Genesis: Answers to Life’s Crucial Questions

Genesis 39:1-23 “Joseph in Potiphar’s House, God’s Faithfulness in Adverse Circumstances” Part 2

Posted on March 18, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Sunday, March 10th and 17th, 2013

Bryan E. Walker

 

Read: Genesis 39:1-23

Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. 13 And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.” 16 Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, 17 and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. 18 But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.”

19 As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. 20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.

Main Idea/Gospel Points: While certainly doing a character study of Joseph is profitable for our sanctification when done properly, the greater point lies in looking towards the God who shows his steadfast love to Joseph. Here we see God’s sovereign grace being poured out on young Joseph while the pagan Potiphar himself recognizes that it is the Lord prospering his household because of Joseph. Indeed, the theme of this chapter is “The LORD was with Joseph!” This is not a story of the success of Jacob and how we too can be a success; this is a story of God’s faithfulness to his covenant with Abraham. This points us to abide in Christ til He comes, spreading the Kingdom as we go through the mundane things of this life.  The movement in Joseph’s life from exaltation to humiliation back to exaltation points forward to how God will act in Israel’s life as a people, but beyond Israel to the Son of God himself who existed in glory forever in heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but then came to earth as a humble peasant baby who would grow up and gain a large following based upon his dynamic preaching and his mighty miracles only to be abandoned by his followers and tortured, crucified, and buried. THEN, he is resurrected and ascends to the Father in glory. In this story we see God keeping his promise to Abraham from 12:3 in that Abraham’s descendant has the LORD with him and is being a blessing to a all peoples, pointing to the greater Descendant, who will be the biggest blessing for all peoples.

 

Additionally, in this lesson today, we will examine a hermeneutical issue that we briefly struggled with a couple of weeks ago in studying ch.38 and now we see the issue again in 39 but from a different angle. The issue is how can we interpret and apply ethical issues in Old Testament people’s lives when some of their behavior is laudatory and other behavior, though praised in the Bible, seems reprehensible to us?

 

EXPOSITION-

 

XI. The Account of Jacob: Joseph and His Brothers, or, How Israel Came to Live in Egypt Instead of the Promised Land

  1. A.     Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery in Egypt by His Brothers, 37:2-36
    1. 1.      Joseph, Beloved of His Father, and His Dreams, 37:2-11
    2. 2.      Joseph Betrayed By His Brothers, Sold into Slavery, 37:12-36

*Note: the rise of Judah

  1. B.     The Descent of Judah, Foreshadowing God’s Work of Grace 38:1-30
    1. 1.      Judah Marries a Canaanite, 38:1-11
    2. 2.      Judah, Deceived by Tamar, Fathers Twins, 38:12-30

 

  1. C.     Joseph in Potiphar’s House, Faithfulness in Adverse Circumstances, 39:1-23

Derek Kidner writes, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Genesis, “The symmetry of this chapter, in which the serene opening (1-6) is matched point for point, at a new level at the close (19-23) despite all that intervenes, perfectly expresses God’s quiet control and the man of faith’s quiet victory.”

 

The Joseph story offers several doublets, two events that are either linked or share several features. In ch. 37 there were the 2 dreams, 2 different schemes to get rid of him. In ch.40 there are the two officials and two dreams. In ch.41 Pharaoh himself has two dreams and Joseph’s brothers make two trips to Egypt. Here is ch.39 we see the second time a patriarch is faced with a sexual temptation by a married woman.

 

  1. 1.      God Keeps His Covenant with Joseph  and Joseph’s Faithfulness Leads to Prosperity, 39:1-6
  2. 2.      Joseph’s Faithfulness To God in Temptation, 39:7-20
  3. 3.      God Keeps His Covenant with Joseph and Joseph’s Faithfulness in Prison, 39:21-23
 

A.  Introduction: beginning of Joseph’s story 37:2-11

  B.  Jacob mourns ‘death’ of Joseph 37:12-36

    C.  Interlude: Judah signified as leader 38:1-30

      D.  Joseph’s enslavement in Egypt 39:1-23

        E.  Joseph savior of Egypt through disfavor at Pharaoh’s court 40:1-41:57

          F.  Journeys of brothers to Egypt 42:1-43:34

            G.  Brothers pass Joseph’s test of love for brother 44:1-34

            G1.Joseph gives up his power over brothers 45:1-28

          F1. Migration of family to Egypt 46:1-27

        E1. Joseph savior of family through favor at Pharaoh’s court 46:28-47:12

      D1. Joseph’s enslavement of Egyptians 47:13-31

    C1. Interlude: Judah blessed as ruler 48:1-49:28

  B1. Joseph mourns death of Jacob 49:29-50:14

A1. Conclusion: end of Joseph story 50:15-26

 

  1. 1.      God Keeps His Covenant with Joseph and Joseph’s Faithfulness Leads to Prosperity, 39:1-6
    1. a.      V.1 “Joseph had been brought down to Egypt…and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.” Moses returns to the main story where he left off in ch.37 with this verse matching 37:28 “the Ishmaelites…took Joseph to Egypt” and 37:36 “the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.” Joseph is “sold” in 37:36 and “bought” iin 39:1. And notice the symmetry in 39:1 “brought down” and “brought him down” at the beginning and ending of the verse. This is a Janus verse, looking back at 37 and forward to what is to come. But it may also be deliberately looking back at 38 as 38:1 “at that time Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside…” This is the second “descent” of Joseph. QQ: where was his first “descent”? (37:24). And in this chapter Joseph’s 3rd descent is to prison in v.20. Joseph being sold in Egypt begins the fulfillment of the prophecy in 15:3 that Abram’s descendants would be strangers in a country not their own. This again points to Moses speaking to his people explaining why and how they came to be enslaved in Egypt. Also, this points to Christ who left Heaven’s glory to come to earth and be treated as a stranger in a strange land and then point us to the fact that we are not at home in this world either (1John3:1 “The world does not know us”; 1Pet.1:1 “elect exiles”; John 15:19 “you are not of the world”)
    2. b.      “Potiphar” a shortened version of the Egyptian Potiphera, meaning “he whom Ra (the sun god) has given” (Waltke, p.504).
    3. c.       “an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard” no doubt his title is given so that the reader (us) can understand God’s Providence in getting Joseph to an important man with access to Pharaoh. The word for “officer” can mean an official under Pharaoh or it can even mean “eunuch”, but since Potiphar was married we take it to mean the former. “Captain of the guard” can mean leader of the bodyguard of Pharaoh or even Chief Butler (to match the Baker and Cupbearer in ch.40). But Captain of the Guard also can mean the keeper of the prison, in which we find Joseph by the end of the chapter. QQ: Is Potiphar the keeper of the prison in v.22? K.A. Kitchen seems to believe they are the same man (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol.4 M-P, Merrill C. Tenney, ed. Regency Reference Library: Grand Rapids, MI 1976. “Potiphar”, p.823.)
    4. d.      “Ishmaelites” it is fitting that the descendants of Ishmael, who persecuted Isaac in 21:9, would be selling the descendant of Isaac into slavery in Egypt. The animosity of these two groups of people exists down to the present day. Interchanging the Midianites with the Ishmaelites (37:28, 36; 39:1) may indicate that the descendants of Keturah (25:1-4) intermarried with the descendants of Ishmael (whose mother, Hagar, was Egyptian) from 25:13-16.
    5. e.      V.2 “The LORD was with Joseph…) this verse gives us three clues as to Joseph’s status in Egypt as a slave. First, the LORD was with Joseph. Here we see the covenant name for God, YHWH, the LORD. This emphasizes that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants was present in Joseph’s situation in a unique and powerful way. God had promised to be with the patriarchs (26:3; 28:15; 31:3). The use of the name YHWH is rare in the Joseph story, but occurs 7 times in this chapter emphasizing that Joseph is in a uniquely dangerous spot and the LORD is uniquely with him. This points forward to Israel’s experiences with the LORD at Mt. Sinai and beyond in the wilderness as the LORD enters into covenant with Israel and promises to dwell with them. It points even more towards Emmanuel, God with us, in Jesus Christ who promises in Matt.28:20 “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Notice the chiasmus structure as this phrase is matched by the same in v.21.
    6. f.        APPLY: If you were in a tight spot, a bad situation, and being sold as a slave in a foreign land is about as bad of a spot as you can be in, who would you want to be with you? We Have The Lord with usWherever we are, in whatever situation the world throws at us, He is with us always in His Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the abiding presence of Christ in the Believer through the Holy Spirit is under utilized in our personal discipleship!
    7. g.       “and he became a successful man” The word for success is translated as “prosper-prospered” in ch.24 about Abraham’s servant. How does a slave become successful? He pleases his master. He worked diligently using the God-given brains, energy and talents he possessed as gifts from God. He was apparently making his master even more wealthy by his management skills and ingenuity. Notice that his prosperity came AFTER the LORD being with him. Moses here gives credit where credit was due…God receives the glory. He had previously earned his father’s respect by his diligence in regards to his brothers (while simultaneously earning his brothers’ resentment).
    8. h.      APPLY: Here is perhaps one of the verses that the Prosperity Preachers of the Health and Wealth gospel rely on. I do not doubt for one minute that God has blessed Western Europe and America through the centuries because of the Protestant Reformation and the spreading of the true gospel. I do not doubt that on average, if a people are trusting in Christ and living by God’s Word they will be healthier, smarter, harder working, more trustworthy and more profitable than others. The virtues and godly character of the Christian, the fruit of the Spirit, will tend towards hard work, diligence, honesty and then prosperity. But the main thing must always be Jesus and not just his gifts.
    9. i.        “and he was in the house of his Egyptian master” Joseph was not a field hand, not a construction laborer, but a house slave. This kind of position was reserved for the smartest, most presentable, and docile slaves. This was a blessing, and would enable him to meet important people, but it would also be the means by which he came into daily contact with Mrs. Potiphar. Usually, God’s blessings also come with more of an opportunity to sin by abusing what God has entrusted to us (we are THAT corrupt!)
    10. j.        V.3 “His master saw that the LORD was with him…” Joseph’s work was so productive, his attitude and disposition so pleasing, and the success of his efforts so unusual that even his pagan master saw that it was the result of the LORD blessing Joseph. Now this is phenomenal that a pagan Egyptian would understand that the Hebrew God, YHWH, would be behind the blessings he was receiving through the hard work and faithfulness of the young slave Joseph. This may indicate that Joseph and Potiphar had some theological conversations or witnessing by Jospeh. Previously in Genesis we saw in 12:17-20 that a Pharaoh had some awareness of Abraham’s God due to an affliction placed upon them as a result of him taking Sarai into his harem. And in 20 God came to Abimelech in a dream to warn him about Sarah and Abraham. In 26 Abimelech tells Isaac to move away because of the great blessings Isaac has received making him too powerful for the Philistines around Gerar. The idea here is that when God blesses his people it should become obvious to the pagans around God’s people that it is God who is doing the blessing. In Abimelech of Gerar it produced fear and he told Isaac to move away but in Potiphar’s case he welcomed the blessings.
    11. k.      APPLY: Does our work ethic and attitude communicate the gospel in the workplace? One of the things that seriously damages the gospel is Christians who are lousy workers but are known as Christians in the workplace. We ought to be bearing the Fruit of the Spirit in the workplace so that every manager wants US on his/her team, every client asks for US, and every Christian owned business leads the way in whatever industry we work in. Then, we have the integrity to share the gospel in the workplace and have earned the right to be heard. We hear all too often that we need to be more evangelistic in the workplace, share the gospel, invite folks to church. But all of this is predicated on being godly, pleasing, and productive first. We do not know much about Jesus between his getting left behind in Jerusalem as a 12 year old and when he began his ministry as a man of about 30 years of age except that he was the carpenter’s son, implying he was a carpenter too. I would imagine that Jesus was the leading carpenter in the area; that he was the best and most sought after carpenter. Can the same be said of us?
    12. l.        But if Joseph is a type of Christ, then his excellence in service should also cause us to meditate on Christ’s sinlessness as it relates to his greatest work, his substitutionary, atoning death on the cross, and how his life pleased his heavenly Father. The Old Testament concept of a perfect lamb, goat or bull for sacrifice combines with the sinlessness of Christ to show us that apart from Christ’s complete active and passive obedience his death would not have sufficed for our atonement.
    13. m.    V.4 “So Joseph found favor in his sight” Again, not all pagans will be content with the profits they make from their believing servants. Some are so anti-God that they will persecute those who earn them the most; a willingness to cut their nose off to spite their face.
    14. n.      “So Jospeh…attended him” Joseph went from working in the house to becoming Potiphar’s personal attendant. “He made him overseer of his house…” Next, Jospeh was promoted to being the overseer of the whole estate. Joseph was faithful in that which was least, and became steward over much (Matt 25, Parable of the Talents).
    15. o.      APPLY: This idea from scripture can, unfortunately, be misused and misapplied. This can lead us to think that those who are most successful in terms of money, wealth, power, big positions in big churches or big corporations, etc. are the closest to God and have been the most faithful to God. The main idea of this part of Gen.39 and of Matt 25 is not that success will come to those who are faithful. The idea should rather be that we are all called to be faithful in the small things and if God promotes us then He should get the glory. Many a faithful, obedient servant of Christ has been very dutiful, disciplined and wise in their business and personal lives yet not made it to a level of success that anyone would readily recognize. And many scoundrels who claim Christ have been exceptionally successful. In THIS case, the LORD did have big plans for young Joseph and used his diligence as a means of promoting God’s own agenda.
    16. p.      V.5 “the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake” This anticipates Joseph’s future usefulness to Pharaoh and all of Egypt along with the whole world during the time of famine. Again, this confirms and fulfills 12:2-3 which promises to make Abraham a blessing to all peoples and that “I will bless those that bless you”. The Lord blessed Laban because of Jacob in 30:27,30. Jeremiah 29:4-7“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:” I believe that this blessing is still ineffect for both the Jews and the Church, as well as the individual Christian, on average. The word “blessed-bless” is an important word in Genesis (1:22; 12:1-3).
    17. q.      V.6 “Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.” This comment leads in to the middle section of the text, the temptation by Potiphar’s wife. Joseph’s mother, Rachel, is also noted for being “beautiful in form and appearance”(29.17), thus Rachel and her son are the only 2 people in the OT with this kind of complement.
    18. r.       “but the food he ate” this exception is probably based upon the Egyptians looking at the Hebrew slave as being unclean. The religious differences here could lead to separation in regards to preparing food; only Egyptians would be able to prepare the food.
    19. s.       “all” in the above verses notice the word “all” (vv.3,4,5 (2x) and 6). This indicates the completeness and thoroughness of the blessings from God upon Joseph and Potiphar’s household.
    20. 2.      Joseph’s Faithfulness to God in Temptation, 39:7-20
      1. a.      The motif of a hero spurning the advances of a friend’s wife is common in the ancient world. Today the motif is the hero accepting the advances of a friend’s wife. Some liberal scholars make a big deal out of saying this part of the Joseph story resembles a particular Egyptian story but the reality is that there are very few similarities between the two stories.
      2. b.      V.7 “And after a time” gives a vague sense of a long time and is used to clearly set apart this new sub-section of the story.
      3. c.       “his master’s wife” Moses does not dignify her by giving us her name. Yet Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba are portrayed as heroines.
      4. d.      “cast her eyes on Joseph” Mathews says it is literally, “lifted her eyes to Joseph” which points back to 24:64 when Rebekah saw Isaac for the first time (p.734).
      5. e.      “lie with me” These two words in Heb. are never used in relation to marriage. This brief report of what Mrs. Potiphar said to Joseph may be simply discretion of Moses’ part, or it may mean to indicate her urgency and insatiable lust. We are spared the details! It could be, that as the mistress of the household, she was used to getting her way and Joseph may not have been the first slave she had attempted to seduce.
      6. f.        V.8 “But he refused” the quickness and decisiveness of Joseph’s response indicates a heart already set on obeying God. He did not negotiate, he did not flirt with her, he refused her.
      7. g.      V.8-9 Joseph’s lengthy speech in reply to Mrs. Potiphar is spontaneous and heartfelt. He reasons that out of gratitude, obligation and loyalty to his master he cannot do this. He mentions the bond of marriage, “nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife.”
      8. h.      “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Joseph names her proposition as wickedness, and points out that it is a sin against God. Joseph’s apology here then covers practical reasons why not to sin, social moral reasons why not to sin, and finally a theological reason, bringing God into the conversation.
      9. i.        APPLY: In today’s world it is not PC to name sins as sins or to call them wickedness. While on the one hand we should try to be winsome, polite, civil, respectful, and peaceful, we should not allow the culture’s prevailing political correctness to censor, cow or coerce us into sitting down and shutting up. There is a time to name sins and call them what they are: wickedness, evil, disgusting, etc. Sadly, even within the church sexual sin is flourishing. For us to take a strong stand for biblical marriage, against homosexual marriage, while most Christian singles are engaging in pre-marital sex is pathetic, and the world recognizes it as such. We have to name the sin as being wicked vocally and by our actions. In case no one has noticed, we have lost the argument in our culture against gay marriage. There is a very slim chance of reversing course and it would include a SCOTUS win and a Constitutional Amendment at this point. Not likely to happen, but we must continue the fight, even when it gets costly.
      10. j.        V.10 “She spoke to Joseph day after day”  The temptation did not happen just once, but rather, day after day, on a continuous basis. That is how temptations normally work. Oh, there may be times where there is a once in a lifetime kind of temptation, but usually we are tempted by the same kinds of things day in and  day out. Mrs. Potiphar’s flirting and aggressiveness continued and it seems to have even grown in strength as she “caught him by his garment”- she grabbed him!
      11. k.      This points us to Christ who was “tempted as we are, yet without sin” Heb. 4:15. And in Luke’s account of the temptation of Jesus by the devil it says that “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” meaning that the tempting of Jesus was not a one time thing. Satan came at him again, and again, like Joseph.
      12. l.        “he would not listen to her” though her tactic of trying to wear him down failed here, it would succeed with Samson in Judges 14-16. Notice the constancy of Joseph, his steadiness. A lot of us can resist temptation once or twice, and then pat ourselves on the back, but can we stay strong day after day in the face of an overwhelming temptation?
      13. m.    “to lie beside her or to be with her” Hamilton, p.375, writes, “This may suggest that Potiphar’s wife was moderating her demands, ‘let’s just be on our own together for a little,’ in the hope of making him take the first step.” When people tempt us, or want us to join them in evil, and we refuse, they may seek a compromise. All the compromise does is to move us closer to the sin so as to tempt us more sorely. Flirting with sin, dancing around the edge, is a great plan- to FAIL! It’s always best to draw the line in the sand and stand firm.
      14. n.      APPLY: How to Turn Down Temptation- (1) decide before hand what your response to particular temptations will be. Make that decision firm. (2) Be always trusting in God and filled with His Spirit by regular intake of the Word (hear it preached, read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, obey it) (3) Pray for strength, (4) enlist the aid of other believers to encourage you to obey, (5) proclaim Christ to those around you who are tempting you. (6) Flee! Cut off the hand! Quote scripture to the devil! (7) Understand that your salvation depends on God’s grace alone, and the completed work of Christ alone. When you fail, look to Christ your only hope.
      15. o.      V.11 “and none of the men of the house was there” This was a dangerous situation for it helps to have another person as witness. This gave Mrs. Potiphar the opportunity.
      16. p.      “she caught him by his garment” the word indicates force, violence even. The word is used in Deut. 22:28 describing the rape of a virgin. She literally attacked him and began taking his clothes off! Here is the third reference to a garment which will be used in a deceitful manner in the bigger story going back to Judah’s cloak he left with Tamar and Joseph’s coat of many colours presented to Jacob with the goat’s blood. The word for garment is used 6 times in this story.
      17. q.      “but he…fled” Joseph could not fight her, else he get in trouble and go to prison, so he fled. Leaving his garment behind, however, did lead to trouble.
      18. r.       Vv.13-16 In this section Mrs. Potiphar uses the garment to frame Joseph by calling out to the other men on the property and telling them that Joseph had attacked her. Joseph, by his consistent refusals to her advances, has now become the object of her wrath rather than lust.  She just calls him a Hebrew in a racist, demeaning manner, not even referring to him by name. She claims to have cried out loudly (see Deut.22:24ff). Being FALSLEY ACCUSED Joseph again points us to Christ who, though sinless, was falsely charged with blasphemy and executed.
      19. s.       Vv.17-20 Mrs. Potiphar tells the story to Potiphar when he gets home and Potiphar gets angry, but the text is deliberately ambiguous about who Potiphar is angry with, and places Joseph in the King’s prison. The big question here is why did not Potiphar execute young Joseph? A slave attempting to rape a government official’s wife…? Perhaps Joseph adequately defended himself or maybe Potiphar’s wife even intervened. In the end, the LORD was watching out for Joseph.
      20. t.        Why do bad things happen to Christ’s loyal followers? Surely at this point Joseph is wondering “Why me?” Twice now he has been abused and brought near death when he has done nothing wrong. Certainly one of the strongest question posed to the Faith is,”Why do bad things happen to good people?” We must point out that first of all, there are no good people; Joseph here, though blameless, remains a sinner. If we all got what we deserved we would be cast into hell for we have indeed offended a holy God. But here in Joseph’s case especially, God has a plan which Joseph cannot yet see, despite his past dreams.
      21. u.      APPLY: when we suffer a wrong, instead of immediately throwing a fit or seeking revenge or complaining (as I am wont to do), we should first of all acknowledge the wisdom, providence and holiness of God and understand that he is in control and he loves us. The bad things that happen to us can be used by Him to sanctify us and prepare us for further ministry.
    21. 3.      God Keeps His Covenant with Joseph and Joseph’s Faithfulness in Prison, 39:21-23

a.V.21 “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love” the word in Heb. is hesed and means to act with loyal love to assist a covenant partner. God is present with Joseph in the toughest of circumstances fulfilling his covenant with Joseph’s fathers.

b. “and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Just like he had found favor in the sight of Potiphar, he finds favor with the keeper of the prison. Joseph maintains his positive attitude and work ethic even in prison, making himself useful and pleasing the one in authority over him. One can think of several NT verses that would be applicable in these circumstances: 1Thess 5:16, 18 “Rejoice always…give thanks in all circumstances”; Col.3:15,17,22,23 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful…And whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him….Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye service, as people pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”.

c. V.22 “the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners” Again we see the fulfillment of Gen. 12:1-3 as Joseph is being used as a blessing to all peoples. Possibly the warden of the prison worked for Potiphar as the Captain of the Guard, so perhaps Potiphar told the warden what kind of worker Joseph was. It no doubt started with small menial tasks, but soon Joseph proved himself again to be diligent and trustworthy and he became the superintendent under the warden. Very likely Joseph was able to improve conditions in the prison and provide for the inmates in a way that included the necessary discipline but also compassion.

d. V.23 “the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.” Move over Joel Osteen! Here is the original best life now…in prison. This verse re-emphasizes how the passage started off and points forward to what lies ahead.

e. These final 3 verses are sometimes included in with the story in ch.40 as a part of that outline; scholars are mixed about that.

Excursus: Hermeneutical Issues

Two weeks ago we studied chapter 38 and the dreadful story of Judah and Tamar. Tamar had been deceived by Judah about marrying his third son after she had married his first two sons and they had died without producing an heir. Tamar resorted to disguising herself as a prostitute in order to sleep with Judah and produce heirs. She used an immoral act to achieve a greater good in preserving the line of Judah from whom would come the Messiah. Scripture nowhere condemns her actions, and she is in fact named by Matthew in the genealogy of Christ; Jews consider her a heroine. None of us was comfortable with what she or Judah did and in our society what Judah did in withholding his third son would be no big deal, but what she did would be outrageously bad.

 

Here, then is the problem: How do we interpret and apply morals and ethics we see in our biblical heroes and heroines? Obviously in our current story about Joseph we see exemplary behaviour which points us to Christ and furthers our own sanctification. But what about for slaveholding societies, and the slaves, of the ante-bellum South in America? Or what about political prisoners in the various communist regimes around the world? Wouldn’t we recommend that the prisoners break out, escape their unjust masters?

 

Furthermore, the passage that ch.39 mirrors in the chiasmus structure of Moses is ch.47, Joseph’s enslavement of the Egyptians. Do we condone what Joseph did then? It goes against everything we believe in as Americans! So why do we use ch.39 as a good example for us to follow, but shy away from ch.47? Same Joseph, doing God’s will. John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2001 (pp692-694) writes, “Given the methodology that accepts the role models in the text, only an arbitrary judgment can dismiss this economic policy as inapplicable for today. It is only when we consistently adopt the criteria of taking our lead from the overt teaching of the text that the morass of subjectivity can be avoided and the text can retain its clear vision and voice.”

 

So is the text teaching that we should all be good workers even if we are slaves? No. The text is demonstrating remarkable character qualities by Joseph, and we can say that he is even pointing us to Christ, but the character qualities are taught elsewhere in scripture. This text is not here to tell us how to be successful, it is here to tell us how God used Joseph and his situation to accomplish His will in bringing Israel to be in Egypt and to demonstrate that God is keeping his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 

So then, can we use OT texts to teach ethics, morals, and Christian behaviour? Yes, Paul does say that these things are written for examples for us, for our instruction (1Cor.10:11) BUT, we must be careful to ground the examples from the OT in firm NT teaching that is specific.

