Laban’s sons were jealous of Jacob’s wealth. The Lord told Jacob it was time to return to his homeland. Jacob called Rachel and Leah to him and told them how he has worked for Laban despite the wages being constantly changed but God has been with him and has blessed him with their father’s livestock.
Jacob recounts a dream where God acknowledged Laban’s treachery and told Jacob to leave for home at once. Rachel and Leah agree and say all Jacob has gained from their father should be theirs anyways as an inheritance. Jacob and his family left Paddan Aram along with all of his livestock and goods for Canaan. Rachel stole all of her father’s household gods and Jacob left without telling Laban. They crossed the Euphrates.
Laban found out after three days that Jacob had fled. He pursued him and caught up with him in Gilead. God came to Laban in a dream, warning him not to speak to Jacob. Laban, in his infinite wisdom, speaks to Jacob anyways, and asks him why he had fled without saying good bye and why he has stolen the idols.
Jacob replies that he was afraid Laban would take his daughters from him (can’t blame him here) and that if someone has stolen the idols, may they die.
Laban searched and found nothing for Rachel was sitting on them and said she was having her period so she couldn’t stand to greet him. Laban found nothing.
Jacob is mad at Laban for accusing him of stealing. He points out how he has worked 20 years for him, 14 for his daughters and 6 for his flocks even though Laban has changed his wages on him 10 times, and God Himself even rebuked Laban for his behavior.
So Laban and Jacob made a covenant, asking Jacob not to mistreat his daughters or take any more wives and neither will cross the other’s “side” to harm each other. They offered a sacrifice, spent the night, and the next day Laban bid his daughters farewell and left.
Summary of Hebrews 12:3-15:
The Lord disciplines those He loves and punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline for God is treating you as a son. For if you are not disciplines then you are not sons of God. Everyone is disciplined. God disciplines us for our good so we may share in His holiness.
Discipline is never pleasant, but it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. Make every effort to live in peace and be holy; without holiness, no one sees the Lord. Do not be bitter.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15
11) Jacob had noticed that Laban’s sons believed he had stolen Laban’s wealth, and Laban’s attitude towards Jacob had changed, too. But it was God who told Jacob to return.
12a) ) Verse 7 “God has not allowed him (Laban) to harm me.” verse 9 “God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.” Verse 11-13 “I am the God of Bethel” and God made the animals born spotted. verse 42 “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you (Laban) would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.” They made a covenant together that resolved the bitterness.
b) Pray and thank God.
13) Verse 3 “And I will be with you.” Verse 42: But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you. It encourages me that all my work is worth it, and God is with me.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15
Unsure whey we read Hebrews here since we weren’t asked about it. Rachel is most definitely smart in hiding the idols. However, taking them? Not so smart. She has God. She needs nothing else.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15
Just as Rachel is jealous of Leah, Laban’s sons are jealous of Jacob’s wealth. Love does not envy (1 Corinthians 13:4). Envy is bad; it killed Jesus. (Matthew 27:18).
God is nudging Jacob back home (Genesis 30:25) and encouraging him, too.
God reminds Jacob of his Bethel (Genesis 28:10), where God has spurred him on to find Rachel. It’s good for all of us to remember times and places where God has shown up. This strengthens us and encourages us in times we feel God is far away.
It was important for Jacob to have the support of his wives. After all, they would be leaving their family for the first time ever, taking their kids with them, to an unknown land. Both women agreed for once and were ready to help in any way they could.
One cool detail you might have missed is that Jacob’s entire family road camels. This is like saying everyone drove their own car here in the US. It’s a sign of Jacob’s immense wealth.
Jacob snuck away when he did not need to. God had already told him to go. It’s evident he would be protected. Perhaps Jacob is so mad at Laban at this point he just wanted to leave.
Rachel Steals her Father’s Idols
We are not told why Rachel stole the idols. Obviously, you should not steal, especially from your mother and father (she broke two of God’s ten commandments here yet to be given to Moses). Scholars debate the reasons:
She herself secretly worshipped these idols
She didn’t want her father to worship these idols
She didn’t want her father to catch them through divination
Idols were traditionally used as deeds to property
She didn’t like her father, so she took something of his to anger him
She wanted protection on the long journey
The reason didn’t matter. She stole; this is wrong.
They left Paddan Aram and Haran for Gilead, which is about 300 miles away and close to the sea of Galilee. Since it took 3 days for Laban to notice, the families must have lived a considerable distance away from one another. Note that God cautions Laban to deal fairly with Jacob. Laban was probably angry and did intend to harm him. God’s warning meant “you touch him and you will pay.”
