Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
O. (28:9): I find it interesting that Esau marries Ishmael’s daughter. If you remember, Ishmael was Abraham’s other son (Isaac’s half brother) whom he loved by Hagar, but was not the son God chose for his “nation.” Yet, God said Ishmael would prosper in another land. Likewise, Esau was denied his firstborn birthright and blessing. But, as the story goes, Esau also has a great many people, but not the great nation God is choosing for His people through Isaac and Jacob.
Q. (28:17): … the very gateway to heaven. To me this is saying the stories of the generations of the Israelites, which includes Jesus, will show you the way to heaven.
A. That’s an interesting take on the image. Many Christians view the bridge or ladder as an image of Christ himself, the connection between heaven (the realm of God) and earth (the realm of man). As the bridge between them, Christ returns the proper relationship between God and man. Jacob’s vision can be seen as a prophetic vision of the future of his family (as you have pointed to) and one (very distant) son in particular (Jesus) who will complete the reunion between God and man.
Q. (29:22-27): I understand the custom of a man’s oldest daughter must be married first. However, why didn’t Laban just tell Jacob of this rule? Jacob was so much in love with Rachel that he likely would have agreed to marry Leah first as long as he gets Rachel too. Again, there is deception here. This also sets a scene for sibling rivalry.
A. Interesting that in this story the shoe is on the other foot. Jacob surely did not like being deceived. It appears to be one of those “what goes around comes around” kind of moments. Absolutely Laban deceived Jacob, and with good reason: Jacob’s love for Rachel got Laban seven additional years of free service out of Jacob. Considering the misery Jacob caused his brother and father, it only seems fair that this is how his uncle treats him. But this generation is especially important to keep track of, because the four women (Rachel, Leah, and their two servants) will give birth to the 12 sons of Jacob that will become the 12 tribes of Israel. One of the things that is worth noting is that here, as in previous generations, God is not concerned with birth order (especially compared to how people are concerned with it). Over the rest of the story (basically the rest of Genesis will focus on the lives of the 12 sons), note the way that God uses them for various roles, and the way that some of the younger sons will be the most influential.
Q. (29:31-30:24): Rachel and Leah obviously rival. We also have seen it in Cain & Abel, Esau and Jacob and soon Joseph and his brothers. Does the Bible address sibling rivalry — the causes, the reasons, the cures?
A. Like other less than perfect aspects of the people in the story, the Bible does not shy away from mentioning sibling rivalry, and even mentions some of the ways that God redeems these rivalry situations. As far as I know, the Bible does not specifically address the particular circumstance of sibling rivalry, though it has plenty to say about respect for family and loving people in general (including family of course). The Bible tells us that, as much as it is up to us, we should live at peace with those around us (Romans 12:18), Psalm 133 informs us that it is good when brothers live in unity. And Luke 15 (the story of the prodigal son) describes the way that a loving God (the father) attempts to bring about peace between rival brothers.