jacob flees on camels home www.atozmomm.com

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15

Summary of Genesis 31:

Laban’s sons were jealous of Jacob’s wealth. The Lord told Jacob it was time to return to his homeland. Jacob called Rachel and Leah to him and told them how he has worked for Laban despite the wages being constantly changed but God has been with him and has blessed him with their father’s livestock.

Jacob recounts a dream where God acknowledged Laban’s treachery and told Jacob to leave for home at once.  Rachel and Leah agree and say all Jacob has gained from their father should be theirs anyways as an inheritance.  Jacob and his family left Paddan Aram along with all of his livestock and goods for Canaan.  Rachel stole all of her father’s household gods and Jacob left without telling Laban.  They crossed the Euphrates.

Laban found out after three days that Jacob had fled.  He pursued him and caught up with him in Gilead.  God came to Laban in a dream, warning him not to speak to Jacob. Laban, in his infinite wisdom, speaks to Jacob anyways, and asks him why he had fled without saying good bye and why he has stolen the idols.

Jacob replies that he was afraid Laban would take his daughters from him (can’t blame him here) and that if someone has stolen the idols, may they die.

Laban searched and found nothing for Rachel was sitting on them and said she was having her period so she couldn’t stand to greet him.  Laban found nothing.

Jacob is mad at Laban for accusing him of stealing.  He points out how he has worked 20 years for him, 14 for his daughters and 6 for his flocks even though Laban has changed his wages on him 10 times, and God Himself even rebuked Laban for his behavior.

So Laban and Jacob made a covenant, asking Jacob not to mistreat his daughters or take any more wives and neither will cross the other’s “side” to harm each other.  They offered a sacrifice, spent the night, and the next day Laban bid his daughters farewell and left.

Summary of Hebrews 12:3-15:

The Lord disciplines those He loves and punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline for God is treating you as a son.  For if you are not disciplines then you are not sons of God.  Everyone is disciplined.  God disciplines us for our good so we may share in His holiness.

Discipline is never pleasant, but it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. Make every effort to live in peace and be holy; without holiness, no one sees the Lord. Do not be bitter.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15

11) Jacob had noticed that Laban’s sons believed he had stolen Laban’s wealth, and Laban’s attitude towards Jacob had changed, too. But it was God who told Jacob to return.

12a) ) Verse 7 “God has not allowed him (Laban) to harm me.” verse 9 “God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.” Verse 11-13 “I am the God of Bethel” and God made the animals born spotted. verse 42 “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you (Laban) would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.” They made a covenant together that resolved the bitterness.

b) Pray and thank God.

13) Verse 3 “And I will be with you.” Verse 42: But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you. It encourages me that all my work is worth it, and God is with me.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15

Unsure whey we read Hebrews here since we weren’t asked about it. Rachel is most definitely smart in hiding the idols. However, taking them? Not so smart. She has God. She needs nothing else.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15

pretty landscape www.atozmomm.com

Just as Rachel is jealous of Leah, Laban’s sons are jealous of Jacob’s wealth. Love does not envy  (1 Corinthians 13:4). Envy is bad; it killed Jesus. (Matthew 27:18).

God is nudging Jacob back home (Genesis 30:25) and encouraging him, too.

God reminds Jacob of his Bethel (Genesis 28:10), where God has spurred him on to find Rachel. It’s good for all of us to remember times and places where God has shown up. This strengthens us and encourages us in times we feel God is far away.

It was important for Jacob to have the support of his wives. After all, they would be leaving their family for the first time ever, taking their kids with them, to an unknown land. Both women agreed for once and were ready to help in any way they could.

One cool detail you might have missed is that Jacob’s entire family road camels. This is like saying everyone drove their own car here in the US. It’s a sign of Jacob’s immense wealth.

Jacob snuck away when he did not need to. God had already told him to go. It’s evident he would be protected. Perhaps Jacob is so mad at Laban at this point he just wanted to leave.

Rachel Steals her Father’s Idols

We are not told why Rachel stole the idols. Obviously, you should not steal, especially from your mother and father (she broke two of God’s ten commandments here yet to be given to Moses). Scholars debate the reasons:

  • She herself secretly worshipped these idols
  • She didn’t want her father to worship these idols
  • She didn’t want her father to catch them through divination
  • Idols were traditionally used as deeds to property
  • She didn’t like her father, so she took something of his to anger him
  • She wanted protection on the long journey

The reason didn’t matter. She stole; this is wrong.

They left Paddan Aram and Haran for Gilead, which is about 300 miles away and close to the sea of Galilee. Since it took 3 days for Laban to notice, the families must have lived a considerable distance away from one another. Note that God cautions Laban to deal fairly with Jacob. Laban was probably angry and did intend to harm him. God’s warning meant “you touch him and you will pay.”

may of jacob's flight from laban www.atozmomm.com

Jacob and Home

Jacob is close to home when Laban catches up. It took Laban 7 days to catch up to Jacob who is now near the Jordan River and very close to home. Laban tried to shame him with a celebration and a chance to say good bye to his family. He threatens harm as well. Jacob fervently denies he stole the idols, not knowing Rachel had.

Jacob let Laban have it, citing all he had done for him in 20 years and showing him how ungrateful he was being. He was angry over it all, maybe even remembering the trickery of Leah. He helped Laban. Jacob replaced any lost animal of Laban’s with his own and tells him that God sent him away.

Note that Jacob does not claim God as his own, only Abraham and Isaac’s.

Mizpah meant God is watching and He will repay you if you sin. Laban still claims everything is his, but says he’ll let Jacob have it. The pillar was a sign of their separation. It appears they still left with much animosity between them. From here on out, Jacob’s family will be separated from everyone else.

Laban will never see his daughters or grandchildren again. He now disappears from Bible history, presumably returning home and living out his life as he always had. The separation between Laban and Jacob had to happen. Like this example shows us, it is not always pretty.

map of jacob fleeing to haran www.atozmomm.com genesis 28

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 18, Day 3: Genesis 28:10-11

Summary of Genesis 28:10-11:

Jacob left Beersheba on his way to Haran.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 18, Day 3: Genesis 28:10-11

7) He was leaving his family for the first time. I’m sure he was scared. After all, travel was hard and scary in a time when no one traveled. He was leaving all he knew.

8a) Every time we’ve had to move.

b) James tells us to consider trials as joy because they produce perseverence, which then grows our faith. 1 Peter tells us to submit to rulers and masters for God’s sake. We must endure suffering as Christ suffered for us. You are blessed for suffering and doing what is right. Jesus cleansed us with his suffering and death. Pain allows us to grow in our walk with God. God can and will use our pain and suffering for His glory and for good.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 18, Day 3: Genesis 28:10-11

Very short passage where we see how even when we move, God moves with us.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 18, Day 3: Genesis 28:10-11

Jacob is returning to the land of Abraham and of Rebekah. (Genesis 11:31-32) (Genesis 24:3-4)

isaac builds wells genesis 26 www.atozmomm.com

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 16, Day 5: Genesis 26

Summary of Genesis 26:

A famine came into the land, and Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar (different guy than Abraham’s Abimelech.  Remember, Abimelech is the name they give to rulers).  The Lord appeared to Isaac and told him to not go to Egypt but to stay here. He will bless him and give all this land to his descendants. He repeats the oath He gave to Abraham. He will bless all nations because Abraham was faithful and his descendants will be as numerous as the stars.

Isaac, however, lied who Rebekah was, saying she was his sister just like Abraham had done in Egypt out of fear of being killed.  But Isaac got caught in his lie and was chastised by Abimelech who orders no one to touch or molest Isaac or Rebekah.

Isaac planted crops in the land of the Philistines, and the Lord blessed him. He became rich and had so many flocks that the Philistines became jealous so they filled all his wells with dirt. Finally, Abimelech told Isaac to move away because he had become too powerful.

So Isaac moved to the Valley of Gerar and re-opened the wells. Isaac’s servants dug two new wells, but the locals quarreled over them.  He dug another well that was undisputed, which showed Isaac the Lord would provide.

At Beersheba, the Lord appeared to Isaac and told him He would bless him and increase his descendants. Isaac built an altar there and called on the Lord.  He also dug a well there.

Abimelech saw how Isaac continued to prosper because the Lord was with him and became afraid.  So he along with his  adviser and commander approached Isaac to make a treaty not to harm them. This was done. Another well was dug.

Esau married Judith and Basemath, both of whom were Hittites, and they were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 16, Day 5: Genesis 26

12) The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” God was protecting Isaac and his family, as well as strengthening their faith.

13) Almost exactly the same. There was a famine in the land, and instead of praying for God’s guidance, they go to local kings for help instead of the One, True King. He told the men his wife was his sister like Abraham did. Yet God blesses Isaac as well with wealth despite his lie. He got into a water dispute with the locals after Abimelech kicked him out of Philistine. He built an altar for God there. Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham, afraid of God’s power.

14) Personal Questions. My answer: Tell them to seek God instead. That’s all you can do. Some people have to learn by experience.

15) He made a treaty with them, and he left when he was told to leave. He tried not to quarrel over wells and left them until he dug one that had no quarrel over it. Always try to compromise and avoid conflict with your neighbors.

16) To teach them lessons, to grow their faith in Him, to appreciate the good times, to grow them as humans.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 16, Day 5: Genesis 26

I had not seen the close parallels of this story before. So eerily similar. It just goes to show that no matter how good of a parent you are or try to be, your kids wil do what they want to do.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 16, Day 5: Genesis 26

We see here Isaac facing almost the exact same challenges that Abraham faced, and we see that Isaac responds in almost the exact same way. We’ve saw Gerar in Genesis 20:1-18). where Abraham met a different Abimelech. Isaac begins to travel to Egypt to escape the famine, but this time God stops him before he gets there. God does not want Isaac to leave the Promised Land. He promised Isaac the same things he promised Abraham:

  • The Promised Land
  • A nation to come forth
  • Blessings

Isaac stops in Gerar but tells the same lie his father did, saying Rebekah was his sister. Isaac is caught in this lie, and chastized, just like his father was for his behavior (Genesis 12:18-19) (Genesis 20:10)

map of gerar and beersheba www.atozmomm.com

God protects Isaac and Rebekah anyways.

Isaac prospered, worrying his neighbors who then stopped up all the wells and told Isaac to leave.

Isaac digs new wells, confident God will bless him. Water is life in the desert, as Jesus is our living waters

Remember names in the Bible have meaning. Esek means dispute. Sitnah means opposition. Rehoboth means room. Now Isaac has room to not have disputes.

Isaac returns to Beersheba, right where God wants him.

Fun fact: This is the first time God appears to Isaac in the Bible.

We see another past play when Isaac’s neighbors approach him for peace out of the fear of God, who is with Isaac, just like we saw with Abraham. Isaac forgives Abimelech for being kicked out of his lands and makes a treaty.

Shibah means oath of seven and Beersheba means well of the oath or well of seven.

Here, Esau is briefly mentioned as he marries two women who are Canaanites which is against God’s wishes and commands. (Genesis 24:3-4).

silent night www.atozmomm.com

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 16, Day 2: Genesis 25:1-18

Summary of Genesis 25:1-18:

Abraham took another wife named Keturah and had more kids. He left everything he owned to Isaac but gave gifts to his other sons and sent them away to the land of the east. Abraham lived 175 years and was buried with Sarah in the cave he bought from the Hittites by Isaac and Ishmael. God blessed Isaac who settled near Beer Lahai Roi.

Ishmael had 12 sons who became 12 tribal rulers. He lived to be 137 years old. His descendants settled near Egypt from Havilah to Shur as you go towards Asshur. They lived in hostility towards their brothers.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 16, Day 2: Genesis 25:1-18

3) Abraham sent all of his other sons away from Isaac, making it clear who would inherit his lands. He gave gifts to the rest of his sons.

4) God blessed his son Isaac. God told Abraham in Genesis 15:15 that he would go to his fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. Genesis 21:11-13 says God will make Isaac into a nation. Genesis 24:7 says that a wife will be got for Isaac so that he can have sons and his descendents will inherit the land.

5) Personal Question. My answer: I learn that God keeps His promises no matter how much we sin or mess up. That God is faithful and repeats His promises to us. That God is good. And that despite our failures, His plans never alter.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 16, Day 2: Genesis 25:1-18

I was surprised to see Abraham marry again. I don’t remember this the last time I read Genesis. It seems like his other kids are told to go away, which is why I’m wondering why even marry again, knowing Isaac is the promised one beside for companionship. It just seems terrible to be Abraham’s other sons, second always to God’s promised one.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 16, Day 2: Genesis 25:1-18

In total, Abraham had 8 sons, and it’s very easy to forget this since the six by his second wife, Keturah, are hardly mentioned. However, these sons would from tribes of their own, perhaps the most famous in the Bible being the Midianites from Midian.

Some scholars use this passage to say it was Sarah that was the one with fertility problems. I disagree. God can open and close wombs as He chooses. His plan was to test Abraham and Sarah’s faith so He closed Sarah’s womb, not anything else.

We see God’s work be passed on from generation to generation as we read about Abraham’s death.

Fun Fact: Abraham is mentioned 70 times by the writers of the New Testament, the most out of any other OT person except Moses.

Fun Fact: We see here for the first time “breathed his last” to refer to death and “gathered to his people” to mean joining loved ones in heaven

We see that Ishmael continued to receive God’s blessing as well. The Old Testament usually lists the non-messianic line first and then the messianic line last, which we see here in Ishmael’s listing.

