Having A Go At Genesis

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Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 32:4 . . Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land
of Seir, the country of Edom,

The Hebrew word for "messengers" is the same word often used for angels.
Since that word has such wide application, some have proposed that Jacob
dispatched the holy angels on ahead to meet with Esau for him. Well, I think
that might be stretching the imagination just a little too far. Jacob was in
charge of his own camp, not God's, and there's no textual evidence to
suggest otherwise.

Jacob had learned where Esau lived, and could have avoided contact with
him if he wanted to. Esau's land was pretty far out of the way. His haunts
were way down in Seir, a mountainous tract which runs along the eastern
side of the Araba, once occupied by the ancient cave dwelling Horites.

If you have a map handy, it's in between the southern end of the Dead Sea
and the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. Jacob's destination was Shechem,
in the vicinity of modern day Nabulus, up in the West Bank about 80 miles
northwest of the tip of the Red Sea; as the crow flies.

Gen 32:5a . . and instructed them as follows: Thus shall you say to my
lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob:

Jacob instructed his servants to acknowledge Esau as Jacob's superior. It's
true the patriarchy passed to Jacob, but he must have felt it was expedient
to set that aside for now and approach his brother from the standpoint of
their natural birth rank. Jacob never really desired to lord it over his brother,
and there was certainly no reason to assert his patriarchal rank at this time[
most especially for the purpose of this particular reunion; which was to
make amends for past grievances and to set the stage for Jacob's peaceable
return to the neighborhood.

This show-down was a necessity. Jacob couldn't very well be looking over his
shoulder all the time, wondering if Esau was around somewhere nearby
drawing a bead on him. They had to get their differences smoothed out now
before Jacob settled his family in Canaan. And this meeting was going to be
difficult enough without invoking the prerogatives of royalty. No; it was
better that Jacob met with Esau as his younger brother, and then go from
there and see what happens.

Gen 32:5b-6 . . I stayed with Laban and remained until now; I have
acquired cattle, donkeys, sheep, and male and female slaves; and I send
this message to my lord in the hope of gaining your favor.

The delegation's mission was merely to inform Esau that Jacob was back in
town; and to make sure Esau knew that Jacob was not here for a fight. He
was in fact inclined to seek Esau's good graces. Esau's initial reaction was
probably an instinctive posture of self defense. Since it was predicted that
the younger would rule the older, it may have appeared to Esau that Jacob
was returning from Paddan-aram with a large body of fighting men to claim
the covenanted boundaries, and to subjugate Esau under patriarchal rule as
predicted in Gen 25:23.

Gen 32:7-9 . .The messengers returned to Jacob, saying: We came to your
brother Esau; he himself is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred
men with him. Jacob was greatly frightened; in his anxiety, he divided the
people with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps,
thinking: If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, the other camp may
yet escape.

Jacob quite naturally jumped to the conclusion that Esau still sought his
death. From all appearances, it sure looked that way. So he followed a
typical caravan tactic of dividing his troupe so that if Esau should attack the
lead group, the one following would have a chance to escape while Esau was
busy with the first. It would have been wiser to take up positions and wait
for Esau to come to Jacob. But apparently, the local terrain wouldn't permit
Jacob's assembly to scatter all over the place and thereby make it difficult
for Esau to attack everyone at once.

Gen 32:10 . .Then Jacob said: O God of my father Abraham and God of my
father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me; Return to your native land and I will
deal bountifully with you!

One can't help but admire Jacob's praying style. It's so practical-- no
bombast, no pious rhetoric, no platitudes, no rote, and no siddur --just down
to business, and right from the heart.

But what I really love most about his style is the appeal he makes to certain
promises that God made to him. Jacob came to the point in his walk of faith
where he realized that if God planned to make good on those promises, then
He has to keep Jacob alive to do it; just like Abraham reasoned that God had
to raise Isaac from the dead in order to keep the promises he made
concerning him (cf. Heb 11:17-19) promises which, in reality, made Jacob
just as bullet proof as they had made Abraham and Isaac.

Gen 32:11-13 . . I am unworthy of all the kindness that You have so
steadfastly shown Your servant: with my staff alone I crossed this Jordan,
and now I have become two camps. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my
brother, from the hand of Esau; else, I fear, he may come and strike me
down, mothers and children alike. Yet You have said; I will deal bountifully
with you and make your offspring as the sands of the sea, which are too
numerous to count.

Jacob was given a promise, and he held God to it. It takes real spiritual
fortitude to do that. In court, we commonly make people take an oath to tell
the truth and then hold them to their word. And we notarize our legal
documents so they become binding and carry some weight. So why don't we
do the very same thing with God? Would He be insulted? No way! If only
more people would hold God to his word like Jacob did. There's absolutely
nothing wrong with that. As the writer of the book of Hebrews said; reliance
upon God's testimony provides one with encouragement, and an anchor for
the soul. (Heb 6:16-19)


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 32:14a . . After spending the night there,

No one knows yet just exactly where Mahanaim was located. According to a
Jordanian tourism web site, it was north of the river W. Zarqa (N. Yaboq) up
in some elevated ground a few miles east of Deir Alla. If your map doesn't
show Deir Alla; then from 'Amman Jordan look northward to the W. Zarqa
river and follow it west to its junction with the Jordan River. Deir 'Alla is
about 3 or 4 miles northwest of the point where the W. Zarqa river meets
the Jordan.

Gen 32:14b-16 . . he selected from what was at hand these presents for
his brother Esau: 200 she-goats and 20 he-goats; 200 ewes and 20 rams;
30 milch camels with their colts; 40 cows and 10 bulls; 20 jenny donkeys
and 10 jack donkeys.

That's a total of 580 animals altogether. I don't know what each of those
species are worth on the hoof at today's prices, but all combined; it has to
be a heck of a lot of money. Especially for the camels. In Birqash Egypt,
prices for camels used to vary from 100 to 1,200 US dollars. Jacob sent Esau
30 females with their calves. Even in the median price range, that's about
16,500 US dollars worth of dromedaries.

NOTE: Milch camels are the equivalent of dairy cows. Camel's milk is much
more nutritious than that from a cow. It's lower in fat and lactose, and
higher in potassium, iron and Vitamin C. It's normally drunk fresh, and the
warm frothy liquid, heavy and sweet, is usually an acquired taste for the
Western palate. Most Saudi Arabian camels are females reared for their milk
in dairy herds.

Gen 32:17-21a . .These he put in the charge of his servants, drove by
drove, and he told his servants: Go on ahead, and keep a distance between
droves. He instructed the one in front as follows: When my brother Esau
meets you and asks "Whose man are you? Where are you going? And whose
[animals] are these ahead of you?" you shall answer: Your servant Jacob's;
they are a gift sent to my lord Esau; and [Jacob] himself is right behind us.

. . . He gave similar instructions to the second one, and the third, and all the
others who followed the droves, namely: Thus and so shall you say to Esau
when you reach him. And you shall add: And your servant Jacob himself is
right behind us.

Some people have proposed that Jacob's tactic was an evidence of a lack of
faith in God's providence. I don't accept that theory for one second! Here's a
better way to look at it.

Supposing you were a university student with poor grades. So one night, in
desperation, you pray and ask God to help you pass the finals. After prayers,
you go to bed with all the confidence in the world that God will somehow
pack all the information you need to pass the test into your brain cells while
you're asleep. Next day you fail the test. You know why? Duh! You didn't
prepare for it.

When men praise the Lord in battle, they should also pass the ammunition;
and when a farmer prays for a good crop, he should say amen with a hoe;
and when people pray for a safe trip to grandma's house, they should put
gas in the tank and check the oil, the water, and the tires, and fasten all the
seat belts.

Never pray for success without taking some initiative to make all the
sensible preparations in your power that are necessary to get it. If you do
your part to the best of your ability; the odds are in your favor that God will
do His part too; i.e. if He feels like it. Please don't ever take God for
granted; that's just plain bad manners.

Gen 32:21b . . For he reasoned: If I propitiate him with presents in
advance, and then face him, perhaps he will show me favor. And so the gift
went on ahead, while he remained in camp that night.

The phrase "propitiate him" is from kaphar (kaw-far') which means: to cover
(specifically with bitumen); figuratively, to expiate or condone, to placate or
cancel. That is a very common word for atonement, and that is exactly what
Jacob had in mind: to show his brother that he wished to reconcile their
differences. (cf. 1John 2:2)

Gen 32:22 . .That same night he arose, and taking his two wives, his two
maidservants, and his eleven children, he crossed the ford of the Jabbok.

The Jabbok is in the country of Jordan and is a very loopy stream. It's path
traces out a huge fish hook beginning in the hills near Amman; then goes
about 7½ miles northeast to Az Zarqa. From there it goes about 6½ miles
north to As Sukhnah, then about 7¼ miles northwest; passing by Al
Qunayyah. From there it goes sort of west, drawing a pair of camel humps
for about 10½ miles to a lake near Jarash. From there it goes dead west for
about 11 miles before turning southwest for ten miles to its junction with the
Jordan River.

I'm sure Jacob's decision was mostly a security measure. If he waited till
daylight to get his family across, Esau might show up unexpected while they
were crossing and have the camp at a disadvantage. It was to Jacob's credit
that he distanced himself from the women and children. If Esau and his men
were coming for Jacob's blood, the mothers and their children would very
likely get hurt in the fracas if Jacob were among them.

Gen 32:23-24a . . After taking them across the stream, he sent across all
his possessions. Jacob was left alone.

After helping his family to cross over, Jacob took some help and returned to
the other side to gather up all their stuff. He stayed while they went on back
over with everything and underwent a very strange close encounter of a
third kind.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 32:24b . . And a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.

There's been some speculation regarding not only the identity of this man
but also his species. Some say it was the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Some
say it was Esau's evil angel. Some say it was one of God's holy angels. And
some say it was God himself in a human form. Hosea can help settle this.

