Bible Study

Genesis XXV: The return to Egypt

In case you missed it: 

Bible Study Guide 

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Joseph entertains his brothers

Scripture in focus: Genesis 43

43:1-2 > The famine wore on in Canaan and the food eventually ran out due to the size of Jacob’s family (children, grandchildren, and servants). Jacob commanded his sons to return to Egypt to purchase more food. 

43:3-5 > Judah tries to convince his father to send Benjamin with them on the journey. Joseph is referred to as “the man” for Judah did not know who he was. 

43:6 > Jacob doesn’t want to let go of Benjamin for he was the child of his beloved Rachel and he was afraid that he’ll never see him again. He was very angry that the brothers told the man that they had another brother. 

43:7 > Judah explains to his father why they had to tell the man that they indeed had another brother. One can feel the yearning in Joseph’s questions.

43:8-14 > Judah takes responsibility for Benjamin by putting his own life on the line and Jacob finally caves in. In the previous chapter (42:37-38), Jacob rejected Reuben’s offer to see Benjamin safely to Egypt, but in verse 11, he finally accepted Judah’s offer because of the intense famine in the land. And not only that, he sends presents for the man hoping that Simeon will be released from prison and Benjamin returns safely to Canaan (as we see in verse 14). This takes me back to the time when he showered his twin Esau with gifts in 33:10-11 when they finally reunited.

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43:15-18 > The brothers return to Egypt with Benjamin and Joseph is excited to see them once again especially his little brother. He invites them to dine with him, but they were afraid when they were brought to Joseph’s house assuming the worst: the Egyptian official (Joseph) was going to imprison them for stealing money from him.

43:19-23: Before the brothers venture into the house, they explained about the money to the steward of Joseph’s house perhaps hoping that the steward will pass it on to Joseph, but the steward said “fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks“. It was because of the goodness of God, they had the money back, but the brothers were so preoccupied with thoughts of making things right, they missed the steward’s reference to God, for Egyptians did not recognize God. Some Bible scholars say that the steward was Manasseh, Joseph’s eldest son. 

43:24-25 > The steward treats them as honored guests and they made ready to present the gifts to Joseph when he came home.

43:26-28 > Remember 37:9? Remember how Joseph said eleven stars bowed down to him? His eleven brothers were now together and they were bowing to him. His boyhood dream came full circle when he enquired of Jacob’s well being and the brothers made obeisance on their father’s behalf for Jacob probably sent his salutations. Jacob represents the sun; the brothers, the eleven stars.

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43:29-30 > Joseph speaks a blessing to Benjamin and overcome with emotion at the joy of seeing his full brother, he quickly fled the room and into his private chamber to weep. He didn’t want to give himself away as yet in front of his brothers for it was not time to reveal his true identity.

43:31-32 > After his cry, he washes his face and went out to dine. The tables are segregated for Egyptians and Hebrews never ate at the same table together. Due to his rank, Joseph ate alone at one table (despite his power, he still couldn’t sit with the real Egyptians), the Egyptians at another, and Joseph’s brothers at another table. The Egyptians considered themselves superior for they came from gods and it was an abomination to socially mix with foreigners.

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43:33 > Joseph sits his 11 brothers according to birthright from youngest to eldest. The brothers were surprised, but they still didn’t have a clue as to who Joseph was. As far as they know, Joseph was dead (44:20). But so MANY clues were given! I guess God had blinded them to the obvious clues for it was not time yet.

43:34 > “Benjamin’s mess”: Favoritism. Joseph remembers that his brothers had resented him for their father had favored him the most so he decides to test his brothers by showing favoritism to Benjamin by giving him five times portion more than his brothers. However, the brothers passed this test showing that they were not jealous of Benjamin, but Joseph was not done testing them as we’ll see in the next chapter. 

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Joseph further tests his brothers

Scripture in focus: Genesis 44

44:1-2 > Joseph commanded his trusted steward to fill his brothers’ sacks with food and to give every man back his money. He also instructed the steward to place his special silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. The test here was to see how his brothers will react towards Benjamin in a sticky situation; to see how they felt about him. 

44:3-6 > The next morning, the brothers set out for home, but their joy is shortlived when Joseph’s steward (with a small army of men perhaps) comes after them and accuses them of theft. Verse 5: whereby indeed he divineth. The purpose of a silver cup/chalice/goblet was used by Egyptians for divining, meaning to call on an evil spirit for advice. It is not certain that Joseph practiced divination; the statement could’ve been made to make his brothers think he was an Egyptian for a true man after God’s heart would not divine a cup.

44:7-10 > The brothers claim that they are innocent of thievery. They were also confident that one of them had the cup that they declared the thief to be put to death and the rest of them be taken as slaves.

44:11-13 > The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack where the steward had placed it of course. The brothers’ reaction was instantaneous: they tore their clothes in mourning portraying the pain they felt in their hearts. They were certain that Benjamin was going to be sentenced to a life of slavery in Egypt if not death. When Joseph was taken as a slave, the brothers involved batted their eyes and allowed it to happen, now, they were willing to stand with Benjamin as they returned with him to the city. What a significant change in character!

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44:14-15 > They returned to Joseph’s house where Joseph was waiting and fell in total submission before him to plead for Benjamin and Jacob. Joseph, still in disguise as an Egyptian in front of his brothers continue his act. 

44:16-17 > “God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” Judah, as the family spokesman, admits that they had truly sinned when they had stolen Joseph’s freedom. He did not shift any of the blame to Benjamin showing Joseph how much their hearts had indeed changed. Joseph tells them that they can go on home except for Benjamin who was going to be his servant. He just wanted to keep Benjamin. 

44:18-32 >  Judah intercedes for Benjamin. He also mercifully pleads for his father speaking of Jacob’s delight in Benjamin. Judah tells Joseph the story in its entirety from the beginning reminding Joseph that he was the one who wanted to set his eyes on Benjamin when they returned to Egypt for food hence the reason why Benjamin accompanied them.  Judah’s compassion shows Joseph that his brothers’ hearts were turned around for the best and it overwhelms him.

44:33-34 > Judah lays down his life for Benjamin and his father out of love proving that he was not the same man twenty years earlier (37:26-27). This display of sacrificial love foreshadows what Jesus Christ eventually did for the entire world. Here, Judah was a type of Christ, from whose tribe he sprung. And just as Christ forgave all of us, Joseph eventually forgives his brothers. 

Up next: Joseph makes himself known

Additional Notes/Recap

^ Part of God’s plan was for Israel to be in Egypt for 400 years and it’s no coincidence that it started with Israel/Jacob entering into Egypt with his family. As we see in chapter 43, the Egyptians did not mix with foreigners. Before Genesis comes to an end, God took Israel and his family out of the corrupted Canaan and placed them among racially so-call superior people who did not see any reasons to mingle with them. However, God had sent Joseph on ahead to make the arrangements for this destined time during which His people increased to millions.

^ In 43:12, Jacob instructs his sons to take double money with them. There’s a Math problem in there somewhere. If ten brothers went to Egypt and they took double money with them, how much units of money were there? Answer: 20 units. Does this lead somewhere? Yes. Silver and money are the same interchangeably, and this answers EXACTLY to the 20 pieces of silver they sold Joseph for in 37:28 (blueletterbible.org). Our God is not a God of coincidence. He is very detailed when it comes to His plans. 

Reference/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 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