bearded dragon www.atozmomm.com

Friday Digest: BSF’s Study of Genesis Lesson 25

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN GENESIS CHAPTERS 41-42:

  • God is infinitely gracious to reveal His plans to Egypt and to save them along with His chosen people
  • God uses the good and bad for His purposes
  • Even though our paths are different, they are all controlled by God
  • There is a greater good in suffering
  • Life is infinitely easier when you believe God has got this
  • Pray for life’s highs and pray through life’s lows

Take Away:  God is in control.

joseph and his brothers www.atozmomm.com

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 5: Genesis 42:21-38

Summary of Genesis 42:21-38:

The brothers are at least smart enough to know that this is happening because of what they did to Joseph. Reuben blames his brothers for this, saying he tried to save Joseph (let’s face it, they are all guilty). Joseph was overcome and began to cry. He has Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.

He filled their bags with grain and had the silver they had brought with them returned in their bags. He gave them provisions for their journey. Along the way, they realized that their silver had been returned. They now sense that God is most definitely admininstering justice.

The sons returned and told Jacob all that had happened in Egypt. When they saw all of the silver returned, they were even more frightened. Jacob says everything is against him now that he has lost two sons.

Reuben promises to bring Benjamin back or Jacob can kill both of his sons. But Jacob refuses to let Benjamin go because he claims he will die without him.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 5: Genesis 42:21-38

14) They are very afraid. They realize this is some sort of punishment for what they did to Joseph and are now extremely compliant for the demands.

15) Jacob did not respond with faith (hence, he is called Jacob here and not Israel). He blames his sons for losing two of his other sons, and he refuses to let one brother save another, claiming he will die if Benjamin does. Not very Godly at all. Leaving your one son to rot in jail.

16) God is in control. All things are happening for a reason. God will work good out of the situation. That God has got this.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 5: Genesis 42:21-38

I would not want to return and tell Jacob that effectively they had lost another brother. They were probably dreading the entire trip backing, knowing that Jacob would never let Benjamin go. Poor Simeon. He probably resigned himself to a life in prison, knowing the exact same response of his father.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 5: Genesis 42:21-38

Five time in the Book of Genesis we see Joseph in tears (Genesis 43:30; 45:2, 14-15; 50:17) with his brothers. You can almost feel Joseph’s hurt and pain, like when they were talking about the incident in front of him, not knowing he was listening. Yet, he loves his brothers, but it is so hard when you’ve been hurt. This shows that pain that happens in childhood runs deep throughout life and can affect you in ways you don’t even realize.

Listen to Your Conscious

Having a conscious is something that sets humans above other animals. Animals have no feelings if they have hurt others; whereas, we do. All of Joseph’s brothers are struggling with their sin against Joseph and know that in some way this is the penalty. If humans did not have a conscious, a knowledge from right and wrong, we’d be little more than animals and society would be in trouble, indeed.

Joseph wept at his own emotions, but also in the fact that they still have not gotten to the point of confession and admittance as we see in Reuben who is blaming his other brothers for this mess. Joseph knows God has more soul work for them to do.

Simeon either was chosen or volunteered to stay behind. Poor guy. Most likely he knew he might rot in jail the rest of his life since Jacob parting with Benjamin was a long shot. Simeon was the second oldest and was one of the leaders in the slaughter of Shechem (Genesis 34). Perhaps this was God’s punishment for that sin.

Grain was expensive. After all, there’s a famine going on. Most likely directed by God, Joseph put their money back in their sacks. This was a lot of money. He gave his brothers provisions for the trip back home. Before any apologies were given, Joseph gave. This is a lesson for us as we see Jesus here as well. Before we believe, Jesus gives.

puffins www.atozmomm.com

God Works to Bring Us to Him

They were afraid, knowing they could be accused as thieves now since they had the silver returned. The only prudent thing would be to try to return it when they returned to show them to be honest. If they kept it for personal gain, this would not be good. I would be suspicious as well. The silver was there for a reason; it could be good or bad. Was it a gift from God? Or, was it a trap?

