ were Arabians; the Arabic language is most frequently, in Jewish writings, called the language of Kedar (bible-studys.org). Ishmael lived to be 137 years old (25:17). Havilah unto Shur refers to the vast desert of Arabia; eastward was called the wilderness of Havilah and westward was referred to as Shur. Simply put, these were Arabs living in all Arab countries surrounding Israel (25:18). 

Isaac’s story begins at 25:19. He was 40 years old when he married Rebekah the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram (25:20). ‘Syrian’ here is translated as ‘Armenia’ and was called Mesopotamia in 24:10. It is not to be confused with the Syria of which Damascus was the capital. Isaac prayed on his wife’s behalf for children because she was barren after 20 years. God heard and answered Isaac’s prayer (25:21). There was conflict in her womb so she went to enquire before the Lord as to why (25:22). God tells Rebekah that she has twins within her, they will each father nations, and one shall be greater than the other and also, the elder shall serve the younger (25:23).

When the 9 months were up, she realized that God’s word was true and there were indeed twins in her womb (25:24).

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Esau was the firstborn of the twins and he was red and hairy (25:25). Esau was the father of the Edomites and his father’s favorite. It was too bad he despised his birthright for later, he is used as an example to illustrate the non-elect of God (Romans 9:13). Jacob was born clutching the heel of his twin brother (25:26). In that day, “heel-catcher” meant “con man” or “rascal” and this personality of Jacob came to pass when he conned his twin out of his birthright. Isaac was 60 years old when they were born. 

Although twins, the boys were different from each other. Esau tilled and sowed the land and was an expert hunter whereas his twin was a godly and quiet man (25:27). In some cases, parents have favorites and Isaac and Rebekah were no different. Isaac loved Esau and his savory food whereas Rebekah loved Jacob (25:28). Jacob sodded pottage (cooked a stew) when Esau came from the field weary. Here we see that Esau hunts and Jacob cooks (25:29). Esau begs his brother for food saying that he was faint acting as if he was at death’s door if he didn’t get food (25:30). And this is where the play upon words forever cements Esau’s fate: he was born red (and hairy) and he sold his birthright for red stew. He was also called Edom which means ‘red’. 

Ooh, that cunning Jacob deviously asking for his twin’s birthright! (25:31). Esau wasn’t even thinking logically or clearly for that matter. Perhaps he went out to hunt all day in the sweltering heat, caught nothing and was so disappointed that he let false emotions cloud his thinking. He wanted food and he wanted it now! He’s also thinking that one day he’s going to die so what does a birthright matter anyway (25:32). In his dramatic moment, he overlooked how valuable a birthright is! The son of the birthright received a double portion of the inheritance. Upon the passing of his father, he’ll have the right to be the head of the family and priest/spiritual leader (Deuteronomy 21:17; Exodus 4:22; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2).

Somebody give Esau an Oscar! 

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And Esau sold his birthright to Jacob (25:33). While it was unfair of Jacob to take advantage of his brother, blame can also be placed at Esau’s feet for he despised his birthright. He was so concerned with his material needs, he failed to stop and consider his actions: what God considered sacred, he made common. Isn’t it ironic that Jacob was buying something that was already his base on what God said in v.23?

So Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew for he despised his inheritance (25:34).

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Isaac is wealthy and Esau takes two wives

Scripture in focus: Genesis 26

A famine was in the land (26:1), but God appeared unto Isaac (vision/dream) and told him not to go down to Egypt as his father Abraham had done (26:2) for He wanted Isaac to stay in Canaan and try his faith in Him (26:3). No matter what crisis may arise, God wants us to depend on Him and not do our own thing because of lack of faith. If you trust Him when things are easy, trust Him, even more, when things are hard. God reminds Isaac of the promise that He made to Abraham all over again in 26:4 and He also reminded Isaac of his father’s obedience to Him (26:5).

So Isaac stayed in Gerar (26:6).

Isaac repeats his father’s mistake when he lied about Rebekah being his sister (26:7). And he was doing so good in 26:1-5! Sin always finds a way to knock on the door for the flesh is weak. Technically speaking, Rebekah was a second cousin to Isaac. So one day, Abimelech looked out a window and was astonished to see Isaac sporting (showing endearment for Rebekah) with his wife (26:8). Abimelech summons Issac and wants to know his reason for lying about his relation to Rebekah to which Isaac replied that he was afraid to lose his life (26:9). 

Just as Abraham was scolded by a pagan king, so was Isaac (26:10-11).

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Isaac works hard and becomes wealthy and God has also blessed him (26:12-14). Jealousy causes people to do strange things. This was one of the factors why the Philistines had filled the well with dirt (26:15). The Philistines asked Isaac to leave and without argument, he leaves and pitches his tent in Gerar (26:16-17). In the valley of Gerar, Isaac’s servants dug the wells again finding springing water in one of them (26:18-19). Although the wells were dug by Isaac’s servants, the herdmen of Gerar laid claim to it so Isaac named the wells Esek (meaning “contention”) and Sitnah (meaning “enmity”) (26:20-21). Finally, a third well was dug without argument and Isaac named it Rehoboth (“room enough”) giving all the credit to God (26:22). 

