Exodus 3: The burning bush; Moses instructed to go to Egypt with a plan

Moses has married Zipporah, daughter of Reuel (now called Jethro), and as he carried Jethro’s flock he comes to Mt Horeb, the mountain of ha*elohim.

Exodus 3:2 – And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

Moses turns to see this sight…

3:4 – And when Jehovah saw that he turned aside to see, Elohim called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

It is at this point I have stop and ask, just what is an angel? When Jehovah and 2 of his angels appeared to Abram, they appeared as men. This time, we are told the angel is either in the fire, is the fire, or is the bush. Then ha*elohim speaks to Moses, telling him to remove his shoes because he is standing on holy ground:

3:6 – Moreover he said, I am the elohe (god) of thy father, the elohe of Abraham, the elohe of Isaac, and the elohe of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon ha*elohim.

Then Jehovah speaks:

3:7 – And Jehovah said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

Here’s the issue I’m sure many people would have problems with in my interpretations: I am separating and making a distinction between the words of ha*elohim, Elohim, and Jehovah. You might say “Well they are one and the same” but I’ve made my argument that they are different, as posited in Genesis verse. Assuming the my argument is the case (and I WILL be able to justify it further using future biblical verse), there is no reason to deny that it is possible that there are two entities that are, in this case, working together. So I am running with it against what I was taught, and, guess what? The story still makes sense.

Jehovah continues:

3:8 – And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Is milk and honey a metaphor for overall plenty? I don’t recall bees ever being mentioned specifically in previous verse. Wouldn’t other things be more ideal for pastoralists like the Hebrews? Flat lands, vegetation and water for the flocks, watering holes, etc.? I will assume it is a metaphor of sorts and move on…

Jehovah instructs Moses that he will go to the Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. Moses questions Jehovah’s choice, seemingly doubting his ability to do such a great feat:

3:12 And he (Jehovah) said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve ha*elohim upon this mountain.

Now we have an instance where Jehovah uses the term ha*elohim. Note he doesn’t say “ye shall serve ME” or “ye shall serve Yahweh/Jehovah”. Moses, still doubting he would be able to convince the children of Israel posts more questions:

3:13 – And Moses said unto ha*elohim, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The elohe (god) of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

Why would the children of Israel ask “what is his name?” to Moses? To test Moses to see if he is true? OR, is it because they’ve worshiped multiple gods in the past and want to know exactly which one is calling for them? This also shows that Moses knows little about the beliefs of his kin in Egypt and specifics about the god who has told him “I am the elohe/god of  your father.” Interesting.

What’s even more interesting is Elohim’s response, which really does not mesh at all with Genesis labels used for the god of the Israelites:

3:14 – And Elohim said unto Moses, (in response to the name question), eh-yeh; a*ser eh-yeh “I AM, WHO I AM”: and he said, Thus shalt you say unto the children of Israel, eh-yeh “I AM” has sent you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

A couple of issues:

  • If Elohim or Jehovah were the only “God”, why would he/she/it need a name? We use names to distinguish ourselves from each other.
  • This is the first time we’ve heard the name “I AM” yet we are told that the Israelites would know it?
  • I have issues with the biblical use of words like “all” and “whole (earth)”. This verse makes it sound like EVERYONE would know this name, every living person on the planet. Is this the case? Will this statement be supported in future verse?
  • Will we see the name I AM, WHO I AM again?

Elohim then instructs Moses with the details of bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt. Moses will go to the elders, tell them that he met with their god Jehovah who has seen their affliction. They will be taken out of Egypt and given the land of the peoples previously mentioned, a land flowing with milk and honey. They will listen to Moses, and request to Pharaoh that they be allowed to leave Egypt and travel 3 days into the wilderness where they will sacrifice to Jehovah. The King of Egypt will not let it happen, Jehovah will smite the Egyptian “with his wonders” and they will eventually be let go, but not before spoiling the Egyptians of their riches.

So many questions:

  • Why would an omnipotent god need to prove himself to “his people” and their enemies with “wonders”?
  • Why would they need to be in the wilderness to sacrifice to an omnipresent god? Wouldn’t a sacrifice where they stood work?
  • It seems that Jehovah is a godly force that punishes earthly forces. NO PUNISHMENT has been attributed to Elohim up to this point. See why I think they are distinct? I also believe a trend will show that Jehovah/Yahweh is much different, if not a singular aspect, of Elohim.
  • Why would an omnipotent god need to allow his people to spoil (aka steal/take away) physical riches from the people who now hold them captive? Couldn’t he/she/it just create the riches?
    • This idea of spoiling, punishing, and expounding “wonders” all seem to be earthly, HUMAN traits
    • More evidence Jehovah, in terms of powers, is limited as a god
  • Interestingly, it is the women who will borrow of her Egyptian neighbors with the intent to take their spoils. No mention of what the men will do.

I’m still bothered by the lack of continuation and timeline of the Israelites in Exodus as it was described in Genesis. No mention of the original famine. Also, we were told the Israelites waxed greatly, while the Egyptians didn’t, so why couldn’t they just get up and go? This narrative is broken, which continues to tell me it is bordering on fictional in terms of the greatness of the Israelites versus the weakness of the Egyptians.