Here, we see the brothers tell the truth of what happened, rather than what happened to Joseph. While many Bible scholars laud this as a step in the right direction, it’s truly hard to compare the situations. They lied to cover up an evil they did to Joseph the first time. Here, they had no evil/sin to cover up, so why would they lie? You truly cannot compare the two situations.

Jacob knew in his heart that the reason he has now lost two sons was due to the behavior/sins of his other sons.

Jacob is Bound by Selfishness

Note Jacob lack of faith and victim mentality. We don’t see him praying, asking God about allowing Benjamin to go to Egypt. We see Jacob in self-preservation mode. He does not want Benjamin to die; nothing else matters. He is blind here, and only God can make him see.

We also see the power of lies in people’s lives. When you lie, it affects others. In this case, Jacob believed for over 20 years Joseph was dead. That is indeed a cruel sin to let your father believe that. Imagine those years of heartache Jacob felt, while the brothers did not care — until God made them care.

Reuben, the oldest, the one who slept with his father’s concubine (Genesis 35:22), the one who did too little too late to save Joseph, offers his own sons if he does not bring Benjamin back. There is always room in life to make up for sin.

Here we see human selfishness defined. Jacob seems to care nothing for Simeon. In his mind, his only son is Benjamin. Simeon probably has a family. Did he mean to leave Simeon’s kids orphans? Jacob never once is seen praying or trusting God here. All he sees is himself, so he sins aginst his other son, Simeon. Sometimes humans fail miserably under sin. Even the bond of love is breakable without the love of Jesus.

joseph's brothers buy grain in egypt www.atozmomm.com

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 4: Genesis 42:1-20

Summary of Genesis 42:1-20:

Jacob sends all of his sons to buy grain from Egypt except Benjamin, afraid that something will happen to Benjamin like Joseph. Famine is in Canaan as well. Joseph was in charge of selling all the grain, and when he saw his brothers, he recognized them, but they did not know him. He pretended not to know them, and questioned where they were from.

Joseph accuses them of being spies and of coming to see where the land is unprotected. Here, they say they are the sons of one man and how one is not with them and one is dead. Joseph says that one must stay with them while the rest return home to fetch the younger brother in order to prove if their story is true. The one shall remain in prison until they return. He would allow them  to leave with grain.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 4: Genesis 42:1-20

11a) God made the brothers come for grain, which Joseph was in charge of.

b) Joseph was but a boy when he left at 17. You can change a lot in that amount of time. Joseph was most likely dressed like an Egyptian at the time with a headress on and heavy makeup. Plus, they thought he was dead. Who would think their dead brother sold into slavery would be second in line behind Pharaoh?

12) Joseph pretended not to know them, and questioned where they were from. Joseph accuses them of being spies and of coming to see where the land is unprotected. Joseph probably was feeling not-so-generous when he saw his brothers. Perhaps hurt and anger arose from what they had done to him. Perhaps it was time to give them a taste of their own medicine.

13a) We see how God put Joseph in the position to save the chosen family of Jesus. All things happen for God’s purposes.

b) Every event in my life has a purpose, for me or for the future. Even the bad.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 4: Genesis 42:1-20

I love this. It’s giving the brothers a taste of their own medicine. Surely they were extremely worried during the time they were in jail. Now, they would know what it felt like to be wrongly imprisoned just like Jospeh did.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 4: Genesis 42:1-20

Bible scholars believe this event happened at the very beginning of the famine (Genesis 45:11).

The strange expression was most likely the face of guilt. Egypt reminded the brothers of the terrible deed they had done, and no one wants to live with that. How they lived 20 years with that on their conscious I don’t know.

God uses events and circumstances in our lives to move us, to push us to do things we normally would not do. The brothers had to reconcile with Joseph. Here was the impetus to do so.

traditional ancient egyptian clothing www.atozmomm.com

Joseph’s Dream Comes True

The brothers bow down before Joseph, just like his dream said they would. By selling Joseph into slavery, the brothers made Joseph’s dreams come true when their whole intent was to make sure they never would bow before Joseph. Ironic, isn’t it? And another piece of evidence that God is in control of everything.

