9. Genesis 25:19 – 36 (Isaac, Jacob, Esau)
A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application
Sunday (Genesis 25:19 - 26)
Jacob and Esau
25:19 This is the account of Isaac, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac. 25:20 When Isaac was forty years old, he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.
25:21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 25:22 But the children struggled inside her, and she said, “If it is going to be like this, I’m not so sure I want to be pregnant!” So she asked the Lord, 25:23 and the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples will be separated from within you.
One people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
25:24 When the time came for Rebekah to give birth, there were twins in her womb. 25:25 The first came out reddish all over, like a hairy garment, so they named him Esau. 25:26 When his brother came out with his hand clutching Esau’s heel, they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.
25:27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skilled hunter, a man of the open fields, but Jacob was an even-tempered man, living in tents. 25:28 Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for fresh game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
25:29 Now Jacob cooked some stew, and when Esau came in from the open fields, he was famished. 25:30 So Esau said to Jacob, “Feed me some of the red stuff – yes, this red stuff – because I’m starving!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)
25:31 But Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” 25:32 “Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die! What use is the birthright to me?” 25:33 But Jacob said, “Swear an oath to me now.” So Esau swore an oath to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.
25:34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew; Esau ate and drank, then got up and went out. So Esau despised his birthright.
Isaac and Abimelech
26:1 There was a famine in the land, subsequent to the earlier famine that occurred in the days of Abraham. Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines at Gerar. 26:2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; settle down in the land that I will point out to you. 26:3 Stay in this land. Then I will be with you and will bless you, for I will give all these lands to you and to your descendants, and I will fulfill the solemn promise I made to your father Abraham. 26:4 I will multiply your descendants so they will be as numerous as the stars in the sky, and I will give them all these lands. All the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants. 26:5 All this will come to pass because Abraham obeyed me and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” 26:6 So Isaac settled in Gerar.
26:7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he replied, “She is my sister.” He was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” for he thought to himself, “The men of this place will kill me to get Rebekah because she is very beautiful.”
26:8 After Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines happened to look out a window and observed Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 26:9 So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac replied, “Because I thought someone might kill me to get her.”
26:10 Then Abimelech exclaimed, “What in the world have you done to us? One of the men might easily have had sexual relations with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us!” 26:11 So Abimelech commanded all the people, “Whoever touches this man or his wife will surely be put to death.”
26:12 When Isaac planted in that land, he reaped in the same year a hundred times what he had sown, because the Lord blessed him. 26:13 The man became wealthy. His influence continued to grow until he became very prominent. 26:14 He had so many sheep and cattle and such a great household of servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. 26:15 So the Philistines took dirt and filled up all the wells that his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham.
26:16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Leave us and go elsewhere, for you have become much more powerful than we are.” 26:17 So Isaac left there and settled in the Gerar Valley. 26:18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug back in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up after Abraham died. Isaac gave these wells the same names his father had given them.
26:19 When Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well with fresh flowing water there, 26:20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water belongs to us!” So Isaac named the well Esek because they argued with him about it. 26:21 His servants dug another well, but they quarreled over it too, so Isaac named it Sitnah. 26:22 Then he moved away from there and dug another well. They did not quarrel over it, so Isaac named it Rehoboth, saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we will prosper in the land.”
26:23 From there Isaac went up to Beer Sheba. 26:24 The Lord appeared to him that night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” 26:25 Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He pitched his tent there, and his servants dug a well.
26:26 Now Abimelech had come to him from Gerar along with Ahuzzah his friend and Phicol the commander of his army. 26:27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me? You hate me and sent me away from you.” 26:28 They replied, “We could plainly see that the Lord is with you. So we decided there should be a pact between us – between us and you. Allow us to make a treaty with you 26:29 so that you will not do us any harm, just as we have not harmed you, but have always treated you well before sending you away in peace. Now you are blessed by the Lord.”
26:30 So Isaac held a feast for them and they celebrated. 26:31 Early in the morning the men made a treaty with each other. Isaac sent them off; they separated on good terms.
26:32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. “We’ve found water,” they reported. 26:33 So he named it Shibah; that is why the name of the city has been Beer Sheba to this day.
26:34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, as well as Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 26:35 They caused Isaac and Rebekah great anxiety.
Lord, we often fail to understand Your workings in this world, when You allow things to happen as a result of the Fall and when You have intervened. But we always trust You. I long to never despise the new birthright You gave to me when I joined Your eternal family through Jesus. Please find me learning from prior generations and not repeating their errors and may my life be one of faithfulness to You so that as You bless me in your service others may come seeking peace with You as well.
Scripture In Perspective
Isaac, like his father Abraham, suffered with infertility in his marriage. The Bible does not tell us if the weakness is in Isaac or Rebekah or both.
Isaac asks the Lord God to given them a child and He answered his prayer.
Twenty years after Isaac married Rebekah, when he was 60, they had twin children.
The children struggled in the womb and came out looking very different, first Esau, then Jacob.
The Lord God’s prophesy unfolded as Esau and Jacob grew and the parents chose favorites, Isaac favored Esau because he enjoyed fresh game and Rebekah favored Jacob for his more-even temperament and more-settled lifestyle.
Esau’s tendency to live from the flesh and moment-to-moment arrived home hungry and demanded some of the fresh stew that Jacob had just made. Jacob, seeing an opportunity, challenged the impetuous Esau to sell him his first-born birthright in exchange for the stew. Esau thoughtlessly agreed.
The result of this seemingly childish interaction was that the second-born now could claim the unique rights of the first-born as Esau had rejected that gift of God, one that would have placed him in the line of succession to Jesus.
Another famine leads Isaac to seek a new location. He goes to Abimelech, with whom Abraham had an uneasy relationship, but was apparently considering further travel to Egypt.
God warns Isaac to remain in the land promised to Abraham and to not travel to Egypt. This land was part of that region controlled by Abimelech.
Once again Abimelech spots a woman in the camp of Isaac (Rebekah) whom he desires and asks Isaac about her. Isaac, like his father, lies and declares that she is his sister – out of fear of being killed so they could take his wife as a widow.
Before Abimelech, or his men, tried to take her he sees Isaac with her and realizes that Isaac lies and that Rebekah is his wife.
Once again Abimelech is offended that he has been deceived and set-up for punishment from God. Although his confession that he might have kidnapped her, or his men might have raped her, gives evidence of his lack of civility – he is righteously indignant that the son of Abraham lied to him.
Isaac settled in the famine-free region that Abimelech offered and God blessed him greatly.
When the Philistines in Abimelech’s territory saw Isaac’s great success they were jealous and they created conflict.
Abimelech persuaded Isaac to move to the Valley of Gerar but the conflict continued as he re-opened the wells Abraham had built there and the locals claimed ownership of them.
Abimelech, recognizing Isaac’s power, decided to avoid an escalation of trouble and sought a treaty – to which Isaac agreed. God provided Isaac a new well which then went uncontested.
Meanwhile, Esau took two wives, both Hittites rather than relatives – which caused Isaac and Rebekah concern as to the cultural influence and the potential unfriendly allegiances.
Interact With The Text
Since there is a lot of common genetic material between Abraham, Isaac, and Rebekah it is difficult to discern if any specific individual carried the reproductive weakness, nor does the text tell us that. What the text does share is that God once again made an infertile couple fertile. It is unlikely that Esau was truly “starving”, more likely he was hungry and carelessly lived in that moment without regard to the long-term consequences of his choices. Isaac, like Abraham, was more afraid of the potential violence of man than trusting in the power and protection of God. When God blesses you others may become jealous, especially the enemy, and he will look for ways to steal some of that blessing.
Have you experienced, or been close to a pregnant woman who experienced, a difficult pregnancy with twins during which it seemed that they were struggling with one-another? Have you ever heard of such a thing? The birthright of a Christian comes through Jesus the Christ, although we cannot really “sell” our birthright, in what ways do we “despise” it in the choices we sometimes make? Given their family and personal history with God why are Abimelech and Isaac still both more concerned with fear (Isaac) and lust (Abimelech) than respect for Rebekah (Abimelech) and trust in God (Isaac)? How have you seen jealousy generate bad conduct, in business, community, family, or politics?
The infertility, the nature of Esau and Jacob’s relationship as one of conflict – beginning in the womb, and the radical difference in appearance at birth all may be the consequence of sin which God allows to play itself out. Or might one of more of them may be the result of God’s intervention. The text is silent. Perhaps Jacob had been looking for an opportunity to trick his brother and saw an opening, or perhaps it was merely quick – though devious – thinking. While Genesis 25:23 prophesied that “... the older would serve the younger” it did not specify how that would come to be. The text does not tell us if either boy had been informed of that prophesy. Isaac was contemplating leaving the land given to Abraham, and then him, by God and traveling to Egypt when times got hard. The text doesn’t tell us that he appealed to God but that God came to him with a warning to not do so. Esau married outside of the family, generating great concern, for the same reasons that the Bible counsels Christians to never marry non-Christians.
