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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Theology / A Daily Genesis Welcome Guest
    A Daily Genesis
          A systematic commentary on the whole book of Genesis

    Mon, Nov 30th - 12:07PM



    Genesis 37:9-17

     

    †. Gen 37:9-11 . . He dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers, saying; Look, I have had another dream: And this time, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.

    . . . And when he told it to his father and brothers, his father berated him. What; he said to him; is this dream you have dreamed? Are we to come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow low to you to the ground? So his brothers were wrought up at him, and his father kept the matter in mind.

     As the family's prophet, Jacob's inspired intuition instantly caught the dream's message; though he was a bit indignant. However, Jacob didn't brush the dream off because his prophetic insight told him there just might be something to it.

    Jacob interpreted the moon in Joseph's dream sequence to be Rachel; so one might ask: How could she be subject to Joseph while deceased?

     Well; the mother element of the family of Israel at that time was a composite unity consisting of four biological moms-- Rachel and Leah, and Bilhah and Zilpah --not just the one. So the logical conclusion is that the moon's identity wasn't restricted to Rachel; there were still three moms remaining alive to represent the moon and thus fulfill Joseph's dream.

    †. Gen 37:12-14a . . One time, when his brothers had gone to pasture their father's flock at Shechem, Israel said to Joseph: Your brothers are pasturing at Shechem. Come, I will send you to them. He answered: I am ready. And he said to him: Go and see how your brothers are and how the flocks are faring, and bring me back word. So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.

    A guy like Joseph is every supervisor's dream. When asked to do something, his response was; "I am ready."

    Hebron (a.k.a. Hevron, a.k.a. Al Khalil) is still on the map. It's about 18½ miles west of the Dead Sea, as the crow flies, and about 20½ miles south of Jerusalem.

    Shechem (a.k.a. Nablus) is still on the map too. It's about 48 miles north of Jerusalem; ergo: 68½ miles north of Hebron.

    So Joseph had a long ways to go. It's amazing that people pastured their herds so far from home in those days; but then it wasn't unusual for out-west cattle barons during America's 1800's to pasture cows that far; and even farther.

    The Prairie Cattle Company once ranged 156,000 cows on five million acres of land. At 640 acres per square mile; that factors out to something like 7,812 square miles; viz: an 88⅜ mile square; which really isn't all that big when you think about it. It's a lot of area; but 88⅜ miles is really not all that great a distance for an automobile; though the distance around the perimeter would be something like 353½ miles. At 55 mph it would take roughly 6½ hours start to finish-- quite a bit longer on a camel and/or a donkey's back.

    Personally, I would have been concerned about Joseph's safety more than anything else; but apparently nobody interfered with Jacob's family in those days (Gen 35:5) so they pretty much had carte blanche to graze wherever they liked in those parts.

    †. Gen 37:14b-17 . .When he reached Shechem, a man came upon him wandering in the fields. The man asked him: What are you looking for? He answered: I am looking for my brothers. Could you tell me where they are pasturing? The man said: They have gone from here, for I heard them say "Let us go to Dothan". So Joseph followed his brothers and found them at Dothan.

    It's interesting that the man isn't on record asking Joseph who he was nor who his brothers might be. Probably everybody around Shechem knew Jacob's family personally because they had all lived around there for some time before moving south. In America's olde West, people knew each other for miles around because, quite simply, there just wasn't all that many people to know.

    Dothan has yet to be precisely located. Some say it was about 12 miles north of Shechem; but that's really only an educated guess. Years later, Dothan became the stage for a pretty exciting event. (2Kgs 6:8-23)

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    Sun, Nov 29th - 11:35AM



    Genesis 37:1-8

     

    †. Gen 37:1-2a . . Now Jacob was settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan. This, then, is the line of Jacob:

    Genesis doesn't list a big genealogy right here like the one for Esau in chapter 36, but rather, it's going to "follow" the line of Jacob from here on in to the end of Genesis.

    †. Gen 37:2b . . At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended the flocks with his brothers, as a helper to the sons of his father's wives Bilhah and Zilpah.

    Although "his . . .wives" is vernacularly correct; there's no record of Jacob actually marrying either of the two maids. They were his concubines in the same manner as Hagar when Sarah pushed her handmaid off on Abraham as a "wife" (Gen 16:4).

    NOTE: Jacob was pretty much stuck with Bilhah and Zilpah because were he ever to emancipate them, he would forfeit any and all children the two servant women bore for him; which is exactly how Abraham disinherited his eldest son Ishmael. We talked about that back in chapter 21.

    The words "as a helper to" aren't in the actual Hebrew of that passage. They're what is known as inserted words that translators sometimes employ to smooth out texts so they'll clearly say what the translators think the author meant to convey. Some translators insert the preposition "with" at that point, so the passage reads; "Joseph tended the flocks with his brothers"

    Actually, Joseph was in charge of his brothers Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher; who were all older than him. And it was he who was responsible to manage the flocks because the phrase; "tended the flocks" actually connotes he was shepherding the flock; i.e. Joseph was the trail boss.

    Joseph's authority was also indicated by the "coat of many colors" that his dad made for him. The Hebrew word for "colors" is of uncertain meaning and some translators prefer to render it "long sleeves" rather than colors.

    It seems clear that the intent of this special garment was as a badge of Joseph's authority-- sort of like a military man's uniform --and of his favored position in the family. Joseph may well have been the only one of Jacob's twelve sons that he could fully trust since, for the most part, the older men had proved themselves beyond control in the past.

    The sons of Bilhah and Zilpah weren't really Joseph's full brothers, but half. The only full brother was Benjamin, and at this time, he was too young to go out on trail drives.

    Genesis displayed a pretty bad case of sibling rivalry back in chapter 4, which led to a younger brother's untimely death. This case of sibling rivalry would surely have resulted in Joseph's untimely demise if God hadn't intervened to prevent it. It's really sad that the majority of Jacob's sons were dishonorable men; the kind you definitely don't want your own daughter bringing home to meet the folks.

    Although Joseph was an intelligent boy, and a responsible person, he certainly lacked tact. His social skills were immature, and needed some serious refinement because he really had a way of boasting, and chafing his older brothers.

    †. Gen 37:2b . . And Joseph brought bad reports of them to their father.

    Whether or not the "reports" could be construed as tattling is debatable. After all, Joseph, as trail boss, was directly responsible to Jacob.

    It's been my experience that upper management doesn't want to hear those kinds of reports. All they want to know is whether or not the company is meeting its deadlines and operating at a profit. It's lower management's responsibility to manage the work force so that upper management can remain undistracted to do other things that are far more worthy of their time, their talents, and their attention. A lower manager who can't rectify personnel problems in their own department usually gets fired and replaced by somebody who can.

    †. Gen 37:3a . . Now Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons

    Uh-oh! Doesn't that sound familiar? Isaac had his favorite too: Mr. Esau. There's nothing like favoritism to divide a family and guarantee it becoming an ugly environment festering with sibling rivalry, yet that is so human a thing to do. Put grown-ups in a group of kids and in no time at all, the grown-ups will gravitate towards favorites, and become merely tolerant of the others.

    †. Gen 37:3b . . for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him an ornamented tunic.

    The "ornamented tunic" is all the same as what's usually known as the coat of many colors.

    One might be tempted to think Joseph was Jacob's favorite son because of his love for Rachel; but Genesis says it was because Joseph was "the child of his old age". Well, Benjamin was a child of Jacob's old age too but not nearly as favored. So the real meaning may be that Joseph was a child of wisdom, i.e. the intelligence of an older man; viz: Joseph was smart beyond his years and thus more a peer to Jacob rather than just another mouth to feed.

    †. Gen 37:4 . . And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him so that they could not speak a friendly word to him.

    Genesis doesn't say the brothers wouldn't speak a friendly word; it says they "couldn't".

    Hatred does that to people. It just kills a person overcome with malice to be nice to the people they hate. They just can't do it. Their eyes narrow, their lips tighten, they look away, they become thin-skinned, their minds fill with epithets, they constantly take offense and can barely keep a civil tongue in their head, if at all, because deep in their hearts, they want the object of their hatred either dead or thoroughly disfigured and/or smitten with some sort of terrible misfortune.

    †. Gen 37:5-8 . . Once Joseph had a dream which he told to his brothers; and they hated him even more.

    . . . He said to them: Hear this dream which I have dreamed. There we were binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf.

    . . . His brothers answered: Do you mean to reign over us? Do you mean to rule over us? And they hated him even more for his talk about his dreams.

    Considering the already hostile mood fomenting among his brothers, Joseph really should have kept the dream to himself. There wasn't any real need for the others to know about it anyway. It's said that silence is golden. Well, sometimes silence is diplomatic too.

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    Sat, Nov 28th - 8:05AM



    Genesis 36:1-12

     

    Chapter 36 is mostly genealogy, so I'm only going to do just twelve of its forty-three verses.

    †. Gen 36:1 . .This is the line of Esau-- that is, Edom.

    Edom is from the Hebrew word 'Edom (ed-ome') which is the color red; and was the tag hung on him back in Gen 25:30.

    †. Gen 36:2-7 . . Esau took his wives from among the Canaanite women-- Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah daughter of Zibeon the Hivite-- and also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth. Adah bore to Esau Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. Those were the sons of Esau, who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

    . . . Esau took his wives, his sons and daughters, and all the members of his household, his cattle and all his livestock, and all the property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land because of his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too many for them to dwell together, and the land where they sojourned could not support them because of their livestock.

    Just as Lot had done, Esau chose to migrate rather than remain and cause problems for Jacob. Some say Esau did this out of respect for Jacob's patriarchal position; but no one really knows why. Maybe Esau just thought the grass was greener elsewhere.

    Esau had done well for himself in spite of his loss of the birthright: which would have given him the lion's share of Isaac's estate-- and with no tax complications; heirs in those days made out pretty good.

    †. Gen 36:8 . . So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir-- Esau being Edom.

    Seir was the name of an oblong-shaped region extending south from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba-- a.k.a. Idumaea. Seir includes the ruins of Petra, which were used as a movie set in a portion of the Indiana Jones trilogy.

    †. Gen 36:9-12 . .These are the names of Esau's sons: Eliphaz, the son of Esau's wife Adah; Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. Timna was a concubine of Esau's son Eliphaz; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.

    Of all Esau's progeny, Mr. Amalek really stands out in the Bible as the father of a very disagreeable people. Keep in mind that all of Esau's clan, including Amalek, are just as much Abraham's biological kin as Jacob's family. (Deut 23:8)

    During his journey with the people of Israel, after their liberation from Egyptian slavery, Moses was attacked by Amalek's clan. (Ex 17:8-16, Deut 25:17-19) Thus resulting in a perpetual curse upon the Amalekites as a people. An Agagite (descendant of Amalek, 1Sam 15:2-8) named Haman initiated a large-scale genocide against Israel in the book of Esther.

    Haman's infamy is memorialized every year during the Jewish holiday of Purim. It's customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle noisemakers whenever the name of Haman is spoken in the Purim service.

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    Fri, Nov 27th - 10:26AM



    Genesis 35:22b-29

     

    †. Gen 35:22b-26 . . Now the sons of Jacob were twelve in number. The sons of Leah: Reuben-- Jacob's first-born --Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's maid: Dan and Naphtali. And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's maid: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

    By the customs of that day, a maid's children sired by her mistress's husband, belonged to the mistress. So that Leah's children, counting Dinah, totaled nine; and those of Rachel: four.

    Of the four mothers, only two can be proven biologically related to Abraham. The genealogies of the maids Bilhah and Zilpah are currently unknown and wouldn't matter anyway seeing as how in the Bible, it's the father who determines a child's tribal affiliation rather than the mother.

    It's sometimes assumed that Jesus' mom Mary, and Zacharias' wife Elizabeth, were members of the same tribe seeing as how the New Testament says they were cousins (Luke 1:36). However, Elizabeth was related to Aaron, who himself was related to Leah's son Levi, while Mary was related to David, who himself was related to Leah's son Judah. So Mary and Elizabeth were cousins due to the same grandmother rather than the same tribe.

    †. Gen 35:27 . . And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, at Kiriath-arba-- now Hebron --where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.

    Modern Hebron is located about 33 kilometers (20½ miles) south of Jerusalem as the crow flies.

    Although this is the first mention of a visit from Jacob since returning from up north, it probably wasn't the first instance: just the first one mentioned when his whole family, and the entire troupe-- servants and animals --came with him.

    Isaac was around 135 when Jacob left home to escape his sibling's wrath in chapter 28. His eyes were going bad even then, and by now, many years later, Isaac was probably quite blind. Since there is neither a record of his reactions, nor of a cordial response to his son's visit; it's possible Isaac had gone senile as well as blind.

    †. Gen 35:28 . . Isaac was a hundred and eighty years old

    At the time of Isaac's death, Jacob was 120 years old, having been born when his dad was 60 (Gen 25:26). When Jacob was 130, Joseph was 39 (cf. Gen 41:46, 53, 54; 45:6, 47:9). So that when Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery at 17 (Gen 37:2), Jacob's age was 108; which was 12 years prior to Isaac's death. The insertion of Isaac's passing in the Bible record at this point, is sort of like a parenthesis because, chronologically, it's too soon.

    †. Gen 35:29a . . So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, being old and full of days.

    Christ said the very hairs of our head are numbered. Well . . so's our breaths. Finally, one day, after countless thousands, we inhale that very last one, and it oozes back out as a ghastly rasp.

    While some people see a glass as half full, and others see as half empty; engineers see as overkill: viz: the glass is too big. Well . . in Isaac's case, the glass was full up to the top. On Sept 11, 2003, the actor John Ritter died of a torn aorta just one week shy of his 55th birthday. That is way too young to take your last breath. His glass wasn't full yet. With adequate health care, John Ritter may have lived another 25 years.

    †. Gen 35:29b . . And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

    A death in the family often brings its members closer together than a birth. By this time, Jacob and his brother were older and wiser, had mended their fences, and were getting on with their lives; refusing to hold any grudges. Esau, I believe, by this time fully understood what happened concerning the stolen birthright-- that it was God's intention for Jacob to have it in the first place --and he was peaceably resigned to accept it.

    After the funeral, Esau will begin planning to move away from the region; no longer having a paternal tie to the land wherein his father lived. It's not uncommon for children to settle within driving distance while their parents are living. But when your parents are dead, there's not much reason to stay in the neighborhood anymore-- and for some, it might be just the excuse they need to finally move away and start a new life elsewhere.

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    Wed, Nov 25th - 8:15AM



    Genesis 35:21-22a

     

    †. Gen 35:21 . . Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond Migdal-eder.

    Although Israel is Jacob's spiritual name, it's also the name of his whole household (e.g. Gen 34:7) so that when Genesis says "Israel journeyed" it means everybody associated with Jacob was on the move.

    An important technicality to note is that Abraham and Isaac were no more Israelites than Noah was. The name Israel began with Jacob, and was carried forward by his sons. In its infancy, Israel was a family name rather than the name of a nation that it is now. It might sound ridiculous, but in order for Abraham and Isaac to become Israelites, it would be necessary for Jacob to legally adopt them.

