Genesis Chapters 49 & 50

Chapter 49

Jacob calls upon all of his sons and, in the form of a blessing, recounts their lives. Reuben is not favored because he defiled his father’s bed by laying with Bilhah. Simeon and Levi are divided because of their violence against the Shechemites. Judah will be the continuation of the line to King David (not stated here, but we all know what happens). The rest, up until Joseph, are well regarded it seems. I’m not going through all of them lest I bore you with repetition. Joseph is given the longest blessing, while Benjamin is called a ravenous wolf. This is both a recap and foreshadowing since this book was written well after the events of a lot of these books.

After he finished the blessing, he told his sons that he wants to be buried in the field of Ephron the Hittite where Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and where Jacob buried Leah. Then he laid back in his bed and died.

Jacob certainly said a whole lot for someone who has one foot in the grave. That blessing/curse for his sons took twenty-seven verses and he still had to go through his burial wishes. OK, admittedly I’m nitpicking because I don’t have a lot to say about these final chapters because it’s all pretty normal. There is still a long way to go and I will have things to say. OK, on to the final chapter.

Chapter 50

Jacob’s body was embalmed by the Egyptians over a period of forty days, and they wept for him for seventy days. Joseph told Pharaoh that he swore an oath to his father to bury him in the cave in the field in Canaan. Pharaoh allowed him to do this, so all of Pharaoh’s servants and elders, as well as Joseph’s household, his brothers’ and father’s household all went on the long journey back to Canaan to bury Jacob. Only the livestock and children remained in the land of Goshen.

This section describes a funeral procession with chariots and a ton of people. They held a seven day lamentation that was so big that others noticed it, commented and named the area something that translates to the Mourning Field or something.

After the funeral stuff is over, Joseph’s brothers beg him for forgiveness and bow to him as slaves, but Joseph forgives them and tells him that he will provide for them and their families.

Joseph stayed in Egypt, but to told the Israelites that God would deliver them from Egypt. He made them swear that when that happens, they would carry his bones to the land promised to Abraham by God.

And done with Genesis.

Genesis Chapters 46, 47, & 48

Chapter 46

“So they loaded up the wagons and they moved to…the land of Goshen.” OK, it doesn’t have the same ring to it as Flatt and Scruggs (kids, ask your grandparents).

Anyway, Jacob/Israel and his entire household left Beer-Sheba and relocated to the land of Goshen in Egypt. The whole second paragraph of this chapter simply details all of the people who went. It turns out to be seventy in all, but I’ll let the reader go find out everyone’s names. It reads like a genealogy and as people know, I’m not a fan of those.

Joseph and his father, Jacob/Israel are finally reunited after many years, since that day his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. He can now die having seen that his son is alive. Joseph is going to tell Pharaoh that the family is now moved in and tells his brothers what to say. It turns out that Egyptians don’t care much for shepherds.

I wish I had more to say about this chapter, but there’s not much going on at this point. I think we can all predict what’s going to happen, since we still have sixty-five books to go after this one.

Chapter 47]

Joseph introduces the family the family to Pharaoh and the brothers tell him what Joseph told them to say and Pharaoh instructs Joseph to set them up on the best part of the land and put them in charge of his livestock as well. Then he brings in Jacob who blesses Pharaoh and Jacob tells him that he is one-hundred and thirty years old. Joseph settled them in the land of Rameses and gave them enough food to sustain them.

The famine raged on and the people bought as much food as they could with the money they had, but that wasn’t enough. Then they sold their livestock to Pharaoh to buy more food, but that still wasn’t enough to make it through the famine, so they sold their land to him and became slaves to Pharaoh in exchange for food. See where this is going? Then they had to give one-fifth of everything that they grew to Pharaoh. The priests didn’t have to sell their land or become slaves because they’re given an allowance by the Pharaoh.

Seventeen years after moving to the land of Goshen in Egypt, Jacob/Israel would die. Before he died, he called upon Joseph to swear an oath (by touching his junk) to bury him in the land of his ancestors. Joseph agreed.

So we get the origin of how the Israelites became slaves to Egypt and we will get the naming of the Twelve Tribes of Israel in a couple chapters. This chapter just felt anti-climactic with absolutely no resistance to being enslaved. I mean, they volunteered to be enslaved.

