|2 years ago :: Mar 17, 2012 - 10:44AM #201|
†. Gen 33:20 . . He set up an altar there, and called it El-elohe-yisrael.
El-elohe-yisrael is actually 'Eel-'Eloheey-Yisraa'eel which is a compound of three separate words.
'Eel is from 'el (ale) and means strength; as an adjective; viz: mighty.
'Eloheey is from 'elohiym (el-o-heem') and means: gods and/or magistrates, in the ordinary sense; but when used with the definite article "the" then 'elohiym identifies the Supreme Being
Yisraa'eel is from Yisra'el (yis-raw-ale') and means: he will rule as God, which, according to 32:29, was Jacob's new name.
So, if we put it all together, Jacob's altar was dedicated to The Almighty God of he who will rule as God; or just simply The God Of Israel. It was the very, very, first altar to ever be named after the god of the people of Israel. A true milestone in the nation's history, and Jacob's too.
"one who will rule as God" could also refer to someone in Jacob's blood who speaks for God, speaks as God, and whose name is God. The only person in Jacob who can possibly fill that office is Messiah.
†. Dan 7:13-14 . . In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is the one that will never be destroyed.
†. Phlp 2:9-11 . . God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow— in heaven and on earth and under the earth —and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The world has known its maker by several designations. First He was the god of creation. Later He became known as the god of Abraham. Then the god of the people of Israel. Now, He is also known, as the god of many Gentiles. So the Bible's God is available to everyone, and is everyone's god in one way or another. To some, He's a nuisance, a frightful adversary; their final judge. To others He is an enormous blessing, a faithful friend— their rescue, and their ransom from the wrath of God.
Just exactly how much time elapsed between Jacob's temporary camp at Succoth and the events coming up in chapter 34 are unknown. However, Dinah was just a little kid at the time of Jacob and Esau's reunion; probably not much older than Joseph, who was only a little over 6 at the time. So she had to grow up, and fill out a bit, before guys would begin noticing her.
In the interval, Jacob very likely visited his dad many times and also traveled down to Seir to visit his brother Esau too; like he promised in verse 14. According to Gen 36:6-8, Esau occupied two residences at this time; one in Canaan, and one in Seir. Kind of like rich movie stars who maintain a residence in Beverly Hills, plus a ranch in Montana.
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|2 years ago :: Mar 18, 2012 - 5:38PM #202|
†. Gen 34:1 . . Now Dinah, the daughter whom Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.
It's difficult to ascertain Dinah's age at this time, but she, being the only girl in a family of eleven boys (Benjamin wasn't born yet), surely must have longed to hang out with a posse of her own. If Jacob had gone to live near his father Isaac, there would have been plenty of girls among the servants' families for Dinah. But here in Shechem, the only other girls in the neighborhood were those of the pagan families of Canaan; putting Jacob's children at risk of the influence of the wrong crowd; which was the very same mistake that Lot made when he moved to Sodom.
†. 1Cor 15:33 . . Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals.
Paul's letter to the Corinthians wasn't written to bad people to encourage them to live like Christians. No, it was written to Christians to encourage them to avoid hanging out with impious people. Peer pressure is a very strong social impetus; and solid Bible-believing folk are vulnerable to it. And even though Dinah was brought up in a God-fearing home, she is going to fall prey to the morals of the local culture.
†. Gen 34:2 . . Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, chief of the country, saw her, and took her and lay with her by force.
The words "by force" aren't in the Hebrew text. By inserting those words, translators make Dinah appear to be the victim of a rape rather than a willing partner in a hot relationship. Most Bible students are well aware of the oftentimes low moral character of the people of God, so if Dinah was truly accommodating in this episode, it shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, young girls are very susceptible to hero worship, and Shechem was a prince; the son of a sheik. What young girl doesn't dream of being swept off her feet by a prince? It's pretty common; and it's all part of being a real girl; for example:
I was amazed at an AeroSmith concert by the numbers of shapely, drop-dead gorgeous young girls crowded up against the stage trying to get Steven Tyler to notice them. If you've seen Mr.Tyler, I think you would agree with me he will never qualify as a hunk. But Tyler is a famous entertainer; and entertainers have a powerful sensual magic regardless of their looks.
I witnessed an even more impressive display at a Rolling Stones concert (now there's a study in ugly). Women of all ages, sizes, and waistlines, slingshot their bras and panties up on the stage for the men to keep as love tokens. There were so many female undergarments cluttering the stage that the situation became a safety hazard. Keith Richards and the others had to kick them away to avoid tripping and falling.
†. Gen 34:3 . . Being strongly drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and in love with the maiden, he spoke to the maiden tenderly.
Shechem's feelings for Dinah weren't the typical violent lusts that rapists expend upon their victims. That boy was truly overwhelmed by Dinah; just like Jack was overwhelmed by Rose in the movie Titanic. I wonder if anyone reading this can remember the last time you felt that way about somebody— how you had difficulty catching your breath, and how utterly vulnerable you felt in their presence. No, I just can't believe Shechem raped Dinah. He really did like her as a person. She wasn't just a girl toy for Shechem to exploit; no, Dinah was "the one" and to him, she lit up the room the moment she walked in— everything around her was a silver pool of light.
†. Gen 34:4 . . So Shechem said to his father Hamor: Get me this girl as a wife.
In modern American culture, Shechem would be regarded as a wimp for not being man enough to speak with Dinah's parents himself instead of seeking his dad's assistance. But in that day, a man's parents or relatives did all the negotiating in nuptial matters; and when it reached that stage, the romance was pretty serious business.
†. Gen 34:5a . . Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah;
From whom Jacob heard the news is not stated. Dinah had been taken into Shechem's home (Gen 34:2) and remained there until this episode was over (Gen 34:26). So news came probably by some of Dinah's girlfriends from town whose friendships she sought in Gen 34:1. By now, Dinah must be feeling very alone, and afraid to come home and face the music.
When guys lose their virginity, it's different. They feel more like a man, they feel better about themselves, and they feel highly regarded in the eyes of their male friends. But girls oftentimes feel like used goods: soiled, fallen, and cheapened; not to mention the fear of pregnancy and family disgrace. Not all girls feel the same about pre-marital trysts. Some relish the excitement. But others are scarred for life, and never really get over it.
The Bible is silent about Dinah's feelings about all this, and after chapter 34, she's mentioned only one more time at Gen 46:15 and that's it.
†. Gen 34:5b . . but since his sons were in the field with his cattle, Jacob kept silent until they came home.
If Jacob had allowed his passions to overrule his better judgment, he might have stormed out and confronted Shechem's family all by himself, and they just may have been annoyed enough to murder him on the spot. No, best to wait for back-up on this one. And besides, brothers were often key decision makers in a sister's betrothal (e.g. Gen 24:29-61). So Jacob needed his boys; if not for personal defense, then at least to take part in the decision concerning whom Dinah would wed.
†. Gen 34:6-7a . .Then Shechem's father Hamor came out to Jacob to speak to him. Meanwhile Jacob's sons, having heard the news, came in from the field.
Jacob probably sent a runner out to get the boys and have them come home as soon as possible. By luck, they arrived the same time as Shechem and his dad. So the key players are present, the stage is set, and they can all get down to business.
†. Gen 34:7b . .The men were distressed and very angry, because he had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter— a thing not to be done.
This is the first instance of Jewish tribalism in the Bible. Ironically; the boys were far more upset for what Shechem did to Israel then what he did to their sister. However; that's a very common reaction from male siblings. Brothers typically take it personal when a guy abuses their sister or says something derogatory about her; even when the brothers themselves don't even like her.
The phrase "a thing not to be done" didn't apply to Shechem and Hamor. Promiscuity wasn't considered immoral in their culture. Extra-marital activity was a normal social interaction in many parts of Canaan, and nobody gave it a second thought. In fact, neither Shechem nor his dad felt any inclination whatsoever to apologize for what happened and probably would have become indignant if asked to; but Israel's moral standards were God-influenced, and ran counter to common mores. (cf. 1Pet 4:3-4)
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|2 years ago :: Mar 19, 2012 - 5:27PM #203|
†. Gen 34:8-9 . . And Hamor spoke with them, saying: My son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him in marriage. Intermarry with us: give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves:
The only problem is: whose religion would be taught to Dinah's children? Would it be the Canaanites' religion or Jacob's religion? Would they be taught both religions; and thus create confusion in the children's minds? People for whom religion means very little; can cross breed all they want and it doesn't make any difference. However; as a general rule, it is never, ever a good idea to marry outside your own religion. Marriage is tough enough without dividing the family with differing religious philosophies. Couples should make every effort to strive for unity in all things; especially in the area of religion.
†. 2Cor 6:14-18 . . Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what province hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
For Jacob's family, marriage with another culture was not a good idea at all. Their granddad was called to a very high purpose— a purpose in which they were all supposed to play a role; and that would be the role of engendering a great nation whose God would be Yhvh; and thus be a witness to the one True God: and a nation that would ultimately be a blessing to the whole world. A people like Hamor's were a serious threat to fulfilling that purpose.
†. Gen 34:10 . .You will dwell among us, and the land will be open before you; settle, move about, and acquire holdings in it.
That must have been a very tempting offer to Jacob. Hamor's people would protect his family, and let him use choice grazing lands, and sell him property to build a home on if he joined their clan instead of going off on his own with no one but Yhvh to rely upon. But then Israel would be assimilated; and that was something Jacob had to avoid at all costs. A holy nation has got to remain separated and independent from its unholy neighbors so God can bless. Just look what assimilation has done to the people of Israel over the years. Only a measly ten percent of them today are orthodox. Many of them are secular, worldly, conformed, and totally without their God. That is truly pitiful; and totally unacceptable.
†. Gen 34:11-12 . .Then Shechem said to her father and brothers: Do me this favor, and I will pay whatever you tell me. Ask of me a bride-price ever so high, as well as gifts, and I will pay what you tell me; only give me the maiden for a wife.
