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.