 

 

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Genesis: A quick redux. Genesis grade: A-

Genesis was an interesting read in that I started to find tangents and parallels taking place that I was not aware of before. I’ve heard people say the Bible is perfect, infallible, and the “word of God”. Well to be honest, I would think the word of God wouldn’t come off like a typical incomplete novel that was still in the works. Sounds critical of me to say but that is the truth. The timeline is erratic, a lot of information and data is missing, and I almost get the impression it was a series of stories squished together to try to fit into one.

Some major observations and questions I come across as I quickly review my findings:

  • Creation. Two stories and they do not match
  • Why is it important that precious stones exist in the lands where Jehovah and the Garden of Eden are placed?
  • Adam and Eve are assumed to be the first two people on earth but after reading the story again and comparing Genesis books 1 and 2, I no longer think that is the case: Cain is afraid of ‘whosoever’ he comes across will want to kill him despite the insinuation of modern translation that he is only the 3rd person on earth.
  • Elohim and Jehovah: Different traits, characteristics, actions
    • Elohim seems cosmic, universal, ethereal, spiritual “Elohim’s spirit floats over the waters”
    • Jehovah seems earthly, worldly, physical “he walks in the cool of the evening”
    • They give different instructions to Noah regarding animals to bring on the Ark and what animals they are allowed to eat
    • Elohim’s offerings are of bread and wine, oil and drink offerings
    • Jehovah’s offerings are beasts and blood, and rejected Cain’s offerings of first fruits
  • The patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Esau, the sons of Jacob and Esau) are all well off, lot’s of flocks and land. They live lives that TODAY would be considered sinful and evil
    • Lying and cheating their brethren
    • Having multiple wives, including wives of slave women
    • Having multiple children with multiple wives
    • Treating their children unequally in terms of their inheritance
    • Disobeying their fathers
    • Not paying heed to the promises of Jehovah “do not fear” yet they do and bring chaos to those around them (Pharaoh, Abimelech, etc.)
    • The non-Jehovah special lineage (Ishmael and Esau) really didn’t do anything wrong compared to their counterparts
  • There is no mention of a priesthood until we find out about Melchizedek, King Priest of the Most High God, who gives thanks with bread and wine (Jesus like) but not the blood and burning flesh of Jehovah
  • There is no mention that evil done by man is caused or influenced by the Devil/Satan.
  • Jehovah is not omnipotent or omniscient “I came to see for myself if the evil of Sodom and Gomorrah is true”
  • With all the knowledge we know about ancient Egypt, many data points are missing in the Genesis description of Egypt (Pharaoh names for example)
  • For one event to happen (the reunion of Joseph with his brothers which saves them from the drought) a WHOLE LOT of other steps were put into place to cause this event, as claimed by Joseph that it was all part of a master plan. Why would an omnipotent god need to do such a thing?
  • Big questions pop up why many of the events and geographical sites mentioned in Genesis are all big mysteries. Where is the evidence?
    • Where was the Garden of Eden and why is it not around today with Jehovah walking around it. Where is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Where is the “flame of a sword” that protects the Tree of Life? Where are the rivers Havilah and Pishon?
    • Do we know where Sodom & Gomorrah really were?
    • Where was the Tower of Babel?
    • Did the Nephilim who were offspring of the sons of Elohim and the daughters of man leave remains behind? Why do we not know the whole story of how that took place and what happened to those that “fell” in Genesis?
    • Is there physical evidence of the great war of kings in Genesis 14? It was of a grand scale and surely something would be left behind. And where did these kings come from?
  • “Israel” was NOT monotheistic, they CLEARLY worshiped other gods, they KNEW of other gods, they POSSESSED other gods (Jacob hiding his family’s idols from Elohim)
  • The patriarchs and the 12 sons of Israel are not boasted about, they clearly are human teetering on a wickedness that modern Christians would condemn. Will this be the case in future books ahead? SPOILER ALERT: I’m jumping ahead and spoiling the narrative by saying no, they get special treatment in future books and their wickedness still exists, if not worsens. This tells me there are yet more authors with different intentions in our future.

Some odd impressions about Jehovah I took that conflict with modern church teachings that I think the bible clearly insinuates:

  • Jehovah was a surrogate father, after all it was until “he did that thing when he visited Sarai” who the bible clearly says both her AND Abraham were beyond child birthing age, did she give birth to Isaac. Was Abraham really the father when it was only by a visit from Jehovah that she gave birth? The precedent was set in Genesis 6 when we are clearly told the spiritual/heavenly beings ARE able to breed with the daughters of man.
  • Jehovah clearly starts to sound like an earthly, tribal god. His physical form means he can walk the earth but is not always on earth because other times he appears in dreams to the patriarchs. He needs physical specificity in the case of: sacrifices (he enjoys the smell of burning flesh), Sodom & Gomorrah (he needs to see the evil for himself)
  • The 12 sons of Jacob and Jacob himself were pretty wicked, yet were protected by Jehovah despite their sins.
  • Jehovah has dragon and/or volcano traits to his being and I think we will see more of this in Exodus.

The “sins” of Adam and Eve all the way down to Jacob (who admitted to the Pharaoh his days have been short and evil) do give a very humanistic aspect to these early peoples, an aspect that even modern man can associate with: deceit, family conflict, land issues, weather related catastrophes, widespread wickedness, and much more.

