847.) Genesis 41

July 31, 2012

“Pharaoh’s Dream” fractal art by contemporary American artist Doug Harrington

Genesis 41  (NRSV)

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dream

After two whole years,

The royal butler forgot about Joseph, and Joseph remained  in prison for two more years.  What good was God building into Joseph’s soul during this long wait?  During the times we think God isn’t doing anything, He is doing the work most important to Him: developing our character and transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ.

Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2and there came up out of the Nile seven sleek and fat cows, and they grazed in the reed grass. 3Then seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4The ugly and thin cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. And Pharaoh awoke.

5Then he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6Then seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them. 7The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Pharaoh awoke, and it was a dream. 8In the morning his spirit was troubled; so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.

9Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my faults today. 10Once Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard. 11We dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own meaning. 12A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each according to his dream. 13As he interpreted to us, so it turned out; I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”

14Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was hurriedly brought out of the dungeon. When he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. 15And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

To God be the glory!

cows grazing on the banks of the Nile

17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile; 18and seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. 19Then seven other cows came up after them, poor, very ugly, and thin. Never had I seen such ugly ones in all the land of Egypt. 20The thin and ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows, 21but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had done so, for they were still as ugly as before. Then I awoke.

22″I fell asleep a second time and I saw in my dream seven ears of grain, full and good, growing on one stalk, 23and seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouting after them; 24and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. But when I told it to the magicians, there was no one who could explain it to me.”

25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind. They are seven years of famine.

28It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. 30After them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; the famine will consume the land. 31The plenty will no longer be known in the land because of the famine that will follow, for it will be very grievous. 32And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.

33Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. 35Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”

Joseph shows both his boldness and his gift of administration. No responsible leader would present such news without also suggesting a plan to meet the coming crisis.

Joseph’s Rise to Power

37The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find anyone else like this—one in whom is the spirit of God?”

39So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.”

. . . thus making Joseph the straightest man in the Bible, since Pharaoh made a ruler out of him . . . hahaha . . .

41And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42Removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; he arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck. 43He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command; and they cried out in front of him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt.

44Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, as his wife. Thus Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt.

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Music:

“Song of the King (Seven Fat Cows)” from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  If you have not seen this musical, get a copy — it is a lot of fun!

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Harvest in Egypt, from the tomb of Sennedjem, Thebes, ca. 1200 BC.

46Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. 47During the seven plenteous years the earth produced abundantly. 48He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. 49So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it; it was beyond measure.

“Grain bins in a spring wheat field” photograph by Dave Reede

50Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. 51Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52The second he named Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.”

From his Egyptian wife, Joseph fathered Manasseh, whose name means “forgetfulness.” This was because God made Joseph to forget all the previous pain and trial in his life. His second son is Ephraim, which means “fruitfulness,” because God made Joseph fruitful in Egypt.

We can’t be doubly fruitful until we are also forgetting. In his book The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis described hell as a place where no one forgets anything, remembering every slight, every cruel exchange of words, every wrong ever done to them, and everybody is utterly unforgiving. But in heaven all these things are put away because all things have become new.

Joseph did not forget the faith of his fathers even though he rose to great glory in Egypt and had an Egyptian wife. As a sign of this, his children were given Hebrew names, not Egyptian names.

–David Guzik

53The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; 54and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread. 55When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.”

56And since the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57Moreover, all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world.

“Joseph, Overseer of the Pharaoh’s Granaries” by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1874 (Dahesh Museum of Art, New York City)

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Simple Secrets of the Kingdom
Study 17 — The Mission of the New People of God

When something good happens to us in the church we want others to know.  We have a message to share.  The purpose of the new people of God is to tell others what Jesus has done for them. These people are witnesses to the good news they have seen and heard. Jesus has commanded the new people to go into all the world and bring everyone His message of good news.  Click here for AUDIO or VIDEO.

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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:
Harrington.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/phar-dream-fractaljpg1.jpg?w=450
cows and wheat watercolor.   https://sincetimebegan.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/pharaohs-dream.gif
cows.  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3275/2600906207_820c4d70b8.jpg?v=0
wheat.   http://www.infiniteunknown.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/wheat-beautiful.jpg
ruler.  http://iruler.net/ruler_0_10.jpg
Egypt harvest.  http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/Homework/egypt/images/harvest.jpg
Reede.   http://www.davereedephoto.mb.ca/photoslg/wheat_spring_tiger_hills.jpg
Alma-Tadema.    http://www.daheshmuseum.org/collection/gr/collection/almatademal/almatademal_1_enlarge.jpg
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846.) Genesis 40

July 30, 2012

“Joseph Interprets the Butler’s and Baker’s Dreams in a Prison” by Alexander Ivanov, 1827 (The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg)

Genesis 40   (NRSV)

The Dreams of Two Prisoners

Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined.

