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

    Sat, Oct 31st - 9:25AM



    Genesis 30:22-30

     

    †. Gen 30:22a . . Now God remembered Rachel;

    Does that mean the omniscient Almighty had somehow forgotten all about her? (chuckle) No. God's memory works just fine. But I think God has a day planner, sort of like the appointment books that professional people utilize to plan their schedules.

    Well; I think God had set a date for Rachel's pregnancy quite some time before this event and as He turned the pages of His planner to check His busy schedule; lo and behold there was Rachel. Most of us just mark our calendars for appointments with doctors and dentists; but someone like God no doubt sets up His appointments on a much grander scale than that. This is all just conjecture, of course, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt.

    Personally I suspect that God's day planner is all in His head so He doesn't have to keep a literal appointment book to remind Himself; though He does seem to keep some literal books; e.g. the book of the living (Ps 36:28), the book of the earth (Jer 17:13), and the lamb's book of life Rev 21:27.

    †. Gen 30:22b . . God heeded her and opened her womb.

    Does the word "heeded" mean Rachel finally decided to pray for a baby? I think so. Some people are driven to drink by the problems of everyday life. God's people are often driven to their knees.

    †. Gen 30:23 . . She conceived and bore a son, and said: God has taken away my disgrace.

    It's one thing to adopt children, or take in foster kids, or become a step-parent. But nothing can take the place of having your very own. Rachel possessed two legal children by her maid Bilhah. But those were really and truly Bilhah's babies, not Rachel's. Until she had her very own, Rachel remained low on the totem pole of feminine esteem.

    Men just can't appreciate how important babies are to (normal) women. Even tough women don't really feel like real women until they have a child. I worked as a vacuum cleaner salesman many years ago when I was very young. The owner of the business was married to a successful woman in her mid forties who had no children of her own; and actually, never wanted any.

    But whenever she was in the presence of moms, they made her feel like a loser because in her mind, moms were the real women. In other words: she was a freak of nature born without a mother's heart; and that is a fatal flaw in any woman's character: business or otherwise.

    That woman's confession amazed me because hers was a strong, assertive, self-confident kind of personality with scratch-proof, dent-proof hide like depleted uranium armor plating. But every suit of armor has a chink in it somewhere and that was hers.

    "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth." (Ps 127:3-4)

    Arrows are not only weapons of war, but also tools of readiness, strength, and defense. In Rachel's day, children were old age security. They still are for many people in third world countries; and for those of us who face retirement on fixed incomes. When my wife and I finally wax old and feeble, we hope our son will care enough about us to make sure we don't die hungry and poverty-stricken.

    †. Gen 30:24 . . So she named him Joseph, which is to say: May The Lord add another son for me.

    Joseph's name is from Yowceph (yo-safe') which means: let him add (or perhaps simply the active participle: adding)

    Yowceph is the future tense of yacaph (yaw-saf') which means: to add or augment (often adverbial, to continue to do a thing) So in colloquialism, maybe Rachel was really saying: Yeah! Keep 'em comin'.

    †. Gen 30:25-26 . . After Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban: Give me leave to go back to my own homeland. Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served you, that I may go; for well you know what services I have rendered you.

    Jacob had agreed to remain with Laban for fourteen years. Well, time's up, and Laban had no further moral or legal claim either upon Jacob or upon his family. 

    †. Gen 30:27 . . But Laban said to him: If you will indulge me, I have learned by divination that The Lord has blessed me on your account.

    The divination that Laban was talking about was a dark art. The word for "divination" is from nachash (naw-khash') which means: to hiss, i.e. whisper a (magic) spell; generally, to prognosticate.

    Nachash was one of the sinful practices that God condemned in the Canaanite peoples. (Deut 18:9-14)

    Apparently, somewhere along the line, Laban became very puzzled how Jacob was doing so well in animal husbandry. In the fourteen years that Jacob worked for him, his flocks not only increased; but they increased beyond reason.

    So he consulted with a mystic, seeking to find out the secret of Jacob's success. Lo and behold, the diviner discovered Jacob really had no trade secrets to hide at all. He was actually under Yhvh's auspices-- Abraham's god --whom Laban didn't worship himself but at least recognized as an option.

    Laban was justifiably reluctant to let Jacob go. He prospered greatly because of Jacob's abilities and because of his faithfulness; and especially because of his connection to Abraham's god. He was willing to strike almost any bargain that would keep Jacob on the job working for him. Once before he had gotten the better part of the bargain by letting Jacob name his price; so now he made the same proposition again.

    †. Gen 30:28 . . And he said: Specify your wage to me and I will give it.

    The wage Laban had in mind wasn't an hourly rate or monthly salary like we typically think of wages. Pay was a separate matter to be negotiated later. The deal they would make concerned what it would cost Laban to keep Jacob working for him. In other words; a signing incentive.

    †. Gen 30:29-30a . . But he said: You know well how I have served you and how your livestock has fared with me. For the little you had before I came has grown to much, since the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned.

    Yes, Laban knew very well how fortunate he was to have Jacob working on his ranch. But Jacob just wanted to be sure his uncle Laban didn't think Jacob was too stupid to know it. Jacob rarely stood up for himself. But this time the circumstances required him to be firm.

    †. Gen 30:30b . . And now, when shall I make provision for my own household?

    Jacob spent fourteen years of his life making another man rich. Well, it was high time he did himself some good for a change.

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    Thu, Oct 29th - 8:27AM



    Genesis 30:17-21

     

    †. Gen 30:17 . . God heeded Leah, and she conceived and bore him a fifth son.

    God was favorably inclined to grant Leah's wishes. But why doesn't God grant the wishes of all barren women? Is that fair? Why is God sensitive to some while ignoring the feelings of others? I wish I could answer that. The brutal fact is: God is merciful to whom He wishes to be merciful. Love it or leave it; we're stuck with a God who has a mind of His own and does as He pleases. (cf. Matt 20:1-15)

    †. Gen 30:18 . . And Leah said: God has given me my reward for having given my maid to my husband. So she named him Issachar.

    Issachar's name is Yissaskar (yis-saw-kawr') which means: he will bring a reward (or possibly; he is a reward). To Leah, Issachar really was worth his weight in gold to her as a mother.

    I really don't understand Leah's reasoning. Why would God approve of putting her husband in bed with the maid? Sounds like a plot for a soap opera to me. But nevertheless, Leah was happy with the way things turned out.

    You know, that really shows the importance that women in that day put upon children. Leah was willing to share her husband with another woman as long as it meant more babies for herself. Isn't that something? How many women would feel that way today-- especially here in abortion-prone, career-minded, day-care dependent, glass-ceiling, women's-lib, feminist-active America?

    I would like to point something else out too. Leah was crazy about kids and she was crazy about her husband. That is not so apparent with Rachel. She only wanted kids out of envy for her sister's fertility. And she even sold Jacob's affections for nothing more than some wild herbs. A lordly price.

    I really shouldn't be too harsh with Rachel. I truly believe she was stuck in an arranged marriage against her will. After all, it wasn't her idea to marry Jacob. Her dad engineered the whole thing. And Leah had already worn the shine off Jacob by the time Rachel got a shot at him so that was no big treat. I just don't think Rachel's heart was really in it.

    I feel sorry for her. She really should have been given a home of her very own; not thrown into someone else's marriage to wreck it with strife and rivalry-- most especially not her own sister's. Rachel deserved better than that. She really got a raw deal in life, that's for sure.

    †. Gen 30:19-20a . .When Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son, Leah said: God has given me a choice gift; this time my husband will exalt me, for I have borne him six sons.

    So far, Leah is the only woman in the house calling Jacob "my" husband; and from one night to the other, she never really knew where he'd be-- with her, one of the maids, or with Rachel. Jacob probably had a toothbrush and shaving gear in every one of their bathrooms.

    Well . . Leah wanted her husband to live at home with her, not with one of the other women. Sleeping with the others was just a fact of life around there and she was getting used to it. Leah could deal with that. But when he was done fooling around with the others, she wanted him to come home to her, not stay overnight with one of them. Since God had blessed her with the most boys, and the most children, it only seemed right in Leah's mind that she had more claim on Jacob than anybody else and he really should be bonded to her more than the others.

    †. Gen 30:20b . . So she named him Zebulun.

    Zebulin's name is from Zebuwluwn (zeb-oo-loon') or Zebuluwn (zeb-oo-loon'); or Zebuwlun (zeb-oo-loon') which mean: habitation. Synonyms for habitation are: occupancy, residence, domicile, and home. In other words, Zebulin is where a man hangs his hat.

    †. Gen 30:21 . . Last, she bore him a daughter, and named her Dinah.

    Dinah's name is from Diynah (dee-naw'). That word is the feminine of duwn (doon) which means: judgment, justice. and/or fair play.

    You can bet Dinah was an instant hit with the women. Now they had someone to make dolls for, and cute little dresses, and tiny little knickers. And they could show her how to paint her fingernails, perm her hair, and put on make-up and eye shadow. I would guess that Dinah did more to help the women forget their differences and become friends than anything else around there.

    And Jacob no doubt liked her immensely. It is just about impossible for a normal man to resist the charms of a bouncy little cherub. I've seen the toughest blue collar beasts you can imagine become mushy morons around little girls. When one of those teensy sweethearts puts her chubby little arms around a man's neck and says "Daddy, I love you" it's all over but the burial. If sons were indeed prized in those days, then the daughters were icing on the cake.

    NOTE: Dinah is the very first girl on record born to the people of Israel.

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    Wed, Oct 28th - 9:30AM



    Genesis 30:7-16

     

    †. Gen 30:7-8 . . Rachel's maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. And Rachel said; A fateful contest I waged with my sister; yes, and I have prevailed. So she named him Naphtali.

    rayyyrrr! scratch! Man that woman was scrappy! No second place winner; Rachel would keep kicking at you even if her arms were pinned down on the mat. Move over Chyna! (Chyna used to be a WWF professional female wrestler)

    "Naphtali" is from Naphtaliy (naf-taw-lee') which means: my wrestling. Not just any wrestling, but "my" wrestling. Apparently Rachel took things very personal. The bitter rivalry between her and Leah had become the total focus of Rachel's life.

    NOTE: Jacob could've easily disowned Naphtali by simply emancipating Bilhah; same as his grandpa Abraham broke with Ishmael by emancipating Hagar.

    †. Gen 30:9 . .When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as concubine.

    Since Jacob favored Rachel, when did he find time for Leah and Zilpah? Well; don't women have a certain time of the month? It was very unsanitary in those days to sleep with women during their period and, in fact, was later forbidden by the laws of the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God. (Lev 15:19-24, 18:19)

    So every month, like clockwork, Jacob was forced to sleep with Leah whether he liked it or not. I guess he could have slept on the couch, but that would look stupid. So Leah got a shot at him at least one week a month. And she made the most of it, you can be sure of that! So now she farmed him out to Zilpah's bed for that week to see what would happen. If Rachel could have children by her maid, then by golly Leah was going to do it too. Boy, those sisters were really at war!

    †. Gen 30:10-11 . . And when Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son, Leah said: What luck! So she named him Gad.

    "Gad" is from gad (gawd) which means: a troop. (chuckle) Leah was having enough boys to field a recon squad.

    †. Gen 30:12-13 . .When Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son, Leah declared: What fortune! meaning, Women will deem me fortunate. So she named him Asher.

    Well; what had the local women been deeming her up till then? Women can be so cruel to each other. Leah wasn't attractive, and she was getting up in years before she met Jacob. Women in Leah's neighborhood very likely made her the object of sneering gossip: "Oh, here comes that old maid. Hasn't she found a husband yet? Poooooor thing; tsk." And they would put on their best pity faces for Leah as she walked by.

    "Asher" is from 'Asher (aw-share') which means: happy.

    †. Gen 30:14 . . Once, at the time of the wheat harvest, Reuben came upon some mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah: Please give me some of your son's mandrakes.

    Mandrake is the common name for any of a genus of herbs. The species to which the name is particularly applied has two varieties, vernal and autumnal, both native to the Mediterranean and Himalayan regions and especially to Greece. The whole plant has a fetid odor. As late as the Middle Ages, a dose of the oddly shaped root was sometimes given to patients as a narcotic before surgical operations. In the United States, mayapple is often called mandrake.

    The mandrake has traditionally been an object of superstition, largely because of the resemblance of its forked root to the human figure. Used as an aphrodisiac, the mandrake was also variously regarded as a charm for pregnancy-- a sort of fertility drug --also for invulnerability, and for discovering treasure.

    Leah certainly didn't need mandrakes to have children. She was doing just fine without a charm or a fertility drug. But she may have wanted them around the house for medicinal purposes and home remedies. Rueben was trained to recognize mandrakes and he brought them home because he knew his mom would want them: and of course Rachel would want them too because she was infertile.

    †. Gen 30:15a . . But she said to her: Was it not enough for you to take away my husband, that you would also take my son's mandrakes?

    Of the two sisters, Leah is the only one to label Jacob "my" husband. Personally, I don't think Rachel ever really thought too much of Jacob.

    One of the very first social skills children learn from their parents is sharing. Jacob's family was so bitterly divided that his wives, two blood kin sisters, were not even disposed to display even the simplest of graces towards each other. In other words, Leah was saying: if you want some mandrakes, go out and find your own!

    †. Gen 30:15b-16 . . Rachel replied: I promise, he shall sleep with you tonight, in return for your son's mandrakes. When Jacob came home from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said: You are to sleep with me, for I have hired you with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.

    Haw! Jacob became a gigolo in his own home. His wives were not only fighting amongst themselves because of him, but they were bartering for him like a commodity too. Jacob was sure in a pickle. He was probably like most men; just wanting peace and quiet in his own home. If that's what the women arranged for him that night, well alright; if it made them happy and kept the noise down then what the hey.

    You would think the home life of the patriarchs would be the most sterling role models you could ever want. But no. They were actually pretty disappointing. And why was that? Becuz they were people. They weren't a celestial breed of supernatural beings whose home planet was located out in space somewhere between the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud.

    No, the patriarchs didn't fall down from Jupiter as a superior race of extragalactic agents, not did they draft in on the tail of a comet and drop off in the land of Palestine. None of that. They were just as human as anybody else and they were all slaves to human proclivities and predilections right along with the rest of the Adams' family.

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    Tue, Oct 27th - 7:35AM



    Genesis 30:1-6

     

    †. Gen 30:1a . .When Rachel saw that she had borne Jacob no children, she became envious of her sister;

    Sibling rivalry is bad enough. But when siblings compete for the affections of the same love object, it's all the worse. I don't know what it is about kin, but it's much easier to compete with someone outside the family than those within. Rivalry within family is not just a competition; it is more like the passions of a blood feud. The feelings run deep, and hot, and painful. People who never had a brother or sister cannot understand this. You just have to live it to know what it's like.

    †. Gen 30:1b . . and Rachel said to Jacob: Give me children, or I shall die.

    Somehow Rachel felt the fault was Jacob's as if he were doing something to deliberately prevent conception. According to Jewish folklore, it was a common practice in that day for a man with two wives to give the prettier one some sort of birth control herb to prevent her from getting pregnant and losing her figure. Thus the prettier of the two was reserved for pleasure; and the other for bearing children. Genetically, that was a pretty dumb idea since the practice results in the perpetuation of inferior stock. I seriously doubt you'll ever see breeders of dogs, cats, livestock and/or race horses conducting their business like that.

    Jacob wasn't doing anything to Rachel. She was just simply unable to have children. If only she had followed her sister Leah's example in prayer instead of getting in one of those moods, then she wouldn't have been so ready to rag on Jacob for something over which he had no control.

    †. Gen 30:2a . . Jacob was incensed at Rachel

    Jacob's anger was no doubt an unpleasant mixture of hurt and indignation. He really did love Rachel. She wasn't just a girl toy. For her to insinuate that he was keeping her around just for pleasure must have bitten deeply into his soul. Romantic love can easily turn into hate-- very suddenly and very quickly; like turning a page in a book.

    Romantic love is very different than the love of a loyal friend. Romantic love seeks its own best interests and is very fragile and easily wounded. Fraternal love is much better. It's like a strong anchor. The more a storm buffets the ship, the deeper the anchor digs into its moorage.

    †. Gen 30:2b . . and said: Can I take the place of God, who has denied you fruit of the womb?

    I'm sure that just as soon as Jacob lashed out at Rachel he regretted it. His retort implied that she was a sinner who didn't deserve children. What an ugly thing to say. But he was upset and felt betrayed by his best girl. So his reaction is understandable. But isn't there a better way? Yes.

    Instead of attacking her husband in an attempt to put blame, Rachel would have been much better off just finding a nice quiet spot and telling God how she was feeling about her sterility-- how it was hurting her and making her feel inferior to her sister: and threatening her marriage. Would God respond to that? Yes. Because that is exactly what Rachel did do eventually. It's just too bad she didn't think of it sooner.