Chapter 48

Joseph came to his father’s bedside with his two children so that Jacob could bless them. Jacob tell Joseph that he will make him fruitful and multiply, but that Joseph’s two sons are now his (Jacob’s), because they will inherit the land that Jacob inherited. Anymore children that Joseph has will be his own.

When Jacob asked the two sons to approach and he blessed them, he put his right hand on the younger one’s head and his left on the older one’s head. This is obviously a callback to how Jacob got his father’s blessing as the younger. When Joseph tried to correct his father, he crossed his arms, still putting his right hand on the younger one’s head. Joseph wasn’t happy about this, but he didn’t seem to do anything about it. Jacob says that Ephraim, the younger, will be greater than his brother. Then he gives Joseph, I’m assuming, the land where Jacob’s ancestor’s are buried since he talks about land that he apparently took from the Amorites. The problem is that this didn’t happen, or at least it’s not anywhere in this book.

Genesis Chapters 42, 43, 44, & 45

Chapter 42

So there is a famine “in the world” as it says at the end of the last chapter. This makes me think about how God “flooded the world” in Chapter 7. The world to the people writing these stories was Egypt, Canaan, Israel, and Mesopotamia. Hardly global, if you ask me. Anyway, I digress

There is a famine and Jacob sends his son to Egypt because they have the good stuff. He sends all of his sons except Benjamin because he feared that harm might come to him (like he thought it did Joseph?). So the brothers went to Egypt and met the governor who they didn’t recognize as the brother that they sold off to the Ishmaelites. Joseph recognized them, though.

OK, I’m confused. Joseph accuses them of being spies. The brothers tell Joseph who they are and that there is one younger brother who didn’t come with them. Joseph says that he will test them by letting one of them go to get the youngest brother while the rest are imprisoned. However, after three days, he lets all but one of them go home with all the grain that can carry and they must come back with Benjamin. So did one brother go and then eight others with grain, or were they all imprisoned for three days and then nine were sent back together? This book is confusing. How do people take it literally?

Reuben points out that the brothers were being punished for the way that they treated their brother. Oh how right they are. Anyway, Joseph hears them talking and understands them, though they don’t this since he used an interpreter. He had Simeon bound and sent the rest home with free grain and provisions.

So the brothers head for home, but when they find the money, they think that they’re being set up. They make it back to Canaan and tell Jacob what happened in a word for word telling of the last section. Jacob refuses to let Benjamin go with them, but Reuben makes him an offer.

37Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” 38But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should come to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 107). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

So, Reuben decides that Jacob can kill his two sons if any harm comes to Benjamin. That seems completely insane.

Chapter 43

Jacob and his sons and their families ate up all the food that brought back in the previous chapter. Jacob tells his sons to go back to Egypt and buy more food, but Judah says, in not so few words, not unless they can bring Benjamin because the governor won’t even talk to them. Jacob wants to know why they even mentioned having a younger brother to which they essentially said, “What were we supposed to say?”

Anyway, Jacob let them take Benjamin, along with gifts of fruit and honey, and double their money to pay for the first load of grain. When they arrived, Joseph directed that they brought to his house, which was apparently the equivalent of getting sent to the principal’s office. However, Joseph’s steward assured them that their God must be smiling on them because he got his money.

Joseph got a little emotional when he saw Benjamin and went off into another room to get cleaned up so it didn’t look like he was crying. Then he ordered the feast to begin and Benjamin got five times the serving of his brothers. Also, Egyptians don’t eat with Hebrews because it is an abomination which is why Joseph was eating at a separate table.

Chapter 44

The next morning, Joseph orders the steward to load up the sack with grain and put their money in the top of each sack. Then he told him to put his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Then he sent the Steward after them and accused them of stealing his master’s silver cup. The brothers assure him that they haven’t stolen anything and have, in fact brought the money they felt they owed back with them.

