Note: This Bible study was done by me years ago before I started in-depth theology. Enjoy...but not a source of research. Thanks for your understanding!
2166-1991 b.c.- Abraham’s life
2070 b.c.- Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed
2066-1886 b.c.- Isaac’s life
2006-1859 b.c.- Jacob’s life
1915-1805 b.c.- Joseph’s life
Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch. The English title is derived from the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament), which is derived from of the Greek. Genesis means "the origin, source, creation, or coming into being of something" (also "beginning").
Tradition states that Moses is the author, as he is credited with authoring the other books of the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is Genesis through Deuteronomy. It is also possible (and a bit more likely) that the stories and laws were passed down via oral tradition and then written, with many different authors contributing to the text, with authorship suggested around 1446 to 1406 b.c.. Strictly speaking, Genesis is an anonymous work. If the author/editor was Moses, the date of authorship is suggested to be about 550 b.c.
Genesis is concerned with origins- of the world, of human beings, and of Israel and its ancestors. Creation and the origin of the “specialness” of the tribe of Israel (as demonstrated by the tracing of the genealogy from Adam to Jacob) are the main themes of the book.
The beginning of "salvation" is also a theme of Genesis, one which repeats throughout the Bible. Salvation includes: sin and grace, wrath and mercy, along with the idea of a covenant with God leading to redemption.
Outlines (short & long versions)
Outline (short version):
I. Primeval History: Four Great Events (1:1-11:26)
---A. The Creation of the Universe; Adam and Eve (1-2)
---B. The Fall and the Results of Sin (3-5)
---C. The Flood (6-9)
---D. The Scattering of the Nations (10:1-11:26)
II. Patriarchal History: Four Great Characters (11:27-50:26)
---A. Abraham (11:27-20:18)
---B. Isaac (21-26)
---C. Jacob (27:1-37:1)
---D. Joseph (37:2-50:26)
Outline (long version):
Part 1: Primeval History (1:1-11:9)
I. The Creation (1:1-2:25)
---A. Creation of the World (1:1-2:3)
---B. Creation of Man (2:4-2:25)
II. The Fall (3:1-5:32)
---A. The Fall of Man (3:1-3:24)
---B. After the Fall (4:1-5:32)
III. The Judgment of the Flood (6:1-9:29)
---A. Causes of the Flood (6:1-6:5)
---B. Judgment of the Flood (6:6-6:22)
---C. The Flood (7:1-8:19)
---D. Results of the Flood (8:20-9:17)
---E. After the Flood: The Sin of the Godly Line (9:18-9:29)
IV. The Judgment of the Tower of Babel (10:1-11:9)
---A. Family Lines after the Flood (10:1-10:32)
---B. Judgment on all the Family Lines (11:1-11:9)
Part 2: Patriarchal History (11:10-50:26)
I. The Life of Abraham (11:10-25:18)
---A. Introduction of Abram (11:10-11:32)
---B. The Covenant of God with Abram (12:1-25:18)
------1. Initiation of the Covenant (12:1-12:20)
------2. Separation of the Covenant (13:1-14:24)
------3. Ratification of the Covenant (15:1-16:16)
------4. Institution of the Covenant: Circumcision (17:1-17:27)
------5. Testing of the Covenant (18:1-20:18)
------6. Consummation of the Covenant (21:1-25:18)
II. The Life of Isaac (25:19-26:35)
---A. The Family of Isaac (25:19-25:34)
---B. The Failure of Isaac (26:1-26:33)
---C. The Failure of Esau (26:34-26:35)
III. The Life of Jacob (27:1-36:43)
---A. Jacob Gains Esau's Blessing (27:1-28:9)
---B. Jacob's Life at Haran (28:10-31:55)
---C. Jacob's Return (32:1-33:20)
---D. Jacob's Residence in Canaan (34:1-35:29)
---E. The History of Esau (36:1-36:43)
IV. The Life of Joseph (37:1-50:26)
---A. The Corruption of Joseph's Family (37:1-38:30)
---B. The Exaltation of Joseph (39:1-41:57)
---C. The Salvation of Jacob's Family (42:1-50:26)
A note on literal interpretation: Genesis was written in the time of using tales as moral instruction. Strict historical literal accuracy was unknown at the time. That is something that has arisen in the period of the 16th to 18th century. Before then all assumed that these passages that truths and themes that should be known, not that they were a literal explanation of events.
Genesis was written to contrast the other "explanations" of man's creation and the flood. It is a tale to show how God is behind our creation; God is the source of any goodness we possess. The authors at the time purposely wrote a literary "story" with a theme they were teaching. It was never, never meant to be accepted as a literal, 1 year=1 year, each fact is literal. The original authors didn't intend it that way. Jews and then Christians didn't read it as a literal explanation for 4,000 years.
The attempts to tie the accurate "inerrancy" of Scripture to interpreting Genesis as literal, read as historical facts, didn't arise until 1910, and it was by Fundamentalists who were in disagreement with the idea of studying the Bible in its historical context and were reacting to Darwinism.
Genesis was written to contrast the other "explanations" of man's creation and the flood. It is a tale to show how God is behind our creation; God is the source of any goodness we possess. The authors at the time purposely wrote a literary "story" with a theme they were teaching. It was never, never meant to be accepted as a literal, 1 year=1 year, each fact is literal. The original authors didn't intend it that way. Jews and then Christians didn't read it as a literal explanation for 4,000 years.
The attempts to tie the accurate "inerrancy" of Scripture to interpreting Genesis as literal, read as historical facts, didn't arise until 1910, and it was by Fundamentalists who were in disagreement with the idea of studying the Bible in its historical context and were reacting to Darwinism.
1 In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
2 the earth was formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
4 God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Thus evening came, and morning followed—the first day.
6 Then God said, "Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other." And so it happened:
7 God made the dome, and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it.
8 God called the dome "the sky." Evening came, and the morning followed- the second day.
9 Then God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear." And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared.
10 God called the dry land "the earth," and the basin of the water he called "the sea." God saw how good it was.
11 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it." And so it happened:
12 the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw how good it was.
13 Evening came, and morning followed- the third day.
14 Then God said: "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years,
15 and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth." And so it happened:
16 God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night: and he made the stars.
17 God set them in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth,
18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw how good it was.
19 Evening came, and morning followed- the fourth day.
20 Then God said, "Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky." And so it happened:
21 God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was,
22 and God blessed them, saying, "Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth."
23 Evening came, and morning followed- the fifth day.
24 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds." And so it happened:
25 God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was.
26 Then God said: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground."
27 God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them, saying: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth."
29 God also said: "See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
30 and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food." And so it happened.
31 God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed- the sixth day.
1:1- the actual point of creation. In science, it is called "THE singularity" (a singularity is a zone that cannot be explained with our current understanding of physics). The theory of the Big Bang works perfectly mathematically until it goes back it time towards the actual point of creation. Thus far, science cannot explain the actual moment of creation. The same problem arises with the scientific law "energy is neither created nor destroyed." The math falls apart at the actual moment of creation. So, the Biblical explanation does NOT contradict with the scientific explanation. However, many scientists are starting to disbelieve the Big Bang theory due to the fact there are many contradictions. Research and theories are constantly being developed and are beyond the scope of this book.
1: 1-5- were the "days" and "nights" literally 24-hour periods? (See Genesis: Chapter 2 for more complete discussion).
1: 13-18- the sun wasn't created until the third day, but God separated the light and darkness on the first day. There are two explanations often put forth: 1) God Himself was the source of light prior to the creation of the sun -and/or- 2) God had already made the sun prior to this point and it was providing light, but it wasn't until the third day he put it in it's current position (1:17 "set them in the dome of sky").
1:26- God refers to Himself in the plural when he says "let us make man in our image." This is simply how the Hebrew language uses the word. "Us" is simply a more majestic form of "I"....not an indication of multiple Gods, references to the angels, or any other crazy theories (aliens, for example). Many Middle Eastern languages work this same way. Some claim that the "us" is a way of proving the existence of the trinity, but that is a misunderstanding of the translation. Other Old Testament verses more clearly foreshadow the trinity.
Even without reading the actual Biblical story of creation, most people have heard the basic idea of Genesis before. Most are also aware of the controversy across the country (the U.S.) about teaching creationism in our schools.
First, I AM NOT TAKING SIDES. So, relax, everyone, take a deep breath (ha-ha).
There are three basic views when it comes to Biblical creation. (This is a great topic for discussion, so please post what you think, why, but please remain respectful of others' beliefs.)
Theory 1: The Bible is simply a metaphor. Or is inaccurate. Or is simply a fairy tale/legend. Therefore, the idea of creation falls into the category of fiction. Scientific theories are the only valid concepts for creation.
Theory 2: Intelligent design. The universe (and Earth) did not arise by chance, but had an intelligent creator (in this case, God). The Bible is a metaphor of what God really did. It is completely compatible to believe in evolution and God in this theory. God directed evolution; Genesis is our way of understanding what he did. While the story of Genesis, including the six days, is a metaphor, not a literal explanation of events.
Theory 3: Creationism. Genesis is a factual representation of creation, including the time line. In this theory, this is an exact account of what occurred.
In ancient Israel, the day was considered to begin at sunset.
1 Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed.
2 Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.
3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.
4 Such is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation. Second Story of Creation. At the time when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens-
5 while as yet there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, for the Lord God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the soil,
6 but a stream was welling up out of the earth and was watering all the surface of the ground-
7 the Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.
8 Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and he placed there the man whom he had formed.
9 Out of the ground the Lord God made various trees grow that were delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of knowledge, good and bad.
10 A river rises in Eden to water the garden; beyond there it divides and becomes four branches.
11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it is the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
12 The gold of that land is excellent; bdellium and lapis lazuli are also there.
13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it is the one that winds all through the land of Cush.
14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it is the one that flows east of Asshur. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.
16 The Lord God gave man this order: "You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden
17 except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.
18 The Lord God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him."
19 So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name.
20 The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.
21 So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
22 The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man,
23 the man said: "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called 'woman,' for out of 'her man' this one has been taken."
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.
25 The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.
2:2- Were the "days" and "nights" referred to during creation literal 24-hour periods? There is evidence both for and against the idea that these days were meant to be interpreted as 24-hour periods of time. First of all, there is no contradiction between the Bible and fact; it is a contradiction about the scientific evidence and/or the interpretation of scripture. The evidence of the Earth being billions of years old agrees completely if one interprets the "days" referenced to be longer periods of time than a simple 24 hours. So, either most scientists are wrong about the age of the Earth or SOME Biblical commentators are incorrect in their interpretation when they insist the days of creation were 24-hour periods with no gaps before, during, or after. (Evidence for the different interpretations of the meaning of the word "day" are available in multiple commentaries, study books, internet pages, and Bibles. I won't belabor the issue by re-hashing all of the quotes on both sides of the issue.)
2:8- Was Eden a real location on Earth? See "Eden" entry under Dictionary & Facts section of the website (Eden is located on the "Places" page).
2:17- God states "the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die." Why, then, didn't Adam immediately die? Various explanations include: From the moment he took the first bite, the endless, happy existence he was going to have in Eden vanished and the fact that he would eventually die became a reality. Hence, he began to physically die. Adam "died" spiritually, that is, he was separated from God from the moment he ate of the fruit.
2:19- The order of creation: animals, man, then man naming the animals, seems to be different in chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 1 gives a strict chronological explanation of creation. Chapter 2 covers the story in general, with the focus being on God bringing the animals (which he had previously created) to Adam to be named.
Language Notes: God is portrayed as a potter molding man's body out of the clay. This is a play on the how the words sound in Hebrew. "Adam" is "man" and "adama" is "ground".
Eden is derived from the Sumerian word "eden", which is "fertile plain."
"Man" and "woman" is a play on the Hebrew words "ishah" (her man, her husband) and "ishsha" (woman).
1 Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the Lord God had made. The serpent asked the woman, "Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?"
2 The woman answered the serpent: "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
3 it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, 'You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.'"
4 But the serpent said to the woman: "You certainly will not die!
5 No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad."
6 The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
8 When they heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
9 The Lord God then called to the man and asked him, "Where are you?"
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself."
11 Then he asked, "Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!"
12 The man replied, "The woman whom you put here with me- she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it."
13 The Lord God then asked the woman, "Why did you do such a thing?" The woman answered, "The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it."
14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; On your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."
16 To the woman he said: "I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children. Yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall be your master."
17 To the man he said: "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, "Cursed be the ground because of you! In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life.
18 Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, as you eat of the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return."
20 The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.
21 For the man and his wife the Lord God made leather garments, with which he clothed them.
22 Then the Lord God said: "See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever."
23 The Lord God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken.
24 When he expelled the man, he settled him eat of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.
3:5 "liked gods who know" can also be interpreted as "like God who knows."
3:8 Adam and Eve heard the Lord God moving in the garden at the breezy time of day. The literal translation is "the wind of the day" and refers to the fact that in Palestine a cooling breeze blows from the sea shortly before sunset.
3:15 "He will strike....at his heel"- in translation it is turned to a singular from a multiple, aka: "They will strike...at their heels" is another meaning. Also, the word "serpent" is actually a play on the original Hebrew for the word "naked" making an alliteration in the original text. The word "serpent" is actually a play on the original Hebrew for the word "naked" making an alliteration in the original text. Later tradition hold that the serpent is actually "Satan", earlier tradition simply credits the serpent as being a "mischievous creature." Later theology ties this to the phrase in 1John 3:8 "the Son of God appeared that he might destroy the works of the devil", making this passage as the first promise of a Redeemer (Jesus Christ) for mankind.
3:20- Were Adam & Eve literal figures? See "Adam & Eve" entry under Dictionary & Facts sections of the website (Adam & Eve is located on the "People" page).
The serpent promises that the fruit will open their eyes to good and evil. The first thing they realize is that they are naked, which brings shame to them (as they hasten to cover themselves). We are later taught that true wisdom is following God's will perfectly. And his will was quite clear that they were not to eat the fruit.
God, however, told them that they would die if they ate of the fruit. The serpent told them they would live, but gain wisdom.
So, did the serpent lie??
If not, did man and woman gain wisdom by their act?
What do you think and why?
1 The man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have produced a man with the help of the Lord."
2 Next she bore his brother Abel. Abel became a keeper of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the soil.
3 In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil,
4 while Abel, for his part, brought one of the best firstlings of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
5 but on Cain and his offering he did not. Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen.
6 So the Lord said to Cain: "Why are you so resentful and crestfallen?
7 If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master."
8 Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out in the field." When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
9 Then the Lord asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He answered, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
10 The Lord then said: "What have you done! Listen: Your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil!
11 Therefore you shall be banned from the soil that opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
12 If you till the soil, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall became a restless wanderer on the earth."
13 Cain said to the Lord: "My punishment is too great to bear.
14 Since you have now banished me from the soil, and I must avoid your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, anyone may kill me at sight."
15 "Not so!" the Lord said to him. "If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold." So the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him at sight.
16 Cain then left the Lord's presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
17 Cain had relations with his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. Cain also became the founder of a city, which he named after his son Enoch.
18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael; Mehujael became the father of Methusael, and Methusael became the father of Lamech.
19 Lamech took two wives; the name of the first was Adah, and the name of the second Zillah.
20 Adah gave birth to Jabal, the ancestor of all who dwell in tents and keep cattle.
21 His brother's name was Jubal; he was the ancestor of all who play the lyre and the pipe.
22 Zillah, on her part, gave birth
to Tubalcain, the ancestor of all who forge instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.
23 Lamech said to his wives: "Adam and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, listen to my utterance: I have killed a man for wounding me, a boy for bruising me.
24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold."
25 Adam again had relations with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth. "God has granted me more offspring in place of Abel," she said, "because Cain slew him."
26 To Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named his Enosh. At that time men began to invoke the Lord by name.
4:1 The Hebrew name "qayin" (Cain) and the term "qaniti" (I have produced) is another play on words that would be recognized in the original Hebrew, but is lost in translation.
4:4-5 Origin of sacrifice & various meanings: see below
4:15 The mark put on Cain was probably a tattoo. Tattooing of tribal marks has always been common among inhabitants of the Near Eastern deserts.
4:16 The land of Nod does NOT refer to a specific geographical location, instead it means "land of nomads" or "land of wanderers." Nod is play on the Hebrew word "nad" (line over a), which is the participle of "to wander."
4:17 Where did Cain find his wife? Reading the Bible, one naturally comes to a perplexing question: if Cain’s parents were literally the first two people on Earth, where did Cain find his wife? There are two possible solutions to this dilemma.
1) If one takes a literal view of the story of Genesis (see Genesis: Chapter 3: Additional Notes & Discussion for more information), then one accepts not only that Adam and Eve were literal figures, but that they really lived for 800 years. The Bible also states that Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters. Genesis states that Cain “settled in the land of Nod.” One reads specifically that Cain spent many years wandering before he settled down and started a family. Quite logically, then, Cain may have married one of his sisters, or the daughter of one of his many brother or sisters.
2) One can also accept that between the literary traditions of the time and the oral tradition by which we have received these stories, that Genesis is figurative, not explicitly literal. In that case, early humans may have fallen from grace and Adam and Eve could have been literal people, but they may have been part of a tribe of humans, not the only two humans ever in existence. Cain, in this theory, has multiple options when choosing a wife.
The original beginnings of the practice of sacrificing to God are much debated, though in the rest of the Bible much of the practice relies on Genesis 4:4-5 as the foundation for sacrifice being an appropriate behavior. One of the major questions is: was sacrifice a direct command of God -or- did man come up with the concept out of religious instinct?
It is important to note that the offerings themselves weren’t the source of God’s rejection or acceptance. God doesn’t have a preference for meat over grain. It was the “spirit” in which it was given, aka- was the sacrifice given out of the spirit of faith or was it a mere "superstition"? Other scholars put forth the premise that Abel offered the first-born of his flock, the best part, and that Cain's offering was not of the best part of his crop.
In today’s day and age, we don’t offer meat and grain to the Lord. However, we can offer a “proper” spirit and behavior.
Can you name some examples of “proper” spiritual feelings or behavior that the Lord would “accept as an offering”?
Due to the sin of killing his brother, Cain receives punishment from God. However, Cain complains that it is too great to bear. We receive trials and tribulations (as part of life and for God’s own reasons; not because we murdered someone). It is important to note that God will help us through those trials as long as we display faith in his all-knowing wisdom.
Name one trial or tribulation that you have gone through. Did God help give you strength? In retrospect, did you gain any spiritual benefit from the trial/tribulation?
_1 This is the record of the descendants of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God;
2 he created them male and female. When they were created, he blessed them and named them "man."
3 Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when he begot a son in his likeness, after his image; and he named him Seth.
4 Adam lived eight hundred years after the birth of Seth, and he had other sons and daughters.
5 The whole lifetime of Adam was nine hundred and thirty years; then he died.
6 When Seth was one hundred and five years old, he became the father of Enosh.
7 Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after the birth of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters.
8 The whole lifetime of Seth was nine hundred and twelve years; then he died.
9 When Enosh was ninety years old, he became the father of Kenan.
10 Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years after the birth of Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters.