When have you wondered if God had intervened or if circumstances were merely the result of “the world” and God was watching and waiting to see how you reacted, including if you invited Him into those circumstances? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to recognize the difference between the normative state of events unfolding as the consequence of millions of variables that came before from Creation until that moment, and events that show evidence of God’s touch. When have you been tempted by a desire of your flesh to “despise” your standing as a child of God in favor of momentary gain or pleasure? When has fear or lust overwhelmed your respect for others or for God? What was the result? When have you paused before acting from fear or lust and given the situation over to God? What was the result? When have you observed a believer marrying outside of the faith and what has been the result?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to make you sensitive to the way that even small acts of disobedience or rebellion demonstrate a type of “despising” of your birthright as born-again in Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a place where you are failing to consult God first. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something that you have done out of jealousy.
Make a list of events that people tend to attribute to God and then label them as “normative” or “miraculous”, based upon the predicate that God ceased from Creation on the 6th Day and thus any intervention after that must be a miraculous intervention. (e.g. A child is born with a handicap, or someone has a tendency to be overweight, or a person has a tendency to anger easily, and in each case someone says “God made them that way.” Is that Biblically accurate?) Share your list with a fellow believer and search your Bible for clarity. I will prayerfully review the past week of my life, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and identify at least one place where I diminish the value of my identity in Christ in order to be at peace with the world or to please my flesh. I agree to repent of that and to make a special effort to honor my birthright rather than to despise it. I will prayerfully partner with the Holy Spirit to recognize a place in my life where I am making decisions without God, perhaps a reaction to fear or a submission to some sort of lust (envy, money, relationship, title, etc) and I agree to surrender that to God. I will confess this, in confidence, to a mature fellow believer and ask them to hold me accountable, to pray in-agreement, and to celebrate with me God’s victory in my life. I agree to repent of any place or places in my life where jealousy toward others for the blessings of God have caused me to avoid them, or maybe to even act in ways that might interfere with the full benefit of that blessing. If I have not done this I will pray for someone whom I perceive has done so and that there will be an awareness and repentance of that behavior.
Be Specific ________________________________________________
Monday (Genesis 27)
Jacob Cheats Esau out of the Blessing
27:1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he was almost blind, he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son!” “Here I am!” Esau replied. 27:2 Isaac said, “Since I am so old, I could die at any time. 27:3 Therefore, take your weapons – your quiver and your bow – and go out into the open fields and hunt down some wild game for me. 27:4 Then prepare for me some tasty food, the kind I love, and bring it to me. Then I will eat it so that I may bless you before I die.”
27:5 Now Rebekah had been listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau went out to the open fields to hunt down some wild game and bring it back, 27:6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father tell your brother Esau, 27:7 ‘Bring me some wild game and prepare for me some tasty food. Then I will eat it and bless you in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ 27:8 Now then, my son, do exactly what I tell you! 27:9 Go to the flock and get me two of the best young goats. I’ll prepare them in a tasty way for your father, just the way he loves them. 27:10 Then you will take it to your father. Thus he will eat it and bless you before he dies.”
27:11 “But Esau my brother is a hairy man,” Jacob protested to his mother Rebekah, “and I have smooth skin! 27:12 My father may touch me! Then he’ll think I’m mocking him and I’ll bring a curse on myself instead of a blessing.” 27:13 So his mother told him, “Any curse against you will fall on me, my son! Just obey me! Go and get them for me!”
27:14 So he went and got the goats and brought them to his mother. She prepared some tasty food, just the way his father loved it. 27:15 Then Rebekah took her older son Esau’s best clothes, which she had with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 27:16 She put the skins of the young goats on his hands and the smooth part of his neck. 27:17 Then she handed the tasty food and the bread she had made to her son Jacob.
27:18 He went to his father and said, “My father!” Isaac replied, “Here I am. Which are you, my son?” 27:19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau, your firstborn. I’ve done as you told me. Now sit up and eat some of my wild game so that you can bless me.” 27:20 But Isaac asked his son, “How in the world did you find it so quickly, my son?” “Because the Lord your God brought it to me,” he replied. 27:21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come closer so I can touch you, my son, and know for certain if you really are my son Esau.” 27:22 So Jacob went over to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands are Esau’s.” 27:23 He did not recognize him because his hands were hairy, like his brother Esau’s hands. So Isaac blessed Jacob. 27:24 Then he asked, “Are you really my son Esau?” “I am,” Jacob replied. 27:25 Isaac said, “Bring some of the wild game for me to eat, my son. Then I will bless you.” So Jacob brought it to him, and he ate it. He also brought him wine, and Isaac drank. 27:26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here and kiss me, my son.” 27:27 So Jacob went over and kissed him. When Isaac caught the scent of his clothing, he blessed him, saying,
“Yes, my son smells
like the scent of an open field
which the Lord has blessed.
27:28 May God give you
the dew of the sky
and the richness of the earth,
and plenty of grain and new wine.
27:29 May peoples serve you
and nations bow down to you.
You will be lord over your brothers,
and the sons of your mother will bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed,
and those who bless you be blessed.”
27:30 Isaac had just finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, when his brother Esau returned from the hunt. 27:31 He also prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Esau said to him, “My father, get up and eat some of your son’s wild game. Then you can bless me.” 27:32 His father Isaac asked, “Who are you?” “I am your firstborn son,” he replied, “Esau!” 27:33 Isaac began to shake violently and asked, “Then who else hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it just before you arrived, and I blessed him. He will indeed be blessed!”
27:34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he wailed loudly and bitterly. He said to his father, “Bless me too, my father!” 27:35 But Isaac replied, “Your brother came in here deceitfully and took away your blessing.” 27:36 Esau exclaimed, “‘Jacob’ is the right name for him! He has tripped me up two times! He took away my birthright, and now, look, he has taken away my blessing!” Then he asked, “Have you not kept back a blessing for me?”
27:37 Isaac replied to Esau, “Look! I have made him lord over you. I have made all his relatives his servants and provided him with grain and new wine. What is left that I can do for you, my son?” 27:38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only that one blessing, my father? Bless me too!” Then Esau wept loudly.
27:39 So his father Isaac said to him,
“Indeed, your home will be
away from the richness of the earth,
and away from the dew of the sky above.
27:40 You will live by your sword
but you will serve your brother.
When you grow restless,
you will tear off his yoke
from your neck.”
27:41 So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing his father had given to his brother. Esau said privately, “The time of mourning for my father is near; then I will kill my brother Jacob!”
27:42 When Rebekah heard what her older son Esau had said, she quickly summoned her younger son Jacob and told him, “Look, your brother Esau is planning to get revenge by killing you. 27:43 Now then, my son, do what I say. Run away immediately to my brother Laban in Haran. 27:44 Live with him for a little while until your brother’s rage subsides. 27:45 Stay there until your brother’s anger against you subsides and he forgets what you did to him. Then I’ll send someone to bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”
27:46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am deeply depressed because of these daughters of Heth. If Jacob were to marry one of these daughters of Heth who live in this land, I would want to die!”
Lord, Your prophesy for Jacob was certain to be fulfilled, You never specified the details. You are never the author of the sinful choices of man but You sometimes choose to redeem something good from our poor choices. In my flesh I am often confused, deceitful, and selfish; please draw me near so that I am protected from that part of me that is so wicked.
Scripture In Perspective
Rebekah, who preferred Jacob, overheard the conversation and schemed with Jacob to trick the feeble and nearly blind Isaac into blessing Jacob instead.
Jacob lied multiple times as Isaac recognized his voice versus that of Esau – but Isaac was tricked and gave to Jacob the blessing Esau owned by birthright - but had previously “sold” to Jacob.
Esau and Isaac discovered Jacob’s deception of Isaac too late.
Esau falsely complained that Jacob had tricked him out of both his birthright and his blessing.
Isaac was reported as visibly-shaken by what had happened and that he was unable to do otherwise than to repeat the prophesy of the Lord God for Esau.
Esau declared his intention to murder Jacob as soon as Isaac died and the time of mourning had passed.
Rebekah heard Esau’s threat and acted quickly to find an excuse for Jacob to flee to her relatives before Esau could murder him.
Interact With The Text
There were many ways for the Lord God’s prophesy for Jacob to receive the blessings, rather than Isaac, but He chose to allow the fleshy workings of Rebekah and Jacob, and weaknesses of Isaac and Esau, to become the means. Esau failed to comprehend that when he sold his birthright he also surrendered his right to claim the associated blessing; his anger was misdirected – his loss was the consequence of his own immaturity.
Esau no longer had the right to claim his birthright from Isaac as he had “sold” (or bartered) it away to Jacob for a bowl of soup. The similarity between Esau’s violent anger and that of Cain – is interesting – is it not a refusal to accept responsibility for wrong choices that is at the root of both?
Isaac and Rebekah knew of the Lord God’s prophesy, perhaps Isaac had forgotten it – or he was playing favorites with Esau in spite of it, and perhaps Rebekah had forgotten – or she was just playing-favorites. Rebekah, like Sarah, imagined that he actions would ‘help’ the Lord God to accomplish His ends. Isaac remembered God’s prophesy as to the future of Esau but seemed to have forgotten the rest about Isaac.
When have you observed a person receiving a reward that clearly belonged to another? When have you, or someone you know, acted rashly and then instinctively blamed someone else for the ill-consequences that came to you?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place where you may be playing favorites instead of conducting yourself as God directs. Ask Him to make you more accountable to God and less prone to careless decision making and blaming others for your poor choices.
