We are back in the World Stream today and continue with the story of Jacob. What will happen to him as he flees from Esau’s wrath? We are reading from the New Century Version this week.
28 – the birthright transfer to Jacob that was schemed over by Jacob was validated by Isaac. Now with this dream it is not validated in heaven. Jacob is now the one through whom the blessings will pass through; to his children and the nation that will become flowing Jacob’s descendants. This relationship will bridge heaven and earth. This from Halley’s Bible Handbook: Here are some “btw #’s” cc. Jacob’s life. . . He is 77 when Genesis 28 happens, Abraham his grandfather has been gone just over 60 years, He married at 84, He was 90 when Joseph was born, 98 when he returned to Canaan, 120 when Isaac his father died, 130 when he went to Egypt, and 147 when he died. His first 77 years were spent in Canaan, the next 20 was in Haran, then 33 in Canaan, and the last 17 in Egypt.
29 – 29 and 30 are Jacob’s 20 years in Haran. These two decades are filled with melodrama, endless lessons in patience and more trickery. He is back where his mother Rebekah had grown up. His initial meeting with extended family is rather heartwarming. His intent to start a family begins with him being too inebriated to realize that his father in law has put the wrong woman in his bed and done so intentionally. A week later he gets the right one (according to his desires). Each came with a slave girl. There are tussels and struggles and jealous that come from intermittent infertility. Soon everyone has conjured that Jacob is to be sleeping with all four of them. In less than a decade he has 12 sons from these four women.
Leah bears him Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun
Zilpah; Leah’s maid has Gad, and Asher
Rachel births Joseph, and Benjamin
Bilhah; Rachel’s maid has Dan, and Naphtali
This family starts and soon turns into a catty mess but nonetheless it is the beginning of the 12 tribes and God uses these souls to start His nation. It was no simple road to having his 12 sons. The Rachel he loves is delayed in having children. The Leah he is not so fond of has six. Jacob is frustrated on so many fronts. His penchant for deceit seems to be what is coming back on him.
All the same, Jacob continues his conniving and orchestrates a breeding program before he leaves with his family and flocks so that his flocks grow strong and numerous while the weak animals populate Laban’s herd. Yes, Jacob’s herds prosper but it is happening according to Jacob’s cunning and not necessarily God’s graciousness. It tends to have Jacob who is always looking over his shoulder, so to speak, to see what is being done against him..It would have been more simple to communicate with family but, … that’s Jacob.
31- Jacob plots his departure back to Canaan. It’s a 400 mile journey and again, instead of being forthright, he spirits away when Laban is not aware. It could all be a blessed goodbye but instead it’s a mix of comedy and strange tragedy. Three days later Laban takes off after him, if nothing else to say goodbye, and eventually Laban catches up to him.
The incident with the stolen idols should not strike us as odd is it might to some. Rachel wants these for it is all she knows of a god. There is some drama in that Rachel is sitting on them while pleading ignorant especially since her husband has pledged to kill anyone who has stolen them. Laban and Jacobs’ conversation is a weird dialogue of how each of them has suffered at the hands of the other and tried so hard to be honest and giving while being treated unfairly.
This chapter of their ends with a treaty that is endearing in a way but also it’s just a plain old pledge to stop squabbling. They say their goodbyes, hug and kiss and Jacob returns to Canaan with his ‘mini-empire’.
“Lord, we pray that we can learn from Jacob’s life, both from his good and bad side. May we be thrifty and feverish to love those we have pledged to love. Go with us and let us do what we are called to do with all our might. But do remind us that we never need to be duplicitous. We can come into better blessings in you when we are transparent and upright in our dealings and communications and in our prayers. Thank YOU God for being our loving father. Amen”