Shechem really did love Dinah, and was willing to go to some pretty extreme lengths to keep her. Unfortunately, he got off on the wrong foot with Dinah's brothers; which would prove fatal to every man in his village, including Shechem's dad.
†. Gen 34:13a . . Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor
It's uncertain all eleven of Jacob's boys took part in this. Later, only two of them, Simeon and Levi, would subsequently go into town and murder all the men. Jacob apparently said nothing in the negotiations; he only witnessed it all, listening to everything, but letting his sons do all the talking.
†. Gen 34:13b-17 . . speaking with guile because he had defiled their sister Dinah— and said to them: We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to a man who is uncircumcised, for that is a disgrace among us. Only on this condition will we agree with you; that you will become like us in that every male among you is circumcised. Then we will give our daughters to you and take your daughters to ourselves; and we will dwell among you and become as one kindred. But if you will not listen to us and become circumcised, we will take our daughter and go.
It's difficult to ascertain what the boys were implying by the prerequisite of circumcision. Were they implying that Shechem's clan could only blend with the people of Israel via Abraham's covenant of circumcision? Apparently that's the impression they were giving, and Hamor seems to understand that if the two families were to become one clan, then Israel's religion has to be in common.
Jacob's silence suggests he was thinking the very same. As for Hamor, being a covetous man at heart; circumcision surely seemed an insignificant price to become co-owner of Jacob's possessions.
†. Gen 34:18-19 . .Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor's son Shechem. And the youth lost no time in doing the thing, for he wanted Jacob's daughter. Now he was the most respected in his father's house.
Shechem took the lead and set the example for the rest of the men in his village. He apparently had quite a bit of influence, and people looked up to him.
†. Gen 34:20-24 . . So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the public place of their town and spoke to their fellow townsmen, saying: These people are our friends; let them settle in the land and move about in it, for the land is large enough for them; we will take their daughters to ourselves as wives and give our daughters to them.
. . . But only on this condition will the men agree with us to dwell among us and be as one kindred: that all our males become circumcised as they are circumcised. Their cattle and substance and all their beasts will be ours, if we only agree to their terms, so that they will settle among us. All who went out of the gate of his town heeded Hamor and his son Shechem, and all males, all those who went out of the gate of his town, were circumcised
Hamor convinced the men of his village that they would prosper by submitting to the surgery. His village apparently operated on the commune principle: What you have is mine, and what I have is yours. So everyone would benefit from assimilating Jacob's family because they would become co-owners of his possessions; which, when he departed Laban, was a goodly amount of livestock and slaves. The arrangement was appealing: it made good business sense, and would have been very lucrative for Hamor's village if only Jacob's sons had been honest about it.
Continued > >
|2 years ago :: Mar 20, 2012 - 4:59PM #204|
†. Gen 34:25-26 . . On the third day, when they were in pain, Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob's sons, brothers of Dinah, took each his sword, came upon the city unopposed, and slew all the males. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword, took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went away.
The boys did all that without Jacob's knowledge. Exactly what effect the massacre of her boyfriend and his dad had upon Dinah is not said. Family rivalries, like the old hillbilly rivalries of the Hatfields and the McCoys, are bitter and driven solely by the code of the vendetta. There's no justice in rivalries; only pay-back.
Oh, The Martins and the Coys,
†. Gen 34:27 . .The other sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the town, because their sister had been defiled.
Only two of the brothers did the killing, but apparently all who were old enough participated in the pillaging. I tell you, some of the patriarchs were brutal men; and it was from them that the nation of Israel sprang. Later, they will sell their own kid brother Joseph into slavery simply because they envied his favorite-son status with their dad.
†. Gen 34:28-29 . .They seized their flocks and herds and asses, all that was inside the town and outside; all their wealth, all their children, and their wives, all that was in the houses, they took as captives and booty.
What they did was what conquerors legitimately do in war. But Jacob wasn't at war with Hamor's clan. Those boys were nothing in the world but murderers, kidnappers, thugs, and thieves. To think Messiah came from that blood line is beyond belief!
†. Gen 34:30-31 . . Jacob said to Simeon and Levi: You have brought trouble on me, making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my men are few in number, so that if they unite against me and attack me, I and my house will be destroyed. But they answered: Should our sister be treated like a whore?
Dinah's brothers were rash and hot headed; placing their own rage above and beyond their family's safety, and their father Jacob's honor. That is the self-centered attitude of criminals; which is exactly what they were. Without God's providence, surely all of Canaan would have banded together and justly hanged every last male in Jacob's camp so that the nation of Israel would have ended right then and there. There would have been no holocaust and no crucifixion, and the Palestinians today would have a country to call their own. It's almost impossible to comprehend how those boys could have ever descended from the world's most respected religious figure the world has ever known: Abraham ben Terah
Many years later, Yhvh's people came to the brink of extinction because of the pride of just one lone Jew in the book of Ruth. Boy! I tell you: God has really had His hands full keeping those people from destroying themselves.
Continued > >
|2 years ago :: Mar 21, 2012 - 2:29PM #205|
†. Gen 35:1 . . God said to Jacob: Arise, go up to Bethel and remain there; and build an altar there to the god who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.
