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Story Notes on Genesis 26-30: Isaac & Jacob

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Story Notes on the Bible

Story Notes for Genesis 26-30: Isaac & Jacob | RachelShubin.com

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

Genesis 26-30

  • Ch. 26 – Isaac does the same “She’s my sister” trick with Rebekah as Abraham did with Sarah! And it’s Abimelech again who is like “Hey, she’s not you sister she’s your wife!” I feel kind of bad for Abimelech here. Why would he believe anything the men of this family say about how they are related to the women with them??
  • Ch. 27 – Rebekah says to Jacob, “Let your curse be on me.” Only two other people in the Bible take another’s curse upon themselves: Paul and Jesus.
  • Ch. 27 – All the blessing stuff is wrapped up with offspring and inheritance and birthrights and all that. It’s so foreign to how we think about it today! Now we’d just change the name on the will, and poof! problem solved. When Isaac blesses Jacob instead of Esau, though, that’s irrevocable. Esau’s reaction is immediate despair followed by plans for revenge, and Isaac is equally horrified at what he’s unknowingly done.
  • Ch. 28 – When Rebekah complains that Esau’s Hittite wives are driving her nuts and sends Jacob away to her brother to go find himself a wife, Esau tries to solve the problem by going to Isaac’s brother Ishmael and taking one of his daughters as a new wife for himself.
  • Ch. 28 – Jacob marks the place where he dreams of the ladder with the angels on it and calls it Bethel, the house of the Lord, the gate of heaven. This place eventually becomes Bethlehem (right? I think so). Appropriate imagery to associate with the birthplace of Christ.
  • Ch. 29 – Jacob kisses Rachel and cries the very first time he meets her. I love how emotional these guys are. Laban calls Jacob his bone and his flesh.
  • Ch. 29 – Did Jacob and Leah not talk at all that first night? How do you spend your entire wedding night with someone and then wake up in the morning and discover she’s the wrong girl? Was he blindfolded all night and was she not allowed to speak to him during that time??
  • Ch. 29 – When Leah deliver her first three children, her reaction is “Now my husband will love me,” but after the last one she says, “This time I will praise the Lord.”
  • Ch. 30 – “You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” – Wow!
  • Ch. 30 – Laban learns by divination that the Lord has blessed him because of Jacob.
  • So far, God seems to favor those who are not the firstborn less frequently than he does the firstborn: Abel (2nd), Seth (3rd), Noah (1st), Shem (1st), Abraham (1st), Isaac (2nd), Jacob (2nd), Judah (4th), Joseph (11th). Kind of makes that argument about men being in authority over their wives because they were created first seem a little suspect. Birth order doesn’t really seem to be of prime interest to God. Also, this must’ve been very encouraging to those who were not born first in a time where your placement in that order determined nearly everything.

Today I am Thankful For:

  • Health and a sound bodythat usually works how it’s supposed to.
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Story Notes on Genesis 21-25 – Abraham: Family Struggles

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Story Notes on the Bible

Story Notes on Genesis 21-25: Abraham's Family Struggles | RachelShubin.com

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

 

