Monthly Archives: September 2013

Gen. 39

7/22/10 In Egypt Joseph was purchased as a slave by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s body guard. God prospered all the Joseph did, and he prospered Potiphar because of Joseph. Potiphar was evidently a wise man and he recognized in Joseph wisdom and honesty, so he soon put Joseph in complete charge of his household.

Joseph, though, was a good looking man, and he caught the attention of Potiphar’s wife, who attempted time and again to seduce Joseph. Joseph refused to even be near her.

One day, when the opportunity was right, and when God knew it was time for Joseph to get connected with Pharaoh, Potiphar’s wife caught Joseph alone. Grabbing him by his garment she begged him to sleep with her. He ran, leaving his garment in her hand. Angry at being spurned she screamed out to the other servants.

First she blamed her husband. “He brought us a Hebrew to make sport of us…” She waited, forming her story, until Potiphar came home. Somehow one gets the feeling that Potiphar didn’t believe her, else he would have executed Joseph on the spot. But at the same time  he had to do something. It must have been with profound regret that he sent Joseph to prison.

Joseph went to prison for doing the right thing. But it wasn’t just any jail, it was the place where the king’s prisoner’s were kept. We don’t know exactly the timing of these events, but it seems to have happened quickly that Joseph won the trust of the jailer and was soon in charge of the whole jail. Maybe Potiphar put in a good word for him. Everything Joseph did prospered by God’s blessing.

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Posted by on September 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Gen. 38

7/20/10 Why is this account included in the Bible? Perhaps it had good information for past ages when Jewish law reigned. But what lessons are there for modern days?

Judah married a Canaanite woman, which was not necessarily prohibited at this point. Isaac and Jacob were supposed to take wives from among their own people, but that wasn’t commanded for Jacob’s sons, so far as we know. Presumably, all of the brothers had wives from Canaan, and Joseph’s wife was Egyptian.

Three sons were born to Judah, the first being Er, who married Tamar. Er, though, was wicked and God, apparently not wanting Israel to grow from his line, allowed him to be killed. According to the custom of levirate marriage (which evidently predated Jewish law), Judah gave his next son, Onan, to Tamar to continue his brother’s line. But Onan refused to get her pregnant because he would be doing it for his brother and not for his own line. God was displeased with this and allowed Onan to die also.

At this point, Judah feared for the life of his youngest, Shelah. So he told Tamar to wait until he was grown up. She waited, but Judah didn’t follow through. So Tamar resorted to deception, dressing as a prostitute she seduced Judah, taking his staff and seal as a pledge for payment. Then she disappeared until she turned up pregnant and was accused of prostitution. Judah, all too ready rid himself of the problem situation, orders her death. At that point she produces Judah’s staff and seal. Apparently this let her off the hook, presumably because either this made it no longer prostitution or because Judah himself would have to die as an accomplice. It seems more like the former option, because Israel’s civil laws detailing such punishments were still far in the future.

Judah instantly recognized what was going on and admits his own sin in not giving Shelah to Tamar. Now, though, there was no need. She had a son of her own. They were twins, Perez and Zerah. Zerah put out his hand first but Perez came first. No comment is made as to the significance of this.

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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Gen. 37

7/19/10 Seventeen year-old Joseph was helping with the sheep and tattled on his brothers. The account doesn’t say what they had done but apparently the event was significant enough to mention Joseph’s bad report. Such things, coupled with his father’s obvious favoritism, and to top it all off the colorful coat he made for Joseph, all of it served to make the brothers hate Joseph. They couldn’t say anything kind to him.

Joseph apparently didn’t help matters, particularly by telling them the dreams he had. But apparently God gave these dreams not only for Joseph’s benefit but for the family as well. So God must have been guiding things even as they related to causing the brothers to hate Joseph. Not that God needed them to do wrong to accomplish his plans, but knowing that they would do wrong, he incorporated the entire evil scenario into his plan.

Finally, the day came when Jacob asked Joseph to go check on his brothers. Joseph couldn’t find them in Shechem, but then someone found him wondering around and he asked about his brothers. The man sent Joseph on to Dothan, where he found them.

They saw him coming and discussed murdering him outright, but Reuben convinced them not to. Instead, they could just throw him into a pit and let him starve. Reuben planned to set him free later.

It was Judah’s idea to sell Joseph to the traders. Reuben was gone at the time. So for 20 pieces of silver they sold Joseph as a slave. Reuben wasn’t pleased, but now they had to consider how to break this to their father. They decided to shred and bloody Joseph’s coat and let Jacob draw his own conclusions.

And Joseph was sold to Potiphar.

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Gen. 36

7/18/10 One chapter of Genesis is devoted to giving Esau’s line of descendants. Why such information is given might not seem clear on the surface, but all scripture is inspired and effective for instruction, says Paul. Probably Bible scholars are able to research this genealogy and discover valuable information.

The Pentateuch is one of the most ancient writings available and it has been revelvant from then until now. Surely this history of the Edomites was valuable to Israel at their beginning. It showed them in detail how closely they were related to the Edomites and why God dealt with them the way that he did during the Exodus.

It’s interesting to note that upon Jacob’s return it was Esau who moved, rather than Jacob. God obviously engineered that move.