    Migdal-eder is a compound word. Migdal can mean a tower, a rostrum, or a pyramidal bed of flowers. 'Eder is a proper name, of either a man or a place-name in Palestine. So Migdal-eder could be 'Eder's tower, which may not have even existed in Jacob's day but was a well known landmark in the author's.

    Migdal appears only three times in Genesis: once here, and twice in chapter 11 in reference to the Tower of Babel. The tower in Babel was probably an elaborate ziggurat, but 'Eder's tower may have been something very rudimentary, quite simple to construct, and used for agrarian purposes-- e.g. tending herds; and watching for rustlers and predators --rather than especially for religious purposes.

    †. Gen 35:22a . .While Israel stayed in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father's concubine; and Jacob found out.

    Bilhah was Rachel's maid, and quite a bit older than Reuben. She was also the mother of two of Reuben's half-brothers: Dan and Naphtali. Exactly why Reuben took an interest in Bilhah isn't stated. But, it's not like there was a shortage of girls his own age among the women in Jacob's camp. Jacob had a lot of hired help, and plenty of slaves too. If Reuben just wanted to sow some wild oats, it would have been very easy.

    Reuben may have been interested in Bilhah for quite a while prior to this recorded incident; but was kept at bay by Rachel's oversight. Now, with her dead, and out of the way, the coast was clear for a carnal liaison. Exactly how Bilhah felt about the affair is not said; but may have been quite flattered by a younger man's interest; and who's to say she wasn't a cougar at heart.

    One possibility, that seems quite reasonable, and actually makes much better business sense than the motions of a young man's passions, is that Reuben took a bold step to insure Rachel's maid Bilhah would not ascend to the position of favored wife over his own mom Leah. He was surely aware of the sisterly rivalry between Rachel and Leah, since he was in the middle of a conjugal struggle between the two back in Gen 30:14-16; and he must have been fully aware of his mom's feelings over being switched on Rachel's wedding night. By sleeping with Bilhah, and thus "defiling" her, Reuben may have hoped Jacob would be sufficiently revolted enough by the affair so that he'd be inclined to avoid Bilhah from then on and turn his full attention upon Leah.

    If the above is true, then it only goes to show just how heartless Reuben could be. His plan, if successful, would leave Bilhah in living widowhood, and the clutches of loneliness and sexual frustration for the remainder of her life. That very scenario was a reality in the case of David and his son Absalom. (2Sam 15:16, 16:20-22, and 20:2-3)

    An additional possibility is that in ancient times, firstborn sons commonly inherited not only their father's estate, but also his wives and concubines. Reuben may thus have been claiming his future inheritance. But in so doing, he was, in reality, whether intentional or not, taking steps to depose Jacob; and thus gain immediate headship in the clan. This seems likely because the boys really didn't think much of Jacob's competency. They went over his head in the incident at Shechem, and were disgusted with Jacob's lack of strong response to their sister's escapades: an episode which in reality disgraced the family of Israel. (Gen 34:30-31)

    Whatever the true circumstances, and the motives, the thing Reuben did earned him Jacob's reprimand, and cost him the loss of his privileged position in the family (Gen 49:3-4). Reuben's birthright was transferred to Joseph (1Chro 5:1).

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    Tue, Nov 24th - 9:04AM



    Genesis 35:16b-20

     

    †. Gen 35:16b . . Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor.

    Rachel was no longer a Spring chicken. Rueben, Jacob's firstborn, is now old enough to fool around with grown women. It's probably been in the neighborhood of 40+ years since Rachel's first meeting with Jacob back in chapter 29; when she was just a youngster of perhaps 15-20 years old at the time.

    †. Gen 35:17 . .When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her: Have no fear, for it is another boy for you.

    Rachel, no doubt remembered why she named her other son Joseph, back in chapter 30, while they were all yet still living up north with Laban. Joseph's Hebrew name is Yowceph (yo-safe') which is a mini prayer that says: May the Lord add another son for me. (Gen 30:24)

    †. Gen 35:18 . . But as she breathed her last-- for she was dying --she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

    A complicated delivery in those days typically ended in tragedy. People had no surgical skills nor tools and procedures to save either the mother or her child. The exact nature of Rachel's problem isn't stated. She could have experienced severe hemorrhaging, eclampsia, or maybe her heart just couldn't take the stress, and gave out.

    Ben-oni possibly means: "A Son Born In Grief". But Jacob changed it to Binyamiyn (bin-yaw-mene') which possibly means: "The Son At My Right Hand".

    Joseph, rather than Benjamin, became Jacob's favorite; and the only one of the twelve upon whom he could rely. (cf. Ps 16:8, Ps 110:1)

    BTW: Benjamin holds the distinction of being the only one of Jacob's children born in the land of Canaan, i.e. he was a native son while the other boys were immigrants. Abraham was an immigrant too, having migrated from the area in and around what we know today as Iraq.

    †. Gen 35:19 . .Thus Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Ephrath-- now Bethlehem.

    The postscript "now Bethlehem" indicates an editorial insertion by someone later; possibly a scribe or someone assigned the task of making copies; which was a perpetual task in the ages prior to the existence of modern papers, printing presses, and electronic storage media.

    †. Gen 35:20 . . Over her grave Jacob set up a pillar; it is the pillar at Rachel's grave to this day.

    The pillar was probably just a pile of rocks, like a cairn. The phrase "to this day" indicates the day of the writer rather than the day upon which somebody in our own day might read this passage.

    By the time of 1Sam 10:2-- roughly 1020 BC --Rachel's Tomb was a famous landmark. The traditional site, presently so-called, lies about four miles south of Jerusalem, and one mile north of Bethlehem. The current small, square shaped, domed structure isn't the original, but a relatively late monument. In 1841, the "tomb" was renovated, and in 1948 taken over by Jordanian invaders. Jews were barred from visiting it, and the area was converted into a Muslim cemetery; which was eventually liberated by Israelis in 1967.

    NOTE: Loss of access to an important ancestor's grave site isn't just an archeological loss; it's a family loss.

    When my father-in-law passed away in 2012 a step-daughter tried to commandeer his body from the hospital so she could get him cremated and spread his ashes somewhere over the landscape in Arizona without the slightest consideration for the feelings of his blood kin who, except for my wife, all live on the East coast.

    Well; thank God my wife and her sister intervened with the appropriate legal documents in the nick of time to take custody of their father's body before the step-daughter got away with her nefarious scheme. My father-in-law certainly deserved better than just discarding his ashes somewhere out in the desert. He was a pipeline engineer with the US Army on the Ledo Road (a.k.a. Stilwell Road) in the China/Burma/India theater in the second world war. His remains are now safely buried back East in the family's cemetery; where his real kin can come and visit him on occasion.

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    Mon, Nov 23rd - 8:03AM



    Genesis 35:13-16a

     

    †. Gen 35:13-14 . . God parted from him at the spot where He had spoken to him; and Jacob set up a pillar at the site where He had spoken to him, a pillar of stone, and he offered a libation on it and poured oil upon it.

    The pillar that Jacob erected on this same site back in Gen 28:18 received a somewhat different treatment. In that instance, Jacob poured only oil on it. In this instance, he added a libation. The precise recipe is unknown, but could have been a forerunner of the libation rituals that would come later in Israel's history-- typically an alcoholic beverage made from grapes. (e.g. Ex 29:40, Lev 23:13)

    Wine is an ingredient in a formal Temple offering called the daily burnt offering (Ex 29:38-46) whose recipe lists a lamb, a paste made of flour and oil, and some wine. The entire offering is totally destroyed; incinerated by fire. The residing priests, serving at the Temple, arranged this offering every day during the course of their duties; including the Sabbath day; which normally would be illegal since it's against the law to kindle a fire on the Sabbath. (cf. Ex 36:3, Mtt 12:5)

    Some have interpreted the libation as representing the offerer's life's work; which in the case of the daily burnt offering, would be the life's work of the entire nation of the people of Israel; and of course including the priests themselves. So that every twenty-four hours, the whole nation's every-day activities went up in smoke.

    We could interpret Jacob's libation as a formal act of dedication-- not of the pillar; but of Jacob himself. Right after his first encounter, on this very spot, with the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac, a good thirty years ago; Jacob vowed to dedicate himself to Yhvh if only He would fulfill certain stipulations.

    Jacob's vow at that time included a promise to make Yhvh his god-- implying his only god --and to give God a tithe of "all that You give me". Jacob's libation implies that, from here on in, its his sincere intent to start living up to his new name, and to make good on those promises.

    This is a really huge event, and marks a serious milestone in Jacob's spiritual life. And I believe it's important to point out that Jacob didn't take this turning point when he was living at home with ma and pa. Too many people are in their parents' religion just because they were born into it. Jacob chose a spiritual path for himself long after he became an adult.

    †. Gen 35:15 . . Jacob gave the site, where God had spoken to him, the name of Bethel.

    That could look back in time to Gen 28:10-22; or it could just simply mean that Jacob decided that the name Bethel would not just be a pet name of his own: but knowing (and believing) that this land would one day be inhabited by his progeny, Jacob willed it to be on the map as the town of Bethel when such a time as his progeny took actual physical possession of Canaan later on in the book of Joshua.

    †. Gen 35:16a . .They set out from Bethel; but when they were still some distance short of Ephrath,

    This is the very first mention of Ephrath; which is actually Bethlehem (Gen 35:19, Gen 48:7). Apparently this area wasn't yet on the map as either Ephrath or Bethlehem in Jacob's day, but later during the author's day. It's not uncommon for Bible authors (or later scribes and/or editors) to give the contemporary name as well as the ancient name of a city or town so that his readers knew where to look in their own day for those old-time places.

    Ephrath can also be spelled Ephratah. The founder of Bethlehem was a Jewish man named Ephratah, and his name became attached to Bethlehem so that you could refer to it in compound form as Bethlehem Ephratah; or Bethlehem of Ephratah (e.g. 1Chrn 4:4, Mic 5:2). Ephrath is apparently the female spelling (1Chrn 2:19) and Ephratah is the male version.

    The next incident didn't actually occur in Bethlehem, but "some distance" from it. Other than Gen 48:7 (which is a citation of the section we're in now), the only other place the phrase "some distance" is used again in the entire Old Testament is 2Kgs 5:19; where some feel it indicates a distance about equal to that required for a runner on foot to catch up with a chariot on the move; but the true meaning is lost in antiquity.

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    Sun, Nov 22nd - 9:06AM



    Genesis 35:6-12

     

    †. Gen 35:6-7 . .Thus Jacob came to Luz-- that is, Bethel --in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. There he built an altar and named the site El-bethel, for it was there that God had revealed Himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.

    Bethel is located approximately 11 miles directly north of Jerusalem. Jacob erected a stone cairn there when he left home; and gave the site its name: Bethel (House Of God). At least thirty years have gone by since then. He stayed twenty years with Laban, and had lived for an undisclosed number of years in the vicinity of Schechem. Jacob was 75 when he left home, and was now easily over 100. He is not only older now, but he's a lot wiser too. The experience at Shechem changed Jacob in a remarkable way.

    This time he builds an altar instead of a cairn, and names the site El-bethel (the god of the House Of God). So Jacob's focus has shifted. Previously his emphasis was upon a special site to worship God. This time, Jacob puts the emphasis where it should have been in the first place: upon the object of his worship. Because, unless God is actually present during worship, then designating a special place for worship is futile.

    In Rev 3:14-22, the church of the Laodicians is depicted as so entirely christless that Jesus isn't even a member, no, he's on the outside of the building banging on the door trying to get someone's attention to let him in. That was a solid Christian church at one time; but as time went by; it somehow became quite christless.

    †. Gen 35:8a . . Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, died, and was buried under the oak below Bethel;

    By now, Deborah was very aged; older than Rebecca, and had come south with her to Canaan twenty years prior to Jacob's birth (Gen 24:59, 25:20, 25:26). Deborah was already a mature woman when she came south with Rebecca because the word for nurse-- yanaq (yaw-nak') --indicates a wet nurse. So Deborah did the surrogate task of breast feeding the infant Rebecca, whose biological mom, for reasons unknown, couldn't do it herself. Jacob knew Deborah quite well, having grown up with her in his own home, and remained with her a good number of years before leaving home himself at 75.

    There's pretty good reason to believe that Rebecca had died prior to Gen 35:8 because it's extremely doubtful Deborah would leave her to join Jacob's troupe otherwise.

    †. Gen 35:8b . . so it was named Allon-bacuth.

    Allon-bacuth means: oak of weeping. Deborah's passing was surely as emotionally painful a loss to Jacob as the loss of his own mother.

    †. Gen 35:9a . . God appeared again to Jacob on his arrival from Paddan-aram,

    Paddam-aram was the region up north, in and around where Laban lived, and from whence Jacob fled a number of years prior to Gen 35:9. But God reckoned Jacob still on-route for the simple reason that he had yet to strictly comply with the order to "Return to the land of your fathers where you were born" and "arise and leave this land and return to your native land." (Gen 31:3, 31:13).

    Instead of going directly to Bethel, as God apparently expected Jacob to do, he settled in the region around Shechem-- where his daughter became promiscuous, his sons became murderers and thieves, and Jacob alienated his neighbors: thus; he, and his whole family, had become quite useless as a witness to the knowledge of the one true God in that region.

    †. Gen 35:9b-10 . . and He blessed him. God said to him: You whose name is Jacob, you shall be called Jacob no more, but Israel shall be your name. Thus He named him Israel.

    This wasn't news to Jacob. He was renamed Israel by the angel (Gen 32:29). But Jacob wasn't living up to his new identity. He needed urging to live as who he now is, not live as who he once was before meeting God face to face.

    †. Gen 35:11a . . And God said to him: I am El Shaddai.

    The patriarchs were aware of God's other name Yhvh, and often referred to Him by it; but El Shaddai is a name of God that they knew Him by in a personal way. It means: God of all might; viz; the all-power god; or the god who invented, created, and controls all natural and supernatural powers. El Shaddai is the god who can make things happen, even things that are impossible by natural means, and things that are above and beyond Man's mortal imagination; so that El Shaddai is "the" god of providence who is easily strong enough to meet any, and all, human need.

    The name El Shaddai relates to Jacob's vow in Gen 28:20-21 where he said: If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my father's house-- Yhvh shall be my God.

    God did remain with Jacob, protected him, provided for him, and got him back home. Time to make good on that vow.

    †. Gen 35:11b . . Be fertile and increase;

    At this point in his life, Jacob was just about done reproducing. He had one more to go: Joseph. But Jacob's increase went way beyond his twelve sons were just the beginning.

    †. Gen 35:11c . . A nation, yea an assembly of nations, shall descend from you. Kings shall issue from your loins.

    That's pretty much what God promised Abraham back in chapter 17. The most important kings were those of Israel, and in particular, the ones in David's line who preceded Messiah.

    †. Gen 35:12 . .The land that I assigned to Abraham and Isaac I assign to you; and to your offspring to come will I assign the land.

    Ownership of the land didn't pass from Abraham down to Isaac, and then to Jacob as if it were an heirloom. God promised each patriarch full ownership along with their progeny. We might call that kind of ownership tenancy in common, community property, or joint-heirship. However, there's yet a fourth tenant in common: Christ. (Gal 3:16)

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    Sat, Nov 21st - 8:35AM



    Genesis 35:1-5

     

    †. Gen 35:1 . . God said to Jacob: Arise, go up to Bethel and remain there; and build an altar there to the god who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.