The butler was in charge of Pharaoh’s wine.  The baker was in charge of Pharaoh’s food.  They were imprisoned because they offended their lord, the king of Egypt.  It is difficult to tell if it was in a minor or a major way.  Considering how the account will develop, it is probable there was a plot to murder the Pharaoh (perhaps by poisoning).  But we never lose sight of the over-arching reason: whatever external reason they were sent to prison, they were really there to meet Joseph.

–David Guzik

4The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Joseph was in prison.  His feet were hurt with fetters, his heart was hurt by injustice and unkindness.  But none of these things prevented him from helping others.

The story that follows shows how full of kindness his service must have been.  Joseph must have done more than his bare duty.  We do not go for sympathy to those who have been cold and uninterested in our affairs.  We avoid them.  The butler and the baker went to Joseph sure of his loving, self-forgetful sympathy.

It makes us think of Another whose feet were hurt, and His hands and His side, and far more His loving heart.  Out of the midst of His pains He thought of others, only of others.

Matthew 27:42:  He saved others; Himself He cannot save.  More and more these words seem to sum up His life on earth.

Lord Jesus, who left us an example that we should follow in Thy steps, help us to follow.  Let us forget self in service.  Give us Thy love that, loving others, loves them to the end.

5One night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. 6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled.

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Reflection:

Do I notice when the people I am with are troubled?  Do I ask them about it, and try to help them however I can? Am I willing to put the needs of others above my own?

Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

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7So he asked Pharaoh’s officers, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?”

8They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.”

And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

9So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms came out and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”

12Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days; 13within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.

In only three days, the cupbearer will know if Joseph was correct or not.

14But remember me when it is well with you; please do me the kindness to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this place. 15For in fact I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”

16When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.”

18And Joseph answered, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 19within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you! —and hang you on a pole; and the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

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Music:

Kings/Pharaohs and birds — The US Navy Chanters perform “Sing a Song of Sixpence” from Five Childhood Lyrics by John Rutter at the 1995 ACDA National Convention in Washington, D.C.

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20On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21He restored the chief cupbearer to his cupbearing, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand; 22but the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had interpreted to them.

23Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Again Joseph is forgotten.  But hang on, Joe!  There is light at the end of your tunnel, and God is going to rescue you in a way you cannot now begin to imagine!

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All people God uses greatly, He first prepares greatly.  Are we willing to endure the greatness of God’s preparation?  God orders both our steps and our stops.

Proverbs 15:33 (New International Version)

The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.

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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:
Ivanov.   http://www.abcgallery.com/I/ivanov/ivanov2.html
Joseph dressed in red.    https://sincetimebegan.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/joseph-baker-butler.jpg
Ratner.  http://www.ratnermuseum.com/includes/images/photos/bible/bible-45.jpg

845.) Genesis 39

July 27, 2012

“Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife,” by Guido Reni, 1631 (Pushkin Museum, Moscow)

Genesis 39   (NRSV)

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.

Captain of the guard:  The idea behind this title means “chief of police,” or probably more precisely, Potiphar was head of Pharaoh’s “Secret Service,” his personal security force.  He was a highly trusted official in the government of Egypt.

–David Guzik

2The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.

How easy it is for us to complain to God that He put us in a terrible or difficult place.  Yet God’s will is that we trust Him to bless us and make us successful (as He measures success) wherever we are.  The point is not the comfort and ease of our lives.  The point is our obedience in being conformed to the image of Christ through the circumstances we encounter.  We can be certain that God will be faithful to us in all things.

5From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge; and, with him there, he had no concern for anything but the food that he ate.

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Proverbs 14:27 (New International Version)

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
turning a man from the snares of death.

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Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking.

Joseph’s appearance is of special note.  The Bible only calls two other men beautiful: David (1 Samuel 16:12) and Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25).

7And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.”

