RSS

Category Archives: Genesis

Fathers of the Bible – Joseph, son of Jacob

So Joseph and his brothers and their families continued to live in Egypt. Joseph lived to the age of 110. He lived to see three generations of descendants of his son Ephraim, and he lived to see the birth of the children of Manasseh’s son Makir, whom he claimed as his own. “Soon I will die,” Joseph told his brothers, “but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath, and he said, “When God comes to help you and lead you back, you must take my bones with you.” So Joseph died at the age of 110. The Egyptians embalmed him, and his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Genesis 50:22-26

Dear God, this is a brief chance to see Joseph as a father. It’s actually our second glimpse. The first was when Jacob blessed them, but ignored their birth order and it upset Joseph. Then it talks about him seeing his great grandchildren born. It paints a picture of interest in his children, their children, and their children.

We don’t get any stories about the boys, good or bad, so it’s hard to know, but Genesis certainly isn’t shy about telling us the ugly part of their lives. That’s why I kind of get the impression that things turned out alright for Joseph as a father. First, I don’t know how many wives he had (or daughters), but it appears he only had the two boys so it’s not like he was just having tons of kids by tons of women (that we know of). I don’t know. I’m doing A LOT of inferring here, but Joseph seemed to live a reasonably controlled life that made room for loving his family (children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren) and also his brothers. And he also lived a life of forgiveness, choosing to not punish his brothers for what they did to him.

Father, I don’t know that there is really anything I can take from Joseph as a father and apply to my life, but it is refreshing to see one of these guys seem to care about the development of his children and how their lives turn out for their own sake and not his. As I get into Exodus, I’ll start with Moses’s mother and go from there. It will be interesting to see any parents of note that I haven’t considered before. In the meantime, please help me to be the father, husband, brother, son, etc. that you need me to be for my own family.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 27, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis

 

Tags:

Fathers of the Bible — Jacob (Part 8)

Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel. “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it. “Simeon and Levi are brothers— their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel. “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk. “Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon. “Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down among the sheep pens. When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor. “Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward. “I look for your deliverance, Lord. “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels. “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king. “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns. “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers. “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.” All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him. Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.” When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
Genesis 49

Dear God, it is an interesting to consciously choose to curse some of your children (and seemingly their descendants as well). I mean, who does that? That can’t be a sign of good parenting, right?

I also notice that Jacob seems to have completely embraced the idea that the rights of the firstborn are NOT absolute. Again, maybe this is because he was the second-born child and he took his brother’s birthright and blessing. His father, Isaac, was second-born to Ishmael and had taken his brother’s blessing. Now, he actually had a grudge against Reuben so he kind of let him have it. Then he showed he still remembered how Simeon and Levi slaughtered that town in the name of defending their sister’s honor and he cursed them as well. That brought the first positive blessing to Judah, the fourth-born son. I suppose what I should probably do is break the blessings down by who the mother was. There are four mothers here (as I recall). Was their a difference in how he looked at his son based on their mother?

Leah

  • Reuben – Bad blessing
  • Simeon – Bad blessing
  • Levi – Bad blessing
  • Judah – Good blessing
  • Issachar (born after Asher) – Good blessing
  • Zebulun (born after Issachar) – Good blessing

Bilhah (Rachel’s servant (slave?))

  • Dan – Good blessing
  • Naphtali – Good blessing

Zilpah (Leah’s servant (slave?))

  • Gad – Medium blessing
  • Asher – Good blessing

Rachel

  • Joseph – Good blessing
  • Benjamin (Rachel died in childbirth) – Good blessing

Hmm. That’s interesting. Only the first three got bad “blessings,” if you want to call them that. Gad’s was okay, but he has to be attacked first. When I just read them through, it felt like there was more negativity than that, but, no, it was limited to the first three, with whom Jacob had a specific beef. And, going back to an earlier prayer about him and his fathering, his problems seemed to center more on how the boys’ actions impacted him than whether they were right or wrong. The thing about Reuben and the concubine is interesting. It gets half of one verse (Gen 35:22a – While he was living there Reuben had intercourse with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Jacob soon heard about it.” This is right after Rachel died in childbirth with Benjamin and Bilhah had been Rachel’s slave. I wonder if Reuben thought she was unimportant to Jacob because Rachel was dead. Who knows? But it doesn’t say that Jacob did anything about it at the time. It seems that he waited until this moment to blast him with it. Not very good parenting.

