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Genesis 42:1-7

Monday, April 06, 2020

“Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, 'Why are you staring at one another?' He said, 'Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die.' Then ten brothers of Joseph went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, 'I am afraid that harm may befall him.' So the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those who were coming, for the famine was in the land of Canaan also. Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself to them and spoke to them harshly. And he said to them, 'Where have you come from?' And they said, 'From the land of Canaan, to buy food.'

---End of Scripture verses---

“Why are you staring at one another?” (verse 1) Jacob's sons were stuck like deer staring into the headlights of an oncoming car. In their state of despondency it was as if the brothers were incapable of processing the next logical thought, or unwilling to take the next logical step to alleviate their plight. The situation had gotten so discouraging to them that they were unable to discuss with one another what was to be done, they only had the ability to sit and stare. There are situation in life that make us feel like we have reached our wit's end. Frequently it takes the composure and experience of an elderly person like Jacob to provide wise counsel in times of doubt and despair. Of course, we can and should always appeal to our heavenly Father to give us wisdom and open our eyes to the right direction to take, and to provide for our most critical needs.

“'Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die.” (verse 2) Jacob had the whereabouts to pay attention to what was going on around him. He had “heard” from some neighbors or associates that there was food available in the land of Egypt. In verse one it was said that “Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt.” Perhaps he had caught sight of passersby hauling a load of produce back home, and he asked them where they had located such a godsend. “When the narrative spotlight last shone on Jacob, we witnessed a pitiable spectacle of an inconsolable father mourning his lost son. Now, after an interval of over twenty years, the old patriarch is once again the man of action, exercising authority and initiative in a critical situation.” (Nahum Sarna)

“But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, 'I am afraid that harm may befall him.'” (verse 4) Jacob may have recovered and returned to his old, resourceful self, but he still felt the sting of the loss of his beloved Joseph. By this time Benjamin, the youngest of Jacob's sons and the last of his beloved Rachel's offspring, had taken the place of Joseph as the old patriarch's favorite. He was not about to risk the life or safety of the baby of the family, or the loss one so dear to his heart. He sent the other ten brothers on the week-long, one-way journey to Egypt to bring back adequate supplies to feed the small nation of a family that they had grown to be.

“And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.” (verse 6) It would have been easy and understandable for Joseph to take some perverse satisfaction at the sight of his abusers and tormentors falling prostrate to the ground before him in supplication and veneration. His life must have passed swiftly before his eyes when he first caught sight of his long lost brothers, and the thoughts of what might and should have been likely flooded his mind with sorrow and grief and certainly anger. The offended and aggrieved younger brother had every right and reason to initially speak “to them harshly” (verse 7), for crimes and offenses that they had committed against him.

“When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them...” (verse 7) “Just when Joseph has reached a point in his life where he prefers not to be reminded of his past, he is forced to confront it by the rush of events. Once again he finds himself face to face with his brothers. One the previous, disastrous occasion, Joseph had been sent b y his father to them; now it is they whom Jacob sends, unknowingly, to Joseph. Then Joseph had been at the mercy of his brothers; now he is master of the situation and they come as suppliants.” (Nahum Sarna) “But he disguised himself to them...” Joseph was prudent and wise enough to not immediately reveal himself to his brothers before he could rationally think through the appropriate way to deal with the situation. And who could blame him for milking the circumstance for a moment, and making his miscreant brothers sweat it out for a while before finally extending the hand of love and salvation to them?! He deserved just the slightest savor of sweet revenge as he momentarily held the upper hand didn't he?

Please read Genesis 41:8-17 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 41:53-57

Sunday, April 05, 2020

“When the seven years of plenty which had been in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, 'Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, you shall do.' When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. The people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said...” (verse 54) “The seven years of plenty” were evidence that Joseph's interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams were at least half-true. It was not until the time of famine which began seven years later that Joseph's wisdom and Pharaoh's instincts proved to be completely accurate and reliable as well. The fact that things happened “just as Joseph had said” indicates in reality that all things always comes to pass just exactly the way that the Lord God Almighty says they will.

“Lower Egypt, the northern area of the country, is virtually rainless. Its entire economy, of which agriculture was the core in ancient times, has always depended upon the Nile floods caused by the river's periodic rise during three summer months. The swelling of the river results from the torrential rains in the Upper Nile Basin being carried down to the Delta by the Blue Nile. In ancient times an elaborate series of artificially constructed irrigation works controlled the distribution and utilization of the flood waters... Normally, the floods come with remarkable regularity. But there are years when the rainfall in the southern Sudan provides an insufficient volume of water.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.” (verse 54) The lack of adequate rainfall must have been vastly widespread in its nature to effect “all the lands” in an expansive enough area to include the land of Palestine as well. But in the land of Egypt, with Joseph at the helm of an elaborate plan to store up enormous amounts of grain during the years of plenty, and then distribute the surplus during the lean years, there was plenty of food available for resident and foreigner alike. And of course, this verse sets the stage for Joseph to finally confront the hungry and desperate brothers who had mistreated him and sold him as mere merchandise some two and a half decades earlier.

“Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, you shall do.” (verse 55) When the people of the land began to appeal to Pharaoh for food to feed their families, he ushered them directly to the authority and instruction of Joseph. With all the king's confidence and reliance, the Hebrew had been entrusted with the gargantuan task of keeping the people of the land alive and well during a time of extreme peril. In this regard, Joseph prefigured our Lord Jesus Christ in His mission to provide spiritual salvation for all humanity. Even the directive of Pharaoh foreshadowed the words that the mother of Jesus spoke at the Cana wedding feast concerning her Son: “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5).

“When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians.” (verse 56) “For, as he had bought it with Pharaoh's money, it was no injustice to sell it; and as it could be sold at a moderate price, and yet Pharaoh get enough by it, being bought cheap in a time of plenty, no doubt but Joseph, who was a kind and benevolent man, sold it at such a price.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible) “The people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth.” (verse 57) When Jacob “heard that there” was “grain in Egypt” (Genesis 42:2), the next step in God's plan to save the children of Israel and all mankind through His Beloved Son would be put into motion.

Please read Genesis 42:1-7 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 41:46-52

Saturday, April 04, 2020

“Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. During the seven years of plenty the land brought forth abundantly. So he gathered all the food of these seven years which occurred in the land of Egypt and placed the food in the cities; he placed in every city the food from its own surrounding fields. Thus Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure. Now before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, 'For,' he said, 'God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.' He named the second Ephraim, 'For,' he said, 'God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh...” (verse 46) Since Joseph was seventeen when he first gave a unflattering report to his father about his brothers' bad behavior (Genesis 37:2-3), which eventually led to his brothers abusing him, his being sold into slavery, the false accusations by Potiphar's wife and his subsequent wrongful imprisonment, thirteen long years had transpired between his fall from family grace and his rise to Egyptian power. “And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt.” “Joseph loses no time in familiarizing himself with local conditions preparatory to his main task of enabling the Egyptians to survive the expected famine.” (Nahum Sarna)

“During the seven years of plenty the land brought forth abundantly.” (verse 47) The literal term used in Hebrew is “by handfuls”. This likely indicates that “Not in single stalks or grains, but in handfuls compared with the former yield” (Barnes' Notes on the Bible). This abundance corresponds with Pharaoh's second dream of “seven ears of grain” coming “up on a single stalk, plump and good” (verse 7). The seven years of abundance produced bumper crops of such astounding proportions that placing a fifth of the grain in storage facilities did not require sacrifice from the citizenry and did not affect the people's normal food consumption rate in the slightest.

“He placed in every city the food from its own surrounding fields.” (verse 48) Joseph made certain, with meticulous managerial skills, that every city in the kingdom became a repository of the excess grain and an epicenter of support for the surrounding rural regions during the time of future famine. He stored up such an abundance that he eventually stopped registering the grain into inventory because “it was beyond measure” (verse 49). “It was a strange quirk of fate that the shepherd boy should have become...'Minister of Agriculture.' Joseph's first dream, described in Genesis 37:7, perhaps contained a hint of his future vocation.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Now before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph...” (verse 50) The firstborn son he named Manasseh. “The primary meaning of the name is 'he who causes to forget.' Such a name would most likely be given to a child born after some misfortune, such as the death of an earlier child or of the father. Joseph here adapts the name to his own situation.” (Nahum Sarna) Joseph had in mind his suffering from the ways his brothers had abused him in his “father's household” (verse 51). “With the birth of an heir, Joseph has now founded his own nuclear family. He has achieved physical, social, and psychological security and feels he can forget his miserably unhappy youth or at least not allow it to intrude upon his future.” (Nahum Sarna)

“He named the second Ephraim, 'For,' he said, 'God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.'” (verse 52) “The name originally must have meant either 'fertile land'...or 'pastureland'... Either...would aptly describe the future territory of the tribe bearing this name, which was located west of the Jordan in the central region. It was blessed with good soil and rainfall.” (Nahum Sarna) While the birth of Manasseh helped Joseph make peace with his troubled youth and the loss of his family, the birth of Ephraim helped to soothe the emotional and psychological wounds he incurred as a lonely foreigner in the land of his Egyptian enslavement. We are often told in the Bible and other places and sources of the great blessings that children provide to our lives. We see here the aspect of comfort they afford us from the pain and turmoil associated with living in a fallen world.

Please read Genesis 41:53-57.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 41:37-45

Friday, April 03, 2020

“Now the proposal seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his servants. Then Pharaoh said to his servants, 'Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?' So Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.' Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.' Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, 'Bow the knee!' And he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.' Then Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, as his wife. And Joseph went forth over the land of Egypt.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now the proposal seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his servants.” (verse 37) The king believed the interpretation absolutely and Joseph's proposed plan to prepare for the times of sparsity was pleasing and plausible to Pharaoh and all his advisors. “Then Pharaoh said to his servants, 'Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?'” (verse 38) Pharaoh and all his cabinet agreed that there could be no one more qualified to implement the fourteen year plan than the man who originated it. Pharaoh believed that God had interpreted the dream as Joseph had stated, and recognized the “divine spirit” that worked powerfully within him. “This is the first biblical mention of one so endowed... Belshazzar...describes Daniel: 'I have heard about you that you have the spirit of the gods in you, and that illumination, knowledge, and extraordinary wisdom are to be found in you' (Dan. 5:14). Generally, possession of the 'spirit of God' impels one to undertake a mission (Num. 27:18), imparts extraordinary energy and drive (Judg. 3:10; 11:29), and produces uncommon intelligence and practical wisdom.” (Nahum Sarna)

“So Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are.” (verse 39) This was not mere flattery on Pharaoh's part, but an astute recognition of, not only Joseph's God-given ability to recognize the impending doom revealed in the king's dream, but the insight and wisdom to do something about it. In fact, Pharaoh was so impressed with the young man that he immediately placed him in a position of prominence. “You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.'” (verse 40) Joseph is taken from an obscure foreign prisoner serving in the jail house of the captain of the guard, and thrust upwardly to the position of second in command in all the Egyptian Empire, and answerable only to Pharaoh himself. Placed “over” Pharaoh's “house,” Joseph was named “'Overseer of the Domain of the Palace,' one of the known Egyptian bureaucratic titles. Most likely, Joseph is given control over the king's personal estates.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck.” (verse 42) “Pharaoh now performs a series of ceremonial acts that, in effect, constitute Joseph's investiture as 'Grand Visier of Egypt.'... The transfer of the ring bearing the royal seal from the finger of Pharaoh to that of Joseph signifies the delegation of authority; it enables the new official to validate documents in the king's name. The 'Royal Seal-Bearer was well known in the Egyptian bureaucracy... Joseph's new robes bring to mind the passage in the autobiography of Rekh-mi-Re, vizier of Upper Egypt in the days of Thutmose III (15th century B.C...), where he describes how he 'went forth...clad in fine linen.'... the giving of a gold chain was one of the highest distinctions the king could bestow upon his favorites.” (Nahum Sarna)

“He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, 'Bow the knee!' And he set him over all the land of Egypt.” (verse 43) This first mention of the famed Egyptian chariot in the Bible is used to introduce Joseph to the people of Egypt as he “went forth over the land of Egypt (verse 45). Hundreds of years later, Pharaoh's chariots would pursue the fleeing Israelites to the Red Sea where their riders and horses would be drowned by a fierce overthrow from the Lord's righteous wrath. “They proclaimed before him, 'Bow the knee!'” “t\They commanded all that passed by him, or came to him, to show their reverent respect to him in this manner: compare Esther 3:2.” (Matthew Poole's Commentary) “His guard that attended him, when he rode out in his chariot, called to the people, as they passed along, to bow the knee to Joseph, as a token of veneration and respect; or they proclaimed him 'Abrech'...this is the father of the king...'Rech' signifies a king in the Syriac language; and this agrees with what Joseph himself says, that God had made him a father to Pharaoh, Genesis 45:8. (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.'” (verse 44) This figure of speech simply meant that Joseph's authority was absolute, and that no significant official affair of state would be sanctioned without his approval. “Then Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath-panea...” (verse 45) It was common for a king to change the names of foreigners promoted to places of importance within his realm, such as Nebuchadnezzar would later do with Daniel and his three young friends (Daniel 1:7). Pharoah “Egyptianized” Joseph with this new name that indicated a fresh, new beginning for the former lowly, foreign prisoner. Nahum Sarna suggests this name might mean “revealer of hidden things” if it has a Hebrew twist to it. It could also possibly signify “God speaks” or “He lives” or “savior of the land”. Pharaoh also gave Joseph a wife named “Asenath” who was the daughter of the priest of the sun god.

It is pretty amazing that Pharoah was completely sold on the interpretation and all in on Joseph's plan even though he had not received one ounce of solid, empirical evidence that the things Joseph predicted would come to pass. This speaks to the fact that God's hand was guiding these affairs and His plan would not be overturned by the feeble minds of merely mortal men.

Please read Genesis 41:46-52 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 41:25-36

Thursday, April 02, 2020

“Now Joseph said to Pharaoh, 'Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one and the same. The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven thin ears scorched by the east wind will be seven years of famine. It is as I have spoken to Pharaoh: God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do. Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will ravage the land. So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe. Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about. Now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance. Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh’s authority, and let them guard it. Let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not perish during the famine.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Joseph said to Pharaoh, 'Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same...” (verse 25) The only differences in the Pharaoh's two impactful dreams were the the details involved. The cows and the grain both represented the exact same things. “The seven good cows are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one and the same.” (verse 26) “God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do.” (verse 25) Pharaoh was right to not brush these dreams off as if they were merely the inconsequential inner workings of his severely stimulated subconscious mind. This was none other than a revelation from the mind of God Almighty, albeit a cryptic one that needed the interpretation of one endowed with divine discernment such as Joseph.

“The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven thin ears scorched by the east wind will be seven years of famine.” (verse 27) “Pharaoh elaborated upon the negative aspects of his dreams (vv. 19,21) emphasizing the elements that had deeply disturbed him. Joseph, therefore, mentions the famine first, inverting the order of the dream phenomena. In this way, the narrative indicates that it is the famine that causes Joseph's emancipation and elevation to high office and brings his brothers down to Egypt. It is these events that are the ultimate points of interest in the story.” (Nahum Sarna)

“It is as I have spoken to Pharaoh: God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do.” (verse 28) Joseph encased the revelation of the seven years of famine and drought within the same framework phrase to emphasize the point that the dreams were God's doing. In verse 16, prior to hearing and interpreting the dreams, Joseph insisted that, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” This was the Lord's business and His doings from start to finish, and Joseph wisely and righteously fixated that fact to Pharaoh's comprehension.

“Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will ravage the land.” (verses 29-30) While these dreams and the subsequent unfolding chain of events were ultimately designed to fulfill the Lord's greater purposes, the fact remains that God was giving Pharaoh abundant warning and ample opportunity to prepare himself and his people for the hard years that lie ahead. No matter how delightful and impressive the booming years of our lives may be, the lean years will ravage us and leave us completely destitute if we do not make adequate preparation for them while we have the opportunity to do so.

Whether it is taking care of our physical health, planning for our financial future and our edifying and fortifying our spiritual strength, the importance of the principle of proper preparation can not be overemphasized. Solomon exhorts us in Ecclesiastes 12:1 to, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, 'I have no delight in them.'” Make appropriate preparations during the time you have the ability to do so, because the day will eventually come when it will be too late. “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). “Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7) “Careless soul, O heed the warning, for your life will soon be gone; O how sad, to face the judgment, unprepared to meet thy God.”

“Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about.” (verse 32) Consider Nahum Sarna's commentary on Joseph's two dreams from Genesis 37:5-9—“Throughout the Joseph narratives, dreams come in pairs in order to demonstrate their seriousness, as noted in 41:32. The possibility of an idle dream was recognized by the ancients. From the literature of the ancient Near East we have accounts of double, triple, and even sevenfold repetition of dreams in which one symbol is successively substituted for another, although the basic meaning and central theme remain the same throughout the series.”

“Now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.” (verse 33) Of course Pharaoh didn't have to look very far at all, for a singularly discerning and wise man was standing right before him advising him in the course of action he should take. Joseph went on to strongly suggest “that three measures be taken to avert the dreaded menace of famine: the selection of a national commissioner, the appointment of regional overseers, and the institution of urban grain storage... the populace is to give a fifth part of the produce to the crown for storage purposes... It is to be noted that Joseph later institutes a permanent tax of one-fifth of all produce (47:24,26) and that the number 'five' recurs many times in the Joseph story.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 41:37-45 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 41:14-24

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

“Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.' Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, 'It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.' So Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, 'In my dream, behold, I was standing on the bank of the Nile; and behold, seven cows, fat and sleek came up out of the Nile, and they grazed in the marsh grass. Lo, seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and gaunt, such as I had never seen for ugliness in all the land of Egypt; and the lean and ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows. Yet when they had devoured them, it could not be detected that they had devoured them, for they were just as ugly as before. Then I awoke. I saw also in my dream, and behold, seven ears, full and good, came up on a single stalk; and lo, seven ears, withered, thin, and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up after them; and the thin ears swallowed the seven good ears. Then I told it to the magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon...” (verse 14) “Now that God's set time had come (Ps 105:19), no human power nor policy could detain Joseph in prison. During his protracted confinement, he might have often been distressed with perplexing doubts; but the mystery of Providence was about to be cleared up, and all his sorrows forgotten in the course of honor and public usefulness in which his services were to be employed.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

“And when he had shaved himself...” (verse 14) Even though the rush was on to bring Joseph to Pharaoh to interpret the dreams that were robbing him of his sleep, the Hebrew lad must first be made presentable to stand before the great king. Joseph was promptly allowed (forced) to shave, most likely the hair on his head as well as his face. “Egyptians suffered their hair and beards to grow only when in mourning; whereas in Palestine the beard was regarded as a manly ornament. On Egyptian monuments only captives and men of low condition are represented with beards. In the prison, therefore, Joseph would leave his beard untrimmed, but when summoned into the king’s presence, he would shave it off.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“And changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh.” (verse 14) “Clothing has been a constant factor in Joseph's misfortunes. This change of clothing has symbolic meaning as the process of his liberation now begins.” (Nahum Sarna) “For each suffering of Joseph there was an exact recompense. It was for dreams that his brethren hated him, and by help of dreams he was exalted in Egypt. They stripped him of his many-coloured coat; the Egyptians clothed him in byssus. They cast him into a pit, and from the pit of the prison he was drawn forth by Pharaoh. They sold him into slavery; in Egypt he was made lord.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, 'It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.'” (verse 16) When Pharaoh informed Joseph he had acquired the reputation for being a highly skilled interpreter of dreams, Joseph quickly and humbly gave God the credit and the glory for that power and prowess. As he had previously declared to the cupbearer and the baker while in prison, “interpretations belong to God” (Genesis 40:8). Joseph was not saying that God would tell Pharaoh what exactly he wanted to hear by stating that He would give him a “favorable” answer. He was merely stating that the Lord would concisely convey the specific meaning of the divine messages.

“So Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, 'In my dream, behold, I was standing on the bank of the Nile.” (verse 17) Pharaoh went on to reiterate the dream which was revealed to us in verses 1-7 with some minor modifications. There are some further explanations or exaggerations included that were not previously present, such has his description of the ugly cows being “such as I had never seen for ugliness in all the land of Egypt” (verse 19). But such variations are always the case when someone repeats a story or event, especially one that has delivered a strong emotional impact upon them.

Please read Genesis 41:25-36 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 41:9-13

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

“Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh, saying, 'I would make mention today of my own offenses. Pharaoh was furious with his servants, and he put me in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, both me and the chief baker. We had a dream on the same night, he and I; each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. Now a Hebrew youth was with us there, a servant of the captain of the bodyguard, and we related them to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us. To each one he interpreted according to his own dream. And just as he interpreted for us, so it happened; he restored me in my office, but he hanged him.””

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh, saying, 'I would make mention today of my own offenses.” (verse 9) Two years earlier, Joseph had begged the cupbearer to, “keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house” (Genesis 40:14). It wasn't until this precise moment of crisis in the life of Pharaoh that the memory of Joseph and his obligation dawned on him. Perhaps when the cupbearer reported his “offenses,” he used the plural because he not only related the wrongdoing he had perpetrated against Pharaoh, but also made confession of his offense of omission against the “Hebrew youth” (verse 12). Then again, he could have merely been ingratiating himself with his master for personal favor.

The Benson Commentary, referencing the King James Version's use of “butler” instead of “cupbearer” stated the following concerning God's perfect timing: “God’s time for the enlargement of his people will appear, at last, to be the fittest time. If the chief butler had at first used his interest for Joseph’s enlargement, and had obtained it, it is probable he would have gone back to the land of the Hebrews, and then he had neither been so blessed himself, nor such a blessing to his family. But staying two years longer, and coming out upon this occasion to interpret the king’s dreams, a way was made for his preferment.”

“Now a Hebrew youth was with us there, a servant of the captain of the bodyguard, and we related them to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us.” (verse 12) The cupbearer related the specifics of Joseph's lineage, his youthful age and his status as Potiphar's servant to Pharaoh, and even that he had interpreted his and the baker's dreams. But the one fact that undoubtedly caught Pharaoh's undivided attention was this: “Just as he interpreted for us, so it happened.” (verse 13) Anybody can interpret a dream, but not just anyone can do so with precision and accuracy, so Pharaoh immediately seized upon this miraculous resource that the Lord had placed directly within his reach. “Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon.” (verse 14) It was time for Joseph's star to rise and shine yet again, and this time it would blaze with meteoric intensity and providential longevity.