"The Lord once indicted Judah, and punished Jacob for his conduct, requited
him for his deeds. In the womb he tried to supplant his brother; grown to
manhood, he strove with a divine being, he strove with an angel and
prevailed-- the other had to weep and implore him. At Bethel [Jacob] would
meet him, there to commune with him." (Hos 12:3-5)

There can be no doubt who Jacob communed with at Bethel. Jacob met Yhvh
there on his way north when he left home. And he met Yhvh there again in
Bethel after returning. The man that Jacob wrestled with that night was no
evil angel, that's for sure; and Jacob very well knew it too.

How it is possible for Yhvh to appear in a human form? I don't know but He
did it again in Moses' day. (Ex 24:9-11)

Their conflict shouldn't be construed as some sort of combat or an athletic
event. It wasn't that at all. When Jacob perceived that the man was actually
divine, he clutched and hung on; refusing to let Yhvh depart until He blessed

When my boy was little, sometimes he would cling to my ankles like a little
boa constrictor and I would have to drag him around the room for a while
before he'd let go. Well, that's what Jacob did. No one since has ever been
so dogged determined with God like that. The angel was reluctant to bless
Jacob for good reason: so Bible students could see just how much Jacob
really valued spiritual things. Some people extol David's love for God, but I
prefer to extol Jacob for his stubborn refusal to let go. It's easy to see now
why God wanted the patriarchy for him instead of his brother Esau.

From the little we know about Jacob, I'm guessing that the one thing he
valued most about God more than anything else was providence. We got a
glimpse of that back in chapter 28 when Jacob said: "If God will be with me
and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and
clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then
Jehovah shall be my God"

Juxtapose Jacob with Cain; the man who walked out on God. Well; not only
did Jacob not walk out on God, but he refused to let God walk out on him.
Jacob was a pretty amazing guy.

There is a really good story about a Gentile woman in the New Testament
who was persistent with God like Jacob. Not quite as physical as he, but, in
her own way, just as persistent nonetheless. (Matt 15:21-18)

Some people lose heart, and give up on God way too soon. It's not that He's
stubborn and doesn't really want to bless, or that we have to somehow
overcome His reluctance. No, that's not it. For some reason God is very
pleased when we cling and show Him we mean business. Dogged prayer,
like tough love, gets results and shows God we mean business and that we
won't take "no" for an answer. Is God annoyed by that? Far from it.
Compare the "persistence" parables at Luke 11:5-10 and Luke 18:2-8.

Many years prior to where we are now in Genesis, Jacob had a dream. He
saw a staircase with Yhvh standing at the top. At the time, Jacob just
gawked in awe; but were he to have that same dream at this point in his
life, Jacob would have run up those stairs and tackled The Lord before He
could get away. The man coming back down from the north isn't the same
man that ran away from home. He's different.

Gen 32:25 . .When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he
wrenched Jacob's hip at its socket, so that the socket of his hip was strained
as he wrestled with him.

In spite of the injury, Jacob still hung on and refused to let go. The injury
served a purpose. It wasn't to make Jacob let go; after all, the angel could
just as easily broken both of Jacob's arms. The injury served to handicap
Jacob, and force him to depend even more upon God's providence; and less
upon himself.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 32:26a . .Then he said: Let me go, for dawn is breaking.

Time is of the essence for Jacob to get ready for his brother. Dawn wasn't a
problem for the angel. His carriage wasn't going to turn back into a pumpkin
or anything like that nor was he going to burn up in the sunlight like a

Gen 32:26b . . But he answered: I will not let you go, unless you bless

Jacob risked giving Esau the advantage by staying too long; but this is one
guy not to squander an opportunity with God.

Gen 32:27a . . Said the other: What is your name?

Like he didn't know already? Of course he knew it. But the angel's question
is a type of question we call a leading question. You could restate it like this:
And what *strategic pause* is your name?

Gen 32:27b . . He replied: Jacob.

His name was actually Ya'aqob (yah-ak-obe') which means: heel-catcher
(i.e. supplanter). But that is all over now. From this point on; it won't be
necessary for Jacob to supplant somebody in order to gain the advantage.

Gen 32:28a . . Said he: Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel

"Israel" is from Yisra'el (yis-raw-ale') which means: he will rule as God. We
might call Jacob's new name his spiritual name and it's very curious. It
doesn't mean rule like God; but rather: as God.

NOTE: If we take Jacob's new name literally (I think we can) then what
we're looking at is 110% prophetic of a reality. (cf. Ps 110:1 and Ps 45:6-7)

Although Jacob was a patriarch, and a great sheik, he was never a
conqueror. There's a huge difference between ruling as God and ruling as a
conqueror. Conquerors typically rule for their own profit, making slaves out
of their subjects and exacting taxes and tributes. But God always rules for
man's benefit; helping him achieve his greatest potential from within a
peaceful environment.

Through the ages, God has used Jacob's spiritual name to identify the nation
that sprang from him. True, Jacob's progeny has not always ruled as God.
But his ultimate progeny, Messiah, certainly will. No question about it.

"In that day The Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one
who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of
David will be like God, like the angel of The Lord before them." (Zech 12:8)

Gen 32:28b . . for you have striven with beings divine and human, and
have prevailed.

The Hebrew word for "beings divine" is 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which is a
nondescript label for all manner of gods: the true and the false, the real and
the imagined, and the genuine and the imitation.

The word for "prevailed" is from yokel (yaw-kole') which means: to be able,
literally (can, could) or morally (may, might). In other words: he was up to
the challenge; and able to see it through. Jacob was indeed a very
remarkable man.

Gen 32:29a . .Then Jacob inquired, and he said: Divulge, if you please,
your name. And he said: Why then do you inquire of my name?

In other words: Do you really have to ask? No; Jacob knew very well who he
was grappling with. But sometimes we just want things stated for the

Gen 32:29b . . and He blessed him there.

I sure wish we had the wording of that blessing Jacob worked so hard to

Gen 32:30 . . So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel-- For I have
seen the Divine face to face, yet my life was spared.

It's true Jacob didn't actually see The Almighty God in His actual form; but
what he saw and touched was pretty close enough. (cf. 1John 1:1-3)

Jacob was ready for anything after that experience. Esau would be small
potatoes what with The Almighty God and a host of His holy angels in the
vicinity looking out for Jacob's safety.

Gen 32:31-32 . .The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping on
his hip. That is why the children of Israel to this day do not eat the thigh
muscle that is on the socket of the hip, since Jacob's hip socket was
wrenched at the thigh muscle.

God didn't command such a practice; it became a man-made, ethnic
tradition; which doesn't make it eo ipso bad. I mean; wine with Passover
dinner is a rabbinical invention, but Jesus went along with it at his last
supper. The Lord was sometimes a bit peeved with the Jews' traditions; but
not always since they were his heritage too as well as theirs.

But Jacob's experience does indicate the importance of the event in the
minds of the Jews. Some people think Jacob is some sort of a squeaky little
gerbil when it comes to ranking the saints' mettle. But The Almighty was
very impressed with him. That has to count for something.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 33:1-2 . . Looking up, Jacob saw Esau coming, accompanied by four
hundred men. He divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two
maids, putting the maids and their children first, Leah and her children next,
and Rachel and Joseph last.

Whether Rachel was expecting Benjamin at this time is difficult to ascertain;
but if she was; then that would help explain why Jacob put her last in the

Gen 33:3a . . He himself went on ahead

Good move. Still keeping himself at a distance from his family just in case
violence should break out. If Esau was spoiling for a fight, hopefully it would
be with Jacob alone, and not with his family right in the middle of it.

Gen 33:3b . . and bowed low to the ground seven times until he was near
his brother.

The Tell El Amarna tablets record that when approaching a king, the
approacher always bowed seven times. So, as was customary in those days,
Jacob bowed low before Esau as he came near as a token of respect and
recognition of Esau as ruler of the region. He may not have actually been
living down in Seir yet at this time, but had already subdued the indigenous
peoples so that the area was his domain; and under his control.

Gen 33:4 . . Esau ran to greet him. He embraced him and, falling on his
neck, he kissed him; and they wept.

Imagine Jacob's utter surprise (and relief) when, expecting violence from his
brother, he was kissed instead and Esau became emotional and started
blubbering all over the place! This scene may have played out a whole lot
differently if God hadn't taken a role in it.

"When the Lord is pleased with a man's conduct, He may turn even his
enemies into allies." (Prv 16:7)

But what about those angels, the ones that camped nearby Jacob's camp?
What part did they play in all this?

According to Jewish folklore, four bands of angels went to Esau's camp the
previous night and beat him and his men savagely. When Esau realized that
Jacob had men with him who could knock his teeth out, it changed his
attitude and developed a respect for his brother that he didn't have before.
Because of that, a saying came about that if you want an "Esau" to treat you
with respect, you should beat him up because that's the only thing he

Well; that's very imaginative, and somewhat amusing too. But I believe
those angels served another purpose altogether, and they fought with a
totally different foe too.

Invisible to the unaided eye are dark, unholy creatures in our world who go
around influencing human thoughts, and manipulating people to evil ends.
They would have surely interfered in Jacob's homecoming had not the holy
angels restrained them. That's part of their job-- holding back the invisible
forces of evil in the world of men. They don't always do that though; usually
only when God has a special purpose to accomplish; for example Dan 10:10

In the unseen world; sinister beings are operating covertly: manipulating the
destiny of persons, and nations. (cf. Eph 2:1-2)

No wonder the world is plagued with monsters like Muammar Qaddafi, Pol
Pot, Kim Jong Ill, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden;
and predatory lenders; and unscrupulous investment banks the likes of Bear
Sterns, Lehman Bros, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley;
and dishonest securities rating firms the likes of Standard & Poor, Moody's,
and Fitch.