Beer Lahai Roi in the Bible: Click HERE

map of beer-lahai-roi www.atozmomm.com

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 17, Day 5: Genesis 21:22-34

Summary of passage:  Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham probably because he doesn’t trust him.  Abraham said that some of Abimelech’s servants had seized a well. Abraham gifted sheep and cattle to Abimelech and set aside 7 ewe lambs to prove he dug the well.  The place was called Beersheba.  Abimelech returned to Philistine and Abraham planted a tree and called upon the name of the Lord.  Abraham stayed here a long time.

Questions:

12a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Outwardly, Abraham has accomplished things only God could.  He rescued Lot and defeated the 4 kings.  He has prospered materially with all his herds of sheep and cattle and other signs of wealth.  He seems to have dealt with everyone with integrity, which we all admire in people.

And I’m sure when you looked at Abraham you could see a contentment, a peace, a security that only God can bring.  I’m stopping short of saying the Holy Spirit because that was only after Jesus died did we receive the Holy Spirit but something similar I would wager.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Others see whether you live by God or by the world.  Your actions show it.  A God-centered life is abundant indeed.  I learn to be cognizant of this and try to reflect God wherever I go.

13a)  Abraham swore by God.  Abraham offers up lambs as proof of his work so he backs up his words with action.  Abraham planted a tree as a sign he called upon the Lord.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This is a hard one because I don’t trust other people so I’m sure I come off as untrustworthy myself.  And part of me doesn’t care if others trust me or not or even if I am trustworthy because I don’t care what others think most of the time.  But I can pray about it and be more like Jesus.

Conclusions:  Easy lesson with no right or wrong answers since they are all opinion questions.  Abraham got along with his neighbors and treated them fairly and rightly as Jesus would do.  And others recognized this in him.  Seems like something we should all strive for.

End Note:  The Abimelech in Genesis 21 is NOT the same Abimelech in Genesis 20. Abimelech was a generic title for ruler amongst the Canaanites and is not a specific name.

Simple Map of Beersheba:  http://www.keyway.ca/htm2002/beersheb.htm

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 17, Day 2: Genesis 20 with Genesis 12:10-20 & 21:22-34

Summary of passages:  Genesis 20:  Abraham had been staying near the great trees of Mamre (Genesis 18) and now has moved on to the Negev between Kadesh and Shur.  He stayed in Gerar for a time and again lied about Sarah being his sister.  So, of course, the king of Gerar, Abimelech, took her for his wife.

God rescued Sarah (again) when he came to Abimelech in a dream and told him he had taken a married woman unbeknownst and that is why God has kept him from touching her.  God tells him to return Sarah and Abraham will pray for him so that he may live.  Otherwise, he will die.

Abimelech called in Abraham and chastized him (like Pharaoh did) and asked him why he lied to him.  Abraham again gave his lame excuse of how he was afraid and he wasn’t really lying because Sarah is his half-sister.  Abraham as the head of the household told Sarah to lie for him on their travels.

So afraid of God was Abimelech that he gave Abraham sheep, cattle, slaves, and whatever piece of land he wanted.  He gave silver to Sarah’s “brother” so she would be vindicated for the wrongs he did.

Abraham prayed and God healed Abimelech and his household so that they could have kids again.

Genesis 12:10-20:

Abram went to Egypt due to a famine.  Abram told Sarai to tell the Egyptians she was his sister in order to protect himself because he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him.  So Pharaoh married Sarai (thinking she wasn’t married) and treated Abram well because of it.  He was given sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants, and camels.

The Lord was angry at this so he punished Pharaoh and Pharaoh asked Abram why he lied to him. Pharaoh sent them out of his land.  They returned to the Negev much wealthier from his lie to Pharaoh.

 Genesis 21:22-34:  Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham probably because he doesn’t trust him.  Abraham said that some of Abimelech’s servants had seized a well. Abraham gifted sheep and cattle to Abimelech and set aside 7 ewe lambs to prove he dug the well.  The place was called Beersheba.  Abimelech returned to Philistine and Abraham planted a tree and called upon the name of the Lord.  Abraham stayed here a long time.

Questions:

3)  Abraham uses the same fear and mistrust in God to tell Sarah to lie for him.  Abraham was well rewarded both times when Sarah was taken.  It was the Lord who saved Sarah both times by inflicting disease in Egypt and appearing to Abimelech in a dream and preventing child-bearing.

Both Pharaoh and Abimelech were innocent, not knowing Abraham had lied to them.