Some points I’m looking to get clarified in future books:

  • The devil was not accused of involvement in any of the evil actions taken by the peoples of this day (save for the serpent who people insinuate is the devil but Genesis does NOT specify this). The evil comes from man himself, no credit is giving to the devil/Satan
  • The difference between El*elyon, El Shaddai, Elohim, and Yahweh. I no longer believe they are one in the same and have multiple Genesis verses to prove my point. I’m hoping it gets clarified in further verse.
  • When the flood occurred it was (again, different reasons were mentioned pertaining to the difference between Elohim and Jehovah) because the world was overly wicked. There is NO mention of CORRECTION to keep the world from becoming overly wicked again. All we have is a flood that wiped out the wickedness but no measure to prevent it from happening again.
    • SO, BIG QUESTION: Can the world ever become as wicked as described in the pre-flood days?
    • Just how did the author(s) of Genesis define “the world”? Was it the entire globe? The middle east specifically? The eastern hemisphere which we find that not until at least 1492 people thought was the entire world?

Overall my latest study into Genesis really opened my eyes about details NOT discussed by any church officials, bible studies, or conversations with fellow Christians of many denominations. All I get from them is broad assumptions (Adam was first man; Jehovah is the only god; the patriarchs were faithful and role models).

Let me say this, the patriarchs get a big NO WAY in terms of being role models. It can not be denied that their lifestyle would not mesh with modern times, whether the lifestyle of a modern Christian or an average US citizen (polygamy is now illegal).

The big hypocrisy between modern church goers and Genesis: Today it is frowned upon, if not outright illegal, to own slave servants or to marry multiple wives. But that’s what the patriarchs did and it was not frowned upon by Jehovah or Elohim! So why do people point to Genesis and say there are things in there that we should be doing? Isn’t it all or none? Do we get to pick and choose which rules we follow listed in the bible? I know future books of the Bible are really going to hammer this point home.

There is much much more to discuss regarding Genesis, but I need to move on to Exodus for the purpose of this blog. Genesis complete. Overall status: Confused but still open to the word of the bible, not convinced modern science meshes with Genesis, but I know there are many more themes to come in future books so I move on.

I give Genesis an A- because it is absolutely fascinating, but mysterious (thanks to all the missing information) so it puts me in detective and critical thinking mode. I think there are multiple authors and multiple stories squished into one, which is glaringly obvious, but because it warrants more questions it incites my imagination and critical thinking skills in looking for more proving data. Flaming swords, magic trees, Nephilim, giant sea and land creatures (Leviathan and Behemoth), tribal war gods: sorry to say it has a Lord of the Rings feel to it all. If someone does not take it serious I can see why, it’s not that hard to see. I loved the imagery I got from it all (Jehovah, who is given no physical description, “walking” in the cool of the evening in the Garden of Eden, or the Elohim floating over the cosmic waters) so I give it an A- in terms of its effect on my mind and how I place myself in this world.

Let’s see what Exodus does.

Genesis 49: Jacob foretells his 12 sons futures; Jacob dies

Jacob, on his death bed, has gathered his sons to him so he can tell them of things to come. Here is a run down per son:

Reuben – First born, Jacob’s might/beginning of his strength. Because he lay with Jacob’s concubine Bilnah (and mother of his brothers), he defiled his father’s bed/couch and he will NOT excel.

Simeon and Levi – Equal/brethren in the sense that instruments of cruelty (KJV footnote “their swords are weapons of violence”).

Genesis 49:6 – (Jacob) O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

More study needs to be done on this particular verse. Off the bat it sounds like Jacob is trying to distance himself and his legacy from these two sons because of their violent, fierce, cruel wrath. Because of this violence, it seems as if they are destined to be broken apart in the future.

Judah – A lion’s whelp; escaped from the prey; couched as a lion.

49:10 – The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

It’s amazing to see the poetic and allegorical language used here in the prophecy of Judah. It’s obviously symbolic, for what, I am at a loss. We have a scepter (as in the scepter that defines a king?) and a lawgiver that will not depart from Judah, UNTIL Shiloh come. What or who is Shiloh? The last sentence is poetic indeed, his foal (female?) is bound to the vine, his ass’s colt (male) bound to the CHOICE vine. Washing garments in wine and clothes in the blood of grapes.. isn’t this the same thing? This doublet of symbolism seems to be a literary characteristic of whoever the author is of this text. I’m sure we’ll see more in the future. When this characteristic does fade away, is that a sign we have changed authors? “His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.”: He shall prosper with plenty of wine and milk? One of the more interesting verses out of all of Genesis.

Zebulun – will dwell at the haven of the sea; a haven for ships, and his border will extend to Zidon. Interesting to note, will the children of Zebulun be coastal as Jacob as foretold?

Issachar – a strong ass couching between two burdens (interlinear translates “burdens” as “sheepholds”)

49:15 – and he (Issachar) saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

Another difficult to translate text, with allegory that I’m sure made complete sense at the time of the writing of this text. More research needed.

Dan – will judge his people, and of the sons listed so far, is the first to be called one of the tribes of Israel.

49:17 – Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

Serpent by the way/adder in the path, another doublet. Sounds like Dan will be an interruption to those in his way.