Today I will repent of playing favorites, I will request and accept the Lord God’s forgiveness, and will alter my behavior and thought life. I will instead invest equally in the lives of those alongside of whom I am blessed to walk, be it a child, a co-worker, a friend, or anyone else. I now commit to review my walk for any place where I am making impetuous decisions - creating future negative consequences for myself and for others. I surrender my decision making to the Lordship of Christ through His Holy Spirit. I will consult Biblical ‘elders’, those who meet the New Testament Biblical definition, whenever I am uncertain.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Tuesday (Genesis 28)
28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman! 28:2 Leave immediately for Paddan Aram! Go to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and find yourself a wife there, among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 28:3 May the sovereign God bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants! Then you will become a large nation. 28:4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing he gave to Abraham so that you may possess the land God gave to Abraham, the land where you have been living as a temporary resident.” 28:5 So Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean and brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.
28:6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him off to Paddan Aram to find a wife there. As he blessed him, Isaac commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman.” 28:7 Jacob obeyed his father and mother and left for Paddan Aram. 28:8 Then Esau realized that the Canaanite women were displeasing to his father Isaac. 28:9 So Esau went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael, along with the wives he already had.
Jacob’s Dream at Bethel
28:10 Meanwhile Jacob left Beer Sheba and set out for Haran. 28:11 He reached a certain place where he decided to camp because the sun had gone down. He took one of the stones and placed it near his head. Then he fell asleep in that place 28:12 and had a dream. He saw a stairway erected on the earth with its top reaching to the heavens. The angels of God were going up and coming down it 28:13 and the Lord stood at its top. He said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the ground you are lying on. 28:14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west, east, north, and south. All the families of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using your name and that of your descendants. 28:15 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 promised you!”
28:16 Then Jacob woke up and thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, but I did not realize it!” 28:17 He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! This is nothing else than the house of God! This is the gate of heaven!”
28:18 Early in the morning Jacob took the stone he had placed near his head and set it up as a sacred stone. Then he poured oil on top of it. 28:19 He called that place Bethel, although the former name of the town was Luz. 28:20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God is with me and protects me on this journey I am taking and gives me food to eat and clothing to wear, 28:21 and I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will become my God. 28:22 Then this stone that I have set up as a sacred stone will be the house of God, and I will surely give you back a tenth of everything you give me.”
Lord, may I be found obedient to You and not a people-pleaser like Esau. May I recognize the provision You make in my life and commit to serve You more.
Scripture In Perspective
Isaac’s instructions to Jacob were overheard by Esau.
Jacob accepted the wisdom of his parents and set-off to do as instructed.
Esau attempted to earn his father’s pleasure by rushing-off to marry a woman, in addition to his existing wives (Canaanite) whom he thought may meet with Isaac’s approval.
Jacob had a dream of a ladder or ramp from earth, where he was, up to Heaven. He “saw” angels coming up and down.
The Lord renewed His promises to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to protect, to provide, and to bless with many descendants and with ownership of the very land where he was resting.
When Jacob awoke from his divinely-inspired dream he was struck by the presence of the Lord God and set up an altar. [It appears that until this point his relationship with the Lord was weak at best.]
Jacob set forth a ‘fleece’ to the Lord God, agreeing that if He provided and protected during his trip that he would submit to the Lordship of God, including a 10% tithe.
Interact With The Text
Jacob became the leader-in-waiting of his people and started the process of walking- through the steps necessary to prepare to assume that role. The Lord God told Jacob how He was already providing and protecting yet Jacob challenged Him to show him more-specifically during his trip.
Although Jacob would not have been prepared for the top leadership role, since Esau was the first-born, he would have been aware of the expectations. Once it was clear that he was ‘the guy’ how might his perspective of life changed? If you were to have a similar dream how would you understand it and how would you respond?
Esau, trapped in the consequences of his impetuous choices in the past, made yet another impetuous decision to ‘earn’ Isaac’s approval. It seems odd, given his father and grandfather, that Jacob had not previously surrendered to God as his Lord.
When have you been given unexpected authority and responsibility? How did your perspective change as a result? When have you promised God your increased commitment if He would do something that you asked? What was the result?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you opportunities to improve your preparedness to be a leader for God. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how God has been providing protection and provision in your life.
I will review my responsibilities and seek ways that I may be better prepared so as to be more valuable in God’s service; be it as a parent or student, employee or boss, leader or team member. I will seek someone with successful experience and humbly ask their counsel. I will recognize that Jesus was the greatest gift ever and make a new commitment to surrender more of my life to the Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit. I will select a specific area of my life where my obedience and/or sacrifice in serving Him has lagged and make that right.
Be Specific _________________________________________________
Wednesday (Genesis 29 – 30)
The Marriages of Jacob
29:1 So Jacob moved on and came to the land of the eastern people. 29:2 He saw in the field a well with three flocks of sheep lying beside it, because the flocks were watered from that well. Now a large stone covered the mouth of the well. 29:3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone off the mouth of the well and water the sheep. Then they would put the stone back in its place over the well’s mouth.
29:4 Jacob asked them, “My brothers, where are you from?” They replied, “We’re from Haran.” 29:5 So he said to them, “Do you know Laban, the grandson of Nahor?” “We know him,” they said. 29:6 “Is he well?” Jacob asked. They replied, “He is well. Now look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” 29:7 Then Jacob said, “Since it is still the middle of the day, it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. You should water the sheep and then go and let them graze some more.” 29:8 “We can’t,” they said, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone is rolled off the mouth of the well. Then we water the sheep.”
29:9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep, for she was tending them. 29:10 When Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban, and the sheep of his uncle Laban, he went over and rolled the stone off the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of his uncle Laban. 29:11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep loudly. 29:12 When Jacob explained to Rachel that he was a relative of her father and the son of Rebekah, she ran and told her father. 29:13 When Laban heard this news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he rushed out to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban how he was related to him. 29:14 Then Laban said to him, “You are indeed my own flesh and blood.” So Jacob stayed with him for a month.
29:15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Should you work for me for nothing because you are my relative? Tell me what your wages should be.” 29:16 (Now Laban had two daughters; the older one was named Leah, and the younger one Rachel. 29:17 Leah’s eyes were tender, but Rachel had a lovely figure and beautiful appearance.) 29:18 Since Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel, he said, “I’ll serve you seven years in exchange for your younger daughter Rachel.” 29:19 Laban replied, “I’d rather give her to you than to another man. Stay with me.” 29:20 So Jacob worked for seven years to acquire Rachel. But they seemed like only a few days to him because his love for her was so great.
29:21 Finally Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time of service is up. I want to have marital relations with her.” 29:22 So Laban invited all the people of that place and prepared a feast. 29:23 In the evening he brought his daughter Leah to Jacob, and Jacob had marital relations with her. 29:24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.)
29:25 In the morning Jacob discovered it was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What in the world have you done to me! Didn’t I work for you in exchange for Rachel? Why have you tricked me?” 29:26 “It is not our custom here,” Laban replied, “to give the younger daughter in marriage before the firstborn. 29:27 Complete my older daughter’s bridal week. Then we will give you the younger one too, in exchange for seven more years of work.”
29:28 Jacob did as Laban said. When Jacob completed Leah’s bridal week, Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29:29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 29:30 Jacob had marital relations with Rachel as well. He loved Rachel more than Leah, so he worked for Laban for seven more years.
The Family of Jacob
29:31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to become pregnant while Rachel remained childless. 29:32 So Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “The Lord has looked with pity on my oppressed condition. Surely my husband will love me now.”
29:33 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “Because the Lord heard that I was unloved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.
29:34 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “Now this time my husband will show me affection, because I have given birth to three sons for him.” That is why he was named Levi.
29:35 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” That is why she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
30:1 When Rachel saw that she could not give Jacob children, she became jealous of her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children or I’ll die!” 30:2 Jacob became furious with Rachel and exclaimed, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” 30:3 She replied, “Here is my servant Bilhah! Have sexual relations with her so that she can bear children for me and I can have a family through her.”
30:4 So Rachel gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob had marital relations with her. 30:5 Bilhah became pregnant and gave Jacob a son. 30:6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me. He has responded to my prayer and given me a son.” That is why she named him Dan.
30:7 Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, became pregnant again and gave Jacob another son. 30:8 Then Rachel said, “I have fought a desperate struggle with my sister, but I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.
30:9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she gave her servant Zilpah to Jacob as a wife. 30:10 Soon Leah’s servant Zilpah gave Jacob a son. 30:11 Leah said, “How fortunate!” So she named him Gad.
30:12 Then Leah’s servant Zilpah gave Jacob another son. 30:13 Leah said, “How happy I am, for women will call me happy!” So she named him Asher.
30:14 At the time of the wheat harvest Reuben went out and found some mandrake plants in a field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 30:15 But Leah replied, “Wasn’t it enough that you’ve taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes too?” “All right,” Rachel said, “he may sleep with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 30:16 When Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must sleep with me because I have paid for your services with my son’s mandrakes.” So he had marital relations with her that night. 30:17 God paid attention to Leah; she became pregnant and gave Jacob a son for the fifth time. 30:18 Then Leah said, “God has granted me a reward because I gave my servant to my husband as a wife.” So she named him Issachar.