    That is some very strange language. Why didn't God say "build an altar to Me; who appeared to you when, etc". On the surface, it appears that God is speaking of a god other than Himself. But according to Gen 35:2, Jacob's family had a number of gods in their possession and I think God just wanted to make sure Jacob understood that He wanted no truck with them. For example:

    "You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, Yhvh your god, am a jealous god, (Ex 20:3-5)

    †. Gen 35:2 . . So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him: Rid yourselves of the alien gods in your midst, purify yourselves, and change your clothes.

    This is embarrassing. To top off the shame of recent events-- Dinah's tryst, the murders, and the subsequent looting in town-- now it turns out that the one family on earth who was supposed to be a witness to the one True God., and all that He stands for, had other gods in their midst! They were also wearing clothing taken from the dead in town, clothing that more than likely honored the religions-- and thus the morals-- of the Canaanite gods! No doubt the alien gods themselves were booty too, collected from Shechem's town after the massacre.

    Precisely what Jacob meant for his household, and all who were with him, to do in order be "purified" is not said. Bathing in water was the usual means of purification in the Old Testament; and often done in preparation to meet with God; but it's more likely that he simply regarded the alien gods and the stolen booty as ill gotten gain; ergo: contamination.

    †. Gen 35:3 . . Come, let us go up to Bethel, and I will build an altar there to the God who answered me when I was in distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.

    Jacob thus made a distinction between the mute gods of the Canaanites, and the vocal god of Israel. Jacob's god had been extremely active and useful in his life; whereas the Canaanite gods were only inanimate pieces of superstitious statuary, like voodoo dolls.

    The altar would serve a couple of important purposes, but the one that would really count in this case is its capacity as an official place of confession and absolution of sins. The people of God, whether Jew or Christian, have never been sinless. But sinless-ness is not an indicator that certifies whether or not someone is in God's family. Confession and absolution are far better indicators, e.g. Ps 32:5-7.

    The advantage of being in the family of Israel's God is the latitude His own have for being themselves. Jacob's household sinned big time, yes, but their sins will effect neither their divine purpose, nor their eternal destiny.

    †. Gen 35:4 . .They gave to Jacob all the alien gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the terebinth that was near Shechem.

    According to Webster's, a terebinth is a small European tree (Pistacia terebinthus) of the cashew family yielding turpentine. The Hebrew word for "terebinth" is 'elah (ay-law') which just means an oak or other strong tree.

    The religious items Jacob collected, were not only in the possession of his kin, but also in the possession of "all who were with him" (Gen 35:2) which would have included servants, his slaves; and the recent captives. Some of the items would have come from looting the town of Shechem, but many would have been acquired in the area up and around Laban's vicinity in Mesopotamia; which is where Jacob acquired the bulk of his labor force (Gen 30:43). Jacob lived for many years in close proximity to religions centered upon gods other than Israel's God, and the influence of those religions had a heavy impact upon the most holy community existing on the entire planet at that time.

    Exactly why Jacob chose to bury those items under a terebinth, instead of just burying them in a hole out in pasture, is not said. He could have incinerated them too, but, for some undisclosed reason, didn't. Some have tried to find symbolism in that, but his decision may have been motivated by something as simple as a hot day, and Jacob would rather work in the shade than out in the open.

    †. Gen 35:5 . . As they set out, a terror from God fell on the cities round about, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

    The patriarchs had some very interesting advantages. Even when they deserved to die, or at least assaulted and battered, the Bible's God was often on hand to prevent it. Think about it though. If you knew that a small force of Jews were able to overpower a whole town, would you want to lock horns with them? I don't think so. Jacob's boys no doubt had a reputation in those parts now, and made their neighbors nervous.

    People were very superstitious in those days and often gave the credit for military victories to their own personal gods; or to the gods of their conquerors, if that's the way things went in battle. So that the god of the people of Israel now became the one to be feared in those parts.

    However, it's far better-- if at all possible --for the people of God to give a testimony to the love of God rather than to the terror of God. But because of the patriarchs' recent violent behavior, the love of God was far from the minds of the people in Jacob's vicinity. They saw the people of Israel and their god as a serious threat to the safety and well being of their communities rather than seeing Israel's God as a potential source of blessing and providence.

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    Fri, Nov 20th - 8:04AM



    Genesis 34:25-31

     

    †. Gen 34:25-26 . . On the third day, when they were in pain, Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob's sons, brothers of Dinah, took each his sword, came upon the city unopposed, and slew all the males. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword, took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went away.

    The boys did all that without Jacob's knowledge. Exactly what effect the massacre of her boyfriend and his dad had upon Dinah is not said. Family rivalries, like the old hillbilly feuds, are bitter and driven solely by the code of the vendetta. There's no justice in a vendetta; only pay-back.

    Oh, The Martins and the Coys,
    They were reckless mountain boys,
    And they scarred the mountains up with shot and shell.

    There was uncles, brothers, cousins,
    Why; they bumped them off by dozens,
    Just how many bit the dust is hard to tell.
    (Gene Autry)

    †. Gen 34:27 . .The other sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the town, because their sister had been defiled.

    Only two of the brothers did the killing, but apparently all who were old enough participated in the pillaging. I tell you, some of the patriarchs were brutal men; and it was from them that the nation of Israel sprang. Later, they will sell their own kid brother Joseph into slavery simply because they envied his favorite-son status with their dad.

    †. Gen 34:28-29 . .They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys, all that was inside the town and outside; all their wealth, all their children, and their wives, all that was in the houses, they took as captives and booty.

    What they did was what conquerors legitimately do in war. But Jacob wasn't at war with Hamor's clan. Those boys were nothing in the world but murderers, kidnappers, thugs, and thieves. To think Messiah came from that blood line is beyond belief!

    †. Gen 34:30-31 . . Jacob said to Simeon and Levi: You have brought trouble on me, making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my men are few in number, so that if they unite against me and attack me, I and my house will be destroyed. But they answered: Should our sister be treated like a harlot?

    Dinah's brothers were rash and hot headed; placing their own rage above and beyond their family's safety, and their father Jacob's honor. That is the self-centered attitude of criminals; which is exactly what they were. Without God's providence, surely all of Canaan would have banded together and justly hanged every last male in Jacob's camp so that the nation of Israel would have ended right then and there. There would have been no holocaust and no crucifixion, and the Palestinians today would have a country to call their own. It's almost impossible to comprehend how those boys could have ever descended from the world's most respected religious figure the world has ever known: Abraham ben Terah

    Many years later, Moses' people came to the brink of annihilation again because of the pride of just one lone Jew in the book of Ruth. Boy! I tell you: God has really had His hands full keeping those people from destroying themselves. Truth be told: if it weren't for God's promise to Abraham, the Jews would have been extinct as a people long ago. (2Kings 13:23)

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    Thu, Nov 19th - 8:19AM



    Genesis 34:8-24

     

    †. Gen 34:8-9 . . And Hamor spoke with them, saying: My son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him in marriage. Intermarry with us: give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves:

    The only problem is: whose religion would be taught to Dinah's children? Would it be the Canaanites' religion or Jacob's religion? Would they be taught both religions; and thus create confusion in the children's minds? People for whom religion means very little; can cross breed all they want and it doesn't make any difference.

    However; as a general rule, it is never, ever a good idea to marry outside your own religion. Marriage is tough enough without dividing the family with differing religious philosophies. Couples should make every effort to strive for unity in all things; especially in the area of religion.

    "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what province hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    . . . Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2Cor 6:14-18)

    For Jacob's family, marriage with another culture was not a good idea at all. Their granddad was called to a very high purpose-- a purpose in which they were all expected to have a role; and that would be the role of engendering a great nation whose God would be Yhvh; and thus be a witness to the one True God: and a nation that would ultimately be a blessing to the whole world. A people like Hamor's were a serious threat to fulfilling that purpose.

    †. Gen 34:10 . .You will dwell among us, and the land will be open before you; settle, move about, and acquire holdings in it.

    That must have been a very tempting offer to Jacob. Hamor's people would protect his family, and let him use choice grazing lands, and sell him property to build a home on if he joined their clan instead of going off on his own with no one but Yhvh to rely upon. But then Israel would be assimilated; and that was something Jacob had to avoid at all costs.

    A holy nation has got to remain separated and independent from its unholy neighbors so God can bless. Just look what assimilation has done to the people of Israel over the years. Only a measly ten percent of them today are orthodox. Many of them are secular, worldly, conformed, and totally without their God. That is truly pitiful; and totally unacceptable.

    †. Gen 34:11-12 . .Then Shechem said to her father and brothers: Do me this favor, and I will pay whatever you tell me. Ask of me a bride-price ever so high, as well as gifts, and I will pay what you tell me; only give me the maiden for a wife.

    Shechem really did love Dinah, and was willing to go to some pretty extreme lengths to keep her. Unfortunately, he got off on the wrong foot with Dinah's brothers; which would prove fatal to every man in his village, including Shechem's dad.

    †. Gen 34:13a . . Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor

    It's uncertain all eleven of Jacob's boys took part in this. Later, only two of them, Simeon and Levi, would subsequently go into town and murder all the men. Jacob apparently said nothing in the negotiations; he only witnessed it all, listening to everything, but letting his sons do all the talking.

    †. Gen 34:13b-17 . . speaking with guile because he had defiled their sister Dinah-- and said to them: We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to a man who is uncircumcised, for that is a disgrace among us. Only on this condition will we agree with you; that you will become like us in that every male among you is circumcised.

    . . .Then we will give our daughters to you and take your daughters to ourselves; and we will dwell among you and become as one kindred. But if you will not listen to us and become circumcised, we will take our daughter and go.

    It's difficult to ascertain what the boys were implying by the prerequisite of circumcision. Were they implying that Shechem's clan could only blend with the people of Israel via Abraham's covenant of circumcision? Apparently that's the impression they were giving, and Hamor seems to understand that if the two families were to become one clan, then Israel's religion has to be in common.

    Jacob's silence suggests he was thinking the very same. As for Hamor, being a covetous man at heart; circumcision surely seemed an insignificant price to become co-owner of Jacob's possessions.

    †. Gen 34:18-19 . .Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor's son Shechem. And the youth lost no time in doing the thing, for he wanted Jacob's daughter. Now he was the most respected in his father's house.

    Shechem took the lead and set the example for the rest of the men in his village. He apparently had quite a bit of influence, and people looked up to him.

    †. Gen 34:20-24 . . So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the public place of their town and spoke to their fellow townsmen, saying: These people are our friends; let them settle in the land and move about in it, for the land is large enough for them; we will take their daughters to ourselves as wives and give our daughters to them.

    . . . But only on this condition will the men agree with us to dwell among us and be as one kindred: that all our males become circumcised as they are circumcised. Their cattle and substance and all their beasts will be ours, if we only agree to their terms, so that they will settle among us. All who went out of the gate of his town heeded Hamor and his son Shechem, and all males, all those who went out of the gate of his town, were circumcised

    Hamor convinced the men of his village that they would prosper by submitting to the surgery. His village apparently operated on the commune principle: What you have is mine, and what I have is yours. So everyone would benefit from assimilating Jacob's family because they would become co-owners of his possessions; which, when he departed Laban, was a goodly amount of livestock and slaves. The arrangement was appealing: it made good business sense, and would have been very lucrative for Hamor's village if only Jacob's sons had been honest about it.

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    Wed, Nov 18th - 11:24AM



    Genesis 34:1-7

     

    †. Gen 34:1 . . Now Dinah, the daughter whom Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.

    Even though Dinah was brought up in a God-fearing home, she is going to fall prey to the morals of a local culture; and that can happen to anybody, so no one should ever think themselves immune to it.

    "Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals." (1Cor 15:33)

    Paul's letter to the Corinthians wasn't written to bad people to encourage them to live like Christians. No, it was written to Christians to discourage them from hanging out with impious people and thereby becoming one of them.

    †. Gen 34:2 . . Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, chief of the country, saw her, and took her and lay with her by force.

    The words "by force" aren't in the Hebrew text. By penciling those words into the text, translators make Dinah appear to be the victim of a rape rather than a willing partner in a hot affair. Most Bible students are well aware of the oftentimes low moral character of the people of God, so if Dinah was truly accommodating in this episode, it shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, young girls are very susceptible to hero worship, and Shechem was a prince; the son of a sheik. What young girl doesn't dream of being swept off her feet by a prince? It's pretty common; and it's all part of being a real girl; for example:

    I was amazed at an AeroSmith concert by the numbers of shapely, drop-dead gorgeous young girls crowded up against the stage trying to get Steven Tyler to notice them. If you've seen Mr. Tyler, I think you would agree with me he will never qualify as a hunk. But Tyler is a famous entertainer; and entertainers have a powerful sensual charisma regardless of their looks.

    I witnessed an even more impressive display at a Rolling Stones concert (now there's a study in ugly). Women of all ages, sizes, and waistlines, slingshot their bras and panties up on the stage for the men to keep as love tokens. There were so many female undergarments cluttering the stage that the situation became a safety hazard. Keith Richards and the others had to kick them away to avoid tripping and falling.

    †. Gen 34:3 . . Being strongly drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and in love with the maiden, he spoke to the maiden tenderly.

    Shechem's feelings for Dinah weren't the typical violent lusts that rapists expend upon their victims. That boy was truly overwhelmed by Dinah; just like Jack was overwhelmed by Rose in the movie "Titanic". I wonder if anyone reading this can remember the last time you felt that way about somebody-- how you had difficulty catching your breath, and how utterly vulnerable you felt in their presence. No, I just can't believe Shechem raped Dinah. He really did like her as a person. She wasn't just a girl toy for Shechem to exploit; no, Dinah was "the one" and to him, she lit up the room the moment she walked in-- in his eyes; everything around her was a silver pool of light.

    †. Gen 34:4 . . So Shechem said to his father Hamor: Get me this girl as a wife.

    In modern American culture, Shechem would be regarded as a wimp for not being man enough to speak with Dinah's parents himself instead of seeking his dad's assistance. But in that day, a man's parents or relatives did all the negotiating in nuptial matters; and when it reached that stage, the romance was pretty serious business.

    †. Gen 34:5a . . Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah;

    From whom Jacob heard the news is not stated. Dinah had been taken into Shechem's home (Gen 34:2) and remained there until this episode was over (Gen 34:26). So news came probably by some of Dinah's girlfriends from town whose friendships she sought in Gen 34:1. By now, Dinah must be feeling very alone, and afraid to come home and face the music.

    When guys lose their virginity, it's different. They feel more like a man, they feel better about themselves, and they feel highly regarded in the eyes of their male friends. But girls oftentimes feel like cheap goods: soiled and fallen; not to mention the fear of pregnancy and family disgrace. Not all girls feel the same about pre-marital trysts. Some relish the excitement. But others are scarred for life, and never really get over it.

    The Bible is silent about Dinah's feelings about all this, and after chapter 34, she's mentioned only one more time at Gen 46:15 and that's it.

    †. Gen 34:5b . . but since his sons were in the field with his cattle, Jacob kept silent until they came home.