Father, my dad had a friend who used to say, “Everyone has a purpose in life, even if it’s to serve as a bad example.” Well, I have to tell you, God, I don’t think much of the example that Jacob was for us. He lied and cheated. He was passive aggressive and selfish. He didn’t mind showing all of his boys who his favorites were. He held grudges. I have to say, it’s hard for me to see how he compares favorably with Esau. But there it is. You used him. You used him to build a nation. You used him to shape the world, an influence that continues to this day, thousands of years later. So thank you that I don’t have to be perfect to be used by you. Thank you that you just ask me to love you and do my best and then work around when I fail. Thank you for the redemption you offer me as a Gentile. I am very grateful.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 26, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis

 

Tags:

Fathers of the Bible — Jacob (Part 6)

And they left Egypt and returned to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan. “Joseph is still alive!” they told him. “And he is governor of all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned at the news—he couldn’t believe it. But when they repeated to Jacob everything Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to carry him, their father’s spirits revived. Then Jacob exclaimed, “It must be true! My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him before I die.” So Jacob set out for Egypt with all his possessions. And when he came to Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac. During the night God spoke to him in a vision. “Jacob! Jacob!” he called. “Here I am,” Jacob replied. “I am God, the God of your father,” the voice said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. You will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be with you to close your eyes.” So Jacob left Beersheba, and his sons took him to Egypt. They carried him and their little ones and their wives in the wagons Pharaoh had provided for them. They also took all their livestock and all the personal belongings they had acquired in the land of Canaan. So Jacob and his entire family went to Egypt— The total number of Jacob’s direct descendants who went with him to Egypt, not counting his sons’ wives, was sixty-six. In addition, Joseph had two sons who were born in Egypt. So altogether, there were seventy members of Jacob’s family in the land of Egypt. As they neared their destination, Jacob sent Judah ahead to meet Joseph and get directions to the region of Goshen. And when they finally arrived there, Joseph prepared his chariot and traveled to Goshen to meet his father, Jacob. When Joseph arrived, he embraced his father and wept, holding him for a long time. Finally, Jacob said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive.” Then Joseph brought in his father, Jacob, and presented him to Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh. “How old are you?” Pharaoh asked him. Jacob replied, “I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors.” Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh again before leaving his court.
Genesis 45:25-46:6,26-30,47:7-10

Dear God, the story sort of skips over this part, but I wonder what the conversation was like among the brothers as they returned to Jacob. They were going to have to tell him what they did: “Uh, Dad. Yeah. Well. Remember Joseph? Remember how we told you that he had been eaten by a wild animal? Well, that wasn’t really true. As it turns out, we sold him as a slave to some Ishmaelites–you remember Uncle Ishmael? Anyway, apparently, Joseph is now the governor of Egypt so it’s all good!”

As for Jacob, it doesn’t seem that it mattered much what had happened. His son was alive! I told a group the other night that one thing that surprised me about being a parent was how easy I found it to forgive my children. It gave me a picture of your love for me in a new way. For Jacob, he had his boy back. He had all 12 boys (including Simeon). And now there was hope for his future.

Father, thank you for the experience of fatherhood. Thank you for teaching me so much through my children–both through being a father and what you have taught me through them as individuals. Thank you for growing and stretching me through my wife and partnering with her through this as well. It hasn’t always been easy, but you have really used all of them to shape me and mold me. I believe I’m better and certainly more humble for the experience. Do with me what you will.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

P.S. I guess I should mention that Jacob agreed to leave his homeland to be closer to his son that could care for him and he allowed Joseph to have that role in his life. That couldn’t have been easy. Help me to be willing to be that humble when my time comes.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 21, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis

 

Tags: , , ,

Fathers of the Bible — Jacob (Part 4)

So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?” Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.” He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave. ” So his father wept for him. Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
Genesis 37:28-36

Dear God, isn’t it interesting that it was Ishmaelites (their second-cousins) that ended up taking Joseph? But I digress.

Jacob’s life of deception and selfishness catches up to him with the story of Joseph. What’s going to be interesting is how you’re going to use all of this as part of an unusual plan to build Israel as a nation that lasts to this day. But it’s also interesting that the Ishmaelites last to this day as well, I’m seemingly larger numbers. But I digress again.

Jacob’s response to Joseph’s loss is pretty typical for a father. I suppose it’s good that Rachel wasn’t around to experience this deception. I’ll bet it was frustrating for the brothers to not realize any of the benefits they hoped to gain from Joseph’s disappearance. Yes, they got rid of the annoyance, but they certainly didn’t get anymore love from their dad. In fact, he went into mourning, and they took away any annoyance that Jacob had with Joseph.

