Genesis 30 – Jacob’s Children

Genesis 30 continues what some call the “great baby race” that started in chapter 29 between Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel. So the first thing that sticks out like a sore thumb in this chapter is that Jacob not only has two wives, but he also has two other women (the two sister’s servants) bearing his children.  But God’s plan is for one man to be married to one woman (Gen 2:24 and Mt 19:3-9 are just two of the passages we can look to for this).  So how do we reconcile that with this and other Old Testament passages?  Jacob is intimate with four women here, two of whom are not even his wives. Abraham is intimate with Hagar while he is married to Sarah.  Later, even David has multiple wives and concubines.

Customs and traditions were indeed different in Old Testament times, and there are things that God’s word does not tell us. But as Paul tells us in Romans 15:4, “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction.” What is best for us, and what pleases and displeases the Lord has never changed.  That fact is clear in this chapter, and in each other case.  Having relations, and even other children, with more than one woman brought unhappiness to  Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar.  And it brings unhappiness here to Jacob, Leah, and Rachel.

Jacob loves Rachel, but cannot always be with her.  She is unhappy because he is with Leah.  Leah knows who Jacob really loves (and more to the point, that it isn’t her), but keeps hoping that bearing him more children will bring him to love her (once again, note the meanings of the names).  Jacob is having sexual relations with four women, and cannot make any of them happy!   God has given us ample instruction in the Old Testament and the New Testament that the sexual relationship for us is best between one man and one woman in marriage.  Will we ever learn?

So Jacob has 11 sons now, laying more foundation for God’s plan. Each of those sons will play a part.  Joseph’s part will begin soon, and will be important indeed.  For now, Jacob is making plans to leave, but must deal with more of Laban’s deception (verses 28-36).  But God is taking care of him as he makes preparations.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.  Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

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Genesis 29 – Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel

In Genesis 29, Jacob is still traveling; and he meets some shepherds at a well.  When he finds out they are from Haran, he asks whether they know his mother’s brother “Laban the son of Nahor”  You may remember from Genesis 24:47 that Rebekah and Laban were the Bethuel’s children, and that Bethuel was the son of Nahor, actually making them his grand-children.  The Bible often notes people speaking of  a “son” in terms of later generations.  Jesus is often called the “son of David.”

Jacob is taken with Laban’s daughter, Rachel, and works there for him for seven years to pay the bride-price for her.  But the great trickster gets tricked himself, and must marry her sister Leah.  He then has to work another seven years for her (v. 21-27).  Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, so verse 31 tells us that the Lord “opened her womb,” and Leah bears the first four of Jacob’s 12 sons (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah).

Sometimes, unless we are reading a Bible that has easily followed footnotes, some passages can seem “curious” to us.  This is true in verses 32-35, which explain that she chose the name for each one for a certain reason.  It makes more sense when we understand that “Reuben” means “See, a son,” “Simeon” sounds like the Hebrew for “heard,” “Levi” like the Hebrew for “attached,” and “Judah” like the Hebrew for “heard.”

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 28 – Jacob Sent to Laban

Genesis 28 continues with Isaac sending Jacob to the family of his uncle, Laban (Rebekah’s brother) to choose a wife.  Esau, seeing that his parents were not pleased with his taking Canaanite women as wives, takes another wife from Ishmael’s family – seemingly hoping to please them.  But as verse 9 points out, this was “besides the wives he had.”  So he kept the Canaanite women, and therefore, nothing really changed.  Esau just didn’t “get it.”

Jacob’s Dream

This is the chapter best known for Jacob’s ladder.  The important thing about this dream of Jacob’s is God’s repeat of the promise to Abraham and affirming in it to Jacob that ALL the nations of the earth will be blessed in his offspring (the Messiah to come) in verse 14.  (We “hear” Jesus speaking to Nathanael in John 1:51 of seeing “angels of God ascending and descending.” that reminds us of this dream in verse 12).  And this dream along with the conviction that God was with him increases Jacob’s faith.  After he awakes, he takes the stone he had laid on during that dream and he later called that place Bethel.  Jacob will return there in Genesis 35 at God’s instruction to build an altar.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 27 – Isaac Blesses Jacob

In Genesis 27, we find that because Isaac loved Esau most, he thinks his blessing on him will secure his future as Isaac would have it to be.  But God will have it His way.  Jacobs deception of his father is pretty loathsome, though; and so is the fact that his mother not only came up with the idea – but she helped him carry it out (v 6-17)!  Refer back to Gen 25:25, to explain verses 11 and 16.  Such an elaborate plan from her in short order suggests a thing or two about Jacob being such a “trickster.” Parents “teach” their children in all sorts of ways.