    If Jacob had allowed his passions to overrule his better judgment, he might have stormed out and confronted Shechem's family all by himself, and they just may have been annoyed enough to murder him on the spot. No, best to wait for back-up on this one. And besides, brothers were often key decision makers in a sister's betrothal (e.g. Gen 24:29-61). So Jacob needed his boys; if not for personal defense, then at least to take part in the decision concerning whom Dinah would wed.

    †. Gen 34:6-7a . .Then Shechem's father Hamor came out to Jacob to speak to him. Meanwhile Jacob's sons, having heard the news, came in from the field.

    Jacob probably sent a runner out to get the boys and have them come home as soon as possible. By luck, they arrived the same time as Shechem and his dad. So the key players are present, the stage is set, and they can all get down to business.

    †. Gen 34:7b . .The men were distressed and very angry, because he had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter— a thing not to be done.

    This is the first instance of Jewish tribalism in the Bible. Ironically; the boys were far more upset for what Shechem did to the family name then what he did to their sister. However; that's a very common reaction from male siblings. Brothers typically take it personal when a guy abuses their sister or says something derogatory about her; even when the brothers themselves don't even like her.

    The phrase "a thing not to be done" didn't apply to Shechem and Hamor. Promiscuity wasn't considered immoral in their culture. Extra-marital activity was a normal social interaction in many parts of Canaan, and nobody gave it a second thought. In fact, neither Shechem nor his dad felt any inclination whatsoever to apologize for what happened and probably would have become indignant if asked to; but Israel's moral standards were God-influenced, and ran counter to common mores. (cf. Gen 18:19)

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    Tue, Nov 17th - 7:49AM



    Genesis 33:20

     

    †. Gen 33:20 . . He set up an altar there, and called it El-elohe-yisrael.

    El-elohe-yisrael is actually 'Eel-'Eloheey-Yisraa'eel which is a compound of three separate words.

    'Eel is from 'el (ale) and means strength; as an adjective; viz: mighty.

    'Eloheey is from 'elohiym (el-o-heem') and means god(s) in a nondescript sense; viz: the one true god and all manner of imitation gods.

    Yisraa'eel is from Yisra'el (yis-raw-ale') and means: he will rule as God, which, according to Gen 32:29, was Jacob's new name.

    NOTE: Jacob himself was never personally seated on God's throne and ruling as God; but one of his biological descendants does. (Num 24:17, Col 3:1, Phil 2:8-11)

    So, if we put it all together, Jacob's altar was dedicated to The Almighty God of he who will rule as God; or just simply The God Of Israel. It was the very, very, first altar to ever be named after the god of the people of Israel. A true milestone in the nation's history, and Jacob's too.

    Just exactly how much time elapsed between Jacob's temporary camp at Succoth and the events coming up in chapter 34 are unknown.

    In the interval, Jacob very likely visited his dad and also traveled down to Seir to visit his brother Esau too; like he promised in verse 14. Just because the Bible doesn't say so; doesn't mean he didn't. One of the aspects of the Bible that some people find very annoying is that it doesn't record every little detail.

    For example at Matt 2:22-23 it's reported that the prophets said Jesus would be called a Nazarene. But you won't find that quote in the Old Testament, so there's no use in looking for it; and that's because not every word spoken by the prophets was recorded: same as not every word spoken by Jesus was recorded in the gospels; and not every detail of the patriarchs' lives are recorded in Genesis.

    Scripture's omissions can often lead people into error via a kind of logic called an Argument From Silence; which is a kind of reasoning that assumes that if something isn't clearly stated, then it's inferred from the silence that there was nothing to state.

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    Mon, Nov 16th - 8:42AM



    Genesis 33:12-19

     

    †. Gen 33:12 . . And [Esau] said: Let us start on our journey, and I will proceed at your pace.

    Jacob undoubtedly told Esau his ultimate destination, which was probably Hebron, the place where their dad would later die. Isaac's last known address was Beer-sheba. Why he moved 26 miles north to Hebron is unknown; but when you're a rancher, you've got to go where the pasture is for the sake of the livestock.

    †. Gen 33:13-14a . . But he said to him: My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me; if they are driven hard a single day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I travel slowly, at the pace of the cattle before me and at the pace of the children,

    Jacob's children were all still kids, the eldest being no more than 12 or so, and many of the female animals were caring for nursing young. Refusing to accept Esau's kind offer was a practical consideration. He was traveling light, probably on swift camels, and his rough-riding fighting men, desiring to get back home as soon as possible for R&R, were likely to grow impatient with the snail's pace of Jacob's unit.

    †. Gen 33:13-14b . . until I come to my lord in Seir.

    Jacob wasn't going southward to Seir; but across the Jordan up into the highlands of Canaan. The words for "go on ahead" are ya'baar which is from 'abar (aw-bar') which means: to cross over; and used very widely of any transition (literal or figurative)

    Jacob promised to visit with Esau at some later date after his household was all settled in. But for now, it was necessary to take it easy and rest his herds before making the final push on up into the West Bank. It's no simple matter moving hundreds and hundreds of head of livestock; especially over rugged country. Coming down from Paddan-aram through the Syrian Desert and the Golan Heights must have been exhausting for everyone-- women, children, and animals alike.

    †. Gen 33:15-17a . .Then Esau said: Let me assign to you some of the men who are with me. But he said; Oh no, my lord is too kind to me! So Esau started back that day on his way to Seir. But Jacob journeyed on to Succoth,

    There is more than one Succoth in the Bible. The precise location of this one in particular is difficult to pin-point. But according to Judges 8:4-16, it was on the east side of the Jordan; somewhere between the river and the place where Jacob grappled with the angel.

    †. Gen 33:17b . . and built a house for himself and made stalls for his cattle; that is why the place was called Succoth.

    Stalls is from cukkah (sook-kaw') which means: a hut or a lair. That has sort of a primitive ring to it. The huts, and very likely Jacob's house too, were probably just rudimentary shelters constructed of poles cut from trees (those hills grew lots and lots of trees in that day) and thatching fashioned with reeds gathered from along the banks of the Jordan and the W.Zarqa (Jabbok).

    Succoth is from Cukkowth (sook-kohth') and/or Cukkoth (sook-kohth') and is just simply the plural of cukkah; ergo: huts and lairs.

    There was a place by that name in Egypt too. The exact location is difficult to pin-point but it may have been somewhere north of the reed (Red) sea crossing (Ex 12:37, Ex 13:20, Ex 14:1-4). How long Jacob remained at Succoth is unknown.

    It might be well to mention that not all events in the Bible relate to important spiritual truths. Many are just simply historic and mean nothing at all except that people lived normal lives in those days just like we live our lives in these days with very few events of any lasting importance; viz: we're born, we leave home, accumulate wealth, marry, buy a home, reproduce, retire, and then die; same-O, same-O.

    †. Gen 33:18 . . Jacob arrived safe in the city of Shechem which is in the land of Canaan-- having come thus from Paddan-aram --and he encamped before the city.

    The site wasn't originally named Shechem but probably well known as that name by the time the author wrote Genesis. It was the very first place in Canaan where God met with Abraham (Gen 12:5-7). Shechem was up in the West Bank and very likely close to present day Nablus.

    †. Gen 33:19 . .The parcel of land where he pitched his tent he purchased from the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for a hundred kesitahs.

    The word for "kesitahs" is from qesiytah (kes-ee-taw') and means: an ingot (as definitely estimated and stamped for a coin). The exact value of a kesitah is unknown. It was probably a local money, in any kind of shape; e.g. discs, bars, rods, or chunks. The metal of which a kesitah was made is unknown.

    Before paper and coins were introduced as permanent forms of money, people used a variety of objects to serve for legal tender. Examples of early forms of money include rice (China), dog teeth (Papua New Guinea), small tools (China), quartz pebbles (Ghana), gambling counters (Hong Kong), cowrie shells (India), metal disks (Tibet), and limestone disks (Yap Island).

    Monies can be anything so long as everybody using them agrees upon their value. In ancient time, various articles made of metals such as silver and gold, as well as of iron and bronze, were used as money; while among primitive peoples such commodities as shells, beads, elephant tusks, furs, skins, and livestock served as mediums of exchange too. Anything that's widely accepted in payment for goods and services, and in settlement of debts, can be acceptable as money-- even Pokemon trading cards.

    Why would Jacob purchase property in Canaan? For a cemetery? Maybe. But some feel he did it with the intention of making Shechem his capital. I mean, after all, God promised him complete ownership of the land; so why not pick out a location for a sort of Washington DC? At any rate, a real estate investment was, at the very least, a token of his confidence in God's promise that his progeny would one day own every bit of Canaan outright. So when Messiah takes over, whoever is squatting on Jacob's land at the time is going to have to move somewhere else and maybe even pay some back rent too.

    Shechem was a prominent city throughout biblical history, located on Mount Gerazim in what later became the territory of Benjamin's tribe. It was very close to the future city of Samaria, which became capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.

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    Sun, Nov 15th - 7:38AM



    Genesis 33:5-11

     

    †. Gen 33:5 . . Looking about, he saw the women and the children. Who, he asked: are these with you? He answered: The children with whom God has favored your servant.

    Because Jacob's response drew Esau's attention to the lads rather than the women, Jewish folklore proposes that Jacob did that so as to take Esau's mind off the wives. What an ugly thing to say. It implies that Esau was a barbaric cave man who stole wives from their husbands; yet there is not one single incident in the entire Old Testament recording something like that about him. So that remark is unfounded, and totally uncalled for. It's highly unlikely that Esau's mind would be off the women anyway while they were standing right there in front of him; and subsequently introduced one by one.

    †. Gen 33:6-7 . .Then the maids, with their children, came forward and bowed low; next Leah, with her children, came forward and bowed low; and last, Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed low;

    The Hebrew word for "bowed low" is from shachah (shaw-khaw') which means: to depress, i.e. prostrate. At Gen 22:5, and also in many, many other places in the Old Testament, shachah is translated "worship".

    I think the scene went something like this: First Esau asked about the women and children. Then Jacob, by way of introduction, like a master of ceremonies on a variety show, moved to the side, raised his arm, gestured towards his family, and presenting them for Esau's review, proudly announced; Voila! My offspring, with whom God has favored your servant.

    Why not introduce the wives first? Well; in that day, wives were a dime a dozen; literally bought and sold. But offspring! Oh yes; offspring were to brag about. Men regarded their offspring as gold and precious stones in value.

    "Sons are the provision of the Lord; the fruit of the womb, His reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are sons born to a man in his youth. Happy is the man who fills his quiver with them; they shall not be put to shame when they contend with the enemy in the gate." (Ps 127:3-5)

    First up were Bilhah with Dan and Naphtali, then Zilpah with Gad and Asher. Then came Leah with Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah. Then, last of all, Rachel and Joseph.

    Everybody did obeisance to Esau. I tell you the humility of Jacob's family is astounding. Nobody, not one among them, Jacob included, harbored the unbearable "chosen-people" mentality that is so prevalent today among modern Jews.

    Esau has been given a very bad rap in Jewish folklore. Yet, not one single time does the Old Testament portray him as a murderer, a liar, a thief, or an adulterer. Those allegations have all been smirched upon his reputation by people with evil minds; prejudiced against him for no good reason at all but merely because his Jewish detractors can't bear to accept him either as a brother, nor as an equal. Jacob's progeny has been guilty of all the crimes and sins of which they accuse Esau, and more too; yet many Jews count their own people superior to Esau in every way imaginable.

    The only reason Jacob's progeny continues to exist is because of the oath and the promises that God gave their ancestor Abraham. If not for that early covenant, they would be just as extinct today as the Edomites, and for the very same reasons.

    "Fair Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city beleaguered. Had not the Lord of Hosts left us some survivors, we should be like Sodom-- another Gomorrah." (Isa 1:8-9)

    †. Gen 33:8 . . And he asked: What do you mean by all this company which I have met? He answered" To gain my lord's favor. Esau said: I have enough, my brother; let what you have remain yours.

    No doubt uncle Laban would have judged Esau a fool because Rachel's dad, badly infected with a serious case of unbridled avarice, would have certainly snapped up Jacob's offer immediately. But Esau's repertoire of vices apparently didn't include greed. He was actually a very moderate kind of guy, and easy to satisfy.

    †. Gen 33:10-11 . . But Jacob said: No, I pray you; if you would do me this favor, accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God, and you have received me favorably. Please accept my present which has been brought to you, for God has favored me and I have plenty. And when he urged him, he accepted.

    In accordance with oriental customs, which have continued to be practiced for thousands of years, the most certain way for one who desires reconciliation to be assured of it is to have his proffered gift accepted by the one whose favor he seeks. In any case, it would be considered a great personal favor if Esau would accept Jacob's gift, even though Jacob knew that his brother didn't really need it in any material sense.

    Jacob's diplomacy was irresistible. The men used different adverbs to describe their prosperity. Esau said; "I have enough". Enough is from rab (rab) which means: abundant (in quantity, size, age, number, rank, quality) But Jacob said; "I have plenty". Plenty is from kol (kole) and/or kowl (kole) which means: the whole; hence, all. So Esau, through his own industry, had garnered for himself all that he would ever need. But Jacob, through the providence of God, had everything. So I think he was implying that he really had too much to manage and would consider it a personal favor if Esau would take some off his hands.

    Here in American culture, we typically feel indebted by accepting a gift from a friend. That mind-set spoils good will, so that a present-- which should have, in all respects, represented someone's heart-felt happy thoughts towards us --is typically regarded as a trap, and robs an occasion of the good feelings it was intended to generate.

    Fortunately there are numerous occasions when we have implied consent to lavish gifts upon friends and loved ones without arousing suspicions of evil intent; e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, Xmas, Easter, promotions, retirements, graduations; and whatever else we can appropriate to express our affections for others. I think that too many of us have become Grinches out of fear of obligation. It just shouldn't be that way.

    Esau, realizing the sincerity of Jacob's motives, and also himself desiring that there be no question he himself also earnestly desired full reconciliation with his brother, finally agreed to accept Jacob's gifts.

    Something is strangely missing from the brothers' reunion. Wouldn't you think that Jacob would be asking about his mom and dad? Were they still alive? In good health? Stuff like that. Well; I think Jacob already knew. After all, he knew exactly where to find Esau.

    So Jacob may have stayed current all those twenty years via caravans and messengers. Somewhere along the line, Rebecca's personal nurse Deborah had joined Jacob. So there's a pretty good chance Jacob already knew all about his mom and dad before returning to Canaan. However, since Rebecca's personal nurse Deborah had already joined Jacob, and since there's no record that Jacob ever saw Rebecca alive after leaving home, his mom may have been deceased at this point.

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    Sat, Nov 14th - 9:07AM



    Genesis 33:1-4

     

    †. Gen 33:1-2 . . Looking up, Jacob saw Esau coming, accompanied by four hundred men. He divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maids, putting the maids and their children first, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.

    Whether Rachel was expecting Benjamin at this time is difficult to ascertain; but if she was; then that would help explain why Jacob put her last in the caravan.

    †. Gen 33:3a . . He himself went on ahead

    Good move. Still keeping himself at a distance from his family just in case violence should break out. If Esau was spoiling for a fight, hopefully it would be with Jacob alone, and not with his family right in the middle of it.

    †. Gen 33:3b . . and bowed low to the ground seven times until he was near his brother.

