Jacob packs up and leaves for Bethel. The people of the land did not attack Jacob because of a fear of his God that had been instilled in them. God appears again to Jacob and renews his promises of blessing and calls him Israel. Rachel dies after delivering her second son, Benjamin and is buried at Bethlehem. Issac, at 180 years of age, dies and is buried by Jacob (Israel) and Esau.
Jacob buries Rachel by the side of the road. A monument is set up there and the tomb is there to this day where Jews go to pray. An armed fortress has been built around the monument and it is accessible only by riding in on a bulletproof bus. The custom of placing a stone upon a grave supposedly came from Israel’s setting up a stone for Rachel. When I visited Israel, I left a stone on the grave of Oskar Schindler.
When God hems us in with his protection, who can possible hurt us?
Leah’s daughter, Dinah, decided to check out the young girls of Shechem and the leader of the city’s son, also named Shechem, got involved with her and took her home and basically raped her. He then wanted her for a wife and got his father to approach Jacob. But when Jacob’s sons found out that their sister had been raped and kidnapped, they were itching for a fight. Hamor, the ruler, plotted to intermarry with Jacob’s clan and absorb their wealth through inter-marriage. Jacob’s sons counter plotted revenge by insisting the men of Shechem be circumcised, as they were, before they would marry. The men of Shechem agreed and then the real brothers of Dinah went and killed them all when they were bed bound by the circumcision. Following the brutality, all the sons of Jacob sacked the city and took possessions, women, children and animals. Jacob was troubled that the Canaanites in the land would destroy him but his sons felt it was worth it to avenge their sister.
Some commentaries show the necessity of this carnage to keep Jacob’s bloodline pure and that God has to work through even broken and sinful men to accomplish His ultimate plan. It would have been wonderful to see how His plan would have been implemented through Godly behavior on the part of Jacob’s sons. We will never know. However, this story gives me hope in my life that even though I am a sinful and flawed vessel, God can turn my imperfections to accomplish His will and salvage my pitiful behavior to His and my glory.
While Jacob is traveling south, he meets some angels. He wants to give Esau a heads-up that he is coming and so sends some messengers ahead to warn him but they return with the news that Esau and 400 armed men are headed his way. This alarms Jacob so that he divides his possessions and family into groups and sends gifts to Esau to console him. Remaining behind alone, Jacob encounters an angel and wrestles him and ends up being wounded by the angel. The angel is God who changes Jacob’s name to Israel. Jacob, now Israel, asks the angels name who does not give it as he expects Israel to know who He is. He then limps off the field of battle.
I believe the angels, who only Jacob can see, are meant to stop him from proceeding further as this is where God will have a physical set-to with Jacob.
Jacob makes some good logistical maneuvers and divides his people and animals into groups to deal with Esau and then leaves the results in God’s hands. This is a very reasonable strategy for me today; do what I can and then let God.
He then encounters God in the form of a man who wants a physical fight. I am not sure of the symbology of this encounter but Coffman makes an interesting assumption: Jacob prevails in the wrestling match by surrender, confession and pleading. ” Cling to the Lord, and never let go!” A wonderful visual.
Esau arrives with his 400 men and Jacob bows before him but Esau embraces Jacob as a long lost brother. Jacob then offers half his herds to Esau as a gift, which he refuses but with further encouragement accepts. Now the friendship is formal and agreed. Esau wants Jacob to go with him to his home in Seir but Jacob insists he will follow later. Esau returns home and Jacob enters Canaan, the Promised Land, for the first time, buys some land, builds an altar and settles down.
Knowing the nature of Esau, it is surprising his amiable and brotherly treatment of Jacob. It is so easy to chew on past hurts which only accumulate into mountains of hatred but perhaps Esau had mellowed over the twenty years, seeing how he himself had been blessed.
Remembered injuries only damage the one who cannot forget them. Help me Lord to let it go, let it go, let it go.
I decided to assemble my blogs on each chapter of Genesis into a book. You can find it on Amazon.com for download at .99 cents. It was a wonderful experience to create. If you are interested, you can buy my book here: Thoughts About Genesis – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YQL121S
To create your own book, you can do the following:
1. If you don’t have Word you can dowload a free word processor app: Open Office – https://www.openoffice.org/ to create a book and save it in doc format.
2. Download another app: Kindle Create – https://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Create/b?node=18292298011 that takes your Word or Open Office document and converts it to kindle format.
3. Upload the converted document to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), answer a few questions and bam, you are published. You have to register with KDP but it is free.
Laban and his family perceived that Jacob had basically stolen all Laban’s wealth. God told Jacob it was time to leave so while Laban was off shearing his sheep, Jacob packed everything up and left. Unknown to Jacob, Rachel stole Laban’s terephim or gods. Laban then pursued Jacob but before he caught up with him, God appeared to Laban in a dream and told him he better treat him decently. Laban accused Jacob of stealing his gods and so searched Jacobs camp but could not find them because Rachel was sitting on them on her camel. Jacob is then angry with Laban and accuses Laban of taking advantage of him for twenty years. Laban says everything that Jacob has belongs to him. But the argument goes no further and they agree to vow friendship and part ways.
Laban is basically a covetous man who only cares about riches. Jacob cares more about pleasing God. Their relationship with each other is a war of theologies. Earthly gods and desires versus the God of Abraham and Issac who is the only active and effective god.
The behavior of Rachel is puzzling. Why did she steal Laban’s idols? One theory is that she thinks they could be used to find Jacob and company (Clarke). Another is that she wants to take them away from Laban so that he will turn to the God of Abraham. Well, motives can be a secret of the heart and we may never know.
Had not God interceded, Laban may well have attacked Jacob. Father, I pray that You intercede constantly to keep me at peace with all men.
Posted in Abraham, Christianity, god, Jesus Christ, Judaism, religion, sprituality, theology
Tagged Abraham, Genesis 31, Issac, Jacob, Laban, Old Testament, Rachel