2857.) Genesis 37

March 31, 2020

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 and His Coat" by Suzanne Tornquist

“Joseph and His Coat of Many Colors” by Suzanne Tornquist

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, Isaac and Rebekah, 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.

Luke 2:51 (NLT)

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

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 (a dry cistern); 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.

So brother Reuben tries to save Joseph, but unwittingly places him in more danger . . .

“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.

. . . whereas Jacob actually saves his life.

“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.

Matthew 26:14-15 (NLT)

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.

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. Yet one cannot deny the poetic justice here. Jacob, who had once deceived his own father, is now deceived by his sons.


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

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.

I think Jacob “refused to be comforted” because he refused to give up hope that someday, he would be reunited with Joseph.

Psalm 33:20-22 (NLT)

 We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.

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



HERE  is “Coat of Many Colors,” written and sung by Dolly Parton; a true story of 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.


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.  https://familyarrested.com/a-biblical-view-of-forgiveness-versus-restoration-of-trust/
Tornquist.    http://suzannetornquist.com/wp-content/gallery/spirituality/joseph-sm1.jpg
Ben-Shoshan.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/gen-37-ben-yosef.jpg?w=450
Govatos.   https://nutrifaith.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/day-13-genesis-34-371.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

2856.) Genesis 36

March 30, 2020

Esau of stew-for-birthright fame.

Genesis 36   (NRSV)

Esau’s Descendants

This chapter testifies to the fertility, prosperity, and political power that Easu and his descendants find in their homeland of Edom.

–Linda B. Hinton

Yes, God blessed Esau richly! He has many descendants who accomplish remarkable things! There are listed below over 80 names in all, representing a great number of people, an abundance of power and prosperity. Nahor was a city. Ishmael was a collection of tribes. But Esau is a nation!

Yet even so, it all came to nothing in the end. His kingdom was of this world. Jesus, on the other hand, when he was being interrogated by the Roman Governor Pilate, said: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” And Jesus reminds us, in Matthew 6 —  “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “

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.

Hebrews 12:14-17 (NIV)

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.

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 (NIV)

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



Are we not “Lost in Wonder”  by all of what Jesus has done for us? This song is by Martyn Layzell, a Curate at Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican Church in Central London.  HERE  is an encouragement to make the choice every day to follow Christ, because Jesus made the choice to go to the cross for us!


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
Genesis 36 quote.   https://www.restorationroadchurch.com/sermons/sermon/2017-01-08/genesis-36-forgotten-by-men-remembered-by-god

2855.) Genesis 35

March 27, 2020

Gen35 here_i_am_to_worship

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 (or his children’s ways) 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 the household 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.


Where have you been when God has spoken to you?

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



Sometimes I get happy just thinking about worshiping with all the saints in heaven — with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!  And my mother and father!  And, best of all, Jesus there!  HERE  is “Here I Am to Worship.”


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 (KJV)

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.

Reuben commits adultery with Bilhah. This is not just an act of passion, but is an attempt by Reuben to gain power over Jacob or to take his father’s place as head of the family. Through their sin, Reuben, Simeon, and Levi have “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.

The reconciliation earlier had long-lasting and positive effects. Here the two sons do the right thing together for their father.


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:
Here I am to worship.    http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2010/289/5/e/here_i_am_to_worship_by_loveisarevolution-d30wrxx.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.zionism-israel.com/dic/Rachel_Tomb.jpg
Rachel’s Tomb, now.    http://princesspana.blogspot.com/2010/11/lets-make-mosque.html

2854.) Genesis 34

March 26, 2020

Genesis 34   (NRSV)

The Rape of Dinah

This chapter contains one of the most shameful incidents in Israel’s history. I offer this sad story to you without interruption.

Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the region.

2When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region, saw her, he seized her and lay with her by force. 3And his soul was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the girl, and spoke tenderly to her. 4So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this girl to be my wife.”

5Now Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter Dinah; but his sons were with his cattle in the field, so Jacob held his peace until they came.

6And Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him, 7just as the sons of Jacob came in from the field. When they heard of it, the men were indignant and very angry, because he had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.

8But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The heart of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage. 9Make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10You shall live with us; and the land shall be open to you; live and trade in it, and get property in it.”

11Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor with you, and whatever you say to me I will give. 12Put the marriage present and gift as high as you like, and I will give whatever you ask me; only give me the girl to be my wife.”

13The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15Only on this condition will we consent to you: that you will become as we are and every male among you be circumcised. 16Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people. 17But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and be gone.”

18Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor’s son Shechem. 19And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was the most honored of all his family. 20So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, 21“These people are friendly with us; let them live in the land and trade in it, for the land is large enough for them; let us take their daughters in marriage, and let us give them our daughters. 22Only on this condition will they agree to live among us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised. 23Will not their livestock, their property, and all their animals be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will live among us.”

24And all who went out of the city gate heeded Hamor and his son Shechem; and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.

Dinah’s Brothers Avenge Their Sister

25On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city unawares, and killed all the males. 26They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. 27And the other sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. 28They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. 29All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and made their prey.

30Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.”

31But they said, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”

When Jacob was about to die, he prophesied over each of his 12 sons. This is what he said about Simeon and Levi:  Simeon and Levi are brothers; instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; let not my honor be united to their assembly; for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel (Genesis 49:5-7). He saw Simeon and Levi for who they were, but he rebuked them far too late.

The prophetic word of God through Jacob proved true. God did in fact both divide the tribes of Simeon and Levi, and scatter them among Israel. But, significantly, the way it happened for each tribe was different. The tribe of Simeon, because of their lack of faithfulness, was effectively dissolved as a tribe, and the tribe of Simeon was absorbed into the tribal area of Judah. The tribe of Levi was also scattered, but because of the faithfulness of this tribe during the rebellion of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26-28), the tribe was scattered as a blessing throughout the whole nation of Israel. Both were scattered, but one as a blessing and the other as curse.

–David Guzik



Dinah does not speak at all in this chapter. One Jewish tradition has it that, after this event,  Dinah never spoke another word for the rest of her life. For Dinah and all those who are suffering and without a voice:  HERE  is  “He Knows My Name”  by  Maranatha Singers.


The Red Tent, by Anita Diamont, 1997. A story of the women in Jacob’s household, told from Dinah’s point of view.

The Son of Laughter, by Frederick Buechner, 1993. Jacob looks back on his life and his family.


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:
Stop Rape poster.   http://i174.photobucket.com/albums/w111/MOE_harrypotter_fan/Men%20can%20stop%20rape/mencanstoprape5.jpg
Dinah, “By the Well,” by Karla Gudeon.   https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/2668/jewish/Outgoing-Woman.htm

2853.) Genesis 33

March 25, 2020

“Oh, my brother!”

Genesis 33   (NRSV)

Jacob and Esau Meet

Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. 2He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. 3He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother.

The best thing about Jacob is now, after being conquered by God, he leads the procession coming to meet Esau.

4But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.

“The Reunion of Jacob and Esau,” by Italian painter Francesco Hayez, 1844 (Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia, Italy)

5When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 6Then the maids drew near, they and their children, and bowed down; 7Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down.

8Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor with my lord.” 9But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10Jacob said, “No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favor. 11Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have everything I want.”

Esau says, “I have enough.” Jacob says, “I have everything I want.” They have the right attitude!

1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

So he urged him, and he took it.

In that ancient culture, one never accepted a gift from an enemy, only from a friend. To accept the gift was to accept the friendship.

12Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go alongside you.” 13But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me; and if they are overdriven for one day, all the flocks will die. 14Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.” 15So Esau said, “Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “Why should my lord be so kind to me?”

16So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 17But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house, and made booths for his cattle; therefore the place is called Succoth.

Jacob Reaches Shechem

18Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram; and he camped before the city. 19And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for one hundred pieces of money the plot of land on which he had pitched his tent. 20There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

Upper: Jacob negotiates the purchase of the field in which he had pitched his tents. Lower: Jacob told of the rape of his daughter Dinah. Nave mosaics from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.



Oh, to be guided by God!  HERE  is Take My Hand, Precious Lord, recorded by Elvis Presley in 1957.


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:
Jacob meets Esau, black and white.     http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/Treasures%20of%20the%20Bible%20(Genesis)/images/scan0026.jpg
Hayez.  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b2/Francesco_Hayez_061.jpg/350px-Francesco_Hayez_061.jpg
Mosaics.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/33-mosaic.jpg

2852.) Genesis 32

March 24, 2020

“Jacob Wrestling with the Angel,” by Gustave Dore, 1855.

Genesis 32  (NRSV)

Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; 2and when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called that place Mahanaim.

Jacob Sends Presents to Appease Esau

3Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, 4instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have lived with Laban as an alien, and stayed until now; 5and I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male and female slaves; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’“

6The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies, 8thinking, “If Esau comes to the one company and destroys it, then the company that is left will escape.”

9And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will do you good,’ 10I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies.


But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for you to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
–Matthew 8:8

Mary said, “The Lord has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. The Mighty One has done great things for me.”
–Luke 1:48-49

Our unworthiness. God’s love and faithfulness. The favor of the Mighty One. How do they all fit together in our lives?

11Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. 12Yet you have said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.’“

13So he spent that night there, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16These he delivered into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between drove and drove.”

17He instructed the foremost, “When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ 18then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present sent to my lord Esau; and moreover he is behind us.’“

19He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you meet him, 20and you shall say, ‘Moreover your servant Jacob is behind us.’“ For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21So the present passed on ahead of him; and he himself spent that night in the camp.

Proverbs 18:16 (NIV)

A gift opens the way for the giver.

Jacob Wrestles at Peniel

“Jacob Wrestling the Angel,” by contemporary American artist Karen Laub-Novak (http://www.laub-novakart.com/) .

22The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.

“Battle of Jacob and an Angel” by Jan Spychalski, 1946 (National Museum, Poznan, Poland)

25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw


It is God who wrestled with Jacob. God is always the initiator in our liberation. And before he blessed Jacob, he touched Jacob’s thigh. God has to break a person before that person will surrender. The Christian community really ought to talk more about surrender than about consecration, because human beings resist God to the end and then must ask him to break the resistance and take control of their lives and hearts. God broke Jacob so he had a crippled leg, and then God came and began to bless him.

I never knew a person who was filled with the Holy Ghost who did not have some brokenness in him. We want to stand straight and be self-contained and poised, but God cannot use us or bless us when we are in that position. He wants to break us so that instead of our own power, we have the Holy Spirit’s power. Are you willing to be broken for him? This is the toughest of all battles, but it determines whether we will be free or in bondage.

We need to have our own Peniel where we meet Jesus face-to-face. We must see ourselves for what we truly are. We must cry out to God for heart cleansing, and we must let him come and fill us with His Spirit. We must allow him to break us so he can make us into prevailers, conquerors, and overcomers.



HERE  is The Oslo Gospel Choir and “All to Jesus I Surrender,” a popular hymn first published in 1896.


26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”

27So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”

28Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”

Jacob demands and receives a blessing. This blessing comes in the form of a name change. Instead of being called Jacob (he supplants; see Genesis 25:23-26) he is now called Israel (God strives, or striver with God). A name change is symbolic of a new identity and a new way of life. Jacob has striven both with God and with human beings (particularly with Esau and Laban). He has proved himself an able and willing striver who no longer will need to resort to deceit or seek to supplant anyone.

–Linda B. Hinton

29Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”

But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.

Lord I will not let go of you. I do not care how hard I must hang on. I do not care how long I must hang on. I only care that you bless me. Lord, I want only You.

30So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.

"Jacob Wrestling the Angel" by Edward Knippers

“Jacob Wrestling the Angel” by Edward Knippers

Lord, I cannot let Thee go,
Till a blessing Thou bestow:
Do not turn away Thy face,
Mine’s an urgent, pressing case.

Dost Thou ask me who I am?
Ah! my Lord, Thou know’st my name;
Yet the question gives a plea
To support my suit with Thee.

Thou didst once a wretch behold,
In rebellion blindly bold,
Scorn Thy grace, Thy power defy:
That poor rebel, Lord, was I.

Once a sinner, near despair,
Sought Thy mercy seat by prayer;
Mercy heard, and set him free:
Lord, that mercy came to me.

Many days have passed since then,
Many changes I have seen;
Yet have been upheld till now;
Who could hold me up but Thou?

Thou hast helped in every need;
This emboldens me to plead:
After so much mercy past,
Canst Thou let me sink at last?

No, I must maintain my hold;
’Tis Thy goodness makes me bold;
I can no denial take,
When I plead for Jesus’ sake.

–John Newton


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:
Dore.   https://rabbiyeshua.com/articles-by-kehilat/item/59-jacob-wrestles
“Jacob Wrestling the Angel,” by contemporary American artist Karen Laub-Novak.  http://artwach.blogspot.com/2015/03/majesty-in-maelstrom.html
Spychalski.   http://artyzm.com/e_obraz.php?id=1749
hurting thigh.  http://www.chanorthopaedics.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Piriformis_Syndrome.jpg
Knippers.    http://edwardknippers.com/wp-content/gallery/new-works_large/jacob_wrestling_the_angel.jpg

2851.) Genesis 31

March 23, 2020

“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 (ESV)

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.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/mizpah_medal1.jpg

2850.) Psalm 127

March 20, 2020

P127 unless the Lord

Psalm 127   (ESV)

Unless the Lord Builds the House

The primary reference is to the actual building of a residence, but as a “Song of Ascents” written by Solomon, it is natural to think specifically of the temple. Further, in the light of the second half of the psalm, the house refers to the family as well as to a physical structure.  (The Reformation Bible)

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.

