Story Notes on Genesis 31-35: Jacob’s Family Problems
Notes to the Reader: After starting a book called The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight (yes, that is an affiliate link as is everything else I can possibly get one for. Please buy it!!), which talks about how there is a reason that the Bible is a a collection of books written by different authors in different times to different peoples in different places, I began re-reading the Bible straight through specifically to appreciate the story and see what pops out at me when I’m reading it.
I’ve been reading through using the ESV Readers’s Bible, which is designed with no verse notations or section headings or footnotes and which is laid out like an actual hardback book (I highly recommend this! It’s much less distracting to read). I’m reading in five-chapter blocks (for the most part) and writing down what sticks out at me here. Feel free to follow along
- Ch. 31 – So, let’s see. Jacob’s Mom, Rebekah and Laban are siblings, children of Nahor, who was Abraham’s brother. Rebekah has Jacob dress up like Esau to fool Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing, and Laban has Leah go in pretending to be Rachel to Jacob on his wedding night. Crafty people, those children of Nahor. Rebekah’s is in service of God’s plan that the line will be through Jacob, but Laban’s is not, and then when Laban spends twenty years jerking Jacob around and getting rich of, God finally tells him to cut it out. Interesting relationship dynamics again both on the family and employer levels.
- Ch. 32 – That is a crazy boatload of gifts Jacob sends Esau in an effort deter Esau from maybe killing him and everyone with him. Quite the show!
- Ch. 32 – Even Jacob wrestled with God just like the rest of us do. Except he wrestled with Him physically, which most of us do not do. Wonder how that works (and why Jacob was as good a wrestler as God. What??). Great imagery, though. Wrestling through the night is exactly what the night before something terrifying or hard feels like.
- Ch. 34 – Now I want to go look up translation stuff. It says Shechem raped Dinah, and then the next sentence says his heart was drawn to her and he loved her and spoke tenderly to her. That’s not so much how that usually goes, especially not in that order. If someone is going to groom someone to set them up for abuse, they do the sweet nothings part first, not afterward, and then they tend not to fall in love with their target. Puzzling. Something seems lost in translation here either in the actual words or in the difference between the cultural customs and expectations (theirs between each other and ours between probably both of theirs). Whatever Shechem was doing here clearly infuriated her family (particularly her brothers).
- Ch. 34 – It’s stunning to me just how duplicitous the early figures in the Bible were. Abraham and Isaac both tell rulers that their wives are their sisters, Jacob inherits his brother’s blessing and birthright by pretending to be him at his mother’s behest, Laban tricks Jacob over and over again, and here Jacob’s sons slaughter an entire town by tricking them into circumcising themselves (which seems like a pretty huge ask) and then killing them all when they are all miserable and trying to recover. Every one of the targets of these lies took them at face value, and their trust was returned with false dealing.
I have a hard time reading these as Story.
Today I am Thankful For:
- Good chocolate (Lindt 70% Dark)