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Gen. 49:1-18

8/1/10 The Spirit of God gave Jacob insight into the characters of his sons that would be reflected in their descendants in their future.

Reuben: Even though Reuben was the first-born and should have the prominent position that would not be because of his sin in sleeping with his father’s concubine. This was one example of a mistake Reuben had made, but Jacob knew from a lifetime together that this was just a part of an overall pattern of moral instability, which unfit Reuben for spiritual leadership. The leadership was to go to Judah. In Israel’s history not a single prominent leader ever came out of Reuben.

Simeon and Levi: These two are grouped together because in many ways they were the same, and because their tribes would be linked together eventually as one, making room for the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. It was their crime of massacring the Shechemites that Jacob foresees in their future. Because of this they would receive no inheritance in the promised land.

Simeon’s tribe never really reproduced very much and was soon the weakest of all the tribes. It wasn’t counted at all the second time Moses numbered the people. They didn’t receive a portion of the land but just an inheritance of a few cities within Judah’s borders. The tribe was eventually absorbed into Judah.

Levi, on the other hand, had its curse transformed into a blessing because Levi was the only tribe to stand for God in the wilderness of the exodus when everyone else did not. And even though Levi didn’t receive an allotment of land, the Lord himself became their inheritance. They became the chosen tribe of the priesthood. So even someone who is punished for his sin God is able to transform the same curse into a blessing.

Judah: Judah received the rights of the first-born. Not that he was perfect, but Judah had a strength of character that the first three sons didn’t have. He was the one who saved Joseph’s life when the others wanted to kill him. And he was the one who offered himself in Benjamin’s place when it looked as though Benjamin would become a slave.

Jacob predicted that all of the tribes would bow to Judah, which happened when David became king. Judah is compared to a lion, a picture that remained, and Jesus himself is pictured by the same image in Rev. 5:5. Judah was to hold leadership all the way to the time when Shiloh would come, which most understand to be a reference to Jesus (DA52). Shiloh means “giver of rest.” The reference to tying the foal to the choice vine fits well with this statement.

Zebulon: The Bible doesn’t show how this prophecy came true, but that’s no reason to believe it never happened. What we know of Zebulon’s allotment is that it did not border the sea, but it could easily have at some point.

Issachar: He would be content with what he received as a tribal inheritance. He never would seek leadership or prominence. He would be strong and content to labor on the land.

Dan: Dan would play an important part in the life of the nation of Israel. The tribe was particularly prominent during the time of the judges. Samson was from Dan and ruled as judge for 20 years. Dan is pictured as a serpent describing his cunning ways. Dan was also the first to introduce idol worship. The name of Dan is not included in the list of tribes in Rev. 7.

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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 44

7/27/13 It was the final test. Joseph would give the brothers every easy excuse to treat Benjamin as they had treated him, and in addition they would be guiltless in the matter. Jacob treated Benjamin as he had treated Joseph, so the brothers could have easily been resentful of him as they had been with Joseph. And Joseph was determined to find out if this was so. One wonders how he would have dealt with them if they had been unchanged, but thankfully, they were changed.

Joseph ordered their money be returned and his special cup put into the sack of grain going on Benjamin’s donkey. About the time the brothers would have been feeling truly euphoric that they were out of the city and free, Joseph’s steward caught up with them and demanded to know why they would steal after all the kindness shown to them. The brothers protested their innocence and pronounced their own sentence if the cup was found with them.

The steward, in searching their sacks, would have found their money, but evidently didn’t mention it. It was only the silver cup he was interested in. When it was found in Benjamin’s sack they knew they had been set up. Dismayed, they returned together. They could have just sent Benjamin back but did not. They told Joseph that all of them would be his slaves, which he refused. This was a positive sign, but Joseph pushed the issue concerning Benjamin. Finally, Judah made a personal, heart-felt plea that for the sake of their aging father that he be allowed to substitute himself for Benjamin. At this point Joseph knew positively that his brothers were changed men.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 43

7/26/10 Jacob procrastinated as long as he could, refusing to let Benjamin go to Egypt. He hoped the famine would end or another source of food would be found. He hoped for anything, but God had designed that all of this happen. So  eventually Jacob’s family needed food or everyone, including Benjamin, would starve.