    If Rachel felt that God cared about her at all, then she would have recognized that barrenness was serving some sort of Divine purpose; even if she couldn't think of one at the time. But Rachel's circumstances were causing her feelings to override her thinking; and making her emotional and reactive instead of objective and rational.

    †. Gen 30:3-5 . . She said: Here is my maid Bilhah. Consort with her, that she may bear on my knees and that through her I too may have children. So she gave him her maid Bilhah as concubine, and Jacob cohabited with her. Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son.

    That was indeed a strange custom, and a cruel one at that. Why is it nobody ever thought to ask the maids how they felt about it? I just don't think it's ethical to subjugate women to the status of mere breeder stock.

    Those who give their babies away in adoption, often don't want to see them when they're born-- not even a glimpse; they don't even want to know their gender. They want their baby delivered and whisked out of the room immediately with no more feeling than doing their business in the lou. Women who get abortions typically do not want to see a sonogram of their babies nor listen to its heartbeat because that's just too bonding and sensitive. Pharaoh's daughter (Ex 2:6) fell apart when she gazed upon baby Moses weeping. What normal woman can resist something like that?

    The maid's baby would be legally Rachel's, but she would never be the biological mother. Nothing can ever change a thing like that.

    †. Gen 30:6 . . And Rachel said: God has vindicated me; indeed, He has heeded my plea and given me a son. Therefore she named him Dan.

    Dan's name means judge, and/or the past tense: judged. (or possibly: a judgment)

    In Rachel's mind, Bilhah's success proved that God wasn't withholding children from her for being a sinner, as Jacob had insinuated. But Dan wasn't really Rachel's child. He was only hers by adoption.

    But who was going to nurse Dan? There was no such thing as formula in those days. Somebody had to be his wet nurse. Well . . what about Dan's biological mom? Didn't she just go through a pregnancy? So Dan remained with his biological mother at least until he was weaned; and probably longer too. It wasn't like they all lived miles apart. All four women were practically living under the same roof.

    So although Dan was reckoned legally Rachel's child, he wasn't taken away from home. Trouble is; Bilhah became a single mom with no husband. But she wasn't really alone. At least she had Dan; and her boy had Jacob; and everyone was together, in one way or another.

    I am he,
    As you are he,
    As you are me,
    And we are all together.
    (The Beetles; I Am The Walrus, 1967)

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    Mon, Oct 26th - 9:30AM



    Genesis 29:32-35

     

    †. Gen 29:32 . . Leah conceived and bore a son, and named him Reuben; for she declared: The Lord has seen my affliction. Now my husband will love me.

    Reuben's name is from Re'uwben (reh-oo-bane') which means: Look; a son!

    †. Gen 29:33 . . She conceived again and bore a son, and declared; This is because The Lord heard that I was unloved and has given me this one also. So she named him Simeon.

    Simeon's name is Shim'own (shim-one') which means: hearing. Leah was obviously a woman of prayer and had no reservations about sharing her personal problems with the god of her choice. (cf. Phil 4:6-7)

    †. Gen 29:34 . . Again she conceived and bore a son and declared; This time my husband will become attached to me, for I have borne him three sons. Therefore he was named Levi.

    Children do have a way of bonding a (normal) man to their mother. It doesn't always work, but often does.

    Levi's name is Leviy (lay-vee') which means: attached; viz: bonded.

    Jacob was indeed a family man now. In spite of his romantic passions for Rachel, he would never again feel the same way about Leah. She could never be just another woman in the house now that she was the mother of his children. Jacob couldn't help but feel bonded to her. God's idea worked. You say: how do I know it worked? Because the next boy was named in gratitude to God for saving the marriage.

    †. Gen 29:35 . . She conceived again and bore a son, and declared; This time I will praise The Lord. Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.

    Well done! And Judah was a real honor too. He became the tribe of Israel's kings; and from them descended David, and Christ.

    The Hebrew word for "Judah" is Yehuwdah (yeh-hoo-daw') which means celebrated; i.e. famous.

    The scheme God implemented to bond Jacob to Leah probably wouldn't work with men like Esau. Not all guys are cut out to be family men. Adventurers, explorers, scientists and the like; typically aren't all that well suited for marriage and parenthood.

    But Jacob was a man who'd rather be home than away for five months on a long hiking trail, or risking his life to summit a difficult mountain, or untold hours operating a particle collider searching for an elusive boson. Married guys with kids at home should not be doing things like that; especially dangerous things that could easily, and quite suddenly, rob his family of its daddy.

    "Nobody should seek only his own good, but also the good of others." (1Cor 10:24)

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    Sun, Oct 25th - 8:04AM



    Genesis 29:31

     

    †. Gen 29:31 . .The Lord saw that Leah was unloved and he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.

    God didn't make Rachel barren. She was already that way. And Leah was too. In fact, every one of the matriarchs were barren women. It must have been in their genes. But the Lord elected to repair Leah and leave Rachel out of whack for a while longer.

    I really don't think what the Lord did was punishment against Jacob and Rachel. I think it was a countermeasure to get Jacob to pay a little more attention to Leah. It's very important for spouses to bond. Allowing Jacob to focus too much of his attention on Rachel would soon make Leah the odd man out; and a very lonely woman.

    But why would God do that-- take an interest in Leah's problems? Because, as Hagar discovered, Abraham's god is a sensitive god who sees people (Gen 16:13-14). And it seems very obvious to me that He was sympathetic to Leah's circumstances.

    And that tells me something. It's true that Leah was in on the scheme to trick Jacob. But God didn't get upset with her for that. In fact, it looks to me like He was actually very pleased that she married Jacob. After all, it was through Leah that the man predicted in Dan 7:13-14 would come, not Rachel. I believe that is very significant.

    I would even go so far as to say that Leah was the one God Himself would have picked for Jacob if he had only sought a wife in the very same manner that Abraham had sought one for Isaac. But no. Jacob took matters into his own hands, came to Haran in person, and fell in love with the wrong girl. Well; he ended up marrying Leah anyway in spite of his feelings for Rachel; just like his dad ended up blessing Jacob in spite of his feelings for Esau.

    Most guys have visions of the girl they would like to marry. She's young, gorgeous, shapely, and congenial. But the reality is: most will never find a girl like that. So they settle for what they can get and become resigned to missing out on life. Big mistake. Leah was no less a woman just because she wasn't Miss Haran circa 1770 bc. And when the chips are down in life, your very best friend had better be your wife. Beauty means nothing when a man is out of work, or coming down with cancer. That's when guys need a faithful friend, not a love pet.

    Unbeknownst to Jacob, he was destined to father the twelve tribes of Israel. Up to now, It had been one patriarch fathering just one descendant. But that all changed with Jacob. The nation of Israel quite literally started with him.

    (chuckle) That guy lived solo for better than eighty years of his life and then all of a sudden, WHAM, in just one week's time, four women moved in with him. Then, in just seven years time, he had a posse of juveniles running around the house. Awww-Haw-Haw-Haw-Hawww!!!

    The scheme God implemented to bond Jacob to Leah probably wouldn't work with men like Esau. Not all guys are cut out to be family men. Adventurers, explorers, scientists and the like; typically aren't all that well suited for marriage and parenthood.

    But Jacob was a man who'd rather be home than away for five months on a long hiking trail, or risking his life to free climb rocks and/or summit difficult mountains, or squandering untold hours operating a particle collider searching for an elusive boson. Married guys with kids at home should not be doing things like that; especially dangerous things that could easily, and quite suddenly, rob their family of its daddy.

    "Nobody should seek only his own good, but also the good of others." (1Cor 10:24)

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    Sat, Oct 24th - 8:21AM



     

    Genesis 29:31

     

    †. Gen 29:31 . .The Lord saw that Leah was unloved and he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.

     

    God didn't make Rachel barren. She was already that way. And Leah was too. In fact, every one of the matriarchs were barren women. It must have been in their genes. But the Lord elected to repair Leah and leave Rachel out of whack for a while longer.

     

    I really don't think what the Lord did was punishment against Jacob and Rachel. I think it was a countermeasure to get Jacob to pay a little more attention to Leah. It's very important for spouses to bond. Allowing Jacob to focus too much of his attention on Rachel would soon make Leah the odd man out; and a very lonely woman.

     

    But why would God do that-- take an interest in Leah's problems? Because, as Hagar discovered, Abraham's god is a sensitive god who sees people (Gen 16:13-14). And it seems very obvious to me that He was sympathetic to Leah's circumstances.

     

    And that tells me something. It's true that Leah was in on the scheme to trick Jacob. But God didn't get upset with her for that. In fact, it looks to me like He was actually very pleased that she married Jacob. After all, it was through Leah that the man predicted in Dan 7:13-14 would come, not Rachel. I believe that is very significant.

     

    I would even go so far as to say that Leah was the one God Himself would have picked for Jacob if he had only sought a wife in the very same manner that Abraham had sought one for Isaac. But no. Jacob took matters into his own hands, came to Haran in person, and fell in love with the wrong girl. Well; he ended up marrying Leah anyway in spite of his feelings for Rachel; just like his dad ended up blessing Jacob in spite of his feelings for Esau.

     

    Most guys have visions of the girl they would like to marry. She's young, gorgeous, shapely, and congenial. But the reality is: most will never find a girl like that. So they settle for what they can get and become resigned to missing out on life. Big mistake. Leah was no less a woman just because she wasn't Miss Haran circa 1770 bc. And when the chips are down in life, your very best friend had better be your wife. Beauty means nothing when a man is out of work, or coming down with cancer. That's when guys need a faithful friend, not a love pet.

     

    Unbeknownst to Jacob, he was destined to father the twelve tribes of Israel. Up to now, It had been one patriarch fathering just one descendant. But that all changed with Jacob. The nation of Israel quite literally started with him.

     

    (chuckle) That guy lived solo for better than eighty years of his life and then all of a sudden, WHAM, in just one week's time, four women moved in with him. Then, in just seven years time, he had a posse of juveniles running around the house. Awww-Haw-Haw-Haw-Hawww!!!

     

    The scheme God implemented to bond Jacob to Leah probably wouldn't work with men like Esau. Not all guys are cut out to be family men. Adventurers, explorers, scientists and the like; typically aren't all that well suited for marriage and parenthood.

     

    But Jacob was a man who'd rather be home than away for five months on a long hiking trail, or risking his life to free climb rocks and/or summit difficult mountains, or squandering untold hours operating a particle collider searching for an elusive boson. Married guys with kids at home should not be doing things like that; especially dangerous things that could easily, and quite suddenly, rob their family of its daddy.

     

    "Nobody should seek only his own good, but also the good of others." (1Cor 10:24)

     

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    Comment (0)

    Fri, Oct 23rd - 9:03AM



    Genesis 29:17b-23

     

    †. Gen 29:17b-18a . . Rachel was shapely and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel;

     Duh. Why does that not surprise us? You know, Jacob was fortunate about something. In those days, a man didn't have to win a woman's heart. He had to win her custodian's heart. So men could pick out a girl like they might pick out a shirt or a new car. Girls, through no fault of their own, could easily get stuck with a very disagreeable man.

    But there is something very missing in this story-- Rachel's love for Jacob. The man was ga-ga over her. But how did she really feel about him?

    †. Gen 29:18b-19 . . so he answered; I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel. Laban said; Better that I give her to you than that I should give her to an outsider. Stay with me.

    Done! And just like that; a girl became engaged. Jacob traded seven years of his life for Rachel. But it wasn't really about money, and they actually dickered over wages later. What Jacob actually proposed was a service commitment; like the contracts musicians sign with recording companies; and professional athletes sign with big league teams like the Blazers or the Mets; and like the terms of service to which young men commit themselves to the armed forces.

    So Jacob didn't really buy Rachel with money. She was more like a bonus for signing up as a full-time employee with Laban. And the seven years weren't Laban's idea. They were Jacob's; and I think he made it so many years because he wanted to offer Laban a deal so lucrative that he couldn't possibly refuse it.

    †. Gen 29:20 . . So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.

    It's a fact of human experience that men will sell their souls to satisfy their wants. But I'm guessing there was more to Rachel than just her looks. After seven years living in such close proximity, Jacob still wanted her. If she had been one of those tough, thin skinned, defensive, obtuse, chafing and demeaning Tomb Raider kind of girls, I'm pretty sure Jacob would have lost interest by then. I say "pretty sure" because there are some men who will live with a witch in spite of the abuse they endure just so's they can sleep with the woman of their dreams; viz: a trophy wife rather than a man's best friend forever.

    †. Gen 29:21 . .Then Jacob said to Laban; Give me my wife, for my time is fulfilled, that I may cohabit with her.

    The word "cohabit" is not actually in the Hebrew. It should read "go near". What Jacob said, in the common colloquialism of our day, is what men sometimes say when they want to sleep with a particular girl. They sometimes say: Wow! I'd sure like to get next to that! (chuckle) Very expressive.

    †. Gen 29:22-23 . . And Laban gathered all the people of the place and made a feast. When evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to him; and he cohabited with her.

    Jacob has got to rank as just about the dumbest groom in history. He knew both of those girls like the back of his hand. For seven years he lived right next door and saw them both every day. Leah and Rachel didn't even resemble each other. The one was shapely and beautiful. The other was not. Even if he couldn't see well enough in the dark to tell the difference, he certainly should have been able to feel the difference; and to recognize the difference in their voices.

    Was that man so totally plastered with booze from the reception that he couldn't even tell who, or what, he slept with that night? Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw :-)

    But the real mystery was Leah. Wouldn't you think that she would have spoken up and said something before things got out of hand? That sly girl. (chuckle) Personally I think she had a big crush on Jacob. Later on Leah will try very hard to get Jacob to transfer his affections to her and forget about Rachel.

    This so reminds me of Sadie Hawkins' day in the Little Abner comics of the old days. In the town of Dog Patch, men didn't grow on trees; there just wasn't enough to go around; and on top of that, some of the hillbilly girls weren't much to look at either. Subsequently, some of the local gals had a tough time getting husbands.

    So, in memorial of an old spinster lady named Sadie Hawkins, a special day was set aside each year wherein the bachelorettes had a chance to get hitched. All they had to do was run down one of the unattached men; and whoever they caught, absolutely had to marry them; no exchanges and no returns.

    But hey! Where was Rachel!?! Was she tied up out in the barn or something? Well; I hate to say it, but I really don't think she ever did want to marry Mr. Jacob. I really think she was in on the whole scam all along and I think Rachel was seriously hoping Jacob would settle for Leah and forget all about herself. But alas; such was not to happen. Jacob was very determined. He accepted his fate with Leah, but went after Rachel anyway.

    NOTE: The covenant that Moses' people eventually agreed upon with God as per Lev 18:18 protects sisters like Rachel and Leah so that men are not permitted to cohabit with both girls at the same time.

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    Thu, Oct 22nd - 8:41AM



    Genesis 29:9-17a

     

    †. Gen 29:9-10 . .While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's flock; for she was a shepherdess. And when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban, and the flock of his uncle Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone off the mouth of the well, and watered the flock of his uncle Laban.

    Violating local customs is an insolent thing to do; and almost certainly guaranteed to get you off on the wrong foot. And besides: fair is fair. The other shepherds were there ahead of Rachel, and no telling how long they'd been waiting. Word of Jacob's favoritism, and his disdain for fair play, would surely spread.

    Coming from a privileged family; Jacob was accustomed to doing pretty much as he pleased and answering to no one for it. But arriving in Haran, he was a nobody: a homeless drifter. Now he's going to learn what it's like to be just another face in the crowd; and he is also going to learn what it's like to do as you're told. Unkie Laban is just the bull o' the woods for some long overdue rich-kid attitude adjustment.

    †. Gen 29:11 . .Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and broke into tears.

    Poor Jacob. He'd been under a lot of stress lately; and probably feeling very alone in the world. His cousin must have seemed to him like an angel of mercy come to rescue his soul from the abyss. First he helped water her flock; for no apparent reason to Rachel other than courtesy; which she seemed to accept without any fuss. But then he impulsively kissed her (on the cheek I hope) and started sobbing. Rachel must have stared at Jacob like a man gone mad from a brain tumor.

    †. Gen 29:12 . . Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's kinsman, that he was Rebecca's son; and she ran and told her father.

    Zoom! Out of there like a bottle rocket (so to speak). Boy that girl sure takes after auntie Becky. Rachel lit out of there like the critters sent from Jessie the Cowgirl to fetch Sheriff Woody in Toy Story2.

    †. Gen 29:13a . . On hearing the news of his sister's son Jacob, Laban ran to greet him;

    I seriously doubt that Laban sprinted. The man was over 100 by now and near the age of Jacob's mom; maybe even older than her. Isaac and Rebecca were married twenty years before she became pregnant for the very first time, and Jacob is around 75 at this point. For a man Laban's age "rushed" and/or "hurried" seems more reasonable than ran.

