“God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.’ So He named him Israel.” Genesis 35:10
What’s Going On?
This week we will get to know Jacob, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, whose name will be changed to “Israel” in chapter 32 and confirmed in chap 35. His offspring will become the Nation of Israel and it is this family we will follow throughout the Old Testament. We will see God’s promise of blessing pass from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and will go on to include the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel who will become the forefathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. One of those sons, Judah, will lead us to David and the Kings of Judah and will carry the promises of God all the way to Jesus, the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise that all the world would be blessed by Abraham. Another son, Levi, will be the father of the line of priests that we will be following next week when we meet Moses. We’ll also meet Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son. Joseph will be sold to slave-traders by his jealous brothers and be carted off to Egypt. Joseph will also carry God’s blessing, though, and circumstances will lead him to be in a position to later save his family when there is a famine in the land of his ancestors. God’s plans are bigger than man’s plans, and the end of the book of Genesis will leave all seventy members of the family of Israel together and living in peace in the land of Egypt. I highly recommend watching Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” starring Donnie Osmond. You can find it on Youtube as a 20-part playlist by Hannah McKinney.
When and Where Are We?
Although it would be very difficult to pin a specific date to the early events of Genesis, we can now safely put the three Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at 2000-1800 BC. This week we begin in Canaan where Abraham had bought land in order to bury Sarah and where he himself would be buried in the Cave of Machpelah. Then we see Jacob flee to his uncle Laban in Haran with a stop at Bethel on the way. After 20 years in Haran, he’ll return to Bethel, and then home to Canaan. Joseph will be taken to Egypt and eventually the whole family will go to Egypt as well, where they will settle in the land of Goshen, outside Egypt. There are great map images and an explanation of locations at https://www.bible-history.com/maps/6-abrahams-journeys.html
- Esau – Isaac’s older son who legally holds his birthright, Jacob’s younger twin; also called Edom in Gen 36
- Jacob – Isaac’s younger son who will carry the promise given to Abraham; Esau’s twin who will trick his brother out of the birthright; ’ father to twelve sons; given the name ‘Israel’
- Abimelech –possibly the son or grandson of the Abimelech of Genesis 20-21, King of Gerar
- Laban – Rebekah’s brother, father of Rachel and Leah
- Rachel and Leah – two of Jacob’s wives along with Bilhah and Zilpah – their two maids
- Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin – the twelve sons of Jacob
- Dinah – Leah and Jacob’s daughter; Shechem defiles her, Hamor – Shechem’s father
- Tamar – marries Er, Judah’s first-born son, who dies; Tamar and Judah are parents of Perez
- Pharaoh – King of Egypt
- Potiphar – one of Pharaoh’s officials, his wife accuses Joseph of trying to sleep with her
- Manasseh and Ephraim – sons of Joseph, will be included in the twelve tribes of Israel (replacing Levi and Joseph)
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
This Week’s Reading Assignment:
- Monday: Genesis 27-30
- Tuesday: Genesis 31-34
- Wednesday: Genesis 35-38
- Thursday: Genesis 39-42
- Friday: Genesis 43-46
- Saturday: Genesis 47-50