49:18 – I have waited for thy salvation Yahweh

Why does Jacob suddenly call out to Yahweh when describing Dan’s future? Is this a point where Jacob is starting to fade? Is this a marker we need to keep aware of? We will see.

Gad – a troop will overcome him, but will overcome in the end.

Asher – “his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.” So just what is this “troop”?

Naphtali – a hind let loose, he gives good words

Joseph – a fruitful bough by a well, and his branches over run the wall.

49:24 – But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)

Ok, another interlinear issue here. The phrase “mighty God of Jacob” in KJV is translated much differently than the interlinear with Hebrew. Let’s take a look at how the verse is translated interlinear:

49:24 – But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the mighty one of Jacob;

See the difference? Is this another attempt by the author to place any and all mentions of might with Jehovah/God/Elohim? In this particular case we are not given the name of one the aforementioned names, instead we are given “God of Jacob”.

mighty God mighty one
Click here for the actual interlinear translation (it does make a big difference in meaning)

I have to bring this to the forefront, either Joseph’s strong hands were given to him by the mighty God of Jacob, or his strong hands were given to him by the mighty one of Jacob (who could be just about anyone, one of his sons, etc.) Even the interlinear is capitalizing “Mighty One” but if you look at the original Hebrew, it does NOT match any of the previous words for “god”.

49:25 – Even by the god of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of they father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

The god of Jacob will help Joseph, and the Almighty (shad*day) will bless him. Same thing? Another doublet? Joseph so far has seemed to receive the best of the foretelling of Jacob.

Benjamin – will ravin as a wolf, in the morning he will devour his prey, and at night he will divide the spoils.

Jacob commands his sons to bury him in the cave of Ephron the Hittite, in the land of Canaan. This is the same cave where Abraham his grandfather is buried, as well as his father Isaac (and his wife Rebekah), and where Leah (Jacob’s first wife) was also buried.

The author deems it important to clarify to the reader that this land purchase was from the children of Heth.

Once Jacob finishes his commanding of his sons, he lays in his bed and dies.

Genesis 46: Israel/Jacob comes to Egypt

The wordplay in the Bible for the various “god” words/names is one of my focal points in this study. In a previous blog post I wondered about why the KJV version would put the word God/Elohim in where it wasn’t in the original Hebrew. It happened again:

Genesis 46:1 – And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

“the God” is the term, but it’s not specific. It looks like the author or translator is trying to make it specific by capitalizing the G in God. Another sleight of hand by a translator? What does the original Hebrew say?

the God beer-sheba

We have le*lo*he where we would usually have elohim. Is the translator saying “oh, this is just yet another name for God, so let’s just fix it”. Why not leave it as is according to original translation? “the god” is NOT the same as “God”. If the original intent was to state that Israel made sacrifices unto God, why not say that? Instead what we have is that he made sacrifices to the god of his father Isaac.

I’m always keen on the difference between what the Bible states that Elohim/God says vs Jehovah/the Lord says. Here’s one to note down for future reference:

Genesis 46:2 – And Elohim spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God (ha*el), the God (elo*he) of your father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation. I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

Here is what Elohim is promising to Jacob/Israel:

  • Safe passage into Egypt
  • Make of him a great nation
  • Will go down with him into Egypt
  • Will bring him up again out of Egypt
  • Joseph will put his hand upon his eyes (close his eyelids after death?)

Will all this be fulfilled in the upcoming stories? Will there be additional details not mentioned here? So far, what Elohim has promised, seems harmless.

The remnants of Joseph’s peoples begin the journey into Egypt. The author at this time now gives the reader an exact lineage of everyone who sojourned into Egypt.

A couple of observations about the lineage description:

  • Writer notes that Er and Onan, sons of Judah, died in the land of Canaan (but not that they died at the hands of Jehovah)
  • 46:13 mentions the sons of Issachar and one of them is named Job
  • Verse 15 starts off with “These be the sons of Leah” but does not go on to name them all, only concluding with “all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and tree”
    • Note that now we are talking about “souls”
    • Also note that it sounds like the writer’s intention was to name all the sons of Leah (“These be the sons…”) but never gets to them. An unfinished verse?
  • Same happens in verse 18 with the sons of Zilpah, and verse 25 with the sons of Bilhah.
  • Was this portion of this chapter hastily put together?

As Jacob enters Egypt, he sends his son Judah to meet Joseph so that they can be directed to Goshen. Joseph then takes a chariot to meet with his father Jacob, and as you can imagine, it was an emotional reunion.

joseph jacob
Joseph and Jacob reunite. This is how I imagined it when I was a child, Joseph in the garb of an Egyptian Pharaoh, and his brothers and father as shepherds

Genesis 46:31 to 34 is interesting. The Hebrews at this time were shepherds, but as the end of the chapter tells us, shepherds are an abomination to the Egyptians. Another facet of Egyptian culture at the time that history and the material record can prove?

 

Genesis 43: The second reunion of brothers in Egypt, with Benjamin

After returning to Canaan with food they bought from their brother (who they did not recognize) in Egypt, enough time has passed where the ongoing famine has put Jacob in the situation where he needs to send his sons down once again.

This time Judah protests, finally admitting to his father that they were not to return unless they brought their youngest brother Benjamin at the orders of Joseph.