11 The whole lifetime of Enosh was nine hundred and five years; then he died.
12 When Kenan was seventy years old, he became the father of Mahalalel,
13 Kenan lived eight hundred and forty years after the birth of Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters.
14 The whole lifetime of Kenan was nine hundred and ten years; then he died.
15 When Mahalalel was sixty-five years old, he became the father of Jared.
16 Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years after the birth of Jared, and he had other sons and daughters.
17 The whole lifetime of Mahalalel was eight hundred and ninety-five years; then he died.
18 When Jared was one hundred and sixty-two years old, he became the father of Enoch.
19 Jared lived eight hundred years after the birth of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters.
20 The whole lifetime of Jared was nine hundred and sixty-two years; then he died.
21 When Enoch was sixty-five years old, he became the father of Methuselah.
22 Enoch lived three hundred years after the birth of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.
23 The whole lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years.
24 Then Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him.
25 When Methuselah was one hundred and eighty-seven years old, he became the father of Lamech.
26 Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years after the birth of Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters.
27 The whole lifetime of Methuselah was nine hundred and sixty-nine years; then he died.
28 When Lamech was one hundred and eighty-two years old, he begot a son
29 and named him Noah, saying, "Out of the very ground that the Lord has put under a curse, this one shall bring us relief from our work and the toil of our hands."
30 Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years after the birth of Noah, and he had other sons and daughters.
31 The whole lifetime of Lamech was seven hundred and seventy-seven years; then he died.
32 When Noah was five hundred years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japtheth.
5:24 Enoch is one of two people in the Bible who does not die; they are instead "taken up" directly to God. Walking with God is a relic of the first Paradise when people walked and talked with God in holy familiarity.
5:29 There is a similarity in sound between the Hebrew word "noah" and the verbal phrase "yenahamenu" (he will bring us relief). This latter refers to both the curse put on the soil because of the fall of man and to Noah's success in agriculture, especially in raising grapes for wine.
Did people actually live for centuries?
The New American Bible has this to say on the subject: This chapter…together with Gn 11, 10-26, its primary purpose is to bridge the genealogical gap between Adam and Abraham. Adam’s line is traced through Seth, but several names in the series are the same as, or similar to, certain names in Cain’s line. The long lifespans attributed to these ten antediluvian (of the time before the Biblical flood or ancient) patriarchs have a symbolic rather than a historical value. Babylonian tradition also recorded ten kings with fantastically high ages who reigned successively before the flood.
The Archaeological Study Bible states: It is uncertain whether the large numbers describing human longevity in the early chapters of Gn are literal, serve a literary function, or both. The fact that there are exactly ten names in the list (as in the genealogy of Gn 11:10-26) indicates that it almost certainly contains gaps, the lengths of which are summarized in the large numbers. Other ancient genealogies outside the Bible exhibit similarly unrealistic figures and also contain exactly ten names.
St. Jerome’s Commentary, an extremely detailed and complex study of the Bible, notes the fact that the Mesopotamian tradition has seven ‘apkallu’s,’ the seven sages prior to the flood, who were believed to have founded the elements of culture (writing, artistic skill, etc.) The pre-flood list of Sumerian kings later became standardized to 10, a number that the Biblical writer adopts. Some Mesopotamian lists attempt to correlate the seven sages and the 10 kings. Segmented genealogies (both Biblical and non-Biblical) were generally not for conveying historical information but for determining domestic, politico-jural, and religious matters. In the case of early Bible genealogies- showing a line of sin, a line of “blessing of progeny and land,” a line of God’s undiminished commitment to the blessed, etc.
On the other hand, some….uh…scholars with a more literal view (such as those writing “Commonly Misunderstood Bible Verses”) believe that prior to the flood, a water canopy surrounded the earth and protected the inhabitants from harmful radiation in outer space. (They don’t mention exactly how LIGHT got through). And, people might have been vegetarians, contributing to their longer lifespans.
Other scholars do have various explanations, of which you may study in your own time. If I don’t cut off this post, I’ll still be writing it into the next year.
1 When men began to multiply on earth and daughters were born to them,
2 the sons of heaven saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose.
3 Then the LORD said: "My spirit shall not remain in man forever, since he is but flesh. His days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years."
4 At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of heaven had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.
5 When the LORD saw how great was man's wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil,
6 he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved.
7 So the LORD said: "I will wipe out from the earth the men whom I have created, and not only the men, but also the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air, for I am sorry that I made them."
8 But Noah found favor with the LORD.
9 These are the descendants of Noah. Noah, a good man and blameless in that age,
10 for he walked with God, begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 In the eyes of God the earth was corrupt and full of lawlessness.
12 When God saw how corrupt the earth had become, since all mortals led depraved lives on earth,
13 he said to Noah: "I have decided to put an end to all mortals on earth; the earth is full of lawlessness because of them. So I will destroy them and all life on earth.
14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood, put various compartments in it, and cover it inside and out with pitch.
15 This is how you shall build it: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.
16 Make an opening for daylight in the ark, and finish the ark a cubit above it. Put an entrance in the side of the ark, which you shall make with bottom, second and third decks.
17 I, on my part, am about to bring the flood (waters) on the earth, to destroy everywhere all creatures in which there is the breath of life; everything on earth shall perish.
18 But with you I will establish my covenant; you and your sons, your wife and your sons' wives, shall go into the ark.
19 Of all other living creatures you shall bring two into the ark, one male and one female, that you may keep them alive with you.
20 Of all kinds of birds, of all kinds of beasts, and of all kinds of creeping things, two of each shall come into the ark with you, to stay alive.
21 Moreover, you are to provide yourself with all the food that is to be eaten, and store it away, that it may serve as provisions for you and for them."
22 This Noah did; he carried out all the commands that God gave him.
6:5-8: The St. Joseph edition has this to say about the flood: “The story of the great flood here recorded is a composite narrative based on two separate sources interwoven into an intricate patchwork…Both Biblical sources go back ultimately to an ancient Mesopotamian story of a great flood, preserved in the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic.” (The first sentence referring to sources is going off of the Documentary Hypothesis, a widespread theory that is losing favor slowly among some scholars.)
Cultures from around the world have flood narratives in their ancient histories, with multiple similarities. Pursuing a study of the various narratives is an interesting task but beyond the scope of this website. For those interested, I would start with the Mesopotamian, Akkadian, Sumerian, and Egyptian versions, and then work from there.
Were the “Sons of God” angels who married human women?
There are a few different interpretations and beliefs about exactly who the 'sons of God' (or 'sons of heaven,' depending upon Bible translation) were.
1) The first theory is that these ‘sons of God’ were angels. This seems to be the most popular theory, mentioned first in three different books! “The ‘evil angel’ interpretation of Genesis 6 may give us a clue as to why some angels are presently bound in prison and others are not (2 Peter 2:4)” (Rhodes, 2008, p.23).
2) Both the Believer’s Bible Commentary and The Big Book of Bible Difficulties put forth the theory that the “sons of God” refer to the godly line of Seth intermingling with the godless line of Cain” (MacDonald, 1995, p.40).
3) This third explanation, to be blunt, I don’t understand at all. So I’m simply going to quote directly, and let you draw your own conclusions. “Other scholars believe that ‘sons of God’ refers to great men of old, men of renown. They point to the fact that the text refers to ‘giants’ and ‘mighty men’ (v. 4). This also avoids the problems of angels (spirits) cohabiting with humans” (Geisler & Howe, 1992, p.40).
1 Then the Lord said to Noah: "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for you alone in this age have I found to be truly just.
2 Of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs, a male and its mate; and of the unclean animals, one pair, a male and its mate;
3 likewise, of every clean bird of the air, seven pairs, a male and a female, and of all the unclean birds, one pair, a male and a female. Thus you will keep their issue alive over all the earth.
4 Seven days from now I will bring rain down on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and so I will wipe out from the surface of the earth every moving creature that I have made."
5 Noah did just as the Lord had commanded him.
6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood waters came upon the earth.
7 Together with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives, Noah went into the ark because of the waters of the flood.
8 Of the clean animals and the unclean, of the birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground,
9 [two by two] male and female entered the ark with Noah, just as the Lord had commanded him.
10 As soon as the seven days were over, the waters of the flood came upon the earth.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month: it was on that day that
'All the fountains of the great abyss burst forth,
and the floodgates of the sky were opened.'
12 For forty days and forty nights heavy rain poured down on the earth.
13 On the precise day named, Noah and his sons Shem, Ham and Japheth, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of Noah's sons had entered the ark,
14 together with every kind of wild beast, every kind of domestic animal, every kind of creeping thing of the earth, and every kind of bird.
15 Pairs of all creatures in which there was the breath of life entered the ark with Noah.
16 Those that entered were male and female, and of all species they came, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.
17 The flood continued upon the earth for forty days. As the waters increased, they lifted the ark, so that it rose above the earth.
18 The swelling waters increased greatly, but the ark floated on the surface of the waters.
19 Higher and higher above the earth rose the waters, until all the highest mountains everywhere were submerged,
20 the crest rising fifteen cubits higher than the submerged mountains.
21 All creatures that stirred on earth perished: birds, cattle, wild animals, and all that swarmed on the earth, as well as all mankind.
22 Everything on dry land with the faintest breath of life in its nostrils died out.
23 The Lord wiped out every living thing on earth: man and cattle, the creeping things and the birds of the air; all were wiped out from the earth. Only Noah and those with him in the ark were left.
7:19- While the words "everywhere" (and later in verse 21- "all creatures...on earth") indicate a universal flood, belief now trends towards the concept that the "flood" was probably a local event. As referenced in a post, "Beyond the Bible: Creation & the Flood", the literal interpretation of every section of the Bible is a fairly new trend. Thus, one is most definitely NOT required to believe in the universal flood that covered the entire world in order to be a Christian.
