The Pain of Childbirth

After leaving Bethel, Rachel goes into labor.  It is hard labor.  She dies while birthing a son.  Scripture says, “With her last breath—for she was dying—she named him Ben-oni, but his father called him Benjamin” (Gen. 35:18).  Ben-oni means, “Son of my sorrow,” while Benjamin means, “Son of my right hand.” This turn of names…

Settling at Bethel

After the incident with Shechem, the Lord tells Jacob to go to Bethel and settle there.  Jacob went to Bethel with all his family, servants, and livestock.  Then, “Jacob built an altar there and called the place God of Bethel because it was there that God had revealed Himself to him when he was fleeing…

Staying Buried

In Genesis 34, Leah’s daughter, Dinah, is raped by Hivite Prince Shechem.  Infatuated, Shechem bargains with Jacob and his sons to make Dinah Shechem’s wife.  Jacob’s sons tell Shechem he can’t have Dinah unless he and their men are circumcised.  The Hivites agree. They will benefit by mingling with the Hebrews: flocks and possessions will…

Struggling and Prevailing (Part 2)

Please read part one before continuing… Jacob named the place he wrestled with God, “Face of God,” adding that he saw God’s face and was delivered (Gen. 32:30).  In a sense, seeing God’s face and dislocating his hip were of a piece.  Said another way, Jacob’s hip was dislocated because he saw God’s face. We…

Struggling and Prevailing (Part 1)

In fear of meeting his brother, Esau, Jacob sent his family away.  That night, alone, he wrestled with a man until daybreak (Gen. 32:24-32).  The man touched Jacob’s thigh at the hip and put it out of joint.  He told Jacob to release him but Jacob refused, saying he wanted a blessing.  The man told…

Parting Ways

As Jacob increased in wealth, he came into conflict with Laban (Gen. 31:1-2). We’ve seen that Jacob’s increase was the increase of what is spiritual and that this leads to escalating conflict with what is fallen and fleshly. God doesn’t let this conflict go on indefinitely.  God told Jacob to leave Laban.  He brought separation…

Where Sword Edges Crash

Joseph’s name means “He adds” or “Add to” and was a prayer of Rachel’s: “May the LORD add another son to me” (Gen. 30:24). Jacob agreed to work seven years in exchange for Rachel.  Joseph’s birth coincided with the completion of that seven years. The timing of these things is significant. Jacob asked Laban to…

One Flock, One Bride, One Man

After Bethel, Jacob resumes his journey to find a bride. He travels to the east, a land associated with man’s fall, Cain, and Babel. Abraham left the east by faith. Spiritually, it is the land away from the Son (Gen. 25:1-6). When Jacob arrives in Haran, shepherds are gathering sheep near a well covered by…

House of God, Gate of Heaven

On his way to Haran, Jacob stops for the night. He puts a stone beneath his head and sleeps.  He dreams of a staircase that goes from earth to heaven with angels traveling up and down. Echoing His promise to Abraham, the Lord tells Jacob He will give him the land and bless all peoples…

Eavesdropping

“Esau realized that his father Isaac disapproved of the Canaanite women, so Esau went to Ishmael and married, in addition to his other wives, Mahalath daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son” (Gen. 28:8-9). Isaac sends Jacob to Laban in Paddan-Aram to find a wife. He sends Jacob off with a command: “Do not marry a Canaanite…