    The Tell El Amarna tablets record that when approaching a king, the approacher always bowed seven times. So, as was customary in those days, Jacob bowed low before Esau as he came near as a token of respect and recognition of Esau as ruler of the region. He may not have actually been living down in Seir yet at this time, but had already subdued the indigenous peoples so that the area was his domain; and under his control.

    †. Gen 33:4 . . Esau ran to greet him. He embraced him and, falling on his neck, he kissed him; and they wept.

    Imagine Jacob's utter surprise (and relief) when, expecting violence from his brother, he was kissed instead and Esau became emotional and started blubbering all over the place! This scene may have played out a whole lot differently if God hadn't taken a role in it.

    "When the Lord is pleased with a man's conduct, He may turn eve his enemies into allies." (Prv 16:7)

    But what about those angels, the ones that camped nearby Jacob's camp? What part did they play in all this?

    According to Jewish folklore, four bands of angels went to Esau's camp the previous night and beat him and his men savagely. When Esau realized that Jacob had men with him who could knock his teeth out, it changed his attitude and developed a respect for his brother that he didn't have before. Because of that, a saying came about that if you want an "Esau" to treat you with respect, you should beat him up because that's the only thing he understands.

    Well; that's very imaginative, and somewhat amusing too. But I believe those angels served another purpose altogether, and they fought with a totally different foe too.

    Invisible to the unaided eye are dark, unholy creatures in our world who go around influencing human thoughts, and manipulating people to evil ends. They would have surely interfered in Jacob's homecoming had not the holy angels restrained them. That's part of their job-- holding back the invisible forces of evil in the world of men. They don't always do that though; usually only when God has a special purpose to accomplish; for example Dan 10:10-14.

    In the unseen world; sinister beings are operating covertly: manipulating the destiny of persons, and nations. (cf. Eph 2:1-2)

    No wonder the world is plagued with monsters like Muammar Qaddafi, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Ill, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden; and predatory lenders; and unscrupulous investment banks the likes of Bear Sterns, Lehman Bros, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley; and dishonest securities rating firms the likes of Standard & Poor, Moody's, and Fitch.

    People like that are human allies to the forces of evil; the mortal marionettes of invisible masterminds-- evil intelligences who secretly run world affairs undetected by natural means. The beauty of their system is that it is just too incredible to comprehend. Very few modern, intellectual sophisticates believe in spirits. Since hardly anyone believes in them, they have the advantage of stealth-- and their unsuspecting victims just go on about their business as usual, oblivious to their presence; and easy prey to powerful psychological suggestions and manipulations.

    The dark spirits can easily cause the ruin of perfectly good marriages, friendships, and businesses; and they can control an entire nation's economy and it's politics. Take a look at the country of Israel today. Does it really look as though God is running it? No way. It is only too obvious who has control of it now. And the dark angels will stay in control until such a time as Messiah commands the holy angels to purge them out.

    Dark mists could've made things go very badly between Jacob and Esau. But God foreknew their evil intentions and stepped in to thwart them by sending a detachment of His own forces to hold the mists in check while the two brothers kissed and made up; and settled their differences.

    NOTE: Not too long ago I ran across an op-ed in the local paper in regards to the mental faculties of today's movers and shakers in government and big business. The op-ed's observation was that events of the last decade suggest that the patients are running the sanitarium. America's government, and America's financial institutions, seem to have taken leave of their senses and behaving as men and women with mental illness.

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    Fri, Nov 13th - 9:04AM



    Genesis 32:25-32

     

    †. Gen 32:25 . .When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he wrenched Jacob's hip at its socket, so that the socket of his hip was strained as he wrestled with him.

    In spite of the injury, Jacob still hung on and refused to let go. The injury served a purpose. It wasn't to make Jacob let go; after all, the angel could just as easily broken both of Jacob's arms. The injury served to handicap Jacob, and force him to depend even more upon God's providence; and less upon himself.

    †. Gen 32:26a . .Then he said: Let me go, for dawn is breaking.

    Time is of the essence for Jacob to get ready for his brother. Dawn wasn't a problem for the angel. His carriage wasn't going to turn back into a pumpkin or anything like that nor was he going to burn up in the sunlight like a vampire.

    †. Gen 32:26b . . But he answered: I will not let you go, unless you bless me.

    Jacob risked giving Esau the advantage by staying too long; but this is one guy not to squander an opportunity with God.

    †. Gen 32:27a . . Said the other: What is your name?

    Like he didn't know already? Of course he knew it. But the angel's question is a type of question we call a leading question. You could restate it like this: And what *strategic pause* is your name?

    †. Gen 32:27b . . He replied: Jacob.

    His name was actually Ya'aqob (yah-ak-obe') which means: heel-catcher (i.e. supplanter). But that is all over now. From this point on; it won't be necessary for Jacob to supplant somebody in order to gain the advantage.

    †. Gen 32:28a . . Said he: Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel

    "Israel" is from Yisra'el (yis-raw-ale') which means: he will rule as God. We might call Jacob's new name his spiritual name and it's very curious. It doesn't mean rule like God; but rather: as God.

    NOTE: If we take Jacob's new name literally (I think we can) then what we're looking at is 110% prophetic of a reality. (cf. Ps 110:1 and Ps 45:6-7)

    Although Jacob was a patriarch, and a great sheik, he was never a conqueror. There's a huge difference between ruling as God and ruling as a conqueror. Conquerors typically rule for their own profit, making slaves out of their subjects and exacting taxes and tributes. But God always rules for man's benefit; helping him achieve his greatest potential from within a peaceful environment.

    Through the ages, God has used Jacob's spiritual name to identify the nation that sprang from him. True, Jacob's progeny has not always ruled as God. But his ultimate progeny, Messiah, certainly will. No question about it.

    "In that day The Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of The Lord before them." (Zech 12:8)

    †. Gen 32:28b . . for you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.

    The Hebrew word for "beings divine" is 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which is a nondescript label for all manner of gods: the true and the false, the real and the imagined, and the genuine and the imitation.

    The word for "prevailed" is from yokel (yaw-kole') which means: to be able, literally (can, could) or morally (may, might). In other words: he was up to the challenge; and able to see it through. Jacob was indeed a very remarkable man.

    †. Gen 32:29a . .Then Jacob inquired, and he said: Divulge, if you please, your name. And he said: Why then do you inquire of my name?

    In other words: Do you really have to ask? No; Jacob knew very well who he was grappling with. But sometimes we just want things stated for the record.

    †. Gen 32:29b . . and He blessed him there.

    I sure wish we had the wording of that blessing Jacob worked so hard to obtain.

    †. Gen 32:30 . . So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel-- For I have seen the Divine face to face, yet my life was spared.

    It's true Jacob didn't actually see The Almighty God in His actual form; but what he saw and touched was pretty close enough. (cf. 1John 1:1-3)

    Jacob was ready for anything after that experience. Esau would be small potatoes what with The Almighty God and a host of His holy angels in the vicinity looking out for Jacob's safety.

    †. Gen 32:31-32 . .The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping on his hip. That is why the children of Israel to this day do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the socket of the hip, since Jacob's hip socket was wrenched at the thigh muscle.

    God didn't command such a practice; it became a man-made tradition; which doesn't make it eo ipso bad. I mean; wine with Passover dinner is a rabbinical invention, but Jesus went along with it at his last supper. The Lord was sometimes a bit peeved with the Jews' traditions; but not always since they were his heritage too.

    But Jacob's experience does indicate the importance of the event in the minds of the Jews. Some people think Jacob is some sort of a squeaky little gerbil when it comes to ranking the saints' mettle. But The Almighty was very impressed with him. That has to count for something.

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    Thu, Nov 12th - 8:29AM



    Genesis 32:24b

     

    †. Gen 32:24b . . And a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.

    There's been some speculation regarding not only the identity of this man but also his species. Some say it was the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Some say it was Esau's evil angel. Some say it was one of God's holy angels. And some say it was God himself in a human form. Hosea can help settle this.

    "The Lord once indicted Judah, and punished Jacob for his conduct, requited him for his deeds. In the womb he tried to supplant his brother; grown to manhood, he strove with a divine being, he strove with an angel and prevailed-- the other had to weep and implore him. At Bethel [Jacob] would meet him, there to commune with him." (Hos 12:3-5)

    There can be no doubt who Jacob communed with at Bethel. Jacob met Yhvh there on his way north when he left home. And he met Yhvh there again in Bethel after returning. The man that Jacob wrestled with that night was no evil angel, that's for sure; and Jacob very well knew it too.

    How it is possible for Yhvh to appear in a human form? I don't know but He did it again in Moses' day. (Ex 24:9-11)

    Their conflict shouldn't be construed as some sort of combat or an athletic event. It wasn't that at all. When Jacob perceived that the man was actually divine, he clutched and hung on; refusing to let Yhvh depart until He blessed him.

    When my boy was little, sometimes he would cling to my ankles like a little boa constrictor and I would have to drag him around the room for a while before he'd let go. Well, that's what Jacob did. No one since has ever been so dogged determined with God like that. The angel was reluctant to bless Jacob for good reason: so Bible students could see just how much Jacob really valued spiritual things. Some people extol David's love for God, but I prefer to extol Jacob for his stubborn refusal to let go. It's easy to see now why God wanted the patriarchy for him instead of his brother Esau.

    From the little we know about Jacob, I'm guessing that the one thing he valued most about God more than anything else was providence. We got a glimpse of that back in chapter 28 when Jacob said: "If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then Jehovah shall be my God"

    Juxtapose Jacob with Cain; the man who walked out on God. Well; not only did Jacob not walk out on God, but he refused to let God walk out on him. Jacob was a pretty amazing guy.

    There is a really good story about a Gentile woman in the New Testament who was persistent with God like Jacob. Not quite as physical as he, but, in her own way, just as persistent nonetheless. (Matt 15:21-18)

    Some people lose heart, and give up on God way too soon. It's not that He's stubborn and doesn't really want to bless, or that we have to somehow overcome His reluctance. No, that's not it. For some reason God is very pleased when we cling and show Him we mean business. Dogged prayer, like tough love, gets results and shows God we mean business and that we won't take "no" for an answer. Is God annoyed by that? Far from it. Compare the "persistence" parables at Luke 11:5-10 and Luke 18:2-8.

    Many years prior to where we are now in Genesis, Jacob had a dream. He saw a staircase with Yhvh standing at the top. At the time, Jacob just gawked in awe; but were he to have that same dream at this point in his life, Jacob would have run up those stairs and tackled The Lord before He could get away. The man coming back down from the north isn't the same man that ran away from home. He's different.

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    Wed, Nov 11th - 10:08AM



    Genesis 32:14-24a

     

    †. Gen 32:14a . . After spending the night there,

    No one knows yet just exactly where Mahanaim was located. According to a Jordanian tourism web site, it was north of the river W. Zarqa (N. Yaboq) up in some elevated ground a few miles east of Deir Alla. If your map doesn't show Deir Alla; then from 'Amman Jordan look northward to the W. Zarqa river and follow it west to its junction with the Jordan River. Deir 'Alla is about 3 or 4 miles northwest of the point where the W. Zarqa river meets the Jordan.

    †. Gen 32:14b-16 . . he selected from what was at hand these presents for his brother Esau: 200 she-goats and 20 he-goats; 200 ewes and 20 rams; 30 milch camels with their colts; 40 cows and 10 bulls; 20 jenny donkeys and 10 jack donkeys.

    That's a total of 580 animals altogether. I don't know what each of those species are worth on the hoof at today's prices, but all combined; it has to be a heck of a lot of money. Especially for the camels. In Birqash Egypt, prices for camels vary from 100 to 1,200 US dollars. Jacob sent Esau 30 females with their calves. Even in the median price range, that's about 16,500 US dollars worth of dromedaries.

    NOTE: Milch camels are the equivalent of dairy cows. Camel's milk is much more nutritious than that from a cow. It's lower in fat and lactose, and higher in potassium, iron and Vitamin C. It's normally drunk fresh, and the warm frothy liquid, heavy and sweet, is usually an acquired taste for the Western palate. Most Saudi Arabian camels are females reared for their milk in dairy herds.

    †. Gen 32:17-21a . .These he put in the charge of his servants, drove by drove, and he told his servants: Go on ahead, and keep a distance between droves. He instructed the one in front as follows: When my brother Esau meets you and asks "Whose man are you? Where are you going? And whose [animals] are these ahead of you?" you shall answer: Your servant Jacob's; they are a gift sent to my lord Esau; and [Jacob] himself is right behind us.

    . . . He gave similar instructions to the second one, and the third, and all the others who followed the droves, namely: Thus and so shall you say to Esau when you reach him. And you shall add: And your servant Jacob himself is right behind us.

    Some people have proposed that Jacob's tactic was an evidence of a lack of faith in God's providence. I don't accept that theory for one second! Here's a better way to look at it.

    Supposing you were a university student with poor grades. So one night, in desperation, you pray and ask God to help you pass the finals. After prayers, you go to bed with all the confidence in the world that God will somehow pack all the information you need to pass the test into your brain cells while you're asleep. Next day you fail the test. You know why? Duh! You didn't prepare for it.

    When men praise the Lord in battle, they should also pass the ammunition; and when a farmer prays for a good crop, he should say amen with a hoe; and when people pray for a safe trip to grandma's house, they should put gas in the tank and check the oil, the water, and the tires, and fasten all the seat belts.

    Never pray for success without taking some initiative to make all the sensible preparations in your power that are necessary to get it. If you do your part to the best of your ability; the odds are in your favor that God will do His part too; i.e. if He feels like it. Please don't ever take God for granted; that's just plain bad manners.

    †. Gen 32:21b . . For he reasoned: If I propitiate him with presents in advance, and then face him, perhaps he will show me favor. And so the gift went on ahead, while he remained in camp that night.

    The phrase "propitiate him" is from kaphar (kaw-far') which means: to cover (specifically with bitumen); figuratively, to expiate or condone, to placate or cancel. That is a very common word for atonement, and that is exactly what Jacob had in mind: to show his brother that he wished to reconcile their differences. (cf. 1John 2:2)

    †. Gen 32:22 . .That same night he arose, and taking his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children, he crossed the ford of the Jabbok.

    The Jabbok is in the country of Jordan and is a very loopy stream. It's path traces out a huge fish hook beginning in the hills near Amman; then goes about 7½ miles northeast to Az Zarqa. From there it goes about 6½ miles north to As Sukhnah, then about 7¼ miles northwest; passing by Al Qunayyah. From there it goes sort of west, drawing a pair of camel humps for about 10½ miles to a lake near Jarash. From there it goes dead west for about 11 miles before turning southwest for ten miles to its junction with the Jordan River.

    I'm sure Jacob's decision was mostly a security measure. If he waited till daylight to get his family across, Esau might show up unexpected while they were crossing and have the camp at a disadvantage. It was to Jacob's credit that he distanced himself from the women and children. If Esau and his men were coming for Jacob's blood, the mothers and their children would very likely get hurt in the fracas if Jacob were among them.

    †. Gen 32:23-24a . . After taking them across the stream, he sent across all his possessions. Jacob was left alone.

    After helping his family to cross over, Jacob took some help and returned to the other side to gather up all their stuff. He stayed while they went on back over with everything and underwent a very strange close encounter of a third kind.