 

Conclusion: In this remarkable story we DO see many points that can be used to help us in our sanctification- from working hard to resisting temptation- when combined with the proper NT texts that teach these things directly. But the primary thing that Moses is teaching us is that God is faithful to His covenant. Here is how Israel came to be in Egypt and where they would grow into a numerous people and ultimately be redeemed from slavery. Yes, Joseph is a great man, a type of Christ even. But the greater story is all about God’s Providence, Grace, and Covenant-Keeping Love. From this lesson then, we gain confidence in the God who has entered into covenant with us through the blood of his Son, Jesus.

 

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Genesis 39:1-23 “Joseph in Potiphar’s House, God’s Faithfulness in Adverse Circumstances”

Posted on March 18, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Sunday, March, 3rd, 2013

Bryan E. Walker

 Read: Genesis 39:1-23

Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. 13 And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.” 16 Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, 17 and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. 18 But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.”

19 As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. 20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.

Main Idea/Gospel Points: While certainly doing a character study of Joseph is profitable for our sanctification, the greater point lies in looking towards the God who shows his steadfast love to Joseph. Here we see God’s sovereign grace being poured out on young Joseph while Potiphar himself recognizes that it is the Lord prospering his household because of Joseph. This points us to abide in Christ til He comes, spreading the Kingdom as we go through the mundane things of this life.  The movement in Joseph’s life from exaltation to humiliation back to exaltation points forward to how God will act in Israel’s life as a people, but beyond Israel to the Son of God himself who existed in glory forever in heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but then came to earth as a humble peasant baby who grow up and gain a large following based upon his dynamic preaching and his mighty miracles only to be abandoned by his followers and tortured, crucified and buried. THEN, he is resurrected and ascends to the Father in glory.

 

Literary Analysis

 

Context-

XI. The Account of Jacob: Joseph and His Brothers, or, How Israel Came to Live in Egypt Instead of the Promised Land

  1. Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery in Egypt by His Brothers, 37:2-36
    1. Joseph, Beloved of His Father, and His Dreams, 37:2-11
    2. Joseph Betrayed By His Brothers, Sold into Slavery, 37:12-36

*Note: the rise of Judah

  1. The Descent of Judah, Foreshadowing God’s Work of Grace 38:1-30
    1. Judah Marries a Canaanite, 38:1-11
    2. Judah, Deceived by Tamar, Fathers Twins, 38:12-30

 

  1. Joseph in Potiphar’s House, Faithfulness in Adverse Circumstances, 39:1-23
    1. Joseph’s Faithfulness Leads to Prosperity, 39:1-6
    2. Joseph’s Faithfulness in Temptation, 39:7-20
    3. Joseph’s Faithfulness in Prison, 36:21-23
 

A.  Introduction: beginning of Joseph’s story 37:2-11

  B.  Jacob mourns ‘death’ of Joseph 37:12-36

    C.  Interlude: Judah signified as leader 38:1-30

      D.  Joseph’s enslavement in Egypt 39:1-23

        E.  Joseph savior of Egypt through disfavor at Pharaoh’s court 40:1-41:57

          F.  Journeys of brothers to Egypt 42:1-43:34

            G.  Brothers pass Joseph’s test of love for brother 44:1-34

            G1.Joseph gives up his power over brothers 45:1-28

          F1. Migration of family to Egypt 46:1-27

        E1. Joseph savior of family through favor at Pharaoh’s court 46:28-47:12

      D1. Joseph’s enslavement of Egyptians 47:13-31

    C1. Interlude: Judah blessed as ruler 48:1-49:28

  B1. Joseph mourns death of Jacob 49:29-50:14

A1. Conclusion: end of Joseph story 50:15-26

 

Moses deliberately links 39:1 and this story of Joseph, with where he last mentioned Joseph in 37:36 through the use of the words “had bought him from the Ishmaelites” in 39:1 and “the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar” in 37:36. This is called a Janus, meaning it looks back at what has previously occurred and looks forward to what is about to happen. In between, of course, lies ch.38, which was a side-story away from the main story, yet itself pointing forward to a major turn in the story, and even to the coming Messiah, Jesus. There is a pattern in Joseph’s story which links chapters 37, 39 and40-41 which adds yet another layer to the outline. This is a pattern of exaltation and humiliation. In 37 Joseph is exalted by his father through the many coloured robe (designating him as the eldest son, even though he was next to the youngest of 12 sons) but then is humiliated by his brothers in their hatred and plan to kill him, and their eventual selling him. Notice that it was not just Jacob who exalted young Joseph, however, in that the Lord sent him two dreams which portrayed him as the ruler over his whole family. This message from the Lord was rejected by Joseph’s brothers and led to his humiliating persecution.

 

Now, in ch.39, we see that although he was but a slave, he got assigned to Potiphar’s household staff, NOT as a field hand, then he worked his way up, as the Lord blessed him, to being in charge of the entire household, an exalted position. Joseph will then be humiliated as Mrs. Potiphar attempts to seduce him and ultimately accuses him of attempted rape, earning the wrath of Captain Potiphar and an immediate trip to the local jail. In the gaol, however, Joseph continues to work hard and win the respect of those he works with and for and he is soon running the jail as a trustee, again being exalted. In ch.40 Joseph is exalted again, in a miraculous manner, as his two jailmates, the Cupbearer to Pharaoh and the Chief Baker, come to Jospeh with their disturbing dreams, and Joseph is enabled to interpret the dreams. Joseph is humbled again in ch.41 as 2 full years pass and the Cupbearer forgets about Joseph until Pharaoh mentions his disturbing dreams and the Cupbearer tells the Pharaoh of Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams. Joseph is then exalted again to be the right hand to Pharaoh as he guides Egypt into managing the years of plenty and prepares for the years of famine.

 

Notice how the narration of the story changes with these exaltations and humiliations. In 39:2-6 it is a theological narrative “The Lord was with Joseph…the Lord gave him success…the Lord blessed the household….” but in 7-20 it is a phenomenological narration, “his master’s wife took notice…he refused…she spoke with Joseph day after day…she called her household servants…she kept his cloak…Joseph’s master…put him in prison.” Verses 21-23 go back to theological narrative and ch.40 is phenomenological.

 

Characterization-

QQ: How does Joseph grow and mature throughout ch.39? What godly virtues do you see in this young man?

 

One can only imagine the terror, the hopelessness, and the depression Joseph most likely faced as a teenager being sold in a big city as a slave. This past month, February, was Black History month and I started a habit a few years ago of reading some form of Black History during the month. This year I read another edition of Frederick Douglas’ autobiography and was deeply moved by his story. Douglass is great about sharing his inner feelings and reeling you the reader in so that you feel what he feels. These slave narratives not only help you understand our past as a nation, but will help you understand this Joseph story of being sold as a slave.

 

In v.2 we that “The Lord was with Joseph” (and in v.3, 5). We do not see Joseph building any altars or having conversations, wrestling matches, or other encounters with God like we have seen with the other patriarchs, but we see that the Lord was with him. This can imply piety, reverence, some form of faith and personal religious discipline on the part of young Joseph. As a slave he may not have had the freedom to worship in the same way his fathers worshipped, with altars and sacrifices, but his depth of understanding of doctrine later in the story, and his commitment to a high moral standard here in ch.39 seems to indicate great personal holiness and devotion to the Lord. Here is a young man who knew God. This part of his characterization points us to Christ with the phrase, “So Joseph found favor in his sight” in v. 4 because it is so similar to Luke 2:52 “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

 

Also in v. 2 we see that because the Lord was with him “he became a successful man” both in Potiphar’s house and later in the prison and then in Pharaoh’s court. While it is crucial to know that Joseph was successful because of the Lord being with him, we need to understand that it appears that Joseph had a strong work ethic and was very intelligent, applying himself to the tasks  given him. Whether it was working for his father in ch.37 earning the trust of his father and the scorn of his brothers, working in Potiphar’s house from the newest slave performing the most dirty and menial of tasks to becoming the chief steward of Potiphar’s house, and then after being unjustly sent to prison he becomes a trustee and ends up as the superintendent of the prison working for the warden! Here is a man who had an exemplary work ethic and a positive attitude regardless of what bad situation he found himself in. Joseph’s life resembles a tale from Horatio Alger! This work ethic also points us to Jesus of Nazareth who did not enter public ministry until about his thirtieth year and worked in humble obscurity as a carpenter prior to entering his ministry. Yet after those years of hard work and obscurity God himself pronounces, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

 

The character of Joseph is developed in chapter 39 most dramatically as he resists the advances of Mrs. Potiphar. Here was a rich and powerful man whose wife was no doubt beautiful and a leading socialite in their social circles. She most likely enjoyed the best spas in the country and spared no expense with cosmetics and clothing. Yet she was seeking an affair with a young Hebrew slave. She no doubt had some serious sin and moral issues, maybe even some psychological disorder that would land her on an ancient Egyptian reality show, but Joseph resisted the temptation. Repeatedly, for the text says “she spoke to Joseph day after day” (v.10). This was not a one time event of resisting temptation, this was a daily discipline in purity. This was steadfastness in adversity.

 

There is not much information given about Potiphar himself or his wife, but we can see that Potipher was a good judge of character in those who worked for him, but perhaps blind in regards to his wife. It seems that Potiphar “saw that the Lord was with [Joseph]” so perhaps there was some form of religious dialogue going on between Joseph and Potiphar. When Potiphar places Joseph as the head of the household economy he is exerting tremendous trust in a foreigner thus showing he is no xenophobe and that he recognizes talent when he sees it. His quickness in sending Joseph to jail may indicate a righteous anger if he sincerely believes his wife or it may indicate pride in that he gets rid of the the surface problem without dealing with the real underlying issues in his marriage. It is doubtful that Mrs. Potiphar was engaging in her first effort at adultery. She may have had some self respect issues.

 

QQ: How is the Lord characterized in this passage? The Lord is shown to be sovereign over circumstances in that whatever circumstances Joseph finds himself in, the Lord is there with him and using the circumstances for His will, thus frustrating the will of those evil people who place young Joseph in those circumstances desiring to harm him. The Lord is shown to be full of loving-kindness towards his own, Joseph.

QQ: Please relate to the class a time when you were brought low but eventually realized the Lord was with you and blessing you in the adverse circumstances.

 

Key Words- read through the text and identify the key words or phrases and tell why you think they are key:

Joseph-12x; Potiphar is only actually named once and his wife’s name is not given at all, like Judah’s wife. “The Lord” 8x. “his master” 8x. “House”-15x; “garment” 4x. “Steadfast love”

 

Structure and Plot-

The first 6 verses are from a theological perspective where we see the Lord was with Joseph and blessing him. Here we see young Joseph purchased by Potiphar and advancing in his work to become the chief slave of the household. The emphasis here is not so much Joseph’s success and work ethic as it is the blessings from the Lord which are understood by Potiphar to be from the Lord.

 

In vv.7-20 we see things from an earthly or phenomenological perspective and the emphasis is on the temptation of Joseph by Mrs. Potiphar and Joseph’s remarkable degree of integrity and purity. The frustrated Mrs. Potiphar ultimately turns on Joseph who refuses to go to bed with her and she cries rape. The “garment” theme that stretches back to chapters 37 and 38 arises again and is used to convict Joseph unjustly. Joseph is placed in prison by an indignant Potiphar.

 

The concluding third section of the story, vv.21-23 again shows things from a theological perspective as Joseph is again blessed by the Lord who shows Joseph “steadfast love” while he is prison.

 

Joseph moves from enslavement to success as a slave, to being cast off into prison (much as he was cast into a cistern by his brothers) where he again emerges as successful due to the Lord’s blessings.

 Conclusion: This text challenges us to not only remain faithful to the Lord in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, but to actively trust in God’s loving-kindness and proclaim his sovereignty and grace to others with whom we share our present circumstances. Just as Joseph serves as a type of Christ by his exemplary behavior we can imitate Christ in our every day life so that others will look at us and  realize that it is in fact the Lord who is blessing us. Notice, however, that the world will have a variety of reactions to our faithfulness to God: Potiphar rejoiced in the blessings but Mrs. Potiphar became resentful and vengeful.

 Next Week: A verse by verse exposition of ch.39.

 Bibliography:

            Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis, A Commentary. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI 2001 (pp.516-525.)

 

 

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Genesis 38:1-30 “The Descent of Judah, Foreshadowing God’s Work of Grace”

Posted on March 18, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Genesis Class, Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bryan E. Walker

 Read: Gen.38:1-30

It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her and went in to her, 3 and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4 She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5 Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. Judah was in Chezib when she bore him.

6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.

12 In the course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.

20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to take back the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim at the roadside?” And they said, “No cult prostitute has been here.” 22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I have not found her. Also, the men of the place said, ‘No cult prostitute has been here.’” 23 And Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, or we shall be laughed at. You see, I sent this young goat, and you did not find her.”

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.

27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.

Review/Introduction: In the last couple of weeks we have begun studying the final toledoth of Moses’ book, The Account of Jacob, featuring Jospeh. We saw last week the dramatic story of Joseph being betrayed by his brothers and sold to some slavers who take him down to Egypt. The 10 brothers then deceive their father Jacob with a torn and bloody robe of many colours making him believe that Joseph is dead. Throughout that first story of Joseph we saw his godly character which was pointing us to Christ in many parallel ways but the big idea was God’s sovereignty and Providence as we saw God working through even little details so that Joseph would be in a place so that he would be able to eventually provide salvation for his brothers and their families as well as the surrounding world, again pointing to Christ. Included in this famous and popular story of Joseph which most of us heard in Sunday school or Vacation Bible School as children, was an introduction to Judah, whose idea it was to sell Joseph and make a bit of cash. Amazingly enough, this sordid introduction of the 4th son of Jacob prepares the way for Judah becoming the royal tribe and ultimately, producing Jesus the Messiah. Today’s examination of ch.38 takes us away from Joseph and focuses on Judah in what is one of the more difficult and seldom understood texts in the book of Genesis.

 

Gospel Points: In this sordid story today we see the amazing grace of God who brings Judah to a point of extreme humility and repentance through a rather severe judgment as his first two sons die for being evil wretches, his wife dies, and then his sin and hypocrisy are exposed through his daughter-in-law, Tamar. We will see how God uses a Canaanite girl to preserve the line of what will become the royal tribe of Israel, ultimately producing Jesus, the Messiah, when the patriarch, Judah, completely loses the vision of being a blessing to the whole world. Along the way we will see the idea of kinsman-redeemer played out which also will point us to Jesus. This passage should give us hope for the most hardened sinners we know because God’s grace can overpower even the coldest and most vile hearts. He saved us didn’t he!?

 

Literary Analysis

 

Plot- In chapter 37 the plot centered around the hatred of Joseph by the 10 older brothers which came about because of the favoritism shown by Jacob (who grew up as the favorite of his mother, but not the favorite of his father) who gave Joseph the robe of many colours symbolizing his place as the Firstborn of the Favorite Wife. Add to this favoritism the fact that Joseph won his father’s approval by his good behaviour contrasted with the misbehaviour of the other brothers and then the dreams sent to Joseph by God and his obedient proclamation of that ‘gospel’ to his unbelieving brothers and you get a perfect storm of hatred culminating in the brothers’ desire to murder him and their ultimately selling him to slavers. This family is very dysfunctional and fractured, hinted at by the distance from home the brothers have taken their father’s flocks and demonstrated by their crimes against Joseph and their deception of their father. Yet Moses is clearly setting the stage, as he writes this family/national history, for God’s great act of redemption as Joseph will be used to save Egypt and the world around from the famine, and Joseph will bring reconciliation to his repentant brothers reuniting the family in the end. With the longer range in view we see Judah emerging as the leader of the brothers with the eventual blessing by Jacob indicating that the tribe of Judah would be the kingly tribe and the Messiah, Jesus Christ, being his primary descendant, bringing salvation to all the world.

 

Now in ch.38 we see Judah basically leaving the fractured family and going out on his own, marrying a Canaanite woman and engaging in all the sins of the Canaanites. This is the low point in the lives of the Patriarchs as the obedient son is a slave in Egypt, yet presumed dead by his father, and the leading son has forsaken the faith of his fathers and become thoroughly corrupted by the Canaanites. At this low point in the covenant family’s history who provides the spark which will lead them back from the precipice of going wholly pagan? The Canaanite daughter-in-law, Tamar. God’s grace is amazing and surprising as Judah is broken and proclaims that Tamar is more just than he.

 

Again we see the common obstacle of childlessness in a patriarchs family as Tamar has no children by her husband and brother-in-law. It is this childless condition that drives her to the unusual and desperate act of deceiving her father-in-law Judah by playing a prostitute. Strangely, this radical act points to Judah as a type of Christ as her kinsman-redeemer.

 

The chapter is easily divided into two sections, vv.1-11 and vv.12-30 with Moses giving us the markers “It happened at that time….” and “In the course of time….” The first section tells of Judah’s departure from the family, marrying into the Canaanites, and what happens to his sons while the second section tells the sordid story of how Tamar tricked her father-in-law Judah into fathering her twins. The dramatic twist at the end gives us the hope of God’s grace in Judah’s life.

 

Irony- there is plenty of irony in this story QQ: find ironic links from this story with what has gone before and what comes in chapter 39. This chapter, featuring Judah’s unfaithfulness and immoral behaviour, sets up ch. 39 and Joseph’s faithfulness under sexual temptation. Judah voluntarily leaves home while Joseph was forced away from home into slavery. In this story yet another “goat” and some clothes are used as part of a deception; furthermore, clothes are used in 39 to frame Joseph. In this story as well as in ch.37 a brother is betrayed as Tamar’s deceased husband has no offspring as promised. In this chapter, Onan apparently hates his deceased brother Er as shown by refusing to follow through on a sacred commitment. Tamar, an immoral Canaanite who plays the prostitute to actually sleep with her father-in-law will be one of 5 women mentioned and one of 4 women named in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1 (the other women being Rahab the prostitute, Ruth a Moabitess-descendant of incest, the wife of Uriah, an adulteress, and the virgin Mary). Judah’s twins by Tamar hearken back to Jacob and Esau where the younger supplants the older, and the color red is associated with one twin who loses out on the birthright (Esau and Zerah). Waltke writes, p.507, “Judah Goldin argues convincingly that this striking similarity between the births of Judah’s parents and of his sons shows that in the miraculous history of the covenant people a special divine elections rests on Judah and his offspring. Perez is like his grandfather Jacob, the one who strives and prevails.”

 

Chronology- Moses seems to give us a definite chronology of when Judah got married in relation to when Joseph was sold by the phrase “It happened at that time…”; it does appear that Judah left home and entered marriage with the Canaanites right after Joseph was sold. Emotionally this makes sense as the now leading brother suffers from guilt and sin, has almost killed Joseph, sold him as a slave, deceived his father and leaves home. The timing works out so that by the time of Judah’s confession of wronging Tamar he is also heading for Egypt the second time and guaranteeing Jacob the safety of Benjamin with his own life…a changed Judah (43:8-10; 44:33-34).

 

Context- chapter 38 and the story of Judah and Tamar is the third step in the Chiastic structure (step C) of Toledoth 10, corresponding with the 12th step (3rd from the bottom, or C1) which is the blessing of Jacob upon his children, focusing on Judah as the one who shall reign. Thus the Judah/Tamar story points to the prophecy of Jacob for Judah as the one who shall produce the Messiah and whose tribe will be the kingly tribe of Israel.

 

 

 

 

A.  Introduction: beginning of Joseph’s story 37:2-11

  B.  Jacob mourns ‘death’ of Joseph 37:12-36

    C.  Interlude: Judah signified as leader 38:1-30

      D.  Joseph’s enslavement in Egypt 39:1-23

        E.  Joseph savior of Egypt through disfavor at Pharaoh’s court 40:1-41:57

          F.  Journeys of brothers to Egypt 42:1-43:34

            G.  Brothers pass Joseph’s test of love for brother 44:1-34

            G1.Joseph gives up his power over brothers 45:1-28

          F1. Migration of family to Egypt 46:1-27

        E1. Joseph savior of family through favor at Pharaoh’s court 46:28-47:12

      D1. Joseph’s enslavement of Egyptians 47:13-31

    C1. Interlude: Judah blessed as ruler 48:1-49:28

  B1. Joseph mourns death of Jacob 49:29-50:14

A1. Conclusion: end of Joseph story 50:15-26

 

Characterization- Judah is portrayed as self-absorbed, lost, not caring about his broader family or even his immediate family, let alone the broader vision of God’s covenant promises to his family. With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the covenant promises is repeated and reconfirmed; not so with this this generation which has seemingly completely abandoned the covenant. How telling it is when Judah proclaims of his Canaanite/prostitute/incestuous daughter-in-law, “she is more righteous than I”. Waltke writes, p.508, “If Joseph steps onto the pages of sacred history as a bratty do-gooder, Judah enters as a slave trader who has turned his back on Abraham’s God-given vision. He is callous towards his father and cynical about the covenant family.” Judah marries a Canaanite, known only as the daughter of Shua, and has a Canaanite for a best friend (Hirah, the Adullamite), and participates in cultic prostitution. Judah shows no reverence towards God at all in this story. Judah’s home life must have been fairly bad to produce two sons, both of whom were so evil as to be killed off by the Lord. Notice that Moses does not include any emotions from Judah over the death of his sons. In some ways you could compare Judah with Lot who also lived closely with the pagans and suffered loss because of it.

 

Tamar is portrayed as the heroine as she does not stay in her Canaanite home with her father as directed by Judah, but, like Ruth after her, chooses to stay within the covenant family. Waltke, ibid., “Normally Canaanite women absorb Israelite men into their debased culture (Deut.7:1,3). In that light, her deception as a Canaanite prostitute to snare her widowed father-in-law into fatehring covenant seed should be evaluated as a daring act of faith. Her faithful deception wins her a place in the messianic lineage along with the faithful treachery of Rahab. In her daring ruse she acts quickly, decisively, and shrewdly, qualities also commendable in a king.” We are, no doubt, uncomfortable with this.

 

Key Words-

People: Judah-16x; Tamar-5x; Er-3x; Onan 3x; Shelah 4x; Hirah the Adullamite-3x; Shua/Shua’s daughter- 2x.

Terms about sex and childbirth- 28!

So even though Judah is shown to be breaking the covenant and going pagan, this story is about the blessings of the covenant- offspring being The Key Term. God promises the patriarchs, offspring, land and blessings.

Geography- Judah went down from his brothers, Chezib, Timnah, Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. The symbolism of Judah departing from his brothers and going down, descending, as did Lot when he departed from Abraham.