Joseph would have used an interpreter here. He would not have spoken directly to his brothers, which would have revealed he knew Hebrew. But this was probably common place for high officials not to speak to commoners as well. Funny, Jesus recognized you before you recognize him.

Joseph remembered his dream of the brothers bowing down and would use this to restore their relationship. First, the brothers had to admit what they had done. Instead, they lie about Joseph still, saying he is dead. They did not say that one brother is a slave. The brothers must learn the hard way to confession. Like Jesus, Joseph was alive and well even if no one knew it.

Joseph gives the brothers the reason for what they are doing: for the fear of God. All of us need a healthy fear of God.

Note that the whole point of this is to prove they are honest. Ever since Joseph was sold into slavery, none of them have lived an honest life, and still they are denying Joseph’s existence. Surely, both Joseph and the brothers knew bringing Benjamin would be a fight with Jacob.

josepht is 2nd in command in egypt www.atozmomm.com

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 3: Genesis 41:33-57

Summary of Genesis 41:33-57:

Joseph advised Pharaoh to look for a discerning and wise man to be put in charge of the land of Egypt. Commissioners should be put in charge of the land to take 1/5 of the harvest during the years of abundance and store it for the years of famine. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge, second only to him in all of Egypt, for this plan. Pharaoh gave Joseph his signet ring, gave him clothes, and a gold chain. He had him ride in a chariot as his second in command. He was put in charge of all of Egypt.

Pharaoh gave Joseph the Egyptian name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him an Egyptian wife, the daugther of Potiphera, a priest of On.

Joseph was 30 when this happened. He traveled throughout the land, saving the grain as planned. He had so much grain saved that he stopped keeping track as he could no longer measure it. Joseph had two sons, Manasseh, meaning forget, and Ephraim, meaing twice fruitful. When the famine hit, Egypt was prepared. They sold grain to the people of Egypt and to other coutnries who had no stored up food.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 3: Genesis 41:33-57

7) Joseph advised Pharaoh to look for a discerning and wise man to be put in charge of the land of Egypt. Commissioners should be put in charge of the land to take 1/5 of the harvest during the years of abundance and store it for the years of famine. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge, second only to him in all of Egypt, for this plan.

8 ) God is preparing all of us for His purposes in life. Trusting in the Lord always is the key to peace as we find His purpose for our lives.

9) I’m so bad at these broad questions. Again, I have no specifics, but, in general, prayer has gotten me through a lot and my drive to keep on, keeping on.

10) I have faith that everything is in God’s plan. Although we are struggling financially right now, we are confident this is what God wants for our lives moving forward, and in the end, it will all work out. Because Romans 8:28 assures me everything is for Him and my good to be like Jesus.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 3: Genesis 41:33-57

I had forgotten that it was Joseph/God who advised Pharaoh what to do. Love that.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 3: Genesis 41:33-57

Other translations say “perish” instead of ruined. Perish is a much better translation here because it tells of the seriousness of the coming famine. If nothing were done, many people would likely perish. This is a much stronger word than merely ruined.

One-fifth of the food would be a big chunk of people’s food. But sacrifices had to be made so that survival would come out the other side. Some Bible scholars speculate that this could be up to 20% of the food from families, instead of the normal 10%.

The key would be someone who could coordinate and organize this monumental effort to save the people of Egypt. And who has been training in administration almost his entire life AND has God at his back?

Note that “the Spirit of God” here mentioned by Pharaoh is the Holy Spirit. You may have missed this like I did when I first read it.

Fun Fact: This is the first time in the Bible the Holy Spirit is seen coming to humans.

signet ring pharaoh gave joseph www.atozmomm.com

Joseph’s Rise

Joseph had to have been shocked that Pharaoh chooses him to not only coordinate this life-saving effort, but also to have no one above him on earth except Pharaoh. Joseph, who mere moments before, was a slave, is now insanely powerful.

