As we begin a new week, we also begin a new portion. Believe it or not, we’re already up to Parashah 10, Mikketz which means “at the end.” Being at Portion 10 also means I’ve been at this for 9 weeks now. For me, that’s a record as far as dedication to a writing task goes, so I’m happy with my efforts even though some days I felt like I wrote a bit shallow due to difficulty in either the subject matter or my available time. At the same time, this is the first time I have attempted to do NaNoWriMo and participated without winning. That makes me feel kinda down, but I am happy that given the choice between sharing fiction and sharing my heart, I stayed faithful to sharing my heart by keeping up this blog even when I couldn’t work on my novel. Thank you to those who come to visit me faithfully and who understand the struggles of writing in spite of all else that life requires.
So, that brings us to today’s part of the portion. We’re reading Genesis 41:1 through Genesis 41:14 where the dreamer this time is Pharaoh. It’s about two years after the last part of Joseph’s story where he correctly interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer. Pharoah falls asleep and sees the Nile River and cows are coming up out of it. A total of seven cows come out of the river, and they are all fat and healthy. They walk out and begin to eat the grass on the shore. But then, another seven cows come up out of the river, and they are sickly and thin. They devour the seven healthy cows, and then Pharaoh wakes up. When Pharaoh falls back to sleep, he dreams again. This time, he sees seven full and ripe ears of corn grow from one stalk. After they grow, seven thin ears that look like they’ve been devastated by a storm grow from the same stalk and devour the seven good ears.
When Pharaoh wakes up fully from his sleep, his dreams have him feeling totally out of sorts. I’ve had those kinds of dreams and restless nights, and it makes you sort of feel like you go through your day with your head disconnected from your body. It’s an awful feeling for me, and I’m sure it was an awful feeling for Pharoah. Even with all that power, he couldn’t control that. What he could control was that he had dream-interpreters to consult, so he called every magician in the kingdom trying to get an understanding of his crazy dreams. But no one could help him.
Now the cupbearer realizes what he has forgotten and feels bad about it. He goes to Pharaoh and tells him about this young man in the prison who was able to correctly interpret the dreams of him and his bunk mate. Pharoah requests the man be brought to him to see if he can interpret his dreams. Scripture says that they brought Joseph quickly from the dungeon, and Joseph changes his clothes and shaved to prepare himself. This portion ends with them bringing Joseph before Pharaoh.
What amazes me in this story is God’s timing and Joseph’s faith. God knew exactly when to give the dreams to Pharaoh, and Joseph trusted this was something from God because he prepared himself to life outside the dungeon by changing into clean clothes and shaving. Joseph was still blessed in the midst of a dungeon, and he never gave up on God’s deliverance. So many of us would feel rejected and forgotten by God if we were in the same situation, and many of our Christian friends might even accuse us of sin or of lacking in faith because of what they see us going through. But all of that would be basing things on our timing and our own human understanding. But God’s thoughts and ways are above our own, and we are told that with Him, ALL things are possible. It doesn’t say that all things will LOOK possible, but that they ARE possible. That means they are possible when they look impossible. If only we could all look at the future instead of whatever dungeon life has us going through now. That should give us strength to make it through until God’s will leads us in a new direction in God’s time.
I don’t know if there are different colors of flowers in the “Forget Me Not” family, but I thought blue was an appropriate color to represent how it feels to be forgotten by someone you really wanted to remember you. There are times when being forgotten is just a thing of time and distance, but there are times when whatever transpired between you and someone else leaves a permanent etching on your heart, and you hope it has done the same for the other person. The rejection of finding out you have been forgotten can be heartbreaking.
Since this is the last section for this week’s portion, I bid you Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath Peace), and may you find rest in God today and always. Our reading today is a whole chapter; Genesis 40:1 through Genesis 40:23, and in this reading, Joseph is still in prison, but now he has some new roommates. Pharoah’s chief baker and his chief cupbearer have both somehow offended Pharoah and are sentenced to time in the same prison as Joseph. Joseph is the one in charge of them.
When Joseph comes to get the men one morning, he finds both men looking rather sad. As it turns out, they have both had dreams that left them confused as to their meanings. Joseph tells the men that interpretations belong to God, and that if they’ll share what they have dreamt, he will interpret for them.
The cupbearer had dreams of vines that grew in three days and of pressing the juice into the Pharaoh’s cup, so Joseph tells him that he will be restored as the royal cupbearer. He then asks the man to not forget him when he is restored, but to let Pharaoh know that he is innocent of all charges and does not belong in prison. Then, because the interpretation for the cupbearer was good, the baker shared his dream about baskets of bread on his head and birds eating them. Joseph told him it meant he would be hanged and that birds would eat his flesh. Yikes! I’ll bet he was sorry he asked.
Both of Joseph’s interpretations from the Lord came true for the men, but the cupbearer was so lost in the happiness of being returned to his position instead of being hanged that he completely forgot about Joseph. And we will have to wait for the next portion to find out just what it takes to get Joseph out of the dungeon where he has been forgotten and abandoned once again.
The sad thing in this story is that Joseph experienced what Our Loving Creator and Savior has too often experienced. How many of us have made promises to Him about things we would do “if only” He would do some special thing for us. And then, when we have received what we so desperately wanted, we get so lost in the joy of the gift that we forget to go back to our promises to The Giver. It’s the reason God had to keep reminding Israel, “Forget me not for all my benefits.” I think we have all experienced this, so next time you feel forgotten as a giver, let it remind you to never forget that God is your ultimate provider and giver, and that it is an honor to praise and lift Him up for all His providence.
First, before I get into today’s Torah commentary, let me pass along a blessing to you that your Thanksgiving providence will be with you throughout the next year, and that you will always know and trust Yahveh Almighty as your Creator and Provider. I had a wonderful day with friends and family (and food, of course) at Joe Huber Family Farm and Restaurant. I still feel stuffed, and I didn’t even eat any stuffing because I’m a potato person. Stovetop Stuffing never would have used me in their stuffing vs. potatoes commercials. Comment if you remember those though, and tell me how you would vote.
Okay, so on to today’s reading from Genesis 39:7 through Genesis 39:23–the end of the chapter. I actually think this should have included verse 6 where it talked about Joseph being a good-looking man since that’s where everything in today’s reading branches off from. Potiphar’s wife noticed him and asked him over and over to sleep with her. Now, I don’t know if it counts when it’s the boss’s wife, but this was most certainly a case of sexual harassment. It got so bad that Joseph did everything he could to stay away from her.
One day, none of the other employees were in the house, and Joseph had to go in to do his day’s work. But Mrs. Potiphar was there, and she set in after Joseph again. This time, however, she became hands-on with him. He told her that it would not only be a violation of the trust her husband placed in him, but it would also be a sin against God for him to sleep with her. Finally, to get away, he had to take off his robe and leave it in her hands. Unfortunately, this gave her the perfect tool for revenge against Joseph for his rejection of her.
Mrs. Potiphar set Joseph up by screaming until she got the attention of others and then telling the story that Joseph tried to rape her and that she took his robe when he ran away due to her screaming. Her husband believed her and had Joseph locked away where the king’s prisoners were kept. I’m guessing it was much like some of our minimum-security prisons now because the warden paid little attention to Joseph and pretty much let him have his freedom there. Eventually, even the warden saw that God was with the man and gave him reign over the other prisoners.
Yahveh was with Joseph even in his imprisonment, and His presence was noticeable even to others. I believe God knew the heart of Potiphar’s wife, and He used her predator personality to put Joseph in a situation where He could bring about a blessing that would change the world for Joseph and many others. Somehow, through it all, we are not reading that Joseph fought for his innocence, his personal rights, justice, or his desire to be treated fairly. Somehow, I’m guessing the presence of his God was enough for him, and maybe God was even comforting him by letting him know that all would work toward a good end. I wrestle with the need for balance, justice, and equity in my life, but Joseph found his in The Lord. I’ll file this in my lessons to take to heart. How about you?
P.S. Here’s another ApologetiX video that encapsulates the life of Joseph–including today’s story portion. It’s called “Somebody Sold Me” and it is a parody of the song “Somebody Told Me” by The Killers…
Today’s reading from Genesis 39:1 through Genesis 39:6 appears to be one of the shortest yet at only six verses. But it covers an important turn of events in the life of Joseph and in the future of the house of Israel. While Joseph’s brothers considered him long gone and forgotten, Yahveh was watching over their brother and making plans they could never have imagined might become quite important to them one day.