Notice  that Jacob has no problem about lying to his father, and even explains “getting back so quickly” by saying that is was “Because the Lord your God granted me success”, referring to the hunt for game (v 20)!  So, clearly Jacob also was not a perfect man.  But our God is forgiving and merciful.

Esau did not try to hide his hatred for Jacob afterward, as his plans for his brother got back to his mother Rebekah (v 42).  So she makes plans for him to go away to her brother, Laban’s people in Haran.  We were told in chapter 26 that Esau’s Canaanite wives made life bitter for them, and Rebekah uses that to influence Isaac to send Jacob away to get a wife (v 46).

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 26 – God’s Promise to Isaac

Genesis 26 begins with the fact that there was famine in the land, and the writer (Moses) in the first few verses is referring also to the famine that in chapter 12 had Abraham venturing into Egypt.  In v 2-3, the Lord tells Isaac not to go to Egypt, but to stay in the land that He has promised to Abraham and his offspring.   God repeats that promise to Isaac in v 3-5.

Isaac and Abimelech

Isaac settles in Gerar, and in verse 7, he tells the same lie about his wife Rebekah that Abraham had told about Sarah.  Abimilech finds out (might he have been a bit suspicious to start with?), and he is not happy about it.  The Lord is taking care of Isaac as He did his father (v 12-13), and Abimilech sees his wealth and the envy his people have for Isaac, and decides it is time for him to move on.  So he went to Beersheba, where the Lord repeats His promise to him (v 24).

Abimilech can see God’s blessings on him, and so he comes to see Isaac with his commander of the army and his adviser, and makes a pact with him.  They exchange oaths that they will do each other no harm.  That day, his men tell him of the well they have dug that has found spring water.  He names it “Shibah,” which sounds like the Hebrew for “oath,” and the city is thereafter known as Beersheba.  Meanwhile, verse 34 tells us that his oldest son, Esau, has married two women of the land of Canaan.  Chapter 25 makes a point to tell us that Isaac loved Esau, so how this must have broken his heart; and indeed, verse 35 says that they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 25 – Abraham’s Death and the Birth of Esau and Jacob

Genesis 25 brings us to Abraham’s death, after a long life. He had taken another wife, had many other sons, and gave them gifts. But verse 5 makes it clear that Isaac was his main heir, as God intended.  Abraham died at an old age and was buried with Sarah.  Notice verse 9 says that Isaac and Ishmael buried him in that cave.  Nothing is said in scripture about Abraham having a relationship with Ishmael after Hagar and he left, but there obviously was contact of some type between Ishmael and his family.  Verse 18 finishes with Ishmael’s death after having 12 sons who were princes as the Lord had promised.

Rebekah becomes pregnant with twins and verse 22 says they “struggled” within her.  Note God’s explanation to her in verse 23.  Do you think that had anything to do with Jacob becoming her favorite?  Notice that in verse 26, Isaac was 60 years old when Jacob and Esau were born.  Doing the math, that means they were born 15 years before Abraham died (v 7- Abraham died age 175. and in Gen 21:5 – Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born).  So Abraham must have known these two grand-children.

The first-born (even by no more than a heel – v 26) had a privilege of birthright – a double portion of inheritance – which Esau sells to Jacob for a plate of stew!  Esau did not respect his birthright, and Jacob used that knowledge to get what he wanted.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 24 – Isaac and Rebekah

Moving on to Genesis 24, Sarah has died and Abraham is very old.  He makes his oldest servant swear an oath not to let his son take a wife from the land of Canaan, where they still live (the Canaanites are already known to be wicked).  He tells him instead to go back to “his country” and bring a wife back for Isaac. Abraham has not been back to “his country” (in northern Mesopotamia) in nearly 100 years, but that is where his relatives are still, and where he wants Isaac’s wife to come from.  The servant is instructed not to take Isaac back there, though.  God had promised the land where he is now to Abraham’s offspring, and that is where he wants him to stay.

Before the servant left, Abraham had told him that an angel of the Lord will be with him as he chooses the wife.  Take note of the prayer and the faith of Abraham’s servant in vv 11-14, and in vv 26-27.  Abraham obviously had a profound influence on him. We may not know how the way that we live in the presence of others impacts them, but we can be sure they usually take note.  We should strive to act as though the salvation of others depends on how we conduct our lives.