Genesis 43:6 – And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?

I note this as another example of deceit towards Jacob coming from his own sons. This time Judah steps up and asks to go down again, with Benjamin, and Judah would be wholly responsible for his safety. Israel agrees, and tells him to take extra gifts of the best fruits of the land, plus the double the money they initially took.

43:13 – And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.

In this verse “God Almighty” is translated as el sad*day:

el saday

I’ll cover this in my final Genesis summary but here we have another name for “God”. As I recall we have God (elohim), Jehovah God (yahweh elohim), Jehovah (yahweh), God Most High (el elyon), and now Almighty God (el sad*day). All the same being? Look at previous blog posts and my Genesis summary where I break down the use of the god titles and make the distinction between them and their actions.

So the brothers head down to Egypt again, this time with Benjamin, and stood before Joseph. Joseph tells his servants to prepare dinner for them, and the brothers were brought into Joseph’s house. They fear this is because of the money that was left in their sacks that could easily cause a charge of theft on them. So they find the steward of Joseph’s home and explain to him the money situation.

43:23 – And he (steward) said, Peace be to your, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.

Even though we know Joseph had instructed his servants to put the money back into the sacks, the steward tells them it was a gift from Elohim. Joseph meets with his brothers, inquires about the health of his father, and then inquires about Benjamin, his brother from his biological mom Rachel. Joseph becomes emotional, heads back to his chambers where he weeps, then comes back out after regaining his composure.

43:32 – And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Interesting look at how, supposedly, the culture of the Egyptians at the time deals with non-Egyptians at meal time. Does Egyptian history tell us that this was indeed a cultural norm?

The brothers sit before Joseph from eldest to youngest, and were served their meals. Benjamin’s portions were five times larger than his brothers (noting this one down for future numerical reference.) And they drank and were merry with Joseph.

Genesis 38: Judah separates, the narrative separates.

In an odd break of the ongoing timeline and narrative we suddenly focus on Judah, who has left his brethren, and “turned in” to an Adullamite name Hirah. Not sure what “turned in” means but it seems as if Judah has gone on a sabbatical from his people and now finds himself among Canaanites, staying with Hirah.

Judah finds a daughter of a Canaanite named Shua and goes “in unto her” multiple times and she bares him three sons:

  • Er
  • Onan
  • Shelah
    • Shela, who BTW, the author wants you to know he was at Chezib when he was born
    • A quick search of Chezib shows nothing of major significance, once again telling me these words were meant for people of that time, who would know where Chezib was, after all the author intended to clarify this point.
    • The woman Judah “goes into” wasn’t important enough to be given a name?

Not sure why Judah separated from his brethren, but anyone with a large enough family will know that some members do separate from their kin and often never return, starting families on their own in far off lands (or in modern terms, out of state or country).

Genesis 38:6 – And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of Jehovah; and Jehovah slew him.

Jehovah is back in the picture, and he returns by slaying Judah’s firstborn. We can’t assume that Er and/or Tamar were adults at this time. Many cultures arrange marriages well before either bride or groom are of age to procreate. Assuming Er was a young man, whatever he did or said caused Jehovah to slay him. Looking at previous chapters with all the wickedness in the actions of Jacob and his sons, what Er did must have been colossally bad. Why not mention what made him wicked?

Plus, seems Judah had no say in the matter of the fate of his first born.

In somewhat of a hint at the age of the three sons of Judah at this time, Judah tells his 2nd son, Onan, to go into Tamar so that his slain by Jehovah brother’s seed can continue.

  • Once again, the concept of “seed” isn’t necessarily direct. By impregnating Tamar, Onan would really physically be creating his own seed. Though by implication the seed would be CALLED the seed of Er (remember Esau being the true seed of Isaac but Jacob would be CALLED his seed?)
  • The cultural concept of “seed” for this culture is less biological and more cultural.
  • Onan was now at the age where he could seed a woman. Teenager?
  • So what really caused Jehovah to slay Onan? The fact he wouldn’t impregnate his sister in law per his Israelite father’s judgement? Or because he spilled his seed on the ground?

Onan, possibly because of his Canaanite mother’s roots, does not agree with Judah the Israelite’s view that he should be going into his sister in law.

38:9 – And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased Jehovah, wherefore he slew him also.

Jehovah has so far slain two of Judah’s sons. No response from Judah. Judah, running out of sons, instructs his daughter in law:

38:11 – Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at they father’s house, till Shelah my son be grown: for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.

How did his brethren die? At the hands of Jehovah. Judah won’t say it directly, but he tells Tamar to leave, because there is a chance that Shelah will meet the fate of his two brothers.

38:12 – And in the process of time the daughter of Shua Judah’s wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite

Observations:

  • The “process of time” means the narrative of Genesis has taken on a side story focusing on Judah, which means at some point we will probably go back in time to the era of a teenage Joseph. Right now we are at a point where Judah left his brethren, had sons, and the sons grew in years to conceive children. 15-20 years post Joseph being sold into slavery?
  • Judah had a non-Israelite friend, an Adullamite. Befriending and impregnating Canaanites does not seem to be an issue at this time for Israelites.
  • In the past, a male patriarch was “comforted” after the death of his mother or wife by finding a new or first wife. Just what comforted Judah in verse 12?

