Posted in Bible Study/Trivia

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

Posted in Bible Study/Trivia

Genesis part XVIII: Rachel conceives and Jacob leaves Laban

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

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

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God remembers Rachel and she conceives 

Scripture in focus: Genesis 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jacob leaves Laban secretly

Scripture in focus: Genesis 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Notes/Recap

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

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

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

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

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayers

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search