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    Tue, Nov 10th - 7:49AM



    Genesis 32:4-13

     

    †. Gen 32:4 . . Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom,

    The Hebrew word for "messengers" is the same word often used for angels. Since that word has such wide application, some have proposed that Jacob dispatched the holy angels on ahead to meet with Esau for him. Well, I think that might be stretching the imagination just a little too far. Jacob was in charge of his own camp, not God's, and there's no textual evidence to suggest otherwise.

    Jacob had learned where Esau lived, and could have avoided contact with him if he wanted to. Esau's land was pretty far out of the way. His haunts were way down in Seir, a mountainous tract which runs along the eastern side of the Araba, once occupied by the ancient cave dwelling Horites.

    If you have a map handy, it's in between the southern end of the Dead Sea and the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. Jacob's destination was Shechem, in the vicinity of modern day Nabulus, up in the West Bank about 80 miles northwest of the tip of the Red Sea; as the crow flies.

    †. Gen 32:5a . . and instructed them as follows: Thus shall you say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob:

    Jacob instructed his servants to acknowledge Esau as Jacob's superior. It's true the patriarchy passed to Jacob, but he must have felt it was expedient to set that aside for now and approach his brother from the standpoint of their natural birth rank. Jacob never really desired to lord it over his brother, and there was certainly no reason to assert his patriarchal rank at this time[ most especially for the purpose of this particular reunion; which was to make amends for past grievances and to set the stage for Jacob's peaceable return to the neighborhood.

    This show-down was a necessity. Jacob couldn't very well be looking over his shoulder all the time, wondering if Esau was around somewhere nearby drawing a bead on him. They had to get their differences smoothed out now before Jacob settled his family in Canaan. And this meeting was going to be difficult enough without invoking the prerogatives of royalty. No; it was better that Jacob met with Esau as his younger brother, and then go from there and see what happens.

    †. Gen 32:5b-6 . . I stayed with Laban and remained until now; I have acquired cattle, donkeys, sheep, and male and female slaves; and I send this message to my lord in the hope of gaining your favor.

    The delegation's mission was merely to inform Esau that Jacob was back in town; and to make sure Esau knew that Jacob was not here for a fight. He was in fact inclined to seek Esau's good graces. Esau's initial reaction was probably an instinctive posture of self defense. Since it was predicted that the younger would rule the older, it may have appeared to Esau that Jacob was returning from Paddan-aram with a large body of fighting men to claim the covenanted boundaries, and to subjugate Esau under patriarchal rule as predicted in Gen 25:23.

    †. Gen 32:7-9 . .The messengers returned to Jacob, saying: We came to your brother Esau; he himself is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him. Jacob was greatly frightened; in his anxiety, he divided the people with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, thinking: If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, the other camp may yet escape.

    Jacob quite naturally jumped to the conclusion that Esau still sought his death. From all appearances, it sure looked that way. So he followed a typical caravan tactic of dividing his troupe so that if Esau should attack the lead group, the one following would have a chance to escape while Esau was busy with the first. It would have been wiser to take up positions and wait for Esau to come to Jacob. But apparently, the local terrain wouldn't permit Jacob's assembly to scatter all over the place and thereby make it difficult for Esau to attack everyone at once.

    †. Gen 32:10 . .Then Jacob said: O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me; Return to your native land and I will deal bountifully with you!

    One can't help but admire Jacob's praying style. It's so practical-- no bombast, no pious rhetoric, no platitudes, no rote, and no siddur --just down to business, and right from the heart.

    But what I really love most about his style is the appeal he makes to certain promises that God made to him. Jacob came to the point in his walk of faith where he realized that if God planned to make good on those promises, then He has to keep Jacob alive to do it; just like Abraham reasoned that God had to raise Isaac from the dead in order to keep the promises he made concerning him (cf. Heb 11:17-19) promises which, in reality, made Jacob just as bullet proof as they had made Abraham and Isaac.

    †. Gen 32:11-13 . . I am unworthy of all the kindness that You have so steadfastly shown Your servant: with my staff alone I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; else, I fear, he may come and strike me down, mothers and children alike. Yet You have said; I will deal bountifully with you and make your offspring as the sands of the sea, which are too numerous to count.

    Jacob was given a promise, and he held God to it. It takes real spiritual fortitude to do that. In court, we commonly make people take an oath to tell the truth and then hold them to their word. And we notarize our legal documents so they become binding and carry some weight. So why don't we do the very same thing with God? Would He be insulted? No way! If only more people would hold God to his word like Jacob did. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. As the writer of the book of Hebrews said; reliance upon God's testimony provides one with encouragement, and an anchor for the soul. (Heb 6:16-19)

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    Mon, Nov 9th - 10:01AM



    Genesis 32:1-3

     

    †. Gen 32:1 . . Early in the morning, Laban kissed his sons and daughters and bade them good-bye; then Laban left on his journey homeward.

    Apparently nobody wanted to kiss Laban back, nor bid him a good-bye.

    The old boy didn't altogether lack at least some affection for his family. But he surely realized they must have come to deeply resent him by now; and he was probably beginning to regret some of his actions. But Laban still couldn't bring himself to apologize to Jacob. That would have been just too humiliating, especially in front of all his kin; him being their paterfamilias and all.

    No further mention is made of Laban nor his sons in the Bible. He has the distinction of being one of Scripture's most outstanding examples of a worldly, covetous man; grossly infected with an acute case of unbridled avarice, and completely void of genuine faith in the one true god.

    He knew about Yhvh, and he was certainly given a thorough enough witness up at his ranch, and in his dreams. He had seen the reality of Yhvh in Jacob's life, along with the power of Yhvh in His blessings and protections of Jacob all those years. Laban himself had, as a consequence of associating with Jacob, enjoyed Yhvh's providence, and became wealthy on account of having Yhvh's man working for him on his ranch.

    Nevertheless, Rebecca's brother remained a hard-core idolater/capitalist; seeking material gain for himself to the exclusion of all other considerations. Rather than seeking to follow only Yhvh, and gain the light of life, he merely envied, and resented, the blessings that God bestowed upon his son-in-law. Laban finally ended up with neither light nor blessings. Thus, Jacob and his community remained in association with The Light, while Laban and his clan melted into the darkness.

    †. Gen 32:2 . . Jacob went on his way, and angels of God encountered him.

    Since the angels had nothing to say to Jacob, they obviously weren't there as messengers. I believe the angels came for an "effect". Here's what I mean.

    Jacob's primary concern during his trip back to Canaan wasn't really his father-in-law's pursuit. His real concern was the inevitable confrontation with his brother Esau. The appearance of those angels very likely boosted Jacob's courage, and assured him God was still in the area and still looking out for his safety and making good on the promise at Gen 28:15.

    Today, in our time, it's very unlikely to encounter celestial beings. But the messages we hear in church or in synagogue can do the job of boosting courage just the same if we but hear those messages through an ear of faith. Here's a good example.

    In the third chapter of Isaiah, God predicted, through preaching, that terrible things were in store for Jerusalem. I mean really terrible things that would give you a bad case of butterflies in your stomach. You can imagine the effect that had on those who heeded what the prophet was saying. Well, God didn't want His believing followers worrying themselves that the impending doom was evident that God had tossed them aside, so this is what He said to them; through the preacher:

    "Hail the just man, for he shall fare well; he shall eat the fruit of his works." (Isa 3:10)

    God wanted His believing followers to know that although they would have to live through all those horrible judgments, it didn't mean they had lost His favor; they would just be collateral damage, so to speak. Well, Jacob can't escape his brother, but regardless of how it turned out; God would still be on his side.

    Webster's defines "courage" as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Courage is an excellent virtue; and it's interesting who has it and who doesn't.

    Fearless people aren't courageous. Scaredy cats facing their fears are the ones with courage. Fearless people are too often reckless and take foolish chances; whereas scaredy cats tread lightly. They're the ones with true valor; which Webster's defines as strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness; viz: personal bravery.

    Fearless people haven't a clue what bravery is. They wade into life afraid of nothing. Fearless people have nerves of steel; whereas those who face life with bravery, courage, and valor possess a different kind of mettle. They don't have nerves of steel; instead: they have resolve.

    Well, Jacob was very nervous about meeting with his brother. His next adventure would take all the courage, and the valor, and the bravery he could muster. The appearance of those angels must have gone a long way towards beefing up his resolve to see it through.

    †. Gen 32:3 . .When he saw them, Jacob said: This is God's camp. So he named that place Mahanaim.

    The word "Mahanaim" is from Machanayim (makh-an-ah'-yim) which means: double camp and/or two camps. One camp was Jacob's and the other was God's. Man and God, in friendly proximity, united in a common purpose. Too cool.

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    Sun, Nov 8th - 12:42PM



    Genesis 31:51-54

     

    †. Gen 31:51 . . And Laban said to Jacob: Here is this mound and here the pillar which I have set up between you and me:

    Laban didn't set up anything. He only participated in dedicating the pillar. Jacob and his sons set it up with their own hands. And it was all their own idea, not Laban's.

    Laban likely reasoned that seeing as how he outranked his son-in-law in the social order, then whatever they did together should be reckoned to Laban's credit; sort of like the Pharaohs taking credit for their pyramids when it was others who did the actual construction. (cf. Dan 4:30)

    †. Gen 31:52 . . this mound shall be witness and this pillar shall be witness that I am not to cross to you past this mound, and that you are not to cross to me past this mound and this pillar, with hostile intent.

    I think Laban was beginning to become just a little bit nervous because there was something different about Jacob. He wasn't acting like the quiet, humble, hard working hired hand Laban knew up in Paddan-aram. Jacob was acting more like a sheik. And I think Laban was just a little unraveled by that. He wasn't accustomed to that kind of a Jacob. And he knew it would be impossible to defeat Jacob while Jacob's god watched over him. And I think he was afraid that if Jacob ever did come up against him, Yhvh would make sure he won.

    †. Gen 31:53a . . May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor-- their ancestral deities --judge between us.

    Laban equated Abraham's God with Nahor's gods. Big mistake. Not all gods are equal. But to a man like Laban, one is as good as another.

    †. Gen 31:53b . . And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.

    No way was Jacob going to honor Nahor's gods with an oath. And speaking of that:

    Here in America, the US Constitution protects religious liberty. However, the Constitution does not require American citizens to respect all religions equally. In our mind's eye, burning a holy book such as the Koran is no more destructive than burning yesterday's newspaper; and the First Amendment grants us the right to say so.

    The US Government accommodates Arab feelings about Islam and the Koran because it is in the USA's national interests to do so. But I'm not a politician, nor do I desire to be one if it means compromising Christ's feelings about religions that propagate teachings different than his. (cf. 1Cor 10:25-31, 1Cor 16:22, and Gal 1:8-9)

    Anyway, that ended the meeting and Laban went back to his own camp for the night.

    †. Gen 31:54 . . Jacob then offered up a sacrifice on the Height, and invited his kinsmen to partake of the meal. After the meal, they spent the night on the Height.

    Jacob's sacrifice wasn't an 'olah (o-law') which is incinerated to ashes. It was a zebach (zeh'-bakh); which more resembles Passover, where the lamb is both an offering and a meal. So then, a biblical sacrifice isn't eo ipso something given up or destroyed, but essentially pertains to something dedicated; in this case: a festive dinner in Yhvh's honor.

    You can bet that was a very happy occasion. Jacob's family was finally going to be rid of ol' MadDog Laban once and for all; and without violence too. Since a good part of the day was wrecked already, they stayed and planned on leaving the next day after an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner. Next hurtle: Big Red, a.k.a. Mr. Esau ben Isaac.

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    Sat, Nov 7th - 8:29AM



    Genesis 31:42-50

     

    †. Gen 31:42 . . Had not the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, been with me, you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God took notice of my plight and the toil of my hands, and He gave judgment last night.

    Anyone there that day, who had the slightest conscience at all, must have looked upon Laban as one would look upon the most crooked, and upon the most dishonest, unscrupulous, and unthankful of men with utter disgust. Jacob told it like it was, and no one objected; and no one stood up to speak in Laban's defense.

    †. Gen 31:43a . .Then Laban spoke up and said to Jacob: The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks; all that you see is mine.

    Oh, give it up already!! Someone really needed to teach that communistic crumb some principles related to the transfer of property. The girls were no longer his daughters. They were married women: one flesh with a man who worked very hard to both earn them and deserve them. The children were fathered by Jacob, not by Laban. And the flocks were Jacob's by right, not by loan nor by theft, nor by gift, nor by fraud. They were his honest compensation; the very wages that Laban himself had agreed upon.

    Everything on that mountain pertaining to Jacob was personal property and Laban had no right to lay claim to any of it. He was just very lucky that Jacob was not of the kind to show him the business end of a shotgun and point him north, back the way he came.

    When Laban finally had an opportunity to respond to Jacob's outburst, he couldn't say anything at all by way of denial to Jacob's claims and charges. Instead; he tried to divert attention away from the embarrassing facts by changing the subject. Though even himself knew very well he was in the wrong; a conceited man like Laban just can't bring himself to make public acknowledgement of his guilt.

    People like him typically try whatever means they can muster to shift the blame away from themselves; or at least shift the attention away from their own culpability to whatever real or imagined grievances they can find in others.

    †. Gen 31:43b . .Yet what can I do now about my daughters or the children they have borne?

    His question was just a smoke screen. Laban as much as said: It would be contrary to all human sensibilities to do anything to bring grief to my own flesh and blood. How could you possibly think I am capable of such a thing?

    Laban's lack of integrity is almost beyond belief. He followed Jacob for seven days and at least three hundred miles for the specific purpose of murdering him and taking all the herds and all the people back to Paddan-aram. That wouldn't have caused his kin grief? --to murder his grandkids' dad, and to murder Leah's and Rachel's husband?

    †. Gen 31:44 . . Come, then, let us make a pact, you and I, that there may be a witness between you and me.

    Instead of ending Jacob's life, which was no doubt his original intent, Laban now proposes a very noble settlement-- a gentleman's non-aggression pact between himself and Jacob.

    †. Gen 31:45-46 . .Thereupon Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. And Jacob said to his kinsmen: Gather stones. So they took stones and made a mound; and they partook of a meal there by the mound.

    Pillars were common in those days as watchers-- gods who intervene in the affairs of men. (cf. Gen 28:22, Dan 4:17)

    †. Gen 31:47a . . Laban named it Yegar-sahadutha,

    Yegar-sahadutha is Aramaic, Laban's tongue, and means: heap of the testimony, or cairn of witness.

    †. Gen 31:47b . . but Jacob named it Gal-ed.

    Gal-ed is Hebrew and means pretty much the same thing.

    †. Gen 31:48-49 . . And Laban declared: This mound is a witness between you and me this day. That is why it was named Gal-ed; And [it was called] Mizpah, because he said: May the Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of sight of each other.

    Mizpah means watchtower. Laban wasn't the one who called it Mizpah. It went on to become known as that because of his pronouncement.

    Did Laban mean to imply that Jacob needed watching? For those twenty years in Laban's employ, what had Jacob ever done on the sly to harm Laban? Doesn't Jacob's sterling twenty-year employment record count for anything? But Laban just can't stop himself from denigrating his son-in-law right up to the bitter end of their association.