Isaac went up to Beer-sheba where the Lord appeared to him that same night (26:23-24). He then built an altar, giving thanks to God and his servants dug a well there (26:25). He is visited by Abimelech and Phichol and he enquires of their visit given that they had sent him away from dwelling among them (26:26-27). They made peace with Isaac because God was with him just as He was with Abraham (26:28-31). On that very same day, Isaac was told that the well had water (26:32) and Isaac called the well Sheba meaning “an oath” (26:33). 

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And Esau was 40 years old when he takes two wives (26:34) thus grieving his parents (26:35). These two women were from the Hittites and God had forbidden Hebrew men from intermarrying them. Also, Esau had broken the Hebrew custom rule: instead of his parents choosing his future bride, he went and chose for himself. 

Additional Notes/Recap

^ 25:1-2: I first understood this to be Abraham remarrying after Sarah’s death, but the Bible is not in chronological order and for this reason, scholars have been arguing over the valid date of this marriage. Examing it, it opens ‘then again Abraham took a wife’ strongly implying that he took another wife, but it does not state whether before or after Sarah’s death. Abraham would’ve been over 100 years old and marrying Keturah and having 6 sons by her would’ve contradicted his statement in 17:17 although nothing is too hard for our God. Keturah was around when Sarah was alive; she was a concubine and secondary wife. The Bible does not tell us the period in Abraham’s time when this marriage took place, but in 1 Chronicles 1:32, Keturah is referred to as a concubine which implied that the proper wife was living. With Sarah’s blessing (knowing that she was about to die perhaps?), Abraham could’ve married Keturah or after the marriage of Isaac. Either way, I love how the Word makes us think.

Do you have any thoughts on this topic?

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^ “Keturah” means incense.

^ Abraham is mentioned 70 times in the New Testament alone. Only Moses is mentioned more times in the New Testament (80 times).

^ Isaac was the second of the great Patriarchs, (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

^ Are we selling out our birthright? Ephesians 1:3-14 shows us our birthright in Jesus.

^ Just as Pharoah was a royal title, so was the title Abimelech (26:8) which was a philistine dynastic title. The Abimelech Abraham would’ve encountered 97 years before would’ve already passed away.

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XV: The servant’s journey and Isaac meets Rebekah

In case you missed it:

PART 14: Abraham proves his faith and Sarah dies

PART 13: Abraham pulls the sister card again and Isaac is born

Part 12: Wicked cities are destroyed and Lot is saved

PART 11: Sarai’s name is changed and she is reproved for laughing

PART 10: The Promise of an Heir and Ishmael is Born

PART 9: God renews the promise and a kingly battle

PART 8: Language Confusion and Abram’s Blessing

PART 7: Noah’s Generation, a geographic history lesson

PART 6: Noah leaves the ark and God blesses him

PART 5: The wickedness of the world and the Great Flood

PART 4: The first murder and genealogy of the Patriarchs

PART 3: The Original Sin

PART 2: The making of mankind and the Sabbath

PART 1: Genesis: in the beginning

Jesus can never tire of carrying our burdens! He is there for us always and waiting for us to heed His call to come to Him, O wear traveler, for, in Him, you’ll find that precious rest you’ve been desperately seeking. Seek Him while He is near today.

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Abraham’s servant faithful journey

Scripture in focus: Genesis 24

This is a long chapter and perhaps, the longest thus far (I can be wrong) at 67 verses. It deals with Abraham sending a servant to seek a bride for his son and the result of this faithful outcome.

THE OATH

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Abraham was over 100 years old and blessed with both temporal and spiritual things (24:1). The name of the eldest servant is not mentioned in 24:2, but in 15:2, the name of the eldest servant was Eliezer. However, this particular servant didn’t have to be Eliezer. Abraham does not want Isaac to be married to a Canaanite woman so he made the servant take the oath to go to his (Abraham’s) country (Mesopotamia 24:10) to his kindred (Abraham’s brother Nahor) to get Isaac a wife (24:3-4). Before the servant takes the oath, he cautiously enquires what would or would not oblige him (24:5). Abraham clears up the matter; Isaac was never to leave the Promised Land (24:6). Abraham was confident that God Himself had already chosen a wife for Isaac for God had spoken with him concerning the matter (24:7). The servant was perhaps still uneasy, so Abraham tells him that he would not hold him by the oath if things didn’t go according to plan (24:8). 

The servant then placed his hand under his master’s thigh and swore as Abraham had asked of him (24:9).

THE JOURNEY

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The servant sets out on his mission with presents for the bride. The 10 camels he took would also serve as a means of transport for the bride and her companions for the return journey (24:10). The camels are given rest by a well without the city of Nahor at evening time when women would come to the well to draw water (24:11). The servant prayed to God for a sign concerning the chosen woman for Isaac (24:12-14).