Others, though, still believe in a universal flood. The thrust of the argument is that if God's covenant only referenced a local flood, then He has broken it (obviously) thousands of times since as there have been many, many, many floods continuing unto the present day.
I'm going to be fairly blunt- the sects that believe that there was a universal flood often claim Noah had dinosaurs on board with him. A brief scan of high-ranking sites (that was what was sad-scary part...that they ranked high on Google search results) revealed that "flood sediment" had proven this, and also mentioned that dragons existed at the time. While I, not being a first-hand witness, cannot 100% disprove a universal flood, I believe God gave us intelligence and various ways of transmitting stories and beliefs. Noah may very well have existed. His ark and animals and the flood may very well have occurred. In fact, I would find that amazing! But if it occurred, it was a localized event. And dinosaurs were not on the ark. Sorry, they weren't. Millions of years separated man and dinosaurs.
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 11:1-9
1) Temples in Mesopotamia at the time were built in an “upward” pattern with temple towers (or ziggurats). Babel, in this case, is a reference to the origin of the name of the city Babylon.
2) There is debate over what the exact meaning of the people “building a tower” is.
*It refers to the actual building of temples to gods that are false.
*It is a symbolic representation of man’s growing evil.
*The story is simply a unique way of explaining the multiple languages spoken by men.
*Or combinations of the above.
Question: Which of the “meanings” do you subscribe to?
(1-9) The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words. While men were migrating in the east, they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, "Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire." They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said,
"Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth."
The Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men had built. Then the
Lord said: "If now, while they are one people, all speaking the same language, they have started to do this, nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do. Let us then go down and there confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says." Thus the Lord scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the speech of all the world. It was from that place that he scattered them all over the Earth.
Lesson: Genesis: Chapters 11-20 (Story of Abraham)
The first section of the reading was about Abraham's journey. Reading it in the cold, factual terms of the bible doesn't really do justice to what occurred. Imagine, then, there are no cars. Travelling means walking slowly, making sure all of the cattle and sheep are keeping up and none wander. Stopping for the night means having to find a well where water can be obtained and sleeping on the ground. There are no baths, no nice hotels, and certainly no restaurants.
Imagine traveling that way....now, click on the following link and see how far they had to travel:
The second part of the reading is about Abram's first born son, whom is born by the maid of his wife. Her name is Hagar, the son becomes known as Ishmael. Eventually, Sarai will force Hagar and Ishmael out of her house and into the desert.
As God promised, Ishmael became the father of a nation. In the year 700 A.D., a prophet called Mohammad would bring all of the descendants of Ishmael together, and re-instate the worship of one God, called the God of Abraham, also called Allah.
Okay, deep breath, everyone.....yes, the above statement is true and even mentioned once in awhile in the media. Despite the "your God, my God" arguments, Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all worshiping "the God of Abraham”.
Questions to answer: What would you miss most if you had to travel as they did in the “old days”?
Do you think it is important that the Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the God of Abraham? Why or why not?
Genesis 11-20: The Story of Abraham (I am only going to cover the “big” points, otherwise we’ll be working on Genesis for the next month!)
(11:31-12:9) Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and brought them out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to go to the land of Canaan. But when they reached Haran, they settled there. The lifetime of Terah was two hundred and five years; then Terah died in Haran.
The Lord said to Abram: "Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father's house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the Earth shall find blessing in you."
Abram went as the Lord directed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai, his brother's son Lot, all the possessions that they had accumulated, and the persons they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land as far as the sacred place at Shechem, by the terebinth of Mareh (The Canaanites were then in the land).
The Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." So Abram built an alter there to the Lord who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel, pitching his tent will Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. He built an alter there to the Lord and invoked the Lord by his name then Abram Journeyed on by stages to the Negeb.
There was famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to Sojourn there, since the famine in the land was severe.
(16:1-2) Abram's wife Sarai had borne him no children. She had, however, an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram: "The Lord has kept me from bearing children. Have intercourse, then, with my maid; perhaps I shall have sons through her." Abram heeded Sarai's request.
(16:8-11) …and he [messenger of God] asked, "Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She answered, "I am running away from my mistress, Sarai." But the Lord's messenger told her: "Go back to your mistress and submit to her abusive treatment. I will make your descendants so numerous," added the Lord's messenger "that they will be too many to count. Besides," the Lord's messenger said to her: "You are now pregnant and shall bear a son; you shall name him Ishmael, For the Lord has heard you, God has answered you."
(Before chapter 21, Abram attempted to intercede for Sodom and Gomorrah, but could not find even ten righteous men, so the Lord destroyed the cities.)
Lesson: Genesis: Chapters 21-26 (The Story of Isaac)
God is all-knowing and all-seeing. Therefore, why would he test Abraham? He already knows that Abraham is going to "pass" the test.
When Abraham goes to kill his son, the one he has so longed for, and the only true son of his wife (his other son is by a servant), he is showing total trust in God. God already knew this was going to happen, though. So, one can assume that the "test" is for Abraham's sake. When the angel stops Abraham and acknowledges his faith, God also provides a different holocaust.
“Abraham has finally learned to give up control over his own life that he might receive it as a grace.” (last sentence direct from St. Jerome’s commentary)
What do you think that sentence means? How can you apply it to your life?
(22: 6-12) Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac's shoulder, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
"Father!" he said.
"Yes, son," he replied.
Isaac continued, "Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the holocaust?"
"Son," Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust." Then the two continued going forward. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an alter there and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the alter. Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the Lord's messenger called to him from heaven, "Abraham, Abraham!"
"Yes, Lord," he answered.
"Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger. "Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son."
The second major event in Isaac’s life is the choosing of his bride. Read Chapter 24 for the entire story, if you like. In summary, God leads the servant of Abraham to find the bride for Isaac. Her name is Rebekah, and she becomes the mother of Jacob (and Esau), the mother of Israel.
(25:19-26) This is the family history of Isaac, son of Abraham; Abraham had begotten Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram and the sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac entreated the Lord on behalf of his wife, since she was sterile. The heard his entreaty, and Rebekah became pregnant. But the children in her womb jostled each other so much that she exclaimed, "If this is to be so, what good will it do me!"
She went to consult the Lord and he answered her:
"Two nations are in your womb, two peoples are quarreling while still within you; but one shall surpass the other, and the older shall serve the younger." When the time of her delivery came, there were twins in her womb. The first to emerge was reddish, and his whole body was like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. His brother came out next, gripping Esau's heel; so they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.”
**Note for those interested: Esau (in original language) may mean hairy; he was also called Edom, which means red.
Jacob means "he grasps the heel" or figuratively "he deceives"
Lesson: Genesis: Chapters 27-28
The story of Jacob "stealing" Esau's blessing is almost light-hearted....a kid dressed up in his older brother's clothes before his blind father doing what his mother commands.
There is also the fact that there is no ethical judgment in the story. Nowhere later in Chapter 27 does God come down and curse Jacob for stealing his Father's blessing. In fact, it had been prophesized before Jacob and Esau's birth that despite being the younger son, he would be the one to inherit (wealth, a long line of family, service from his brother). In ancient Israel, the eldest brother received a double share of the inheritance, the rest of the brothers received a single share.
So, do you think Rebekah's actions were simply desire for her favorite son to inherit?
Or where her actions maybe there were a way for Jacob to fulfill God's command of receiving the "older brother's" share of the inheritance?
Do you think Rebekah's actions were ethically wrong...and why do you think that?
Chapter 27: 5-13, 26-29
(5-13) Rebekah has been listening while Isaac was speaking to his son Esau. So when Esau went out into the country to hunt some game for his father, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "Listen! I overhead your father tell your brother Esau, 'Bring me some game and with it prepare an appetizing dish for me to eat, that I may give you my blessing with the Lord's approval before I die.' Now son, listen carefully to what I tell you. Go to the flock and get me two choice kids. With these I will prepare an appetizing dish for your father, such as he likes. Then bring it to your father to eat, that he may bless you before he dies."
"But my brother Esau is a hairy man," said Jacob to his mother Rebekah, "and I am smooth-skinned!" Suppose my father feels me? He will think I am making sport of him, and I shall bring on myself a curse instead of a blessing." His mother, however, replied: "Let any curse against you, son, fall on me! Just do as I say. Go and get the kids."
(26-29) Finally his father Isaac said to him, "Come closer, son, and kiss me." As Jacob went up and kissed him, Isaac smelled the fragrance of his clothes [he was wearing Esau's clothing so as to trick his father]. With that, he blessed him, saying,
"Ah, the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field that the Lord has blessed! May give to you of the dew of the heavens And of the fertility of the earth abundance of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations pay you homage; Be master of your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Curse be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you."
Lesson: Genesis: Chapters 29-31
There is almost an element of irony in this story.
Jacob, who usurped his brother's birthright, is tricked by Laban into marrying the wrong woman. And Laban gives him the reply: it is tradition for the eldest to marry first. Laban is tricky and cunning throughout his entire relationship with Jacob. However, it all works out according to God's will. Between Jacob's two wives and their two maidservants, Jacob will have a total of 12 children....the 12 tribes of Israel.
Can you think of something you or someone else has done that God has turned for the better?
[Jacob's brother Esau married a Canaanite woman, displeasing his parents. Isaac sends Jacob back to the homeland of his mother Rebekkah, to find a wife among their people.]
(14-30)...and Laban [Jacob's uncle] said to him, "You are indeed my flesh and blood."
After Jacob had stayed with him a full month, Laban said to him: "Should you serve me for nothing just because you are a relative of mine? Tell me what your wages should be." Now Laban had two daughters; the older was called Leah, the younger Rachel. Leah had lovely eyes, but Rachel was well formed and beautiful.
