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Genesis Chapters 29-35

Chapter 29

Rachel_WilliamDyceSo, after Jacob has his dream of grandeur, he heads east toward his uncle’s.  After a while he comes upon some guys watering their sheep and asks them if they know his uncle Laban; they say yes and point out his daughter Rachel who’s approaching the well to “water” her sheep.  So, Jacob goes over, helps her water her sheep and kisses her.  After he kisses her, he tells her who he is. (29:1-12)

Rachel tells her dad about Jacob, and instead of killing him for attacking his daughter he invites him to his home, where Jacob tells him that he is his nephew.  Jacob stays there for a month free of charge. (29:13-14)

541px-Dante's_Vision_of_Rachel_and_LeahAfter a while Laban asks Jacob what he wants and what he has to offer. Jacob offers seven years of service for Rachel, even though Rachel has an older sister Leah. Laban accepts the deal and Jacob works for him for seven years. (29:15-20)

At the end of seven years Jacob says it’s time for Laban to honor his deal and give him his wife so he can “…go in unto her.”  So Laban throws a big feast, and that night Jacob takes his mother’s cousin, Leah and goes “in unto her.” (29:21-23) and Laban gives Leah his maid. (29:24)

Well, Jacob doesn’t realize that he went in unto the wrong sister until morning.  He goes to Laban and complains about being tricked.  Laban tells him that the youngest daughter can’t get married before the older, but if Jacob will work for him for seven more years he can have Rachel too. Jacob agrees, so he marries his sister-in-law, and works for her dad/his great-uncle for seven more years.  During this time, he treats Rachel better than he does Leah. (29:25-30)

God sees how Jacob is treating his first wife, so he makes Rachel Barren and makes Leah quite fertile.  Leah ends up having four sons:  Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. (29:31-35)

Chapter 30

Rachel starts getting jealous of her sister/sister-in-law’s having children when she’s not.  At first she gets all dramatic and blames Jacob for her not having any kids, but then decides that if her maid gives birth in her lap then it’s the same as if she gave birth.  She has Jacob sleep with her maid Bilhah. (30:1-4)

Jacob starts sleeping with Rachel’s maid and she starts having kids, which Rachel, who doesn’t seem to understand the idea of childbirth, starts taking credit for.  Bilhah has two sons in Rachel’s place:  Dan, and Naphtali. (30:5-8)

Not to be outdone, Leah pimps her maid Zilpah to Jacob, and Zilpah has two sons:  Gad, and Asher (30:9-13)

As time goes on Reuben, Leah’s oldest boy, finds some mandrakes.  Rachel tells Leah that she can have her turn with Jacob in return for the magic roots.  Leah takes her up on her offer, and as a result has three more children: two boys, Issachar, and Zebulun, as well as a girl, Dinah. (30:14-21)

Now that Rachel has mandrakes God allows her to have a kid whom she names Joseph. (30:22-24)

After Joseph is born Jacob decides that it’s time for him to get ready to move back home, so he makes a deal with his great-uncle/father-in-law to earn some livestock.  Jacob then uses magical animal-husbandry to increase his own stock while depleting Laban’s stock. (30:25-43)

Chapter 31

Jacob finds out that his brothers-in-law/cousins are upset about his using magic to increase his own herds and depleting their father’s.  Jacob and God decide that it’s time for Jacob to run away back to his father’s land.  Jacob gathers all his livestock, children and wives together, and tells his wives to take whatever they think should be theirs.  Rachel does as Jacob suggested, and the Jacob clan takes off. (31:1-21)  It takes Laban, Rachel and Leah’s father, three days to notice that the Jacob clan had fled. (31:22)

Seven days later, Laban catches up with Jacob and company, and God tells Laban not to talk with Jacob, so Laban goes to talk with Jacob. (31:23-25)

Laban asks Jacob why he snuck away without a goodbye and subtly mentions that he could kill him, but chooses not to because God told him not to.  Jacob uses a version of his father’s and grandfather’s old excuse and says he did it because he thought Laban would take his wives. (31:26-31) Then Jacob claims ignorance of Rachel stealing anything. (31:32)

512px-Ciro_Ferri_-_The_Reconciliation_of_Jacob_and_Laban

So Laban searches for the stuff that Rachel had stolen, but doesn’t find it.  Then Jacob throws a hissy fit, and Laban says that even though everything Jacob has is technically his he will make a deal with him. (31:33-44)  Laban says that as long as Jacob doesn’t mistreat his daughters, then he will let everything slide.  Jacob agrees and promises to do right by the girls, and the two men part amicably. (31:45-55)