    †. Gen 31:50 . . If you ill-treat my daughters or take other wives besides my daughters-- though no one else be about, remember, God Himself will be witness between you and me.

    Had Jacob ever ill treated Rachel and Leah all those years in Laban's employ? When had the girls ever complained to their dad about Jacob's behavior? Was it really reasonable to assume he would ever abuse them some day? No it wasn't. Jacob had always treated the girls with kindness and consideration, and Laban had neither cause nor reason to think Jacob would ever do otherwise. And since when did Laban really care about Rachel and Leah anyway? He sold them like livestock, and spent their dowry on himself.

    Marry other women? Jacob wasn't a womanizer; nor had he ever been a womanizer. He had only wanted just one in the first place; but was tricked by Laban himself into a bigamous marriage with two sisters that Israel's covenanted law would later forbid. But still, as a grown man, in the culture of that day, Jacob had every right to a harem while Laban had no right whatsoever to impose limits on the size and/or the nature of Jacob's family relations.

    Laban intended for the stone pile to be a boundary between himself and Jacob so that Jacob would not come past it later on for revenge after God made him strong enough to whup Laban. But that was another evidence of his poor judgment of Jacob's character.

    Jacob was definitely not a war-faring man; anybody could see that. He was just like his dad Isaac; who was also a peaceable man, satisfied to simply stop the strife between himself and his enemies. No way would Jacob ever seek revenge. It just wasn't in his nature to do that. But Laban had a wicked conscience. It wasn't beyond him to project his own base motives upon others and assume they would do the very same things he himself would do in their place.

    NOTE: There are people in politics that are so Machiavellian that if they can't find any dirt on you, they'll contrive some and throw it at their opponent in hopes it sticks in the public's thinking; which it often does.

    In return, Laban would promise to not come past the monument to cause Jacob any harm; which he no doubt would if God hadn't intervened to prevent it. What a hollow covenant. All Laban did that day was put up an appearance of nobility and try his best to save face in an otherwise very embarrassing situation. And the meanwhile heaping additional indignities upon Jacob, and slurring the reputation of a very decent man.

    NOTE: Bethuel's blood produced three really good women: Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel. You gotta wonder what happened to the men. Why were they all such misfires? Families like that are a genetic mystery. Just look at Cain and Abel-- two brothers from the very same parents; yet one was a good man and the other not. Go figure.

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    Fri, Nov 6th - 7:57AM



    Genesis 31:33-41

     

    †. Gen 31:33-35 . . So Laban went into Jacob's tent and Leah's tent and the tents of the two maidservants; but he did not find them. Leaving Leah's tent, he entered Rachel's tent.

    . . . Rachel, meanwhile, had taken the idols and placed them in the camel cushion and sat on them; and Laban rummaged through the tent without finding them. For she said to her father: Let not my lord take it amiss that I cannot rise before you, for the period of women is upon me. Thus he searched, but could not find the household idols.

    I tend to think that if Rachel was strong enough to travel across country on the back of a jostling camel, then she was certainly strong enough to stand for a moment or two.

    It's likely that Rachel's choice of words was a subtle indication to her dad that she had better sense than to plunk her derriere down on something as sacred as the household gods where there would be a chance of desecrating them with menstrual discharge; especially in a day when the sciences of feminine hygiene and sanitation weren't all that advanced.

    She may indeed have actually been in her period at the time. If not, then Jacob himself would have suspected she was concealing something. You've got to hand it to Rachel. Considering the stakes, she was one cool lady under fire. Well; that was indeed one time that what some women deem "the curse" came in very handy.

    †. Gen 31:36-37 . . Now Jacob became incensed and took up his grievance with Laban. Jacob spoke up and said to Laban: What is my crime, what is my guilt that you should pursue me? You rummaged through all my things; what have you found of all your household objects? Set it here, before my kin and yours, and let them decide between us two.

    It's a pity Jacob didn't have a force of armed men at his disposal like grandpa Abraham did at one time. Jacob and his ranch hands were pastoral men, totally untrained for war, and certainly not prepared to deal with a bully like Laban. When people are unarmed, and unskilled in warfare, they are easy prey, and might just as well kiss their human rights good-bye. There are those who yearn for peace at any price. But freedom is not free. In this evil world; freedom is a priceless treasure retained only by those with enough mettle to defend for it.

    Jacob endured countless indignities at the hands of his father-in-law, which he suffered in silence for many years. All the pent up emotion which he restrained for so long finally poured out in an unfettered tirade. Jacob demanded, in the witness of the kin they both had in common, to justify such a hot pursuit to catch him before he reached home with what was, in every way, rightfully his own private property. Laban could only maintain an embarrassed silence as Jacob spoke.

    †. Gen 31:38a . .These twenty years I have spent in your service, your ewes and she-goats never miscarried,

    That is an incredible record. A certain number of still births are to be expected in any herd. But they never occurred because Jacob was gentle: he never whipped the animals, nor drove and fatigued Laban's herds like some overly zealous, insensitive shepherds might do; especially with flocks that belong to someone else and are not their own. And plus, Laban knew very well himself from divination, that Jacob's god ever watched over the pregnant animals so Laban could prosper under Jacob's care.

    †. Gen 31:38b . . nor did I feast on rams from your flock.

    It was a shepherd's right to feed himself with meat from a flock he was hired to tend. But Jacob never exercised that right.

    †. Gen 31:39 . .That which was torn by beasts I never brought to you; I myself made good the loss; you exacted it of me, whether snatched by day or snatched by night.

    If Jacob had but brought the remains in to show Laban, it would have would cleared him of any suspicion of negligence in guarding the herds from predators. But by not bringing them in, he automatically took the blame for their loss and paid for them out of his own pocket rather than make Laban absorb the loss. Why Jacob did that I don't know because he sure didn't have to. All he had to do to prove to Laban that he was there on the job guarding the herd from predators, was to demonstrate that he drove them away before they could finish eating their prey. Only a man truly looking out for the best interests of his master would ever do what Jacob did.

    †. Gen 31:40 . . Often, scorching heat ravaged me by day and frost by night; and sleep fled from my eyes.

    Pastoral life takes its toll on men. Just look at some who have been ranching and farming for a number of years. They are old way before their time. The sun and the elements give them shoe leather faces lined with deep creases. Jacob, by the way, was at least 95 at this time and probably looked 150 after all those years out on the range with his father Isaac's herds, and later; his uncle Laban's.

    †. Gen 31:41 . . Of the twenty years that I spent in your household, I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flocks; and you changed my wages time and again.

    Jacob reminded Laban of his service of twenty years, fourteen of which had been simply for the privilege of marrying his daughters. He didn't mention Laban's deception (probably for Leah's sake), which had doubled the length of his service in return for a woman he didn't want in the first place.

    In spite of all the good, of all his conscientious service, and of all the charity that Jacob had lavished undeserving upon Laban, the man revised his agreement with Jacob ten times in an evil-minded attempt to garner all the gains for himself and to prevent his own nephew from prospering. The man sure knew how to repay loyalty. Yeah-- right in the teeth. And in the end, he fully intended to send his nephew away totally empty handed-- if indeed he would even spare Jacob's life.

    It would require a college degree in criminal psychology to understand what makes a man like Laban tick. He was really too messed up to comprehend. But it's obvious that Laban so hated Jacob that he couldn't stand letting him keep a single thing that once belonged to himself. You know, even if there were no hell, one would have to be constructed to quarantine people like Laban because there is nowhere else for them to go. The kingdom of God is a place of peace and kindness. If certain undesirables like Laban were allowed in the kingdom of God; in short order they'd turn it into another kingdom of men.

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    Thu, Nov 5th - 8:14AM



    Genesis 31:30-32

     

    †. Gen 31:30a . .Very well, you had to leave because you were longing for your father's house.

    Jacob had to leave because God issued him marching orders. And Jacob really needed to go anyway. Life with uncle Laban had become unbearable. It was humiliating, and it was suffocating. Jacob could never achieve his greatest potential with a man like that always interfering and controlling his destiny.

    Leaving Laban's ranch was in truth, an act of self defense; not just for Jacob, but for Leah and Rachel too. Their dad ruled them from the day they were born. That's okay for minor children, but it is not an okay thing for married women. Married women need to be royalty in a home of their own, and be allowed to do their own thinking and to make their own decisions-- Princesses Of Quite A Lot, and Queens Of Everything.

    I've heard it said that no one is truly a failure when they can always serve as a bad example. (chuckle) Sort of like ex drunks, smokers, and drug addicts. Well . . a man like Laban is a perfect example of a parent from hell. He's probably the worst case scenario there is. Hopefully most of us will never have to deal with an in-law like him.

    But there are only two ways to deal with parents and in-laws from hell: 1) stand up for your rights, and 2) get as far away as possible where their meddling tendrils can't mess up your life. Jacob and the girls did both; and Yhvh's providence was right there on hand to make sure they succeeded.

    †. Gen 31:30b . . but why did you steal my gods?

    Laban accused Jacob of taking the gods without even first inquiring if he actually did. In the American system of criminal justice, a person is assumed innocent until proven guilty; and the burden of proof is upon the accuser. Not only is that a very good principle of civic government, but it is also an excellent social skill and will go a long way towards nurturing friendships.

    †. Gen 31:31 . . Jacob answered Laban, saying: I was afraid because I thought you would take your daughters from me by force.

    Jacob was probably right about that. He worked for Laban twenty years and suspected the old boy would never let Jacob take the girls away from Paddan-aram. Laban was definitely one of those over-my-dead-body kinds of people. With them; it's not a matter of doing what's right and fair all around; it's always a matter of who's going to win. But it's doubtful Laban would've traveled all that way just to retrieve his daughters or his gods: I've no doubt that what he really wanted was Jacob's livestock.

    †. Gen 31:32 . . But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not remain alive! In the presence of our kinsmen, point out what I have of yours and take it. Jacob, of course, did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

    It might appear that Jacob spoke rashly. But in that day, the code of Hammurabi stipulated that the theft of temple gods was a death offense. Apparently, it was truly a very serious crime in the culture of that day to steal household gods as well.

    NOTE: The Code of Hammurabi dates back to about 1772 BC. Precisely when Jacob was born has not yet been accurately established. Some feel his birth took place sometime between 2000 and 1700 BC.

    Anyway; if Laban had been disposed to honor Hammurabi's code, then he wouldn't have been so quick to condemn Jacob. But the man was a code unto himself; which has been pretty obvious all along.

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    Wed, Nov 4th - 7:54AM



    Genesis 31:22-29

     

    †. Gen 31:22 . . On the third day, Laban was told that Jacob had fled.

    Laban was off some distance from home shearing his sheep, which usually included a festival of some sort. The messengers probably waited till the shearing was done, and the party was over, before laying the bad news on ol' Laban.

    I'd imagine he must have been absolutely livid with rage; and probably got so worked up he actually turned red and began perspiring. Defeat is one thing. But to be beaten by kin, by a nephew no less, was unbearable.

    †. Gen 31:23 . . So he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him a distance of seven days, catching up with him in the hill country of Gilead.

    It took Jacob ten days to go the same distance Laban covered in seven-- that is if Laban departed right away without delay; which he probably didn't. It would take at least a day or two to round up all his relatives and prepare for the journey. Laban's contingent had an advantage though. They weren't encumbered by herds and women and children, so they could cover a whole lot more ground in one day than Jacob's troupe.

    †. Gen 31:24 . . But God appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him: Beware of attempting anything with Jacob, good or bad.

    The Stone Tanach reads: Beware lest you speak with Jacob either good or bad.

    But if God meant for Laban to stay completely away from Jacob and not say a single word to him, Laban would have gone home right then and there because he knew better than to mess with Jacob's god. Maybe Laban didn't worship Yhvh, but did at least fear Him. The book of Revelation tells of people who are absolutely terrified of God, but yet still refuse to submit. (Rev 6:12-17, Rev 16:10-11)

    †. Gen 31:25 . . Laban overtook Jacob. Jacob had pitched his tent on the Height, and Laban with his kinsmen encamped in the hill country of Gilead.

    Once Laban's scouts located Jacob's troupe, his contingent made camp for the night and moved on up the next day; probably very early before Jacob's caravan could get up and moving again.

    What a chore that must have been. First everyone had to be fed breakfast, which meant a whole lot of cooking. Somebody had to round up firewood for the portable ovens. Then the women prepared the meals, which must have been work itself since no one had packaged foods in those days. Then they had to do the dishes, repack, dismantle the tents, and load everything back on to the camels and donkeys. Meanwhile the drovers were out tightening up the herds and rounding up strays.

    Into this busy scene rode MadDog Laban and his trigger-happy posse.

    †. Gen 31:26-27a . . And Laban said to Jacob: What did you mean by keeping me in the dark and carrying off my daughters like captives of the sword? Why did you flee in secrecy and mislead me and not tell me?

    Duh. Like he really didn't know? Laban's kind are all alike. In my 70+ years, I've seen enough of them to know. Jerks like him are never in the wrong about anything; ever. And they always attempt to throw suspicion off themselves by trumping up a hollow charge against the very people they wronged. One of their favorite demands is: What's the matter with you; why are you acting like that? They are so aggravating with their perpetual habit of feigning a pious ignorance of their own self-generated bad circumstances.

    Like captives of the sword? What does that imply-- that Jacob kidnapped Rachel and Leah and made slaves out of them? What utter nonsense! They were his wives as Laban very well knew!

    And did he insinuate that Jacob dragged the girls (excuse me; the full-grown married women) away from Haran against their will? Laban himself was likely wont to drag a spouse around the whole world regardless of how she might feel about it. Why would it be wrong for Jacob to do it but not wrong for Laban? And that is another of his kind's traits. They are so quick to take the high moral ground and make the rules for everyone else to follow while at the same time fully exempting themselves from the very same standards.

    NOTE: It's very interesting that Laban never even dreamed that Jacob consulted with Rachel and Leah first prior to departing for Isaac's turf. No doubt because that was something he would never do himself.

    †. Gen 31:27b . . I would have sent you off with festive music, with timbrel and lyre.

    What a bare-faced lie. The only music Laban would have arranged for is some to accompany himself while he danced on Jacob's grave.

    †. Gen 31:28a . .You did not even let me kiss my sons and daughters good-bye!

    The word for "sons" is ben (bane) which means a son (as a builder of the family name), in literal and figurative relationships, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition. Ben isn't always used to denote a specific gender, nor always used in genetic applications. In Gen 6:2 it simply refers to pious men rather than God's biological progeny. The New Testament equivalent of ben is huios (hwee-os') which means a child of either gender; e.g. Gal 4:6, 1John 3:1-2

    Laban probably never kissed them before anyway, so why should Jacob think he would want to do it now? Didn't it ever occur to Laban's enormous conceit that maybe his offspring might all be glad to be rid of him?

     †. Gen 31:28b-29a . . It was a foolish thing for you to do. I have it in my power to do you harm;

    Jacob's uncle is the king of meddlers. In Laban's imperialistic mind, Jacob deserved punishment for failing to consult with His Lordship before pulling up stakes and heading south. But Jacob has done nothing truly reprehensible. He's a grown man with a right to his own destiny. Jacob owes his uncle nothing; not even an explanation because the man is nothing less than a demon's seed; and on top of that a thoughtless bully and a stupendous bigot.