Jacob and Home
Jacob is close to home when Laban catches up. It took Laban 7 days to catch up to Jacob who is now near the Jordan River and very close to home. Laban tried to shame him with a celebration and a chance to say good bye to his family. He threatens harm as well. Jacob fervently denies he stole the idols, not knowing Rachel had.
Jacob let Laban have it, citing all he had done for him in 20 years and showing him how ungrateful he was being. He was angry over it all, maybe even remembering the trickery of Leah. He helped Laban. Jacob replaced any lost animal of Laban’s with his own and tells him that God sent him away.
Note that Jacob does not claim God as his own, only Abraham and Isaac’s.
Mizpah meant God is watching and He will repay you if you sin. Laban still claims everything is his, but says he’ll let Jacob have it. The pillar was a sign of their separation. It appears they still left with much animosity between them. From here on out, Jacob’s family will be separated from everyone else.
Laban will never see his daughters or grandchildren again. He now disappears from Bible history, presumably returning home and living out his life as he always had. The separation between Laban and Jacob had to happen. Like this example shows us, it is not always pretty.
Jacob asks Laban if he may return to his home country with his wife and children and flocks. But Laban asks him to stay for he knows he has prospered only because of Jacob so he offers Jacob to name his price to stay. Jacob says he will stay if Laban will give him as wages every speckled or spotted sheep and every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat that is born. He will separate out the current speckled and spotted and dark-colored animals and those will be cared for by Laban’s sons, which will decrease the odds of these being born.
Laban divided the animals as agreed upon and separated the flocks. Jacob then placed tree branches in the water troughs so when the flocks came to drink they would mate. Jacob, caring for the solid-colored animals, kept his flocks separate from Laban’s and he only kept the strong ones. The weak ones went to Laban. Jacob grew exceedingly prosperous.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 4: Genesis 30:25-43
9a) Laban tries to say that he has learned by “divinination” that God has blessed him because of Jacob, which he did not. Jacob agrees with the idea in mind to trick Laban into him getting more sheep and goats by breeding for colors that he thought he could choose. He made separate flocks for him and Laban. Jacob’s grew strong, while Laban’s did not.
b) God, as always
10a) I always ask to myself when these “why did God do something,” why not? God can do what He wants. Why not bless Jacob if He wanted to? Why does/should God bless anyone? None of us deserve it. Genesis 12:1-3 tells us that God has promised to bless Abraham, and since Jacob now has the blessing, God will bless Jacob. Colossians 3:22-25 says we are working for God. 1 Peter 2:18-20 says to submit to your masters even if they are harsh. 1 Peter 3:9 says to repay evil with blessings. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says to give God your worries.
b) God has a plan, and it is good. He will bless you in His time.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 4: Genesis 30:25-43
Funny how neither one has learned anything as they have gotten older. Both Laban and Jacob are back at scheming again.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 4: Genesis 30:25-43
Jacob wants to go home, so he asks his master, Laban, for permission. Laban does not want him to go, knowing that he has prospered thanks to God’s blessing on Jacob. Jacob takes the spotted sheep and goats for his flock and intends to keep only the colored ones that are born, leaving Laban with all the others. Laban thinks he is getting a great deal since the spotted ones are rarer. However, he forgot who God is blessing — Jacob, not him.
Jacob cared for Laban’s solid color animals. Laban’s sons cared for the speckled and spotted ones three-days journey away.
Jacob put branches in the troughs to increase the number of spotted animals born so they could be his. He used the modern-day practice of selective breeding to get the characteristics (in this case, spots) that he wanted. We will see in Genesis 31:10-13 that God was behind it all.
God blesses Jacob because of the covenant promise, not because of anything he does/did. We are blessed through Jesus Christ, not anything we have done/did.
We see the example through Jacob of working for others in faith God will bless you, of working hard, and of trusting God to do the rest.
Reuben gathered mandrakes for Leah. Rachel asked for some and Leah refused. Rachel told Leah she could sleep with Jacob then that night in exchange for mandraks. Jacob slept with Leah and she had another son named Issachar, meaning “reward.” Zebulon, meaning “honor” was born to Leah next. She also had a daughter named Dinah. God listened to Rachel and gave her a son as well named Joseph, meaning “may he add.”
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 3: Genesis 30:14-24
6) We are not told this. This is speculation. As the head of the household, Jacob could end all of this mess at any point. He is weak and does not. I have no empathy for him. The kids we do not know. They are obviously impacted by their respective mother’s strained relationships, but we are not told how. Probably sibling rivalry and jealousy, but that’s common in every household tody.
7a) God listened and opened her womb.
b) God is in control and sovereign.
