Reading through the Bible: day 21

I still need to catch up, this is what I read on Saturday morning.

Genesis 27 – 29

I’ve read this many times in my life, and a few in the last few days. There is no way to make Rebekah and Jacob’s behaviour commendable. Some commentators say that Jacob was simply less bad than Esau, and that is why this happened. Personally I feel that the only thing we really have to go on is Esau’s disregard for his birthright, and thus the tradition of the family could have to do with his not deserving the blessing. Whatever theories we may have, I don’t think condoning the kind of behaviour in Genesis 27 is the right course. If Jacob was to inherit the blessing (he lost out on everything else by leaving) then God would have granted that blessing regardless, and thus all that Rebekah and Jacob’s behaviour shows was their lack of faith in God’s plan, and perhaps too much faith in prayer: that you could only get the blessing if it was prayed for by the right person.

Who was Laban’s father

Laban is said to be Bethuel’s son in Genesis 28:5 and elsewhere, while in Genesis 29:5 he is said to be Nahor’s son. This is fairly obvious, but I immediately have to question whether someone who was trying to fabricate information wouldn’t be smart enough to leave things like this out, so we’d expect there to be an explanation whether the author was sincere, or a fraudster.

It’s quite common (as we’ll see later) for people to be referred to as the son of a particular individual further back in their genealogy. The whole point of this ordinarily is to associate the individual with the prominent ancestor to raise/emphasise prominence. We can’t really say this is the case here, since we just don’t have enough information. It is possible that Nahor was very prominent, or that the shepherds where elderly and thus Jacob decided to use Nahor’s name assuming they’d be more familiar with him.

Numerous Jews

The repeated promise of numerous descendants for Jacob seems problematic. Firstly, nobody in history has had descendants as numerous as the stars, and secondly, Jews are, and always have been a small minority.

I would suspect, and this has always been my opinion, that the analogy on star quantity is hyperbole used to signify that there’d be many descendants.

The issue of the Jews as a minority seems to lack much thought, since it seems to imagine that Jew’s around at one time is important. Jacob had many descendants, if one calculates them as a accumulation over all generations, also consider that after the exile many Israelites were basically excommunicated for marrying out of the nation, but they’d still be descendants, so it’s tough to calculate exactly how large the influence of Jacob’s descendants on history was. A final point is that the promise was never that they’d be a majority, just that in toto they’d be many people, which has been fulfilled.

What are your thoughts?

Share this with friends and join in if you’re not involved, all the relevant posts, and any I choose to add, will be found on the reading through the Bible page.

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