Abimelech and Pharaoh gave everything to Abraham to atone for their wrongs (shouldn’t it have been the other way around?).  We are told Abraham prayed for Abimelech to be healed and we are not told in Pharaoh’s case but Abraham could have prayed for them as well.

In both instances, God leaves the healing, the repentance, up to Abraham.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Abraham tells Abimelech he does this so he won’t be killed just like in Egypt.  I think he truly doesn’t care about Sarah to do this twice.  He seems to have some problems to me–selfishness, not trusting in God, egotistical even.

Why is Abraham moving to these places (Egypt and Negev) if he is fearful of the kings?  What is his reasoning?  Or is he that greedy for good land for his flocks and for his self-preservation that he just doesn’t care?

b)  People do this all the time especially in terms of the work environment.  They would rather stab you in the back to climb the corporate ladder than help you.  They do this with land fights as well.  Anytime man wants something he throws his comrades under the bus.  We see it in war situations, politics, and power plays.

5a)  He didn’t suffer just like in Egypt.  In fact, he prospered even more by being given sheep, cattle, and slaves.

Here’s the guy who one minute is refusing bounty from the King of Sodom (Genesis 14:22:24), has God appear to him in Genesis 15 and say He is his great reward, and then the next selling his wife again to a king of a foreign land.  Does Abraham expect to be rewarded like he was in Egypt?  Is he using Sarah for material gain?  It seems to me to be so.  Or he is completely untrusting of God who appeared to him and turning his back on Him.

b)  Others will get hurt due to our actions.  God is receiving no glory for His work when we don’t trust.  Relationships are broken (I’m sure Sarah didn’t appreciate or respect Abraham after all this as much).

6a)  He did not treat Abraham as he deserved.  He did not retaliate against Abraham.  He forgave Abraham’s sin and redeemed him in others’ eyes.  He gave Abraham good things out of it.  Through grace and love, He did not get angry or accuse.  He showed compassion on Abraham, knowing he is merely a man, formed out of dust, and inherently sinful.  He loved Abraham and did not remove righteousness from him.  Instead, God corrected.

b)  Abraham gave Abimelech sheep and cattle.  It seems Abraham brought peace for we are told Abimelech and Phicol, his commander of his forces, returned to Philistine without a fight.  Abraham may have prevented war just by having his presence there and God protecting Abraham.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He has loved me despite my sins.  He has humbled me with this nasty flu I caught.  He has blessed me with my husband being home to take care of me.  In His mercy, I have faith my husband will land a job this week so in that sense I am grateful.

Conclusions:  Did Abraham NOT learn from Egypt?  The whole “calling your wife your sister” thing didn’t have such a great ending so why would he do it again?  God had to intervene (again) and rescue Sarah.  What an idiot!  Abraham’s explanation is flimsy to say the least!  It’s like he’s floundering.  He’s definitely indifferent that’s for sure!

AND did you pick up that Abraham is partly blaming GOD for his actions.  Verse 13 “And when God had me wander from my father’s household…”  SERIOUSLY?  God, the One, True God has called you to greatness and now you are blaming Him for your lies, your fear, your lack of trust, and apparent incompetency to handle such a charge.

Hey, God!  Call me!  Like Isaiah saying, “Here am I!  Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)  Use me. How many of us would jump at such a chance to be made the father of nations and then we blame God for the hardships along the way.  Can you picture a little kid jumping up and down, waving their arms, waiting to be chosen???  Unbelievable!  Definitely NOT Abraham here.

And then Abraham is rewarded for it!  It’s like Abraham is taking advantage of God’s protection over his family to see what he can get out of the deal.  Ridiculous in my opinion.

But we see God’s grace throughout it all and I’m assuming that’s why both of these passages are recorded.  God loved Abraham despite his bad choices.  Just as He loves us when we make bad choices.  God redeemed Abraham just like He redeems us afterwards.

Even if our choices are idiotic, repetitive, fearful, and doesn’t make sense to anyone God loves us and offers us His grace.  Always.  God is good!

Maps:  Map of Gerar and Beersheba where the treaty was made: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2001/20010115.htm

Another map of Gerar:  http://www.biblicalzionist.com/gerar.htm

Another interesting map showing Negev and Zoar from Lesson 16:  http://www.ibiblemaps.com/m002.html

This one I am just including so you can see Mamre (you do have to scroll down a bit):  http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/sodom-and-gomorrah.html

End Note:  The Abimelech in Genesis 21 is NOT the same Abimelech in Genesis 20. Abimelech was a generic title for ruler amongst the Canaanites and is not a specific name. Question 6b makes it seem like it’s the same guy when it’s not.