Monday, May 3, 2010

Genesis 32-37

The facts (Chapter number: Verse)

32:5 - Jacob's message to Esau, telling Esau how he has oxen, donkeys, flocks, male and female servants, and he has sent to tell Esau that Esau may find favor for Jacob in his sight.
32:11 - Jacob asks God to deliver him from Esau and his men, that Esau may come and kill them all, the mothers with the children.
32:14-15 - Jacob took a present to Esau that consisted of two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.
32:22-23 - That same night Jacob took his two wives, two maids and eleven children and crossed the Jabbock. He sent them across the stream and everything he had.

33:1-2 - Jacob sees Esau and the four hundred men approaching. He divided the children w=among Leah and Rachel and the two maids, the maids and their children in front, then Leah and her children, and Rachel and Joseph last.
33:5-7 - Esau asks whom all these people are. Jacob tells Esau these are his children that the Lord graciously provided. The maids and their children came forward and bowed, then Leah and her children, and lastly Rachel and Joseph.

Genesis 34 - The rape of Dinah. Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob went out to visit the women of the region. Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite saw Dinah, seized her and laid with her by force. Shechem loved Dinah and spoke to her tenderly. Shechem asked his father Hamor to get Dinah to be his wife. When Hamor came to Jacob and his sons to ask for Dinah Jacob and his sons were very angry because Shechem had committed such an outrage in isreal by laying with Jacob's daughter. Hamor tells Jacob that Shechem is very in love with Dinah and to please give her to him in marriage. Hamor wants a trade, make marriages with them, give their daughters to his people and they would in turn give their daughters to Jacob's people. Hamor says he will give whatever is asked as a marriage present for Dinah.

Jacob and his sons answered deceitfully because Hamor had defiled Dinah. They say this cannot be done unless Hamor and his men are circumcised, for to give Dinah to someone who is uncircumcised would be a disgrace. Only then will they trade daughters and live amongst them. So Hamor tells Shechem of this agreement, which pleases Shechem because with Dinah he will be the most honored of his family. They tell the men of the city of the trade that has been established and Hamor, Shechem and all the men left the city, and all the men who left the city were circumcised.

On the third day when the men were still in pain, Simeon and levi, two of Dinah's brothers, went out and killed all the males of the city. They killed Hamor and Shechem and took Dinah out of Shechem's house. The other sons of Jacob plundered the city because their sister had been defiled. All the wealth and the little ones and the wives were captured and made their prey. Jacob asks why his sons have brought this trouble upon him, bringing so many of the city to be amongst them that they may rise up on day and destroy him and his household? The sons replied, "Should our sister be treated like a whore?"

35:8 - Rebekah's nurse, Deborah, died and was buried under an oak below Bethel.
35:16-26 - Rachel was in childbirth and had a hard labor. During her labor the midwife told her to not be afraid because she was having another son. As Rachel as dying she named her son Ben-oni, and his father named him Benjamin. Rachel was buried on the way to Ephrath (Bethlehem). A pillar was erected on her grave. While Israel (fka Jacob) lived in that land his son Reuben laid with Bilhah, his father's concubine, and Israel heard of it.Now Jacob had twelve sons. Leah had Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Rachel had Joseph and Benjamin. Bilhah had Dan and Naphtali. Zilpha had Gad and Asher.

Genesis 36 - More genealogy.
36:2-5 - Esaus wives were taken from the Canaanites, Adah, Oholibamah and Basemath (sister of Nebaioth). Adah bore Eliphaz. Basemath bore Reuel. Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam and Korah.
36:6 - Esau took all his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his cattle and his livestock and all his property and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob.
36:9-14 - Names of Esau's sons. Eliphaz born of Adah. Reuel the sone of Basemath. Timna was Eliphaz's concubine and bore Amalek. The son's of Eliphaz were the son's of Adah, Esau's wife(?). The sons of Reuel were the sons of Basemath, Esau's wife(?). Oholibamah bore Esau Jeush, Jalam and Korah.
36:16 - Sons of Adah.
36:17 - Sons of Esau's wife, Basemath.
36:18 - Sons of Esau's wife Oholibamah the daughter of Anah.
36:22 - Lotan's sister was Timna.
36:25 - Oholibamah daughter of Anah.
36:39 - Habar becomes king. His wife is Mehetabel, daughter of Matred, daughter of Me-zahab.

37:2 - Joseph was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives.
37:10 - Joseph tells his dreams to his father and his father asks, "What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shell we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?"
37:35 - Jacob mourns the loss of his son Joseph. All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted.

My Comments

Chapters 32 and 33 are pretty boring, though I do have to wonder why Jacob introduces Esau to his children but not his wives, even though Esau inquires about the entire group.