I am not reading the Bible as if I know nothing about it. I know plenty about the stories throughout and I know that when somebody offers themselves as a sacrifice or a slave, it’s sure to not play out well for the person making the offer. In this case, one of the brothers makes the offer that if the cup is found, in whoever’s sack it is found, then he shall be put to death, and the rest will become slaves. Luckily, the steward, upon finding the cup in Benjamin’s sack, simply keeps him as his slave and sets the other brothers free. At this, the brothers all tore their clothes, and they returned to Joseph’s house.

Judah pleads for Benjamin’s release by basically repeating the whole story from the beginning, including the part where Jacob essentially says, “Don’t show back up at this house unless Benjamin is with you.” Judah offers himself as Joseph’s slave in exchange for Benjamin.

Chapter 45

There is not a lot to say about this chapter, at least not without the context of the rest of the chapters. Joseph could no longer contain himself and finally revealed to his brothers who he is. He told them that it was God who sent him to Egypt and that he now rules over the land. He sends his brothers to bring the whole family down along with their flocks and herds and live in the land of Goshen.

Pharaoh heard about this and basically repeated everything that was stated in the previous paragraph, and he even supplied wagons for the trip. He also gave them food, garments, and money. When they got back to Jacob, he demanded to see him before he died.

Genesis Chapters 34, 35, & 36

Chapter 34

This chapter pisses me off to no end. Dinah is raped by Shechem (“he seized her and lay with her by force”) and then he wants to take her as a wife. Not surprisingly, her brothers are quite upset about this and want nothing to do with Shechem or his father, Hamor. However, it’s not because of the act of the rape, but because Shechem was uncircumcised and the best solution that they could come up with is for all the men of the city to have their junk cut off.

This is all a ruse, however, for Levi and Simeon to get their revenge by killing Hamor and Shechem, rescuing their sister, and then killing all of the men in the city and taking their wives and kids, their cattle, and their wealth. Jacob’s response to this is to say that they brought trouble on him.

30Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” 31But they said, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 91). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

I’m saying anyone is right in this story. It’s a pretty barbaric story and the fact that Jacob seems not the least bit upset over his daughter being raped is pretty fucked up (excuse my language, but there is no other way to express myself). That’s all I have to say about this chapter.

Chapter 35

God tells Jacob to hightail it back to Bethel, or Luz, or whatever it’s called, and build an altar to El, the god that appeared to him in what is now called Bethel. He gathers the family together and tells them to get rid of the foreign gods which Jacob hides under an oak tree near Shechem. God also made it abundantly clear to the cities around them that they are not to be followed. When they made it to Bethel, Jacob built the altar and called the place El-Bethel because El is the name of this particular god. And then Rachel’s nurse Deborah died, who we only ever heard of in this very story.

Was this story part of a larger story that was lost to time? It was just a couple chapters ago that Jacob wrestled with God who changed his name to Israel, and now we get a repeat here at Bethel. Did Jacob not hear him or believe him the first time?

9God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. 10God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. 11God said to him, “I am God Almighty: [El Shaddai] be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 92). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

So God gives the land that he had given to Abraham and Isaac to Jacob and it will be handed down through his generations. Once again, Jacob…err…Israel build a stone pillar and pours oil on it like he did a few chapters earlier.

Rachel dies in childbirth giving birth to Ben-oni, but Jacob called him Benjamin. So she’s buried on their way to what will be called Bethlehem, and Jacob set up a pillar on the grave. So, this can get a little confusing, but the paragraph uses Jacob in one sentence and Israel in the next. Anyway, Israel set up camp at the tower of Eder.

I can’t remember if it ever comes up again, but Reuben, firstborn of Jacob and Leah, got it on with Bilhah, who was his father’s concubine. Israel heard about it. I’m guessing this will come up again, but not here. Then, with the birth of Benjamin, that makes twelve sons for Jacob, or twelve tribes of Israel.

The chapter concludes with the death of Isaac, and Jacob and Esau bury him.

Chapter 36

We find out that there has been another name change as Esau is now Edom. This whole chapter deals with the genealogy of Esau’s lineage. I am not going to bore anyone with the details. Not even the Oxford Bible Commentary has much of interest to say about this chapter.

I read it. That’s all that’s important.

