Well, God didn’t really punish or not punish Jacob’s boys for murdering a whole village of people, but he did make the whole family move. So, Jacob set off to Bethel, but first he made everyone turn in their idols and earrings. What the what? I think the earrings have some sort of bondage significance, and while I don’t know why Jacob’s family members would have them, I can’t imagine more why they would have pagan idols. But anyway, they did, and they apparently turned them in, and they were buried under a tree in the town they just demolished.
Then, all of a sudden, Rachel is having a baby. Again, what the what? I didn’t even know Rachel was pregnant, but she was, and she gave birth to Benjamin, the youngest of Jacob’s children, who made the 12th in his line of descendants. Ahem. That’s significant.
Also significant is the town of Bethel. Remember Jacob was there when he was a youngster on his way to meet Rachel – and on the run from Esau, who he’d just cheated out of Abraham’s blessing. He had a crazy dream and called Bethel the gateway to heaven. Jacob goes there again on God’s prompting to build an alter, and while there, God tells Jacob (again – not sure why it didn’t stick the first time) that his name will now be Israel. And God says, “And my name is El-Shaddai.” In Chapter 32, after the wrestling match, Jacob asks God to tell him his name. But God kind of beats around the bush and says, “Your name will be Israel because you have wrestled with God and won.” Here, after Jacob followed God’s direction, God offers his name willingly, like a formal introduction. I liked that. It seemed like the beginning of a longtime friendship kicked off by a good ol’ stubborn boys brawl followed by a handshake and an understanding.
But then Rachel dies! Aaaaaagh! That was extremely sad, and although I’ve read it before, completely unexpected. I never realized Rachel was relatively young when she died – and Jacob was left with a baby to raise! Ok, I know he had ladies for that, but still. Rachel died in Bethlehem, which I thought was a lovely place to die. And bam, Reuben has sex with his dad’s girlfriend/wife/concubine (I’m not sure how to address these ladies) almost in the same breath. I don’t know why they squeezed that sentence in there, but I’m betting we find out soon, and it was probably the most memorable event that happened in Migdal-eder (since that’s the first and probably last time we’ve heard of it). And then Isaac dies! But really, who knew Isaac was still alive? I had gotten so caught up in Jacob and Esau’s affairs that I totally forgot about dear old Isaac. I love how Esau and Jacob, written in that order, buried their father together, as brothers should.
Writing prompt: funeral
Chapter 35 contains a lot of death! It also contains reminders of what blessings come from living life as a follower of God. Some of those blessings were realized, I’m sure, at the funerals of both Rachel and Isaac. It’s funny how funerals can bring long lost relatives together after many years of separation. Reunions are nine times out of 10 joyous occasions, but we all have “those relatives,” don’t we? Let’s not let those relatives bring us down today! Write about a joyous family gathering (or any gathering) you’ve experienced. Bonus points for writing about a blessing that was realized during a gathering due to a funeral.