A Primer for Today’s Reading in Genesis

genesis-33-35Monday, March 6, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 36-39

Some who are participating in Hillsdale’s “Read-thru the Bible in a Year” challenge might be tempted to hurry pass scripture passages like Genesis 36, especially after seeing a list of names that are not only unfamiliar, but are also unpronounceable.   I understand that temptation, but can assure you the names in Esau’s lineage (Genesis 36) hold historical significance down the road in our reading of God’s Word.  Many of the people with whom the nation of Israel will interact during her exodus from Egypt to the land of Canaan have their origin in today’s reading.

rapeAllow me a brief review of events leading up to Genesis 36.   After an absence of 20 years, Jacob returned to Canaan in Genesis 33 and was met by his brother Esau who, in spite of Jacob’s treachery 20 years earlier when he stole his inheritance, gave Esau a loving embrace.  Although received in peace, Jacob refused his brother’s invitation to dwell in Bethel (lit. the house of God), and instead traveled to Succoth where he lived among the heathen of the land (33:17).

Jacob’s failure to go to Bethel and dwell with his father Isaac and brother Esau turned tragic when his daughter Dinah was raped by Shechem, the son of a ruler in Succoth (34:1-2).   The tragedy increased when Jacob failed to confront the violation of his daughter and her brother’s plotted to exact revenge on the men of Succoth (34:13-29).

In Genesis 35 we find Jacob leading his family spiritually and physically to Bethel, the place he had first met  and worshipped the LORD more than 20 years before (35:1).  Indicating how far his family had strayed from the LORD, we read that Jacob commanded his household to, “Put away the strange gods that are among you” (35:2).  Arriving at Bethel, Jacob rebuilt the altar and led his family to worship the LORD (35:6-7).genesis-35

Jacob’s return to Bethel was not without its sorrows and the deaths of his loved ones.  Deborah, the maid of his mother Rebekah who helped raise him was the first to die (35:8).  Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel, the mother of Joseph, died giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth son (35:16-18).    Adding to the sorrows was the death of his father Isaac (35:28-29).

Genesis 35 concludes with Jacob and Esau being united, this time to bury their father Isaac.

Genesis 35:28-29 – “And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. 29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.”

* Note from the author: This devotional commentary serves as a background to today’s scripture reading (Genesis 36-39). I plan to publish an additional commentary later today. Have a blessed day!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith