Tag Archives: Reuben

Genesis Chapters 36-42

Chapter 36

Basically , this chapter just runs through Esau’s children and grand-children and takes a long-winded approach to saying that Esau fathered the Edomites, after he left Jacob and Canaan behind.

Chapter 37

Jacob_blesses_Joseph_and_gives_him_the_coatThe story line goes back to Jacob’s family, and we learn that Joseph has become Jacob’s favorite son, and that Jacob had made him a fancy multi-colored shirt. Because of the favoritism Jacob has shown Joseph, the other eleven boys don’t like him much. (37:1-4)

To make matters worse Joseph starts having dreams where he is in charge of the whole family, except it seems for Dinah.  This makes his brothers even angrier. (37:5-11)

His brothers, who are working instead of dreaming, take the family’s sheep to Shechem to feed them.  Jacob tells Joseph to go join them and help out, so Joseph heads out to find his brothers.  When Joseph gets to Shechem his brothers aren’t there and some stranger finds him wandering around in a field (probably day-dreaming) and tells him that his brothers have taken the flock to Dothan, so he heads that way. (37:12-17)

Joseph’s brothers see him coming and decide to kill him, throw him in a pit, tell everyone that some beast ate him, and then “…see what will become of his dreams.”  But, Reuben the maid-breeder, convinces the rest of his brothers not to kill him, and just throw him into the pit. His intention is to rescue his little brother later, and take him back to Daddy.. (37:18-22)

So, when Jacob arrives in camp his brothers take his pretty coat, and throw him into a pit. (37:23)

Joseph soldThe boys then sit down for supper and spot some traders headed for Egypt, Judah convinces most of his brothers to sell Joseph to the traders for 20 pieces of silver. (37:24-28)

When Reuben notices that Jacob is gone, they all decide to smear goat’s blood on Joseph’s pretty coat, and they take it to Jacob, who believes that a beast killed and ate his son.  Jacob losses it and starts dressing like Tarzan, and mourns hard for his lost boy, who we find out has been sold to the Pharaoh’s captain of the guard in Egypt. (37:29-36)

Chapter 38

Sometime after selling his little brother into slavery, Judah marries a Canaanite woman named Shuah.  Judah has three sons with Shuah:  Er, Onan, and Shelah. (38:1-5)

Judah then gets Er a wife named Tamar, presumably after he’s grown up a bit, but God doesn’t like Er, so he kills him. (38:6-7)

After Er dies, Judah has Onan marry his late brother’s wife so he can get her pregnant. Onan marries her, but instead of getting Tamar pregnant, he spills his seed on the ground since any child wouldn’t be considered his for some reason.  God gets mad at Onan for pulling out, and kills him.  Sell your brother into slavery, no big deal, but refuse to get your brother’s wife pregnant=death. (38:8-10)

Judah sends Tamar back to her father because he thinks that his sons keep dying because of her and he wants his youngest son Shelah to live long enough to give her a try. (38:11)

Then Judah’s wife dies, so he and his buddy go see what his sheep shearers are up to. (38:12)

Tamar hears that Judah is nearby so she dresses up like a prostitute to see if Shelah has grown up yet. (38:13-14)

Judah spots her, and not knowing who she is, offers her a baby goat for some sex.  She says ok, but only if he’ll give her his ring, bracelets and staff to hold until she gets her goat. He says ok, they have sex, and she heads back home to her father’s house. (38:15-19)

Judah gets the baby goat and has his buddy try to deliver it so he can get his jewelry back, but his buddy can’t find her. (38:20-24)

Three months later, Judah hears that Tamar has been selling herself and has ended up pregnant.  So Judah has her brought to him so he can burn her alive for being a whore. When she gets there, she shows him the jewelry, and he decides not to kill her.  (it’s OK because she was a whore for him and not some stranger) She later has twin boys:  Pharez and Zarah. (38:25-30)

Chapter 39

Now we turn to Joseph.

Since Joseph had been sold into slavery he had done quite well for himself, and had become the overseer of his owner’s estate.  God was good to Joseph’s owner, Potiphar, for appointing Joseph as overseer. (39:1-5)

444px-José_y_la_mujer_de_putifar_de_Antonio_María_EsquivelPotiphar’s wife develops a hankering for Joseph and starts trying to get him to sleep with her.  Joseph keeps turning her down, then one day she grabs him by his cloak and he runs away leaving his cloak behind. She tells everybody he tried to rape her, and Potiphar throws him in prison.  Where the warden takes a liking to him, and puts him in charge of all the other prisoners. (39:6-23) Joseph doesn’t know how lucky he is that it wasn’t his dad deciding his fate, because we all know that Jacob would have killed him and every man town, then taken the women and children as slaves.