The Ishmaelites who had purchased Joseph from the brothers carried him to Egypt and re-sold him. The man who bought him, named Potiphar, was an officer of the Pharoah and captain of the guard. One translation says he was the chief in charge of executions. Okay, so that’s not a boss you want to make angry, right? But, of course, because of the blessings of God, Joseph not only did not make his new boss angry, he greatly impressed him. Potiphar did not take long to see that everything in his care prospered because of Joseph.
When Potiphar realized that God was with Joseph and caused all he did to be blessed, he put him in charge of all his possessions. The brother who was a nobody and sold as a slave was still a slave, but suddenly he was more than a slave. Joseph became a somebody in charge of all his master’s goods and all that was in his care. The text says that Potiphar never even had to worry about anything with Joseph in charge, so he thought nothing of any of his affairs except what he had to eat. The text ends with a simple statement about Joseph being handsome and well-built.
Now, imagine hiring an employee like a maid, secretary, cook, etc., and suddenly having your household increase and prosper. Most people put out ‘nanny-cams” to make sure those in their employ are not stealing from them or snooping in areas where they don’t belong. I don’t think there are many who find themselves becoming more prosperous for the sake of their employees, especially these days when it’s even hard to find someone who has the ethic to make an effort to work every minute for which they are paid. So, we would surely notice if everything around that new person increased abundantly.
I imagine most of us would be trying to figure what that person was doing right to bring all that good into his or her life. I also imagine that we would be following the person around and hoping that at least some of that might rub off on us. If we found that it was not luck but rather the blessings of The Creator of the Universe, I would hope we would all be seeking Him because of the example set before us. And for those of us who are the employees and servants of others, I hope we can bring visible blessings to those we serve that God would be glorified and uplifted by the blessings we share with others.
The story from today’s reading in Genesis 38:1-30 (the entire chapter) is all about Judah. Since our Messiah is The Lion of the tribe of Judah, it would seem he should be the son whose offspring naturally lead toward the aspects from which would come a king. Unfortunately, it does not come out that way.
First, even though he prevented murder, Judah participated in the sale of his brother as a slave. Then, he went to another country and married a foreign girl (which generally meant the worship of false gods in the family). He had three boys, and two of the three were evil in the sight of the Lord.
We’re not told what the evil was in the life of the eldest, but we are told that God took his life. After he died, Judah sent the next brother to the widowed wife and asked that he raise up children to his brother to keep his lineage. The younger sibling did not want to create children that he could not call his own, so he practiced birth control and prevented the pregnancy. The disobedience was evil in the site of God, so He killed that brother as well.
A little note here: This is the Scripture often cited incorrectly as “It is better to spill your seed in the belly of a whore than to waste it on the ground.” No such Scripture actually exists in any texts we know of today, but similar statements have been made in scholarly texts. Just an FYI for those who have heard it and wondered if it was something actually in the Bible. I believe the sin here was in the disobedience of the father and in the disrespect and dishonor of the brother.
As the story goes on, Judah tells the widow Tamar to go back to her parents and live as a widow until his youngest son grows up enough to father children with her. But then Judah is so afraid that son might die as well that he never sends him. Finally, the woman takes off her widow’s clothes, dresses like a prostitute, and covers her face so she is not recognizable. Judah finds her and thinks she is a prostitute, so he gets her pregnant. But she is smart and makes sure to take something of his to show who is the father of her child. Later, when the order is given for her to be killed, she displays the items and he realizes what happened. He calls her more righteous than him because of his broken promise to her in not sending the younger son.
The last paragraph tells the story of the twins she delivered. This is the story where the first boy stuck out his hand and a midwife tied a scarlet string on it just before he pulled it back in. The other son was born and then the one with the ribbon, but the second born was considered the first because of putting out his hand.
The human foibles I’m reading here shows me just how weak we are and how God can bring strength out of weakness. It even explains to me why Yahshua selected disciples mostly from a band of misfits. And of course, that gives me hope in His ability to use this misfit, and any of the rest of you who have ever felt unqualified to be whatever He has called you to be. I’m sure as the story continues, we will see more craziness, but I am certain from what we’ve read already that this tribe was in desperate need of a King and a Messiah. We all need Him.
Or maybe the title could be Cistern and Brethren. There were no sisters in today’s reading from Genesis 37:23 through Genesis 37:36–the end of the chapter. But there were plenty of brothers. There were many evil brothers, and there were brothers who each in their own way tried to stave off the evil of murder. If you’ll remember from yesterday, Reuben suggested dropping Joseph in the cistern instead of killing him. Today, Judah suggested that instead of killing him, they should sell him to a band of Ishmaelites headed to Egypt. He told them it wasn’t right to kill someone who was a brother, and they agreed.
But when Reuben came back to rescue Joseph, he found that Joseph was no longer in the cistern, and he tore his clothes. He returned to where his brothers were having dinner and said, “The boy isn’t there. Now where can I go?” I don’t know if this gave away that he was going to rescue him or not, but their solution was to dip the robe they tore off him (a definite sign of their jealousy of the relationship he had with their father) into goat’s blood and present it to their father. They asked the father to identify if the robe belonged to Joseph, and I’m guessing they knew it would lead to the conclusion he drew–that his son was torn to pieces and eaten by a wild animal.
I doubt the brothers even thought about the effect of their selfish act on their father. Scripture says he mourned so deeply that he refused to be comforted. It says all his children tried to comfort him, but he told them he would go to his grave in mourning. Getting him out of the way did not get them any closer to their father and may even have caused even more of a division as he pushed them away.
The way things went between the brothers and their father reminds me of the quote… Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours glow any brighter. When I first saw it, I was preparing a church bulletin, and I found it in a book of clip art. It was accompanied by a drawing of a person holding a candle behind his back while blowing on the candle of someone else. The idea that it would not glow any brighter behind his back, or in effect “under a bushel,” seemed to make it more impactful. We do not make ourselves look better by making someone else look worse, and it hides our true light under a bushel of deception and manipulation. I guess it’s too bad those brothers didn’t have a book of virtues, or clip art, or some little instruction book to look at, but at least their bad decisions were recorded for us to learn from.
As I am not home yet, and won’t be waiting long enough to do a whole post, I am waiting to complete this but posting to let people know that I am trying to stay faithful as much as possible. What will be funny is if I go to read today’s Scripture, and out turns out to be related to the title. We shall see. In the meantime, thanks for waiting with me. 🙂
So, I’m home, but as it’s not quite expedient for me to use my laptop tonight, I’m sticking with the phablet (phone/tablet hybrid), meaning I’ll try to keep it short.
The reading is from Genesis 37:12 through Genesis 37:22. It tells of Joseph’s journey to help Hoff brothers tend sheep and finding them instead in the city. They talked amongst themselves about how they could kill “the dreamer” and make it look like he fell down a cistern. I’m guessing they knew he would tattle on them in addition to their general jealousy.
While they were plotting, Reuben suggested other ways to deal with him that would not have them shed blood. He told them to just put him in the cistern where he couldn’t escape. Reuben was actually planning to come back and get him later.
And that’s where today’s reading ends. But I can tie it to waiting & being faithful since the jealousy & troubles that Joseph was facing were all a part of how God planned to use him to save His people. Right at that point, it might have seemed God was choosing not to intervene, but we know He is faithful and already had plans to turn ask their evil plans to good. Thankfully, that faithful plan began with a brother who had a loving heart and a desire to protect Joseph.
If you ever find yourself helping, and it doesn’t appear that your deeds are bearing fruit, consider this story and trust that God is working behind the scenes even when it seems He is waiting because you don’t see Him.
This is the beginning of another full portion for the week. As of Saturday as Sundown, we are in Parashah 9: Vayeshev (meaning “He continued Living”) and includes text from Genesis 37:1 through Genesis 40:23. Today’s portion comes from Genesis 37:1 through Genesis 37:11 and tells about Jacob/Israel in the land of Canaan and then goes right into the story of Joseph.
So Joseph seemed to have a penchant for making people angry with him. First of all, they already had reason to find fault with him out of jealousy because they knew their father loved him the most. The Scripture says it was because he was the son of his old age, but I’m pretty certain Jacob’s love for him was greater due to his Jacob’s greater love for Rachel. And if the love itself wasn’t enough to make all the other brothers jealous, then there was the infamous “coat of many colors.” In one text I read, their theory was that the coat was a prayer shawl with the family lineage sewn in, but I can’t be sure.
So then, at seventeen years old (which the Scripture says is still just a boy) Joseph was out in the field helping to care for the sheep. While there, he was working with his father’s servant girls, and he brought a bad report about them to his father. After that, and maybe because he was feeling so confident in his father’s love, he started this habit of telling his brothers about dreams that didn’t make them look so good. in the first of these dreams, he said they were all out in the field bundling wheat when his wheat stood up on its own, and their bundles bowed down before his. Of course they teased him with saying things like how great a king he would be while he bossed all of them around. He did a similar thing when he told them about a dream where even the sun, moon, and stars bowed down before him. Even his father didn’t like the idea of hearing how he might bow before his son, but at least he took it to heart.
So, a very good friend of mine once taught me well on the meaning behind casting our pearls before swine. Or, as I listed in the title, trying to feed pearls to pigs. She said that God gives us special treasures. Sometimes they are dreams and visions. Sometimes they are simple truths. Sometimes they are deep revelations and truths. But always, we should not share every single thing He shares with us just because we know it to be true. We must wait for God to direct us to share our treasure. If we don’t wait, it can end up becoming a situation where whoever we share it with shows our treasure little to no value and, in a way, dirties or trashes what was once a special treasure.
See, pigs would see no value in pearls since they will basically eat anything. They would not look at pearls as pearls–if they ate them at all. They would not see anything as treasure but only more slop. If we want our special moments and revelations to remain special, we must be careful to reveal the treasures we hold in our hearts, especially the ones we have received from our Creator, only to those who God directs. Though Joseph had wonderful visions of the future, his brothers did not treasure his dreams and only devalued them by teasing and taunting him. What God reveals to us should never be hidden under a bushel, but it must be shown to the right people at the right time. As it says in Proverbs 25:11, a good word spoken in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
This is one of those readings where it’s pretty much genealogy, so I was trying to find a fun way to say that. Thus, the play on the song title, and an image of an elaborate throne by Flickr user Cliff1066. And today’s reading spans Genesis 36:20 to Genesis 36:43.
I don’t have a lot to say about today’s reading, except that it’s got a few interesting parts where people became kings by dethroning other kings–sometimes by birth order and sometimes by murder. Oh, and one guy discovered some hot springs while taking care of his father’s goats.
Okay, so that last part was a bit more interesting, but mostly because I just got back from a stay at French Lick Springs Villa where I learned some stuff about hot springs and the restoration of the resorts built around the villa. Next time I go for a stay of any length, I hope to actually be able to spend some time in one of the hot springs spa treatments because then I will know if they really make you feel that much better. If you have experienced a dip in a hot spring, please share your experience.
Today’s reading is a bit of a long one from Genesis 35:12 through Genesis 36:19, but the bulk of the story is in chapter 35 with 36 being mostly the genealogies of Esau. Before that point, though, we read about Jacob’s travels after meeting with God again at Bethel. While they were traveling toward Bethlehem, Rachel went into labor and had a very hard time delivering. As she was giving birth, she named the child Ben Oni for “Son of my Pain”. And then she died during the birth.
Instead of the negative name, Jacob (who knew the power of names) named his son Benjamin instead which means “Son of the Right Hand” or “Son of the South.” He then buried Rachel in Bethlehem and set up a memorial stone on her grave. That site is the place of her memorial and grave to this day, according to Scripture, and I think it may actually still be there as of this writing.
It is just after this event with Rachel that we read of a sudden change of reference from Jacob to Israel. Even though he had been given the name change and had the name restated by God in a second meeting, Scripture was still referring to him as Jacob until this point. I don’t know if the change had to do with the birth of his last son, the death of the love of his life (who may have always called him “Jacob,”), or the death of his father, Isaac, who was buried by him and Esau as part of today’s reading. But from this point on, it appears he is always called by the name that represents him as one who prevails with God. For everything he has been through, that is actually a huge statement.
Now, before I totally finish up here, I want to share another piece of ApologetiX fun. (Can you tell how much I like this band?) The video below is a parody of “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynard Skynard. It is called “Sweet Oholibamah” which is the name of one of Esau’s daughters. I tried to find a video with lyrics but was unable, but there may be some lyrics on the ApologetiX website.
Today’s reading has some pretty sensitive topics, but it’s still a part of biblical history, so we will trudge on together. Our complete reading is from Genesis 34:1 through Genesis 35:11, and it begins with the story of a man, Hamor the Hivite, who has fallen in love with Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob. Now, Hamor’s son, Shechem, was also in love with Dinah and demanded that his father go get her for him.
Before Shechem shared his intentions with his father, Hamor apparently tried to win Dinah’s affections and did not succeed, so he raped and humiliated her. And then I’m wondering if maybe he thought he could hide the situation is why he was willing to go to Jacob to ask for Dinah’s hand. But Jacob knew what had happened to Dinah, though since his sons were not available, he held his tongue. When Simeon and Levi, the sons of Jacob, came in, Jacob told them the situation, and they made plans for payback.
hen Hamor offered the women of his village in exchange for the women of Jacob’s people, the boys told them they would accept the offer only if all their men would become circumcised as the men in Jacob’s family were. When Hamor brought the news to his men, he told them he thought it was a good idea because the intermarriage of the families would mean they would inherit all the riches of Jacob’s people. Both camps, it seems, circumcised the importance of truth from their lives and communications.
Finally, when Hamor’s people got circumcised physically, the sons of Jacob waited about three days until the men were in excruciating pain. Then, they took advantage of the pain and weakness of the men and attacked and killed them. After they did this, the rest of Jacob’s people and servants plundered the Hivites and took their cattle and possessions. But Jacob was angry with them and told them it was going to cause all the other people around, such as the Canaanites and Perizzites, to join forces and attack him.
God came to Jacob and told him to go back to Bethel and make his home there and to build an altar at the place where he first met God. Jacob told his people to get rid of all their false gods (I’m amazed that he knew they had them and didn’t make them get rid of them before) and to get ready to travel to Bethel. As they traveled, God put a fear on all the people of the lands they passed through so they would not harm Jacob or his people. Finally, Jacob built the altar God told him to build, and God met him once more. This time, he said he would not only be named Israel, but from that point on should also be called Israel.
In Chapter 35, verse 11, (in the Amplified Bible) we read, “And God said to him, I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you and kings shall be born of your stock.” What a promise from a God to His people–even after they had failed to put Him first in their worship and their behaviors. I think I’ve said before how I didn’t think God showed mercy in the Old Testament, but this is one of those wonderful stories that shows He truly did show mercy in wonderful ways since the beginning. And I imagine that we only know a piece of it with this recorded history, but I’m so thankful for what He has revealed to us.
Yesterday, we saw formerly feuding brothers reunited out in the midst of the desert. Today we read from Genesis 33:6 through Genesis 33:20, the end of the chapter. And today, we see the women and the children that have caught up to Jacob, and all of them bow down before Esau. After introductions, Esau asks the meaning of all the droves that were sent first before Jacob and his family. Jacob tells him he sent the droves to find favor with him, and Esau answers that he has plenty and that Jacob is okay to keep his possessions. Jacob then asks Esau to take the gifts if he (Jacob) has found favor with him. So he does.
After the family reunion, Esau suggests they break camp and all head back home together. Jacob suggests that Esau go first, and then says that he will walk slowly with the small children and nursing cattle, so no lives will be lost. Esau agrees, and even offers to leave some of his people with Jacob to help him. Jacob stays for a while and builds himself a house and builds shelters for his cattle. That’s when he named that place “Sukkot” which means shelters.
After Jacob traveled on farther, he camped outside the city of Canaan. While there, he bought a parcel of land on which to pitch his tent, and in addition to his tent, he also built an altar for God. At the altar, he named the place El Elohei Israel meaning “God, The God of Israel.”
The way today’s reading ends shows miraculous hope and change. Jacob, the supplanter who originally talked to his father’s and grandfather’s God like he was a stranger to him, is now Israel who claims that this same God is His God–The God of Israel. I think I may try to approach God in this way myself, looking to Him and calling Him “The God of Crystal.” I think it will personalize things and remind me just whose child I am. Let me know if you try it and how it makes you feel about your relationship with Him.
Today we get to see what Jacob will do differently after meeting God face to face. It’s a short reading from Genesis 32:31 through Genesis 33:5, and it starts out with Jacob naming the place of his wrestling Peniel meaning “The Face of God.” He so named it because he had met Yahveh Almighty face to face and lived to tell about it.
But something more than Jacob’s name changed during his encounter; something even more than the limp he walked away with from the touch to his hip muscle. As we continue in the reading, we find Jacob setting out again toward his brother, Esau, knowing that he was still going to meet both him and the 400 men he had with him. But where Jacob was previously hiding behind all the other groups, now we see Jacob pushing his wives and slave girls and children behind him and racing in front of them despite the possibility of dangerous consequences. Jacob had somehow gained confidence, and it would seem he trusted God to answer his prayer to be reunited with his brother as family instead of as an enemy.
When Jacob saw Esau, he fell on the ground and bowed before him. When Esau saw Jacob, he ran to him and hugged him and wept on his neck. They were more than reunited, they were united like they had never been since birth, and maybe even since growing together in Rebekah’s womb. And when Esau asked about the women and children who were walking behind his brother, Jacob humbly acknowledged that they were gifts of God. In the Complete Jewish Bible, Jacob answered, “The children God has graciously given to your servant.” Jacob was truly no longer a supplanter, but was happy to see Esau as not only his brother, but as his older brother to whom he owed respect.
P.S. NaNo has been slow going of late, but I am at 24,319. Also, I just remembered today about a video by ApologetiX that uses the song “Takin’ Care of Business” and turns it into “Jacob’s Name is Israel.” I’ll be adding it to yesterday’s blog after I post today’s.
As we continue into today’s reading from Genesis 32:14 through Genesis 32:30, we read the rest of Jacob’s plan for meeting with Esau and trying to appease his anger. He chooses a bunch of animals and then puts them into groups heading toward Esau. He tells the men who head up each group of animals to tell Esau that they are a gift for him and that Jacob is nearby in the next group. Jacob’s intention is to watch and then move backward a group at a time until he is sure Esau will accept him without killing him. At the same time, he sends his two wives, two slave girls, and his eleven children across a stream with his possessions.
With the gifts in front of him and his family across the stream, Jacob is alone for the night. Suddenly there was a man wrestling with him. Jacob refused to give up and continued to wrestle until morning. Scripture says that when it appeared the man would not prevail against Jacob, He touched him in his hip socket so that his hip was dislocated as he wrestled. And then Jacob said the words that gave away that he knew exactly who he was wrestling with. The man had asked Jacob to let him go because it was morning, but Jacob said to Him, “I won’t let You go until You bless me.”
Now, I love what God does here. He asks Jacob what his name is. Remember way back when Jacob was born, when Jacob stole the birthright, and when Jacob deceived his father? In all those things, Jacob lived up to the meaning of his name; supplanter. He tried to come out first, he stole the birthright, and he falsely gained his father’s blessing. Esau even pointed out how the name was fitting for him. Now God is asking Jacob to admit that he is as his name, one who steals what he wants–one who wrestles for his blessings. Like the first of the “12 Steps” in Alcoholics Anonymous (and related programs), God is telling Jacob that He will not bless him until he admits who and what he is. It works the same in repentance when we finally admit that we are sinners in need of God’s salvation. And I am certain I am not the only one who has wrestled to get to that point, but it is worth the wrestling if you fight until you subdue the flesh and press through to obtain God’s blessing. Paul mentions in Philippians 3 that he is pressing on and forward to a goal of something that lies ahead of what he has now. It’s a finish line where everyone who crosses, and not just the first one, is a winner.
So, after he said his name was Jacob, everything changed for him. After we admit we are in need of God (and not just at our first repentance but each time we wrestle with something that we need to let go of), everything can change for us as well. AFTER Jacob confessed the absence of God in his efforts and admitted that he was trying to do everything on his own, THEN God not only blessed him, but his blessing came with a name change. God changed the name of Jacob (supplanter) to the name of Israel (wrestled/contended with God). He put His title, EL, right into Jacob’s new name. Jacob was no longer one who had to steal positions and possessions or birthrights and blessings. He was now one who was blessed of God because He sought God’s blessing face to face.
Today we begin a new portion: Parashah (portion) 8, the Hebrew “Vayishlach” meaning He Sent. It runs from Genesis 32:4 to Genesis 36:43, but today’s reading is simply from Genesis 32:4 through Genesis 32:13. Jacob is on his way back to the home of his birth in obedience to what God directed. He knows Esau still lives there, and he is sure Esau is still angry, so he sends men ahead of him to let Esau know that he is coming to him with gifts of cattle and flocks as a peace agreement.
The men came back and told Jacob that Esau was coming out to meet him, but they also said he was bringing 400 men with him. This made Jacob fearful and distressed, so Jacob created a two-fold solution. First, Jacob split his people and possessions into two camps. This way, he said, if Esau comes to destroy a camp, one camp of people will still get out alive. That was good preparation, but the second solution was the best.
Jacob prayed a beautiful prayer to God. He first reminded God that it was His idea for Jacob to return, so he showed he was being faithful. He then showed humility and thankfulness by telling God that he knew he was not worthy of the love and faithfulness He had shown him since he first crossed the Jordan with nothing but the staff in his hand. And then he asked God to please deliver him from the wrath of Esau and to keep His promise to make his seed abundant. He even repeated God’s promise to him and to Abraham and Isaac as it had been given to them by God.
I believe that prayer showed a relationship with God that was built on more than just a “gimme” game. I love the faithfulness, thankfulness, humility, and praise that came before the requests. And as we continue into this portion, we will see the wonderful things God did as a result of that prayer.
This post will be kind of short and fast because I had a rather difficult time getting connected to the internet–even from my phone. But I think I’ve got something now, so we’ll see what I can do. The reading today is from Genesis 31:43 through Genesis 32:3, and it continues on with yesterday’s story where Laban met with Jacob after chasing him down because he thought someone had his gods.
Well, today, he is trying to say that everything Jacob has belongs to him–including his daughters and cattle. But I think he’s saying it more like a protective daddy since after saying it, he makes a suggestion that he and Jacob make a commitment about caring for his daughters. They set up stones to represent the place of the deal. Laban gives it an Aramaic name, and Jacob gives it a Hebrew name. But one meaning for the place is also The Watchtower.
As part of the deal, Laban says his gods will watch him, and Jacob’s God will watch him. He then tells Jacob that if he hurts his daughters, God will be watching out. Later, as Jacob continues on his journey, he sees angels in the camp and declares it as God’s camp. He then gives it another name; Machanayim–meaning two camps.
In closing this, I’ll just say that I think we all live in two camps, and I believe that angels camp near us often. I also believe that God watches us, though not from a distance as the song declares. I’m thankful that even in unfair situations like Jacob went through, God can bring truth and His presence into the situation.
Think Elton John & Kiki Dee singing, (but with slightly different lyrics)…
Don’t go takin’ my gods, I won’t go takin’ your gods; And Jacob I looked in your tent now; Tell me what did you see?
And, as we read in Genesis 31:17 through Genesis 31:42, when Jacob took off from Laban’s house unannounced, he took the wives he had worked for plus all his children and livestock, and Rachel took Laban’s gods. Laban was apparently pretty ticked off, so he pursued Jacob and his caravan but before he caught up with them, Yahveh Almighty sent him a dream not to say anything to Jacob good or bad. Well, Laban didn’t exactly obey, but he did believe God enough to not bring harm to Jacob. He did, however, decide that he should search through all of their belongings to see if he could find his gods.
Jacob was so sure that no one in their party took the gods that he said whoever had them could be put to death. I’m guessing this scared Rachel pretty good, so she sat on the saddle bag where they were hidden and said she couldn’t move because it was her time of the month. It kept Laban from searching, so it kept her from being found as a thief.
So I was trying to think of a good title for this, and I suddenly imagined Laban and Jacob arguing to the sound of Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart. I think I mentioned a few days ago how much I like parody. But as funny as that is, as I continued to write, I suddenly realized how some people rewrite God and His creation into their very own parody. Like Laban, they have seen the mighty works and wonders of The One and Only God, but somehow they look for concrete and touchable things to prove what they have seen, so they make stone gods in parody of The Real God who is unseen. In today’s day and age, they worship the creation instead of The Creator, and parody the real power of The Almighty with a false worship of gifts and miracles and, worst of all, men.
It’s a parody because it’s a play on the real thing without truly being real. It’s a parody because it’s a comedy of errors in not exalting Yahveh Almighty to His rightful status. It’s a parody because of the silliness and foolishness of people thinking they have power that doesn’t belong to them instead of worshiping The One in Whom resides all power. But it’s a parody that is not funny, and it’s one that will end horribly when men go to Jesus with the conversation that is shown in Matthew 7:22-23 (Amplified Bible):
22 Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? 23 And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].