 

Exposition

XI. The Account of Jacob: Joseph and His Brothers, or, How Israel Came to Live in Egypt Instead of the Promised Land

  1. A.     Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery in Egypt by His Brothers, 37:2-36
    1. 1.      Joseph, Beloved of His Father, and His Dreams, 37:2-11
    2. 2.      Joseph Betrayed By His Brothers, Sold into Slavery, 37:12-36

*Note: the rise of Judah

  1. B.     The Descent of Judah, Foreshadowing God’s Work of Grace 38:1-30
    1. 1.      Judah Marries a Canaanite, 38:1-11 Sailhamer writes, p.231, “The narrative of chapter 38 has only a loose connection with the Joseph story….In the overall strategy of the book, however, this chapter plays a crucial role. The very fact that the narrative seems to lie outside the course of events of the Joseph story shows that the writer has put it here for a special purpose. It plays an important part in the development of the central themes of the book.”
      1. a.      V.1 “It happened at that time…” Moses deliberately connects the story of Judah/Tamar with what preceded it, the betrayal of Joseph. The events of ch.38 then, happen concurrently with the events in ch.39 over about a 20+ year time period.
      2. b.      b. “Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite.” Went down goes with the opening of ch.39 “Joseph had been brought down to Egypt”. Adullum was a royal Canaanite city (i.e., it was big enough to have a king, Josh. 12:15) located about 3 miles SW of Bethlehem.
      3. c.       C.V.2 “Judah saw…took her…went in to her…” The use of “saw…took” together connotes lust, Gen.3:6; 6:2; 12:15; 34:2.
      4. d.      “the daughter of a certain Canaanite”- Abraham specifically forbade his servant from getting a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites and Isaac and Rebekah were not pleased with Esau’s marrying the local girls. Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped when she went out to visit the women of the land and now, Judah marries a Canaanite, Simeon marries a Canaanite (46:10) and Joseph marries an Egyptian. While we do not know precisely all the reasons why God led this chosen family into Egypt, one possibility is to prevent them from being absorbed by the Canaanites through marriage. The relationship between Judah and his unnamed wife consists of seeing her, taking her, and going in to her (meeting, marrying, having sex) and her conceiving, bearing, and naming three sons. This seems to be a very limited and fleshly oriented relationship.
      5. e.      V.3-4 “Er…Onan” Wenham,p.366, says Er possibly meansguard” or “watchful” but then states that it is evil spelled backwards and the Lord killed him for doing evil. Onan may mean “vigorous”.
      6. f.        V.5 “Shelah…Judah was in Chezib” Shelah, meaning drawn out of the womb, was the ancestor of the Shelanites, mentioned in 46:12; Nu.26:20; 1Chr.2:3; 4:21; and Neh.11:5. Notice that the story begins with Judah having three sons. QQ: Can you think of other men in the previous chapters of Genesis who had three sons listed? Adam- Cain, Abel, Seth; Noah- Shen, Ham and Japheth; Terah- Abram, Nahor and Haran.  Chezib is located SW of Adullam.
      7. g.      V.6 “Tamar” means ‘palm tree”.
      8. h.      V.7 “Er was wicked” This entire episode can be seen to be, in Moses’ day, a warning against intermarriage. This passage is sometimes used by those who want to falsely accuse God of being judgmental and violent in the OT. Moses does not give us the details of Er’s error, but it most likely would involve idolatry.
      9. i.        THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION: God is a just and holy God, while all men are sinners, guilty of rebelling against our Creator who is worthy of all love, obedience and praise. If God only meted out justice, all men would be condemned to hell as all men are sinners. But God does not condemn all men to hell; he mercifully and graciously saves some, showing his grace and love to countless millions of sinners while allowing others to experience his holy justice and wrath. God is in no way unjust in operating in this manner. Er and Onan received what we justly deserve as well. To argue against God’s righteous justice is nonsensical. Is God not the creator? Are not all men sinners? Is God not holy? God’s holy justice, his judgment upon sin, does in fact bring him glory. The universe was created by God to display his glory, including his judgment upon sinners. God’s love does not cancel out his justice. To argue that God should not have killed Er and Onan is to exalt oneself and tear down God, thus reversing the real state of things and is therefore foolish.
      10. j.        V.8 “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law” While the OT Law forbade having sex with, or marrying your brother’s wife (Lev.18:16; 20:21) it did allow for this exception: when a man died childless, his widow would be married to his brother and the first born son would bear his brother’s name (Deut.25:5-10). This custom pre-dates the Mosaic Law and was evidently shared by the Canaanites. It is demonstrated dramatically in the book of Ruth. This practice continued in Jesus’ day, hence the question of the Sadducees in Matt.22:23ff. This custom seems gross to us today, but did provide for the young widows at the time.
      11. k.      V.9 “Onan…so as not to give offspring to his brother.” Abraham heeded his wife’s suggestion and went in to Hagar, producing strife in his home; Jacob, though deceived into it, married sisters, creating a strife filled home; Reuben had violated Jacob’s wife, Bilha; Simeon and Levi had violated the rite of circumcision with the Shechemites because of the raping of Dinah; Judah married outside the faith; and now Onan violates a sacred duty owed to his deceased brother by refusing to give Tamar a child. The text says nothing about Onam marrying Tamar, only having sex with her, and it is stated in a way to mean that this occurred repeatedly. So essentially Onan was using Tamar but not willing to impregnate her. Sarai, Rebekah, and Rachel all had to deal with long trials of childlessness. Do you see the pattern of obstacles and sins in marital relationships within this covenant family? The blessing promised is descendants but that is at the core of the problem for 5 generations now. But by the time of the Exodus…there are hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of descendants!
      12. l.        V.10 “The Lord…put him to death also.” God judged Onan for failing in levirate marriage.
      13. m.    V.11 “Remain a widow in your father’s house.” Judah’s response seems to be out of fear, and he possibly is even blaming Tamar here, since he does not want to give her his third son. He is unjust in sending Tamar away to live with her own father, and he is shirking his responsibility. Tamar’s response in vs.14 shows that she understood Judah was not going to take on his responsibility (which was his given what vs.24 says).
    2. 2.      Judah, Deceived by Tamar, Fathers Twins, 38:12-30
      1. a.      V.12 “In the course of time” after a long time, after many days- the idea here is that Tamar has the idea that Judah is not going to give his third son to her. Judah is deceiving her…so she will deceive Judah. Judah is so far gone in his faith that he is no longer concerned about the blessings of the covenant regarding descendants. It takes a pagan outsider, Tamar, to protect the covenant! Sailhamer writes, p.232, “Just as in chapter 20 where the seed of Abraham was protected by the righteous Abimelech (cf. also 26:9-11), it is the woman Tamar, not Judah the patriarch, who is ultimately responsible for the survival of the descendants of the house of Judah.” Sailhamer argues that Tamar was likely NOT a Canaanite and that therefore the seed of Judah was preserved from being tainted with Canaanite blood. Other scholars believe she was a Canaanite which makes her comparable to Rahab and Ruth and magnifies God’s grace in this situation. The actual text does NOT clearly state what ethnicity Tamar was, but the situation seems to lean towards her being Canaanite.
      2. b.      “the wife of Judah …died.” No cause of death is given but Judah seems to be surrounded with death. This would explain, though not excuse his use of a prostitute. This is another parallel with his father Jacob in that both Jacob and Judah have lost sons and a wife.
      3. c.       “Judah was comforted” This points us back to 37 where Jacob refused to be comforted in v.35.
      4. d.      V.13-14 “When Tamar was told…she took off her widow’s garments…” Though Tamar had been a widow for longer than Judah had been a widower, she still wore her widow’s garments while he sought a prostitute. 
      5. e.      “to shear his sheep” this would be a large, communal event that would include parties, celebrations, and social gatherings.
      6. f.        “covered herself with a veil” this would be the style for a cultic prostitute, not a common prostitute. Many ancient religions, including the Canaanite religion, included orgies and prostitutes as part of the worship. In v.15, however, Judah thinks she is a common prostitute but in v.21 the term for cultic prostitute is used. The deception of the patriarch with a veil also points us back to Leah and Jacob in ch.29.
      7. g.      V.15-16 Judah is not deliberately committing incest/adultery (she is considered betrothed to his youngest son), but he is deliberately fornicating. Tamar on the other hand, is going to Judah as her nearest kin as a widow, similar to Ruth seeking her kinsman-redeemer, to obtain what is due her.
      8. h.      VV.17-19 Judah seems to have not been prepared for this kind of financial transaction as he promises to send a goat to Tamar in payment. Again, a goat is used in a story where deception is a key part of the plot. Tamar requires a pledge, however, so Judah surrenders his signet and cord as well as his staff (which would have been hand carved and very identifiable). After they were finished, convinced she would conceive, Tamar went back home and put back on her widow garments.
      9. i.        VV.20-23 In the earliest reported case of Identity Theft, Judah has sent the promised payment via his Adullamite friend, but there is no sign of a cult prostitute and the locals deny one was even operating in the area. Judah has been had and acknowledges the potential embarrassment.
      10. j.        V.24 “Bring her out and let her be burned!” After 3 months Tamar is known to be pregnant and when Judah is informed he wants the death penalty for his daughter-in-law even though he had no plan to actually see that she married his youngest son. This kind of hypocritical, sexist, callous, unfair, double-standard is still common throughout the middle-east. Adultery is punishable by death in Lev.20:10; Deut. 22:22. In these passages both the man and the woman were to be put to death.
      11. k.      APPLY: QQ- are we as quick to judge? Are we as harsh? Or, does the world simply think we are quick to judge and are harsh because we hold to a biblical standard while the world holds no standards at all? The recent controversy over Tim Tebow declining to speak at FBC Dallas because of Dr. Jefferies’ strong biblical preaching on homosexuality and Jesus being the only way to salvation reveals where the world is coming from. You either conform to worlds positive view of homosexuality and universalism or you are hated.
      12. l.        APPLY: have you seen the news stories over recent years of how Islam treats women? The stonings, shootings, executions, rapes, throwing acid in the faces of women?
      13. m.    V.25 “Please identify whose these are?” This points back to 37:32 when Judah and his brothers placed the torn and bloody robe of many colours before their father and asked, “please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” Just as Judah deceived his father, Tamar has deceived him and now he looks foolish. He is revealed to be a fraud, liar, and cruel man.
      14. n.      V.26 “She is more righteous than I” But wait!…here is the dramatic end and the main point of the story: Judah suddenly realizes the error of his ways and rightly proclaims his daughter-in-law righteous while he is not! Waltke, p.513, says it is better translated, “She is righteous, not I!” Again, the timing of this confession is crucial- this is close to the time when he goes to Egypt for the second time and persuades Jacob to allow young Benjamin to go along, by pledging his own life.
      15. o.      VV. 27-30 The birth account of Judah’s twins again hearkens back to Jacob and Esau as Zerah’s hand comes out first and they tie a red string around his wrist, but then Perez struggles and is born first, supplanting his brother. It is Perez who is the ancestor of Jesus according to Matt.1:3 although both boys are mentioned. Waltke writes, p.515, “Ten generations, the symbolic number of a complete and significant unity of time (see Gen.5), separate David from Perez in Ruth 4:18-22 and 1 Chronicles 2:5, 9-15. Sarna asserts that this ‘shows that the birth of Perez is taken to be a historic turning point.’ In retrospect, then, this chapter is about the birth of royal seed in the continuity and discontinuity between the generations.”

Summary/Gospel Point: In this episode of the patriarchal history we see that Judah, the one whose idea it was to sell little Joseph in an effort to thwart God’s plans, leaves the family and marries into the Canaanites. There is an idea of judgment and justice given out to Judah by the Lord as two of his sons die early, leaving him no heirs, no grandchildren. While there is a route to having grandchildren, Judah’s fear stops him from fulfilling his promise to Tamar and he does not allow his third son to marry her. In another odd twist, his wife dies, which leads him to sinfully pursue a prostitute, who turns out to be his daughter-in-law, Tamar. Here Judah unwittingly plays the righteous role of the kinsman-redeemer pointing us to Christ and fathering twins (a double blessing) one of whom, Perez, would be an ancestor to Jesus. God’s plan of redemption through judgment and grace is demonstrated clearly in the lives of Judah, his sons, and Tamar.

Bibliography:

 Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50 in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI. 1995, pp.429-456.

Sailhamer, John H. “Genesis” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume2, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI 1990, pp.230-233.

            Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis, A Commentary. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.2001 (pp.506-516).

Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26.      Broadman&Holman: Nashville, TN 2005 (pp.631-660).

Ross, Allen P. Creation & Blessing, A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis.

 Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI 1996 (pp.611-620).

Wenham, Gordon. Word Biblical Commentary, Volume2, Genesis 16-50. Word Books: Dallas, Texas 1994 (pp.332-342).

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Genesis 37:12-36 Joseph’s Beginning: Providentially Sold Into Slavery in Egypt by His Brothers

Posted on March 18, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bryan E.Walker

 Scripture Reading, Genesis 37:2-11

12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” 14 So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.” So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. 15 And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” 16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” 17 And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

18 They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” 21 But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”— that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. 24 And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25 Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. 28 Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes 30 and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” 31 Then they took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” 33 And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.

http://www.esvbible.org/search/Genesis%2B37/

 

Review/Introduction:

 

Main/Gospel Points: As we go through this passage of Scripture we will see not just the points of similarities between Joseph’s life and Christ (which is why Joseph is such a good Type of Christ) but we will see three main points relating some aspect of the gospel. 1) The One who brings the gospel will be persecuted. 2) The doctrine of God’s Providence is an important aspect of the gospel we must understand. 3) This messed up family is a means for God to display his glorious grace and begin redemption history.

 

 

  1. A.     Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery in Egypt by His Brothers, 37:2-36

Structure- In these verses we see the plot unfold in a series of encounters between one person and another or one person and a group. In vv.12-14 Jacob sends Joseph. In vv.15-17 Jacob receives help from an unnamed man. When the brothers see Joseph coming to them they conspire to kill him but Reuben disagrees and defends Joseph in vv.18-22. In vv.23-24 Joseph is assaulted by his brothers and thrown into the pit. Judah convinces his 9 brothers (minus Reuben, Joseph, and obviously Benjamin) to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelite slavers in vv.25-28. Reuben confronts his brothers in vv.29-30. The brothers confront Jacob with their lie in vv.31-35. Finally, in v.36, the Midianites sell Joseph to Potiphar. (Ross, p.604)

 

Morally, this part of the story moves from Joseph’s faithful obedience to his father who sends him, to the treachery of his brothers who want to kill him and end up selling him as a slave, to the deceiving of their father with the goat’s blood and torn robe, to the last verse where Joseph is comparatively OK. (Ross, p.606).

 

And the geographical movement in the story is also important moving from Hebron to Shechem in vv.12-17, and the tragic events at Dothan in vv.18-31. Joseph goes to Egypt in 28c and 36. The brothers send the robe from Dothan to Hebron where Jacob grieves in 32-35. (Mathews, p.694).

  1. 3.      Joseph Betrayed By His Brothers, Sold into Slavery, 37:12-36

a.Joseph: Sent by His Father, Providentially Delayed  37:12-17

   (1). “Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock…” Back in vs 2 we saw that Joseph was pasturing the flock WITH his brothers, and now we see that Joseph is with his father while the other sons are out with the flocks. QQ: Why this change? Moses does not give us an answer but we can reasonably assume that the animosity between Joseph and his brothers detailed in vss.2-11 has gotten worse, and Joseph or his father (or both) have deemed it prudent to keep Joseph at home. Of course this, then, would demonstrate the elevation of Joseph to heir even more, and bring on even more jealousy most likely.

   (2). “…near Shechem.” QQ:There are a couple of odd things here, what are they? Where is Jacob, home base? 35:27 gives us the last known location of the family, Hebron, the home of Isaac and Abraham, and the family burial plot. Jacob’s family had left Shechem after Simeon and Levi had led the slaughter of the Shechemites in ch.34. The family went to Bethel, and then on towards Ephrath/Bethlehem, where Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, and then on to Mamre/Hebron. It is about 50 miles from Hebron to Shechem- so it seems the brothers had great freedom in moving the flocks about. The other odd thing is that now we see the sons of Jacob going back to the Shechem area where they would hated, perhaps feared. Waltke writes, p.502, “The rapes at Shechem occurred about two years earlier, when Joseph was about fifteen….”

   (3). “And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” There are a couple of possibilities here, first, is Jacob naïve? Does he not understand the hatred of his sons for young Joseph? Or, given that Joseph informed him properly of the brothers’ misdeeds in vs.2, and that he has appeared to designate him as his firstborn son (with the coat of many colours), is Jacob sending Joseph out to again monitor his sons’ conduct and to keep watch over the family business? Already it appears as if dream one is coming true.

   (4). Here is a likeness to Christ in that the Father sends the Son into the world where his brothers will turn against him. Despite the natural enmity of the lost world against the Father, he graciously sends Jesus, his Son, into the world to save the world. The actions of Jacob, though perhaps out of either naivite or out of suspicion, do end up creating the circumstances which would, under God’s sovereign provision, lead to the family’s salvation.

   (5). “And he said to him, ‘Here I am.’” Joseph’s readiness to obey and please his father, even in the face of danger, again points us to Christ who hesitated not to leave the splendours of heaven and enter into our poverty, taking on human flesh and ultimately dying a human death. “Here I am” points us back to Abraham’s responses to God and the Angel in 22:1,11, to Esau’s response to blind Isaac in 27:1, to Jacob’s response to the angel of God in 31:11; and it points us forward to 46:2 when God again calls out to Jacob. Elsewhere in the Bible we see it used inExodus 3:4 when the LORD calls to Moses at the burning bush, in the calling of Samuel in 1Samuel 3, and the call of Isaiah in ch.6

   (6). Application: Are we eager to obey our Heavenly Father? Are we quick to say, “Here I am”? even if there is no real danger? We think of our missionaries like Sarah Amerson, the Drakes, Carters, Daltons, Kauers and the Stringers as being super Christians because they serve on the foreign mission fields, but in reality we here at home must also answer God’s call with a cheerful and quick, “Here I am!” All too often I am afraid that I answer, “Who? Me?” or, “No not me!” instead of “Here I am.” The call to obedience goes to every true son and daughter of the Lord’s. The call to spread the Kingdom, to announce the Good News is with all of us every day. This last week I had an opportunity to share the gospel with a friend who came to me with some good questions; we talked for two hours. This gospel opportunity caused me to skip out on a hospital visit I had planned to make to a couple from our church. Sometimes God’s priorities are different from ours, even when we have ministry on our heart!

   (7). “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers…” vs. 14 the word for “it is well” is shalom and is used twice in the Hebrew in this verse, setting up the irony of Joseph’s mission as opposed to the animosity of the brothers who could not even speak shalom to Joseph in vs. 4.

   (8). V.15 “A man found him wandering…” similar to what happened to Jacob at the Jabbok in ch.32:24 “And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him…” A mysterious, unnamed man appears to Joseph as he is wandering and sets him on the right track to find his brothers. The man “found” Joseph in v.15 and Joseph “found” his brothers in v.17. Mathews states that the Jewish tradition is that the “man” is an angel (p.695). Joseph’s wandering seems like a pointless detail, yet it delayed him enough so that he would be cast into the dry cistern at just the right time for the slave traders’ caravan to pass by, thus giving Judah the opportunity to unintentionally save his life.

   (9). APPLICATION: Most of us do not like the feeling of wasting time by “wandering”. Whether it is while looking for a place to which we are traveling, or during a time of our life when we are pointless, missionless, and just wandering. An unnamed man, a person whom we do not know but who may be used of God to point us in the right direction can intervene and get us back on track. Or, we can be that unnamed man/woman and point others to the track that the Lord would have for them. This teaches us that God’s sovereign purpose, his Providence, reigns over all. God can use the most mundane of events to work His will into our lives for his glory and the spread of His Kingdom. Your seemingly random acts of kindness or financial offerings can be used of the Lord in real people’s lives in a cumulative or dramatic way. Though the brothers resisted the sovereignty of God as expressed through Joseph’s dreams, Moses shows us how the smallest of details can reveal the sovereignty of God.

                                b.Joseph’s Brothers Conspire Against Him, 37:18-24

(1). “They saw him…they conspired against him to kill him” Their       jealousy had turned to murderous hatred, to the point of conspiring to kill him.

(2). V.19 “Here comes this dreamer” Their hatred comes from their jealousy of how their father treats him, the jealousy between the wives and children of the different mothers, and the Dreams. They resent the dreams and this Dreamer.

(3). V.20 “Come now, let us kill him…” The same word is used in Gen.4 when Cain killed Abel; the word harag means a violent killing.

(4). “We will say that a fierce animal has devoured him” And after they throw him into the pit, they sit down and “devour” a meal (same word), thus revealing that they are the “fierce animals”. Fierce- evil.

(5). 1Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” The world hates us in a million ways because it hates our Lord Jesus. The world doesn’t mind if we be religious or nice, or even moral, just don’t be saved, born again, and preaching the gospel while living it out.

(6). V.21 “But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands” Reuben is the actual firstborn but had rebelled against his father and had sex with Bilha back in 35:22, close after the death of Rachel. Is this an attempt at redeeming his position with his father? His desire to rescue Joseph is twice mentioned, here, and in v.22, and in v.29 actually came for Joseph, but he had been sold. In 29 and 30 we see that Reuben was genuinely upset over his brother’s actions towards Joseph.Ultimately, however, while he may prevented the murder of Joseph, he failed to lead his brothers and leadership passes on to Judah.

(7). V.23 “They stripped him of his robe…” The robe that signified his father’s love and his position as the heir, the robe that had so insulted his brothers and led their jealous hearts to plan murder, this robe was stripped off him. Likewise a robe of scarlet was placed upon Jesus in mockery in Matt.27 and his own robe was gambled for by his executioners. The word for stripped indicates force, violence; one can imagine the beating they most likely inflicted upon the young man.

(8). V.24 “Threw him into a pit” This was perhaps their new plan to murder him instead of shedding his blood…just let him die of thirst in the pit which had “no water in it.” Cisterns like these are common in the region for storing water from the rainy season. Jeremiah was likewise thrown into a pit (Jer.38:9); perhaps this was a common way to kill people.

 

                                c.The Rise of Judah, Joseph Providentially Sold to Egypt, 37:25-28

(1). V.25 “they sat down to eat” The degree of cold bloodedness here is astonishing. They have discussed murdering their young brother, tossed him into an old, dry cistern with risk of injury and were going to leave him there to die of thirst. Now they sit down to eat a meal!? The irony and foreboding of the text is great- the dry cistern points to a coming drought and famine in which the brothers would have to come to Egypt and beg bread of their brother whom they considered killing through abandonment in the pit. In 42:41 the brothers tell of hearing Joseph pleading for mercy from the pit. Cold hearts indeed. And THIS is the family God has chosen to use to bring about the Saviour! God’s grace is amazing!

(2). V.25 “They saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead” This automatically causes us to think back to ch.21 and Ishamel’s mocking of Isaac which resulted in Ishmael being banned from the camp along with his mother Hagar. The symbolism then is that a group long known to be opposed to the children of Promise now has the chance to strike a blow against the descendants of Abraham through Sarah. This heightens the tension.

(3). “camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh” it is ironic that these are some of the same gifts given by Jacob to Joseph in 43:11.  

(4). V.26-27 “Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is it if we kill our brother…” Judah here becomes the leader as the brothers listen to him and act accordingly. He seems to be a very practical man, he sees that they can avoid the unpleasantries of actually killing Joseph and they can make a bit of money by selling him to the slavers.

(5). V.28 “And they drew Joseph out of the pit and lifted him up” Perhaps Joseph had a brief moment of thinking his brothers had changed their minds and were not going to leave him there to die. They had surely listened to his cries of anguish, his pleading for mercy, and his prayers. He thinks he is saved, but, wait…who are all these strangers!? He is stripped and inspected by the slavers and it dawns on him that his brothers are actually going to sell him as a slave! From favored son and heir to slave in a caravan! Fear grips him again as he sees the silver coins exchange hands, and the manacles are placed on him. He is chained to the other slaves and the whip cracks as the caravan begins its slow crawl to Egypt. His last look over his shoulder shows his brothers laughing and waving. In the Hebrew Joseph’s name appears three times in this verse: “they drew Joseph…they sold Joseph…they took Joseph” making this the key verse in the story. Twenty pieces of silver was the going rate for a slave.

                                d.Jacob Mourns the “Death” of Joseph, 37:29-35

 (1). “When Reuben returned…he tore his clothes” Moses does not tell  us where Reuben had been or why he missed out on the sale of Joseph, but the information he does gives us is very revealing. One thing it tells us is that Reuben, though trying to do the right thing and regain his position in the family, could not successfully influence his younger brothers. He has no moral authority.

(2). APPLY: The bigger lesson from Reuben is that God’s sovereign plan sometimes means that genuinely good and godly plans (rescuing Joseph) are not God’s will and therefore they fail. God’s sovereign will very often includes the righteous suffering needlessly (from our perspective!). We look at how close some things are to succeeding and watch helplessly as defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory and we struggle with God’s will. Prayers go unanswered, godly counsel fails, the gospel faithfully preached falls on deaf ears, godly people die young. Reuben seems genuinely upset “he tore his clothes” and was likely distraught. This is an encouraging sign that perhaps Reuben is experiencing real repentance since his great sin earlier. However, he does seem to have gone along with the others in the cover-up and lie about Joseph being devoured by a fierce animal.

(3). “they took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood” Again, Jacob and Rachel had deceived Isaac with a goatskin and clothing and now Jacob’s sons do the same to him with Joseph’s robe and goat’s blood.

(4). V.35 “I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning” Sheol is the realm of the dead, the grave, not a positive place nor a highly developed concept at this point. Nonetheless, it indicates that death is Not the end. Mathews writes, p.702, “That Jacob anticipates meeting his son once again indicates that he expects some form of life after death.”

Epilogue: Joseph Providentially Sold to Potiphar, 37:36 Here is the point to which  God was driving the life of Joseph: He was going to get this shepherd boy to Egypt! He did not end up in a sale to a labor pool building a pyramid, he got bought by Potiphar, Captain of the Guard for Pharaoh. God controlled so many details along the way including a caravan of traders/slavers and the auction block in Egypt so that he could get Joseph in exactly the right spot on time.

 

Gospel Point: Along the way we have pointed out key things in Joseph’s story that resemble some aspect of Christ’s story, like the robe, the betrayal, being sent from his Father. These are all reasons why we can look at the life of Joseph as being a Type or Foreshadowing of Christ. But there is a larger point here that brings out some elements of the gospel.

  1. 1.      The One who brings the gospel will be persecuted. God sent Joseph the dreams, and I believe he was supposed to relate those dreams to his family. His family rejected the dreams from God and the messenger as well, just as Christ was rejected by his own and those who faithfully proclaim the gospel today are rejected. The preaching of the gospel has always been costly and painful. We will be hated for the sake of Christ.
  2. 2.      Part of the gospel is the doctrine of God’s Providence, his sovereignty over all the little circumstances that make up our day. There is not a single stray electron in the entire universe. Therefore, when bad things happen to those of us trying to live for Christ we can try to take heart in faith as we understand that this, too, is for His glory and Kingdom. This is no mere fatalism which says either, “Que, sera, sera, whatever will be, will be” as Doris Day sang, or, “It is the will of Allah” as the muslims say. The doctrine of God’s Providence means that an all-powerful, good, wise and loving God has so ordered the universe that everything that happens, happens for a reason that will ultimately help display God’s grace and God’s holy justice. When we are overwhelmed with suffering, pain and grief because of the cruelty of this fallen world, we can still trust in good God who knows exactly what He is doing, even it is taking a favored son away in a slaver caravan.
  3. 3.      In this story we see the beginnings of God’s amazing grace. This murderous, messed up family will be redeemed, they will be spared by the one they tried to kill, and God will use this family to begin the people who would become a nation from which nation the Saviour of all the world would be born. If God can give his grace and mercy to a messed up family such as this, surely he can give grace to you! There is hope in Christ Alone for salvation.