30:19 Leah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a son for the sixth time. 30:20 Then Leah said, “God has given me a good gift. Now my husband will honor me because I have given him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.
30:21 After that she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
30:22 Then God took note of Rachel. He paid attention to her and enabled her to become pregnant. 30:23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Then she said, “God has taken away my shame.” 30:24 She named him Joseph, saying, “May the Lord give me yet another son.”
The Flocks of Jacob
30:25 After Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so that I can go home to my own country. 30:26 Let me take my wives and my children whom I have acquired by working for you. Then I’ll depart, because you know how hard I’ve worked for you.”
30:27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, please stay here, for I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me on account of you.” 30:28 He added, “Just name your wages – I’ll pay whatever you want.”
30:29 “You know how I have worked for you,” Jacob replied, “and how well your livestock have fared under my care. 30:30 Indeed, you had little before I arrived, but now your possessions have increased many times over. The Lord has blessed you wherever I worked. But now, how long must it be before I do something for my own family too?”
30:31 So Laban asked, “What should I give you?” “You don’t need to give me a thing,” Jacob replied, “but if you agree to this one condition, I will continue to care for your flocks and protect them: 30:32 Let me walk among all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb, and the spotted or speckled goats. These animals will be my wages. 30:33 My integrity will testify for me later on. When you come to verify that I’ve taken only the wages we agreed on, if I have in my possession any goat that is not speckled or spotted or any sheep that is not dark-colored, it will be considered stolen.” 30:34 “Agreed!” said Laban, “It will be as you say.”
30:35 So that day Laban removed the male goats that were streaked or spotted, all the female goats that were speckled or spotted (all that had any white on them), and all the dark-colored lambs, and put them in the care of his sons. 30:36 Then he separated them from Jacob by a three-day journey, while Jacob was taking care of the rest of Laban’s flocks.
30:37 But Jacob took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees. He made white streaks by peeling them, making the white inner wood in the branches visible. 30:38 Then he set up the peeled branches in all the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink. He set up the branches in front of the flocks when they were in heat and came to drink. 30:39 When the sheep mated in front of the branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 30:40 Jacob removed these lambs, but he made the rest of the flock face the streaked and completely dark-colored animals in Laban’s flock. So he made separate flocks for himself and did not mix them with Laban’s flocks. 30:41 When the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would set up the branches in the troughs in front of the flock, so they would mate near the branches. 30:42 But if the animals were weaker, he did not set the branches there. So the weaker animals ended up belonging to Laban and the stronger animals to Jacob. 30:43 In this way Jacob became extremely prosperous. He owned large flocks, male and female servants, camels, and donkeys.
Lord, it is sad to see the deceit in the lives of these historic people, may such deceit never be practiced among Your children today or tomorrow. Lord, please find us sensitive to people with “tender eyes” as that also implies “tender hearts” as that is the innocence and teachability that You have said is desirable. Lord, may be more concerned with our walk with You than the number of our children or competition with those around us. Lord, when it is time for me to change where I am or what I am doing may it not be necessary to engage in schemes to break-free.
Scripture In Perspective
“... the land of the eastern people” was merely a geographical reference rather than the culturally- laden term it would represent today.
Jacob is continuing his flight from the wrath of Esau and is also following the instructions of Isaac to find a wife among Rebekah’s relatives.
Jacob symbolically reverses roles versus the story of Abraham’s servant and Rebekah, providing water for Rachel’s animals rather than Rachel serving his.
Jacob shares his relationship information with the family and is invited to stay. He offers to work alongside them while there and Laban asks what should be his pay – to which Jacob replies – he would like to marry the beautiful Rachel.
Laban, as crafty as Jacob versus Esau, requires Jacob to work seven years for Rachel and then tricks him into marrying the older sister Leah instead.
Jacob is indignant but agrees to work another seven to get Rachel as well.
Jacob was legally-engaged to Rachel from the moment that Laban agreed that Jacob could work 7 years for her, but even though “engagement” meant that he was “married” for most purposes he was not allowed “marital relations” until the agreed moment – when his 7 years were over.
When Laban tricked Jacob, presumably by sending Leah to the marriage bed after dark and when Jacob was drunk and tired from the celebrations, he caused her to be his first “completed” wife.
When challenged by Jacob for his deception Laban then agreed to allow Rachel to become Jacob’s second “completed” wife once the traditional first week with Leah had been completed.
Laban would have been anxious to marry-off Leah not only because she was less physically appealing than Rachel, and older, but also because it meant he’d have two daughters in Jacob’s very wealthy and powerful family.
Jacob, unable to see beyond the lust of his eyes, continued to ignore the gift that was Leah - with her tender eyes (a phrase often meant to infer a tender heart). He fulfilled his duties as a husband but otherwise showed no affection to her. God compensated by giving her children whereas Rachel remained childless.
The first born children of Jacob and Leah were Reuben, Simeon, Lei, and Judah would be among the tribes of the nation known as Israel.
Rachel is obsessed with bearing children and jealous of Leah, but when she demands of Jacob that he cause her to become pregnant he insists that it is God who is keeping her from pregnancy.
Rachel, like Sarah before her, decides to “help” God and gives her servant Bilhah to Jacob and she bears children for them.
Leah follows suit and gives her servant Zilpah to Jacob with the same result.
Leah then seeks a chemical advantage through the Mandrake root which was thought to have aphrodesiac properties. Rachel hears of this and demands some of the root. Leah cleverly agrees on the condition access to Jacob – essentially “paying” for him to have marital relations with her. There is nothing in the text to detail how it came to be that Leah would have to bribe Rachel for access to her husband but Rachel agrees to the arrangement.
In the one night Leah becomes pregnant and produces a fifth son. The text does not explain how she again gained access to Jacob but Leah becomes pregnant again and delivers a sixth son, then another child, this one a daughter.
The text says that “God too notice of Rachel” and she finally had a son, whom she named Joseph, rather than pausing to celebrate him she was already longing for another son in her competition with Leah.
After the birth of many sons and a daughter Jacob decides that it is time to return home.
Laban has figured out that he is benefiting from Jacob’s presence because the God of Abraham and Isaac is blessing Jacob, so he does not want Jacob to leave.
Jacob senses an opportunity and negotiates an arrangement to separate the animals in which he is certain to benefit and which Laban, blinded by selfish greed, does not see Jacob’s scheme.
Jacob manipulates the breeding process so that the marked animals that Laban promised him are healthier, larger, and more plentiful.
Interact With The Text
It seems that Jacob has received as good as he gave Esau from his uncle Laban. Jacob’s carelessness about his thinking process allowed Laban an opportunity to trick him, just as Esau’s carelessness had allowed Jacob to trick him, in both cases it was a lust of the flesh which made them more vulnerable. There appears to be an unhealthy relationship among everyone in Jacob’s family circle, an obsession with reproduction, and a competition to claim some “ownership” of success. God appears to be a largely ignored factor, at least there is nothing in the text which describes anyone inviting Him into the process, He chooses to intervene just the same. Jacob had served Laban well, indeed Laban had taken great advantage of Jacob, so when Jacob asked to return home Laban’s selfishness set him up to be taken advantage of in return.
Does Jacob’s obsession with the appearance of Rachel, which blinded him to Laban’s trickery, remind you of Satan’s appeal to Eve base on the lust of her eyes? When have you found yourself, upon reflection, making decisions based on a momentary desire to satisfy the flesh rather than a thoughtful consideration of your choices through a prayer-conversation with God and perhaps a consultation with an “elder”? When have you experienced and/or observed people so obsessed with some goal or religious practice or tradition that they engaged in inappropriate conduct and never paused to ask God what were His priorities and His timing Jacob’s scheme with the striped branches does not appear to have any basis in science, or did it? How might it have worked?
Leah is trapped between the lust of Jacob for Rachel and the scheming of Laban to marry-off his less-attractive eldest daughter. No one seems concerned for her perspective. Since Jacob failed to love his wife God blessed her with children, the first four of the historic tribes of “Israel.” Jacob appeared to exercise little leadership in his social relationships. Might God have led Jacob to use the striped branch system so that He could bless him and get him on-track to return home?
When have you found yourself so distracted by things that your flesh desired that you missed the more important things of God’s priorities? [It may have been clothes or money, power or title, physical appearance or fame, special food or the approval of the “popular people.”] When have you observed a situation where God has blessed someone who has been “overlooked” by fellow believers due to some worldly priority? When have you experienced and/or observed the consequence of a father/husband failing to exercise Biblical leadership? What was the result? When have you sensed a call from God to change where you were or what you were doing and someone or some thing was blocking your way? What happened?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to make you more sensitive to the subtle signs of His presence in fellow believers and of their tender-hearted availability to His working. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be forgetting to invite Him into the process of decision making and peace making among fellowship and family members. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a “check in the Spirit” whenever you are drifting away from His priorities and into those of the “world.” Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you both the “roadblock(s)” between you and what He has planned for you and the way around or through it/them.
