Genesis 35, vs. 1-5 with Betty

 Jacob Returns to Bethel

 1And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.

2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.

K.J.V. Bible Text

My Thoughts:

Just as I predicted yesterday, God who has Jacob’s interests at heart, speaks to him again, reminding him of the time and place where he spoke to him as he fled from Esau.  God requests Jacob to build an altar to Him there.

I am pleased to learn that Jacob remembers the God who did so much for him and is willing to do this for Him. Moreover, he asks those in his household to rid themselves of the foreign “gods” in their possession and to purify themselves and dress in clean clothes. They buried these gods and set out; (I believe to go to the place where they would build the altar.)  Once they were gone, the men of all the towns around him felt the fear of God and did not pursue Jacob’s people.

It was surely because Jacob was obedient to God’s instruction that he build the altar that God kept the people of the nearby towns from chasing down Jacob’s people, destroying them and taking their wealth as the spoils of war.

Betty Killebrew

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Genesis 34, vs. 18-31 with Betty

 18 And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son.

19 And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter: and he was more honourable than all the house of his father.

20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying,

21 These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.

22 Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised.

23 Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of their’s be our’s? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.

24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.

25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.

26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.

27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

28 They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,

29 And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.

30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

31 And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

K.J.V. Bible Text

My Thoughts:

As I began reading verse 18 of Genesis 34, I could hardly believe what I was reading.  What seems to me to be a radical act for grown men to take—circumcision—especially as it would link them to an outside group of people, seems to have been agreed upon without much reluctance by Shechem.  Apparently, he was circumcised at once (He must have really loved Dinah) and then went to speak to the other men of the city to convince them to also participate in the arrangement. In convincing the men to do so, there is an indication in their argument that they did not take Jacob’s people as a threat.  In their minds, rather than allowing outsiders to benefit from joining their people, they felt that the livestock, property and other possessions of Jacob’s people would be theirs if they could convince Jacob and his sons to dwell in their city.

The ruler and his son did convince the men to be circumcised; and three days later, before they had recovered from the procedure, two of Dinah’s brothers, Levi and Simeon, attacked and killed all the males of the city including Hamor and his son Shechem. They took Dinah from Shechem’s house.  Jacob’s sons then looted the city and carried off all the wealth, women and children.

Jacob was upset about this because he knew that by their actions, Simeon and Levi had made his people obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites who lived in the land before they arrived.  He feared that they would join forces and attack and destroy his small band.  Simeon and Levi were unrepentant, saying that Shechem should not have treated their sister like a prostitute.

Whew!  This chapter contained high drama and at this point I find myself wondering; was Shechem really a man who did evil or was this problem the difference in the two cultures?  Today people often joke about cave men carrying off their brides while brandishing a club.  Could Shechem have been behaving in a way common to his people without realizing how it would be viewed by Jacob’s people?

Even in the Bible I can’t see some things as completely black or white. Within the shades of gray, however, I am sure the Lord will make things right.

 Betty Killebrew

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Genesis 34, vs. 11-17 with Betty

 11 And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give.

12 Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife.

13 And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:

14 And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us:

15 But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised;

16 Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.

17 But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.

K.J.V. Bible Text

My Thoughts:

Shechem himself then asks Jacob and his sons for permission to marry Dinah and he offers to give for her whatever bride price they may ask.

Jacob’s sons told Shechem that he could not have their sister because he was uncircumcised.  They told him they could not give her to an uncircumcised male but if Shechem would agree to be circumcised and have all the other males of his company circumcised, they would then enter into an agreement to settle in that country and live as one people. Otherwise they would take their sister and leave.

Will this offer be accepted?  Will Hamor’s people agree to fundamentally change themselves by becoming circumcised like these other people in order to arrange a marriage?  Do Dinah’s brothers expect them to agree?

Betty Killebrew

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Genesis 34, vs. 1-10 with Betty

 Dinah and the Shechemites

 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.

2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

3 And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel.

4 And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.

5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come.

6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him.

7 And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter: which thing ought not to be done.

8 And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife.

9 And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.

10 And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.

 My Thoughts:

 Genesis 34 begins with an unspeakable act being committed against Dinah the daughter of Jacob ( by his wife Leah).  While away from home visiting the women of the land, the girl has been “defiled” by the son of the area’s ruler, a man called Shechem, son of Hamor the Hivite.

This version of the Bible states that Shechem raped Dinah but that he loved her and spoke tenderly to her.  He also went to his father and asked his father to give him the young woman to be his wife. From the account, I cannot tell whether or not Dinah was a willing participant in what is termed here as being “defiled” but it occurs to me that in those days, women being more possessions than individuals with rights, it really didn’t matter.  I’m sure the act of laying with a young girl without marrying her or even having the father’s permission to marry her would constitute rape in that day.

Jacob heard about this act while his sons were in the field but did nothing until they returned.  They were furious at Shechem because of what he had done, something they considered outrageous—a thing that “ought not to be done.”

Hamor, the father came to Jacob to intercede on behalf of his son.  He told Jacob that his son wanted to marry Dinah and that if Jacob would allow it, the two families could intermarry, each taking daughters from the other group.  He offered Jacob’s people the right to settle in his land and acquire property in it.

Will Jacob accept this offer?   We will find out tomorrow.

Betty Killebrew

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Genesis 33, vs. 8-20 with Betty

8 And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.

9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

10 And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.

11 Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.

12 And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.

13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.

14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.

15 And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee some of the folk that are with me. And he said, What needeth it? let me find grace in the sight of my lord.

16 So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir.

17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.

18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.

19 And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money.

20 And he erected there an altar, and called it EleloheIsrael.

K.J.V. Bible Text

 My Thoughts:

In yesterday’s reading, we learned that Esau had gone to meet Jacob and had treated him in a friendly fashion.  Today’s reading opens with Esau asking why Jacob had sent all the flocks and herds ahead of him with servants.

Jacob insisted that they were a gift for Esau and although Esau demurred, saying he had all he needed, Jacob insisted on giving him the ample gift.

After Esau accepted the gift, he was in mind of traveling along with Jacob, but Jacob used the excuse that he must move the animals and children slowly so the animal would not die.

Esau then offered to leave some of his men with Jacob.  Jacob again refused, so Esau started back alone.  Jacob, however, did not follow him. Instead he went to another place where he set up his tent and made shelters for his livestock.

It would appear here that Esau was more generous than Jacob.  He forgave his brother and welcomed him back.  Could he have been planning iniquity against his brother if Jacob had gone with him back to Esau’s encampment?  It would seem that Jacob may have feared this as he was determined not to go along with Esau, but rather to find a place for himself.  I wonder if this was Jacob’s plan all along or if he was fearful in the presence of his brother, knowing that he had long ago done him ill.  Did he feel uncomfortable with Esau and decide after meeting with him not to accompany him to his home encampment?

For me, all those questions are unanswerable but I hope the scripture will tell me how Esau felt about his brother’s behavior.

Betty Killebrew

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Genesis 33, vs. 1-7 with Betty

Jacob Meets Esau

And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.

2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.

3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.

6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.

7 And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.

K.J.V. Bible Text

 My Thoughts:

 In today’s reading, the first seven verses of Genesis Chapter 33, Jacob comes face to face with his brother Esau after all the years he has been away living with and working for Laban.

When Jacob first saw Esau from afar, Esau was coming with four hundred men. Jacob swiftly organized his entourage in an order I found interesting.  First in line, he placed  the servants and their children, the group we would assume were the most expendable to him.  Next came Leah and her children and last Rachel and her son Joseph.  (Remember, Rachel was the wife he loved the most.) Jacob himself went on ahead.

I believe it would have been understandable if  even after all that length of time Esau had been a bit reserved in his greeting of Jacob; but instead he rushed to Jacob and threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.

With the hurdle of that first meeting out of the way, Jacob then presented his servants and his wives and their children to Esau.

Twenty years was a long time to be away from home.  Apparently it was long enough that Esau had forgiven Jacob.  Of course, although Jacob had tricked Esau out of his birthright and had stolen his blessing, up to this point, that had little actual effect upon Esau because Jacob had been away since before the death of their father.  It will be interesting to see how the relationship between the brothers worked out after Jacob returned to Esau’s country.

Betty Killebrew

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Genesis 32, vs. 22-32 with Betty

Jacob Wrestles With God

 22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.

23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.