People like that are human allies to the forces of evil; the mortal marionettes
of invisible masterminds-- evil intelligences who secretly run world affairs
undetected by natural means. The beauty of their system is that it is just too
incredible to comprehend. Very few modern, intellectual sophisticates
believe in spirits. Since hardly anyone believes in them, they have the
advantage of stealth-- and their unsuspecting victims just go on about their
business as usual, oblivious to their presence; and easy prey to powerful
psychological suggestions and manipulations.

The dark spirits can easily cause the ruin of perfectly good marriages,
friendships, and businesses; and they can control an entire nation's
economy and it's politics. Take a look at the country of Israel today. Does it
really look as though God is running it? No way. It is only too obvious who
has control of it now. And the dark angels will stay in control until such a
time as Messiah commands the holy angels to purge them out.

Dark mists could've made things go very badly between Jacob and Esau. But
God foreknew their evil intentions and stepped in to thwart them by sending
a detachment of His own forces to hold the mists in check while the two
brothers kissed and made up; and settled their differences.

NOTE: Not too long ago I ran across an op-ed in the local paper in regards
to the mental faculties of today's movers and shakers in government and big
business. The op-ed's observation was that events of the last decade
suggest that the patients are running the sanitarium. America's government,
and America's financial institutions, seem to have taken leave of their senses
and behaving as men and women with mental illness.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 33:5 . . Looking about, he saw the women and the children. Who, he
asked: are these with you? He answered: The children with whom God has
favored your servant.

Because Jacob's response drew Esau's attention to the lads rather than the
women, Jewish folklore proposes that Jacob did that so as to take Esau's
mind off the wives. What an ugly thing to say. It implies that Esau was a
barbaric cave man who stole wives from their husbands; yet there is not one
single incident in the entire Old Testament recording something like that
about him. So that remark is unfounded, and totally uncalled for. It's highly
unlikely that Esau's mind would be off the women anyway while they were
standing right there in front of him; and subsequently introduced one by

Gen 33:6-7 . .Then the maids, with their children, came forward and
bowed low; next Leah, with her children, came forward and bowed low; and
last, Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed low;

The Hebrew word for "bowed low" is from shachah (shaw-khaw') which
means: to depress, i.e. prostrate. At Gen 22:5, and also in many, many
other places in the Old Testament, shachah is translated "worship".

I think the scene went something like this: First Esau asked about the
women and children. Then Jacob, by way of introduction, like a master of
ceremonies on a variety show, moved to the side, raised his arm, gestured
towards his family, and presenting them for Esau's review, proudly
announced; Voila! My offspring, with whom God has favored your servant.

Why not introduce the wives first? Well; in that day, wives were a dime a
dozen; literally bought and sold. But offspring! Oh yes; offspring were to
brag about. Men regarded their offspring as gold and precious stones in

"Sons are the provision of the Lord; the fruit of the womb, His reward. Like
arrows in the hand of a warrior are sons born to a man in his youth. Happy
is the man who fills his quiver with them; they shall not be put to shame
when they contend with the enemy in the gate." (Ps 127:3-5)

First up were Bilhah with Dan and Naphtali, then Zilpah with Gad and Asher.
Then came Leah with Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and
Dinah. Then, last of all, Rachel and Joseph.

Everybody did obeisance to Esau. I tell you the humility of Jacob's family is
astounding. Nobody, not one among them, Jacob included, harbored the
unbearable "chosen-people" mentality that is so prevalent today among
modern Jews.

Esau has been given a very bad rap in Jewish folklore. Yet, not one single
time does the Old Testament portray him as a murderer, a liar, a thief, or an
adulterer. Those allegations have all been smirched upon his reputation by
people with evil minds; prejudiced against him for no good reason at all but
merely because his Jewish detractors can't bear to accept him either as a
brother, nor as an equal. Jacob's progeny has been guilty of all the crimes
and sins of which they accuse Esau, and more too; yet many Jews count
their own people superior to Esau in every way imaginable.

The only reason Jacob's progeny continues to exist is because of the oath
and the promises that God gave their ancestor Abraham. If not for that early
covenant, they would be just as extinct today as the Edomites, and for the
very same reasons.

"Fair Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like
a city beleaguered. Had not the Lord of Hosts left us some survivors, we
should be like Sodom-- another Gomorrah." (Isa 1:8-9)

Gen 33:8 . . And he asked: What do you mean by all this company which I
have met? He answered" To gain my lord's favor. Esau said: I have enough,
my brother; let what you have remain yours.

No doubt uncle Laban would have judged Esau a fool because Rachel's dad,
badly infected with a serious case of unbridled avarice, would have certainly
snapped up Jacob's offer immediately. But Esau's repertoire of vices
apparently didn't include greed. He was actually a very moderate kind of
guy, and easy to satisfy.

Gen 33:10-11 . . But Jacob said: No, I pray you; if you would do me this
favor, accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face of
God, and you have received me favorably. Please accept my present which
has been brought to you, for God has favored me and I have plenty. And
when he urged him, he accepted.

In accordance with oriental customs, which have continued to be practiced
for thousands of years, the most certain way for one who desires
reconciliation to be assured of it is to have his proffered gift accepted by the
one whose favor he seeks. In any case, it would be considered a great
personal favor if Esau would accept Jacob's gift, even though Jacob knew
that his brother didn't really need it in any material sense.

Jacob's diplomacy was irresistible. The men used different adverbs to
describe their prosperity. Esau said; "I have enough". Enough is from rab
(rab) which means: abundant (in quantity, size, age, number, rank, quality)
But Jacob said; "I have plenty". Plenty is from kol (kole) and/or kowl (kole)
which means: the whole; hence, all. So Esau, through his own industry, had
garnered for himself all that he would ever need. But Jacob, through the
providence of God, had everything. So I think he was implying that he really
had too much to manage and would consider it a personal favor if Esau
would take some off his hands.

Here in American culture, we typically feel indebted by accepting a gift from
a friend. That mind-set spoils good will, so that a present-- which should
have, in all respects, represented someone's heart-felt happy thoughts
towards us --is typically regarded as a trap, and robs an occasion of the
good feelings it was intended to generate.

Fortunately there are numerous occasions when we have implied consent to
lavish gifts upon friends and loved ones without arousing suspicions of evil
intent; e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, Xmas, Easter, promotions, retirements,
graduations; and whatever else we can appropriate to express our affections
for others. I think that too many of us have become Grinches out of fear of
obligation. It just shouldn't be that way.

Esau, realizing the sincerity of Jacob's motives, and also himself desiring
that there be no question he himself also earnestly desired full reconciliation
with his brother, finally agreed to accept Jacob's gifts.

Something is strangely missing from the brothers' reunion. Wouldn't you
think that Jacob would be asking about his mom and dad? Were they still
alive? In good health? Stuff like that. Well; I think Jacob already knew. After
all, he knew exactly where to find Esau.

So Jacob may have stayed current all those twenty years via caravans and
messengers. Somewhere along the line, Rebecca's personal nurse Deborah
had joined Jacob. So there's a pretty good chance Jacob already knew all
about his mom and dad before returning to Canaan. However, since
Rebecca's personal nurse Deborah had already joined Jacob, and since
there's no record that Jacob ever saw Rebecca alive after leaving home, his
mom may have been deceased at this point.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 33:12 . . And [Esau] said: Let us start on our journey, and I will
proceed at your pace.

Jacob undoubtedly told Esau his ultimate destination, which was probably
Hebron, the place where their dad would later die. Isaac's last known
address was Beer-sheba. Why he moved 26 miles north to Hebron is
unknown; but when you're a rancher, you've got to go where the pasture is
for the sake of the livestock.

Gen 33:13-14a . . But he said to him: My lord knows that the children are
frail and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me; if
they are driven hard a single day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord go on
ahead of his servant, while I travel slowly, at the pace of the cattle before
me and at the pace of the children,

Jacob's children were all still kids, the eldest being no more than 12 or so,
and many of the female animals were caring for nursing young. Refusing to
accept Esau's kind offer was a practical consideration. He was traveling light,
probably on swift camels, and his rough-riding fighting men, desiring to get
back home as soon as possible for R&R, were likely to grow impatient with
the snail's pace of Jacob's unit.

Gen 33:13-14b . . until I come to my lord in Seir.

Jacob wasn't going southward to Seir; but across the Jordan up into the
highlands of Canaan. The words for "go on ahead" are ya'baar which is from
'abar (aw-bar') which means: to cross over; and used very widely of any
transition (literal or figurative)

Jacob promised to visit with Esau at some later date after his household was
all settled in. But for now, it was necessary to take it easy and rest his herds
before making the final push on up into the West Bank. It's no simple matter
moving hundreds and hundreds of head of livestock; especially over rugged
country. Coming down from Paddan-aram through the Syrian Desert and the
Golan Heights must have been exhausting for everyone-- women, children,
and animals alike.

Gen 33:15-17a . .Then Esau said: Let me assign to you some of the men
who are with me. But he said; Oh no, my lord is too kind to me! So Esau
started back that day on his way to Seir. But Jacob journeyed on to Succoth,

There is more than one Succoth in the Bible. The precise location of this one
in particular is difficult to pin-point. But according to Judges 8:4-16, it was
on the east side of the Jordan; somewhere between the river and the place
where Jacob grappled with the angel.

Gen 33:17b . . and built a house for himself and made stalls for his cattle;
that is why the place was called Succoth.

