Genesis 26 – 50

Genesis 26 is the second of four chapters that concern the life of Isaac as the main character. God confirms that Isaac is the heir of the promises contained in the Abrahamic Covenant. Since Abraham died and was obedient to God, the covenant was established. It could not be revoked. Due to a famine in the land, Isaac seems to be heading to Egypt. God tells him to remain in the land and not go down to Egypt. As his father before him, Isaac lies to Abimelech about who Rebekah is. That she is his sister when in truth, Rebekah is his wife. Abimelech reprimands Isaac for the deception. Isaac remains in the land and becomes wealthy. There is controversy over some wells. Isaac’s men finally dug a water well that was not disputed over, so he remained there, at a well he named Bethel. Isaac became so powerful that the people of the land feared he would attack them. This chapter is significant to the book because it shows God’s sovereign rule over Isaac. It also shows that the promises given to Abraham are tangible. They are passed from father to son.

In chapter 27, Rebekah and Jacob conspire to have Isaac bless Jacob instead of his brother Esau, who has sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup. After Isaac blesses Jacob, Esau returns to discover the blessing had been given to Jacob. With no blessing left for Esau by Isaac, Esau becomes furious and vows to kill Jacob after Isaac dies. Rebekah discovers Esau’s plot to kill Jacob. Rebekah sends Jacob to her brother Laban so that he can escape from the wrath of Esau. Rebekah convinces Isaac to send Jacob to her brother Laban so that Jacob can find a wife there among her people. Rebekah had some kind of issue with the women of the land, whom Esau had taken as wives. This chapter is significant to the book because it shows God’s sovereignty over the life of Jacob, who was to be the heir. God had already determined that Jacob was to be the heir. It also shows God’s faithfulness to His promises to Abraham and Isaac.

In Genesis 28, Jacob is sent to Padan-aram to find a wife. A critical point to see is that Isaac confirms that Jacob is the heir of “the blessing of Abraham.” While on the journey, Jacob has a dream of a ladder to heaven and the Lord at the top of the ladder. This is significant because it shows, by the angels “ascending and descending” the ladder, that God is using His angels as ministers in the affairs of men. The Lord again affirms that Jacob is the heir and that God will protect Jacob and bring him back to the land of his father Abraham. As a result, Jacob makes an unnecessary vow that if God provides for Jacob and returns him to the land, the Lord would be Jacob’s God. In a way, this shows that Jacob believed in other gods. Jacob, at that time, did not trust the Lord. The significance of the overall message of Genesis is that God is faithful to His promises, even when the recipient, the heir, was not faithful. It shows God’s right of election even with the unfaithfulness of the elect.

In chapter 29, Jacob arrives in the land of his uncle, Laban. Jacob meets a daughter of Laben and falls in love with her. Jacob promises to work seven years pasturing Laban’s flocks in exchange for Rachel, Laban’s younger daughter. Jacob requests that Rachel be given to him when the seven years were completed. Laban deceives Jacob, gets him drunk, and sends Leah, Laban’s older daughter, and Jacob “went in to her.” The next morning, Jacob realized he had been deceived. Jacob then confronts Laban, who gives a lame excuse for the swap. Laban also tells Jacob that if he would work for him another seven years, he could have Rachel as well and Jacob agrees. While Rachel was barren, Leah, the unloved older sister of Rachel had four sons, one of which is named Judah. This chapter is significant to the overall message of the book because it reveals God’s foreknowledge of events that could potentially derail God’s plan. Even though Laban deceived Jacob by substituting Leah, God’s plan had already accounted for Laban’s deception. At the end of Genesis, it is the tribe of Judah that comes forth prominent.

Chapter 30 of Genesis details Joseph’s growing family. Adding to his first four sons in chapter 29, Joseph fathers five more sons and a daughter. Joseph’s sons are significant because they will become the heads of the tribes of Israel. God blesses Jacob and made him very prosperous. Jacob decides to leave Laban and return to the Land where his father Abraham is. Laban convinces Jacob to stay longer under the agreement that Jacob’s wages would be all of the livestock that had defects. While Jacob manipulated the breeding patterns of the livestock, it is God who took all of Laban’s wealth and gave it to Jacob so that Jacob became “exceedingly prosperous.”

Chapter 30 is significant to the overall message of the book because it shows that God is watching over and prospering Jacob on the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant. This chapter also shows Jacob’s growing family, in particular his sons, who would be the heads of the Israelite tribes.

