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Gen. 49:19-33

8/2/10 Gad: In 1 Chr. 5 & 12 the Gadites were always brave to fight, a valiant tribe. The chronicles of Israel don’t tell about Gad being often attacked but they clearly were always ready to help protect from any attack upon Israel.

Asher: Asher was promised rich food and the tribe did receive the most fertile area around Carmel by the Mediterranean. Solomon supplied Hiram with olive oil from this region. This would have included Lebanon, still known as the breadbasket of the Middle East.

Naphtali: We don’t know much about what happened with this tribe. Perhaps the prophecy about a doe and beautiful words refers to a gentle people who wouldn’t have made the “news” of the OT as the more in-your-face tribes. Not that they never fought. In 1 Kg 5 they fought with Barak against King Jabin. These short prophecies were sons of his concubines.

Joseph: Jacob overflowed in his blessing on Joseph for a number of reasons. One was because of the suffering he had undergone by his brothers and in Egypt. Another was because of his virtue and faithfulness throughout. He is a type of the shepherd Jesus.

Benjamin: The tribe of Benjamin became a warlike tribe, excellent archers and slingers. They were often at the forefront of battle. Ehud and Saul were of this tribe.

The account goes on to say that Jacob blessed all of his sons with a blessing appropriate to him. Then he asked that he be buried in Machpelah with Abraham and Isaac, then he lay down and died.

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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 47

7/30/10 When Jacob’s household arrived in Goshen Joseph took five of his brothers. Which ones and why isn’t told, but he presents them to Pharaoh and when Pharaoh asks their occupation they tell him they are shepherds. Pharaoh then officially gives them permission to settle in the best land and tells Joseph to choose any good men from Jacob’s house to shepherd his livestock.

Then Joseph brought in his father to meet Pharaoh. Pharaoh asks his age, which he states as 130 few and unpleasant years. I had never thought about how unpleasant life was for Jacob: his parent’s relationship, his brothers’ and his relationship, stealing, fleeing, being cheated, lying, his wives, his son’s actions, losing Rachel, losing Joseph, it just never ended for Jacob. The last 17 years in Egypt, I suppose, were the best of his life with his sons reborn and Joseph restored.

Joseph managed the whole of Egypt by access to food. He acquired all the money in Egypt for Pharaoh, then all of the animals, then all of the land, and finally the people themselves as slaves. Not forced labor slaves apparently, but enough so that they could be freely taxed a fifth of their yearly harvest. Everyone from then on worked on Pharaoh’s lands instead of their own.

When the time came for Jacob to die he called Joseph to him and asked to be buried with Abraham and Isaac in Canaan. Joseph promised to make this happen. And Israel grew to many people.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 46

7/29/10 In response to Joseph’s invitation the house of Jacob packed up to head for Egypt. They soon arrived in Beersheba, where Abraham and Abimilech had once made a covenant, and from which Jacob had fled from Esau. In this place so filled with history and memory already Jacob offered sacrifices to God and God spoke to Jacob in vision.

It must have been with some fear that Jacob was going to Egypt, so God comforted him that this was a part of his plans for him and his descendants. This is the place where his people would grow into a great nation. And God promised that Joseph would be there at his death.

The account lists the sons and grandsons of Jacob and that his household numbered 70 when they came to Egypt. As they arrived Jacob sent Judah to Joseph for directions to Goshen and Joseph met them there. Quite a reunion for them.

Joseph’s instructions to his family was that when Pharaoh asked their occupation they were to emphasize the fact that they were shepherds. Since shepherds were a low class of Egyptian society Pharaoh would see to it that they had plenty of room so that the Egyptians wouldn’t have to mingle with them. This likely was Joseph’s thinking to keep them from intermarriage.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 25

7/5/10 After Sarah died, Abraham remarried and had six more sons. But they were not the children of promise. Therefore, Abraham gave them gifts and sent them to live in the East. (Could there be any connection with the wisemen who came from the East at Jesus’ birth?) Abraham understood that God intended to give the land of Canaan to Isaac’s descendants, so he was being sure that there would not be blood competition in the family.

Presumably Abraham had prepared his sons for this from birth and he provided well for them, but nothing was to distract from the line of Isaac. Abraham finally died at 175 years old. Ishmael, who apparently was still in the area and had contact with his family joined Isaac in burying their father beside Isaac’s mother, Sarah.

As for Ishmael he went on to become the father of 12 sons as God had promised his mother, to make him a great nation. It’s interesting that God gave him exactly 12 sons just as Jacob would have, who would become the 12 tribes of Israel. One wonders if there is any significance to that.

God had said that Ishmael’s descendants would live in hostility toward the people around them and even among themselves, which continues to this day. Yet God promised to bless them through Ishmael. Since God doesn’t change that blessing must still be in effect.

Jacob and Esau were born to Rebekah when Isaac was 60 years old. That means they had no children for 20 years, which would have been a terrible time since children would have been expected right away. The account says simply that Isaac prayed for his wife, but presumably he didn’t pray only after 20 years of waiting. Most likely he prayed for 20 years.

Imagine their joy the day Rebekah became pregnant. And even though it was the first time being pregnant Rebekah knew that something was unusual. There was action in her womb. So she went to God to ask about the problem and he spoke to her telling her that they would have twins and also gave her a prophecy concerning future of her boys. It’s interesting how much God interacted with the women in the first parts of the Bible: Eve, Sarah, Hagar, and now Rebekah, all spoke directly with God.

God had separated out Isaac from Abraham’s other sons. Now he separated out Jacob from Isaac’s sons. There was to be one distinct line of his chosen people. God didn’t reject Esau or his descendants on a personal level, they just were not to be part of the line of Israel. Not that they could have understood this enough to have resented it, probably. Still, even though they were not being rejected by God as human beings, they did choose to reject him.

There was rivalry between the brothers from the beginning and Jacob was far from blameless, going to far as to manipulate his brother for the birthright. In spite of the prophecy, Esau was Isaac’s favored son, but Esau clearly held in contempt his birth position and responsibilities spiritually speaking.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 24

Gen. 24
7/3/10 Eliezer was nearly a son to Abraham. Before Isaac came along he was the one who would have inherited all of Abraham’s property. And now Abraham entrusted the most critical job possible to Eliezer: to find a wife for his son. Abraham must have trusted him very much indeed. Eliezer is a good pattern for what a servant of Jesus should be.

Eliezer swore to carry out the task faithfully. Under no circumstances was Isaac to return to the homeland. God had promised him Canaan, so the girl would have to come there.

Eliezer knew where to go. The well was the place to meet women. So he asked God to show him a sign to point him to the right woman. The sign Eliezer chose was not an easy one, so it would be unmistakable that God was leading. And God honored Eliezer’s request.

Rebekah came, gave Eliezer a drink, and watered his camels as well. Then she offered their home for the night, which was no small offer for a caravan of their size.

When Laban saw the gold Eliezer had given to Rebekah he was immediately interested in the situation. When he heard the story, he had his reason to act. Running to the well, he brought Eliezer home and fed them all. But Eliezer wanted to take care of business first. He explained all that had happened, and then and there the family decided to send Rebekah with him to Canaan.

They stayed the night, and Eliezer was anxious to get going, seeing that Abraham’s days were numbered. Rebekah’s family wanted him to tarry in Nahor, but he refused, and they asked Rebekah if she would go right away. She agreed.

Isaac had gone for some solitude and silence to meditate when he saw the caravan returning. Rebekah asked about him, and upon learning it was her husband-to-be she covered her face with a veil. Isaac wouldn’t see her until the wedding night.

Back at home Eliezer related the whole story, and Rebekah and Isaac were married.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 23

7/2/10 Sarah lived until Isaac was nearly 40. After mourning for her Abraham went to bury her. But he, a wonderer, owned no permanent property in which to do so. So he went to the people who owned the land and asked to buy a plot. They replied with deep respect for Abraham that he didn’t need to own the land but to feel free to bury his wife anywhere he chose, including their own family tombs. Abraham, however, preferred to have his own family tomb.

The conversation that followed is interesting. It’s obvious that cultural respect, hospitality, and formal politeness were key components of life in the ANE. Abraham bowed low before the elders and speaking as through Ephron wasn’t there spoke of him in the third person and asked them to intercede for him to buy a piece of his property, which clearly he had already chosen.

Ephron, who was there, replied “Take it. I give it to you.” Abraham appropriately refused and offered to buy it at the full price. Ephron said, “That property is worth 400 shekels of silver, but our friendship is much more important. I give it to you.” It appears that this was all part of the business of polite bargaining, but it was still an assumed thing that Abraham would use the price information appropriately, which he did. He weighed out the money and the property was deeded to him.

This elaborate deal and conversation, while perhaps ridiculous to a western method, is in a way refreshing.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 22

7/1/10 God tested Abraham. Why? For one, God wanted the story to be told. He would use this story for teaching, and as a type of what would happen to his own son. Second, Abraham would have his faith in God increased by this crisis. God always pushes us to greater and deeper faith. Abraham was already a faith giant but God continued to exercise his faith. Third, Isaac was doubtless affected by the event as well. It would have been a defining moment for him for the rest of his life. Fourth, very likely something cosmic and Job-like was going on concerning Abraham and Isaac. There are probably other reasons as well.

From the first verse one gets the feeling that this was an audible conversation between Abraham and God. This wasn’t the first time, so Abraham was not able to assign this voice to someone else or to his own imagination. He knew the voice of God.

God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac (since Ishmael was gone), the one you love…” It’s like God was saying, “Make no mistake, I am talking about the child of promise.” Abraham didn’t delay. He got up, cut wood, took Isaac and two servants, and set out.

The sacrifice was to take place on Mt. Moriah, which has been identified with the place where the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem now stands. Melchizedek would have lived nearby.

Isaac asked about the offering and Abraham assured him that God would provide. Perhaps he was evading the question, or perhaps he figured God would provide something else.

One wonders how Isaac reacted, but he did submit. His father was old and Isaac was in the prime of youth. He could have resisted, but he didn’t. When it was obvious that Abraham was actually going to obey God, at the last second an angel stopped him. “Now I know that you fear God…” God knew all along, but there were others who watched that did not know. The fact is that God does what he does not primarily for himself but for others. It’s all about vindicated himself and his government.

God did provide an offering, as he does all of our offerings. Then the angel spoke again, reconfirming the original promise. It appears that much of God’s plan for the future of his people rode upon the faith and obedience of his father who would begin the line of a thousand generations who were to love God. Even late in his life he was being formed and so was Isaac.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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