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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

Genesis 31:1-9

Saturday, February 15, 2020

“Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, 'Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has made all this wealth.' Jacob saw the attitude of Laban, and behold, it was not friendly toward him as formerly. Then the Lord said to Jacob, 'Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.' So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to his flock in the field, and said to them, 'I see your father’s attitude, that it is not friendly toward me as formerly, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength. Yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times; however, God did not allow him to hurt me. If he spoke thus, “The speckled shall be your wages,” then all the flock brought forth speckled; and if he spoke thus, “The striped shall be your wages,” then all the flock brought forth striped. Thus God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has made all this wealth.” (verse 1) Jacob could hear Laban's sons talking about him, and he didn't like what he heard one little bit. They could see that, no matter how their father tried to manipulate this intruding shepherd, Jacob always came out on top. They looked on helplessly as their future inheritance steadily dwindled and the possessions of their cousin/brother-in-law continued to multiply. The previously tolerable relationships were straining beyond the point or restoration.

“Jacob saw the attitude of Laban, and behold, it was not friendly toward him as formerly.” (verse 2) Not only were his cousins talking about him, their father was beginning to treat him differently. Once Laban realized that he was not going to be able to swindle his way out of his dilemma, his demeanor toward his son-in-law turned from cordiality to hostility. Based on what Jacob was hearing and seeing, all the signs indicated that it might be time to go. Jacob had worn out his welcome for sure. For twenty he couldn't leave if he wanted to, but now it was time to get out of Dodge (or Haran).

“The Lord said to Jacob, 'Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” (verse 3) All the mystery and uncertainty was removed when God told Jacob point blank to pack up his things and go. It was time to go back to the land of Promise, the land that was promised to Abraham and Isaac and their posterity, and this time it was in harmony with God's will and according to His perfect timing. He would not be leaving on good terms, but truth be known, that was never going to happen in a situation where Laban was involved anyway. But, Jacob had the assurance that the Lord would be with him to protect and care for him. God had given him this same assurance twenty years earlier at Bethel when he had set out for Haran with only his staff in his hand (Genesis 28:15).

“So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to his flock in the field.” (verse 4) “Rachel is placed first, as the chief wife. The field was probably the pasture where Laban’s flocks fed, as they were specially under Jacob’s charge; and there, in the open ground, the three would run no risk of having their conversation overheard. Jacob’s speech to his wives consists of three parts: first, he tells them of the change in Laban’s manner towards him, and his consequent fear of violence; he next justifies his own conduct towards their father, and accuses him of repeated injustice; finally, he announces to them that he had received the Divine command to return to Canaan.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“'I see your father’s attitude, that it is not friendly toward me as formerly, but the God of my father has been with me.” (verse 5) Jacob told his wives that their father really had it in for him, but the God of HIS father had been with him and shielded him the whole time, and now it was time to depart. “You know that I have served your father with all my strength.” (verse 6) Jacob had worked diligently and vigorously for Laban as he served him in all faithfulness and integrity. Both Rachel and Leah had witnessed over the past two decades that he had exercised great patience, wisdom and loyalty in dispatching his duties and that Laban's mistreatment was absolutely unwarranted and completely inexcusable.

“Yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times...” (verse 7) “It appears that Laban, through envy and covetousness, often broke his agreement made with Jacob, and altered it as he thought fit, and that Jacob patiently yielded to all such changes.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) “However, God did not allow him to hurt me.” Every time that Laban changed the terms and conditions of their agreement, the Lord intervened and protected and prospered Jacob by divine providence. In fact, “God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me” (verse 9). It was not Jacob that had taken away all of Laban's possessions as his sons had lamented (verse 1), but the Lord Himself had interposed His will. They were not contending with a lowly shepherd from the land of Canaan, but fighting against the God of heaven and earth and all creation. Friends, we can never prevail against the perfect will and power of the Lord God Almighty. If we stand with him, no one can prevail against us. If we go against His will for our lives we will always incur disappointment and frustration and ultimately miserable and utter defeat.

Please read Genesis 31:10-16 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 30:37-43

Friday, February 14, 2020

“Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was in the rods. He set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the gutters, even in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they mated when they came to drink. So the flocks mated by the rods, and the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban; and he put his own herds apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock. Moreover, whenever the stronger of the flock were mating, Jacob would place the rods in the sight of the flock in the gutters, so that they might mate by the rods; but when the flock was feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s. So the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was in the rods.” (verse 38) This strange little ritual presents no obvious efficacy at face value. It seems that Jacob cut bark off of these limbs in ways that made them appear to be striped and possibly mottled and spotted like the desired animal coloration patters. He faced the stronger animals toward the partially pealed limbs and toward Laban's mottled animals so they could see them as they mated. Maybe there was strong belief in the potency of visual perception or in the powers of suggestion.

“He set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the gutters, even in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they mated when they came to drink.” (verse 39) Nahum Sarna suggested: “It is...possible that the three plants placed in the watering troughs, each known to contain toxic substances and used in the ancient world for medicinal purposes, could have had the effect of hastening the onset of the estrous cycle in the animals and so heightened readiness to copulate.”

“So the flocks mated by the rods, and the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.” (verse 39) I don’t know if all of this was just superstitious ritual like the whole incident with the mandrakes, or possibly that God had even told him to do these things in a test of obedience. The only thing for certain is that it was God's power that caused Jacob's flocks to increase and not the peeled bark of tree limbs. The prolific number of striped, speckled and spotted animals, that would normally have been an rarity, were provided by the providential powers of the Lord.

“Moreover, whenever the stronger of the flock were mating, Jacob would place the rods in the sight of the flock in the gutters, so that they might mate by the rods” (verse 41) “A third device on Jacob’s part. He is careful, at the breeding season, to pick out only the finer animals before which to place the peeled rods. Hence he obtained for his own share the young of the better animals.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) “But when the flock was feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s.” (verse 42) Jacob was very selective with his peculiar procreation procedure, but it is hard to second-guess the methods of this very skilled animal breeder. He obviously knew what he was doing, he was aware of things about this profession that we are not, and the Lord was clearly on his side.

“So the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys..” (verse 43) “Wool, as the chief material for clothing, is a very valuable commodity in the East, and by the sale of it Jacob would obtain means for the purchase of male and female servants and camels. The latter were especially valuable for purposes of commerce, in which Jacob evidently was actively engaged, and whence probably came his chief gains.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

Please read Genesis 31:1-9 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 30:31-36

Thursday, February 13, 2020

“'So he said, 'What shall I give you?' And Jacob said, 'You shall not give me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your flock: let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted sheep and every black one among the lambs and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages. So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, will be considered stolen.' Laban said, 'Good, let it be according to your word.' So he removed on that day the striped and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats, every one with white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the care of his sons. And he put a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“What shall I give you?” (verse 31) Laban was still unwilling to make an offer to Jacob for his future services, but placed the ball squarely in Jacob's court to name his price. “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this one thing for me...” Jacob didn't want Laban to GIVE anything to him, but merely to DO something for him. Jacob had suggested a scenario in which the Lord would provide his increase and Laban could take no credit for it, while simultaneously removing further opportunity for his father-in-law to furtively swindle him out of his belongings. At least he thought. This was in reality not Jacob's design but a system that God had revealed to him in a dream (Genesis 31:10-13)

“Let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted sheep and every black one among the lambs and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages.” (verse 32) “In the Near East, sheep are generally white and goats are dark brown or black. A minority of sheep may have dark patches, and goats white marking. It is these uncommon types to be born in the future that Jacob demands as wages for his unpaid services. Laban readily agrees, believing that he is getting a bargain on account of their rarity. He promptly withdraws all the livestock that already possess the specified characteristics and moves them a considerable distance away to avoid contact with the rest of the flocks that remain in Jacob's care. However, Jacob succeeds in outwitting Laban in the course of the next six years (31:41).