Father, once again there is freedom in this story for me. Your plan for Abraham’s offspring was Jacob-proof. It was also beyond what his sons could screw up. If this is true, it is probably true for me as well. Well, my life is dedicated to you as best I know how, so I will live in the faith that anything I see that isn’t according to my plan is ultimately part of yours.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 14, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis

 

Tags: , ,

Fathers of the Bible — Jacob (Part 3)

Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
Genesis 37:1-11

Dear God, I intended to go through the whole story until Joseph was sold into slavery and the boys lied to him, but Jacob did made such a terrible parenting decision at the beginning of this passage that I had to stop there.

To show such favoritism among your children and make Jospeh a special coat is a huge parental mistake. Most parents know that. But as I think about it, Jacob had some pretty bad boys and I wonder how much of this was disgust it at least frustration with them. This family of multiple children by multiple mothers was a complicated mess.

Another thing I’m noticing about Jacob is the he only seems to care about his boys’ activities when they threaten him. The only examples I can think of when Jacob admonishes his children are when his Levi and Simeon slaughter the town and he gets mad because now he will be hated and they have to move. And now, at the end of this story, he gets mad at Joseph because Joseph suggested that Jacob (and everyone else) would one day now down to him.

The great thing about this story? Well, it’s nice to see that you were working all of this together for your plan. Jacob’s foolish parenting. Joseph’s arrogance. This is how you would provide for the nation of Israel. And the writer of Genesis recorded it all here for us. If this is how you work, then there is hope for redemption for my foolishness too.

Father, I don’t want to be a foolish parent. I want to instruct my children for the right reasons, not because of how it will reflect on me or my ego. But I also feel some freedom and some hope that you have made your plan John-proof. While you have your best for me, you know all and you will accomplish your plans regardless of my mistakes. Thank you for the peace that comes with that knowledge. Now, please help me to be the father, husband, son, brother, and friend you need me to be, but do it for your glory and not mine.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 13, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis

 

Tags: , , ,

Fathers of the Bible — Jacob (Part 2)

Then Jacob traveled on and camped beyond Migdal-eder. While he was living there, Reuben had intercourse with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Jacob soon heard about it.
Genesis 35:21-22a

Dear God, It seems that this is a sign of great disrespect that I think we will see repeated later with David and one of his sons. It is fascinating that this is a second story where Jacob is informed of something involving his children, and nothing of his reaction to it is recorded. It’s almost as if this duplicitous liar was also weak when it came to confrontation. First, his daughter, Dinah, is raped and he waits for his sons to take matters into their own hands. Now, his oldest son has sex with his concubine (we won’t get into the wrongness of that), Jacob heard about it, and then nothing.

I think this family culture will play out later when we see that no one was afraid of Jacob when they decided to kill (and ultimately decide to sell into slavery) Joseph. Their father is not respected. Their father seems to be more interested in acquiring for himself than molding a culture if integrity and worship of you among his children and family.

I always wonder if I am tough enough, and I often fear I am not. I tend to avoid conflict. And I remember when my son was 13 and started to test my authority. It was hard, but I remember one instance when he did something that was rude. I can’t tell you I did the right thing in responding to him, but he certainly needed to respect his mother and me more.

I read a book once called Sacred Parenting. It is by Gary Thomas, author of my favorite book that I’ll actually be praying through more this coming week called Sacred Marriage. In Sacred Parenting, Thomas points to all of the lineages that are presented in the Bible and basically says that, ultimately, our purpose is to live, raise children, and then get out of the way. Now that’s simplistic and he didn’t mean that what we do with out lives doesn’t matter, but on a macro level, our lives will likely be forgotten within a couple of generations, but the people we set in motion will be our legacy. Raising those children is more important no less important (and likely more important) than the work I will do because they will be here after I am gone.

Father, I find myself repeating this prayer every day as I pray through these stories, but it bears repeating. Please help me know how to parent my adult children. Give them what they need through me. Show my wife as well. Unite us completely together in how we approach them so that they will be able to be the parents they need to be one day. And do all of this for your glory and not ours. I will be forgotten, but you will never die. You are I am. May all of that I do end up, if even accidentally, help to bring about your glory.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 12, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis

 

Tags: ,

Fathers of the Bible — Jacob (Part 1: Jacob & Dinah)

Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.” When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he did nothing about it until they came home. Then Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob. Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious, because Shechem had done an outrageous thing in Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter—a thing that should not be done. But Hamor said to them, “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it. ” Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the young woman as my wife.” Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. They said to them, “We can’t do such a thing; we can’t give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. We will enter into an agreement with you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We’ll settle among you and become one people with you. But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we’ll take our sister and go.” Their proposal seemed good to Hamor and his son Shechem. The young man, who was the most honored of all his father’s family, lost no time in doing what they said, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city to speak to the men of their city. “These men are friendly toward us,” they said. “Let them live in our land and trade in it; the land has plenty of room for them. We can marry their daughters and they can marry ours. But the men will agree to live with us as one people only on the condition that our males be circumcised, as they themselves are. Won’t their livestock, their property and all their other animals become ours? So let us agree to their terms, and they will settle among us. ” All the men who went out of the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male in the city was circumcised. Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left. The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been defiled. They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields. They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything in the houses. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.” But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute? ”
Genesis 34

Dear God, there are so many stories of Jacob as a father, I’m going to have to break them up into vignettes.

