It has been about 20 years since Jacob has seen his brother Esau, the last time they were together we read in Genesis 27:14
“Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Esau has an army of 400 men with him. Jacob, scared to death, sends ahead a fortune in gifts to pacify Esau. Take note that Jacob says he is coming behind. If the camp is attached, Jacob has no intention of going! In 32:21 it states
So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.
Jacob wrestles with God
That night Jacob wrestles with God who has taken on flesh. Until this point Jacob has referred to God as “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac…But does not refer to him as HIS God. Part of our walk with the Lord is confession. We must confess we are a sinner, we require a blessing: a promise of a covenant (Jesus on the Cross) to seal that God is MY GOD, not just your God. In Genesis 32:26-27 Jacob confesses who he is in God’s eyes
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
I am Jacob! “I am a deceiver, a heel grabber, a sinner”. Jacob becomes a new creation with a destiny! Just like Abraham and Sarah, he is given a new name: Israel “Struggles with God”.
25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.
Not only will his walk never be the same (pun intended), but God will make it so that Jacob cannot flee or run from Him anymore (like he always has). But like all of us at the beginning of our walk, we are still infants in Christ and our “trust” has not developed yet. (I am still working on it 😞). We will see this “lack of trust” as Jacob (Israel) goes to meet Esau…
He still has a fear of Esau, and lines up his family in the least loved to most loved just in case they are attacked (chapter 33):
Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
But wait….did you see it!! God has changed him: “He himself went ahead and bowed down to the ground…” He received new courage. He went from fear “staying behind” to courage “went on ahead”. Insert smiley face with heart eyes! Time has healed all wounds for Esau.
I think it is fair to say that very few people have read the parts of the Bible “in-between” the stories that pastors talk about at church. So when I say:
- “you know the part where Noah gets drunk and naked…” or
- “Lot’s daughters have sex with their dad to get pregnant” or
- “Rachel says she has her period so her dad doesn’t find the hidden idols she is sitting on”
people think I am kidding! Who needs Netflix when you have the Bible! Chapter 33 is one of those stories people think I am kidding when I say:
- “One of Jacob’s daughters gets raped and 2 brothers concoct a plan to have them circumcised and on the third day when the pain in their…is at it’s worst they can pounce on them and kill them!!”.
You can’t make this stuff up!!
Jacob’s sons (but not Jacob himself) are furious when their sister Dinah is violated by a prince in Shechem. This horrible man now wants her to be his. Jacob does nothing!.
Look at who Dinah’s biological brothers are: Simeon and Levi (take notes on your Genealogy). They are ringleaders on a vengeful attack. They lie and say: “Sure you can have her and we can ignore all the rules about intermarrying if you circumcise ALL your men. The men say “Let’s snip! It’s a “win-win” situation! Our ruler gets the girl and we will share in their livestock and wealth” (The Shechamites thought they would gain wealth, and the Hebrews through they would gain wealth. Lots of deception. Hmmm, I wonder of the boys learned this from Jacob?).
Well, the story turns out in a “lose-lose” situation. Just when the pain was at its highest from the circumcision, Simeon and Levi lead an attack on them. They kill ALL the men! THEN plunder the land! What was Jacob’s reaction? read the end of Chapter 34. SMH!!
Taking notes will help when we get to Chapter 49 and land is distributed to the 12 tribes or why the Covenant gets passed to Judah.
(Handwrite it or edit your PDF….it’s all the same.)😁
8 thoughts on “Genesis 32-34”
Am I reading this correctly? Jacob is concerned about his property (and safety which is important) and there is no mention the moral/ethic violation of what the boys did? Am I missing that part somewhere?
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You are so correct! Look for word patterns in this chapter. You will see “I” “we” us” me”…what is the one word not mentioned AT ALL= God.
Example: Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.”
Abraham was worried about HIS reputation and being embarrassed. What is cool to watch is all of this is playing out and many of these mistakes will build the law. Did the time fit the crime? Simeon and Levi killed ALL the men. Stole ALL their belongings. It’s not that what happened to Dinah should have been ignored, but Abraham should have gone to Hamon at the beginning. Hamon came to him! sad. One of the laws God will institute is called the “Lex Talionis” (the law of retribution) “An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth” which is often misunderstood. It was put in place to LIMIT vengeance.