The story gets better:

38:13 – And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnah to shear his sheep. And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.

Interesting look at this culture. There are such things as “widow’s garments”. Likely a custom that women would dress a certain way so that those around her knew her marital status. In this case, Tamar then wraps herself in a veil, which, even in modern times, seems to be somewhat of a common custom in Middle Eastern cultures. What happens next is shocking.

38:15 – When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned into her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?

We’ve just seen a man solicit his own daughter in law, who he though was a prostitute. She seems to have set it up where she knew he would come across her so she veiled herself. After all, time has passed and the process of marrying her to a now grown Shela has not occurred.

  • Was she in a hurry to be wed, gone into, since it’s noted that her marriage to Shela had not been set up?
  • Or was it her intention to blackmail Judah
  • At this time, in this culture, a woman who was veiled was considered a harlot/whore? Judah thought so

The transaction is agreed upon, Judah will go in unto her and he will give her items that can identify Judah at a later date plus a kid goat. He performs the act and she is impregnated.

After the deed was done, he goes to retrieve the kid goat, but Tamar has left (she replaced her veil with her usual widows garments). Judah returns and can not find her, asks around if anyone has seen the harlot, and the locals tell him there was no harlot there. Judah, to prevent shame, asks for everyone to search for her so he can pay her with the kid goat as he promised.

  • Harlotry or prostitution sounds like it was a common part of the culture
  • The shame here wasn’t that he solicited a prostitute, but that he couldn’t pay her properly

Get’s even better (or worse in my opinion):

38:24 – And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.

Judah wants to burn Tamar for what has just occurred. Not only that, he wants to burn her while she is pregnant with his child. No grievances for his actions, but let her be burnt. Not to say she was exactly innocent but she seemed to have schemed this well.

38:25 – When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.

We’ve just witnessed the moral of the story. Judah admitted the righteousness belonged to Tamar because, for some unexplained reason, Judah never married his grown son Shela to Tamar. Judah’s fault was not ensuring his promise to her that when Shela was grown, he would take his brothers place.

Judah didn’t perform his sworn duties to his daughter in law Tamar by marrying her to Shela and was humiliated. Er and Onan didn’t perform their duties to Tamar yet both were slain by Jehovah. No slaying for the third offense against Tamar by Judah?

In another rhyming Bible story, Tamar bore twins. The firstborn came out and the midwife attached a piece of scarlet to his wrist, signifying him the firstborn. However, his twin was able to breach first, and he became firstborn. The new firstborn was named Pharez (KJV note: that is, A breach) and the second one with the scarlet wristband came out and was named Zerah.

The first became second and the second became first. Esau and Jacob revisited.

What will the Bible hold for Pharez and Zerah, sons of Judah and his daughter in law Tamar?

Genesis 32… one more try

Back to grinding away at the Bible verse by verse. It’s good to be back. For reference, from this point on I will be covering the King James Version.

Jacob and Esau plan to meet. Jacob, knowing his treatment of his own brother was wicked, fears the worst. He prepares riches to give to his twin, and out of fear, splits his army into two groups, so that if Esau has intentions of war, at least one group of his will survive.

Jacob then prays to Jehovah, admitting he is not deserving of mercy and reminding Jehovah of the promise he made to him, in the hopes that Esau will not destroy his people:

Genesis 32:10 – I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant. (his words to Jehovah)

Jacob splits his two groups, sends one on their way with gifts of cattle and livestock, hoping to appease his brother.

In an odd scenario, Jacob finds himself alone after crossing the Jabbok ford, wrestling a man until sunrise:

32:24 – And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

Jacob wrestling
In this portrayal the “man” wrestling Jacob is a winged angel. So who or what did Jacob wrestle? KJV does not say angel, but a quick online search shows many translations saying he wrestled God or an Angel, not just a regular man. Biblehub.com Intralineal shows the correct translation as “man”. Mystery remains.

This man has dislocated Jacob’s leg/hip, but neither prevails over the other. In another instance of a name change (signifying a change in the narrative of the people), the man tells Jacob he will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel.

Jacob in return asks the man for his name, the man replying, in other words, “who are you to ask me of my name?”

32:31 – And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Questions gathered from this Chapter:

  • Who was the man Jacob wrestled? An angel? Jehovah? A regular man?
  • What is the significance of “wrestling” in this culture?
  • Some have assumed this was “God” Jehovah testing Jacob… if so, why the need to test? If God is all knowing and all powerful, wouldn’t he know without having to test Jacob? The “test” theory, while fits the scene, doesn’t fit the God scenario.
  • What is the “sinew which shrank”? In this case it is referring to Jacob’s thigh, and we are told that the children of Israel do not eat of it because of this incident. Do not eat of it where? In animals? In humans?

A lot of unanswered questions in this Chapter, the author writes this seemingly knowing that whoever is reading it is contemporary, i.e. “…to this day” so people of that era would definitely know the context. More research needed, however, we do have more examples of the anthropological concept of explaining place names (Penuel/Peniel) and cultural customs (Israelites not eating the sinew that shrank).

 

Genesis 31 – Conflict between Jacob & Laban

Jacob asks Laban for leave of his land with his belonging, his wives, and children:

Genesis 31:27 – And Laban said unto him, if now I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry: for I have divined that Jehovah hath blessed me for thy sake.

