Click here to read Genesis 28:10-31:55

In the past we have read about God keeping His promise to Abraham and Isaac even though there were times when they seemed to make decisions that showed a lack of trust in God.  Today we continue the story of Jacob, who seems to be very intent on doing things his own way.  Jacob’s story seems like a never-ending parade of reliance on his own craftiness rather than trusting that God can come up with a way to keep His promises.  While there is a lot of headache, it also serves as a illustration and reminder that God’s promises are not based on the merit of the recipient, but only on God.

This passage begins with Jacob having a dream in which God comes and establishes the covenant and extends the promises to Jacob that were previously made with his father and grandfather.  At the end of this passage we see that God has kept His promise of land, children, and blessing.

In this passage Moses (the author) writes of Jacob’s dealings in Paddan-Aram in such a way that it is clear that Jacob is getting what he deserves for his earlier trickery.  In fact, Jacob finally meets someone who is more deceptive than him—his uncle Laban.  It’s poetic how Jacob pretended to be his older brother to deceive his father and how Leah pretends to be her younger sister to deceive Jacob.  And what’s more is that in both of these cases people are deceived on account of an inability to see someone well enough to clearly identify them!  This just reinforces the idea that while God’s will was accomplished (Jacob as heir to the promise), the tricks that Jacob employed were not part of God’s design.

And, as if the events of Jacob’s getting married weren’t enough, the circumstances and behavior surrounding the birth of Jacob’s children are marked by jealousy, arguing, superstition, and a lack of faith.  It is a lot like the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar—only this time it involves a lot more women and a lot more children.  All is not bad though—with the birth of Joseph Rachel finally acknowledges God in a way that does not involve one-upsmanship.

Jacob’s and Laban’s battle of sneakiness continues with Jacob building up his flock.  Jacob is successful despite Laban’s attempt to sabotage Jacob increasing his flock.  Though at first it seems that Jacob is relying purely on his own resourcefulness, he later acknowledges that his prosperity is from God.

Finally we see God provide safe passage for Jacob to the land promised to Abraham and Isaac.  God intervenes with an angry Laban and causes them to make a treaty.  Though Jacob has made it exceedingly more difficult than it needed to be, God enables Jacob to return to the land promise to him, with many children and as the recipient of much blessing.

And to think, all of this headache resulted from deceiving Esau and Isaac rather than relying on God to take care of the promise He made to Rebekah.  Tomorrow we’ll see how things go between Jacob and Esau.

Names Places
Major 

God – God

Jacob – second son of Isaac and Rebekah

Rachel – Laban’s younger daughter, Jacob’s wife

Leah – Laban’s older daughter, Jacob’s wife

Zilpah – Leah’s maidservant

Bilhah – Rachel’s maidservant

Laban – Rebekah’s brother, Isaac’s uncle


Major 

Beersheba – “well of oaths” – Jacob leaves from here

Haran – the specific city where Jacob is to go

Bethel (previously Luz) – “house of God” –
where Jacob has his dream

Gilead – hill country where Jacob went to flee Laban

Galeed (“witness heap”) – where Jacob and
Laban made a treaty also known as Mizpah
(meaning “watchtower”).

Minor 

Abram/Abraham – son of Terah, descendant of Shem

Isaac – son promised to Abraham and Sarah

shepherds at the well – knew of Laban

Laban’s sons – Laban’s sons

Jacob’s children (in order of birth):

Reuben – son of Jacob and Leah

Simeon – son of Jacob and Leah

Levi – son of Jacob and Leah

Judah – son of Jacob and Leah

Dan – son of Jacob and Bilhah

Naphtali – son of Jacob and Bilhah

Gad – son of Jacob and Zilpah

Asher – son of Jacob and Zilpah

Issacher – son of Jacob and Leah

Zebulun – son of Jacob and Leah

Dinah – daughter of Jacob and Leah

Joseph – son of Jacob and Rachel


Minor 

none

Interesting facts:

1) While reading through the end of chapter 28 it seems that Jacob is attempting to make a deal with God.  However, this isn’t so much of Jacob attempting to broker some sort of deal with God as it is Jacob making a vow to God.  When Jacob awakes after his dream, he responds properly—with worship.  In fact, he does six specific things to worship:

  1. he has proper fear (awe) before God
  2. he builds a monument
  3. he consecrates the monument by pouring oil on it
  4. he names the monument Bethel (“house of God”)
  5. he makes a vow expressing that the LORD is his God
  6. he promises to tithe 10% to God

2) The household gods that Rachel took were small (2-3 inch) figures that people had in their house or would carry with them.  They were believed to be charms to bring good fortune or sometimes people would go to them for advice.  They usually represented ancestors or gods.  According to some tablets found during that period, the household gods were also used to indicate the legitimate heir of a family

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