When Jacob tried to get them to at least try to go and get food, Judah reminded his father that they could not return to Egypt without Benjamin because Joseph had told them that they would not even see him if Benjamin didn’t come. All of this time Joseph was formulating a true test of his brother’s hearts.

In the end, Judah took personal responsibility for Benjamin–a relationship that extended  until long after the two had died, in the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

Jacob ordered them to take a special present for Joseph and to double their money to repay what had been returned to them. Then they rode back to Egypt. Joseph’s heart must have been racing with anticipation. By now he understood that God’s hand had been in all of this from the beginning. He recognized the dreams he had had and that God had planned it all. When the brothers returned he was ready.

Joseph brought them to his house, which at first terrified the brothers. They preempted what they thought woud concern the money in their sacks by telling the steward what had happened. But the steward assured them that he had received their money and credited their God with a miracle. Then they learned that they were to eat with Joseph.

When Joseph saw Benjamin he was overcome with emotion and had to flee to recompose himself. Then he ordered the meal served, which he ate separately, because it was detestable for Egyptians to eat with Hebrews–ironically. The Hebrews, thus far anyway, seemed to be free of such prejudices, though it would come in time.

Joseph began to lavish Benjamin with good things to observe the brother’s reaction. Would they be jealous? The brothers were treated well. He returned Simeon to them, washed their feet, and refreshed them from their trip. But Benjamin was obviously treated with the greatest honor.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 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. 30

7/12/10 The first part of this chapter chronicles the strife between the women in Jacob’s household. Since Rachel was not bearing children she said to her husband, “Give me children or I’ll die!” At this Jacob got angry with her since it was not in his power to do this. So Rachel gave her maid to Jacob to have children for her, which he did. And somehow Rachel felt vindicated through this. So then Leah, who had stopped bearing children retaliated by giving Jacob her maid and she had a son also this way.

When Ruben brought Leah some mandrakes, Rachel wanted some and so she traded Jacob for the night for the mandrakes. Apparently Jacob was traded like a commodity by his wives. Leah, who must not have seen Jacob as much as Rachel did, made the trade and went out to meet Jacob with the announcement that he was hers tonight.

Finally, after Leah had three more children the story says that God gave Rachel a child, Joseph. It’s interesting to note how many of the sons have names given by Leah and Rachel that reflect the strife and contention between them.

1. Reuben: “Because the Lord has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” -Leah
2. Simeon: “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, he has therefore given me this son also”. -Leah
3. Levi: “Now this time my husband will become attached to me.” -Leah
4. Judah: “This time I will praise the Lord.” -Leah
5. Dan: “God has vindicated me and has indeed heard my voice and has give me a son.” -Rachel through Bilah
6. Naphtali: “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed.” -Rachel through, Bilah
7. Gad: “How fortunate.” -Leah through Zilpah
8. Asher: “How happy am I, for women will call me happy.” -Leah through Zilpah
9. Issachar: “God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband.” -Leah
10. Zebulun: “God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me because I have borne him six sons.” -Leah
11. Joseph: “God has taken away my reproach. May the Lord give me another son.” -Rachel
12. Benoni: “The son of my sorrow.” -Rachel (But Jacob named him Benjamin, the sone of the right hand).

After Joseph was born, Jacob talked to Laban about leaving, but Laban didn’t want him to go because he was being enriched by Jacob. But Jacob replied that it was time for him to start providing for his own family. Laban then agreed to pay him, but Jacob had a better plan: to take certain of the flock, those with black in them, as his own. Laban agreed to these terms, presumably because there were few of these animals.

Jacob began to try to cause the sheep and goats to bear young with black in them. Either he understood something of sheep that we have lost today, or he was just superstitious and God worked through that means. Either way Jacob managed to increase his own wealth quickly. Laban tried to counteract the situation by changing around Jacob’s wages but every time the flocks favored Jacob.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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