Laban seems to be asking for more blessings from Jehovah due to Jacob’s presence, so he would like to collect on it, and asks Jacob to negotiate a new wage and stay (tarry). Jacob, with all aforementioned belongings, asks Laban when he can finally fend for his own household. Laban asks Jacob, in a set of words “what’s your price?”

Jacob responds by asking Laban to come to an agreement: Jacob will continue to tend to his flocks, but he will remove (day by day) all the imperfect animals, and bring them into his flock, leaving the perfectly colored and strong flock with Laban. Laban agrees. In a sort of earthly spell:

31:37 – And Jacob took him rods of fresh poplar, and of the almond and of the planetree; and peeled white streaks in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods. And he set rods which he had peeled over against the flocks in the gutters in the watering-troughs where the flocks came to drink; and they conceived when they came to drink. And the flocks conceived before the rods, and the flocks brought forth ringstreaked, speckled, and spotted.

Stripping branches of their bark to expose the whiteness of the wood, he was able to manipulate the breeding of imperfect animals and direct the stronger animals into his flock. This is one topic that definitely requires study by the more botany minded. He directed the feeble of the lambs to Laban’s flock, strengthening his own. The sons of Laban became aware of this manipulation and passed it on to their father. Jacob realizes Laban’s attitude towards Jacob had changed (you think?) so Jehovah tells Jacob to return to the land of his fathers. Jacob calls upon his wives, daughters of Laban and accuses Laban of deceiving him due to wage changes. So, for revenge, Jacob manipulated the flock and their offspring.

Ok, so multiple times Jehovah has told Jacob that he will protect him, not to be afraid. So why couldn’t Jacob just walk away? He knew Laban was deceiving him through his wages, so why return deceit with more deceit?

Is Jacob really an example we should be following in modern times?

Jacob calls upon his cousin-wives, tells them to pack up, and explains to them the reason for his actions: he dreamed about it and God was the one who took the cattle of their father.

It wasn’t Jacob? It was God’s doing?

Rachel and Leah, knowing they no longer have an inheritance with their father, affirm with Jacob that it was time to leave. Inheritance? Was it all about money and possessions for them?

So on their way out, Rachel stole all the teraphim (household idols?) of her father, and Isaac packed up and left without informing Laban. Laban got word, and in 7 days, he caught up with Jacob and his daughters, accusing Jacob of carrying his daughters away “captives of the sword.” He also indicated, if he had told him to leave, Laban would have sent him off with mirth, songs, tabret and harp (a celebration).

31:31 – And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Lest thou should takest thy daughters from me by force.

After all the promises, dreams, visions, and miracles from Jehovah, Jacob STILL walks in fear (or does he not, but feigns fear to compromise his adversary?). He keeps breaking the promise Jehovah put on him: to not fear and go forth to where he commands. Laban, realizing his collection of gods had been stolen (Rachel) accuses Jacob of stealing them. Rachel, in an act of deception, hides them from not only her father as he searches for them, but also Jacob. The final conclusion of this conflict is both sides airing their issues: Laban claims all of Jacob’s possessions are his, Jacob claims they all belong to him because of the deceitful actions of Laban. So they form a covenant, a peace treaty, and form it using a heap of stones, which not only acts as a symbol of their treaty, but also a demarcation line that neither one will cross the stone to get to the other. The next morning, Laban says goodbye to his daughters and children, and returns home, peacefully, as he promised.

jacob laban covenant
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Moral of the story: It seems forming a peaceful covenant and demarcating it has worked somewhat well for these peoples in their culture. Where is Jehovah to create this peace between the peoples they say he created? Will he bless Laban for treating Jacob well?

Genesis 30 – Jacob’s son of Leah, Rachel, and their handmaids. Man dragons?

Rachel, envious of her sister’s births, angers Jacob by demanding he give her children, when Jacob lays the blame for her closed womb on God. In another common occurrence, Rachel demands that Jacob impregnate her hand maid, and now we are told that Jacob has lain with a woman for the purpose of bearing children.

Sons of Bilnah and Jacob (Words of Rachel who named the sons):

5. Dan – “God hath judge me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son”

6. Naphtali – “With mighty wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed”

Rachel claims she has prevailed over Leah despite having to resort to her handmaid for her sons and being outnumbered 4 to 2. Leah, who had left off bearing, answers back by having Jacob impregnate her handmaid, Zilpah.

Son of Zilpah and Jacob (Words of Rachel who named the son):

7. Gad – “Fortunate!”

Reuben, the oldest son, finds mandrakes in the field during wheat harvest and brings them to his mother Leah. His aunt Rachel demands Leah give them to her (they must have had some serious value) and Leah refuses, telling Rachel that not only has she taken her husband, now she wants to take her sons mandrakes. In a telling verse, Rachel offers a trade: Reuben’s mandrakes and Leah is allowed to sleep with Jacob (does this answer the previous question: Was Jacob the father of the first four sons of Leah?)

Genesis 30:16 And Jacob came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for I have surely hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.

