Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Genesis Chapters 35 & 36

Chapter 35

God tells Jacob to go to Bethel and build an altar. Jacob tells his household to put away their strange gods (v.2), which of course would be the pagan idols they still worship, take showers, and put on clean clothes, because he has decided the god who answered his prayers when he was in distress is the one true god. Is that clear to everyone? Jacob basically opened the heavenly phone book and called all the gods in it, then chose the one who rang back first. So they give him all their false idols and earrings, and he buries them under an oak tree and they leave. On the way, the terror of god was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob. What this terror might involve is not explained, but we do know that he has promised not to murder us all by mass flood, but not to refrain from using fire and brimstone (ch. 19) or sealing the wombs of all the women (ch. 26) or he may have a new form of terrorism. It's not clear.

Jacob builds an altar in Luz and changers the name to Elbethel. Rebekah's nurse dies. God comes along again and gives Jacob a blessing. Then he changes his name to Israel, though everybody still calls him Jacob. Israel builds a pillar in that spot.

Rachel is pregnant and goes into labour on the road, which is never fun. She has a boy, of course, and names him Benmoni, meaning 'son of my pain', but Israel changes it to Benjamin, meaning 'son of my right hand' (v. 18). Israel sets up a pillar on her grave, then keeps going to Edar.

Once there, his son Reuben has sex with his concubine Bilhah, who is what his stepmother? Israel knows but nothing is said.

Israel finally arrives in Mamre. Isaac is still there, aged 180, and he dies. Israel and Esau bury him.

Chapter 36

Another genealogy. Yawn. There are some inconsistencies, indicating that perhaps even the copyists who wrote this out time after time didn't like doing it very much, either.

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