This is another Old Testament story of a father not responding to the rape of his daughter. I’m sure I’ll pray about David’s experience as well. But in this case, I’m going to talk about Jacob.

It’s interesting that the author is careful to give us only certain details. First, why tell this story except to give an explanation of why Jacob’ family ended up settling in Bethel (chapter 35)? Maybe he also wanted us to know that the deceit runs in the family. From Rebekah and Laban’s generations, to Jacob’s, Leah’s and Rachel’s, and now to his sons. Lying and deceit came pretty easily to all of these people.

I also wonder how much of the sons’ solution was based around defending their sister and how much was about killing the men and plundering the city. I mean, they repaid a heinous crime with a vengeance that was really over the top.

Finally, while Jacob never lied about his wives and said they were his sisters (as did both his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac), but he certainly didn’t seem too upset about what happened to Dinah. I guess it is hard for me to figure out the context of all of this in a real way because it is just hard for me to put myself in the skin of these men and how they felt about the value of a woman–even their own daughter/sister.

What I do get told to me explicitly is that Levi and Simeon, specifically, took the lead on avenging their sister’s rape, they took it to an extreme and profited from their revenge, including taking women and children who weren’t theirs, and their father was concerned to the point where, at your direction, he relocated them to Bethel. I suppose I can also surmise that Jacob’s lack of leadership in response to Dinah’s rape left the door open for his sons to really go over the top and indulge their own vices and selfishness as well.

Father, reveal to me any ways in which I wrongly abdicate my responsibilities as a father, husband, supervisor, etc. Give me the courage to confront when I need to confront and do what you need me to do. In fact, as I sit here now, I can think of a couple of areas that require me to step in and lead with your love and your compassion. Help me to do it and prepare the path before me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 9, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis

 

Tags: , , ,

Fathers of the Bible – Laban

As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.” After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.” Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her. ” So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant. When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me? ” Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work. ” And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.” But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.” Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young. So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me. Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.” Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. So he fled with all he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed for the hill country of Gilead. On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.” Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war. Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps? You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing. I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s household. But why did you steal my gods? ” Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. But if you find anyone who has your gods, that person shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods. So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he found nothing. After he came out of Leah’s tent, he entered Rachel’s tent. Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing. Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I’m having my period. ” So he searched but could not find the household gods. Jacob was angry and took Laban to task. “What is my crime?” he asked Laban. “How have I wronged you that you hunt me down? Now that you have searched through all my goods, what have you found that belongs to your household? Put it here in front of your relatives and mine, and let them judge between the two of us. “I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, 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 with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you. ” Laban answered Jacob, “The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about the children they have borne? Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.” So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. He said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed. Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” That is why it was called Galeed. It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me.” Laban also said to Jacob, “Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up between you and me. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there. Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.
Genesis 29:13-30,30:25-28,31:1-9,14-55

Dear God, I sat down to do this yesterday and I got stuck because I was going to do Jacob. The stores of him as a father are so many that I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I gave up, but then last night I realized I had skipped a pretty influential father from Genesis–Laban.

Laban and his sister, Rebekah, Jacob’s mother, were pretty deceitful people. Rebekah was willing to tell Isaac anything to get her way and Laban proved to be a similar person with Jacob. He knew he would never marry off Leah so he pulled the old switcharoo. What’s interesting is how this family trait seems to filter down by generations with Rachel stealing his gods and lying about it.

So what should Laban have done with Leah? Should he have made the honest bargain up front? And how did all of this impact both Leah and Rachel? Well, the jealousy is easy enough to see. But Leah must have always carried around an insecurity because she knew she was Jacob’s second choice to her beautiful sister. And then there was the business of having their servants sleep with Jacob to have more children. Just weird. I have to tell you, this is a really weird way to build a nation of your chosen people. I don’t see anyone here who is really worth choosing.

So Laban and Rebekah had a family culture of deceit. Rachel perpetuated it to some extent. And every woman in the story felt insecure and jealous. What would their lives have been like with some simplicity and honesty? And if they had done it right, would your plan have played out?