    †. Gen 29:13b . . he embraced him and kissed him,

    Foreign customs often offend Americans. I was visiting the home of a Portuguese man in San Diego a number of years back when his son and daughter-in-law showed up unexpectedly. Dad and son greeted each other with a hug; and kissed full on the lips. I just about died; it was so gross. And then he kissed the daughter-in-law full on the lips too. I think you have to grow up in those kinds of customs to really be comfortable with them.

    †. Gen 29:13c-14a . . and took him into his house. He told Laban all that had happened, and Laban said to him; You are truly my bone and flesh.

    Adam said pretty much the very same thing about Eve at Gen 2:23 because she wasn't created from the dust as he had been, but was manufactured from already existing human tissue amputated from his body. In other words: ol' Laban was saying "You and I are one and the same" because tricking a father in order to supplant a brother was just the thing Laban would have thought of himself had he been in Jacob's shoes.

    †. Gen 29:14b-15 . .When he had stayed with him a month's time, Laban said to Jacob: Just because you are a kinsman, should you serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?

    It's curious that Laban would offer Jacob employment. I'm guessing that Jacob had offered to help out around Laban's ranch only just long enough for the heat blow over back home; but Laban became impressed with Jacob's work ethic and wanted him on permanently. Sometimes good help is very hard to find; and worth paying for.

    †. Gen 29:16-17a . . Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older one was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes;

    According to Jewish folklore, Leah had weak eyes from crying all the time at the prospect of being forced to marrying Esau.

    The word for "weak" is from rak (rak) which means, variously: tender, soft, weak, and/or gentle.

    So rak doesn't necessarily mean that something is feeble. It can also mean that something is kind and/or gentle as opposed to harsh and/or cruel. And in this case, where the beauty of two girls is being compared, I don't think the author of Genesis meant to convey that Leah's eyesight was weak; only that she had nice eyes, but little else to offer.

    Pity. Leah was a good girl; but just about bankrupt in what really matters to most guys; and as any woman with assets can vouch; most men think better with their eyes than with their brains. In other words: when it comes to women, men's brains switch off and it's all about the view after that: if you know what I mean.

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    Wed, Oct 21st - 9:16AM



    Genesis 29:1-8

     

    †. Gen 29:1 . . Jacob resumed his journey and came to the land of the Easterners.

    The geographic region in Turkey where Jacob went wasn't actually east by his reckoning. It was just about dead north. But the people who populated that region had roots in the east. Here's another version.

    "Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the sons of the east."

    Many of the peoples in and around Haran, although they lived northward from Canaan, were actually descendants of early pioneers who migrated out west from the world of Babylon; just as Abraham and his dad Terah had done many years prior to Jacob's birth. (cf. Gen 11:1-2)

    †. Gen 29:2a . .There before his eyes was a well in the open.

    The balance of Jacob's trip, from Luz to this well, is passed over in silence. Apparently nothing of significance occurred along the way. If Jacob traveled at, say, 25 miles per day, it would have taken him about eighteen days to reach Haran.

    If he stuck to the trade route, he could have stopped in Damascus and took in some of the local sights and maybe stayed at a "motel" before pushing on. Food wouldn't really be a problem because there surely were plenty of settlements and/or vendors along the trade route.

    Major highways, like the old US routes 66, and 101, always had lots of merchants offering overnight accommodations, plus all the goods and services a traveler would likely need to see them through. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there existed in that day food cart equivalents of McDonalds and Burger King.

    †. Gen 29:2b-3 . .Three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it, for the flocks were watered from that well. The stone on the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the stone would be rolled from the mouth of the well and the sheep watered; then the stone would be put back in its place on the mouth of the well.

    Apparently this well wasn't fed by an artesian source but was a variety that kept itself filled by seepage out of a substrate aquifer. A well like that-- which is more like a cistern --can become rancid very quickly by bird droppings, dead critters, and debris if it's not kept covered. Although structuring the watering time created a rush hour, it was sensible. That way the well wasn't left open for too long a time and there was less chance of polluting it.

    †. Gen 29:4a . . Jacob said to them: My friends, where are you from?

    Exactly what language Jacob spoke in his greeting isn't said; but during his era; Akkadian was a common language in Mesopotamia where Laban lived.

    I don't think this well is the very same one where Abraham's servant met Rebecca. For one thing, it's out in the open, not actually connected with any specific town. If it had been, then Jacob could have assumed the shepherds lived nearby and not asked them where they were from.

    This particular well was within walking distance of pasture land. Any grasses close in to the towns were likely over-grazed. That's just one of the natural results of progress and urban sprawl.

    †. Gen 29:4b-6a . . And they said: We are from Haran. He said to them: Do you know Laban the son of Nahor? And they said: Yes, we do. He continued: Is he well?

    Laban's location, and his state of affairs, would of course be Jacob's primary concern. After all, he just traveled nearly 500 miles to find him. If the man was dead or moved away, then the trip was all for nothing; and in those days, there was no way to call ahead.

    †. Gen 29:6b . .They answered: Yes, he is; and there is his daughter Rachel, coming with the flock.

    According to Gen 31:1 Laban had sons too, not just daughters. But the boys may have been too young at the time to go out in the fields alone. So big sister had to do all the ropin' and brandin' till her little brothers grew a few more hat sizes.

    Does that maybe indicate Rachel was a bit of a tomboy? Maybe. Personally; I think she was. But I don't think she was one of those hard, masculine kinds of tomboys, like some tough she-male working shoulder to shoulder with roughneck oil drillers, or packing a 9mm Glock, a nightstick, and a can of pepper spray as a cop, or putting out fires with a hook and ladder company, or dressed full-out for combat in Afghanistan.

    I think Rachel was one of those women who can survive in a man's world if need be; yet retain their feminine side too. They still like cosmetics, dinner out, husbands, family and children, pampering themselves with a trip to the beauty parlor, and shopping for new shoes and a purse-- but don't mind running a lawn mower, trimming the hedges, or firing up a leaf blower when they have to.

    There's a lot of single moms out there nowadays who haven't much choice but to wear a man's hat now and again-- not to prove a point, but just to get by.

    Herding sheep out in the open is risky for a lone woman. But apparently Rachel wasn't afraid of any of the local men; who no doubt were motivated by male chivalry to look out for her; and besides, we're going to see just up ahead that her dad was not a man to trifle with. Anybody who messed with Rachel would have to answer to Laban; and he was a man who took nothing lying down.

    Jacob is going to fall for this tomboy-ish angel in a very short time; and no surprise. Men often hook up with women that resemble their moms. That is so weird because some of those very same guys were brought up by moms from hell. But that's what they're used to. So, without even thinking about it, they often gravitate to those very same attributes in a girl.

    Well, Rachel and Rebecca were like peas in a pod. They were both confident, fearless, and decisive: not to mention tens to boot. I think Jacob felt very secure with women like that.

    †. Gen 29:7 . . He said: It is still broad daylight, too early to round up the animals; water the flock and take them to pasture.

    The Hebrew word for "broad" is gadowl (gaw-dole') which means great (in any sense). Gadowl is variously translated as high day, the sun is high, early in the day, and much daylight.

    Apparently the usual time for watering flocks was later in the afternoon just prior to bedding them down for the night.

    Jacob just blew into the neighborhood and he's already telling strangers what to do! No doubt an attitude he brought with him from Isaac's ranch. Down there the servants jumped when Jacob said something. Up here in Haran though, things were just a wee bit different.

    †. Gen 29:8 . . But they said: We cannot, until all the flocks are rounded up; then the stone is rolled off the mouth of the well and we water the sheep.

    Actually, someone may have owned that well; and set the rules for it's use. In those days, whoever dug for water usually had the rights to it; somewhat like a prospector's claim in the gold fields out in 1850's California. Apparently the owner didn't mind people using the water as long as they respected his feelings about it. But Jacob had a mind of his own, and seemed to care very little for the property rights of others.

    There's a clash of civilizations going on in this scene. Jacob was from the frontier lands of Canaan where men of mettle did pretty much as they wished. I'm guessing that Haran was a bit more sophisticated.

    And then too; Jacob was a privileged kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth. I've seen the kind of superiority complex that kind of upbringing sometimes instills within children. Well; that's going to change. Jacob is entering the school of hard knocks, and he's going to learn a thing or two from professor Laban. But when it's all over, Jacob will be a better man for it.

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    Tue, Oct 20th - 9:00AM



    Genesis 28:22

     

    †. Gen 28:22a . . And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, shall be God's abode;

    Jacob's pillow stone wasn't really meant to be a dwelling or a container as we typically think of human habitat or animal cages. It was meant to be a sort of monitoring device. An 8th century BC Aramaic treaty inscription from Sfire, in Syria, terms each upright stone on which the treaty is inscribed as an abode of the gods.

    The Hebrew word for "God" is 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which is a plural word meaning gods of all descriptions; both the good and the bad; and the true and the false. So that we could translate Gen 28:22a— "shall be the abode of the gods."

    The stone(s) symbolize a divine presence monitoring fulfillment and/or infractions of the terms of a treaty or a vow. So Jacob's pillar was not only the custodian of his vow, but was also its regulatory agency taking note whether Jacob and Yhvh keep their promises to each other. The very same thing turns up again in Gen 31:44-52.

    †. Gen 28:22b . . and of all that You give me, I will set aside a tithe for You.

    This is probably the very first Biblical instance of the so-called "faith promise". Though coming from a wealthy family; and heir apparent to his father Isaac's personal fortune, the fulfillment of this particular vow was contingent, not upon what Jacob possessed already; but upon God's future providence.

    Jacob didn't promise a set dollar figure, but promised a "tithe" which in English Bibles is commonly translated a tenth; but in reality the Hebrew word 'asar (aw-sar') just means to apportion; which Webster's defines as: to divide and share out according to a plan; especially to make a proportionate division or distribution of. 

    The value of a nondescript tithe therefore is left up to individual discretion.

    "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God prefers a whole-hearted giver." (2Cor 9:7)

    "And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have." (2Cor 8:10-12)

    Jacob was under no obligation to reciprocate and compensate God for the promises. Their fulfillment was dependent neither upon Jacob's generosity nor his piety. Fulfillment was dependent solely upon God's own personal integrity. So why should Jacob dedicate a tithe? Well; like I said, he didn't have to. Jacob's response was totally spontaneous and voluntary. His tithe was motivated from a sense of fair play, rather than a response to Holy mandates. In other words: Jacob reciprocated God's kindness with kindness of his own.

    A faith that gives out of friendship, rather than obligation, is much better than a religion that mandates a tithe. And the gift should be given where the giver feels whole-hearted about it; viz: they should have some say in where their offering goes, and they should be able to feel quite satisfied about it rather than feel as though their pockets were picked.

    So; how was Jacob going to transfer some of his assets into God's account? There was neither Temple nor synagogue in his day, and certainly no Aaronic priesthood. Abraham did his business with Melchizedek but there is no record of either Isaac or Jacob doing business with one of Mel's successors.

    When all else fails, a very, very good way to give to God is by helping people less fortunate than yourself; in other words: pay it forward.

    "He who is generous to the poor makes a loan to Yhvh: He will repay him his due." (Prv 19:17)

    There are lots of charities benefiting disadvantaged people. United Way lists quite few to pick from; and just about every city has at least one gospel-oriented rescue mission. For sure; those causes are a whole lot more satisfying than just mindlessly tossing money into a basket passed around on a Sunday morning.

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    Mon, Oct 19th - 7:49AM



    Genesis 28:16-21

     

    †. Gen 28:16-17a . . Jacob awoke from his sleep and said: Surely the Lord is present in this place, and I did not know it! Shaken, he said: How awesome is this place!

    Actually Jacob was very frightened. I believe that place gave him the creeps. It isn't unusual for an encounter with God to unnerve people. Even the very best saints get shook up by it. Daniel just about fainted when God talked with him (Dan 10:17. And Moses was very frightened when God descended upon Mt. Sinai. (Heb 12:18-21)

    †. Gen 28:17b . .This is none other than the house of God, and that is the gateway to heaven.

    The Hebrew word for "house" is somewhat ambiguous. It can indicate one's dwelling, and it can indicate one's entire estate. For example; Pharaoh's house at Gen 12:15 consisted of a palace while Abraham's house at Gen 14:14 consisted of all that he owned and possessed. Jacob apparently assumed (probably correctly) that the real estate where he met with God was a favorite of His in Canaan; i.e. He had it staked out for Himself: and who's to argue with that?

    †. Gen 28:18a . . Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar

    The word for "pillar" is from matstsebah (mats-tsay-baw') which is something stationed; viz: a column or (memorial stone)by analogy, an idol. All over the Mojave Desert in California are man-made stone monuments that mark the location of historical events and/or sites. One of my favorites is the Foot And Walker pass where Butterfield stagecoach passengers had to disembark and walk because the slope was too steep for horses to pull the coach with them inside it.

    Jacob's pillow stone became a souvenir of his very first close encounter with the Bible's God. To set it up, he would need something to elevate it and make it prominent. So he probably gathered more stones into a pile, like a cairn, and then put his pillow block on the very top as the cap stone.

    †. Gen 28:18b . . and poured oil on the top of it.

    The Bible doesn't say where Jacob got the idea to pour oil on his historical marker; so we'll just have to take an educated guess at it. It's very likely, considering the situation, that anointing the pillow stone with oil (probably either an edible, or medicinal oil rather than a petroleum based lubricant) dedicated it as a memorial to Jacob's contractual bond between himself and God.

    There's reported to be widespread evidence (I haven't seen it for myself) from the ancient Near East, for the use of oil in international treaty relationships, and in effectuating business contracts. The practice seems to have been a token of peace, friendship, and assumed obligation. In Jacob's case, the anointing is connected with the making of a vow that bound him to specific commitments.

    †. Gen 28:19 . . He named that site Bethel; but previously the name of the city had been Luz.

    Luz retained it's original name for a long time afterwards. On his way back home after twenty years with Laban, the name hadn't yet been changed to Bethel (Gen 36:6). Precisely when the site's name was officially changed to Bethel is difficult to ascertain.

    The word for "Bethel" is from Beyth-' El (bayth-ale') which means (what else?) house of God.

    According to Jewish folklore, the stone Jacob chose for his pillow was actually one of the stones Abraham used to construct the altar where he bound Isaac. Jewish folklore also believes the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to be the site where Abraham offered his son. Those lore imply that Bethel and the Temple Mount are geographically the same. But it's highly unlikely. The Temple Mount is in Jerusalem; and Bethel was about 12 miles to the north. The exact geographic location of the offering of Isaac is totally unknown at this time.

    In the days of Solomon's rule, Israel became divided into a north and a south, sort of like America's fracture during the Civil War. A king named Jeroboam ruled the northern part and another king named Rehoboam ruled the southern part. The northern part was called Israel, and the southern part was called Judah. Jeroboam became concerned that his subjects in the north might change sides due to the Temple being located in the south. (1Kgs 12:26-29)

    Point being, the Temple Mount was at Jerusalem in Rehoboam's realm; and Bethel was on Jeroboam's turf in the north; and if the people really wanted to get on God's bad side, they worshipped in the north.

    "Come to Bethel, and transgress" (Amos 4:4)

    †. Gen 28:20-21 . . Jacob then made a vow, saying: 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-- Jehovah shall be my God.

    What's he saying? That the Lord has not been his god up to this point? Not necessarily. It wasn't uncommon in those days for people to worship other gods right along with Yhvh. This practice was later strictly forbidden by the first of the Ten Commandments. (Ex 20:1-3)

    Jacob's uncle Laban (the very father of his beloved Rachel) was notorious for polytheism. On the one hand, he recognized Yhvh's divinity (Gen 24:50 and 31:29) while on the other hand he harbored a collection of patron gods in his home (Gen 31:19 and 31:30). In the ancient Semitic world; patron gods were equivalent to Catholicism's patron saints-- objects of devotion venerated as special guardians, protectors, and/or supporters; viz: alternative sources of providence.

    Jacob knew about Abraham's god and believed that He existed (Gen 27:20). But that's merely an educated consent, and nothing personal. It's like knowing and believing that Mr. Barak Hussein Obama was the President of the United States. But so what? Has the President ever come to your home for coffee or dinner? Have the two of you been to a movie together or to a picnic? Where was he when you were sick, down and out, and/or feeling helpless, hopeless, despondent and depressed? See what I'm saying?

    Lots of people glibly venerate the Bible's God. But very, very few can honestly say: The Lord is my friend, He cares about me, He cares about my life, He protects me and provides for me wherever I go. I am His, and He is mine. We are one; we are together.

    Jacob's vow reflects a personal decision of his own volition to make Yhvh the sole object of his religious devotion to the exclusion of all the other gods that people commonly venerated in his day. So we could paraphrase Gen 28:20-21 to read like this:

    "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-- then Jehovah shall be my only patron."

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    Sun, Oct 18th - 8:17AM



    Genesis 28:13-15

     

    †. Gen 28:13a . . And behold, Yhvh stood above it and said: I am Yhvh; god of Abraham your father, and the god of Isaac;

     On the page of Scripture, this is Jacob's very first close encounter with his father's god. Till now, Yhvh had been merely data in Jacob's head; something he picked up in home-school yeshiva.