The flip side is we see God take very imperfect people and still use them in a might way making them kings and priests. 😁 (So from the famous words of Dumb and Dumber… you’re saying I have a chance!)
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I love these stories. We get such a glimpse of God’s grace. We see the sin of Reuben and Simeon and we’ll later add to Reubens issues, were gonna see Judah at one of his worst moments when he goes to the red light district. Good grief the whole band of brothers are gonna join in selling Joseph, and yet they make up the 12 tribes of Israel.
There is an open end discussion of Dinah. Can you imagine being the little sister of this clan? Was she a tomboy or the dainty feminine type? In 34:1 Dinah went out to see the daughters of the land. She was gonna find her a girlfriend. Did she run away? Was she by herself? Was she captivated by Shechem. I just wonder what was goin on with her. Regardless of her feelings, those brothers were gonna rescue their little sister. My imagination works overtime in this story.
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So many thoughts! So many questions are unanswered. Your comment gave me a lot to think about. She was the daughter of Leah (not Rachel, his Love). Was she ignored? Feeling unloved? Why did she feel the need to go into the “Land” of the pagans to find friends? What a great lesson for ‘Christian’ teens who exclude people at school. How often I hear a great sermon at a Wed. night youth service and watch them ignore it by Thursday. Wait…I do that on Monday mornings! (people in glass houses….). I will say, the one thing I have changed in my life is my ‘friends’. I don’t have many, but the ones I do have don’t let me hang in the ‘land’. I teach social skills to teens, and one of my analogies is “crabs in a pot”. Did you know that if you put a single crab in a pot of boiling water he can reach up and get out? Try it. But when he is in the pot with other crabs he can’t escape, they are all trying to get out at once and they pull each other back and they all become our dinner. I am selective about the crabs in my life ❤️. Man, did I get off track on that one! Where did your mind wander on this one? I would love to know!
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I love the crab analogy! That’s a good one to teach💗I have so many questions today…
What do you think the purpose in Jacob wrestling with God all night was? Was it just to remind him of his struggles & how he prevails or to just change his name? I’ve read it several times and it just seemed so out of the blue to me. Maybe I’m missing something?
Poor Dinah- I wonder if she was just a beautiful, social butterfly? Maybe she wanted to make some female friends. Obviously she had to be attractive for Shecham to be so infatuated with her. Or maybe she was just tired of being around dudes all day, everyday. Why didn’t Jacob get as angry about her rape as his sons? Was it still doubt and fear of losing everything & everyone he loved?
So many questions today…I’m going to dig a little deeper and listen to some podcasts. Let me know your thoughts!
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Let me know what you dig up. For me, since he was in his mom’s womb he was a deceiver. I think he purposely made stew when he knew Esau was hungry (why wouldn’t he have just given him a bowl…Esau was probably the one who gathered the ingredients), then he deceived his father for the blessing. He ran away from his troubles and he was still running. He ran from Laban and took his daughters without so much as a goodbye. Now he was bribing Esau with gifts and making a shield of protection of women and children. Mercy! Not once did I see “fruit” on this man. So I think when he was alone God met with him face to face so that Jacob will know that “I am your God too”. After this, what did Esau do? Jacob deserved to be attacked by the 400 men, and instead, he was given love and grace! (a picture of God’s love) Esau wiped the slate clean and embraced him refusing all his gifts, and just forgave him. ❤️
That’s a really explanation. I think Jacob was a determined, manipulative man. I also think he was very likely scared & anxious because of how he returned to meet Esau. I would be, too! He obviously knew about the faith of his father & grandfather but when it came to his own relationship, I think he was counting on their relationship instead of a personal one. He hadn’t fully solidified God as HIS God until they wrestled. When he was alone, had time to think, was filled with questions, doubt, anxiety, etc. This was his moment, his call & we see his personal relationship with God after this encounter🙌🏻🥰
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Ciji, I have to say the best thing someone (Rachel) ever did with me was let me wrestle with God. I was starting to go to church and I would come home mad at the message sometimes. You have to believe me that the Word of God can be very offensive to unbelievers. So Rachel would grab her Bible and say “Well let’s look at what the scripture says”. And you know what she did next….NOTHING. She got out of the way and let me wrestle with God about it. We don’t have to have all the answers when we talk to people. Honestly, I think on spiritual matters…less is more. ❤️.