Mon, Nov 30th - 12:07PM
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.
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
†. 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.
guy like Joseph is every supervisor's dream. When asked to do something, his
response was; "I am ready."
(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
(a.k.a. Nablus) is still on the map too. It's about 48 miles north of
Jerusalem; ergo: 68½ miles north of Hebron.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Sun, Nov 29th - 11:35AM
†. 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:
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.
"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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
or not the "reports" could be construed as tattling is debatable.
After all, Joseph, as trail boss, was directly responsible to Jacob.
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
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.
"ornamented tunic" is all the same as what's usually known as the
coat of many colors.
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.
doesn't say the brothers wouldn't speak a friendly word; it says they
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.
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.
Sat, Nov 28th - 8:05AM
36 is mostly genealogy, so I'm only going to do just twelve of its forty-three
Gen 36:1 . .This is the line of Esau--
that is, 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Fri, Nov 27th - 10:26AM
†. 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
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.
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.
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
Hebron is located about 33 kilometers (20½ miles) south of Jerusalem as the
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Wed, Nov 25th - 8:15AM
†. Gen 35:21 . . Israel journeyed on, and
pitched his tent beyond Migdal-eder.
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.
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
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.
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
†. Gen 35:22a . .While Israel stayed in that
land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father's concubine; and Jacob found
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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).
Tue, Nov 24th - 9:04AM
†. Gen 35:16b . . Rachel was in childbirth, and
she had hard labor.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mon, Nov 23rd - 8:03AM
†. 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.
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
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
Sun, Nov 22nd - 9:06AM
†. 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.
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.
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.
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
†. Gen 35:8a . . Deborah, Rebecca's nurse,
died, and was buried under the oak below Bethel;
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.
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
†. Gen 35:8b . . so it was named 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,
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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;
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
†. Gen 35:11c . . A nation, yea an assembly of
nations, shall descend from you. Kings shall issue from your loins.
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
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.
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)
Sat, Nov 21st - 8:35AM
†. 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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Fri, Nov 20th - 8:04AM
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.
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.
The Martins and the Coys,
were reckless mountain boys,
they scarred the mountains up with shot and shell.
was uncles, brothers, cousins,
they bumped them off by dozens,
how many bit the dust is hard to tell.
†. Gen 34:27 . .The other sons of Jacob came
upon the slain and plundered the town, because their sister had been defiled.
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.
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
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?
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
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)
Thu, Nov 19th - 8:19AM
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
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
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.
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
. . . 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)
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Wed, Nov 18th - 11:24AM
†. Gen 34:1 . . Now Dinah, the daughter whom
Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.
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.
not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals." (1Cor 15:33)
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
†. 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.
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
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
Tue, Nov 17th - 7:49AM
Gen 33:20 . . He set up an altar
there, and called it El-elohe-yisrael.
is actually 'Eel-'Eloheey-Yisraa'eel which is a compound of three separate
is from 'el (ale) and means strength;
as an adjective; viz: mighty.
is from 'elohiym (el-o-heem') and
means god(s) in a nondescript sense; viz: the one true god and all manner of
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.
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)
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.
exactly how much time elapsed between Jacob's temporary camp at Succoth and the
events coming up in chapter 34 are unknown.
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
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
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.
Mon, Nov 16th - 8:42AM
†. Gen 33:12 . . And [Esau] said: Let us start
on our journey, and I will proceed at your pace.
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,
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
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)
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
†. 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,
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
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).
is from Cukkowth (sook-kohth')
and/or Cukkoth (sook-kohth') and is just
simply the plural of cukkah; ergo:
huts and lairs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Sun, Nov 15th - 7:38AM
†. 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.
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;
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
†. 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Sat, Nov 14th - 9:07AM
†. 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
the Lord is pleased with a man's conduct, He may turn eve his enemies into
allies." (Prv 16:7)
what about those angels, the ones that camped nearby Jacob's camp? What part
did they play in all this?
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.
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
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.
the unseen world; sinister beings are operating covertly: manipulating the
destiny of persons, and nations. (cf. Eph 2:1-2)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fri, Nov 13th - 9:04AM
†. 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.
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
†. Gen 32:26a . .Then he said: Let me go, for
dawn is breaking.
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.
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
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
Thu, Nov 12th - 8:29AM
†. Gen 32:24b . . And a man wrestled with him
until the break of dawn.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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"
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
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)
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.
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.
Wed, Nov 11th - 10:08AM
†. Gen 32:14a . . After spending the night
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tue, Nov 10th - 7:49AM
†. Gen 32:4 . . Jacob sent messengers ahead to
his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom,
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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
†. 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.
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!
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.
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.
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)
Mon, Nov 9th - 10:01AM
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.
nobody wanted to kiss Laban back, nor bid him a good-bye.
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.
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.
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.
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
†. Gen 32:2 . . Jacob went on his way, and
angels of God encountered him.
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
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.
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
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
the just man, for he shall fare well; he shall eat the fruit of his
works." (Isa 3:10)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sun, Nov 8th - 12:42PM
†. 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:
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
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)
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.
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
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.
way was Jacob going to honor Nahor's gods with an oath. And speaking of that:
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
Sat, Nov 7th - 8:29AM
†. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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?
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
†. Gen 31:44 . . Come, then, let us make a
pact, you and I, that there may be a witness between you and me.
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
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 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.
watchtower. Laban wasn't the one who called it Mizpah. It went on to become
known as that because of his pronouncement.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Fri, Nov 6th - 7:57AM
†. 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
†. Gen 31:38a . .These twenty years I have
spent in your service, your ewes and she-goats never miscarried,
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
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.
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.
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
†. 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.
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.
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
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.
Thu, Nov 5th - 8:14AM
†. Gen 31:30a . .Very well, you had to leave
because you were longing for your father's house.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wed, Nov 4th - 7:54AM
†. Gen 31:22 . . On the third day, Laban was
told that Jacob had fled.
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.
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.
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.
Stone Tanach reads: Beware lest you speak with Jacob either good or bad.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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;
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
"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.
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
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
husband . . . he will rule over you." (Gen 3:16)
Tue, Nov 3rd - 8:20AM
†. 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!
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.
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:
ARE NOT PIGS!
are gentle, sensitive, intelligent animals.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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
†. Gen 31:19 . . Meanwhile Laban had gone to
shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father's household idols.
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
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.
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. ☺
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
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.
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.
Mon, Nov 2nd - 1:06PM
†. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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
†. 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.
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.
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.
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
†. 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.
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
†. 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.
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.
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.
Sun, Nov 1st - 8:33AM
†. 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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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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