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

8But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. 9He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

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Reflection, a story:

“Rabbi, what can I do to silence the voice of temptation,” asked the man. When the rabbi replied that this voice might never be silenced, the man exclaimed, “But it’s driving me crazy. Is there any advice that can help me overcome it?”

“Ah, overcome it,” mused the rabbi, “Overcoming the voice is not hard at all. There is one magical word and when you say it, the voice is instantly overcome. It doesn’t go away, mind you. It rarely ever does that, but it can be overcome.”

“A magical word that will deliver me from the brink of temptation? Please share it with me,” the man begged.

The rabbi smiled and firmly replied, “No.”

“Why not? Please, I beg you.”

“No,” repeated the Rabbi. Crestfallen, the man turned to leave — when the rabbi softly explained that word “no” was, in fact, the magical word.

–from Countering the Voice of Temptation, by Lazer Gurkow.

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10And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her.

“Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife,” by a Christian artist in Thailand, Sawai Chinnawong, 2004.

11One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, 12she caught hold of his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

“Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife” by contemporary New York artist Richard McBee.

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Hebrews 13:4 (English Standard Version)

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

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Music:

“Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each vict’ry will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward; dark passions subdue;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.”

This song was written by Horation R. Palmer in 1868.  It is sung by Ramona Campbell.

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13When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14she called out to the members of her household and said to them, “See, my husband has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us! He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; 15and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.” 16Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, 17and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; 18but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.”

19When his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, “This is the way your servant treated me,” he became enraged. 20And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison.

Potiphar went easy on Joseph because he suspected his wife’s role in the matter.  The anger aroused may have not been directed towards Joseph, but against the wife for manipulating him into a situation where, to save face, he had to dismiss the man who made the whole household run well.

–David Guzik

21But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.

The dominating theme is that Joseph succeeded because of the blessing of God:

  • The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man (Genesis 39:2)
  • His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand (Genesis 39:3)
  • The Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had (Genesis 39:5)
  • But the Lord was with Joseph (Genesis 39:21)
  • The Lord was with him (Genesis 39:23)

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Romans 6:15-18 (New Living Translation)

Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.  Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.  Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

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Book:

Bruce Feiler: Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses (Book II, Chapter 1 “On the Banks of the Nile”).

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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:
Reni.  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d4/Joseph_and_Potiphar%27s_Wife.jpg/506px-Joseph_and_Potiphar%27s_Wife.jpg
Voulez-vous.   http://i53.photobucket.com/albums/g72/stolen1985/sleeping.jpg
Chinnawong.  http://www.omsc.org/art-at-omsc/sawai/joseph-potiphar-thumb.jpg
McBee.   http://www.fadingad.com/potifar.jpg

844.) Genesis 38

July 26, 2012

“Tamar and Judah” — a spicy interpretation by Emile Jean-Horace Vernet (1789-1863)

Genesis 38   (NRSV)

Judah and Tamar

It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and settled near a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah. 2There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; he married her and went in to her. 3She conceived and bore a son; and he named him Er. 4Again she conceived and bore a son whom she named Onan. 5Yet again she bore a son, and she named him Shelah. She was in Chezib when she bore him.

It isn’t hard to see the sons of Israel rapidly and willingly being corrupted by their Canaanite neighbors, and what the future will bring if they continued in that land. God had a plan to bring them out . . .

6Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. 7But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death.

8Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.”

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Matthew 22:24 (New International Version)

“Teacher,” the Sadducees said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him.”

This was done so the dead brother’s name would be carried on. But also it was so the widow would have children to support her. Apart from this, she would likely live the rest of her life as a destitute widow.

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9But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother. 10What he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also.

Onan refused to take this responsibility seriously. He was more than happy to use Tamar for his sexual gratification, but he did not want to give Tamar a son he would have to support but would be considered to be the son of Er.

11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up” —for he feared that he too would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.

One can understand Judah’s hesitancy to give his last son as a husband to Tamar.  He may have wondered — Was she the cause of the death of his sons?

12In course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died; when Judah’s time of mourning was over, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.

13When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14she put off her widow’s garments, put on a veil, wrapped herself up, and sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. She saw that Shelah was grown up, yet she had not been given to him in marriage.

Tamar didn’t have the option of just finding another man to marry. She was under the headship of her father-in-law Judah, and he had to give her a husband. He determined whom and when she could marry.

