Home > Bible Journal > January 26th, Genesis 33-35: Esau meets Jacob and Isaac dies

January 26th, Genesis 33-35: Esau meets Jacob and Isaac dies

February 18, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

[Admin note: Normally I take a break on Sundays, but the past few days I’ve been under the weather. Hopefully we’ll get back to your regularly scheduled programming from now on.]

It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold. Jacob’s son followed this maxim to a tee.

Genesis 33 tells us that after Jacob wrestled with God, he looked up and saw Esau coming with his four hundred men. So he two maidservants and their children in the front, then Leah and her children, then Rachel and Joseph in the rear. Jacob himself went ahead and kissed the ground seven times before his brother.

But Esau ran out to meet his younger brother and embrace him. They wept, and Esau inquired about Jacob’s family. About the droves greeting Esau, they were to be gifts to Esau. At first Esau refused, but Jacob insisted, so Esau accepted.

Esau then said he would accompany Jacob, or at least let Esau leave some men with him. But Jacob refused on the grounds of his tender children and nursing livestock. So Esau headed back to Seir while Jacob built himself a place at Succoth, which means “shelters”.

Jacob arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan. For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the ground on which he pitched his tent. He then set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel, which can mean “God, the God of Israel” or “mighty is the God of Israel”.

Genesis 34 mentions that Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite took a liking to Dinah, the daughter Leah borne to Jacob. Shechem took her and violated her. Shechem said to his father Hamor to get Dinah as his wife.

When Jacob heard that Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock, so he kept quiet until they came home. Hamor went out to talk to Jacob, and Jacob’s sons came in from the fields as soon as they heard what happened to their sister. They were filled with grief and fury because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing against Israel by lying with his daughter, something that should not have been done.

But Hamor pleaded for them to give Dinah over to Shechem as his wife. In fact, he invited them to intermarry with his daughters and vice versa. Settle the land and trade in it and acquire property in it.

Shechem told Dinah’s father and brothers to name the price for her hand in marriage. Any price could be paid. Because their sister had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully. They had one condition: That all of the males in the city circumcise themselves.

Now Shechem was the first to do so out of his great affection for Dinah. Hamor and Shechem then went to the gate of their city to convince all the other men to do so, reasoning that the livestock of Jacob’s family would also become theirs through marriage.

All the men in the city agreed and was circumcised.

Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. They put Hamor and Shechem to the sword, took Dinah back from Shechem’s house and left.

The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been defiled. They seized the flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else. They carried off all their wealth and women and children, taking everything as plunder.

Then Jacob told Simeon and Levi that they had brought trouble to him, making him a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people of the land. If they joined forces, Jacob’s small household would be destroyed.

Genesis 34:31 says:
31 But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”

Genesis 35 begins with God telling Jacob to go to Bethel. Jacob then said to his household and to all who were with him to rid themselves of their foreign gods and purify themselves and change clothes. They were going to build an altar at Bethel, where God answered Jacob’s distress. And so they went to Bethel and built an altar.

Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under an oak at Allon Bacuth, which means “oak of weeping”.

After Jacob returned, God appeared to him again. Jacob would now be called Israel, which means “he struggles with God.” God reiterated the covenant he had made with Israel’s grandfather Abraham.

They moved on from Bethel towards Ephrath. On the way, Rachel began to give birth but with great difficulty. As she breathed her last, she named her son Ben-Oni, which means “son of my trouble.” But Israel named him Benjamin, which means “son of my right hand.”

So Rachel died and over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.

Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Midgal Eder. While Israel was living in this region, his son Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Belhah, and Israel heard of it.

Genesis 35:23-26 says:
Jacob had twelve sons:

23 The sons of Leah:
Reuben the firstborn of Jacob,
Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.

24 The sons of Rachel:
Joseph and Benjamin.

25 The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah:
Dan and Naphtali.

26 The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah:
Gad and Asher.

These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.

Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is Hebron), where his grandfather and father had stayed. Isaac lived one hundred and eighty years before he breathed his last. Esau and Jacob buried him.

Here the Chronological Bible Study inserts 1st Chronicles 2:1-2, which names the twelve sons of Israel.
1 These were the sons of Israel:
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, 2 Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.

Questions: Have you ever been surprised to be treated with love instead of hatred by someone you wronged? Is killing and looting a city really going to make up for the violation of one’s sister?

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