I still love parody, and it thrills me that ApologetiX has figured out how to parody things that were otherwise not of God and turn people’s eyes toward Him. May we never take the wonderful things God has done for us and parody our love for Him by showing love for what He does more than for who He is.
Okay, just a little give away to my age here, I remember when Flip Wilson had his own television show, and when he did a skit as a character named “Geraldine.” I was still pretty young, but as I recall it, Geraldine’s famous line was “What you see is what you get.” In the above video, they switch to the Geraldine doll at 37 seconds and then at about 1:08, you’ll hear the line. I felt the video of the doll was a cuter way to share, but you can always do a search if you want to hear the real skit.
These days, it’s usually abbreviated WYSIWYG and pronounced “wissy-wig,” and it usually relates to something technical. But whether it is about technology or a girl pretending to be unpretentious, it still makes the same basic statement: What you are able to view with your eyes is exactly what you will be able to take home with you. In today’s reading from Genesis 30:28 through Genesis 31:16, we will take a trip back to Bible times when Jacob used the idea of WYSIWYG to make himself rich.
See, his uncle Laban had been gaining off of Jacob’s hard work and genetic providence since he came to visit. He took far more than his fair share, and Jacob knew it was time to take his wives and go home, but he needed some type of inheritance to support them with. When Laban wouldn’t give him a rightful due of livestock, Jacob made a deal with him. He told Laban that he would feed and care for his animals and that when they bred, he would take all those that were streaked, spotted, and speckled. Laban agreed, and then he took away all the streaked, spotted, and speckled animals so that when they bred, there would be less chance of them breeding the ones he promised to Jacob.
Now, Jacob had been given a dream by God. Yahveh told him he saw the unfairness of his uncle and told him exactly what he needed to do to fix things. He advised him to cut branches from poplar trees and peel the bark away until the branches were streaked, spotted, and speckled. He then set the branches up at the feeding troughs since that is where the animals went to mate. Upon breeding, all the babies came out with the designs instead of plain, because they birthed just what they saw as they mated. This meant all the newly born livestock went to Jacob and his family per the agreement with Laban.
When Jacob was ready to go back to his homeland, he ended up going with everything that he had worked for and that rightfully belonged to his wives. God saw the inequality, and God created a way to balance things out. And, yes, Jacob had to listen, he had to obey, and he had to do a little work to help bring that balance, just as we often have to do when God gives us the tools and direction to bring balance into our own lives. We need to pay attention to His direction, and we need pay attention to what we place before our eyes. But if we will turn our eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face, then WYSIWYG will mean wonderful things for us.
P.S. Barely any NaNo words in the last two days (none today), but I hope to make up for them at our upcoming retreat. Sitting now at 22,802 words.
When I read more about Leah today, from Genesis 30:14 through Genesis 30:27, I feel heartbroken for her. She has had four children, she has had two in proxy through her servant girl, but she still feels unloved. When her son collects some mandrakes from the field (thought to be translated from Hebrew meaning “love plant”), Rachael asks Leah if she can have some to help with her infertility. Leah gets upset and accuses Rachael of trying to steal her son as she has done with her husband. So Rachael makes a deal with Leah to exchange some of the fruit for Leah to have her husband back in her bed with her.
After all is said and done, Leah conceives and bares three more children, two boys and girl. She gives Jacob Isaachar (hired/reward), Zebulun (dwelling) and Dinah. When she named Zebulun, she said, “Maybe now that I have given him six children, my husband will live with me.” Finally, after Leah had her three new babies, Rachael finally conceived and gave birth to Joseph meaning “may He add” and hoping this was the end of her infertility and disgrace.
Both of these women had so much pain. Leah was unloved and lonely, and Rachael was infertile and felt rejected by God. But they were sisters. They could have loved each other and been there for each other through everything they went through. Leah could have cared for her sister’s infertility and invited her to help raise her nephews and nieces, but she was so bitter about the fact that her husband really wanted to be with her sister (and had actually married her in ceremony) that she did not care for her sister’s pain. I wonder if she had drawn closer to her sister, would she have felt less lonely? And I wonder if Rachael had cared more for her sister’s inability to change how their husband felt about her, and her inability to change the looks she was born with, would Leah have tried to spend more time with her. It seems that bitterness and envy made both of them lonelier and restricted both of them to lives without love of one kind or other–be it without a husband in the dwelling or without a child to raise.
Hebrews 12:15 talks about the root of bitterness and the torment that comes with it. I think feeling like you are living a life without any love in it would certainly fall under the definition of torment. But since the chapter ends with Jacob finishing his work for Laban and asking to return to his homeland with all his wives and children, maybe there is hope that once they all live together, the sisters can find love for each other again.
SPOILER ALERT! FIRST, read today’s commentary before you watch the video! This is the video I promised I would look for back when I told you this story was upcoming. It’s by my favorite parody group, ApologetiX, and this is their official video for the song, “Downer of a Sister” which is a parody of the song “Chop Suey” by System of a Down. If you would like to read the lyrics and learn more about this amazing band who writes and sings Christian parodies of songs from a variety of genres, visit this song’s lyrics page on their site at http://apologetix.com/music/song.php?freebie=true%20&song_id=383 Once you watch the video, I would love to hear your thoughts about this song, and other ApologetiX songs you may have listened to, in the comments below. Thanks.
Now, today’s reading comes from Genesis 29:18 through Genesis 30:18, and it continues the story of Jacob’s love for Rachael. Jacob loved Rachael so much that when Laban asked him to work for seven years in order to have her as his wife, he worked happily and said the years were like only a few days. And then the wedding and feast were set in order.
On the wedding night, Laban snuck in Leah because she was the first born, and Jacob did not know until the next morning that he had slept with (and therefore married) the wrong sister. He was angry at Laban, but Laban explained it was just the way they did things. He promised he would give him Rachael at the end of the marriage week if Jacob would promise to stay and work for another seven years. He wanted Rachael enough that he agreed to the request.
When he took Rachael as his wife, he was much more in love with her. Yahveh Almighty saw that Leah was unloved, so he made her fertile and Rachael unable to bear children. Leah bore 4 sons to Jacob before she gave birth no more, and each time she was certain that having the children would cause her husband to love her. She named her first three sons Reuben (see, a son), Simeon (God hears), and Levi (companion). But when she had a fourth son, she turned her praise toward God instead of hoping that her husband would love her, so she named him Judah, meaning praise.
Rachael was still infertile, so she gave her handmaiden to Jacob who bore him two more sons, Dan (he judged) and Naphtali (my wrestling). Leah, unfortunately still struggling to feel loved, then gave her own handmaiden to Jacob who also bore him two sons, Gad (fortune) and Asher (happy).
I truly feel compassion for both of these women. I am sad for Leah in feeling unloved, and having plenty of experiences to push her to feeling that way. I wish, for her sake, that she would have been able to have a relationship with God the way people these days are able to, with His Spirit of Comfort able to dwell within us, but somehow, she did know that it was God who was hearing her needs, and that is why she named her children as she did. I think when she named the last one Judah, she was giving praise directly to God, and maybe that’s why the lineage of our Messiah comes through that one.
I also felt bad for Rachael because of being childless. I know that feeling from my own childlessness. I know there is comfort in having children by proxy, and I love the nephews I was privileged to raise for a few years from the depths of my heart–even when they have hurt me. But I also know that there is a part of me that will always wonder what it would have felt like to have known a maternal bond from conception and birth. And yet, as Leah when she had her fourth child, I can still say, I will praise God.
Oh, and just to keep with the NaNo updating, my word count today is 22,731
We know from the past few days that Jacob was on his way to live with Abraham’s family to find a new life away from Esau, and that he made one little detour to talk to God and worship Him. Now, in today’s reading from Genesis 29:1 through Genesis 29:17, he has arrived in his family’s homeland. The first thing he finds is a group of shepherds gathering around a well with a rock covering it up. He asks them why they are not watering the sheep they have with them. They tell him that they are waiting for all the rest of the sheep from all the pastures because the rock is too heavy to move back and forth more than once.
Jacob asked the men what family they were from, and when they told him they were from Haran, he asked them about Laban and was happy to realize he had found his mother’s family. About that time, Rachael showed up with a bunch of sheep to be watered. Jacob got so excited that he kissed her and then rolled away the stone and watered her sheep for her. She took him home to Laban, and all the relatives hugged and kissed each other and were very happy to be united with their own flesh and blood.
