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Friday Digest: BSF’s Study of Genesis Lesson 23

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN GENESIS CHAPTERS 37-38:

  • God is at work always
  • God uses bad for His good
  • God works through grace
  • God’s plan always wins
  • God works for our good, always

Take Away: If you trust God, He will do wondrous things in your life.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 5: Genesis 38:13-30

Summary of Genesis 38:13-30:

Tamar was desperate and knew Shelah would not be her husband. So she disguised herself to go and meet her father-in-law, Judah, at Enaim on the road to Timnah. Judah thought she was a prostitute so he offered her a young goat as payment to sleep with her. She asked for a pledge since he did not have the goat with him. He gave her his seal, cord, and staff. She slept with him and became pregnant.

Judah could not find her again to give her the goat. When he found out though that Tamar was pregnant, he ordered her death, thinking she sinned as a prostitute. She presented him with her pledge and Judah had to admit he was wrong not to give her Shelah. She had twin boys named Perez and Zerah.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 5: Genesis 38:13-30

13a) Tamar was desperate and knew Shelah would not be her husband. So she disguised herself to go and meet her father-in-law, Judah, at Enaim on the road to Timnah. She then tricked him into sleeping with her in order to have kids.

b) Too many ways to begin.

c) Judah at first was angry, but then he realized he was the one who sinned against her.

14) Jesus came from Tamar’s son, Perez, and Judah

15) It challenges me to do what is right, but not to use deceit to do so. Although, in Tamar’s defense, this was ancient times, and she didn’t have a lot of rights or say in any matter.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 5: Genesis 38:13-30

Now I see the significance of this story! I had forgotten about this until I read it again. Great stuff!

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 5: Genesis 38:13-30

Tamar did not have a lot of options. It’s hard to blame her here. Judah was solely in charge if she would marry again, and it was painfully obvious he would not give her his last son.

God’s plan once again in action.

Judah fails to see his sin until he is confronted with it by Tamar. Wisely, he recognizes it for what it is.

Tamar becomes part of Jesus’ lineage!  Matthew 1:3 and Luke 3:33 Cool stuff!

Note this is another example of how God grants grace to sinners and how Jesus does not come from perfect examples of humanity (of which there are none). God can make all things work for the good of those who trust him (Romans 8:28), and for His redemptive plan.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 4: Genesis 38:1-12

Summary of Genesis 38:1-12:

Judah left the family and went up to Adullam. He got married and had three sons. Judah got a wife for his firstborn, Er, but he was wicked so God put him to death. Onan, Er’s brother, was then to lie with Er’s wife, but he refused to have kids with her so he was put to death. The widow Tamar was sent to live with her father until Shelah, Judah’s final son, was of age. Judah’s wife died, and he went to Timnah.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 4: Genesis 38:1-12

10) He married a Canaanite woman and so too did his sons.

11a) Er was wicked in the eyes of the Lord (that is all we are told). Onan refused to have children with Er’s widow, which violated Deuteronomy 25:5-10

b) God does not tolerate wickedness, and He enacts justice.

12) It helps me to not stray from God’s path, to remember Him, and hopefully to not sin as much.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 4: Genesis 38:1-12

I really don’t remember this chapter in Genesis. It seems out of place to me, especially if this is Joseph’s remembrances.

map of adullam and timnah www.atozmomm.comBSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 4: Genesis 38:1-12

It seems strange to me that Judah did this. Perhaps he is reminded daily of his sin against his father when he sees him so he leaves. Yet, he violates God’s wishes by marrying a Canaanite woman, which we see a lot in Genesis. (Genesis 24:328:128:8

Being required to marry the widow of your brother was one of God’s ways to care for widows. Widows would probably have lived the rest of their lives struggling if not provided for. Onan refused to have kids with Tamar because they would not be his (they would be considered kids of the one who died, in this case Er). Thus, only obeying God half-way is still a sin.

Judah was afraid his last son would face God’s judgement too so he sent Tamar away.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 3: Genesis 37:12-36

Summary of Genesis 37:12-36:

Joseph’s brothers were sent to graze the flocks near Shechem. Jacob asks Joseph to go and check on his brothers. When Joseph arrived in Shechem, his brothers were no where to be found, so he asked about them. He was told they went to Dothan.

Joseph went to Dothan to find them. As he approached his brothers, they recognized him and plotted to kill him and throw him in a cistern and leave him to die. Reuben, the oldest, said not to kill him, but just throw him in the cistern, probably planning to come and get him once he learned his lesson.

When Joseph arrived, he was stripped of his coat and thrown into the empty cistern. Ironically, they casually sat and ate lunch when a caravan of Ishmaelites strode by on their way to Egypt. Judah suggested not to kill Joseph so they would not have blood on their hands, but to sell him to these approaching Ishmaelities. So they sold Joseph for 20 shekels of silver who took Joseph to Egypt.

Reuben who apparently was not with his brothers returned to rescue Joseph who was not there. Upon not finding him, he tore his clothes. Instead, they killed a goat and dipped Joseph’s coat into the blood. They took this robe back to Jacob who assumed an animal had tore him to pieces.

Jacob tore his clothes and mourned for many days. Jacob refused to be comforted and said he would mourn till the day he died. Joseph was sold to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, who was the captain of the guard.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 3: Genesis 37:12-36

6) I’m assuming Jacob did not trust his sons. Or, because of what happened to Dinah in (Genesis 34), Jacob may still be worried about the neighboring tribes taking their revenge against him and his family.

7) They immediately started to plot against him. I’m assuming anger had been boiling up inside them for quite some time.

8a) They planned to say a wild animal tore him to pieces.

b) God had both Reuben and Judah have a twinge of guilt and not want to kill Joseph.

c) Man is evil through and through to plot to kill your own brother and sell him into slavery for a mere 20 shekels of silver.

9a) Unsure. Most definitely nothing like this.

b) Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 3: Genesis 37:12-36

I noticed how they used one of Jacob’s animals, a goat, and killed it to cover their crime. This was not even their animal to kill.

I’m unsure how Joseph’s brothers can sit and eat before they kill him. Joseph had to be screaming and begging for mercy. This shows just how evil man can be.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 3: Genesis 37:12-36

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Tending sheep and goats is not exactly easy. You are outside in the hot sun all day, every day. You have to defend the animals against wild predators, sleep outside in the elements and on the hard ground, and hardly get any time off. Joseph, on the other hand, stayed at camp, slept in his own bed, and probably did not do much work at all.

Joseph was seen by his brothers probably a mile away due to his multi-colored coat. Here we also see Joseph is a supervisory role, not unlike his sheaves dream.

Dothan was about 10 to 15 mile walk. We see Dothan in the Bible again where God protected Elisha (2 Kings 6:13-17) like God protects Joseph here too.

Since Joseph had reported bad things before, the brothers assumed he would again. Their anger must have been great to make the leap to murder.

Fruitless to Oppose God

Interestingly, the brothers opposed God, not Joseph here. Note we see this repeatedly in the book of Genesis as humans are told God’s plans, perhaps even by God or Jesus himself, and they do everything in their power to thwart God’s plans. God wins anyway. God never fails.

We’ll see Joseph rise to become the 2nd most powerful person in the known world. Only God can do such a thing.

Reuben has a twinge of guilt, probably from God. He proposes to throw Joseph into the cistern without killing him.

Note how Reuben did not want to offend his brothers. Because of this, Joseph is sold into slavery, lost to them in essence. If Reuben had been firm as the oldest brother about returning Joseph to his father, this might not have happened. It’s funny because we all know God meant all of this to happen so Joseph could save God’s chosen family. It’s insanely hard to wrap your mind around.

Jesus in Joseph

All throughout the book of Genesis, we’ll see Jesus in Joseph. Here, we see Joseph being stripped as Jesus was. Note how even though we may lose every material thing, God can never be stripped from us.

