O T Facts (First Book of Law) – Genesis

In this installment of our Old Testament Facts series, we will focus today on the first book of the Pentateuch – Genesis, the first “Book of Law.”   This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of events of this book.  Rather, it is presented as a summary of events that seem most relevant to worship of the Lord and the ultimate coming of Jesus the Christ.

Creation_003Genesis

The book of the beginning and of new beginnings

Genesis 1 – Creation of the universe

Genesis 2 – Adam and Eve created

Genesis 3 – “The fall” – sin enters the world; first promise of the Messiah (Gen 3:15)

Genesis 4 – Cain murders Abel

Genesis 6–9 – Noah and the flood

Mamre, near Hebron. Abraham's home at one time

Mamre, near Hebron. Abraham’s home at one time

Genesis 12 and 15 – God’s covenant with Abraham (promise of land, a “great nation” and the Messiah)

Genesis 21 – Birth of Isaac

Genesis 32:28, Gen 35 – God names Jacob “Israel” (meaning God fights)

Genesis 37 – Joseph sold into slavery

Genesis 41 – Joseph rises to power in Egypt under Pharoah

Genesis 46 – Joseph brings his family to Egypt, is reunited with Jacob

Tabernacle - arrangement of tribes

Tabernacle – arrangement of tribes

Genesis 48 – Jacob (Israel) blesses Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh, claims them as “his” (Gen 48:5-6), again favoring the younger (Ephraim) over the first-born (Genesis 48:14-20).

Genesis 49 – Jacob blesses his sons, but declares that Simeon and Levi (their descendants) will be scattered among the other tribes (Gen 49:5-7).  So the Twelve Tribes of Israel are named – to include Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 49:3-28).  Jacob’s death and burial (Genesis 49:29-50:14).

Genesis 50:22-26 – Death of Joseph – end of Genesis

/Bob’s boy

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image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

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 “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

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Genesis 45 – Joseph Provides for His Brothers and Family

Judah’s speech evokes high emotion in Joseph, and he finally reveals himself to his now speechless brothers.  When they were brought back to this governor accused of theft, they must have thought that life had turned about as badly as it could get.  Now they find out that this powerful ruler is the brother they sold into slavery!  But Joseph is quick to reassure them in verses 5 and 7 that God is working through him and intends to continue to do so through their descendants. This does not absolve them of their guilt, but it shows God’s power to use even the worst actions of men for good!

With Pharaoh’s pleasure, and even his own instruction for providing for them generously (verses 16-18), Joseph sends them back to bring their father, Israel and the rest of their families to Egypt to dwell in the land of Goshen.  Israel is unbelieving at first, but when convinced, is very happy (verse 28).

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

/Robert
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image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

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 “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Genesis 44 – Joseph Tests His Brothers

When Joseph sends them away, he has his steward once again place their money in their sacks.  But this time, he has his silver cup placed in Benjamin’s bag and he has them followed, accused of theft, and brought back.  The brothers who have carried the burden of their guilt for so long are convinced that God himself has brought this on them for what they did to Joseph so many years ago.

Joseph tells them that the rest of them can go, but Benjamin will remain as his slave.  The brothers are purposely placed in the position of losing their younger brother – and facing Jacob’s (Israel’s) devastation.  Judah begins a passionate plea of repentance in verse 18, offering himself in his younger brother’s place.  Remember, it was Judah’s idea to have Joseph sold instead of killing him in Gen 37:26-28.

The change that has taken place in his brothers is no doubt what Joseph was looking (and hoping) for.

(Side note: Here is a link to a lengthy, but very interesting article from the publishers of “Bible and Spade” magazine calledThe Joseph Narrative (Genesis 37, 39–50)that includes information about Egyptian captives from Canaan)

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 “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 43 – Joseph’s Brothers Return to Egypt

The grain that Joseph’s brothers brought back from Egypt has run out.  Jacob (who is referred to as “Israel” more times in this chapter than previously) knows that the brothers must go back for more, but it is Judah who speaks up convinces his father to entrust Benjamin to him (verse 9).  In stark contrast to Reuben, he places the responsibility for the boy’s safety on his own shoulders; and Israel is resigned that there just is no choice, and fears he may not see them again (verse 14).  So he sends them with gifts and a double portion of money, and they return to Joseph.

When they are brought to Joseph’s house, their fears mount (verse 18), but instead of harsh treatment, they are fed and treated well.  Joseph’s love and compassion for his younger brother is great, and Benjamin receives five times the amount of food that his brothers get.  Joseph has plans for little brother.

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 42 – Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

With the famine in full swing now, Jacob  hears that there is grain for sale in Egypt and sends all of his sons except Benjamin to buy some.  Having already suffered the loss of Joseph, he is not willing to risk his youngest.  The brothers appear before their brother, who is the governor.  But Joseph was just a teenager the last time they saw him and they have no reason to think he may still be alive.  Moreover, this powerful “Egyptian” governor who speaks to them through an interpreter (verse 23) commands and receives respect from all of the hungry masses who come to him.  Joseph has no trouble recognizing them, however, as the dream he told them about in Gen 37:5 comes to pass in verse 6, and verse 9 tells us that he remembered those dreams as they bowed down to him.  He accuses them of being spies and has them confined for three days to show them his power.