In chapter 31, since Jacob was becoming more and more wealthy, Jacob perceived that Laban was turning against him. Jacob determines to return to the land of his fathers secretly because of his fear of what Laban might do. Laban pursues Jacob likely intending to do Jacob harm. God warns Laban about how he treats Jacob. In the confrontation over Jacob having secretly fled, Laban accuses Jacob of stealing Laban’s gods. Jacob permits Laban to conduct a full search but none of his property was found. Jacob was unaware that his beloved wife Rachel has stolen Laban’s idols. Jacob and Laban make a covenant that neither will come into the other’s territory to do harm. One significant point in this chapter is that it shows that perhaps Jacob, and definitely Jacob’s family, worshipped other gods. It shows that God is committed to His plan and purpose for Jacob under the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant, in which Jacob was to be the heir.

In chapter 32 of Genesis, Jacob is fearful of how Esau will receive Jacob after so many years. Angels came to comfort Jacob. Jacob sends messengers to Esau to inform his older brother that Jacob is returning to the land. Jacob did this out of fear because if Esau had destroyed the messengers, Jacob knew that Esau was still out to Kill Jacob. Furthermore, Jacob divided his family into three groups, with Jacob in the last group. Jacob did this in case he needed to escape from Esau. The night before Jacob was to reunite with his brother Esau, “a man” wrestled with Jacob. It is believed by most that the “man” that wrestled with Jacob was the pre-incarnate Christ, who dislocated Jacob’s hip so that Jacob could not run away.

While the wrestling match between the “man” and Jacob ended with Jacob’s hip being dislocated, it took away what Jacob believed was an alternative. This meeting brought Jacob one step closer to God. This is significant because it shows that God would even injure the heir to fulfill His purpose in him.

With his option to run taken off the table by his dislocated hip, Jacob meets up with his brother Esau. The meeting was a joyful one and did not go as Jacob had feared. The context could show that the only thing Jacob feared was his brother Esau because Jacob does not permit Esau to travel with Jacob to protect him. Jacob settles his entire family in Shechem.

In chapter 34 of Genesis, Jacob, and his family, have a negative interaction with the people of the city. The prince of the land defiles and rapes Jacob’s only daughter, Dinah. To justify his evil, the prince convinces his father the king to enter into a covenant of marriage with Jacob and his family. Initially, the sons of Jacob agree based on the condition that all the men of the city be circumcised. However, Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi slipped into the city and killed all of the men three days after the men were circumcised and were not yet well enough to fight. Jacob is angry at them because he feared that the surrounding area men would come and kill Jacob and his family. A major point that makes this chapter significant is that Jacob still does not seem to trust that God was protecting him Also, the chapter reveals why the mantle of leadership of the tribes of Israel would fall to Judah. God is showing His providential care for Jacob and his family. Even though they are doing some pretty heinous things.

In Genesis 36, God sends Jacob to Bethel, where Jacob had a previous encounter with God in a dream detailed in chapter 26. It is the place where Jacob had vowed to serve God if God returned Jacob to that place. As a result of this meeting, Jacob collects and buries all of his family’s idols. While at Bethel, God confirms to Jacob that he is the heir of the Abrahamic promises. Furthermore, God changes Jacob’s name to Israel. Jacob left Bethel for Ephrathah. On the journey, Jacob’s wife Rachel died giving birth to Jacob’s last son. Another significant event in this chapter is Jacob’s son Reuben having sex with Bilhah, one of Jacob’s concubines and the mother of Dan and Naphtali. With the three older sons of Jacob committing various sins against Jacob, Judah is now the prominent son. The last verse of this chapter includes the report of Isaac’s death. The name change to Israel signifies a new character. Jacob, who had not trusted God before, is now totally committed to One God, the God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac.

After the death and burial of Isaac, the father of Esau and Jacob, Esau moves out of the land that became Jacob’s through inheritance. Esau is identified as the head of the Edomites. The remainder of this chapter is a lengthy genealogy of Esau. Typical of Genesis, the genealogy of the rejected line is given first. Then, the narrative continues following the line of the heir.

The narrative in chapter 37 begins to shift focus from Jacob to Joseph. Chapter 37 also reveals Jacob’s favor for Joseph, which agitated Joseph’s older brothers. Joseph has two dreams in which his father and brothers understand that one day, they will all bow down at Joseph’s feet. Joseph’s brothers became jealous of him and conspired to kill him. Reuben rejected this plan and suggested that instead of killing him, they should throw him in a well. Reuben intended to rescue Joseph in order to score points with Jacob. After having thrown Joseph in a pit, Judah suggests selling Joseph to Egypt-bound slave traders. With the exception of Reuben, who evidently was unaware of the plan, agreed and they pulled Joseph out and sold him to the traders headed to Egypt. Once in Egypt the traders, who were Midianites, Joseph is sold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and “captain of the bodyguard.”