8 ) I learned early on to depend on God because humans in my life have let me down so often. As my husband starts a new career, we all are depending on God to help make up the shortfall in income.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 3: Genesis 30:14-24
We see the desperation of both women here. Leah is still desperate for Jacob to love her, and Rachel is desperate for children. God is the only one we should be desperate for. He is our everything. In Him lies the answers to everything we seek.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 3: Genesis 30:14-24
Leviticus 18:18 woudl forbide the marrying of sisters. The Israelites will finally learn here that this is not a good idea.
The mandrake (called love apple in Hebrew) is mentioned in the Bible here and in Song of Songs 7:13. It is common in Israel and often grows as a weed. It is a member of the nightshade family, which contains the tobacco plant, as well as common vegetables, such as potatoes and tomatoes. It resembles a human so it was regarded with superstition in ancient times. It was believed to be an aphrodisiac and to promote fertility, which is why Rachel was willing to trade time with her husband for it. While the mandrake is common in Israel, it is rare in Paddan-Aram where they lived. This shows that both women are relying on a superstitious plant to solve their problems, rather than turning to God.
We can gather from the text that Jacob had not been sleeping with Leah all that much since she accuses Rachel of stealing her husband. Rachel uses or prostitutes Jacob to get what she wants here. Both are trading sex and love, which should never be done. God is soveign though here again. He gives both women children, the one who gave the mandrake and the one who bargained for them, too.
The Bible warns of believing superstitions in our life. (Ex. 22:18; Rev. 22:15) Do you have any superstitions?
Issachar adn Zebulun are sons nine and ten for Jacob. Leah was done having children at this point.
Summary of passage: Isaac, now old and blind, asks Esau to hunt him some wild game and prepare him a meal at which he will give him his blessing. Rebekah overheard Isaac tell Esau this so she told Jacob to go and bring her some young goats to prepare for him so that Jacob can go and receive Isaac’s blessing. Jacob wonders though if Isaac touches him what to do because Esau is hairy and he is not. His mother said not to worry.
Rebekah prepared the food and then dressed up Jacob in Esau’s clothes. She covered his hands and neck with goatskins and sent him in to Isaac. Jacob says he is Esau and bids his father to eat. Isaac wonders how he found the game so quickly. Jacob says the Lord granted him success.
Isaac suspects a trick and asks to touch Jacob. He knows Jacob’s voice but falls for the goatskin trick. Isaac blessed Jacob but is still unsure if he is Esau or not. Jacob lies again, saying he is. Isaac ate of the game and then kissed his son. He smelled Esau’s clothes and concluded this was Esau.
Isaac blessed Jacob, asking God to give him abundance and have the nations serve him and bow to him, have him be lord over his brothers and have those who curse him be cursed and those who bless him be blessed.
Esau returned from hunting and brought in the food to Isaac. Isaac realizes he had been tricked by Jacob. But it was too late. Isaac cannot bless both. He did not reserve another blessing. Esau wept and held a grudge against Jacob and planned to kill him once Isaac died.
Rebekah hears Esau’s plans and sends Jacob to live with her brother Laban in Haran until Esau’s temper cools. She tells Isaac she doesn’t want Jacob to marry a Hittite woman so Isaac blesses him and commands him to go to Paddan Aram to the house of his mother’s father Bethuel and take a wife from the daughters of Laban. He blessed him again with fruitfulness and with the blessing given to Abraham.
Esau learned what had happened and he took a wife from Ishmael’s line in an effort to please his father.
11) When God told Rebekah that two nations were in her womb and the older will serve the younger.
12a) He called Esau to him privately and was going to bless him without others around or tell anyone else.
b) Isaac knew Jacob was the chosen one but he was going to bless Esau instead (his favorite). But once he was tricked, he blessed Jacob willingly. He realized that God’s will would prevail, not his.
13a) Isaac definitely had a heart for God. He willingly submitted to being a sacrifice. He trusted God to bring him Rebekah as his wife. He dealt kindly with Abimelech when the disputes arose over the wells. The Lord appeared to him (Genesis 26:24) to reassure him of his covenant. His weakness was that he favored Esau over Jacob and tried to circumvent God’s will with the blessing. But God prevented that as well. He played favorites with his kids. In the end, Isaac does bless Jacob for he realizes God’s will after the trick.
Isaac is like most Christians I think. Has a heart for God but is human with faults and mistakes. But eventually he corrects them and comes back to God.
b) Personal Question. My answer: To always seek and trust God. He is in control. He will bless those who follow Him. To deal kindly with unbelievers. To not judge. To shine Christ as best as humanly possible. Even when you fall, Isaac showed you get right back on God’s path.
c) Personal Question. My answer: To not play favorites (which is hard with multiple kids). To treat all equally. To pray and follow God. It is useless to fight God for He will win every time. His will not mine.