     Exactly why God chose to become personal with Jacob at just that moment in his life is a mystery. But the moment came not around the dinner table at home with family; but actually when Jacob stepped away from his family.

     It was as if Jacob's own family-- the holiest family on earth at the time; the keepers of the knowledge of the one true god --was actually hindering Jacob's spiritual progress; and if anything is to be learned at all from his experience, it's that his own father, the spiritual head of the house, was the one to blame for it. It certainly wasn't Rebecca; no, not when it was to her that God revealed the eldest of the two lads would serve the younger: and I'm really curious why God didn't repeat His edict to Isaac.

    †. Gen 28:13b-14 . . the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring. Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants.

    Those are essentially the very same promises that God originally made to Abraham. The most important one, that of blessing to all nations, has been passed on down, not to all the descendants of Abraham, but only to special ones; beginning with Isaac, then Jacob, and eventually to Christ. (Gal 3:16)

    Not all Hebrews are a blessing to all the families of the earth. Only those Hebrews who inherited the patriarchy are a blessing because it is through them that Messiah's line has existed. The other Hebrews really don't count for much in that respect except that the nation, as a whole, is credited with safe-keeping the Old Testament. (Rom 3:1-2)

    †. Gen 28:15 . . Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

    Actually, hardly any of those promises were fulfilled in Jacob's lifetime-- his offspring didn't become as populous as the dust of the earth, nor did they spread out to the east and the west and to the north and to the south. Nor did all the nations of the earth bless themselves by Jacob and his descendants. So what gives? How could God say: "I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you"

    I believe God has continually associated with Jacob to this very day, ever since the day of their first close encounter at Bethel. That didn't stop with Jacob's demise. No, their association goes on.

    "Now even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him." (Luke 20:37-38)

    In order to live "to" God (viz: live unto God) it is necessary to be in existence. God has always been with Jacob, and never left him even once-- all these many years; better than three-thousand of them by now. And all this whole time Jacob has lived under God's protection because God promised He would protect Jacob wherever he went; and in order for that promise to be meaningful, it has to include the afterlife. (cf. Ps 139:7-10, Matt 16:18)

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    Sat, Oct 17th - 9:12AM



    Genesis 28:8-12

     

    †. Gen 28:8 . . Esau realized that the Canaanite women displeased his father Isaac.

    Now that Esau no longer enjoyed the status of a pampered athlete, he's a little more attuned to the opinions of others around him; most especially to the dad who at one time gave the impression his eldest was so wonderful.

    †. Gen 28:9a . . So Esau went to Ishmael and took to wife, in addition to the wives he had,

    Some feel that Esau did that to create an alliance with Ishmael; since he too was a disfavored son. But Ishmael was already deceased by this time. He was at least fourteen years older than Isaac, who was by this time around 135. Ishmael died at 137; twelve years prior to this chapter. It is much more likely that Esau betrothed a woman from Ishmael's family in an attempt to redeem his marriages to the Hittite girls. Ishmael's girls, at least, were kin.

    †. Gen 28:9b . . Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, sister of Nebaioth.

    Ishmael being long dead; his son Nebaioth made the arrangements for marriage.

    You know, life sometimes dealt cruelly with girls in that day. Romance was out of the question. Even if there was a boy in the neighborhood that took their breath away, the girls weren't allowed to even date, let alone marry him. They had to marry a man their dads or their brothers selected-- oftentimes a total stranger and often someone quite a bit older than themselves. You'll often see it said in the Bible that so and so loved a particular girl; but hardly ever will you see where she loved him back.

    I believe that Abraham was a conscientious parent and made certain Ishmael received religious training. By the time Ishmael was evicted at fifteen or so, he had a pretty good basic knowledge regarding Abraham's god. And his mom Hagar was familiar with Him too. So it would not surprise me if Mahalath was pretty sound in the correct beliefs. She was a much better choice than the Hittite girls, and she is never once said to be a heartbreak to either Isaac or Rebecca. I would like to think Mahalath was very good company for Rebecca; which would have been a real comfort to her now that Jacob was gone.

    Unfortunately, Mahalath was too little too late. It was like closing the gate after the horses have run out of the corral. I'm sure Mahalath was okay; but Esau's new wife could never change God's decree concerning Jacob. Esau lost out: and he lost out big.

    †. Gen 28:10 . . Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran.

    It's difficult for me to believe that Jacob made the 450 miles trip to Haran all by himself. He may have, I don't know. I'm not saying he didn't. After all, Hagar was apparently traveling alone when she ran away from Sarah back in chapter 16. But that was a very dangerous, foolish thing to do. A lone person in wild country is just asking for trouble. What if they were to fall and break a leg? Or were attacked by brigands and/or wild animals?

    The route to Haran was used by caravans so Jacob may have traveled along with one for safety's sake; and if not, then maybe with travelers on foot like himself sort of like the pilgrims who trek the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

    †. Gen 28:11a . . He came upon a certain place

    According to Gen 28:19, the "certain place" was Bethel. The site started out as Luz; but later came to be known by the name Jacob gave it. Today it's commonly believed Bethel was somewhere around Beitin, about twelve miles north of Jerusalem and maybe two and a half miles northeast of Ramallah. At this point, Jacob was maybe sixty miles from Beer-sheba-- probably the second or third day of his journey.

    †. Gen 28:11b . . and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set.

    Travel at night without a car with good electric headlights was not a good idea in those days. Palestine was once the habitat of bears and lions; and the odds were against you of getting lost and losing your way in the dark.

    †. Gen 28:11c . .Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place.

    I doubt the stone was very large. Probably just enough to elevate his head a little so he wouldn't lie with his cheek right down on flat dirt. That is so uncomfortable. Try it. Put a towel or something down on the floor and lie down on the side of your head. It's much more comfortable to stack a few books first and then put the towel down. He probably did it like that and cushioned the stone with a bag or a coat.

    †. Gen 28:12a . . He had a dream;

    In the book of Genesis, dreams are a common means of communication between God and humans. Is that still going on? I really don't know. But if it ever happened to me, I would consider it a nightmare.

    †. Gen 28:12b . . a ladder was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it.

    The word for "ladder" is from cullam (sool-lawm') which is actually a staircase. This is the one and only place in the entire Old Testament where that specific word is located so we can't compare it's application in other contexts.

    One of the problems with Old Testament Hebrew is that scholars are not quite sure what some of the ancient words really mean. Cullam could just as easily mean an elevator or an escalator.

    There's something very conspicuous about the staircase in Jacob's dream: there were no humans on it. So what does that mean? Well . . the staircase was, after all, merely a figment rather than a physical object. But it has to signify something real in order to be useful. I would say the dream indicates, at the very least, that there's an avenue-- a connection --between Heaven and Earth so that mankind isn't totally isolated from God.

    But why show Jacob a stairway to heaven if human beings weren't using it in his day? I think that the very existence of a pathway to God meant that one day not only angels, but human beings too would be using it-- because, in reality, that stairway represents Christ; Jacob's great, great, great grandson. (cf. John 1:45-51)

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    Fri, Oct 16th - 8:09AM



    Genesis 28:1-7

     

    †. Gen 28:1a . . So Isaac sent for Jacob and blessed him. He instructed him:

    This is the first time, at least on record, that Isaac has shown any real interest in Jacob's spiritual condition. You just have to wonder if Jacob received any religious instruction at all from his dad. I would not be surprised if Rebecca has been Jacob's only tutor up to this point.

    Isaac went through a very traumatic experience. I think he was shaken, and it appears to have succeeded in bringing him back to his senses. Now he renders upon Jacob the full extent of Abraham's blessing; which he really should have done a long time ago.

    †. Gen 28:1b-4 . .You shall not take a wife from among the Canaanite women. Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel, your mother's father, and take a wife there from among the daughters of Laban, your mother's brother. May El Shaddai bless you, make you fertile and numerous, so that you become an assembly of peoples. May He grant the blessing of Abraham to you and your offspring, that you may possess the land where you are sojourning, which God assigned to Abraham.

    It would have been much wiser of course, if circumstances had permitted, to keep Jacob at home and dispatch a trusted servant up to Haran to fetch a wife back down to Canaan like Abraham did for Isaac. But at this point, I guess that option was out of the question. Isaac's patriarchal laxity is having quite a domino effect upon Jacob's future. He's going to be tricked into taking two wives, sisters at that, and squander twenty years of his life indentured to a very crafty, dishonest man.

    †. Gen 28:5 . .Then Isaac sent Jacob off, and he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebecca, mother of Jacob and Esau.

    I just have to wonder if Isaac would have thought of Laban at all if not for Rebecca putting a bug in his ear.

    Not only was Laban an Aramean, but so were Abraham, Lot, Sarah, and Rebecca. The boys (Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and Esau) were born in Canaan. So of what country were they? Canaan wasn't a united sovereignty like the USA. It was a frontier territory. Along the coast were Philistine colonies; the remainder populated by many communities scattered all over the place much like Native American peoples were in America's early days.

    I don't know about Ishmael and Esau, but Isaac and Jacob looked ahead to a future country that they would call home. That country didn't exist just yet in Jacob's day, but it would eventually, and he would be a somebody there-- Abraham's covenant guarantees it. Those men haven't missed out on anything. According to the New Testament's Jesus, they will all return some day and live in that land as citizens in land promised to Abraham.

    "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 8:11)

    The writer of Hebrews said, that although those three men were pilgrims in Canaan, they will one day live inside it as citizens in a town of their own.

    "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Heb 11:8-10)

    I don't know exactly how much detail those men knew in their day; but that "city with foundations" is going to be some piece of work. (cf. Rev 21:2-27)

    †. Gen 28:6-7 . .When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him off to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, charging him, as he blessed him "You shall not take a wife from among the Canaanite women" and that Jacob had listened to his father and mother and gone to Paddan-aram,

    That had to shake Esau up even more. Up to this point, for many, many years, he had been daddy's little boy. Now, practically overnight, Jacob takes center stage. It must have been very disturbing and I have no doubt it made Esau feel extremely insecure; probably for the first time in his life.

    Jacob listened to his parents. The difference between Jacob and Esau really shows in that respect. Esau did pretty much whatever he pleased. But Jacob wasn't like that. Even at 75 years old he took his parents advice. American kids today are famous for ignoring their parents guidance; and they usually end up regretting it too.

    His dad was smart all along, but the boy was too immature at the time to see it. He thought smartness came packaged with youth. In his mind; older people were expendable, obsolete, and out of touch with reality. But education doesn't necessarily make one wise: just conceited.

    Although Esau was Isaac's favorite, I really don't think he ever disciplined, scolded, nor lectured his eldest son for anything. I think he let Esau run wild so as to avoid stressing their relationship. Even though Esau's wives were a misery to Isaac and Rebecca, apparently no one ever spoke up and said anything about it till now; and as a result; Esau fell for one of the oldest ruses in the book:

    A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong;
    Gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
    ( Thomas Paine )

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    Thu, Oct 15th - 7:54AM



    Genesis 27:46

     

    †. Gen 27:46 . . And Rebecca said to Isaac: I am weary of living because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, I might as well die.

    Abraham purchased a cemetery plot from Heth's clan back in chapter 23.

    I think Rebecca was becoming very lonely for the company of daughters-in-law of a kindred spirit. Christians considering marriage should really give some serious thought to how their parents feel about a prospective spouse. It's just not fair to force your choice down there throat with the haughty protest: It's MY life!

    No man is an island, entire of itself;
    Every man is a piece of the continent:
    A part of the main.
    ( John Donne, 1624 )

    All that people do, everything they say, every decision they make; has a ripple effect.

    You know, Isaac really wasn't a bad man. But something happened to him that made him lose interest in his patriarchal duties. I really do think the man was having problems with depression; which may have been associated somehow with his eyesight.

    What if you could never again see Orion and the Milky Way, nor a sunset, nor the colors of the rainbow, nor watch the flight of migrating geese or a buzzing humming bird, nor see the bees busily collecting their pollen, nor the wind shaking the trees, nor the fluorescent colors of Autumn foliage, nor the splendor of the Grand Canyon, nor a spider's web illuminated from behind by morning sunlight, nor the ocean's waves, nor fireworks on the 4th of July? And what about all the things you haven't seen yet? Defective eyesight would prevent you from ever seeing the things that you missed.

    There is a well known syndrome that occurs in men called male menopause; and also known by it's other name: andropause. Although male menopause is related to the aging process-- with resultant hormonal reductions --men's problems aren't caused by the very same kinds of changes that occur in women. Women's menopausal difficulties are chiefly chemical. But with men, it's mostly psychological.

    One of the primary symptoms of andropause is depression. Not just bouts of depression that come and go, but the chronic kind. Every day, every night: feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness plague men afflicted with chronic depression. They feel useless, they feel they'll never be any good again, they feel expendable; and they feel unnecessary. But worse, they feel unlovable; viz: not only do they feel like no one cares whether they live or die, but they feel it is impossible for anyone to care about them at all.

    It isn't unusual for men to rapidly deteriorate and die during the first eighteen months of their retirement years. Why? Because their jobs, and their careers, made their lives meaningful and worthwhile. It gave them a reason to live. It gave them strong feelings of value, it made them creative and gave them feelings of self worth and self esteem, and feelings of belonging in a man's world. At career's end, they feel expended and expendable; actually losing interest in living and it's almost as if they will themselves to pass away because there's nothing left to live for, and people begin treating them like children instead of mature adults.

    When we're young and spry, we look forward to the future with optimism and anticipation. But when we're older, there is nothing in life to look forward to anymore but falling apart and leaving it. All the good stuff is over. And it doesn't help having our bodies deteriorate along the way.

    I really think that Isaac's handicap robbed him of all reasonable optimism; and he saw no reason to go on living; especially at his age. Because of that, he had no spirit for patriarchal duties. When the boys brought him food that day, both of them asked their dad to sit up and eat. Sit up!? What the heck was he doing lying down? Well, I think he was lying around all day feeling sorry for himself, that's what. Life had become uninteresting to Isaac, and he was no longer one tough cookie; but rather, one whipped puppy.

    But not so Rebecca. No, No; not that quick-legged Aquarian. She was a fighter, she was a Rocky Balboa. Becky had a head on her shoulders. Ever the strong decisive woman, she put a bug in Isaac's ear to send Jacob away to find a spouse. Yes, she was being cunning again; but in the right of it too: as usual. It was a whole lot better for Jacob to depart with his dad's good will than running away from home without saying good-bye.

    Now that the blessing had actually been dispensed, and it was very clear to Isaac that Jacob was God's choice to perpetuate Abraham's covenant, there was no excuse to delay any longer in the matter of finding his son a suitable wife because men don't live forever, Their children have to take up the flame and carry it forward. Jacob was a virile man at this point in his life; but that's getting ready to change. This fact, combined with the immediate danger of another Cain-and-Abel episode, was more than enough reason for Isaac to send Jacob away.

    Rebecca's personal desire for Jacob to have a wife from her own people, one with whom she could have fellowship rather than the continual friction she experienced with Esau's Hittite wives, compelled her to convince Isaac that her own life wouldn't be worth living anymore if Jacob married the same kinds of impious women as his brother's.

    Was Rebecca a good wife? Even though she tricked her husband? And even though she was strong and decisive? I really believe she was because even in the US Navy, sometimes a captain needs his first officer to take over and run the ship till he's better.

    "The Lord God said; It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him." (Gen 2:18)

    Isaac benefited from his dad Abraham's wisdom; and he had the providence of God to thank in the selection of his wife. Rebecca really saved the day, and got Isaac back up on his patriarchal feet. If it wasn't for her, nothing would have turned out right. She was indeed the perfect mate for that particular man. Unlike Eve who brought her man down; Becky propped her man up. Some women, infected with misandry, are pleased when their man goes down.

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    Wed, Oct 14th - 8:10AM



    Genesis 27:39-45

     

    †. Gen 27:39-40 . . And his father Isaac answered, saying to him: See, your abode shall be [away from] the fat of the earth and [from] the dew of heaven above. Yet by your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restive, you shall break his yoke from your neck.

    The words in the brackets don't actually appear in the Hebrew text. But according to a foot note in the 1985 JPS Tanakh; the meaning of the Hebrew is just what you see. Jacob's side of the family was granted the best water, fertile soils, and abundant yields. In contrast, Esau's side of the family would live in regions plagued with geological shortages of water, arable land, and natural pastures.

    Isaac's prediction was fulfilled by the very nature of the rugged region that came to be known as the land of Edom. The Edomites, in general, lived in violence and subjection to Israel; remaining essentially independent until David's time, but then were subjugated permanently after that in spite of frequent rebellions and temporary partial freedom. Finally, Edom disappeared as a nation by that name: the little prophecy of Obadiah explains why.