Stalls is from cukkah (sook-kaw') which means: a hut or a lair. That has sort
of a primitive ring to it. The huts, and very likely Jacob's house too, were
probably just rudimentary shelters constructed of poles cut from trees
(those hills grew lots and lots of trees in that day) and thatching fashioned
with reeds gathered from along the banks of the Jordan and the W.Zarqa

NOTE: The specifications given for huts constructed for the Feast Of
Tabernacles list a variety of perishable materials because the huts are only
meant to be temporary shelters. (Lev 23:40)

Succoth is from Cukkowth (sook-kohth') and/or Cukkoth (sook-kohth') and
is just simply the plural of cukkah; ergo: huts and lairs.

There was a place by that name in Egypt too. The exact location is difficult
to pin-point but it may have been somewhere north of the reed (Red) sea
crossing (Ex 12:37, Ex 13:20, Ex 14:1-4). How long Jacob remained at
Succoth is unknown.

It might be well to mention that not all events in the Bible relate to
important spiritual truths. Many are just simply historic and mean nothing at
all except that people lived normal lives in those days just like we live our
lives in these days with very few events of any lasting importance; viz: we're
born, we leave home, accumulate wealth, marry, buy a home, reproduce,
retire, and then die; same-O, same-O.

Gen 33:18 . . Jacob arrived safe in the city of Shechem which is in the land
of Canaan-- having come thus from Paddan-aram --and he encamped before
the city.

The site wasn't originally named Shechem but probably well known as that
name by the time the author wrote Genesis. It was the very first place in
Canaan where God met with Abraham (Gen 12:5-7). Shechem was up in the
West Bank and very likely close to present day Nablus.

Gen 33:19 . .The parcel of land where he pitched his tent he purchased
from the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for a hundred kesitahs.

The word for "kesitahs" is from qesiytah (kes-ee-taw') and means: an ingot
(as definitely estimated and stamped for a coin). The exact value of a
kesitah is unknown. It was probably a local money, in any kind of shape;
e.g. discs, bars, rods, or chunks. The metal of which a kesitah was made is

Before paper and coins were introduced as permanent forms of money,
people used a variety of objects to serve for legal tender. Examples of early
forms of money include rice (China), dog teeth (Papua New Guinea), small
tools (China), quartz pebbles (Ghana), gambling counters (Hong Kong),
cowrie shells (India), metal disks (Tibet), and limestone disks (Yap Island).

Monies can be anything so long as everybody using them agrees upon their
value. In ancient time, various articles made of metals such as silver and
gold, as well as of iron and bronze, were used as money; while among
primitive peoples such commodities as shells, beads, elephant tusks, furs,
skins, and livestock served as mediums of exchange too. Anything that's
widely accepted in payment for goods and services, and in settlement of
debts, can be acceptable as money-- even Pokemon trading cards.

Why would Jacob purchase property in Canaan? For a cemetery? Maybe. But
some feel he did it with the intention of making Shechem his capital. I mean,
after all, God promised him complete ownership of the land; so why not pick
out a location for a sort of Washington DC? At any rate, a real estate
investment was, at the very least, a token of his confidence in God's promise
that his progeny would one day own every bit of Canaan outright. So when
Messiah takes over, whoever is squatting on Jacob's land at the time is going
to have to move somewhere else and maybe even pay some back rent too.

Shechem was a prominent city throughout biblical history, located on Mount
Gerazim in what later became the territory of Benjamin's tribe. It was very
close to the future city of Samaria, which became capital of the northern
kingdom of Israel.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 33:20 . . He set up an altar there, and called it El-elohe-yisrael.

El-elohe-yisrael is actually 'Eel-'Eloheey-Yisraa'eel which is a compound of
three separate Hebrew words.

'Eel is from 'el (ale) and means strength; as an adjective; viz: mighty.

'Eloheey is from 'elohiym (el-o-heem') and means god(s) in a nondescript
sense; viz: the one true god and all manner of imitation gods.

Yisraa'eel is from Yisra'el (yis-raw-ale') and means: he will rule as God,
which, according to Gen 32:29, was Jacob's new name.

NOTE: Jacob himself was never personally seated on God's throne and ruling
as God; but one of his biological descendants does. (Num 24:17, Col 3:1,
Phil 2:8-11)

So, if we put it all together, Jacob's altar was dedicated to The Almighty God
of he who will rule as God; or just simply The God Of Israel. It was the very,
very, first altar to ever be named after the god of the people of Israel. A true
milestone in the nation's history, and Jacob's too.

Just exactly how much time elapsed between Jacob's temporary camp at
Succoth and the events coming up in chapter 34 are unknown.

In the interval, Jacob very likely visited his dad and also traveled down to
Seir to visit his brother Esau too; like he promised in verse 14. Just because
the Bible doesn't say so; doesn't mean he didn't. One of the aspects of the
Bible that some people find very annoying is that it doesn't record every
little detail.

For example at Matt 2:22-23 it's reported that the prophets said Jesus would
be called a Nazarene. But you won't find that quote in the Old Testament, so
there's no use in looking for it; and that's because not every word spoken by
the prophets was recorded: same as not every word spoken by Jesus was
recorded in the gospels; and not every detail of the patriarchs' lives are
recorded in Genesis.

Scripture's omissions can often lead people into error via a kind of logic
called an Argument From Silence; which is a kind of reasoning that assumes
that if something isn't clearly stated, then it's inferred from the silence that
there was nothing to state.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 34:1 . . Now Dinah, the daughter whom Leah had borne to Jacob,
went out to visit the daughters of the land.

Even though Dinah was brought up in a God-fearing home, she is going to
fall prey to the morals of a local culture; and that can happen to anybody, so
no one should ever think themselves immune to it.

"Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals." (1Cor 15:33)

Paul's letter to the Corinthians wasn't written to bad people to encourage
them to live like Christians. No, it was written to Christians to discourage
them from hanging out with impious people and thereby becoming one of

Gen 34:2 . . Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, chief of the country, saw
her, and took her and lay with her by force.

The words "by force" aren't in the Hebrew text. By penciling those words
into the text, translators make Dinah appear to be the victim of a rape
rather than a willing partner in a hot affair. Most Bible students are well
aware of the oftentimes low moral character of the people of God, so if
Dinah was truly accommodating in this episode, it shouldn't surprise anyone.
After all, young girls are very susceptible to hero worship, and Shechem was
a prince; the son of a sheik. What young girl doesn't dream of being swept
off her feet by a prince? It's pretty common; and it's all part of being a real
girl; for example:

I was amazed at an AeroSmith concert by the numbers of shapely, drop
dead gorgeous young girls crowded up against the stage trying to get
Steven Tyler to notice them. If you've seen Mr. Tyler, I think you would
agree with me he will never qualify as a hunk. But Tyler is a famous
entertainer; and entertainers have a powerful sensual charisma regardless of
their looks.

I observed an even more impressive display at a Rolling Stones concert
(now there's a study in ugly). Women of all ages, sizes, and waistlines,
slingshot their bras and panties up on the stage for the men to keep as love
tokens. There were so many female undergarments cluttering the stage that
the situation became a safety hazard. Keith Richards and the others had to
kick them away to avoid tripping and falling.

Gen 34:3 . . Being strongly drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and in love
with the maiden, he spoke to the maiden tenderly.

Shechem's feelings for Dinah weren't the typical violent lusts that rapists
expend upon their victims. That boy was truly overwhelmed by Dinah; just
like Jack was overwhelmed by Rose in the movie "Titanic". I wonder if
anyone reading this can remember the last time you felt that way about
somebody-- how you had difficulty catching your breath, and how utterly
vulnerable you felt in their presence. No, I just can't believe Shechem raped
Dinah. He really did like her as a person. She wasn't just a girl toy for
Shechem to exploit; no, Dinah was "the one" and to him, she lit up the room
the moment she walked in-- in his eyes; everything around her was a silver
pool of light.

Gen 34:4 . . So Shechem said to his father Hamor: Get me this girl as a

In modern American culture, Shechem would be regarded as a wimp for not
being man enough to speak with Dinah's parents himself instead of seeking
his dad's assistance. But in that day, a man's parents or relatives did all the
negotiating in nuptial matters; and when it reached that stage, the romance
was pretty serious business.

Gen 34:5a . . Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah;

From whom Jacob heard the news is not stated. Dinah had been taken into
Shechem's home (Gen 34:2) and remained there until this episode was over
(Gen 34:26). So news came probably by some of Dinah's girlfriends from
town whose friendships she sought in Gen 34:1. By now, Dinah must be
feeling very alone, and afraid to come home and face the music.

When guys lose their virginity, it's different. They feel more like a man, they
feel better about themselves, and they feel highly regarded in the eyes of
their male friends. But girls oftentimes feel like cheap goods: soiled and
fallen; not to mention the fear of pregnancy and family disgrace. Not all girls
feel the same about pre-marital trysts. Some relish the excitement. But
others are scarred for life, and never really get over it.

The Bible is silent about Dinah's feelings about all this, and after chapter 34,
she's mentioned only one more time at Gen 46:15 and that's it.

Gen 34:5b . . but since his sons were in the field with his cattle, Jacob kept
silent until they came home.

If Jacob had allowed his passions to overrule his better judgment, he might
have stormed out and confronted Shechem's family all by himself, and they
just may have been annoyed enough to murder him on the spot. No, best to
wait for back-up on this one. And besides, brothers were often key decision
makers in a sister's betrothal (e.g. Gen 24:29-61). So Jacob needed his
boys; if not for personal defense, then at least to take part in the decision
concerning whom Dinah would wed.

Gen 34:6-7a . .Then Shechem's father Hamor came out to Jacob to speak
to him. Meanwhile Jacob's sons, having heard the news, came in from the

Jacob probably sent a runner out to get the boys and have them come home
as soon as possible. By luck, they arrived the same time as Shechem and his
dad. So the key players are present, the stage is set, and they can all get
down to business.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 34:7b . .The men were distressed and very angry, because he had
committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter-- a thing not
to be done.