I will ask a prayer-partner to walk with me through a careful assessment of my daily walk in order that we may discern, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, where there are wrong priorities. I agree to surrender those to the Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit through repentance and a renewed sense for God’s priorities in my brief life here in the world. I agree to pray that God will show me someone whom others have under-valued based on some worldly priority, perhaps they are not athletic or attractive, not a scholar or a charismatic personality but rather a gentle and humble person who lives a consistent life from-love before God. I will make a point to encourage and fellowship with that person. I agree to prayerfully partner with the Holy Spirit to discern any place in my life where I am rushing to compete with others and/or some self-imposed priority that I have not brought before God. I will surrender that to God and ask Him to teach me what He desires for my life in that area. I will prayerfully identify a place of change God has been asking me to make in my life. I will ask a mature believer “elder” to pray and seek God’s affirmation. If affirmed then I agree to then prayerfully what are the roadblocks and how God would have me overcome them – then do so.
Be Specific ________________________________________________
Thursday (Genesis 31)
Jacob’s Flight from Laban
31:1 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining, “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father! He has gotten rich at our father’s expense!” 31:2 When Jacob saw the look on Laban’s face, he could tell his attitude toward him had changed.
31:3 The Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives. I will be with you.” 31:4 So Jacob sent a message for Rachel and Leah to come to the field where his flocks were. 31:5 There he said to them, “I can tell that your father’s attitude toward me has changed, but the God of my father has been with me. 31:6 You know that I’ve worked for your father as hard as I could, 31:7 but your father has humiliated me and changed my wages ten times. But God has not permitted him to do me any harm. 31:8 If he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wage,’ then the entire flock gave birth to speckled offspring. But if he said, ‘The streaked animals will be your wage,’ then the entire flock gave birth to streaked offspring. 31:9 In this way God has snatched away your father’s livestock and given them to me.
31:10 “Once during breeding season I saw in a dream that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 31:11 In the dream the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ ‘Here I am!’ I replied. 31:12 Then he said, ‘Observe that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled, or spotted, for I have observed all that Laban has done to you. 31:13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the sacred stone and made a vow to me. Now leave this land immediately and return to your native land.’”
31:14 Then Rachel and Leah replied to him, “Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house? 31:15 Hasn’t he treated us like foreigners? He not only sold us, but completely wasted the money paid for us! 31:16 Surely all the wealth that God snatched away from our father belongs to us and to our children. So now do everything God has told you.”
31:17 So Jacob immediately put his children and his wives on the camels. 31:18 He took away all the livestock he had acquired in Paddan Aram and all his moveable property that he had accumulated. Then he set out toward the land of Canaan to return to his father Isaac.
31:19 While Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole the household idols that belonged to her father. 31:20 Jacob also deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was leaving. 31:21 He left with all he owned. He quickly crossed the Euphrates River and headed for the hill country of Gilead.
31:22 Three days later Laban discovered Jacob had left. 31:23 So he took his relatives with him and pursued Jacob for seven days. He caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 31:24 But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and warned him, “Be careful that you neither bless nor curse Jacob.”
31:25 Laban overtook Jacob, and when Jacob pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead, Laban and his relatives set up camp there too. 31:26 “What have you done?” Laban demanded of Jacob. “You’ve deceived me and carried away my daughters as if they were captives of war! 31:27 Why did you run away secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me so I could send you off with a celebration complete with singing, tambourines, and harps? 31:28 You didn’t even allow me to kiss my daughters and my grandchildren good-bye. You have acted foolishly! 31:29 I have the power to do you harm, but the God of your father told me last night, ‘Be careful that you neither bless nor curse Jacob.’ 31:30 Now I understand that you have gone away because you longed desperately for your father’s house. Yet why did you steal my gods?”
31:31 “I left secretly because I was afraid!” Jacob replied to Laban. “I thought you might take your daughters away from me by force. 31:32 Whoever has taken your gods will be put to death! In the presence of our relatives identify whatever is yours and take it.” (Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.)
31:33 So Laban entered Jacob’s tent, and Leah’s tent, and the tent of the two female servants, but he did not find the idols. Then he left Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s. 31:34 (Now Rachel had taken the idols and put them inside her camel’s saddle and sat on them.) Laban searched the whole tent, but did not find them. 31:35 Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord. I cannot stand up in your presence because I am having my period.” So he searched thoroughly, but did not find the idols.
31:36 Jacob became angry and argued with Laban. “What did I do wrong?” he demanded of Laban. “What sin of mine prompted you to chase after me in hot pursuit? 31:37 When you searched through all my goods, did you find anything that belonged to you? Set it here before my relatives and yours, and let them settle the dispute between the two of us!
31:38 “I have been with you for the past twenty years. Your ewes and female goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. 31:39 Animals torn by wild beasts I never brought to you; I always absorbed the loss myself. You always made me pay for every missing animal, whether it was taken by day or at night. 31:40 I was consumed by scorching heat during the day and by piercing cold at night, and I went without sleep. 31:41 This was my lot for twenty years in your house: I worked like a slave for you – fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, but you changed my wages ten times! 31:42 If the God of my father – the God of Abraham, the one whom Isaac fears – had not been with me, you would certainly have sent me away empty-handed! But God saw how I was oppressed and how hard I worked, and he rebuked you last night.”
31:43 Laban replied to Jacob, “These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, and these flocks are my flocks. All that you see belongs to me. But how can I harm these daughters of mine today or the children to whom they have given birth? 31:44 So now, come, let’s make a formal agreement, you and I, and it will be proof that we have made peace.”
31:45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a memorial pillar. 31:46 Then he said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” So they brought stones and put them in a pile. They ate there by the pile of stones. 31:47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed.
31:48 Laban said, “This pile of stones is a witness of our agreement today.” That is why it was called Galeed. 31:49 It was also called Mizpah because he said, “May the Lord watch between us when we are out of sight of one another. 31:50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one else is with us, realize that God is witness to your actions.”
31:51 “Here is this pile of stones and this pillar I have set up between me and you,” Laban said to Jacob. 31:52 “This pile of stones and the pillar are reminders that I will not pass beyond this pile to come to harm you and that you will not pass beyond this pile and this pillar to come to harm me. 31:53 May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor, the gods of their father, judge between us.” Jacob took an oath by the God whom his father Isaac feared. 31:54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat the meal. They ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain.
31:55 Early in the morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters goodbye and blessed them. Then Laban left and returned home.
Lord, even when we are careless and unfaithful You are caring and faithful. He watches over His children and provides for us even when we are unaware. Lord, the world sees through blindly-selfish eyes, may I be faithful in seeing things through Your eyes of truth.
Scripture In Perspective
As we speculated in the previous study God was indeed preparing the way for Jacob to return home.
Laban’s sons, as selfish as their father, observed the blessings of God upon Jacob and were resentful.
Jacob saw the jealousy and unhappiness in Laban’s eyes, replacing his sense of familial affection and pride at his initial cleverness in manipulating Jacob, and recognized that it was time to part company.
God came to Jacob in a dream and showed him how He had been blessing him and then instructed Jacob to return home.
Jacob shared this with Rachel who observed that her father had “sold” Leah and her to Jacob and then wasted all of the money, that Jacob was now the one with the resources, so she encouraged him to gather things up and move home.
Jacob wasted no time in gathering those resources that could be moved and heading home.
Jacob fled to Laban from Esau and now he is fleeing from Laban.
Rachel sinned in stealing from her father and Jacob was disrespectful, inconsiderate, and lacking in trust in God for rushing away without communicating with Laban.
Rachel’s theft of the idols testified to her lack of faith in the Lord God, then she lied to her father and husband (the latter is implied) in order to hide her crime, compounding her sin.
Laban declared that he had the capacity to do harm to Jacob but that “the God of your father” warned him to not even attempt to “... bless nor curse” Jacob. let alone physically harm him. Jacob was rightfully fearful in his flesh, knowing that Laban had turned against him, and that Laban and his sons were very selfish.
Jacob declares his innocence (not knowing of the stolen idols) and his right to claim his family and property after 20 years of sacrificial service to Laban.
Laban falsely declares ownership of Jacob’s daughters (he gave/sold them to Jacob) and of all of Jacob’s property (earned by Jacob under an agreement with Laban).
They make peace as neither desires a conflict and Laban remains fearful due to the vision from God.
The differences are illustrated in their names for the place of the “memorial pillar”, the God/gods to whom they “swear”, and their perspective of their own righteousness.
Interact With The Text
Laban and his sons had lived well as a result of Jacob’s presence – it is often true that those near to one who is blessed by God are themselves indirectly blessed. Jacob has clearly not been the spiritual leader of his household. Not only does his wife steal idols from her father, then lie about it, but the Lord God is known as that of Jacob’s father rather than the Lord God of Jacob. Jacob was clearly righteous in his claim to his wives and property, Laban was not.
It appears that Jacob’s awareness of God’s caring presence has grown. Given the history of his grandfather, Abraham, does it seem odd that it required a dream and so many blessings for Jacob to recognize God’s active presence in his life? Would Rachel have stolen her father’s idols out of spite, because they were made of something valuable, or because she still believed in them as a pagan? If not for the intervention of God – placing fear in the heart of Laban – what might have happened between Laban and Jacob?
Jacob has served Laban for at least 14 years, trapped in a land far from his home, gaining sons and a daughter and many resources but not where God wants him to be. Despite his own selfishness toward Jacob and even his daughters Laban was righteously indignant at the way that Jacob departed, in addition to the theft of his idols. Does the fear of God cause us to be peacemakers, despite differences, or do we sometimes rush to demand what is “ours” without regard to God?