    Esau's life of indifference to spiritual matters-- in spite of being born to one of the most privileged heritages possible --had finally caught up with him and it was too late even for regrets.

    †. Gen 27:41 . . Now Esau harbored a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing which his father had given him, and Esau said to himself: Let but the mourning period of my father come, and I will kill my brother Jacob.

    Well, he had a long wait ahead of him. Isaac lived another 45 years.

    But isn't it odd how the human spirit desires to kill-- not just desire for harm and misfortune; but to the gravest extreme?

    A few years ago, out here on a highway in Oregon, traffic was slowed. So a man tried to get ahead of it by driving on the shoulder to pass everyone up. As he went by a pick-up truck with some men in it, one of them threw a paper cup at him. He dropped back and fired a gun into the pick-up, killing one of the passengers.

    That is so typical of the feelings that overwhelm human beings when they're angry. They want blood, and no other form of revenge will satisfy. Is it possible that there is anybody out there who has never wished that somebody would die?

    Esau's personality changed dramatically. He went from an indifferent, carefree outdoor sportsman to a bitter, vindictive neurotic. The thought of his sissy brother ruling over him-- the superior son who was always admired and idolized for his strength and prowess --was just too much for Esau to bear.

    †. Gen 27:42a . . When the words of her older son Esau were reported to Rebecca,

    You know, if criminals would just keep their mouths shut they might get away with a whole lot more crimes. But no, they just have to tell somebody about it. Esau must have vented his bitterness to some of the servants who, in turn, leaked it to Rebecca.

    †. Gen 27:42b-43a . . she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him: Your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. Now, my son, listen to me.

    Again showing herself to be a woman of quick decision, Rebecca called Jacob and told him exactly what to do. Not wishing for a war between her sons, she thought it best to send Jacob away for a while.

    †. Gen 27:43b-45 . . Flee at once to Haran, to my brother Laban. Stay with him a while, until your brother's fury subsides-- until your brother's anger against you subsides --and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will fetch you from there. Let me not lose you both in one day!

    The word for "fury" is from chemah (khay-maw') and/or chema' (khay-maw') which means: heat. The word for "anger" is from 'aph (af) which means: the nose or nostril; hence, the face, and occasionally a person; also (from the rapid breathing in passion) ire.

    (chuckle) Ol' Esau was indeed a passionate man. But his was not the lingering passion of a scented candle, or of a Yule log, which burn slowly for a long time. His rage burned more like a tumbleweed; a flashing, momentary flame that would soon pass. Esau might hold a grudge, but he wouldn't go on red faced and breathing heavy about it for very long.

    Moody, introspective people, often stay upset for long periods of time; which really exasperates the Esau types who usually get over things quickly. The Esau types are happy to let personal conflicts blow over and then move on. But the moody types are always wanting to dredge up unresolved hurts and argue about them again and again for the Nth time until someone finally listens.

    Some lawsuits, like the one between President Clinton and Paula Jones, often cannot be settled out of court because personalities like hers want an admission of guilt and an apology. Money is out of the question, and an insult to boot, because people like Paula Jones are never satisfied with anything less than a public hanging.

    Knowing Esau's nature, Rebecca figured his rage would pass away quickly and he would soon return to his typical carefree ways. Unfortunately, it was past twenty years before Jacob came back home, and there is no record that he ever saw his mom again.

    Rebecca's stratagem was indeed costly, but it could have gone much worse if Jacob had stayed home. Surely any attempt by Esau to kill Jacob would have resulted in Esau's death; the Lord protecting Jacob for future use. But I think Rebecca feared Esau might succeed and then become permanently alienated from the family like Cain was after killing his brother Abel. So she would, in effect, lose both boys in one day just as grandma Eve did.

    Rebecca-- the bright, discreet lass that she was --no doubt had counted all the costs of her scheme; and believed the issue was vital enough to require her to do what she did. As a matter of fact, later events proved that she was correct. Esau did soon get over his rage, and he prospered quite adequately in a material sense. Jacob never did really lord it over him, which was probably all Esau really cared about anyway.

    Both boys survived this calamitous event: hubby Isaac too. And Jacob went on to spawn the people of Israel, thus making a line to Messiah; by whom the Serpent's head would be crushed, and the entire world blessed beyond measure.

    They say all's well that ends well. Maybe. Rebecca's family was fractured, and she lost the companionship of a really good son. Hers was a sacrifice of the heart. I would really like to see Rebecca compensated for that some day.

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    Tue, Oct 13th - 7:58AM



    Genesis 27:30-38

     

    †. Gen 27:30-33a . . No sooner had Jacob left the presence of his father Isaac-- after Isaac had finished blessing Jacob --than his brother Esau came back from his hunt. He too prepared a dish and brought it to his father. And he said to his father: Let my father sit up and eat of his son's game, so that you may give me your innermost blessing. His father Isaac said to him: Who are you? And he said: I am your son, Esau, your first-born! Isaac was seized with very violent trembling.

    According to Jewish folklore, Isaac's first impulse, upon realizing he blessed the wrong son, was to retract the benediction from Jacob and give it to the son for whom it was intended; and would have except at that moment he saw Hell open beneath his feet, thus signifying that God was very displeased with his intentions; and if he persisted any longer to bless the wrong boy, he would suffer dire consequences. I would not be one bit surprised if that were true.

    It began to dawn on Isaac what had happened. The truth suddenly came home to him like a frigid blast of icy wind. In spite of all his intentions, God overruled Isaac, and he blessed the younger instead of the elder; like he was supposed to do in the first place.

    Furthermore, he realized he had been deceived by his true love Rebecca, and by his faithful son Jacob, whom he really hadn't appreciated very much up until now. I think he realized, that they, level-headed and sensible people that they were, deceived him in order to prevent the head of the house from doing what he very well knew he had no right to do. And God was in on the whole scheme, and had blessed Jacob through Isaac in spite of himself to the contrary. Jacob would indeed be blessed, just as he should have been all along.

    †. Gen 27:33b . .Who was it then-- he demanded --that hunted game and brought it to me? Moreover, I ate of it before you came, and I blessed him; now he must remain blessed!

    This was clearly the will of God and there was nothing Isaac could do to change it. He had tried to, but God stopped him. As the impact of these thoughts came over him, Isaac became very shaken. Emotions of all sorts must have overwhelmed him-- anger with Jacob, concern for Esau's future, heartbreak over Rebecca's treachery, resentment at having his own plans thwarted, and shame for having played the fool in such an important spiritual matter. All those feelings surely contributed to his trembling.

    Isaac quickly realized God had spoken to him in judgment, and that he had incurred great peril to himself in so ignoring the will of God. He had betrayed the trust of his father Abraham and had practically destroyed his own home; all because of a carnal appetite and parental adulation of a favorite son's physical exploits. No wonder the poor man was shaking so badly.

    †. Gen 27:34a . .When Esau heard his father's words, he burst into wild and bitter sobbing,

    The word for "sobbing" is wayits'aq which is from tsa' aq (tsaw-ak') and means: to shriek.

    I have a feeling the shriek that wrenched up out of Esau's lungs is the very same hysterical emotion that millions of damned will feel at The Great White Throne judgment of Rev 20:11-15 when the grim reality of their fate finally sinks in that they have lost Heaven forever. It's beyond words.

    At the first, Esau entered his dad's room with cheerful anticipation. Then quite bluntly, Isaac blurts out that someone beat him to it. Watching his dad shivering, and seeing the look of fear wash over the patriarch's face, the awful truth became only too apparent and Esau gave vent to his disappointment with a dreadful scream.

    †. Gen 27:34b . . and said to his father: Bless me too, Father!

    In Esau's mind, his dad really hadn't intended to bless Jacob; and was actually hoodwinked into it; so surely God couldn't possibly honor the fraudulent blessing. Isaac could just simply retract his words and bless the older son like he wanted to. But no. It was far more serious than either Esau or his dad imagined; which by now, via God's Spirit, Isaac was fully aware.

    †. Gen 27:34c . . But he answered: Your brother came with guile and took away your blessing.

    That was really only a half truth; no doubt told with the intent to prevent alienating his eldest son. The fact of the matter is: Isaac couldn't change anything now even if he wanted to; and he knew it too because by now he was fully reminded of God's original mandate regarding the two boys even before they were born. Hardly knowing how to explain his wanton error to Esau, he simply blamed Jacob for it. But it was Isaac's fault all along. He should never have led Esau to believe he would get the blessing. So many dads cannot admit they made a mistake in the way they raised their kids. Isaac was certainly no better.

    †. Gen 27:36a . . [Esau] said: Was he, then, named Jacob that he might supplant me these two times? First he took away my birthright and now he has taken away my blessing!

    Esau bitterly recalled that Jacob had taken away his birthright-- of course conveniently forgetting that he saw no value in it and traded his privilege for a measly bowl of porridge.

    †. Gen 27:36b-38 . . And he added: Have you not reserved a blessing for me? Isaac answered, saying to Esau: But I have made him master over you: I have given him all his brothers for servants, and sustained him with grain and wine. What, then, can I still do for you, my son? And Esau said to his father: Have you but one blessing, Father? Bless me too, Father! And Esau wept aloud.

    It must have been a strange sight to see such a virile, strong, athletic he-man screaming like a woman and bawling like a little girl. Agonizingly, he begged his dad for a blessing of some kind for himself, probably hoping that somehow God, through his father's intercession, could be persuaded to change His mind. The portion of the blessing, which no doubt appealed to Esau the most-- that of political superiority and material security-- had been irrevocably given to Jacob; and all the blubbering in the world couldn't change the situation now.

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    Mon, Oct 12th - 8:13AM



    Genesis 27:28-29

     

    †. Gen 27:28 . . May God give you of the dew of heaven and the fat of the earth, abundance of new grain and wine.

    The Hebrew word for the "fat" pertaining to Abel's offering is cheleb (kheh' leb); or cheleb (khay'-leb) which don't always indicate fleshly fat, but mostly mean the richest or the choicest parts.

    The Hebrew word for the "fat" pertaining to Isaac's blessing is mashman (mash-mawn') which, again, doesn't always indicate fleshly fat; but also richness; e.g. a rich dish, a fertile field, and or a robust man. In other words; Isaac's blessing is agricultural.

    The benediction, first of all, regards things in nature necessary for prosperity in an agrarian economy-- rain, fertile soil, and abundant yields. Rain is an especially precious resource in the country of Israel where today it's confined to just one season a year lasting only three months. In the old days, they had two rainy seasons; the early rains and the latter rains.

    City slickers hate rain. It's so inconvenient. It gets their hair wet; they have to run the wipers; it floods their streets and storm drains, their gutters overflow from clogged downspouts, they can't wear flip-flops-- caring little that the foods available in the supermarkets and convenience stores are utterly dependent upon adequate rain. I think that some people actually think their foods are manufactured in sweat shops rather than grown in the dirt. They just can't make the connection.

    †. Gen 27:29a . . Let peoples serve you, And nations bow to you;

    Jacob's progeny has exercised dominance over many nations in the past, most especially during Solomon's period. Today they're in a slump. But that benediction isn't dead yet; no, not by a long sea mile. In the future, Israel will be the seat of world power and the center for religious studies. You'd never know it to look at Jacob's condition today; but it's going to happen.

    †. Gen 27:29b . . Be master over your brothers, and let your mother's sons bow to you.

    The magic words! --and the very ones I'm sure Rebecca was anxiously waiting to hear. His "mother's sons" right then only amounted to (in Isaac's mind) just one: Mr. Jacob. But Rebecca became a grandma and today her sons can't even be numbered. Every one of them are supposed to honor Jacob and bow in respect because he, along with Isaac and Abraham, is a member of the elite league of senior patriarchs.

    The bestowal of the patriarchy upon Jacob was done with God as a witness, who has, so far, neither interfered nor intervened; nor has He seen fit to alert Isaac to Jacob's deception, nor said a single word about the whole fraudulent business.

    In short, the Almighty God, of all people, is apparently condoning Jacob's funny business. It seems to me, that the only way to understand this situation is to conclude that, whatever may be wrong with the stratagem and deception of Jacob and Rebecca, the sin of Esau and Isaac was infinitely more grievous.

    Yes, it's true that God doesn't usually condone lies; and I'm sure Jacob and his mom well knew it. They were spiritual people; both of them. But I really think that as bad as deception might be in God's sight, it had become a desperate necessity in this case to prevent a much worse sin: that of blasphemously presuming to impart the most holy of God's offices to a man who neither appreciated its depth, nor would honor it-- and to do so directly in the face of God's commandment against it.

    Such an eventuality surely would have incurred God's most severe discipline upon both Isaac and Esau; and I am convinced that Rebecca felt she must prevent that occurrence at all costs, even if it meant alienating her husband and infuriating Esau to the point of seeking Jacob's death.

    Isaac, because of the solemn nature of what he was doing, (conveying holy covenant promises and blessings to a son, who in turn would be responsible for their transmission and implementation in his own family) was no doubt under the influence of the power of God that day and was carried along in the scheme even though he half suspected the son in the room with him wasn't Esau. No. Jacob was getting that blessing, and there was nothing short of Heaven and Hell themselves that could prevent it.

    The Almighty Himself, who had made His solemn covenant with Abraham, and renewed it with Isaac, certainly was present in that room during the whole affair. What would have happened if Esau was instead standing there that day we can only surmise.

    But it seems highly probable that the consequences would have been tragic for both father and son. The Almighty God's holy promises and covenants are never to be dispensed as trifles, subject to the whim and preference of self centered mortals who are swayed to make important decisions simply upon the taste of their favorite foods.

    †. Gen 27:29c . . Cursed be they who curse you, blessed they who bless you.

    That the blessing upon Jacob was definitely the same as the blessing given to Abraham and Isaac is clear from the words spoken here in the final part.

    First, Isaac conferred the material aspects of patriarchal life: prosperity. I am sure that Esau would have loved that part of it. However, there is nothing in the wording of the blessing to suggest that it included an actual bequeathal of Isaac's assets. Isaac's closing statement echoes God's own words to Abraham in Gen 12:3

    Some have wondered why Isaac didn't include the balance of the Gen 12:2-3 blessing at this time; which goes like this:

    "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing . . and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you."

    Sad to say, I think Isaac knew very well it would be like blessing a beast. Though Esau might become a great nation, he would never become a blessing to all the families of the Earth; nor that they would bless themselves by him.

    Yet even knowing that, Isaac was, for all intents and purposes, still determined to confer the patriarchy upon Esau, the secular son. I hate to say it, but I strongly suspect Isaac was becoming somewhat deranged; especially because of the feelings he entertained about his supposedly imminent death.

    Anyway, he did pronounce the blessing upon Jacob; and did so under the very inspiration of God, though Isaac himself was trying to thwart the will of God all the while he was speaking.

    Just so, many years later, the infamous prophet for profit, Balaam, in Numbers 22, 23, and 24, was forced to bless Israel even against his own will.

    And in the days of Jesus of Nazareth (John 11:49-52) the high priest spoke prophetically of the meaning of Jesus' death; though the priest himself did not understand the real import of what he was saying; nor even put any stock at all in his own words.

    The blessing which, by God's edict, should have gone to Jacob in the first place, was indeed finally pronounced upon him by his father in spite of Isaac's lack of willingness to do so. He was tricked into it, yes; but by thunder that shouldn't have been necessary.

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    Sun, Oct 11th - 8:42AM



    Genesis 27:14-27

     

    †. Gen 27:14-15 . . He got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared a dish such as his father liked. Rebecca then took the best clothes of her older son Esau, which were there in the house, and had her younger son Jacob put them on;

    The word for "house" is from bayith (bah'-yith) which means: a dwelling (in the greatest variation of applications), including family.

    Does that mean Rebecca lived in a permanent structure? I don't think so. Bayith doesn't always mean what we think. In Gen 6:14 it implicates the interior of the ark. At Gen 7:1 it implicates Noah's family, and quite possibly even all their belongings-- a regular Noah's Family Robinson. At Gen 15:2, bayith implicates Abraham's entire estate: his tents, his livestock, and his servants.

    Some have proposed that Esau's best clothes were special-- for religious observances --like the garments that priests might wear. But that certainly doesn't fit Esau's character. I think it was just a nice outfit of some sort, maybe even the one he got married in. But anyway, they sure didn't get washed often because his clothes usually smelled like the outdoors-- and that could mean anything from plain old dirt to wild flowers and meadow grass.

    But why were those clothes (viz: his cleanest dirty shirts) in Rebecca's home? I believe it was because Rebecca anticipated this very day and kept them right there handy so she could put them on Jacob when the time came. And that is why she never washed the smell out of them. Jacob of course was very likely a tidy sort of guy and kept his clothes clean. But Esau was a rugged outdoor type who's clothes you would expect to have an odor.

    †. Gen 27:16 . . and she covered his hands and the hairless part of his neck with the skins of the kids.