Conclusions: God’s will prevails no matter what man does to circumvent it. So why do we fight it so?
End Note: Interestingly, even if Esau had received Isaac’s blessing, it wouldn’t have mattered. Only God can truly bestow the blessing and in God’s eyes it would have been invalid.
Summary of passage: Isaac planted crops in the land of the Philistines and the Lord blessed him. He became rich and had so many flocks that the Philistines became jealous so they filled all his wells with dirt. Finally, Abimelech told Isaac to move away because he had become too powerful.
So Isaac moved to the Valley of Gerar and re-opened the wells. Isaac’s servants dug two new wells but the locals quarreled over them. He dug another well that was undisputed, which showed Isaac the Lord would provide.
At Beersheba the Lord appeared to Isaac and told him He would bless him and increase his descendants. Isaac built an altar there and called on the Lord. He also dug a well there.
Abimelech saw how Isaac continued to prosper because the Lord was with him and became afraid. So he along with his adviser and commander approached Isaac to make a treaty not to harm them. This was done. Another well was dug.
Esau married Judith and Basemath, Hittites, and they were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
9a) God multiplied Isaac’s crops by a hundredfold.
b) The Philistines became jealous of Isaac’s success so they filled all of his wells.
c) Abimelech kicked him out of the land
d) He just moved and kept digging wells until he found one undisputed.
e) God appeared to Isaac and told him He will bless him and have descendants. Isaac responded by building an altar and calling on the name of the Lord. He pitched his tent there and dug another well.
10a) Proverbs says “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him”. The Philistines sought a treaty with Isaac out of fear of the Lord. God approved of Isaac, blessed him, and protected him by giving him peace.
b) Personal Question. My answer: If you follow God’s ways, you will have peace with your enemies. I’m unsure how to answer this one for I have no real enemies like Isaac did. We live in a time of relative peace compared to ancient times so it’s hard for us to understand this. Even if we have personal enemies we must love them and do what is right and trust God to bring the peace.
Conclusions: Good lesson of overcoming adversity. Most of us don’t have wells that are taken from us but we have other things (and if you’ve been through bankruptcy you know what I’m talking about here).
God gives and takes away and at some point most of us have had things taken from us (either jobs, finances, kids, dogs, family members, relatives, or personal items such as homes or cars).
It’s how we respond that God is seeking. Like Jesus? Or not like Jesus?
We will have peace if we do what Jesus would do. That is God’s promise.
End Note: Note the name of the wells. Esek means dispute. Sitnah means opposition. And Rehoboth means room. God uses dispute and opposition to give us room. Neat, huh?
Abraham is known for building altars. Jacob will be known for tents. Isaac is known for wells. All different ways of God’s provision for His people.
Summary of passage: Isaac was forty when he married Rebekah. Isaac prayed when he discovered Rebekah was barren and God granted her twins. The Lord told her she carried two nations, one will be stronger and the older will serve the younger. Esau was the first born (his name may mean hairy. He was also called Edom which means red for he was red-headed). The second born was Jacob who came out clasping Esau’s heel (his name means he grasps the heel or he deceives). Isaac was 60 years old at their birth.
Esau became a hunter while Jacob stayed home. Isaac loved Esau while Rebekah loved Jacob more.
Esau sold his birthright for a meal, implying he despised his birthright.
A famine came into the land and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar (different guy than Abraham’s Abimelech. Remember, Abimelech is the name they give to rulers). The Lord appeared to Isaac and told him to not go to Egypt but to stay here. He will bless him and give all this land to his descendants. He repeats the oath He gave to Abraham. He will bless all nations because Abraham was faithful and his descendants will be as numerous as the stars..
Isaac, however, lied who Rebekah was, saying she was his sister just like Abraham had done in Egypt out of fear of being killed. But Isaac got caught in his lie and was chastised by Abimelech who orders no one to touch or molest Isaac or Rebekah.
5) He prayed
6) Isaac loved Esau because he brought him wild game to eat. It’s a shallow reason. Yes, providing food is important in life but to love your son just because he does this is not loving the heart. It’s loving for actions and not for who the person is. You love the entire person and not because of what they can do for you. Sad, really.
7) God commanded Isaac not to go to Egypt during the famine. He promised him He would be with him and He would bless him. He confirmed the oath He gave to Abraham, saying He will give all his descendants all these lands. He will make Isaac’s descendants as numerous as the stars and all the nations will be blessed because Abraham obeyed and kept God’s laws.
