Tuesday, March 10, 2009

GENESIS: Chapters 28 & 29

Chapter 28
Summary:Isaac called for Jacob, and blessed him. Isaac tells him not to marry one of the local Canaanite girls, but instead to go at once to Paddan-aram, to the house of his grandfather (Rebekah's father, Bethuel). He tells Jacob to marry one of his cousins - one of Uncle Laban's daughters - and sends him away to Paddan-aram.

Meanwhile Esau finds out that Isaac has sent Jacob to Paddan-aram to find a wife and also (finally) realizes that his father despises the local Canaanite girls. So Esau heads out to the lands of his Uncle Ishmael and marries two additional wives from there, one wife being Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth, daughter of Ishmael.

Jacob leaves Beer-sheba and begins his journey to Haran. When he stops to rest that night and laid down to sleep, he dreams of a giant staircase* reaching from earth to heaven and sees many angels climbing and descending. At the top of the stairs stood God who gives Jacob his usual speech: this land is yours, you will have many descendants, you will be blessed by me, etc. - he caps it off telling Jacob that he will be with him wherever he goes, protecting him until God has finished giving Jacob everything he has promised.

Jacob wakes up terrified thinking he has stumbled upon God's home and that this land is the entrance to heaven. He sets a stone (that he had previously used as a headrest during his dream) upright as a memorial pillar and poured olive oil over it. He named the place Bethel (meaning "House of God") which was previously known as Luz.

Jacob declares that if God will in fact help him, then he will in turn choose Yahweh* as his god and will return to this very spot to worship him and will give 10 percent of everything he receives back to God.
Notes:1.) Or "Jacob's Ladder" of which this chapter serves as the inspiration for the name.
2.) Yahweh (or Jehovah) is the name of God.
Thoughts:Isaac once again reminds his sons that the Canaanite girls are the lowest form of scum as he sends Jacob off to find himself a cousin(!) / wife. Esau begins to think that maybe his dad might be right about his bigotry, yet instead of leaving his wives for new ones, he just adds a few more wives to his collection - including his cousin Mahalath, the daughter of his uncle Ishmael.

Meanwhile Jacob has a dream about God and wakes up thinking that the village he is in is God's home. How or why he comes to this conclusion is a bit unclear and seems a bit silly to think of this little village in the middle of nowhere as something to the effect of God's summer home when he's vacationing away from heaven. I guess even mighty, angered, jealous dieties need a vacation once in a while.
Chapter 29
Summary:Jacob traveled on and finally arrived in land of the east. He saw in the distance three flocks of sheep waiting to be watered. As he approached the shepherds, he asked them where they lived, to which they told him they lived in Haran. He continued to ask them if they knew Laban, the son of Nahor, to which the shepherds replied that they did, and that Laban was well and prosperous.

He then asked the shepherds why they hadn't yet removed the rock covering the well so that they could water their sheep. The shepherds told him that they only remove the rock once all the flocks of sheep have arrived at the well. As Jacob was chatting away with the shepherds, the shepherds pointed out that the shepherdess that had just now arrived at the well was Laban's daughter Rachel. As he felt he was now entitled to do so (as Rachel was his cousin, and Rachel's sheep belonged to his uncle) he removed the rock covering the well and watered the sheep. He kissed Rachel and explained that he was her cousin and the son of Rebekah, her father Laban's sister. She ran home and told her father, and in turn Laban rushed out to greet Jacob and brought him home.

After Jacob had been there for about a month, Laban offered to pay him for the work he was doing around the household. It states that Laban had two daughter: Leah, the eldest, who apparently had lovely eyes; and Rachel, the younger, who is described as "shapely". As Jacob had pretty much fallen in love with his cousin Rachel, he tells his uncle Laban that he will work for him for seven years in exchange for Rachel's hand in marriage. Uncle Laban agrees, stating that he'd rather give his daughter away to Jacob rather than someone outside the family.

Jacob worked off his seven years (which to him seemed like mere moments, due to his love for Rachel) and asked for Rachel's hand in marriage so that he could sleep with her. Uncle Laban holds a big feast for Jacob, and after the party was over it was dark out. He then lead his daughter Leah into Jacob's room and they slept together.

When Jacob woke up in the morning to find Leah in his bed he confronts his uncle Laban about the trickery. Uncle Laban explains that it goes against their customs to marry off a younger daughter ahead of an older one, but tells Jacob that he can have Rachel as well - if he works for him yet another seven years.

Jacob works for his uncle another seven years and finally gets Rachel. Laban gives Rachel a slave named Bilhah to be her maid, just as he had given Leah a slave named Zilpah seven years prior to be Leah's maid. Jacob finally gets to bed Rachel and he comes to the conclusion that he loves Rachel far more than Leah.

However, since Jacob was slighting Leah, God let Leah bear children while making Rachel barren. Leah becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son named Reuben (meaning "God has noticed my trouble"). She becomes pregnant again, naming her second son Simeon (meaning "God heard". She has a third son whom she names Levi (meaning "Attachment"), and a fourth and final son which she named Judah (meaning "Praise").
Thoughts:Here we find Jacob finding and falling in love with his shapely cousin Rachel and working for his Uncle Laban in order to buy her hand in marriage. However, Uncle Laban being the crafty individual pulls the ol' switcheroo and sends his daughter Leah in to sleep with Jacob instead. It appears that the way marriage and virginity was looked at in the bible is the old slogan: "You break it, you buy it". It's interesting to note that there isn't any special ceremony for marriage, you simply sleep with a young lady and presto, she's your wife!

Anyways, Jacob's obviously a bit steamed about the prank his trickster Uncle Laban just played on him, but Laban cons Jacob into another seven years of labor - giving him Rachel for real this time, no tricks, no fooling. Jacob now having the girl of his dreams as wife #2 obviously begins to favor her more, but God shows pity upon Leah by making her the sole baby making machine, leaving Rachel barren.

God doesn't seem to be concerned that Jacob never really wanted to marry Leah and was only legally bound to her due to his prankster Uncle tricking Jacob into sleeping with her. Apparently God agrees with the mantra "you break it, you buy it" concerning Leah's virginity, and isn't too pleased when Jacob shows favoritism towards Rachel seven years later. He apparently thinks that having Leah bear a bunch of the children, while making Rachel barren, will make Jacob respect her a little more.

No comments:

Post a Comment