Yet, this was years in the making, designed by God, and promoted/exalted by God alone (Psalm 75:6-7).

The success you have in life is from God alone. Even your efforts of hard work, determination, perseverence, and more are from God. He alone grants you life, abilities, and talents to use for His glory. And as you advance in life, you rely more on Jesus who himself rose from nothing to be the almighty King.

Joseph would now be showered with wealth and gifts. He had Pharaoh’s authority as demonstrated by Pharaoh’s ring. He had beautiful clothes, gold chains, and chariots. He even was given a beautiful Egyptian wife who was high-born. Joseph has total authority over everyone except Pharaoh. Anyone see Jesus here?

Joseph is Given a New Name

Egyptians did not like Hebrews. Plus, Joseph was a slave. He had to be given a new identity in order to be respected. Pharaoh gave him an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife to erase his past from others. Some Bible scholars speculate Joseph’s Egyptian name meant “the god speaks and this one lives.” This would be the only wife Joseph took. Yet, Joseph’s sons are given Hebrew names. This shows Joseph did not forget where he came from.

Famine is common in the Middle East. However, it was rare to have a famine that affected both Canaan and Egypt at the same time due to the fact that they depended on different waterways.

pharaoh's dreams in bible www.atozmomm.com

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 2: Genesis 41:1-32

Summary of Genesis 41:1-32:

Two years after Joseph helped the chief cupbearer whom he told to remember him Pharaoh had two dreams. In these dreams, he saw seven cows that were fat and then seven cows that were think come out of the Nile. The seven thin cows proceeded to eat the seven fat cows. He dreamed there were seven heads of grain that were healthy. After them, seven heads of grain that were thin and scorched. The thin grain swallowed up the healhty grain. None of Pharaoh’s magicians or wise men could interpret these dreams for him.

Suddenly, the chief cupbearer remembers how Joseph interpreted his dream and the dream of the captain of the guard perfectly. So Joseph sent for Joseph, whom after he was made presentable, appeared before Pharaoh.

Pharaoh tells Joseph he has heard he can interpre dreams. Joseph corrects him, saying God can do it, not him. Pharaoh told Joseph his dreams. God reveals to Pharaoh that the dreams foretell the same events. The seven fat cows and good heads of grain represent seven years of good harvests. The seven lean cows and thin heads of grain represent seven years of famine. The seven years of famine will be so severe that no one will remember the seven years of abundance.

The two dreams mean that God has decided this matter, and it will happen soon.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 2: Genesis 41:1-32

3) Hearing how no one could interpret Pharaoh’s dreams and he remembered that his dream was interpreted correctly by Joseph

4a) He is humble. He knows that God is one who reveals, not him. He gives God credit for what He does instead of taking the credit for himself.

b) I truly have no specifics, but I do know people have given others Bible verses in the past to tell me, or I’ll read something in the Bible that I need to hear, or others will come into my life at just the right moment. This question is difficult to answer since it’s hard to know/see God moving in your life when it’s happening.

5) The seven fat cows and good heads of grain represent seven years of good harvests. The seven lean cows and thin heads of grain represent seven years of famine. The seven years of famine will be so severe that no one will remember the seven years of abundance.

6) God’s timing is not our own. Everything happens for a reason and on God’s time. We often don’t understand why events happen to us until later on in life. Being humble is simply giving God the credit since truthfully we do nothing on or under our own power.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 2: Genesis 41:1-32

Love this story! I love Joseph’s story, and I love the cows and the grains. It seems obvious to us what it means once God reveals it to Joseph, but truly it could have meant anything.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 25, Day 2: Genesis 41:1-32

We tend to blame the cupbearer for not remembering Joseph early. Yet, what would have happened if Joseph had gotten out sooner? He would have returned home, not interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, which could have possibly wiped out all of Jacob’s line. Again, God’s timing is not our own. The key is waiting patiently for God.

We see God communicating in many different ways throughout Genesis:

  • Appearing in person/as Jesus
  • A wrestling match
  • Dreams

God still speaks to us today through others, dreams, and His word.