“Tamar, Judah’s Daughter-in-law” by Marc Chagall, 1958

15When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16He went over to her at the road side, and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.

She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?”

17He answered, “I will send you a kid from the flock.”

And she said, “Only if you give me a pledge, until you send it.”

18He said, “What pledge shall I give you?”

She replied, “Your signet and your cord, and the staff that is in your hand.”

“Judah and Tamar” School of Rembrandt, ca. 1650-60 (Residenzgalerie Salzburg)

So he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19Then she got up and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.

20When Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to recover the pledge from the woman, he could not find her. 21He asked the townspeople, “Where is the temple prostitute who was at Enaim by the wayside?”

But they said, “No prostitute has been here.”

22So he returned to Judah, and said, “I have not found her; moreover the townspeople said, ‘No prostitute has been here.’“

23Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, otherwise we will be laughed at; you see, I sent this kid, and you could not find her.”

We see how carefully and shrewdly Tamar planned this.  Now she has proof of Judah’s actions in the signet, cord, and staff, proof that Judah will be unable to deny.

24About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the whore; moreover she is pregnant as a result of whoredom.”

And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.”

25As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “It was the owner of these who made me pregnant.” And she said, “Take note, please, whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.”

26Then Judah acknowledged them and said, “She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not lie with her again.

Judah acknowledges his guilt in not taking proper care of his daughter-in-law, and in sleeping with her.

27When the time of her delivery came, there were twins in her womb. 28While she was in labor, one put out a hand; and the midwife took and bound on his hand a crimson thread, saying, “This one came out first.” 29But just then he drew back his hand, and out came his brother; and she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore he was named Perez. 30Afterward his brother came out with the crimson thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah.

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Matthew 1:1-3 (New International Version)

The Genealogy of Jesus

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar . . .

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TAMAR
by Joyce Carr Stedelbauer

I, Tamar, am not proud of what I have done,
you must understand … not proud of what I have done.
A desperate situation and I was justified.
You ladies alone today have other options –
savings – jobs – an acceptable place in society.
I was an outcast, a foreigner, twice widowed.
My father-in-law, Judah, son of Leah and Jacob,
reluctantly promised his youngest son
to care for me, as Hebrew law provided.
Judah reneged on his word – marriage or care,
would have let his son’s memory die with no heir.
I had no other choice.

Drying tears, I painted my eyes with kohl,
my mouth red with berry juice,
plaited ribbons in my hair,
humbling myself to sit near the city gate
with other ladies of the night.
It was degrading, a miserable experience,
I prayed as I waited ….
Judah came along as if he owned the road.
Smiling shyly at him – he turned –
hesitated but a moment –
came back to me.

Armed with the law of protection,
I demanded his ring before he took me.
Some months later he denied my claim
until I held out the dishonored ring.
Judah crumbled like a clod of dirt on the road.
Somehow out of His infinite goodness
God allowed me to birth twins sons
from the house of Judah, Messiah’s branch,
and the rest is His Story.

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Music:

We read the strange story of Tamar and Judah remembering that God loves us not because of what we do — but because of who He is.  It’s all grace.   “Grace”  sung by Michael W. Smith.

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Simple Secrets of the Kingdom
Study 16 — The Church, the New People of God

The church is made up of those who are called out of darkness into the light of Christ. People who have been saved by grace want others to share this power for imperfect people. This fellowship of forgiven sinners is a community built on the foundation of the promises of God.   And this is not a perfect community of people but instead a group of imperfect people who live under grace, trusting the power of the Lord Jesus to work in them.  Click here for AUDIO or VIDEO.

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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:
Vernet.  http://www.womeninthebible.net/images/1.9B-2_TAMAR_Tamar_and_Judah_Horace_Vernet.jpg
Chagall.  http://www.davidsongalleries.com/artists/chagall/chagall-22475_tamar.jpg
Rembrant school.  http://www.residenzgalerie.at/uploads/tx_csimageexplorer/0570_Rembrandtschule.A5Augeheller_01.jpg

843.) Genesis 37

July 25, 2012

Genesis 37  (NRSV)

Joseph Dreams of Greatness

Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. 2This is the story of the family of Jacob.