“So my honesty will answer for me... (verse 33) Jacob would not have to speak a word in regard to what animals belonged to which man. His honesty would be obvious by the coloration of the flocks in a way that all eyes could see. “Either by the success I shall have, and the blessing of God upon me, making it prosperous; it will appear in time to come, and to all posterity, that I have most righteously and faithfully served thee: or rather, such a separation being made in Laban's flock, all the spotted ones being removed, and only white ones left with Jacob to keep; it would be a clear case hereafter, if any such should be found with Jacob, they were not taken from Laban's flock, but were what in Providence he was blessed with, and came by honestly and righteously.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible) “Later when you come concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, will be considered stolen.”

“Laban said, 'Good, let it be according to your word.'” (verse 34) Okay great! You've got yourself a deal! It will be just as you say! Until, of course, Jacob eventually tries to take what is rightfully his and leave again, and Laban decides to keep by force what he willingly bargained away! “So he removed on that day the striped and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats, every one with white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the care of his sons. And he put a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.” (verses 35-36) Jacob agreed to start from scratch, with a clean slate, claiming none of the animals of the original herds as his own. “So the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys” (verse 43), and it was all garnered from his own expertise guided and provided by the powerful hand of the Lord God Almighty.

Please read Genesis 30:37-43

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 30:25-30

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

“Now it came about when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, 'Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my own country. Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me depart; for you yourself know my service which I have rendered you.' But Laban said to him, 'If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the Lord has blessed me on your account.” He continued, 'Name me your wages, and I will give it.' But he said to him, 'You yourself know how I have served you and how your cattle have fared with me. For you had little before I came and it has increased to a multitude, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own household also?'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now it came about when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, 'Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my own country.” (verse 25) “Jacob has now conscientiously discharged all his obligations to Laban. This coincides with the extraordinary birth of Joseph to his beloved Rachel. God's promise of numerous offspring has been abundantly fulfilled, and another turning point in Jacob's life has been reached. In accordance with the divine blessing at Bethel (28:15), the patriarch must ow prepare to return home.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me depart...” (verse 26) “By the terms of the original contract with Laban...Jacob's status was that of an indentured servant paying off a debt, in this case the bride-price for his employer's two daughters.” (Nahum Sarna) Jacob now officially asks Laban to release him from his “service” so that he can return home to Canaan with the family that was rightfully his. At this point he would have been leaving “empty-handed” (Genesis 31:42), since Laban had afforded him no generosity for the provision of his sizable household. The language suggests that maybe Jacob had expected at least a small share of the plentiful proceeds that his diligent “service” had generated through the providence of God. If he actually thought that Laban would respond in a magnanimous way, Jacob was barking up the wrong tree.

“But Laban said to him, 'If now it pleases you, stay with me'...” (verse 27) Laban was not about to part that readily and easily with his live-in cash cow of a son-in-law. Since Laban could not demand that Jacob stay, he resorted to the art of persuasion. “If now it pleases you,” or “If I have found favor in your sight” don't even think about leaving. For the life of me, I don't know how in the world Jacob could have viewed any of Laban's deception in a positive enough light to be convinced that staying was a good idea. But then again, Jacob did not posses the financial footing to depart at the time, and he knew it. It would not be for the love of his in-laws, but to secure provision for his own family, that Jacob would agree to tough it out for a few more years.

“I have divined that the Lord has blessed me on your account.” (verse 27) Okay so this hits much closer to the heart and truth of the matter. Laban had “divined” or “seen the signs” that the blessings the Lord had showered down upon Jacob and soaked Laban with good fortune in the process. It was not that Laban cared one whit about Jacob's or even his daughter's financial freedom. His sole intention was to milk this cow for all that it was worth, and of course, in Laban's greedy eyes, every man had his price. “Name me your wages, and I will give it.” The sky is the limit, just tell me what I need to give you to make you stay. “This he craftily said, not choosing to propose anything himself, but leaving it to Jacob, knowing very well the honesty and modesty of Jacob, that he would mention less wages than he could have the face to offer him.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“But he said to him, 'You yourself know how I have served you and how your cattle have fared with me. For you had little before I came and it has increased to a multitude, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own household also?'” Instead of answering the question directly and making his demands, Jacob laid a little groundwork first and made a strong case for his conditions. He reminded his hustler of a father-in-law that, not only had the Lord blessed him on account of Jacob, but that he was the determining factor for the preponderance of Laban's prosperity. The Lord had blessed Laban and his family at Jacob's every turn, and now it was time for Jacob to provide for his own household as well.

Please read Genesis 30:31-36 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 30:22-24

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

“Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb. So she conceived and bore a son and said, 'God has taken away my reproach.' She named him Joseph, saying, 'May the Lord give me another son.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then God remembered Rachel...” (verse 22) As God had remembered Noah confined within the ark before He caused the waters of the Flood to subside (Genesis 8:1); and as the Lord had remembered Abraham and spared his nephew Lot from the overthrow of Sodom (Genesis 19:29); so God remembered Rachel in her state of dejection and barrenness. I know I have been overly critical of Rachel's attitude and behavior, but she no doubt experienced prolonged feelings of deep desperation because of her childlessness. Some of you know firsthand the overwhelming sorrow associated with the inability to have children. Those emotions would only have been greatly intensified in this ancient Near Eastern culture because of the stigma associated with the heartbreak of infertility. It was a great source of humiliation for a wife in a society where childbearing was critical for her family's prosperity, her sense of personal worth and the cultural view of her as a liability to her husband and the community. Ellicott commented on Genesis 30:1, where Rachel exclaimed to her husband, “Give me children, or else I die!” the following: “There is an Oriental proverb that a childless person is as good as dead; and this was probably Rachel’s meaning, and not that she should die of vexation.”

But the Lord “remembered Rachel” in her intolerable condition. It was not as if God had “lost sight” of her and had “forgotten” her existence or circumstances. It was just that finally, in His own perfect timing and for His own good reasons, He chose to direct His attention toward her and bless her with that for which she had longed more than anything else. “God gave heed to her and opened her womb.” The Lord had heard her pleas and answered her prayers and granted her requests. “Rachel’s long barrenness had probably humbled and disciplined her; and, cured of her former petulance, she trusts no longer to 'love-apples,' but looks to God for the great blessing of children. He hearkens to her prayer, and remembers her. (Comp. 1 Samuel 1:19.)” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“So she conceived and bore a son and said, 'God has taken away my reproach.'” (verse 23) “The reproach of barrenness with which she was reproached among her neighbours; and perhaps by her sister Leah, and indeed it was a general reproach in those times; and especially, it was the more grievous to good women in the family of Abraham, because they were not the means of multiplying his seed according to the promise, and could have no hope of the Messiah springing from them.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“She named him Joseph...(verse 24) “The two Hebrew words 'asaf and yosef,'taken away' and 'add,' provide a double etymology for the name, the first looking back to the past years of shame and anguish, the second looking forward to an even great measure of joy.” (Nahum Sarna) Joseph was the long-awaited for blessed fruit of the womb of Jacob's beloved Rachel. He was “the son of” Jacob's “old age” and he 'loved Joseph more than all his sons” (Genesis 37:3). Of course this favoritism would present it's own set of family problems, but Joseph turned out to be the most excellent man of faith of all the sons of Israel (Jacob). Upon the birth of her long overdue firstborn son, Rachel exclaimed in her great appreciation and exuberance, “May the Lord give me another son.'” Of course the Lord would bless her with yet another son, Benjamin. She could not have known at the time that she would draw her last breath while delivering this final labor of love.

