Reading through the Bible: day 24

Sorry about last night, I was struggling for a connection and ended up falling asleep, I did read the texts before I fell asleep though.

Genesis 35 – 37

Naming Bethel

It would seem that Jacob renamed Luz three times: Genesis 28:18-19 and 35:6-7&19 all say he called Luz Bethel, and they clearly aren’t at the same time.

The Hebrew word here seems to have mulitple applications. The standard one being simply to call out to, but other applications are valid. It is quite possible that Jacob referred to Luz as Bethel, but the locals did not, and thus the name of the place was Luz, while Jacob simply (as the text states) called it Bethel. Which means he didn’t officially rename it at all, but rather just called it by a different name.

Reuben’s incest

Contrary to what is made out, there was no incest, Reuben did not sleep with his mum, he slept with one of dad’s concubines, which probably represents a lower ranking wife. Jacob (referred to as Israel) hears about it and does nothing, apparently. We will see what happens later with this.

Who is Anah?

It’s a little odd that Anah is mentioned three times in Genesis 36 but with a different genealogy each time.

  • Verses 2 and 14 refer to the daughter of Zibeon.
  • Verse 20 refer to the brother of Zibeon, which is confirmed in 1 Chronicles 1:38.
  • Verse 24 refers to the son of Zibeon, confirmed in 1 Chronicles 1:40

Obviously the author would have to be an idiot to have made a mistake like this, so it’s likely that he wasn’t just making it up, or he’d have done a better job. He wasn’t an idiot, he was referring to different people, firstly we have Zibeon:

  • Zibeon the Hivite, father of Anah (a woman) whose daughter married Esau.
  • Zibeon the son of Seir the Horite, who had a brother called Anah, after whom he named his son.

Next we have Anah, who it is now clear is not the same person. We then have Oholibamah:

  • who married Esau, and was the Daughter of the female Anah
  • who is the daughter of Anah (a male one) who was from a different family.

Having similar or even the same names isn’t unusual, that’s why we have family names (which we understand through the genealogies). But even then things can be confused.

Imagine in a hundred years time someone reading that Peter Smith matriculated from Maritzburg College in 1997, and then reading in the following years records that Peter Smith Matriculated in 1998. This is likely to cause a little confusion, but it wouldn’t take the reader long to work out that it was two different people, Peter John Smith (1997) and myself, Peter Graham Cato Smith.

A similar, although more confusing issue like this has to do with Bashemath, which has an explanation for. There is also Korah, who could have been both Esau’s son (Genesis 36:14) and grandson (Genesis 36:15-16) if you assume is the same person, but it possible they were just given the same name.

Who took Joseph to Egypt

While the idea that both the Midianites (Genesis 37:6) and the Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:28 & 39:1) are credited with selling Joseph to the Egyptians seems problematic, it may not be. My instincts on this were that the titles are interchangeable, when I look it up in the SDA commentary, it was the explanation they give. I would say that 37:28 sort of gives this away with using the same term in such close succession.

What are your thoughts?

Please give the reading through the Bible page a look if you haven’t already, there are some background posts and the index to this reading plan. Share it with others who you think can benefit from Reading through the Bible.


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