Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 11-14

This is what happens when you are out of town for a couple of days. You get behind on your posts.

Genesis 27-35

This section takes us most of the way through the life of Jacob, or at least up to the genealogy of Esau, then the transition to Joseph.

Gen 27. The Blessings on Jacob and Esau. There is an interesting play on words in the two blessings. Note vs 28, "Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth;" and vs 39 "Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth and of the dew of heaven from above." The Hebrew will bear two interpretations. The one is that both Jacob and Esau will benefit from the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth. The other is that Jacob will benefit from them, but that Esau will be shut off from them. Interpreters differ, but I think the former is intended. After all, when Jacob returns from his 20 years with Laban, Esau tells him, "I have enough, my brother" (33:9).

Gen 28. Jacob's Vow. Many interpreters understand Jacob in vss 20-22 to be bargaining with God, "If you will do all this for me, I will serve you." Rather, the "then" ought to be placed at the beginning of vs 22. Further, Jacob's vow is simply reiterating God's promise to him in the dream (see vvs 13-15). In other words, it is Joseph's affirmation of faith, not his bargaining with God.

Gen 30. The Multi-Colored Rods (vvs 37ff). This has all the appearance of Jacob attempting to influence the coloring of the offspring of the flocks. The fact that it "worked" is not due either to magic or to some kind of science we don't understand yet, but to God's intent to bless Jacob in spite of Laban's trickery.

Gen 32. Jacob's Wrestling. Was this prayer or wrestling? My own view is that it was wrestling. The substance of the prayer is found at the beginning of the chapter (vss 9-12). At the end of the episode is the very physical wrestling by which Jacob was determined to wrest a blessing from God. Here, he was working for assurance.

Gen 35. The End of the Generations of Isaac (25:19-35:29). This extended section of Genesis ends with the deaths of Rachel and of Isaac himself. It is followed by the terse summary regarding Esau in ch 36 before moving on to the story of Joseph. Thus, omitting ch 36, chs 34-38 are hard times for Jacob. The believer does not avoid the pains of this world by his faith, but is strengthened to triumph through them.

Matthew 8:16-10:39

This is quite a mixed section, with a number of miracles interspersed with teaching, leading to the second long teaching section in Matthew in ch 10. The section begins with a statement regarding the cost of discipleship, and the long concluding teaching section deals specifically with the truths that confront the disciples of Jesus.

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