Joseph then sends all but Simeon back to return with the younger brother they mentioned as proof they are not spies, holding Simeon “hostage” until they return.  When he sends them on their way, he does so with the grain they came for – and has their money placed back in their bags.  The discovery of the money brings great fear to them and to their father, Jacob, when they return.  Is this the work of God upon them for what they did to their brother (verse  28)?  If they were caught with it, what then?  Jacob has to wonder himself why they still have money – and perhaps, what has really become of Simeon.  And now they say they have to take Benjamin with them.  Reuben’s statement about his own sons in verse 37 would not exactly inspire Jacob to trust him with the safe return of his youngest.  Jacob flatly refuses to allow it (verse 38).

The brothers spoke to one another of their guilt concerning Joseph (and even of Joseph having begged in verse 21) as being the reason that this predicament fell on them, not knowing that “the governor” understood them.  Joseph then had turn away to weep, as he was keeping his hard front up to them.  Their sin is weighing heavily on them, as sin often does – and hearing so undoubtedly stirs many emotions in Joseph.

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 37 – Joseph’s Dreams

Moving from Genesis 32 to Genesis 37 – here are some highlights we have skipped over.  Esau and Jacob’s reunion goes much better than he had feared, but they have little to do with each other. Esau and his people move from the land of Canaan, and he is the father of the Edomites (we will hear much about them, particularly after the Babylonian captivity). Dinah, Leah’s daughter is sexually assaulted by Shechem.  Ultimately, Jacob’s sons (led by Simeon and Levi, who slaughter him and all the males of the city) take their revenge.  Jacob seems more worried about himself and his reputation in the land than anything else.  Reuben has laid with his father’s concubine in an apparent effort to assume position in the family, very much a slap in the face of Jacob – for which he will carry a grudge.

Isaac has died, as well as Rachel (after bearing his son Benjamin). And as 35:22-25 state  “…Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant: Dan and Naphtali.”  So now we have the basis for the “twelve tribes of Israel.”

Jacob, having already proved he was not the best father, shows favoritism to Joseph and made him a “robe of many colors.” We read about this same Hebrew term (for the robe) again only in 2 Sam. 13:18, with (King) David’s daughter Tamar. So we know it is a very special coat, and simply seeing him wear it must have angered his brothers. Then Joseph has what can only be thought of as the bad judgment to tell them about his dreams that seem to signify his entire family bowing down to him. His angry and jealous brothers conspire to kill him. Reuben talks them into throwing him into a pit, hoping to save him later. But Judah talks the others into selling him to Midianite traders, who in turn sell him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.  Jacob’s despair, thinking he is dead, is deep after the boys pull off their deception (v 31-35).

Joseph has gone from favored son to prisoner in a far-off land – betrayed by his own family in the worst possible ways. How quickly ones fortune can turn! And soon, God will show that to be very much the case – as He has special plans for Jacobs’s favorite.

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 32 – Jacob Wrestles with God

Jacob Fears Esau

Genesis 32 is a key turning point for Jacob.  He is finally headed home after 20 years of being away – and he had left out of fear that his brother Esau was going to take his life!  Now, he’s coming back to the very same place, and he is not at all confident that his brother won’t do just that (much less be happy to see him).  But the Lord has told him to return, and that is what he intends to do.  And when his messengers return to tell him that Esau is coming to meet him with four hundred men, it must have been a bit frightening.  But when he left, he had only his staff (as he says in his remarkable prayer to God in verses 9-12). But now, the wealth he has accumulated makes it possible to split his livestock and people into “two camps.”  He does this after the “angels of God” have met him along the way (in v 1).  He named the place where that happened “Mahanaim” which means “two camps,” and that theme is repeated in the chapter.

Jacob decides to try to appease his brother by sending his servants ahead of him, along with large amounts of livestock as presents for Esau from “your servant Jacob.”  A bit ironic, since the Lord had said in Gen 25:23 that “the older shall serve the younger.”  So for safety, Jacob splits the caravan into droves, and his camp into two camps, so one could get away if necessary.

Jacob Wrestles with God

The unexpected wrestling event of verses 22 and following are a source of much confusion to readers.  Jacob realizes quickly that he is actually wrestling with God, but we know that scripture says no one looks on God in His true form and lives, so how do we explain this – or Moses and his later encounters?  God’s word has several examples of God appearing to His people in biblical times in human form for His own reasons.  Remember Abraham’s encounter in Genesis 18 before the Lord destroyed Sodom?  Also, Jesus was fully God, and took human form.  There is much that we do not know, but the important thing is the change that is to come over Jacob, along with the change of his name from Jacob (which means “trickster”) to his new name “Israel,” (which means “God fights”).

The other important thing to take away from this chapter is the above-mentioned prayer in v 9-12.  Read it again, and notice the reverence, the humbleness, and the thanksgiving that accompanies his petition to God.  Only Jesus gives us a better example for prayer.

(Side note: Here is an interesting article about the possible site of Mahanaim)

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 31 – Jacob Flees from Laban

In Genesis 31, Jacob provides Leah and Rachel an explanation of where they are going and that the Lord has instructed him to go back to his father’s land.  Twice, the scripture tells us that Laban has cheated Jacob out of his wages 10 times; and verses 7-12 show that Laban had indeed tried – even beyond what we were told about in chapter 30, but the Lord had looked after Jacob so that he prospered greatly anyway.

But Laban’s sons were jealous and they stirred him up to pursue Jacob after they left.  But God put Laban on notice in verse 24 before he confronted him.  Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen her father’s “gods,” and she hides them cleverly in verses 34-35, so that his search for them is fruitless.  It is then, that Jacob tells him exactly what he thinks of the way he has treated him.

The two of them make a covenant that basically is the same as drawing a line in the sand that says – let God judge you if you cross it to come after me or mine.  Laban goes away empty-handed after kissing his daughters and grandchildren.

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 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.

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 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.”

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