Genesis 21-25

  • Ch. 21 – Right. Hagar’s getting thrown out is essentially a death sentence, which would be why she saw the Lord telling her to return in yesterday’s reading as a kindness.
  • Ch. 21 – Hagar chooses an Egyptian wife for Ishmael, which makes sense since she herself was Egyptian.
  • Ch. 22 – Such a weird chapter. Yes, it’s a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice, except the major player here is Abraham sacrificing his son, whereas the focus with Jesus is that he sacrifices himself. But in a literary level, this reads so much more like one of the crazy Grimm’s Fairy Tales where people throw their children to the forest or trade them to tiny sprites or whatever than it does like literal behavior that we expect to see from a loving God. This seems more like something up Zeus’s alley (except he wouldn’t provide the ram to swap out for Isaac and there would be more sex with impossible creatures involved). Does the answer even matter? If all of Scripture is useful for instruction and encouragement, etc., then clearly the point of the story isn’t the historical accuracy of the event itself but the fact that God provides and hears our pleas, right? That’s what Abraham says, “The Lord will provide.”Hmmm. Now that I think about it, as a historical account, this story would possibly have been comforting to the people it was given to at the time. Human sacrifices weren’t uncommon in surrounding areas at the time, and as we’ve seen with Lot, life in general seemed to have a rather low value. In that case, asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac would have felt familiar, just like how the other gods at the time operated. Certainly neither Abraham nor Isaac seems overly surprised as the request and both take it rather blandly. The surprising thing, then, would have been God providing an alternative and showing that, unlike the other gods of the era, what is important to Him is obedience and human life as opposed to obedience and sacrifices. I bet this story would have made complete sense to the Mayans and, being a culture that practiced human sacrifice, would have shown God’s character to them very well.
  • Ch. 23 – Abraham buys a burial ground for Sarah for 400 shekels of silver. That’s the second 400 in Abraham’s story: God told him a few chapters ago that his descendants would be captives for 400 years (that must have been fun news to receive).
  • Ch. 24 – Out of Abraham and his two brothers, Haran and Nahor, only Abraham doesn’t live in a place that bears his name. Since this seemee to be a popular naming scheme for place names at the time, I wonder why he doesn’t have his own town called Abraham.
  • Ch. 25 – Abraham married again and had six more kids after Sarah died. Pretty busy for a dude who was “well-advanced in years.”
  • Ch. 25 – For all the chatter about raising “Future Men” and making sure they are the most manliest, sportsified, rugged whatevers, Esau was the hunterly man’s man while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling tents. Also, Esau was a bit of a meathead.

Today I am Thankful For:

  • Quiet mornings
  • Eggs Benedict and Anika who makes it for me.
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Story Notes: Genesis 16-20 – Hagar, Lot, and Sarah

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Story Notes on the Bible

Story Notes on Genesis 16-20: Hagar, Lot, & Sarah | RachelShubin.com

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

Genesis 16-20

  • Ch. 16 – Hagar was Egyptian. Presumably she returned with them when they left Egypt? Did Pharaoh give her to them?
    Hagar and Sarai quarrel over offspring. Everything was about land and/or heirs.
  • Ch. 16 – These days, we would discourage someone from returning to abuse (which Hagar was encountering from Sarai, it seems), but Hagar sees the Lord’s words to her as his looking after her. Presumably at that time and place, returning was safer and afforded her more protection than the exposure she would have had wandering around pregnant, clanless, homeless, and alone.
  • Ch. 17 – What a weird thing to pick as a covenant sign. I wonder if marking of the flesh in some way was a common way of dilinieating between people groups or religious groups at that time, sort of like how the Maori have really recognizable tattoo patterns or the blue Celtic woading.
  • Ch. 18 – The way of the Lord is righteousness and justice.
  • Ch. 18 – The Lord would have spared Sodom if ten righteous people has been found there. How does this comport with the later wiping out of Canaan when the Israelites return? Was this why God waited 400 years until the iniquity of the Amorites was complete like it said in yesterday’s reading? Was *eveeyone* in the entire land heinously barbaric and wicked? Maybe they had all turned into Reavers?
  • Ch. 19 – The behavior of the inhabitants of Sodom certainly screams “crazy dangerous neighborhood.” I think middle-class America has trouble identifying with this level of chaos and destruction and do we gloss over a pot of it, but this sounds comparable to the extreme levels of danger and violence that you find in war zones and places where governance has either completely broken down or has been so corrupt that it looks the other way.
  • Ch. 19 – After Sodom was destroyed, why did Lot go live in a cave instead of going to Abraham, who surely would have set him and his daughters up?
  • Ch. 19 – The daughters’ getting Lot (their dad) drunk so they can have sex with him (again, specifically so they can get offspring) seems super weird until you recall that at the beginning of the chapter Lot the daughters to the men of the down for some rapin’ if they’ll just leave his house guests alone. None of these people seem over-much concerned with each other’s care. Interesting family dynamics. Actually, not inconsistent with family abuse dynamics that we see today, now that I think about it. The purposes are different (the girls want offspring), but the ambivalence about sex and viewing it as a tool is a common outcome. Of course, no one in the entire city of Sodom seems too concerned about anyone else’s welfare. And… that’s why they ended up in cinders.
  • Ch. 20 – Does this take place after the events of Chapter 18 & 19 because if so, either Sarah must have been a pretty spectacular-looking woman in her old age or Abimelech just liked grabbing every single woman who wandered by regardless of age. Weird. Also, in the end of the chapter, it sounds like Abraham and Sarah pulled the “She’s my sister” bit everywhere they went. If they all ended the same way they did here and in Egypt, that would account for Abraham’s large and increasing wealth. God specifically goes to Abimelech here and tells him to give Sarah back, which Abimelech does with lots of interest and extra stuff. What an odd way for God to deliver wealth to Abraham.
  • Ch. 20 – Sarah is Abraham’s half-sister. I can’t remember if infertility rates are higher for near relations. That could account for their no children together without divine intervention.