This is the first instance of Jewish tribalism in the Bible. Ironically; the boys
were far more upset for what Shechem did to the family name then what he
did to their sister. However; that's a very common reaction from male
siblings. Brothers typically take it personal when a guy abuses their sister or
says something derogatory about her; even when the brothers themselves
don't even like her.

The phrase "a thing not to be done" didn't apply to Shechem and Hamor.
Promiscuity wasn't considered immoral in their culture. Extra-marital activity
was a normal social interaction in many parts of Canaan, and nobody gave it
a second thought. In fact, neither Shechem nor his dad felt any inclination
whatsoever to apologize for what happened and probably would have
become indignant if asked to; but Israel's moral standards were God
influenced, and ran counter to common mores. (cf. Gen 18:19)

Gen 34:8-9 . . And Hamor spoke with them, saying: My son Shechem
longs for your daughter. Please give her to him in marriage. Intermarry with
us: give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves:

The only problem is: whose religion would be taught to Dinah's children?
Would it be the Canaanites' religion or Jacob's religion? Would they be
taught both religions; and thus create confusion in the children's minds?
People for whom religion means very little; can cross breed all they want
and it doesn't make any difference.

However; as a general rule, it is never, ever a good idea to marry outside
your own religion. Marriage is tough enough without dividing the family with
differing religious philosophies. Couples should make every effort to strive
for unity in all things; especially in the area of religion.

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship
hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light
with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what province
hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple
of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said,
I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall
be my people.

. . .Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the
Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a
Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord
Almighty." (2Cor 6:14-18)

For Jacob's family, marriage with another culture was not a good idea at all.
Their granddad was called to a very high purpose-- a purpose in which they
were all expected to have a role; and that would be the role of engendering
a great nation whose God would be Yhvh; and thus be a witness to the one
True God: and a nation that would ultimately be a blessing to the whole
world. A people like Hamor's were a serious threat to fulfilling that purpose.

Gen 34:10 . .You will dwell among us, and the land will be open before
you; settle, move about, and acquire holdings in it.

That must have been a very tempting offer to Jacob. Hamor's people would
protect his family, and let him use choice grazing lands, and sell him
property to build a home on if he joined their clan instead of going off on his
own with no one but Yhvh to rely upon. But then Israel would be
assimilated; and that was something Jacob had to avoid at all costs.

A holy nation has got to remain separated and independent from its unholy
neighbors so God can bless. Just look what assimilation has done to the
people of Israel over the years. Only a measly ten percent of them today are
orthodox. Many of them are secular, worldly, conformed, and totally without
their God. That is truly pitiful; and totally unacceptable.

Gen 34:11-12 . .Then Shechem said to her father and brothers: Do me
this favor, and I will pay whatever you tell me. Ask of me a bride-price ever
so high, as well as gifts, and I will pay what you tell me; only give me the
maiden for a wife.

Shechem really did love Dinah, and was willing to go to some pretty extreme
lengths to keep her. Unfortunately, he got off on the wrong foot with Dinah's
brothers; which would prove fatal to every man in his village, including
Shechem's dad.

Gen 34:13a . . Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor

It's uncertain all eleven of Jacob's boys took part in this. Later, only two of
them, Simeon and Levi, would subsequently go into town and murder all the
men. Jacob apparently said nothing in the negotiations; he only witnessed it
all, listening to everything, but letting his sons do all the talking.

Gen 34:13b-17 . . speaking with guile because he had defiled their sister
Dinah-- and said to them: We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to a
man who is uncircumcised, for that is a disgrace among us. Only on this
condition will we agree with you; that you will become like us in that every
male among you is circumcised.

. . .Then we will give our daughters to you and take your daughters to
ourselves; and we will dwell among you and become as one kindred. But if
you will not listen to us and become circumcised, we will take our daughter
and go.

It's difficult to ascertain what the boys were implying by the prerequisite of
circumcision. Were they implying that Shechem's clan could only blend with
the people of Israel via Abraham's covenant of circumcision? Apparently
that's the impression they were giving, and Hamor seems to understand that
if the two families were to become one clan, then Israel's religion has to be
in common.

Jacob's silence suggests he was thinking the very same. As for Hamor, being
a covetous man at heart; circumcision surely seemed an insignificant price
to become co-owner of Jacob's possessions.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 34:18-19 . .Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor's son Shechem.
And the youth lost no time in doing the thing, for he wanted Jacob's
daughter. Now he was the most respected in his father's house.

Shechem took the lead and set the example for the rest of the men in his
village. He apparently had quite a bit of influence, and people looked up to

Gen 34:20-24 . . So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the public place
of their town and spoke to their fellow townsmen, saying: These people are
our friends; let them settle in the land and move about in it, for the land is
large enough for them; we will take their daughters to ourselves as wives
and give our daughters to them.

. . . But only on this condition will the men agree with us to dwell among us
and be as one kindred: that all our males become circumcised as they are
circumcised. Their cattle and substance and all their beasts will be ours, if
we only agree to their terms, so that they will settle among us. All who went
out of the gate of his town heeded Hamor and his son Shechem, and all
males, all those who went out of the gate of his town, were circumcised

Hamor convinced the men of his village that they would prosper by
submitting to the surgery. His village apparently operated on the commune
principle: What you have is mine, and what I have is yours. So everyone
would benefit from assimilating Jacob's family because they would become
co-owners of his possessions; which, when he departed Laban, was a goodly
amount of livestock and slaves. The arrangement was appealing: it made
good business sense, and would have been very lucrative for Hamor's village
if only Jacob's sons had been honest about it.

Gen 34:25-26 . . On the third day, when they were in pain, Simeon and
Levi, two of Jacob's sons, brothers of Dinah, took each his sword, came upon
the city unopposed, and slew all the males. They put Hamor and his son
Shechem to the sword, took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went away.

The boys did all that without Jacob's knowledge. Exactly what effect the
massacre of her boyfriend and his dad had upon Dinah is not said. Family
rivalries, like the old hillbilly feuds, are bitter and driven solely by the code
of the vendetta. There's no justice in a vendetta; only pay-back.

Oh, The Martins and the Coys,
They were reckless mountain boys,
And they scarred the mountains up with shot and shell.

There was uncles, brothers, cousins,
Why; they bumped them off by dozens,
Just how many bit the dust is hard to tell.
(Gene Autry)

Gen 34:27 . .The other sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered
the town, because their sister had been defiled.

Only two of the brothers did the killing, but apparently all who were old
enough participated in the pillaging. I tell you, some of the patriarchs were
brutal men; and it was from them that the nation of Israel sprang. Later,
they will sell their own kid brother Joseph into slavery simply because they
envied his favorite-son status with their dad.

Gen 34:28-29 . .They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys, all that
was inside the town and outside; all their wealth, all their children, and their
wives, all that was in the houses, they took as captives and booty.

What they did was what conquerors legitimately do in war. But Jacob wasn't
at war with Hamor's clan. Those boys were nothing in the world but
murderers, kidnappers, thugs, and thieves. To think Messiah came from that
blood line is beyond belief!

Gen 34:30-31 . . Jacob said to Simeon and Levi: You have brought trouble
on me, making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites
and the Perizzites; my men are few in number, so that if they unite against
me and attack me, I and my house will be destroyed. But they answered:
Should our sister be treated like a harlot?

Dinah's brothers were rash and hot headed; placing their own rage above
and beyond their family's safety, and their father Jacob's honor. That is the
self-centered attitude of criminals; which is exactly what they were. Without
God's providence, surely all of Canaan would have banded together and
justly hanged every last male in Jacob's camp so that the nation of Israel
would have ended right then and there. There would have been no holocaust
and no crucifixion, and the Palestinians today would have a country to call
their own. It's almost impossible to comprehend how those boys could have
ever descended from the world's most respected religious figure the world
has ever known: Abraham ben Terah.

Many years later, Moses' people came to the brink of annihilation again
because of the pride of just one lone Jew in the book of Ruth. Boy! I tell
you: God has really had His hands full keeping those people from destroying
themselves. Truth be told: if it weren't for God's promise to Abraham, the
Jews would have been extinct as a people long ago. (2Kings 13:23)


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 35:1 . . God said to Jacob: Arise, go up to Bethel and remain there;
and build an altar there to the god who appeared to you when you were
fleeing from your brother Esau.

That is some very strange language. Why didn't God say "build an altar to
Me; who appeared to you when, etc". On the surface, it appears that God is
speaking of a god other than Himself. But according to Gen 35:2, Jacob's
family had a number of gods in their possession and I think God just wanted
to make sure Jacob understood that He wanted no truck with them. For

"You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an
idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in
the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I,
Jehovah your god, am a jealous god," (Ex 20:3-5)

Gen 35:2 . . So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him:
Rid yourselves of the alien gods in your midst, purify yourselves, and change
your clothes.

This is embarrassing. To top off the shame of recent events-- Dinah's tryst,
the murders, and the subsequent looting in town-- now it turns out that the
one family on earth who was supposed to be a witness to the one True God.,
and all that He stands for, had other gods in their midst! They were also
wearing clothing taken from the dead in town, clothing that more than likely
honored the religions-- and thus the morals-- of the Canaanite gods! No
doubt the alien gods themselves were booty too, collected from Shechem's
town after the massacre.

Precisely what Jacob meant for his household, and all who were with him, to
do in order be "purified" is not said. Bathing in water was the usual means of
purification in the Old Testament; and often done in preparation to meet
with God; but it's more likely that he simply regarded the alien gods and the
stolen booty as ill gotten gain; ergo: contamination.

Gen 35:3 . . Come, let us go up to Bethel, and I will build an altar there to
the God who answered me when I was in distress and who has been with me
wherever I have gone.

Jacob thus made a distinction between the mute gods of the Canaanites, and
the vocal god of Israel. Jacob's god had been extremely active and useful in
his life; whereas the Canaanite gods were only inanimate pieces of
superstitious statuary, like voodoo dolls.