Please read Genesis 41:14-24.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 41:1-8

Monday, March 30, 2020

“Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing by the Nile. And lo, from the Nile there came up seven cows, sleek and fat; and they grazed in the marsh grass. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them from the Nile, ugly and gaunt, and they stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. The ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. Then Pharaoh awoke. He fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain came up on a single stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up after them. The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Now in the morning his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream...” (verse 1) “Two full years” after the release of the royal cupbearer and the execution of the royal baker, with Joseph still serving time for a crime that he did not commit, Pharaoh had two dreams that would change the fate of Joseph and the family and nation of Israel forever. “This monarch, under whom Joseph was elevated, 'was probably one of the Hyksos rulers shortly after 1720 B.C'” (James Burton Coffman quoting John T. Willis) “The wheel of fate has turned full circle. Joseph's misfortunes began with dreams and now end through dreams. Because of their critical role in the subsequent history of Joseph and Israel, Pharaoh's dreams are narrated immediately and then repeated by Pharaoh himself.” (Nahum Sarna)

“And behold, he was standing by the Nile.” (verse 1) “The Nile as the setting for Pharaoh's dream is fateful, for the river was literally the lifeline of Egypt, the source of its entire economy.” (Nahum Sarna) “And lo, from the Nile there came up seven cows, sleek and fat...” (verse 2) “The cow is a very significant emblem of fruitful nature among the Egyptians, the hieroglyphic symbol of the earth and of agriculture; and the form in which Isis the goddess of the earth was adored.” (Barnes' Notes on the Bible) “The number “seven” is commonly employed for the purposes of symbolism. The god Osiris is represented in Egyptian drawings as an ox accompanied by seven cows.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) “The ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows.” (verse 4) A strange and troubling dream indeed. That such docile creatures as cows should consume one another, and stranger still that the skinny cows should devour the stout, healthy ones and leave not a trace of their existence behind. After Pharaoh was awakened by the puzzling dream he was soon able to drift back off to sleep, but only to have his slumber interrupted by yet another puzzling, troubling dream of seven objects devouring seven other objects.

“He fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain came up on a single stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up after them. The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears.” (verses 5-7) “the duplication of the dream seems to place its significance beyond dispute. The resemblance of the dreams is found in (1) the number 'seven'; (2) in the good products being consumed by the bad. The first dream was concerned with the sacred animal of Egypt; the second with Egypt’s chief source of wealth.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“Then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream.” (verse 7) Have you ever had a dream so vivid and realistic that, when you woke up to find it was only a fabrication of your restless, overly-imaginative mind, you had a hard time accepting it was only a fantasy? That was the situation with Pharaoh on that fateful, fitful, dream-filled night. When he woke up from the second crazy dream, as utterly bizarre as they both had been, there was something far to substantial and alarming about them to merely cast them aside as something unintentional and inconsequential.

“Now in the morning his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.” (verse 8) It is highly unlikely that Pharaoh was able to float back off to sleep after the second, troubling dream had jolted him from his slumber. At the first light of dawn he called for all of Egypt's notable “magicians” (fortunetellers) and “wise men” (possibly astrologers) to give him a suitable answer, but “no one could interpret” the dreams. These men certainly made attempts to explain the possible meaning of the dreams to their king, but Pharaoh was neither impressed nor satisfied with the any of their suggestions. Since it was the hand of God at work disturbing Pharaoh's mind as he slept, the Lord Himself would provide the true interpretation by directing a truly wise man into his presence to serve the king, the entirety of the nation, and the furtherance of the divine plan to serve and save all humanity.

“Perhaps the most impressive thing about the chapter is its perfect fulfillment of the pattern reaching all the way back to the double dream of Joseph (Genesis 37), the dream that foretold the very events centering around this double dream of Pharaoh, a dream which Joseph's father accurately interpreted (Genesis 37:10). That first pair of dreams was followed by a second pair, those of the butler and the baker related in the last chapter; and now, in this, 'The providential series of double dreams concludes!' The first prophesied of the third; and the second proved a stepping stone to the third, which is the climax of all three. Only one voice speaks throughout Genesis. Only one power controls its events. That voice and power are those of God.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 41:9-13 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 40:16-23

Sunday, March 29, 2020

“When the chief baker saw that he had interpreted favorably, he said to Joseph, 'I also saw in my dream, and behold, there were three baskets of white bread on my head; and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.' Then Joseph answered and said, 'This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off you.' Thus it came about on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand; but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When the chief baker saw that he had interpreted favorably...” (verse 16) After the baker saw that the cupbearer's dream had received a favorable interpretation it filled his heart with confidence and excitement. The similarities between his dream and that of his prison mate had infused him with hope and he was eager for Joseph to interpret his dream as well. Unfortunately for the baker, his dream portended a much different outcome and a crueler fate awaited him at Pharaoh's birthday celebration.

Verses 16-17 – While there were similarities between the dreams of the baker and the cupbearer, specifically the prominence of the number three, the dissimilarities were the determining factor for the divergent outcomes. In the previous dream, it was the cupbearer doing the tasks and performing the service to Pharaoh. In the baker's dream, however, things were taking place that were beyond his ability to control. Nahum Sarna observed concerning the birds eating the bread from the basket on his head, “The baker has neither the strength nor the presence of mind to drive them away—an ominous detail.”

“Then Joseph answered and said, 'This Is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days.” (verse 18) The fallout of the two dreams would come to fruition according to the same timetable. “Within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off you.” (verse 19) “Joseph notes that, unlike the cupbearer, the baker does not prepare the delicacies himself and does not personally serve Pharaoh in his dream. In fact, the food does not even reach Pharaoh, for it is eaten by the birds. This symbolizes the devouring of the baker's own flesh by the vultures.” (Nahum Sarna)

Even though the baker anticipated and was desirous of a favorable report and positive outcome, Joseph merely told him the truth. Joseph knew it was not his prerogative, nor was it in his power, to change the word of God for the purpose of pleasing someone or making them feel good about a dire situation. He was not being thoughtless or cruel, he was only conveying the word and will of the Lord as he should. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.” (Proverbs 12:22) “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:14) “These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates.” (Zechariah 8:16) “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25)

Do not be afraid to kindly tell people the truth of God's word, because that is exactly what they need to hear. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths..” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

“Thus it came about on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants.” (verse 20) “The birthdays of the kings of Egypt were considered holy, and were celebrated with great joy and rejoicing. All business was suspended, and the people generally took part in the festivities" (Pulpit Commentary) “This was a holiday season, celebrated at court with great magnificence and honored by a free pardon to prisoners.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary) Both the cupbearer and the baker had their “heads lifted,” so to speak, out of prison and before the tribunal for closer examination of their individual cases. But only one of them received that much desired pardon.

“He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand; but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them.” (verses 21-22) “They were both lifted out of prison, but the one was lifted up to his former post and place in Pharaoh's court, and the other was lifted up to a gallows...” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible) It is possible from the wording of verse 19 that Pharaoh actually had the baker decapitated and his body impaled (hanged) on a post (tree). Joseph had amazingly interpreted the dreams with great precision and accuracy. And yet, equally amazingly, “the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” (verse 23) Somehow amid all the cupbearer's exuberance and euphoria, all thoughts and remembrance of Joseph had completely escaped his mind. “The ingratitude of the Egyptian cupbearer prefigures the later national experience of the Israelites in Egypt (cf. Exod. 1:8).” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 41:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 40:9-15

Saturday, March 28, 2020

“So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, 'In my dream, behold, there was a vine in front of me; and on the vine were three branches. And as it was budding, its blossoms came out, and its clusters produced ripe grapes. Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.' Then Joseph said to him, 'This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days; within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you will put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand according to your former custom when you were his cupbearer. Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph...” (verse 9) Joseph's attempt to provide clarity to the dreams of the cupbearer and baker was driven by his desire to help these prisoners who were in a state of abject dejection (verse 6). When he came to serve them he saw how sad their faces looked and he felt compassion for them (verse 7). Joseph commiserated with the plight of the forlorn and admirably looked for ways to alleviate their burdens, even while confined to imprisonment that he did not deserve. God always provides opportunities for us to serve the needs of others if we will only pull our gaze away from our own struggles long enough to catch a glimpse of what is going on around us.

Verses 9-12 – There seems to be nothing overly disturbing about the cupbearer's dream in itself that would have warranted his intense grief and consternation. With the rapid succession of a time lapse video, a grapevine budded, blossomed and produced a cluster of ripe grapes. With Pharaoh's wine goblet in one hand and the cluster in another, the cupbearer squeezed the juice into the cup and placed into the king's hand. Nahum Sarna observed the repetitive use of the number three in this dream: “The recurrence of the number three indicates specifically three days, three branches, three stages of growth, three actions performed; and both 'Pharaoh' and his 'cup are mentioned three times.” (Nahum Sarna) Frequently in the Bible the number three figuratively represents God, truth and/or completion. Perhaps there is symbolic significance in the number three in this dream.

“Then Joseph said to him, 'This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days.” (verse 12) Whether symbolism was present or not, the number three was pretty straight forward in regard to the branches: they represented the number of days that would elapse before Pharaoh would reinstate the cupbearer to his office in service of the king. “ Within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office...” (verse 13). “The inability to 'raise the head' is synonymous with indignity, shame, and a state of subjection” (Nahum Sarna). In this interpretation and instance, lifting up the head was an act of dignity, honor and renewal. The same phrase would be used with dark and ominous significance for the the baker unfortunately (verse 19).

“Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house.” (verse 14) While Joseph interpreted the cupbearer's dream as an act of kindness and service to a poor soul in need, it was only fair to request a favor in return for his services. With the man restored to a place of good standing with the Pharaoh of Egypt, he would be in the perfect position to speak a word of kindness about the excellent young man with an extraordinary, God-given gift that could prove most useful to the king. “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph” (verse 23), at least not until two years later (Genesis 41:1)

“For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.” (verse 15) “Joseph assures the cupbearer that he would be intervening on behalf of an innocent man.” (Nahum Sarna) For Joseph to say that he was “kidnapped” from the land of his people does not contradict the account of his enslavement. His brothers selling him as a slave to traveling merchants for a paltry sum of silver amounted to no more than an abduction from the security and comforts of his home. Joseph did his best to maintain a positive attitude and outlook and to do the best he could in whatever position he found himself in, but he rightly looked for ways to improve his situation and acquire a better life with more freedoms and blessings. Wouldn't we all rightly want to do the same?

Please read Genesis 40:16-23 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 40:1-8

Friday, March 27, 2020

“Then it came about after these things, the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was furious with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned. The captain of the bodyguard put Joseph in charge of them, and he took care of them; and they were in confinement for some time. Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation. When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected. He asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, 'Why are your faces so sad today?' Then they said to him, 'We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.' Then Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then it came about after these things...” (verse 1) “We may calculate that Joseph is now twenty-eight years old for we know in another two years, when he appears before Pharaoh, he is then thirty. Eleven years have elapsed since his sale into slavery; but we have no way of determining how many of those years he spent in the service of Potiphar and how many in prison.” (Nahum Sarna) “The cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt.” These two men somehow “offended” the king of Egypt, but the precise infractions are not relevant to the story and therefore omitted by the author. Theirs were no minor offenses because the text tells us that “Pharaoh was furious with his two officials” (verse 2).

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary submits about the position of these two men the following: “Not only the cup-bearer, but overseer of the royal vineyards, as well as the cellars; having, probably, some hundreds of people under him. Baker—or cook, had the superintendence of every thing relating to the providing and preparing of meats for the royal table. Both officers, especially the former, were, in ancient Egypt, always persons of great rank and importance; and from the confidential nature of their employment, as well as their access to the royal presence, they were generally the highest nobles or princes of the blood.

“So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned.” (verse 3) “Potiphar was not only the captain of the guard, but his duties also included the administration of the special prison used for detaining the king's prisoners. The keeper of the prison is not named, but the keeper was Potiphar's deputy, and the compound or palace where this establishment lay also served as Potiphar's residence... Here is the explanation of how Potiphar was able to cast Joseph into prison without even an examining trial, and how things were said to be done by Potiphar, the captain of the guard, that were actually done by the deputy, who is nowhere named in the passage.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation.” (verse 5) It is not uncommon for people who go to bed in a troubled state of mind to be plagued by very disturbing dreams in their sleep. Since the Pharaoh was furious with these men, it is likely that they endured several nights of fitful sleep fraught with frightening fantasy. But these two dreams were distinctively disturbing and promised to be particularly portentous and the two prisoners desperately desired an interpretation.

“When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected.” (verse 6) Even after having been awake for a prolonged period of time, the cupbearer and the baker could not shake off the vexation and disquiet of the previous night's dreams. It must have only added to their state of agitation when the two men discovered that they had both been haunted by distressing dreams on the very same night. When Joseph came to tend to them that morning both men were completely despondent.

“We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” (verse 8) Their despondency lie in the fact that they were both confined to prison where they had no access to a “magician” or “wise man” to interpret their dreams. “Then Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.'” (verse 9) Only the Lord God of heaven knows the true meaning in every hidden and mysterious thing. And since these were no ordinary dreams but had much deeper meaning buried beneath them, only the Lord who sees and knows all things could provide an adequate and accurate interpretation. This was the God that Joseph served and who had communicated with him through dreams in times past. Joseph felt pretty confident that the Lord would reveal the interpretations to him if the men would only tell him the details. “Joseph's own dreams caused his misfortunes. Now the dreams of others lead to his prosperity.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 40:9-15 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 39:19-23

Thursday, March 26, 2020

“Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, 'This is what your slave did to me,' his anger burned. So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail. But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now when his master heard the words of his wife...his anger burned.” (verse 19) The text does not specify just who Potiphar's anger burned toward, but it seems that he believed the lie that his wife told had him about Joseph unconditionally. Of course, he could not have been happy at all about losing the services of such a highly skilled and talented manager as Joseph, but then again, he could have chosen to actually investigate the matter instead of just taking his wife's word at face value. I guess keeping the peace at home was more important than keeping a valuable servant in his position, even if he had proven himself loyal and trustworthy time and time again.

“So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined...” “The prison, of which there was one in each town of any size, served as a penal institution for convicted criminals, as a labor camp for those forced into the corvée, and as the seat of the criminal court. In the present instance, the prison is under the jurisdiction of Joseph's master and is housed on his property, as is clear from 40:3,7 and 41:10... Being an officer of the court, Potiphar puts Joseph in the section reserved for royal prisoners, a detail vital to the understanding of the next episode. Why does Joseph escape execution, which would certainly have been the fate of a slave who attempted to assault his master's wife sexually? Is it because of Potiphar's extreme fondness for him, or because he really doubts the veracity of the woman's story?” (Nahum Sarna)

“But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him...” (verse 21) Verse 3 tells us that “the Lord was with “ Joseph while serving in the capacity of administrator in Potiphar's house, and that his master could plainly see evidence of this divine favor and provision. But, just because Joseph lost his good standing with his earthly master who had him wrongly thrown into prison, that is no indication at all that the Lord was displeased with him or had departed from him or withdrawn His divine favor. The Lord did not keep Joseph from being put into prison as an innocent man, even as He had not previously shielded him from being abused by his brothers who sold him into slavery when he did not deserve it. But even in the dank shadows of the dungeon (Genesis 40:15), “the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him.” Do not believe that the Lord is displeased with you or has departed from you just because He allows you to experience troubles and endure trials that you do not deserve. He is either preparing you or testing you or opening a door for you that you do not yet see.

“And gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.” (verse 21) Joseph grew and flourished where he was planted. He made the best of a bad situation, and, with the Lord's help and providence, he excelled at his tasks and looked for opportunity to do the next right thing. Remember, the Apostle Paul was praying and singing songs of praise with his traveling companion, Silas, while in stocks in a Jail in Philippi (Acts 16:25), and not lamenting the deplorable conditions. They never lost their hope or faith in the Lord and held tightly to their joy in spite of the misery. It was the same Apostle Paul who wrote: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

“The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper.” (verses 22-23) Through the Lord's will and providence, and Joseph's diligence and virtue, he did not lose his position of authority and influence, he merely had a change in venues. “It is highly probable, from the situation of this prison (Ge 40:3), that the keeper might have been previously acquainted with Joseph and have had access to know his innocence of the crime laid to his charge, as well as with all the high integrity of his character. That may partly account for his showing so much kindness and confidence to his prisoner. But there was a higher influence at work; for 'the Lord was with Joseph, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.'” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

Please read Genesis 40:1-8

The Lord be with you and make you to prosper!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 39:7-18

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

“It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, 'Lie with me.' But he refused and said to his master’s wife, 'Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?' As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her. Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. She caught him by his garment, saying, 'Lie with me!' And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, she called to the men of her household and said to them, 'See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. When he heard that I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled and went outside.' So she left his garment beside her until his master came home. Then she spoke to him with these words, 'The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; 18 and as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Has Joseph's success corroded his moral fiber? His character is about to be put to the test. The picture of Joseph as it emerges from the pages of this narrative is far different from that of the boy back in his father's home. So skillfully is the story set forth that, in our sympathy and admiration for the hero's nobility of character, we forget those displeasing traits that alienated us at the outset. Joseph is now the unwitting instrument of God's providence, and his behavior in the face of temptation demonstrates his worthiness for the role.” (Nahum Sarna)

“It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph...” (verse 7) Verse 6 informed us that “Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.” He was young, good looking and had an impressive physique, and Mrs. Potiphar was very impressed and captivated. “She said, 'Lie with me.'” There was no beating around the bush with this “lady”. She knew what she wanted, she was used to getting her way, and she wasn't bashful about asking for (demanding!) it.

“But he refused...” (verse 8) Joseph was too righteous and wise to jeopardize his relationship with his earthly master and his heavenly Master to even consider such a foolish thing, so he was just as candid in his reply as she had been in her request. The answer was “No!” But even more shrewdly, Joseph explained his reasons for not complying with the wishes of the “lady” of the house, in the hopes of talking some reason into her. Joseph emphasized that her husband trusted him, and he would do nothing to violate that trust. “He has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife.” With all the wealth and blessings that Joseph had at his disposal in that affluent house, why would he throw it all away by taking the one and only thing that was forbidden to him? He possessed the contentment and resolve that Adam and Eve were lacking.

“How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?'” (verse 8) But above and beyond defrauding his boss who valued and trusted him so greatly, Joseph made it clear to his seductress that he answered to the highest of all powers, and that he would not disobey and offend the Lord God Almighty. Joseph knew that the marriage covenant was a sacred union created and provided by the Lord, and not a thing to be violated and treated with such contempt and disregard. Every wrong-doing that a person commits against another person is ultimately and primarily a sin against God.

“As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her.” (verse 10) Mrs. Potiphar was obviously not one to be shamed into surrender or to take “No” for an answer. This had to be an unbearably difficult situation for Joseph to deal with every day and a powerful temptation for him to resist. In today's terms, she made for Joseph what would be considered a hostile work environment. She shamelessly harassed him day after day with every intention of wearing him down and luring him in. This was a tenacious woman with egomaniacal self-confidence and way too much idle time on her hands, and all that pent up passion was bound to burn her up and torch Joseph in the process.

“She caught him by his garment, saying, 'Lie with me!'” (verse 12) The moment finally came when Mrs. Potiphar could take no more, and Joseph was forced to either give in or pay the price. The master wasn't home, all the servants were away and it was just the two of them. The time for talk was over and things finally got physical when she seized upon the hour by snatching Joseph by his clothing. Joseph did what any wise and righteous man would do in such an untenable situation: He made a run for it! “And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.” “The first verb describes his spontaneous and abrupt withdrawal from the room; the second suggests the assumption of a normal gait, once outside, in order not to attract attention.” (Nahum Sarna) As much as he could look normal with part of his clothing missing. “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 16:18)

“She called to the men of her household and said to them, 'See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed.” (verse 14) And Mrs. Potiphar did what any wicked, self-centered, lowlife would do in such a situation: She lied her face off! “Her feeling of anger and humiliation fueled a desire for revenge.” (Nahum Sarna) Notice also that she appealed to the prejudices of the native servants by drawing attention to the fact that Joseph was a “Hebrew” and a danger to everyone in the house. “So she left his garment beside her until his master came home.” (verse 16) She saved the “evidence” to show her husband when he got home what that wicked “Hebrew” had attempted to do to her innocent and vulnerable self. There was something about Joseph's apparel that seemed to keep getting him into trouble!

Please read Genesis 39:19-23 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 39:1-6

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the Lord’s blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt...” (verse 1) After the critical interlude concerning Judah and the perpetuation of the Messianic line, the author picks back up where He left off at the end of chapter 37 with the developing story of how the people of Israel ended up in Egyptian slavery—“Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard”(Genesis 37:36). Here we see both the terms “Ishmaelites” and “Midianites” used to describe the traveling band of traders that purchased Joseph from his brothers and sold him to Potiphar, “an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh.”

“The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian.” (verse 2) “The divine name YHVH, used only here in this chapter of the Joseph story, is confined exclusively to the narrative framework and never used in speech. The presence for this proper name of the God of Israel, as opposed to the generic 'elohim, is determined by an underlying intent to emphasize that the unfolding events in the odyssey of Joseph are key elements in God's plan for the people of Israel. The use of YHVH gives an appropriate nuance to this wider national inflection in the narrative.” (Nahum Sarna)

The repeating phrase that “the Lord was with” Joseph (verses 2, 3, 21 and 23) emphasizes the fact that his successes in the land of his captivity did not happen merely by chance or because of Joseph's superior intellect or work ethic. Certainly those prominent characteristics of the young man played a prominent role, but God opened doors for him that would have otherwise been walls, and He caused prosperity to flourish in whatever environment He placed Joseph within. “The phrase enables the reader to understand how the spoiled lad of seventeen, utterly alone in a foreign land and in dire adversity, suddenly matures and acquires great strength of character. He can rise again and again in situations that would surely have crushed others.” (Nahum Sarna) Joseph was so competent and talented that “he was in the house of his master” and not sent into his fields to labor.

“Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.” (verse 3) The Lord prospered everything that Joseph's hand touched to such a great degree that even the heathen Potiphar recognized divine favor reigned prominently over the young man's life. “Though changed in condition, Joseph was not changed in spirit; though stripped of the gaudy coat that had adorned his person, he had not lost the moral graces that distinguished his character; though separated from his father on earth, he still lived in communion with his Father in heaven; though in the house of an idolater, he continued a worshipper of the true God.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

“So Joseph...became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.” (verse 4) Joseph's star had definitely risen quickly and burned brightly. He was taken into Potiphar's house, he quickly became his “personal servant” and was eventually placed in charge of his entire household and “all that he owned.” “The Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the Lord’s blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field” (verse 5). You would think that nothing could possibly go wrong with the Lord's blessings raining down all over Joseph and Potiphar's house, but unfortunately such a speedy and spectacular rise is frequently followed with a precipitous and perilous fall. Although “the Lord was with” Joseph and brought great prosperity into his life, He did not completely insulate him from all of the problems and predicaments that tend to plague mankind. The Lord lets His people go through difficult times, but that is no indication that He is no longer “with” them. He is there carrying them through their anguish and ordeals. Things were about to change drastically for Joseph, but for the time being, all was well in his winsome little world.

“So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate.”(verse 6) Joseph did everything for his master but cook his meals. Potiphar trusted him completely and unconditionally, but when the Lord's people prosper the evil one stands poised to make mischief with designs for disaster. “Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.” This detail and description was not included as a further indicator of the Lord's favor, but as an introduction to his downfall in the house of Potiphar. Unfortunately physical beauty can sometimes prove to be a curse instead of a blessing, and this was one of those times.

Please read Genesis 39:7-18 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 38:27-30

Monday, March 23, 2020

“It came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, 'This one came out first.' But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, 'What a breach you have made for yourself!' So he was named Perez. Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“It came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb.” (verse 27) Like Judah's grandmother Rebekah, Tamar gave birth to twins. Unlike Rebekah, Tamar was unaware that two sons were seemingly vying for preeminence in her womb until the the moment of delivery. Nahum Sarna suggests that these two new little blessings may have been compensation of sorts from the Lord for the untimely loss of his two oldest sons Er and Onan.