    Those hides would still be raw and untreated. So Rebecca had to scrub and scrape to get all the fat and blood off so they wouldn't have a visceral smell to them. Yuck! That's reminiscent of scenes from Silence Of The Lambs.

    †. Gen 27:17 . .Then she put in the hands of her son Jacob the dish and the bread that she had prepared.

    Yummy. From the kitchen of Becky Crocker; with biscuits and gravy too. Well, this is as far as Rebecca can go. Now it's all up to Mr. Jacob to pull this off. Good luck dude. Don't chicken out now. HWUAH! (Navy SEAL cheer)

    †. Gen 27:18-19a . . He went to his father and said: Father. And he said: Yes, which of my sons are you? Jacob said to his father: I am Esau, your first-born; I have done as you told me.

    That man makes me proud. No mumbling, no stuttering, no hesitation-- right to it. Yes; he is a big fat liar. But I love it. You watch. Any day now he'll get a letter in the mail from CIA recruiters praising his moral flexibility.

    NOTE: When Jacob called out to his dad; he used what is known as a "vocative" which Webster's defines as: of, relating to, or being a grammatical case marking out the one addressed. In other words: a vocative is intended to get the attention of a specific person in a room rather than everybody in the room.

    This may seem superfluous, and I guess it isn't germane to the study of Genesis; but the principle has an important application in Christianity. Compare Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:6 where the Aramaic vocative Abba indicates that the Father's children don't call out to Him as merely a clan's paterfamilias, but rather, like Jacob did with Isaac: as one's very own papa.

    †. Gen 27:19b-20 . . Pray sit up and eat of my game, that you may give me your innermost blessing. Isaac said to his son: How did you succeed so quickly, my son? And he said: Because the Lord your God granted me good fortune.

    What did he say!? My golly that man had chutzpah! He actually dragged the name of God into the lie. Now Jacob will be condemned to the lower regions for sure; or will he?

    "I say unto you: that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 8:11)

    †. Gen 27:21-23 . . Isaac said to Jacob: Come closer that I may feel you, my son-- whether you are really my son Esau or not. So Jacob drew close to his father Isaac, who felt him and wondered: The voice is the voice of Jacob, yet the hands are the hands of Esau. He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; and so he blessed him.

    So then, in spite of their twin-ness, there was enough of a difference in the brothers' voices to be discernable. However, Rebecca somehow attached size-cut pieces of young goat skin on the backs of Jacob's hands and fingers with some sort of toupee adhesive so it would feel to Isaac as if it were a man's natural hairs. That was a pretty good trick; and would probably land her a job as a Hollywood make-up artist.

    †. Gen 27:24 . . He asked: Are you truly my son Esau? And when he said: I am,

    Some people are of the opinion that Jacob was a mama's boy. Well, maybe he was. But one thing he had that most mama's boys don't; and it's a level head under stress. Jacob was as calm and calculating as a test pilot all during this incident.

    I tell you, that man amazes me. I bet Rebecca was just outside the door sweating bullets while all this was going on; hoping and praying that Jacob not lose his cool and bolt out of the room in a panic. This is just the kind of cool under fire that the Secret Service looks for; but then, you need a pretty high IQ to work with those guys.

    †. Gen 27:25 . . he said: Serve me and let me eat of my son's game that I may give you my innermost blessing. So he served him and he ate, and he brought him wine and he drank.

    The wine was probably out in the kitchen. When Jacob went back to get it, don't you think Rebecca hugged him and gave him a great big thumbs up? I do. Those two were a team! The original Mission Impossible task force.

    While Isaac was eating, he and Jacob probably chatted. About what; I don't have a clue. But Jacob managed to pull it off like a pro. Isaac really thought he was talking with Esau.

    †. Gen 27:26-27 . .Then his father Isaac said to him: Come close and kiss me, my son. And he went up and kissed him. And he smelled his clothes and he blessed him, saying, Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of the fields that the Lord has blessed.

    Esau probably always smelled like that and Rebecca took full advantage of it. He should have washed his clothes once in a while. Good grief the man had two wives. What the heck did they do all day? Neglect their chores to watch Oprah, Dr. Phil, Judge Judy, and the Soaps?

    I bet if you visited Esau's home the kids were running around in dirty underwear and snotty noses all the time. You probably had to kick a path to walk and wouldn't dare sit down because something might stick. Poor Rebecca. What a pair of daughters-in-law. I bet when they all got together on holidays, Judith and Basemath sat around on their tushes and gossiped while Rebecca and Jacob did all the dishes.

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    Sat, Oct 10th - 8:43AM



    Genesis 27:5-13

     

    †. Gen 27:5a . . Rebecca had been listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau.

    We might ask: Why was Rebecca so concerned anyway? Didn't God decree the firstborn's rights to Jacob? Then Jacob will get them anyway; won't he?

    Yes. Jacob would eventually end up with the firstborn's rights anyway; but the problem was: the outgoing patriarch had to impart the blessing and obviously Mr. Isaac wasn't inclined to do so. It appears to me that Isaac was actually going to attempt to circumvent God's wishes and I honestly think it was because he was afraid of alienating his favorite son.

    Rebecca wasn't stupid, nor inclined to superstition. I seriously doubt she was silly enough to believe the words of the blessing themselves held sufficient magic to confer the firstborn's rights upon Jacob just because he happened to be in the room and hear them as they were spoken in his direction. After all, it was all done under false pretenses and a fake ID. No court in the land would uphold anything obtained by a fraud like that. But her scheme was designed to do something else entirely.

    I believe her intent was to wake Isaac up and make him return to his senses. The man did fear God. That much is beyond question. But he was lax in his patriarchal duties. Before this is over, he will regret his laxity very, very much.

    †. Gen 27:5b-7 . .When Esau had gone out into the open to hunt game to bring home, Rebecca said to her son Jacob: I overheard your father speaking to your brother Esau, saying: Bring me some game and prepare a dish for me to eat, that I may bless you, with the Lord's approval, before I die.

    That's not really what Isaac said. It appears that Rebecca embellished a little and added "with the Lord's approval." Compare Gen 3:3 where Eve embellished God's testimony in Gen 2:17 where He didn't forbid them to "touch" the fruit; no, only to eat it.

    †. Gen 27:8 . . Now, my son, listen carefully as I instruct you.

    Cool as a vice cop, Rebecca executes Plan A with the step by step precision of a well arranged sting. I can just visualize her grip upon Jacob's arm, gazing up into his face with a most intense look, as she gears him up to get started on his part of the scheme.

    †. Gen 27:9a . . Go to the flock and fetch me two choice kids,

    Why two? Well, for one thing: deer produce a much larger quantity of meat than a little bitty kid. It's true Isaac couldn't possibly eat a whole deer at one sitting, but Rebecca can only use parts of the kids that best resemble the venison cuts Isaac prefers. And Esau more than likely cooked up a whole lot more than just one serving. I think he typically brought his dad a heaping buffet and let him pick out what he wanted; and anything left over was kept as victuals for the rest of the house; which of course included Esau himself.

    Rebecca is going to have to duplicate that setting as best as she can. And she will too. After all, who was it taught those two boys how to cook in the first place? None other than Becky Crocker.

    †. Gen 27:9b . . and I will make of them a dish for your father, such as he likes.

    This is additional evidence that it wasn't merely the flavor of Esau's cooking that made Isaac love him. Rebecca could duplicate the taste of venison with goat meat so that you couldn't tell the one from the other.

    †. Gen 27:10a-11a . .Then take it to your father to eat, in order that he may bless you before he dies. Jacob answered his mother Rebecca: But....

    Jacob straight away sees where his mom is going with this and likes it. However . . there's just one problem: Rebecca can duplicate Esau's cooking; but how will Jacob duplicate Esau? They didn't have the benefit of slick Hollywood make-up artists in those days so how are they going to make Jacob look (or rather, feel) like his brother?

    Well, they have Isaac's poor eyesight to their advantage; so Jacob's appearance won't have to be all that accurate. But they will need at least one prosthetic: body hair.

    †. Gen 27:11b-12 . . my brother Esau is a hairy man and I am smooth-skinned. If my father touches me, I shall appear to him as a trickster and bring upon myself a curse, not a blessing.

    Isaac might get the wrong idea and think that Jacob is poking fun at his bad eyesight by playing a dumb trick on him. That would hurt the old boy's feelings a great deal to think that his 75 year-old son thought so little of him as to perpetrate such a cruel prank; which of course would warrant a curse; because it is not only cruel to play tricks on the blind, but, even worse, to be cruel to one's parents.

    †. Gen 27:13 . . But his mother said to him: Your curse, my son, be upon me! Just do as I say and go fetch them for me.

    That's the oldest ploy in the book. It's the very same reasoning the German military guards used to justify their duties at Auschwitz and Dachau. "You can't blame us" they said; "We only did what we were told." That seems reasonable enough. After all, the ones in charge are really responsible; right?

    Wrong. The midwives of Ex 1:15-17 could have used the very same excuse; but didn't. And God commended them for fearing Him. If they had obeyed Pharaoh, they would have received condemnation instead. Everyone bears their own personal responsibility and has a duty to raise conscientious objections.

    In other words: it is a sin to violate your conscience. Yes, soldiers and minor children are to obey their superiors-- but to the point of sin? Never! Besides, Jacob was no minor child. He was a grown man.

    But Rebecca needed some leverage to keep Jacob in the game. By playing the "filial authority" card, she persuaded Jacob to stay on track. Luckily, he wasn't too bright at the time and failed to appreciate his own personal accountability. After all, the man was at least 75 years old; not just a little kid.

    But then again, I think Jacob the supplanter really wanted to pull this thing off and just needed a way to appease his own misgivings about it; so it wasn't too difficult to win him over.

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    Fri, Oct 9th - 8:14AM



    Genesis 27:1-4

     

    †. Gen 27:1a . .When Isaac was old

    Just precisely how old Isaac was at this time, is difficult to tell. But I think we can come close enough for government work.

    Jacob spent 20 years with Laban. (Gen 31:41a)

    Joseph was born during that time. (Gen 30:22-24)

    At just about the time Joseph was born, Jacob and Laban worked out an arrangement concerning shares of the livestock to compensate Jacob's labors. (Gen 30:25-34)

    That deal with the livestock went on for six of the twenty years Jacob served Laban. (Gen 31:41b)

    Joseph was 30 when he became prime minister of Egypt. (Gen 41:46a)

    When Joseph went to work for Pharaoh; a 14 year period began, consisting of two divisions-- seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine. After the seven years of plenty, and two of the years of famine, when he was about 39, Joseph brought his dad down into Egypt. (Gen 45:6-9)

    When Jacob arrived, he stood before Pharaoh and told him he was 130 years old. (Gen 47:7-9a)

    Now we can do some arithmetic.

    Jacob arrived in Egypt at 130. Subtracting Joseph's age of 39, we get 91; which was Jacob's age when Joseph was born. After subtracting 14-- the years Jacob worked for Laban up to the deal they made concerning the livestock --we're left with 77; which is Jacob's approximate age when he indentured himself to Laban.

    Allowing for a generous intermission of 2 years-- encompassing Rebecca's scheme, Jacob's flight to Haran, and his eventual indenture to Laban --Jacob's age in the section of Genesis we're in today, can very reasonably be put at 75.

    Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born. (Gen 25:26)

    So adding 75 to 60, puts Isaac somewhere in the neighborhood of 135 years old at the beginning of chapter 27.

    Everyone involved in this next episode was getting up in years and thus quite mature. Jacob and Esau, though 75 years old, were, nonetheless, vigorous men and, gerontologically speaking, relatively young in terms of the aging process as it existed in those days. Even Isaac wasn't as near death as he feared since he lived another 45 years to be 180 when he died. (Gen 35:28)

    †. Gen 27:1b . . and his eyes were too dim to see,

    The word for "dim" is from kahah (kaw-haw') which means: to be weak; viz: to despond and/or grow dull.

    So Isaac wasn't actually blind, as some have proposed. It's far more likely he was stricken with cataracts, macular degeneration and/or some other vision condition very common among people his age even today.

    †. Gen 27:1c-2 . . he called his older son Esau and said to him; My son. He answered; Here I am. And he said; I am old now, and I do not know how soon I may die.

    It's common for older men to feel that not only is their time running out, but also their luck. I've dodged several bullets in my 72 years; two of them literal; and can't reasonably expect to live too much longer before the law of averages catches up to me either by accident, crime, or natural causes.

    †. Gen 27:3-4 . . Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.

    The part about "my soul" is a curious statement. The Hebrew word is nephesh (neh'-fesh) which is a very common word for all creatures great and small in the Old Testament beginning at Gen 1:20. Nepesh never refers to unconscious life; viz: it only refers to fauna, never to flora.

    But the interesting thing is: man not only is a soul (Gen 2:7) but according to Gen 27:4, Gen 34:2, and a host of other passages, man also has a soul; so it turns out that nephesh is a bit ambiguous.

    A pretty good paraphrase of that portion of the passage would be "that I may bless you from the core of my being". (viz: the bottom of his heart)

    Esau was Isaac's favorite and I don't think he ever did care too much for Jacob. If he had purposed to bless Jacob, I think it would have been done with a very grudging spirit. This particular blessing regards Esau's inheritance. He already sold the patriarchy to Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup. Whether or not Isaac was aware of the deal the brothers struck, is not said.

    What takes place next in chapter 27 is difficult to believe. To think that two grown-ups, one at least 75 and the other very likely 115 years old, took part in this incredibly clownish deception. I could understand young, inexperienced kids doing something so stupid. But it is difficult to understand how supposedly mature adults like Rebecca and Jacob could ever seriously ponder such a silly scheme.

    It is simply moronic that Rebecca would even remotely consider that her crafty little plan had even the remotest chance of success. Conducted under false pretenses, and a fake ID; it would only be a matter of hours before the scam was uncovered, the ill gotten blessing of course retracted, and the perpetrators soundly excoriated . . unless . . unless there is more to this incident than meets the eye; and there most certainly is.

    Ninety-five years prior to this point in time, God personally selected a vibrant water girl up in Haran to be Isaac's spouse. The wisdom of that selection is now going to become apparent as we begin to realize who actually wore the spiritual pants in Isaac's house. If spirituality were a martial art, Rebecca would be a black belt. Her discernment regarding matters of Heaven is just incredible. Was she really a silly female? Far from it.

    In spite of God's mandate in chapter 25 concerning Jacob, and in spite of the plainly obvious superiority of Jacob's character, and his spiritual discernment, and his convictions, and in spite of Esau's blatant indifference to his birthright, and to his spiritual heritage, and to the mind of God; Isaac was nevertheless apparently determined to give both the patriarchy and the inheritance to Esau-- clearly the wrong choice; not to mention a direct affront to God. The inheritance was one thing, but the patriarchy was a whole other matter altogether.

    Esau even married impious women from among the pagan Canaanites. A horrible choice considering the repercussions of such spouses upon the future of Abraham's covenant. And Esau no doubt made that choice against the counsel and consent of his parents; proving all the more just how head-strong and self-willed the man really was. Motivated by the gain of temporal advantage, and the gratification of carnal appetites; Esau had no spiritual vision at all. Well; Rebecca is fixin' to give Mr. Isaac, and his secular son Mr. Esau, the wake-up call of their lives!

    Esau was a man's man. I think if any of us met him, we would be instantly drawn by his charisma and virility. And I think that Isaac saw in him the kind of man he always wished he was himself. But in the coin of heaven, Esau had no more worth than a dilapidated old shoe.

    It's difficult to comprehend how favoritism, on the part of such a presumably spiritual man as Isaac, could be based upon such a carnal motive as the taste of venison. But it wasn't just the meal, but rather the way it was obtained.

    We get runs of Salmon up here in Oregon's rivers at various times of the year. Last time I checked; you could buy fresh Coho Salmon in local supermarkets for about $12 a pound. But no; guys prefer instead to spend all day on a river shivering in the freezing cold just to catch one Salmon in the wild.

    But the river fish means something that the supermarket fish can never mean. Yes, both are edible and both make great eating and honestly you can't tell the difference. But one is obtained with a shopping cart. The other by a man's own bare hands: with fishing tackle, by personal energy combined with risk, skill, and cunning, i.e. man vs wild. All those are important to a "real" man's feelings of personal worth.

    It was customary in Jacob's day to mark solemn occasions with a feast; like the one Isaac prepared for Abimelech when they swore an oath together in chapter 26. And since the blessing Isaac resolved to bestow upon Esau was such an important one, it seemed appropriate that the solemnities should be marked by a feast of wild meat provided by Esau's own personal hunting skills.

    However, father and son didn't reckon on the God factor, and they surely didn't reckon on black-ops Rebecca. Their little party is not going to happen because this sharp gal from up north anticipated this very day and is all set to implement a little fiesta of her own.

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    Thu, Oct 8th - 8:22AM



    Genesis 26:31-35

     

    †. Gen 26:31-32 . . Early in the morning, they exchanged oaths. Isaac then bade them farewell, and they departed from him in peace. That same day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well they had dug, and said to him: We have found water!