In God’s timing, Joseph is released. As Romans 8:28: tells us, all things work together for our good to conform us like Jesus. Sometimes things move slowly; sometimes they happen quickly.

Pharaoh reveals a bit more in his second telling of the dreams to Joseph. We learn that the cows were incredibly ugly and that the cows did not get fat after eating.

Note the repetition. Anytime there is repetition in the Bible, it’s important. God gave Pharaoh two dreams to grab his attention since the well-being of his country (and God’s people) were at stake.

Today, Jesus is our guide. God doesn’t tell us what to do directly. Instead, He speaks to us in other ways. To hear Him speak, we have to be continually growing closer to Him and continually growing more like Jesus every day.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 25, Day 5: Genesis 35:5-36:43

Summary of passage:  No one pursued Jacob and his family when they left Shechem for God sent a terror upon them.  Jacob built an altar at Bethel as instructed by God. Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died.  God appeared to Jacob again and re-named him Israel.

God repeats his covenant to Abraham and Isaac to Jacob, saying to be fruitful and multiply for a nation will come from your body and He will give this land to his descendants.  God left and Jacob set up a stone pillar.

Rachel died after they left Bethel giving birth to Benjamin.  She was buried along the route.  Israel moved on and stayed for a bit near Migdal Eder.  Here, Reuben slept with Bilhah.

Jacob’s 12 sons are:  Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

Jacob finally arrived home in Hebron to see Isaac who was still alive.  Isaac died at age 180 and was buried by Jacob and Esau.

Esau moved to a land some distance from Jacob because the land could not support both of their livestocks.  Esau settled in Seir.

Questions:

11a)  Psalm 51:7:  “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”  “Creat in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Isaiah 1:16:  “Wash and make yourselves clean.  Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong.”

Hebrews 9:13-14:  The blood of animals offer up spiritual cleanliness.  The blood of Christ cleanses our consciences from acts that lead to death so that we may serve God.

1 John 1:7,9:  You are cleansed from your past sins to have godliness, kindness, and love.

b)  Matthew 3:8:  “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”

Acts 2:38:  Repent, be baptized in the name of Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and receive the Holy Spirit.

James 4:  Come near to God and He will come near to you.  Wash your hands and purify your hearts.  Grieve and humble yourselves and He will lift you up.

c)  1 Corinthians 10:20:  The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not God.  If you sacrifice to pagans, you cannot partake of the Lord’s table as well (verse 21).

Ephesians 5:5:  Idolaters (immoral, impure, or greedy) do not have an inheritance in the kingdom of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:9:  Turn from idols and serve the Living, True God.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Language, anger

12a)  God sent a terror upon the towns to protect Jacob and his family from retribution after the slaughter of Shechem as they traveled to Bethel.  God re-named Jacob Israel again (Genesis 32).  God bestows the covenant of Abraham and Isaac on Jacob as well, saying to be fruitful and multiply for nations will come from his body and his descendants shall inherit the land.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not for sure.  I’d like to say I’ve changed but I can’t be for certain.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m getting that God spoke to people (and obviously, Jesus) in these verses.  Not sure what I’m supposed to be “blessed” with here.  If you obey, God will love you and come to you and make a home with you as Jesus says in John. God spoke to those who obeyed him.  So, He will speak to us who obey.  He will love us and be with us as in the Holy Spirit.

So obey, listen, and hear.

d)  Esau was blessed with livestock and goods.  He was granted the land of Seir of which he and his descendants ruled.

Conclusions:  You didn’t need the passage to answer Question 11.

God re-naming Jacob Israel again is important despite the fact God had already done so. The first go-around, Jacob had not changed, had not put off his old clothing, and had continued to follow his will instead of God’s.  Here, God reminds Jacob that he must be new and this time Jacob obeys, thus earning the name Israel in God’s eyes.

This is good for us as well.  We need to remember who we are-God’s chosen people-regularly so we don’t slip back into this world.