“While she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand...” (verse 28) This was not a typical birth, as indicated by the fact there were unexpected twins, and that the hand of one came out first instead of his head. No other details about Tamar's experience are given, but it appears that this was likely a difficult labor by the unusual way that the two boys entered into the world of light and breath. “The midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, 'This one came out first.'” At least that is what she thought was going to happen, but she was in for a surprise.

“But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, 'What a breach you have made for yourself!' So he was named Perez. ” (verse 29) The midwife was obviously startled and amazed at the extraordinary event she had witnessed. Perez made an “opening” for himself where one did not exist and “broke forth”, hence his father gave him that name. The Hebrew word for “breach” is “perets”. “This breach be upon thee; if any damage comes either to the mother or to the brother, and so carries in it the nature of an imprecation; or rather, that the memory of so strange an event might be preserved...” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah.” (verse 30) Nahum Sarna suggests that the “Hebrew stem means 'brightness,' which suggests and allusion to the crimson thread.” “A word which probably meant 'the rising of the sun'; but was apparently in popular etymology connected with a word meaning 'scarlet'... In this narrative we may discern a reminiscence of a time in which the clans of Er and Onan disappeared from the tribe of Judah; while those of Perez and Zerah, connected with native Canaanites, became incorporated with it, but were rivals with one another, Zerah, though the more ancient, being obliged to yield to the greater vigour of Perez.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“Such details were recorded because of the importance of the key link in Messiah's line. Perez, the firstborn, was the one through whom Jesus came. It was only an oddity that the firstborn was not Zerah; and perhaps the ancients saw in this a figure of how narrowly the Messianic line was spared the necessity of passing down from the daughter of Shua the Canaanite. 'This incident testifies to the importance and privileges attached to the firstborn.'” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 39:1-6 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 38:20-26

Sunday, March 22, 2020

“When Judah sent the young oat by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. 2He asked the men of her place, saying, 'Where is the temple prostitute who was by the road at Enaim?' But they said, 'There has been no temple prostitute here.' So he returned to Judah, and said, 'I did not find her; and furthermore, the men of the place said, “There has been no temple prostitute here.”' Then Judah said, 'Let her keep them, otherwise we will become a laughingstock. After all, I sent this young goat, but you did not find her.' Now it was about three months later that Judah was informed, 'Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the harlot, and behold, she is also with child by harlotry.' Then Judah said, 'Bring her out and let her be burned!' It was while she was being brought out that she sent to her father-in-law, saying, 'I am with child by the man to whom these things belong.' And she said, 'Please examine and see, whose signet ring and cords and staff are these?' Judah recognized them, and said, 'She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.' And he did not have relations with her again.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her.” (verse 20) Judah sent payment for services rendered by the hand of his friend Hirah, but it was as if “the woman” had simply vanished. “The relationship had been so casual that he had not even bothered to find out her name.” (Nahum Sarna) Hiram inquired of the whereabouts of the prostitute that so recently haunted the vicinity, but the men of the city replied “There has been no temple prostitute here” (verse 21).

Then Judah said, 'Let her keep them, otherwise we will become a laughingstock.” (verse 23) When Hirah returned with the perplexing news, Judah shrugged it off and exclaimed that the woman could just keep his personal belongings. He had made a sincere attempt to keep his end of the unholy bargain, and he wasn't about to go on a missing persons hunt just to get his stuff back. If he pursued the matter any further, he would only reveal himself to have been outwitted by harlot, and the natives would make sport of him taking him for a total fool. “Though not afraid to sin against God, Judah was pained at the idea of losing his reputation before men” (Pulpit Commentary).

“Now it was about three months later that Judah was informed, 'Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the harlot, and behold, she is also with child by harlotry.'” (verse 24) After three months Tamar could no longer conceal her little secret because she had become visibly pregnant. And of course, people could not wait to spread the dirt and inform her father-in-law that Tamar had behaved disgracefully. Jacob was more than eager to cast the first stone, and his immediate response was to “bring her out and let her be burned” in adulterous shame and infamy. Not even the self-righteous Jacob knew that he was the wretch that she had played the harlot with, but that bomb was soon to be deftly dropped on his haughty head.

“It was while she was being brought out that she sent to her father-in-law, saying, 'I am with child by the man to whom these things belong.'” (verse 25) Tamar held her peace and kept her cool until the very moment she was being dragged out to face her accuser and meet her fiery doom. But even in the face of a finale in flames, Tamar refrained from calling Judah directly out by name and publicly humiliating him in the presence of his peers. By discretely saying “'Please examine and see, whose signet ring and cords and staff are these,” she was effectively speaking the future words of the prophet Nathan to the hypocritical King David: “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7)

“Judah recognized them, and said, 'She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.'” (verse 26) Judah had been outfoxed a widow and ensnared in a trap of his own making, and that reality hit him in the face with the force of a battering ram. He knew he was guilty of the greater sin and was forced to swallow his words along with his pride and admit that she had behaved righteously in comparison to him. “And he did not have relations with her again." He did not repeat his sin either because of repentance or embarrassment, but neither did he marry her and legitimize the union and child. But at least Judah was man enough to own up to his guilt and make no excuses for his actions.

Please read Genesis 38:27-30 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 38:12-19

Saturday, March 21, 2020

“Now after a considerable time Shua’s daughter, the wife of Judah, died; and when the time of mourning was ended, Judah went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. It was told to Tamar, 'Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.' So she removed her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, for she had covered her face. So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, 'Here now, let me come in to you'; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, 'What will you give me, that you may come in to me?' He said, therefore, 'I will send you a young goat from the flock.' She said, moreover, 'Will you give a pledge until you send it?' He said, 'What pledge shall I give you?' And she said, 'Your seal and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand.' So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. Then she arose and departed, and removed her veil and put on her widow’s garments.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Judah went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.” (verse 12) Sheep shearing time was filled with festivity and frivolity, and all indications suggest that Judah and his friend Hirah headed out together looking for a good time. Judah's wife had recently passed away and after the traditional period of mourning had elapsed he may have went looking for something to comfort him in his loneliness and satisfy his longings. Meanwhile, the estranged Tamar had been keeping tabs on the goings-on and whereabouts of her father-in-law. She was obviously looking for an opportune situation to turn the tables on Jacob for his deceptive promise to arrange the marriage between her and Shelah. That opportunity presented itself when an informer told her that “your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” (verse 13)

“So she removed her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself...” (verse 14) Tamar had worn those garments for the entire “considerable time” that Judah had sent her back home to her father after the death of his first two sons. Whatever this clothing was, it distinguished a widow as one who was in mourning and in need of compassion. Tamar then put on veil to conceal her identity from Judah and sat in his pathway “in the gateway of Enaim,” waiting for him to pass by and take the bait. “Tamar apparelled herself in the guise of a religious prostitute (ḳedêshah, Genesis 38:21), one who dedicated herself to the goddess Astarte, the Babylonian Istar. The veil was one of the symbols of Istar.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“For she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife.” (verse 14) “Apparently, Tamar has no claim against Shelah, only against Judah. It seems that the responsibility for the enforcement of the levirate obligation rested at this time with the widow's father-in-law, as in the Hittite laws...” (Nahum Sarna) “When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot...” (verse 15) This was Tamar's very intention, and she took advantage of Judah's animal lust to acquire what she coveted from him the most. “So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, 'Here now, let me come in to you'...” (verse 16) Tamar was more than willing to comply. All Judah had to do was name his price.

“He said, therefore, 'I will send you a young goat from the flock.'” (verse 17) Nahum Sarna suggests: “The fact that Judah carried nothing at the moment with which to pay for the woman's services proves that he acted on impulse in 'turning aside to her by the road'—another example of the biblical motif of God using human frailty for His own purposes.” Then again, there are other reasons that could explain why Judah had been carrying nothing with him with which to pay for her services. Maybe his sheep comprised the totality of his livelihood and legal tender. Or perhaps he had frittered his money away on frivolous pursuits during the seasonal festivities. Whatever the situation may have been, Judah wasn't about to pass up this opportunity that had been fortuitously set before him.

“He said, 'What pledge shall I give you?' And she said, 'Your seal and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand.'” (verse 18) The promise and guarantee for future payment consisted of some of Judah's most personal possessions. The “seal” was “the widely used cylinder seal, a small object made of a hard material, engraved with distinctive ornamentation. The center was hollowed out and a cord passed through so that the seal could be worn around the neck. When the cylinder was rolled over soft clay, the resultant impression served as a means of identifying personal possessions and of sealing and legitimating clay documents. It was a highly personal object that performed the function of the signature in modern society, a kind of extension of the personality. Judah leaves part of himself with Tamar when he gives her his seal... Judah's staff must have had some personalized identifying sign.” (Nahum Sarna)

“So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him.” (verse 18) Er had given Tamar no children, and Onan had “wasted his seed on the ground” (verse 9) in order to deprive her of the blessing and satisfaction of motherhood. But Tamar would not be denied. She consorted to trickery in order garner that which she prized the most, and she obviously felt that Judah had owed her this much. “The stratagem worked. Tamar had completely outwitted him. Little could Judah have realized that he had just become the father of a great multitude through Tamar, including the Christ himself. Why did God permit such a thing? Simply because Tamar was a convert from the paganism to the true faith, and, by her, God would cut off the fountain head of paganism in the Chosen People, an influence which had already entrenched itself in the household of Judah through the Canaanite daughter of Shua.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 38:20-26 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 38:1-5

Thursday, March 19, 2020

“And it came about at that time, that Judah departed from his brothers and visited a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; and he took her and went in to her. So she conceived and bore a son and he named him Er. Then she conceived again and bore a son and named him Onan. She bore still another son and named him Shelah; and it was at Chezib that she bore him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“And it came about at that time, that Judah departed from his brothers...” (verse 1) The term “about at that time” ties the events of this chapter chronologically with the selling of Joseph into slavery at the end of the previous chapter, but it by no means indicates that the second occurred immediately after the first. The reason why “Judah departed from his brother” could have been one of many. Perhaps they had regretted selling their younger brother into slavery at Judah's recommendation and they resented him for it. Or possibly he was disgusted with the lot of them for their murderous intentions and wicked ways, not withstanding the poor moral choices that Jacob would make himself when isolated from his family as recorded in this chapter. Or maybe it was just time for a change, or he sought some business venture or social interactions with that “certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.” According to Nahum Sarna, Adullam was “a city in the northern sector of the Judean shefelah (lowland)... This Canaanite royal city, captured by Joshua and made part of the tribal inheritance of Judah, was also associated with the life of David.”

“Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; and he took her and went in to her.” (verse 2) “Without consulting his father, and with total disregard of the Canaanite nature of Shua's daughter, Judah simply took her. That he actually married her appears in Genesis 38:12. God could not have been pleased with this union of the prince of Israel, destined to receive the birthright of Jacob, with one of the women of Canaan. It is stated in the previous verse that Judah 'went down'; and it is clear that he not only descended to a lower level, geographically, but that he also descended to a lower level spiritually.” (James Burton Coffman) “Her name is not recorded. In verse 12 she is termed 'the daughter of Shua' (Heb. Bat-shua). In 1 Chronicles 2:3 she is called 'Bath-Shua the Canaanite woman.' Bathsheeba David's wife, also appears in the variant form Bath-shua in 1 Chronicles 3:5.” (Nahum Sarna)

“So she conceived and bore a son and he named him Er. Then she conceived again and bore a son and named him Onan. She bore still another son and named him Shelah” (verses 3-5) “It is of interest that Judah named Er, but that his wife named the other sons. Morris gave the names this meaning: "Er means watcher; Onan means strong; and the meaning of Shelah is not known."[11] None of these first three sons of Judah was destined to receive the birthright, in all probability, because of the pagan persuasion of their mother. There might have been a strong aversion on the part of the mother to Judah's choice of Tamar, evidently a believer in God, as the bride for her sons. Certainly, there was some reason why neither Er nor Onan consented to have a child by Tamar.” (James Burton Coffman) Nahum Sarna suggests that Onan means “vigorous,” and Shelah “perhaps means 'drawn out' (namely, out of the womb).”

“And it was at Chezib that she bore him.” (verse 5) “Doubtless, the city that is elsewhere called Achzib, situated in the territory of Judah, southwest of Adullam... This clearly indicates that the clan had occupied the city of Chezib, and it explains why Judah's whereabouts are noted only in connection with Shelah. Because the Hebrew roots used here of clan and city—k-z-v and sh-l-h—both mean 'to deceive, disappoint,' some commentators see here a word play referring to the mother's disappointment at the absence of her husband or a suggestion of Tamar's subsequent disappointment at not being given to Shelah.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 38:6-11 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed and safe day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 38

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

An introduction to Genesis chapter 38

This is a good time to take a deeper look into what takes place in chapter 38 in advance of reading and commenting on it. What follows are some excerpts from an article written by Doy Moyer entitled “The Redemption of Judah: Judah’s Role in Genesis” from the website “Searching Daily”. The article explains why the events of chapter 38 are so critical to the story of God's people, and emphasizes the significance of Judah, moving forward, as the main character in the story of the salvation of God's people, and indeed the whole world with his unique connection to Jesus Christ.

Here is a link to the article if you want to read the whole thing. It is quite lengthy but well worth the time spent:

https://searchingdaily.com/…/the-redemption-of-judah-juda…/…

The main character that is so often overlooked in these chapters is, in fact, Judah. We see Judah doing some bad stuff here, so we may think of him more as a side character. We come to Genesis 38, where Judah actually commits a terrible sin by going in to his daughter-in-law thinking she was a harlot. We wonder, why in the world is this chapter here? Why are we reading this about Judah when the main story is supposed to be about Joseph?

I believe the answer is that the main story is supposed to be about Judah. This is not to diminish the major role played by Joseph. We must not overlook what happened to him and how God took care of him. Yet Judah has a larger role than we may at first think, and I believe it sets up perhaps one of the most important features of these chapters. Let’s survey what’s happening with Judah here and see why this is critical to the overarching narrative of God’s people.

As the brothers were eating, apparently without Reuben, a caravan of Ishmaelites passed through on their way to Egypt. “Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers listened to him.” (Gen 37:26-27). What Judah said to the brothers made sense to them. While Judah is not particularly noble here, he does at least persuade the brothers not to kill Joseph, “for he is our brother, our own flesh.” Never mind that he sold his own brother into slavery, but perhaps he at least though that was better than death and the brothers would be appeased. This event helps shape the rest of what happens. Note also that while Joseph is the reason for the family coming down to Egypt, Judah is the reason for Joseph going to Egypt first.

This brings us to Genesis 38, a passage that some see as troubling not only for content, but for placement in the book of Genesis. Why is it here? What is the point? The text first tells us that Judah married a Canaanite woman who conceived and had a son named Er. Then she had other sons. Next, we are told that Judah took a wife, named Tamar, for his son, Er. However, because Er was so wicked in the sight of the Lord, the Lord put him to death. Judah then had his second son, Onan, marry Tamar so they could have children. Onan, however, prevented this from happening, and because of his wickedness, God put him to death, also. One is reminded of Eli and his wicked sons who were put to death by God. God was not being honored.

Tamar, by Judah, had twins, named Perez and Zerah. At this point, the story about Judah seems to disappear for a time, so what is the point of this in the overall story? Remember that God is bringing about the purposes and plans based on His promise to Abraham. What is happening here is that we are being shown, well in advance, the role of Judah in the line of Jesus Christ. When we open up the Gospel of Matthew, we are met with these words in Matthew 1:2-3: “Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron…” Perez, son of Judah and Tamar, are in the lineage of Christ. Matthew traces Joseph’s line to show legal lineage, but we also see Perez’s name in Luke’s account of Jesus’ genealogy (Luke 3:33), which may establish Mary’s side of the family. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, and even though there are immoral people in his lineage, God is able to overcome all of this to carry out His plan of salvation. God’s plan was never dependent upon people being righteous in themselves.

Next, we encounter Judah after Joseph interpreted the various dreams and came to power in Egypt. When a famine hit the land, the sons of Jacob were sent to Egypt to get food, and Joseph was already in place with a plan in place to deal with the famine (Gen 42). When the brothers came to Joseph, they did indeed bow down to him, and Joseph recognized them. Joseph appears to be testing the resolve and character of the brothers as he made it appear that they had stolen grain and demanded that they bring back their youngest brother. The brothers feared greatly, and now they were faced with the idea of taking Benjamin, Joseph’s younger full brother, down to Egypt with them. This is the one thing Jacob did not want. It is here that Judah steps up with an attitude that is a pivotal point in the account. In order to convince Jacob to let them take Benjamin, “Judah said to Israel his father, ‘Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever” (Gen 43:8-9).

They went back to Egypt, with Benjamin, and Joseph used the situation to further test the brothers, making it appear that Benjamin had stolen Joseph’s cup. This would mean that Benjamin would be unable to return home and could face death. Notice here how the narrative proceeds in Genesis 44:14: “When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground.” Judah is put forward as the leading brother. It’s not just the brothers, but “Judah and his brothers.” When Joseph set up the situation to make an accusation against Benjamin, Judah is the one who stepped in, and his speech in Genesis 44:18-34 changes everything.

Judah turns into a savior here. He transformed from an immoral man who failed to keep his word to a man of integrity who is willing to give his life for another. He tells the story of what happened to have them bring Benjamin down to Egypt, which included how grieved their father was over the whole scenario. Here is Judah’s pivotal statement (Gen 44:30-34): “Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.”

This event was the breaking point for Joseph, who could no longer keep up the charade. He revealed himself to his brothers, though they were terrified of what Joseph might do to them. Joseph reassured them that God meant these events for good. Now the family was to come to Egypt along with their father. Judah not only changed himself, but he effected change in others. He was the leader now. According to Genesis 46:28, Judah was the one who led the way to reunite Joseph with Jacob. Judah had become a leader in the family, the one through whom they could find their path to reconciliation. One of the concepts we see here is the interaction between Judah and Joseph, both representatives of what will later become the north and south division of Israel with Judah in the south and Ephraim, a son of Joseph, as the main family of the north. They had been divided, but for a moment they come together. Later, the families of Joseph and Judah will be divided due to the sins of the leaders, and only through Christ will the divisions be made right.

Please read Genesis 38:1-5 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 37:29-36

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

“Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments. He returned to his brothers and said, 'The boy is not there; as for me, where am I to go?' So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, 'We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic or not.' Then he examined it and said, 'It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!' So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, 'Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.' So his father wept for him. Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments.” (verse 29) The text does not reveal where Reuben had departed to, but when he returned to the scene of the crime to secret his little brother away to safety, behold the lad was gone. When he saw that “Joseph was not in the pit,” his plan to deliver him safely to his father had been suddenly and shockingly upended, so he “tore his garments.” This was an expression of anguish and grief, but it is hard to say if he grieved more for the brother he likely presumed to be dead, or the prospects of having to answer to his father for the whereabouts his favorite son.

“The boy is not there; as for me, where am I to go?' (verse 30) Reuben was in a state of sheer panic and at a total loss, not knowing what to do or where to go—“To find the child or flee from his father's face, which he could not think of seeing any more; whom he had highly offended already in the case of Bilhah, and now he would be yet more incensed against him for his neglect of Joseph, who, he might have expected, would have taken particular care of him, being the eldest son: he speaks like one in the utmost perplexity, not knowing what to do, what course to steer, being almost distracted and at his wits' end.” (Gill''s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood.” (verse 31) The brothers had stripped Joseph of his special coat before throwing him into the pit, either out of sheer spite or to keep as some sort of perverse trophy. Now, the prized tunic would be used as a piece of false forensic evidence suggesting a wild beast had destroyed and devoured him. This was their plan from the start when their scheme was to kill him with their own hands (verse 20). “The commission of one sin necessarily leads to another to conceal it; and the scheme of deception which the sons of Jacob planned and practised on their aged father was a necessary consequence of the atrocious crime they had perpetrated.” (Jamieson- Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

“We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic or not.” (verse 32) The spite-filled wannabe murders, recently turned human traffickers, couldn't even refer to Joseph as their brother, but as “your son” when they feigned concern to their father. “What a wonder that their cruel sneer, 'thy son's coat,' and their forced efforts to comfort him, did not awaken suspicion! But extreme grief, like every other passion, is blind, and Jacob, great as his affliction was, did allow himself to indulge his sorrow more than became one who believed in the government of a supreme and all-wise Disposer.” (Jamieson- Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

“It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!” (verse 33) Their sinister strategy worked to absolute perfection. “The full horror of the situation penetrates Jacob's consciousness only in stages. First he recognizes the tunic; then its bloody and tattered state leads to the inference that a wild beast had devoured his son; then he has a vivid mental image of his beloved Joseph actually being torn to pieces. Jacob has been trapped into uttering the very words the brothers had originally planned to say (v. 20).” (Nahum Sarna)

“So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.” (verse 34) This is the first instance recorded in the Bible of this ritualized expression of mourning and the deep grief of loss, but for Jacob, this was no mere ritual. The coarse, grating sackcloth symbolized the agony of his tormented soul, and the torn garments reflected the forlorn condition of his lacerated heart. “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” (verse 35) The pain the poor patriarch felt amounted to inconsolable grief. His sons and their wives endeavored to “comfort” him, but it was no use. Some pain exists that even a hundred years and a million hugs cannot alleviate, and I know that some of you know that feeling all too well. Only the comfort that the Lord provides can carry you through that long, dark valley of shadows.

“Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard.” (verse 36) But that is a story for another today and a different chapter. After an interlude in chapter 38 we will pick up on Joseph in the land of Egypt in chapter 39.

Please read Genesis 38:1-5 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 37:25-28

Monday, March 16, 2020

“Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, 'What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.' And his brothers listened to him. Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then they sat down to eat a meal.” (verse 25) Nothing works up an appetite quite like brutalizing your younger brother and plotting out the best way to kill him! The author, no doubt, includes this mundane detail to emphasize just how distantly their calloused hearts had detached from the ordinary love and empathy for the pain of another blessed soul. With heartless disinterest in their brother's cries for help and mercy they sat down over a nice meal to further discuss their options.

“And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead...” (verse 25) They lifted their eyes long enough from their bread to behold a caravan of traders approaching them from a distance. It was as if fate had stepped in and solved their dilemma for them. In actuality it was the providence of God preparing deliverance for His righteous servant Joseph from the evil hands of his blood-thirsty brothers.

“A caravan of Ishmaelites...” (verse 25) The wandering traders are again so described in verse 27, and it is apparently they who buy Joseph, take him down to Egypt (v. 28) and sell him to Potiphar (39:1). However, Midianite traders are mentioned in verse 28, and these (or 'Medanites') are also said to be responsible for selling Joseph to Potiphar (v. 36). The discrepancy in names has been variously explained... Rashi...postulates that Joseph was traded several times... Ibn Ezra identifies the Ishmaelites with Midianites on the basis of Judges 8:24, which relates that Midianites possessed golden earrings 'because they were Ishmaelites.' This passage suggests that the term “Ishmaelite' was used as an epithet for 'nomadic traders' rather than in an ethnic sense. 'Midianite,' on the other hand, indicates a specific ethnic affiliation.” (Nahum Sarna)

“What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood?” (verse 26) Judah is the first to recognize the opportunity to make a “profit” off of keeping their brother alive, or at least he is the first to vocalize it. “Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” (verse 27) “Judah...now assumes leadership, a role he is later to take once again in the protection of Benjamin. The text leaves unclear whether Judah's suggestion is a desperate compromise to save Joseph's life, or whether his 'What do we gain?' is an expression of sordid hostility. At any rate, this narrative reflects the history of the Israelite tribes. Reuben's authority is on the decline while Judah rises to prominence. In consonance with this is Jacob's acceptance of a proposal by Judah (43:11-14) after having previously rejected the same advice from Reuben (42:37f).” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver...” (verse 28) The original intent of Joseph's brothers was to kill him to put an end to his dreams and the prospect of the dreaded fulfillment of them. Here they have settled upon the compromise of selling him instead of murdering him, and in their minds this fate would accomplish the same result. So often men with evil intentions set out to thwart the plans of God, and while within the confines of their own twisted minds they have achieved their desired ends, in actuality they have only set the indomitable purposes of the Lord into motion.

“Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.” (verse 28) Where, in the course of time, the Lord would bring to fruition the vivid imagery of Joseph's brothers bowing down to him in his dreams (verses 7-10), and ultimately fulfill God's foreordained prophecies to Abraham that his descendants would be “strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years” (Genesis 15:13). “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

Please read Genesis 37:29-36 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 37:18-24

Sunday, March 15, 2020

“When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. They said to one another, 'Here comes this dreamer! Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, “A wild beast devoured him.” Then let us see what will become of his dreams!' But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, 'Let us not take his life.' Reuben further said to them, 'Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him'—that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father. So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“They plotted against him to put him to death.” (verse 18) Just the mere sight of Joseph was enough to provoke murderous intent within the deranged hearts and minds of some if not most of the sons of Israel. These men were so inundated with sheer hatred and madness that they plotted together to murder their little brother! We see this theme repeated within in the pages of Genesis with individuals from Cain and Abel to Jacob and Esau, and now with a mob of brothers whose hearts were bent on taking away a life that only God could bestow, and the life of their own flesh and blood at that. Often we despair of the fact that human life has been devalued in our lifetime, as if that were some new phenomenon. While senseless murder is always disturbing and hard to understand, it is certainly not anything new.

“They said to one another, 'Here comes this dreamer!” (verse 19) “Literally, 'master of dreams'—a bitterly ironical sneer. Dreams being considered suggestions from above, to make false pretensions to having received one was detested as a species of blasphemy, and in this light Joseph was regarded by his brethren as an artful pretender.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary) To many of Israel's children, Joseph was not considered a beloved brother but a ridiculous dreamer. Yet this was a true indication of the condition of their hearts and not a testimony of poor judgment on Joseph's part for revealing his dreams and reporting them to his father. As was the case with Cain killing Abel, so was the situation with their desire to murder Joseph: “And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous” (1 John 3:12).

“Come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, 'A wild beast devoured him.'” (verse 20) Of course, the best way to try to cover up a cold-blooded murder is with a bold-faced lie. Far away from the watchful eye of their father, these jealous plotters thought they had free reign to extinguish the life light of his favorite son, and callously cast his lifeless corpse into an open pit. “These would be cisterns hewn out of rock intended for gathering and storing water in the rainy season. Large numbers of such cisterns have been found in excavations all over the Land of Israel... Murderers seem to have deliberately slaughtered their victims near such pits in order to dispose of the corpses there. One has only to bear in mind that lack of proper burial was considered to be the supreme dishonor in order to imagine something of the frenzied intensity of the brothers' hatred for Joseph. His wearing of the special tunic at the time probably was an added provocation.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then let us see what will become of his dreams!” (verse 20) Joseph's dreams depicted their bowing down to him in subservience and veneration, and that thought was just too much for these men, who were just as much consumed by pride as by murderous rage and jealousy, to bear. It only made sense to them that the death of the dreamer would utterly thwart the fulfillment of the dreams.

“But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, 'Let us not take his life.'” (verse 21) “God can raise up friends for his people, even among their enemies. Reuben, of all the brothers, had most reason to be jealous of Joseph; for he was the firstborn, and so entitled to those distinguishing favours which Jacob was conferring on Joseph; yet he proves his best friend.” (Benson Commentary) “The approach of Joseph galvanizes Reuben into action. On an earlier occasion he had impetuously asserted his rights as the first-born by taking his father's concubine (35:22); now he desperately asserts the authority that belongs to that status. He being under a cloud sharpened his sensitivity to the fact that he would surely bear the main share of blame for any misfortune. Perhaps he also hoped to regain his father's favor. There is no need, however, to question Reuben's sincerity. Still troubled by his failure to save Joseph (42:22), he is willing to go to extreme lengths in order to convince his father to let him be the protector of Benjamin (42:37).” (Nahum Sarna)

“Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him.” (verse 22) “Reuben’s warning is that there should be no bloodshed, as if murder without bloodshed would be a less evil. His proposal is that Joseph should be thrown into a cistern or tank...and that he should be left there to perish, Reuben intending himself to deliver him. Reuben is not brave enough to oppose his brothers; but hopes to outwit them. He appeals to the horror of bloodshed. Blood cries out against the murderer...Genesis 4:11.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“They stripped Joseph of his tunic...” (verse 23) “Imagine him advancing in all the unsuspecting openness of brotherly affection. How astonished and terrified must he have been at the cold reception, the ferocious aspect, the rough usage of his unnatural assailants! A vivid picture of his state of agony and despair was afterwards drawn by themselves (compare Ge 42:21).” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary) “And they took him and threw him into the pit.” (verse 24) Savagely. Mercilessly. Heartlessly. Fully intending to leave him there to die. But the Lord was with Joseph and protected and saved him.

Please read Genesis 37:25-28 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 37

Saturday, March 14, 2020

- A brief summary of the final section of Genesis beginning with chapter 37.

I am posting an introduction to Genesis chapter 37 by James Burton Coffman from his commentary on Genesis provided free online by www.studylight.org with no additional commentary of my own. He gives some excellent insights and important things to consider as we delve into this material over the next several weeks. Thanks!

“Here, in Genesis 37:2, begins the tenth and final division of Genesis, the same being the [~toledowth] of Jacob, following logically upon that of Esau just concluded. The narrative in this section is concerned chiefly with the story of Joseph; and, for that reason, liberal scholars often fail to see that the story of Joseph is secondary, absolutely, to the overall history of Israel, the posterity of Jacob, as they are removed to Egypt, rise to greatness as a nation, suffer enslavement, and are later delivered. It is the authority of the patriarch Jacob that continues throughout this section to the very end of it, especially as it pertained to the bringing in of the Messiah; and the authority of Joseph pertained only to the secular and temporal affairs of the chosen nation. The whole section, therefore, is accurately introduced as the [~toledowth] of Jacob.

One need not be surprised that critical commentators resist such a conclusion. It should be remembered that they are still preoccupied with trying to justify their inaccurate understanding of the use of [~toledowth] in the early chapters of Genesis. As Dummelow observed, "This section is the history of Jacob's descendants, especially of Joseph."[1] Although Joseph is a key factor in the development of the nation at this point, dominating the narrative almost completely. Nevertheless, "Jacob is still the dominant character."[2]

The entire last section of Genesis, beginning here, records eleven important events which were significant in the continued development of Israel. Willis, following Skinner, listed these as follows.[3]

  1. Joseph sold into Egypt by his brothers (Genesis 37).
  2. Judah continues the Messianic line through his daughter-in-law (Genesis 37).
  3. Joseph is cast into prison in Egypt (Genesis 39).
  4. Joseph interprets the dreams of the butler and the baker (Genesis 40).
  5. Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dream (Genesis 41:1-52).
  6. When the predicted famine comes, Joseph's brothers come to Egypt (Genesis 41:53-44:34).
  7. On the second trip, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers (Genesis 45).
  8. Jacob and all his family move to Egypt (Genesis 46-47).
  9. Jacob blesses the sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 48).
  10. Final blessing and prophecy of Jacob (Genesis 49).
  11. Death, burial, and mourning for Jacob, Joseph's reconcilation with his brothers, his death, embalming, and request concerning his bones, when at last the children of Israel should re-enter Canaan (Genesis 50).

The very summary of these dramatic events suggests the intense interest that has always centered in this part of Genesis. Scholars of all shades of belief have praised the unity, beauty, and effectiveness of this astounding narrative, in which the finger of God is so evident, overruling the sins and wickedness of men in order to achieve the divine purpose.

Furthermore, there is no need to question whether, or not, we are dealing here with history or legend. It is history, accurate and detailed history. As Richardson said, the onus of proof does not rest upon those receiving this account as history, "but on those who seek some other explanation."[4]

It is also of very great interest that Joseph appears in these chapters as somewhat of a type of Jesus Christ. We cannot affirm that he is indeed such a type, for the N.T. nowhere refers to him as such, and in the fact of his name being finally identified with the Northern Israel (Ephraim), their reprobacy, and final removal from the face of the earth, one is surely confronted with an insurmountable obstacle (in making him a type), as is also the case with his marriage to a pagan princess. Nevertheless, there are significant resemblances which have been pointed out by many:

  1. The brothers of Joseph were envious and hated him; just so it was with Jesus who was hated by his brethren ("For envy they delivered him"... Matthew 27:18).
  2. Both Joseph and Jesus were sold for silver.
  3. The efforts of Joseph's brothers to destroy him actually elevated him; and the efforts of Satan to destroy Christ made him the Saviour of all the world.
  4. Joseph found himself "in a sense" between two malefactors, the butler and the baker; Christ was crucified between two thieves.
  5. One of those characters was forgiven and elevated, the other was not; just so the two thieves with Jesus - one was forgiven the other not.
  6. Joseph, beloved of the father, was sent with a mission to the brethren; Jesus was sent from the Father with a mission to Israel.
  7. Joseph begged of the chief butler that he would remember him when restored to his honor; and, in an interchange resembling this, but with marked differences, the forgiven thief requested that Jesus would "remember" him when he came into his kingdom.
  8. Joseph saved the whole Jewish nation from the famine and death by bringing them into the land of Goshen; Christ saves the new Israel by bringing them into his kingdom.

"Though these parallels are not stamped as typical in the N.T., there can hardly be any doubt as to their validity."[5]There is yet another oddity in that Joseph begged the body of the First Israel from Pharaoh, along with the privilege of burying it. And another Joseph, in time, begged the body of the New Israel from Pontius Pilate, along with the privilege of burying it!”

Please read Genesis 37:18-24 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 37:9-17

Friday, March 13, 2020

“Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, 'Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.' He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, 'What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?' His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind. Then his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock in Shechem. Israel said to Joseph, 'Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.' And he said to him, 'I will go.” Then he said to him, 'Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me.' So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. A man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, 'What are you looking for?' He said, 'I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing the flock.' Then the man said, 'They have moved from here; for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.”' So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers” (verse 9). This second dream was an indicator that the Lord had big plans for Joseph. If his insanely jealous and bitterly enraged brothers had been in their right minds, maybe they could have deduced that these were not just the fanciful delusions of a vibrant and starry-eyed youth. “Throughout the Joseph narratives, dreams come in pairs in order to demonstrate their seriousness, as noted in 41:32. The possibility of an idle dream was recognized by the ancients.” (Nahum Sarna) The repetition of the same theme in an additional, apparently prophetical dream should have told the brothers that something larger was at work here. Then again, maybe they actually could see the handwriting on the wall and intended to put a stop whatever the Lord had in store for Joseph.

The fact that their father had given their younger brother the special “tunic” or coat indicated that his father intended to bestow further honors upon him. It very likely marked him as the head of the family! That coat said to brothers 'You report to Joseph now!' Joseph had proven himself responsible and trustworthy in his duties, so his father may have intended to make him chief of the family. It couldn't have set well with his older brothers that the eleventh in line should be the head of the clan. And now, with these revelatory dreams giving all indications that Joseph was being set up for sort kind of wide-ranging rulership, the brothers planned to put an end to these dreams before they could be fulfilled.

“Behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (verse 9) This second dream, while similar in theme was ethereal in nature, and implied Joseph's future position of preeminence in a more conspicuous way. This dream depicted his parents as the sun and moon bowing down before him as well. (even though Joseph's mother had been deceased for quite some time). Perhaps Bilhah had now presumed the place of honored wife in the place of Rachel after the passing of her and her sister. His brothers are represented as stars in this vision prompting Nahum Sarna conjectured the following: “This symbolism for the brothers is perhaps suggested by the repeated image comparing Israel to the stars of the heaven.”

“His father rebuked him...” (verse 10) And even though he was initially aghast at the notion of a venerated patriarch actually coming to bow “down before” his eleventh son “to the ground,” Israel “kept this saying in mind.” (verse 11) That is to say, Israel didn't dismiss the dream has his older sons had done, and it did not a provocation to jealousy as it had been for them. He gave the matter further consideration and realized that the prophecy carried weight. Israel had his choice of Joseph validated and confirmed by the dream from God.

“Then his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock in Shechem.” (verse 13) The narrative now shifts to a future time and a different locale to set the stage for the brothers of Joseph selling him into slavery. “Being pastoral nomads, the brothers periodically moved to temporary centers in order to secure pasturage for their livestock. The area around Shechem is blessed with an adequate water supply and fertile soil, and the city itself holds rich associations for Jacob and his family.” (Nahum Sarna)

“'Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me.” (verse 14) Either foolishly or naively, Israel sent Joseph to check on the welfare of the brothers who despised him, and the remarkable young man eagerly agreed to go and please his beloved father. Joseph then set out on a journey toward Shechem and found them at Dothan (verses 15-16). “The entire journey must have taken about five days by foot. Joseph here exhibits a dogged persistence, undoubtedly a quality that later earned him the confidence of his Egyptian masters during his captivity. This exchange between Joseph and the man is reported only in the briefest outline. To be of help, the stranger surely must have asked for the identity of the brothers.” Nahum Sarna) He went on to comment that Dothan was “an ancient fortress town about 13 miles...northwest of Shechem, lying in a valley known for its rich pastureland.”

Please read Genesis 37:18-24 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 37:1-8

Thursday, March 12, 2020

“Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan. These are the records of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms. Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, ‘Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.’ Then his brothers said to him, ‘Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan.” “In contrast to Esau, who had migrated… This is, the land of Canaan, which only Isaac, of the three patriarchs, had never left. More specifically, the reference is to the Hebron region (v. 14)… The rest of the Book of Genesis is devoted to the story of Joseph—except for the abrupt and puzzling intrusion of the episode of Judah and Tamar (chap. 38) and Jacob’s moving last testament (chap. 49)… Esau has already attained peoplehood and has established kingship and tribal territory in the hill country of Seir, to which his clan had migrated… But Jacob must go down to Egypt where his offspring will become enslaved, as foretold in the covenant God made with Abraham: ‘Your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs’ (15:13). This same picture of contrasting destinies appears as an explicit element in Joshua’s farewell speech…at Shechem: ‘I gave Esau the hill country of Seir as his possession, while Jacob and his children went down to Egypt’ (Josh. 24.4). Both events belong to God’s scheme of history; from now on, however, it will be the fortunes of Israel alone that will engage the attention of the biblical Narrator.” (Nahum Sarna)

“These are the records of the generations of Jacob.” (verse 2) This is the final “toledot” (generations) of the book of Genesis, and what follows is not the typical genealogy, but a shift in the biblical narrative from events in the life of Jacob to those of his beloved son, Joseph. “Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives.” Jacob was pasturing his father’s flocks along with Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. It is difficult to determine from the text whether he was serving under them because of his age or if he already ranked above them because of his family status or prodigious abilities. The relationship between Joseph and the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah would likely have been strained, regardless, because of the younger brother’s higher station by birthright and the great favoritism that Israel showered upon the young lad. It is interesting that Bilhah and Zilpah are now considered “wives” and not merely maid-servants of wives. By this time Leah may also have passed away as her sister, Rachel, had done years earlier.

“And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.” (verse 2) To add fuel to the fire of those tensions, Joseph could not tolerate his brothers’ abhorrent behavior while out in the field and far away from the watchful eye of their father. The text doesn’t reveal what the specifics of the improper conduct were, but the mortified mind of the younger brother compelled him to tell his father the shenanigans his brothers were up to. It is tempting to label Joseph a “spoiled tattletale” because of the way this story reads, but the lack of details warrants the use of caution. It is quite possible that the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah were engaging in gross immorality or even criminal behavior. Whatever the reason for Joseph’s snitching, the inspired author reveals in today’s verses the impetus behind his brother’s decision to inflict bodily harm upon him and eventually sell him into slavery.

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age…” (verse 3) It is painfully obvious that Jacob didn't learn his lesson from all the pain and anguish caused by his father and mother loving one son above the other in their dysfunctional household. Of course, Benjamin was Jacob’s youngest son, but Jacob was the first born to his beloved wife, Rachel, and this no doubt endeared him to the heart of his aged father. It can be a real challenge for parents to not play favorites with their offspring, especially when there is a whole slew of them running around the house. But even if one child is much more lovable than another, and we share a special bond with that child and they hold a tender place of fondness in our hearts, we should try our best to treat all of our children as equitably as possible. Playing favorites perversely elevates the preferred one and adversely submerges the one that is slighted and neglected. In short, favoritism hurts all parties involved. “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose”(Philippians 2:2).

“And he made him a varicolored tunic.” (verse 3) “The precise meaning of the Hebrew ketonet passimremains unclear. In 2 Samuel 13:18-19 the garment is mentioned as the distinctive dress of virgin daughters of royalty. Josephus describes it as 'a long-sleeved tunic reaching to the ankle.' In Aramaic and rabbinic Hebrew pasmeans the palm of the hand and the sole of the foot. Radaktook passim to mean 'striped.' The Septuagint and Vulgate rendered the Hebrew 'robe of many colors.'” “Some of the later versions read 'coat of many colors' as 'a long sleeved coat,' but it is admitted by all that the text here is difficult and that no one really knows what is meant, except, that is, the only important thing, namely, that it was a distinctive, special garment designed to endow the wearer with special attention and favor... That such distinguished honor be emphasized in so conspicuous a manner was extremely foolish never seems to have entered Jacob's mind. Such action on his part was certain to foster egotism, arrogance, conceit, and pride on Joseph's part, and bitter envy and hatred on the part of his brothers.” (James Burton Coffman)

His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.” (verse 4) Jacob's brothers' jealousy toward him turned into hate, and hatred harbored within the heart never stays put for long. All that bitter emotion was put into motion by means of vindictive words and combative behavior. It was only a matter of time before the hurt feelings and harsh words morphed into something physically dangerous. Nahum Sarna suggested this passage implies that it wasn't the brother's speech that was the problem so much, but rather “'They could not abide his friendly speech.' In other words, they rebuffed every attempt by Joseph to be friendly.” In all likelihood and logic, both of these ideas were true. The brothers couldn't find a kind word for Jacob and they were infuriated all the more when he tried to play nice with them. This is what jealousy and animosity do to people, even the closest of friends and relatives. When Joseph foolishly related his dreams to his seething siblings their rage reached the boiling point and the lid was about to blow off of this pressure cooker.

“Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, ‘Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.’ Then his brothers said to him, ‘Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.” (verses 5-8) Joseph would later become famous for his ability to interpret dreams, but this one needed no translation. His brothers knew perfectly well the implications Joseph and his dream were making and the compounding of their animosity toward him was the result. There seems to be an underlying inuendo in this dream as well: “The agricultural motif here hints at the circumstances that will occasion Joseph's rise to greatness (chap. 41).” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 37:9-17 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 36:31-43

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

“Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the sons of Israel. Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, and the name of his city was Dinhabah. Then Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah became king in his place. Then Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites became king in his place. Then Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the field of Moab, became king in his place; and the name of his city was Avith. Then Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah became king in his place. Then Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates River became king in his place. Then Shaul died, and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor became king in his place. Then Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar became king in his place; and the name of his city was Pau; and his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab. Now these are the names of the chiefs descended from Esau, according to their families and their localities, by their names: chief Timna, chief Alvah, chief Jetheth, chief Oholibamah, chief Elah, chief Pinon, chief Kenaz, chief Teman, chief Mibzar, chief Magdiel, chief Iram. These are the chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of the Edomites), according to their habitations in the land of their possession.”