Jacob was so excited that he began working for Laban without requesting any kind of pay. Laban let him do so for about a month and then told him that it didn’t seem right to make a relative work that way, so he asked Jacob what his price might be. The chapter doesn’t end with saying what Jacob’s price was, but it does tell us about Laban’s two daughters. It says Leah, the oldest had weak eyes, but Rachael had beautiful features. Guess which kissing cousin Jacob was going to choose?
We are so used to all the ways in which we can communicate these days–be it from landlines, cell phones, computers, letters, or one day plane trips, that many of us at least virtually see our relatives far more often than they did in Bible days. But even with having so many years between family reunions, and being so excited about meeting Jacob, did you notice how easy it was for Laban to start him working and forget that he was a relative and deserved better than that? I guess it’s part of the human condition, and it reminds me of the time when God Himself had to remind his people to not forget Him for all the benefits He showered on them. Since it is the season when many will be gathering with family and friends for various holidays, I pray we will all be thinking of the value each of those people has in our lives, and that we will not forget these values just shortly after our welcoming kisses and hugs.
And that’s the best I could come up with today because my mind is actually on preparations for an upcoming writer’s retreat and then a whole lot of company. If I reread those Scriptures and God gives me something more, I’ll be sure to come back to share. In the meantime, I did get over 2000 words written for my NaNo novel today, so my total stands at 20,830 words.
This is a night where I am thanking God for another way to at least begin my post, and I’ll add that I’m thankful for the Nuance people who created the Swype keyboard since I can type so much faster with it.
So, tonight we begin a new portion since sundown was the beginning of a new week. We are at Parashah 7, called Vayetze and meaning He Went Out. The full portion runs from Genesis 28:10 through 32:3. Our first piece of this week’s portion runs from Genesis 28:10 through the end of the chapter at Genesis 28:22. In it, we read the story of Jacob and His meeting with Yahveh Almighty. We don’t get to see their full conversation yet, but the introduction has some great stuff in it.
Jacob lies down in a field to sleep, and he grabs a rock to make a pillow for himself. As he sleeps, he sees a ladder where angels are making journeys from Heaven to Earth and back. And then it says, “Suddenly, Adonai was standing there next to him.” He reminds Jacob that He is the God of his grandfather and his father, and then He reveals to him that the ground where he’s lying will be given to him and his descendants. He goes on to tell him of future promises like He gave to Abraham and Isaac; that his seed cannot be counted and that all the families of the earth will be blessed because of him and his descendants. And here, from verse 15, is my favorite part (and a part I am holding claim to for my very dear friends Mark & Debbie): “Look, I am with you. I will guard you wherever you go, and I will bring you back into this land, because I won’t leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Do you realize what that means? It means God is telling him that He will NEVER leave him since what He has promised him is untold numbers of generations in his future. It lines up with His promise from Matthew 28:20, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
When Jacob wakes up, he says, “Surely, God is in this place, and I did not realize it.”
Okay, so I have to break here for a minute for a song. I think in songs quite often, and I’m guessing it’s something I picked up from my grandmother who left this world back in 1988, and with whom I shared a birthday for my first 24 years. I heard she had a song for everything. Anyway, this Scripture makes me think about the song that goes…
Surely the presence of The Lord is in this place, I can feel His mighty power and His grace. I can feel the brush of angels wings, I see glory on each face. Surely the presence of The Lord is in this place.
So back to Jacob who declares the place the gateway to Heaven and names it The House of God even though it was originally called “Luz.” He then takes the pillow that he was sleeping on, stands it up, pours oil on it, and makes it into an altar for God. After setting up his altar, he makes a vow that if God will stay with him as a guard and provider, so he can travel in peace back to his father’s house, he will follow Him and will faithfully return ten percent of all God gives him. And that’s where this portion ends, but I have a last thought here.
The word tithe means tenth, so without God asking for it, Jacob has decided it is right to give back to God a tithe from all that God provides for him. This is the 2nd place since Genesis 1:1 where a tithe has been mentioned, and both were something men came up with as a way to say thanks in return for provisions. Later, we will read how that changed with it becoming a portion for the Levites, but I find it interesting that it was originally thought of by men as a type of “thank you” gift. I know the feeling of wanting to give back to someone who has freely given to me, and at that point, a tenth often doesn’t even feel like enough, so I can understand the idea of wanting to give back to God when He has been a faithful and loving provider. I can also understand the resistance of people who don’t want to feel forced into tithing to someone who they do not feel is giving to them and who is demanding that people give to them because they deserve it or because of their position, or whatever. Tithe belongs to God as a gift of thanksgiving, and when I look at it this way, giving feels much better. Actually, everything I look at from God’s perspective feels better.
P.S. Because this was our writer’s meeting day, my NaNo word count went way down. I’m incorporating the story I wrote for our writer’s exercise into my novel for this day just so I can have some kind of word count. My total for today is 18, 749, and that at least keeps me still on track for my personal goal.
Today, we get to the rest of the current sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau. The reading is a very short set of verses from Genesis 28:5 through Genesis 28:9, and it talks about Esau overhearing as Isaac sent Jacob away with blessings and with the order to stay away from the Canaanite women.
So, what does Esau do? While Jacob is obedient to his parents and goes to the home of Laban, the brother of his mother (also known as “uncle” these days), to choose a wife, Esau goes to the house of Ishmael (I think he would have been a great-uncle), and finds a Canaanite wife. The story shows it as if he made that decision to spite his father for sending his brother away with blessings. And in his heart, I’m sure he blamed the need for revenge as the reason for his rebellion. But since he had already been rebellious in the types of wives he had chosen before, I would say the rebellion was already in his heart, and he just needed to justify it.
I’m sure we all have known, or have heard about, people like that. You know, those people who do nothing wrong on their own but only do what other people “make” them do? They make excuses, and they promise to make you pay a price if you confront their bad behaviors. Listen to the songs that try to make people (mostly impressionable youth, I think) feel bad for being snitches. They don’t encourage people not to do the things that could be snitched on, they just encourage others not to tell anyone if they witness a crime. Sure, of course it’s better to let people get away with a crime, so they’ll be free to commit even more crimes in the future, than it is to make them pay a price for their own bad behavior, right? I wonder, if someone had snitched on Trayvon Martin when his crimes were minor, would it have kept him from getting to a point where his defensiveness put him in a position to be killed? Or, did he make a decision, like Esau, and was going to choose lawlessness no matter what? If the latter, then someone coming forward as a witness could have prevented other victims, including the one who now has to live forever with the fact that he took a human life–whether it could be justified or not.
I’m sure I’m not alone in the following: I have become depressed when people blamed me for their mistakes. Because I am a fixer, if I could not fix someone and stop them from doing the wrong thing, then when they blamed me, I took it on like it was the truth. I have done that for years and only recently found at least some relief from that bad habit after reading the following quote (as shown on the image above)… “How people treat you is a reflection of their character, not yours.”
I think that quote is a perfect statement to describe Esau’s attitude in this story. He did already have that bad attitude, and it was likely that no matter what Jacob, Isaac, or Rebekah did, he would have made the same bad decisions until he made a heartfelt decision to get rid of the rebellion and struggle within himself. We can be what God designed us to be only when we keep the conversation between us and God alone. His word promises that if we will commit our works to Him (that is without blame or excuse), our thoughts will be established. Of course, when our thoughts are established, I guess we won’t be thinking about things like revenge anymore, right?
P.S. I was able to get my 2000 words in today and get my count to 18,118, but I hope I can make up for yesterday with a few extra words tomorrow.
Our reading is from Genesis 27:28 through Genesis 28:4, and it tells the rest of the story from the deception that was begun yesterday by Jacob and his mother, Rebekah. Isaac showered great blessings on Jacob, including passing along to him many blessings from Abraham like “those that curse you will be cursed, and those that bless you will be blessed.”
But right after giving him the blessing, Esau showed up with the meat he had hunted for and prepared especially for his father. When Isaac realized what was done to him, he cried out because he could not take back his word even though he was tricked. Esau cried out and said that “supplanter” was a great meaning for the name Jacob because he had stolen from Esau twice. One thing I was apparently wrong about was that the blessing accompanied the birthright. I thought that when Esau gave up his birthright, it meant he was giving up whatever blessing would automatically go to the firstborn, but the way Esau has a fit and claims that Jacob stole both things, apparently they were two different blessings. Of course, I don’t know that Esau would have valued the 2nd any more than he valued the first, so I’m certain God allowed things to happen as they did to keep the blessing in a place of value.