So now; God is sending Jacob back to the place of his initial enlightenment, and ordering him to establish a worship. Jacob was promised at Bethel that Yhvh would never forsake him until He brought Jacob back to this place (Gen 28:15) and sure enough; he was back and Yhvh was still in his corner. However, Jacob had vowed a vow at that time that went something like this:
If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my father's house— Yhvh shall be my God. (Gen 28:20-21)
Time to make good on that vow.
†. Gen 35:2 . . So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him: Rid yourselves of the alien gods in your midst, purify yourselves, and change your clothes.
This is embarrassing. To top off the shame of recent events— Dinah's tryst, the murders, and the subsequent looting in town— now it turns out that the one family on earth who was supposed to be a witness to the one True God., and all that He stands for, had other gods in their midst! They were also wearing clothing taken from the dead in town, clothing that more than likely honored the religions— and thus the morals— of the Canaanite gods! No doubt the alien gods themselves were booty too, collected from Shechem's town after the massacre.
Precisely what Jacob meant for his household, and all who were with him, to do in order be "purified" is not said. Bathing in water was the usual means of purification in the Old Testament; and often done in preparation to meet with God; but it's more likely that he simply regarded the alien gods and the stolen booty as ill gotten gain; ergo: contamination.
†. Gen 35:3 . . Come, let us go up to Bethel, and I will build an altar there to the God who answered me when I was in distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.
Jacob thus made a distinction between the speechless gods of the Canaanites, and the vocal god of Israel. Jacob's god had been extremely active and useful in his life; whereas the Canaanite gods were only inanimate pieces of superstitious statuary, like voodoo dolls.
The altar would serve a couple of important purposes, but the one that would really count in this case is its capacity as an official place of confession and absolution of sins. The people of God, whether Jew or Christian, have never been sinless. But sinless-ness is not an indicator that certifies whether or not someone is in God's family. Confession and absolution are far better indicators.
†. Ps 32:5-7 . . I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said: "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord" and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they shall not come near Him. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.
The beauty of being in the Bible God's family is the latitude His own have for being themselves. Jacob's household sinned big time, yes, but their sins will effect neither their divine purpose, nor their eternal destiny.
Note : Their going "up to Bethel" could conceivably be conscripted into use as a metaphor signifying repentance and re-dedication.
†. Gen 35:4 . .They gave to Jacob all the alien gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the terebinth that was near Shechem.
According to Webster's, a terebinth is a small European tree (Pistacia terebinthus) of the cashew family yielding turpentine. The Hebrew word for "terebinth" is 'elah (ay-law') which just means an oak or other strong tree.
The religious items Jacob collected, were not only in the possession of his kin, but also in the possession of "all who were with him" (Gen 35:2) which would have included servants, his slaves; and the recent captives. Some of the items would have come from looting the town of Shechem, but many would have been acquired in the area up and around Laban's vicinity in Mesopotamia; which is where Jacob acquired the bulk of his labor force (Gen 30:43). Jacob lived for many years in close proximity to religions centered upon gods other than the Bible's God, and the influence of those religions had a heavy impact upon the most holy community existing on the entire planet at that time.
Exactly why Jacob chose to bury those items under a terebinth, instead of just burying them in a hole out in pasture, is not said. He could have incinerated them too, but, for some undisclosed reason, didn't. Some have tried to find symbolism in that, but his decision may have been motivated by something as simple as a hot day, and Jacob would rather work in the shade than out in the open.
†. Gen 35:5 . . As they set out, a terror from God fell on the cities round about, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.
The patriarchs had some very interesting advantages. Even when they deserved to die, or at least assaulted and battered, the Bible's God was often on hand to prevent it. Think about it though. If you knew that a small force of Jews were able to overpower a whole town, would you want to lock horns with them? I don't think so. Jacob's boys no doubt had a reputation in those parts now, and made their neighbors nervous.
People were very superstitious in those days and often gave the credit for military victories to their own personal gods; or to the gods of their conquerors, if that's the way things went in battle. So that the god of the people of Israel now became the one to be feared in those parts.
However, it's far better— if at all possible —for the people of God to give a testimony to the love of God rather than to the terror of God. But because of the patriarchs' recent violent behavior, the love of God was far from the minds of the people in Jacob's vicinity. They saw the people of Israel and their god as a serious threat to the safety and well being of their communities rather than seeing the Bible's God as a potential for blessing and providence: which would have the negative effect of rendering the "good news" of a gospel into a message of very bad news indeed.
Continued > >
|2 years ago :: Mar 22, 2012 - 1:14PM #206|
†. Gen 35:6-7 . .Thus Jacob came to Luz— that is, Bethel —in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. There he built an altar and named the site El-bethel, for it was there that God had revealed Himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.
Bethel is located approximately 11 miles directly north of Jerusalem. Jacob had erected a stone pillar there when he left home; and gave the site its name: Bethel (House Of God). At least thirty years have gone by since then. He stayed twenty years with Laban, and had lived for an undisclosed number of years in the vicinity of Schechem. Jacob was 75 when he left home, and was now easily over 100. He is not only older now, but he's a lot wiser too. The experience at Shechem changed Jacob in a remarkable way.