Genesis Chapters 31, 32, & 33

Chapter 31

Jacob isn’t exactly winning friends and influencing people in this chapter. Laban is a bit peeved that he was breeding the strongest livestock for himself and leaving Laban the weak. So God tells Jacob to go back to his homeland, so he loaded up the truck and he moved to Beverly…sorry, he loaded up his camels with his wives and children and set out on the road, but not before Rachel snuck into her father’s house and stole his household gods.

According to the Oxford Bible Commentary, household gods were usually clay or plaster figures that were used as a source of divination. They would later be outlawed, and their use here is unknown as the story never explains.

So Laban finds out that Jacob left after three days and he goes after him. During a dream, God tells him not say anything to Jacob good or bad. Laban finally catches up with Jacob a week later, and confronts him about leaving so suddenly and about the stolen gods. Jacob assures him that he left the way he did because he thought Laban would try to take his daughters back by force, but he didn’t take the gods (he didn’t know that Rachel had taken them).

Laban checks everywhere he can except in the saddle under Rachel because she is “in the way of women”, which is old language for “on her period”. She already had Joseph, so she’s not pregnant. Laban would not search the saddle that she had been sitting on. Jacob finally gets angry and goes off on a monologue about trust and how long he served Laban.

Finally, they make a covenant. I’m not going through the details of it, but basically they draw a line in the sand and agree not cross it. They used heaps of stones and named them.

51 Then Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap and see the pillar, which I have set between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. 53 May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor”—the God of their father—“judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, 54 and Jacob offered a sacrifice on the height and called his kinsfolk to eat bread; and they ate bread and tarried all night in the hill country.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (pp. 85-86). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Basically, this verse is the Bible version of the tape down the middle of the shared bedroom. Laban awoke the following morning, kissed his daughters and grandchildren goodbye and went home.

Chapter 32

The first part of this chapter is pretty boring. Jacob sends a messenger to ask Esau if they could bury the hatchet…after bragging about his riches. I’m sure Esau has forgotten all about Jacob buying his birthright for stew and then stealing their father’s blessing. It should be fine.

The messenger returned to tell Jacob that Esau is coming to meet him…with four hundred men. Maybe Esau wasn’t over it after all. So Jacob splits the men up into two companies so that if Esau drops by, at least half of Jacob’s men will survive. The other half will get red shirts. After whining to God, Jacob sends livestock as a gift to appease his brother.

I never understood the reason for the next part of this chapter which involves a wresting match of sorts between Jacob and apparently God. According to the Oxford Bible Commentary, this was likely an adapted story.

“The original version strongly resembles pagan, even animistic, tales of spirits or demons guarding particular places such as streams, who attack travellers who are endeavouring to pass on their way, but who are powerful only at night; here we are told that the sun rose only when the incident was over.”

Oxford Bible Commentary, (p. 59) Barton and Muddiman

This is actually interesting, but the Bible writers turned it into, “God cheats at wrestling because he has to greet the day,” or something like that. This story is kind of key in this whole saga, but it feels shoehorned in in a very awkward place. I suppose it’s a good way to pass the time between sending the gift to Esau and his response, but in other chapters in this book, the only thing that signals the passage of years is a change of sentence.

Anyway, after God hit Jacob with a low blow (to the hip), he does that whole renaming thing. This time he tells Jacob that his name is now Israel, so now his wives, maids, and kids all have to remember that from here on out. Also, Jacob names the land Peniel (better spell that right) which means “face of the Lord.”

My question with all of these place name changes: Do they put signs up to inform others what the new name is? Did Jacob post a sign to the residents of Luz that the place is now named Bethel and their mail will no longer be delivered? Just asking.

Chapter 33

Long, boring story (with plenty of bowing and formality) short, Esau and Jacob make amends and Jacob introduces the wives and kids and makes his brother take the gift. The only thing I will add is from the beginning of this chapter.

1NOW Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. 2He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 88). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

I assume that this is the order of importance to Jacob if Esau came with less than friendly intentions. The maids and their kids would get killed first, followed by Leah and her kids, and Rachel and Joseph could run for the hills.

Jacob buys a plot of land in Shechem in Canaan for one hundred pieces of money. He pitches a tent and builds an altar and named it El-Elohe-Israel which is God of Israel.