Esau was so angry that he planned to kill Jacob as soon as they were done mourning their father. Rebekah heard him making his plans, so she advised Jacob to go back to his mother’s homeland to hide from Esau. She told him how much she despised the Hittite wives taken by Esau and forbade Jacob from marrying from among them and advised he go get a wife from her brother’s children. So, while Jacob had wonderful blessings from his father, he would be cursed to be in hiding until his brother’s anger waned away. We who know the rest of the story, though, know that even what could have been a curse in his running away will turn out to be a blessing in the end, even though Jacob will have to endure being tricked himself. Oh, and if I don’t remember when I get to that part of the story, someone please remind me to attach a funny video by the band, ApologetiX, that demonstrates that trickery. In the meantime, how about a cute video about Jacob and Esau called “Twins Came Out.”
Finally, at the end of his begging, Isaac did find a blessing for Esau as well. Isaac told Esau that he would reap the fruit of the earth, but that he would be a servant to his brother, and that he would live by the sword. He also told him, though, that a day would come when he would break loose from being his servant and in so doing, would break Jacob’s yoke from off his neck. Knowing what I know about the future of Jacob, I’m not certain that breaking that yoke off is truly a blessing. But, since God has opened the door to bring even Gentiles to His throne of grace, He has made it so that we can all partake of His blessings if we choose Him.
P.S. I was a bit low on word count for NaNo today and wrote only 1400 of my planned 2500 per day. I wrote after I posted this, so I’m having to come back and add this note later. But, you know, if I added all the words I wrote in e-mails to the writing group and comments on blogs to other writers I support, that would’ve made my word count–LOL. Anyway, today’s total is 16,106 so I’m still ahead of schedule for finishing with 50K by the November 30th deadline.
We have a slightly longer reading today from Genesis 26:30 through Genesis 27:27. It begins where yesterday left off with Abimelech spending the night and being blessed by Isaac. They all made a commitment to treating each other with blessings from that point forward, and while they were making the agreement, Isaac’s servants came to report the digging of a new well. Isaac named the well Beersheba, which meant “Well of the Oath.”
The end of Chapter 26 tells us that Esau was now 40 years old, and that he married two women that grieved his parents. Very shortly afterwards, Isaac began to realize that his time on earth was coming to an end, and he knew it was time to pass the blessing of the firstborn to Esau. He asked Esau to go out and hunt for his favorite game and bring it back for him to eat, so he could spend some time with him and give him the blessing that was due him as the firstborn. And, yes, that is the blessing that he gave up for a bowl of stew.
Now, we’re not told if Esau confessed his foolish trade, and we’re never told whether Jacob shared that information with his mother or father, but I’m thinking he at least shared it with Rebekah. And I’m thinking that is why Rebekah decided to use her feminine wiles and have a hand in how the blessings were dispersed. She overheard the plans between Isaac and Esau, so she made secretive plans with Jacob on how to trick his aging father who was almost blind.
In a quick summary, Rebecca had Jacob get some goats from the field, and she prepared them to taste like the game that Esau normally prepared for him. Then, she took the skins from the goats and put them on Jacob’s hands and on his neck. After that, she placed some of Esau’s clothes on him, so he would have the scent of his brother. When Jacob went in to present his father with the food, Isaac thought the voice sounded like Jacob, but through touching his skin and smelling the clothes, Isaac was mostly convinced that he was indeed talking with his eldest son. The rest of the story should be in tomorrow’s reading.
I’m mostly certain that at least some of you readers have had the experience of giving from your heart to someone who was ungrateful and who did not value your gift or gifts. And it’s likely also true that each of you has given to someone who was grateful and made you feel wonderful in your giving. Giving to a grateful receiver is far more enjoyable than giving to a taker or is demanding or thinks he or she deserves what you have to give. Even God makes His salvation to whosoever will because it just feels better to give to someone who humbly receives and values a gift.
I know the plan between Rebekah and Jacob seems a bit unfair to Esau, but I have to wonder if God did not set all this up with allowing Rebecca to hear the plans, with keeping Esau in the field just long enough, and with making sure that the blessings were given to the one whose heart was closest to God. I believe Jacob was closer because of Esau’s lack of respect for the birthright, because of Esau’s marriage that grieved his parents, and because of verse 20 where Jacob, imitating Esau, makes the following statement: Adonai your God made it happen that way. I think this statement shows that Esau did not believe in or respect Yahveh the same as his parents or his brother. And I believe God wanted the birthright blessings that would affect the whole future of Abraham’s descendants to be given to the one who most valued and respected them. We will learn later just what it meant for Jacob to carry the birthright into the future.
P.S. NaNo words today hit 14,888, but I’m running out of story, so I’ll gladly take prayers for some more creative ideas. Thanks.
Today, we have another short reading of only seven verses. This one, from Genesis 26:23 through Genesis 26:29 is all about the blessings of Isaac and the promises God made to him. In verse 24, Yahveh appears to Isaac and lets him know he has nothing to fear because He is the God of his father, and that means He is the God of him. Yahveh reminds Isaac of the blessings He has in store for his future descendants because of the promises He made to Abraham. And at this point, Isaac builds an altar and worships God.
I don’t remember if Scripture tells us that Isaac ever built an altar to God before, and whether it does or not, I don’t know if he did. In trying to look back over the last few weeks, I don’t think he did, so I’m thinking this is beginning of Isaac’s personal relationship with his Creator. But here is what I find truly interesting about this event. When Isaac dealt with Abimelech before, maybe even expecting the king to defend him as he had done his father, Abimelech suggested he leave town. Now, since Isaac has talked with God, Abimelech and the commander of his army have shown up on Isaac’s doorstep to make sure things are right between them.
In verse 28, after Isaac asks them why they would show up after now after sending his family away (and not defending him against the lying herdsmen who were stealing the wells Isaac dug), Abimelech tells him how they want to make sure that Isaac will not treat them badly because they may have sent him away, but they did so in peace. I can just hear them tripping over their own tongues trying to make sure that Isaac will treat them as friends and not as enemies. And in verse 29, they give away the reason they are so concerned about how he will treat them. They say, “You are now the blessed of the Lord.”
Huh, so when they just thought he was the son of one favored by God, they didn’t defend him, and they sent him away. Their blessings toward him were simply to do him no harm. Oh, but now that they know God is in Isaac’s fan club just like He was in Abraham’s fan club, they want to make sure they’re on the right side of the blessed man.
It’s like people who think they’re special because they get the autograph of someone who is famous to others, as if they’ll be sort of famous by osmosis. I think these guys were thinking that if they befriended someone who was blessed by God that they would get blessed by osmosis. And the funny thing is, Abimelech did the same thing to Abraham, right down to asking for the same protection and bringing up how good they treated him. But if folks want to hang around Christians and treat them well to keep themselves out of trouble, at least that means they can see that we are blessed by Him and walking in His presence. After all, God’s word says He will bless a city for the righteous that live there, so I guess it is in people’s’ best interest to get near those who are blessed by God. But I think it’s even better if we can be the blessed and say, “Guess who is in my fan club? Yep, it’s God Almighty!”
And with that I will close with my report on NaNo that I have reached 12,613 words for day #5. And I’m hoping God is in my reading fan club and will help me turn this one into something because I’m liking what my characters are doing now. Oh, and pardon the use of my “punny” picture for this post. I just liked the idea of showing off my fractalized fan to go with the title. 🙂
It wasn’t that many months ago that I had to make a major move after nearly 19 years of living in the same place. Many years ago, and without nearly as much stuff, I remember thinking what so many of us think, I never want to go through this again. Moving is just plain difficult. Well, imagine what it would have been like way back in Old Testament Bible times when moving may not have meant moving as much stuff as we deal with now, but it did mean moving lots of people (family, servants, etc.), and lots of animals. Plus, it meant huge changes to cultures and traditions in the places you wanted to set up house. And many of those we read about had to move many times over. Today’s short reading from Genesis 26:13 through Genesis 26:22 tells of just such a situation.
From the end of yesterday’s reading and into the beginning of today’s reading, we are told that God blessed and prospered Isaac more and more until he became quite rich. And then we find out that the Philistines began to envy him. They went through the land and put dirt in all the wells his father Abraham dug while he was living. So Isaac, trying not to fight, dug new wells. The first one he dug, God revealed a natural spring, so the envious Philistines claimed it as their own.
Okay, to tell you the truth, I’m getting a bit miffed with these guys now. It doesn’t seem right that Isaac is just doing what is right in God’s eyes and receiving a just reward as a result, but these people seem bent on making his life miserable instead. I mean, why couldn’t they have befriended him and shared in his blessings? That seems like common sense to me, but unfortunately, common sense isn’t all that common, and I guess it never has been. And Isaac seemed to have a better attitude than I think most of us would these days. Instead of fighting, he just dug another well.