    †. Gen 31:29b . . but the God of your father

    The "god of your father" is all the same as saying your family's god. There a humorous difference between Jacob's family god and Laban's family gods. Jacob's family god can't be kidnapped and carried around in a saddle bag.

    †. Gen 31:29c . . said to me last night: Beware of attempting anything with Jacob, good or bad.

    That was a no idle threat and I think the man knew it. If Laban tried to persuade Jacob to return to Paddan-aram; he would die. If he harmed Jacob; he would die. If he attempted to take the girls, the grandkids, and all the flocks; he would die.

    In other words, God told that man not to interfere with Jacob's life in any way at all or He would give him good reason to regret it. From now on, Jacob, and all that pertained to him, was off limits-- including Laban's ex-daughters, who were both married women; old enough to be on their own, and completely out their dad's jurisdiction. When they were girls living at home under their father's roof; then their dad could rule them. But married women are ruled by their husbands.

    "your husband . . . he will rule over you." (Gen 3:16)

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    Tue, Nov 3rd - 8:20AM



    Genesis 31:14-21

     

    †. Gen 31:14-15 . .Then Rachel and Leah replied and said to him: Have we then still a share and an inheritance in our father's house? Are we not considered by him as strangers? For he has sold us and even totally consumed our money!

    Now the truth comes out. All along the girls had resented the calculating, business-like way that their dad sold them into marriage; like they were commodities: not even caring how they might feel about living with Jacob; and especially how the sisters might feel about sharing the same husband.

    And what an incredible louse! The girls were each supposed to get a dowry, but Laban kept it back and then, of all things, spent their dowries on himself; or, worse yet, on himself and on the girls' brothers. Weasel! That reminds me of one of my favorite bumper stickers:

    MEN ARE NOT PIGS!
    Pigs are gentle, sensitive, intelligent animals.

    Laban was obviously some sort of maladjusted sociopath with one of those "borderline" personality disorders. I don't know what happened to him in life to make him that way, but something was very wrong with that man. The attitude he displayed toward his little girls was absolutely abnormal. It was just as abnormal as any of the psycho dads in the news from time to time who get prosecuted for abusing their own little flesh and blood daughters.

    †. Gen 31:16 . .Truly, all the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, do just as God has told you.

    Yaaaaaay! (cheering section activity) That's it! We're out of here. The girls are grown women with kids now and have to be thinking about their future. Leah and Rachel are ready to leave home and kiss Haran good-bye forever.

    Thank God that Rachel, Leah, and Dinah knew a man like Jacob or they might have been poisoned on men all their lives. He wasn't perfect, yes that is true. But Jacob was an excellent family man. For twenty years Rachel and Leah observed and compared their brothers and their dad to Jacob. And guess what. They much preferred to live with Jacob. He was fair, sensitive, caring, accommodating, and always looking out for their best interests and letting them have their own way whenever possible.

    You know, Jacob didn't have to sleep with the maids. He could have put his foot down and refused. But he did it to soothe his wives. I'm sure he was aware of their rivalry amongst themselves and tried to help keep the peace as best as he could. Life wasn't easy for Jacob; having to live with two miserable women.

    But he was willing to go the extra mile; and even let the girls have a say in big decisions effecting the family's future. In the culture of that day, he really didn't have to. Do you think Laban or his boys would have been concerned about how the girls might feel about moving away to a new land? No way. Their dad and brothers were nothing like that. They would have just simply marched in and barked an announcement: Okay everybody; start packing! We leave for California in two days!

    †. Gen 31:17-18 . .Thereupon Jacob put his children and wives on camels; and he drove off all his livestock and all the wealth that he had amassed, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

    That must have been quite a sight. Camels and people and supplies, dust billowing everywhere, with Jacob's drovers moving the herds, followed by a remuda of burros bringing up the rear. It was a real old fashion trail drive, kind of like an 1840's wagon train. The girls must have been very excited to be making their very first long-distance trek away from home. Rueben and his brothers of course saw it as one big adventure. Yahoooooo! Move 'em out! Beer-sheba or bust!

    †. Gen 31:19 . . Meanwhile Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father's household idols.

    Labans's household gods may have corresponded to ilani-- family gods of the Nuzi household, and to the Roman's penates --household gods who were thought to protect food supplies and assure the general well-being of the family.

    Since Laban was known for divination, some have suggested that Rachel may have stolen his gods in order to prevent him from discovering Jacob's whereabouts. However, I think Rachel just wanted those gods for their potential access to providence.

    †. Gen 31:20-21 . . Jacob kept Laban the Aramean in the dark, not telling him that he was fleeing, and fled with all that he had. Soon he was across the Euphrates and heading toward the hill country of Gilead.

    There's a note in the JPS Tanakh concerning the phrase: "Jacob kept Laban the Aramean in the dark". The actual Hebrew says: he stole Laban's mind. So Rachel ripped off Laban's religion, and Jacob took his brains. ☺

    The precise route Jacob took to go home is uncertain. It's hard to believe that he came directly south through the Syrian Desert on the back side of Mt. Hermon. Maybe he did, I don't really know; but it sure looks that way

    The region of Gilead is on the east side of the Jordan Valley in between Yam Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and the Dead Sea. Why Jacob didn't proceed down through Lebanon and the West Bank I'm not sure; except maybe he was in a very big hurry to get away from Laban and back on relatively safer home turf. The Gilead route would eventually take him into the Jordan Valley, one of the best sources of water and pasture for his animals. In Abraham's day, the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere, like the garden of God. It was probably still in pretty good shape yet in Jacob's.

    Nowadays, usually all that travelers really need are gas stations and motels. But in that day, the selection of a route was always dictated by the need of water and pasture for the animals; not only the herds, but also the ones people rode upon. The Jordan Valley was a relatively hazardous route because lions lived in that area back in Jacob's day; so his drovers would have to guard the livestock day and night to protect them from predators.

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    Mon, Nov 2nd - 1:06PM



    Genesis 31:1-13

     

    †. Gen 31:1 . . Now he heard the things that Laban's sons were saying: Jacob has taken all that was our father's, and from that which was our father's he has built up all this wealth.

    People have a habit of using the "all" word just a little to the extreme. Jacob certainly didn't take all of Laban's flock; only the lambs that were born multicolored. However, what had seemed like a good bargain at the time their dad made it, took a most unexpected, and distressing downturn.

    Somehow Jacob's flock of cross-breeds was increasing at an alarming rate and Laban's boys were seeing money on the hoof going to an outsider that should have been theirs. Laban, who before was pleased as punch when Jacob agreed to stay on, must now be wishing with all his heart that he would leave. But the old boy couldn't get out of the contract without losing face.

    †. Gen 31:2 . . Jacob also saw that Laban's manner toward him was not as it had been in the past.

    You can usually tell when people hate your guts. Often they speak away, in another direction, while you stand there talking to the side of their face, and sometimes even to the back of their head. They are so overcome with malice that they cannot even stand to look directly at you. And when they do look, it's with narrowed, beady eyes; squinting, as if into the sun.

    †. Gen 31:3 . .Then the Lord said to Jacob: Return to the land of your fathers where you were born, and I will be with you.

    Some people interpret that to read: And I will be waiting for you. They see it that way because they insist that Jews can't be blessed when they're out of the place of blessing; viz: out of Eretz Israel. But that's nonsense in Jacob's case. God promised He to be with him and protect him wherever he went. (Gen 28:15)

    Time to go; and the timing couldn't be better. Laban really loathed Jacob by now and I'm sure he didn't want his nephew working on the ranch any longer. A falling out isn't necessarily a bad thing. I often take one as a nudge that God wants me elsewhere. Sometimes you have to burn one bridge before crossing another.

    †. Gen 31:4 . . Jacob had Rachel and Leah called to the field, where his flock was,

    This next conversation was for the sisters' ears only so Jacob sprung an unannounced briefing out in the pastures where no one would overhear and go tattle to Laban. Jacob wants his wives' support for his next move; and he needs to find out how they feel about their dad and if they are ready to leave home and go out on their own. Rachel and Leah had never been away from Haran, nor away from their dad's influence before now; nor has anyone till now given them a say in their destiny.

    †. Gen 31:5-7 . . and said to them: I see that your father's manner toward me is not as it has been in the past. But the God of my father has been with me. As you know, I have served your father with all my might; but your father has cheated me, changing my wages time and again. God, however, would not let him do me harm.

    No matter what Laban did in his nefarious efforts to thwart Jacob's prosperity, God would turn it to Jacob's advantage. He was indeed bullet proof and it must have frustrated his father-in-law to no end.

    †. Gen 31:8-9 . . If he said thus "The speckled shall be your wages" then all the flocks would drop speckled young. And if he said thus: "The streaked shall be your wages" then all the flocks would drop streaked young. God has taken away your father's livestock and given it to me.

    Laban's blatant lack of scruples is beyond belief. He and Jacob had agreed that all the multicolored animals would be Jacob's. But whenever the purebred flock began producing too much of a certain strain-- say, the streaked ones --then Laban would change his mind and say that Jacob could only keep the spotted ones.

    Well, then God made the herd produce more spotted ones. And when Laban would change the arrangement yet again and say that Jacob couldn't have any more spotted ones and could only have the ones that were striped; then God would see to it that striped babies were born. So, no matter which way Laban went, Jacob always won.

    †. Gen 31:10-12 . . Once, at the mating time of the flocks, I had a dream in which I saw that the he-goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled, and mottled. And in the dream an angel of God said to me: Jacob! Here; I answered. And he said: Note well that all the he-goats which are mating with the flock are streaked, speckled, and mottled; for I have noted all that Laban has been doing to you.

    There weren't really any streaked or speckled or mottled rams mating with the ewes because Laban's animals were all blue ribbon. But people in those days didn't know about recessive genes like we know about them today. So God showed Jacob, in a way that he could understand, that the animals doing the mating were the heterozygous ones. God, who can see past outside colors, and deep into genetic code, made sure the right ones were mating so Jacob's herd would increase to his advantage in spite of Laban's interference. (chuckle) Talk about a stacked deck!

    †. Gen 31:13 . . I am the God of Beth-el, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now, arise and leave this land and return to your native land.

    I wonder if Jacob could have used that as an excuse to depart; viz: tell Laban that God appeared and ordered him to return to Canaan and make good on his vow? Moses tried something like that with Pharaoh (Ex 3:18). But Pharaoh still wouldn't let them go, so God had to destroy Egypt to make him comply.

    I seriously doubt that Laban would've ever let Jacob go on religious grounds. It's possible that's why Jacob sneaked away: to avoid a violent confrontation with his father-in-law that could lead to Laban's death. Leah and Rachel might have difficulty with that. Though the man was a weasel, he was still their dad.

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    Sun, Nov 1st - 8:33AM



    Genesis 30:31-43

     

    †. Gen 30:31-34 . . He said: What shall I pay you? And Jacob said: Pay me nothing! If you will do this thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your flocks: let me pass through your whole flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted animal-- every dark-colored sheep and every spotted and speckled goat. Such shall be my wages.

    . . . In the future when you go over my wages, let my honesty toward you testify for me: if there are among my goats any that are not speckled or spotted or any sheep that are not dark-colored, they got there by theft. And Laban said: Very well, let it be as you say.

    Jacob was supposed to do the culling. But Laban apparently didn't trust him so took it upon himself to cull out all the mixed breeds and then hide them three days distance in who knows what direction. So if Jacob was going to acquire any sheep and cattle, he was going to have to get them from the flocks of pure breeds; making it even more difficult for him to build a herd of his own. I'm sure Laban figured that he would be able to hang on to Jacob many, many years while the poor slob languished away waiting for the blue ribbon flocks to produce mixed breed animals.

    Laban really did have a criminal mind. He was incredibly unscrupulous, greedy, selfish, and dishonest; and a very heartless man to boot. It's difficult to digest he was really related to Abraham.

    †. Gen 30:35-36 . . But that same day he removed the streaked and spotted he-goats and all the speckled and spotted she-goats-- every one that had white on it --and all the dark-colored sheep, and left them in the charge of his sons. And he put a distance of three days' journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob was pasturing the rest of Laban's flock.

    By keeping the mixed breeds so far away from the blue ribbon flocks, there was no chance Jacob might sneak around and put them together for mating when Laban wasn't looking. Although there is no record of Jacob ever cheating Laban, the old man surely remembered that Jacob wasn't totally honest. He stole his brother's blessing, and tricked his dad. If Jacob would scam his own close family, then he could sure do the same thing to outsiders. You can hardly blame Laban for not trusting Jacob when the chips were down.

    †. Gen 30:37-39 . .Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was in the rods. And he set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the gutters, even in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they became hot when they came to drink. So the flocks mated by the rods, and the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.

    To the modern mind, what Jacob did was purely superstition; but in that day, it wasn't. Jacob was experienced at animal husbandry. He had tended flocks for several decades; beginning with his dad Isaac's, and then with his uncle Laban's. Jacob wouldn't have tried the striped-rods trick if he hadn't seen it work already before.

    Who really knows what goes on in the minds of goats and sheep? There's a patch of color down in the throats of young Great Blue Herons that when the parents see it, the color makes them gag and vomit up the contents of their stomachs into the craws of the growing youngsters. Even human beings are stimulated by sight. Food we are about to eat stimulates the saliva glands, plus there's the phenomenon of blushing, and nauseous reactions produced by gruesome sights, and the effects of pornographic pictures stimulating the reproductive apparatus are cases in point.

    Jacob didn't use the striped-rods trick to produce multicolored animals, but rather as a visual aphrodisiac to stimulate the parents to mate more often than usual; thus increasing his chances of producing the kind of animals he wanted for himself. When Laban's flocks saw the stripes on the sticks, they went into what animal husbandry calls heat. From thence, Jacob counted on recessive genes to do their work. Even though he never studied Mendelian genetics, Jacob knew from experience that even blue-blooded animals produce "black sheep" once in a while.

    Leaving nature to its course, it could have been many years before Laban's flock of blue-bloods produced enough hybrids for Jacob to move away anytime soon. But up ahead we'll see that he had the advantage of a higher power.

    †. Gen 30:40a . . And Jacob culled the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban;

    That trick was expected to have the same effect as looking at striped rods.

    †. Gen 30:40b-43 . . and he put his own herds apart, and did not put them with Laban's flock. Moreover, it came about whenever the stronger of the flock were mating, that Jacob would place the rods in the sight of the flock in the water troughs, so that they might mate by the rods; but when the flock was feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban's and the stronger Jacob's. So the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys.

    Jacob's second strategy was to divide Laban's herd into two groups: the best ones by themselves, and the inferior ones by themselves, so that he had better control over the breeding process to his own advantage. Normally, Jacob's husbandry tricks would have worked more to Laban's advantage than Jacob's because statistically, the majority of the lambs born would have been Laban's had not God intervened.

    Apparently Jacob's strategy was so successful that he was able to invest in other kinds of capital too; viz: slaves, camels, and donkeys. You know what? Jacob's troupe was beginning to look like that of a sheik; and before long; he's going to start acting like one too. The worm is beginning to turn.

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    About Me

    Name: Clifford Weber
    ChristiansUnite ID: weberhome
    Member Since: 2015-05-11
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon, United States
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    About Me: Retired DoD welder

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