 

Application: Have you ever been persecuted for the sake of the gospel? Do you personally know anyone who has? In what areas of your life are you resentful/bitter/not trusting in God’s Providence? Do you have a tendency to be fatalistic about God’s Providence, or are you able to rejoice in God’s goodness in his Providence? Can you tell someone about God’s grace to you and your family?

 

Assignment for Next Week: Read chapter 38.

 

Bibliography:

 

Waltke, Bruce. Genesis: A Commentary. Zondervan: Grand Rapids,MI 2001 (pp.491-505)

 

Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary, Vol.1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26.   Broadman&Holman: Nashville, TN 2005 (pp.661-702).

 

Ross, Allen P. Creation & Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI 1998 (pp.595-610).

 

 

 

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Genesis 37:2-36 Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery in Egypt by His Brothers

Posted on March 18, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bryan E. Walker

 Scripture Reading, Genesis 37:2-11

            These are the generations of Jacob.

            Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

            Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

            Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.

(Genesis 37:2-11 ESV)   http://www.esvbible.org/search/Genesis+37/

 

Review/Introduction: Last week we were introduced to the tenth toledoth and to our text for today. The BIG ideas of these final chapters in Genesis include such things as the faithfulness of Joseph, how God’s sovereignty and Providence work out his plan for Redemption even in the tiniest of details, and how God brought a dysfunctional, even murderous family to the point of repentance and reconciliation. For Moses’ day we see that he is providing his people Israel with their founding story to show how great God is, how humble their origins were, and answer the question: Why did we end up in Egypt?

 

In our text today we shall see the beginnings of Joseph and how he was beloved of his father, obedient to his father, yet hated by his brothers. We see several images of Christ in these verses. The Main Gospel Point for us is that Joseph, though persecuted by his brothers for being chosen by God, faithfully proclaimed the gospel which had been delivered to him. Can we do any less?

 

 

 

Verse-by-Verse Exposition:

 

  1. A.     Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery in Egypt by His Brothers, 37:2-36
    1. 1.      Title: The Generations of Jacob, 37:2a
    2. 2.      Joseph, Beloved of His Father, and His Dreams, 37:2b-11
      1. a.      Joseph the Shepherd: Beloved of his Father, Hated by his Brothers, vv.2b-4
      2. b.      Joseph the Dreamer: “Are you indeed to reign over us?” vv.5-11

(1). “Now Joseph had a dream”- this is the first dream we        have seen in Genesis where God is silent. Waltke writes,  p.500, “This revelation at the beginning of the story shows God as the Director behind the entire account….It forms a transition in the dominant means of God’s revelation from theophany in Genesis 1-11, to dreams and visions in Genesis 12-35, and now to providence in Genesis 36-50. These three stages resemble the three parts of the Tanak (i.e., the OT). In the Torah (“Law”), God speaks to Moses in theophany; in the Nebiim (“Prophets”), he speaks in dreams and visions; and in the Ketubim (“Writings”), he works mostly through providence.”

(2). Notice the ambiguity of the dreams. There is no clear   word from God so we are left to wonder if this is hubris on Joseph’s part or if this is a prophecy from God. Furthermore, what exactly is Joseph’s motive for sharing these dreams? We aren’t told. From one perspective it seems that Joseph is naïve to think that his dreams will not further agitate his brothers. But if Joseph is pure in heart, and trusting that God is the author of his dreams, then the dreams are a sign and a clear warning/prophecy to his brothers and father. Waltke takes a negative approach, writing, pp.500-501, “Joseph is also responsible for his own downfall, bearing tales about his brothers (37:2) even before Jacob’s preference for him is noted. He must gall them, insisting on telling his dreams to them and on repetitively sharing his second dream (37:9) even after they have begun to hate him ‘all the more’.” Victor Hamilton, however, takes a positive approach (p.410), “The text is silent on the issue of Joseph’s motivation in sharing this dream. If it is told out of arrogance, Gen.37 does not bother to make that point. The brothers are upset with Joseph, but the narrator is not. More than likely, the dream, and its recounting, is to be understood as an unsuspecting prophecy uttered by Joseph. God has a plan for his life, a destiny in his future, and Joseph spontaneously shares the enthusiasm that revelation spawns.”

(3). The brothers properly interpret Joseph’s dreams to mean that Joseph would rule and reign over them in the future; hence their hatred for their little brother. It is not just Joseph they hate, but the idea presented in the dreams. Waltke, p.504, “It isn’t just Jacob’s favoritism or Joseph’s manner that the brothers hate. It is the dream. Many today, like the brothers, are offended by the doctrine of God’s election….God deals justly with all, but he has mercy on some.”

(4). “Now Joseph….they hated him even more.” There may be a wordplay here as Joseph’s name means “add to” (see 30:24) and the root of “more” means “to add to” sounding like Joseph’s name. The dreams of Joseph add to their hatred for him.

(5). Notice that there are two dreams. Last week we discussed the use of doubles in the story of Joseph.

(6). We must ask the question, Why Joseph? Why did the Lord choose Joseph for these dreams and the historic role he would play? What we can see in the story of Joseph is a character of remarkable strength, faith and purity. If one takes the positive interpretation of Joseph, he is an outstanding young man. The principle is that God will sometimes use those who are faithful in the small things for bigger things! This is still all of God’s sovereign choice, wisdom and grace, the most faithful of men does not deserve to be used by God for he is still but a sinner. Ross writes, p.599, “Through these dreams God confirmed Jacob’s choice of his faithful son to be the leader.”

(7). Another question is why would a shepherd dream of sheaves of grain at harvest? A practical answer is that shepherds were frequently used as laborers during the harvest. But this dream points forward to the coming famine and the need for food the brothers would experience. This dream is fulfilled in 42:6.

(8). The obvious problem with the second dream is that Jacob asks, “Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” Jacob interprets it to mean that the 11 stars are the brothers and the sun and moon are himself and Jacob’s mother. But we know that with the birth of Joseph’s 11th brother, Benjamin, his mother, Rachel, died. The statement of Jacob then, is difficult. One possible solution is that Bilha, Rachel’s maid and Jacob’s concubine, took over the motherly duties of Rachel and cared for Joseph and Benjamin. This could account for Joseph’s tending sheep with Bilha’s sons and Zilpah’s. Since Rachel is not specified in this verse, and another solution is available that would make sense, this does not count as a contradiction.

(9). “His brothers were jealous of him but his father kept the saying in mind.”  When Joseph’s brothers correctly interpreted the dreams to mean that he would one day rule over them they rejected the idea immediately. Calvin writes, vol.2, p.262, “Here it is plainly shown to us that the paternal favor of God towards the elect, is like a fan to excite against them the enmity of the world….The sons of Jacob, however, were but too acute interpreters of the dream; yet they deride it as a fable, because it was repugnant to their wishes. Thus it often happens that they who are ill-disposed, quickly perceive what is the will of God: but, because they feel no reverence, they despise it. To this contumacy, however, succeeds a stupor which destroys their former quick-sightedness.”

(10). APPLY: Although we do not know for sure Joseph’s motives in sharing his dreams, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he was motivated by excitement that his dreams must have come from the LORD and that he was genuinely sharing it as the gospel to his brothers. This was God’s revelation to him, and it was part of God’s plan for him to share that revelation, even though we know it led to some immediate consequences that were not good for Joseph. Faithfulness to the Lord DOES sometimes open up bigger opportunities-but hardships as well. Those who are faithful to Divine Revelation – the Word of God in our day- can expect the world to hate us and spitefully use us. So the question for us is this: Are We going to faithfully proclaim the gospel the Lord has entrusted to us? Under all circumstances? Regardless of persecution, rejection, humiliation?

(11). APPLY: Even as Believers, do we sometimes rightly understand the text, yet rebel against the meaning of the text? Do we at times openly reject God’s will for us? These lessons on the final chapters of Genesis will demonstrate that God is sovereign in all things, including the things that cause us to suffer. Can we, like Joseph, persevere?

CONCLUSION: When we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ as those who have repented and trusted in Christ, the world will hate us because of who has shown favor to us, our Heavenly Father. And then as we share the Revelation He has given us by his grace, the world hates us even more. But we are called to be obedient to our Father as Joseph was, and faithful to share that Gospel.

 

Next Week: While my goal to go completely through chapter 37 was not met this week, I do hope to finish this chapter next week and maybe, possibly move on to begin the literary analysis of ch.38.

  1. 3.      Joseph Betrayed By His Brothers, Sold into Slavery, 37:12-36
    1. a.      Joseph: Sent by His Father, Providentially Delayed  37:12-17
    2. b.      Joseph’s Brothers Conspire Against Him, 37:18-24
    3. c.       The Rise of Judah, Joseph Providentially Sold to Egypt, 37:25-28
    4. d.      Jacob Mourns the “Death” of Joseph, 37:29-35
    5. e.      Epilogue: Joseph Providentially Sold to Potiphar, 37:36

 

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Introduction to Toledoth 10 of Genesis, Chapters 37-50

Posted on February 2, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Introduction to Toledoth 10 of Genesis and

Genesis 37:2-36 “Joseph- Beloved of His Father, Betrayed By His Brothers”

Genesis Class, Sunday, February 03, 2013

Bryan E. Walker

 

Welcome

 

Prayer Requests and Prayer

 

Review Homework from Genesis 36:1-37:1:

In this chapter, in what ways is Joseph like Christ? Although the NT does not directly say that Joseph was a type of Christ, he fits that description in many ways.

  • Matthew 3:17 and Genesis 37:3
  • John 15:25 and Genesis 37:4
  • Luke 19:14 and Genesis 37:8
  • Mark 15:10 and Genesis 37:11
  • Matthew 27:1 and Genesis 37:18
  • Matthew 27:28 and Genesis 37:23
  • Matthew 26:15 and Genesis 37:28

 

Read Genesis 37:2-36

            These are the generations of Jacob.

            Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

            Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

            Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind….

(Genesis 37:2-11 ESV)   http://www.esvbible.org/search/Genesis%2B37/

 

Introduction: Last week we covered the 9th toledoth, or the 10th part (counting the introduction in 1:1-2:3) of Moses’ book, Genesis. This week we begin the 10th and final toledoth which is the account, or generations, of Jacob, which focuses on his children as all the toledoths do, but especially Joseph, and surprisingly, Judah. Today we will do the necessary basic Bible study to look at the 10th toledoth as a whole before we move into the details of ch. 37.

 

Themes: The theme is to show that the covenant with Abraham, God’s promises for descendants, a land, for Abraham to be the father of nations, and to be a blessing, is being worked out and somewhat fulfilled in these 14 chapters, along with some obstacles appearing along the way. One particular way in which the covenant with Abraham is fulfilled in the story is when Joseph, as Prime Minister of Egypt, blesses/feeds the nations ((41:56f and 47:1).  In these chapters we see the 12 sons of Israel in a horrible, sinful series of events, yet reconciled to each other in the end by God’s grace. The story begins with Jacob and his twelve sons, but by the end, there are 70 who enter Egypt (70 being a number of perfection and pointing us back to chapter 10 and the Table of Nations where the sons of Noah have 70 descendants listed).

 

The major doctrinal themes in these chapters are the Providence of God, and God’s grace. God works through an amazing series of seemingly insignificant details and sinful actions of people to get Joseph to Egypt and in power in time to be the Savior, foreshadowing Christ in numerous ways. Waltke writes (p.492), “The narrative rejects humanism that believes in a God who ‘has no hands but ours to do the work.’ As Bruggemann asserts, ‘The narrative works its subtle way between a primitivism which believes too easily and a humanism which is embarrassed about faith.’” Judah plays a significant role in these “Joseph Stories” and we see the prophecy by Jacob that Judah will be the kingly tribe (from whence Jesus will be born). Another theme that affects today’s Believers’ sanctification is the theme of loving your brothers which dominates these chapters.

 

In our studies in Genesis we have seen a constant theme of “Obstacles to the Covenant”, whether it was war, foreign rulers, barren wives, or strife within the family. This theme is very pronounced in these chapters. The family discord which began the morning after Jacob woke up from his wedding night to find Leah in his bed continues as the jealous brothers seek to kill Joseph, then sell him to Ishmaelites who take him to Egypt. The covenant is corrupted by Judah who marries a Canaanite. The Land is abandoned due to drought as Israel enters Egypt. The key point in the story is the reconciliation of the brothers in chapters 44-45.

 

Moses is showing his people that God intervened to save their forefathers, and he intervened to save them. In order to build a nation he must have unity. The love between the brothers that is developed in chapters 44-45 is a much needed point. John 13:34f “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

There are some differences in how the themes are developed in chapters 37-50 as compared with chapters 12-36. The only theophany in 37-50 is to Jacob in 46:2-4 whereas there are several theophanies in 12-36 including Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Abimelech, Laban, and Jacob. Instead of the dramatic theophanies, God uses a more ambiguous method- dreams. Another difference is that although Joseph is displayed to be morally superior to Isaac and Jacob, he is not seen to build an altar or worship God. His theology is sound (40:8; 41:16,25,28; 50:20), but his worship is hidden.

 

The theme of Separation is also evident in toledoth 10. This theme was originally brought out in the call of God upon Abram in 12:1-3 where God tells him to “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you”. This theme is developed in ch.24 as Abraham sends his servant to Haran to seek for a wife for Isaac as he forbids him from acquiring a Canaanite wife. Similarly, Jacob in fleeing for his life from Esau, is sent back to the ancient homeland as well, and acquires 4 wives! It is pointed out twice that Esau was wrong to have obtained Canaanite wives. Now in this final toledoth, we see Judah departing from his brothers and marrying a Canaanite in 38. It is probable that one reason God sends this family to Egypt is to preserve them from Canaanite influence which seems to be gaining momentum since the Dinah episode in ch.34. In Egypt Joseph gets Pharaoh to give the land of Goshen to Jacob’s family and the reason given is in 46:34 “…you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”  This insures a time of separation during which Israel grows into a numerous people and they are kept pure from the Canaanite influence.

 

This theme of separation is of good help for the Christian today. WE are called to be holy, that is, separated for the purposes of God, in Christ. We are  the Chosen, the Elect, in the world but not of the world. As Joseph called his family out of a land of famine into a land of plenty where they could grow and prosper, so God’s people today are called out of the world into the Kingdom of God to grow and prosper spiritually.

 

Main Point/Gospel Point of Toledoth 10:

In the stories of Joseph and his brothers we see a possible foreshadowing of Christ and his Church (the New Testament authors do not directly use Joseph as a Type). Christ was one of us, a man, who was beloved of his father, betrayed by us, and sent to save his people. In the process we are transformed by his grace into a loving family and gain an understanding that God works all things for his glory and our good. The clearest teaching of these chapters is that God is providentially in control of the details of history and that he used many circumstances to bring about his plan of Redemption. The clearest link to Christ is the prophecy of Jacob concerning Judah, whose tribe would become the royal tribe and his greatest descendant is Jesus.

 

Literary Analysis of Genesis 37-50:

 

Context:

With 37:2 we begin the tenth and final toledoth of Moses’ book and, counting the Prologue, 1:1-2:3, we have 11 parts to Genesis. An outline of this final toledoth which we shall attempt to follow throughout this semester looks something like this:

 

XI. The Account of Jacob: Joseph and His Brothers, or, How Israel Came to Live in Egypt Instead of the Promised Land

  1. Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery inEgypt by His Brothers, 37:2-36
    1. Joseph, Beloved of His Father, and His Dreams, 37:2-11
    2. Joseph Betrayed By His Brothers, Sold into Slavery, 37:12-36

*Note: the rise of Judah

            B.  The Descent of Judah, Foreshadowing God’s Work of Grace 38:1-30

                        1.  Judah Marries a Canaanite, 38:1-11

                        2.  Judah, Deceived by Tamar, Fathers Twins, 38:12-30

            C.  Joseph in Potiphar’s House, Faithfulness in Adverse Circumstances, 39:1-23

                        1.  Joseph’s Faithfulness Leads to Prosperity, 39:1-6

                        2.  Joseph’s Faithfulness in Temptation, 39:6-19

                        3.  Joseph’s Faithfulness in Prison, 36:20-23

            D.  Joseph the Dreamer, Savior of Egypt, 40:1-41:57

                        1.  Interpreting Dreams for Pharaoh’s Officials, 40:1-23

                        2.  Interpreting Dreams for Pharaoh, 41:1-57

            E.   God’s Providence Brings Joseph’s Brothers to Egypt, 42:1-43:34

                        1.  The Brothers: First Journey, 42:1-38

                        2.  The Brothers+Benjamin: Second Journey, 43:1-34

            F.   The Testing of Joseph’s Brothers, 44:1-34

                        1.  Joseph Deceives His Brothers, 44:1-13

                        2.  The Rise of Judah, 44:14-34

            G.   Reconciliation Between Joseph and His Brothers, 45:1-28

                        1.  Joseph Reveals Himself, Reconciliation, 45:1-15

                        2.   Jacob Finds Out Joseph Is Alive! 45:16-28

            H.   The Family Leaves the Promised Land Temporarily, 46:1-27

                        1.  The Journey to Egypt, 46:1-7

                        2.  Jacob’s Family Blessed in Egypt, 46:8-27

              I.   Joseph as the Savior of His Family, 46:28-47:12

                        1.  Joseph and Jacob, 46:28-34

                        2.  Joseph’s Brothers and Pharaoh, 47:1-6

                        3.  Jacob and Pharaoh, 47:7-12

              J.   Joseph Enslaves the Egyptians, 47:13-31

                        1.  Joseph Purchases All of Egypt and the Egyptians for Food, 47:13-26

                        2.  Joseph and Jacob, 47:27-31

             K.   Jacob Blesses His Sons, Judah Shall Rule, 48:1-49:49:28

                        1.  Jacob Adopts and Blesses Manasseh and Ephraim, 48:1-22

                        2.  Jacob Blesses His 12 Sons, Judah Shall Rule, 49:1-28

             L.   Death and Burial of Jacob, 49:29-50:14

                        1.  Jacob’s Last Words and Breathes His Last, 49:29-32

                        2.  Jacob Is Returned to the Promised Land for Burial, 50:1-14

            M.   God’s Goodness & Providence Proclaimed and Joseph’s End, 50:15-26

                        1.  Joseph Proclaims God’s Goodness & Providence, 50:15-21

                        2.  Joseph’s Death & Prophecy of the Exodus, 50:22-26

(Note: I relied heavily upon Kenneth A. Mathew’s outline in NAC, vol.1B, pp.661-665.)

 

Bruce Waltke, p.21, presents an outline of the tenth toledoth, The Joseph Cycle that demonstrates the chiastic structure that is typical of Genesis with 7 concentric pairings:

 

 

A.  Introduction: beginning of Joseph’s story 37:2-11

  B.  Jacob mourns ‘death’ of Joseph 37:12-36

    C.  Interlude: Judah signified as leader 38:1-30

      D.  Joseph’s enslavement in Egypt 39:1-23

        E.  Joseph savior of Egypt through disfavor at Pharaoh’s court 40:1-41:57

          F.  Journeys of brothers to Egypt 42:1-43:34

            G.  Brothers pass Joseph’s test of love for brother 44:1-34

            G1.Joseph gives up his power over brothers 45:1-28

          F1. Migration of family to Egypt 46:1-27

        E1. Joseph savior of family through favor at Pharaoh’s court 46:28-47:12

      D1. Joseph’s enslavement of Egyptians 47:13-31

    C1. Interlude: Judah blessed as ruler 48:1-49:28

  B1. Joseph mourns death of Jacob 49:29-50:14

A1. Conclusion: end of Joseph story 50:15-26

Some would question the value, perhaps, of going into the details of the structure of Genesis. I think it is valuable for several reasons. First of all, this is God’s Word and the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write Genesis in this beautiful, intricate style. Secondly this does not just reveal the genius of Moses and the beauty of this book as literature, although that is enough to warrant praising God; no, this also indicates that perhaps God is doing something beautiful and intricate in history, redemption history. Genesis is theological, no doubt, but it is also historical revealing God’s timing and sovereignty over history; the stories we shall be studying this semester really happened; these are real people and real events. God structures history to reflect His glory and He rules over the events of history with his hidden will which is revealed gradually through his Providence.

 

Humankind started off in a created place called Paradise, the Garden of Eden, and we who have been saved by God’s grace will end up in Paradise at the end of history as new creatures with our old sin nature purged. At the end of days, I believe we who are redeemed will see and understand history as His-Story and we will see the beauty and intricacies of what God has wrought through all the details of the world’s history. God will be glorified in every culture, every age, in all peoples as his Redemptive  Purposes are made known and his plan is revealed in judgment and redemption. Looking at these kinds of details in Genesis gives us a foretaste of that grand unveiling.

 

Toledoth 10 is clearly linked with toledoth 8. One of the peculiar things of toledoth 10 is that it includes so much about Jacob. The toledoth of Terah is all about Abraham and the toledoth of Abraham is about Isaac, and the toledoth of Isaac is about Jacob and, to a lesser degree, Esau. In these final 14 chapters of Genesis there are many direct links with what has gone before. Just as parental favoritism played a huge role in toledoth 8, it plays a huge role here along with family conflict in general. One can say that the conflict between Jacob and his two competitive wives has born its fruit in the lives of the sons. In the Jacob stories he has left home and prospers in a far off land, now Joseph has been forced away from home yet eventually prospers. In both cases there is an eventual reunion and reconciliation between brothers. Just as Jacob and Esau team up again to bury Isaac, so Joseph and his brothers team up to honor their father Jacob. In ch.27 the skin of a goat was used to deceive blind Isaac, so in ch.37 the blood of a goat was used to deceive old Jacob. In chapter 31 there is a search for stolen household gods and in chapter 44 there is a search for a “stolen” cup. In chapter 30 Rachel says, “Give me children, or I shall die!” and Jacob’s response is (v.2) “Am I in the place of God…?” while in 50:19b Joseph calms his brothers’ fears and says the same phrase, “am I in the place of God?” (Mathews, p.667).

 

Overview of /toledoth 10:

Moses tells the stories using a series of  pairings (Waltke, p.495), which, again, I believe to be accurately reflecting the actions of God in history. Chapter 37 begins with his brothers hating him for 2 things- being their father’s favorite and the 2 dreams(sheaves and heavenly bodies) by Joseph and two threats against him by his brothers (death, slavery). The Judah/Tamar story of seduction (ch.38) is matched by Joseph fleeing temptation in Potiphar’s house (39) and while in prison, Joseph interprets two dreams of Pharaoh’s advisors (40) and this is followed by Pharaoh having two dreams which Joseph interprets (ch.41). In 42:14-20 Joseph devises 2 plans for dealing with his brothers and twice (42:25 and 44:1) he puts their silver back in their bags of grain. The brothers make 2 trips to Egypt for Grain (chap.42, 43) and the story of their migration to Egypt as afamily is told twice (46:1-27 and 46:28-47:12). There are two separate blessing given by Jacob to his children, the first is in 48:1-22 to Joseph’s sons, and the second is in 49:1-28 to all his own sons. Genesis ends with the twin deaths of Jacob (49:33-50:13) and Joseph (50:22-26). Jacob is taken to Canaan for burial (50:13) and Joseph made his brothers promise to carry his bones back to Canaan when they leave Egypt (50:25).

 

Most of us will remember the stories of Joseph from our childhood, but one of the surprising things about studying this toledoth is the subtle way Moses brings Judah to the forefront. Even in the blessings given out by Jacob at the end, while Joseph receives the double portion as Jacob adopts Manasseh and Ephraim, it is Judah who is the lion and whose scepter will reign. This combination gives us a double picture of Christ as Joseph serves as the type, but in Judah we see the prophecy of Christ being in his descendants.

 

Use of Emotion: Moses is a very emotional writer, including the full range of human emotions in very dramatic ways. This is not mere artistic creativity, I see it as God’s affirmation of human emotions. WE all know that our sin-touched emotions can lead us astray, but denying our God-given emotions is equally bad. We can feel the arrogance of young Joseph as he recounts his dreams and feel the burning hatred of his brothers as they look at daddy’s favorite. The despair of Reuben as he returns to the cistern to find Joseph has been sold and the grief of Jacob as he looks at the bloody robe move us to sympathize with them. We can feel the injustice done to Joseph as he is placed in prison after he rejected the advances of Potiphar’s wife. The joy of the cupbearer and the gloom of the baker come out as their dreams are interpreted.

 

Waltke, p.496, on the use of dramatic irony: “This masterful tale is replete with dramatic irony. The reader often stands in a position of special knowledge, just as Jospeh stands over his brothers….From fermenting hatred to blood soaked cloaks to a prostitute’s veil to mistaken grief and mistaken identity, the narrator masterfully arranges the details so that the reader is often in the know but never fully aware of how the truth will emerge or how deliverance will be brought. This position of limited knowledge always draws the reader back to the omnipotence of the divine author who knows how he will bring about his good purposes.”

