Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Genesis 35-37
We’ve covered a lot of material so far and it is natural to have a hard time keeping all the names straight at this point. I’ve created a quick reference genealogy chart, From Adam to the 12 Tribes of Israel, featuring our leading characters that may help. Click here for that.
It is important to realize that in this time period, people had multiple gods for multiple purposes and gods were often considered regional. So anytime you come into a new region, there would be a new set of gods to hold allegiance to. We see a lot going on with different people and their gods and we also see, based on YHWH’s instruction to Jacob, that He was being very patient with the infant nation of Israel with regards to this matter. They didn’t understand the concept of one God, or being Echad, just yet.
Genesis 35:4 isn’t about YHWH having an issue with earrings or jewelry. These earrings were considered amulets of sorts, worn to honor other gods. Note that they were also ordered to purify themselves and change clothes. This is very much symbolic and physical as they are cleansing themselves of false god worship and purifying themselves to begin following YHWH. Again, I doubt they fully understood the extent of what they were doing at this point.
It is important to note that in order to move forward and be counted as the people of YHWH they had to first let go of their attachment to other gods. We will see, time and again, that we cannot halfheartedly follow YHWH and succeed in remaining in Him. If our heart is with other “gods”, no matter what they may be, we will be led astray by them. Our focus must be fully on YHWH and we must train ourselves to treat Him as the only God in our lives. He teaches us that time and again in His word if we only have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Why does YHWH tell Jacob/Israel his new name again? When God reminds Jacob of his new name and instructions, this is important because, as I said, gods were often considered regional. Jacob had moved to a new place and God was letting him know that He was under His jurisdiction regardless of where he was. God was merciful and patient in leading Jacob.
Benjamin’s birth/ Rachel’s death: When Benjamin was born, Rachel named him Ben-oni, which means “child of my sorrow” as she knew she was going to die. Israel renamed him “Benyamin”, which means “son of happiness”.
We will see later that he was one of Israel’s favorites. Keep in mind these are transliterated names because they were originally in Hebrew, but we know that there would never be a J sound in the pronunciation of a name because that sound did not exist in the language, so you’ll see a lot of “y”’s, which would have been the appropriate sound in the word.
Oh Reuben… So you will recall that Reuben tried to bring mandrakes to help his Mom, Leah, find favor with the then Jacob. We can see that he likely remained hyper aware of his mother’s lesser status in Israel’s eyes and no doubt hoped she would find favor once Rachel had passed away.
However, Rachel’s handmaiden Bilhah was available as a person that Israel might choose to take as a wife. In sleeping with her, Reuben ruined this prospect, as it would have been degrading and humiliating to Israel to take a woman who had been with another man as his wife. We see in Genesis 35:22 that Reuben made sure Israel knew what had happened as well. This was a direct slap in the face of his father and would have no doubt been seen as a challenge to his authority.
We will see where this leads Reuben when Israel takes away his right as firstborn and calls out his character in Genesis 49:1-4
Reuben, you done messed in your chili bowl.
Chapter 36 focuses on the descendants of Esau, the Edomites.
- Esau’s children were born inside the borders of the promised land while Israel’s children were all born outside of the borders of the promised land (Addendum: with the noted possible exception of Benjamin, who was born in between Bethel and Ephrath Gen 35:16-20)
- However, Esau moved his family outside of the promised land and Israel moved his family into the promised land.
There is a lot of symbolism here and I could spend all day going into it but I’d rather it be revealed to you on your own as we continue to read through YHWH’s word and the big picture continues to take shape.
Esau’s grandson, Amalek makes his first appearance in scripture here. He will go on to be one of the earlier enemies of the nation of Israel, so remember that name when we read about the tribe of Amalek in Exodus.
Genesis 37:4 Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of him and harbored so much hatred for him due to his obvious favor in the eyes of their father that they couldn’t even bring themselves to say a kind word to him or speak to him in any manner embodying peace. He obviously didn’t help matters any by relaying his dream.
However, if we look at this in hindsight, YHWH had a greater plan and it involved dividing and separating His appointed servant for a greater purpose.
Keep in mind how difficult these trials must have been for Joseph.
Keep in mind that the Father sees and knows the bigger picture.
Remember all of this next time you are going through a particularly difficult time and when you remember this, turn your eyes to Him.
Genesis 37:35 “Sheol” originally meant the grave and as you can see in this context that definition makes sense. Over time it has been translated to underworld.
SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED AND THE STORY IS JUST BEGINNING!
How can people let their Bibles gather dust when all of this is inside?
Check out my coffee chat below, recorded at this point in the Bible study in 2022:
Test everything, hold tight to what is good. ~1 Thess 5:21
And May YHWH Bless the reading of His word!