Before the servant was even done praying, God answered his prayer in the form of Rebekah (24:15). 

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I could imagine the look of surprise on the servant’s face when he realized what God had done! His prayer had been answered, but he still needed confirmation. Rebekah was beautiful, young, a virgin, and Isaac’s second cousin (24:16). The servant ran to meet her and asked to taste a little of the water. He was not looking to quench his thirst, but to test her (24:17). She gave him a drink and proposed to also draw water for the camels (24:18-19). She then drew water for all 10 camels (24:20). Let that sink in: TEN CAMELS! One camel can hold up to 25 gallons of water. Rebekah did not only talk about watering the camels, she actually did it proving that she had the heart of a servant.

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Rebekah did everything the servant prayed to God about, but, yet, he had doubts reflecting on if God made his journey prosperous or not (24:21). After the camels quenched their thirst, the servant gave the maiden a few gifts (24:22). He then poses two questions in 24:23: “Whose daughter art thou?” and “Is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?” He was still in doubt and wanted to make sure that the maiden was related to Abraham and the status of her family’s wealth.

Rebekah gives him the answers he sought (24:24-25) thus convincing him entirely and he bows his head and worships God (24:26-27).

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Rebekah runs ahead to her mother’s house (tent or apartment) to relate the events that passed while she was at the well (24:28). Her brother Laban rushes to meet the man at the well (24:29) after hearing his sister’s words and seeing the jewelry upon her (24:30). Laban had probably come to the conclusion that the stranger at the well his sister met was wealthy and wanted to see for himself. Laban calls the servant blessed and invites him into the house (24:31). The servant accepts the invitation (24:32). After taking care of the camels and the washing of feet, meat was set before the servant, but he refuses to eat until he states the first order of business (24:33).

The servant tells his story and the nature of the trip (24:34-48). After relating the entire story, he now waits for an answer (24:49). “Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said” (24:50). The word “answered” is used in the singular form. However, given that Bethuel was probably old in age, he would’ve left the management of the household to his son Laban (as it was customary) who gave the answer in the name of Bethuel. The family agreed to let Rebekah go with the servant to be Isaac’s bride for it was God’s will (24:51). At their consent, the servant humbly bows down and thank God (24:52). He then presents the family with lavish gifts (24:53). These gifts were known as dowry and it was the custom back then for the father of the groom to give valuable things to the family of the bride. By this dowry, Rebekah was betrothed/engaged to Isaac. 

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Mission accomplished, they celebrate the occasion, but the servant refuses to tarry (24:54). The family wanted to spend a few more days with Rebekah, but the servant didn’t want to be detained any longer for he was anxious to go home to his master with the good news (24:55-56). The family decides to let Rebekah choose to tarry a little longer or to leave immediately (24:57). Rebekah did not hesitate, she simply answers “I will go” (24:58). She has never seen her future husband, but she’ll go with faith and willingness. This was God’s will after all. 

Rebekah and her nurse go with Abraham’s servants (24:59), but before they fully depart, her family blesses her with a beautiful prayer (24:60). “be thou the mother of thousands of millions” ties in perfectly with God’s promises of MANY descendants to Abraham through Sarah and Isaac. 1000’s of millions (Christians) are descendants through Abraham. Rebekah took some of her servant girls with her and they followed the servant (24:61). I could imagine Rebekah wanting to know all about Isaac and asking the servant about him to which the servant happily obliged during the return trip. 

THE MEETING

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Isaac was coming from the well Lahai-roi (24:62). We met this well in 16:14 when Hagar was comforted by God. Isaac lived there after the death of his father (25:11). Isaac went out to meditate when he saw the camel caravan returning (24:63). Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Rebekah was looking around, her eyes beheld Isaac coming towards them and she respectfully got off the camel for it would have been disrespectful to Isaac had she continued to sit on top of the animal (24:64). 

In her heart, Rebekah already knew who Isaac was, but she wanted confirmation from the servant. This is why she got off the camel and covered her face with a veil (24:65). It was customary for the bride to veil her face in the presence of her betrothed until the wedding day. The veil also signified submission, chastity, and modesty. 

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The servant relates the detailed story of his faithful journey to Isaac (24:66). Isaac accepts Rebekah as his wife before he even saw her face and when he did eventually saw her beauty? Well, he loved her and he was comforted by her after the death of his mother (24:67). 

Additional Notes/Recap

^ “Laban” means white. So this was a fair-skinned tribe. (bible-studys.org)

^ Rebekah’s nurse (24:59) was her faithful attendant who died in her service. We come to know her name as Deborah in 35:8.

^ Where relationships are concerned in the Bible, dating was not really something people do. Couples didn’t go out, hold hands and kiss to see if they were compatible. Parents chose what they deemed a suitable wife or husband for their children. This was called an arranged marriage.

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search