The same is true for the repetition of the covenant blessing.  God is reminding Jacob who he is and what he has been called to do.  Finally, Jacob listens.  He follows God’s will. And he is blessed for it.

Benjamin means “son of my right hand”.  The right hand or side is highly valued in the Bible.  After all, Jesus sits at the right hand of God.

Poor Rachel.  Both prophecies come true.  Genesis 30:1 “Give me children, or I’ll die!” She dies in childbirth.

Jacob cursed her for the idol debacle in Genesis 31:32.

This passage reveals why Reuben was passed over for the blessing: because of his sin with Bilhah.  So now Reuben, Simeon, and Levi have all committed egregious sins so Judah is next in line for the Messiah.  Interesting as well.

We should not be surprised of this.  This family is the epitome of dysfunctional.  Yet God works through it all.  By His grace alone.

Esau was important enough in God’s eyes to have all of his descendants listed in the Bible.  He was loved despite his sins and blessed beyond what was deserved.  God is faithful even when we aren’t!  Can you imagine the blessings He has in store for those who are faithful?

Interesting facts about Edom:  Edom is mentioned over 130 times in the Bible.

Herod the Great was an Edomite.  He was the one who tried to kill Jesus.

To this day, the land that was Edom remains unoccupied as Obadiah prophesied.

Genesis 36:33 is where some speculate Jobab is the same Job as in the Bible (remember we had a question on this at some point?).  This is speculation.  Among all the list of descendants, most were ungodly.  We must ask ourselves:  would someone as godly as Job come from the line of Esau?

End Note:  One commentary I read suggested comfort as an idol.  That some value living a comfortable life over living a Godly-life.  This was interesting I thought.  For if you think about it, life is never really comfortable.  There are ups and downs, highs and lows, tragedies and triumphs.  And only God can get us through it all.

Map Work:  Good map of Bethel, Bethlehem, and Hebron HERE.

Migdal Eder is just outside of Bethlehem.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 25, Day 4: Genesis 35:1-5

Summary of passage:  God told Jacob to settle in Bethel and build Him an altar there. So Jacob and his household prepared to move, ridding themselves of their idols, purifying themselves, and changing their clothes.  Jacob buried the foreign gods and their rings under an oak at Shechem.  God protected them as they went so they would not suffer repercussions from the slaughter of Shechem.

Questions:

9a)  Go to Bethel and build Him an altar

b)  Jacob vowed that the Lord would be his God and he would give a tenth if he returned safely to his father’s house.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To go where God wants me and follow His lead in my life and worship him by following his commands, which include tithing, praying, obeying, reading His word, praying, and much more.

10a)  “To get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.”

b)  2 Corinthians says to purify yourself from everything that contaminates body and spirit in order to perfect holiness.  Ephesians tells us to put on our new self in the attitude of the mind in order to be righteous and holy.  1 John tells us to confess our sins and walk in the light and the blood of Jesus shall purify us from the unrighteousness. And to keep ourselves from idols.

c)  Acts recounts how people renounced sorcery by burning their scrolls.  An idol is anything we value and/or worship more than God.  This can be our kids, our spouse, any material items such as our house, car, or job.  And an image of an idol like in ancient times such as a Buddha statue or what-have-you.  (Anyone reminded of the study of Isaiah here?)

Conclusions:  Anyone else see a problem with the fact Jacob’s family had idols lurking around and it was only when God told them to leave did they see the need to dispose of them?  I’m sure as soon as they reach Bethel more idols will appear.

The WORST part:  Jacob, as supposedly the head of God’s chosen people, seemingly knew about these idols and condoned them!  It seems he only got rid of them because God spoke to him again.  Maybe he felt guilty.  Or maybe they were too heavy to carry across country!

Jacob is chastizing his family mildly.  It’s almost an after-thought.  “Oh, yeah, by the way, you need to get rid of those idols you’ve had for 10 years now.”  Seriously???

There is definitely some failed leadership going on here.  This explains a lot about today’s society where the man does not take the primary role in the family and our children are failing because of it.