Here begins one of the remarkable life stories of the Bible and all literature.   James Montgomery Boice has written:  “He was loved and hated, favored and abused, tempted and trusted, exalted and abased. Yet at no point in the one-hundred-and-ten-year life of Joseph did he ever seem to get his eyes off God or cease to trust him. Adversity did not harden his character. Prosperity did not ruin him. He was the same in private as in public. He was a truly great man.”

–David Guzik

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age;

Jacob’s parents played favorites with their two boys, and now Jacob plays favorites with his sons.  Neither family functions happily as a result.

and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.

I have read that the Hebrew phrase here translates as “tunic of many colors” but means a long-sleeved robe.  Such a robe indicated a life of privilege and status.  A working man could not function in such a garment.

4But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

“Yosef” by Israeli artist Orna Ben-Shoshan, 2003

5Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. 7There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.”

8His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.

9He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

“Joseph’s Dreams” by contemporary Floridian artist Susan Govatos

10But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?” 11So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

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Luke 2:51 (New Living Translation)

Then Jesus returned to Nazareth with his parents and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.

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Joseph Is Sold by His Brothers

12Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.” 14So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.

He came to Shechem, 15and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” 16“I am seeking my brothers,” he said; “tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” 17The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’“

So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. 18They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. 20Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”

21But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him” —that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father.

“Joseph is Sold by his Brothers” by Raphael, 1518 (The Vatican)

23So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed.

“Joseph is sold by his brothers” by Friedrich Overbeck, 1816 (Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

28When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.

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Matthew 26:14-15 (New Living Translation)

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests  and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.

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And they took Joseph to Egypt.  29When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. 30He returned to his brothers, and said, “The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?”

31Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. 32They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, “This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.”

A heartless way to bring the news and an unconscionable lie.

33He recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days. 35All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father bewailed him.

36Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Egypt was a large and thriving kingdom for at least a thousand years before Joseph came. The Egyptians were wealthy and had massive natural resources. They were educated and had no real enemies at the time. When Joseph came to Egypt, some of the pyramids already looked old and the Sphinx was already carved. But in God’s eyes, the most impressive thing about Egypt was that Joseph was now there.

–David Guzik

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Art:

Joseph’s Bloody Coat Brought to Jacob, by Velazquez Diego, 1630, now in Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial, Spain.

http://history.hanover.edu/courses/art/veljos.jpg

Music:

“Coat of Many Colors,” written and sung by Dolly Parton; how a Bible story helped her through a difficult time in her childhood.

on DVD:

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. With Donny Osmond, Maria Friedman. 1999.

Joseph. Starring Ben Kingsley, Paul Mercurio.  1995.

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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:
Joseph’s colorful coat.  http://www.holytrinityglencraig.org/Images/Joseph.gif
Ben-Shoshan.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/gen-37-ben-yosef.jpg?w=450
Govatos.  http://susangovatos.com/websites/SusanGovatos/works/7836_195035m.jpg
Raphael.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/josephsold.jpg?w=450&h=326
Overbeck.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Friedrich_Overbeck_003.jpg
Sphinx and pyramid.   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/Giza_Plateau_-_Great_Sphinx_with_Pyramid_of_Khafre_in_background.JPG

842.) Genesis 36

July 24, 2012

Esau of stew-for-birthright fame.

Genesis 36   (NRSV)

Esau’s Descendants

These are the descendants of Esau (that is, Edom). 2Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah daughter of Anah son of Zibeon the Hivite, 3and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebaioth. 4Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau; Basemath bore Reuel; 5and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

6Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his cattle, all his livestock, and all the property he had acquired in the land of Canaan; and he moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. 7For their possessions were too great for them to live together; the land where they were staying could not support them because of their livestock. 8So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom.

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Hebrews 12:14-17 (New International Version)

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

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9These are the descendants of Esau, ancestor of the Edomites, in the hill country of Seir. 10These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz son of Adah the wife of Esau; Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. 11The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. 12(Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.) These were the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife. 13These were the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons of Esau’s wife, Basemath. 14These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah, daughter of Anah son of Zibeon: she bore to Esau Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.

Edom is shown in bright red. The darker red shows the area of Idumea, from Jesus’ time.

Clans and Kings of Edom

Edom and the Edomites are mentioned some 130 times in the Bible. They were an important group of “neighbors” to Israel.