Please read Genesis 30:25-30 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 30:14-21

Monday, February 10, 2020

“Now in the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, 'Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.' But she said to her, 'Is it a small matter for you to take my husband? And would you take my son’s mandrakes also?' So Rachel said, 'Therefore he may lie with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.' When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, then Leah went out to meet him and said, 'You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.' So he lay with her that night. God gave heed to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. Then Leah said, 'God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband.' So she named him Issachar. Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Jacob. Then Leah said, 'God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.' So she named him Zebulun. Afterward she bore a daughter and named her Dinah.”

---End of Scripture verses---

The mandrake incident is one of the strangest little episodes in all of the Bible. Some suggest that the mandrake was an aphrodisiac, and in the orient it was believed to possess power to help a woman conceive children. Since we have no reason to believe that this was anything other than sheer superstition, that would lead us to wonder all the more why this event was recorded in the annals of inspired history. I believe the purpose of the text is to clearly emphasize that the mandrakes had nothing whatsoever to do with the pregnanacies of the women involved, even though they were persuaded otherwise. Perhaps it is the Lord's way of demonstrating to us the bizarre beliefs and mindsets of these backward people, and that His hand was still firmly in control of the helm of human events, and that He would implement His plan of Salvation, in spite of the fact that His flawed people were more than a little bit erratic and irrational.

Here is James Burton Coffman's take on Rachel's mindset: “When Rachel saw Reuben with the mandrakes, she evidently supposed that, at last, she had found out Leah's secret for bearing children, so she traded one night with Jacob to Leah for the mandrakes. Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum), called 'The Love Apple,' is a stemless perennial of the night shade family, having emetic, purgative, and narcotic qualities. The forked, torso-like shape of the tap-root gave rise to many superstitions. Aphrodisiac properties were ascribed it. The plant grew widely in Palestine. The use of mandrakes as an aid to women who wish to bear children is, of course, not approved by anything in the Bible. The superstitions connected with this plant were in no sense reliable, but Rachel, who was by no means free from pagan ideas, was in a desperate mood and willing to try anything. She later took personal charge of Laban's household gods (Genesis 31:34). And the impression through Genesis is that she was more than a little contaminated by pagan beliefs.”

“Now in the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah.” (verse 14) “This is mentioned to fix the time, namely, early in May. As Laban led a settled life, he may have grown wheat, as Jacob did in Canaan (Genesis 37:7), but mandrakes would most assuredly not be found on tilled land.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) “Then Rachel said to Leah, 'Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.'” Seemed like a harmless enough request that a loving sister would gladly comply with and willing part with a few pieces of wild fruit. But, just as Jacob refused to freely give his brother a bit his red stew without a striking a bargain first, so Leah required Rachel to play “Let's Make a Deal”.

“'Is it a small matter for you to take my husband? And would you take my son’s mandrakes also?” (verse 15) Leah responds to her sister's request in a very disproportionate way. Equating husbands with mandrakes is nowhere near comparing apples to apples. She obviously had something up her sleeve, and like most of the members of her family where inclined to do, she found an angle to set her loved one up to take advantage of her compromised position. “So Rachel said, 'Therefore he may lie with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.'” (verse 16) Rachel, ever the shrewd bargainer herself, permitted Leah to spend some time with her own husband (please note intended sarcasm), in exchange for (seemingly all of) Reuben's mandrakes. And you thought your family was dysfunctional!

“When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, then Leah went out to meet him and said, 'You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.' So he lay with her that night.” (verse 16) Hey a bargain is a bargain. Jacob had no choice in the matter since Rachel and Leah had struck a deal involving vegetation to seal his fate for that night. It really does seem like the continual tensions between these two sisters controlled the movements of this patriarch to a great degree. At this stage of his life he appears to me to be an incidental player kind of like a pawn on a chess board.

“God gave heed to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son.” (verse 17) Beginning with this verse, the narrative strongly suggests that the mandrakes had nothing to do with the conception of Jacob's children and reveals the superstition for what it was. “It is significant that the subsequent narrative tacitly, but effectively, neutralizes this aspect, dismissing the notion that such superstitions may have any validity. Leah, who gives up the mandrakes, bears three children; Rachel, who possesses them, remains barren for apparently three more years. Further, both sisters, as well as the narrator, repeatedly emphasize that all events are by the will of God under His control. It can hardly be coincidental that God is mentioned seven times in all.” (Nahum Sarna) In today's verses alone we read: “God gave heed to Leah...” (verse 17); “God has given me...” (verse 18); “God has endowed me...” (verse 20).

“Then Leah said, 'God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband.' So she named him Issachar.” (verse 18) “As is so often the case in Hebrew names, there is a double play in the word: for, first, it alluded to the strange fact that Jacob had been hired of Rachel by the mandrakes; but, secondly, Leah gives it a higher meaning, 'for God,' she says, 'hath given me my hire.' In her eyes the birth of her fifth son was a Divine reward for the self-sacrifice involved in giving her maid to Jacob, and which had been followed by years of neglect of herself.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Jacob. Then Leah said, 'God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.' So she named him Zebulun.” (verses 19-20) “And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry,.... Having so many children; for though her husband could give her nothing at marriage, and her father gave her no more than one handmaid, yet God had abundantly made it up to her, in giving her so many sons: these are the heritage of the Lord, Psalm 127:3, now will my husband dwell with me; constantly; and not come to her tent now and then only, as he had used to do: because I have borne him six sons; this she thought would fix his affections to her, and cause him to cleave to her, and continue with her: and she called his name Zebulun; which signifies 'dwelling'.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Afterward she bore a daughter and named her Dinah.” (verse 21) “And called her name Dinah; which signifies 'judgment': perhaps she may have some reference to the first son of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid, whom she called Dan, a name of the same signification; intimating as if it was a clear case that judgment went on her side; and that by the number of children she had, it was plain God had determined in her favour.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible) Dinah is mentioned by name, as well, in anticipation of the dreadful events that would occur in Genesis chapter 34.

Please read Genesis 30:22-24 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 30:9-13

Sunday, February 09, 2020

“When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Then Leah said, 'How fortunate!' So she named him Gad. Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. Then Leah said, 'Happy am I! For women will call me happy.' So she named him Asher..”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing...” (verse 10) “By ceasing to bear, Leah had lost her one hold upon her husband’s affection, and to regain it she follows Rachel’s example. The struggle of these two women for the husband gives us a strange picture of manners and morals...” (Ellicott's Bible for English Readers) It is hard to say how much of Leah's decision was motivated by a desire to please her husband and how much was to out-perform her sister in the ongoing sibling rivalry. But burdening her husband with a fourth wife (or second concubine) was not a source of continued boon and blessing, no matter how many arrows were produced to stuff Jacob's quiver full (Psalm 127:3-5)

Nahum Sarna suggests a compelling explanation of Leah's possible mindset for justifying giving her maid to Jacob to produce more children: “This links with 29:35. Leah's resort to concubinage is unexplained. From verse 18 it is clear that she regarded this as something particularly meritorious. Perhaps she sensed that Jacob wanted more children. Being convinced that Rachel could not provide them, and facing the fact that her husband did not find her desirable, she was prepared to sacrifice her pride, and she gave her maid for the purpose.”

“Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Then Leah said, 'How fortunate!' So she named him Gad.” (verses 10-11) “This appears as the name of the god of fortune and good luck in several Near Eastern cultures... In the mouth of Leah it is simply an abstract noun, 'luck,' just as one would refer to “Lady Luck' in English.” (Nahum Sarna) In stead of “How fortunate!”, the New King James Version renders the phrase, “A troop comes.” “A troop of children, having bore four herself, and now her maid another, and more she expected; or the commander of a troop cometh, one that shall head an army and overcome his enemies; which agrees with the prophecy of Jacob, Genesis 49:19, and she called his name Gad: which signifies a "troop", glorying in the multitude of her children, that she had or hoped to have.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. Then Leah said, 'Happy am I! For women will call me happy.' So she named him Asher.” (verses 12-13) “Happy am I; or, 'in my happiness'; or, 'for my happiness'; that is, this child is an addition to my happiness, and will serve to increase it: for the daughters will call me blessed; the women of the place where she lived would speak of her as a happy person, that had so many children of her own, and others by her maid; see Psalm 127:5, and she called his name Asher, which signifies 'happy' or 'blessed'.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 30:1-8

Saturday, February 08, 2020

“Now 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.' Then Jacob’s anger burned against Rachel, and he said, 'Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?' She said, 'Here is my maid Bilhah, go in to her that she may bear on my knees, that through her I too may have children.' So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, 'God has vindicated me, and has indeed heard my voice and has given me a son.' Therefore she named him Dan. Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. So Rachel said, 'With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed.' And she named him Naphtali.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister...” (verse 1) Rachel was the beautiful sister, gorgeous in both physical form and facial features. It was she who had won Jacob over. She was the desire of his heart and Leah was “unloved”. Yet here the fairer sister was, jealous of her older sibling and insanely envious of Leah's ability to have children. Jealousy is a powerfully destructive emotion and condition of heart and mind, and it is listed as a work of the flesh that will keep us out of the kingdom of God. “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

“She said to Jacob, 'Give me children, or else I die.'” (verse 1) Consumed by her jealousy and feelings of impotence, she took her frustrations out on her husband. Often when we are irritated and dissatisfied with how life is going, we aim our displeasure at the ones we love the most, and often hurt the innocent who are really not the source of our problems. Rachel wanted a child of her own so badly that she thought she might die, or that her life might not be worth living, if her husband didn't do something about it. But the problem obviously didn't originate with Jacob. He had successfully fathered four children with Leah, so the issue resided within Rachel herself and her infertility. She demanded that Jacob give her children, but she was talking to the wrong person. She should have been pouring out her heart to the Lord in prayer and casting her cares and requests heavenward to the throne of grace and glory.

“Then Jacob’s anger burned against Rachel...” (verse 2) Ah there's nothing quite like marital bliss is there? Rachel was engrossed in envy, Jacob was burning with fury, and this family was in some serious trouble. The Lord's brother rightly declared that “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16)! “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” She may as well have asked Jacob to make the sun to shine, elicit the rain to fall and cause the grass to grow! “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3). Jacob was not in the position to give his beloved wife children if the hand of the Lord was not involved. God is the author and giver of life, and He was the One that Rachel needed to direct her pleas toward.

“Here is my maid Bilhah, go in to her that she may bear on my knees, that through her I too may have children.” (verse 3) Jacob and Rachel emulated the foolish mistake of Abraham and Sarah when she substituted her maid, Hagar, to produce offspring because of her barrenness. They obviously did not learn from the blunders of their impatient grandparents. “The placing or reception of a child on or by the knees of another signifies legitimation, whether in acknowledgment of physical parenthood or by adoption. This practice is again referred to in the Bible in Genesis 48:12 and 50:23 and in Job 3:12. Its origin is in the idea of the knee as the seat of generative power...because Bilhah is to act as a surrogate mother for Rachel, her offspring have to be accepted and legitimated.” Bilhah would conceive, carry and deliver the child, but the baby would be placed in Rachel's lap.

“Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, 'God has vindicated me, and has indeed heard my voice and has given me a son.' Therefore she named him Dan.'” (verses 5-6) The name “Dan” means “to judge” (favorably) or “to vindicate”. Rachel obviously viewed the fruit of her maid's womb as the Lord rendering divine judgment in her favor. While it is good that she gave all credit to God, the conception and birth of Dan should not have been necessarily construed as God's approval of her attitude and behavior throughout this episode.

“Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. So Rachel said, 'With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed.' And she named him Naphtali.” (verses 7-8) The Name “Naphtali” means “my wrestling” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible) or “fateful contest” (Nahum Sarna). It seems obvious that Rachel's heart still was not right even though she felt completely “vindicated” and victorious. This was all just a big contest and sibling rivalry to the disgruntled wannabe mother, and motivated by jealousy against her fertile sister. “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

Please read Genesis 30:9-13 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 29:31-35

Friday, February 07, 2020

“Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, 'Because the Lord has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.' Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, 'Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.' So she named him Simeon. She conceived again and bore a son and said, 'Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.' Therefore he was named Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son and said, 'This time I will praise the Lord.' Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved...” (verse 31) It is not hard to understand why Leah was legitimately unloved. Jacob didn't love her before he was tricked into marrying her, had no desire to marry her, and may not have stayed married to her if not for the supposed “custom” of marrying off the older daughter first. Having said that, marital love is something that God expects and demands his children to intentionally choose (Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-31). We can and must choose and learn to love our spouses, even if we have “fallen out” of romantic love with them, or never truly “fell in” to it. Marriage is far too sacred a divinely ordained institution and covenant to treat it with indifference or disdain just because our feelings are not as strong as we would like for them to be. Let's work on showing love to our marriage partners, no matter how we may be feeling at any given time.

Fortunately for Leah, “the Lord saw” her loneliness and longing for love. Even though she had wittingly participated in her father's deceitful plot to pull one over on Jacob, the Lord still valued her, had sympathy for her pitiable condition, and wanted what was best for her. The Lord knows and sees when we are hurting and He is kind and compassionate toward our grief. God “opened her womb” so that Leah could experience the depth and fullness of genuine love. The love of and for a child is unparalleled in its sweetness, innocence and purity, and God blessed Leah with four children to carry within her womb and close to her heart to comfort her because of her husband's alienation. Of course, Leah still held out hope that bearing children for her husband would bind his heart to hers. But with the birth of the fourth son, Judah, she focused her love and appreciation upon the Lord and gave Him all the praise and glory.

“Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben...” (verse 32) “The true origin of the name is disputed. The simplest explanation makes it a compound of re'u ben, 'See, a son!' a joyous exclamation by parents at the time of birth. Another suggestion connects it with South Arabic ra'ban, 'a chief,' a name befitting a first-born. The present story gives a folk etymology, rooted in the subjective circumstances, that by assonantal word play echoes ra'ah be-'onyi, 'He (God) has seen my affliction.'” (Nahum Sarna) “Surely now my husband will love me.” In Leah's thinking (or hoping), since she had bore children for Jacob and Rachel could not (“but Rachel was barren”), she would take the place of preference over her sister and when the attention and affection of her husband.