 

Outline of Genesis 37:2-36

 

  1. A.     Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery in Egypt by His Brothers, 37:2-36
    1. 1.      Title: The Generations of Jacob, 37:2a
    2. 2.      Joseph, Beloved of His Father, and His Dreams, 37:2b-11
      1. a.      Joseph the Shepherd: Beloved of his Father, Hated by his Brothers, vv.2b-4
      2. b.      Joseph the Dreamer: “Are you indeed to reign over us?” vv.5-11
    3. 3.      Joseph Betrayed By His Brothers, Sold into Slavery, 37:12-36
      1. a.      Joseph: Sent by His Father, Providentially Delayed  37:12-17
      2. b.      Joseph’s Brothers Conspire Against Him, 37:18-24
      3. c.       The Rise of Judah, Joseph Providentially Sold to Egypt, 37:25-28
      4. d.      Jacob Mourns the “Death” of Joseph, 37:29-35
      5. e.      Epilogue: Joseph Providentially Sold to Potiphar, 37:36

 

Literary Analysis of Genesis 37-38

Verse 1 is a Janus in that it wraps up the previous toledoth and introduces the next. Waltke links chapters 37 and 38 as both demonstrate how “dysfunctional” or sinful Jacob’s family is. In 37 they threaten to kill their brother Joseph, then sell him to a bunch of slavers and tell a grievous lie to their fathter while in 38 Judah is seen “leaving his brothers” and marrying a Canaanite woman and eventually fathering twins through his own daughter-in-law. These two chapters introduce us to the two main characters for the rest of Genesis, Jospeh and Judah. The plot in ch.37 takes us through 4 actions that lead Joseph’s brothers to hate him (his giving a bad report on his brothers to their dad, Jacob’s favoritism towards Joseph, the two dreams arrogantly told to his brothers). The climax of the chapter is the selling of Joseph to the slavers for 20 pieces of silver. The brother on brother crime points us back to Gen. 4 and the murder of Abel by Cain and forward to the betrayal of Christ by Judas and the desertion of Christ by the other disciples.

 

Key Words:

Brother(s)- 20X

Son(s)- 9x

Father- 9x

Joseph- 12x

Jacob- 2x, Israel 2x

Dream, dreamed, dreamer- 12x

Love 2x, hate 3x

Robe-8x

Reuben 3x

Judah 1x

 

Characterization:

Jacob- weak, had a favored son, failed to love all his sons. Grieving.

Joseph- good son but perhaps a tattle tale, arrogant in his robe of authority and telling his dreams to his brothers and father, spoiled brat syndrome.

Reuben- weak leader as first born,

Judah- greedy and calculating

 

Foreshadowing:

The hatred by his brothers points forward to a tragic end for Joseph, however, Judah’s actions in selling his brother provide the means of their eventual redemption and salvation. Joseph’s dreams do point to a time in the future when his family must bow down to him.

 

Sailhamer, EBC, vol.2, p.226 “Since the story of Joseph is filled with wordplays and reversals, it seems likely that the reference to the ‘bad [ra ah] report’ in v.2 foreshadows the brothers’ intended ‘evil’ (ra ah; NIV ‘harm’) spoken of in 50:20.”….”Joseph recounted to his brothers two dreams, both of which end with the image of his brothers bowing down to him. The picture of the brothers bowing down to Joseph foreshadows the conclusion of the story where, because he is ruler of the land of Egypt, his brothers bowed down to him.”

 

Symbols

Jacob had a lot of rocks, stones, pillars, altars or heaps involved in his story (ch.28, 29, 31, 35); Joseph had his robe and clothes (37:3,23,31, 33; 39:12,15; 41:14;)  The coat of many colors is popularly said to point  to Christ who ultimately fulfills the promise to Abraham of being a blessing to all the nations; Rev.5:9 is a verse that accompanies the artwork. Popular artwork portrays the coat being made of the flags of the nations and being worn by Christ. The coat in Gen.37 simply symbolizes that Jacob had chosen Joseph as his “firstborn” heir apparent because it was richly ornamented and had long sleeves representing leadership and not being a laborer like his brothers.

 

http://www.tapestryproductions.com/products/artist/thomasblackshear/coatofmanycolors.php

 

Next week:

WE will begin our verse by verse study of ch.37.

 

Bibliography:

Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary,vol.1B Genesis 11:27-50:26. 2005 (960pp.)*****

 

Ross, Allen P. Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI. 1996 (744pp.)

 

 

Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis: A Commentary. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI 1991 (656pp.)

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Genesis 36:1-37:1 “Esau: Judgment and Hope”

Posted on January 26, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Sunday, 01-27-13

Bryan E. Walker

 

Welcome to Genesis Class

 

Prayer Requests

 

Prayer Time

 

Review of Homework:

Review the take home sheet. I gave some teasers at the end of last week’s class about this weeks class on Esau, and we will get to those as we go throught the study today.

 

Read Genesis 36:1-14; 37:1

            These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth. And Adah bore to Esau, Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

            Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his livestock, all his beasts, and all his property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan. He went into a land away from his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together. The land of their sojournings could not support them because of their livestock. So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. (Esau is Edom.)

            These are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Basemath the wife of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. (Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.) These are the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife. These are the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These are the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife. These are the sons of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon, Esau’s wife: she bore to Esau Jeush, Jalam, and Korah……

(Genesis 36:1-14 ESV)

 

            Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan.

(Genesis 37:1 ESV)

            http://www.esvbible.org/Genesis+36/

 

Main Idea/Summary/Gospel Point

 

            In this passage the Holy Spirit inspires Moses to record the genealogy of Esau in order to show us that God kept his covenant/promise to Abraham to make him the father of many nations and to show how the twin themes of judgment/redemption are contrasted in the lives of Jacob and Esau. Moses is also giving his people a history of Edom with whom they will have to live beside and deal with for centuries. The descendants of Esau play a significant role in the lives of the kings of Israel but the biggest roles the Edomites play are in the New Testament! There we will see both the hatred of the seed of the serpent for the seed of woman, Christ, and the hope the gospel brings to the line of Esau. With Esau we see the tragedy of rejecting the covenant through his marriages with Canaanites and his voluntarily leaving the Promised Land. Although there is much about judgment in this passage, we see the Covenant keeping God blessing Esau and in the rest of scripture we will see the hope of the gospel for Esau’s descendants. This specifically impacts our church and our mission through the Prophet Amos. In Amos 9:11-12 we find some hope: “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its beaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name, declares the LORD who does this.” We see this passage fulfilled in Mark 3:7-8 “Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusaelm and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon.” The descendants of Esau, the Edomites gathered to hear Jesus preach the gospel!

            And in Acts 15:16f James quotes from Amos 9:11-12 during the Jerusalem Council leading to an open acceptance of Gentiles into the faith.

            The main idea for us, here, now, in this church, is that we can be used by the Lord to bring the gospel to those outside the covenant, the lost, the Edomites if you will. We can proclaim our delight in God and his grace to our neighbors and the nations. And God has promised, through His prophet Amos, to bring some of them into the new Israel.

 

Discovery-

            Why Study this Genealogy?

 

            When we are reading through the Bible in a year or whichever Bible reading plan you use, what do you do when you come across a genealogy? Do you carefully read it, pausing to sound out all of the difficult, exotic sounding names, researching every name? Or, do you hurriedly glance at it, sigh, and move on to the good stuff?

 

            Part of what we are doing in this class is teaching you a sound doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures and teaching you how to study the Bible. We believe that all of God’s Word is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that we may be competent, equipped for every good work (2Tim.3:16-17). Furthermore we believe what Jesus said in Luke 24:44-45 “that everything written about [Jesus] in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Even this genealogy relates to Jesus in some way and proclaims some portion of the story of judgment and redemption that is the meta-story of the Bible.

 

            This does not mean that we will labor over every single name mentioned here. We do not have the time to do so detailed of a study, nor do we have the patience that would require! We will hit the highlights, the main ideas, and just a few of the details as we seek to relate this genealogy to the broader story of Genesis, the rest of the Pentateuch, the history of Israel, Jesus, and the mission of our church today.

 

            Ross (p.586) writes, “I would not expect too many expositors to devote an entire exposition to this chapter unless they had the luxury of time and could include it…But there is a poignant lesson in it, not only for Jacob, but also for all recipients of the promise.”

            Baldwin writes, p.153, “A chapter like this, consisting almost entirely of otherwise unknown names, may seem at first sight to be an interruption of the story; on further reflection it proves that Esau, though he did not receive the birthright, nevertheless prospered and, while Jacob and his family took refuge and eventually became slaves in Egypt, Esau’s clan developed and became organized….By this method Esau’s future could be summarized and dismissed before Genesis resumed the account of Jacob’s son Joseph, around whose story the events of the whole family turned.”

 

            Sailhamer writes, p.221 (1990), “In…this chapter, the writer goes to great lengths to show the progress and well being of the line of Esau. He is particularly careful to note that Esau is, in fact, ‘Edom’. …Why such a concern? The solution lies in the future importance of Edom during the later periods of Israel’s history.”

 

            “As in the book of Obadiah, Edom became a small picture for Israel’s relationship to the other nations at large.”

 

            Calvin (vol.2, p.252) writes: “Though Esau was an alien from the Church in the sight of God; yet since he also, as a son of Isaac, was favoured with a temporal blessing. Moses celebrates his race, and inscribes a sufficiently lengthened catalogue of the people born from him. This commemoration, however, resembles an honourable sepulture. For although Esau, with his posterity, took the precedence; yet this dignity was like a bubble, which is comprised under the figure of the world, and which quickly perishes….The Holy Spirit designed, indeed to testify that the prophecy which Isaac uttered concerning Esau was not vain; but he has no sooner shown its effect, than he turns away our eyes, as if he had cast a veil over it, that we may confine our attention to the race of Jacob.”

           

            Context: How does this chapter fit into Genesis, this part of Genesis, the Pentateuch, the Old Testament, and the Whole Bible? Outline.

 

            Keep in mind that Moses has a clear outline for his book using the toledoths (These are the generations of, or, This is the account of). With this outline we see that our chapter 36:1-37:1 is the 9th  out of 10 toledoths.

 

Here we see that Esau gets his own separate section. But, is there a problem with this arrangement perhaps? In our chapter aren’t there TWO toledoths? 36:1 and 36:9. We will save that discussion for a while and answer that question when we get to verse 9.

 

            How does this genealogy of Esau fit into this part of Genesis? What is its role? Moses tends to place a smaller toledoth covering people of lesser importance for his bigger story after key stories and before moving on to the next big story. The account of Esau is very similar to the account of Ishmael for instance (compare 36:1-37:1 with 25:12-18). Both Esau and Ishmael are the eldest sons and neither is the elect son. Ishmael’s story is told immediately after the death of Abraham but prior to the story of Isaac’s sons while Esau’s comes after the death of Isaac and prior to the account of Jacob’s sons. But still we must ask why the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to include the stories of Ishmael and Esau at all?

 

            What we will see as we study this passage is that Moses includes the account of Esau to show that God’s promises to Abraham (Gen.12:1-3; 17:4-8; 22:15-18), that kings and nations will come from his line, has come to pass. God keeps his covenant with Abraham! Furthermore, Moses is explaining a bit about the background of Amalek, a descendant of Esau, who came out to fight Israel (Ex.17:8-16). Later, in Numbers 20:14-21, Edom denied Israel the right to pass through their land. The kings and prophets of Israel have numerous dealings with Amalekites and Edomites which we will touch on as we go. Presenting a history of Esau’s descendants then, prepares the way for much that is to come in Israel’s history.

 

            The Amalekites teamed up with the Moabites and Ammonites in Judges 3:13 to attack Israel, and again in 6:3 the Midianites and Amalekites attacked.

 

Consider 1Samuel 15 where Samuel tells Saul that the LORD wants Saul to “strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey,” (v.3). But Saul did not follow the instructions and spared the king, Agag, and “the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them,” (v.9).  The LORD then took the kingdom from Saul in vv.22-23 “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from eing king.”

In 1 Sam.31 we see that Saul dies in battle as he falls on his sword after being severely wounded and surrounded. The Philistines find his body and cut off his head. But, in 2 Sam.1 we see that David had been out fighting the Amalekites and he now hears of the death of Saul from an Amalekite who escaped the battle and who claims to have been the one who finished Saul off at Saul’s own request. David orders the man executed for killing the LORD’s anointed. The fighting that began in Rebekah’s womb continues.

 

Even into the New Testament in such places as the nativity and crucifixion of Jesus we see the descendants of Esau at war with Seed of Woman. In Matthew 2 is the story of the visit of the wise men who met with Herod, whom we know from Josephus to be an Idumean, a descendant of Esau from Edom. Herod had been appointed as king of Judea by the Romans and was know for his magnificent public works, like the Temple in Jerusalem, but also for his extreme cruelty. In Matthew 2:16ff Herod attempts to kill the baby Jesus by killing all boys in the area around Bethlehem who were 2 years or younger. The descendant of Esau once again seeking to kill the descendant of Jacob.

 

In the crucifixion story whom do we find contributing in some small way to the death of Jesus? The son of Herod the Great, Herod Antipas. It was this Herod who had John the Baptist beheaded in Mark 6:14-29. But during Jesus’ trial Pilate realized that Jesus was from Galilee and so he sent him to Herod (Luke 23:6-12). Notice that in Lk.23:11 “And Herod with his soldiers treated him (Jesus) with contempt and mocked him.” This Idumean treated Jesus the same way Ishmael treated Isaac, and Edom treated Israel. With contempt.

 

This is the big picture of Esau/Edom and his role in Israel’s history and the history of God’s plan of redemption.  There is hope for the descendants of Edom but we will get to that later in our study.

 

Basic Bible Study- divide into groups and outline the passage, look for key people/names, geography, key words, actions.

 

            Literary Analysis-

Key Words- What key words/phrases did you find in the passage?

 

These are the generations of  (vs.1, 9)

Esau– vss.1,2,4,5, 6,8 (2x), 9,10 (3x), 12 (2x), 13, 14 (2x), 15 (2x), 17 (2x), 18 (2x), 19, 40, and 43.

Edom vss. 1, 8, 9, 16, 17, 19, 21, 31, 43 (2x).

Esau took his wives- vs.2, 6

Canaanites/Canaan- vss.2, 5, 6; 37:1

The hill country of Sei/Seirr- vss.8, 9, 20, 21.

Eliphaz- vss. 4, 10, 11, 12 (2x), 15, 16.

Teman/Temanites- vss.11, 15, 34, 42

Amalek- vss. 12, 16.

These are the chiefs of- vss.15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 40, 42. “Chiefs” occurs 17 times in the ESV but over 40 times in Hebrew and is the dominant word in the text.

These are the sons of- vss. 5, 10 (3x), 11, 12, 13 (2x), 14, 15(2x), 16, 17(2x), 19, 20, 21,22, 23, 26,27,28, 32, 33, 35, 38, 39.

Daughter- vss. 2(3x), 3, 6, 14(2x), 18, 25, 39.

Beor- v.32

Midian- v.35

Moab- v.35

Euphrates- 37

Jacob- vv.6; 37:1

Sojournings- vv.7; 37:1.

Land- vss.5, 6(2x), 7, 16, 17, 20, 21, 30, 31, 34, 43; 37:1

 

Geographical Movement- Does geography play a special role in this text? What places are mentioned and why?

Canaan and Edom/Seir are the key geographical regions. There is movement by Esau’s family from Canaan to Seir that is a key part of the story and makes a key theological point of departing from the covenant land of promise. There is a displacing of the Horites implied by Esau’s arrival in Seir.

 

Outline:

            This is one of the longest chapters in Genesis and has two toledoths making it more complex than usual to try to outline. Does Moses intend for this to be One of his 10 toledoths or is this Two separate toledoths? Ross, p.585, writes, “This chapter is complicated and difficult, both in its exegesis and in its exposition. In the first place, the structure is difficult: the chapter begins with the heading toledot with the name Esau, but then this heading is repeated in verse 9 again with the name Esau, as if a second development was added….Not only is the organization difficult, the purpose of this chapter has been the subject of much debate.”

Scholars take different stands on this problem so I will give two outlines.

            Mathews (2005; pp.631-643) takes the position that this is two separate toledoths and his outline presents it this way:

Esau’s Family 36:1-8

  1. Title (36:1)
  2. Esau’s Wives and Sons (36:2-5)
  3. Esau’s Move to Seir (36:6-8)

 

Esau, Father of the Edomites 36:9-37:1

  1. Title (36:9)
  2. The Sons and Chiefs of Esau (36:10-19)
  3. The Sons and Chiefs of Seir (36:20-30)
  4. The Kings of Edom (36:31-39)
  5. The Chiefs of Edom (36:40-43)
  6. Jacob in Canaan (37:1)

 

Most other scholars I have read do Not separate the chapter into TWO toledoths. The reason to keep them united is that they cover some of the same material and the second toledoth may be an addition after Moses, by none other than David who conquered Edom. Whatever the source of vss.9-43, I believe the Holy Spirit intended them to be there. I will go with a more simple outline that unifies the chapter:

 

  1. I.                   Esau’s Canaanite Family and His Departure from the Promised Land, 36:1-8
    1. A.     Title, vs.1
    2. B.     Esau’s Canaanite Family, vss.2-5
    3. C.     Esau Departs from the Promised Land, vss.6-8
  2. II.                The Blessings of God Upon Esau’s Descendants, 36:9-43
    1. A.     The Family of Esau to the Third Generation, 36:9-14
    2. B.     The Chiefs of Esau’s Family, 36:15-19
    3. C.     The Horites, 36:20-30
    4. D.    The Kings of Edom, 31-39
    5. E.     The Chiefs of Esau’s Family, 40-43
  3. III.             Jacob Remained in the Promised Land, 37:1

A.   Jacob Lived in the Land, 37:1

 

 

Exposition: Understanding and Application

  1. I.                   Esau’s Canaanite Family and His Departure from the Promised Land, 36:1-8
    1. A.     Title, toledoth, vs.1
      1. 1.        These are the generations of Esau- Waltke, p.482, “this is better translated, ‘This is the account of Esau’s descendants’”. It is the story of God’s keeping his promise to Abraham in 17:4-8 “…my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations…I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you…” When the events recorded in this chapter are happening, Jacob’s descendants are but slaves in Egypt while Esau’s line is prospering and forging a kingdom with many kings listed. We have previously seen God keeping his covenant with Abraham by blessing Ishmael in 25:12-18 with Ishmael having 12 princes.
      2. 2.        The prophecy in the birth narrative of the twins in 25:23 includes “Two nations are in your womb and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” In ch.36 we see the fulfillment of the first lines- Esau’s line does become a nation and as he leaves the Promised Land for Seir the two peoples are divided.
      3. 3.        Mathews writes, p.631, “The Esau toledot sections show that the expectations of an Edomite nation were met. God had promised that Ishamel would produce a ‘great nation’ (17:20; cf. 21:13,18). Genesis does not offer the same explicit promise to Esau, but the inclusion of his descendants and their ascendancy as rulers (36:9-43) imply that Edom’s rise was also the consequence of God’s blessing. That Esau dwelt securely in Seir (32:3-4) implied that the Lord would establish his descendant in the land (36:30-31)….”
      4. 4.        As we consider Esau and the Edomites we need to remember that Esau/Edom is the twin brother of Jacob/Israel and they have the same parents. Ishmael had the same father as Isaac, but an Egyptian wife. The Ammonites and Moabites were only the children of Abraham’s nephew Lot. Therefore, the Edomites are to be considered as close kin, as Deut.23:7 says, “You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother…Children born to them in the third generation may enter the assembly of the LORD.”
      5. 5.        Esau (that is, Edom)- The association of Esau with Edom goes back to 25:29-34 when Esau came in from the field exhausted and hungry. Jacob had some “red stuff”, red stew, which Esau immediately craved and sold his birthright in order to eat. “Red stuff” and Edom are very similar in root and sound therefore the name stuck to Esau. Every time we see the name Edom, then, we are forced to recall that Esau, its founder, sold his birthright for a pot of red stew.
      6. 6.        This transfer of Esau’s nickname Edom to the nation he founded is matched and balanced by Jacob’s nation taking on his second, God given name (32:28), Israel.

 

  1. B.     Esau’s Canaanite Family, vss.2-5
    1. 1.        Esau took his wives from the Canaanites- this phrase should be translated as the NIV “the women of Canaan” which points us back to 28:1,6 where Isaac told Jacob “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women”. This present verse then, reminds us that Esau’s choice of wives in 26:34f. Also, this phrase points us back to Dinah in 34:1 who “went out to see the women in the land” and ended up getting raped. Waltke says, p.483, “This is a derogatory expression….”
    2. 2.        The phrase goes further back to 24:3f where Abraham ordered his servant “swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
    3. 3.        The main idea here is that Esau, by his choices, cut himself off from the covenant line of blessing. To be sure, he received many temporal blessings as Calvin stated above, but his choice to marry Canaanites demonstrates where his heart is.
    4. 4.        For Moses’ people, the message was to not make covenants with the inhabitants of the land (Canaanites, etc.) and do not “take of their daughters for your sons” Exodus 34:10-16, esp. v.16. Deut.7:3 “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons.” What was the purpose of this prohibition against intermarrying with the Canaanites? The last part of v.16 says, “and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.”
    5. 5.        APPLY: For God’s people under the New Covenant today the message is the same, “do not be unequally yoked with  unbelievers”. While the context in which the phrase appears in 2 Cor.6:14 is Not talking about marriage, it can certainly reach there. Solomon’s many foreign wives would be another example from 1Kings 11. The GOSPEL link here is more precisely what Paul was speaking of in 2Cor.6:14 which continues on, “For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial?” The idea then, is that Believers must not become so linked with, or covenanted with, those who are opposed to Christ that we become compromised in our faith. If we hold the Canaanites too closely, we risk losing our faith. Samson and Delilah would be an example from Judges 16.
    6. 6.        APPLY: In what ways have we “taken wives from the Canaanites”? Have we, like the seed in Mark 4, allowed thorns to grow close and so choke ourselves?
    7. 7.        Adah…Oholibamah…Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter- There are clearly some problems with the text here as this passage does not, on the surface, square with 26:34. There are several ways to rectify the surface problem including the possible death of a wife, the changing of names (as done with Sarai to Sarah), Esau having more than three wives, some with the same name, etc. This is an in-depth technical study for which we do not have time nor space. What is interesting, however, is that we see that Esau marries into the line of Ishmael. The first wife listed is Adah, which name appears earlier as a wife of Lamech in 4:23. this could be a subtle linking of Esau to the seed of the serpent (Waltke, ibid.)
    8. 8.        Adah bore to Esau Eliphaz- the name means El is pure gold. He would become a tribal chief in vv.10-12, 15-16. His son’s name is Teman (v.11) which points us in a curious direction- the book of Job. In Job 2:11 one of Job’s three friends is named Eliphaz the Temanite. Teman is a city in northeastern Edom. This poses the question, are the two Eliphazes the same person? There is no definitive answer either in the Bible or in history but I cannot think of this as a mere coincidence.

 

  1. C.     Esau Departs from the Promised Land, vv.6-8
    1. 1.        Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household…and all his property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan. He went into a land away from his brother Jacob- Back in 32:3 we saw that Esau was already living in Seir and very prosperous as he came to Jacob with 400 men (32:6). He very well could have had a home in both Canaan and Seir until Jacob returned.
    2. 2.        Here we see the contrast with Jacob in that Jacob had been an outcast/exile living in the ancestral homeland of Paddan Aram but by faith was coming back to the land of Promise while Esau, who could have stayed in the land of promise, freely chose to leave, thus exiling himself from the covenant.
    3. 3.        Waltke, p.488, “Likewise, after Israel’s exile in Babylon, the true seed return and possess the land. The church, the chosen today (1Peter 2:9-10), is scattered abroad, but it will possess the Promised Land that never passes away (1Peter 1:1-9).
    4. 4.        For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together- What (or who) does this sound like from Genesis lessons in the past? Moses is here directly comparing Esau with Lot in Gen.13 especially 13:6.
    5. 5.        So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. (Esau is Edom)- step by step Esau chooses to disassociate himself from the covenant, rejecting his birthright for a pot of stew, marrying outside the faith, now moving from the Land of Promise and settling in Seir.
    6. 6.        The word for settled is wayyeseb and is used of Jacob in 37:1. Similarly the word for sojournings magor appears in v.7 and 37:1. These words form the bookends of the unit.
    7. 7.        What we see then is that God has kept his covenant with Abraham by blessing Esau and he has kept covenant with Jacob by removing Esau from the scene. Judgment and Salvation are being demonstrated as God prepares the way for the family that will become the nation which shall bring forth God’s Son, Jesus, at the appointed time.
    8. 8.        APPLY- I think of the story Jesus told of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. Esau left of his own free will. We have all known someone who, like Esau, gave up a spiritual birthright, left a godly home, left the church, and seemed to prosper! Perhaps you made a similar choice earlier in your life but God graciously brought back to the covenant.

 

  1. II.                The Blessings of God Upon Esau’s Descendants, 36:9-43
    1. A.      The Family of Esau to the Third Generation, 36:9-14
      1. 1.      These are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir- this toledoth gets a bit more detailed than vs.1 in that it specifically says Esau is the father of the Edomites and links him directly to Seir. The following list of sons and grandsons is given to parallel that of Ishmael and Isaac who each had twelve sons, princes. Esau here will have twelve grandsons. Amalek, as the son of a concubine does not count as part of the 12.
      2. 2.      This toledoth may be inserted here during the time of David because of what we see in 2Sam.8:11-14 where David subdued Edom and Amalek, establishing a garrison in Edom, “and all the Edomites became David’s servants” v.14. This passage fulfills the prophecy made by Isaac in Gen.27:40 “and you shall serve your brother.” However, this toledoth may have been part of Moses’ original plan as well. It does seem to break his pattern and we have no good answer as to why.
      3. 3.      Vs12 “Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.- Amalek, as has already been discussed, would become a perennial problem for Israel.