When have you found yourself trapped in a situation where you are working hard in a church/religious environment and you were seeing physical fruit (perhaps expanding buildings and programs and adding people) but not the spiritual fruit that God says is more important? Did God finally get your attention and call you out of that into something more focused on what is eternally important? [Note: The intent here is not to condemn all “church” buildings and programs but to encourage a careful assessment of priorities.] When have you, or someone else, separated from a community, a place of employment, or some other situation and neglected to participate in the process of separation? [Note: There are some situations where is quick and clean break is indicated and others where some degree of process is “safe” and therefore appropriate. This is not to suggest that one lingers – God clearly instructed Jacob to leave promptly – but does suggest that we consider the best way to part even if it is a very brief and simple process.] When have you experienced or observed a situation where God, though His Holy Spirit, has caused a peaceful resolution to what would otherwise have been an unnecessary conflict?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where your labors and resources are being invested in what is not eternal and diverted away from what is – and how you might change that. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what you need to know about recent or soon-to-happen changes in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to protect you from those whose selfishness might cause them to harm you, and from your own rush-to-action where you might unnecessarily create conflict with others.
I will engage in a prayerful conversation with the Holy Spirit as I study the Word of God, and inquire of “elders”, in order to discover if I am being a good steward of my time and resources. I will make certain that I am investing in what is eternal much more than that which is temporary. Where I discover an imbalance I agree to adjust my priorities toward the eternal (The “Great Commission” - evangelism and discipleship - which flows from the “Greatest Commandment” - loving people enough to be used of God to share the gift of eternity and to care for them along the way.). I will prayerfully discern where I am carrying some doctrinal and/or spiritual debris from an unhealthy past association, where I may have unnecessarily caused some emotional harm due to a rush to move-on, and/or where I need to take action to move-on instead of remaining stuck where He does not want me – and I will act appropriately. I will prayerfully partner with the Holy Spirit to seek a peaceful settlement where there is conflict. I will not sell-out truth or be abused I any way but I will not make unreasonable demands nor will I insist that the other agree with me where it is clear that they cannot [for doctrinal or maturity or spiritual or other reasons]. I will find a middle ground where a parting and/or a resolution is possible with minimal conflict and/or harm.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Friday (Genesis 32 - 33)
Jacob Wrestles at Peniel
32:1 So Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him. 32:2 When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.
32:3 Jacob sent messengers on ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the region of Edom. 32:4 He commanded them, “This is what you must say to my lord Esau: ‘This is what your servant Jacob says: I have been staying with Laban until now. 32:5 I have oxen, donkeys, sheep, and male and female servants. I have sent this message to inform my lord, so that I may find favor in your sight.’”
32:6 The messengers returned to Jacob and said, “We went to your brother Esau. He is coming to meet you and has four hundred men with him.” 32:7 Jacob was very afraid and upset. So he divided the people who were with him into two camps, as well as the flocks, herds, and camels. 32:8 “If Esau attacks one camp,” he thought, “then the other camp will be able to escape.”
32:9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, you said to me, ‘Return to your land and to your relatives and I will make you prosper.’ 32:10 I am not worthy of all the faithful love you have shown your servant. With only my walking stick I crossed the Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 32:11 Rescue me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, as well as the mothers with their children. 32:12 But you said, ‘I will certainly make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand on the seashore, too numerous to count.’”
32:13 Jacob stayed there that night. Then he sent as a gift to his brother Esau 32:14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 32:15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 32:16 He entrusted them to his servants, who divided them into herds. He told his servants, “Pass over before me, and keep some distance between one herd and the next.” 32:17 He instructed the servant leading the first herd, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? Whose herds are you driving?’ 32:18 then you must say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They have been sent as a gift to my lord Esau. In fact Jacob himself is behind us.’”
32:19 He also gave these instructions to the second and third servants, as well as all those who were following the herds, saying, “You must say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 32:20 You must also say, ‘In fact your servant Jacob is behind us.’” Jacob thought, “I will first appease him by sending a gift ahead of me. After that I will meet him. Perhaps he will accept me.” 32:21 So the gifts were sent on ahead of him while he spent that night in the camp.
32:22 During the night Jacob quickly took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 32:23 He took them and sent them across the stream along with all his possessions. 32:24 So Jacob was left alone. Then a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 32:25 When the man saw that he could not defeat Jacob, he struck the socket of his hip so the socket of Jacob’s hip was dislocated while he wrestled with him.
32:26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” “I will not let you go,” Jacob replied, “unless you bless me.” 32:27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” He answered, “Jacob.” 32:28 “No longer will your name be Jacob,” the man told him, “but Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have prevailed.”
32:29 Then Jacob asked, “Please tell me your name.” “Why do you ask my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. 32:30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, explaining, “Certainly I have seen God face to face and have survived.”
32:31 The sun rose over him as he crossed over Penuel, but he was limping because of his hip. 32:32 That is why to this day the Israelites do not eat the sinew which is attached to the socket of the hip, because he struck the socket of Jacob’s hip near the attached sinew.
Jacob Meets Esau
33:1 Jacob looked up and saw that Esau was coming along with four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female servants. 33:2 He put the servants and their children in front, with Leah and her children behind them, and Rachel and Joseph behind them. 33:3 But Jacob himself went on ahead of them, and he bowed toward the ground seven times as he approached his brother. 33:4 But Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, hugged his neck, and kissed him. Then they both wept. 33:5 When Esau looked up and saw the women and the children, he asked, “Who are these people with you?” Jacob replied, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 33:6 The female servants came forward with their children and bowed down. 33:7 Then Leah came forward with her children and they bowed down. Finally Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed down.
33:8 Esau then asked, “What did you intend by sending all these herds to meet me?” Jacob replied, “To find favor in your sight, my lord.” 33:9 But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother. Keep what belongs to you.” 33:10 “No, please take them,” Jacob said. “If I have found favor in your sight, accept my gift from my hand. Now that I have seen your face and you have accepted me, it is as if I have seen the face of God. 33:11 Please take my present that was brought to you, for God has been generous to me and I have all I need.” When Jacob urged him, he took it.
33:12 Then Esau said, “Let’s be on our way! I will go in front of you.” 33:13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are young, and that I have to look after the sheep and cattle that are nursing their young. If they are driven too hard for even a single day, all the animals will die. 33:14 Let my lord go on ahead of his servant. I will travel more slowly, at the pace of the herds and the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”
33:15 So Esau said, “Let me leave some of my men with you.” “Why do that?” Jacob replied. “My lord has already been kind enough to me.”
33:16 So that same day Esau made his way back to Seir. 33:17 But Jacob traveled to Succoth where he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was called Succoth.
33:18 After he left Paddan Aram, Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem in the land of Canaan, and he camped near the city. 33:19 Then he purchased the portion of the field where he had pitched his tent; he bought it from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of money. 33:20 There he set up an altar and called it “The God of Israel is God.”
Lord, like Jacob I am often prone to live from the flesh rather than through You, may I learn to become more reliant upon You. May I be a humble toward You as was Jacob toward Esau.
Scripture In Perspective
Jacob, traveling home, is greeted by angels sent by God. He names that place “Mahanaim” as he thinks that they live there.
Jacob’s servants, send to greet Esau and to communicate Jacob’s intention to bring peace offerings, report that Esau is traveling with 400 men.
Jacob pleads with God to protect him, reciting the promises to Isaac, and humbling himself as unworthy.
Jacob sends ahead the offerings and hides his two wives, their female servants, and his eleven sons. His daughter, Dinah, is not mentioned.
While Jacob rests he has a confrontation with what he believes to be a man, they wrestle and as peers Jacob prevails, but the angel “touches” Jacob’s hip – partially crippling him – making him aware of the weakness of his flesh in spiritual matters. Jacob still clings to the ‘man’, refusing to let go.
The angel-man asks Jacob his name and then changes his name to Israel, meaning that now that he finally understands that his flesh alone is insufficient he will be successful because of God’s provision and protection.
Jacob, still of the magical-thinking mindset, wants to know the same of the spiritual being because ancient pagan tradition taught that knowing the name of a spiritual being empowered one to use that name as a weapon. Jacob, thinking the “man” was like his father, also demands a blessing.
The angel, on God’s behalf, recites the prior promise and prophesy of God that Israel would prosper because of faithfulness and God’s blessing.
Jacob, still fearful of the rage of Esau, greets him like a defenseless nation before an invading army.
Esau, apparently long-over his childhood losses, greets Jacob joyfully and reluctantly accepts his gifts.
Esau wants them to rush home but Jacob is mindful of tired and vulnerable livestock and children and chooses to move at a safer pace.
Jacob finds good places for the livestock and for his family along the ways and begins to settle-in.
Interact With The Text
Jacob anticipates a battle with Esau and is hopeful that a large offering will temper Esau’s rage. He is very aware that in his flesh he, and his people, are no match for Esau. While Jacob could be strong, for example when wrestling with the angel-man, there would always be others like Esau who were stronger in a mere flesh-to-flesh contest. Jacob’s fear of Esau proved to be misplaced, as many of our fears often are.