This time he builds an altar instead of a pillar, and names the site El-bethel (the god of the House Of God). So Jacob's focus has shifted. Previously his emphasis was upon a special site to worship God. This time, Jacob puts the emphasis where it should have been in the first place: upon the object of his worship. Because, unless God is actually present during worship, then designating a special place for worship is futile. In Rev 3:14-22, the church of the Laodicians is so entirely christless that Jesus isn't even a member, no, he's depicted on the outside of the building banging on the door trying to get someone's attention to let him in. That was a bustling, thriving Christian church; but it was christless.
What really matters is whether or not the object of your worship is present at the site of your worship when you yourself are present there; and for a christless Christian church like that of the Laodicians, it's a forgone conclusion that the lights are on, but He is not home.
†. Gen 35:8a . . Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, died, and was buried under the oak below Bethel;
By now, Deborah was very aged; older than Rebecca, and had come south with her to Canaan twenty years prior to Jacob's birth (Gen 24:59, 25:20, 25:26). Deborah was already a mature woman when she came south with Rebecca because the word for nurse— yanaq (yaw-nak') —indicates a wet nurse. So Deborah did the surrogate task of breast feeding the infant Rebecca, whose biological mom, for reasons unknown, couldn't do it herself. Jacob knew Deborah quite well, having grown up with her in his own home, and remained with her a good number of years before leaving home himself at 75.
There's pretty good reason to believe that Rebecca had died prior to Gen 35:8 because it's extremely doubtful Deborah would leave Rebecca to join Jacob's troupe otherwise.
†. Gen 35:8b . . so it was named Allon-bacuth.
Allon-bacuth means: oak of weeping. Deborah's passing was surely as emotionally painful a loss to Jacob as the loss of his own mother.
†. Gen 35:9a . . God appeared again to Jacob on his arrival from Paddan-aram,
Paddam-aram was the region up north, in and around where Laban lived, and from whence Jacob fled a number of years prior to Gen 35:9. But God reckoned Jacob still on-route for the simple reason that he had yet to strictly comply with the order to "Return to the land of your fathers where you were born" and "arise and leave this land and return to your native land." (Gen 31:3, 31:13). Instead of going directly to Bethel, as God apparently expected Jacob to do, he settled in the region around Shechem— where his daughter became promiscuous, his sons became murderers and thieves, and Jacob alienated his neighbors: thus; he, and his whole family, had become quite useless as a witness to the knowledge of the one true God in that region.
†. Gen 35:9b-10 . . and He blessed him. God said to him: You whose name is Jacob, you shall be called Jacob no more, but Israel shall be your name. Thus He named him Israel.
This wasn't news to Jacob. He was renamed Israel by the angel (Gen 32:29). But Jacob wasn't living up to his new identity. He needed urging to live as who he now is, not live as who he once was before meeting God face to face.
†. Eph 4:1 . . As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
†. 1Pet 4:3 . . For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do— living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.
†. Gen 35:11a . . And God said to him: I am El Shaddai.
The patriarchs were aware of God's other name Yhvh, and often referred to Him by it; but El Shaddai is a name of God that they knew Him by in a personal way. It means: God of all might; viz; the all-powerful god; or the god who invented, created, and controls all natural and supernatural powers. El Shaddai is the god who can make things happen, even things that are impossible by natural means, and things that are above and beyond Man's mortal imagination; so that El Shaddai is a god who is easily strong enough to meet any, and all, human need.
†. Gen 35:11b . . Be fertile and increase;
At this point in his life, Jacob was just about done reproducing. He had one more to go: Joseph. So it would seem Jacob disobeyed what appears to be a direct order. But when you compare this passage with Gen 17:6, it's obviously a reiteration of Abraham's blessing; and the blessing can be safely inferred to extend to all that pertains to Jacob's progeny; viz: to all of Israel.
†. Gen 35:11c . . A nation, yea an assembly of nations, shall descend from you. Kings shall issue from your loins.
That's pretty much what God promised Abraham back in chapter 17. The most important kings were those of Israel, and in particular, the ones in David's line who preceded Messiah.
†. Gen 35:12 . .The land that I assigned to Abraham and Isaac I assign to you; and to your offspring to come will I assign the land.
Ownership of the land didn't pass from Abraham down to Isaac, and then to Jacob as if it were an heirloom. God promised each patriarch full ownership along with their progeny. We might call that kind of ownership tenancy in common, community property, or joint-heirship.
It works sort of like this: Suppose a man has a very large family and plans to leave his estate to them when he passes on. But he doesn't want to subdivide his estate. He wants the estate to stay intact. So in his will, he stipulates that his estate go to all of his heirs jointly as if they were one person. That way they all own the whole estate together on a single deed. No one owns a share or a percentage: they each own the whole thing; so that hypothetically if one of the heirs wanted to buy out the others, he would have to pay each one the full value of the entire estate. If the estate were worth, say, 100,000 dollars, and he had eight joint-heirs, it would cost him 800,000 dollars to buy them all out.