Today I am Thankful For:

  • Adventure
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Story Notes: Genesis 11-15, Abraham’s Early Years

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Story Notes on the Bible

 

Story Notes on Genesis 11-15: Abraham, The Early Years | RachelShubin.com

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

 

Genesis 11-15

  • Ch. 11 – One language! They say that language changes the way that you think and see the world because we don’t actually see or recognize or feel things we have no words to express. Part of the magic of learning another language is the seeping in of the culture and ethos of the people from whom the language came (this is what the movie Arrival was about. It’s excellent!). So, did the proto-language encompass all the words and ideas that eventually splintered out, or was it less rich than it’s descendants? In genetics, you can tell when you’ve found an origin of a specific species because it has a much richer genetic diversity than the groups that have been relocated elsewhere and then only had themselves to breed with. For instance, potatoes come from the Andes mountains, and there are hundreds of types in a really small area. Everywhere else in the world only grows a handful of types because those are the types that were carted back home by explorers. I’m betting the first language and first people who spoke it had a much more encompassing view of probably everything than we do.
  • Land. Everything in this story is about land and kinsmen. Abraham goes out from his father’s house to the land the Lord shows him. Abraham heads out to Egypt where he tricks the Pharaoh into thinking Abram’s wife isn’t his wife (Pharaoh then grabs her for his own wife), and then Abram gets rich when Pharaoh pays him off to clear out and take his wife with him. He is a sojourner in Egypt, though. No land of his own.
  • When he leaves, he moves into Canaan and God gives him a huge wad of land. After his nephew Lot gets himself POWed, Abraham goes out and gets him right back. The king of Sodom, where Lot lives, is so thankful that Abraham retrieved not just Lot but everything else the enemy kings carted off that he offers him all kinds of stuff, which Abraham refuses.
  • Abram then complains to God that what good would a reward of stuff be when he has no heir to leave it to, at which point God promises him both offspring a-plenty and gobs of land, but first there would be four hundred years of hardship (that Abraham will miss because he’ll be dead before then).
  • The other thing God says is that the reason for the 400 year delay is that the Amorites who live there now haven’t made it all the way to the bottom of their spiral into horribleness yet. Huh. After the flood God says he will never again curse the ground or wipe all men from the earth because the intention of man is evil from his youth (“intention” is an interesting word. Man himself isn’t evil; God calls man and woman very good. Man’s intentions and how he executes them are). He recognizes the penchant man has for Hitler-ing it up and Nazifying everyone as many people nearby as possible, but even so He waits as long as possible before taking care of it. Presumably this is to give as many opportunities as possible for them to repent and change (I’m thinking about Jonah and Nineveh type of things here)?