As Jacob wrestled with the angel-man his flesh is strong but he has no spiritual power and thus the angel was able to easily overcome his flesh. Jacob’s flesh had often led him into trouble, if he was to be God’s leader he would need to surrender, and the angel was sent to confront him with that truth. Isn’t the declaration of Jacob that he had “prevailed” in the flesh but needed God to succeed in the “big picture” a foreshadowing of the New Testament teaching of our surrender of everything in this world to Christ for our salvation? Esau had not only grown-beyond his childhood resentments he provided a partial model for the father’s response in the Parable of the Prodigal Son as he ran to greet his brother Jacob.
Jacob’s new name, Israel, tells everyone that he is now God’s man and no longer his own. How different might this story had gone has Esau been dwelling in his rage for the entire time Jacob was gone? What might that have meant for the life of Esau for 20 years as well as for Jacob as he tried to return home?
What was the moment, or what have been the moments, where you recognized that while in the world your flesh was strong – you needed God for anything to have real purpose and meaning and not mere striving with man? When have you needed to deal with the anger of another, or your own, for something from the past? How did it impact each of you in your own life and in your reaction to the other? Had either of you resolved your anger without the other knowing?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where conflict in the past has distorted your relationship(s) and perhaps your sense of freedom or safety or value in the present.
I will prayerfully consider where in my life I am “wrestling in the flesh” with God, trying to be strong in the flesh, rather than acknowledging my need for Him. I will surrender to Him and through my faithfulness to Him be made truly strong in His power. I agree to allow the Holy Spirit to take me to a difficult place in my past so that He may set me free. I will be wise in my practical choices while I trust Him to lead me to reconciliation. I will pray for the other or others that they two may seek His healing.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Saturday (Genesis 34 - 36)
Dinah and the Shechemites
34:1 Now Dinah, Leah’s daughter whom she bore to Jacob, went to meet the young women of the land. 34:2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who ruled that area, saw her, he grabbed her, forced himself on her, and sexually assaulted her. 34:3 Then he became very attached to Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. He fell in love with the young woman and spoke romantically to her. 34:4 Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Acquire this young girl as my wife.” 34:5 When Jacob heard that Shechem had violated his daughter Dinah, his sons were with the livestock in the field. So Jacob remained silent until they came in.
34:6 Then Shechem’s father Hamor went to speak with Jacob about Dinah. 34:7 Now Jacob’s sons had come in from the field when they heard the news. They were offended and very angry because Shechem had disgraced Israel by sexually assaulting Jacob’s daughter, a crime that should not be committed.
34:8 But Hamor made this appeal to them: “My son Shechem is in love with your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. 34:9 Intermarry with us. Let us marry your daughters, and take our daughters as wives for yourselves. 34:10 You may live among us, and the land will be open to you. Live in it, travel freely in it, and acquire property in it.”
34:11 Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your sight, and whatever you require of me I’ll give. 34:12 You can make the bride price and the gift I must bring very expensive, and I’ll give whatever you ask of me. Just give me the young woman as my wife!”
34:13 Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully when they spoke because Shechem had violated their sister Dinah. 34:14 They said to them, “We cannot give our sister to a man who is not circumcised, for it would be a disgrace to us. 34:15 We will give you our consent on this one condition: You must become like us by circumcising all your males. 34:16 Then we will give you our daughters to marry, and we will take your daughters as wives for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people. 34:17 But if you do not agree to our terms by being circumcised, then we will take our sister and depart.”
34:18 Their offer pleased Hamor and his son Shechem. 34:19 The young man did not delay in doing what they asked because he wanted Jacob’s daughter Dinah badly. (Now he was more important than anyone in his father’s household.) 34:20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, 34:21 “These men are at peace with us. So let them live in the land and travel freely in it, for the land is wide enough for them. We will take their daughters for wives, and we will give them our daughters to marry. 34:22 Only on this one condition will these men consent to live with us and become one people: They demand that every male among us be circumcised just as they are circumcised. 34:23 If we do so, won’t their livestock, their property, and all their animals become ours? So let’s consent to their demand, so they will live among us.”
34:24 All the men who assembled at the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem. Every male who assembled at the city gate was circumcised. 34:25 In three days, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and went to the unsuspecting city and slaughtered every male. 34:26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and left. 34:27 Jacob’s sons killed them and looted the city because their sister had been violated. 34:28 They took their flocks, herds, and donkeys, as well as everything in the city and in the surrounding fields. 34:29 They captured as plunder all their wealth, all their little ones, and their wives, including everything in the houses.
34:30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought ruin on me by making me a foul odor among the inhabitants of the land – among the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I am few in number; they will join forces against me and attack me, and both I and my family will be destroyed!” 34:31 But Simeon and Levi replied, “Should he treat our sister like a common prostitute?”
The Return to Bethel
35:1 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once to Bethel and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 35:2 So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes. 35:3 Let us go up at once to Bethel. Then I will make an altar there to God, who responded to me in my time of distress and has been with me wherever I went.”
35:4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods that were in their possession and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob buried them under the oak near Shechem 35:5 and they started on their journey. The surrounding cities were afraid of God, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.
35:6 Jacob and all those who were with him arrived at Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 35:7 He built an altar there and named the place El Bethel because there God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother. 35:8 (Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel; thus it was named Oak of Weeping.)
35:9 God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan Aram and blessed him. 35:10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but your name will no longer be called Jacob; Israel will be your name.” So God named him Israel. 35:11 Then God said to him, “I am the sovereign God. Be fruitful and multiply! A nation – even a company of nations – will descend from you; kings will be among your descendants! 35:12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you. To your descendants I will also give this land.” 35:13 Then God went up from the place where he spoke with him. 35:14 So Jacob set up a sacred stone pillar in the place where God spoke with him. He poured out a drink offering on it, and then he poured oil on it. 35:15 Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Bethel.
35:16 They traveled on from Bethel, and when Ephrath was still some distance away, Rachel went into labor – and her labor was hard. 35:17 When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you are having another son.” 35:18 With her dying breath, she named him Ben-Oni. But his father called him Benjamin instead. 35:19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 35:20 Jacob set up a marker over her grave; it is the Marker of Rachel’s Grave to this day.
35:21 Then Israel traveled on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. 35:22 While Israel was living in that land, Reuben had sexual relations with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard about it.
Jacob had twelve sons:
35:23 The sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, as well as Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
35:24 The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.
35:25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, were Dan and Naphtali.
35:26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant, were Gad and Asher.
These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan Aram.
35:27 So Jacob came back to his father Isaac in Mamre, to Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 35:28 Isaac lived to be 180 years old. 35:29 Then Isaac breathed his last and joined his ancestors. He died an old man who had lived a full life. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
The Descendants of Esau
36:1 What follows is the account of Esau (also known as Edom).
36:2 Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite, 36:3 in addition to Basemath the daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth.
36:4 Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, Basemath bore Reuel, 36:5 and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These were the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.
36:6 Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, all the people in his household, his livestock, his animals, and all his possessions which he had acquired in the land of Canaan and went to a land some distance away from Jacob his brother 36:7 because they had too many possessions to be able to stay together and the land where they had settled was not able to support them because of their livestock. 36:8 So Esau (also known as Edom) lived in the hill country of Seir.
36:9 This is the account of Esau, the father of the Edomites, in the hill country of Seir.
36:10 These were the names of Esau’s sons:
Eliphaz, the son of Esau’s wife Adah, and Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath.
36:11 The sons of Eliphaz were:
Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz.
36:12 Timna, a concubine of Esau’s son Eliphaz, bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of Esau’s wife Adah.
36:13 These were the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath.
36:14 These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon: She bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah to Esau.
36:15 These were the chiefs among the descendants of Esau, the sons of Eliphaz, Esau’s firstborn: chief Teman, chief Omar, chief Zepho, chief Kenaz, 36:16 chief Korah, chief Gatam, chief Amalek. These were the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these were the sons of Adah.
36:17 These were the sons of Esau’s son Reuel: chief Nahath, chief Zerah, chief Shammah, chief Mizzah. These were the chiefs descended from Reuel in the land of Edom; these were the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath.
36:18 These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: chief Jeush, chief Jalam, chief Korah. These were the chiefs descended from Esau’s wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah.
36:19 These were the sons of Esau (also known as Edom), and these were their chiefs.
36:20 These were the sons of Seir the Horite, who were living in the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 36:21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, the descendants of Seir in the land of Edom.
36:22 The sons of Lotan were Hori and Homam; Lotan’s sister was Timna.
36:23 These were the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam.
36:24 These were the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah (who discovered the hot springs in the wilderness as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon).
36:25 These were the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah.
36:26 These were the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Keran.
36:27 These were the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan.
36:28 These were the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran.
36:29 These were the chiefs of the Horites: chief Lotan, chief Shobal, chief Zibeon, chief Anah, 36:30 chief Dishon, chief Ezer, chief Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, according to their chief lists in the land of Seir.
36:31 These were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites:
36:32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom; the name of his city was Dinhabah.
36:33 When Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah from Bozrah reigned in his place.
36:34 When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites reigned in his place.
36:35 When Husham died, Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated the Midianites in the land of Moab, reigned in his place; the name of his city was Avith.
36:36 When Hadad died, Samlah from Masrekah reigned in his place.
36:37 When Samlah died, Shaul from Rehoboth by the River reigned in his place.
36:38 When Shaul died, Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place.
36:39 When Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor died, Hadad reigned in his place; the name of his city was Pau. His wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Me-Zahab.