The brothers were beyond cruel as Joseph pleaded for his life.  Genesis 42:21 When your heart has turned to evil, it can be insanely hard to break free. The brothers were not only ruining Joseph’s life, and probably killing him in a cruel way from a life of slavery, but they were about to break their father’s heart.

We see Arab traders headed the brothers’ way. Most likely, they were descendants of Ishmael, so very distant relatives.

Money turns many a man’s soul black. The idea stemmed from Judah, Jesus’ relative. However, he will be transformed from this experience.

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20 Shekels of Silver

20 shekels of silver was not that much money (each shekel was probably equivalent to about $20). We don’t know what words were exchanged between Joseph and his brothers here. Perhaps Joseph was in shock and speechless. Maybe he was crying. Maybe he forgave his brothers then. Maybe the brothers laughed. All we know is what happened.

We see no signs of guilt from the brothers and probably the determination to take their secret to the grave with them. Utter selfishness and evil here.

Was Jacob wrong to mourn so long here? Many Bible scholars say Jacob should have known Jospeh would have eternal life. However, this is before Jesus. Jacob cannot know this.

Egypt at this time was a well-established culture and power. They were wealthy. The Great Pyramids and the Sphinx had been built hundreds of years before Joseph. They had no real enemies. They enjoyed life to the fullest. Joseph was about to enter a whole different world than one of a goat herder.

The Greatness of Joseph’s Story

Joseph’s story is perhaps one of the greatest because we can see the consequences of our actions in what happens to Joseph, as well as how God orchestrates it all. In fact, we can thank Joseph’s sinful brothers for what they did to Joseph for we would not be here otherwise. God’s plan never fails, ever:

  • Joseph is sold into slavery
  • Joseph is bought by Potiphar
  • Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of rape
  • Joseph is thrown into prison
  • Joseph interprets the dreams of two men in prison, Pharaoh’s baker and butler
  • Joseph then interprets Pharaoh’s dreams
  • Joseph is made 2nd in command in Egypt
  • Joseph prepares for the great famine
  • Joseph saves his family
  • Joseph saves the Messiah
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BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 2: Genesis 37:1-11

Summary of Genesis 37:1-11:

Joseph was Israel’s/Jacob’s favorite son, being the oldest son of Rachel. At age 17, he attended the flocks. He was given a rich robe as his father’s favorite, which made all of his brothers hate him. Joseph had a prophetic dream where his sheave of grain rose up and his brothers’ sheaves gathered around him and bowed down to it.  This angered his brothers who understood the meaning and said he would never rule over them. Joseph had another dream where the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowed down to him. He told his brothers this dream and his father who rebuked him, saying that does he expect his mother, him and his brothers to bow down to him? His brothers again grew jealous, but Jacob knew it was from God and remembered it.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 2: Genesis 37:1-11

3) His dreams

4a) God planned for Joseph to be the leader of Egypt.

b) God is good and great.

5) Jacob knew this dream was from God.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 2: Genesis 37:1-11

Joseph is my absolute favorite person in the Bible (after Jesus, of course). I love this story!

Unsure why Joseph would tell his brothers his dreams, especially his second dream. Either 1) he was bragging or 2) he was utterly clueless how everyone hated him. Then again, he is a teenager. He has A LOT to learn about the world and how it works.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 2: Genesis 37:1-11

We immediately notice that the family of Jacob is dysfunctional with kids from four different women, Jacob playing favorites amongst his kids and his wives, and the brothers murdering a whole town over the reputation of their sister. Yet, the story of Jospeh, Jacob, and Abraham is about God’s triumph over sin. He uses all of us despite our sins.

Joseph tattled on his brothers, which did not help his case.

The coat of many colors was probably not a work coat but one meant to show privilege.

Joseph’s First Dream

The first dream of Joseph conveyed the fact that he would rule over his brothers with the sheaves bowing down to him. Note the symbolism of the sheaves since Joseph will meet his brothers in Egypt when they come for grain during the famine.

Joseph’s Second Dream

Joseph’s second dream revealed that Joseph would be over his father and mother, as well as his brothers. This made everyone angry. This illustrates that sometimes keeping information to yourself, even if it’s from God, is best for all involved.

Note that here Rachel seems to still be alive Genesis 35:16-20,. This shows that Genesis is not in chronological order, probably to keep the story of Joseph as one whole here.

Note that most likely Jacob is ending his tale here and Joseph is picking it up so Joseph is telling his remembrances. Genesis 37:2This is the genealogy of Jacob. You’ll see these transitions elsewhere in the book of Genesis Genesis 5:16:9 and 25:19.

The sun, moon, and stars represents those from Jacob. We see this again in Revelation 12:1 as we Jesus coming from Israe.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 23, Day 5: Genesis 31

Summary of passage:  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.

Questions:

11a)  The Lord told him it was time to go.

b)  20 years (verse 38 & 41)

12a)  Verse 5 (the God of my father has been with me), Verse 7 (God has not allowed him  (Laban) to harm me, Verse 9 (God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me), Verse 12 (I–God–have seen all that Laban has been doing to you)

b)  With Laban and Abimelech, the un-Godly ones (yes, I’m calling Laban un-Godly since he’s throwing such a fit about his stupid idols missing) approached the patriarchs and set the terms of the treaty/covenant.  Both knew God was with Jacob and Isaac and decided to move preemptively to protect themselves.  Both treaties stated one was not to harm the other.  Then they feasted, swore, and went on their merry way.

In terms of Jacob and Jesus, both were being pursued and both submitted to God’s will for their lives.  Jacob was told it was time to move back to Canaan.  Jesus was told it was time to die for our sins.  Both were being falsely accused (Rachel was the perpetrator, not Jacob).  Both sought God in the process.

c)  Verses 5, 7, 9, 12, 42

13a)  Hebrews says to endure hardship as discipline, which Jacob did.  He endured sweltering days and freezing cold nights out in the elements as he cared for the flocks.  He absorbed all the animals’ losses as his own and endured Laban’s mistreatments.  Jacob worked hard and was blessed.  He put his faith in God to care for him and bless him and the Lord did.  He received all he had set out for (a wife basically) and much more (two wives and flocks).

Of course, Jacob failed miserably in the wife department.  But his faith grew in God, which I believe was God’s intent, through the hardships.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Verse 42.  God has seen my hardship and rebukes the persecutors of such.  Verse 7.  God has not allowed them to harm me.  Verse 11.  God has seen all that has happened.

Conclusions:  It’s important to remember that God is with us in the difficult times and that He uses ALL things for our good (Romans 8:28).  We will be blessed for we are His. Jacob is not personally afraid.  He is afraid he’ll lose his family (as we all).  But Jacob has faith in God to protect him and do His will through him.  That is what we must remember.  God is working through us even if we can’t see it and don’t know why we have to go through something.  It will work for our good.

End Notes:  This is the last we will hear of Laban in the Bible.  As we see, he is a pompous bully who only half-believed in the Lord.  He used his idols for divination.  He is exceedingly jealous of God’s blessing upon Jacob.  It is all about him.

Why did Rachel steal the idols?  The Bible never tells us why.  Scholars give many different speculative reasons:  she didn’t want her father to have them in order to use them for divination to find them.  She was getting back at her father for the many years of mistreating them.  She wanted them for herself for she worshipped them.  And the Jews usually say she took them to keep her father from sinning into idolatry.

You can also glean a nugget here of a healthy separation from your in-laws who may unduly influence you.

Most fascinating to me was that nowhere in this passage of praising God does Jacob ever say “God is MY God.”

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 23, Day 4: Genesis 30:25-31:16

Summary of passage:  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.

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.