That principle is a reality in the New Testament. Redeemed sinners are joint heirs with Christ. So that whatever Christ inherited from his father, each redeemed sinner inherited too. If they were merely guests in God's home, or had the status of foster children under His care; then redeemed sinners would have no legitimate right to expect an inheritance. But since God has adopted them, they have a legal right to inherit from God just as if God were their full biological father.
†. Rom 8:16-17a . .The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ
†. Gal 4:4-5 . . But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
†. Eph 1:5 . . having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will
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|2 years ago :: Apr 30, 2012 - 11:45PM #207|
We're back under a different forum name because the system hasn't been able to retrieve the password for my previous name. Sorry for the confusion.
†. Gen 35:13-14 . . God parted from him at the spot where He had spoken to him; and Jacob set up a pillar at the site where He had spoken to him, a pillar of stone, and he offered a libation on it and poured oil upon it.
The pillar that Jacob erected on this same site back in Gen 28:18 received a somewhat different treatment. In that instance, Jacob poured only oil on it. In this instance, he added a libation. The precise recipe is unknown, but could have been a forerunner of the libation rituals that would come later in Israel's history— typically an alcoholic beverage made from grapes. (e.g. Ex 29:40, Lev 23:13)
Wine is an ingredient in a formal Temple offering called the daily burnt offering (Ex 29:38-46) whose recipe lists a lamb, a paste made of flour and oil, and some wine. The entire offering is totally destroyed; incinerated by fire. The residing priests, serving at the Temple, arranged this offering every day during the course of their duties; including the Sabbath day; which normally would be illegal since it's against the law to kindle a fire on the Sabbath. (cf. Ex 36:3, Mtt 12:5)
Some have interpreted the libation as representing the offerer's life's work; which in the case of the daily burnt offering, would be the life's work of the entire nation of the people of Israel; and of course including the priests themselves. So that every twenty-four hours, the whole nation's every-day activities went up in smoke.
We could interpret Jacob's libation as a formal act of dedication— not of the pillar; but of Jacob himself. Right after his first encounter, on this very spot, with the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac, a good thirty years ago; Jacob vowed to dedicate himself to Yhvh if only He would fulfill certain stipulations.
Jacob's vow at that time included a promise to make Yhvh his god— implying his only god —and to give God a tithe of "all that You give me". Jacob's libation implies that, from here on in, its his sincere intent to start living up to his new name, and to make good on those promises.
This is a really huge event, and marks a serious milestone in Jacob's spiritual life. And I believe it's important to point out that Jacob didn't take this turning point when he was living at home with ma and pa. Too many people are in their parents' religion just because they were born into it. Jacob chose a spiritual path for himself long after he became an adult.
†. Gen 35:15 . . Jacob gave the site, where God had spoken to him, the name of Bethel.
That could look back in time to Gen 28:10-22; or it could just simply mean that Jacob decided that the name Bethel would not just be a pet name of his own: but knowing (and believing) that this land would one day be inhabited by his progeny, Jacob willed it to be on the map as the town of Bethel when such a time as his progeny took actual physical possession of Canaan later on in the book of Joshua.
†. Gen 35:16a . .They set out from Bethel; but when they were still some distance short of Ephrath,
This is the very first mention of Ephrath; which is actually Bethlehem (Gen 35:19, Gen 48:7). Apparently this area wasn't yet on the map as either Ephrath or Bethlehem in Jacob's day, but later during the author's day. It's not uncommon for Bible authors (or later scribes and/or editors) to give the contemporary name as well as the ancient name of a city or town so that his readers knew where to look in their own day for those old-time places.
Ephrath can also be spelled Ephratah. The founder of Bethlehem was a Jewish man named Ephratah, and his name became attached to Bethlehem so that you could refer to it in compound form as Bethlehem Ephratah; or Bethlehem of Ephratah (e.g. 1Chrn 4:4, Mic 5:2). Ephrath is apparently the female spelling (1Chrn 2:19), and Ephratah is the male version.
This next incident didn't actually occur in Bethlehem, but "some distance" from it. Other than Gen 48:7 (which is a citation of the section we're in now), the only other place the phrase "some distance" is used again in the entire Old Testament is 2Kgs 5:19; where some feel it indicates a distance about equal to that required for a runner on foot to catch up with a chariot on the move; but the true meaning is lost in antiquity.
†. Gen 35:16b . . Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor.
Rachel was no longer a spring chicken. Rueben, Jacob's firstborn, is now old enough to fool around with grown women. It's probably been in the neighborhood of 40+ years since Rachel's first meeting with Jacob back in chapter 29; when she was just a youngster of perhaps 15-20 years old at the time.
†. Gen 35:17 . .When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her: Have no fear, for it is another boy for you.
Rachel, no doubt remembered why she named her other son Joseph, back in chapter 30, while they were all yet still living up north with Laban. Joseph's Hebrew name is Yowceph (yo-safe') which is a mini prayer that says: May the Lord add another son for me. (Gen 30:24)
†. Gen 35:18 . . But as she breathed her last— for she was dying —she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.
