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 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

Bible Study

Genesis part XIV: Abraham proves his faith and Sarah dies

In case you missed it:

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

A colleague recently told me that she was glad she asked for the name of my blog, for now, she has something to look forward to on mornings. I was most delighted when she told me that she was excited over the Bible studies series for she’s currently reading/studying the Holy Word and there were things that she did not understand. All praise and glory to the Highest for without Him, the Bible studies wouldn’t have been possible. I, too, did not know where to start when it comes to studying the Bible. Even though I read it cover to cover multiple times, there were many things I still did not understand. I started praying about it, and God revealed how I should go about studying His precious Word.

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God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son

Scripture in focus: Genesis 22

God asks us to do things. Sometimes, they can be outlandish and sometimes, we don’t like where it may lead us, but He asks us to do things. He asked Abraham to do something that could’ve made the patriarch question His action, but it took faith and trust for Abraham to complete the task. Chapter 22 is ripe with symbolism and we’re going to look at some of them as we study.

“God did tempt Abraham” (22:1). The word “tempt” here does not mean anything maleficent. Rather, the verb here means “test” or “prove”. This was a test to reveal faith for God spent years building up Abraham into a man of faith. God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son in the land of Moriah (22:2). Note:

^ “only son” – God calls Isaac the only son of Abraham and yes, we know about Ishmael, but he was put away from Abraham’s family, so as far as God was concerned, Abraham only had one son which was the promised son Isaac. God repeats “only son” thrice in this chapter (2, 12, 16). And how’s this for a fun fact: This was the first time “love” was mentioned in the Bible and it was love between a father and a son which was connected by the sacrificial offering of the son. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. Do you see what God did there? He is not a God of half done jobs but a God of detail! 

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Read 22:3. Read it again. Do you see the symbolism relating to Christ? I had to reread it more than twice to see it. bible-studys.org broke it down nicely:

God sacrificing His only son. Abraham sacrificing his son.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass. The provisions for this sacrifice were carried on an ass.

Jesus died between two men on the cross. Abraham took two men with them.

Jesus carried a wooden cross. Isaac carried wood for the sacrifice (wood means worldliness).

Jesus went to Golgotha on orders from God. Abraham and Isaac went to Moriah in Jerusalem on orders from God.

Jesus obeyed His Father and said, “nevertheless not my will, but thine.” Isaac obeyed Abraham without question.

I love discovering these beautiful treasures! 💙

Abraham journeys to the place of sacrifice from Beer-sheba to Moriah without hesitation and came unto the place on the 3rd day (22:4). Symbolism: It is implied by many that Isaac was “dead” during these 3 days and Abraham grieved for him as the disciples did for Jesus 3 days. Jesus was in the grave for 3 days. Can you imagine the heartache God went through at the sacrifice of His Son?

Abraham was convinced that he and Isaac will return from the mount so he left the two men behind (22:5). Symbolism: Abraham trusted God to the point that if Isaac were to die, God would resurrect him (Hebrews 11:17-19) hence he said: “come again to you”. This verse is parallel to the cross when Jesus left the two men on the cross just as Abraham left the two behind and Jesus promises that He will come again.

Abraham took the necessary items for the sacrifice and gave Isaac the wood to carry (22:6). Symbolism: Isaac carries the wood for his own sacrifice up the hill. He typifies Christ who carried His cross to die for our sins on it. This is also the first time we read about fire for use and also of a knife. Isaac is now aware that there is no lamb to be sacrificed (22:7), but his father said, “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” {Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)} and he still obediently follows his father (22:8). This takes me to the 5th commandment of honoring our parents.

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22:9 is a great verse of faith on both father and son’s part. Abraham builds the altar and perhaps tells Isaac what Isaac suspected all along: “Son, you are the lamb which God has provided”. Abraham was over 100 years old and Isaac could’ve overpowered him and ran off, but what does he do? He willingly submits as Jesus did to His Father’s will. We should not forget Isaac’s great faith. This experience was surely memorable to him as long as he lived. Some said he was in his 30s when this event took place. If so, I’ll like to believe that he was 33, but the Bible made no mention of his age.