Rebekah (the same one from the genealogies we read in chapter 22) is the woman who will return to Canaan to become Isaac’s wife.  Her brother, Laban, appears to be in charge or perhaps just assisting an ill? father, Bethuel (vv 30-33, and 53).  He will still  play a part in the story of these people later.  Read verse 67 again, and think about the attitude today of most people toward love and marriage. What can we learn from this?

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 22 – The Sacrifice of Isaac

The Testing of Abraham

Contrary to some previous chapters, Genesis 22 shows us that Abraham has really come to trust the Lord.  This is a hard chapter for many to understand. It should be pointed out, especially to children, that God never would have allowed Isaac to be harmed because it is against His very nature (one might even wonder if that certainty was actually part of Abraham’s faith). God finds the sacrifice of humans, especially children (a practice common to worshiping the idol Moloch), to be an abomination; and he makes that clear in other scripture.  Lev 18:21 and 2 kings 23:10 are two of many verses we can refer to.

It is hard to miss the irony of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his only son for God. The second half of God’s promise to him afterward is of an offspring of Abraham in whom all nations will be blessed.  That is Jesus, His only son, who He sacrificed for us. That offspring is referred to in Galatians 3:16-28, when Paul is explaining how we are all heirs to this promise. Reading that passage right after this chapter is enlightening. The genealogies of the last couple of verses may seem irrelevant until we read chapter 24.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 21 – The Birth of Isaac

Genesis 21

In Genesis 21, God has fulfilled His promise to Abraham. Sarah has borne him a son, and Abraham has named him Isaac, as God told him in chapter 17. Isaac means “he laughs” (remember Sarah and Abraham laughing at the idea of people so old having a child in 17:17 and 18:12?). Whatever you sow, that also you reap, and Abraham’s earlier mistake with Hagar brings unhappiness. Sarah has weaned Isaac, and finds Ishmael laughing (the Hebrew suggests laughing as in mockery). She wants Hagar and the boy to leave, which displeases Abraham. But God tells him to do as she says, and he sends Hagar and Ishmael on their way with some food and water into the wilderness.

Beginning in verse 15, understanding has been a little difficult for me, but here is how I have sorted it out. In chapter 18, Abraham was 99 years old when Ishmael was circumcised at the age of thirteen. Isaac was born when he was 100 years old (21:5) So Ishmael was 14 then. The weaning of Isaac in verse 8 could have taken place at the age of two or even three years. So Ishmael would be 16 or possibly even 17 years old when they left.

After they leave, verse 15 says that when the water was gone, she put the boy under a bush. From the text that follows, she clearly expected him or both of them to die. The text does not say so, but it seems likely that Ishmael was either sick or weak from lack of water and food or both. God heard the voice of the boy – v 17- and her crying (Ishmael means “God hears”) and told her not to be afraid because He was going to make Ishmael a great nation – a promise He kept, of course. His Arab descendants are plentiful. When God opened her eyes there was a well of water.  The boy became an expert with the bow and took a wife from Egypt.

Abraham made a treaty with Abimilech after a disagreement over a well, that they would deal fairly with each other. God was still taking care of him. Abimilech and his army returned to the land they came from.  The place of the treaty was named Beersheba in verse 31.

(Side note: Here is an  interesting article about Beersheba.)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 20 – Abraham and Abimelech

Genesis 20

In chapter 20, Abraham and Sarah have left “the Oaks of Mamre” at Hebron, and have gone north to Gerar. God’s word does not tell us why they have relocated. But again, Abraham tells people (including Abimilech, the king of Gerar) that Sarah is his sister. Verse 5 tells us that Sarah had said that Abraham is her brother, so (as we have already seen) the two are not strangers to this lie. Abraham still has not learned to trust God. So the king took Sarah. But God has other plans, and appears to Abimilech in a dream and tells him he is a dead man for doing this because Abraham is a prophet (a reference to Abraham that we read for the first time). This got Abimilech’s attention, and he promptly returns Sarah to her husband.

Abimilech is not happy with Abraham for putting him in this position, and Abraham makes a half-baked excuse for it (verse 12). God has dealt strongly with Abimilech and his house; and after receiving the king’s generosity, Abraham prays for them and they are healed (vv 17-18).  But Abraham learns two things from this – that God is taking care of him, and that jumping to conclusions and judging people as evil before even knowing them (verse 11) is wrong.  We should learn these two things as well.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert