Friday, April 30, 2010

Genesis 27-31

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

27:5-17 - Rebekah overhears Isaac telling Esau to go hunt game and bring him savory food of the game so that he may bless Esau. When Esau left, Rebekah tells Jacob of Isaac's plans. She tells Jacob to go to the fields and grab two choice kids and bring them back to her so that she may prepare a savory meal for Jacob to bring to Isaac so that Isaac may bless Jacob in place of Esau. Jacob asks what he shall do if Isaac touches him, since Jacob is not as hairy as Esau. Jacob fears that if the trick is found out Isaac with curse him instead of bless him. Rebekah assures him that if he is cursed then the curse shall be upon her. Jacob does as he is told. Rebekah makes savory foods and covers Jacobs hands and bare neck with the skin of the kids. She hands at the savory food and bread to Jacob and thus Jacob goes to Isaac.
27:29 - Isaac blesses Jacob that people serve him and nations bow to him, and that Jacob be lord over his brothers and may his mother's sons bow to him.
27:42-46 - Esau is furious for losing his blessing, so Rebekah tells Jacob to flee and live with her brother Laban in Haran. She tells him to stay until Esau has forgotten his anger, and then she will send for Jacob and bring him back. Rebekah goes to Isaac and laments that Jacob may marry a Hittite, which would upset her to no end.

28:1-2 - Isaac calls Jacob and tells him that he shall not marry one of the Canaanite women, but instead he shall be sent to Laban's house and take one of Laba's daughter's for a wife.
28:5 - Isaac sends Jacob to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob and Esau's mother.
28:6-9 - Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan-aram to take a wife, saying that Jacob shall not marry a Canaanite, and Jacob had obeyed his father and mother. When Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac, Esau went to Ichmael and took Mahalath (daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth) to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.
29:6 - Rachel, Laban's daughter, approaches Jacob and some shepherds.
29:9-14 - Rachel reaches Jacob with her sheep and Jacob, upon seeing his mother's brother's daughter and his mother's brother's sheep, rolled back the stone from the watering well and watered the flock of his mother's brother Laban. Then he kissed Rachel and wept aloud. He told her who he was and that he was kin and Rebekah's son and Rachel ran to tell her father. When Laban heard the news of his sister's son he ran to Jacob and kissed him. Jacob stayed with Laban for a month.
29:15-35 - Laban insists that Jacob not serve him for nothing. Laban had two daughters, Leah who had beautiful eyes, and Rachel who was graceful and beautiful. Jacob says he loves Rachel and would serve seven years for her. So he did. After the seven years, Jacob said to Laban "Give me my wife that I may go to her, for my time is complete." So Laban threw a feast and in the evening he brought Leah to Jacob, and Jacob came into her. Laban gave his maid Zilpah to Leah to be her maid. In the morning Jacob realizes that it isn't Rachel he is with. Jacob asks Laban what is the meaning of this? He served his time for Rachel so why has Laban done this? Laban says this is the custom in his land, to give the younger before the first born. Jacob completes another seven years and gets both Leah and Rachel as wives. Laban gives Rachel his maid Bilhah to be her maid. So then Jacob came into Rachel and loved her more than Leah, and completed his other seven years.

The Lord saw that Jacob didn't love Leah, so he opened up Leah's womb and made Rachel barren. Leah had a son, Reuben. She said "Since the Lord has looked down upon my affliction perhaps my husband will now love me." She conceived another son, Simeon, and again said "Because the Lord heard I am hated he gave me another son." And she conceived another son, Levi, and Leah said "Now my husband will be joined to me for I have bore him three sons." Leah conceives another son, Judah, and said "This time I shall praise the Lord," and she ceased bearing children.

30:1-23 - When Rachel saw that she bore not children she envied Leah. She said to Jacob "Give me children or I shall die!" Jacob became angry with Rachel and asks her why she yells at him when it is God that has made her barren. Rachel gives Jacob Bilhah and tells him to go into her and that Bilhah shall conceive her children. So Jacob came into Bilhah and Bilhah bore a son for Jacob. Rachel praises God for this son and named him Dan. Bilhah conceived another son. Rachel says that she has wrestled mightily with her sister and has prevailed, so she named this son Naphtali.

When leah sees that she has stopped conceiving she gives Jacob her maid Zilpah. Zilpah bore Jacob a son, Leah cries "Good fortune" and names the son Gad. Zilpah bore Jacob another son and Leah says "Happy am I! For the woman will call me happy," and named this son Asher. In the days of the wheat harvest Reuben brought his mother Leah some mandrakes from the field. Rachel asks for some of the mandrakes and Leah asks "Is it not enough that you have taken away my husband but you would take my son's mandrakes as well?" Rachel replies, "Then he may lie with you tonight for your son's mandrakes." When Jacob came in from the field Leah ran to him and tells him she has hired him for her son's mandrakes. Jacob came into Leah that evening. Leah bears Jacob a fifth son, Leah says "God has given me my hire because I gave Jacob my maid," and named her son Issachar. Leah conceived another son and Leah says, "God has endowed me with a good dowry, now my husband will honor me," and she named her son Zebulun. Afterward she bore a daughter and named her Dinah.