Abraham readies to deliver the fatal blow (22:10), but the Son of God stops him (22:11). He passed the test in proving his faith (22:12). We can say to the LORD, “Now I know that You love me, seeing You have not withheld Your Son, Your only Son from me.” (via blueletterbible.org). God loves us tremendously. There is no other greater love than His. You can search high or low, but you won’t find another love like His. 💙

But God still required a sacrifice and He provided a ram in substitute of Isaac (22:13). “in the stead of his son” is perhaps the greatest symbolism of Christ’s sacrifice for mankind. Had God not provided a Substitute in the form of His Son, we would’ve suffered and died on that cross with no chance at salvation. Praise God always for the Sun of Righteousness. Abraham calls the place Jehovah-jireh meaning The LORD Will Provide (22:14). It’s highly significant in meaning. God provided the substitute ram and later, He provides the ultimate atoning Sacrifice for our sins.

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The Son of God has more to say to Abraham (22:15) and He swears by Himself thus making it a great oath for there are no other greater than Him (22:16). Abraham is blessed once again for obeying the voice of His Creator (22:17-18). Abraham honored God by his obedience to Him and his example should be one for all believers to follow. Abraham, Isaac and the two young men (servants) returns to Beer-sheba (22:19). 

22:20-24 lists Nahor’s family. Nahor was Abraham’s brother and although they probably hadn’t seen each other in years, the news still reached Abraham about a family update. Rebekah, Isaac’s future wife is given special mention (22:23).

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Sarah dies

Scripture in focus: Genesis 23

Remember after the Flood, God reduced the human’s lifespan to about 120 years. Sarah lived until she was 127 years old (23:1). FACT: She is the only woman in the Bible whose age at death is recorded. Abraham mourns and weeps for his wife (23:2).

23:3-16 records Abraham negotiating with the Philistines for the land to bury his wife:

I am a foreigner and a sojourner among you (23:4). Here, Abraham acknowledges that he did not own the Promised Land as yet, but he wanted his wife to be buried there. He can also be acknowledging that he did not belong of this world, for his home was in God’s coming kingdom and he was just a stranger passing through the earth. 

“That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field…” (23:9): This place became the burial ground for Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob.

23:17-20 records Abraham buying the field and burying his wife. 

Additional Notes/Recap

^ Moriah was a mountainous region as you can tell from 22:2. It was the site of numerous acts of faith. After God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac there, a thousand years later, King David bought the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite and built an altar to the Lord so that a “plague may be held back from the people” (2 Samuel 24:18, 21). After his death, King Solomon built a temple on the site; it was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar’s armies in 587/586 B.C.

Seventy years after this, the temple was rebuilt, around the first century, it became known as Herold’s Temple which was the same temple Jesus cleansed (John 2:15). The temple was once again destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Roman armies. The portion that remained came to be known as the “Wailing Wall” or “Western Wall”. Bible prophecy shows that a third temple will be built at/on the site of Solomon’s temple (Daniel 9:27).

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King Solomon’s temple via Wikipedia

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XIII: Abraham pulls the ‘sister’ card again and Isaac is born

In case you missed it:

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

We’re allowed to feel down, to sometimes complain and rant when things seem complicated or farfetched, for we’re human after all and sometimes, our emotions can get the better of us. But at the end of the day, remember Who we belong to, and Who is willing to take our burdens away from us. 

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Abraham pulls the sister card yet again

Scripture in focus: Genesis 20

Abraham is on the move once again after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah choosing to stay in Gerar (20:1). Sarah was still attractive and beautiful at the age of 90, and Abraham said that she was his sister instead of his wife and King Abimelech of Gerar took her into his harem (20:2). This is the second time that Abraham lied to a ruler about the relationship he had with Sarah. As we’ll recall in 12:10-13, he flat out lied to the Pharoah during their journey to Egypt saying that Sarah is his sister. God had to intervene in this matter during a dream to reveal Abraham’s deception to Abimelech (20:3). God kept the King from committing adultery which is a terrible sin. It must be terrible to hear God tell you in a dream “thou art but a dead man” for I know I would’ve been shaking all over! But Abimelech had not admitted Sarah in his company and ask God if He’ll destroy a righteous nation (20:4). Perhaps he heard what God had done to the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah?