Since Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel, he answered Laban, "I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel."
Laban replied, "I prefer to give her to you rather than to an outsider. Stay with me." So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, yet they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife, that I may consummate my marriage with her, for my term is now completed." So Laban invited all the local inhabitants and gave a feast. At the nightfall he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob consummated the marriage with her. (Laban assigned his slave girl Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her maidservant.) In the morning Jacob was amazed: it was Leah! So he cried out to Laban: "How could you do this to me! Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why did you dupe me?"
"It is not the custom in our country," Laban replied, "to marry off a younger daughter before an older one. Finish the bridal week for this one, and then I will give you the other too, in return for another seven years of service with me."
Jacob agreed. He finished the bridal week for Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel in marriage. (Laban assigned his slave girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant.) Jacob then consummated his marriage with Rachel also, and he loved her more than Leah. Thus he remained in Laban's service another seven years.
paraphrase: Chapters 30 & 31: After the fourteen years of service, Jacob works six more years for his share of the livestock. Laban keeps changing his wages, though, trying to cheat him at every turn. Jacob finally takes his wives, children, and livestock, and flees back home. Laban catches up with him, but had been warned in a dream not to harm Jacob. Jacob upbraided Laban about all of the offenses Laban had committed against him: cheating him out of his first choice as wife, having Laban's sons take off with the livestock that should have belonged to Jacob, changing Jacob's wages at his whim. Laban gave in, and sent forth Jacob, his wives, his children, and his livestock in peace.
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 30
For a chapter of the bible that is basically a genealogy, there is a lot of discussion material.
We have two sisters married to the same man, the elder sister not as pretty and not as loved.
God responds by giving her children and striking the beautiful, loved sister barren.
In desperation, she offers her servant (an acceptable, if not common practice) in order to have "children".
Leah stops bearing children and follows Rachel's step of giving her husband her servant.
Rachel bargains away a night with Jacob for some mandrakes (which were thought to help conception both in ancient times up through the middle ages) and Leah has MORE children.
At last, Rachel's prayer is answered and she gives birth to a son, who becomes his father's favorite.
Does Rachel deserve to be struck barren? Is maybe her behavior towards Leah unfriendly...does she take advantage of her being the "loved" and "beautiful one"?
Is the use of mandrakes to induce pregnancy all right?
Rachel did show fortitude in keeping praying to God all those years for a son? Is that why God rewarded her? Were her prayers heartfelt or simply desperate?
Jacob's children are vitally important as they go on to become the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob will later take the name Israel before he dies.
Jacob, as you remember has two wives, Leah and Rachel. In addition, Leah has a servant, Zilpah, and Rachel has a servant, Bilhah. I will pick selected lines out of this section, as it is a long section. If the line starts with '-----' that is ME writing, NOT the bible
When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he made her fruitful, while Rachel remained barren.
-----Leah then bore Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.
When Rachel saw that she failed to bear children to jacob, she became envious of her sister. She said to Jacob, "Give me children or I shall die!" In anger, Jacob retorted, "Can I take the place of God, who has denied you the fruit of the womb?" She replied, "Here is my maidservant Bilhah. Have intercourse with her, and let her give birth on my knees, so that I may have offspring, at least through her."
-----Bilhah bore Dan and Naphtali. When Leah saw that she wasn't having more children yet, she gave Jacob HER maidservant, Zilpah. Zilpah bore Gad and Asher.
One day, during the wheat harvest, when Reuben was out in the field, he came upon some mandrakes which he brought home to his mother Leah. Rachel asked Head, "Please let me have some of your son's mandrakes." Leah replied, "Was it not enough for you to take away my husband, that you must now take my son's mandrakes too?" "Very well, then!" Rachel answered. "In exchange for your son's mandrakes, Jacob may lie with you tonight."
----Leah then gave birth to Issachar, and later to Zebulun, and then to a daughter Dinah.
Then God remembered Rachel; he heard her prayer and made her fruitful.
-----Rachel gave birth to Joseph. Years later, right before her death, she will birth to second son, Benjamin.
Lesson: Genesis: Chapters 32-34
The section that describes Jacob's anticipation of meeting Esau, and his preparations are almost humorous. Clearly, Esau had become a man of his own right during the twenty years that Jacob was gone. The loss of his inheritance didn’t have a lasting ill effect on his fortunes. Yet Jacob is still afraid that Esau is going to kill him.
Jacob sends forth cattle, servants, and prostrates himself on the ground when Esau appears. Even the words from the servants that Esau is coming "with 400 men" do NOT imply threat; it depends on interpretation. One could just as well assume that Esau is coming with a large party to honor Jacob and prepare a banquet to celebrate his return. Instead, Jacob assumes Esau is coming with 400 men to kill him. Esau runs to Jacob, kisses him, and weeps. How opposite of what Jacob expected!
Jacob had been promised by God that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars and his descendants would inhabit Canaan- yet he fears death for his whole family from Esau! Is Jacob showing lack of faith here?
Esau greets his brother with tears and happiness, when his brother expected to be killed. Are we sometimes expecting the worst? Does God surprise us by blessing us during those times?
Jacob is re-named Israel at about this point in his life. Is there a time in your life in which a situation has so changed you that felt, when it was over, you had been "renamed"?
Genesis: Chapters 32-34 (except Jacob’s wrestling w/ angel)
We covered Jacob and his family's flight from Laban. Jacob is now headed back to his homeland, where his father Isaac and his brother Esau still lived. As you remember, Jacob "stole" Esau's birthright before he left, leaving Esau with much anger towards Jacob. Now, heading home, Jacob is worried that he is in danger, fearing Esau wishes to kill him.
(32:4-8) Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, with this message: "Thus shall you say to my lord Esau: 'Your servant jacob speaks as follows: I have been staying with Laban and have been detained there until now. I own cattle, asses and sheep, as well as male and female servants. I am sending my lord this information in the hope of gaining your favor.'" When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, "We reached your brother Esau. He is now coming to meet you, accompanied by four hundred men."
Jacob was very much frightened. In his anxiety, he divided the people who were with him, as well as his flocks, herds, and camels, into two camps.
-----Jacob then sends three sets of servants out with cattle as gifts.
(33:3-4) He himself [Jacob] went on ahead of them, bowing to the ground seven times, until he reached his brother. Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, and flinging himself on his neck, kissed him as he wept.
-----Jacob then gives Esau the many gifts he sent, over Esau's protests. He refuses Esau's offer to have his 400 men help drive the animals. Esau heads off to his own land, Edom, with his men. Jacob goes on to Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, and sets up a home for himself there and booths for the cattle.
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 32 (part 2)
Jacob wrestling with the angel is often believed to have been added to the story of Jacob and his family later than the rest of the writings. It is also believed to be more of a metaphor than an actual event in the life of Jacob. There are, of course, those who believe it to be a literal event. This story has a threefold meaning.
1) The source of the name Israel for both Jacob and the nation. “Israel: the first part of the Hebrew name Yisrael is given a popular explanation in the word sarita, ‘you contended’; the second part is the first syllable of elohim, ‘divine beings’” (notes from New American Bible).
2) The source of the name for the town/area: Peniel, which means “face of God.” (Also written in some translations at Penuel).
3) The source of the prohibition on eating the sinew or tendon of the thigh (exact translation isn’t known). This prohibition is NOT found in the later dietary laws- it harkens back to this story.
Question: Do you believe this story is a literal explanation of events or an allegory? Why?
Of the three meanings, which one(s) do you subscribe to? Or all of them? Why?
(23-33) In the course of that night, however, Jacob arose, took his two wives, with the two maidservants and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had taken them across the stream and had brought over all his possessions, Jacob was left their alone. Then some man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When the man saw that he could not prevail over him, he struck Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that the hip socket was wrenched as they wrestled.
The man then said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go until you bless me.”
“What is your name?” the man asked.
He answered, “Jacob.”
Then the man said, “You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.”
Jacob then asked him, “Do tell me your name, please.”
He answered, “Why should you want to know my name?” With that, he bade him farewell.
Jacob named the place Peniel, “Because I have seen God face to face,” he said, “yet my life has been spared.”
At sunrise, as he left Penuel, Jacob limped along because of his hip. That is why, to this day, the Israelites do not eat the sciatic muscle that is on the hip socket, inasmuch as Jacob’s hip socket was struck at the sciatic muscle.
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 35 (part 1)
Joseph was Jacob's favorite; there is no doubt about that. It was common in ancient societies for daughter's to be "overlooked" or simply not counted in stories. But Jacob had 12 sons: why is Joseph his favorite?
Question: Is it a personal preference for Joseph's character, Jacob's enduring love for Rachel, or maybe the hand of God guiding Jacob? What do you think?
The next point is one that we have hit frequently in the past and will again in the future: God can take our sinful actions and turn them to good. In the long run, Joseph being sold into Egypt is good. (Not to ruin the story, but I'm sure you've all heard it already, ha-ha)....Joseph's high position allows him to save the family from the famine.
There is also a curious doubling in this story as we will go along. Joseph has two dreams before going to Egypt. Two journeys, two dreams while he is in jail. For today, what about this story strikes you the strongest? Why?
(1-4) Jacob settled in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is his family history. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he was tending the flocks with his brothers; he was an assistant to the sons of his father's wives Bilhah and Zilpah, and he brought his father bad reports about them.
Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.
(17-28) The man told him, "They [Joseph's brothers] have moved on from here; in fact, I heard them say, 'Let us go on to Dothan.'" So Joseph went after his brothers and caught up with them in Dothan. They noticed him from a distance, and before he came up to them, they plotted to kill him. They said to one another, "Here comes that master dreamer [for Joseph had prophetic dreams]! Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We shall see them what comes of his dreams."
When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from their hands, saying, "We must not take his life. Instead of shedding blood," he continued, "just throw him into that cistern there in the desert; but don't kill him outright." His purpose was to rescue him from their hands and restore him to his father. So when Joseph came up to them, they stripped him of the long tunic he had on; then they took him and threw him into the cistern, which was empty and dry.
They then sat down to their meal. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm, and resin to be taken down to Egypt.
Judah said to his brothers: "What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh." His brothers agreed.
They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 35 (part 2)
1) Firstly, we're going to skip the Rape of Dinah and the aftereffects. One, because it only deals tangentially with Jacob; two, it does not affect the flow of the story; and three, because it has been brought together in its present form from three different sources, which requires much tedious explanation.
2) Bethel (different from Bethlehem, which will be important later) has played an important part in almost every section of Genesis. The patriarchs at one time or another stopped at Bethel: Abraham built and altar between Bethel and Ai; Jacob had a dream at Bethel and set up stones to mark the place. Later, during the period in which much of Israel gets involved in idolatry, Bethel will be one of the “high places” at which they worship foreign gods.
3) Jacob deals with two hard events within a short time: the death of his beloved wife Rachel, and the death of his father. The Bible does not say how he reacted to these events, but we, as fellow humans, can imagine the devastation he must have felt. It is important that Esau helped him bury his father. It seems that the disagreements between them are long in the past.
Question: Can you think of a time in the past in which having someone’s forgiveness would have meant a lot to you?
Can you think of a time in the past in which YOUR forgiveness would have probably meant a lot to another person?
(16-20) Then they departed from Bethel: but while they still had some distance to go on the way to Ephrath, Rachel began to be in labor and to suffer great distress. When her pangs were most sever, her mid-wife said to her, "Have no fear! This time, too, you will have a son." With her last breath- for she was at the point of death- she called him Ben-oni [meaning: son of my affliction]; his father, however, named him Benjamin [meaning: son of my right hand or son of good fortune]. Thus Rachel died; and she was buried on the road to Ephrath [that is, Bethlehem]. Jacob set up a memorial stone on her grave, and the same monument marks Rachel's grave to this day.
(27-29) Jacob went home to his father Isaac at Mamre, in Kiriath-arba [that is, Hebron], where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. The lifetime of Isaac was one hundred and eighty years; then he breathed his last. After a full life, he died as an old man and was taken to his kinsmen. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 39
1) Throughout the earlier story of the patriarchs, we often discussion "if" people's actions were used by God. QW discussed about whether Laben cheating Jacob out of his first choice as wife was a way to increase Jacob's offspring, if Rebekah's actions to help Jacob "steal" Esau's blessing, etc.
For the first time in the story of the patriarch's, it is written clearly that God blessed Joseph's actions and helped him to prosper.
2) Joseph is falsely accused. If Joseph fled with his cloak behind, it is fully likely that he fled completely naked. Even if he wasn't, the most he would have had underneath was a thin tunic. This is important to understand why her having the cloak was such a big deal. "Cloak" is NOT interchangeable with "coat" in our current language. It is more interchangeable with "clothes!"
3) Even while falsely accused and thrown in prison, God helps Joseph and blessed him. Again, it is clearly written out what God was doing. We don't have to guess.
Have you ever been falsely accused of something? Did you struggle to understand how God could use or could do that to you??
Have you attempted to follow God's will and felt that someone else was thwarting your attempts?
Has someone asked for your advice, and you gave them what you felt God would want them to do and then they specifically ignored the advice they asked for?
When Joseph was taken down to Egypt, a certain Egyptian (Potiphar, a courtier of Pharoah and his chief steward) bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there. But since the Lord was with him, Joseph got on very well and was assigned to the household of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and brought him success in whatever he did, he took a liking to Joseph and made him his personal attendant; he put him in charge of his household and entrusted to him all his possessions. From the moment that he put him in charge of his household and all his possessions, the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; in fact, the Lord's blessing was on everything he owned, both inside the house and out. Having left everything he owned in Joseph's charge, he gave no thought, with Joseph there, to anything but the food he ate.
Now Joseph was strikingly handsome in countenance and body. After a time, his master's wife began to look fondly at him and said, "Lie with me." But he refused.
"As long as I am here," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, but has entrusted to me all he own. He wields no more authority in this house than I do, and he had withheld from me nothing but yourself, since you are his wife. How, then, could I commit so great a wrong and thus stand condemned before God?" Although she tried to entice him day after day, he would not agree to lie beside her, or even stay near her.
One such day, when Joseph came into the house to do his work, and none of the household servants were then in the house, she laid hold of him by his cloak, saying, "Lie with me!" But leaving the cloak in her hand, he got away from her and ran outside. When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand as she fled outside, she screamed for her household servants and told them, "Look! my husband has brought in a Hebrew slave to make sport of us! He came in here to lie with me, but I cried out as loud as I could. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran away outside."
She kept the cloak with her until his master came home. Then she told him the same story: "The Hebrew slave whom you brought here broke in on me, to make sport of me. But when I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and fled outside." As soon as the master heard his wife's story about how his slave had treated her, he became enraged.
He seized Joseph and threw him into the jail where the royal prisoners were confined.
But even while he was in prison, the Lord remained with Joseph; he showed him kindness by making the chief jailer well-disposed toward him. The chief jailer put
Joseph in charge of all the prisoners in the jail, and everything that had to be done there was done under his management. The chief jailer did not concern himself with anything at all that was in Joseph's charge, since the Lord was with him and brought success to all he did.”
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 40
1) Today, Joseph first interprets dreams, which will lead to an important change in his life, the life of his family, and the life of his descendants. And it all started while he was in prison.
The simplest of actions, helping another in whatever way he could, led to an entire change in Joseph's life...though it took awhile for that change to occur.
We also have the curious doubling (two dreams) that we noted earlier. This is a literary affect used throughout the book to show how God "ties things together."
Questions: Has a small action in your life led to big changes? Did you even realize at the moment how important that small action was? What can we learn from this story to apply to our everyday life?
(2-5) Pharaoh was angry with his two courtiers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the chief steward (the same jail where Joseph was confined). The chief steward assigned Joseph to them, and he became their attendant. After they had been in custody for some time, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt who were confined in the jail both had dreams on the same night, each dream with its own meaning.
(8-9) They answered him, "We have had dreams, but there is no one to interpret them for us." Joseph said to them, "Surely, interpretations come from God. Please tell the dreams to me."
Then the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. "In my dream," he said, "I saw a vine in front of me..."
(12-14) Joseph said to him: "This is what it means. The three branches are three days; within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your post. You will be handing Pharaoh his cup as you formerly used to do when you were his cupbearer. So if you will still remember, when all is well with you, that I was here with you, please do me the favor of mentioning me to Pharaoh, to get me out of this place."
[Joseph interprets baker's dream]
(20-23) And in fact, on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, when he gave a banquet to all his staff, with his courtiers around him, he lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and chief baker. He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, so that he again handed the cup to Pharaoh; but the chief baker he impaled- just as Joseph had told them in his interpretation. Yet the chief cupbearer gave no thought to Joseph; he had forgotten him.”
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 41 (part 1)
This story has so many great aspects to think about, along with the fact that it is beautifully written.
First, the patience that Joseph demonstrates. The story really skims over the two plus YEARS that Joseph spent in jail. Yes, God blessed his work at that time, but still, over two years without freedom, having to eat what was given to you, having to sleep where you were told, etc. Joseph demonstrates amazing patience, simply by the fact that it is NOT mentioned how he dealt with those years.
Secondly, the interpretation of dreams. It is common in our society today, as it was long ago, to believe in interpretation of dreams, those who could contact the dead, fortune-telling, etc.
Joseph says flat out: "It is not I, but God."
It is so easy in our society today, where being "open-minded" and "non-judgmental" are the keystones of the secular faith. Yes, being open-minded is good, Jesus was open to all sorts of people, and certainly didn't judge them. BUT, he also said "Go forth and sin no more." The secular view of proper behavior any more is that the only sin is to believe that people sin.
If you say, "I don't think that's right," imagine the looks you'll get. In fact, you've probably gotten them yourself.
We must remember in today's society that loving others does not mean condoning their sin; that being "open-minded" does not mean being "empty minded", and that not judging someone doesn't mean being honest about what sins they are committing.
And everything we apply to other people, we must doubly apply to ourselves. If we are going to have a moral opinion about something, we must constantly work on ourselves so that we are a shining example of a Christian, not someone who embarrasses the very term Christian.
When or where have you stood up and made a moral statement, no matter how small?
What do you wish you could change in our society? Is that something you've already worked on in yourself?
Is there a particular point in this story that makes an impression on you?
(1-16) After a lapse of two years, Pharaoh had a dream. He saw himself standing by the Nile, when up out of the Nile came seven cows, handsome and fat; they grazed in the reed grass. Behind them seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile; and standing on the bank of the Nile beside the others, the ugly, gaunt cows ate up the seven handsome, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
He fell asleep again and had another dream. He saw seven ears of grain, fat and healthy, growing on a single stalk. Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, thin and blasted by the east wind; and the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven fat, healthy ears. Then Pharaoh woke up, to find it was only a dream.
Next morning his spirit was agitated. So he summoned all the magicians and sages of Egypt and recounted his dreams to them; but no one could interpret his dreams for him. Then the chief cupbearer spoke up and said to Pharaoh, "On this occasion I am reminded of my negligence.
Once, when Pharaoh was angry, he put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the chief steward. Later, we both had dreams on the same night, and each of our dreams had its own meaning. There with us was a Hebrew youth, a slave of the chief steward; and when we told him our dreams, he interpreted them for us and explained for each of us the meaning of the dream. And it turned out just as he had told us: I was restored to my post, but the other man was impaled."