---End of Scripture verses---

““Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the sons of Israel.” (verse 31) “In the triumphal song of Moses on the Red Sea we still read of 'dukes of Edom' (Exodus 15:15); but when Israel had reached the borders of their land, we find that Edom had then a king (Numbers 20:14). But in the list given here, no king succeeds his father, and probably these were petty monarchs, who sprang up in various parts of the country during a long period of civil war, in which the Horites were finally as completely conquered as were the Canaanites in Palestine under the heavy hands of Saul and Solomon. In the time of the dukes, there were also Horite dukes of the race of Seir, ruling districts mixed up apparently with those governed by the descendants of Esau. But all these now disappear.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“By degrees the Edomites worked out the Horites, and got full possession of the country. They were ruled by kings who governed the whole country, and seem to have come to the throne by election, and not by lineal descent: these kings reigned in Edom before there reigned any king over the children of Israel... God had lately promised Jacob that kings should come out of his loins: yet Esau’s blood becomes royal long before any of Jacob’s did. Probably it was a trial to the faith of Israel, to hear of the power of the kings of Edom, while they were bond-slaves in Egypt: but those that look for great things from God must be content to wait for them. God’s time is the best time.” (Benson Commentary)

“Before the reign of say, first king of Israel, through whom the divine promises of kingship for Israel, recorded in 17:6 and 35:11, were first fulfilled. This development was critical for the history of Edom because it was then that the ancient prophecy to Rebekah of 25:23—'The older shall serve the younger'—and Isaac's blessing to Esau in 27:40—'You shall serve your brother'—began to materialize. According to 1 Samuel 14:47, Saul waged war against the Edomites. David reduced Edom to vassaldom, all but wiped out the royal house, and placed Israelite garrisons and governors in the land, as narrated in 2 Samuel 8:2,13-14 and 1 Kings 11:14-17.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the field of Moab, became king in his place...” (verse 35) “And Husham died,.... As is thought, about A. M. 2219, above forty years after the death of Abraham...and Hadad the son of Bedad (who smote Midian in the field of Moab) reigned in his stead: who he or his father were we have no other account, nor of this warlike action of his; probably the Midianites came out to invade him, hearing of which, he went out against them, and met with him in the fields of Moab, which were near to Midian, and fought them and conquered them: Jarchi says, the Midianites came out to make war against the Moabites, and the king of Edom went out to help the Moabites, and hence, he says, we learn, that Midian and Moab were near each other; and in the days of Balaam they made peace, that they might combine against Israel: this battle is supposed to be fought in the twelfth year of his reign; and it is thought to be in his reign that Esau came with his family and dwelt in Seir...though some place it later, either in the following reign, or in that of his successors.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Now these are the names of the chiefs descended from Esau, according to their families and their localities, by their names...” (verse 40) “The hereditary dukes who were contemporaneous with this sovereign, and formed no doubt his council, are now enumerated. Timna, once the name of a female, now appears as a male, unless we allow a duchess in her own right to have occurred among them. The same applies to Oholibamah. Alva or Aljah is near akin to Alvan or Allan Genesis 36:23. Jetheth, Elah, Pinon, Mibzar, Magdiel, Iram, are new names. Four of the old names reappear. One is only slightly different. The number of dukes is eleven. It is probable that Amalek separated from the family confederacy; and the number of tribes may have been originally twelve. The seven Horite dukedoms probably merged into the Idumaean eleven. “ (Barnes' Notes on the Entire Bible)

Please read Genesis 37:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 36:20-30

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

“These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan and Shobal and Zibeon and Anah, and Dishon and Ezer and Dishan. These are the chiefs descended from the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. The sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan’s sister was Timna. These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan and Manahath and Ebal, Shepho and Onam. These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah—he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness when he was pasturing the donkeys of his father Zibeon. These are the children of Anah: Dishon, and Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah. These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan and Eshban and Ithran and Cheran. These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan and Zaavan and Akan. These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. These are the chiefs descended from the Horites: chief Lotan, chief Shobal, chief Zibeon, chief Anah, chief Dishon, chief Ezer, chief Dishan. These are the chiefs descended from the Horites, according to their various chiefs in the land of Seir.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land...” (verse 20) “The territory of Seir was taken over by Esau. The information given in this chapter, taken in conjunction with the report of Deuteronomy 2:12, adds up to a picture of a violent invasion by the newcomers followed by a process of gradual absorption of the native Horites into the 'descendants of Esau.' We are now given a genealogy of Seir, who is regarded as the personified eponymous, or name-giving, patriarch of the leading native clans, numbering seven in all. The genealogy extends to a depth of three generations and is somewhat more detailed than the preceding lists.” (Nahum Sarna)

“In the midst of the genealogy of the Edomites is inserted the genealogy of the Horites, that were the natives of mount Seir before the Edomites took possession of it, Deuteronomy 2:12; Deuteronomy 2:22. This comes in here, not only to give light to the story, but to be a standing reflection upon the Edomites for intermarrying with them, by which it is likely they learned their ways, and corrupted themselves.” (Benson Commentary)

“These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah—he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness when he was pasturing the donkeys of his father Zibeon.” (verse 24) “The memoir presupposes knowledge of the adventure on the part of the reader. There was obviously once a widely known tale about this person.... The hot sprints... Hebrew ha-yemim is unique and of unknown meaning... The most ancient and widespread Jewish interpretation is 'mules,' but apparently rests on nothing more than a similarity of ha-yemim to Greek hemionos. This tradition makes Anah a culture hero, the first to crossbreed the horse with the donkey to produce the hybrid mule.” (Nahum Sarna)

The other, and more accepted take on this verse is as follows: “Mules is the traditional rendering of the Jews; but as horses were at this date unknown in Palestine, Anah could not have discovered the art of crossing them with asses, and so producing mules. Jerome, moreover, says that 'the word in Punic, a language allied to Hebrew, means hot springs;' and this translation is now generally adopted. Lange gives a list of hot springs in the Edomite region, of which those of Calirrhoe, 'the stream of beauty,' in the Wady Zerka Maion, are probably those found by Anah.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“These are the chiefs descended from the Horites, according to their various chiefs in the land of Seir.” (verse 30) The King James Version of the Bible refers to these “chiefs” as “dukes”. “If Seir here mentioned be the original Seir, then he is the remote father of the seven Horite dukes who belonged to the time of Esau. If he be their immediate parent, then he is named after that earlier Seir who gave name to the mountain range... The sons of Seir dwelt in this land before the coming of the Edomites. Here follow the descendants of the then living dukes of the Horim. Hori, Lotan's son, bears the name of the nation. 'Hemam,' in Chronicles Homam, by a change of letter. 'Timna,' the concubine of Eliphaz Genesis 36:12. 'Alvan' and 'Shepho', in Chronicles Aljan and Shephi, by a reverse change of the same letters (see Genesis 36:11).” (Barnes' Notes on the Bible)

Please read Genesis 36:31-43 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 36:9-19

Monday, March 09, 2020

“These then are the records of the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz the son of Esau’s wife Adah, Reuel the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho and Gatam and Kenaz. Timna was a concubine of Esau’s son Eliphaz and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These are the sons of Esau’s wife Adah. These are the sons of Reuel: Nahath and Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath. These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah and the granddaughter of Zibeon: she bore to Esau, Jeush and Jalam and Korah.These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz, the firstborn of Esau, are chief Teman, chief Omar, chief Zepho, chief Kenaz, chief Korah, chief Gatam, chief Amalek. These are the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Adah. These are the sons of Reuel, Esau’s son: chief Nahath, chief Zerah, chief Shammah, chief Mizzah. These are the chiefs descended from Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath. These are the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: chief Jeush, chief Jalam, chief Korah. These are the chiefs descended from Esau’s wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah. These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are their chiefs.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Verses 9-14 – “This second genealogy of Esau repeats the data of the preceding one but continues the line to the third generation for Adah and Basemath... As for Oholibamah, only her sons are listed, and they are placed on a par with the grandsons of the other wives. This suggests that her group endured a lower social status than the others. Further, only in this list is Amalek noted to be the son of a concubine and, as such, of inferior station. These facts raise the possibility that this genealogy functions to express status relationships. The sequence of wives is given according to the number of their respective offspring in descending order of magnitude—five, four, and three. Excluding the inferior Amalek, there are twelve legitimate descendants in all, intimating the existence of a twelve-tribe confederation, just like that of the Nahorites (22:20-24), and Ishmaelites (17:20; 25:13-16), and, of course, the Israelites, as recounted in 35:22-26.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Timna was a concubine of Esau’s son Eliphaz and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz...” (verse 12) “Eliphaz has five sons by his wife, and by a concubine a sixth, named Amalek, most probably the father of the Amalekites, Genesis 14:7. 'Timna' was probably a very young sister of Lotan Genesis 36:22, perhaps not older than her niece Oholibamah, Genesis 36:25.” (Barnes' Notes on the Bible) “She bare to Eliphaz Amalek; from whence the Amalekites sprung, often mentioned in Scripture, whom the Israelites were commanded utterly to destroy, 1 Samuel 15:18...” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Verses 15-19 – “This is the third genealogy... This time each name is designated an 'alluf. The word recurs in Exodus 15:15, also in association with Edom. It is undoubtedly connected with Hebrew 'elef, which signifies a social unit, a subdivision of a tribe, most likely a clan. The term was very meaningful in the premonarchic period before the breakdown of the tribal organization. It is not certain whether 'alluf is a variant of 'elef or means the 'chief'' of a clan. In verses 19, 40 and 43, 'clan' seems to fit the context better. The names of the 'allufim are identical with those of the previous list except that there are now two Korahs, one a grandson who appears as part of the lineage of Eliphaz, and the other a son as before. Also, Amalek is no longer in limbo but is on a par with the other sons of Eliphaz, albeit in last place. The most likely explanation for the differences is that the present list reflects a political development in Edomite tribal history, deriving from a time when a section of the korahites split off from the Oholibamah group and attached itself to the Eliphaz confederation, into which Amalek too was incorporated.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 36:20-30 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 36:1-8

Sunday, March 08, 2020

“Now these are the records of the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and the granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite; also Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth. Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, and Basemath bore Reuel, and Oholibamah bore Jeush and Jalam and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan. Then Esau took his wives and his sons and his daughters and all his household, and his livestock and all his cattle and all his goods which he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land away from his brother Jacob. For their property had become too great for them to live together, and the land where they sojourned could not sustain them because of their livestock. So Esau lived in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now these are the records of the generations of Esau (that is, Edom).” (verse 1) “The notice of Abraham's death in 25:7-10 was followed by the detailing of the line of his elder son; the report of Isaac's demise conforms to the same pattern. In both cases the genealogy functions as a connective that links two series of narratives in which one generation gives way to the next.” (Nahum Sarna) As the elder son of Isaac, Esau is a major player in the patriarchal narratives and this entire chapter is dedicated to a detailed listing of his lineage and “the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the sons of Israel” (verse 31).

“Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan...” (verse 2) These first two wives are listed in a dispassionate fashion, but the inclusion of the term “daughters of Canaan” is, no doubt, intended to be a term of admonition. Abraham insisted that no Canaanite woman be taken for a wife for his son Isaac, and Esau's two Canaanite wives “brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah” (Genesis 26:35). When Esau saw that his marriage choices displeased his father Isaac, he “went to Ishmael, and married, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.” (Genesis 28:9)

“Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and the granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite; also Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth.” (verses 2-3) The names of Esau's wives vary between this account and those recorded in Genesis chapters 26 and 28. “There were three, mentioned under different names; for it is evident that Bashemath is the same as Mahalath (Ge 28:9), since they both stand in the relation of daughter to Ishmael and sister to Nebajoth; and hence it may be inferred that Adah is the same as Judith, Aholibamah as Bathsemath (Ge 26:34). It was not unusual for women, in that early age, to have two names, as Sarai was also Iscah (Ge 11:29); and this is the more probable in the case of Esau's wives, who of course would have to take new names when they went from Canaan to settle in mount Seir.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

“Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, and Basemath bore Reuel, and Oholibamah bore Jeush and Jalam and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.” (verses 4-5) The Pulpit Commentary observes the following about the names of Esau's sons: The name Eliphaz means “the strength of God” and “afterwards the name of one of Job's friends” (Job 2:11; 4:1; 15:1). The name Reuel indicates “the friend of God” and also “the name of Moses' father-in-law (Exodus 2:18).” The name Jeush denotes “whom God hastens” and “afterwards the name of a son of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:19).” The name Jaalam expresses “whom God chides” and Korah “baldness...the name of a family of Levites and singers in the time of David to whom ten of the psalms are ascribed.”

“Then Esau took his wives and his sons and his daughters and all his household, and his livestock and all his cattle and all his goods which he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land away from his brother Jacob.” (verse 6) As was the case with Abraham and his nephew Lot, “ their property had become too great for them to live together, and the land where they sojourned could not sustain them because of their livestock” (verse 7), so it was time for an amicable parting of the ways. While wealth and prosperity can provide for a comfortable and opulent lifestyle, sometimes it can come between brothers and the best of friends and cause them to separate from one another.

“So Esau lived in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom.” (verse 8) “This territory...lay southeast of the Dead Sea alongside the Arabah... Seir henceforth becomes the national territory of Esau/Edom. Deuteronomy 2:5, and later Joshua 24:4, have God declaring, 'I give Esau the hill country of Seir as his possession.' “Esau is Edom, so called from the red pottage he had of Jacob, which is repeated to fix the odium of that transaction upon him, as well as for the sake of what follows, showing the reason why his posterity were called Edomites.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Please read Genesis 36:9-19 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 35:23-29

Saturday, March 07, 2020

“Now there were twelve sons of Jacob—the sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, then Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Zebulun; the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin; and the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali; and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram. Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned. Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years. Isaac breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, an old man of ripe age; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now there were twelve sons of Jacob…” (verse 22) “With the birth of Benjamin, the family of Jacob is complete, and it is appropriate to list it in full, particularly since the next chapter is to feature the genealogies of Esau. The roster also indicates that, despite Reuben’s misdeed, the unity of the family remained intact. The listing also specifies through whom the blessing of verse 11, ‘Be fertile and increase,’ is to be realized and through whom the people of Israel come into being. Each son listed is the…founding father of a tribe. In short, the list constitutes a fitting conclusion to the cycle of independent Jacob narratives.” (Nahum Sarna)

“The sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, then Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Zebulun.” (verse 23) After the first four of Jacob’s sons, the names are not listed in the order of their births. There are four lists of children in this passage, each based upon the mother who gave birth to them. The first list begins with Israel’s first wife and the children Leah bore to him. Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah are the first four in order, and Issachar and Zebulun are his ninth and tenth respectively.

“The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.” (verse 24) The sons of Rachel are listed second because she was technically his second wife, even though she was first in rank in the heart and mind of the husband who cherished her. Joseph and Benjamin are the last two sons born to Jacob (eleventh and twelfth respectively), and even though verse 26 states that, “these are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram,” it is a given that Benjamin was the single son born in the Land of Promise. We learned from yesterday’s reading that Benjamin was born somewhere between Bethel and Bethlehem, at the place where Israel set up a stone pillar over the grave of his beloved (verses 16-20).

“And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali; and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher.” (verses 25-26) After Leah stopped bearing children for a while and her sister was still infertile, Rachel gave her maid Bilhah to her husband to bear children for her “on her knees” (Genesis 30:3). The products of that relationship were Dan and Naphtali, Israel’s fifth and sixth son respectively. Then the heated sense of sibling rivalry prompted Leah to give her maid Zilpah to her husband as Rachel had previously done. With Zilpah Jacob begat his seventh and eight sons, Gad and Asher.

“Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.” (verse 27) “No mention being made of his mother, it is very probable she was dead; and Isaac being alone, and very old…he might send for Jacob to come with his family, and be with him; for it can hardly be thought that this was the first time of Jacob's visiting his father since he came into the land, of Canaan, which must be about ten years; but as yet he had not come with his family to him, and in order to abide with him… Mamre was a plain, so called from the name of a man, a friend and confederate of Abraham, Genesis 13:18; where, or near to which, stood a city, called Kirjath Arbah, or the city of the four, Arbah and his three sons; so that it might be called Tetrapolls, and was later called Hebron… Abraham and Isaac sojourned; lived good part of their days, see Genesis 13:18; it was about twenty miles from Bethlehem, and the tower of Eder, where Jacob was last.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years. (verse 28) “He lived the longest of all the patriarchs, even five years longer than Abraham. He was a mild and quiet man, and these qualities probably contributed no little to his health and long life.” (Benson Commentary) “As Isaac was sixty when his sons were born, Jacob was one hundred and twenty years of age at his father’s death…” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

“Isaac breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, an old man of ripe age; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.” (verse 29) “Although it appears by computation that he did not die till many years after Joseph was sold into Egypt, and, indeed, not till about the time he was preferred there; yet his death is here recorded that his story might be finished, and the subsequent narrative proceed without interruption.” (Benson Commentary) It is heartwarming to know that Jacob and Esau had become mentally and emotionally mature enough to remain close enough to amicably handle their father’s funeral arrangements together. It is such a blessed thing when brothers live together in peace and harmony!

Please Read Genesis 36:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 35:16-22

Friday, March 06, 2020

“Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and she suffered severe labor. When she was in severe labor the midwife said to her, ‘Do not fear, for now you have another son.’ It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Jacob set up a pillar over her grave; that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day. Then Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. It came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine, and Israel heard of it.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Rachel began to give birth and she suffered severe labor.” (verse 16) After some untold duration of time, Israel pulled up stakes from Bethel and moved his company southward toward Ephrath (Bethlehem). As they were travelling, Rachel, who was heavy with child, went into labor. The timing must have been at least somewhat unexpected because Israel would likely have waited to travel had he known his beloved Rachel was on the cusp of giving birth. And this was a particularly severe, painful and complicated delivery that would end up taking her life.

“‘Do not fear, for now you have another son.” (verse 17) Rachel’s midwife allayed the dying mother’s fears for the health of her child by assuring her that she had given birth to another son who was going to be just fine. This was the perishing Rachel’s parting consolation “as her soul was departing her” (verse 18). Several years earlier, after her sister had given birth to Jacob’s fourth child, “when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die.’” (Genesis 30:1) In a poignant ironic twist, it was childbearing and not the lack of it that actually killed her.

“It came about as her soul was departing (for she died)…” (verse 18) “By this account of her death it appears, that death is the separation and disunion of soul and body; that at death the soul departs from the body; that the soul does not die with it, but goes elsewhere, and lives in a separate state, and never dies; it goes into another world, a world of spirits, even unto God that gave it...” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible) “Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7)

“She named him Ben-oni…” (verse 18) “the name has been almost universally understood to mean ‘son of my sorrow.’ It could also be, ‘son of my great vigor,’ a euphemism for ‘son of my debility”—that is, ‘his birth drained my strength.” (Nahum Sarna) “But his father called him Benjamin.” “Jacob either reinterprets ben-’oni or replaces it by a more auspicious name. The meaning could be, ‘son of my right hand,’ the right being a symbol of dexterity, power, protection. Another rendering is ‘son of the south,’ that is, ‘the one born in the south.’ A third possibility…would mean ‘son of my old age.’ In 44:20 he is called ‘a child of his old age.’” (Nahum Sarna)

“So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Jacob set up a pillar over her grave…” (verses 19-20) “As a monument, or memorial of her life and death, and as a testimony of her future resurrection.” (Benson Commentary) “It is clear from 1 Samuel 10:2 that in the time of Samuel, about 1020 B.C…‘the tomb of Rachel’ was a famous landmark. The traditional site, presently so-called, lies about 4 miles…south of Jerusalem and 1 mile…north of Bethlehem.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.” (verse 21) “‘The tower of the flock.’ It is uncertain whether ‘Eder’ is a proper name or not. For a similar uncertainty, cf. Genesis 33:18. The place is evidently situated between Ephrath (Genesis 35:19) and Hebron (Genesis 37:14).” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) “The tower may…have been a few miles south of Jerusalem; and as the word ‘beyond’ includes the idea of up to, as far as, the meaning is that Jacob now occupied this region permanently with his cattle. Until Esau, with his possessions, withdrew to Seir, there would be no room for Jacob and his flocks and herds at Hebron, but he would at Eder be so near his father as to be able often to visit him. And thus his exile was now over, and he was at last at home.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

“It came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine, and Israel heard of it.” (verse 22) “Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; his concubine wife; she was the maid that Rachel gave him, and this added to his affliction, and made it double, to lose Rachel by death, and to have her favourite maid, his concubine, defiled by his own son, and whom it is highly probable he abstained from hereafter. This, though a very heinous sin of his son's, yet might be suffered as a chastisement to Jacob, for making use of concubines.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible) Reuben likely thought his sin was committed in sufficient secrecy, but the word got out and made it to the ears of his defrauded father. “Behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)

Please read Genesis 35:23-29 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 35:9-15

Thursday, March 05, 2020

“Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; you shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ Thus He called him Israel. God also said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you. The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you.’ Then God went up from him in the place where He had spoken with him. Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him.” (verse 9) Nahum Sarna noted that “God, for His part, now fulfills the prayer offered by Isaac in 28:3-4.” That passage read: “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.”

“God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; you shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’” (verse 10) Even though the Lord’s angel had named Jacob “Israel” after their altercation (Genesis 32:28), the author has persisted in calling him by his given name up until this point in the narrative of his life. But in this instance, God Himself personally conferred the name of Israel upon him. When the angel told Jacob his new name, he did so “on the other side of the Jordan. Therefore, the new name ‘Israel’ needs to be confirmed and validated by God Himself in the promised land.” (Nahum Sarna)

“I am God Almighty…” (verse 11) The Lord identified Himself as “El-Shaddai”—the name by which he had established his covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:1). By addressing Jacob as “God Almighty” He was able to comfort and assure him that He was more than able to protect, defend and provide for him and fulfill all of the promises He had made to him. The Lord Yahweh is all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful and all-sufficient to provide for all of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. As the One who created us, loves us most and knows us best, He willingly and competently supplies His people with all the needs that reside in the temporary and eternal realms of existence.

“Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you…” (verse 11) Of course, Israel would only have one additional son born to him after this divine encounter, and that is Benjamin. But the nation which would afterward bear his name would grow to be a mighty force in the region of Palestine and far beyond. Israel’s twelves sons would grow to be twelve tribes and constitute a multiplicity of peoples spread throughout the world by various means. Great kings such as King David, King Solomon, King Josiah and many others came forth from the lineage of Israel and reigned over the nation of Israel and of Judah after the division. And, most importantly, King Jesus would ultimately “come forth” from Israel as the “seed of Abraham” in fulfillment of God’s promise to bless all peoples of the Earth.

“The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you.” (verse 12) “Meaning the land of Canaan, which, as he had by promise given it to his grandfather, and father, so he would give it to him; thus renewing the grant of it for his comfort, and the encouragement of his faith, when he had been in danger of being destroyed by the inhabitants of it, and was obliged to remove from one part of it to another.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Then God went up from him in the place where He had spoken with him.” (verse 13) The Lord likely “ascended” in some sort of visible display of His presence. “This formula, used before in Genesis 17:22; Genesis 18:33, shows that this manifestation of God’s presence was more solemn than any of those previous occasions upon which the Deity had revealed Himself to Jacob. It was, in fact, the acknowledgment of the patriarch as the heir of the Abrahamic covenant.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

“Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.” (verse 14) “To commemorate the experience, Jacob sets up a stone pillar, just as he had on the earlier occasion… The text does not clarify whether this is the rededication of the original pillar of 28:18 or the erection of a new one. On this occasion, unlike the earlier, Jacob pours upon it a libation. Hebrew nesekh usually means a wine offering and is nowhere else found in Genesis. Moreover, it is here poured on the pillar, not on the altar. This combination of anomalies indicates that the ceremony Jacob here performs is not simply a duplication of the earlier one but has an added dimension. He is rehabilitation the original stela, which is now invested with new meaning.” (Nahum Sarna)

“So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel.” (verse 15) “See Genesis 28:19. The name had, of course, remained unknown and unused, as what then passed had been confined to Jacob’s own inward consciousness. He now teaches the name to his family, explains the reason why he first gave it, and requires them to employ it. But with so grand a beginning the town was debased to unholy uses, and from being Beth-el, the house of God, it became Bethaven, the house of iniquity (Hosea 10:5).” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Please read Genesis 35:16-22 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 35:1-8

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

“Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’ So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.’ So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem. As they journeyed, there was a great terror upon the cities which were around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. He built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother. Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; it was named Allon-bacuth.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Arise, go up to Bethel and live there…” (verse 1) The Lord Himself encouraged and commanded Jacob to pick himself up and “go up to Bethel.” “The phrasing indicates both the character of the trek—a pilgrimage—and the nature of the locale—about 1,000 feet…higher than Shechem… Jacob is seized with panic after his sons’ massacre of the Shechemites, and he fears reprisals from the neighboring peoples, who may well have been bound to Shechem by treaty obligations. God’s intervention transforms ignominious flight into a dignified pilgrimage to Bethel.” (Nahum Sarna) Sarna also observed that when the Lord commanded Jacob to “make an alter” at Bethel, he “is reminded that he has not yet fulfilled the vow made at Bethel (28:20-22).”

“‘Put away the foreign gods which are among you…” (verse 2) “The idols are probably household gods found among the spoils of Shechem or carried by the captives. The phrase may also include the terafim that Rachel stole, as mentioned in 31:19.” (Nahum Sarna) “And purify yourselves and change your garments.” Jacob commanded all the members of his household to perform ceremonial washings to purify themselves physically and spiritually, and to change their garments thus prompting and signifying a change in their defiled hearts and minds for the better. These measures were made in preparation for making the pilgrimage to arrive formally into the presence of God. They also served as visible means of renouncing those lifeless idols and purifying themselves from the contact made with the dead bodies strewn about the city of Shechem.