 

  1. B.      The Chiefs of Esau’s Family, 36:15-19
    1. 1.      Chiefs- allup– tribal chiefs. The terms “chiefs” and “sons of Esau” in v.19 frame this section of our text and indicate that Esau’s sons became chiefs of separate, though linked, tribes, much as Israel would later.

               

  1. C.      The Horites, 36:20-30
    1. 1.      These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land- Notice seven sons of Seir are listed, indicating a perfect number of sons. This verse clearly places the Horites as being in the land of Seir prior to the migration of Esau’s family and transitioning to Edom. This passage indicates that Esau’s family dispossessed Seir from the land either through conquest or marriage. This again fulfills the prophecy made by Isaac that his son would “By your sword you shall live” (Gen.27:40).
    2. 2.      Deut. 2:12 “The Horites also lived in Seir formerly, but the people of Esau dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them and settled in their place, as Israel did to the land of their possession, which the LORD gave to them.”
    3. 3.      The main point of this part of the text is that Edom became a powerful people and took a land beforeIsrael. Again, this is part of the promise from God to Abraham, Isaac.
    4. 4.      God has a plan for using nations that are not in the covenant!
    5. 5.      Notice in v.25 that Oholibamah is listed as a daughter of Anah and in v.24 Anah is a son of Zibeon, who is a son of Seir in v.20. This is the wife of Esau in v.2, therefore showing that he did marry into as well as conquer the Horites.
    6. 6.      A son of Anah, Oholibamah’s brother, Dishon, appears in v.28 again as the father of Uz. QQ: where else do you hear of Uz? Job 1:1. This is now the THIRD link between the Esau/Edom story and the book of Job.
    7. 7.      Mathews, p.655, “Job’s home was ‘in the land of Uz’ (Job 1:1), whose location is disputed, though Edom is preferable (italics mine)”.

 

  1. D.      The Kings of Edom, 36:31-39
    1. 1.      These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites- this is the title, or superscription, introducing the next major part of the chapter. There are eight kings listed and they are not dynastic (father to son). The comment “before any king reigned over the Israelites” could be an insertion from David’s day since he conquered Edom, or it could be a prophetic utterance from Moses.
    2. 2.      Beor, v.32 this man is most likely NOT the Beor of Numbers 22, the father of the prophet Balaam.

 

  1. E.       The Chiefs of Esau’s Family, 36:40-43
    1. 1.      There are only 11 chiefs listed in this list. Some of the names overlap with the list in vv.10-14 and some do not.

 

  1. III.             Jacob Remained in the Promised Land, 37:1
    1. A.      Jacob Lived in the Land, 37:1
      1. 1.      Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan. The contrast is huge and makes the MAJOR point: God’s promise to Abraham for BOTH Land and Descendants is being kept! At this point it appears that Esau has all the descendants, but Jacob has the land. God is not finished with Jacob’s family by any means. Though they be few now, they will grow into a nation.

 

 

The Gospel in Genesis

 

            We have seen the judgment portion of this text all throughout: Esau married into pagan Canaanite and Horite families against the will of his parents and the intent of Abraham. Esau willingly departed from the land of Promise and conquered the Horites, thus living by the sword. We have shown that the later sons of Edom, the Amalekites and Edomites afflicted Israel at different times and even had a role to play in the New Testament as Herod the Great, an Idumean-descendant of Esau- tried to kill baby Jesus and Herod’s son, Herod Antipas, consented to the crucifixion of Jesus.

 

            But where is the hope? In Amos 9:11-12 we find some hope: “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its beaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name, declares the LORD who does this.” In this passage we see the hope for the future of Edom as they get absorbed into the new Israel along with all the nations!

 

            We see this passage fulfilled in Mark 3:7-8 “Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusaelm and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon.” The descendants of Esau, the Edomites gathered to hear Jesus preach the gospel!

            And in Acts 15:16f James quotes from Amos 9:11-12 during the Jerusalem Council leading to an open acceptance of Gentiles into the faith.

 

            Waltke, p.489, writes, “In spite of Esau’s unbelief, his descendants have a future. Under God they too have a story (cf.Deut.23:7: ‘Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother’). Today, in Christ, the remnant of Edom has been reconciled to his brother and has become a member of Christ’s kingdom.”

 

            Although Paul writes in Romans 9:13 “As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’” quoting from Malachi 1:2-3, he also writes in Romans 11 of the fullness of the Gentiles within the context of “they also may now receive mercy”.

 

            Rev.7:9 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the Throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” We have hope that members of Esau’s race, the Edomites, will be in heaven praising the Lord Jesus for the salvation He has given them!

 

 

Small Group/Take Home Application/Discussion-

            In what ways might we be tempted, like Esau, to forsake the faith of our fathers? Does it seem just to you that God blesses the unbelievers with great material blessings? How would you deal with your child if he/she wants to leave the covenant community?

 

Next Week:

In this chapter, what ways is Joseph like Christ? Although the NT does not directly say that Joseph was a type of Christ, he fits that description in many ways.

  • Matthew 3:17 and Genesis 37:3
  • John 15:25 and Genesis 37:4
  • Luke 19:14 and Genesis 37:8
  • Mark 15:10 and Genesis 37:11
  • Matthew 27:1 and Genesis 37:18
  • Matthew 27:28 and Genesis 37:23
  • Matthew 26:15 and Genesis 37:28

 

Sources:

Baldwin, Joyce G. The Message of Genesis 12-50, in The Bible Speaks Today series. InterVarsity Press: Leicester, England, 1986, (pp.152-154).

 

Boice, James Montgomery. Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, Vol.2. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI 1985 (pp.352-364).

 

Calvin, John. Genesis, The Geneva Series of Commentaries. Translated and edited by John King; two volumes in one. Banner of Truth Trust: Edinburgh, 1965 (Originally published in Latin, 1554. Pp. 249-254 in vol.2)

 

Hughes, R. Kent. Genesis, Beginning & Blessing. Crossway Books: Wheaton, Ill. 2004 (pp.427-434).

 

Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, Volume 6, Lectures on Genesis 31-37, translated by Paul D. Pahl, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan. Concordia Publishing House: St. Louis, MO 1970, originally published in approximately 1544 (pp.282-311).

 

Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26.      Broadman&Holman: Nashville, TN 2005 (pp.631-660).

 

Ross, Allen P. Creation & Blessing, A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI 1996 (pp.585-588).

 

Sailhamer, John H. “Genesis” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2, Frank E. Gaebelein, editor. Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing House: Grand Rapids, MI 1990 (pp.220-225).

 

Tenny, Merrill C., editor. The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, “Herod”, by E.M. Blaiklock. Zondervan Publishing House: Grand Rapids, MI 1967 (pp.348-352).

 

Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis, A Commentary. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2001 (pp.481-489).

 

Wenham, Gordon. Word Biblical Commentary, Volume2, Genesis 16-50. Word Books: Dallas, Texas 1994 (pp.332-342).

 

 

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An Introduction to Sunday School and the Genesis Class:

Posted on January 19, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

“Answers To Life’s Crucial Questions”

January 20, 2013

Bryan E. Walker

 

Read: Please open your Bibles to Matthew 28:19-20; I will be reading from the ESV.

 

Matthew 28:19-20      Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:19-20 ESV) http://www.esvbible.org/search/Matthew+28/

 

Prayer:

 

Greeting: Good morning and welcome to the Genesis Class! This morning’s class is going to be an introduction to Sunday School, an introduction to the Genesis class, and a review of what we have already studied over the past 5 years, as well as looking at the book of Genesis in light of the gospel and briefly outlining our course of study for the semester.

Introduction to the Class

 

  1. I.                   What is Sunday School?

 

What has Sunday School been to you in your past? What is Sunday School? What should Sunday School be? The Church exists to glorify God by fulfilling the Great Commission; the Sunday School then, or small group ministry, is the organization of the local church whose purpose is to fulfill the Great Commission. The Sunday School is to reach people with the gospel, minister to their needs, and teach them so that they become disciples who will then reach and teach others.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/asktheexpert/whendidsundayschoolstart.html

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunday_school

 

http://eridan.websrvcs.com/clientimages/36689/historyofthesundayschool.pdf

 

In our worship services we worship and praise God, thanking Him for the salvation he has given us, and proclaiming that salvation as we preach the gospel. A worship service is both Celebration of our Great Saviour and Proclamation of the message of salvation. Some discipleship does occur during worship as we preach through Bible books systematically, applying the text to our lives, but there is a need for more intimacy and accountability that only a small group can provide. Here at Redeemer, those small groups are our Care Groups, but the Sunday School should also be a significant part of the life of the church as we hold each other accountable, fellowship with one another, build each other up, and reach out to others with the gospel while teaching the Bible. Sunday School provides a more focused time of Bible study than the Care Group time but also includes some fellowship and care as well as outreach.

 

Our church calls Sunday School “Discipleship Hour”, NOT Sunday School. I am 53 years old and have always been a Baptist and what happens at 9:30 am on a Sunday morning in a BaptistChurch is Sunday School. I am not going to change my vocabulary at this late stage in my life. That being said, I agree with the meaning behind the words “Discipleship Hour”. We are not here to just teach a class, not to just teach Bible content; rather, we are here to make disciples. At RedeemerChurch then, the adult Sunday School is to assist and augment the Care Groups in outreach, ministry to one another, and in the making of disciples.

 

 

  1. II.                What is Genesis Class?

 

Genesis Class is simply a class on the book of Genesis. Presumably, if we ever actually finish Genesis and move on into Exodus, we will call the class Exodus Class. Our founding pastor, Tim Presson, asked me to start the class so that those who wanted an ongoing, deep, Bible study would have a class. We chose the book of Genesis because I had previously preached through the book over about a 5 year time span and it is the first book in the Bible and is the “seedbed” for the rest of Scripture. If you want to understand the rest of the Bible, start with Genesis. Recently, the Elders have decided to have two Bible book study options for Discipleship Hour to go along with Dusty’s Christian Living class, so now we have a NT class, Acts, and this OT class.

 

Purpose:

The book of Genesis is the dramatic overture for God’s symphony of Scripture, Eternity, and History; it is the seedbed for the major doctrines and themes of the rest of the Bible. From the eternal, pre-existent Trinity to the Creation of the Universe and the purpose of man, from the problem of evil, the fall of man, and God’s judgment on sin, to God’s glorious plan of redemption in Christ through the history of one particular family and the restoration of all things to the glory of God Alone- Genesis is the beginning point. Join us in studying Genesis and see the salvation Christ offers displayed in the life of Joseph; be challenged and encouraged by the examples of the patriarchs as they face real life tragedies, dilemmas, and temptations; and be convicte to boldly proclaim the gospel as we see God’s sovereignty proclaimes in the challenging final 15 chapters of Genesis!

 

In the past, Sunday School at Redeemer was focused primarily on Teaching as the Care Groups were looked to as the evangelistic and discipleship arm of the church. We are not going to take anything away from the Care Groups, but we are now adding some of those significant responsibilities Back to Sunday School. We want Sunday School, Discipleship Hour, to be about fulfilling the Great Commission by taking the gospel to the lost, inviting them in to Bible study and making disciples. Along the way we will do serious, in depth Bible Study, get to know and encourage each other, and have some good old fashioned fellowship.

 

Those of you who have been in Genesis class previously know that the class has been primarily lecture/discussion with some application along the way. We are changing the structure of the class a little bit in order to include more accountability for our application, more of a role for direct outreach, and more ministry/care/fellowship within our group. We will not be replacing your Care Group in any way, but we will seek to get ourselves, and others, more involved here. We are here to make disciples. A disciple is a person who has been saved by Jesus, is committed to following Jesus, is becoming like Jesus, is bringing the good news about Jesus to others, and helping converts in their discipleship.

 

What does all this mean specifically? First of all, what this class has always been, a deep, slow, verse by verse study of the book of Genesis, it will continue to be. We have been studying the book for 5 years and have only made it through ch.35. We will be speeding things up a bit, however, as the Elders and I agree that we want to reach Exodus sooner rather than later. There are 15 chapters left and we have 16 weeks in this semester so the goal is to finish Genesis this semester. Another difference in my teaching will be some application/study guides that I hope to pass out weekly. My actual class notes are always available on my blog: mark12ministries@wordpress.com but I hope to give you some practical homework and study guides for application as well.

 

Secondly, in an effort to make disciples here and not just teach the Bible (but Bible teaching is clearly a major part of making disciples!), we will take some time each week to apply what we have learned and hold ourselves accountable for what we say we are going to do. This may mean breaking up into small groups for a few minutes each week, depending on the size of the class.

 

Third, we will make an effort at memorizing some verses from Genesis and related verses throughout the Bible so that we get the bigger picture of Genesis ingrained in our souls along with the structure of the Genesis story itself. This will be a big part of our application time. Scripture memory is hard work and some of you may be using the church’s plan or have one of your own. We will work on this together and at the least the program I have in mind will help you understand Genesis more and how it fits in with the rest of the canon.

 

Fourth, we will keep an ongoing prayer list that will emphasize praying for the lost people we know. We will also pray for each other during the various trials and crises we face throughout the semester and pray for each other as we seek to apply God’s word to our lives and become more Christ-like.

 

Fifth, We will develop a Prospect List of people we know who are lost, un-churched, or seriously under-churched, and seek to pray for, invite, visit, and share the gospel with them. This will include everything from encouraging each other to share the gospel with others at work, in the neighborhood, in our extended families, etc. to inviting lost people over for an evangelistic dinner party, cook out, etc. We might try to evangelize an apartment complex in the area or do door to door visitation. Bottom line: like the Church in America as a whole, we are failing at carrying out the Great Commission and we need to fix this.

 

Sixth, we will deliberately seek to get to know one another more deeply and care for one another. If you are facing a challenge, struggling, need some help, we want to know about it and see if we as a class can join with your Care Group in helping you.

 

Seventh, we will definitely fellowship together. We will do this by scheduling some lunches together for after church right here in our room or the Fellowship Hall if it is available. In another effort at making this class all about making disciples, I want to make myself more available to you as well. I will take a bit more of an aggressive position on reaching out to you to encourage you in your walk and to seek encouragement in my own walk with the Lord.

 

Now a word about punctuality: If we are going to add a bit more material, and include more time for prayer, accountability, scripture memory, planning on reaching the lost, THEN we will need to start class on time at 9:30. I, the teacher, have been bad, very bad, at not starting on time. To an extent this is because at 9:30 we have only a few of our number seated and ready to begin. From now on I will begin promptly at 9:30 as long as there is one (1) student here. I have been late to SS myself too many times! Everyone is welcome to still come in when you can, there will be no chastisement for being late. Parents of small children have numerous challenges…we have been there, done that!

 

Finally, as always, feel free to ask questions throughout the study. If the question is off on a rabbit trail, I might follow it for a while if it is a big enough rabbit. If the question is not as pertinent to the main text we are studying then I will likely give a very brief answer or delay answering it until after class. I will have to be a bit more outline driven than I have been in the past since the Elders and I have agreed to finish Genesis this semester, so I will guide our discussions to that end and make time after class to have more discussions.

 

Introduction to Genesis

 

Please open your Bibles to Luke 24:13-35.

      That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

      So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

(Luke 24:13-35 ESV)   http://www.esvbible.org/search/Luke+24/

 

My actual title for the study of Genesis is: Answers to Life’s Crucial Questions because this book gives us answers to such crucial questions as: Why is there something instead of nothing? What was before the beginning? Is there a God? What is man? Why is there evil in the world? Where is the world headed? Is there any hope? Genesis gives us some universals, some objective truth, True truth, with which we can then properly understand the particulars and relate the particulars of our lives to that which is eternal and unmoveable. Genesis reveals God to us, points out our sinfulness and then directs us to Christ for salvation.

 

We read from Luke 24 to start a study of Genesis. Why? Because in vs. 27 Luke tells us that Jesus began with Moses and all the Prophets and “he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” The Scriptures all point to Jesus and the Lord himself began with Moses, implying Genesis and the Law. This will be one of our key hermeneutical goals, we want to understand Genesis so that we can know Jesus and share Jesus better. The gospel is in this book of Moses.

 

Another hermeneutical key is in 1Cor. 10:6, 11 “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did….Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction….” The Old Testament, and Genesis in particular, has many practical lessons for our sanctification. We are studying real people who faced challenges and with whom God was dealing. We can be encouraged and warned by their examples.

 

This class is supposed to study Genesis in order to discover what the text says, to understand what God was doing in the lives of the key players at the time, what it meant to Israel in Moses’ day, what its cultural setting and background was, how the book relates to the rest of the Pentateuch and the Old Testament, how the text points us to Christ, and how it relates to the New Testament, what doctrines are taught in the text, how it relates to us in our post-modern, post-Christian age of science, how the text relates to other world religions, how we can use the text in evangelism and apologetics, and we will seek to apply the text in our personal lives on a daily basis so that our obedience and love towards God will grow and mature.

 

We will study Genesis in order that we may be equipped to delight in God’s glory and declare that glory to our neighbors and to the nations whose beginnings we will be studying. That is taken from the purpose statement of Redeemer, but I would like to explain it a little bit. I am here to assist in equipping you to worship God fully, to walk with Jesus, and to share Jesus with others. If all that happens is that I give lectures or sermons about Genesis, and you are spiritually entertained for an hour  every Sunday, and you come out feeling good and saying, “Well that was a nice class” then I have failed. I don’t want to have a “nice class”. I believe that Genesis is unique in the Scriptures in regards to providing us with answers to some of life’s most basic, fundamental, and crucial questions. I want to equip you to be able to answer those questions. Not just to grow your faith, but so that, like Peter wrote in 1Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you,” you will then be ready to answer the questions of others who are lost and need to hear about Jesus. I want this class to equip you to delight in God’s glory. Genesis is full of wonder and awe, mystery and practical things, grace and law. We will see the first worship service recorded and what its results were. We will be in fear of God as we look at the consequences of sin. And we will rejoice in our Savior who dies in our place to save us for himself, by his grace. Hopefully, we will each partake of the tree of life.

 

Quick Survey of Genesis: Now I want to see how much you know about Genesis.

 Has anyone here ever had a serious study of Genesis before? Anyone recall a pastor preaching through Genesis?

1)Title- The title of this book, Genesis, comes from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) title meaning Origins. The Hebrew title comes from the first word in the text, “In the beginning”. Waltke writes, (p.17) “Happily, both titles are appropriate, for this book deals with beginnings and origins, broadly of the cosmos (1:1-2:3), of humanity and the nations, and their alienation from God and one another (2:4-11:32), and of Israel (12:1-50:26), God’s new initiative to save the world.” Genesis is quoted 35X in the New Testament and alluded to hundreds of times throughout the rest of the Bible.

 

2) Who is the author of Genesis? How do we know that? When is the last appearance of Moses in Scripture?

            Strictly speaking, the book of Genesis does not mention an author, however, Moses is considered the author of not just Genesis but of the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Bible, also called The Law or the Law of Moses. But how do we know that? Jesus tells us in John 7:19, 22 “Has not Moses given you the Law?” v.22 “Moses gave you circumcision (not that it was from Moses, but from the fathers).” And again in vs. 23 Jesus refers to the Law of Moses. These verses look back to Genesis 17 and Lev.12:3. John 5:46 Jesus says that “Moses wrote of me” In Acts 15 there are a couple of references to the custom of Moses and the Law of Moses. In Luke 24:27, the key text that we began today’s class with, says that Jesus began with Moses and all the Prophets. See Mark 12:26, John 1:45, Romans 10:5, 2Cor.3:15. These verses refer to the Pentateuch in general, but not to Genesis in particular.

            In Nehemiah 13:1 and 2Chron.25:4 refer to the Book of Moses. 2Kings 21:8 refers to the Law of Moses.

            In Exodus 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num.33:2; Deut. 31:9 we see Moses commanded by the Lord to write down these things in a book. And in Exodus 33 we see that Moses would frequently meet with the Lord in the Tent of Meeting “and the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face…” In Exodus 20, the Ten Commandments,

            Moses’ last appearance in the Bible is Matt.17:3 and Luke 9:30 although Moses is mentioned in Rev.15:3.

            One of the things that irritates me as I read books about the Old Testament or about Genesis is when authors, even some of my favorites, refer to the author of Genesis as “the author” instead of Moses. The more I have studied the book through the years the more I am convinced that it is the work of one brilliant man, a genius, named Moses, inspired by God the Holy Spirit. While I think there is some obvious minor editing after his death but I think Moses is responsible for 99.99% of the book, not some committee named JEDP hundreds of years later!

            When you compare Genesis with other writings of the time period 1000-2000BC you find that there are a lot of similarities as well as pointed dissimilarities. This substantiates the age of Genesis and increases our confidence that Moses is the author. Some of the things that Genesis has in common with other writings of the time period include: the creation account in the Enuma Elish and the flood account in the Atrahasis Epic as well as the Epic of Gilgamesh. As we saw when we studied these stories, it seems at times that Moses is writing directly to confront the false ideas of his day, to counter these myths with the real story. Liberal to Moderate scholars will say that Moses was obviously borrowing from these older stories and using them to put his spin on them. I say that with God’s inspiration Moses was correcting the false stories that were rooted in the historical events which Moses describes. The era of the Patriarchs from ch.11-50 gives us a lot of customs that are good matches with what other writings of the period tell us, again authenticating the text of scripture with objective, outside evidence. This includes things like the names Abraham, Jacob, the people called the Amorites and Hittites, the granting of a birthright and even the sale of the inheritance. The idea of adopting a slave when you do not have an heir is shown in other ancient texts as is the presenting of a female slave to a woman’s husband when you are infertile is demonstrated as well, and is included in the famous Code of Hammurabi.

 

3) About when was Genesis written? The conservative estimate is around 1450-40 BC which is the approximate date for the Exodus, but most Scholars (some conservative as well as liberal scholars) look at the Exodus as being around 1200 BC. The conservative dating is based on biblical chronology which is reasonably precise here. According to 1Kings 6:1 the exodus occurred 480 years prior to the start of the Temple construction in the early years of Solomon’s reign (966BC) which is consistent with Ex.12:40-41 which says Israel was in Egypt for 430 years. And using the genealogies and dates of the kings of Israel and Judah you can basically work backward from a few known dates such as 722BC when Assyria took Israel captive and 586BC when Judah fell to Babylon. The dating of the Exodus to 1200 BC is rooted in the science of archeology which sees strong evidence for an invasion of Canaan at that level in the digs. I would suggest that a 200 year difference between the Bible dates and the evidence from archeology is an insignificant difference when you are talking of things that old. More liberal scholars place the composition of Genesis and the Pentateuch at around 550BC. Now why did I tell you that? We need to know that most of the world does not see things the same way that we do and that in many cases they have good reasons to support their point of view. We ought not to fear the challenges from those who see things differently than us; we need to use their opposition to spur us on to better study as well.

            Now there are some problems with the biblical dates as far as a lot of scholars are concerned. As I said, archeological data tends to put the Exodus closer to 1200 BC. In Gen.47:11 Pharaoh Rameses is mentioned and so some scholars point to that as a sign the Exodus happened in the 13th century BC instead of the 15th century because according to the best histories of Egypt that is when the name Rameses occurs. But that reference can be explained as a later explanatory comment added in a day when people would understand the reference to Rameses. None of this worries me too much because there is a tendency with the Hebrews of using dates and genealogies for making theological statements rather than making them primarily precisely dated documents. You can see this fairly easily by comparing the Matthew and Luke genealogies of Jesus with the OT genealogies. The difficulty is not with the text, it is with our 21st century scientific quest for exact precision with numbers, dates, etc. that is the problem. See Collins, Science & Faith Crossway. 2003 (pp108-109).

            What am I telling you? I believe that Genesis was written by Moses during the Exodus, and I think the biblical date of around 1440 is reasonably accurate, but I am not going to get wrapped around the axle over a couple of hundred years difference by the majority of mainstream OT scholars.

            But here is a more serious question than simply asking when Moses wrote Genesis: Is the Bible historical? Is it grounded in real space and time? Does that matter? When you look at other world religions other than Judaism-Christianity, history doesn’t much matter. Since the entire Koran is claimed to have been received by direct revelation to Muhammad from the angel Gabriel one part at a time, you cannot say that it is historical like the Bible. Similarly, the Book of Mormon is claimed to have been received by Joseph Smith complete. The Book of Mormon purports to be a history of the lost tribes of Israel in America and Christ’s visit to them, its manner of presentation is non-historical and none of it is verified by any other historical sources or by archeology. Hinduism stretches back into the age of myth and legend. So really, the Bible not only claims to be history, it has been produced in history. Why did God do it that way? Why not simply dictate it completely or drop it down from heaven in gold plates? The Bible is a messy, disturbing book; not quite the systematic theology with answers to all of our questions in a nice orderly way that we would like. God created space and time and God has chosen to act in space and time. God is real and chooses to act in real people’s lives and have them write it down using their writing style, their vocabularies with their backgrounds. Jesus showed up in the normal way, as a baby, and grew up in history, participated in real life, and died and was resurrected at the apex of history. Therefore, the Bible, including Genesis, is historical; it records real events with real people. It is not myth or legend.

            Because the Bible is historical, and our faith depends on the veracity of the events recorded in the Bible, we will have a difficult time presenting our faith to our contemporaries. We live in a post-historical age; the age of the X-box. How many of you own an X-Box? You are all responsible for the end of civilization! (LOL) A post literate society that now entertains itself more with games than even movies. When I was a kid the preachers lamented the demise of reading. Now we are witnessing the demise of movies and the rise of electronic games being the primary carriers of culture. (Come Lord Jesus!) So we have to transmit our historical faith, rooted in ancient history, to a generation that thinks Mario Brothers is ancient history.

            Read Francis Schaeffer Genesis in Space and Time, preface. Read Psalm 136 as a backdrop for the historicity of Genesis.

Psalm 136

            Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever.

            Give thanks to the God of gods,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever.

            Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who alone does great wonders,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who by understanding made the heavens,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who spread out the earth above the waters,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who made the great lights,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            the sun to rule over the day,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            the moon and stars to rule over the night,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and brought Israel out from among them,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who divided the Red Sea in two,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and made Israel pass through the midst of it,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who led his people through the wilderness,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            to him who struck down great kings,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and killed mighty kings,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            Sihon, king of the Amorites,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and Og, king of Bashan,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and gave their land as a heritage,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            a heritage to Israel his servant,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever.

            It is he who remembered us in our low estate,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            and rescued us from our foes,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever;

            he who gives food to all flesh,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever.

            Give thanks to the God of heaven,

                        for his steadfast love endures forever.

(Psalm 136 ESV)   http://www.esvbible.org/search/Psalm+136/

 

 

4) To whom was Genesis written? Clearly the Hebrews were an oral culture for the most part although they were among the first of peoples to have writing, and hence are known as people of the Book. The histories that Moses writes were first oral stories passed down for generations. Very likely even the stories from Genesis 1-10 were passed down from Adam, Cain, Seth, Noah etc. But Moses, inspired by the Holy Spirit, brought these stories together and “preached” them to his people.

            Moses was founding a nation and the people of Israel needed a common history, common language, and common faith in order to become a true nation. Moses preached Genesis to his people and wrote it all down for the future generations, including us.  I referred to some passages earlier (Exodus 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num.33:2; Deut. 31:9) where the Lord commands Moses to write these things down.

            Moses then, is not just giving the people of Israel a written history, he is also speaking prophetically to their future. He is pointing Israel to what God is going to do in their lives as a nation. As we study this book we will see that Genesis is linked to the rest of Scripture all the way down to Revelation which speaks to our future as well. The book is both a human and divine book. This book is for Us, here, now, today! And for our children, and should the Lord tarry, our children’s children.

 

5) How is Genesis divided and structured?

Standard Outlines of Genesis:

Primeval History with Four Big Events 1:1-11:26

  1. a.      Creation ch.1-2
  2. b.      The Fall and Spread of Sin ch.3-5
  3. c.       God’s Judgment Upon Sin and Grace to Noah ch.6-9
  4. d.      The Dispersing of the Nations ch.10-11:26

                                    Patriarchal History with Four Great Men 11:27-50:26

  1. e.      Abraham 11:27-20:18
  2. f.        Isaac 21-26
  3. g.      Jacob 27:1-37:1
  4. h.      Joseph 37:2-50:26

The next way to outline the book uses the toledoths of Moses

Prologue, 1:1-2:3

1. The Generations of the Heavens and the Earth 2:3-4:26

2. The Generations of Adam 5:1-6:8

3. The Generations of Noah 6:9-9:29

4. The Generations of the Sons of Noah 10:1-11:9

                                          5. The Generations of Shem 11:10-26

                                          6. The Generations of Terah 11:27-25:11

                                          7. The Generations of Ishmael 25:12-18

                                          8. The Generations of Isaac 25:19-35:29

                                          9. The Generations of Esau 36:1-37:1

                                          10. The Generations of Jacob 37:2-50:26

 

Another way to examine Genesis is with a geographical outline. Where does the action happen? What is the geographic flow of the book?

 

Genesis 1-11 takes place in Mesopotamia, the fertile crescent, which is the birthplace of Western Civilization.

 

Genesis 12-36 takes place in Canaan and Syria/NW Iraq.

 

Genesis 37-50 takes place in Canaan/Egypt.

The parts of Genesis we will study this semester are toledoths 9 and 10, the generations of Esau and Jacob. The main character will be Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob.

 

6) What are the key verses of Genesis?

You can make a strong case for Genesis 1:1 being the key verse. If God did not exist, nothing would exist; if God did not create, we would not be here. This verse is not only the starting point for the Bible, but for answering the crucial questions of science, philosophy, ethics, and life in general. “In the beginning, God!” God is our beginning point, not man, not the natural world. Science can only take us back so far, but science cannot explain what happened to cause the Big Bang or whichever scientific theory is currently in vogue. The bottom line is space, time, and matter all had to start at the same instant, but could not have been the cause of their own beginning. To have an effect you must have an adequate cause. God pre-exists the universe according to our verse and to logic. If there was ever a time when there was absolutely nothing then nothing would ever exist. You Cannot get something from nothing and nothing can cause nothing. It is popular to say the universe was caused by Chance, but Chance is only a mathematical term and has no creative or causative powers. The beauty, the complexity, and the purposefulness of the universe Screams out that there was and is a Creator. This concept is a battle ground concept in our culture which is enthralled with naturalism, atheism, and evolutionism. Understanding the case for Creation, understanding the arguments and proofs for the existence of God are an essential part of our calling to proclaim the gospel of grace.

 

Genesis 1:26-28 the creation of man. Because our post-modern society has denied the Creator, we have increasing confusion about who man is and what his worth is. We are confused over such issues as abortion and euthanasia since we view man as autonomous, no longer linked to the Creator. Government is now actively promoting abortion and (in a backwards way) euthanasia. Man is now a subject to the state because freedom cannot exist apart from viewing man as being created in the image of God. Ironically, Humanism leads to all kinds of crimes against humanity.

 

Genesis 2:15, 19-20 shows that God gave man work to do, and science, prior to the fall as man was to tend the garden and give fitting names to all the animals. This gives meaning to work and science to all who are trusting in Christ. We can do all things for the glory of God AND for the good of mankind, for profit, for the good of animals and the earth. But- if you separate work and science from a faith in God, then work and science can become idols.

 

Genesis 3 It would be hard to pinpoint 1-2 verses in this chapter to adequately convey the idea of sin; Paul does well in Romans 3 and 5 to cover that topic, but this chapter explains a lot that is true about life. Why is there pain and suffering? Where did evil come from? Why is man so corrupt? These crucial questions are seldom asked in today’s political debates. But when I look at the news and see man’s cruelty and sinfulness, I have to ask, Why? Genesis 3 explains it. I believe in a real 1st couple, a real talking serpent, and a real tree of knowledge of good and evil. That first rebellious bite altered man’s spiritual standing and, I believe, our very DNA. Our culture is crumbling because we reject our Creator, and we reject the truth that we are sinners, corrupt to the core. When we present the gospel to our lost friends and family, at some point pretty early in the process, we must tell the person that they, like we, are sinners, unable to stop sinning and unable to cure themselves. The bad news of sin is part of the good news of God’s grace.

 

Genesis 3:15 the first prophecy of Christ who will crush the serpent’s head. Right after the idea and fact of sin comes the prophecy by God Himself that there will come a savior who will crush the serpent’s head. This prophecy of Christ points us to the solution to man’s disobedienc and rebellion. This crucial verse begins a long chain of verses and stories that present the gospel throughout Genesis. We have hope!

 

Genesis 6:8 Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD; the idea of God’s grace to sinners. This verse comes immediately after the LORD’s analysis of man’s heart as being ‘only evil all the time’ and God has announced judgment upon sinful man. The context of God’s grace then, is in relationship to evil and judgment upon man. God judges sin for sure, and the Flood story displays that fully, but God uses the presence of evil to display his saving grace in the lives of Noah and his family. This theme of grace and redemption through judgment is the major theme of the Bible.

 

Genesis 10-11 is the Table of nations and Tower of Babel. This sets the ground for the promises of God to Abraham in 12:1-3 and the gospel to the nations that is seen throughout the entire Bible (most dramatically seen in Acts 2 and Rev. 7:9).

 

Genesis 12:1-3 The promise to Abraham is in many ways the beginning point of salvation history in that God freely chose 1 man to begin a family and nation through whom Christ would eventually come and bring salvation to all nations. In many ways this is the key verse to Genesis.

 

Genesis 15:6 “Abram believed the LORD and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Salvation through faith alone! Paul explains in Galatians 3 that all who believe like Abraham are Abraham’s true children. So many people say that they do not read or study the OT because it is only about God’s wrath. They don’t like the violence in the OT. Folks, God’s love and grace towards sinners is all throughout the OT. They were not saved by works or obedience back then, they were saved by grace through faith like we are.

 

Genesis 16:11-12 “Ishmael shall be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers”- helps us understand Islam and world politics of today. Ishmael represents the efforts of man in that Abraham and Sarah resorted to a common cultural practice of the day to do God’s work in man’s strength. God rejects this as much as he rejected the fig leaf apron of Adam in the garden. If God promises something then He will see it through. Ishmael was the child of works, Isaac the child of promise and faith.

 

Genesis 17 and God’s covenant with Abraham. The covenant and promise of a child is restated and the sign of the covenant, circumcision, is given. Notice the parallels with baptism- it came AFTER Abram’s statement of faith in ch. 15, had effects in the here and now, and pointed forward to a promise that would be kept by God. It was the outward and fleshly sign of an inner trust. Those paedobaptists who fail to realize the full context of circumcision make the mistake of baptizing babies.

 

Genesis 22 and the story of the sacrifice of Isaac; the most complete picture of the coming Christ and his substitutionary atonement in Genesis. Here we see the hope Abraham had for the resurrection of Isaac and we see God providing a substitute. We are all guilty sinners, deserving of death, but God provides his own son as our substitute. God dramatically keeps his covenant!

 

Genesis 25:12-18 is the shortest toledoth and is the account of Ishmael. But notice v.18c “And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers.” This fulfills the prophecy to Hagar at the birth of Ishmael in ch.16 that we mentioned earlier, but doesn’t it describe the history of the descendants of Ishmael to this present day? We read the headlines on the DrudgeReport and we see biblical truths being lived out.

 

Genesis 25:19-35:29  is the account of Isaac, focusing on Jacob. Here Moses tells his people, and us, of the beginnings of the 12 tribes as he recounts the struggles between Jacob and Esau, how Jacob obtained his four wives and 12 sons. This is the founding of Israel and it is a sordid tale of deceit and sin…and of God’s amazing grace to the undeserving. This is certainly not like the founding myths of most countries that involve great heroics and daring deeds or big battles won. This a story of humble, sinful beginnings and a great God who keeps his covenant with Abraham despite all the deceitfulness and cowardice displayed by Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel and the sons of Jacob. The emphasis then, is clearly on what God is doing and what God is promising to do.

 

Genesis 36:1-37:1 is the account of Esau, which we will study next week. The emphasis in that chapter is again how God keeps his word to Abraham and Isaac by allowing Esau to leave the Promised Land and become a mighty nation before Israel becomes a nation. We see sinful rebellion in Esau’s life but also the hope of the gospel.

 

Genesis 37:2-50:26 is the final toledoth of Moses and focuses on Jacob’s sons, particularly Joseph whom we shall see as a type of Christ. The stories portray Joseph as being beloved ob his father, betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery yet rising above his circumstances and providing salvation to his brothers in their need. This part of salvation history, the story of how God redeems lost man, ends with his chosen family living outside the land of Promise in the land of Egypt. In Exodus we will see that Egypt represents sin and we will see how God calls his people out of the bondage of sin into a relationship with himself as Mt.Sinai. But these final 15 chapters of Genesis set that story up.

 

Genesis 49:10 the blessing upon Judah wherein Christ is predicted to reign.

 

Genesis 50:20 Joseph reassures his brothers with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and providence.

 

7) What are the major themes of Genesis?

Creation is certainly the first theme we find. In the creation account we see some subtle jabs at the pagan world in which the patriarchs and Moses and his people had to dwell as Moses contradicts the pagan accounts of creation. This theme of Creation runs through the rest of Scripture in various ways. Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God” points us to the fact that this beautiful universe declares that God is the Creator and this creations reflects the glory of God. Paul says in Romans1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Creation then is not simply a fact, it is used by God to judge the hearts of unbelieving men. The main idea, The Big Idea of Creation, however, is God displaying his attributes for His Glory. The Universe exists for God’s glory and all that has happened, is happenning or will happen, is for the ultimate display of the Glory of God.

 

A practical use for us is obviously worship of our Creator God, but also it serves to help us confront the pagan world around us, notably in the widespread atheism and the belief in evolution. A study of Genesis helps  us answer questions like, Why is there something instead of nothing?

 

The idea of God as Creator beginning in Gen. 1:1 is matched in the New Testament by passages proclaiming Jesus as participating in creation, like John 1:1-5 and Colossians 1:15-17. This promotes sound doctrine which assists the Christian in numerous ways.

 

The Fall and Original Sin is a theme that begins in Gen.3 and carries on through the rest of Scripture. We see that evil is introduced via the serpent, not God, and that man freely chose to disobey God. The idea of fallenness is hammered home in ch.4 as Cain kills Abel, Lamech marries two women and kills a man and then in ch.6:5 “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”

 

We see the Patriarchs are sinners even though God has chosen this one family to bring about redemption; but time after time we see the Patriarchs fail, struggle, and sin. Evil and sin, our need for redemption is proclaimed throughout the rest of the Bible. Only Jesus is perfect and never sins; he alone is completely obedient to the Father’s will.

 

Society does not much like having sins pointed out. The doctrine of sin is in direct contrast with the prevailing views of our culture, yet, until men know they are sinners, how can they repent and believe in Jesus? We must include the idea of each person being a guilty sinner before a holy God as we present the gospel and Genesis will help us do that.

 

Judgment of sin and sinners is a theme throughout Genesis that again shows up all throughout the Bible. Beginning with the original couple being ejected from the Garden in 3:23 and moving quickly to chapter 5 where the recurring phrase “and he died” shows the consequences of Adam’s choice, Genesis reveals much of God’s wrath against sin. Chapters 6-9 show the story of Noah and the Flood where God wrought judgment on all men except Noah and his family. Gen. 19 tells us the horrendous story of Lot and Sodom. But we also see more subtle forms of God’s judgment in a story like Esau in chapter 36 as he chooses to leave the PromiseLand for Seir.

 

The theme of judgment is certainly shown in Exodus with all the plagues upon Egypt and the various judgments upon Israel as they struggle to trust God in the wilderness through Exodus to Deuteronomy. Throughout the prophets and Psalms the theme of judgment weighs heavily and even in the New Testament and the Gospels we find a strong theme of judgment. In the book of Revelation we see plagues and bowls of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth and the final judgment before the great white throne of God in Rev.20:11-15 “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

 

Redemption is, of course, the grand theme in Genesis and the entire Bible. Beginning with the prophecy in 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers, he will crush your head and you will strike his heel” we see the theme of Redemption and the allusions and foreshadowings of Christ. In things like the Tree of Life and the exchange of the fig leaves for an animal skin provided by God we see Christ and his righteousness as our salvation. In 6:8 we see that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” and this grace give for sinners pervades all the Bible.

 

God’s plan of redemption and his saving grace are most clearly seen in Genesis in the story of Abraham. Called of God out of Ur of the Chaldees with no explanation, Abraham receives a promise of land and descendants with the purpose of blessing all peoples on earth (12:1-3). This promise is fulfilled in Christ.

 

God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants is repeated several times in Genesis (12, 15, 17, 22; with Isaac in 26; with Jacob in 28). This covenant is passed down to Israel in Exodus at Mt.Sinai and goes through David in 2Sam.7. This covenant is passed down to us, and all who believe in Christ (Jer.30-33; Gal.3:6-9).

 

Just as Creation displays the glory of God, Redemption displays the glory of God. The aim of God is to display his glory and he has done this through Creation, Fall, Judgment, and Redemption. These themes are what we find in Genesis and in the entire Bible. Here, I believe is the Center of biblical theology. Here is a coherent story that runs from Genesis through Revelation that takes us from an earth that was without form and void, to a Garden with a perfect human couple, to exile for sin, to judgment through a Flood, to the calling of one nomadic man out of Ur to form a family throuh whom God would enter the human race in order to redeem that race. This story takes us to Bethlehem and the birth of the Saviour and to the cross where the Saviour died. Just as Abraham was confident that God would raise Isaac up after his sacrifice, Jesus rose from the grave showing us that he alone is God. This story takes us to the future, with Christ returning in his glory to reign on earth. And it all begins here, in Genesis.

 

As we study the final 15 chapters of Genesis we will study the text not just for what we can find out about the Patriarchs and Moses, not just the doctrinal and ethical teachings, but we will look to relate what we find to these larger themes and the gospel as well. We will be looking for things that point us to Christ, our only hope for redemption from the judgment on sin.

 

Next Week we will examine Gen.36:1-37:1 known as the toledoth of Esau. This chapter is a genealogy with a long list of names. Have you ever actually studied one of the genealogy chapters in the Bible before? There is a lot of good stuff there, including a link to Christmas and Good Friday. You will be surprised as we look at this long chapter and find links to King David, the book of Obadiah, the birth of Christ and the crucifixion.

 

Assignment: Try to read through the whole book of Genesis this week, or at least look closely at ch.36. At the start of class I will ask a couple of questions about ch.36 to see if anyone finds the links to Christ that I found.

 

Memory Work:

Basic– Genesis 1:1

Advanced– Genesis 1:1-5

Related Verses:

John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:15-17; Psalm 14:1; Psalm 136; Job 39; Isaiah 65:17-25; Rev. 21:1-8.

 

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Genesis 35:1-29 “God Renews Covenant with Jacob, part 3”

Posted on May 20, 2012. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Sunday, May 20, 2012 Bryan E. Walker

Read Genesis 35:16-29

Pray

Introduction: In today’s lesson we will finish chapter 35 and the toledoth of Isaac which began in 25:19.  We will see two more deaths in the family after the worship and covenant renewal atBethel and we will see God’s amazing grace to a family that is filled with sin. There is a lot in this chapter that points backward, tying things together, and that points forward. The main idea is that God fulfills his covenant with Jacob by giving him his twelfth son, thus givingIsrael the background to their beginnings as a nation.

 

  1. I.                   God Calls, Jacob Answers, On to Bethel, vv.1-8
    1. A.     God’s Call, vs.1
    2. B.     Jacob Buries the Idols of the Past, vv.2-4
    3. C.     Jacob Journeys from Shechem to Bethel and Builds an Altar, vv.5-7
    4. D.    Deborah Dies and Is Buried, v.8

 

  1. II.                God Confirms the Covenant with Jacob Again, On to Ephrath, vv. 9-15
    1. A.     God Reconfirms the Covenant, vv.9-12

 

  1. III.             Jacob’s Family Is Completed, Isaac Dies, On to Hebron, vv. 13-29
    1. A.     Birth of Benjamin and Death of Rachel at Ephrath, vv.16-20
      1. 1.      Ephrath, v.16- is a region located on the road to Hebron, but there is some confusion over exactly where it was. Wenham says (p.326), “Ephrata seems to be the name of a region inhabited by Ephrathites, a Judean clan (1Chron. 2:19), of which Bethlehem and Kiriath Jearim were the best known villages (1Chron 2:50-52.)” Yet, Wenham places the location of the birth of Benjamin/death of Rachel somewhere north of Jerusalem, near Ramah and cites Jer.31:15, 1Sam.10:2, and Josh 18:25 and places the area of Ephrath in the tribal area of Benjamin. He writes, “The modern tomb of Rachel, about a mile from the village of Bethlehem, presumably arises from a failure to understand the phrase here translated ‘about two hours’ distance’ (ESV some distance from Ephrath). The main problem text is 1Sam 10:2 which places Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah. The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Atlas (E.M. Blaiklock, ed. 1972, p.54) places Ephrath as, “the ancient name forBethlehem, situated on the road toHebron, some 5 miles south ofJerusalem.” The Zondervan Atlas, twice, states that Ephrath was the ancient name forBethlehem and locates it south ofJerusalem. Ramah is located north ofJerusalem. Mathews, p.624f, acknowledges that there is textual evidence for Rachel being buried both north and south ofJerusalem. He goes on to explain that the connection with Jer. 31:15 is that the people of Judah, Rachel’s children, were weeping and wailing along the way. Jeremiah, in Mathew’s eyes, does not equate Ramah withBethlehem geographically.           
      2. 2.      Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor…midwife- this is the first we have been told of this pregnancy. This hard labor  relates to the difficulties that Rebekah had when she was pregnant with the twins, in 25:22. Additionally, it may point forward to Exodus 1:14 which uses the same basic word for hard labor in regards to the slaves, but then goes on to talk about the command of Pharaoh to kill the boy babies but the midwives intervene.
      3. 3.      Do not fear for you have another son, v.17- this comment matches 1Sam4:20, another case of mother dying in childbirth but being consoled by the midwife because she had borne a son. This shows a cultural preference for boy babies. Also, the birth of this son is an answer to Rachel’s prayer at the birth of Joseph in 30:24, which apparently the midwife recalled. Mathews, p.625, “By referring to Benjamin as ‘another son’, the midwife in effect announces that Rachel’s prayer when naming Joseph has been fulfilled.”
      4. 4.      as her soul was departing (for she was dying), v.18– strangely matches what she said back in 30:1 “Give me children or I shall die!” and it was now the gift of children which caused her death.
      5. 5.      Ben-oni…Benjamin,- Ben-oni is son of sorrow, hence the saying of Jer. 31:15 “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children…” Benjamin means ‘son of my right hand’, the place of power and favor, see 42:4,38; 44:29. Benjamin is the only one of Jacob’s children that he named; all the others were named by Leah and Rachel. This may be evidence of his renewed position of leadership. In this particular family, that name would likely be provocative. The first king ofIsrael would be Saul, a Benjaminite.
      6. 6.      Where was Rachel buried and where was Benjamin born, in contrast to the other children of Jacob? Canaan.
      7. 7.      and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb, vs.20- Jacob set up a pillar at Bethel, vs.14; 28:18; and at 31:45 at the border between him and Laban. He had religious, family, and legal reasons for setting up these pillars, steles.
      8. 8.      which is there to this day- this phrase was used in a similar way in 32:32. 1Sam. 10:2 and Jeremiah 31:15 show that the site of Rachel’s tomb was known for a long time inIsrael.
      9. 9.      Apply: Jacob had to deal with two deaths in rapid succession. Notice that these challenging situations came immediately after his call to renewal by God. Deborah the nurse died atBethel and Rachel, his favorite wife, dies giving birth immediately after the covenant renewal atBethel. Real life continues in the midst of obedience and revival. Believers do not get a reprieve from real life events like death, sickness, accidents, crime, job loss, war, etc. We are called to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus; the cross was an instrument of torture, pain, disgrace, and death. The Christian walk does not get any easier. It does give us a purpose for living in the midst of grief, pain, sorrow and death as we can walk by faith, grow in holiness, and praise God no matter our external happiness. Peace, joy and love abide.
    2. B.     The Tower of Eder and Reuben’s Rebellion, vv.21-22b
      1. 1.      Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder, v.21- Migdol Eder, tower of the flock. Perhaps mentioned in Micah 4:8 if it is a proper name. In the area ofJerusalem on the way toHebron. This would seem to indicate, again, that Rachel’s grave is north ofJerusalem, not south. Wenham cites Jerome as saying that Migdol Eder is in the Shepherd’s fields east of Bethlehem, but Jewish tradition says they could be 3 miles SW of Bethlehem at the Pools of Solomon.
      2. 2.      While Israel lived in that land, v.22- seems to indicate thatIsrael lived here for a while, yet there is no mention of an altar or worship. Perhaps, after the death of Rachel, Jacob needed to stop his journey for a while.
      3. 3.      Reuben went and lay with Bilha his father’s concubine- this is the first time that Bilha is mentioned as Jacob’s concubine; previously she had been called Rachel’s handmaid. To have sexual relations with your father’s wife or concubine is more than just a lustful/perverted action. It is rebellion, a seeking to establish your authority over your father. We see this with Absalom in2Sam. 16:21-22; and Adonijah in1Kgs2:13-25; 20:3-7. Thus the inner family competition continues and gets more intense. Mathews, p.628, “his affront was a pointed claim to Jacob’s place.”
      4. 4.      Hamilton, p.387, states, “Of course, Reuben did not rape Bilha.” The text does not use any word indicating violence or rape, but nonetheless, it seems improbable that Bilha would have consented to this tryst.
      5. 5.      The fact that Jacob had married sisters, he seemingly tolerated the rape of his daughter, and now shows no reaction to Reuben’s assault shows that he remained weak in the eyes of his sons. Reuben may have seen that Levi and Simeon got away with what they did and decided to do this.
      6. 6.      Calvin writes, p.246, “The sum of his happiness was in his offspring, from which the salvation of the whole world was to proceed. Whereas, already, two of his sons had been perfidious and sanguinary robbers; the first-born, now, exceeds them both in wickedness. But here the gratuitous election of God has appeared the more illustrious, because it was not on account of their worthiness that he preferred the sons of Jacob to all the world; and also because, when they had fallen so basely, this election nevertheless remained firm and efficacious.”
      7. 7.      Sex with close family relations other than your wife is prohibited in the Law- Lev.18:6-8;18:13,18;20:11 for the death penalty.
      8. 8.      http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32360  some estimates for incest between father-daughter or stepfather-stepdaughter are as high as 20 million victims inAmerica. It is one of the most under-reported crimes due to the shame and family-privacy pressure. 43% of child molestations are within the family.
      9. 9.      The results for Reuben were disastrous- 49:1-4; and Joseph’s sons got a double portion of the inheritance, 48:5-20; 1Chron.5:1-2; Deut.21:15-17.
    3. C.     Jacob’s sons, vv.22c-26
      1. 1.      And the sons of Jacob were 12, v.22c- the number 12 would of course match the twelve tribes ofIsrael and thus points forward toIsrael in Moses’ day. This is one of the key points of Genesis: Where didIsrael come from? This is a part of their founding story which is essential for any nation. Moses is founding a nation so they must know how they began. This demonstrates the faithfulness of God to his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and now Jacob.
      2. 2.      Leah…Rachel…Bilha…Zilpah, vv.23-26 the sons are listed in order (29:31-30:24) by mothers and the mothers are listed in order. Even though Rachel was the favorite wife and the head wife, she was in fact the second wife so Leah is mentioned here first. So even though Rachel’s two sons are younger than the sons of the two handmaids, Rachel’s sons are listed right after Leah’s sons. The list of sons in 46::8-25 has Leah’s sons first, followed by Zilpah’s sons, then Rachel’s and finally Bilha’s sons. In every list of the sons, Leah’s sons come first. Ch.49 has another list of sons and their inheritance and blessing from Jacob.
      3. 3.      Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah are the first four sons listed and each one would fail miserably, butJudah less so than the others, hence the leadership falls to him.Judah’s failure will come in ch.38.
      4. 4.      This genealogy also points forward to ch.36 and Esau’s toledoth and genealogy.
      5. 5.      These were the sons of Jacob…born…in Paddan-aram, v.26- What is wrong with this statement? Why would Moses say this? Waltke writes, p.478, “The list may idealize all the sons as participating in an exodus from exile in PaddanAram to the Promised Land….If so, the theological concern overrules the factual concern….” This concept of altering history at times for a theological purpose is confusing to us today and certainly can be distorted by some to doubt the veracity of God’s word. But Moses has just given us the facts surrounding the birth of Benjamin so in this case we know he is summarizing to make a theological point which would be relevant to his people; it would be a preaching point.
    4. D.    Jacob’s Homecoming to Hebron, the Death of Isaac, vv.27-29
      1. 1.      And Jacob came to his father Isaac, v.27- sent out in disgrace, though with his father’s blessing back in 28:1-5, he has returned from exile. Isaac was atBeersheba when Jacob left home, but now is in the ancestral home and burial ground of Mamre-Hebron. The account of Isaac ends with this reconciliation. The blessing from Isaac has been realized, 28:3 “God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples.”
      2. 2.      However, this reconciliation is greatly understated. There is no banquet, no hugging and crying, no speeches. Jacob comes home to his father and then Isaac dies. Again, Moses underplays Isaac. Waltke writes, p.479, “Isaac’s journey ends with a full length of years, but God passed him over after he tried to thwart God’s purpose in the blessing (Gen.27). The toledoth of Abraham (i.e., the narrative of Isaac) has become lost in the toledoth of Isaac (i.e., the narrative f Jacob).”
      3. 3.      The obvious preaching point for Moses is shown in Ex.1:1-7 where they went intoEgypt as 70 persons, but in Ex.1:7 “the people ofIsrael were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.”
      4. 4.      Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is Hebron)- Isaac is still dwelling in the land where Abraham his father last dwelled and is buried along with Sarah and Rebekah (25:9-10; 23:1-20; 49:31). This is also where Jacob will be buried (49:29-50:14).Hebron is only about 19 miles SW of Jerusalem on the highway toBeersheba. So when Jacob lived in the land around theTower ofEder for an unspecified amount of time, he was just about 1 day’s walk from his father Isaac. It seems to me that he deliberately delayed going to his father, perhaps until he got word that his father was near death. Of course, Moses could have left out an earlier visit, but the point may very well be what Waltke brought up (see above).
      5. 5.      In Josh.14:6-15 Hebron is given to Caleb to conquer. The Anakim are mentioned as living inHebron in Caleb’s day, and they were considered giants.
      6. 6.      Now the days of Isaac were 180 years, v.28– the ages of Isaac and his sons in this toledoth present repeated challenges. Calvin says, p.247, “The death of Isaac is not related in its proper order.” Hamilton goes through some of the difficulties of the ages involved on p.389. Mathews brings out that chronologically Isaac would have lived 12 years beyond the sale of Joseph by his brothers to the Midianites. Again, I would caution that dates and ages during the Patriarchal period are frequently used for other purposes than just simply recording data. Their standards were not built around the precision of our modern day.
      7. 7.      And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him, v.29- here we see that their reconciliation in chapter 33 was genuine. This also matches the burial of Abraham where Isaac and Ishmael cooperated in 25:9, and points forward to 50:8-9 where we see the reconciliation of Joseph and all his brothers in action as they bury their father Jacob all together.