A complicated delivery in those days typically ended in tragedy. People had no surgical skills nor tools and procedures to save either the mother or her child. The exact nature of Rachel's problem isn't stated. She could have experienced severe hemorrhaging; or maybe her heart just couldn't take the stress, and gave out.
Ben-oni possibly means: "A Son Born In Grief". But Jacob changed it to Benjamin which possibly means: "The Son At My Right Hand" (cf. Ps 16:8, Ps 110:1). Benny's only a baby in this section but he's already Jacob's right hand man; viz: a dependable man. You could certainly never say the other brothers were dependable; especially Reuben, of whom Jacob would later say "As unstable as water" (Gen 49:3-4). Benjamin holds the distinction of being the only one of Jacob's children born in the land of Canaan.
Note: how did Jacob know Joseph was dependable? Well; the patriarchs were prophets. Thus; they new beforehand quite a bit about their kids. (cf. Gen 9:25-37, Gen 49:1-27)
†. Gen 35:19 . .Thus Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Ephrath— now Bethlehem.
The postscript "now Bethlehem" indicates an editorial insertion by someone later; possibly a scribe or someone assigned the task of making copies; which was a perpetual task in the ages prior to the existence of modern papers, printing presses, and electronic storage media.
This is the very first mention of Bethlehem in the Bible. The word itself is from the Hebrew word Beyth Lechem (bayth leh'-khem; which means: house of bread; viz: a place where no one goes hungry.
The site was officially Bethlehem by the time of Joshua's invasion. (Josh 19:15)
†. Gen 35:20 . . Over her grave Jacob set up a pillar; it is the pillar at Rachel's grave to this day.
The pillar was probably just a pile of rocks, like a cairn. The phrase "to this day" indicates the day of the writer rather than the day upon which somebody in our own day might read this passage.
By the time of 1Sam 10:2— roughly 1020 BC —Rachel's Tomb was a famous landmark. The traditional site, presently so-called, lies about four miles south of Jerusalem, and one mile north of Bethlehem. The current small, square shaped, domed structure isn't the original, but a relatively late monument. In 1841, the "tomb" was renovated, and in 1948 taken over by Jordanian invaders. Jews were barred from visiting it, and the area was converted into a Muslim cemetery; which was eventually liberated by Israelis in 1967.
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|2 years ago :: May 01, 2012 - 4:05AM #208|
Oooh, too bad!
|2 years ago :: May 01, 2012 - 8:03AM #209|
My father-in-law passed away recently and a step-daughter tried to steal his body from the hospital so she could get him cremated and spread his ashes somewhere over the landscape in Arizona without the slightest consideration for the feelings of his blood kin who, except for my wife, all live on the East coast.
Well; thank God my wife and her sister intervened with the correct legal documents in the nick of time to claim his body before the step-daughter got away with her nefarious scheme. My father-in-law certainly deserved better than just dumping his ashes somewhere out in the desert. He was a pipeline engineer with the US Army on the Ledo Road in the China/Burma/India theater in Word War 2. His remains are safely stored back East now awaiting a proper burial this Summer in the family's cemetery where they can come and visit him on occasion.
|2 years ago :: May 01, 2012 - 8:25AM #210|
†. Gen 35:21 . . Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond Migdal-eder.
Although Israel is Jacob's spiritual name, it's also the name of his whole household (e.g. Gen 34:7) so that when Genesis says "Israel journeyed" it means everybody associated with Jacob was on the move.
An important technicality to note is that Abraham and Isaac were no more Israelites than Noah was. The name Israel began with Jacob, and was carried forward by his sons. In its infancy, Israel was a family name rather than the name of a nation that it is now. It might sound ridiculous, but in order for Abraham and Isaac to become Israelites, it would actually be necessary for Jacob to legally adopt them.
Migdal-eder is a compound word. Migdal can indicate a tower, a rostrum, or a pyramidal bed of flowers. 'Eder is a proper name, of either a man or a place-name in Palestine. So Migdal-eder could be 'Eder's tower, which may not have even existed in Jacob's day but was a well known landmark in the author's.
Migdal appears only three times in Genesis: here, and chapter 11 in reference to the Tower of Babel. The tower in Babel was probably an elaborate ziggurat, but 'Eder's tower may have been something very rudimentary, quite simple to construct, and used for agrarian purposes— e.g. tending herds; and watching for rustlers and predators —rather than especially for religious purposes.
†. Gen 35:22a . .While Israel stayed in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father's concubine; and Jacob found out.
Bilhah was Rachel's maid, and quite a bit older than Reuben. She was also the mother of two of Reuben's half-brothers: Dan and Naphtali. Exactly why Reuben took an interest in Bilhah isn't stated. But, it's not like there was a shortage of girls his own age among the women in Jacob's camp. Jacob had a lot of hired help, and plenty of slaves too. If Reuben just wanted to sow some wild oats, it would have been very easy.