“And let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” (verse 3) Jacob’s life abounded with distressing moments, but he was no doubt referring to the dread and anxiety that overtook him when he was forced to flee from Esau’s murderous intentions after he stole his father’s blessing by deceit. Since the time that the Lord appeared to him in a dream at Bethel, He had been with the patriarch in all his stressful situations wherever he had gone and had delivered him through. “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high! May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your counsel!” (Psalm 20:1, 4)

“So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.” (verse 4) “Earrings seem to have been worn not so much for ornament as for superstitious purposes, being regarded as talismans or amulets. Hence it was from their earrings that Aaron made the golden calf (Exodus 32:2-4).” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers) “It is noteworthy that Joshua, under the same ‘oak’ of Shechem (Joshua 24:26), testified against the primitive worship of strange gods; cf. Joshua 24:2; Joshua 24:14; Joshua 24:23.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) “Behind Jacob’s…interment of the idols intact under the tree may be an intention to neutralize veneration of the terebinth. This cultic object…could not henceforth be used by a monotheist.” (Nahum Sarna)

“As they journeyed, there was a great terror upon the cities which were around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.” (verse 5) Jacob’s great terror was that, “the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.” (Genesis 34:30) But the Lord was not about to let that happen. God had promised Jacob: “Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:14-15)

“He built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel…” (verse 7) “Literally, ‘the God of Bethel,’ that is, the One whose associations with Jacob were repeatedly bound up with Bethel.” (Nahum Sarna) “Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; it was named Allon-bacuth.” (verse 8) “Three deaths are recorded in this chapter. The account of the passing of Deborah is puzzling since the demise of a woman is reported only in exceptional cases in the Torah; even the deaths of the matriarchs Rebekah and Leah are passed over in silence… The presumption seems unavoidable that traditions about Deborah…were widely known to the reader and narrator alike in biblical times… One such must have related to her association with a site south of Bethel where there was a prominent tree known as Allon-bacuth. This name was popularly interpreted to mean ‘the oak of weeping’… There may be a deeper purpose as well. With the purging of idolatry and the arrival at Bethel, the contacts with Mesopotamia, maintained by each of the patriarchs, are finally and decisively severed.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 35:9-16 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 34:25-31

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

“Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares, and killed every male. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth. Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and looted the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their flocks and their herds and their donkeys, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field; and they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives, even all that was in the houses. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have brought trouble on me by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.’ But they said, ‘Should he treat our sister as a harlot?’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain…” (verse 25) Anyone who has had surgery understands how the pain intensifies on the second and even third day afterward. And it could only have been much worse for these men when considering the very sensitive members that had recently been cut on. After three days all the men would have been circumcised and rendered unable to offer much if any resistance because of the extreme soreness they were experiencing. In their dreadful condition and current state of convalescence, and since they had no good reason to expect such a brutal attack from “friends” (verse 21), they were caught completely off their guard and “unawares” of the slaughter that was about to take place.

“Two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city…” (verse 26) Simeon and Levi were full brothers of Dinah, so that would explain why they were exceedingly enraged and vengeance driven. “As born of the same mother, they, with Reuben and Judah, were especially bound to espouse their sister’s cause, but the method they took was cruel in the extreme. And it seems that these two were the leaders in the plot, having probably excluded Reuben from it, as a man of feeble character and opposed to bloodshed (Genesis 37:22); and Judah, as one too honourable to take part in so nefarious a transaction.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

“They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth.” (verse 26) After Simeon and Levi “took” their swords and “killed every male” among the inhabitants of the city including their two most prominent leaders, they then “took” their sister from Shechem’s house and fled the scene of her captivity. “The entire affair began with Dinah ‘going out’ and being ‘taken’ (vv. 1,2). It concludes with the same two words but in reverse order. As far as Simeon and Levi are concerned, the account is settled. These two take no part in the plunder of the city.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and looted the city, because they had defiled their sister.” (verse 27) While Simeon and Levi were the masterminds of the massacre and the most brash and heartless in wielding their swords, it is obvious that all of their brothers participated in this shameful event in one way or another. Overwhelmed by a deep thirst for revenge, each of them abandoned any semblance of self-restraint and looted the whole city “because they had defiled their sister.” Of course, their feelings of outrage could also have provided them good cover to seize upon the opportunity to enrich themselves. The green-eyed monster of greed knows no shame.

“They took their flocks and their herds and their donkeys, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field; and they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives, even all that was in the houses.” (verses 28-29) In an ironic twist, instead of all of Israel’s “livestock and their property and all their animals” belonging to the men of the city as Hamor had promised (verse 23), all of Shechem’s belongings were taken by the sons of Israel. Including “their little ones and their wives.” “No mention is made of these captives afterward: nor is it easy to conjecture what became of them. Perhaps the most probable supposition is, that Jacob restored both them and the property taken by his sons to their surviving relatives and countrymen.” (Benson Commentary)

“Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have brought trouble on me by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites…’ (verse 30) Nahum Sarna observes that the phrase “brought trouble” is an “ellipsis for ‘muddy the waters,’” and “making me odious” is an “ellipsis for ‘making my breath to stink.’” Israel feared he would be viewed: “As a cruel and bloodthirsty man that spared none, made no difference between the innocent and the guilty; and as a robber and plunderer, that stopped at nothing, committing the greatest outrages to get possession of the substance of others.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“And my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.’” (verse 30) In Israel’s state of vexation and mortification he feared that all hope was lost for his family and his future, and he even despaired of his life. But once he had regained his right mind, he came to remember, believe and trust in God’s promises that He would bless him, protect him, prosper him and multiply him. Even so, the memory of this dreadful incident haunted Israel for the rest of his life. Before his death he prophesied of them: “Simeon and Levi are brothers; their swords are implements of violence. Let my soul not enter into their council; let not my glory be united with their assembly; because in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they lamed oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.” (Genesis 49:5-7)

“Should he treat our sister as a harlot?” (verse 31) This was the only defense Simeon and Levi offered for their unspeakable actions. Somehow they justified the murder of scores of innocent men because one monster molested their beloved sister. “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7) Friends, we always need to set our sights on doing what is right by the Lord and leaving vengeance in His perfectly capable hands. Repayment for wrongdoing is the Lord’s business and we are always in over our heads when we take it upon ourselves to seek our own revenge.

Please read Genesis 35:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 34:18-24

Monday, March 02, 2020

“Now their words seemed reasonable to Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son. The young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was more respected than all the household of his father. So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, 'These men are friendly with us; therefore let them live in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters in marriage, and give our daughters to them. Only on this condition will the men consent to us to live with us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised. Will not their livestock and their property and all their animals be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will live with us.' All who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now their words seemed reasonable to Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son.” (verse 18) Love is a powerful emotion that can embolden people to do things they would otherwise not even consider. “Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.” (Genesis 29:20) Shechem was so love-stricken by Dinah's beauty that he volunteered to have the flesh of his foreskin sliced off to be her husband. Hamor loved his son so very much that he not only agreed to personally have the same painful procedure performed, but persuaded the entire male population of his community to do the same in order to please his beloved. The words of the prophet have never wrung more true: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)!

“The young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter.” (verse 19) Shechem couldn't bear to wait an extra moment to bare his flesh to the flint if that was all that stood between him and the object of his obsession. “Now he was more respected than all the household of his father,” which doesn't speak very favorably for the rest of his family. “So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city...” (verse 20) Hamor and son proceeded directly to the town square to pitch their proposal to the rest of the prominent men of the city. Shechem “served as a role model for the others, who were soon influenced by his initiative.” (Nahum Sarna)

“These men are friendly with us...” (verse 21) Some kind of friends the sons of Israel turned out to be to the residents of Shechem! While it was true that Jacob and his sons had proven themselves to be men of character as they lived in peace among the inhabitants of the land, it is a strange thing for Hamor to suppose those friendly terms would persist after the despicable thing that Shechem had done to Dinah! “Therefore let them live in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters in marriage, and give our daughters to them.” “Hamor has conveniently omitted the promise of the landed property rights for the newcomers and has perfidiously inserted the assurance of dispossessing them of their belongings. As the occasion is a formal, public ratification of the agreement, Hamor is clearly guilty of double dealing.” (Nahum Sarna) Imagine that!!!

“Only on this condition will the men consent to us to live with us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised.” (verse 22) Okay here's the rub, the big hurdle to be jumped: every last one of you has to be circumcised! And, believe it or not, they all went for it! I'm sorry but I don't care how friendly and useful these fellows might be, I would have to have said: “Thanks but no thanks!” Of course, none of them would have likely gotten on board if Hamor had not added, “Will not their livestock and their property and all their animals be ours?” (verse 23) That lie was probably the bait that set the hook and reeled them in. Even still, universal bodily disfigurement was an awful lot to ask for and commit to!

“All who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.” (verse 24) “This would encompass the males of military age, the group available for intermarriage with Jacob's clan.” (Nahum Sarna) All the men agreed to the terms, and effectively signed their death warrant. The stage has been set for the brutal bloodbath and gross atrocity that will unfold in tomorrow's verses.

Please read Genesis 34:25-31 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 34:8-17

Sunday, March 01, 2020

“But Hamor spoke with them, saying, 'The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage. 9 Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us and take our daughters for yourselves. Thus you shall live with us, and the land shall be open before you; live and trade in it and acquire property in it.' Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, 'If I find favor in your sight, then I will give whatever you say to me. Ask me ever so much bridal payment and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; but give me the girl in marriage.' But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor with deceit, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. They said to them, 'We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. Only on this condition will we consent to you: if you will become like us, in that every male of you be circumcised, then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and become one people. But if you will not listen to us to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage.” (verse 8) It would appear that Shechem's “soul” was not the driving force behind his desires for Dinah, but his uncontrollable lust. Be that as it may, Shechem was convinced that he just could not be satisfied unless he had his victim's hand in marriage. “Hamor deals with the family only on account of his son's amorous and matrimonial interests. He omits any mention of the crime; it is as though nothing has happened! Actually, the terms offered by Hamor are unrelated to the immediate and stated purposes of his visit; they are clearly a cunning appeal to avarice as a means of placating Jacob and his sons, purchasing their docility, and inducing them to let the incident be forgotten. The effectiveness of the strategy is reinforced by the grim fact that Dinah is still being held in Hamor's house within the city (vv. 17,26)... Shechem...too ignores his crime and offers neither apology nor regrets.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us and take our daughters for yourselves. Thus you shall live with us, and the land shall be open before you; live and trade in it and acquire property in it.'” (verses 9-10) Hamor's offer and desire was that Jacob and his family be amalgamated into the community of Shechem and become “one people” with them (verse 22) . If Israel would agree to give Dinah to Shechem as a wife, all his sons could acquire wives from among the people of the land, they could work and trade and buy and sell and be full-fledged members of their society. “The land shall be open before you” implies “unlimited grazing rights.” or freedom to trade or barter according to Nahum Sarna. He also observes that to “acquire property” was “the most valuable of the privileges offered, even as it is also a subtle and pointed reminder to Jacob of his present alien and disadvantaged position.”

“Ask me ever so much bridal payment and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; but give me the girl in marriage.” (verse 12) Ask whatever will for the girl as a dowry, says Hamor. Money not an option! The sky is the limit! Only give your daughter that we are holding hostage to my son for a wife! According to Nahum Sarna the amount of the “bridal payment” was “usually a fixed custom. Shechem's indicated readiness to pay far beyond that constitutes a tacit recognition of the need to make reparations.” Sarna says the “gift” was separate from the “bridal payment” and corresponded “to the Akkadian...ceremonial gifts made to the bride's family, called migdanot in 24:53.” Hamor was willing to do whatever was necessary to make things right and make this marriage take place. It must have been his habitual manner of life to overindulge his son, Shechem, thus making him the egotistical sociopath that he had become.

“But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor with deceit, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.” (verse 13) It was with amazing swiftness and alacrity that the sons of Israel cooked up this murderous plan of vengeful deceit. Their excessive vengefulness was driven not only by the fact that Dinah had been physically and forcefully brutalized and humiliated by Shechem, but also the lingering affect of “defilement” which rendered he “unclean” on the spiritual and ceremonial level. Three separate times in the text the word “defiled” is used (verses 5, 13, 27) emphasizing the deplorable lingering affects of Shechem's outrageous crime.

“We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us.” (verse 14) There was certainly the element of truth in this statement because “Genesis 17:9-14 makes circumcision the indispensable precondition for admittance into the community of Israel.” (Nahum Sarna) But the sons of Israel only used this technicality as a convenient method of incapacitating the men of the city so they would be defenseless against the swords of Simeon and Levi as they were recuperating from surgery (verse 25).

“Only on this condition will we consent to you: if you will become like us, in that every male of you be circumcised, then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and become one people.” (verses 15-16) Hamor and Shechem wanted this arrangement so badly that they went for it. They convinced the men of the city to go along with the painful procedure of circumcision and pitched it so well that they even made it seem “reasonable” to them (verse 18), if you can imagine that! What were the motivations behind this ridiculous agreement? On one side it was rage and revenge and on the other it was lust and greed (verses 23-24). This confluence of raw emotion and raging hormones had all the makings for a catastrophe of biblical proportions!

With all due respect for the broken heart of a worried and grieving father, Jacob was still not the complete leader that he needed to be for his family and future nation. He should have stepped in and stopped this foolishness even if he was unaware of what Simeon and Levi had purposed to do. He knew that he would never allow for the intermarriage of his children with these heathen Canaanites, and if that actually was an option for him, something drastic did need to happen to prevent such a forbidden and ungodly union. Abraham had banned his servant from taking a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanites (Genesis 24:3), and Isaac had done the same for Jacob (Genesis 28:1). Either Israel was not quite in his right mind at this moment or he was struggling to be decisive and resolute at a time of extreme stress and crisis.

“But if you will not listen to us to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go.” (verse 17) You either do what we say or we are all out of here! The plan was, indeed, to take Dinah and go, but they would leave much carnage in their wake. Dinah was being held against her will at Shechem's house (verse 26), and her brothers would spring her out at the most advantageous moment. Perhaps the brothers did believe that their best shot of successfully extracting their sister from her confinement was to render all the soldiers of the city immobile, but it wasn't necessary to slaughter the lot of them to pull it off.

Please read Genesis 34:18-24 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 34:1-7

Saturday, February 29, 2020

“Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force. He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, 'Get me this young girl for a wife.' Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in. Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Things were finally looking up and going right for Jacob. After twenty years of double-dealing, he was finally able to escape clutches of his domineering father-in-law. He had wrestled and prevailed against God's angel and received a new name for his efforts—Israel. He feared the worst kind of confrontation with Esau, but it turned out to be a peaceful reunion. His brother greeted him with an embrace and a kiss and he reentered Canaan a changed man. Genesis 33:18 tells us that “Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem”. He had even made a good choice here, by camping “before the city” (Genesis 33:18). This was a pagan society and Jacob chose to live in a tent outside the city gates. "He erected an altar there and called it El-Elohe-Israel"—“God the God of Israel” (Genesis 33:20). Jacob was no longer the childish deceiver but “Israel,” the prince of God. Unfortunately bad things happen to good people, and that is just the way life goes sometimes. Of all the turmoil that Jacob had endured in his life, his stent in Shechem turned out to be the most turbulent and disturbing of them all.

“Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.” (verse 1) Dinah was probably a teenager at this time. She had several brothers, eleven in total, but she wanted some female companionship, and she went looking for it. She was young, naïve and vulnerable and unescorted in a foreign land. She had either chosen to sneak out of her tent or she was not well supervised. She went out to "visit” or "see"— literally "to look with delight" upon the “daughters of the land.” Whether this was innocent curiosity or sinful intent is debatable, but either way she got much more than she bargained for.

“When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force.” (verse 2) The prince of Shechem, named Shechem himself, caught a glimpse of Dinah, and he liked what he saw. He was so obsessed with her that he took her and forced himself upon her against her will. Even though this thing happened long ago and far away, there are lessons here for all of us to learn. Sometimes things can seem so innocent and still be so dangerous. Surely just a stroll through the city seemed such a harmless thing and no big deal at all, but boy was Dinah ever wrong about that. There are predators in world and they come in all sorts and sizes and we need to be careful when we are out and about in big city, and not take unnecessary chances. We also need to exercise care that loneliness, boredom or discontentment does not lead us into places that we do not want or need to be. One careless, thoughtless, senseless moment can change a life forever, and in this case it was actually hundreds of lives.

“He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her.” (verse 3) It seems pretty ridiculous that Shechem “spoke tenderly,” or literally “spoke to the heart” of this young girl after he brutalized her, but evidently he tried to smooth things over and whisper sweet nothings to Dinah to win her hand in marriage. “This narrative exemplifies, once again, a major theme of the patriarchal stories: the sexual depravity of the inhabitants of the land. This has been illustrated by the accounts of Lot and the men of Sodom and by the repeated threats to the matriarchs Sarah and Rebekah.” (Nahum Sarna) “So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, 'Get me this young girl for a wife.'” (verse 4) Maybe Shechem was remorseful and truly wanted to do right by Dinah, but his rash and violent action driven by his sense of self entitlement was just unredeemable. He asked his father to arrange his marriage to Dinah with her father Israel, and Hamor obliged him.

“Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in.” (verse 5) Jacob held his peace when heard about the heinous thing that had happened to his daughter. This may seem odd, but the truth is that there was very little he could have done about it without risking the welfare of the rest of his family. He was a stranger living in a foreign land, and the only law seemed be that there were no laws. He remained quiet until sons came home. “The need to exercise restraint, pending the arrival of his sons, is understandable, but his passivity throughout the entire incident is remarkable.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him.” (verse 6) “Apparently, Hamor arrives before the brothers and is left cooling his heels until they come home. Shechem has accompanied his father but judiciously remains in the background until it is opportune for him to enter the picture.” (Nahum Sarna) It was Hamor's intentions to negotiate the terms of a marital agreement for his son with Israel, but he had not the slightest idea that he was walking right into a web of deceit woven by the sons of Jacob that would end up costing his own life and that of his son, and the lives of all of the adult males of the entire city.

“Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved...” (verse 7) When Jacob's sons learned what had happened to their sister, the were understandably grieved and furious. But grief and fury make for a very dangerous combination that often leads to desperation and to people doing the most regrettable and disgraceful things. With Simeon and Levi it was more about revenge than desperation, and they cooked up a plot that was the recipe for disaster. “And they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.” The word for “disgraceful” is “a powerful term describing offenses of such profound abhorrence that they threaten to tear apart the fabric of Israelite society. For society's own self-protection, such atrocities can never be tolerated or left unpunished.” (Nahum Sarna) While this may be true, the punishment exacted in this instance greatly surpassed the severity of the crime committed.

Please read Genesis 34:8-17 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 33:15-20

Friday, February 28, 2020

“Esau said, 'Please let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.' But he said, 'What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.' So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth. Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and camped before the city. He bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“'Esau said, 'Please let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.'” (verse 15) When Esau offered to leave some of his men behind to provide protection for Jacob's caravan, he appreciated the offer, but said it really wasn't necessary (“What need is there?”) “Esau having offered some of his men to be his guard and convoy, Jacob humbly refuses his offer. He is under the divine protection, and needs no other. Those are sufficiently guarded who have God for their guard, and are under a convoy of his hosts, as Jacob was. Jacob adds only, Let me find grace in the sight of my lord — Having thy favour, I have all I need, all I desire from thee.” (Benson Commentary)

“So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir.” (verse 16) Jacob and Esau had parted ways as enemies two decades earlier, but this time they separated the way that family members always should—as beloved brothers. Esau “now fades from the scene of recorded history, reappearing briefly for Isaac's funeral (35:29). Esau's genealogies are given in chapter 36.” (Nahum Sarna) “We have both 'land of Seir,' (Genesis 32:3; 36:50 ) and 'Mount Seir.' (Genesis 14:6) It is the original name of the mountain range extending along the east side of the valley of Arabah, from the Dead Sea to the Elanitic, Gulf. The Horites appear to have been the chief of the aboriginal inhabitants, (Genesis 36:20) but it was ever afterward the possession of the Edomites, the descendants of Esau. The Mount Seir of the Bible extended much farther south than the modern province, as is shown by the words of (Deuteronomy 2:1-8) It had the Arabah on the west, vs. 1 and 8; it extended as far south as the head of the Gulf of Akabah, ver. 8; its eastern border ran along the base of the mountain range where the plateau of Arabia begins. Its northern, order is not so accurately determined. There is a line of 'naked' white hills or cliffs which run across the great valley about eight miles south of the Dead Sea, the highest eminence being Mount Hor, which is 4800 feet high.” (Smith's Bible Dictionary online)

“Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth.” (verse 17) We might be familiar with the word “Succoth” because of the Hebrew Feast of Booths, Tents or Tabernacles (Sukkot) that commemorated Israel's forty year wilderness wandering when they lived as nomads in tents. “No sooner has Esau departed southward for Seir than Jacob turns northward, recrossing the Jabbok. Judges 8:5,8 show that Succoth was quite near Penuel, but much closer to the Jordan. Jacob obviously wishes to position himself on the east-west road that connected Canaan with the major north-south artery that led from Damascus.” (Nahum Sarna) Jacob may have made tents for the cattle because it was winter if they had young calves. He remained there an undisclosed duration of time, maybe two years, and then departed for Shechem

“Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and camped before the city.” (verse 18) After having spent the night in Bethel where God revealed Himself to Jacobin a dream, “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God.'” (Genesis 28:20-21) Upon delivering Jacob back to his native land “safely,” the Lord had made good on all of Jacob's conditions. “Abraham similarly made this city of Shechem his first goal when he entered the land. There he built the first altar, and there he received the first divine promise that his offspring would inherit the land (12:7).” (Nahum Sarna)

“He bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money.” (verse 19) Having acquired a plot of land from the Hamor, his first purchase in the land of promise, it appears that Israel intended to put down roots in Shechem and stay for a while. “This is an expression of faith in God's promise that his descendants would inherit the land.” (Nahum Sarna) He purchased the property for “one hundred pieces of money,” or “hesitahs.” “The exact price is given, as in the case of the purchase of Machpelah in chapter 23, because the real estate is to be acquired in perpetuity and the sale must be final and incontestable.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.” (verse 20) The meaning of this name is “Mighty is the God of Israel,” or “God is the God of Israel.” It is an uncertainty as to just how long Jacob (Israel) stayed in Shechem. Some people suggest ten to twelve years., but one thing is for certain in light of the events of the next chapter—however long he stayed was too long! We know from the Gospel accounts in the New Testament that Jacob did something in Shechem that had great significance for Jesus—he dug a well there. Christ Himself sat on the edge of that well and taught a Samaritan woman about the true meaning life and the “living water” that only the Savior could provide (John chapter 4)!

Please read Genesis 34:1-7 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 33:8-14

Thursday, February 27, 2020

“And he said, 'What do you mean by all this company which I have met?' And he said, 'To find favor in the sight of my lord.' But Esau said, 'I have plenty, my brother; let what you have be your own.' Jacob said, 'No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand, for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably. Please take my gift which has been brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me and because I have plenty.' Thus he urged him and he took it. Then Esau said, 'Let us take our journey and go, and I will go before you.' But he said to him, 'My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds which are nursing are a care to me. And if they are driven hard one day, all the flocks will die. Please let my lord pass on before his servant, and I will proceed at my leisure, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“What do you mean by all this company which I have met?” (verse 9) After the emotions of the tearful reunion had subsided, Esau broached the subject of the stuff that Jacob had sent him in wave after wave. He knew that they were “presents” from his brother because each servant was instructed to tell Esau, 'These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau'” (Genesis 32:18). At this point Esau wanted to know the point of the gifts and what Jacob had “meant by all” of it. And Jacob responded in all candor that they were “to find favor in the sight” of his brother. He made no bones about the fact that he wanted to mitigate the animosity between them and purchase Esau's good favor.