Chapter 40

While Joseph is running things at the prison, the Pharaoh throws his chief butler and chief baker in prison where Joseph is put in charge of them.  After they had been there a while the two men have dreams that make them sad.  When Joseph sees that they are upset he asks them what’s going on and they tell him that they have had dreams but have no one to interpret the dreams for them. Joseph tells them that interpretation of dreams is for God to do, so he will do it. (40:1-8)

So, Joseph tells the butler that his dream means that in three days he will restored to his old position. And, Joseph asks him to put in a good word for him. (40:9-15)

Then the baker, thinking he’ll get good news also, has Joseph interpret his dream.  Joseph tells him that in three days the Pharaoh would remove his head, hang him on a tree, and that birds would feast on his flesh. (40:16-19)

Three days later the Pharaoh throws a big party, gives the butler his job back, and hangs the baker. (40:20-22)

The butler forgets all about Joseph. (40:23)

Chapter 41

This chapter starts with more dreams.  This time the dreams are from the Pharaoh.  In the first dream seven fat cows are eaten by skinny cows.  And in the second seven good ears of corn are eaten by seven thin ears. The really strange thing about this last dream is that corn didn’t exist in the Middle East until sometime around the 16th century AD, some 3,500 years after the pharaoh’s dream.  In fact, no one in the Bible would have eaten corn, known what it was, or have even seen it, except possibly Adam. (41:1-7)

The pharaoh’s dream interpreters can’t figure out the dreams, and his chief butler suggests talking to Joseph. So, the pharaoh calls in Joseph, who gets cleaned up and goes to the pharaoh. (41:8-14)

The pharaoh tells Joseph about his dreams, and Joseph tells him that they both mean the same thing: that God has shown him that there will be seven good years in the kingdom followed by seven years of famine. (41:15-32)

Joseph then advises the pharaoh that he should put somebody in charge of things to collect a 20% tax on all food crops for the next seven years, so that those crops held as taxes can be used to feed people for the following years. (41:33-36)

495px-Joseph_made_ruler_in_egyptAfter asking his advisers if they know of anyone who has God’s blessing to do such a job, the pharaoh makes Joseph a prime minister of Egypt and gives him jewelry, fine clothes, and the pharaoh’s own second chariot.  Pharaoh then changes Joseph’s name to Zaphnathpaaneah, and gives him Asenath the daughter of a priest for a wife.  Joseph is 30 years old when this happens. (41:37-46)  No explanation is given for the pharaoh’s belief in God.

During the next seven years, Joseph collects a lot of corn (seemingly from South America since corn won’t be in Egypt for another 3,500 years) and has two sons Manasseh, and Ephraim. (41:47-53)

Then the seven bad years start.  Joseph uses the corn he had stored to feed Egypt, and soon people come from other lands to buy corn, because the famine is worldwide. (41:54-57)

Chapter 42

Jacob hears about the corn in Egypt, and since his land is suffering from God’s famine along with the rest of the World he sends ten of his remaining sons to buy some of this amazing new grain.  Benjamin stays home because they are worried that he might get hurt.  They, like everyone else, have to go to Joseph for the purchase. (42:1-6)

Joseph recognizes his brothers, and disguises himself so that they won’t recognize him. He then accuses them of being spies, and tells them to send one brother to get their youngest brother and return with him or they will be thrown in prison. He puts them in jail for three days, then changes the terms for their release.  The new deal is that they can buy their corn and take it back, but one of them has to stay in prison until they return with their younger brother. (42:7-20)

They reluctantly agree, and Joseph has Simeon shackled and lets the others out.  Joseph then has his men fill the brothers’ grain sacks, put their money in their sacks, give them some provisions and send them on their way.  During their trip home the brothers discover that their money is in the sacks which confuses them. (42:21-27)

When they get home they tell Jacob about what happened.  Jacob says that there is no way he is going to send Benjamin to Egypt, because losing another son would kill him. (42:28-38)

Next Episode:

What will Jacob do?  Will it be revealed why God is trying to starve everyone to death? Will we learn how Joseph got corn from South America, and will he get potatoes also? Will the boys find suitable sisters or cousins to marry during this famine?  

Tune in next time as we finish the book of Genesis and at least one of these questions is answered.

For those of you who are interested, I have included below an updated family tree for Jacob’s family to account for the two sons of Judah which came from his buying the widow of his two oldest sons and using her like a prostitute.

Jacobs family (1)

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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)