1422.) Genesis 31

October 14, 2014

“The Reconciliation of Jacob and Laban” by Italian Baroque painter Ciro Ferri

Genesis 31   (NRSV)

Jacob Flees with Family and Flocks

Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s; he has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him as favorably as he did before.

3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your ancestors and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”

4So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was, 5and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me as favorably as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all my strength; 7yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not permit him to harm me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore speckled; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. 9Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father, and given them to me.

These sheep are members of a Jacob sheep flock on the Meredith Spotted Sheep Ranch in Flournoy, CA.

10″During the mating of the flock I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats that leaped upon the flock were striped, speckled, and mottled. 11Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ 12And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the goats that leap on the flock are striped, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and return to the land of your birth.’“

14Then Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? 15Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has been using up the money given for us. 16All the property that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children; now then, do whatever God has said to you.”


Rachel and Leah complain about the loss of their inheritance because of their father’s dishonorable behavior.  Consider for a moment the inheritance our Heavenly Father is keeping safe for you.  Can the thought of that inheritance encourage you to good thoughts, words, and deeds today?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
–1 Peter 1:3-5 (NIV)

17So Jacob arose, and set his children and his wives on camels; 18and he drove away all his livestock, all the property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

19Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household gods. 20And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean, in that he did not tell him that he intended to flee. 21So he fled with all that he had; starting out he crossed the Euphrates, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.

Laban Overtakes Jacob

The hills of Gilead, a mountainous region east of the Jordan River.

22On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23So he took his kinsfolk with him and pursued him for seven days until he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night, and said to him, “Take heed that you say not a word to Jacob, either good or bad.”

25Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsfolk camped in the hill country of Gilead. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me, and carried away my daughters like captives of the sword. 27Why did you flee secretly and deceive me and not tell me? I would have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre. 28And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? What you have done is foolish. 29It is in my power to do you harm; but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Take heed that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’ 30Even though you had to go because you longed greatly for your father’s house, why did you steal my gods?”

31Jacob answered Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsfolk, point out what I have that is yours, and take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.

33So 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. And he went out of Leah’s tent, and entered Rachel’s. 34Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. Laban felt all about in the tent, but did not find them.

35And she said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the way of women is upon me.” So he searched, but did not find the household gods.

Fresco of Rachel sitting on the idols by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

The Household Gods
by Richard Chess

If, from afar, they saw
her with him at the well
they did not say.

Nor, when she ran
past their shelf, new love
to announce
and his arrival, did they
quicken, concerned.

Then, as her sister increased, son by
son by son, they did not increase
nor did they
diminish as Rachel
diminished with the birth
of each guarantee
of that one’s future, poorly loved

They kept no record
of Laban’s flocks, husbanded
by that son-in-law, how
many speckled, how
many dark. Their wisdom
was their refusal to know.

Even on the road
to Canaan, when she sat
on them and refused
to rise for father, how could they
have been anything other
than true to their nature,
speechless, as Rachel, having married
her talent for deception
to Jacob’s, revealed
that the way
of women was upon her?



Laban Searching Jacob’s Baggage for the Stolen Idols, Laurent de La Hire, 1647 (The Louvre).  Click  HERE  to see Laban conducting a very thorough snoop!


36Then Jacob became angry, and upbraided Laban. Jacob said to Laban, “What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? 37Although you have felt about through all my goods, what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsfolk and your kinsfolk, so that they may decide between us two.

38″These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. 39That which was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it myself; of my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40It was like this with me: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41These 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 have changed my wages ten times. 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night.”

Laban and Jacob Make a Covenant

43Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about their children whom they have borne? 44Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I; and let it be a witness between you and me.”

45So Jacob took a stone, and set it up as a pillar. 46And Jacob said to his kinsfolk, “Gather stones,” and they took stones, and made a heap; and they ate there by the heap. 47Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.

Mizpah coin

48Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore he called it Galeed, 49and the pillar Mizpah, for he said, “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other. 50If you ill-treat my daughters, or if you take wives in addition to my daughters, though no one else is with us, remember that God is witness between you and me.”

