An Introductory Background to Genesis 32-35

jacobMonday, February 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 32-35

We continue our study of Jacob, the son of Isaac and brother of Esau.  To set the context, I will take a few minutes to review events leading up to today’s scripture reading.

The consequences of Jacob scheming and stealing the birthright and inheritance of his elder brother Esau forced him to flee from his brother, home and family (Genesis 27-28).  In his flight to Haran, the ancestral home of Abraham (11:31; 28:10), the LORD appeared to Jacob in a dream and assured him he was heir to the covenant promises God made to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac (28:11-15).

jacob-and-rachelJacob arrived in Haran and lodged with his kin in the home of Laban (29:1-14) who was the son of Nahor, the brother of his grandfather Abraham (note Genesis 11:26).  Laban was father to two daughters (29:17), the elder Leah who lacked in beauty and her younger sister Rachel described as “beautiful and well favored” (29:17).  Jacob loved Rachel and agreed to labor for her father seven years that he might take her as his wife (29:18-20).

As noted in our last reading in Genesis, Jacob met his match in Laban, the father of Rachel, and was tricked into marrying her sister Leah (29:21-26).   Demanding Rachel’s hand in marriage, Jacob agreed to labor seven more years for her conniving father Laban (29:27-30).

labans-contract-with-jacobTo Leah and Rachel and their two maidservants, Zilpah and Bilhah, would be born twelve sons of Jacob who would be the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Leah was mother of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah (29:31-35).  Because she was barren, Rachel demanded that Jacob would have a son by her servant Bilhah to whom was born Dan (30:1-6) and Naphtali (30:7-8).  To Zilpah, the servant of Leah, was born Gad and Asher (30:9-13).  God blessed Leah again with two sons, Issachar and Zebulun (30:17-20) and a daughter she named Dinah (30:21).

After bearing the cultural shame of not conceiving a son for Jacob, God answered Rachel’s prayers and she conceived and gave birth to Jacob’s eleventh son whom she named Joseph (30:22-24).  Later in our study of Jacob’s life, his beloved Rachel will die giving birth to his twelfth son whom he will name Benjamin (35:16-19).

jacobs-flight-from-labanGenesis 31 records Jacob’s difficult flight from his scheming father-in-law.  Laban overtook Jacob, now a wealthy man with eleven sons, servants, flocks and herds, on the seventh day of his flight to his home in Canaan (31:1-23).  Having been warned by God to not harm Jacob (31:24), Laban departs (31:25-55) and Jacob prepares to enter his homeland knowing he would soon face his brother Esau (32:1-3).

* Note from the author: Although a long introduction, this was a necessary review to grasp the providential hand of God in Jacob’s life as the stage is set for the lineage of Jacob and the twelve sons who would become the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  I will post a brief devotional later from today’s scripture reading.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith