Genesis 34-36 (Bible-365.12): Jacob as Deadbeat Dad

Genesis 34-36 (Bible-365.12): Jacob as Deadbeat Dad


In Genesis 34, Leah’s daughter Dinah is raped, and her blood brothers (Leah’s second and third sons) avenge her by killing all the men in the whole city where she was defiled. This was only possible after convincing the city that circumcising all their men was the only way they would give their sister as the defiler’s wife. Jacob fears that the whole land will avenge that city now – but the sons reply, “Would it be better for our daughter to be treated like a prostitute?” Apparently they have some sort of familial honor (these three all have the same mother anyway).

In Genesis 35, Jacob tells everyone to rid themselves of foreign gods (Rachel probably still has her father’s gods, and have the others also not been worshiping the true God this whole time?) so that they can go up and worship the true God who appeared to him twice – once while he fled Esau and once when he returned to Esau. God again blesses him with the same blessing and changes his name to Israel (again – he’d already clarified this once after wrestling with him in chapter 32). Rachel dies while giving birth to Benjamin (who she basically curses for killing her by giving him a bad name – which his father changes). Then, Jacob’s firstborn son (probably over 30 by now) has sex with Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah who’d given birth to two of his half-brothers. Jacob hears about it, but there seem to be no consequences mentioned. Is he thinking, “eh, boys will be boys” about his 30-plus-year-old son?

In Genesis 36, it goes in-depth into Esau’s family tree. There are no real specifics about who was good, who was bad, or who has a significant place in the future (further in-depth study with commentaries would be required to determine these things). But, suffice it to say that Esau’s descendants became kings of his land and ruled over it before Israel ever had a king. Esau and Jacob were both quite wealthy, so had to live some distance apart. And it seems most of the “founding fathers” were quite wealthy – partly because God blessed them, but also because they took responsibility for themselves and their (big) families (how many other men lived in those days who did not become wealthy?)


Dinah may have been raped, but her family approached the situation much like we approach sex today. Sleep together first, then figure out if you want to get married. Then, get the parents approval. Then ask for a wedding. Even the parents in that day were OK with sleeping together first (as we are today as well). But the Bible clearly points out in verse 7, that “lying with Jacob’s daughter” was “a thing that should not be done.” God isn’t interested in sleeping together first to determine marriage compatibility. God wants marriage first – for the man to provide for a wife first – and then the sex is a privilege of that. Aside from that, Jacob’s sons were just as deceptive as he was (sins of the fathers again?).

Secondly, Jacob turns out to be a pretty deadbeat husband and father. He scolds his kids, but dishes out no real punishment. He hears of his son sleeping with his servant-wife, and doesn’t do anything about it. He hasn’t even banned other gods in his household. He obviously does no family worship, and hasn’t instructed his family well in the worship of the One True God. He’s a Christmas and Easter Christian – only getting his whole family dressed up and proper for a few special occasions. There’s no true worship of God on a regular basis within this family. So, again, I wonder, why would God choose Jacob? It’s pretty apparent that Rachel is a worldly woman when she curses her son as she’s dies when he’s born. She has no vision for the future and no peace with God.


  • First off, just because all the “founding fathers of the faith” got wealthy, does not mean that by following God we too will get wealthy. Wealth is no sign of holiness or of God’s blessing. In fact, Jacob and his family were far from holy, yet God blessed them.
  • Secondly, it is obvious that God chooses who to bless – based on no righteousness of our own (kind of a bummer for those people who work super hard at holiness hoping for God to bless them in proportion to their own efforts).
  • Also, it is inappropriate to curse your child. Even if they are killing you when they are born.
  • Again, men should be the head of the household, should instruct their families in the worship of the true God (banning other gods), should not be apathetic in that instruction, should not be apathetic toward discipline of their children, and should take charge when they need to – but they should not be dictator of their houses either. Everything must be done in love.
  • And finally, sleeping together before marriage is no way to discover marital compatibility. The truth is, no one is compatible (because we are all sinners and we are all different – particularly male and female), but we love one another, work together, and get married because it is what God has prescribed as “good” (Genesis 2). Sleeping together before marriage is a sin by children who do it and parents who accept it without a word.

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