51Then Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap and see the pillar, which I have set between you and me. 52This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. 53May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor” —the God of their father—“judge between us.”

Bible commentator Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote:  “In effect, the pillar of Mizpah meant, ‘If you come over on my side of this line, the pact is void and I will kill you.’  The covenant breaker would need God to take care of him, because the other would shoot to kill.”  Mizpah was never meant to be a nice sentiment — despite what your “Mizpah coin” might say.

–David Guzik


This place is called Mizpah because Laban and Jacob call on God to witness their covenant and to monitor their faithfulness to the covenant.  Neither man will cross the boundary with hostile intentions.  The covenant ceremony is completed with a sacrificial offering to God and with a covenant meal.

–Linda B. Hinton

So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, 54and Jacob offered a sacrifice on the height and called his kinsfolk to eat bread; and they ate bread and tarried all night in the hill country.

55Early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them; then he departed and returned home.

Proverbs 10:12 (English Standard Version)

Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses.



So much to dislike, so much to forgive, as we read the stories of these people, as we think of our own lives.  So much to thank God for, for His wonderful kindness and His glory and grace, shared even with us.  Be grateful  HERE.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Ferri.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ab/Ciro_Ferri_-_The_Reconciliation_of_Jacob_and_Laban.jpg
spotted Jacob sheep.   http://meredithspottedsheepranch.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/20120409-214011.jpg
hill country of Gilead.   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/32/Hills_of_Gilead.jpg/300px-Hills_of_Gilead.jpg
Tiepolo.    http://boldlyproclaimingchrist.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/rachel_laban1.jpg
Mizpah coin.  http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/mizpah_medal1.jpg

1421.) Genesis 30

October 13, 2014

Leah and Zilpah. Or is it Rachel and Bilhah?

Genesis 30   (NRSV)

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!”

2Jacob became very angry with Rachel and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”

3Then she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, that she may bear upon my knees and that I too may have children through her.”

On my knees refers to the custom where the husband impregnated the surrogate while the surrogate reclined on the lap of the wife, and how she might even recline on the wife as she gave birth. The symbolism clearly showed the child was legally the child of the mother, not the surrogate, who merely “stood in” for the wife both in conception and birth.

–David Guzik

4So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife; and Jacob went in to her. 5And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son”; therefore she named him Dan (related to the Hebrew word for judged or vindicated).

7Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed”; so she named him Naphtali (related to the Hebrew word for contest).

9When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10Then Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11And Leah said, “Good fortune!” so she named him Gad (fortune or luck).

12Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13And Leah said, “Happy am I! For the women will call me happy”; so she named him Asher (happy).

14In 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.”

an illustration of a mandrake, a plant that was thought, because of its shape, to help barren women conceive a child

15But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?”

Rachel said, “Then he may lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.”

16When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and said, “You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night.

17And God heeded Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18Leah said, “God has given me my hire because I gave my maid to my husband”; so she named him Issachar (hire or reward).

19And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. 20Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good dowry; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons”; so she named him Zebulun (honor).

Psalm 127:3-5 (New International Version)

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

21Afterwards she bore a daughter, and named her Dinah (judgment).

Finally — a daughter!

22Then God remembered Rachel, and God heeded her and opened her womb. 23She conceived and bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach”; 24and she named him Joseph (he adds), saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”



I hope Jacob was a good father to all these children!  “Father’s Love”  by Gary Valenciano.


Jacob Prospers at Laban’s Expense

25When Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. 26Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go; for you know very well the service I have given you.”

27But Laban said to him, “If you will allow me to say so, I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you; 28name your wages, and I will give it.”

1 Timothy 5:18 (Contemporary English Version)

It is just as the Scriptures say, “Don’t muzzle an ox when you are using it to grind grain.” You also know the saying, “Workers are worth their pay.”

29Jacob said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you, and how your cattle have fared with me. 30For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly; and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?”