It’s safe to assume Rachel still had her idols here so she is setting the example that it’s okay to possess these idols.  God doesn’t care.  Wrong!

The changing of their clothes was symbolic here.  Just like circumcision was an outward sign of being God’s chosen people the changing of the clothes here in OT times is an outward sign that they are changing their minds, their attitude, their character, and their ways and turning to God.  It’s like the Ephesians passage we read.  They are taking off (literally) their old selves and putting on their new and turning to God for their salvation.

The earrings also must have had some kind of pagan association since they got rid of those as well.  We must also get rid of anything ungodly and separate ourselves from the world like Jacob did when he moved to Bethel away from the corruption of Shechem.

Good opportunity to learn from Jacob’s failing miserably as the head of his household and God’s and re-examine our own lives and see where we are failing in God’s call, where we are worshipping idols, where we are failing to set the example for others around us, how we can place ourselves away from worldly influences as much as possible, and how we can put God and His will back at the center of our lives.  That’s my prayer anyways.

Map of Bethel:  Quick reference point.  Bethel is in red and Shechem is right above it.

http://www.keyway.ca/htm2002/bethel.htm

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 25, Day 3: Genesis 34:13-31

Summary of passage:  Jacob’s sons told Shechem and his father Hamor that they would only give them Dinah if they and all the males became circumcised.  Only then would they agree to give them their daughters and settle among them and become one people. Otherwise, they will leave.

Hamor and Shechem readily agreed, saying once all are circumcised then their livestock, property, and all their animals will become their (so greed is the real reason, not love).

All became circumcised.

However, while all the men were still recovering, Simeon and Levi killed every male in the city, including Hamor and Shechem, and looted the city.  They seized all their livestock, wealth, and women and children.

Jacob chastized them (a bit), saying now they may attack them but the sons defended themselves, asking how they could stand by and have their sister treated like a prostitute.

Questions:

6a)  They made the family “a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites”, who now may retaliate and destroy their entire household.

b)  Circumcision was the covenant given to Abraham by God showing an outward sign of their difference, their special place in this world as God’s chosen people (Genesis 17:9-14).  It is a sacred act, given by God himself to His people.  Hence, the deception is a slap in the face to God.  It is a desecration, a sacrilege against God.  They do not revere God or what is His and really don’t care.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Revenge, plain and simple.  No, not really.  I do hold grudges and contempt for people but I pray through that.

d)  “Do not repay evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody….live at peace with everyone…do not take revenge..but leave room for God’s wrath.”  Feed your enemy instead and allow good to overcome evil.

7a)  They will be scattered in Jacob (Israel or the Promised Land) and not listened to.  Cursed be their anger.

b)  Basically saying should they have stood by and allowed their sister to be treated like a prostitute.  Something had to be done.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Revenge is God’s to take, not ours.  Revenge only magnifies the wrong and creates more woe and sorrow.  Give it to God and allow Him and His forgiveness to heal your heart.

Conclusions:  No question Simeon and Levi went overboard on the revenge, killing innocent people who had nothing to do with the crime.  Their actions did not fit the crime in any way.  And to top it off they committed sacrilege to accomplish the devil’s work. Pretty sure God wasn’t too happy about that!

It is interesting that greed, NOT love, is the motivating factor as it seems to be throughout history when atrocities are committed.  Again, the use of women to accomplish this goal is very sad and unfortunate.

Notice that Jacob is NOT called Israel here.  Why?  Because his actions are deplorable. Jacob showed no recorded outrage at what happened to Dinah.  Instead, he deferred to his sons.  And when he heard about the murders?  A slight chiding was all Simeon and Levi got.  “Now, now, kids, you shouldn’t have done that.  We’re gonna have to move again.”  Seriously?  That was it??  That was the punishment a father gave his sons???

Jacob’s prophecy does come true:  both tribes are scattered over the Promise Land. However, it is God’s punishment, not Jacob’s.  He is only the messenger here.  Note also we don’t hear much about the Simeonites throughout OT history but we know the Levites were the ones chosen as priests over God’s people.  They stood firm during the Golden Calf debacle (Exodus 32:26-28) and did repent and chose God.  God’s saving grace.