Chapter 38 of Genesis interrupts the narrative of Joseph and shifts to the life of Judah, who fathers three sons by a Canaanite woman. Judah obtains a wife, Tamar, for his eldest son Er. God killed Er because he was evil, so Judah gave Tamar to his second son, Onan to raise up “offspring” for his brother. God kills Onan also. Judah’s youngest son, Shelah, was too young to marry so Judah told Tamar to wait until Shelah got older. When the time had passed that she should be given to Shelah, Judah did not give her to him because Judah feared for the life of Shelah. Tamar gets word that Judah was on his way to have his sheep sheared and dressed as a prostitute to trap Judah. Judah offers to pay her to let him lay with her and gives her his ring and staff as collateral. When Judah sends payment, Tamar is nowhere to be found. It is reported to Judah that Tamar is pregnant by harlotry. Judah demands that she is to be captured and burned. Tamar produces the ring and staff of Judah, identifying him as the father of her baby. While Judah never had relations with Tamar again, Tamar had twins who were named Zerah, the first that came out, then Perez. Perez is in the genealogy of Jesus in both Matthew and Luke, which means that Perez is an ancestor of both Joseph and Mary.

In Genesis 39, the narrative returns to the life of Joseph, who had become “a successful man” in the house of Potiphar. Joseph was Potiphar’s “personal servant” and overseer in Potiphar’s house. However, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph while Potiphar was away. Finally, she trapped Joseph and tried to force him into having sex with her. While Joseph escaped her grasp, he left his garments behind. She told Potiphar that Joseph had attempted to rape her. There is no record of Joseph’s defense to Potiphar, who puts Joseph in prison. God again blesses Joseph with success and the “chief jailer” “committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners.”

In Genesis 40, Joseph, after having been in prison for an undisclosed period of time, and elevated to a high position by the chief jailer, interprets two dreams. One dream from the cupbearer of Pharaoh, the other the chief baker of Pharaoh. While it is Joseph that gives the interpretation of the dreams, Joseph gives God the glory for giving him the interpretation. It is not revealed just how the interpretation of these two dreams took place. The interpretation given to the cupbearer was that he would be restored to his position in three days. Joseph asks him to make Pharaoh aware of Joseph’s imprisonment. The interpretation given to the baker is that Pharaoh would cut off his head. After three days, just as Joseph had spoken, The baker was executed and the cupbearer was restored to his position. However, the cupbearer forgot about Joseph.

In Genesis 41, two years had passed since the incident with the cupbearer and baker when Pharaoh has a dream that his magicians and wise men could not interpret. Pharaoh’s first dream consisted of seven fat cows that came out of the Nile. Afterward, seven skinny cows came out and ate the fat cows yet gained no weight. Pharaoh’s second dream consisted of seven fat ears of corn coming up from the ground. Afterward, “seven ears, thin and scorched” came up and “swallowed up” the “plump and full” ears. The cupbearer remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh about him. The character of Joseph is revealed in that he told Pharaoh that it was God that gives the interpretation of dreams. Joseph tells Pharaoh that God has told Pharaoh that the dream means there will be seven years of plenty and then seven years of famine. He tells Pharaoh that the dreams are the same and that there are two dreams because “the matter is determined by God.” Furthermore, Joseph suggests to Pharaoh to exact a tax to collect and save corn in the years of plenty to be distributed in the years of lack. Because of the wisdom that God had given Joseph, Pharaoh promotes Joseph to second in command under Pharaoh. As the years of famine became severe, even in the land of Canaan, Joseph’s brothers are sent by Jacob to buy food in Egypt.

In Genesis 42, Jacob’s brothers, except for Benjamin, arrive in Egypt to buy grain. While Joseph recognized his brothers, they do not recognize Joseph because he looks Egyptian and he spoke to them through an interpreter. Joseph accuses them of being spies. Initially, Joseph puts them all in jail for three days. Joseph then keeps Simeon and sends his brothers back to Canaan so they can bring Benjamin to Egypt to prove that they are not spies. Joseph also returns the money his brothers used to pay for the grain. While on their journey back to Canaan, one of the brothers finds his money in his sack of grain, and they are confused as to why. Upon arriving back in Canaan, they report to Jacob what had transpired and that they needed to take Benjamin back to Egypt in order to buy more grain. And, to return Simeon. As Jacob refuses to send Benjamin to Egypt, Reuben steps forward to try and change Jacob’s mind but he refuses.

