Bible Study

Genesis part XXIV: A lesson in repentance and salvation

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide 

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Jacob sends his sons to buy corn in Egypt

Scripture in focus: Genesis 42

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Up next: The return to Egypt

Additional Notes/Recap

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

Reference/Aids

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayer

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XXI: Joseph dreams of greatness and is sold

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

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

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Joseph dreams of greatness

Scripture in focus: Genesis 37

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Images of Dothan via Google Search

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

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

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

And Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver.

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

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

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

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The Judah-Interlude

The story only gets worse.

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

Scripture in focus: Genesis 38

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

38:27 > Tamar is having twin boys.

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

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

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

Up next: Joseph interprets Pharoah’s dreams

Additional Notes/Recap

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

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

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

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

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

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayer

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

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

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

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

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

Scripture in focus: Genesis 35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

35:10-15 > God talks with Jacob:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Esau’s family

Scripture in focus: Genesis 36

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Up next: Joseph’s dreams upset his brothers.

Additional Notes/Recap

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

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

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayer

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

Genesis part XVIII: Rachel conceives and Jacob leaves Laban

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

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

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God remembers Rachel and she conceives 

Scripture in focus: Genesis 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jacob leaves Laban secretly

Scripture in focus: Genesis 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Notes/Recap

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

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

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

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

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

* prayers

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search

Bible Study

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

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide

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

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Rebekah & Jacob conspire to obtain Isaac’s blessings

Scripture in focus: Genesis 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jacob’s vision

Scripture in focus: Genesis 28

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

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

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

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The site of Bethel via thebiblejourney.org

Love at first sight

Scripture in focus: Genesis 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Notes/Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* bible-studys.org

* blueletterbible.org

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search