24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

K.J.V. Bible Text

 My Thoughts:

After Jacob sent his gift to Esau, he began to move forward again.  At a ford in the river, he sent across his wives, his servants and his eleven sons.  He remained behind, alone. There was a man there with whom he wrestled until daybreak.  The man could not overpower him, but he touched Jacobs’ hip and caused it to be wrenched out of its socket.

At daybreak the man asked Jacob to let him go and when Jacob refused to let him go unless he blessed him, the man inquired about his name.  The “man” then told Jacob that in the future he would be called “Israel” because he had struggled with God and with human beings and (have) overcome.

When Jacob asked the name of his opponent, he was not told but the “man” blessed him.

When Jacob set out again, he was limping. Because the socket of Jacob’s hip was injured by a touch near the tendon, the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip.

For Jacob to wrestle with God seems amazing.  What struck me is that this contact with God took place after the others had crossed to the other side of the river.  It seems to me that most of the time when God contacted early human beings, it was when they were alone.  Maybe it was when they were alone that God knew they would pay close attention to Him.  Even today, we seek God and pray when we are alone and that is when we hear his voice most strongly.

Betty Killebrew

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Genesis 32, verses 17-21 with Betty

 17 And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee?

18 Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob’s; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us.

19 And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him.

20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.

21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.

K.J.V. Bible Text

My Thoughts:

Jacob sent his servants ahead of him with the herds that made up his lavish gift.  The one in the lead was instructed to tell Esau that the animals belonged to his servant Jacob and that they were sent as a gift to Esau.

Each subsequent servant who followed with other herds was told to give Esau the same message.

Jacob, meanwhile, waited in the camp, hoping the gifts would pacify Esau before they actually met one another.

Jacob may have operated out of fear, but this was indeed a cagey move. If Esau had sought to overcome the usurper returning to his land, he might have taken all that Jacob had.  By giving a generous gift and declaring himself Esau’s “servant” he put himself in a secondary position to Esau, giving himself a chance to survive and reestablish himself in the area.

I don’t know about you, but I am definitely interested in finding out how these two brothers get on when they are reunited.  Come back tomorrow and we’ll see what we find out!

Betty Killebrew

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Genesis 32, verses 9-16 with Betty

 9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:

10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;

14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,

15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.

16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.

K.J.V. Bible Text

My Thoughts:

Now free to return to the land of his father, Jacob began to pray to the God of his father.  He thanked God humbly for the kindness and faithfulness God had shown him since he left home with nothing but his staff.  Now he was returning with great wealth—with so many animals and people that they comprised two encampments.

Then Jacob prayed for protection from his brother.  Having left the land of his father in fear for his life after having tricked Esau out of his birthright and having stolen from him their father’s blessing, he had good reason to fear that Esau might yet seek revenge against him.

Therefore he put together a lavish gift for his brother.   The gift consisted of herds of goats, male and female and of ewes and rams.  There were thirty female camels and their young, forty cows and ten bulls and thirty donkeys.  These he sent ahead of his encampment with servants.

This gift to his brother brings home to me the immensity of Jacob’s wealth.  No wonder Laban had sought to prevent him from leaving.  The herds of animals mentioned here would constitute great wealth even today—and this was only a portion of his holdings, the portion he was preparing to give away as a gift.  Imagine owning all those animals and apparently also having the wherewithal to feed them and servants to take care of them—servants that would have to be fed and cared for as well.  Such wealth is mind-boggling.

Betty Killebrew

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Genesis 32 Verses 1- 8 with Betty

Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.

2 And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

4 And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:

5 And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.

6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;

8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

K.J.V. Bible Text

My Thoughts:

You will recall that when Jacob left the land of his father Isaac, he was in fear of his brother Esau because he had tricked Esau into selling him his birthright and then later had stolen his father’s blessing from Esau.  Now he was returning to this land where Esau was now entrenched and he was returning as a stranger.

He sent a message to Esau to inform hm of his impending arrival.  The messengers returned and told Jacob Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men.  Jacob was in “great fear and distress” over this news. He divided his people and his flocks and herds into two groups so that if Esau attacked one group the other might survive.

I can well imagine that he was afraid. At the time his mother and father sent him to live with Laban and find a wife in that country, Esau had sworn to kill him.  We know however, that God has been with Jacob all along.  However, Esau may feel after twenty years, God’s will is going to prevail and I’m sure we’re heading for another interesting story.

Betty Killebrew

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