“Then she conceived again and bore a son and...she named him Simeon.” (verse 33) “This name may originally have derived from the Arabic sim', the hybrid offspring of the hyena and female wolf. The midrash here connects it with the stem sh-m, 'to hear.' The names of Leah's first two sons replicate a pair of verbs that expresses God's providential concern and care for the unfortunate.” (Nahum Sarna) The Lord has seen (Reuben). The Lord has heard (Simeon). God Almighty sees all things, hears all things, knows all things. He is not an absentee Father sitting idly by in heaven unconnected and unconcerned about the troubles that befall His beloved children. He sees, knows, cares, loves and assists in times of distress, and at all times.

“She conceived again and bore a son and...he was named Levi.” (verse 34) “From the root lavah, 'to join.' In Numbers 18:2; Numbers 18:4, this word lavah is especially used of the attachment of the sons of Levi to the service of Jehovah, as the priestly tribe. According to many scholars, the name denotes the tribe par excellence of the Leah group; which, owing to some great disaster, was broken up, and the name survived only in the guild of Priests and their assistants.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“And she conceived again and bore a son and said, 'This time I will praise the Lord.' Therefore she named him Judah.” (verse 35) “She had praised him before for looking on her affliction, and hearing her cries, and giving her one son after another; but now she determines to praise him more than ever, having a fresh instance of his goodness to her: the Targum of Jonathan adds this as a reason, 'because from this my son shall come forth kings, and from him shall come forth David the king, who shall praise the Lord.' And why may it not be as well supposed that she had knowledge of the Messiah springing from him, which would greatly heighten and increase her joy and praise? And therefore she called his name Judah; which signifies 'praise'.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Then she stopped bearing.” But not permanently. The incident with Reuben's mandrakes beginning in Genesis 30:14 may indicate that, far from her fertility drawing her husband's heart closer to hers, Jacob actually broke off intimacy with her for quite some time after the birth if Judah. But Leah eventually bore to Jacob more children than Rachel and the two maid servants of Leah and Rachel combined.

Please read Genesis 30:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 29:21-30

Thursday, February 06, 2020

“Then Jacob said to Laban, 'Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.' Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, 'What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?' But Laban said, 'It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.' Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. Laban also gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid. So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” (verse 21) “A betrothed woman has the status of a wife in the laws of Hammurabi...as well as in Deuteronomy 20:7 and 22:23-24.” (Nahum Sarna) You must admire Jacob's patience throughout his seven year “engagement” in anticipation of taking Rachel as wife. He loved her dearly and he was completely captivated by her beauty, and yet he steadfastly served his father-in-law and awaited, patiently or otherwise, the reception of his bride and the moment of intimacy he so greatly desired. Poor fellow was convinced his “time” of service was “completed” to seal the deal he made with Laban and end this chapter of his life. He had no idea that his times of trial and servitude had only begun!

“Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast.” (verse 22) Dear ole dad pulled out all the stops and made a great spectacle of what really was a charade and a huge hoax. He knew the whole time that he was, indeed, not honoring his word and fulfilling his obligation, but merely putting on a deceptive show. In that regard, he behaved a whole lot like Jacob had seven years earlier when he bamboozled his own father out of the final blessing that he fully intended to give to Esau, the son he loved the most. This well-attended wedding feast also served to legitimize the marriage and discourage Jacob from trying to nullify it. All indications suggest that Jacob had lived righteously and honorably before his father-in-law in his home, and had pursued a course of integrity. Even so, his duplicitous past had caught up with him, and he reaped the bitter fruit of the bad seeds he had once sown. Jacob the deceiver had met his match with Laban the swindler.

“Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her.” (verse 23) “The episode is intelligible only on the presumption that Leah wore a veil... There is evidence that in the Near East the bride was indeed veiled when presented to her husband.” (Nahum Sarna) “The trick of Laban when he substituted Leah for Rachel could not have been possible without Rachel's consent. Evidently she did not fear any competition from her less-favored sister, and welcomed the thought of her company back to Canaan." (James Burton Coffman quoting the Teachers' Bible Commentary by Clyde T. Francisco)

“So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah!” (verse 25) “Jacob's masquerading as his brother meets its appropriate counterstroke in the substitution of Leah for her sister. But retributive justice is not the only motif. Just as Jacob's succession to the birthright was divinely ordained, irrespective of human machinations (25:23), so Jacob's unintended marriage to Leah is seen as the working of Providence, for from this unplanned union issued Levi and Judah, whose offspring shared spiritual and temporal hegemony in Israel through the two great institutions of the biblical period, the priesthood and the Davidic monarchy.” (Nahum Sarna) And of course, as most of us are aware, Jesus the Christ descended from Judah through the lineage of David in the ultimate fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies (Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 11:1-10, etc.)

“Why then have you deceived me?' But Laban said, 'It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn.” (verses 25-26) Even if Laban's explanation for his treachery was true, that still did not justify the fraudulent way he duped Jacob into marrying Leah. Laban could have been upfront and honest about this supposed custom, but maybe he feared that would have flopped because of Jacob's lack of interest in Leah. Since he didn't make taking Leah a condition up front, but left the terms of the agreement to marry Rachel up to Jacob, Laban readily resorted to the recourse of a ruse. As Rachel had duped her husband into breaking with custom by blessing the younger son in place of the older, so Rachel's brother duped his nephew into keeping the custom of marrying his older daughter instead of the younger. This story just drips with saturated irony on multiple levels, and this family was well-schooled in the art of deception.

“Complete the week of this one...” (verse 27) “That is, the seven days of feasting in celebration of a marriage, also mentioned in Judges 14:12, 17 in connection with Samson's wedding.” (Nahum Sarna) “And we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” Of course Laban knew that Jacob's deep love for Rachel would not allow him to turn down this offer. He had Jacob's back against the wall and left him no choice but to agree to polygamy if he was to have the desire of his heart. Having more than one wife will always cause strife, but marrying two sisters kicks the contention up to a different level. Combine sibling rivalry with spousal hostility and you have the formula for lifelong grievance and frustration. And of course, Jacob “loved Rachel more than Leah,” which accounted for further heartache and resentment. Meanwhile, Laban benefited from seven more years of Jacob's expertise, hard labor and divine providence.

“What happened to Jacob here was as mean and despicable a fraud as was ever perpetrated by one human being against another. One may only wonder if Jacob remembered the fraud that he and his mother had committed against Isaac. Did the remembrance of it lead to his rather meek acceptance of what Laban did to him? This time, 'the heel-catcher' (the meaning of the name Jacob) was himself taken by the heel, the deceiver was deceived. Laban also, in turn, would learn the solemn truth that 'as men sow, so shall they reap.' Something else - it appears that for seven years, Jacob had lived above the devices of fraud and deception, but in the action here, Laban aroused the passion in Jacob's heart to return to the old ways, and would eventually find out that he had more than met his match in Jacob! Laban might have been doing fairly well, until he tricked Jacob! Within the span of two decades, Jacob would move out of Laban's territory, taking with him both of Laban's daughters as his wives, and all their children, who were doubtless dear to Laban, and the vast wealth which he had taken away from Laban. In this, Laban might have been able to reap his 'just recompense of reward.'” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 29:31-35 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 29:13-20