8a) He lied about who his wife was.
b) I don’t think he could have. Abraham’s sin was committed before he was born so Isaac would only have heard stories told and he would have seen first-hand the pain that Hagar had brought to all. Sin is a personal choice, an act of Free Will. Parents can no more prevent their kids from sinning than they can prevent themselves if they so choose. We have no control. Abraham could have told Isaac not to lie, etc but Isaac chose to follow his way instead.
[Note: Commentaries I read said Abraham could have set a better example and that the sins of the father are often found in the children because of the sinful environment in which they grew up in. I, however, reject this. Abraham sinned before Isaac was born and we all have our own choices to make. I’m sure Abraham told his son the story and not to do what he did. Personal responsibility and Free Will reign here.]
c) Personal Question. My answer: Tell them honestly what you have done and implore them to make better choices. Show them the consequences of your sin and do not hide it. Kids need to know there are consequences for sin. Don’t sugar-coat anything and live an honest, repentant life.
Conclusions: We don’t know what Isaac knew about Egypt but we do know the pain Hagar and Ishmael caused so we can assume Isaac knew this as well and he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and let fear reign. Like I said yesterday, fear is a motivating factor that often causes us to sin but God can help us trust Him and not let fear take over.
Sin is a personal choice, something we are all responsible for. No one else is to blame. Isaac sinned just like his father. For Isaac is human just like Abraham. We can help our kids understand what sin is and what are the consequences and that they have a choice: to follow God or to follow themselves or the devil.
Sin is inevitable; but with Jesus sin is wiped away.
Summary of passages: Genesis 22:6-10: Abraham places the wood for the sacrifice of Isaac on Isaac while he carries the fire and knife. They proceed together and Isaac asks his father where is the lamb for the burnt offering. Abraham says God will provide the lamb.
When they reached the place for the sacrifice, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood. He bound his son and laid him on the altar. He took the knife to slay his son.
Genesis 24:62-67: Isaac went out to the fields to pray when he saw camels approach. Rebekah saw Isaac and asked who he was. When she found out it was her future husband, she covered herself with a veil. The servant reported to Isaac all that had happened. Isaac and Rebekah were married.
3) He is God-centered. He submits to God’s plan of being a sacrifice. He believes his father that this is from the Lord. He is praying when his future wife arrives and he marries her without question. God is first in his life and he will sacrifice his life for God’s will.
4a) According to Webster’s Dictionary, submissive means “submitting to others.” Submit means “to yield to governance or authority; surrender.”
b) Numbers 12:3: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”
Psalm 25:9: “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”
Psalm 37:11: “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”
Psalm 149:4: “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.”
Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.”
Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
1 Peter 3:4-5: “Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands.”
Verse 6: “Like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”
[Note: I threw in verse 6 for 2 reasons: 1) It mentions Sarah whom we are studying 2) I think fear is crucial in understanding why we do some of the things we do–out of fear. It’s one of the devil’s favorite weapons against us. We are afraid to submit to our husband’s authority and on down the line. We are afraid to give control of our lives (and our kids) to God. We are afraid of _____ (fill in the blank). Fear is a HUGE motivator in our lives–and we must recognize and acknowledge that in order to defeat it.
And in terms of beauty, we women are afraid to say we are beautiful if we don’t look like Gisele (and that’s 99.9 % of us). But each and every one of us are. Because God inhabits us. And the world would be infinitely better if fear didn’t prevent us from shining our souls to others.]
4c) Personal Question. My answer: I’d be happier. Less stress. Less worry. Less heartache. Less disappointment. I take everything personally so I often am resentful of people. And we all know I have no patience. I’d have more friends cause I’d be more forgiving and a nicer person to be around.
Conclusions: I found it odd we looked up the definition of submissive but then was asked about developing meekness. So, I looked up the definition of meek. It is “enduring injury with patience and without resentment; mild. Deficient in spirit and courage; submissive.”
Deficient does mean lacking, not up to normal standards, or defective (yes, I looked this up too). So being meek according to the second definition I believe is not what we want. We want the first definition.
I think both are the goals. Enduring injury with patience and yielding to authority–things that go against the American norm and what most of us were raised to be (thanks in large part to feminism which I believe has done more harm than good to this country).
Despite the fact we went back in Genesis, I think this was an important lesson to underscore. I think it’s something we all need to work on. Submissive is a borderline bad word in America and we need to change that. The second definition of meek is the predominant thought as well where one is cowering in a corner. Humble is usually not the first word that comes to mind when asked to describe someone.
Lesson for the week: Pray for humility, meekness, and submissiveness in our lives.