Chapter 32

Jacob takes all of his ill-gotten gains and heads toward home.  On the way he sends a messenger to Esau to let him know he’s coming.  The messenger comes back and says Esau is headed their way with 400 men, and Jacob gets scared, so he divides his crew into two groups, and then has some men take a bunch of livestock and get between him and Esau as an offering for Esau, then he prays for help, and hides his family. (32:1-23)

Then Jacob spends the night wrestling with some angel who decides to change Jacob’s name to Israel. (32:24-32)

Chapter 33

Rubens_Reconciliation_of_Jacob_and_EsauJacob meets with Esau in the morning, and introduces his family.  Esau it seems was happy to see him and had brought the men to help Jacob defend his family and livestock, so Jacob had been scared of nothing. (33:1-15)

Then Esau goes home, and Jacob sets up camp in Shechem and builds an altar which he names Eleloheisrael. (33:16-20)

Chapter 34

Shechem_seizes_DinahThe local prince sees Dinah, rapes her, then decides that he would like to marry her, so he tells his dad to get her for him. (34:1-4)

So the boy’s dad meets with Jacob, and Jacob says that if every man in the city will get circumcised then he’ll agree to the marriage.  The king says ok, and has every man get circumcised.  Three days later when all the men of the city are hurting from the crude penile surgery, Jacob and his men go in and kill all of the men, take the women and children as slaves, and destroy everything else. He does this because he doesn’t want his children breeding outside of the family. (34:5-31)

Chapter 35

God tells Jacob to go to Bethel.  Jacob has his clan change their clothes and hand over all their jewelry and gods, which Jacob stashes under an oak tree by the city that he had just destroyed. (35:1-4)

As Jacob travels, everyone leaves him alone since he had already destroyed one city, and Jacob eventually arrives in Luz where he had started his run from Esau.  While there, God promises him all the stuff that he had promised his father and grandfather, they bury Rebekah’s dead nurse, God changes Jacob’s name to Israel, even though an angel had already done that, obviously without telling God about it, and Jacob renames the place Bethel having completely forgotten that he had already renamed the place Bethel before, and that he had gone there since God told him to go to Bethel. (35:5-15)

After leaving Bethel, Rachel dies giving birth to a son that she names Benoni.  Jacob doesn’t like the name and changes it to Benjamin, then buries Rachel in Bethlehem, before heading out again “beyond” Edar. (35:16-21)

While near Edar, Reuben Jacob’s oldest boy, gets his late-mother’s maid Bilhah pregnant and she gives birth to a son who doesn’t get a name. (35:22-26)

Soon after Jacob gets home, Isaac dies (1758 BC) and is buried. (35:27-29) Esau doesn’t kill Jacob, since they have made up since Esau’s vow. And so ends our trip through the Bible for this time.

Since the family tree gets quite convoluted in the preceding chapters I have include an updated family tree through Jacob (below left), and then a separate family tree for Jacob and his immediate family (below right).  (Click on either table to see a larger image if need be) With explanations as needed below the trees.

The Abraham Family tree (4)Jacobs family

Updates on the Abrahamic Family tree:

  • Rachel and Leah are Jacob’s second cousins/wives
  • Rachel is Leah’s sister/sister-in-law.  The reverse is also true.
  • Jacob has 13 children and 1 grandchild.  4 of the children and the grandchild are born out of wed-lock
  • Bilhah is Rachel’s maid, Jacob’s mistress, and Reuben’s servant-with-benefits.
  • Bilhah is the mother of two of Jacob’s children and the mother of his grandchild.
  • Bilhah is Reuben’s aunt, and the mother of his child.

Next time:  

We learn about Esau’s huge family; more incest (of course); God kills some of Jacob grandkids; and we get into the story of Jacob’s son Joseph (of “coat of many colors” fame)

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Genesis Chapter 3

Genesis Chapter 3

This post will cover the infamous Fall of Man, God’s punishments, and God’s first lie  as portrayed in Genesis Chapter 3.

The story starts by telling us that a serpent was the sneakiest of all the creatures that God had created. (Gen 3:1)  Why the snake is so sneaky and bad we are not told, but since God is perfect we can be assured that it was on purpose.

This sneaky snake can also talk, and asks Woman if God had said that she and Adam could eat from every tree in their little garden. (Gen 3:1)  It seems that species of talking snake has gone extinct, because we have no recorded evidence of any snake, any where, talking since then; unless you count the snake in Disney’s A Jungle Book.  The talking snake thing in Harry Potter doesn’t count because Harry is the only one who can understand it.