31He said, “What shall I give you?”

Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything; if you will do this for me, I will again feed your flock and keep it: 32let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages. 33So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen.”

The Jacob sheep is a rare breed of small, piebald (colored with spots), polycerate (multi-horned) sheep.

34Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.” 35But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in charge of his sons; 36and he set a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob was pasturing the rest of Laban’s flock.

37Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the rods. 38He set the rods that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39the flocks bred in front of the rods, and so the flocks produced young that were striped, speckled, and spotted. 40Jacob separated the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and the completely black animals in the flock of Laban; and he put his own droves apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob laid the rods in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the rods, 42but for the feebler of the flock he did not lay them there; so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43Thus the man grew exceedingly rich, and had large flocks, and male and female slaves, and camels and donkeys.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
two pregnancies.  http://images.inmagine.com/img/blendimages/bld082/bld082027.jpg
mandrake.    http://www.merriam-webster.com/art/med/mandrake.gif
baby girl.   http://opinionsandexpressions.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/baby_girl_lying.png
Jacob’s sheep.  http://www.sweetgrass-jacobs.com/drummond.jpg

1420.) Genesis 29

October 10, 2014

“Jacob and Rachel” Israel Biblical Art Commemorative Gold Coin, minted in 2003

Genesis 29  (NRSV)

Jacob Meets Rachel

Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the people of the east. 2As he looked, he saw a well in the field and three flocks of sheep lying there beside it; for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, 3and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would 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.

4Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?”

They said, “We are from Haran.”

5He said to them, “Do you know Laban son of Nahor?”

They said, “We do.”

6He said to them, “Is it well with him?”

“Yes,” they replied, “and here is his daughter Rachel, coming with the sheep.”



Was it “love at first sight” when Jacob saw Rachel?  Yes or no, it is true that Jacob loved Rachel dearly all his life.  HERE  is Celine Dion singing the Elvis classic, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”  This clip is from her 1993 tour, when she closed each show with this song.


7He said, “Look, it is still broad daylight; it is not time for the animals to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.”

8But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”

9While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them. 10Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of his mother’s brother Laban. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud.

“Jacob Meets Rachel,” by Raphael, 1518 (The Vatican)

12And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son; and she ran and told her father. 13When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.

Jacob Marries Laban’s Daughters

15Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?”

This might sound like a nice offer, but really Laban let Jacob know if he wants to stay around, he must stay as a hired servant. Jacob was the son of a man of tremendous wealth. Certainly he was not lazy, but he wasn’t used to hard work. Servants did the hard work back home. But now Jacob is the servant.

Jacob’s reaction in this situation will reveal much of his character. This demonstrates the principle that you never know what kind of servant you are until others treat you like a servant.

–David Guzik

16Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful. 18Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”

19Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

21Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.”

22So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. 23But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her.

It was possible for Jacob to be fooled because of the wedding customs of the day. According to those customs the wife was veiled until she was finally alone with her husband in the “honeymoon suite.” If it was dark by the time Jacob and his new bride were alone together (something Laban would not have difficulty arranging), it helps explain how Jacob was fooled.

–David Guzik

24(Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.)

25When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”

Matthew 26:52 (English Standard Version)

For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

Now the shoe is on the other foot.  Jacob, who had deceived his father, is now deceived by his father-in-law. 

“Oh!  What a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!”

– Sir Walter Scott.

26Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. 27Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.”

28Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. 29(Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid.) 30So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He served Laban for another seven years.

Gen29 Rossetti

31When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved,

“Wretched Leah sits sadly in her tent with her maid and spends her time spinning and weeping.  For the rest of the household, and especially Rachel, despises her because she has been scorned by her husband, who prefers Rachel and is desperately in love with Rachel alone.  She is not beautiful, not pleasing.  No, she is odious and hated . . .  There the poor girl sits; no one pays any attention to her.  Rachel gives herself airs before; she does not deign to look at her.  ‘I am the lady of the house,’ she thinks, ‘Leah is a slave.’ These are truly carnal things in the saintly fathers and mothers, like the things that usually happen in our houses.”