And then we get the rape of Dinah. I find it interesting that Dinah is the one who is violated and raped but she serves no other purpose in the story than as a catalyst for Jacob's sons to go and murder and destroy an entire city. Did Dinah ask them to do this? Did they ask her at all what she wanted or needed after this horrible violation? Would they have cared if she hadn't wanted her tormentors killed? And she's important enough to destroy and entire city for but not important enough to mention ever again when doing a run down of Israel's/Jacob's children? Was this whole thing simply just about the family's honor and the honor of Jacob and his sons? Or after she was violated and saved for the family's honor was she basically an outcast, because we know historically (and even today in some places) women are only good for their virginity to be sold to husbands, and once their virginity is gone, through rape or otherwise, they are basically useless. No one will want them as a wife, and anyone who will isn't someone who will be worth mentioning as a big character in the Bible. At least the family fought for their sister and didn't just sell her to her rapist, but still. I would think she'd have a much larger and more active role in her own rape story.

And I love Rachel's midwife telling her to be happy that she's having a son even though she's dying. Because it's totally cool that Rachel died because she had a son and that is all that matters, right? At least she didn't pass on while having a daughter, right?

I hope I'm reading the last bit of chapter 36 wrong, because it kind of sounds like Esau's wives bore their son's children which is really kinda horrible. I hope it means that the children were their GRANDsons and, I guess, that makes them sons by proxy. I hope.

The story of Joseph (and his technicolor dream coat) is one of the most well known stories in the Bible. So of course there are basically no women in it ( at least not until you get to the rich man's wife who cries rape, which doesn't help much). And I love how they mention "all of Jacob's sons and all of Jacob's daughters" and yet who are these daughters? They NEVER get mentioned. If you just went strictly by the genealogy you'd think no one ever had any daughters, that wives just appeared out of thin air (or left over ribs) and other than that there are no other women around. Which is funny since every man in the Bible seems to get at least three wives. So if we take this as the norm (since it pretty much is the norm in the Bible) the world must be about 3/4 women and 1/4 men. And yet we never hear of all these women. So do we have a case of men taking more women than they need and leaving many men with no women to take as wives? Or is it really the case that there are all these women, droves and droves of women, hanging around that manage to NEVER get mentioned?

I mean, you know, except when they get mentioned off hand as a random "all of [so and so's] sons and all of [so and so's] daughters." I know that sons are held in much more high regard than daughters but still. If there are that many why can't we mention them? Sadly it seems if you're a daughter and you get mentioned by name you're likely to be in a world of hurt later on. Like Dinah, who managed to get mention in one verse amid all of Leah and Rachel's son, only to be violently raped and captured later on. So maybe it is better for the women of the Bible to stay nameless. It might just be safer for all of them in the end.

Tomorrow: Genesis 38-42.


  1. was the bible just being ridiculous or was rape really that common place back then

  2. In the case of rape being common back then I would guess that yes, it was probably just as common back then as it is now (if not more common). Today about 1 out of every 4 women will be sexually assaulted. And back in Biblical times women were pretty much viewed as property of men and not much else, so I would expect those numbers to be just as accurate back then as they are today. So no, I don't think the Bible is being ridiculous about the amount of rape going on. Plus with all the slavery that goes on in the Bible I can't imagine that the slave girls/maids have a very good time of it. Hard for there to give actual consent when their owner is basically giving them orders, you know?

    I do think it is ridiculous that it seems every woman in the Bible is reduced to her ovaries and vagina. Women are constantly being raped, giving birth, tricking men with sex, etc. Is it that hard for the Bible to treat women as people and not just lady parts waiting for a man? I'm sure there were plenty of daughters of Jacob's that weren't raped or daughters of Isaac who weren't tricking their husbands/family members to have sex with them so they could bear children. But we never hear about those women. The Bible seems to feel the only important women are the sexually deviant ones. Which I admit, is weird. But it was written by a bunch of men, so really not all that strange that it's filled with a complete mistrust of women and an oversimplification of them as merely organs for men to use.

    But who knows, I'm not even out of Genesis yet so maybe it gets better? Or maybe it gets worse? It'll be interesting to find out.

  3. I read a really great book recently called 'The Red Tent' by Anita Diamant - this post made me think of it immediately. It's a fictional recreation of the life of Dinah and her mothers and a very nice portrayal of the life of girls and women in biblical times.

    After reading your synposes of Gensis, I thought you might be interested, plus it's a great read (and available in paperback).

  4. I remember hearing about that back in my church going days. I may have to give it a read now. Thanks for the suggestion. :)


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