Questions:

8a)  He did his job.  His employer’s flocks multiplied under his care and God’s blessing.  He gave over 14 years of work for Laban in exchange for room and board and his daughters.

b)  Jacob worked hard for Laban, never resenting it, always doing what he was told, and never grumbling.  He increased his employer’s wealth FIRST and then worried about his own.  Laban prospered.  He obeyed Laban in everything he was asked to do.  He worked at it with all his heart since he was truly working for the Lord.  Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for the wrong (as Laban will be).  He respected Laban.  Wealth was not Jacob’s goal.

Even though Laban tricked him repeatedly, Jacob repaid him with blessing by multiplying his flocks.  He was humble.  He depended on God for his well being. He did not worry.  He trusted God to take care of him.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To be working for God, not others.  I try to keep this in the forefront of my mind especially since my writings bring me no monetary rewards as of yet.  I try to give my worries to Him as much as possible.

9a)  Selfish, conceited, unfair, manipulative, greedy, taxing, unscrupulous, a cheat, downright conniving

b)  Laban culled out the speckled, spotted, and dark-colored animals and removed them a three-days journey away, leaving Jacob with only the solid-colored animals.  This meant less likelihood speckled, spotted, and dark-colored animals would be born with those genes removed from the gene pool.  And less animals Jacob would receive as his compensation for his long years of work.

10a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Homeschool, write, and maybe someday do worship music.  Taking care of family and home.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By trying my best, working for God, following His Word when a dodgy situation arises, and praying throughout it all.  Give God the credit by merely saying so, acknowledging it’s all through His power (as everything we do is from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night).

Conclusions:  Pleasantly surprised this lesson was on work.  Thought it would be on trickery.  Always a good reminder you are working for God.  For if you work for man you are destined to be unfulfilled, unhappy, and unsatisfied with life.

Equally important is giving God the credit for all that you do.  Saying so out loud to others is a powerful testimony that I’m sure puts a smile on God’s face when He hears it.

Note on Selective Breeding:  Scholars are unsure exactly the methods Jacob used as described here in Genesis.  Jacob thought the branches would somehow give him speckled offspring and he culled out the strong to breed with the strong.  Point being is: God increased Jacob’s lot despite the methods used.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 23, Day 3: Genesis 29:31-30:24 & 35:16-20

Summary of passages:  Genesis 29:31-30:24:  The Lord gave Leah children because she was unloved by Jacob while Rachel remained barren.  She had Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.

Rachel became jealous of Leah and demanded children from Jacob (like it’s Jacob’s fault. Why doesn’t she go to God?).  Which Jacob not so kindly pointed out to her.  So Rachel offered up her maidservant, Bilhah, in her place (does NO one learn around here?). Bilhah had Dan and Naphtali and Rachel felt she won over her sister.

So what does Leah do?  She wants revenge.  So she offers up her servant, Zilpah, to Jacob to have kids with (Jacob apparently is loving this).  Zilpah had Gad and Asher.

[The next scene is unbelievable!]

Reuben brings Leah some mandrake plants.  Rachel wants some so she trades a night with Jacob for some.  Leah sleeps with Jacob and becomes pregnant with Issachar.  Leah had another son named Zebulun (but she is apparently not honored by Jacob).  Then she had a daughter named Dinah.

Rachel prayed to God (finally) and He heard her.  He blessed her with a son named Joseph.  Then she prayed for another.

Genesis 35:16-20:  Rachel gave birth to Benjamin and she died in the process.

Questions:

6a)  Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.

b)  God completely disagrees with favoritism as we see in 29:31 when we are told the reason God blesses Leah with children is because she was not loved by Jacob (but is this fair to Rachel?)

c)  She was comforted with sons but to me her words don’t show a lot of comfort because she is still hoping Jacob will love her with each birth and he never does.  Pray and accept it willingly.