In Genesis 43, the grain which Joseph’s brothers had purchased in Egypt ran out. Jacob tries to send his remaining sons back to Egypt to buy more so that they don’t starve. Judah tells Jacob that if they can take Benjamin down to Egypt they will go. If Jacob does not allow Benjamin to go, they will not go. Judah explains that if Jacob had sent Benjamin down, they could have made the trip twice since they returned from their initial journey. Jacob finally submits and allows Benjamin to go. Upon returning to Joseph in Egypt, a feast is prepared for Joseph’s brothers. Joseph left the room to weep when he saw Benjamin, his younger brother, whom he had not seen in almost 20 years after being sold into slavery by his older brothers. Benjamin’s portion is “five times” that of his brothers.

In Genesis 44, Joseph sends his brothers on their way. However, he had his steward to put a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack of grain. When his brothers had left the city, Joseph sent his steward after them to look for the cup that had been planted. While Joseph’s brothers denied taking anything, the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack of grain and all returned to Joseph. Judah steps in and lays down his life for Benjamin, swearing to take his place enslaved to Joseph.

In Genesis 45, Joseph can no longer maintain his cover. Joseph sent everyone out of the room, then reveals to them his true identity. That he is Joseph, whom they had sold into slavery. Joseph tells them to return to Canaan and bring Jacob and their families back to Egypt because the famine was not yet over. He tells them not to fret over the evil they did to Joseph by selling him because God meant it for good. Furthermore, when they return with Jacob, they will be given the best land in Egypt in which to live. Upon their return to Jacob, he could not believe that Joseph was still alive and a leader in Egypt. Jacob finally submits to the plan to go and live in Egypt.

In Genesis 46, Jacob and his whole family set out for Egypt. While on the journey, God speaks to Jacob and comforts him that while in Egypt, God will make Israel a great nation. Upon arriving in Egypt, Joseph tells his brothers to tell Pharaoh that they are “keepers of livestock.” Jacob, Joseph’s brothers, and their families settle in the land of Goshen.

In Genesis 47, Joseph introduces his family to Pharaoh, who hires them to tend his livestock. Pharaoh interviews Jacob about his life. Joseph provides his family with everything they need for their new life in Egypt. As the famine wears on, Joseph arranges to purchase everything the Egyptians possessed in exchange for food. With no property and nothing else to sell, the Egyptians became slaves of Pharaoh. The text reports that Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years and makes Joseph swear that when Jacob dies, his body should be taken back to Canaan to be buried there in the grave of his fathers.

In Genesis 48, it is reported to Joseph that Jacob is not well. In an exchange between Jacob and Joseph, Jacob blesses the two sons of Jacob. However, Jacob gives the younger son of Joseph the greater blessing. Jacob also adopts Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, as his own. They were to be given an equal inheritance with Joseph’s brothers when Israel was to go into the promised land. Jacob promises Joseph that God will bring them back to Canaan, the land of his fathers.

In Genesis 49, Jacob summons his sons to his deathbed so that he can tell them what the future holds for them. Of primary importance, it is Judah that is brought to the forefront. Jacob says that the leadership of the nation of Israel will rest in the tribe of Judah. While Joseph is mentioned, the tribe of Manasseh is not mentioned. The last verse of this chapter reports the death of Jacob

In Genesis 50, Joseph commands that Jacob be embalmed. There is great mourning over the death of Jacob. This chapter is the last chapter of “beginnings.” Jacob is permitted to go and bury Jacob in Canaan. Joseph and his brothers return to live in Egypt. Joseph reassures his brothers that he will not take vengeance on them for selling him because Joseph understands that it was within God’s providential plan to “many people alive” in the process. Joseph lives a long life in Egypt and dies at 110 years old. Before his death, Joseph makes his brothers swear that they will return his bones to the land of Canaan when God brings them out of Egypt.

In the reading from Archer, he argues that the creation account in Genesis 1 outlines what is known as the “day-age” theory of creation. That each of the “days” mentioned in Genesis 1 is not a 24-hour period but an unknown length of time. While Archer is clearly not dispensational, he does use dispensations when discussing the Pentateuch. Baxter, on the other hand, who is also not dispensational, argues for a gap theory. That is, between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, there is an unknown gap of time. Both authors do this to bring the interpretation of the Bible in line with the science of Geology. The problem is that Geology is given authority over the Scriptures. While Baxter’s work was written in the 1960s when Bible scholars were still seeking a proper defense for the young earth view, Archer seems to ignore the growing arguments for a literal six-day creation by God. While both have given in to liberal arguments, Archer seems to have gone farther than Baxter.

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