The altar would serve a couple of important purposes, but the one that
would really count in this case is its capacity as an official place of confession
and absolution of sins. The people of God, whether Jew or Christian, have
never been sinless. But sinless-ness is not an indicator that certifies whether
or not someone is in God's family. Confession and absolution are far better
indicators, e.g. Ps 32:5-7.

The advantage of being in the family of Israel's God is the latitude His own
have for being themselves. Jacob's household sinned big time, yes, but their
sins will effect neither their divine purpose, nor their eternal destiny.

Gen 35:4 . .They gave to Jacob all the alien gods that they had, and the
rings that were in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the terebinth that
was near Shechem.

According to Webster's, a terebinth is a small European tree (Pistacia
terebinthus) of the cashew family yielding turpentine. The Hebrew word for
"terebinth" is 'elah (ay-law') which just means an oak or other strong tree.

The religious items Jacob collected, were not only in the possession of his
kin, but also in the possession of "all who were with him" (Gen 35:2) which
would have included servants, his slaves; and the recent captives. Some of
the items would have come from looting the town of Shechem, but many
would have been acquired in the area up and around Laban's vicinity in
Mesopotamia; which is where Jacob acquired the bulk of his labor force (Gen
30:43). Jacob lived for many years in close proximity to religions centered
upon gods other than Israel's God, and the influence of those religions had a
heavy impact upon the most holy community existing on the entire planet at
that time.

Exactly why Jacob chose to bury those items under a terebinth, instead of
just burying them in a hole out in pasture, is not said. He could have
incinerated them too, but, for some undisclosed reason, didn't. Some have
tried to find symbolism in that, but his decision may have been motivated by
something as simple as a hot day, and Jacob would rather work in the shade
than out in the open.

Gen 35:5 . . As they set out, a terror from God fell on the cities round
about, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

The patriarchs had some very interesting advantages. Even when they
deserved to die, or at least assaulted and battered, the Bible's God was
often on hand to prevent it. Think about it though. If you knew that a small
force of Jews were able to overpower a whole town, would you want to lock
horns with them? I don't think so. Jacob's boys no doubt had a reputation in
those parts now, and made their neighbors nervous.

People were very superstitious in those days and often gave the credit for
military victories to their own personal gods; or to the gods of their
conquerors, if that's the way things went in battle. So that the god of the
people of Israel now became the one to be feared in those parts.

However, it's far better-- if at all possible --for the people of God to give a
testimony to the love of God rather than to the terror of God. But because of
the patriarchs' recent violent behavior, the love of God was far from the
minds of the people in Jacob's vicinity. They saw the people of Israel and
their god as a serious threat to the safety and well being of their
communities rather than seeing Israel's God as a potential source of blessing
and providence.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 35:6-7 . .Thus Jacob came to Luz-- that is, Bethel --in the land of
Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. There he built an altar
and named the site El-bethel, for it was there that God had revealed Himself
to him when he was fleeing from his brother.

Bethel is located approximately 11 miles directly north of Jerusalem. Jacob
erected a stone cairn there when he left home; and gave the site its name:
Bethel (House Of God). At least thirty years have gone by since then. He
stayed twenty years with Laban, and had lived for an undisclosed number of
years in the vicinity of Schechem. Jacob was 75 when he left home, and was
now easily over 100. He is not only older now, but he's a lot wiser too. The
experience at Shechem changed Jacob in a remarkable way.

This time he builds an altar instead of a cairn, and names the site El-bethel
(the god of the House Of God). So Jacob's focus has shifted. Previously his
emphasis was upon a special site to worship God. This time, Jacob puts the
emphasis where it should have been in the first place: upon the object of his
worship. Because, unless God is actually present during worship, then
designating a special place for worship is futile.

In Rev 3:14-22, the church of the Laodicians is depicted as so entirely
christless that Jesus isn't even a member, no, he's on the outside of the
building banging on the door trying to get someone's attention to let him in.
That was a solid Christian church at one time; but as time went by; it
somehow became quite christless.

Gen 35:8a . . Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, died, and was buried under the
oak below Bethel;

By now, Deborah was very aged; older than Rebecca, and had come south
with her to Canaan twenty years prior to Jacob's birth (Gen 24:59, 25:20,
25:26). Deborah was already a mature woman when she came south with
Rebecca because the word for nurse-- yanaq (yaw-nak') --indicates a wet
nurse. So Deborah did the surrogate task of breast feeding the infant
Rebecca, whose biological mom, for reasons unknown, couldn't do it herself.
Jacob knew Deborah quite well, having grown up with her in his own home,
and remained with her a good number of years before leaving home himself
at 75.

There's pretty good reason to believe that Rebecca had died prior to Gen
35:8 because it's extremely doubtful Deborah would leave her to join Jacob's
troupe otherwise.

Gen 35:8b . . so it was named Allon-bacuth.

Allon-bacuth means: oak of weeping. Deborah's passing was surely as
emotionally painful a loss to Jacob as the loss of his own mother.

Gen 35:9a . . God appeared again to Jacob on his arrival from Paddan

Paddam-aram was the region up north, in and around where Laban lived,
and from whence Jacob fled a number of years prior to Gen 35:9. But God
reckoned Jacob still on-route for the simple reason that he had yet to strictly
comply with the order to "Return to the land of your fathers where you were
born" and "arise and leave this land and return to your native land." (Gen
31:3, 31:13).

Instead of going directly to Bethel, as God apparently expected Jacob to do,
he settled in the region around Shechem-- where his daughter became
promiscuous, his sons became murderers and thieves, and Jacob alienated
his neighbors: thus; he, and his whole family, had become quite useless as a
witness to the knowledge of the one true God in that region.

Gen 35:9b-10 . . and He blessed him. God said to him: You whose name is
Jacob, you shall be called Jacob no more, but Israel shall be your name.
Thus He named him Israel.

This wasn't news to Jacob. He was renamed Israel by the angel (Gen 32:29).
But Jacob wasn't living up to his new identity. He needed urging to live as
who he now is, not live as who he once was before meeting God face to face.

Gen 35:11a . . And God said to him: I am El Shaddai.

The patriarchs were aware of God's other name Yhvh, and often referred to
Him by it; but El Shaddai is a name of God that they knew Him by in a
personal way. It means: God of all might; viz; the all-power god; or the god
who invented, created, and controls all natural and supernatural powers.

El Shaddai is the god who can make things happen, even things that are
impossible by natural means, and things that are above and beyond Man's
mortal imagination; so that El Shaddai is "the" god of providence who is
easily strong enough to meet any, and all, human need.

The name El Shaddai relates to Jacob's vow in Gen 28:20-21 where he said:
If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making,
and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my
father's house-- Yhvh shall be my God.

God did remain with Jacob, protected him, provided for him, and got him
back home. Time now to make good on that vow.

Gen 35:11b . . Be fertile and increase;

At this point in his life, Jacob was just about done reproducing. He had one
more to go: Joseph. But Jacob's increase went way beyond his twelve sons
were just the beginning.

Gen 35:11c . . A nation, yea an assembly of nations, shall descend from
you. Kings shall issue from your loins.

That's pretty much what God promised Abraham back in chapter 17. The
most important kings were those of Israel, and in particular, the ones in
David's line who preceded Messiah.

Gen 35:12 . .The land that I assigned to Abraham and Isaac I assign to
you; and to your offspring to come will I assign the land.

Ownership of the land didn't pass from Abraham down to Isaac, and then to
Jacob as if it were an heirloom. God promised each patriarch full ownership
along with their progeny. We might call that kind of ownership tenancy in
common, community property, or joint-heirship. However, there's yet a
fourth tenant in common: Christ. (Gal 3:16)


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 35:13-14 . . God parted from him at the spot where He had spoken to
him; and Jacob set up a pillar at the site where He had spoken to him, a
pillar of stone, and he offered a libation on it and poured oil upon it.

The pillar that Jacob erected on this same site back in Gen 28:18 received a
somewhat different treatment. In that instance, Jacob poured only oil on it.
In this instance, he added a libation. The precise recipe is unknown, but
could have been a forerunner of the libation rituals that would come later in3
Israel's history-- typically an alcoholic beverage made from grapes. (e.g. Ex
29:40, Lev 23:13)

Wine is an ingredient in a formal Temple offering called the daily burnt
offering (Ex 29:38-46) whose recipe lists a lamb, a paste made of flour and
oil, and some wine. The entire offering is totally destroyed; incinerated by
fire. The residing priests, serving at the Temple, arranged this offering every
day during the course of their duties; including the Sabbath day; which
normally would be illegal since it's against the law to kindle a fire on the
Sabbath. (cf. Ex 36:3, Mtt 12:5)

Some have interpreted the libation as representing the offerer's life's work;
which in the case of the daily burnt offering, would be the life's work of the
entire nation of the people of Israel; and of course including the priests
themselves. So that every twenty-four hours, the whole nation's every-day
activities went up in smoke.

We could interpret Jacob's libation as a formal act of dedication-- not of the
pillar; but of Jacob himself. Right after his first encounter, on this very spot,
with the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac, a good thirty years ago;
Jacob vowed to dedicate himself to Yhvh if only He would fulfill certain

Jacob's vow at that time included a promise to make Yhvh his god-- implying
his only god --and to give God a tithe of "all that You give me". Jacob's
libation implies that, from here on in, it's his sincere intent to start living up
to his new name, and to make good on those promises.

This is a really huge event, and marks a serious milestone in Jacob's spiritual
life. And I believe it's important to point out that Jacob didn't take this
turning point when he was living at home with ma and pa. Too many people
are in their parents' religion just because they were born into it. Jacob chose
a spiritual path for himself long after he became an adult.