Lely, Peter, 1618-1680; Reuben Presenting Mandrakes to Leah
Depiction of a young Reuben bringing mandrakes to his mother Leah. Note the ‘handmaid’ with child, most likely Dan, Naphtali, or Gad borne to handmaid Bilnah. Also note the (collared) dog in the painting, because there is correlation (warning on pursuing this connection)

We are told God hearkened unto Leah (who was no longer able to give birth aka “left off bearing” but now she was?)

Sons of Leah with Jacob (Words of Leah who named the sons:)

8. Issachar – “God hath given me my hire, because I gave my handmaid to my husband”

9. Zebulun – “God hath endowed me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons”

Daughter of Leah (no indication Jacob was the father): Dinah.

God “remembers” Rachel, who has been barren all this time, and opens her womb (no indication Jacob was the father though it’s a good assumption).

10. Joseph – “God hath taken away my reproach; Jehovah add to me another son”

Back to mandrakes: can also be translated as “man dragons”, they seem to be a plant found in parts of the middle east. It could also be a general term for a group of hallucinogenic plants. An internet search will show that some of these tubers called mandrakes actually look like humans. The context of it in this book is unknown, however the idea that Leah would trade mandrakes to Rachel for the privilege of sleeping with her/their husband means that these items were highly valuable to Rachel, enough where she’d let another woman (even though it was his wife) sleep with him. Twice.

mandrake root
Hallucinogenic? Collectible? Why would Rachel, who was highly envious of Leah for having an open womb, allow Leah to sleep with Jacob for the mandrakes that Leah’s son Reuben had gathered? Here is an example of a creature figure like root of what is commonly known as mandrake. The mandrake in this book could be an entirely different plant however.

 

Genesis 29 – Jacob seeks a familial wife, Canaan follows suit; Jacob, Rachel, Leah

Isaac commands Jacob not to find a wife of the people of Canaan, instead he sends him to marry one of his first cousins, daughters of Laban.

Esau follows suite, after taking wives of the Hittites which bothered his mother and father, he goes to somewhat more distant relatives to marry within: Mahalath, the daughter of his uncle Ishmael.

Jacob leaves Beer-sheba on his way toward Haran when he experiences a dream: A ladder connects the top of heaven set upon the earth, with angels ascending and descending it. Jehovah stands at the top and repeats his promise to Isaac (this is your land, your seed will be plenty in all directions, all families of the earth will be blessed.

Genesis 29:15 – And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

So there is a “completion” to this promise, that Jehovah will leave him once he has done all he has promised for Jacob.

29:16 – And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely Jehovah is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

Afraid, dreadful. Words to describe the house of God and the gate of heaven? The concept that Jehovah is not at places at once looks to be a belief Jacob carried. Is this why Jacob would travel and “fear” despite being told not to?

Jacob arrives in the land of his uncle Laban. He meets Rachel at a watering hole with her sheep and everyone is introduced. Laban offers Jacob wages for his work as Jacob stays with him, and Jacob requested the hand of his younger daughter, Rachel (described as beautiful and well favored) over Leah his eldest daughter (described as tender eyed, sore to the eyes?)

Jacob promises 7 years of work for the hand of Rachel.

After the 7 years, he calls in his promise and in the midst of the wedding night, Laban switches Rachel with Leah, and Jacob sleeps with her that night. Was she veiled the whole time where Jacob could not tell? Was he drunken the way Lamech was when his two daughters were able to sleep with him? Laban exclaims that it’s not his culture to give away his youngest daughter before the eldest to explains his guile.

Jacob is offered 7 more years of work for the hand of Rachel.

Jacob prefers Rachel over Leah, aka “Jehovah saw that Leah was hated” so what does Jehovah do? He closes Rachel’s womb and opens Leah’s. Leah begins to give birth:

  1. Reuben – “Because Jehovah hath looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me”
  2. Simeon – “Because Jehovah hath heard that I am hated, he hath give me this son also”
  3. Levi – “Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have borne him three sons.
  4. Judah – “This time I will praise Jehovah”
Leah pregnant
Four births for Leah while Jacob loved Rachel. Once again Jehovah intervenes for these births. Can we say for certain Jacob was the father while he “hated” Leah?

Was she not praising Jehovah before? Seems like she was, but maybe she wasn’t giving proper thanks for the previous 3 children Jehovah had given her. Is it possible that Jacob was NOT sleeping with Leah (after all we know he loved Rachel more) so, with Jehovah’s intervention (as with Sarah and Rebekah), Leah gives birth? After all, after Levi was born, Leah exclaims “Now this time will my husband be joined unto me.”

Are these 4 children another example of a heavenly being mating with a daughter of man? The Bible does not indicate, again, that Jacob contributed his seed to these 4 births, only Rachel’s words that Jehovah “gave her” these children. No mention of Jacob’s reactions though if she had to give birth to a third before proclaiming “NOW Jacob would join her, it’s possible he had nothing to do with these conceptions.

It’s not uncommon for married couples not to procreate, especially when one prefers the company of another, so it’s not that far fetched to believe. After Judah, it is said she left off bearing. So now we have 1 group of 4, will the remainder of the 12 also be split into groups of 4?

Also of note, she didn’t give birth to any females? Another work of the hand of Jehovah to ensure all male births? Or, as with previous examples, it just wasn’t important to mention, i.e. daughters of Adam and Eve who were said to have been born, but given no names or order within the children.