“But Esau said, 'I have plenty...” (verse 9) “The etiquette of the East requires Esau to make a show of refusing the gift and Jacob to press it on him. To all outward appearances, the recipient accepts reluctantly.” (Nahum Sarna) “My brother; let what you have be your own.” “Beneath the surface meaning lies, perhaps, Esau's final concession of the birthright.” (Nahum Sarna) Even though Esau eventually capitulated and accepted the gifts, he let Jacob know that he really didn't owe him anything. He was obviously a prominent person and wealthy in his own right, as indicated by the large regiment of men who followed him and were likely employed by him, so he had done quite well in spite of the loss of the final fatherly blessing and all the perks that went along with it.

“Jacob said, 'No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand...'” (verse 10) In the Orient, the acceptance of a gift is understood to be a pledge of friendship. If Esau had refused to accept the present, Jacob would never had been able to settle his family in confidence and peace. A refusal by Esau would have been tantamount to a smack in the face and an expression of continued animosity. “For I see your face as one sees the face of God.” When Esau smiled down upon Jacob's kneeling frame and fell upon his neck in an affectionate embrace, Jacob saw God's hand of providence working mightily through it all. “It is in a manner as pleasant a sight to me as the sight of God himself, because in thy reconciled face I see the face and favour of God thus manifested unto me.” (Matthew Poole's Commentary)

“Please take my gift which has been brought to you...” (verse 11) “By a change in terminology from Hebrew minhah, previously used five times, to berakhah, 'blessing, gift,' Jacob signals to Esau that the present is in a way a reparation for the purloining of the paternal blessing twenty years earlier. On that occasion both Isaac and Esau had used the identical Hebrew phrase now employed by Jacob (27:35,36), but in the other sense of taking away the blessing.” (Nahum Sarna) “Because God has dealt graciously with me and because I have plenty.” Esau had previously said “I have plenty” (verse 9) which means “much,” but the word that Jacob used rendered as “plenty” means “all” or “everything”. With the abundance that the Lord had bestowed upon him combined with kindness that Esau had extended toward him, Jacob saw himself as a person in possession of blessings that meant the whole world.

“Then Esau said, 'Let us take our journey and go, and I will go before you.'” (verse 12) “Esau assumes that Jacob had been on his way to pay him a visit, so he suggests that they travel together.” (Nahum Sarna) Esau offered his younger brother and his family an armed escort, but this would probably have been a source of embarrassment to Jacob, and friction could have arisen between Jacob’s servants and Esau’s men as well. Jacob insisted that the going would have been way to slow with the children and the animals and all (verse 13), so it would be best for them to go it alone rather than to slow down Esau's progress. He did, however, promise to keep in touch and visit Esau at his home in “Seir” just as soon as time permitted (verse 14)! Our God is an awesome God!

Please read Genesis 33:15-20 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 33:1-7

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

“Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. He put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. He lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, 'Who are these with you?' So he said, 'The children whom God has graciously given your servant.' Then the maids came near with their children, and they bowed down. Leah likewise came near with her children, and they bowed down; and afterward Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed down.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him.” (verse 1) No sooner than the sun had arisen and the angel departed, Jacob looked up and, lo and behold, Esau and his army were within sight. There was not much time for Jacob to process everything that had just previously happened and to gather himself for the potential confrontation. All Jacob had time to do was trust in God's grace and goodness and protection and put his previously conceived plan into motion. “The earlier division of his personnel and effects, mentioned in 32:8, was a tactical precaution in case of flight. Nothing is said there of the members of Jacob's immediate family. The present act is solely a matter of arranging mothers with their respective children for formal presentation to Esau.” (Nahum Sarna)

“He put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.” (verse 2) Jacob “divided” his family into groups, and sent them in waves toward Esau and his men, much as he had done with the various gifts of livestock herds. Jacob actually made himself more vulnerable to his brother by revealing his heart to him with this arrangement. He either arranged his women and children in this fashion to provide the greatest safety measures for Rachel and Joseph, or merely to demonstrate his love by “saving the best for last.” Either way you look at it, if Esau had been of a mind to inflict the greatest amount of damage to the brother who had deceived him, Rachel and Joseph were made the most likely targets for his wrath by Jacob's tactics.

“But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.” (verse 3) Jacob, as the leader of his family, faced the music alone and faced his potential opponent decisively and directly. Even though he “bowed down” to Esau and his vastly superior forces, there is no indication in the context that he did so with a heart filled with terror for the possible outcome. Jacob likely bowed then advanced and did so “seven times” in succession until he came near unto his brother. “The Hebrew verb denotes the full-length proneness of the body as a symbol of submission to a superior authority... There is a measure of irony in the situation, for it is the exact reversal of the blessing that Jacob extracted from his father and that led to his flight from Esau's wrath: 'Be master over your brothers,/And let your mother's sons bow to you' (27:29).” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” (verse 4) While it is likely that the multiple waves of gifts helped to soften Esau's heart to some degree, that does not solely explain the complete about face of Esau's attitude toward his brother and the subsequent emotional outpouring. In spite of the man that Esau was (or at least had previously been) and all the spitefulness that had transpired between these two extremely dissimilar twin brothers, Esau had love in his heart for his brother. The passing of time, no doubt, helped to assuage Esau's anger and resentment, and the twenty years of separation helped to make his heart grow fonder. All Jacob's worrying and fretting and wrestling were likely unnecessary wastes of emotional energy, because Esau had already forgiven him in his heart. It seems obvious the Lord had not only been working on Jacob for the previous two decades but had also been active in Esau's life as well.

“He lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, 'Who are these with you?'” (verse 5) Esau was eager to meet the family he had not been previously aware that he had—his sisters-in-law and nephews and niece. It seems that Esau had really gotten his priorities straightened out since the last time we read about him because he wanted to know about the people first before asking about all the “stuff” that Jacob had offered him later. “So he said, 'The children whom God has graciously given your servant.'” Jacob recognized that children are a wonderful gift from the Lord and that he was extremely blessed to have his quiver full. “Then the maids came near with their children, and they bowed down. Leah likewise came near with her children, and they bowed down; and afterward Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed down.” (verse 6-7) What a difference two decades can make in the lives and hearts of two flawed and foolish men. Everybody loves a happy ending, and the mental images of this tender scene cannot help but evoke feelings of warmth and delight.

Please read Genesis 33:8-14 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 32:22-32

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

“Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had. Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, 'Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.' But he said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' So he said to him, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Jacob.' He said, 'Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.' Then Jacob asked him and said, 'Please tell me your name.' But he said, 'Why is it that you ask my name?' And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, 'I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.' Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then he said, 'Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” (verse 26) Before confronting his brother who was advancing toward him in company with an army, Jacob wrestled with an angel of the Lord from some point in the wee hours of the morning “until daybreak” (verse 24). It appears that the two contestants had grappled to a draw by the time the sun had begun to arise. The angel tried to escape before the full light of the new day, but Jacob desperately clung to him and he couldn't shake him off for anything. Much speculation has been made as to the reasons why the angel desired to depart before dawn, and here are three of the more believable ones: 1) Esau was quickly approaching and Jacob needed to make that his focus. 2) The angel did not want there to be any spectators to witness the wrestling match. 3) The angel did not want Jacob to clearly see his face or physical form.

“But he said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'” (verse 26) Jacob hung on for dear life because he knew he needed God’s blessing more than ever. He had been struggling all his life—against his father, against his brother, against his father-in-law—but the struggle had always really been against the Lord. He was just too tired to struggle any longer, so he prevailed by surrendering and pleading for a blessing that only God could give and give willingly. This was the struggle that really served as a spiritual awakening for the patriarch. He was defeated and powerless to go on fighting, so he just clung to God and would not let go. If he had ever been convinced that he could snatch God's blessing away from Him, he realized now through his humbled, broken will that he must accept it as a gift of God's grace. “Jacob's sense of his total debility and utter defeat is now the secret of his power with his friendly vanquisher. He can overthrow all the prowess of the self-reliant, but he cannot resist the earnest entreaty of the helpless.” (Barnes' Notes on the Bible)

“He said, 'Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” (verse 28) “It is the bestowal of the new name that constitutes the essence of the blessing and the climax of the entire episode. Jacob had feared for his posterity; now is tacitly assured that he will become the patriarch of a nation named Israel.” (Nahum Sarna) “Israel. That is, He who striveth with God, or, God striveth. The name is clearly a title of victory, from a root meaning 'to persevere.' The meaning seems here to be applied to Jacob as 'the perseverer with God.'” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) “Israel.—That is, a prince of God, or, one powerful with God... a change has now come over Jacob’s character, and he is henceforth no longer the crafty schemer who was ever plotting for his own advantage, but one humble and penitent, who can trust himself and all he has in God’s hands.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) The heel-catcher became the Prince of God.

“Then Jacob asked him and said, 'Please tell me your name.' But he said, 'Why is it that you ask my name?'” (verse 29) After Jacob's vanquisher had bestowed a new, meaningful name upon him, Israel then had the temerity to ask his otherworldly “opponent” what his name was. The angel's response seems to imply that his name was of no consequence to anything. What mattered was that Israel live up to his name and honor the perfect name of the Lord God of heaven who had delivered him out of all his troubles. “So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, 'I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.'” (verse 30) “Peniel” literally means the “face of God. Jacob was facing the most serious threat of his life and to the future of all God's plans through him and his seed. Like Hagar who had seen the angel of the Lord in the wilderness on the way to Shur, when she said, “'You are a God who sees'; for she said, 'Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?'” (Genesis 16:13). No one can look upon the full glory of the Lord and survive the ordeal (Exodus 19:21; 24:11; 33:20; Deuteronomy 5:24). This statement may imply that he actually did see the angel's face clearly in the light of the dawning sun, and equated it with the face of the Lord.

“Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh.” (verse 31) It has been argued that this fight was merely a metaphorical battle fought in Jacob's mind, or merely a vision or dream emblematic of his struggles against the Lord to do His will. But this was obviously real hand-to-hand combat because Jacob walked away with a limp that he kept for the remainder of his life. If this was merely some sort of reverie, what a dream it truly was! “Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.” (verse 32) “The Compiler adds this note, which explains the Israelite custom of abstaining from eating the muscle in an animal, corresponding to the muscle, or sinew, in the thigh of Jacob that was touched by God: it was regarded as sacred... No mention of this practice of ritual abstinence occurs in the Levitical law; but it is referred to in the Talmud...” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

Please read Genesis 33:1-7 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 32:22-32

Monday, February 24, 2020

“Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had. Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, 'Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.' But he said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' So he said to him, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Jacob.' He said, 'Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.' Then Jacob asked him and said, 'Please tell me your name.' But he said, 'Why is it that you ask my name?' And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, 'I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.' Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.” (verse 22) Jacob was obviously in a state of restless agitation, so he arose “that same night” and transported his whole family and “whatever he had,” that is, all his belongings, to the other side of the river. “Only the principal actors in the evolution of the nation are specified because Jacob is about become Israel, the personification of the tribal confederation. That is why Dinah and the rest of the household are not mentioned.” (Nahum Sarna) “Ford Jabbok—now the Zerka—a stream that rises among the mountains of Gilead, and running from east to west, enters the Jordan, about forty miles south of the Sea of Tiberias. At the ford it is ten yards wide. It is sometimes forded with difficulty; but in summer it is very shallow.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary) “His tactic, apparently, is to reduce the interval between Esau's encountering the gifts and his own arrival heralded by the messengers, each in turn... He does not want to convey the impression that he is trying to avoid or delay a face-to-face meeting.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.” (verse 24) There has been much speculation made as to the nature of this “man” that Jacob wrestled with, and the nature of the confrontation and reason it was necessary. Hosea 12:3-4 reveals a great deal about the character of this mysterious being: “In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor.” A popular belief is that this “man” was actually the preincarnate Christ, but it seems highly unlikely to me. While Hosea seemed to call this individual “God,” he clearly referred to him as an “angel,” and the author in Hebrews chapter one exerts great efforts to refute the idea that Jesus was an angel. The purpose of Jacob's third angelic visitation was the Lord's further and ultimate attempt to encourage him during some of the darkest and most uncertain hours of his life. The Lord had sent a host angels to encourage Jacob at Mahanaim as he traveled back to the place of his birth (verse 1-2). Now, frightened out mind at the prospect of confronting his estranged brother and the enormous military outfit that accompanied him, God comes to him by means of an angel in human form to firmly establish Jacob’s faith at this pivotal, crossroads moment in his life.

“Here we have the record of one of the most important events in the history of human redemption. Jacob, the head of the Messianic line through whom the CHRIST would come was facing the most serious threat of his whole life. 'If Esau had been victorious here, all of God's plans and promises would have been defeated, and the world would never have had a Savior.' It was this crisis nature of the situation that required and justified God's personal intervention to establish and confirm Jacob's faith.” (James Burton Coffman) “The word for 'wrestled,' yêâbêk, is very possibly intended to be a play on the name of the river Jabbok as if it meant 'twisting.' In Genesis 32:28, and in Hosea 12:4, a different word, 'to strive,' is used for the 'wrestling' of Jacob. It is this scene of 'wrestling' which has become, in the language of spiritual experience, the classical symbol for 'agonizing” in prayer.'” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.” (verse 25) Obviously this exceptionally stronger supernatural being could easily have overpowered and defeated Jacob, so his intention was not to defeat him, but to demonstrate his powerlessness to extract a blessing through superior physical or mental prowess. Jacob had bought his brother's birthright for a bowl of broth, had stolen his paternal blessing through trickery and deceit, but this blessing he wrestled God for must be one willingly bestowed upon him. The word for “touched” is the same as that used for God's special touch in affecting a thing in a purposeful way. In Amos 9:5 we read, “The Lord God of hosts, the One who touches the land so that it melts, and all those who dwell in it mourn, and all of it rises up like the Nile and subsides like the Nile of Egypt.” 1 Samuel 10:26 says as well that, “Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him.” The Lord's angel “touched” Jacob's thigh for the purpose of melting his heart in such a way that would spiritually empower him and instill within him a higher and more noble purpose for living.

Let's stay with these verses again for tomorrow.

Please reread Genesis 32:22-32.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 32:13-21

Sunday, February 23, 2020

“So he spent the night there. Then he selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milking camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. He delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, 'Pass on before me, and put a space between droves.' He commanded the one in front, saying, 'When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, saying, “To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these animals in front of you belong?” then you shall say, “These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.”' Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the droves, saying, 'After this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; and you shall say, “Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.”' For he said, 'I will appease him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.' So the present passed on before him, while he himself spent that night in the camp.'

---End of Scripture verses---

“So he spent the night there. Then he selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau.” (verse 13) Jacob spent the night at Mahanaim, but it is doubtful that much of it was accompanied by the sweet repose of slumber. The Lord did not dispatch a battalion of angels this time to alleviate his fears. Instead, Jacob passed at least a portion of that evening concocting a plan to overwhelm his estranged brother with presents in the hopes of placating his anger and currying his favor. Immediately upon hearing the startling news that Esau was approaching with 400 men, Jacob's knee-jerk reaction was to divide all his people and animals into two companies in order to minimize his potential losses (verses 7-8). But after quieting his mind in prayer (verse 9-12), during the wee hours of that night spent at Mahanaim, he conceived a more imaginative and detailed game plan for dealing with his brother.

In order to find favor in his brother's sight (verse 5) Jacob organized a an elaborate and expensive present for Esau that consisted of at least 550 animals with an estimated modern-day value in the hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollar range. These animals were to be sent in waves, one herd after another, and presented by the hands of his servants to his brother as a token of his esteem. Each servant was to say to Esau that Jacob was right behind him (verse 18), until finally, after the night or tenth wave of animals was received, Jacob himself would appear in the presence of his brother. It would be a temptation to argue that Jacob should have just trusted the Lord would take care of this situation for him, but it could just as easily be argued that God helps those of his servants who use the wisdom and awareness necessary to help themselves.

“Two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milking camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.” (verses 14-15“The numbers here given enable us to form some idea of the great size of Jacob’s caravan. The animals are apparently mentioned in the order of their value, beginning with the least valuable.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) “Jacob combined active exertions with earnest prayer; and this teaches us that we must not depend upon the aid and interposition of God in such a way as to supersede the exercise of prudence and foresight. Superiors are always approached with presents, and the respect expressed is estimated by the quality and amount of the gift. The present of Jacob consisted of five hundred fifty head of cattle, of different kinds, such as would be most prized by Esau. It was a most magnificent present, skillfully arranged and proportioned. The milch camels alone were of immense value; for the she camels form the principal part of Arab wealth; their milk is a chief article of diet; and in many other respects they are of the greatest use.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

“I will appease him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” (verse 20) “The Heb. literally is, he said I will cover his face with the offering that goeth before my face, and afterwards I will see his face; peradventure he will lift up my face. The covering of the face of the offended person, so that he could no longer see the offense, became the usual legal word for making an atonement (Leviticus 9:7). For the 'offering' (Heb., minchah) see Genesis 4:3, and for 'the lifting up of the face,' Genesis 4:7.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) It is clear from the value of this gift that Jacob realized the enormity of the loss that Esau suffered when he “stole” the paternal blessing from him by deception. He did not yet know that the passing of time had healed his brother's mental and emotional wounds, but, even after twenty years had elapsed, the trauma of that atrocious day prevailed lucidly in Jacob's tormented mind.

“So the present passed on before him, while he himself spent that night in the camp.” (verse 21) Maybe catching some fleeting moments of fitful sleep. He spent the night with “himself,” doing some serious soul-searching. It was just Jacob and his hopes and fears, his dreams and demons. This was likely in some ways both the longest and shortest night of his life. He arose that same night to fight the battle of his life, and it was not against Esau and his army.

Please read Genesis 32:22-32 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 32:9-12

Saturday, February 22, 2020

“Jacob said, 'O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ”Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,” I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. For You said, “I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.""

---End of Scripture verses---

“O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac...” (verse 9) Jacob took proactive measures to protect his family from danger to the best of his ability like any mature adult male who is a husband and father would do. But, he knew that the greatest stratagems from the keenest human mind would not be enough to deliver him from the potential juggernaut that was swiftly approaching him. He knew he needed divine intervention. He required solitary time with the great God of heaven, and opportunity to appeal to the only One who could hear his honest expressions of his own inadequacies and his earnest pleas for the safe deliverance of his loved ones. Jacob prayed like he never had before, and the honest, urgent outpourings of heart are very expressive of the great man of faith that he was growing to be.

“In this distress he does not consult the teraphim Rachel had taken from her father; nor does he call upon the hosts of angels that had just appeared to him, to help, protect, and guard him; but to God only, the God of his fathers, who had promised great things to them, and had done great things for them; who was their God in covenant, as he was his also, though he makes no mention of it, and who was heir of the promises made to them, the birthright and blessing being entailed upon him.” (Gill's Expository of the Entire Bible)

“O Lord, who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you.'” (verse 9) Jacob reminded the Lord that leaving Haran and heading back home was all His idea and done according to His timing, and he also made mention of the promises that were given him. Yet this was not an expression of doubt but an indication of his burgeoning faith. “Here was a clear indication that Jacob had in faith both obeyed the command and embraced the promise made known to him in Haran.” (Pulpit Commentary) In essence, Jacob was declaring to God that he had done the things He had commanded, and he was begging Him do that which He had promised.

“I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant...” (verse 10) What a perfect expression of utter humility and complete dependence upon the manifold graces and mercies of his loving Lord. God had expressed his love and loyalty to Jacob in ways too numerous to count and magnificent to express. The Lord sent angels to alleviate his fears, He had protected him from the hand of his autocratic father-in-law, He had bestowed a physical fortune upon him and showered him with the copious love of a large family. And this in spite of the fact that Jacob had been a treacherous, lying cheat himself. Of course the patriarch had made great spiritual strides since then, but he was fully aware that his faithfulness didn't merit for him the Lord's rich blessings, mercy and protection. He was undeserving and he knew it, and that is a great place to be spiritually. God can accomplish wonderful things in the life of one with such a humble heart as this.

“For with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies.” (verse 10) “Standing on the banks of the Jabbok, he can point to the Jordan clearly visible in the distance.” (Nahum Sarna) Jacob left home with nothing, and returned home with an abundance. But his words give the impression that He was completely cognizant of the fact that his riches did not define him or perfect him. Like the Apostle Paul, he found and stored up his greatest treasure in heaven's repository. “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” (1 Timothy 6:6-7)

“Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him...” (verse 11) The Lord Jesus teaches us to ask the Father to “deliver us from the evil one” in His model prayer, and Jacob believed he was about to confront the greatest evil of his life. He knew he needed the deliverance that he was incapable of providing for himself and that of “the mothers with the children.” Jacob readily admitted the simple truth of the matter: he was afraid. Time and again the Lord encourages us in His word to “fear not”. But that's because He knows all too well how prone to fear that each one of us is. Just like Jacob, when we are frightened for any reason, the best course of action to take is to honestly confess that to our Father in heaven and petition Him to alleviate our fears. “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

“For You said, 'I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.'” Jacob was not doubting the Lord's faithfulness, he was appealing to it. God had promised to deliver him home safely and to prosper him greatly, and he was letting Him know that he was really depending on that. If the Lord was going to make good on His promise to make his descendants too numerous to count, he was counting on Him to protect the offspring He had blessed him with, and through which he desired that pledge to be fulfilled.

Please read Genesis 32:13-21 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 32:1-8

Friday, February 21, 2020

“Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. Jacob said when he saw them, 'This is God’s camp.' So he named that place Mahanaim. Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He also commanded them saying, 'Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: “Thus says your servant Jacob, 'I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now; I have oxen and donkeys and flocks and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.'”' The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, 'We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.' Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies; for he said, 'If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape.'

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him.” (verse 1) Twenty years earlier the Lord had encouraged Jacob with a dream about a ladder (or staircase) standing upon the earth and reaching into heaven, and angels were ascending and descending upon that ladder. Now God sends a host of angels to “meet” him and encourage him. Neither a description is given of them nor is a word spoken by these heavenly messengers, but their silent tidings sent a powerful message. The angelic visitations directly before and after Jacob's lengthy ordeal with Laban constitute a promise and a reminder of the Lord's continuous safekeeping. “For you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:9-11)

“''This is God’s camp.' So he named that place Mahanaim.” (verse 2) “'This word is a dual form meaning, "two hosts" or "bands." The visible band was Jacob and his servants; the invisible band (momentarily visible to Jacob) was that of the angels.' 'Mahanaim was later a distinguished city, situated just north of the Jabbok, and the name and remains are still preserved in a place called Mahneh.' The two great enemies confronted by Jacob were Laban in the land of his long servitude, and Esau in the land to which he returned. The visions at the beginning of each confrontation assured Jacob of God's blessing and protection.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.” (verse 3) Emboldened by the celestial epiphany, Jacob took the initiative to arrange for a meeting with his estranged brother, Esau. It had been two decades since he had fled from the fury of his older brother after having stolen his paternal blessing, but as far as Jacob knew, Esau still harbored a grudge toward him. Jacob intended to make it clear that he was actively seeking a friendly reunion, and that he had amassed a great fortune of his own, that he required nothing from Esau or the family estate, and in fact, was now in a position to greatly compensate his slighted brother for his prior losses. Jacob informed his “messengers” to tell his brother, “I have oxen and donkeys and flocks and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight”' (verse 5)

“The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, 'We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.'” (verse 6) Jacob's messengers returned to inform him that they had indeed conferred with Esau, and that, as a matter of fact, his brother was presently and personally on his way to visit him—with an army!!! Not good!!! It was no wonder at all that “Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed” (verse 7)! You can imagine that Jacob expected the very worst and that horrible thoughts were rifling through his tormented mind. The last word that Jacob had heard concerning his enraged sibling was that he desired to kill him (Genesis 27:42), and now it looked like he finally had the opportunity and intentions to make good on that aspiration!