–Martin Luther

he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. 32Leah conceived and bore a son, and she named him Reuben (means, See, a son); for she said, “Because the Lord has looked on my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.”

33She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also”; and she named him Simeon (heard).

34Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons”; therefore he was named Levi (joined).


If I squint I can see him in the field, that Jacob,
that shape that isn’t a tree or a sheep.

When my sister goes out with her lunch basket
I watch till two shapes melt and sink.

They could do anything to me, those two,
and I wouldn’t see it until it was too late.

Laban tells me I’m the one with power.
You’re the one who’s bearing sons, he says.

But there they go in the field,
my sister and our husband,

and here I sit in my tent
exercising power.

–Barbara D. Holender

35She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord”; therefore she named him Judah (praise); then she ceased bearing.

Leah, though she was neglected by Jacob and despised by Rachel, had a great purpose in God’s plan. The two greatest tribes came from Leah, not Rachel: Levi (the priestly tribe) and Judah (the royal tribe). And most importantly, the Messiah came from Leah, the uglier sister, who was neglected and despised, but who learned to look to the Lord and praise Him.

Matthew 1:1-2 (New Living Translation)

This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac.
Isaac was the father of Jacob.
Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Coin.  http://www.commem.com/images/Gold_Coins/2003_Rach_10_NIS_f.JPG
Raphael.  http://www.christusrex.org/www1/stanzas/L22-Rachel.jpg
Rossetti.    http://www.keyway.ca/jpg/rachlea.jpg
baby boy shirt.   http://rlv.zcache.com/i_love_my_baby_boy_t_shirt-p235821185189795774t5hl

1419.) Genesis 28

October 9, 2014
"Jacob's Ladder"  by William Blake, 1806.

“Jacob’s Ladder” by William Blake, 1806.

Genesis 28     (NRSV)

Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, “You shall not marry one of the Canaanite women. 2Go at once to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father; and take as wife from there one of the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and numerous, that you may become a company of peoples. 4May he give to you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your offspring with you, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien—land that God gave to Abraham.”

So Isaac passes on to Jacob the covenant promise that God gave to Abraham:  land, descendants, blessing.

5Thus Isaac sent Jacob away; and he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.

Jacob will never see his parents again.

Esau Marries Ishmael’s Daughter

6Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he charged him, “You shall not marry one of the Canaanite women,” 7and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 8So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please his father Isaac, 9Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael, and sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

“The Dream of Jacob” by contemporary Chinese artist He Qi

10Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. 11He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

13And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; 14and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. 15Know that 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.”

Jacob stole the birthright and Isaac’s blessing from Esau; those belonged to someone else.  It should be a comfort to him to know that now he is blessed in his own name; this blessing is truly and legitimately his.

“Jacob’s Ladder,” by Israeli artist Lika Tov

16Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”

17And 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.”18So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

The name Bethel means house of God.  On his return to Canaan twenty years later, Jacob sets up an altar here (see Genesis 35:6-7).  Bethel became an important sanctuary during the time of the judges and was one of the leading centers for worship in the Northern Kingdom of Israel from the time of King Jeroboam I to the reign of King Josiah, some 300 years.  The stone is a “spiritual milestone.”

–Linda B. Hinton


Gen28 God is here

If God is present at every point in space, if we cannot go where He is not, cannot even conceive of a place where he is not, why then has not that Presence become one of the universally celebrated facts of the world?  The patriarch Jacob saw a vision of God and cried out in wonder, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not.”  That was his trouble and it is ours.  Men do not know that God is here.  What a difference it would make if they knew.

–A. W. Tozer

What physical markers (like Jacob’s pillar) can you put in your surroundings to remind yourself that God is here?

20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one tenth to you.”

Jacob’s Ladder, by Kathleen Anderson, 1995.

Romans 8:31-39 (New International Version)

If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Music:  Stairway or Ladder?