Gen 35:15 . . Jacob gave the site, where God had spoken to him, the
name of Bethel.

That could look back in time to Gen 28:10-22; or it could just simply mean
that Jacob decided that the name Bethel would not just be a pet name of his
own: but knowing (and believing) that this land would one day be inhabited
by his progeny, Jacob willed it to be on the map as the town of Bethel when
such a time as his progeny took actual physical possession of Canaan later
on in the book of Joshua.

Gen 35:16a . .They set out from Bethel; but when they were still some
distance short of Ephrath,

This is the very first mention of Ephrath; which is actually Bethlehem (Gen
35:19, Gen 48:7). Apparently this area wasn't yet on the map as either
Ephrath or Bethlehem in Jacob's day, but later during the author's day. It's
not uncommon for Bible authors (or later scribes and/or editors) to give the
contemporary name as well as the ancient name of a city or town so that his
readers knew where to look in their own day for those old-time places.

Ephrath can also be spelled Ephratah. The founder of Bethlehem was a
Jewish man named Ephratah, and his name became attached to Bethlehem
so that you could refer to it in compound form as Bethlehem Ephratah; or
Bethlehem of Ephratah (e.g. 1Chrn 4:4, Mic 5:2). Ephrath is apparently the
female spelling (1Chrn 2:19) and Ephratah is the male version.

The next incident didn't actually occur in Bethlehem, but "some distance"
from it. Other than Gen 48:7 (which is a citation of the section we're in
now), the only other place the phrase "some distance" is used again in the
entire Old Testament is 2Kgs 5:19; where some feel it indicates a distance
about equal to that required for a runner on foot to catch up with a chariot
on the move; but the true meaning is lost in antiquity.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 35:16b . . Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor.

Rachel was no longer a spring chicken. Rueben, Jacob's firstborn, is now old
enough to fool around with grown women. It's probably been in the
neighborhood of 40+ years since Rachel's first meeting with Jacob back in
chapter 29; when she was just a youngster of perhaps 15-20 years old at
the time.

Gen 35:17 . .When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her:
Have no fear, for it is another boy for you.

Rachel, no doubt remembered why she named her other son Joseph, back in
chapter 30, while they were all yet still living up north with Laban. Joseph's
Hebrew name is Yowceph (yo-safe') which is a mini prayer that says: May
the Lord add another son for me. (Gen 30:24)

Gen 35:18 . . But as she breathed her last-- for she was dying --she
named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

A complicated delivery in those days typically ended in tragedy. People had
no surgical skills nor tools and procedures to save either the mother or her
child. The exact nature of Rachel's problem isn't stated. She could have
experienced severe hemorrhaging, eclampsia, or maybe her heart just
couldn't take the stress, and gave out.

Ben-oni possibly means: "A Son Born In Grief". But Jacob changed it to
Binyamiyn (bin-yaw-mene') which possibly means: "The Son At My Right

Joseph, rather than Benjamin, became Jacob's favorite; and the only one of
the twelve upon whom he could rely. (cf. Ps 16:8, Ps 110:1)

BTW: Benjamin holds the distinction of being the only one of Jacob's children
born in the land of Canaan, i.e. he was a native son while the other boys
were immigrants. Abraham was an immigrant too, having migrated from the
area in and around what we know today as Iraq.

Gen 35:19 . .Thus Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Ephrath--
now Bethlehem.

The postscript "now Bethlehem" indicates an editorial insertion by someone
later; possibly a scribe or someone assigned the task of making copies;
which was a perpetual task in the ages prior to the existence of modern
papers, printing presses, and electronic storage media.

Gen 35:20 . . Over her grave Jacob set up a pillar; it is the pillar at
Rachel's grave to this day.

The pillar was probably just a pile of rocks, like a cairn. The phrase "to this
day" indicates the day of the writer rather than the day upon which
somebody in our own day might read this passage.

By the time of 1Sam 10:2-- roughly 1020 BC --Rachel's Tomb was a famous
landmark. The traditional site, presently so-called, lies about four miles
south of Jerusalem, and one mile north of Bethlehem. The current small,
square shaped, domed structure isn't the original, but a relatively late
monument. In 1841, the "tomb" was renovated, and in 1948 taken over by
Jordanian invaders. Jews were barred from visiting it, and the area was
converted into a Muslim cemetery; which was eventually liberated by Israelis
in 1967.

NOTE: Loss of access to an important ancestor's grave site isn't just an
archeological loss; it's a family loss.

When my father-in-law passed away in 2012 a step-daughter tried to
commandeer his body from the hospital so she could get him cremated and
spread his ashes somewhere over the landscape in Arizona without the
slightest consideration for the feelings of his blood kin who, except for my
wife, all live on the East coast.

Well; thank God my wife and her sister intervened with the appropriate legal
documents in the nick of time to take custody of their father's body before
the step-daughter got away with her nefarious scheme. My father-in-law
certainly deserved better than just discarding his ashes somewhere out in
the desert. He was a pipeline engineer with the US Army on the Ledo Road
(a.k.a. Stilwell Road) in the China/Burma/India theater in the second world
war. His remains are now safely buried back East in the family's cemetery;
where his real kin can come and visit him on occasion.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 35:21 . . Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond Migdal

Although Israel is Jacob's spiritual name, it's also the name of his whole
household (e.g. Gen 34:7) so that when Genesis says "Israel journeyed" it
means everybody associated with Jacob was on the move.

An important technicality to note is that Abraham and Isaac were no more
Israelites than Noah was. The name Israel began with Jacob, and was
carried forward by his sons. In its infancy, Israel was a family name rather
than the name of a nation that it is now. It might sound ridiculous, but in
order for Abraham and Isaac to become Israelites, it would be necessary for
Jacob to legally adopt them.

Migdal-eder is a compound word. Migdal can mean a tower, a rostrum, or a
pyramidal bed of flowers. 'Eder is a proper name, of either a man or a place
name in Palestine. So Migdal-eder could be 'Eder's tower, which may not
have even existed in Jacob's day but was a well known landmark in the

Migdal appears only three times in Genesis: once here, and twice in chapter
11 in reference to the Tower of Babel. The tower in Babel was probably an
elaborate ziggurat, but 'Eder's tower may have been something very
rudimentary, quite simple to construct, and used for agrarian purposes--
e.g. tending herds; and watching for rustlers and predators --rather than
especially for religious purposes.

Gen 35:22a . .While Israel stayed in that land, Reuben went and lay with
Bilhah, his father's concubine; and Jacob found out.

Bilhah was Rachel's maid, and quite a bit older than Reuben. She was also
the mother of two of Reuben's half-brothers: Dan and Naphtali. Exactly why
Reuben took an interest in Bilhah isn't stated. But, it's not like there was a
shortage of girls his own age among the women in Jacob's camp. Jacob had
a lot of hired help, and plenty of slaves too. If Reuben just wanted to sow
some wild oats, it would have been very easy.

Reuben may have been interested in Bilhah for quite a while prior to this
recorded incident; but was kept at bay by Rachel's oversight. Now, with her
dead, and out of the way, the coast was clear for a carnal liaison. Exactly
how Bilhah felt about the affair is not said; but may have been quite
flattered by a younger man's interest; and who's to say she wasn't a cougar
at heart.

One possibility, that seems quite reasonable, and actually makes much
better business sense than the motions of a young man's passions, is that
Reuben took a bold step to insure Rachel's maid Bilhah would not ascend to
the position of favored wife over his own mom Leah. He was surely aware of
the sisterly rivalry between Rachel and Leah, since he was in the middle of a
conjugal struggle between the two back in Gen 30:14-16; and he must have
been fully aware of his mom's feelings over being switched on Rachel's
wedding night.

By sleeping with Bilhah, and thus "defiling" her, Reuben may have hoped
Jacob would be sufficiently revolted enough by the affair so that he'd be
inclined to avoid Bilhah from then on and turn his full attention upon Leah.

If the above is true, then it only goes to show just how heartless Reuben
could be. His plan, if successful, would leave Bilhah in living widowhood, and
the clutches of loneliness and sexual frustration for the remainder of her life.
That very scenario was a reality in the case of David and his son Absalom.
(2Sam 15:16, 16:20-22, and 20:2-3)

An additional possibility is that in ancient times, firstborn sons commonly
inherited not only their father's estate, but also his wives and concubines.
Reuben may thus have been claiming his future inheritance. But in so doing,
he was, in reality, whether intentional or not, taking steps to depose Jacob;
and thus gain immediate headship in the clan. This seems likely because the
boys really didn't think much of Jacob's competency. They went over his
head in the incident at Shechem, and were disgusted with Jacob's lack of
strong response to their sister's escapades: an episode which in reality
disgraced the family of Israel. (Gen 34:30-31)

Whatever the true circumstances, and the motives, the thing Reuben did
earned him Jacob's reprimand, and cost him the loss of his privileged
position in the family (Gen 49:3-4). Reuben's birthright was transferred to
Joseph. (1Chro 5:1)


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 35:22b-26 . . Now the sons of Jacob were twelve in number. The sons
of Leah: Reuben-- Jacob's first-born --Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and
Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah,
Rachel's maid: Dan and Naphtali. And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's maid: Gad
and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan

By the customs of that day, a maid's children sired by her mistress's
husband, belonged to the mistress. So that Leah's children, counting Dinah,
totaled nine; and those of Rachel: four.

Of the four mothers, only two can be proven biologically related to Abraham.
The genealogies of the maids Bilhah and Zilpah are currently unknown and
wouldn't matter anyway seeing as how in the Bible, it's the father who
determines a child's tribal affiliation rather than the mother.