Pharaoh therefore had Joseph summoned, and they hurriedly brought him for the dungeon. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he came into Pharaoh's presence. Pharaoh then said to him: "I had certain dreams that no one can interpret. But I hear it said of you that the moment you are told a dream you can interpret it." "It is not I," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "but God who will give Pharaoh the right answer."
(25-32) Joseph said to Pharaoh: "Both of Pharaoh's dreams have the same meaning. God has thus foretold to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears are seven years- the same in each dream. So also, the seven thin, ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven thin, wind-blasted ears; they are seven years of famine. It is just as I told Pharaoh: God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are now coming throughout the land of Egypt; but these will be followed by seven years of famine, when all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. When the famine has ravaged the land, no trace of the abundance will be found in the land because of the famine that follows is- so utterly sever will that famine be. That Pharaoh had the same dream twice means that the matter has been reaffirmed by God and that God will soon bring it about
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 41 (part 2)
One area that I glossed over below is that Joseph is given a new name by Pharaoh: Zaphnath-paneah. He is also given a wife and has two sons. The name "Zaphnath-paneah" means "God speaks, He lives." Pharaoh giving him this name is a small, but telling thing!
Pharaoh, who has for his whole life worshipped multiple Gods, is listening to a Hebrew man who is bold enough to tell the Pharaoh of Egypt about his God. And Pharaoh listens to the obviously good advice, follows it, and elevates the man who gave him the good advice.
This is not the view of Egypt that we will come to take later....we must remember, when looking at a country, area, or time period, that much of the general attitude of the day is determined by the leaders of those areas. This Pharaoh is open to the idea of the one true God, and elevates a foreigner to high position.
Also note: Joseph's two sons, despite being born of an Egyptian wife, become two of the greatest tribes of Israel....what a change from later in Israel's history, when a foreigner is basically unwelcome, and certainly, unclean!
Questions: Joseph allows God to lead him, and he causes changes. In what area have you allowed God to lead you? Even if you didn't see any changes, are you setting a good example in your everyday life?
While we must always respect one another, is there a time you have "stood up" for God?
(33-42) [Joseph said] "Therefore, let Pharaoh seek out a wise and discerning man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Pharaoh should also take actions to appoint overseers, so as to regiment the land during the seven years of abundance. They should husband all the food of the coming good years, collecting the grain under pharaoh's authority, to be stored in the towns for food. This food will serve as a reserve for the country against the seven years of famine that are to follow in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine."
This advice pleased Pharaoh and all his officials. "Could we find another like him," Pharaoh asked his officials, "a man so endowed with the spirit of God?" So Pharaoh said to Joseph: "Since God has made all this known to you, no one can be as wise and discerning as you are. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people shall dart at your command. Only in respect to the throne shall I outrank you. Herewith," Pharaoh told Joseph, "I place you in charge of the whole land of Egypt," With that, Pharaoh took of his signet ring and put it on Joseph's finger. He had him dressed in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck.
(47-48) During the seven years of plenty, when the land produced abundant crops, he husbanded all the food of these years of plenty that the land of Egypt was enjoying and stored it in the towns, placing in each town the crops of the fields around it.
(53-57) When the seven years of abundance enjoyed by the land of Egypt came to an end, the seven years of famine set in, just as Joseph had predicted. Although there was famine in all the other countries, food was available throughout the land of Egypt. When the hunger came to be felt throughout the land of Egypt and the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread, Pharaoh directed all the Egyptians to go to Joseph and do whatever he told them. When the famine had spread throughout the land, Joseph opened all the cities that had grain and rationed it to the Egyptians, since the famine had gripped the land of Egypt. In fact, all the world came to Joseph to obtain rations of grain, for famine had gripped the whole world.
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 42
First, note how Joseph tests his brothers with his request. These are the same brothers who believe that they are guilty of fratricide.
Question: Does God test us? If so, how? If not, why not?
Second, even Jacob, a great man of faith, cries out to God, "Why must such things always happen to me!"
He has been blessed with a wife he loved, another wife, and TWELVE children...yes, losing a child no matter the circumstances is horrible, but he has practically seen God, and certainly had God's assurances about the future of his descendants.
Question: Are they times when we cry out, "Why me?!"
Why is it hard to remember that God loves us even when we are suffering? How do you help yourself to remember that God is always there during those times?
(1-5) When Jacob learned that grain rations were available in Egypt, he said to his sons: "Why do you keep gaping at one another? I hear," he went on, "that rations of grain are available in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, that we may stay alive rather than die of hunger." So ten of Joseph's brothers went down to buy an emergency supply of grain from Egypt. It was only Joseph's full brother Benjamin that Jacob did not send with the rest, for he thought some disaster might befall him. Thus, since there was famine in the land of Canaan also, the sons of Israel were among those who came to procure rations.
(17-26) [Joseph accuses his brothers of being spies] With that, he locked them up in the guard-house for three days. On the third day Joseph said to them: "Do this, and you shall live; for I am a God-fearing man. If you have been honest, only one of your brothers need be confined in this prison, while the rest of you may go and take home provisions for your starving families. But you must come back to me with your youngest brother. Your words will thus be verified, and you will not die." To this they agreed.
To one another, however, they said: "Alas, we are being punished because of our brother. We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us, yet we paid no heed; this is why this anguish has now come upon us."
"Didn't I tell you," broke in Reuben, "not to do wrong to that boy? But you wouldn't listen! Now comes the reckoning for his blood." They did not know, of course, that Joseph understood what they said, since he spoke with them through an interpreter. But turning away from them, he wept. When he was able to speak to them again, he had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes. Then Joseph gave order to have their containers filled with grain, their money replaced in each one's sack and provisions given them for their journey. After this had been done for them, they loaded their donkeys with the rations and departed.
(29) When they got back to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them.
(33-34) "Then the man who is lord of the country said to us: 'This is how I shall know if you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, while the rest of you go home with rations for your starving families. When you come back to me with your youngest brother, and I know that you are honest men and not spies, I will restore your brother to you, and you may move about freely in the land.'"
(36-38) Their father Jacob said to them: "Must you make me childless? Joseph is gone, and Simeon is gone, and now you would take away Benjamin! Why must such things always happen to me!"
Then Reuben told this father: "Put him in my care, and I will bring him back to you. You may kill my own two sons if I do not return him to you."
But Jacob replied: "My son shall not go down with you. Now that his full brother is dead, he is the only one left. If some disaster should befall him on the journey you must make, you would send my white head down to the nether world in grief."
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 43 (part 1)
Jacob (Israel) doesn't agree to them going back until supplies are exhausted (obviously putting them all at risk of starvation, including Benjamin). Again, Israel is reluctant to send his beloved Benjamin into possible harm's way.
Judah takes the role of orchestrating the argument to allow them to go back to Egypt. His passionate words "you can hold it against me forever" are at contrast with his very next sentence which talks about "dilly-dallied."
Israel agrees to let them go, but only after making sure they have sufficient gifts to help assure his beloved son's return. Though he does accept reality and God's will with his final words, "As for me, if I am to suffer bereavement, I shall suffer it."
Often we humans are reluctant to accept the reality of the situations we are in. We try to "fool" ourselves and pretend that we have control of everything, that everything will be all right if we "just do this or just do that". Even the most miserable of souls are reluctant to invite God into their hearts.
Oh, we cling to our independence with every fiber of our being. We forget that it is our independence that hurt us in the first place.
God gave us free will and independence, because a true relationship of love needs independence. If one person is completely subject to another, love cannot exist. But the gift of free will is often a burden to us. We forget in our everyday life to daily ask God to dwell within our hearts and to keep a constant flow of conversation (or meditation) with God.
Israel accepts God's will in his last sentence. A great saint said "I will suffer whatever is pleasing to God." This is the ultimate acceptance of God!! What a blessing it would be if we could all strive to be like this.
Attempting to do "good works" and forcing ourselves to do "what we think God wants" is a foolish waste of time. We must accept God into our hearts with every bit of longing we have...then the good works and the correct behavior will flow out of us through his grace.
Question: When have you denied God presence in your heart? Why did you do so?
Is there a moment in which you were completely open to God’s presence in your heart? What caused it (besides God)?
(1-14) Now the famine in the land grew more sever. So when they had used up all the rations they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, "Go back and procure us a little more food."
But Judah replied: "The man strictly warned us, 'You shall not appear in my presence unless your brother is with you.' If you are willing to let our brother go with us, we will go down to procure food for you. But if you are not willing, we will not go down, because the man told us, 'You shall not appear in my presence unless your brother is with you.'"
Israel demanded, "Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man that you had another brother?"
They answered: "The man kept asking about ourselves and our family: 'Is your father still living? Do you have another brother?' We had to answer his questions. How could we know that he would say, 'Bring your brother down here'?"
Then Judah urged his father Israel: "Let the boy go with me, that we may be off and on our way if you and we and our children are to keep from starving to death. I myself will stand surety for him. You can hold me responsible for him. If I fail to bring him back, to set him in your presence, you an hold it against me forever. Had we not dilly-dallied, we could have been there and back twice by now!"
Their father Israel then told them: "If it must be so, then do this: Put some of the land's best products in your baggage and take them down to the man as gifts: some balm and honey, gum and resin, and pistachios and almonds. Also take extra money along, for you must return the amount that was put back in the mouths of your bags; it may have been a mistake. Take your brother, too, and be off on your way to the man. May God Almighty dispose the man to be merciful toward you, so that he may let your other brother go, as well as Benjamin. As for me, if I am to suffer bereavement, I shall suffer it."