The NIV and New Living Version call what Jacob saw in his dream a stairway. The NASB and the English Standard Version call it a ladder.  We have a song for each word!

Led Zeppelin’s beautiful “Stairway to Heaven,” 1971, is the most requested and most played song on FM radio stations in the United States.  THIS  is an eight minute clip.

HERE  Paul Robeson sings “We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” at the Mother Zion Church in New York, 1958.


Jacob’s Dream, by Adam Elsheimer (Frankfort).  Click  HERE.
Jacob’s Dream, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1726 (painted in the Palazzo Patriarcale, Udine, Italy).  Click  HERE.
Jacob’s Dream, by Guillaume Azoulay, 2009.  Click  HERE.

Other Jacob’s Ladders!

a Jacob’s Ladder quilt, Pennsylvania, late 19th century


Jacob’s ladder flower


a traditional wooden toy called Jacob’s Ladder


Jacob’s Ladder, a patented commercial cardio machine


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Blake.  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ea/Blake_jacobsladder.jpg
He Qi.    http://www.heqigallery.com/gallery/gallery1/images/TheDreamOfJacob.jpg
Tov.  http://jungcurrents.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Jacobs-Ladder-tov.jpg
God is here.  http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2012/075/1/9/god_is_here_by_cbier-d4symdm.jpg
Anderson.   http://jungcurrents.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/jacobs-ladder-andersen.jpg
Quilt.  http://www.rickrack.com/quilt/qimages/pjl.jpg
Flower.  http://www.northcreeknurseries.com/_ccLib/image/plants/DETA-245.jpg
Toy.    http://geppettosworkshop.com.au/sassafras/wp-content/gallery/nostalgia/jacobs_ladder.jpg
Cardio machine.    http://images.oneshotfitness.com/uploads/2010/01/jacobimage.jpg

1418.) Genesis 27

October 8, 2014
"Isaac Blessing Jacob" by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1660 (The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia)

“Isaac Blessing Jacob” by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1660 (The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia)

Genesis 27    (NRSV)

Isaac Blesses Jacob

When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.”

2He said, “See, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. 4Then prepare for me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die.”

Actually, Isaac will live quite a while longer — some scholars say another 40 years or so.

5Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father say to your brother Esau, 7‘Bring me game, and prepare for me savory food to eat, that I may bless you before the Lord before I die.’ 8Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. 9Go to the flock, and get me two choice kids, so that I may prepare from them savory food for your father, such as he likes; 10and you shall take it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.”

11But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a man of smooth skin. 12Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him, and bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.”

13His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my word, and go, get them for me.”

“Here we see the idolatry of Rebekah; sacrificing her husband, her elder son, her principle, her own soul, for an idolized person. Do not mistake. No one ever loved child, brother, sister, too much. It is not the intensity of affection, but its interference with truth and duty, that makes it idolatry.

“Rebekah loved her son more than truth, that is, more than God…. The only true affection is that which is subordinate to [God’s higher authority]…. Compare, for instance, Rebekah’s love for Jacob with that of Abraham for his son Isaac.

“Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son to duty. Rebekah sacrificed truth and duty to her son. Which loved a son most? Which was the nobler love?”

–Frederick W. Robertson, a 19th-century English preacher

14So he went and got them and brought them to his mother; and his mother prepared savory food, such as his father loved. 15Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; 16and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17Then she handed the savory food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.

“Isaac Blessing Jacob,” by Govert Flinck, 1638 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

18So he went in to his father, and said, “My father”; and he said, “Here I am; who are you, my son?”

19Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.”

20But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?”

He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.”

21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him.

24He said, “Are you really my son Esau?”

He answered, “I am.”

25Then he said, “Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.

Gen27 Dore

26Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and 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 of the dew of heaven,
and of the fatness of the earth,
and plenty of grain and wine.
Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

A New Testament blessing from Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Blessing your children:

What exactly does it mean to give a blessing? What actions and attitudes combine to make this biblical tool so uniquely effective?  How can a parent or grandparent be intentional and effective in doing this?

