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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. 42

7/25/10 It appears that the famine in Egypt had become so severe that the sons of Jacob could think of nothing to do. They sat and stared at each other. So Jacob sent them to Egypt because the story had arrived in Canaan that food could be purchased there.

Joseph recognized his brothers but they didn’t recognize him, and Joseph made the most of it. It’s not clear how emotionally Joseph met this first encounter. That something was welling up from deep within is apparent. His instant reaction was to deal with them harshly. Perhaps at least at first this wasn’t the calculated plan that it turn into.

Joseph demanded that all the brothers but one remain in prison, while one went home and brought back Benjamin. But during the three days that followed his plan evolved into a true test of their characters. If he had not already forgiven his brothers, he seems to have done so during those three days. Or at least he completed the part of forgiveness that required being reunited with them.

Joseph finally decided to release all but one of his brothers so that they could carry enough grain back to their people. so that they would not suffer for what the brothers alone should suffer for. The brothers discussed all of this in front of Joseph, thinking that he couldn’t understand them. They connected all of this with their treatment of Joseph. And Reuben points out that he had defended Joseph.

The emotional strain was so great upon Joseph that he left and wept. Likely his desire to reveal himself immediately was great, but Joseph was a disciplined man and held his ground.

He sent back with the brothers their grain and their money, which, when they discovered it, they were shaken, imagining that they would be accused of stealing on top of spying.

They told Jacob the truth about what had happened. One wonders what happened in the lives of the brothers during that 20 years to change them so. Was it simply the guilt of what they had done to Joseph that had done this work in them? Jacob refused to send Benjamin for fear of his safety.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 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. 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. 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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