36:40 These were the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their families, according to their places, by their names: chief Timna, chief Alvah, chief Jetheth, 36:41 chief Oholibamah, chief Elah, chief Pinon, 36:42 chief Kenaz, chief Teman, chief Mibzar, 36:43 chief Magdiel, chief Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their settlements in the land they possessed. This was Esau, the father of the Edomites.
Lord, may I understand that there are some things “... that should not be committed” and which have consequences that may include even greater conflict with You and fellow humankind. Lord, may the blindness of greed and lust be swept away from my life so that my eyes are always upon You alone. Lord, may I pause regularly to fellowship with You, to lift praises to You, and to clear-out anything that is an idol which displaces You in any part of my life. Lord, Your Word is always true, so even though there was confusion and rebellion in the House of Isaac Your promise to bless his children extended to Esau.
Scripture In Perspective
Once again the lust of the eyes has led a man to act unwisely toward a woman. “Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who ruled that area ...” raped Israel’s daughter Dinah.
After his crime Shechem became emotionally attached to Dinah, perhaps parallel with the fear of consequences for his crime, and petitions Israel to allow him to marry her – for which he would pay a large dowry and welcome her people into the land.
The text does not report Israel’s reply to the offer to and marry among the family of the rapist and those who occupied the land already promised to Israel.
Simeon and Levi, apparently the leaders of their brothers, challenge Shechem and Hamor to have all of their men circumcised to make it acceptable to live together with them.
The greed and lust of Shechem and Hamor were not isolated to Dinah. Just as they tried to lure Israel into an alliance to cover-over the terrible crime against Dinah, they promote this to their people in order to persuade them to be circumcised.
Note the text of 34:23 “If we do so, won’t their livestock, their property, and all their animals become ours?” They were not satisfied with Dinah, they were willing to intermarry with a foreign people of an unfamiliar God and traditions in order to gain access to their resources.
Simeon and Levi, as clever as Jacob and Laban before them, used the worldly vulnerability of Shechem and Hamor against them – setting them up for slaughter and the loss of everything.
Israel is upset, fearing retribution from the other people in the land, Simeon and Levi declare that the crime against their sister Dinah was a crime against Israel which had to be avenged.
After the action of Simeon and Levi God instructs Israel to relocate his people and to stop and renew their commitment to Him as their Lord God.
Before the people of Israel are prepared to build an altar and worship the Lord God they needed to remove all of the idols from their presence and to prepare their bodies and clothes as seemed proper to come into the presence (however indirect) of heavenly-royalty.
Meanwhile, God had placed fear in the hearts of the “cities” around them – as He had with Laban – so that they did not dare to attack Israel.
Lord, may my life be known for my faithfulness in pausing to give you the glory, praise, and worship, and for the way that I have multiplied those who are known by Your name.
Jacob/Israel returned to Bethel where Rebekah’s servant Deborah died and was buried. Jacob/Israel built an altar there in remembrance of God meeting him there 20 years prior when he was fleeing the rage of Esau.
God appears again to Jacob, reiterating His promise for Abraham and Isaac to Jacob/Israel’s descendants and reiterating His prior message to Jacob that his name was now Israel. Jacob erected a stone pillar in remembrance and poured-out a “drink offering”, possibly wine or blood from an animal sacrifice, followed by oil.
Near Ephrath, midway from Bethel to Bethlehem Rachel gives birth to Benjamin and dies in childbirth. She is buried there.
During the journey that followed Jacob/Israel’s son Reuben had sexual relations with Bilhah, Jacob/Israel’s father’s concubine, and he became aware of that sin.
Jacob/Israel returned to “... Isaac in Mamre, to Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed.” in time see Isaac before he died at 180 years of age.
Just as Abraham had experienced before them Esau and Jacob’s large herds of animals could not be managed in close proximity – so Esau again moved away from his family into Seir where he became “the father of the Edomites”.
The descendants of Esau are provided as a testimony of God’s faithfulness to His promise to bless the children of Isaac.
Interact With The Text
Shechem and Hamor were unaware that God had already promised all of the land to Abraham, then Isaac, and then Jacob – they were unaware that their penitence for the sin of Shechem was a peaceful way for Israel to begin occupying the promised land. The greed and lust of Shechem and Hamor make them very vulnerable. Jacob/Israel has a developing relationship with God, as a young man it seemed to be non-existent, then it was somewhat superstitious, and only in his later years did it seem to grow into more of a relationship and one where God became his Lord God. Jacob was told by the man/angel with whom he had earlier wrestled that his name would become Israel and now God makes it so. According to the Edomites are referenced 39 times in the Old Testament, often in conflict with the Tribes of Israel Gen: 36:9, 36:43; Num: 34:3; Deu: 2:4 23:7, 23:8; Jdg: 1:36; 1Sa: 14:47 21:7 22:9 22:18 22:22; 2Sa: 8:13 8:14; 1Ki: 11:1 11:14; 11:17; 2Ki: 8:20 8:21 14:7 16:6 24:2; 1Ch: 18:12 18:13; 2Ch: 21:8 21:9 21:10 25:11 25:14 25:19 28:17; Psa: 52:1 60:1 83:6 137:7; Jer: 9:26 49:19 49:22; Eze: 16:57
What sense of entitlement, lack of respect for women, and of local power must Hamor and Shechem had to approach Israel in this way? What statement about their character would Israel, as leader of his people, have made were they to have agreed to the marriage of Shechem to Dinah, the intermarriage with the local people, and to the merging of the resources that God had given them?: While we have a significantly different relationship with the Lord God than that of pre-Cross/Resurrection/Pentecost Old Testament (and early New Testament) people He is still the royalty of royalty and deserving of our honor and obedience and praise. How do we prepare ourselves to enter into His presence for special times of praise and worship? When Adam named the animals in the Garden it was a statement of ‘ownership’ or of a hierarchical relationship where the one who names is above the being that is named. Here God acknowledges that Jacob’s relationship with Him has matured to a place where he is truly God’s man and thus God gives him a new name. This is not the first time that God did this. While Esau had apparently forgiven Jacob the text does not imply that their relationship warmed. Damaged relationships may often be reconciled, where the conflict ceases, but not restored, where affection and fellowship are intimate.
The invitation to live and marry among the family of the rapist and those who occupied the land already promised to Israel must have sounded odd to Dinah’s relatives. Israel continues his pattern of fear-driven weakness whereas his sons acted aggressively and cleverly to enforce high standards of integrity despite the risk. How might you have chosen between the alternatives facing the people of Israel? Israel appears to have been aware of the presence of idols among his people yet his relationship with and understanding of the Lord God has matured to where he knew that those idols must be removed. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, comforted in her final moments of suffering when told that she was bearing Jacob/Israel another son. Her desperate desire to compete with Leah in producing sons was a priority until the final moments of her life. Choices have consequences and the one that led to Esau at odds with his brother Jacob led to generations of conflict among their descendants.
When have you, or someone with whom you have interacted, tried to ‘make things right’ after an offense in a way that upon reflection seems inappropriate? When have you been faced with a decision which presented what appeared to be two competing bad ethical options? Was the deception and destruction by Simeon and Levi justified? When have you felt led to prepare yourself in a special way to enter into praise and worship of God – what did that process look like for you? When have a series of major events, mixed blessings and losses such as Jacob/Israel experienced along the way home, caused you to draw nearer to God? When have you experienced of observed a relationship that had been seriously troubled where the two people reconciled but did not restore to an intimacy one might expect; be it siblings, a couple (men and women previously married or close to it), or business or ministry partners, etc.?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where and how the lust of your flesh may be leading you in a direction that may result in harm to others and to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom when confronted by ethical challenges. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any idols in your life. [Note: Idols may be people we hold up so high that their opinion or approval eclipses that of God and His Word, may be money or power, fame or appearance, possessions or talents, elements of other religions merged with Biblical Christianity, habits that are superstition-based, etc.] Ask the Holy Spirit to seek you in all of the moments of my life, the difficult and the good. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you might both reconcile and restore a broken relationship, and if not possible to restore to clarify the ‘why’.
I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit to identify places in my life where an impetuous reaction to the desires of my flesh are leading me to make poor choices. I agree to surrender those places to the Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit. I will prayerfully review my life for any place where fear may be causing me to consider compromise with those who are not followers of Christ for the sake of a temporary peace. I will act boldly to stand for honor and trust God to be my strength and my protector. I will partner with the Holy Spirit, and as-necessary a fellow believer, to prayerfully discern the presence of any idols in my life. Since I am in His presence always, due to His indwelling Holy Spirit, any idols are always an offense to Him. I agree to purge those idols from my life and to make an intentional effort to keep them and others from entering-in ever again. I will reflect upon a list of several of the most difficult and the most joyful events of my life and prayerfully seek the presence of God in them, and even today as He teaches me something new through them. I will share what the Holy Spirit shows me with a fellow believer, as an encouragement and a praise, and with someone considering-Christ, as a witness to God’s faithful love. I will prayerfully partner with the Holy Spirit to be made aware of a previously broken relationship which He wants healed. I will seek reconciliation and restoration, but only with the wise counsel of a Biblical elder, so that I neither rush things or force them beyond what the Lord declares to be right and safe.
Be Specific _________________________________________________
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.