20:5 clearly shows that Abimelech was deceived by both Abraham and Sarah. He inquired of Abraham first about his relationship with the beautiful woman at his side and he said that the woman is his sister. He then inquired of Sarah trusting her to speak the truth, but she went along with her husband’s plan and said that Abraham was her brother. Abimelech pleads innocent before the Lord. God knew Abimelech’s heart was right in this regard and thus, He withholds him from sinning for He knew it was not  Abimelech’s fault (20:6). God gives Abimelech a chance to do the right thing and to also let Abraham pray for him (20:7). The very next morning, Abimelech calls his servants (courtiers) and shared with them all that God told him via the dream and they were rightly afraid (20:8)

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And once again, Abraham is rebuked by a pagan king (20:9-10).

Abraham proceeds to offer up 3 reasons for his lie:

20:11 Abraham said that the fear of God was not in Gerar when in fact it was not in him for yet again, he chose not to trust God to see him through this period.

20:12 Abraham was trying to say that technically, he did not lie for Sarah was indeed his half-sister. Yet, his intention was to clearly deceive Abimelech as he did the Pharoah.

20:13 Abraham indirectly blames God for the problem (“when God caused me to wander from my father’s house”). The term ‘wander’ used here means going astray and not in a good way. This recalls when Adam blamed God for Eve causing him to eat of the forbidden tree (“The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”) Sometimes when things go bad in our lives, we tend to blame God when in fact, we’re the cause of them. God does give us warning signs, but we tend to ignore them in favor of doing things our way.

Abimelech did everything in his power to make all right again by gifting Abraham livestock and servants and restoring Sarah to him (20:14). Instead of telling him to get out of his country like Pharoah did, Abimelech encourages Abraham to “dwell where it pleaseth” (20:15). Oh, the irony in Abimelech’s voice when he refers to Abraham as Sarah’s brother! (20:16). However, Sarah was reproved (justified). Silver (coins did not exist at this time & everything was weighed) means redemption.

Abraham prayed for Abimelech and God healed everyone (20:17-18). 

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Isaac is born

Scripture in focus: Genesis 21

It took 25 years for the promise to be fulfilled, but it was fulfilled because God was faithful to His promise. God’s word is true. No matter how long a promise may take to come to pass, He never fails to do what He has promised. 

The Lord visited Sarah (21:1) and she conceived (21:2). And Abraham called his name Isaac (21:3) and circumcised him when he was eight days old (21:4). Seven is the number of completion, but eight means ‘new beginnings’. Abraham was 100 years old when his son was born (21:5). It was a joyous occasion for Sarah and friends! No longer her laughter one of doubt, but one of happiness! (21:6). She is still in awe that she has borne Abraham a son in his old age (21:7). When Isaac was weaned, Abraham held a feast on the same day (21:8). A child couldn’t get far away from his/her mother until they were weaned. However, Isaac’s passage to childhood was met with ridicule by Ishmael (21:9) and it didn’t sit too well with Sarah (21:10). But Abraham loved Ishmael and Sarah’s dismissal of the only son he had for years grieved his heart (21:11).

Abraham sought God in the matter and God tells him to listen to Sarah for it was the right thing to do (21:12). God also reminds Abraham of the promise He made earlier in 17:20 regarding Ishmael; He will take care of Ishmael (21:13). Although it was hard for Abraham to do, he sent Hagar and Ishmael away knowing that God will indeed provide for them. Hagar wanders in the wilderness of Beer-sheba (an extensive desert located on the southern border of Palestine) (21:14). 

As harsh as it may sound, sometimes, we have to put our family away for the glory of God. 

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The water was all drank up and gone; weary and perhaps faint, Hagar lays her son under a shrub thinking that the end had probably come for Ishmael and she couldn’t bear to watch (21:15-16). God hears Ishmael’s anguish and sends help (21:17). Hagar and Ishmael being in distress in the wilderness serve a promise: 

No matter how far we may wander – whether it’s in a desert or to the ends of the world – God would hear our cries for help.