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 43 (part 2) & 44 (part 1)
What a predicament for the brothers: they had promised their father to bring back Benjamin, and then he is caught STEALING, which means he must stay in Egypt as a slave!
Question: Do you think the brother's believed Benjamin when he proclaimed his innocence? Or did they assume he was guilty and still love him anyway (later we'll see definite proof of their love for him)?
Question: Have you ever been falsely accused of something or felt that people were accusing you in their minds? How did it make you feel? Do you think it affected your relationship with them?
Joseph is a gracious and kind host, if a bit unorthodox (giving the youngest choice portion, concern for their family).
Question: In your everyday life, are there places you can be "a gracious host," by showing extra kindness or showing interest in their lives? Where are they? What could you do?
(43:15) So the men [Jacob's sons] got the gifts, took double the amount of money with them, and, accompanied by Benjamin, were off on their way down to Egypt to present themselves to Joseph.
(43:24-31)The steward then brought the men inside Joseph's house. He gave them water to bathe their feet, and got fodder for their donkeys. Then they set out their gifts to await Joseph's arrival at noon, for they had heard that they were to dine there. When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside, while they bowed down before him to the ground.
After inquiring how they were, he asked them, "And how is your aged father, of whom you spoke? Is he still in good health?"
"Your servant our father is thriving and still in good health," they said, as they bowed respectfully. When Joseph's eye fell on his full brother Benjamin, he asked "Is this your youngest brother, of whom you told me?" Then he said to him, "May God be gracious to you, my boy!" With that, Joseph had to hurry out, for he was so overcome with affection for his brother that he was on the verge of tears. He went into a private room and wept there. After washing his face, he reappeared and, now in control of himself, gave the order, "Serve the meal."
(44:1-2) Then Joseph gave his head steward these instructions: "Fill the men's bags with as much food as they can carry, and put each man's money in the mouth of his bag. In the mouth of the youngest one's bag put also my silver goblet, together with the money for his rations." The steward carried out Joseph's instructions.
(44:10-12) But he [the steward, after he caught up with the brothers] replied, "Even though it out to be as you propose, only the one who is found to have it shall become my slave, and the rest of you shall be exonerated." Then each of them eagerly lowered his bag to the ground and opened it; and when a search was made, starting with the oldest and ending with the youngest, the goblet turned up in Benjamin's bag.
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 44 (part 2) & 45
Note Judah's complete surrender and offer to save his brother Benjamin. What devotion! And how at odds with his behavior years earlier, especially since Benjamin is also Jacob's favorite- which was the situation that originally led to their betrayal of Joseph.
Question: Are there events in your life which have caused you to change your behavior, even if in a small way?
Joseph tests his brothers before trusting them again. But God forgives us without any test, and being all-knowing, knowing that we will make many more mistakes, and still loves us.
Question: In what ways can we attempt to imitate that love?
Joseph bluntly states that him being sold into Egypt was God's will and that he is now fulfilling God's will by being "ruler" over Egypt in Pharaoh's stead.
Questions: In what areas do you KNOW God is directing you? How do you feel when you do something you know God wants or would want you to do?
(44:17) "Far be it from me to act thus!" said Joseph. "Only the one in whose possession the goblet was found shall become my slave; the rest of you may go back safe and sound to your father."
(44:30-33) [Judah said] "If then the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, whose very life is bound up with his, he will die as soon as he sees that the boy is missing; and your servants will thus send the white head of our father down to the nether world in grief. Besides, I, your servant, got the boy from his father by going surety for him, saying, 'If I fail to bring him back to you, father, you can hold it against me forever.' Let me, your servant, therefore, remain in place of the boy as the slave of my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers."
(45:4-10) "Come closer to me," he [Joseph] told his brothers. When they had done so, he said: "I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you. For two years now the famine has been in the land, and for five more years tillage will yield no harvest. God, therefore, sent me on ahead of you to ensure for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. So it was not really you but God who had me come here; and he has made of me a father to
Pharaoh, lord of all his household, and ruler over the whole land of Egypt. "Hurry back, then, to my father and tell him: 'Thus says your son Joseph: God had made me lord of all Egypt; some to me without delay. You will settle in the region of Goshen, where you will be near me- you and your children and your grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and everything that you own.'"
(45:25-28)So they left Egypt and made their way to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. When they told him, "Joseph is still alive- in fact, it is he who is ruler of all the land of Egypt," he was dumbfounded; he could not believe them. But when they recounted to him all that Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent for his transport, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. "It is enough," said Israel. "My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him before I die."
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 46
There is a touching scene in which Jacob and Joseph are re-united. There is Joseph's usual craftiness by having his brothers get together and all say they are shepherds in order to settle in Goshen.
And most importantly, there is God's promise to Jacob in his dream that he will deliver him from Egypt. God is making a threefold promise here, though Jacob may not have known it at the time. He is promising Jacob that he will have his remains returned to Canaan after death. He is promising the Hebrews that they will be delivered from Egypt during their slavery. And he is promising the Jewish people that their Messiah will be brought from Egypt, which Jesus was, after his parents fled there.
God's promises always come true. There is no doubt of that.
Question: Have you personally had God answer a prayer? If you're willing, will you please share?
The apostles thought Jesus would be back for the End Times before their lives were over. And tens, if not hundreds, of times since then people have thought the world was going to end. Jesus himself said that only the Father knew when that time was.
I actually met someone today who believes it is the end times and that the world is ending in 2012 (December 21st to be exact)....this is a smart, articulate person. Who believes, in her ignorance, that she knows what Jesus said no man would know.
Question: Have you met people who are preaching the end times? Are they preaching Jesus' message? Or their own message?
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm NOT claiming to know when the end times are. We may be in them. I don't know...I don't think so, but I don't know. I'm simply saying that if someone is proclaiming something against what Jesus said....don't listen to them!
Question: What is the wildest claim you have heard from someone...a claim that just made you scratch your head and say "Where in the world did they get THAT?"
(1-7) Israel set out with all that was his. When he arrived at Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. There God, speaking to Israel in vision by night, called, "Jacob! Jacob!"
"Here I am," he answered. Then he said: "I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you a great nation. Not only will I go down to Egypt with you, I will also bring you back here, after Joseph has closed your eyes."
So Jacob departed from Beer-sheba, and the sons of Israel put their father and their wives and children on the wagons that Pharaoh had sent for his transport. They took with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan. Thus Jacob and all his descendants migrated to Egypt. His sons and his grandsons, his daughters and his granddaughters- all his descendants- he took with him to Egypt.
(28-34) Israel had sent Judah ahead to Joseph, so that he might meet him in Goshen. On his arrival in the region of Goshen, Joseph hitched the horses to his chariot and rode to meet his father Israel in Goshen. As soon as he saw him, he flung himself on his neck and wept a long time in his arms. And Israel said to Joseph, "At last I can die, now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive."
Joseph then said to his brothers and his father's household: "I will go and inform Pharaoh, telling him: 'My brothers and my father's household, whose home is in the land of Canaan, have come to me. The men are shepherds, having long been keepers of livestock; and they have brought with them their flocks and herds, as well as everything else they own.'
So when Pharaoh summons you and asks what your occupation is, you must answer, 'We your servants, like our ancestors, have been keepers of livestock from the beginning until now,' in order that you may stay in the region of Goshen, since all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians."
Lesson: Genesis: Chapter 47-50
Joseph uses the famine to collect first all of the livestock, secondly all of the farmland, and lastly, the very persons (they become slaves) of every Egyptian for Pharaoh.
It is arguable that he also is profiting from this....
Question: Is it fair/moral of Joseph to take these peoples every possessions and also their freedom? Why or why not?
Do you believe there could be a better course of action...if so, what?
Do you think his harsh land policy led to the Hebrews later slavery?
I skipped the many blessing of Jacob because it is widely believed that the blessings were later added during the "kings" phase of Israel.
Jacob was insistent that he be buried with his ancestors in Canaan. His sons, especially Jacob, carried this wish out.
Question: Do you think our burial place is important, since we believe in the resurrection? Is cremation an option? (This is of course, an OPINION....just let us know what you think!)
(47:11-14) As Pharaoh had ordered, Joseph settled his father and brothers and gave them holdings in Egypt on the pick of the land, in the region of Ramses [Goshen]. And Joseph sustained his father and brothers and his father's whole household, down to the youngest, with food.
Since there was no food in any country because of the extreme severity of the famine, and the lands of Egypt and Canaan were languishing from hunger, Joseph gathered in, as payment for the rations that were being dispensed, all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan, and he put it in Pharaoh's palace.
(47:20) Thus Joseph acquired all the farm land of Egypt for Pharaoh, since with the famine too much for them to bear, every Egyptian sold his field; so the land passed over to Pharaoh.
(47:25-26) "You have saved our lives!" they [the people in Egypt] answered. "We are grateful to my lord that we can be Pharaoh's slaves." Thus Joseph made it a law for the land of Egypt, which is still in force, that a fifth of its produce should go to Pharaoh. Only the land of the priests did none pass over to Pharaoh.
(49:28-29) [Jacob pronounces blessings on everyone] All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said about them, as he bade them farewell and gave to each of them an appropriate message. Then he gave them this charge: "Since I am about to be taken to my kindred, bury me with my fathers in the cave that lies in the field of Ephron the Hittite [in Canaan].
(50:14) After Joseph had buried his father he returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all who had gone up with him for the burial of his father.
[Joseph takes care of everyone for years]
(50:24-26) Joseph said to his brothers: "I am about to die. God will surely take care of you and lead you out of this land to the land that he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Then putting the sons of Israel under oath, he continued, "When God thus takes care of you, you must bring my bones up with you from this place." Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. He was embalmed and laid to rest in a coffin in Egypt.