Genesis 21-35 The beloved son…Isaac, cont’d.
Genesis 25-39 The father of the nation of Israel (Jacob), cont’d.
Genesis 33:1-11-Finally, Esau arrives. Jacob has sent his two maids and their children ahead, followed by Leah and her children, and finally, by Rachel and Joseph. It is terribly clear who he loves the most. He takes the lead, himself…and greets Esau. Esau’s welcome is beyond cordial…he hugs his brother and greets him with a kiss. Jacob presents Esau with his gifts and after some persuasion he agrees to accept them. Jacob tells Esau that seeing the way that he has received him back home is like looking at the face of God.
Genesis 33:12-16-Esau offered to travel with Jacob or to have a guard stay with him. But Jacob said it was not necessary.
Genesis 33:17-Jacob goes as far as Succoth (means: “booths”). It was east of the Jordan River and just north of the Jabbok River.
Genesis 33:18-While it is not immediately evident…Jacob may have stayed in Succoth for as much as 10 years before making this move to Shechem. There, he bought a piece of land and erected an altar that he named, “El-Elohe-Israel” (means: “a Mighty God is the God of Israel”).
Genesis 34:1-12-Leah’s daughter, Dinah, went into town to visit with some other young women (she was probably 14-15 years old). Shechem was the “prince of the land” (the son of the leading Hitite, Hamor). He raped Dinah (:2). Jacob heard about it but kept quiet…his sons were away from home caring for the livestock and he could not afford to have a confrontation without them present for protection. When Jacob’s sons heard what had happened they returned and were furious. Shechem was infatuated with Dinah and told his father that he loved her and wanted to marry her. So, Hamor went to Jacob to request that he allow her to marry Shechem. To encourage them to do so he told Jacob to ask whatever he desired as a dowry, and he said that they would offer to allow their daughters to marry Jacob’s men, as well.
Genesis 34:13-24-Jacob’s sons told Hamor that the only way that they could intermarry with them was if they would agree to be circumcised. Hamor talked with the men of his city…telling them that not only would they get they women, but they would also get Jacob’s livestock and property (:23)…what a deal! They agreed to do so. All the men were circumcised. Verse 13 says that Jacob’s sons answered Hamor with “deceit”. It could mean that they made this stipulation not actually anticipating that the men of Shechem would agree to such a painful requirement. It was just a move to stop the process. But it didn’t work. Or, it could be that they knew the pain the men would be in just a few days later and had a plan in mind.
Genesis 34:25-29-Simeon and Levi (Dinah’s brothers) decided to take advantage of the opportunity. On the third day, the men of Shechem were virtually incapacitated by the pain of their circumcisions. The brothers launched an attack…killing every man in the city, rescuing Dinah, taking all the women and children as hostages, and capturing all of the cities flocks and valuables.
Genesis 34:30-31-Jacob was now worried that the other surrounding tribes would see the Hebrews as a threat and attack them. He reprimanded his two sons. But they said that what they did was better than doing nothing and allowing their sister to be treated like a prostitute. The argument seems to have stopped there.
Genesis 35-50 The suffering and the glory…Joseph
Joseph was a “foreshadowing” of Christ. There are at least 130 parallels between Joseph and Jesus. For instance, both were…
- shepherds (Gen. 37:2; John 10:11-14)
- severely tempted (Gen. 39:7; Matthew 4:1)
- taken to Egypt (Gen. 37:26; Matthew 2:14-15)
- sold for the price of a slave (Genesis 37:28; Matthew 26;15)
- highly exalted after suffering (Genesis 41:41; Philippians 2:9-10).
Genesis 35:1-5-God tells Jacob to move his family to Bethel (about 15 miles south of Shechem). This is where God had confirmed with Jacob that the covenant He had made with Abraham applied to him, as well. Jacob tells his family members to get rid of their false gods, their idols. They are going to Bethel to build an altar to the God who had answered his prayers in “the day of my distress, and has been with me wherever I have gone”. God’s presence with Jacob is a reoccurring theme (28:15; 31:3,42; 35:3). It was a common belief that a god was a local deity…meaning that a god was regulated to one particular area. Jacob’s family gave him all of their foreign gods and the rings which were in your ears. These rings were probably used as amulets or cultic symbols in their worship. Jacob buried the idols of the gods under the oak in Shechem…intending for the gods that they represented to be forced to stay there. He is leading his family to give up worship in these false gods and begin to worship the one, true God. Initially, Jacob seemed to believe that God was limited to a specific locale, as well. But now, wherever he has travelled, God has been with Him. Jacob is learning that God is greater than all of the other gods that people worshipped.
Jacob is again in distress over what his sons had done and is afraid that his family will be wiped out. So, he gathers them together and they go to Bethel to ask God for His protection. Along the way, the people in the villages that they pass are terribly afraid of them. They evidently had heard what had taken place at Shechem.
Genesis 35:6-7-Jacob and his family arrived at Bethel and built an altar. He named El-Bethel (means: “God of Bethel”…cf. 28:19).
Genesis 35:8-Deborah died and was buried there. They named the oak tree under which she was buried, “Allon-bacuth” (means: “oak of weeping”).
Genesis 35:9-15-God again appears to Jacob and reaffirms His covenant with him…stating that Jacob will have many descendants and that kings will be among them; and, that the land promised to Abraham will belong to him and his descendants. Jacob built a pillar out of stone and poured out an offering of oil on it. To signify Jacob’s relationship with God…God changes his name to “Israel” (which contains the name of God, “El”. cf. 32:25-28 for its meaning). He also confirms Jacob’s belief that He is the one, true God by telling him that He is “El Shaddai”…which means “God Almighty”. There is no other God. He alone is God and He is almighty…having all power. He doesn’t have most power, or much power. He has all power. He is God Almighty. It is upon this fact that Jacob can have faith in the promise He has made to Him.
Genesis 35:16-20-Jacob moves his family to “Ephrath”...this is the ancient name for “Bethlehem”. Along the way from Bethel to Bethlehem, Rachel went into labor. She gave birth to a son and she named him “Ben-oni” (means: “son of my sorrow or misfortune”)…but Jacob called him “Benjamin” (means: “son of the right hand”…the right hand signifying power, strength, or control). Rachel died soon after childbirth. They buried her there.
Genesis 3:20-21-Notice that from this verse on…Jacob is referred to as Israel.
Genesis 35:21-The “tower of Eder” was a watchtower for shepherds located between Bethlehem and Hebron.
Genesis 35:22-While they were in this area, Reuben had sex with Israel’s concubine (wife), Bilhah. Israel heard about it…and didn’t forget (cf. 49:4).
Genesis 35:23-26-Here is a list of the sons of Israel and their mothers.
Genesis 35:27-29-Jacob goes to his father, Isaac, at the “Mamre” (cf. 13:18, 22 miles south of Jerusalem). The last we heard of Isaac was in chapter 28. There, he blessed Jacob as he sent him away from Esau. This blessing is very similar to what we read in 35:9-12...including the elements of God's name, “God Almighty”, and the promise of many descendants, and the land promised to Abraham. The generational changing-of-the-guard is clearly pictured here with the death of Isaac (180 years old).
Prayer: Father, You are El Shaddai…God Almighty! I thank You that because I live in Your presence…I have nothing to fear. Thank You for giving us the story of the life of Jacob so that we can have a living demonstration of how You care for Your people. Help me to find faith and confidence in You as I read Your Word.