It's sometimes assumed that Jesus' mom Mary, and Zacharias' wife
Elizabeth, were members of the same tribe seeing as how the New
Testament says they were cousins (Luke 1:36). However, Elizabeth was
related to Aaron, who himself was related to Leah's son Levi, while Mary was
related to David, who himself was related to Leah's son Judah. So Mary and
Elizabeth were cousins due to the same grandmother rather than the same

Gen 35:27 . . And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, at Kiriath
arba-- now Hebron --where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.

Modern Hebron is located about 33 kilometers (20½ miles) south of
Jerusalem as the crow flies.

Although this is the first mention of a visit from Jacob since returning from
up north, it probably wasn't the first instance: just the first one mentioned
when his whole family, and the entire troupe-- servants and animals --came
with him.

Isaac was around 135 when Jacob left home to escape his sibling's wrath in
chapter 28. His eyes were going bad even then, and by now, many years
later, Isaac was probably quite blind. Since there is neither a record of his
reactions, nor of a cordial response to his son's visit; it's possible Isaac had
gone senile as well as blind.

Gen 35:28 . . Isaac was a hundred and eighty years old

At the time of Isaac's death, Jacob was 120 years old, having been born
when his dad was 60 (Gen 25:26). When Jacob was 130, Joseph was 39 (cf.
Gen 41:46, 53, 54; 45:6, 47:9). So that when Joseph was sold into Egyptian
slavery at 17 (Gen 37:2), Jacob's age was 108; which was 12 years prior to
Isaac's death. The insertion of Isaac's passing in the Bible record at this
point, is sort of like a parenthesis because, chronologically, it's too soon.

Gen 35:29a . . So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to
his people, being old and full of days.

Christ said the very hairs of our head are numbered. Well . . so's our
breaths. Finally, one day, after countless thousands, we inhale that very last
one, and it oozes back out as a ghastly rasp.

While some people see a glass as half full, and others see as half empty;
engineers see as overkill: viz: the glass is too big. Well . . in Isaac's case,
the glass was full up to the top. On Sept 11, 2003, the actor John Ritter died
of a torn aorta just one week shy of his 55th birthday. That is way too young
to take your last breath. His glass wasn't full yet. With adequate health care,
John Ritter may have lived another 25 years.

Gen 35:29b . . And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

A death in the family often brings its members closer together than a birth.
By this time, Jacob and his brother were older and wiser, had mended their
fences, and were getting on with their lives; refusing to hold any grudges.
Esau, I believe, by this time fully understood what happened concerning the
stolen birthright-- that it was God's intention for Jacob to have it in the first
place --and he was peaceably resigned to accept it.

After the funeral, Esau will begin planning to move away from the region; no
longer having a paternal tie to the land wherein his father lived. It's not
uncommon for children to settle within driving distance while their parents
are living. But when your parents are dead, there's not much reason to stay
in the neighborhood anymore-- and for some, it might be just the excuse
they need to finally move away and start a new life elsewhere.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Chapter 36 is mostly genealogy, so I'm only going to do just twelve of its
forty-three verses.

Gen 36:1 . .This is the line of Esau-- that is, Edom.

Edom is from the Hebrew word 'Edom (ed-ome') which is the color red; and
was the tag hung on him back in Gen 25:30.

Gen 36:2-7 . . Esau took his wives from among the Canaanite women
Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah
daughter of Zibeon the Hivite-- and also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and
sister of Nebaioth. Adah bore to Esau Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; and
Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. Those were the sons of Esau,
who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

. . . Esau took his wives, his sons and daughters, and all the members of his
household, his cattle and all his livestock, and all the property that he had
acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land because of his
brother Jacob. For their possessions were too many for them to dwell
together, and the land where they sojourned could not support them
because of their livestock.

Just as Lot had done, Esau chose to migrate rather than remain and cause
problems for Jacob. Some say Esau did this out of respect for Jacob's
patriarchal position; but no one really knows why. Maybe Esau just thought
the grass was greener elsewhere.

Esau had done well for himself in spite of his loss of the birthright: which
would have given him the lion's share of Isaac's estate-- and with no tax
complications; heirs in those days made out pretty good.

Gen 36:8 . . So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir-- Esau being Edom.

Seir was the name of an oblong-shaped region extending south from the
Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba-- a.k.a. Idumaea. Seir includes the ruins of
Petra, which were used as a movie set in a portion of the Indiana Jones

Gen 36:9-12 . .These are the names of Esau's sons: Eliphaz, the son of
Esau's wife Adah; Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. The sons of
Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. Timna was a
concubine of Esau's son Eliphaz; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.

Of all Esau's progeny, Mr. Amalek really stands out in the Bible as the father
of a very disagreeable people. Keep in mind that all of Esau's clan, including
Amalek, are just as much Abraham's biological kin as Jacob's family. (Deut

During his journey with the people of Israel, after their liberation from
Egyptian slavery, Moses was attacked by Amalek's clan. (Ex 17:8-16, Deut
25:17-19) Thus resulting in a perpetual curse upon the Amalekites as a
people. An Agagite (descendant of Amalek, 1Sam 15:2-8) named Haman
initiated a large-scale genocide against Israel in the book of Esther.

Haman's infamy is memorialized every year during the Jewish holiday of
Purim. It's customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle noisemakers
whenever the name of Haman is spoken in the Purim service.


Well-known member
May 28, 2018
Gen 37:1-2a . . Now Jacob was settled in the land where his father had
sojourned, the land of Canaan. This, then, is the line of Jacob:

Genesis doesn't list a big genealogy right here like the one for Esau in
chapter 36, but rather, it's going to "follow" the line of Jacob from here on in
to the end of Genesis.

Gen 37:2b . . At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended the flocks with his
brothers, as a helper to the sons of his father's wives Bilhah and Zilpah.

Although "his . . .wives" is vernacularly correct; there's no record of Jacob
actually marrying either of the two maids. They were his concubines in the
same manner as Hagar when Sarah pushed her handmaid off on Abraham as
a "wife" (Gen 16:4).

NOTE: Jacob was pretty much stuck with Bilhah and Zilpah because were he
ever to emancipate them, he would forfeit any and all children the two
servant women bore for him; which is exactly how Abraham disinherited his
eldest son Ishmael. We talked about that back in chapter 21.

The words "as a helper to" aren't in the actual Hebrew of that passage.
They're what is known as inserted words that translators sometimes employ
to smooth out texts so they'll clearly say what the translators think the
author meant to convey. Some translators insert the preposition "with" at
that point, so the passage reads; "Joseph tended the flocks with his

Actually, Joseph was in charge of his brothers Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and
Asher; who were all older than him. And it was he who was responsible to
manage the flocks because the phrase; "tended the flocks" actually connotes
he was shepherding the flock; i.e. Joseph was the trail boss.

Joseph's authority was also indicated by the "coat of many colors" that his
dad made for him. The Hebrew word for "colors" is of uncertain meaning and
some translators prefer to render it "long sleeves" rather than colors.

It seems clear that the intent of this special garment was as a badge of
Joseph's authority-- sort of like a military man's uniform --and of his favored
position in the family. Joseph may well have been the only one of Jacob's
twelve sons that he could fully trust since, for the most part, the older men
had proved themselves beyond control in the past.

The sons of Bilhah and Zilpah weren't really Joseph's full brothers, but half.
The only full brother was Benjamin, and at this time, he was too young to go
out on trail drives.

Genesis displayed a pretty bad case of sibling rivalry back in chapter 4,
which led to a younger brother's untimely death. This case of sibling rivalry
would surely have resulted in Joseph's untimely demise if God hadn't
intervened to prevent it. It's really sad that the majority of Jacob's sons
were dishonorable men; the kind you definitely don't want your own
daughter bringing home to meet the folks.

Although Joseph was an intelligent boy, and a responsible person, he
certainly lacked tact. His social skills were immature, and needed some
serious refinement because he really had a way of boasting, and chafing his
older brothers.

Gen 37:2b . . And Joseph brought bad reports of them to their father.

Whether or not the "reports" could be construed as tattling is debatable.
After all, Joseph, as trail boss, was directly responsible to Jacob.

It's been my experience that upper management doesn't want to hear those
kinds of reports. All they want to know is whether or not the company is
meeting its deadlines and operating at a profit. It's lower management's
responsibility to manage the work force so that upper management can
remain undistracted to do other things that are far more worthy of their
time, their talents, and their attention. A lower manager who can't rectify
personnel problems in their own department usually gets fired and replaced
by somebody who can.

Gen 37:3a . . Now Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons

Uh-oh! Doesn't that sound familiar? Isaac had his favorite too: Mr. Esau.
There's nothing like favoritism to divide a family and guarantee it becoming
an ugly environment festering with sibling rivalry, yet that is so human a
thing to do. Put grown-ups in a group of kids and in no time at all, the
grown-ups will gravitate towards favorites, and become merely tolerant of
the others.

Gen 37:3b . . for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him an
ornamented tunic.

The "ornamented tunic" is all the same as what's usually known as the coat
of many colors.

One might be tempted to think Joseph was Jacob's favorite son because of
his love for Rachel; but Genesis says it was because Joseph was "the child of
his old age". Well, Benjamin was a child of Jacob's old age too but not nearly
as favored. So the real meaning may be that Joseph was a child of wisdom,
i.e. the intelligence of an older man; viz: Joseph was smart beyond his years
and thus more a peer to Jacob rather than just another mouth to feed.

Gen 37:4 . . And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more
than any of his brothers, they hated him so that they could not speak a
friendly word to him.

Genesis doesn't say the brothers wouldn't speak a friendly word; it says they

Hatred does that to people. It just kills a person overcome with malice to be
nice to the people they hate. They just can't do it. Their eyes narrow, their
lips tighten, they look away, they become thin-skinned, their minds fill with
epithets, they constantly take offense and can barely keep a civil tongue in
their head, if at all, because deep in their hearts, they want the object of
their hatred either dead or thoroughly disfigured and/or smitten with some
sort of terrible misfortune.