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Bible 101 Lesson 5A

Jim Parker

Apr 17, 2015
Bible 101 Lesson 5A

Esau tries to suck up to mom and dad

Gen 28:6-9
Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan Aram. Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.

Esau tried to placate Isaac and Rebecca by taking a wife from within the family, but he took one who just happens to be handy from the family of Ishmael. Ishmael is outside of the family line of Christ so his daughter is also outside that line and outside “the blessing” that follows the line of the son of promise. (Isaac, not Ishmael)

Rebecca and Jacob’s wives came from the line that God had chosen; from Seth to Noah to Shem to Terah.

The promises given to Abraham and Isaac are passed on to Jacob.

God appeared to Jacob and tells him the blessings of (1) land and of a multitude of (2) descendants are given to him. He is also informed that (3) from his seed (descendants) all the nations of the earth will be blessed. That descendant is, of course, Jesus of Nazareth; the Christ.

Gen 28:10-15
Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; (1) the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also (2) your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and (3)
in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

Jacob makes a vow to God

Gen 28:20-22
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

But look at what Jacob said; he put conditions on serving God.
If God will be with me, and
If God will keep me in this way that I am going, and
If God will give me bread to eat and clothing to put on,
so that I come back to my father’s house in peace,
then the LORD shall be my God

Jacob had not yet learned to trust God. He was used to getting his way by being clever and by deceit. He was used to trusting in his own abilities and devices. Trusting God was something new to him so he decided to “watch and see” if God would come through with His promises. If God kept His promises then Jacob will be sure that he really did hear from the LORD.

But he did get the idea of the tithe right. He vowed to give back to God a tenth of what God gave to him. He understood that everything he has and will ever have comes from God, not his own skills and cleverness.

This idea of giving back to God from what God has given to us is carried forward up to today in the words of the priest, in an Orthodox liturgy, concerning the bread and wine of the Eucharist; “Thine own of Thine own, we offer to Thee, oh Lord.” We have nothing to offer except what God has given us.

Jacob the deceiver gets deceived.

Read Gen 29:1-30

As Jacob had deceived his father by pretending to be his brother, Esau, so Laban, his father’s brother, deceives Jacob by one daughter, Leah, pretending to be the other daughter, Rachael. So, instead of getting 7 years of labor out of him, Laban gets 14 years. As Jacob deceived his father for a blessing, in the exact same manner, (one person pretending to be another) Laban deceives Jacob for the blessing of a wife.

Gen 29:31-30: Recurring themes: (like Abraham, Sarah and Hagar)
Barrenness; God opens one womb and shuts another
The barren wife giving her maid to her husband to have children in her place

Jacob loved Rachael but not so much Leah.
But Rachael cannot conceive and bear sons while God blesses Leah with 4 sons.
Rachael gave Jacob her maid to bear children for her and she has 2 sons. (Like Sarah and Abraham)
Leah, when she saw that she ceased conceiving gave Jacob her maid to have more sons for herself.
God opened Rachael’s womb and she bore a son.
So Jacob had 12 sons and a daughter by the time his 14 years of service to Laban had passed.

The contention between the loved wife who is barren and the unloved wife who bears sons will be repeated in the story of the birth of Samuel.

Read: Gen 30:35-43

Jacob fooled Laban and got the best of the livestock as his wages before he headed back home with his wives and children, to his father’s house in Canaan. He went back home very prosperous because of his clever trick.

Gen 30:43 Thus the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks, female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Some folklore of the time and place:
1 - Mandrake is believed to enable conception. (30:14-15)
Also see: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02862323
2 - The sheep and goats seeing spotted and striped sticks in the water trough was believed to cause them to bear spotted and striped offspring. (30:37-39)

Jacob sees that it is time to go back home.

Gen 31:1-3
Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has acquired all this wealth. And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favorable toward him as before.

Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.”

The sons of Laban were envious of Jacob’s prosperity and concluded that Jacob must have stolen from their father.

Laban wasn’t happy with the way things are working out either. No matter how he tried to make the employment of Jacob favor himself, Jacob always came out ahead. Laban is not happy.


Summer Rose (Methodist and New J.C Hammer lol)
Dec 29, 2017
Alright, I understand the part about learning to trust the Lord is very important, :yes but I sort of fail to see why the other dramatic stuff about who Jacob loved was important. At least for us to know. Other than the fact that we shouldn't have two spouses. (unless one dies) Although I'm really sort of confused what was really going on with that. :confused

Jim Parker

Apr 17, 2015
Alright, I understand the part about learning to trust the Lord is very important, :yes but I sort of fail to see why the other dramatic stuff about who Jacob loved was important. At least for us to know. Other than the fact that we shouldn't have two spouses. (unless one dies) Although I'm really sort of confused what was really going on with that. :confused
There was no problem with having more than one wife 4000 years ago in the near east. (Muslims can still have 4 wives.) David had 5 wives and his son, Solomon, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. (He had a it of a problem there!)

It IS drama. It's the Jew's "story of us." Read it like it was a movie.

Jacob tricked his father by pretending to be his brother.
Leah tricked Jacob by pretending to be her sister.

What goes 'round comes 'round.
Or: Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

The more loved wife being barren but whose womb is opened to bear children after prayer to the Lord is a literary theme in the ancient eastern literature.

This theme is seen in the story of Samuel.
1Sa 1:1-2 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu,[fn] the son of Tohu,[fn] the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
1Sa 1:5 But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb.
1Sa 1:10-11 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”
1Sa 1:20 So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the LORD.”

Sarah was barren.
Samson's mother was barren.
Rachel was barren.
Elizabeth (John the Baptist's mother) was barren.
Anna, the mother of the Virgin Mary, was barren in the extra-Biblical story. ("Protoevangelium of James")
In every case, they asked the Lord for a child and He gave them children.


Feb 15, 2018
I like April's question. I think that sort of stuff is designed to make us ask "what's that there for?"" Out of all the details of every story that are omitted, those that are included are salient.
By saying these details further the character development of Jacob/Israel, I don't know if that helps clarify anything for anybody, but I do think it's roughly synonymous with what Jim said. Or to put it differently, it helps us understand who Jacob/Israel is better. I would classify that as maybe not as big a screwup as Peter, but still so far from perfect as to give me a fair shot, and therefore encouraging.


Sep 17, 2012
1 Corinthians 10:5-11 King James Version (KJV)
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

we learn from there mistakes

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