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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. 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. 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. 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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