“He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies.” (verse 8) Upon the acquisition of the disquieting news, Jacob immediately proceeded to do two things. First, he divided his entourage into two companies (two camps – Mahanaim) with the hopes of secreting at least half of his family safely away from harm. Second, he prayed like crazy (verses 9-12)! Lord willing, we will see from tomorrow's reading of the words of his prayer that Jacob the deceiver had undergone great changes for the better since his last encounter with Esau.

Please read Genesis 32:9-12 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 31:43-55

Thursday, February 20, 2020

“Then Laban replied to Jacob, 'The daughters are my daughters, and the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne? So now come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.' Then Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. Jacob said to his kinsmen, 'Gather stones.' So they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Now Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. Laban said, 'This heap is a witness between you and me this day.' Therefore it was named Galeed, and Mizpah, for he said, 'May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other. If you mistreat my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.' Laban said to Jacob, 'Behold this heap and behold the pillar which I have set between you and me. This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this heap to you for harm, and you will not pass by this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.' So Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac. Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his kinsmen to the meal; and they ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain. Early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The daughters are my daughters, and the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine.” (verse 43) “Now publicly exposed as the scoundrel, Laban lamely tries to cover his loss of face with empty rhetoric that has no legal force behind it, only emotion. It is as though he is saying, 'All the same, were it not for me, you would still be a nobody possessing nothing. Besides, how could you think I might harm my own offspring.” (Nahum Sarna) Another way to look at “But what can I do this day to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne?” is that Laban has finally realized that he is helpless to do a single thing about Jacob taking “his family” away from him.

“So now come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.” (verse 44) “To show good faith, Laban now proposes that he and Jacob conclude a pact of mutual non-aggression. By so doing, he capitulates to reality. In legal terms, it means that he tacitly acknowledges Jacob as constituting a separate, independent social entity of equal status. This is reflected in the narrative in several ways: there are two stone markers, two meals, two place-names; the deity is twice invoked, and by two separate names. Moreover, the pact contains two provisions—one dealing with family matters, the other of a political nature. The first seeks to protect the interests of Laban's two daughters in a foreign land, the second delineates the boundary between the two ethnic groups.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Now Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed.” (verse 47) “Each party uses his native language, indicating the broader interethnic implications, an accommodation between the Hebrews and the Arameans.” (Nahum Sarna) “Jegar-sahadutha.—These are two Syriac words of the same meaning as Gal-’eed, Heap of Witness. A Syriac (or Aramaic) dialect was most probably the ordinary language of the people in Mesopotamia, but it seems plain that Laban and his family also spoke Hebrew, not merely from his calling the place Mizpah, a Hebrew word, but from the names given by his daughters to their children.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“And Mizpah, for he said, 'May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other.” (verse 49) The word “Mitzpah” means “Watchtower”. It appears to be a name of Laban's choosing, but if anyone needed to have his every move watched it was certainly Laban the lowdown liar! “What Laban meant by his statement was, 'May God watch you, when I can't!... This covenant arose out of mutual suspicion and sought protection not for the other but for themselves from the other's malice.'" (James Burton Coffman quoting Meredith G. Kline)

“ If you mistreat my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.” (verse 50) It is obvious that Laban didn't approve of anyone abusing his beloved daughters besides himself! If only Laban had realized that the Lord had been watching every despicable move that he had ever made, what a different person he might have turned out to be, and what completely different tune the song of his life and the lives of his daughters would have produced!

“This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this heap to you for harm, and you will not pass by this heap and this pillar to me, for harm.” (verse 52) “Objects of nature were frequently thus spoken of. But over and above, there was a solemn appeal to God; and it is observable that there was a marked difference in the religious sentiments of the two. Laban spake of the God of Abraham and Nahor, their common ancestors; but Jacob, knowing that idolatry had crept in among that branch of the family, swore by the 'fear of his father Isaac.'” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary) “It is evident that the covenant meant two different things to the participants. To Jacob, it was a victory; to Laban it was a face-saving device.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 32:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 31:33-42

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

“So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddle, and she sat on them. And Laban felt through all the tent but did not find them. She said to her father, 'Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is upon me.' So he searched but did not find the household idols. Then Jacob became angry and contended with Laban; and Jacob said to Laban, 'What is my transgression? What is my sin that you have hotly pursued me? Though you have felt through all my goods, what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two. These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten the rams of your flocks. That which was torn of beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it myself. You required it of my hand whether stolen by day or stolen by night. Thus I was: by day the heat consumed me and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock, and you changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them.” (verse 33) With Jacob's permission a frantic search began. Laban personally and methodically examined all the tents in Jacob's entourage for his stolen idols, saving Rachel's lodgings for last. Maybe Laban left Rachel for last because he suspected her least, but the suspense escalated, at least in the perpetrator's mind, as he gradually and unsuccessfully sifted his way through the belongings of everyone else.

“Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddle, and she sat on them” (verse 34) “The woman's riding-saddle was commonly made of wicker-work and had the appearance of a basket or cradle. It was usually covered with carpet, and protected against wind, rain, and sun by means of a canopy and curtains, while light was admitted by openings in the side.” (Pulpit Commentary) But that would provide no protection or privacy had her father insisted she stand up and move aside that he might leave no stone (or saddle) unturned. But not to worry. Papa's girl was just as adept at the art of deception as dear ole dad!

“She said to her father, 'Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is upon me.'” (verse 35) This was really a brilliant ruse that would, no doubt, have done her daddy proud had he not been the victim of it. Men typically viewed menstruating women in ancient times and Eastern cultures as unclean, defiling anything that they came in contact with. Surely Rachel dare not come near, let alone SIT ON his precious, “sacred” idols! Some powerful gods these trinkets turned out to be, both pilfered and defiled! The only thing Laban accomplished for his otherwise futile efforts was to loosen and sharpen Jacob’s tongue after twenty years of pent up misery and frustration!

“Then Jacob became angry and contended with Laban.” (verse 36) Jacob seized upon the opportunity to unleash his indignation toward his unscrupulous father-in-law. “What is my sin that you have hotly pursued me?” In Jacob's mind, there was simply no justification for tracking him down like a fugitive from the law when, in fact (he thought), no crime was committed against Laban and no sin was committed against the Lord. “What have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two.” (verse 37) “Jacob believes that Laban used the issue of the terafim as a pretext and that he really suspected his son-in-law of stealing much more from him... Jacob calls upon the kinsmen of each side to form a tribunal and to decide which of the rivals is the real thief.” (Nahum Sarna)

Jacob, in his self-defense and righteous indignation, went on to plead the case for his personal integrity and his strenuous and loyal service over the prior two decades. He had worked with a diligent yet tender hand in the birthing of Laban's lambs, and refused to expend a single ram of his flock for his own, personal consumption (verse 38). Jacob restored to Laban any animal that was lost through predation or theft. “'According to Hammurabi's laws, a shepherd who presented the remnants (of a sheep torn by a wild beast) as evidence, was not liable for the losses that Jacob described.' The prophet Amos made mention of shepherds retrieving just such evidence in Amos 3:12, indicating that it was a well-established custom that in such cases, the owner of the flock, not the shepherd, made good the loss. Laban had thus exceeded his lawful rights in requiring of Jacob that he bear the loss of all animals lost in such a manner. This was later incorporated into the Divine Law (Exodus 22:13). Of this situation, McKeating wrote: 'The shepherd was accountable to the owner for any animal lost, unless he could prove that it was lost owing to circumstances beyond his control.' Because of the unfairness of Laban, Jacob spent many a sleepless night protecting the flocks from predatory beasts.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Thus I was: by day the heat consumed me and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.” (verse 40) “The temperature changes often in twenty-four hours from the greatest extremes of heat and cold, most trying to the shepherd who has to keep watch by his flocks. Much allowance must be made for Jacob. Great and long-continued provocations ruffle the mildest and most disciplined tempers. It is difficult to 'be angry and sin not' [Eph 4:26].” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

“If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.” (verse 42) “The God whom my father Isaac worships with reverence and godly fear, as appears by comparing Genesis 31:53. The act is here put for the object, as it frequently is; and particularly God is called our fear, Isaiah 8:13... He calls him not Isaac's God, but his fear, because Isaac was yet alive, and in the state of probation, and served God with fear and trembling.” (Matthew Poole's Commentary) Jacob clearly interpreted the unfolding of recent events as God being “for” him. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

“God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night.” (verse 42) Over the course of twenty years of hard service to a rough and unreasonable tyrant, it may not have looked like the Lord had “seen” Jacob's “affliction,” but He hadn't missed a moment of it. Sometimes it seems like God's justice is long overdue, but rest assured, He is always sitting in judgment on high, and He will always set things straight in His own, good time. The Lord finally rendered judgment in Jacob's favor when He appeared to Laban in a dream and told him leave His hand-picked, protected patriarch alone or else!

Please read Genesis 31:43-55 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 31:22-32

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

“When it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled, then he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him a distance of seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night and said to him, 'Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad.' Laban caught up with Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen camped in the hill country of Gilead. Then Laban said to Jacob, 'What have you done by deceiving me and carrying away my daughters like captives of the sword? Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and did not tell me so that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with timbrel and with lyre; and did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Now you have done foolishly. It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, “Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.” Now you have indeed gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house; but why did you steal my gods?' Then Jacob replied to Laban, 'Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our kinsmen point out what is yours among my belongings and take it for yourself.' For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled, then he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him a distance of seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the hill country of Gilead.” (verses 22-23) “The distance between Padan-aram and mount Gilead was a little over 300 miles, to perform which Jacob must at least have taken ten days, though Laban, who was less encumbered than his son-in-law, accomplished it in seven, which might easily be done by traveling from forty to forty-five miles a day, by no means a great feat for a camel.” (Pulpit Commentary)

Nahum Sarna has a different take on this accounting of days: “These are symbolic numbers indicative of significant segments of time. A literal understanding would mean that Jacob covered the approximately 400-mile...distance between Haran and Gilead in ten days, thus sustaining an average rate of travel of about forty miles...a day, despite the encumbrance of vast flocks and a considerable entourage, which included women and children. Comparative evidence from the ancient Near East suggests that daily progress of about 6 miles...would be realistic in these circumstances.” But then again, if the Lord was granting them “godspeed” then these numbers could easily be taken as literal for, “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)!

“God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night and said to him, 'Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad.'” (verse 24) I find it very interesting that God did not warn Laban much sooner about keeping his distance from Jacob. Instead of stopping him in his tracks before he even started, the Lord allowed Laban to hotly pursue his prey for an entire week, and even permitted him to catch up with his son-in-law, before warning him in a “dream of the night” to not lay a hand on His protected patriarch. It seems that God had every intention of accommodating a meeting between these two deceivers to facilitate the peace treaty that would ensure the future security of Jacob and his sizeable family unit.

“Do not speak to Jacob either good or bad.” The Lord's words to Laban were the same that Laban had himself spoken to Abraham's servant several decades earlier in regard to granting the hand of his sister, Rebekah, in marriage to Isaac. “Then Laban and Bethuel replied, 'The matter comes from the Lord; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.'” “The Hebrew is, from good to bad — That is, enter into no altercations, and use no harsh language with him, which may occasion a quarrel. Say nothing against his going on with his journey, for the thing proceedeth from the Lord.” (Benson Commentary)

“Then Laban said to Jacob, 'What have you done by deceiving me and carrying away my daughters like captives of the sword?'” (verse 26) Laban “embarks on an emotional and self-righteous harangue, portraying himself as the aggrieved party... Laban's indictment is laced with irony. He opens with the question...'What have you done?'—a phrase that invariably introduces an accusation of wrongdoing. These are the very words that Jacob spoke to Laban the morning after his wedding (29:25). Laban professes to believe that his daughters were coerced into leaving, while we readily know the contrary is the case (vv. 14-16). He charges his son-in-law with treating him as an enemy and his daughters as prizes of war—yet the two had earlier denounced their father for treating them as aliens. With an air of injured innocence, the man who repeatedly defrauded Jacob from the very beginning of their relationship unabashedly complains of having been misled!” (Nahum Sarna)

“Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and did not tell me so that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with timbrel and with lyre.” (verse 27) The only one being a “lyre” (liar) here was Laban. He wouldn't have let Jacob leave with his daughters and grandchildren and flocks in tow if he had gotten down on his hands and knees and begged him in tears, let alone sent him away with a joyful celebration. You'll never hear a more wretched scream of “Foul play!” than from the bold-faced liar when he himself has been the victim of deception. This Laban is one of those characters in the Bible that really evokes feelings of nausea and repulsion!

“It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, 'Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.'” (verse 29) I will give Laban credit in this regard. Although he had the “power” with his good sized brute squad to do “harm” to Jacob, he dared to not touch a hair on his head for fear of retribution from the omnipotent power of the Lord who had admonished him from on high. Laban was arrogant, abusive, forceful and foolhardy, but he was not a total ignoramus. He knew when he was outmanned and overpowered, and the haughty fool wisely backed off.

“Now you have indeed gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house; but why did you steal my gods?” (verse 30) In Laban's warped and delusional mind, there was no way that Jacob could have wanted to leave the warmth and comforts of Laban's wonderful home. It wasn't even a consideration that Jacob desired to depart because his father-in-law was a first class, piece of work, total Jerk! No, his only reason for wanting to leave was that he “longed greatly for” his “father's house.” But any residence would have been a tremendous upgrade from Laban's horrendous house in Haran! Still, the hard-core hustler always has a pretext waiting in the wings when his true motives are proven to be so much hogwash. It's fine that Jacob longed for the comforts of home—no problem at all. But the real reason why Laban was hunting his family down like criminals on the lam was his love of his missing household idols (much sarcasm intended).

“Then Jacob replied to Laban, 'Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force.” (verse 31) Jacob told his father-in-law point blank that he could not be trusted in the slightest. He feared Laban would have just abducted his wives and children had he been upfront about his intended departure. “The one with whom you find your gods shall not live...” (verse 32) Jacob spoke rashly in his ignorance. In his confidence of his own innocence, he did not consider that he might be putting the neck of one of his wives or children on the chopping block. If his words constituted a vow before God, Rachel's untimely death may have been the regrettable result.

Please read Genesis 31:33-42 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 31:17-21

Monday, February 17, 2020

“Then Jacob arose and put his children and his wives upon camels; and he drove away all his livestock and all his property which he had gathered, his acquired livestock which he had gathered in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac. When Laban had gone to shear his flock, then Rachel stole the household idols that were her father’s. And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing. So he fled with all that he had; and he arose and crossed the Euphrates River, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Jacob arose and put his children and his wives upon camels.” (verse 17) When Jacob consulted his wives and the final decision was made to leave, he wasted no time in mapping out his escape route and executing his exit plan. Friends, when the Lord calls us to action, we need not and dare not delay in our obedience. God had said to Jacob, “Now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth” (verse 13), and he set about making the proper preparations to do just that. The Lord, through the word of His revelation, calls us to put His Son on in baptism, he calls us to lives of holiness, faithfulness, generosity and service. If you have not heeded that call, please do not delay a moment longer. Jacob's oldest child was likely about 13 years old and his youngest around six. They would have been unable to make that entire journey on foot so he placed them on the camels with the women and began the slow journey home.

“He drove away all his livestock and all his property which he had gathered, his acquired livestock which he had gathered in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac.” (verse 18) All his livestock consisted of all his sheep, goats, camels and donkeys, and all his property would include all the goods he had acquired including his male and female servants, any precious metals and clothing. “The unusual cluster of phrases underscores Jacob's claim to absolute and rightful ownership of all his possessions, thus again refuting in advance Laban's assertion in verse 43.” (Nahum Sarna) He was heading for the friendlier confines (at least he hoped) of “the land of Canaan to his father Isaac.” “But it was some years before he got to his father's house, staying at several places by the way. No mention is made of his mother Rebekah, she perhaps being now dead.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“When Laban had gone to shear his flock, then Rachel stole the household idols that were her father’s.” (verse 19) “Sheep-shearing in Mesopotamia was carried out in the spring. It entailed much hard work on the part of a large number of men who often had to labor at a considerable distance from their homes for extended periods of time... All this explains why the sheep-shearing season would be an ideal time for Jacob to make his departure. Laban, his sons, and his menfolk would all be far away and busily preoccupied.” (Nahum Sarna) The “household idols” or “teraphim” were small graven figures or statuettes believed to have the power to ward off dangers in the home and generally bring about good fortune or luck. Rachel swiped her dad's idols either because her heart was overly entrenched in the idolatrous practices of her superstitious family, or she was just looking for some additional good luck on her new and uncertain extended adventures away from and in antagonism toward her hardcore bullheaded father.

“And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing.” (verse 20) Jacob “stole away unawares,” or literally “stole the heart of Laban” by privately stealing away. “The Hebrew contains a double word play. Lev echoes Laban (Heb. lavan), while 'arami evokes the stem r-m-h, 'to cheat.' Laban the heartless cheat has been beaten at his own game!” (Nahum Sarna) Of course, the only way that Jacob was going to safely sashay his sizeable family and fortune away from the overly possessive Laban would be to do so while he was miles away and deeply engrossed in other matters. Nahum Sarna commented on the phrase, “Laban the Aramean” the following: “The emphasis on Laban's ethnic affiliation, here and again in verse 24, artfully alerts the audience to an awareness that Laban and Jacob are now totally alienated from each other and represent two distinct peoples. It presages the pact that is soon to be concluded.”

“So he fled with all that he had; and he arose and crossed the Euphrates River, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.”(verse 21) As Jacob had arisen to “flee” to Haran because of the anger of his brother Esau two decades earlier (Genesis 27:43), after having worn out his welcome in Laban's household, he “fled” back to the land of his nativity. He and his caravan crossed the Euphrates River, somewhere, somehow. This was the equivalent of Jacob crossing the Rubicon, a point of no return where their could be no looking back, and he made a beeline to the hill country of Gilead. "These mountains lay eastward from the territories later possessed by Rueben and Gad, extending from Mount Hermon to the mountains of Moab, and called in the New Testament, Trachonitis." (Adam Clarke) Jacob had “set his face” toward God's destination for him. He had made up his mind that, no matter how long the road or difficult the journey might be, he would fully follow the Lord with no looking back.

Please read Genesis 31:22-32 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 31:10-16

Sunday, February 16, 2020

“And it came about at the time when the flock were mating that I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the male goats which were mating were striped, speckled, and mottled. Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, “Jacob,” and I said, “Here I am.” He said, “Lift up now your eyes and see that all the male goats which are mating are striped, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.”' Rachel and Leah said to him, 'Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house? Are we not reckoned by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and has also entirely consumed our purchase price. Surely all the wealth which God has taken away from our father belongs to us and our children; now then, do whatever God has said to you.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the male goats which were mating were striped, speckled, and mottled.” (verse 11) When Laban had asked his son-in-law six years earlier to name his wages for the services he would perform, Jacob's demands were not based upon his own personal expertise and not a design of his own making. An angel of the Lord had appeared to him in a dream directing him to request the striped, speckled and mottled animals. God had shown Jacob that He would be controlling what was going to happen with the Laban's livestock, and all that had taken place in the interim was a result of that.

“I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.” (verse 12) The angel conveyed to Jacob that God had seen all of Laban's trickery and treachery from the very beginning until the present. The truth was veiled from Jacob's eyes when Laban had substituted Leah as a wife instead of Rachel, but the Lord had seen that outright lie as plainly and clearly as the light of a new day. God was looking on the entirety of every moment of the full fourteen years that Jacob toiled for the hands of his two wives (one of which he did not desire), and how that Laban reaped the rewards of Jacob's loyalty and righteousness while the laborer was left penniless.

Friends, the Lord allows us to go through some prolonged difficult times, but that is not an indication that He has forgotten us or abandoned us. We may wonder where the Lord is when we are suffering affliction or mistreatment, but please take comfort and courage in knowing that He is watching, paying very close attention and He is involved in the affairs of your life. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) We cannot always perceive that the Lord is working things out in our favor, and doing so according to His own perfect time frame, but we must trust Him from the mindset of steadfast faith. We can't see the Lord working above and behind the scenes of our lives, that is why we must “walk by faith” and “not by sight” and “take good courage” when the going gets tough (2 Corinthians 5:7).

“I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.” (verse 13) This appears to be the Lord's words from a different and more recent dream or vision or revelation. The first dream came to Jacob before he made the deal with Laban to stay and serve to provide wages for his own family's prosperity (Genesis 30:31-32). The words of verse 13 came to Jacob after the attitudes of Laban and his sons had turned hostile toward him and the Lord urged him to leave Haran and return home to the land of promise. God recalled to Jacob's mind the commitment he had made to Him at Bethel two decades earlier. A lot of time and trials had transpired since then, and Jacob needed a reminder of prior promises and future responsibilities.

“Rachel and Leah said to him, 'Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house?” (verse 14) Both Rachel and Leah were in complete agreement with each other that their proper place was with Jacob in Canaan and not with their father in his unhappy home. “By the whole of Laban's attitude towards them, both at their marriage, and ever since, it was plain he never intended to give them anything; but kept all he had to himself, or designed it for his sons, and therefore it was in vain for them to hope for anything; signifying to Jacob hereby, that they were willing to leave their father's house, and go with him when he pleased, since they could expect nothing by their stay here.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Are we not reckoned by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and has also entirely consumed our purchase price.” (verse 15) “He had not treated them as children, nor even as freeborn persons; but as if they were foreigners that he had taken in war, or bought of others; or at least, that they were born bondmaids in his house, and so had a right to sell them as he had... he had sold them to Jacob for fourteen years' service, as if they had been his slaves, instead of giving dowries with them as his children... that which he got by the servitude of Jacob, instead of giving it to them as their portion; he spent it on himself and his sons, and there was nothing left for them.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Surely all the wealth which God has taken away from our father belongs to us and our children.” (verse 16) Rachel and Leah were more shrewd and perceptive than they were loyal and true. They knew that the true power and wealth lie with their husband now and not with their father and brothers. It was obviously in their best personal interest to stay with Jacob and travel with him back to his homeland because they would be much better provided for in his entourage than to be left behind with the broken and embittered men of their homestead. Jacob had entered Haran detached and destitute and was leaving as the head of a wealthy and powerful small nation of a family. The Lord had been with him, protected and provided for him exactly as He promised He would.

“Do whatever God has said to you.” (verse 16) Friends, no more meaningful and wise counsel could ever be given!!! Whatever the Lord tells us to do, the best course of action is to just listen and comply completely! “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves... But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:21, 22, 25) If you want to be blessed in what you do, and more importantly, if you want your soul to be saved for eternity, receive the word of God, believe it and DO it!!! Obey all of God's commands contained in the Bible to the very best of your ability and you will be earthly blessed and heavenward bound!!!

Please read Genesis 31:17-21 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

- Louie Taylor

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