  • When the Israelites came through the wilderness to the Promised Land in the time of Moses, the Edomites refused them passage through their land (Numbers 20:21). This was a source of great discouragement for the nation (Numbers 21:4).
  • Even so, God commanded special regard for the Edomites among Israel: You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother(Deuteronomy 23:7).
  • In the days of Saul, Edom was made subject to Israel (1 Samuel 14:47), and David established garrisons there (2 Samuel 8:14). But later, in the days of Joram, the son of Ahab, the Edomites became independent of Israel (2 Kings 8:16-22).
  • Several of the prophets spoke about and against Edom, including Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:17-18) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 25:12-14).
  • Herod the Great — the one who tried to kill the young child Jesus — was an Edomite.  From the time Islam conquered the Middle East, the region has been virtually unoccupied, except for a few Bedouins and military outposts. It had been brought to nothing, as Obadiah had prophesied (the entire book of Obadiah records an extended prophecy against Edom).

–David Guzik

15These are the clans of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: the clans Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16Korah, Gatam, and Amalek; these are the clans of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; they are the sons of Adah. 17These are the sons of Esau’s son Reuel: the clans Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah; these are the clans of Reuel in the land of Edom; they are the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath. 18These are the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: the clans Jeush, Jalam, and Korah; these are the clans born of Esau’s wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah. 19These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are their clans.

20These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the clans of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22The sons of Lotan were Hori and Heman; and Lotan’s sister was Timna. 23These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 24These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah; he is the Anah who found the springs in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon. 25These are the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah daughter of Anah. 26These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. 27These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. 28These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29These are the clans of the Horites: the clans Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the clans of the Horites, clan by clan in the land of Seir.

31These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. 32Bela son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah. 33Bela died, and Jobab son of Zerah of Bozrah succeeded him as king. 34Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites succeeded him as king. 35Husham died, and Hadad son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, succeeded him as king, the name of his city being Avith. 36Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah succeeded him as king. 37Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates succeeded him as king. 38Shaul died, and Baal-hanan son of Achbor succeeded him as king. 39Baal-hanan son of Achbor died, and Hadar succeeded him as king, the name of his city being Pau; his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Me-zahab.

40These are the names of the clans of Esau, according to their families and their localities by their names: the clans Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43Magdiel, and Iram; these are the clans of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of Edom), according to their settlements in the land that they held.

Romans 9:13 (New International Version)

Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Today’s passage is in Genesis 36, covering the generations of Esau’s children.  I continue to be focused on understanding what G-D means when He says, “Esau have I hated” as I listen to this passage.  Let’s see: 

  • Esau fathered numerous sons with his three wives (and we can safely assume that there were numerous daughters among his progeny, as well; daughters who are not mentioned because they did no remarkable acts that would cause them to be remembered specially AND because, in that culture, they would have been counted in the families of their husbands estates when they married out of their father’s household).
  • He is forced to move away from his brother (Israel), not because of smoldering resentments or family feuds, but simply because the land cannot support all of the people and livestock produced by the brothers.  Sounds like a good problem to me!
  • His sons and grandsons became kings and leaders of clans.  They built cities and developed territories — the local equivalent of nations in their time.
  • It seems they didn’t know the God of their great ancestors (Abraham and Isaac), or if they did, they turned away from that faith.  Again, I note that we are never told that G-D ever spoke with Esau.  The lands that they settled and developed were the highly productive lands of Canaan, which Israel’s descendants would later come to take by force, despising the pagan practices of their distant kin in that place and acting upon the direction they received by special revelation without ever questioning the logic or rightness of their actions.

This thing that the Bible describes as hatred looks like something completely different from what we think of as humans when we use the same word.  We think about punishment when we use the word hatred.  It’s not clear to me that G-D meant any such thing when He chose the word.

To an astounding degree, we humans continue to be guilty of the sin of Esau, just the same as the descendants of Israel were when they entered the land beyond the Jordan in the lust of conquest.  We are more intent upon satisfying our appetites and needs than we are on preserving the peace and well-being of the whole family of humankind.  We will sell off our future and all of the incumbent responsibilities/privileges in order to enjoy the satisfaction of our present impulse.

Strangely or not, every problem that plagues our 21st century world can really be traced back to this same type of offense at its root. 