7a)  To be loved by her husband (but isn’t this her fault as well?  She married him knowing he did not love her.).  No, she was never loved.

b)  Leah is in heaven.  But Jacob’s sons became the 12 Tribes of Israel (including hers).  Levi’s was set apart as priests.  The royal line was through the tribe of Judah.  And Christ came through Leah (the line of Judah), not Rachel.

c)  2 Corinthians tells us to not lose heart for inwardly we are being renewed day by day and our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs anything we are going through on earth.  God doesn’t forget us in our earthly struggles. He comforts us in different ways (for Leah a child) and for us through His word, through a friend, our kids, our spouse, our pets, strangers, prayer, church, or something material. He is there in the unseen.

Conclusions:  Was I the only one wondering why is Jacob having sex with Leah if he didn’t love her?  Conjugal duties only? Sex is supposed to be the ultimate show of love and bonding of a man and a woman as one.  So why is Jacob just “going through the motions” here?  Or is he just shunning the meaning of sexual intercourse and engaging callously, especially when Leah herself says she is unloved?

Jacob could have ended all of the jealously between sisters if he had just honored the marriage vows.  And kept his pants zipped.  But Jacob is of the flesh.  He couldn’t overcome his desires.

It seems to me all of this is Jacob’s fault.  Sure, you could argue Laban was at fault for substituting Leah in place of Rachel (but shouldn’t Jacob have checked before getting it on with her?) but Jacob is 100% responsible as the man of the household for decisions. He’s also responsible for who he sleeps with and who he doesn’t.

He could have ended all of this but he must have been enjoying having 4 women as wives and all the in-fighting over his affections.  Not only could he have stopped the sex part, but he could have FORBIDDEN the rivalry as the man of the household.  Instead, he stood by.  And watched his family become more and more dysfunctional every day.  He’s definitely egotistical and likes to have his ego stroked.

This whole passage is just utterly sad.  Here we have 2 sisters, competing with each other, and using children as the weapon!!  The kids have become trophies so to speak and it becomes a competition of who has more!!  How sad!  We have 2 sisters who are blood allowing a man to separate them and cause one ugly feud that must have been wretched for the entire household.  And we have the man who plays one wife off the other by refusing to zip his pants!  He probably would have slept with more servants if offered! Sad all around!

Leah was comforted by God to a point.  But she repeatedly says how she’s trying to earn Jacob’s affection.  This is a sin.  For God should be enough.  God is NOT her center.  For if God had been, she wouldn’t have needed Jacob to fill the need deep inside of her that only God can fill in all of us.

Can you imagine growing up in this environment?  Can you imagine how the children felt?  Obviously there is tension. They learned it from their mothers.  And saw their father stand by and do nothing to stop it.  Who can blame the brothers when they throw Joseph down the well?  With these two as mothers it’s no wonder!  And no father to lead!

Great reason why there should only be one man and one woman in a relationship (as God intended).  But Leviticus 18:18 had to outlaw specifically no marriage with sisters.  Any one guess why?

Explanation on the mandrake plant:  Why all the fuss over this plant?  Why would Rachel trade a night with her husband to Leah for it?  It had to be pretty valuable stuff. And it was (at least so it was thought).

Mandrakes are a plant that is thought to increase fertility in women.  It is the root of the plant and it is translated as “love-apples” in Hebrew.  It worked in Leah’s case!

We should see now the sovereignty of God over childbirth.  He opens wombs and closes them repeated throughout the Bible.  As He does today.  We also see His grace. When women (or husband’s) pray, God answers and opens wombs.  Great lesson for those struggling to have a baby.

Rachel pays the ultimate price for this competition:  with her life.  She asked Jacob for children or she would die (Genesis 30:1).  She got both.  This was also the fulfillment of the curse Jacob pronounced in Genesis 31:32.

Final Note:  Everyone sinned here.  But the sin could have stopped.  All it would have taken would have been only ONE of them to stand up and say “No more!”.  Rachel didn’t. Leah didn’t.  And Jacob didn’t.  And so the sin perpetuated.  And into the next generation as the kids learned from their parents’ examples.