Woman, who is obviously accustomed to talking snakes (definitely from Slitherin House), tells Sneaky Snake that God said they could eat from all the trees but one, and that not only could they not eat from it, but couldn’t even touch it or they would die.  (Gen 3:2-3)  As far as we were told, God never mentioned the not touching the tree part, so I’m assuming that Adam embellished the rule when he later told Woman about it.

Sneaky Snake tells Woman that God was lying when he said that rubbish about dying the day  they eat from the tree.  According to Ole’ Sneaky, God was just scared that when they ate from the tree that they would become like gods in that they would know about good and evil. (Gen 3:4-5)

The_Serpent_Beguiled_Me_(Sunrays)[1]So, what does Woman do?  She looks at the tree thinks it’s pretty, that the fruit looks tasty, and thinks that it might be good to not be stupid, so she eats some of the fruit and gives some to Adam who had been standing there, but saying nothing, and he, like any good husband, did as he was told and ate it. (Gen 3:6)

As soon as they ate the fruit they noticed that they were naked, and quickly fashioned aprons out of leaves to hide their bodies. (Gen 3:7)  Nowhere does it explain why God had let them be evil by being naked in the first place, or why not covering your butt was ok.

After making their crude clothing they heard God wandering around the garden enjoying a little relief from the heat, so they went and hid in the trees (Gen 3:8)

Obviously, they hid themselves pretty well because God couldn’t find them, and had to call out for Adam. (Gen 3:9)

Adam called back from the trees (it never says he came out of hiding) and tells God that he had heard him coming and hid because he was naked. (Gen 3:10)

Then the following conversation ensues: (Gen 3:11-13)

God- Who told you that you were naked?  Did you eat from the tree that I had told you to leave alone?

Adam- It wasn’t my fault. The woman YOU gave me told me to do it.

God- Woman! Why did you do this?

Woman- It wasn’t my fault.  The talking snake told me to do it.

So, God looks at Sneaky Snake and tells him that he will from then on be the least liked of all the animals in the World.  He then takes away his legs (It seems that talking snakes once had legs) and tells him that he will have to eat dirt from then on, and that he will cause humans to hate snakes and go around stomping on their heads. (Gen 3:14-15)  The dirt eating combined with head stomping would go a long way toward explaining why this species of once-legged snakes went extinct.

God then turned on Woman and cursed her to have increased sadness and more babies which she will be sad about having.  He then says that from then on men will be in charge.  Thus God created PMS, and postpartum depression as well as misogyny. (Gen 3:16)

And God wasn’t finished with his punishments.  He turned to Adam and told him that since he listened to Woman and ate from the tree after being told not to, that the ground would from then on not do as well growing plants, and that Adam would have to be a farmer and baker if he wanted to eat.  He then tells him that he will be cut off from the Tree of Life and will eventually die. (Gen 3:17-19) The same thing, snake and all, had happened to Gilgamesh back before the Biblical story was written.

Let’s pause for a moment to look over something that I mentioned above.  Remember back in chapter 2 when God told Adam that the day he ate from the tree of knowledge that he would die?  And, remember earlier in 3:4 when Sneaky told Woman that the whole dying the moment you eat was hooey?  Well, as you can see above it was Sneaky who was telling the truth and God who was lying, because Adam would go on to live for 930 years.  So, in effect, God was angry at Adam and Woman for calling his bluff, and at Sneaky for telling his secret.  Truly a wrathful god.

To continue.  After God’s hissy fit, Adam arbitrarily changes Woman’s name to Eve (Gen 3:20) and God makes the couple some clothes out of animal skins. (Gen 3:21)

Then God goes back to his female companion, or some other god and says “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil (more proof that Sneaky was telling the truth): and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:” (Gen 3:22)  Obviously God is worried about Adam living forever and taking over, so God throws the couple out of the garden and makes them farmers. (Gen 3:23)

Tissot_Adam_and_Eve_Driven_from_Paradise[1]To keep the miscreants from sneaking back in, he puts guards on the eastern side of the garden, and puts a flying flaming sword by the tree of life just in case they figure out that the entrances to the west, north, and south are unguarded. (Gen 3:24)

So ends chapter three.  We’ve had lying, betrayal, trickery, and hissy fits, and God has given us pain, death, PMS, and postpartum depression.  Truly a loving and kindly god.

In the next chapter we are introduced to the beginnings of sacrifices, animal husbandry, music, metal working, the spread of civilization, incest, and murder.  Stay tuned.