January 11th, Genesis 35-37

Today’s story shows the deep dysfunction of Jacob’s family. Some of this may still be the result of Jacob’s sins early in his life, but it’s also the natural result of having two wives and also having children with each of those wives’ servant girls. Polygamy is common in the Old Testament but it’s never a good idea, and it never works out well for the families of those marriages- the story of Jacob’s sons and their horrific treatment of Joseph is just one example of this.

  • 35:10 – God gave Jacob a new name and thus his 12 sons become the 12 tribes of Israel.
  • 35: 11-12 – God’s words to Jacob are very similar to those in his covenant with Abraham. This seems to be a reaffirmation of God’s covenant with Abraham’s family.
  • 35:22 – This would have been like stealing.
  • Chapter 36- Sometimes we get lost in the genealogy because, these days, who knows anyone further back then their great-grandparents? In Israelite culture, however, your lineage was a big part of your honor or shame. It could give you status and importance or take it away.
  • 36:31 – The Israelites were designed not to have a human king but for God to be their only king. They didn’t get a human king until Saul many, many generations later.
  • 37:3 – Joseph was also the firstborn of his beloved wife Rachel.
  • 37:4-11 – Joseph was, to some extent, set up for failure, but he also did not help himself by sharing a dream that indicated that he would rule over his brothers.
  • 37:13 – The response, “Here I am” runs throughout the Bible. It is a response of willingness and honor.
  • 37:18-24 – Reuben, the oldest brother keeps the other brothers from killing Joseph out of envy and anger. They throw him into a cistern, a deep pit meant to collect rain water, which was important in such an arid climate.
  • 37:28 – Through a long series of events we will soon read about, Joseph is taken to Egypt, where all the Israelites eventually end up enslaved. It is amazing how the brothers’ sin ends up in the enslavement of the whole nation.
  • 37: 29-35; Joseph’s brothers haven’t just sinned against Joseph, but Jacob as well. This is an incredibly cruel thing for them to do to their father.

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