Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rachel's Tomb

    Today's Reading:
  • Genesis 35:1-36:43
  • Proverbs 3:21-26
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Genesis 35:1-36:43
Once again God appears to Jacob, this time to help Jacob flee the land his sons had just ravished.  I found something odd when reading this.  Jacob told his household to remove all idols and pagan gods and to purify themselves before the journey to Bethel.  It then says that all the household surrendered their idols and their earrings.  I am curious about the "earrings" part of this passage.  My bible (NLT) has no footnotes or anything related for me to know more about that.  Were these earrings shaped or imprinted with idols?  What was wrong with the earrings?

After the household surrendered their idols and moved on ,Jacob arrived at Bethel, where God renamed him Israel.  I'm confused more now, because didn't God already rename Jacob as Israel in Genesis 32?  What is the difference between God appearing in man form and renaming Jacob Israel, and God appearing to Jacob and renaming him Israel?

In the middle of chapter 35, Rachael dies giving birth to her son Benjamin.  It says that she was buried in a tomb that "can be seen there to this day" (35:20)  This naturally made me look it up and discover that Rachael's tomb is indeed believed to exist today.  I think it's interesting to see how the tomb has been enclosed over the years -- many times in its history, it has had various domes and buildings and walls put around it.  Today, it is surrounded by a wall, and barbed wire, and guards.  To visit Rachael's tomb these days you are required to travel by bullet proof bus since it is so near the Palestinian territories.

Chapter 36 goes into the lineage of Esau.  If I were following clans and tribes, or if I could keep any of this straight, then I'd probably be very interested in these lineages.  The truth is that these lineages are very hard for me to follow and I have no chance of recollecting any of it in the future.  But it is a nice resource to have; I just couldn't follow it very well this time around.

Proverbs 3:21-26
The first half of these verses focus on having common sense and discernment.  We are reminded to hang onto those and not to lose them.  To me, those things seem hard to gain and I don't really think of anybody losing them after they are gained.  It's an interesting thought to think of someone "losing" their common sense and/or discernment.  I'll have to think on that one a bit.

The other half of these verses talk about trusting in the Lord.  On the surface it says that you don't need to be afraid of being destroyed because the Lord is your security and "he will keep your foot from being caught in a trap"(3:26).  The meaning I obtain from that is if the Lord is your security and you are one of His own, then you would naturally avoid the trap of the wicked and getting caught.  Trust in the Lord, stay by His side, and you will not succumb to these traps.

I especially love the days where I get to discover a part of the bible that is tangibly evident today, as is the case with Rachael's Tomb.  I would love to do a further study where I can map passages, voyages, migrations, events, etc.  I know so much of it these things are debated but I would still love to get in on that debate, mainly so that I could really learn it myself instead of relying on others. 

In the end, however, I have a very hard time keeping all these locations straight in my head and they kind of blend together so it would be quite a challenge to me.  I think after I finish the initial read through of the bible that I might do some heavy research into finding a really good study bible for my next read through the bible.  I can't believe that I've barely started my study of the bible, yet I can't wait to read the whole thing again.  I just know that this is a book that can be read over and over and over again, and you will gain new perspective each time you read it.  I look forward to the challenge.

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