Reuben may have been interested in Bilhah for quite a while prior to this recorded incident; but was kept at bay by Rachel's oversight. Now, with her dead, and out of the way, the coast was clear for a carnal liaison. Exactly how Bilhah felt about the affair is not said; but may have been quite flattered by a younger man's interest; and who's to say it wasn't she wasn't a cougar at heart.
One possibility, that seems quite reasonable, and actually makes much better business sense than the motions of a young man's carnal lust, is that Reuben took a bold step to insure Rachel's maid Bilhah would not ascend to the position of favored wife over his own mom Leah. He was surely aware of the sisterly rivalry between Rachel and Leah, since he was in the middle of a conjugal struggle between the two back in Gen 30:14-16; and he must have been fully aware of his mom's feelings over being switched on Rachel's wedding night. By sleeping with Bilhah, and thus "defiling" her, Reuben may have hoped Jacob would be sufficiently revolted enough by the affair so that he'd be inclined to avoid Bilhah from then on and turn his full attention upon Leah.
If the above is true, then it only goes to show just how heartless Reuben could be. His plan, if successful, would leave Bilhah in living widowhood, and the clutches of loneliness and sexual frustration for the remainder of her life. That very scenario was a reality in the case of David and his son Absalom. (2Sam 15:16, 16:20-22, and 20:2-3)
An additional possibility is that in ancient times, firstborn sons commonly inherited not only their father's estate, but also his wives and concubines. Reuben may thus have been claiming his future inheritance. But in so doing, he was, in reality, whether intentional or not, taking steps to depose Jacob; and thus gain immediate headship in the clan. This seems likely because the boys really didn't think much of Jacob's competency. They went over his head in the incident at Shechem, and were disgusted with Jacob's lack of strong response to their sister's escapades: an episode which in reality disgraced the family of Israel. (Gen 34:30-31)
Whatever the true circumstances, and the motives, the thing Reuben did earned him Jacob's reprimand, and cost him the loss of his privileged position in the family (Gen 49:3-4). The birthright was subsequently transferred to Joseph (1Chrn 5:1).
†. Gen 35:22b-26 . . Now the sons of Jacob were twelve in number. The sons of Leah: Reuben— Jacob's first-born —Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's maid: Dan and Naphtali. And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's maid: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.
By the law of that day, a maid's children sired by her mistress's husband, belonged to the mistress. So that Leah's children, counting Dinah, totaled 9; and those of Rachel: 4.
Leah was also the mother of Levi; the progenitor of Moses, Aaron, and Elizabeth (Mary's cousin); and of Judah the progenitor of David, Joseph (Mary's husband) and Christ. Rachel may have been the love of Jacob's life; but of the two sisters, Leah easily deserves the most honor in Jewish history.
†. Gen 35:27 . . And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, at Kiriath-arba— now Hebron —where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.
Modern Hebron is located about 33 kilometers (20½ miles) south of Jerusalem as the crow flies.
Although this is the first mention of a visit from Jacob since returning from up north, it probably wasn't the first instance: just the first one mentioned when his whole family, and the entire troupe— servants and animals —came with him.
Isaac was around 135 when Jacob left home to escape his sibling's wrath in chapter 28. His eyes were going bad even then, and by now, many years later, Isaac was probably quite blind. Since there is neither a record of his reactions, nor of a cordial response to his son's visit; it's possible Isaac had gone senile as well as blind.
†. Gen 35:28 . . Isaac was a hundred and eighty years old
At the time of Isaac's death, Jacob was 120 years old, having been born when his dad was 60 (Gen 25:26). When Jacob was 130, Joseph was 39 (cf. Gen 41:46, 53, 54; 45:6, 47:9). So that when Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery at 17 (Gen 37:2), Jacob's age was 108; which was 12 years prior to Isaac's death.
The insertion of Isaac's passing in the Bible record at this point, is sort of like a parenthesis because, chronologically, it's too soon. Joseph's sale, coming up ahead, preceded Isaac's demise at least 12 years.
†. Gen 35:29a . . So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, being old and full of days.
Jesus said the very hairs of our head are numbered. Well . . so's our breaths. Finally, one day, after countless thousands, we inhale that very last one, and it oozes back out as a ghastly rasp.
What some people see as a glass that's half full, and others see as half empty. Engineers see the glass as overkill: it's too big. Well . . in Isaac's case, the glass was full up to the top. On Sept 11, 2003, the actor John Ritter died of a torn aorta just one week shy of his 55th birthday. That's way too young to take your last breath. His glass wasn't full yet. With adequate health care, John Ritter may have lived another 25 years.
†. Gen 35:29b . . And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
A death in the family often brings its members closer together than a birth. By this time, Jacob and his brother were older and wiser, had mended their fences, and were getting on with their lives; refusing to hold any grudges. Esau, I believe, by this time fully understood what happened concerning the stolen birthright— that it was God's intention for Jacob to have it in the first place —and he was peaceably resigned to accept it.
After the funeral, Esau will begin planning to move away from the region; no longer having a paternal tie to the land wherein his father lived. It's not uncommon for children to settle within driving distance while their parents are living. But when their parents are dead, there's not much reason to stay in the neighborhood anymore— and for some, it might be just the excuse they need to finally move away.
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