Only Jesus found a different way to deal with human need and impulse.  He didn’t take, He didn’t clamor, He didn’t assert His rights, He simply trusted Abba God to make things come out right.  Granted, I believe He knew His calling and God’s plan when He took His stand, but there He stood.  And even in that knowing, I find guidance.  If I am not equally assured of the unshakable commitment of Abba God in my choice, then I want to exercise discretion until that comes. 

I can’t find another authentically altruistic model anywhere, however much I watch for one.

–Cat Bismuth

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Music:

Are we not “Lost in Wonder”  by all of what Jesus has done for us?  By Martyn Layzell, a Curate at Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican Church in Central London.

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Simple Secrets of the Kingdom
Study 15 — Suffering and Glory

Usually we try to avoid suffering, but in Romans 8 we find that God uses our sufferings as an opportunity for His power to be glorified in our disappointments.  He works it together for our good.  In addition — and this is an awesome thought! — we are being prayed for by the Trinity.  The Spirit, the Father and the Son are all interceding for us.  Click here for AUDIO or VIDEO.

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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:
Esau and the stew pot.    http://dailycat.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/artworkesau3.jpg
map.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/28/Edom.PNG/200px-Edom.PNG

841.) Genesis 35

July 23, 2012

Genesis 35   (NRSV)

Jacob Returns to Bethel

God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and settle there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”

After the horrible episode in Shechem, God calls Jacob to return to Him.  God tells Jacob to build an altar, to turn away from his own way to God’s way.

2So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your clothes; 3then come, let us go up to Bethel, that I may make an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”

After Jacob makes the decision to purify himself and return to God’s will, he tells his family to do the same.  We remember that Rachel had stolen Laban’s gods; did the poor example of the mother influence her children for wrong-doing?

4So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak that was near Shechem. 5As they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities all around them, so that no one pursued them.

Oh, the joy and the freedom of knowing that, by the gift of grace, you are right with God!

6Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, 7and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother.

8And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So it was called Allon-bacuth.

Deborah must have been dearly loved.  The name means “Oak of Weeping.”

9God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. 10God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. 11God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you. 12The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” 13Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him.

14Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured out a drink offering on it, and poured oil on it. 15So Jacob called the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

So Jacob returns to God.  He repents and worships God.  God blesses him, reminding him of the promise given to Jacob’s grandfather Abraham and repeated to Jacob’s father Isaac.  The offering shows Jacob’s gratitude for God’s lovingkindness.

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Reflection:

Where have you been when God has spoken to you?

What have you done to commemorate it, and to worship?

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Music:

“Here I Am to Worship.”

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The Birth of Benjamin and the Death of Rachel

“Birth of Benjamin and death of Rachel” (The Vatican, Sala dei Patriarchi)

16Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor. 17When she was in her hard labor, the midwife said to her, “Do not be afraid; for now you will have another son.” 18As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-oni (“son of my sorrow); but his father called him Benjamin (“son of my right hand”).

The right side was associated with greater strength and honor, because most people are right handed. Benjamin therefore has the idea of “son of my strength” or “son of my honor.”

The idea is expressed in passages like Exodus 15:6: Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.

The Lord is our strength and honor, as in Psalm 16:8: I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

God’s strength and honor are for us: My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8) Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me (Psalm 138:7).

Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, the position of strength and honor, and we sit there with Him! If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1).

–David Guzik

19So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day.

Rachel’s Tomb, photograph from the 1860’s

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (King James Version)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die.

Rachel’s Tomb, current photo.

21Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. 22While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard of it.

Through their sin, Reuben, Simeon, and Levi “disqualified” themselves from the high calling of Abraham’s blessing. It will be up to the fourth son, Judah, to bring forth the Messiah.

Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.23The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.

24The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.

25The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali.

26The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

The Death of Isaac

27Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had resided as aliens. 28Now the days of Isaac were one hundred eighty years. 29And Isaac breathed his last; he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

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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:
“Faith,” from Bethel Church, Rock Hill, SC.   http://www.bethelrockhill.org/images/faithtitle.jpg
Vatican frescoes.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/birthbenjamin_5.jpg?w=450
right hand print.   http://www.clker.com/cliparts/c/5/1/6/1194984651288787994right_hand_print_benji_p_01.svg.med.png
Rachel’s Tomb, old.  http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/rachels-tomb-pictures/rachels-tomb-1860s-earthly-footsteps-of-man-of-galilee.jpg
Rachel’s Tomb, now.  http://www.rachelstomb.org/fortress1.jpg