God promises to take care of Ishmael (21:18) and He most certainly did for the descendants of Ishmael became the Arabic people. When God says He got you, there is no need to worry, for He got you. God opens Hagar’s eyes and she is directed to a well to replenish water (21:19). God protects Ishmael in the wilderness as he went from teenager to man and became skilled in the bow and arrow (archery); in short, he was a hunter (21:20). He dwelled in the wilderness of Paran (a city in Arabia Petraea) and his mother took him a wife from her native and worldly Egypt (21:21).

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“God is with thee”. Indeed, others saw God’s hand of blessing in Abraham’s life (21:22) and wanted to make a treaty with Abraham (21:23). Abraham takes the oath (21:24). Abraham informs Abimelech that his servants had deprived him of a usage of a well (21:25) although it was Abraham who dug it (26:15). However, Abimelech claims innocence in the matter and even blames Abraham for not informing him sooner (21:26). Satisfied with Abimelech’s answer, Abraham makes the covenant with the king (21:27) and presents him with gifts including 7 lambs which he set by themselves (21:28).

Abimelech asked the meaning of the 7 lambs (21:29) and Abraham tells him that the gift of the animals was to prove that the well belonged to him (21:30). And the place was called Beer-sheba (21:31). Why? “Beer” signifies a well and “sheba” means seven. Therefore, “Beer-sheba” means “well of the oath”. Satisfied with the treaty, Abimelech and his chief captain, Phichol, returns home (21:32). Abraham plants a grove (a tamarisk tree) in a reminder of the treaty and calls upon the name of the true everlasting God (21:33).

And Abraham lived in the land of the Philistines many years (21:34).

Additional Notes/Recap

^ “for he is a prophet” (20:7). This is the first time the Hebrew term for “prophet” is used in Scripture. This also identifies that Abraham was recognized by God to speak on behalf of Abimelech. 

^ In the Old Testament, we met a lot of people who were typologies for Christ including Abel and Isaac. Let’s compare Isaac and Christ:

* They were promised sons.

* Both were given names before they were born. 

* Both births were miraculous

* Both births occurred at God’s appointed time (via blueletterbible.org)

Also, this symbolism: Isaac’s obedience also anticipates Christ as the only begotten Son willing to be bound on the altar of sacrifice by His Father. (via bible-studys.org)

^ The difference between Ishmael and Isaac’s blessings? Ishmael’s blessing was a worldly and fleshy one whereas Isaac’s blessing was a spiritual one. 

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* biblestudys.org

* blueletterbible.org

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XI: Sarai’s name is changed and she is reproved for laughing

In case you missed it:

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

Discussing the Bible with you is what I look forward to the most! As always, I encourage you to share what you may have learned or what touched your heart this week in the comment section below. Today, we’re going to cover chapters 17 & 18.

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Sarai’s name is changed and she is blessed

Scripture in focus: Genesis 17

Abram is 99 years old when the Almighty appears to him and tells him what is expected of him (17:1). God also reminds Abram that He did not forget the covenant He made with him (17:2). Abram then falls on his face in reverence of His Majesty (17:3). Oh, to be in such glorious presence! Soon, my Lord! Soon, I shall be in such a glorious and majestic presence! 💙God reminds Abram that His covenant is with him and that he’ll be a father of many nations (17:4) so no longer was his name to be called Abram (father of many) for God changed it to Abraham (father of many nations) to reflect the meaning (17:5). God assures Abraham that he’ll have MANY descendants (17:6). God would establish an everlasting covenant with Abraham and it would extend to all of his ancestors (17:7-8). God commands Abraham to keep His covenant (17:9) and proceeds to gave Abraham something to do for the first time in regards to the covenant which is circumcision. He is also very specific about the details (17:10-14).