Today I am Thankful For:

  • Breakfast with friends
  • Morning sun peeking through floating clouds

 

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Story Notes: Genesis 1-10, Creation & Flood

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Story Notes on the Bible

Story Notes: Genesis 1-10, Creation & Flood | RachelShubin.com

Last week I started reading a book called The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight (yes, that is an affiliate link. Please buy it!!), and it’s been talking 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’m not going to try to explain the entire book here in two paragraphs, but due to the book I’ve been thinking again about the idea of reading the Bible straight through, not to parse each tense and cross-reference everything to death, but to read the book for the story.

A couple of years ago I bought 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. It’s been sitting around waiting for me to get my act together, and this week I finally did. Four chapters a day will get you through the whole Bible in a year, but I’m starting a bit late, so I’m just doing a round five.

This is great! After two days I’ve noticed that I keep thinking of stuff I want to scribble down, so I’m just going to park my blippets here. Nothing big; not mountains of research. I’m practicing relaxing into the Word and noticing what pops up as opposed to going into full research mode. Looking forward to seeing where it goes!

So, here’s what stuck out on Day 1 and Day 2. Don’t bother asking me what verses this stuff is from. The Bible I’m reading it from doesn’t have verse markings, so I have no idea. I do have chapter markings, though, so if I feel like it I might mention those.

 

Genesis 1-5

  • The dominion mandate was given to both Adam and Eve.
  • When the curses get handed out, they go like this:
    • Snake > God curses the snake to be on his belly and have the woman’s seed crush his head. The snake himself was cursed.
    • Adam > God doesn’t curse Adam, he curses the ground because of Adam.
    • Eve (not named Eve yet) > God uses no curse language with Eve. He says she’ll have pain in childbirth and she’ll desire her husband who will rule over her. While God specifically curses the snake and curses the ground because of Adam, he doesn’t say this with Eve. Oddly, part of the snake’s curse involves a colossal promise to Eve regarding her offspring and. In the rest of the Bible this would be covenant language, right? This is the first promise made in the Bible regarding future generations, and it’s made regarding Eve‘s offspring, not Adam’s. This promise was fulfilled through Jesus by way of Mary.
  • Adam has a major attitude shift in how he responds to Eve after the fall. Before the fall he’s all like the ancient version of “You complete me” and afterwards it’s “Let’s call you Eve: baby machine.”
  • Mealtime was all plants before the fall. Does this mean we should all aspire to be vegetarians? Because bacon = good. No bacon = no good.
  • Eve loses both of her first two children. Her second-born dies and her first-born is exiled for murdering his brother. Adam and Eve lose both their sons at the same time. For every parent who has lost a child to death or insurmountable rift or rebellion, you are in the company of the very first people ever created. Such grief stretches back through history all the way back to the beginning of time. You are not alone.
  • In Chapter 5 Lamech (Methuselah’s kid) says about his son Noah that “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” So, ummm, what? Noah got all maritime and all, but did he bring relief from the work and toil of the curse? I guess he wasn’t doing a lot of gardening while he was on the boat. Were the weeds way worse before the flood than they were after? Weird.

 

Genesis 6-10

  • Ch. 6 – “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” Interesting way of putting it. Usually we think of a person being comprised of body, spirit, soul; but do we usually think of the Spirit of God, the very breath of God, living in every human, giving them life? Drat. Now I want to go look it up in the Hebrew and cross-reference and all that. See how I’m not doing any of that because I’m just reading and seeing what sticks out? Yes. Good.
  • Ch. 8 – “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” – The curse on the ground shows up a lot in the first few chapters.
  • Ch. 9 – “When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh.” – Does God really need a reminder? Seems unlikely. Maybe we just need reassurance that He remembers.
  • Ch. 10 – Egypt was the son of Ham. That kingdom managed to be the longest-contiguous one in history. Not too shabby.

 

Okay, well that’s it for today. We’ll see what the next section brings.

 

Oh! I forgot I was going to start ending these with what I’m thankful for today. You know, mindfulness, gratefulness, blah, blah, blah {insert some other pop phrase here}. So here’s today’s:

Today I am Thankful For:

  • Espresso
  • Vanilla Candles
  • Costco Meatballs