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

“So when Laban heard the news of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Then he related to Laban all these things. Laban said to him, 'Surely you are my bone and my flesh.' And he stayed with him a month. Then Laban said to Jacob, 'Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?' Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, 'I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel. 'Laban said, 'It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.' So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So when Laban heard the news of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house.” (verse 13) Okay so there's a whole lot of kissing going on here. When Jacob saw Rachel he kissed her (verse 11), and when Laban saw Jacob he grabbed him and hugged and kissed him. “This was the customary greeting among Hebrew families in those days and even down until the present time. It is a mistake to view Jacob's kiss of Rachel as the type of osculation seen in romantic movies. The early church itself manifested the same type of greeting seen here in the actions of Jacob and Laban.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Laban said to him, 'Surely you are my bone and my flesh.'” (verse 14) Laban fully received and embraced Jacob and his claim to be his own sister's son when his newly found nephew related “all these things” to him. While it was good and appropriate for Laban to warmly welcome his beloved relative, you can't help but wander if his “bone and flesh” kinsman looked a whole lot like fresh meat to him. But hey, if you can't scam your family who can you scam?! “And he stayed with him a month.” When his mother sent him away to live with her brother, she was convinced that Jacob would only need to stay with Laban for a few days until Esau's fury blew over (Genesis 27:44). Maybe a month was what she had in mind, but Jacob's love for Rachel prompted him to enlist for seven years (verse 20). It only “seemed to him but a few days,” but to Rebekah it must have been an eternity!

“Then Laban said to Jacob, 'Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” (verse 15) Laban feigns concern for Jacob and his own, personal prosperity, and essentially says, “No relative of mine is working here for free!” He no doubt had witnessed his nephew's expert handling of his flocks, and how the Lord had brought him success in all he did, and he didn't want to lose such a golden goose as Jacob. I think it is safe to assume as well that Laban had observed over the course of that month that Jacob was quite visibly smitten with his beautiful younger daughter, and dad was more than willing to use his own flesh and blood to play an angle and gain the upper hand in any negotiations. So Laban said to Jacob: “Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Just name your price!

“Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, 'I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” (verse 18) Nahum Sarna observed the following about the frequently used word, “serve”: “This is a key word, occurring seven times in the narrative. What bitter irony! This is precisely the term that conveyed the essence of the blessing that Jacob fought for so desperately to obtain. The original oracle to the pregnant Rebekah forecast that 'the older shall serve the younger'; the purloined blessing contained the phrase, 'Let peoples serve you,' which Isaac confirmed, saying to Esau, 'I have given him all his brothers for servants,' 'You shall serve your brother.' Now it is Jacob who must do the serving.”

“Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face.” (verse 17) Jacob's two daughters had very interesting names. The name “Leah” “may mean 'cow' or 'strong woman,' or 'mistress'” (Nahum Sarna) “Leah was defined by Beeching as meaning 'wild cow.' However, we prefer the meaning of 'gazelle,' as affirmed by Dummelow.” (James Burton Coffman) The name “Rachel” as mentioned before means “ewe”. While “Rachel was beautiful in form and face,” Leah's features and figure must not have been overly appealing to the eyes. It is said of Leah's eyes that they “were weak”. Looking at this from a negative perspective, it could indicate that her eyes were “lacking in luster” (Nahum Sarna) Putting a positive spin on things, maybe the “softness” of Leah's eyes was her most attractive and endearing feature. While Rachel had the total physical package, Leah sported tender and lovely eyes. But, needless to say, the eyes didn't do the trick for Jacob, and his eyes and heart were drawn to the robust beauty of Rachel.

Laban said, 'It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.'” (verse 19) So Rachel is depicted as little more than a piece of property to be bartered away. Such was the way of Laban. While it was in Rachel's best interest to marry within the safety of the family clan and to keep bloodlines pure, Laban's motives were less that pure and altruistic. He saw a perfect opportunity to make the very most of a fortuitous situation, and he pounced all over it. In Jacob's infatuated rapture, he didn't mind in the slightest. At least not immediately.

“Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.” (verse 20) Okay this is the stuff of storybook romances and echo the lyrics of countless love songs. When you love somebody so much, you would do just about anything imaginable. “When a man loves a woman, he'd spend his very last dime, trying to hold on to what he needs. He'd give up all of his comfort, sleep out in the rain, if she said that's the way it ought to be.” (Percy Sledge) "Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised." (Song of Solomon 8:7) But beware the prophet's words of warning: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) When you really love somebody, you really put yourself at their mercy. Some people would truly do anything for love, and someone like Laban is going to be ready and willing to make the most of it.

Please read Genesis 29:21-30 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 29:1-12

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

“Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the sons of the east. He looked, and saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it, for from that well they watered the flocks. Now the stone on the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, they would then roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well. Jacob said to them, 'My brothers, where are you from?' And they said, 'We are from Haran.' He said to them, 'Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?' And they said, 'We know him.' And he said to them, 'Is it well with him?' And they said, 'It is well, and here is Rachel his daughter coming with the sheep.' He said, 'Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them'” But they said, 'We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered, and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.' While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept. Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Jacob went on his journey...” (verse 1) “Literally, 'lifted up his feet,' a phrase found nowhere else. It has variously been interpreted to mean that (i) the going was now easier; (ii) he directed his feet, that is, he went with resolve and confidence; (iii) he had to force himself to leave the site of the theophany.” (Nahum Sarna) “And came to the land of the sons of the east.” (verse 1) This is an indefinite term referring to terrain east of the land of Canaan, but Jacob's eastward travels ultimately brought him to Haran, or “the land of Aram” (Hosea 12:12) where his mother's people resided.

“He looked, and saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it, for from that well they watered the flocks.” (verse 2) Could this have been the same well that God's providence had directed Abraham's servant to so many decades before when he found Rebekah as a wife for Isaac? There is no way to know for certain, but you would think if it was the inspired writer would have designated it as such. Whether it was a different well or not, there are many similarities between these two noteworthy events. Three shepherds had their respective flocks already lying beside the well when Jacob arrived, awaiting their turn to refresh themselves and their sheep at the time the great and heavy stone was rolled away.

“Now the stone on the mouth of the well was large.” (verse 2) “The stone restricted the use of the well to a closed group, and outsiders were required to pay for water. At the same time, the cover would serve as a protection against dust and filth and as a guard against accidental fall by man or beast. The prominence given to 'the stone' in this episode...provides a link with the important stone of Bethel...a reminder that the God who there promised Jacob protection now endows the weary fugitive with superhuman strength.” (Nahum Sarna)

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers has a different take on the well and the stone: “As the proper translation is the stone upon the well’s mouth was great, it would also serve to prevent the well from being used, except at fixed times; for it probably required the strength of two or three men...to remove it; nor does the language of Genesis 29:10 necessarily imply that Jacob rolled it away without the aid of others. Besides this, the stone may have marked that the well was private property: for, as we have seen in the account of the covenants of Abraham and Isaac with Abimelech, no possession was more valued than that of wells. And as we find the shepherds all waiting for Rachel, and that immediately on her arrival the stone is rolled away, and her sheep watered first, while the rest, though they had been there long before her, yet have to bide their time till her wants are supplied, it is probable that Laban had at least a first claim upon its enjoyment.”

“Jacob said to them, 'My brothers, where are you from?'” (verse 4) From one fellow shepherd to another, Jacob hailed his new acquaintances as “brothers” in the business. He asked them where they were from, not realizing that he was already standing upon the soil of his desired destination. Lo and behold and praise be to God, these men lived in Haran, they knew Laban well, and all was well with the family of his future father-in law. Jacob referred to Laban as “the son of Nahor” (verse 5), even though Bethuel was actually Laban's father and Nahor was his grandfather. “Bethuel...is ignored here as he practically was in chapter 24. Nahor, the grandfather, was the head of the clan and the most notable figure.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess.” (verse 9) Like her aunt Rebekah, she was beautiful and strong, and a worker in the field, and Jacob seemed destined to love her dearly. Her name appropriately matched her vocation, the word “Rachel” meaning “ewe” or female sheep. After Jacob “ rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban” (verse 10), in his utter joy and relief and exuberance, he “kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept” (verse 11). Little did he know the treachery he would encounter to secure the hand of his true love, and the grief he would endure tending Laban's flocks for the next two decades.

Please read Genesis 29:13-20 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 28:18-22

Monday, February 03, 2020

“So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz. 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. This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Jacob...took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar...” (verse 18) “Hebrew matsevah derives from the stem n-ts-v, 'to stand.' It denotes a single, upright slab of stone. Believed to be the repository of a divinity or spirit, it was often used as a cultic object. For this reason, matsevot are strictly proscribed in the Torah as being idolatrous. There is also the legitimate matsevah, such as, for instance, one that simply memorializes the dead. In 35:20 Jacob erects one for Rachel, and in 2 Samuel 18:18 Absalom sets one up for himself because he had no children. The lawful type is also attested in Genesis 31:45-54, where it serves as a mute witness to a treaty between Jacob and Laban. A large stone was similarly used to commemorate the covenant between God and Israel made at Shechem. The wording used in Joshua 24:27 is highly instructive: 'See, this very stone shall be a witness against us, for it heard all the words that the Lord spoke to us.' This text provides the key to Jacob's action. Because the stone is under his head while he sleeps, it not only marks the spot but functions, as it were, as a witness to the dream and the accompanying divine promises.” (Nahum Sarna)

“And poured oil on its top.” (verse 18) “This ritual must have held great significance for it is recalled in 31:13... The meaning of the anointing is uncertain. It might be a means of consecration in much the same way that the wilderness Tabernacle and its appurtenances were thereby dedicated and sanctified. Far more plausible in the present instance is the suggestion that the anointing of the witness stone with oil was a symbolic act establishing a contractual bond between Jacob and God. There is widespread evidence from the ancient Near East for the use of oil in international treaty relationships and in effectuating business contracts. It seems to have been a token of peace, friendship, and assumed obligation. In Jacob's case, the anointing is connected with the making of a vow that binds him to a certain commitment.” (Nahum Sarna)

“He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz.” (verse 19) “In Joshua 16:1-2, we find that Luz and Beth-el were distinct places, though near one another; and with this agrees the present passage. For plainly, Jacob and his attendants did not go inside the city, but slept on the open ground; and as they would carry their provisions with them, they would need no supplies from its Canaanite inhabitants. Probably at the time of Joshua’s conquest Beth-el was rather a holy place than a town, and when Ephraim seized upon Luz and put the people to the sword (Judges 1:23-25), the victors transferred the name of Beth-el to it. Thus the spot where Jacob slept would not be the town of Beth-el, but some place a mile or two away from it.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“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.” (verses 20-21) Jacob's vow to God seems to be very self-serving and conditioned upon the Lord's favorable treatment of him. It is almost as if he is putting God on trial before he will commit himself fully to Him. But it is more likely true that he is expressing his complete reliance upon the Lord for his nourishment, covering and security based upon his conviction that God's promises conveyed in his dream are entirely accepted as true and trustworthy. If the Lord makes good on His promises of providence and protection it would be proof that God had indeed accepted Jacob and not requirements for committing himself to his Creator.

“This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house...” (verse 22) “The text seems to say that Jacob anointed the stone 'as the house of God,' but this is merely metonymy for the 'place.' Note: 'God is in this place,' (Genesis 28:16), not 'in this stone.' He called the name 'of the place' Bethel (Genesis 28:19). 'How dreadful is this place,' not 'how dreadful is this stone' (Genesis 28:17). Such emphasis leaves no doubt that 'the place,' not the rock was considered holy by Jacob. The setting up of the pillar as a marker in order for him to be able to later identify 'the place' is the thing in view here.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” (verse 22) Tithing has previously been established as a settled means of paying tribute to figures of high importance and esteem. Abraham paid a tent of the spoils of the war of the kings to Melchizedek in Genesis 14:20, and secular history attests to the prevalence of tithe paying in ancient Near Eastern culture. Jacob had left his father's house penniless, with only his staff in his hand (Genesis 32:10), and at Bethel he vows to give the Lord a tenth of his future possessions if He delivers him back to his home in safety and prosperity. But the text does not reveal how or to whom this offering would be made.

Please read Genesis 29:1-12 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 28:10-17 (Part 2)

Sunday, February 02, 2020

“Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, 'I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. 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.' Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. He was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (verse 12) The Hebrew word rendered “ladder” here is “Cullam” or “Sullam,” and might better be translated “stairway” or “staircase”. “We must not understand a house ladder, with uprights and rung of wood; but, rather, a stairway, or ascent by successive terraces. Possibly, the 'ladder' here mentioned resembled the ascent to Babylonian and Assyrian temples, in which the shrine or sanctuary, on the summit, was reached by steps leading through seven terraces...” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

Even though Jacob had received a great blessing from his father before departing on this grand adventure, it was critical for him that His heavenly Father give His own personal endorsement and affirmation. The stairway signifies that God is active in the affairs of humankind, and specifically with Jacob as a recipient of God's promises and purveyor of His purposes. Even though Jacob was far from home, in a strange land and fleeing from his brother's wrath, God is everywhere, and no one can flee beyond the watchful eye of Yahweh. The Lord has not barred mankind's access to His presence in heaven, and He has made a way for all humanity to fellowship and communicate with Him in the most deep and meaningful ways.

Of course this passage reached its greatest fulfillment in Jesus, who qualified himself to be the Mediator between God and man by his perfect life, sacrificial death and powerful resurrection. Not only can we access the Father through the Son in prayer and worship, “Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us” into heaven itself, paving The Way for us to follow in obedient faith (Hebrews 6:20). In reference to Genesis 28:12, Jesus declared to Nathaniel in John 1:51 that He is the stairway to heaven, inserting himself in the place of the ladder of Jacob's dream. "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

The angel's in the dream and on the ladder are significant as well. Hebrews 1:14 assures us that “they" are “all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation." We live in the midst of a spiritual dimension (the heavenly places – Ephesians 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12) that we cannot discern with our eyes, but that is authentic and dynamic and powerful, and praise be to God that He has set forces for good to serve in our favor. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them” (Psalm 34:7).

“And behold, the Lord stood above it...” (verse 13) “Ordering, directing, and overruling all things in Providence, for the glory of his name and the good of his people; and may signify, as the ladder may be a figure of Christ, that Jehovah the Father, is above him, as man and Mediator, and makes himself known in and by him, and delivers out all his blessings and promises through him, both temporal and spiritual.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac, the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants.” (verse 13) Thus the Lord repeated and extended the full Abrahamic promises to Jacob. He pledged to give the land of Canaan to his descendants, to make him a great nation more numerous that the dust of the earth, “ and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (verse 14). Jacobs descendants would “spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south,” to all points of the compass. “In its ultimate significance this points to the world-wide universality of the kingdom of Christ.” (Pulpit Commentary)

“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.” (verse 15) God knew this pledge and guarantee would mean a great deal Jacob and help him to endure the two decade long ordeal in that land of Haran under the jurisdiction of his uncle Laban.