This is the lesson for us all.  It only takes one party in a conflict to stand up for what is right, for their beliefs, for God’s will and word, and say “No more!”

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 23, Day 2: Genesis 29:1-30

Summary of passage:  Jacob travels to Paddan Aram and immediately meets Laban’s shepherds watering their sheep.  He helps them water the sheep by pushing the stone from the well.  Rachel who is a shepherdess and Laban’s daughter arrives.  Jacob kisses her and tells her he is Rebekah’s son (so they are cousins).  She ran home to tell her father Laban who welcomes Jacob as his own.

Jacob agrees to work for Laban for seven years in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage. It seems as only a few days to him his love was so great for her.  But on the marriage night, Laban tricks Jacob into sleeping with Leah.  Jacob realized in the morning what had happened.  Laban told him the custom was he had to take the older daughter first and then the younger daughter.  And if he still wanted Rachel, he’d have to work another 7 years.

Jacob agreed and gained Rachel as a wife whom he loved more than Leah.

Questions:

3)  You can see God’s fingerprints everywhere.  The servant found Rebekah easily as the well.  She came up to the servant and happened to be from Laban’s family.  Jacob happened upon Laban’s servants and lo and behold Rachel shows up and Jacob falls in love with her.  God is in control here.  Neither incident happened by accident.

4)  Personal Question.  My answer:  No.  It doesn’t seem so.  It seems to me as if they obeyed Laban out of daughterly duty.  I would imagine Rachel loved Jacob as much as he loved her so she was probably upset about it.  Not sure about Leah.  She might have been willing if she had no other suitors or if she herself loved Jacob as well.

5a)  Jacob pretended to be Esau by dressing up as him and Leah pretended to be Rachel in a similar manner.  Jacob exchanged the younger for the older.  Laban exchanged the older for the younger.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Cheating, lying, and deception are no way to live your life.  That what he did to Esau, although God’s will, was the wrong way to go about gaining God’s favor.  Cheating and lies have a heavy cost and take a huge toll on relationships.  That honesty is the best policy and is God’s way.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Haven’t learned anything new about deception.  I just try to be honest and up front with people.  Never take the short route for a minimal game.  The price is too high.  Be honorable.  Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.  You don’t want to be cheated so don’t cheat others.

d)  Psalm 15:  “He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart…who keeps his oath..will never be shaken.”

Proverbs 12:22:  “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.”

Proverbs 19:1:  “Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.”

Proverbs 6:16-20:  “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:  a lying tongue…a heart that devises wicked schemes…a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”

2 Corinthians 8:21:  “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.”

Others:  1 Peter 3:10-12, Philippians 4:8-9, John 8:32, Hebrews 13:18, Proverbs 11:3, Colossians 3:9

God honors those who are truthful.  Deception is from the devil and only causes heartache.  It’s just not worth it.  I’m encouraged by how much honesty is talked about in the Bible.  That tells me just how important it is to God that you are upright, righteous, and full of integrity.  You follow Him and not the world.

Conclusions:  I enjoyed looking up honesty in the Bible.  I would hope living a life full of integrity is ingrained in all of us, but alas I know that not to be true.  If you struggle, with honesty, please pray.  God will change your heart.

Keep the Golden Rule in mind that Jesus spoke and was recorded in Matthew 7:12:  “So in EVERYTHING, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

It’s hard for our culture to imagine Rachel and Leah going along with Laban’s plot but it was expected and demanded in ancient times.  We must honor our father and mother but not if it goes against God’s word.  Luckily, we have that right today to stand up and say, “No, I can’t do that because it’s a sin.”  But in ancient times, you had to submit.  No matter how sinful your father’s plan was.

I had to wonder (assuming Leah may have protested the arrangement), why would Leah want to marry Jacob, someone who didn’t love her?  Either she didn’t think anyone else would marry her or she loved him herself.  Either way she sinned as well either complicityly or complyingly.