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God also changes Sarai’s (“my” princess) name to Sarah (princess) for His promises would come through her (17:15-16). How did Abraham response? He laughs in doubt for he did not think that a man his age would be fathering a child with a wife past her childbearing age (17:17). Which is sort of funny, for his own father had him when he was 130 years old. Ishmael was now a teenager and Abraham wanted to adopt him as his heir (17:18). It shows that Abraham still wasn’t looking at the big picture. All he could see was his old age and Sarah’s barrenness before him so it was hard to grasp what he couldn’t conceive. 

Despite Abraham’s doubt, God tells him matter-of-factly that he was going to have a son and he was to name him Isaac (17:19). Ishmael shall also be blessed for God heard Abraham’s prayer (17:20). In 16:10, God had already promised Ishmael’s mother (Hagar) that He’ll multiply her descendants through her son. God repeats that the covenant is to be established with Isaac and not Ishmael (17:21) and then He ascended before Abraham’s eyes (17:22) just as Jesus did in the presence of His disciples (Luke 24:51). 

Without delay, after God left his presence, Abraham carries out God’s command of circumcision (17:23-27).

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Sarah is reproved for laughing

Scripture in focus: Genesis 18

The Lord appears to Abraham once again in human form (18:1). Abraham holds up and sees three men (the pre-incarnate Christ & 2 angels) and he humbles himself before them (18:2). Abraham says to his Lord that if He judges him and finds him okay to not leave (18:3). Verses 4-5 is a picture of hospitality and shows Abraham’s willingness to serve. Sarah and Abraham prepare a meal for their visitors (18:6-8). After eating their meal, the men get down to business and enquires after Sarah (18:9). She was said to be in the tent, but she was within hearing of the conversation in which God reaffirms His promise of a son (18:10). 

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Sarah and her husband are old and “it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women” meaning that she had stopped menstruating (and had probably gone through menopause) so she couldn’t see herself carrying an unborn (18:11) so she did what her husband did earlier when the Lord paid him a visit: laughed (18:12). She was in doubt about conceiving a child the natural way, but nothing’s impossible for God. Even when we’re faithless, God remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).

The Lord hears Sarah’s laughter and asks Abraham why did his wife laugh although He already knew why (18:13). He then poses a rhetorical question “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (18:14). Of course not!

NOTHING IS EVER TOO HARD FOR OUR WONDERFUL CREATOR! NOTHING! 

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When Sarah realizes that she was in the presence of God she denies laughing, but God insists that she did in fact laugh (18:15). The men then rose up and look toward Sodom (18:16). God decides to reveal to Abraham the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (18:17-19). The cities had become polluted with sins so great that God was going to go down and judge them (18:20-21). The two angels went down to Sodom (these are actually the two men who visited Sodom in Genesis 19), but the Lord stayed with Abraham (18:22) who proceeds to intercede on behalf of the two wicked cities (18:23-26) and then bargains with God for the people (18:27-32).

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During these verses, we see the character of a very prayerful and spiritual man. He prayed that Sodom might be spared if a few righteous people should be found in it. His nephew Lot was a resident of Sodom and he could’ve only asked God to save Lot, but he prayed for the righteous. His heart was full of compassion for the people of Sodom. This is the compassion that we should feel for sinners and how we should pray for them. All the while Abraham was conversing with the Lord, the Lord was ever so patient. 

The Lord then went His way and Abraham returned to his place (18:33). Unfortunately, not even 10 righteous people were found, just 4 and God had to destroy the cities as we’ll see in the next lesson.

Additional Notes/Recap

^ Relating to the appearances of the Lord to humans, it is believed that this Person was God, in the Person of Jesus Christ before His incarnation and birth at Bethlehem for NO ONE has seen God at any time but Jesus declared Him (John 1:18) and NO MAN has ever seen God in the Person of the Father (1 Timothy 6:16).

^ You may ask why God had to keep reminding Abraham of the promise He made to him. Simple. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17) so we need to hear God’s promises over and over again. From Genesis to Revelation, God keeps reminding us of His beautiful promise of salvation if only we come to accept Him as Lord and Savior. 

^ Isaac means “he laughs” a reference to Abraham’s response in 17:17 and Sarah’s action in 18:12

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REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* biblestudys.org

* blueletterbible.org

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search