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. He was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.'” (verses 16-17) Probably a little too focused on the physical location instead of the ubiquitous nature of God Almighty, but you can understand his wonderment and perplexity. “Jacob's exceptional emotional response requires explanation. Undoubtedly it lies, at lest partially, in his realization of the baseness of his behavior toward his father and brother. He must have been beset with feelings of complete and deserved abandonment by God and man. Having fallen prey to guilt and solitary despair, he is surprised that God is still concerned for him.” (Nahum Sarna) “He calls the name of the place Bethel, 'the house of God.' This is not the first time it received the name. Abraham also worshipped God here, and met with the name already existing...” (Barnes' Notes on the Bible)

Please read Genesis 28:18-22 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 28:10-17

Saturday, February 01, 2020

“Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, 'I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. 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.' Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. He was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The biography of Jacob as an independent personality, a patriarch in his own right, now begins. The home-loving favorite of an overprotective mother is now an exile, utterly alone and friendless, embarking on a long, perilous journey that is to take him from Beer-sheba in southern Canaan to Haran in northern Mesopotamia. His character is to be tested and refined, his personality molded and transformed by the experience... This event draws the curtain on the cycle of Jacob-Esau stories and prepares the reader for a new phase in the life of Jacob.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran.” (verse 10) Jacob gets right to the business at hand of fleeing from his brother's wrath and traveling to Haran to find a wife. You have to admire his courage and determination at this particular time. He had just received his long sought-after patriarchal blessing, and nearly immediately upon receiving it he is required to leave the comforts of home and family and light out on his own upon a 500 mile journey. The promises of prosperity and posterity extended in his father's blessing, no doubt, infused him with confidence that everything would turn out alright.

“He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set...” When the sun had descended in the west and the light on his pathway had dimmed, Jacob was forced to stop for the night. At nightfall, Jacob found himself in “a certain place” of an uncertain location, and the indistinctness of the location seems to be of great significance. “This was not some 'holy' location honored by the pagan populations of Canaan. It had nothing whatever to do with cultic shrines, or anything of that nature. It was altogether a 'chance location,' exactly at the place where the sun went down on him.” (James Burton Coffman)

“He took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head...” (verse 11) “Being weary with his journey though he had no other bed than the earth, and for his pillow a stone, and for his canopy or curtain the open heaven; a different lodging this from what he had been used to in his father's house, and under the indulgence of his mother; and one would wonder how he could sleep in such circumstances, and that he did not take cold, after such a journey...” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible) But Jacob soon fell into a deep slumber and had the most enigmatic and reassuring of celestial dreams.

We will stay with these verses for tomorrow as well.

Please reread Genesis 28:10-17 again for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 28:6-9

Friday, January 31, 2020

“Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take to himself a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he charged him, saying, 'You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,' and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Paddan-aram. So Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac; and Esau went to Ishmael, and married, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The account of Jacob's flight from home suddenly breaks off, and a note about Esau's marriage follows. This note acts as a literary device that slows the pace of the narrative. It also has another function. In the same way that mention of Esau's Hittite wives preceded the story of Jacob's purloining the paternal blessing, so the report of Esau's further marriage, this time to a daughter of Israel, concludes it. The entire episode is thus provided with a literary framework.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take to himself a wife from there...” (verse 6) Esau made a connection between the blessing given to his brother and his choosing a wife from among his own kinsmen.” It finally dawned upon the elder brother that his marriage to “the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac” (verse 8). It is hard to fathom that Isaac had not related this critical information to his favorite son time and again, so, unless Isaac had just been overly indulgent and permissive because of his great affection for him, Esau's decision to now marry within the clan was a completely self-serving move.

“Esau went to Ishmael, and married, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.” (verse 9) While this may have seemed to Esau like a logical and beneficial thing to do under the circumstances, it no doubt introduced more problems than blessings into his already volatile life. In addition to of all his other troubles, he had now become a serial polygamist. Since Mahalath is not mentioned among Esau's wives recorded in Genesis 36:1-3, she is more than likely one in the same with Basemath. It is also said of her that she was “Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth” (Genesis 36:3).

“Jacob...obeyed his father and his mother...” (verse 7) For all of his weaknesses and shortcomings, this important character trait worked greatly in Jacob's favor. He obeyed his mom and dad. While it is true that he had shamelessly deceived his own father at the behest of his manipulative mother, he was largely an obedient son. If we fail to learn the importance of obeying our earthly parents, it is highly likely that we will never see the value and necessity of giving our heavenly Father the respect, submission and reverence that He so greatly deserves and demands. Jacob grew to be a great man of faith, and his deference to his parents proved to be strong underpinnings for that eventuality.

“Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20) “My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother.” (Proverbs 6:20) “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3) “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” (Proverbs 23:22)

Please read Genesis 28:10-17 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 28:1-5

Thursday, January 30, 2020

“So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and charged him, and said to him, 'You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and from there take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. 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.' Then Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan-aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.” (verse 1) Isaac's words to Jacob nearly identically echo those of Abraham to his servant in selecting a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24:3-4). As the sole heir of Abraham's blessings, Isaac was forbidden from taking a wife from the heathen people among whom he lived, and he fared very well at “the house of Bethuel” finding a real gem and prize for a wife. Now he sends his younger son back there with his full, voluntary blessings to find a suitable companion of his own. Of course, we know from hindsight that Jacob was walking into a hornet's nest of Laban's making, but he really deserved the treachery he was about to endure, and ultimately he grew to be a better man for the experience.

“May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples.” (verse 3) Isaac expands upon the stolen blessing of the previous chapter. He not only confers promises of material prosperity and sovereignty over family and foreigners as he believed he was doing for Esau in Genesis 27:28-29. He extends to Jacob the blessing of great posterity that “God Almighty” (El Shaddai) had promised to Abraham's seed. He does not use the same terminology as God's promise to make Abraham “a great nation” (Genesis 12:2) or to multiply Isaac's “descendants as the stars of heaven” (Genesis 26:4). But Isaac does invoke God's pledge to “multiply” Jacob's descendants such that he would “become a company of peoples.” “This is not the word used in Genesis 17:4, but one that signifies an assembly, especially one summoned for religious purposes. Like the Greek word for church, ecclesia, it comes from a root signifying 'to convoke.' It subsequently became the regular phrase for 'the congregation of Israel' (Leviticus 16:17), and implies even here that the nations descended from Jacob would have a religious significance.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“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.: (verse 4) “The difference between this blessing and the one that Isaac mistakenly conferred upon Jacob earlier is rather striking. In the first, there was no mention of the Abrahamic promise, but here Isaac apparently made an effort to go all the way in conferring the covenant blessing. But even in this there could have been a deficiency, a lack supplied by God Himself in the vision that came as a sequel, that being the fact that 'all the families of the earth' would be blessed in his seed. Nevertheless, even as it stood, the blessing seemed to convey the impression that Isaac had repented of his sinful effort to convey the birthright to Esau.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Then Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan-aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah...” (verse 5) Let the games begin! What could possibly go wrong?! It seemed like such a reasonable and wise decision to make. But who could have imagined that Jacob would have essentially been trapped in the household of his mother's people for twenty years (Genesis 31:38, 41)?! Life can often seem like a long, strange trip, even though man's days are few and full of trouble (Job 14:1)!

Please read Genesis 28:6-9 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

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