Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Sons of Jacob Slaughter a Village

    Today's Reading:
  • Genesis 32:13-34:31
  • Proverbs 3:19-20
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Genesis 32:13-34:31
The previous reading left off with me not knowing how Esau would greet his brother, Jacob.  Jacob must have truly been terrified of his brother's wrath.  The gifts he sent off were incredible -- I counted 550 animals, and that didn't include the 30 female camel's children, which weren't listed. (32:14-15). 

I find it interesting that Jacob sent these gifts in waves, with strict instructions that each wave tell Esau that his brother was in the wave behind it.  I know Jacob wanted to please his brother and make him more and more receptive to receiving him, but it also seems to me like Jacob was basically sending each wave of animals and servants to be slaughtered in his place.

The last night before Jacob met Esau, it says he wrestled all night with a strange man (33:24).  From what I understand, Jacob pretty much kept this man in a stronghold the entire night long.  Even after this man simply touched Jacob, wrenching his hip out of socket, Jacob refused to let go until he had been blessed.  At that point the man blesses Jacob with the name "Israel" because he fought God and won.  What would it be like to literally wrestle with God? We don't even get to see God any more, yet Jacob gets to literally wrestle with him.  It's amazing!

The last part of this reading is a disturbing story.  Jacob's daughter Dinah was raped, but afterwords the man fell in love with her and repented and asked to marry her.  The man's father asked Jacob to let all their children marry.  It doesn't say here how Jacob responded to that.  Instead it says that Jacob's sons spoke privately to the man who raped their sister, and they spoke with deception. 

These sons of Jacob told the man who raped their sister they would form a covenant of marriages if every single man in their village was circumcised.  It's hard for me to think of babies being circumcised, but grown men?  That is a huge commitment to make, yet this village wholeheartedly agreed to do it. 

Two days later, Jacob's sons went into that village and slaughtered every single male.  Then the other sons of Jacob went into the village and looted and plundered and took everything, including the wives and children.  Not only did these men deceive the camp into circumcising all (which is bad enough in my opinion) they killed all the men and took everything!  That's just horrible.  The reading ends when Jacob discovers what has happened.  He is quite dismayed and knows now that they will be a ruined, crushed people.

Proverbs 3:19-20
Two sweet, simple verses convey a lot of meaning here.  They say that it was wisdom and knowledge that the Lord used to found the Earth.  So here we learn that wisdom isn't just important for us, but it was vastly important for the Lord; for without it we would not be here.

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