In an effort to keep these notes a bit shorter, for a while I’ll write some Inductive Bible Study notes on the full three chapters of reading per day (and not on each individual chapter). This will additionally help us to get a Big Picture view of the full day’s reading.
First part of Genesis 28 is family drama. Jacob received the blessing in the previous chapter, Esau has vowed to kill him. Mother hears about it and makes up an excuse to send Jacob away, and still receive his father’s blessing to go. Esau realizes his wives displease his father, so he takes one “of the right race” to show that he “can be a good boy too.” In the second part of the chapter, Jacob dreams of the first Stairway to Heaven and receives the same promise from God that He’s given to his forefathers. Then, he vows to tithe to God forever.
Genesis 29 has love at first sight – Jacob and Rachel. He was so taken by her that he watered her sheep by himself and offered himself as servant to his uncle for 7 years just to marry her. So they agreed, but after the wedding (7 years later), Jacob woke up in the arms of Leah – not Rachel. Jacob was upset! But Laban promised him Rachel for another 7 years of work (after his second marriage to the second daughter a week after the first). Jacob loved Rachel more (obviously), but she couldn’t have children. Leah had 4 boys before Rachel had any.
In first half of Genesis 30, Rachel and Jacob do the same thing that Abraham and Sarah had done. Rachel is frustrated for bearing no children, so gives her husband her servant to bear children for her. Rachel contends with her sister and feels prideful when her servant has 2 sons. Then, Leah does the same to Jacob – hands over her maidservant to make more kids. She’s pleased with 2 sons from her servant and feels prideful as well! Then the two wives start bickering over smaller things, like fruit (verse 15), and they barter with their husband’s sperm (verse 16). Leah has two more sons and a daughter – but remains prideful and arrogant. Finally, Rachel has a son – Joseph.
In the second half of Genesis 30, Jacob wants his freedom from his uncle, who insists Jacob stay. And Laban and Jacob deceived one another again. Jacob wanted the spotted sheep for himself, Laban agreed, but then removed them all and gave them to his sons, and packed up and left. So, Jacob made the plain sheep (especially the strong ones) drink herb water when they were mating so that they produced (strong) spotted sheep. And so, he produced his own flocks from Laban’s.
As if there wasn’t already enough family drama throughout Genesis – this is very nearly the culmination of it, so far. Everyone is at odds with everyone else. Jacob, the deceiver, gets deceived on his wedding night, but then deceives his uncle again to build his herds. Esau tries to prove he’s just as good as his brother. Jacob’s wives bicker and fight with one another – though they are sisters. They are proud and arrogant, and have cat fights over their husband (definitely NOT Proverbs 31 women). And yet, God has promised to bless this man?
It seems as though there was no real concept of forgiveness, or God’s being able to justify you (rather everyone wants to justify themselves), or even honor among families. These people were all family, yet they treated each other no differently than strangers – even enemies. If one wrongs another, the second goes about to revenge the wrong in the same manner. “You cheat me? I’ll cheat you.” “You beat me? I’ll beat you.” “You rob me? I’ll rob you.” This is not the kind of thing that God’s people should be engaged in – particularly among families, particularly against other members of God’s family (chosen people).
- How many times do we contend with our own family members over small matters?
- How many times do we try to best one another and not encourage and help one another?
- Do we hold grudges against our own flesh and blood that could become huge family feuds (or have)?
- And where is Jacob’s leadership in all this? He seems strangely silent for most of it – just doing what his wives want, or tricking his uncle to get what he wants. Where is Jacob’s honor and leadership? As men, do we act like Jacob? Only out for our own benefits while trying to shirk our responsibilities?
- As women, are we like Rachel and Leah? Bickering and fighting with one another, trying to one-up one another – even our own sisters?