    Ah, yes. It is always so pleasant to cap a victory with a good ending. Isaac had a perfect day.

    †. Gen 26:33 . . He named it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba to this day.

    The word for Shibah is from Shib' ah (shib-aw') which means: seven(th)

    The new well is sister to a well Abraham dug many years previously in an unspecified region of Gerar. He, and the then Abimelech, settled ownership of that one with those seven ewes in chapter 21. So this is puzzling-- shib' ah is not the same word as sheba'. Sheba' means oath. Shib' ah means seven. Seven what? I don't know; Genesis doesn't say.

    But the number 7 is often used in the Bible like we use the number 10 today. If we want to say something is perfect, we give it a ten. Isaac gave it a seven; so I think it's safe to assume that the water in the new well was really exceptional. (compare Rev 13:17-18 where the number of a man is given as 666, which is imperfection three times over. In other words: man is not only imperfect; but he's really imperfect.)

    †. Gen 26:34 . .When Esau was forty years old, he took to wife Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite;

    There seems to be some confusion concerning the names, and the number, of Esau's wives. Here are their names according to Gen 36:2-3.

    "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."

    There were two girls named Basemath-- Adah, the daughter of Elon the Hittite, was also known as Basemath. Adah may have been surnamed to avoid confusing her with the other Basemath: Ishmael's daughter. The Oholibamah of 36:2 is the Judith of 26:34. She was the offspring of a mixed marriage between Beeri and Anah. She too may have been surnamed to avoid confusion.

    †. Gen 26:35 . .And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebecca.

    In other words, those two girls made life miserable for Isaac and Rebecca and caused them a great deal of mental, and emotional anguish. Some feel that they were also a source of spiritual friction because they were infidels who worshipped the gods of the Canaanites. No doubt they did. But how would that come into play? Well; their religions permitted the practice of some vile social customs.

    Canaanite religions didn't forbid such things as wife swapping, promiscuity, adultery, sex with women in their period, burning children to death in sacrificial ceremonies, sleeping with close blood relatives, LGBT love, bestiality, nudity, astrology, divination, voodoo, magic, communication with the spirit world, witchcraft, drunkenness, and wild parties; including cult prostitution where women devotees sold themselves to support their "church" (cf. Gen 38:13-23)

    So you can easily see just how vexing that women like that might be. How could Esau even trust them while he was away on safari? Lacking his companionship, they would either turn to each other for sensual comforts or seek out lovers among the servants. They might even hit on Rebecca and Isaac; and maybe even hit on their co-husband's third wife; Ishmael's Basemath. And the girls would have no qualms about walking around the house scantily clad or even in the nude; so you never knew what to expect when they invited you over.

    Those two women were very definitely not the PowerPuff Girls-- the wholesome little kindergartners who make the world safe before bedtime. No; they were the PantyHose Girls who seanced, Tarot carded, and Ouija boarded their way to new excitements.

    As bad as all that stuff was, it doesn't hold a candle to the danger of those women influencing Isaac's grandchildren. And that is a very real threat in mixed marriages. Men especially are susceptible to letting their wives guide the home's religious training. I've seen it often enough to know what I'm saying.

    And with a man like Esau, a secular man who had no interest in religion to begin with, the kids had no hope at all of turning out right. They will grow up to scorn and ridicule Abraham's religion; and his god too. They will pick up the most abominable habits, and see nothing wrong in them.

    There is one thing our kids can do for us that is unquestionably the most important thing they will ever do-- pass on our religious beliefs on to our progeny. No one else is going to do that for us. And we can't stay behind and make sure it happens. So if we leave our kids without a solid religious heritage; then their own kids-- our grandchildren --are doomed to return to secular concepts. And maybe worse.

    Esau's side of the family went bad, that's for sure, just like Cain's did. And I believe it started on it's downhill slide right with his union to those two impious women. At Esau's age, and in that kind of home and upbringing; he should have known better. But in spite of his parents' protests; in spite of his parents' fears regarding their grandchildren; in spite of his parents' feelings about those women coming into their home; in spite of God's feelings regarding His religion; and in spite of his birthright; Esau forged ahead and married those two filthy women.

    You know why? Because it was his life; and nobody was going to tell him how to live it. Some people, like the pharaoh that resisted Moses; are just defiant to the bone and they'll do things wrong just to stand up to you and assert their independence.

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    Wed, Oct 7th - 7:52AM



    Genesis 26:26-30

     

    †. Gen 26:26 . . And Abimelech came to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his councilor and Phicol chief of his troops.

    Well, well, well; look what the cat dragged in. There were a whole lot more than just those three men; you can bet on that. Phicol is the Army chief of staff. There is no way he escorted the king of Gerar without bringing along a fair-sized contingent of Gerar's trained fighting men as body guards.

    But who is Ahuzzath?

    The Hebrew word for "councilor" is from merea' (may-ray'-ah) which, in the sense of companionship, means: a friend

    An earlier Abimelech, back in Abraham's days, practically kidnapped Sarah for his harem. But this one showed no interest at all in Rebecca, who was just as much a stunning ten as Sarah. In point of fact, when Abimelech complained that one of the people might have slept with Rebecca (Gen 26:9-10) he didn't complain that he himself might have.

    Just between you and me: I suspect Mr. Ahussath was Abimelech's boy toy, if you know what I mean. It really wasn't unusual for ancient monarchs to have male lovers; and nobody thought too much of it at the time.

    †. Gen 26:27 . . Isaac said to them: Why have you come to me, seeing that you have been hostile to me and have driven me away from you?

    Normally, kings in that day did not call on people. If they wanted to see somebody, they sent a summons to appear and dispatched an escort to make sure you didn't refuse. Isaac knew something was up because 'ol Abimelech was treating him as an equal; if not a superior. Isaac had by this time become strong enough to crush Abimilech's community, and the old boy very well knew it too.

    I can't help but like a man like Isaac. He was so direct. Not really what one might call an in-your-face kind of guy; but transparent and unequivocal.

    †. Gen 26:28a . . And they said: We now see plainly that Yhvh has been with you,

    As long as they thought Isaac was a nomadic farmer it was okay to dump on him? And now that they know he's connected with a supernatural being, they want to be his friend? But our man is cool. He won't let that get to him. You know what's going on here? Abimelech is holding his hat in his hand. And he is going to eat that hat too before it's over.

    †. Gen 26:28b-29a . . and we thought: Let there be a sworn treaty between our two parties, between you and us. Let us make a pact with you that you will not do us harm,

    You know, it is just amazing how nice people can be when they realize they've bitten off more than they can chew. The Gerarians had sorely underestimated Isaac and thought they could push him around because he was an affable immigrant. Big mistake.

    As time went by, they perceived that his prosperity could only be explained in a supernatural way. If it came to a fight, Isaac was allied with a powerful spirit being whom they all knew for a certainty from past experiences could not be defeated. Yes. Isaac was well able to totally clean their clocks and nail their hides to the barn door. (Isaac was only just recently visited by that Being back in verse 24 who encouraged Isaac to be brave, and also promised Divine assistance.)

    Isaac was holding all the aces and didn't have to make a pact with anybody. He could have stood right up, lectured their derrieres soundly for the way he was treated in their country, and ordered them out of the house. They really had some chutzpah coming to him with a proposition like that. But Isaac was indeed a peaceable man; well in control of his tongue, and of his passions. If those crumbs were ready now to promise to leave him alone, well, then, okay, he was for it.

    †. Gen 26:29b . . just as we have not molested you but have always dealt kindly with you and sent you away in peace.

    Was that true? Some of it. It's true the Federales didn't raid his camps, nor plunder his goods, nor rough anybody up. He wasn't subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures. And he wasn't forcibly deported like an undesirable, or an enemy of the state, or a criminal.

    But still; they didn't deal fairly with Isaac. He never trespassed on private property, but dug his wells and settled on open range managed by the BLM; viz: public lands. Yet the county water commission always ruled against him even though his men dug those productive wells fair and square.

    †. Gen 26:29c . . From now on, be you blessed of Yhvh!

    Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw! I just love it when the bad guys wish me the best from my god. "God bless you" they say. Oh sure; God bless me. As if they really give a hoot how the Bible's God feels about anybody.

    †. Gen 26:30 . .Then he made for them a feast, and they ate and drank.

    The wicked often feel they won because their opponents are so civil and so agreeable. Isaac had plenty of good reason to be indignant. But he held his peace. That could be construed as weakness. Mistake! (on their part) You think Isaac consented to their crappy defense? No way.

    Isaac was a shrewd diplomat. He picked his battles. Some things merit contention. But this incident didn't. Those guys were in his home with hat in hand and he took advantage of it to secure a non-aggression pact that benefited both communities: Isaac's and Abimelech's. If Isaac were to let his passions dictate the terms, then he might jeopardize his family and his servants. Isaac had his weak points, but political strategy wasn't one of them.

    There are those in life whom we appropriately label thin skinned, reactive, and defensive. You know who they are. They sit still for nothing, take nothing lying down: they're stand up fighters; always ready to give others a piece of their mind and set them straight.

    These contentious folk drain all the enjoyment out of social contact. Everybody has to walk on egg shells and be careful what's said around them so they don't explode. Too easily provoked, indignant and quarrelsome, these people will be excluded from Messiah's kingdom because his domain is characterized as a place of peace rather than strife.

    "Give up anger, abandon fury, do not be vexed; it can only do harm. For evil men will be cut off, but those who look to the Lord-- they shall inherit the land. A little longer and there will be no wicked man; you will look at where he was-- he will be gone. But the lowly shall inherit the land, and delight in abundant well-being." (Ps 37:8-11)

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    Tue, Oct 6th - 9:07AM



    Genesis 26:21-25

     

    †. Gen 26:21 . . And when they dug another well, they disputed over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.

    The Hebrew word for "Sitnah" is from sitnan (sit-naw') which is the very same as sitnah (sit-naw') which means: opposition (by letter).

    Apparently the herdsmen were filing formal complaints against Isaac like the enemies of Ezra did when he was attempting to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. (Ezr 4:6-7)

    Gerar County's Water Board must have ruled in favor of the herdsmen because Isaac had to keep moving around until they finally left him alone.

    †. Gen 26:22 . . He moved from there and dug yet another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he called it Rehoboth, saying: Now at last the Lord has granted us ample space to increase in the land.

    Rehoboth first appeared in the Bible at Gen 10:11 as the name of an ancient city. It appears two more times in the Bible after here as the name of a city (Gen 36:37, 1Chrn 1:48) and means pretty much what Isaac said, i.e. lots of room to maneuver and/or spread out.

    The herdsmen had, by this time, probably pushed Isaac way out to land that nobody wanted. But God was with Isaac. Even the deserts produce when His hands are in it. (cf. Isa 35:1-4)

    With those pesky herdsmen out of the way, the road, or rather, roads ahead were wide and clear; and Isaac could put the pedal to the metal and go full speed ahead and not worry about hitting an iceberg; viz: the sky was the limit.

    Isaac was a very patient man, and affable too. But push him too far, and he might show his teeth. In a bit, Abimelech is coming calling and Isaac is going to confront the obtuse monarch about the way he was treated by the County Water Board.

    Yes, Isaac Enterprises was a huge, going concern that spread over many acres of land. But he didn't obtain his wealth by dishonest means. All of Isaac's business was conducted legally and above board. And he complied with all of the Gerar County rulings concerning disputes over the water rights even though their rulings were undoubtedly biased in favor of Gerar citizens. Isaac didn't deserve to be treated so unfairly.

    †. Gen 26:23 . . From there he went up to Beer-sheba.

    Exactly where the boys Jacob and Esau were during this era in Isaac's life isn't stated. They may have remained in the highlands to protect Isaac's interests while he was out of town, but then again, they may have been with him in Gerar: it's impossible to tell.

    Genesis doesn't say exactly how long Isaac and Rebecca lived around Gaza. Isaac's usual haunts were Beer-lahai-roi, about 50 miles further south. Beer-sheba was Abraham's zone on oath between him and an earlier Abimelech. The Gerarians could be expected to leave Isaac alone there. The first night, God showed up.

    †. Gen 26:24a . .That night the Lord appeared to him and said: I am the god of your father Abraham.

    In what manner, or by what method, God appeared to Isaac isn't stated. It could have been in a dream, it could have been as a traveling man, or a close encounter of a third kind: nobody knows for sure.

    †. Gen 26:24b . . Fear not, for I am with you,

    It's reasonable to assume it was unnecessary for God to reassure Isaac, but Abimelech is on the way. He won't come alone either. He was a king; and kings travel with an armed retinue. So when news of this comes to Isaac, he would have good cause to become alarmed. I think God is just giving him a pep talk to prepare him for the meeting. Like they say: one with God is a majority; and a man who fears God, has no man to fear.

    †. Gen 26:24c . . and I will bless you

    Isn't that what He promised earlier, when Isaac moved down into Gerar? Yes. And just in case Isaac thought that was a one time deal, and he would never be blessed again, God reaffirms his commitment to blessing Abraham's progeny.

    NOTE: The Bible's readers aren't all that privy to what went on in the minds of the patriarchs. It could be-- and this is only a guess --that Isaac was feeling a bit guilty about his attempt to deceive Abimelech regarding the nature of his relationship with Rebecca. Because of that; his humanistic sense of justice may have suggested that his mistake cost him the previous blessing: or possibly future ones.

    †. Gen 26:24d . . and increase your progeny for the sake of My servant Abraham.

    If I were a Hebrew man-- not a pseudo Jew like Gentiles who become Jews by conversion --but a real Hebrew man by blood, I would make a point of remembering that God will honor His commitment to Abraham. He hasn't preserved the people of Israel because they are Jews nor because they are so faithful to God. No, far from it. It's solely because of His personal commitment to Abraham-- period. (cf. Ex 32:9-14)

    †. Gen 26:25 . . So he built an altar there and invoked the Lord by name. Isaac pitched his tent there and his servants started digging a well.

    Speaking to God by name is different than addressing Him officially as a deity or a monarch. Not that there's anything wrong with addressing the Bible's God officially as a deity or a monarch; but speaking to Him by name implies familiarity; which is a lots cozier than official protocol.

    For example: If I were to meet with America's current US President Donald Trump, I would address him as Sir or Mr. President. It would be very presumptuous and disrespectful of me to address him by his name Donald because we have never associated on that level; nor do I expect to.

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    Mon, Oct 5th - 9:01AM



    Genesis 26:15-20

     

    †. Gen 26:15 . . And the Philistines stopped up all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham, filling them with earth.

    You would think the Philistines would value those wells and put the water to use for themselves. But actually, there weren't really all that many Philistines in the Gerar area at the time. They didn't need the water; and they sure didn't want any squatters to discover the wells and thus be encouraged to settle down in their region.

    Abimelech forbade his citizens to harm Isaac; but that didn't preclude harassing and annoying him. Cutting off his water supplies was very serious because Isaac needed them to irrigate crops and water the livestock. Without adequate water supplies, Isaac Enterprises was doomed. He had a right to file a complaint. But Abimelech felt it best for all concerned to run Isaac out of the country.

    NOTE: I've a suspicion that the rural Philistines had become territorial; which can be roughly defined as an assumed property right due to long-time occupation; whether legal or otherwise. In other words; Isaac's rivals probably felt that although they didn't actually own the countryside, they had been there longer than Isaac so they had a preemptive right to dictate its use. It's a Neanderthal's way of thinking, but goes on all the time; commonly in work places where senior employees are inclined to dominate new hires.

    †. Gen 26:16 . . And Abimelech said to Isaac: Go away from us, for you have become far too big for us.

    Just exactly what Abimelech meant by "far too big for us" is hard to know for sure. But it looks suspiciously like a cowardly act of favoritism; pure and simple. Instead of being fair and equitable with Isaac, Abimelech, like a cheap politician, ignored the vandalism his citizens had done against Isaac and made it look like this whole nasty business was his fault; vz: he was just getting too greedy and beginning to crowd everybody else out.

    Was this maybe the first antitrust suit in history? Antitrust laws, in reality, put a limit on prosperity. They say that the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are okay as long as you don't pursue them to an extreme. People often believe in a free enterprise system; but typically only up until somebody else's enterprise is having much better success at it than theirs.

    †. Gen 26:17 . . So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the wadi of Gerar, where he settled.

    A wadi named Nahal Gerar is on modern maps of the Gaza region. Whether or not that was Isaac's wadi I don't know. Wadis are basins in which brooks flow, and therefore, were the well-watered and fertile parts of the country. In times of scant rain up in the highlands, the brooks in many wadis dry up, and then it becomes necessary to dig wells down into the subterranean water table.

    According to ERETZ magazine, issue 64, the Gerar river draws its waters from tributaries that run along the slopes of the rain-swept Hebron mountains. Enormous amounts of water flow through it in winter, flooding the channel an average of seven times a year.