 

Conclusion: this concluding chapter of the toledoth of Isaac points us forward to the homecoming from exile ofIsrael in Moses day as they leaveEgypt and go to the Promised Land. For us, the gospel point is the amazing grace of God who keeps covenant with his people despite the trials of life, the deaths of loved ones, and our own rebellious sins.

 

Bibliography:

Boice, James Montgomery. Genesis, An Expositional Commentary, Volume 2. Zondervan:Grand Rapids, MI. 1985 (pp.347-351.)

Calvin, John. Genesis, The Geneva Series of Commentaries. Banner of Truth Trust:Carlisle,PA. English translation 1847, originally published in 1554 (Vol.2, pp.229-254.)

Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis Chapters 18-50 in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company:Grand Rapids,MI 1995 (pp. 373-390.)

Keil, C.F. Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume1, The Pentateuch. Hendrickson Publishers:Peabody,Mass. (pp.202-205.)

Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, Volume 6, Lectures on Genesis Chapters 31-37. Translated by Paul D. Pahl, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan. Concordia Publishing House:St. Louis,MO. 1970 (pp.221-281.)

Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary Vol1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26. Broadman&Holman:Nashville, TN. 2005 (pp.610-630.)

Meyer, F.B. (an English Baptist 1847-1929). Jacob, Wrestling with God.AMG Publishers:Chattanooga,TN 2001, (pp.89-95.)

Ross, Allen P. Creation & Blessing, A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. Baker Academic:Grand Rapids, MI. 1998 (pp.577-584.)

Sailhamer, John H. “Genesis” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2. Zondervan:Grand Rapids, MI. 1990 (pp.216-220.)

Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis, A Commentary. Zondervan:Grand Rapids, MI. 2001 (pp.469-475.)

            Wenham, Gordon. Word Biblical Commentary, Vol.2, Genesis 16-50. Word Books:Dallas,TX. 1994 (pp.319-331.)

            Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Authentic, Exhibiting Real Faith in the Real World. Chariot Victor Publishing: Colorado Springs, CO. 1997 (pp.66-76.)

 

 

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Genesis 35:1-29 “God Renews the Covenant with Jacob, part2”

Posted on May 13, 2012. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Sunday,05-13-12 Bryan E. Walker

________________________________________________________________________

 

Read Genesis 35:1-15

 

Pray

 

Introduction: In today’s passage we will see Jacob commanded of God to return toBethel and build an altar to worship Him. This text wraps up the Jacob cycle and ties together several themes from the creation account on into the book of Kings. Although in some ways this chapter is very complex, in that it has several odd items stuck together, the fundamental theme of the patriarchal story remains: God’s grace is given to sinners as He establishes this family in his covenant and plan of Redemption.

 

Outline:

Last time we met we did not have time to outline the chapter thoroughly, so allow me to show you some of our options in outlining this chapter. Mathews keeps it very simple with vss. 1-4 Preparing forBethel; vss.5-15 Worshiping God atBethel; vss.16-20 Birth and Death Near Bethlehem; and finally, vss.21-29 Events Near and atHebron. Waltke adds another layer with the first section being vss.1-15 Israel Fulfills His Vow At Bethel being subdivided into: vs.1God Commands: Ascend to Bethel, Build an Altar There; vss.2-7 Jacob Obeys: Renews Household, Ascends to Bethel, Builds an Altar; vs.8 Death of Deborah; vss.9-13 God Appears to Jacob and Renews Abrahamic Covenant; vss.14-15 Jacob Rededicates the Stele and Renews Name of Bethel. Waltke’s second section covers vss.16-29, Births and Deaths: vss.16-20 Journey to Ephrath, Death of Rachel and Birth of Benjamin; vss.21-22a At Migdal Eder, Reuben’s Incest; vss.22b-26 Jacob’s Genealogy; vss.27-29 At Hebron, Death and Burial of Isaac. Wenham gives the chapter 8 parts: vs.1 Divine call to go to Bethel; vv.2-8 Jacob’s obedience; vv.9-12 Reaffirmation of the promises; vv.13-15 Jacob’s worship at Bethel; vv.Birth of Benjamin, Death and burial of Rachel; vv.21-22a Reuben’s shameful act; vv.22b-26Jacob’s sons; vv. 27-29 Death and burial of Isaac by his two sons.

 

This chapter is very complex with several components that do not seem to go together well. However, there is clearly a geographical theme of leaving Shechem, going toBethel, traveling to Ephrath where Rachel dies, journeying on to thetowerofEderthen moving on toHebron. This journey adds some cement to everything else that is happening, as geography tends to do. Some of the commentators mention H. Gunkel who states that this chapter is like a “heap of blocks” (Wenham, p.322; Ross, p.578). But it is Wenham who points out that the chapter is an itinerary chapter that matches up very precisely with chapters 22 and 46. All three of these chapters bring to a close the main stories of the three great patriarchs, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph. So even though outlining the chapter is complex, the chapter fits into the larger whole that Moses has constructed. Beyond that, the history that is recorded here matches what God did with Abraham and will do with Joseph. God, the author of scripture, is also the Lord of history. Moses is shown, again, to be a genius of an author.

 

Ross (p.580) writes: “It would certainly be possible (and correct) to take individual sections from this chapter for exposition, because they are individual units. But since the narrator has joined them together as a culmination of the Jacob stories, their cumulative effect can be better captured if taken together.”  Indeed, this would be a hard chapter to preach from unless you did about 4-5 separate sermons.

 

  1. God Calls, Jacob Answers, On toBethel, vv.1-8
  2. God Confirms the Covenant with Jacob Again, On to Ephrath vv.9-15
  3. Jacob’s Family is Completed, Isaac Dies, On toHebronvv.16-29
 

 

Exposition

 

  1. I.                   God Calls, Jacob Answers, On to Bethel vv.1-8
    1. A.     God’s Call, v.1
      1. 1.      God said to Jacob, Arise, vs. 1- Notice that it is God who takes the initiative in moving Jacob on from Shechem; it is God who takes the initiative to revive Jacob’s soul and bring all the way back in to where he is supposed to be, Bethel. Verse 1 could very well be sermon one in this chapter!
      2. 2.      Apply- how many times have we been in a bad spot due to our own complacency and sin and God reached down to us in his loving-kindness and urged us to Arise? Any time you feel your soul stirred up to more holiness, more thankfulness, more obedience, it is because the Lord, through the Holy Spirit is gently commanding you to Arise!
      3. 3.      Arise, go up, dwell, make vs.1a- The verse begins with 4 imperatives. Jacob’s journey began back in 27:43,44 and 28:2 with similar words “Arise, flee, and stay” (Rebekah), “Arise, go to Paddan-aram” (Isaac), and 29:19 “stay with me” (Laban). Wenham (p.323) “so the very terms used here echo the beginning of the story as does the explicit reference to “when you fled from Esau your brother” (v.1.) But the word for “go up” has different connotation that the “flee” in 27:43. “Go up” points toward a pilgrimage; it has religious implications as well as geographical (Bethel is 1000’ above Shechem). In the Psalms you always “go up” towards Jerusalem and the Temple (Psalm 24:3). Again this points us back to Jacob’s first encounter with God at Bethel in 28 where the Lord told him He would bring Jacob back and he set up the pillar and Jacob vowed to return in 28:20-22. Bethel had a huge significance in Jacob’s life and the Lord is calling him back there. This verse links with 22:1-2 and 46:2-3. He is to “dwell” at Bethel ysb like he dwelled at Paddam-aram. Waltke, p.472, “This is where Jacob should have headed instead of settling in Shechem.”
      4. 4.      Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled, vs.1b- Wenham tells us that this is the first time a patriarch is commanded by God to build an altar (p.323). In 22:1,2 God commands Abraham to “Take your son…and go to…Moriah…and offer him there….” Waltke says that this is the only time God tells a patriarch to build an altar.
      5. B.     Jacob Buries the Idols of the past, vss.2-4
        1. 1.      Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, v.2a- The brief word of the Lord he had received moved him to action. Though he did not address the issue of the rape of his daughter Dinah, he now addressesALL who are with him. This proves that the Jacob band is more than just his 4 wives and 12 children. There had to have been slaves and servants from Paddan-aram and most likely some of the women and children of Shechem. They could number in the hundreds.
        2. 2.      Put away the foreign gods that are among you… This matches l other passages in Joshua 24:2, 14-15, 23. Although we see the patriarchs themselves being monotheistic and avoiding idolatry, those around them, even in their own families (Rachel) are at least syncretistic. The worship of other gods would plagueIsrael throughout her history, notably at Sinai in Ex.32 and after Solomon brought in his many wives, he fell into idolatry (1Kings11). All of these others with Jacob could have had a lot of idols and before the Lord leads them all toBethel they need to have a unified worship and worldview. They needed to purge this evil from their midst.
        3. 3.      Col.3:5-17 “Put to death therefore…put them all away…put off the old self…put on the new self…put on then…put on love….”
        4. 4.      purify yourselves and change your garments- this would include bathing, washing clothes and or changing into one’s finest clothes, and perhaps abstaining from sexual relations. All of this for a ceremony of burying the idols. These acts are related to the Law in Lev.14:8-9; 22:6-7; Num.8:7.
        5. 5.      Apply- These ancient rites of purification carried over into our culture as the Saturday night bath prior to worship on Sundays and wearing your nicest “Sunday go to meetin’ clothes” to church or to court, or any other formal, important occasion (wedding garments, similarly). The principle here of making oneself presentable for worship is, in my opinion, being neglected today somewhat. The opposite end of the issue, legalism, dressing as a Christian should while looking smugly down your nose at those who do not dress as you, is also a danger.
        6. 6.       This call by Jacob would also back up Moses as he gives the law in his day because the first two Commandments in Ex.20:3-6 speak to not having any other gods before the LORD and not making any idols. The purification rites are mentioned again in Ex. 19:10. So as Moses preaches this passage to his people they will identify what they went through with what Jacob did.
        7. 7.      let us arise and go up to Bethel, vs.3 – he includes all his family and people in his call. Now we see Jacob the leader, not Jacob the distant. God can take a weak, distant man like Jacob and change him into a revival preacher!
        8. 8.      so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress- He announces that they are departing, not out of fear as expressed in 34:30, but confidently with the purpose of worshiping the one true God. There is an implication of an answered prayer for Jacob’s “day of distress”, perhaps alluding to the destruction of Shechem and his fear of the other Canaanites.
        9. 9.      and has been with me wherever I have gone- here Jacob is looking further back and preaches to his people that God has been with him the whole time.
        10. 10.  This causes me to remember the poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson http://www.footprints-inthe-sand.com/index.php?page=Poem/Poem.php
        11. 11.  The Lord is not just omnipresent in some vague, meaningless way, he is with always, to the end of the age, he abides within us and we are in Him.
        12. 12.  So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, vs.4- Notice that the people comply with Jacob’s command; he has regained leadership. Jacob hides them under the terebinth tree. This means buries, which matches the other 3 burials in the chapter. Notice that they also turned in the earrings. Why? They either had a pagan religious significance or they could be a source of temptation to melt down and create some more gods (irony intended).
        13. 13.  This is a picture of coming to Christ. First there must be gospel proclaimed and heard, then the obedience of repentance. The washing of the Holy Spirit who makes us clean, applying the holiness of Christ as we put on the new garments of Christ’s righteousness.
        14. 14.  Apply- have we buried our sins, our idols? Or do we just stow them away in a box up on the shelf in the closet or in the attic, or basement so that, in a pinch, we can pull them out if we want to badly enough? Do we keep a few pagan nose rings, earrings or amulets around just that we can melt them down and make a god out of it if need be?
      6. C.     Jacob Journeys from Shechem to Bethel and Builds an Altar, vss.5-7
        1. 1.      As they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities, v.5- This implies that Jacob’s fears in 34:30 were valid, he was not just paranoid. But God put a terror on them, much like in Exodus 23:27 and Joshua 2:9-11. How does that work? No doubt there was some sort of supernatural terror laid on them, but I believe the reputation of Jacob’s boys might have had something to do with that as well. “Psst. Hey! Did’ja hear what happened at Shechem? And those sons-o-Jacob are on the move now. Some say they are heading our way.” No one pursued Jacob’s band.
        2. 2.      Should the world fear Christians or the Church? Does the world fear us? Is the holy terror of God upon the world when we proclaim the gospel faithfully? Why are so many churches vandalized, burgled, held up, shot up, burned? There is no fear of God in our society, no holy terror of the church, likely because we Christians are now so casual and laid back, unholy, weak and fragile. Afraid to irritate anyone.
        3. 3.      And Jacob came to Luz…Bethel, v.6- Moses again uses the older name for the place- Luz, and explains it with Bethel. What may be a third name is “the place” maqom which is used a few times back in 28:11, 17,19 (Hamilton, p.377).
        4. 4.      and there he built an altar- Jacob has obeyed the Lord. He has returned toBethel and constructed the altar and is worshiping as God commanded. Waltke writes, (p.473) “By their worship, the covenant family retains their separation from the Canaanites, their witness to them, and symbolically their claim to the land based on God’s promises.”
        5. 5.      and called the place El-Bethel – Jacob renames the place from House of El (God) to El the House of El, focusing more on God than on the place it seems, because “there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother”. The section that follows shows that God renames Jacob again.
      7. D.    Deborah Dies and Is Buried, vs. 8
        1. 1.      And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, v.8 this initially seems to be a strange insertion because we are not informed as to when, how, or why Deborah came to live with Jacob. Deborah’s name is not mentioned back in 24:59, she is simply referred to as “her nurse” as Rebekah agrees to leave with Abraham’s servant to go be Isaac’s wife. The Jacob cycle begins with the births of two people, Esau and Jacob, and ends with the deaths of two women, Deborah and Rachel. The toledoth ends with the death of Isaac. The last words directed at Jacob from Rebekah are in 27:45 “Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?” But Moses does not tell us if they ever saw each other again, and the way the story reads we would assume that Rebekah has previously died and that Deborah came to Jacob to live out her final days. This both honors Deborah by mentioning her here, and most likely shows the Lord’s disfavor on Rebekah for the role she played in deceiving her blind husband and first born son. Both Abraham’s and Jacob’s favorite wives are mentioned in death, but not Isaac’s. This kind of blank is not accidental; Moses does things like this to make a point. Rebekah is not totally blanked out; in 49:31 Jacob mentions that she was buried with Isaac in the cave in the field of Machpelah with Abraham and Sarah.
        2. 2.      and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So he called its name Allon-bacuth. – the name means “oak of weeping”. The significance of burial of loved ones in the Promised Land, and naming the site, is that they are establishing residency in the Promised Land and giving future generations a link to the past. Mathews writes, p.621, “The grievous mourning and raising of a special memorial evidenced the deep heartache Jacob must have felt toward the passing of the nursemaid who had attended him in his childhood.”

 

  1. II.                God Confirms the Covenant with Jacob Again, On to Ephrath vv.9-15
    1. A.     God Reconfirms the Covenant, vv.9-12
      1. 1.      God appeared to Jacob again…and blessed him v.9- Another theophany, demonstrating God’s amazing grace. Has Jacob lived an exemplary life? Does Jacob deserve this covenant renewal? But none of the patriarchs did, and neither do we. God’s grace is shown to be amazing here in Jacob’s life. The use of the again stresses that there had been a previous appearance; it most likely points back to both the prior Bethel experience as he is now returned, but also Peniel because there God changed his name the first time.
      2. 2.      when he came from Paddanaram even though Jacob had been back from Paddan-aram for some time (years?) and living first at Succoth (34:17) and then Shechem (34:18), the story always seems to say he was supposed to be back at Bethel; hence the reference to his arrival from Paddan-aram at this point.
      3. 3.      And God said…no longer shall your name be…Jacob, but Israel, v.10- This is the second time God has spoken in this story, and it is the second time God has renamed Jacob to Israel (32:28). Why rename him again? Mathews writes, p.621, “The significance in the redundancy in v.10 is to reinforce the message of the new name but with a different emphasis. In the first naming, the context of chaps. 32-33 focused the reader on the patriarch’s transformation, from “Jacob” the trickster to “Israel” the one blessed of God. Here the context highlights the national and royal importance of the name, shown by the new character of the promises in v.11 and the first formal listing of his twelve tribal descendants (vv.23-26).”
      4. 4.      I am God Almighty- El Shaddai points us back to God’s self-revelation of this name to Abraham in 17:1. The name points to the mountains and refers to power and might, and could also include a woman’s breasts which provide the nourishment a baby needs to grow. Notice that in the context the name is linked to the promise of fruitfulness and multiplication. God is mighty to cause Jacob’s tribe to increase. The covenant here with Jacob is worded similarly to that with Abraham in 17, which was also the name changing ceremony for Abram to Abraham. It also points back to the original command to Adam and Eve in 1:28. There are several allusions to Israel’s future here as well: company of nations points to the 12 Tribes and the later split into two nations, kings obviously point forward to the time of the kings, and ultimately to Jesus, the King of kings. The passage then links together the creation account, with the covenant with Abraham and Isaac to now Jacob and points forward to Israel’s future history.
      5. 5.      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuXB1a3NBCw
      6. 6.      I will give the land to your offspring, v.12- gave and give are repeated 3X in this verse emphasizing God’s gift, grace. The land is once again promised to Jacob’s children.
      7. 7.      Then God went up from him, v.13- similar to God going up from Abraham in 17:22. Notice that God always goes UP.
      8. 8.      And Jacob set up a pillar, v.14-15- “the place” is repeated twice for emphasis. The pillar and drink offering with an anointing of oil point back to similar actions in ch.28. Fermented drinks like wine were frequently used as offerings in the Law.

Gospel conclusion: This covenant with Jacob continues the story of God’s redeeming grace and his plan for redemption. Jacob was an undeserving sinner and so are we. Jacob received a new name and so do Christians. Jacob received a promise of land and we have a promise of a new heaven and new earth over which we will reign with the Lord Jesus Christ. This text challenges us to put away and bury the idols that encumber us so that we can be a holy people for the Lord’s glory. The Lord will go with us though the world hates us. Along the way in this journey we have to bury faithful saints who nurtured us in the faith.

 

Next week we finish this chapter the Toledoth 8.

 

  1. III.             Jacob’s Family Is Completed, Isaac Dies, On to Hebron, vv.16-29

Bibliography:

 

            Boice, James Montgomery. Genesis, An Expositional Commentary, Volume 2. Zondervan:Grand Rapids, MI. 1985 (pp.347-351.)

Calvin, John. Genesis, The Geneva Series of Commentaries. Banner of Truth Trust:Carlisle,PA. English translation 1847, originally published in 1554 (Vol.2, pp.229-254.)

Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis Chapters 18-50 in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company:Grand Rapids,MI 1995 (pp. 373-390.)

Keil, C.F. Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume1, The Pentateuch. Hendrickson Publishers:Peabody,Mass. (pp.202-205.)

Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, Volume 6, Lectures on Genesis Chapters 31-37. Translated by Paul D. Pahl, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan. Concordia Publishing House:St. Louis,MO. 1970 (pp.221-281.)

Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary Vol1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26. Broadman&Holman:Nashville, TN. 2005 (pp.610-630.)

Meyer, F.B. (an English Baptist 1847-1929). Jacob, Wrestling with God.AMG Publishers:Chattanooga,TN 2001, (pp.89-95.)

Ross, Allen P. Creation & Blessing, A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. Baker Academic:Grand Rapids, MI. 1998 (pp.577-584.)

Sailhamer, John H. “Genesis” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2. Zondervan:Grand Rapids, MI. 1990 (pp.216-220.)

Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis, A Commentary. Zondervan:Grand Rapids, MI. 2001 (pp.469-475.)

            Wenham, Gordon. Word Biblical Commentary, Vol.2, Genesis 16-50. Word Books:Dallas,TX. 1994 (pp.319-331.)

            Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Authentic, Exhibiting Real Faith in the Real World. Chariot Victor Publishing: Colorado Springs, CO. 1997 (pp.66-76.)

 

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