As we read on, we find that every time Isaac moved down the road and dug another well, these envious men started a fight over it and said it was their well. They didn’t want him to have what had already been dug (meaning they even buried their own blessings by filling in the wells), and then they fought over every new well he dug. At least as the well-digger, he had the right to name the wells, so he named them words that meant fighting and quarreling. Finally, though, he moved again, and this time he dug a well that no one fought over. He named it “Rehoboth” meaning room or wide open spaces and said, “Now the Lord has made room for us, and we will prosper.” The great attitude that Isaac had made me think of the title for this post which comes from the song of the same name. While I haven’t yet seen The Wiz, I have always liked the song. One line in it says, “Don’t you carry nothin’ that might be a load, come on and ease on down, ease on down the road.” I think Isaac did well at not carrying argument, resentment, or his own envy against these men who had set themselves up as his enemies.
One final thought: Maybe our land here in the United States was settled in a similar way. Men got tired of quarreling, so they set off for a new land where they could prosper. They still had to fight for it, whether fighting the original inhabitants, fighting those who wanted them back under their rule, or fighting the land and weather and illness. But they did make it a prosperous place, and they gave God praise for it. Now, we have envious people that want to “stop up our wells” and fight over what we claim through our original Constitution. Many have walked away and just gathered in states with like-minded folks who believe in the same history, but the envious have pushed to take over and take away our rights now in almost every part of our land. Sadly, we are probably going to have to fight another war within our own borders or ease on down the road and hope for another place to build a dream while the ungrateful destroy what our founding fathers built. But we must pray and ask God whether He wants us to fight or move. And when we get His answer, it might just be to wait because He has plans to ease us down the road into the New Heaven and New Earth where we will prosper and where we’ll never have to move again.
BTW, just to keep stepping stones on my daily word counts, my NaNo total for day #4 is 9487.
We have another very short reading today. This one runs from Genesis 26:6 through Genesis 26:12; just seven verses. And in today’s story, we have almost a repeat of the story between Abraham and Sarah, only this time it is between Isaac and Rebekah.
So what is it with these guys who look for a loophole to saying they’re married for fear their women will be taken, and they (the husbands) will be put to death? Was that an Egyptian custom back then? If so, I haven’t learned about it yet, but it sure doesn’t sound like a nice one. Whatever it was, Isaac did exactly as his father did with King Abimelech and told people that his wife was his sister. And then, just as happened with Sarah, the King spotted the two of them together acting more like lovers than friends, and he knew.
After seeing them, Abimelech confronted Isaac with the possibility that he could have brought a curse on his entire kingdom if anyone had slept with Rebekah. Then, since Isaac advised him of why he did it, the king declared to the entire nation that they were not to touch Isaac or Rebekah, and that the penalty for doing so would be death. And once that was done, Isaac went about his work, and whatever crops he planted that year yielded him one-hundred fold. And, again like his father, Abraham, it says that God blessed him.
These shorter readings do make it a bit harder on me to come up with much commentary, but I’m wrestling a bit more tonight because my mind is thoroughly in fiction mode from writing my NaNo story. I’m wanting to stop and describe the scene here and everything. But I think you, my dear readers, understand the gist of this little story anyway. So I’m thankful you stopped by to see what’s happening in the progression of the Bible story, and I’m thankful to say I have also surpassed 6400 words in my novel efforts. We will visit again tomorrow when we see how Isaac deals with men who get jealous of God’s blessings on him. Bye for now and may God richly bless you and your children and beyond.
Today, we begin Parashah (portion) number six for the year. It is the Hebrew word “toldot” and it means “history.” Our verses today run from Genesis 25:19 through Genesis 26:5, and they begin the history of Isaac and Rebecca.
We learn from the beginning that Rebekah was childless just as her mother-in-law Sarah was. I’m sure Isaac had heard the stories of Sarah’s pain in that, and I’m sure he heard about the failed attempts to do things man’s way instead of God’s way, so he sought God on behalf of his wife. God blessed Rebekah and allowed her to become pregnant, but it was a hard pregnancy. Not only was she pregnant with twins (and without an ultrasound or a gynecologist to explain it all to her), but the twins inside her were already rivals. They fought so much that the story says she wondered if it was even worth living through.
Rebekah made it through her pregnancy, and the children became what the Lord told her they would right from birth. The first to be born came out covered with hair and not at all delicate, so he became his father’s favorite. They named him Esau. The younger must have been fighting to be born first and came out holding onto the heel of his brother’s foot. They called him Jacob, meaning supplanter, and he was happy to hang around the house and spend time with his mother rather than living the wild life of a game hunter. She was happy with that. And I’m sure she also remembered God’s words to her that the older would become the servant to the younger.
The word supplanter also means usurper. It is not necessarily a complimentary name as it describes someone who unlawfully takes or steals something that was not meant to be his. And since Jacob was not the warrior type, he had to grab what he wanted by more subtle and conniving means. You’ll see this played out more than once as we read his story.
So, Jacob not only likes to hang around the house, apparently he also likes to cook. And apparently he does a good job of it. So, he decides one day to go sit outside and make a stew that everyone around could smell. I imagine it was one of those aromas that makes your mouth water even when you have just finished eating. Oh, but to someone who is hungry… And Esau was hungry. He came in from hunting and was tired and hungry, and he smelled that enticing aroma. He probably thought that just by asking, his loving brother would give him what he wanted. Not so. Instead, Jacob told Esau that if he wanted some of his lentil stew badly enough, he would trade his birthright as the first-born son for a bowl of it. And Esau was somehow so hopeless that he said his birthright would mean nothing to him if he died of starvation, so he made the trade. Scripture tells us that this shows how little Esau’s birthright meant to him.
The first time I read all this, I felt sorry for Esau and a bit frustrated with Jacob. But now it makes me wonder if Jacob was supposed to be the first-born from the beginning, and the fight in the womb came from Esau being a bully and pushing his way to the front. I’ve seen too many take something they were sure should belong to them and then not respect it, so I know it can happen. And I know Esau could have sought God to sustain him until he was able to eat if his birthright meant anything at all to him. And now I’m ready to see all the blessings that come from one who values what he has and what he will do with the blessing of the first-born. Stay tuned.
P.S. I placed a NaNoWriMo widget at the top of my page, so you can always keep track of my word count. I was out most of the day, but I am happy to say that I added over 1800 more words to my count today. And I’m even feeling good about my character’s day of time travel.
Well, if you thought yesterday’s reading was short, wait until you see today’s. It’s a total of only seven verses from Genesis 25:12 through Genesis 25:18. It covers a brief genealogy of Ishmael, and it tells us that he had twelve sons who were tribal rulers. But the unspoken word in this story is that, like Abraham’s sons by Keturah, no one is forgotten. Remember that Ishmael was the boy who twice was left to die when his mother Hagar was sent out by Sarah and thought she had no hope in the desert. But out of hopelessness came hope. Hagar blessed Yahveh as a God who hears and as a God who sees. And when she acknowledged Him, He blessed her and gave her promises about her son and his future. And here we see the beginnings of those promises coming to pass.
It goes on to say that Ishmael lived 137 years. And I’m stating that to compare with the fact that he almost died twice in his youth, but also to say something else. If he were alive today, that would be a lot of chances to write a novel through National Novel Writer’s Month aka NaNoWriMo. For me, this is only my sixth time of writing a NaNo novel. But every time I have worked on one, it has been worth every ounce of effort and time. There is something about knowing a huge chunk of the world is pushing for the same goals and keeping the world of muses busier than ever. And it’s a great way to just write and create without boundaries and anxiety because you’re not as worried about the outcome as you are the process.
I’ll close with the update that I have written 2552 words today on my novel about a girl named Cameo and her muse named Kalida. The title right now is “A Muse in Mourning,” and it’s already going places I did not plan, so I’m hoping it will be a base draft for something more promising after editing. If you are registered at the NaNo site, be sure to look me up at http://nanowrimo.org/en/participants/crystal-writer and add me to your buddy list. If you are a Christian who writes for NaNo, request to join our Christian Wrimos on Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChristianWrimos/ and join us for some chat and maybe a word war or two. Oh yeah, and if you would like to share your NaNo activities with friends, Also, I have a word count shirt and a “Cooking up a Novel” apron at Zazzle that you can purchase if so inclined. I made everything there more for fun, but I get sales every now and again, and it’s nice when that happens. 🙂
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