The blessing as described in Scripture always included five elements:

1.  Meaningful and appropriate touch

Meaningful touch has many beneficial effects. The act of touch is key in communicating warmth, personal acceptance, affirmation, even physical health. It can be a hug, a kiss, a hand on the head or on the shoulder — something that communicates genuine affection.

2.  A spoken message

A blessing fulfills its purpose only when it is actually verbalized — spoken in person, written down or preferably both.  Don ‘t assume your children know.  Instead, give them a library of remembered affirmations and written notes to assure them.  Tell them you love them.

3.  Attaching high value to the one being blessed

Tell them how valuable they are to you.  Honor them by telling them they are important to you.  Here is also a time for a special gift to celebrate their specialness in your heart and life.

4.  Picturing a special future for him or her

We cannot predict another person’s future with total accuracy. But we can help those we are blessing see a future that is full of light and opportunity. We can let them know we believe they can build an outstanding life and future with the strengths and abilities God has given them. With this, a child can gain a sense of security in the present and grow in confidence to serve God and others in the future.

5.  An active commitment to fulfill the blessing

Words alone cannot communicate the blessing; they need to be backed with a willingness to do everything possible to help the one blessed be successful. We can tell a child, “You have the talent to be a very good pianist.” But if we neglect to provide a piano for that child to practice on, our lack of commitment has undermined our message.  Don’t wait.  Take the time and do whatever you can to help them develop their gifts and their skills.

–from Gary Smalley and others

Esau’s Lost Blessing

30As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of his father Isaac, his brother Esau came in from his hunting. 31He also prepared savory food, and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father sit up and eat of his son’s game, so that you may bless me.”

32His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?”

He answered, “I am your firstborn son, Esau.”

33Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? —yes, and blessed he shall be!”

34When Esau heard his father’s words, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, me also, father!”

35But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.”

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Esau who?
Esau his blessing disappear!

36Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright; and look, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”

37Isaac answered Esau, “I have already made him your lord, and I have given him all his brothers as servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?”

38Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, father? Bless me, me also, father!” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.

Both Isaac and Esau are grieved when they figure out what Jacob did, and now Esau is concerned about the birthright!  Previously (in Genesis 25:22-34), he was willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew, and he despised his birthright.  Now he wants not the spiritual, but the material and political advantages of the birthright. 

–David Guzik

39Then his father Isaac answered him:

“See, away from the fatness of the earth
shall your home be,
and away from the dew of heaven on high.
By your sword you shall live,
and you shall serve your brother;
but when you break loose,
you shall break his yoke from your neck.”

Esau, also known as Edom, will become the father of the Edomite nation.  Edom is east of southern Canaan in what is now Jordan.  Edom was under Israelite control during the reign of King David, but successfully revolted during the reign of King Solomon.

–Linda B. Hinton

Jacob Escapes Esau’s Fury

41Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”


Jesus says in Matthew 5:44 — “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  We are not to retaliate, but to overcome evil with good.  We are to show love even if we do not feel love.   Esau’s example is not the one to follow!

Where, or with whom, could you apply these Christ-like thoughts and behaviors in your life today, and overcome evil with good, unkindness with kindness?

42But the words of her elder son Esau were told to Rebekah; so she sent and called her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. 43Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, 44and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— 45until your brother’s anger against you turns away, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send, and bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

“Portrait of Rebecca,” by American artist Ammi Phillips, 1820

46Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am weary of my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women such as these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”



Tired of this dysfunctional family?!  Let’s look at “a better way.”  HERE  is “Love Never Fails.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Murillo.    http://www.arthermitage.org/Bartolome-Esteban-Murillo/Isaac-Blessing-Jacob.jpg
Flinck.  http://www.truth2u.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/733px-Isaac_Blessing_Jacob_-_Govert_Flinck.jpg
Dore.    http://www.creationism.org/images/DoreBibleIllus/aGen2729Dore_IsaacBlessingJacobL.jpg
Phillips.   http://prints.encore-editions.com/0/500/ammi-phillips-portrait-of-rebecca-rouse-eddy-1820-approximate-original-size-30×36.jpg