And then God remembered Rachel and opened her womb. Rachel conceived a son and Rachel says, "God has taken away my reproach," and she named her son Joseph. She added, "May the Lord add me another son!"
30:25-26 - After Rachel had Joseph, Jacob asks Laban to send him away back to his home with his wives and children since he has served him.
30:43 - Jacob grew very strong and had large flocks, and male and female slaves, and camels and donkeys.

31:4 - Jacob calls for Leah and Rachel to tell them that he is leaving and taking them, his children, and his possessions.
31:14-16 - Rachel and Leah lament that there is nothing left for them in their house. Their father has sold them and been using the money given to them. So all the property that God has taken away from Laban rightfully belongs to them and their children, so they should obey God and leave.
31:17 - So Jacob sets his children and wives on camels.
31:19 - Rachel steals Laban's household gods.
31:26 - Laban catches up with Jacob and asks him why he has left and taken his daughters away as if they were captives?
31:28 - Laban wants to know why he was not permitted to kiss his sons and daughters farewell?
31:31 - Jacob says they left because he was afraid that Laban would try to take away his daughters by force.
31:32 - Jacob says that whomever has Laban's gods shall not live, bt he does not know that Rachel has stolen the gods.
31:33-35 - Laban searches Jacob's tent, Leah's tent, the tents of the maids, and then Rachel's tent. Rachel hid the household gods in the camel's saddle and sat on them. When Laban couldn't find the god Rachel tells him she is in the way of women and cannot rise off the camel's saddle.
31:38 - Jacob reminds Laban that during the twenty years that he was with him Laban's ewes and femal goats never miscarried.
31:41 - Jacob reminds Laban that he worked his fourteen years for Laban's two daughters, and then six years for his flock.
31:43 - Laban wonders aloud that these are his daughters and his children and his flocks and all that Jacob can see is Laban's. But what can he do today about these daughters of his or the children they have born?
31:50 - Jacob and Laban make a covenant, one piece of which is that Jacob will not ill-treat his daughters nor take wives in addition to them. God is the witness of this covenant.
31:55 - Laban arose the next morning and kissed his daughters and grandchildren goodbye and blessed them. Then he left.

My Comments

We once again have very passive women. Things happen to them but they do not do much to alter the current state of their affairs. And it's strange that the men in their lives are the reason they are put through such misery. If Laban hadn't tricked Jacob into sleeping with Leah then he never would have had to marry Leah, and there would not have been this rivalry between Leah and Rachel, a rivalry which was worsened by God tampering with their wombs. Why does God seem to take such joy in playing with women's reproductive faculties? And it seems the ultimate reward is always sons. Both Rachel and Leah have many sons and praise God and make a huge fuss about it. And then Leah has a daughter, and she gets one sentence. No praise for her. No huge fuss. Just a sentence that states her name and existence.

And I can't help but feel sorry for the maids. Again there is maid rape in the name of bearing children for their mistresses. What makes it worse is the only reason they were put through this was because God made Leah and Rachel barren. If God hadn't tampered with Leah and Rachel then Bilhah and Zilpah would not have been raped and had to bear children. So conclusion: being a female maid back in the Biblical times was pretty much a big bag of not good.

And how Jacob can have sex with Leah and not know it is Rachel is kind of weird to me. Especially when he is apparently so MADLY in love with her. And why switch the two? Was Leah incapable of finding a husband herself? She was apparently beautiful and had wonderful eyes, and yet Laban forced her upon Jacob. Maybe Jacob was just too good a husband to pass up since he was kin, I don't know. But it does seem odd.

And does Jacob totally lie in chapter 31? He spent chapter 30 manipulating the sheep and their breeding so that the sheep he was allowed would grow stronger and there would be more than the ones promised to Laban. But in 31 he says that was God's doing. He seems to be out right lying to his wives to manipulate them to leave with him, basically saying "You have to come with me because God wills it," and Leah and Rachel go along with it of course. There is no going against God's will.

And I think it is nice to see a father in the Bible so sad about losing his daughters and grandchildren. He did seem genuinely upset that he would not longer have his daughters. This may be an extension of the daughters as property thing that the Bible does so well, but it seems to be more than that. Laban was unfair to Jacob, but maybe he was so unfair because he didn't want Jacob to take his daughters away from him. While he was oddly manipulative of his daughters in the beginning, switching Leah for Rachel on the marriage night and all, maybe it was all done in some sort of culturally archaic fatherly love. He wanted what was best for his daughters and what was best was Jacob. And in the covenant between Laban and Jacob, Laban specifically states that Jacob may not treat his daughters poorly or take any wives other than them (I guess the maids don't count as real wives, since if this was the case Jacob has already broken the covenant before they have even made it). So it really is kinda cool to see a dad think about his daughters at all, since all too often daughters are overlooked because they are women and are not as valuable as sons.

Monday: Genesis 32-37

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