“The strength of the Hebrew people in the past, and all that remains of it today, largely results from the keen sense which they ever cherished of the importance of the home and the family. The house, the city, labour, are all important to the conserving of the strength of the family.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.

Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s top travel destinations and renowned for its architectural history; it became a World Heritage Site in 1995.

“A Latin motto says, Nisi Dominus Frusta. It comes from the first words of this psalm and means ‘Without the Lord, Frustration.’ It is the motto of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, appearing on its crest, and is affixed to the city’s official documents. It could be attached to the lives of many who are trying to live their lives without the Almighty.”

–James Montgomery Boice

Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

“Begone, dull, worrying care! Let me rest sweet Faith and Hope, close mine eyes and still my heart; Jesus, give me sleep, and in sleeping give me my heart’s desire, that I may awake and be satisfied.”

–F. B. Meyer

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.

P127 children

It is possible that the house built here (see verse 1) is actually a family. “It may also signify the raising of a family, especially because this section precedes a unit in which the family is emphasized as a reward from the Lord (vv. 3–5). In the OT it is usual to speak of a family as a ‘house’ even as we speak of a prominent family as a ‘dynasty’ (cf. Gen 16:2; 30:3; Exodus 1:21; Ruth 4:11; 1 Sam 2:35; 2 Sam 7:27).”

–Willem A. VanGemeren

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

“If it is a vain act to build a house without God or watch over a city without depending on God to preserve it, then it is even greater folly to try to raise a family without God.”

–James Montgomery Boice

Legal proceedings and business transactions were conducted at the city gate.  (The Archaeological Study Bible)



HERE  is Psalm 127 from Corner Room Music. From their Facebook page:  “Memorizing and meditating on Scripture is of the utmost importance in the life of the Christian. The Corner Room, created by Adam Wright of Cahaba Park Church in Birmingham, AL, exists to set God’s Word to music that we would know and treasure God’s Word more deeply.”


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Unless the Lord builds.    http://hiswordinpictures.blogspot.com/2012/10/psalm-1271a.html
Edinburgh.   https://travelmassive.com/chapters/edinburgh
Children are a heritage.    http://my52sundays.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/psalm-127-3.jpg

2849.) Genesis 30

March 19, 2020

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 (NIV)

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!  HERE  is “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 (CEV)

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 ancient Hebrew says, “the man burst out exceedingly exceedingly.” God blessed Jacob, but it was not because Jacob was especially good. It was because of the promises God made to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15) and the covenant made to Abraham. In the same way, blessing comes from the LORD to us, not because we are great or good, but because of the covenant God has made with us through Jesus, and promises He has given us in His word.

We may note Jacob’s principles for prosperity:

– Don’t make wealth your goal (Genesis 30:25-26)
– Don’t be afraid to work for others and try to increase their wealth before or as you work to increase your own wealth (Genesis 30:27)
– Work hard, dedicating yourself to your employer’s success (Genesis 30:26, 31:38-42)
– Trust God (Genesis 30:31-33)

–David Guzik


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.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/30-2-preggersjpg.jpg?w=400&h=400
mandrake.    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mandrake
baby girl.   http://opinionsandexpressions.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/baby_girl_lying.png
Jacob’s sheep.  http://www.sweetgrass-jacobs.com/drummond.jpg

2848.) Genesis 29

March 18, 2020

“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.”

Their words are guarded, brief. They know Laban well, and surely if he’d been a good man they would have said something in his favor. 

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)

Jacob does not notice the shepherds’ lack of enthusiasm for his uncle. He is distracted by the sight of an approaching girl. She is lovely, and he learns she is his kinswoman.

The Bible notes that she, not a brother or male cousin, is herding the sheep; this is unusual, and suggests she does not have any brothers.

Jacob is instantly smitten with Rachel! In a moment of male bravado he lifts the heavy stone well-cover, something that normally takes two or more men to do.



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.


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.

The traditional wording for this verse is that Leah has “weak” eyes. Scholars are not sure exactly what is meant, but since the remainder of the sentence speaks well of Rachel, it is generally thought that Leah falls short some way.

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 (ESV)

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 (NLT)

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.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/29-rachel.jpg
Leah and Rachel.   https://rodneyburton.net/with-leah-but-wanting-rachel/
Rossetti.    https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/leah/
baby boy shirt.   https://www.amazon.com/Love-My-Baby-boy-Tagless/dp/B07FY1YWHR