1417.) Genesis 26

October 7, 2014

“What Abimelech Saw” bronze sculpture by Candice Raquel Lee, 2005

Genesis 26   (NRSV)

Isaac and Abimelech

Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar, to King Abimelech of the Philistines. 2The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; settle in the land that I shall show you. 3Reside in this land as an alien, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will fulfill the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. 4I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and will give to your offspring all these lands; and all the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring, 5because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

6So Isaac settled in Gerar. 7When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “My wife,” thinking, “or else the men of the place might kill me for the sake of Rebekah, because she is attractive” in appearance.”

Like father, like son . . .

8When Isaac had been there a long time, King Abimelech of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw him fondling his wife Rebekah.

I love how the King James Version puts this:  the king looked out the window  “and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife.”

9So Abimelech called for Isaac, and said, “So she is your wife! Why then did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”

Isaac said to him, “Because I thought I might die because of her.”

10Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”

11So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall be put to death.”


Considering Isaac’s less-than-truthfulness with Abimelech:  Is it ever acceptable in God’s eyes to do the wrong thing but for the right (at least you think it is right) reason?  In your normal everyday life?  In extraordinary circumstances?

12Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in the same year reaped a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him, 13and the man became rich; he prospered more and more until he became very wealthy. 14He had possessions of flocks and herds, and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him. 15(Now the Philistines had stopped up and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham.)

16And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”

17So Isaac departed from there and camped in the valley of Gerar and settled there. 18Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham; for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham; and he gave them the names that his father had given them.


19But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, 20the herders of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herders, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the well Esek (meaning contention), because they contended with him. 21Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also; so he called it Sitnah (meaning enmity). 22He moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he called it Rehoboth (meaning broad places or room), saying, “Now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”


Isaac dug three wells.  After the first two, there were disputes and contention–so Isaac moved on.  Finally, after digging the third well, there seemed to be enough room and water for everyone.  Isaac was a peacemaker, kind to his enemies.  Are you willing to accommodate others again and again and again?

Hebrews 13:14-16 (New International Version):

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.  Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.



HERE  is “Let There be Peace on Earth”  sung by The Harlem Boys’ Choir.


23From there he went up to Beer-sheba. 24And that very night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you and make your offspring numerous for my servant Abraham’s sake.”

Here, for the first time, we see the title that would later become so familiar: “The God of your father Abraham.”

25So he built an altar there, called on the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.

26Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army. 27Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?”

28They said, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you; so we say, let there be an oath between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you 29so that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.”

Proverbs 16:7 (New American Standard Bible)

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

30So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths; and Isaac set them on their way, and they departed from him in peace.

32That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well that they had dug, and said to him, “We have found water!” 33He called it Shibah (meaning oath); therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba to this day.

First God comes to Isaac with further assurances that God’s blessing and presence will continue to be his; Isaac dug and well and found water.  Then Abimelech, an earthly power, affirms and recognizes Isaac’s blessed status.  Again Isaac finds water.  He has moved from famine at the beginning of the chapter to abundance at the end.

–Linda B. Hinton

Esau’s Hittite Wives

Mr. and Mrs. and Mrs. Esau

34When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite; 35and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Lee.   http://www.lilithgallery.com/gallery/lee/2005-CandiceRaquelLee-What-Abimelech-Saw-Viewpoint2.jpg
Isaac at the well.   http://bereanbiblestudygroup.com/wp-content/gallery/genesis-misc-images/img_0731.jpg
bigamist.  http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/bigamy1.jpg

1416.) Genesis 25

October 6, 2014


by Edwin Muir (1887–1959)

The rivulet-loving wanderer Abraham
Through waterless wastes tracing his fields of pasture
Led his Chaldean herds and fattening flocks
With the meandering art of wavering water
That seeks and finds, yet does not know its way.
He came, rested and prospered, and went on,
Scattering behind him little pastoral kingdoms,
And over each one its own particular sky,
Not the great rounded sky through which he journeyed,
That went with him but when he rested changed.
His mind was full of names
Learned from strange peoples speaking alien tongues,
And all that was theirs one day he would inherit.
He died content and full of years, though still
The Promise had not come, and left his bones,
Far from his father’s house, in alien Canaan.