    †. Gen 26:18 . . Isaac dug anew the wells which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham's death; and he gave them the same names that his father had given them.

    Those wells were dug nearly a hundred years prior to this event; and makes one wonder how Isaac knew where they were and how he knew the names his dad had named them. The Gerarians probably waited until Abraham was dead to plug them up because they feared him. He had a reputation as a military leader and he also had a pact with the king Abimelech of Abraham's period.

    †. Gen 26:19-20 . . But when Isaac's servants, digging in the wadi, found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying: The water is ours. He named that well Esek, because they contended with him.

    Isaac was much too affable. He didn't have to let those guys buffalo him; after all, Isaac had a pretty good sized army of his own; left to him by his dad. He could easily have posted an armed platoon by the well to keep the local cowboys away from it. But no, he chose rather to condescend and let them have their own way. Isaac was truly a "turn the other cheek" kind of guy who was willing (maybe a bit too willing) to bend over backward to accommodate people and prevent violence and ill will.

    Esek was a new well; not one of Abraham's. The herdsmen were motivated by envy so they were reluctant to share the regions resources with the likes of Isaac because they hated his success. They didn't contest Isaac's access to the water in Abraham's wells. They probably felt he had a right to use those; but the men would not tolerate Isaac taking any more water than that; and most especially water of this quality. It was literally living water-- viz: artesian.

    Urban dwellers really don't appreciate their water and typically haven't a clue where it comes from nor how it gets into their homes. But in Isaac's day, people couldn't live too far from a natural source of water. Many of the ancient cities and communities were located adjacent to rivers for that very reason.

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    Sun, Oct 4th - 10:04AM



    Genesis 26:6-14a

     

    †. Gen 26:6 . . So Isaac stayed in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said "She is my sister" for he was afraid to say "my wife" thinking: The men of the place might kill me on account of Rebecca, for she is beautiful.

    NOTE: The thing about human beauty is that it's subjective, i.e. only humans can appreciate it. A big ape like King Kong would not be attracted to a cute blonde girl because his chemistry isn't mixed right. For example; meerkat boys no doubt think that meerkat girls are sexy little hotties. But I seriously doubt that meerkat boys feel the same way about human girls.

    The Hebrew word for "sister" is 'achowth (aw-khoth') and has very wide application. It can mean an actual biological sister of the same parents as the brother, or it can just mean female kin, either near or far. I'm guessing that Isaac and Rebecca were far enough apart in age that she could easily pass for his niece.

    'achowth is very much like the New Testament Greek word suggenes (soong-ghen ace'). For example Luke 1:36, "Even Elizabeth your cousin is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month." The word "cousin" is an arbitrary choice of words. Suggenes could just as easily been translated "aunt", or just simply "kin" and/or "relative" and/or "sister".

    NOTE: Translating suggenes as "cousin" in Mary and Elizabeth's case is appropriate seeing as how both women were biologically related to Leah via Judah and Levi.

    Suggenes and 'achowth are ambiguous words, and unless there is some additional clarification in the surrounding text, it is just about impossible to know precisely in what manner the female kin is related; for example in Gen 24:59-60, Rebeca's family called her a sister.

    Isaac's response was semantic double-speak. In other words: he didn't tell an outright bald face lie; what he said was true; from a certain point of view-- he and Rebecca were related. But nevertheless, his response was a half truth meant to deceive.

    I just have to wonder sometimes about the IQ of some of the patriarchs. God had just reaffirmed Abraham's covenant with Isaac; guaranteeing He would bless him on account of his father Abraham's righteousness (not Isaac's righteousness). Yet now he's worried about being murdered in Gerar? I'd hate to think that Isaac didn't believe God. I'd much rather reckon he wasn't paying attention.

    †. Gen 26:8 . . When some time had passed, Abimelech king of the Philistines, looking out of the window, saw Isaac sporting with his wife Rebecca.

    Sporting with one's wife is far and away different than sporting with one's sister. The way those two were horsing around was unmistakably the behavior of lovers.

    †. Gen 26:9-10 . . Abimelech sent for Isaac and said: So she is your wife! Why then did you say "She is my sister". Isaac said to him: Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her. Abimelech said: What have you done to us! One of the people might have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.

    I'm not surprised that Abimelech was frightened. It hadn't been all that long ago when his predecessor had a run-in with Isaac's god, That incident involving Abraham undoubtedly went down in the castle records.

    And to top it off, out there grazing on Gerar pastures was a special breed of sheep that bore a witness for Abraham too (Gen 21:27-32) and their story was very likely woven into Gerar folklore. Oh yes. They knew about Yhvh alright; and they all knew what could happen to them if any of the local men messed around with Rebecca, the wife of Abraham's son.

    †. Gen 26:11 . . Abimelech then charged all the people, saying: Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall be put to death.

    It is most encouraging to note that God is disposed to protect his own from the perils they bring upon themselves by the stupid blunders of their own self reliance. That's a tremendous advantage to have in life.

    The Hebrew word for "molest" is from naga' (naw-gah') which means: to touch, i.e. lay the hand upon (for any purpose; euphemistically, to lie with a woman); by implication, to reach (figuratively, to arrive, acquire); violently, to strike (punish, defeat, destroy, etc.)

    NOTE: A popular euphemism in our day relative to men and women is so and so are "sleeping together" which means of course that they do naughtier stuff than merely slumber.

    So Abimelech was not just talking about sexual molesting; but mandated that his people not even so much as lay a finger upon Isaac and Rebecca in any way at all. Isaac, of course, is getting by on his dad's influence. But what the hey, it doesn't hurt to be connected.

    †. Gen 26:12-14a . . Isaac sowed in that land and reaped a hundredfold the same year. The Lord blessed him, and the man grew richer and richer until he was very wealthy: he acquired flocks and herds, and a large household,

    Quite a bit of the land down around Gerar was public, sort of like our own American frontier in the days of Lewis and Clark; and was up for grabs by whoever had the wherewithal and the moxie to take it. In fact, the Philistines really weren't even a country of their own at this time, but more like a colony clinging to the sea coast of Palestine, with the majority of them still living on the isle of Crete. They would migrate and settle en masse centuries later.

    Farming may seem like a switch from animal husbandry, but the combination was common among pastoral peoples those days for two good reasons. For one; Isaac's herds needed pasture. And two; man can't live on meat alone; he needs fruits and vegetables too.

    And Isaac needed bushels and bushels of those items to feed his immense community. He inherited at least a thousand people from his dad. By now, those have multiplied well beyond that. I think if you'd have encountered Isaac's outfit in those days it would have resembled an Iowa town rather than a simple camp of Bedouins.

    Rates of increase varied from thirty to a hundred (cf. Matt 13:8, Matt 19:29). Sixtyfold is very good, and wasn't unusual in Palestine back in those days. A hundredfold was rare, and occurred only in spots of extraordinary fertility.

    The region of Babylonia, however, yielded two-hundred and even three-hundredfold, according to Herodotus (I.193) and all without genetically modified seeds. Just exactly what those fold numbers indicate is uncertain. Perhaps they were similar to a modern term relative to bushels per acre.

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    Sat, Oct 3rd - 8:07AM



    Genesis 26:1-5

     

    †. Gen 26:1a . .There was a famine in the land-- aside from the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham

    That previous famine occurred in chapter 12 before Isaac was born; even before Ishmael was born. So many good, prosperous years have gone by since the last famine. This may in fact have been the very first famine that Isaac ever witnessed, and probably his last too.

    The Hebrew word for "famine" is from ra' ab (raw-awb') which means: hunger (more or less extensive)

    People go hungry either because they can't buy the foods they need, or can't grow it for lack of soil or water. In Isaac's case it was probably a lack of water that made the difference. He had lots of money. But cattle can't live on legal tender. Down in the lowlands there would very likely be plenty of water in wells and springs that could be used for irrigation. So it's off to the lowlands they go; herds and all.

    †. Gen 26:1b . . and Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar.

    This was very likely another Abimelech-- not the same man in chapter 20 whom Abraham knew. That Abimelech was very likely dead by now. The name "Abimelech" is more like a title than a moniker; sort of like Czar, Pharaoh, or Caesar.

    Gerar hasn't been fully identified, but the site might be in one of the branches of Wady Sheri'a, at a place called Um Jerrar, near the coast southwest of Gaza and 9 miles from it. The site answers fairly well to the statements of Eusebius and Jerome, that it was 25 (Roman) miles south of Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin). It's actually 30 English miles, but distances weren't very accurately determined in early times. Gerar was known in the first 5th century CE, when it was the seat of a bishopric; and its bishop, Marcian, attended the Council of Chalcedon 451 CE.

    According to ERETZ Magazine, issue 64, Abimelech's land is an ample valley with fertile land and numerous springs; a perfect place for a man with cattle to weather out the drought.

    Isaac's decision to investigate the possibility of living amongst Abimelech's people was quite possibly influenced by Abraham's pact with them back in chapter 20. Hopefully they would be inclined to honor his dad's relationship with the previous Abimelech and let Isaac's community live down there at least until it started raining again up in the highlands.

    †. Gen 26:2a . .The Lord had appeared to him

    This is the very first recorded incident where God appeared especially for Isaac. When he was offered as a burnt offering back in chapter 22, God appeared to his dad while Isaac was with him. But God was not said to appear to Isaac. This is the first time.

    You know, probably nobody alive today will ever be honored by a divine close encounter of a third kind. We will live out our pathetically boring little lives always never quite sure if maybe we were hoodwinked-- hoping against hope that the Bible is true. And wouldn't the joke be on us if it isn't? What a bunch of gullible morons Christians would be if there is no Bible's God after all.

    †. Gen 26:2b . . and said: Do not go down to Egypt;

    Isaac may have been considering Egypt as plan B if Gerar didn't work out.

    †. Gen 26:2c . . stay in the land which I point out to you.

    That had to be encouraging. Even if things looked bad in Gerar when Isaac arrived, he could rest upon the fact that he was going in the right direction.

    †. Gen 26:3a . . Reside in this land, and I will be with you and bless you;

    Suppose it turned out Isaac didn't like the land God selected for him and moved to another one? Well he could just forget about the promise: "I will be with you and bless you" That promise was conditional. He had to live where God directed him to live.

    †. Gen 26:3b-4 . . I will assign all these lands to you and to your heirs, fulfilling the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your heirs as numerous as the stars of heaven, and assign to your heirs all these lands, so that all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your heirs--

    Although some translations render the word "heirs" plural, zera' is one of those Hebrew words that can just as accurately be translated in the singular as well the plural: like the words sheep, fish, and deer. In this case, it's probably best to understand zera' in the singular because it most certainly refers to Jacob rather than to both he and his brother Esau.

    †. Gen 26:5 . . inasmuch as Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge: My commandments, My laws, and My teachings.

    Some construe God's statement to indicate that Abraham was included in the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But the statement below excludes him.

    "The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our forefathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, we, all of whom are here alive today." (Deut 5:2-3)

    Were Abraham included in the Jews' covenant; God would have placed Himself in a serious dilemma.

    The problem is: Abraham was married to a half sister (Gen 20:12)

    The covenant prohibits marrying, and/or sleeping with, one's half sister. (Lev 18:9, Lev 20:17)

    Under the terms and conditions of the Jews' covenant; men who sleep with their sisters are cursed the moment they do so because "cursed be he" is grammatically present tense; no delay and no waiting period; viz: the curse is immediate.

    "Cursed be he who lies with his sister, his father's daughter or his mother's daughter." (Deut 27:22)

    Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them. (Deut 27:26)

    Well; were God to slam Abraham with a curse for sleeping with his sister, then God would be obligated to slam Himself with a curse in return.

    "The one who curses you I will curse" (Gen 12:3)

    Abraham enjoyed quite an advantage. He had a certain kind of immunity. In other words, seeing as how Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were instituted long after Abraham passed away; then none of the curses listed at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69 applied to him.

    Abraham complied with God's requirements; His commands, His decrees and His laws voluntarily rather than by compulsion because he wasn't in a covenant with God that demanded him to do so like his posterity would be in the days of Moses. (Deut 5:2-3)

    The promises God made to Abraham as per Gen 12:2-3 and Gen 17:8 were not sustained by Abraham's piety. In other words: once God made those promises, neither Abraham nor his posterity can ever lose them because they are unconditional

    "The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise." (Gal 3:17-18)

    The "promise" in question reads like this:

    "And I will give you and your seed after you the land of your sojournings, the entire land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and I will be to them for a god." (Gen 17:8)

    That should be really good news to Abraham's posterity because although the law has a marked effect upon their occupation of the land, it has no effect upon their entitlement to it.

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    Fri, Oct 2nd - 6:42AM



    Genesis 25:32-34

     

    †. Gen 25:32-33 . . And Esau said: I am at the point of death, so of what use is my birthright to me? But Jacob said: Swear to me first. So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.

    It just amazes me how much faith the people of long ago put in oaths. Nowadays nobody trusts an oath. You've got to sign your name on the dotted line, preferably with a witness and/or a notary, because it would be totally foolish to take anybody's word on anything; even if they swore to it.

    Even if Isaac now gave the birthright to Esau, which he fully intended to do, at least Jacob had the assurance that his brother wouldn't retain the spiritual aspect. Isaac would never interfere with a contract between the two brothers sealed by an oath. He would have to honor it. The spiritual birthright would now go to Jacob, which, according to Gen 25:23, is exactly what the supreme paterfamilias of Abraham's clan mandated in the first place.

    †. Gen 25:34 . . Jacob then gave Esau bread and lentil stew; he ate and drank, and he rose and went away. Thus did Esau spurn the birthright.

    Had Esau politely waived the birthright, that probably would've been okay with God, and no hard feelings about it: after all; not everyone is cut out to be a spiritual guru. But to merchandise something sacred to God was an insult that must have cut Him deeply.

    Ironically, the birthright wasn't Esau's to sell in the first place since God pre destined it to Jacob before the boys were born (Rom 9:11-12). I can't help but wonder what happened to the information that God passed on to Rebecca back when. Did she keep it under her hat all those years? If so; why?

    Jacob and Rebecca no doubt both appreciated their association with Isaac, and were grateful Yhvh was their god. But did Esau did appreciate it? No, he didn't; nor did he see any advantage to it. He was truly a secular man: an earthly dude through and through. He wasn't a heavenly man in any sense of the word; no, far from it.

    "A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." (1 Cor 2:14)

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    Thu, Oct 1st - 8:21AM



    Genesis 25:29-31

     

    †. Gen 25:29 . . Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the open, famished.

    I guess Esau never heard of the Boy Scouts' motto: Be prepared. Well . . next time, maybe he'll be a little more careful to fill his ALICE pack with some LRRP rations before going out in the boonies.

    The word for "stew" is from naziyd (naw-zeed') which means: something boiled, e.g. soup. According to Gen 25:34, one of the ingredients in Jacob's soup was lentils: a type of flat, round seed related to the pea and is eaten as a vegetable.

    †. Gen 25:30a . . And Esau said to Jacob: Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, for I am famished

    The word for "red" (stuff) is from 'adom (aw-dome') which means: rosy.

    †. Gen 25:30b . . which is why he was named Edom.

    Edom is from 'Edom (ed-ome') or possibly 'Edowm (ed-ome') which mean: red. 'Edom and 'Edowm are derived from 'adom; the word for rosy.

    I actually knew a man when I was a kid whose nick-name was Rose; and what die-hard football fan hasn't heard of Rosey Grier?

    †. Gen 25:31 . . Jacob said: First sell me your birthright.

    The birthright consists of two distinct components. One is material, and the other is spiritual. If Israel's covenanted law can be used as a guideline in this instance, then the holder of the birthright (which is transferable) is entitled to twice the amount of material inheritance given to his siblings. (Deut 21:15-17)

    But Jacob isn't asking for Esau's material birthright; it's the spiritual one that he's after. Jacob wanted very much to be the family's next patriarch; and no doubt Rebecca wanted him too.

    The position of patriarch carries heavy responsibilities. If Esau was to rule over the family, then he would be responsible to provide for them both materially and spiritually. Abraham was a very successful patriarch in both respects, but most especially in the spiritual.

    It was the patriarch's duty to build, and officiate at, the family's altar; just as Abraham had done all those years (cf. Job 1:5). It was also the patriarch's duty to dispense the knowledge God and make sure it was carried forward in the family so as to prevent its loss to future generations (cf. Gen 18:19). I think what Jacob was really after was the inspiration that came with being the spiritual patriarch. (cf. Gen 20:7)

    As far as Esau was concerned, the material aspect of his birthright was all that mattered. He was totally secular and cared nothing at all for his spiritual birthright. On the other hand, Jacob dearly longed for the spiritual aspect-- the material part being only incidental. No doubt the two brothers had discussed these very things over the years so that Jacob already knew exactly how Esau felt about it. So that, half in jest, and probably half in disgust, he proposed that Esau barter his spiritual birthright for food.

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    Name: Clifford Weber
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    Member Since: 2015-05-11
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon, United States
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