Father, like I said, all of these people are interesting and I can’t say that I would choose any of them as my people if I were you. But I’m not you. I think the theme of all of these parent stories from the Bible is that all of them were pretty bad parents. But somehow your plan allows for that. So I can perhaps take a little of the pressure off of myself and simply throw myself at your feet in worship. I will just have to trust that you have made your plan “John proof.”

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 8, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis

 

Tags: , , ,

Fathers of the Bible — Isaac

This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah. When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” “Here I am,” he answered. Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.” Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made. He went to his father and said, “My father.” “Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” “The Lord your God gave me success, ” he replied. Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.” Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked. “I am,” he replied. Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.” Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.” So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness — an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed. ” After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?” “I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau. ” Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed! ” When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!” But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.” Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?” Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud. His father Isaac answered him, “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck. ” Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?” Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau. Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.
Genesis 25:19-21,27-28,26:34-28:9

Dear God, I don’t know enough about these boys to judge what Isaac and Rebekah did here. Just how bad were these two wives of Esau? Just how difficult was Esau? On the other side, Jacob seems spoiled and soft. Was he really worthy of the blessing. And then you have the prophecy given to Rebekah about the boys. Did Jacob have a special place in her heart from that?

As for focusing on Isaac, there are a couple of remarkable things here. First, Esau seemed to make him more proud from a manly standpoint. The boy can hunt and be tough. The other likes to stay home. I wonder if you considered that Jacob was spoiled because his time with Laban later certainly taught him hard work. He learned how to get out beyond the tents. He learned to suffer.

I talked with my sister recently about our children suffering and how hard it can be to allow it. But the struggle is what teaches us. The struggle is what makes us stronger. Yet, as parents, we tend to short circuit those lessons by intervening to make things easier. I wonder how much Isaac might have done that for Jacob.

I also think it is interesting to see how much Rebekah manipulated and lied to Isaac. She not only participated in the blessing deception, but she also lied to Isaac about why they should send Jacob to Laban (or she at the least didn’t tell him the entire reason). Was Isaac too old to make that kind of judgment? Would Isaac have said that Jacob needs to face his brother and Rebekah didn’t want him to?

Father, parenting has never been easy and it never will be. We just don’t know how to respond to these people that walk around with free will. They are the products of our parenting and examples (good and bad), life circumstances that they witness and experience, and then that strange internal structure that causes them to respond to all of this in the way that only they will. And our job is to somehow guide them into being the best possible version of themselves. Through that lens, it seems impossible. So help me to see what I really need to be doing with and for my children and what I need to not do. Be with them in ways I cannot. And help me to continue to grow into the man, husband, and father you need me to be.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 6, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis

 

Tags: , , ,

Mothers of the Bible — Rebekah

Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger. ” When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Genesis 25:21-28

Dear God, I think it’s interesting that you gave Rebekah some insight into her boys while she was still pregnant with them. I mean, it’s not unusual for there to be conflict between to brothers, but the part about two nations and the older will serve the younger. I wonder who she told this to later and when. Did she tell Isaac immediately? Did she tell the boys? She obviously told someone because I just read about it. What in interesting thing to know about your children ahead of time. Did you tell her so that she would be more inclined to meddle in Isaac’s blessing when they were older or to change how she felt about him? I’ve found that you keep me on a need-to-know basis, and I rarely need to know. Apparently, Rebekah needed to know this for your plan. Interesting.

I wonder if Rebekah would have favored Jacob without this prophecy, or would his deceitfulness have driven her crazy. Of course, we will learn that Jacob comes by his own deceitfulness naturally. Both his mother and her brother, Laban, are very deceitful. Perhaps they were more kindred spirits and Esau, although not a great guy, was more straightforward and a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person.

I have to admit that I’ve always judged Rebekah for the role she played in deceiving Isaac. Maybe Isaac was foolish and needed to be deceived. I don’t know. And maybe she wasn’t allowed to plead her case to Isaac or make an argument for favoring Jacob so she felt she had no other choice than deception. It does, however, leave me wondering about her relationship with Esau. Did she love him? Did she “get” him? Did she regret him and wish she had only had Jacob? A hard question for a mom to answer, and one that I suppose she did answer through her actions.

Father, help me to see my own children with your eyes. I don’t think either of them will lead a nation, and there should be no need for competition for power between them. They are living and leading different lives. They each have their own needs. Help me to love each of them well and to give the what you need them to have from me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 5, 2020 in Genesis, Mothers of the Bible

 

Tags: , , ,