Notes on circumcision:  Circumcision has been around before God gave the covenant to His people.  The Ancient Egyptians practiced circumcision where the earliest recorded use is found.

Interestingly, the highest occurrence of circumcision is amongst Muslims (I didn’t know this) and it’s probably the most common surgical procedure performed today. Approximately one-third of males worldwide are circumcised and the rate stands at 75% in the United States (of the population.  Newborn circumcision rates are only around 55%).  Summarized from Wikipedia.

Like any operation, babies heal faster than adults.  It’s just the way God made us as humans.  Besides the Bible requiring infant circumcision, the health risks are less and it is less painful when performed as an infant.  Babies don’t think about the pain because pain has yet to develop meaning to them.  They inherently recover quickly because they are relatively immobile during the recovery stage.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 25, Day 2: Genesis 34:1-12

Summary of passage:  Dinah was visiting her friends in town when Shechem, the son of Hamor, saw her and raped her.  He loved her and spoke tenderly to her and asked his father to get her for his wife.

So Shechem’s father came to discuss the situation with Jacob and Jacob and his sons were distressed over what happened.  Hamor asked for Dinah to marry his son along with suggesting they all intermarry and settle amongst them.  Hamor said he’d pay whatever bride price was asked.

Questions:

3)  No.  First, it seems against God’s plan of having him settle in Bethel (Genesis 31:13). He is committing the same sin as Lot–settling near a pagan city with his young kids who are open to influence.

4a)  Yes.  She should have been forbidden to visit the women of the land alone and unprotected.  We must remember this is ancient times where women had no rights and were often treated as animals.   A woman alone could be taken by any man with no consequences.

b)  Lists God’s will of having His people separate from the world and to touch no unclean thing or be yoked to ungodly spouses.  Jacob should have made an effort to stay separate from the pagan Canaanites but he didn’t.

c)  No.  No apology.  Nothing.  But in that culture, Shechem committed no crime.

d)  They seem to treat their women with more respect and they have influence in their lives.  Jacob calls Rachel and Leah to him and asks them BEFORE he flees from Laban and takes away their father’s livestock (Genesis 31).  Abraham drives out Hagar and Ishmael because of Sarah’s wishes, not his own (Genesis 21:10; 16:6).  Rebekah schemed to have Jacob receive the blessing (Genesis 27), which was God’s desires.  God revealed to Rebekah (Genesis 25:23) His will, and not Jacob.

5)  Verses 9-10 is the devil at work.  Hamor is tempting them to intermarry with the Canaanites and adopt their ways and culture and their gods.  Although a ruse for their violent plans, Jacob’s sons suggested they become “one people” (verse 16), something which must have saddened God’s heart greatly.

Conclusions:  This passage, as sad as it is, speaks volumes of ancient culture.  It shows how women were merely objects to be possessed with no rights and how men could slaughter an entire village and get away with it with no repercussions whatsoever. Lawlessness, sinfulness, deceit–all in need of God and an order to life.

Even the whole idea of a bride price where women were bought and sold based on whims (and more likely a desire for power and alliances or what-have-you) which lasted up until modern history (and still happens in some cultures today) is very disheartening and sad.

I know that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob showed a higher respect for women but it was no where near today’s levels or what it should have been.  Just look at Leah and Rachel–a fight that destroyed the family all based on the pressure to bear sons (which was the primary goal of women).  Very sad.

It’s very hard for us to understand what it must have been like 4000 years ago for Dinah or Rachel or Leah or any woman.

It reminds me to be grateful I do live in today’s society where I am able to type these words for all to read.  Where my daughters can do whatever they dream of (as well as me). Where I have the freedom to marry whom I choose and not have kids if I choose. Where I can walk around without fear of what may happen to me.  Where if I am violated, the perpetrator will be punished lawfully.

Where I am a person, made in God’s image, and just as precious as any man.  And not just in God’s eyes.  But in society’s eyes as well.