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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.

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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.

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.