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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Gen. 35

7/17/10 Upon his return to Canaan Jacob first went to Succoth and built a house, so he must have stayed a while. Then he moved to Shechem and bought land and pitched tents there. So he must have stayed a while there as well. Then God told him to move to Bethel, which he did, though it doesn’t appear he stayed for long. Then he moved to Bethlehem and stayed there for a while. Finally, he came to his father in Hebron, just before Isaac died. It seems odd that Jacob took so long to see his father after his return to the land. Perhaps he did go to see him but it just isn’t told in the story.

When God told Jacob to move to Bethel, which means house of God, Jacob gave instructions for everyone in his company to put away any idols. They also removed their earrings and gave them to Jacob, who hid them in the ground. He commanded them to prepare to meet with God, to purify themselves and change their clothes. Meeting with God is to be done carefully and with thought. Jacob’s clan was already starting to sound like the children of Israel.

As they journeyed, the cities around them were in terror of them and did not pursue them, just like we read later in Ex 15 and 23. When Jacob came to the place God had revealed himself to him and had promised to make a great nation from him, Jacob built an altar to God there. There God appeared again to Jacob and repeated the covenant he had made with Abraham and Isaac. God also change Jacob’s name to Israel, more officially, I suppose, from the night at the Jabbock. When finished confirming the promise he went up from the place and Jacob marked it as a holy place.

Their business finished in Bethel, they journeyed on toward Bethlehem and on the way Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin.

In a one-sentence paragraph the account mentions that Ruben slept with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine, but does not expand on it. Jacob knew of it, but it doesn’t say what he did about it.

Finally, Jacob came to his father in Hebron, where he died at 180 years old. The brothers, Jacob and Esau together, buried him.

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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Gen. 34

7/16/10 This chapter begins with the ominous phrase, “Dinah…went to visit the daughters of the land.” The intermingling of God’s people with the wicked never ends well for God’s people. Dinah was seen and raped by Shechem, son of the leader of the town, Hamor. The towns of Canaan were small towns with small numbers of people. The fact that two men end up killing them and that the Shechemites would be interested in having the wealth of Jacob enough to be circumcised to gain it indicates that they were few in number.

Shechem was deeply attracted to Dinah and wanted to marry her, so he came with his father to Jacob to make the request. Jacob waits for his sons to return and when they did they were very angry about what happened. However, they veiled it enough to come up with a scheme.

Jacob, presumably, was not in on their lie. For sure not the murder part, but the intermarriage part isn’t clear. Could he have agreed to intermarry with the people? It seems unlikely, but it also seems unlikely that he left his sons to make this decision alone, although it is possible.

So Shechem and his father go back to the town and convince the men to be circumcised so that they could become one with Israel. (This seems to be the first time the word is used to denote the area and people rather than just Jacob himself). Motivated by greed, the men were circumcised. Then Simeon and Levi fell upon them and killed all the men. Afterward, all of the sons, except Joseph and Benjamin, came and looted the town taking away the valuables and even the people.

Jacob understood the implications of what his sons had done and that they were no longer secure there. He also understood the moral problem (see Gen 49). But his sons argued that the wrong done to their sister had to be put right.

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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Gen. 32

7/14/10 After Laban left, Jacob continued his journey and he was met by angels of God whom he saw. Usually that picture is not part of the story in our minds. We always jump to the part of wrestling in the night. But here in the first verse of the chapter we see God giving Jacob a clear, visible sign that he was protecting him. He knew that Jacob was already afraid and he wanted to provide a bolster to his faith. God does promise, after all, not to test us beyond what we can bear. Obviously Jacob must have been close to that line, so God gave him this encouragement.

Then Jacob sent a message to Esau alerting him that he was on his way. Jacob hoped that Esau would have forgiven him by now, but Esau’s reaction of setting out to meet him with 400 men didn’t bode well. Jacob must have really clung to the meeting with the angels. Jacob trusted God enough to not flee, but he still made preparations for the worst by dividing up his group into two caravans so that one might escape in case of attack. Then he prayed fervently, reclaiming the promises of God and reminding God that he was returning at his command.

The next day Jacob sent gifts of animals and servants for Esau, each spaced out with the same message to the effect that Jacob wanted reconciliation. That night, then, Jacob stayed up all night to pray and ended up in a physical wrestling match with God himself, in the person of Jesus, (PP197). He’s called an angel but that’s not unprecedented in Scripture. It was God in the burning bush when he met Moses, and there too he is called the angel of the Lord. This doesn’t make God a created being. It only means that God was delivering his own message, because angel is a title for a messenger.

This was also a symbolic wrestling match. Jesus was obviously wrestling at Jacob’s strength level and for Jacob’s good. It couldn’t have been otherwise. Jesus didn’t need Jacob to go through this for his sake, Jacob needed to go through it for his own sake. It was his own sin that had put all of these innocent people in peril and he needed to come to have faith that he was forgiven and that God was in control.

Toward dawn Jesus gave Jacob a painful limp that he would carry for the rest of his life. It would be a constant reminder of both his weakness, but also his strength for he had wrestled with God and prevailed. Incredible grace.

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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


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