Genesis 25  (NRSV)

Abraham Marries Keturah

Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 3Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. 4The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.

5Abraham gave all he had to Isaac. 6But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, while he was still living, and he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country.

Isaac was the son of the promise.  So he receives the primary inheritance, which includes not only Abraham’s considerable wealth in flocks and the burial site, but also the covenant promise.   Abraham secured Isaac’s inheritance in the land by dispossessing (we hope generously!) his children by Keturah, just as he had dispossessed Ishmael.

The Death of Abraham

The Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, built over the site of the tomb of Abraham

7This is the length of Abraham’s life, one hundred seventy-five years. 8Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. 9His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, 10the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites.

Isaac and Ishmael, though destined for very different lives, share the responsibility for seeing that their father is properly laid to rest.

There Abraham was buried, with his wife Sarah. 11After the death of Abraham God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi.



information about and pictures of the Great Mosque of Hebron and the tombs there.  Click  HERE.


Gary F. Gordon, “With Love to Isaac and Ishmael.”  Click  HERE  to read a poignant plea for reconciliation.


HERE  is “O God of Abraham”  by Don Moen.


Ishmael’s Descendants

12These are the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s slave-girl, bore to Abraham. 13These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, named in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the firstborn of Ishmael; and Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. 16These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages and by their encampments, twelve princes according to their tribes.

Villages and encampments would indicate both farmers and nomads.

17(This is the length of the life of Ishmael, one hundred thirty-seven years; he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people.) 18They settled from Havilah to Shur, which is opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria; he settled down alongside of all his people.

The Birth and Youth of Esau and Jacob


19These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, 20and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean.

21Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived.

Husbands — your prayers for your wife have power!  Love her enough to pray for her daily, to pray for her fervently!

22The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

Jewish legends say Jacob and Esau tried to kill each other in the womb. Also, every time Rebekah went near an idol’s altar, Esau would get excited in the womb, and when she would go near a place where the Lord was worshiped, Jacob would get excited.

23And the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the elder shall serve the younger.”

24When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. 25The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. 26Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.

The name Esau means “hairy,” while the name Jacob means “heel-catcher.”  That phrase carried negative connotations of “con-man” or “rascal.”

Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

27When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. 28Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.



Bruce Feiler: Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses (Book I, Chapter 3 “A Pillow of Stones”).


Esau Sells His Birthright

Click  HERE  for the recipe for this lentil stew!

29 Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. 30Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.)

31Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”

Jacob knew that the birthright was valuable and he wanted it.  Passages like Deuteronomy 21:17 and 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 tell us the birthright involved both a material and a spiritual dynamic.  The son of the birthright received a double portion of the inheritance, and he also became the head of the family and the spiritual leader upon the passing of the father.  In the case of this family the birthright determined who would inherit the covenant God made with Abraham, the covenant of a land, a nation, and the Messiah.

–David Guzik

32Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?”

33Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.

34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way.

Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Hebrews 12:16 (New Living Translation)

Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.

The following passage from Ephesians shows us our birthright, through Jesus Christ.  May we be careful so we do not despise it!

Ephesians 1:3-14 (New International Version)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love  he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace  that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,  he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,  in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Mosque at Hebron.   http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/mosque-hebronjpg.jpg?w=450&h=308
Ratner.   http://www.ratnermuseum.com/includes/images/photos/genesis/birth-of-jacob.jpg
lentil stew.  http://www.foodpeoplewant.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Sausage-and-Lentil-Stew.jpg


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