Reading through the Bible: day 23

Genesis 32 – 34

Jacob not worthy

Jacob’s prayer in Genesis 32:9-12 shows that Jacob realised he wasn’t a good person and wasn’t worthy of God’s grace, but he asked for help and showed faith anyway. This is the position many Christians find themselves in, where they require God’s grace and help and require faith to realise that they can still be saved. Obviously though, people still need to attempt to be faithful and follow God’s commands.

Jacob wrestles with God

Jacob wrestles with God in human form and fights for forgiveness and God’s blessing. God eventually uses His supernatural powers to beat Jacob, such was Jacob’s resolve, and such should a Christians resolve be when struggling with issues in their life and redemption. It isn’t an easy process, but it’s what we need to do, we can’t sit back and expect God to just do it all for us.

I pointed out that the Hebrew word for thigh and loin (testicles) is the same word. Obviously your testicles can’t be pulled from their socket, thus this text is almost certainly referring to the thigh.

Things go well with the meeting between Esau and Jacob and Esau accepts the gifts. Jacob thus returns to Canaan with his brother’s blessing.

Dinah and genocide

Dinah and Shechem have sex, this is seen as defilement. Unfortunately we just don’t have enough information to know whether it was rape or not.

Dinah’s brothers take action which causes Jacob to be angry. They insist on al the men being circumcised and attack them while they are suffering, thus murdering all the men in the city. We’ll see what the results of their actions are as we continue. While I think the Bible does reveal God’s disapproval through Jacob, there is a criticism, from the book of Judith.

Judith is a deuterocanoninical book that was marked as Apocryphal by Jerome. Jerome’s reasoning was that only the books of the Masoretic Text was truly inspired and scripture, since that was the canon of the Israelites which Jesus didn’t challenge. This designation, although controversial, remained until the 16th century and the Council of Trent. In the wake of the reformation, the Council included certain books from the Greek Septuagint in order to gain scriptural support for certain doctrines that were under attack from the reformers. Judith is one of these books.

Judith 9:2 seems to show that God not only condoned the actions of the brothers, but actually assisted in it. The text (from the Catholic Public Domain Version) reads:

“O Lord, God of my father Simeon, you gave him a sword to defend against foreigners, who stood out as violators by their defilement, and who uncovered the thigh of the virgin unto shame.”

Obviously thigh here isn’t referring to testicles, but critics will seldom mention this. As I said, I pretty much doubt that God supported this massacre (He did support others). The fact that this remained non-scripture from before Christ to the 16th century, and Christ never challenged the Hebrew scriptures of his time probably attests to it not being inspired. It’s is probably simply a poor interpretation by the author of Judith, and shows us we should be careful of our interpretations – I could be wrong about all of this, so any other interpretations are welcome.

The fact that God’s own commandment of circumcision was used to facilitate the massacre, shows us how God’s commands can be used to facilitate our own evil intentions. Another reason interpretation is so important.

What are your thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “Reading through the Bible: day 23”

  1. Judith has many problems in it, there may be some core part of it that is based on real events but the inconsitencies otherwise make it clear that it has gone through multiple edits, revisions, and expansions.

    There is a problem with the birth right passing to Joseph if the Judith interpretation is correct as it is this episode with Dinah which strips most of Leah’s kids from the line up for the birthright. Remember Leah was married to Jacob first so without actions removing them from the birth right it should pass to her eldest son, and so on down to youngest before going to Rachael’s eldest son.

    The New Testament scriptural references primarily come from the Septuguint and Christ makes references to quite a lot from the Deutercanonical texts, so I have to disagree with your assesment on that part. The Masoric and Septugiant traditions already existed in Hebrew, as seen in the Dead Sea scrolls but all indications are that Christ, like most people at the time, followed the Septugiant and not Masoric.

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