Jacob (Genesis 30 - 32)
This chapter is often used to demonstrate that polygamy doesn’t work.
There is intense rivalry between the two sisters over Jacob. We are told in Gen 29:31 that Jacob hates Lea but loves Rachel.
And God seeing this opens Lea’s womb and makes Rachel barren. When Rachel demands of Jacob that he give her children he rebukes her pointing out that he is not God. At this point she offers him Bilhah her slave girl to bear children on her behalf. History repeats itself in the same way that his grandfather Abraham begot Ishmael through Sarah’s slave girl Hagar. His father Isaac on the other hand prayed and entreated God on behalf of Rebekah. Mind you he was forty when he married Rebekah and sixty when she bore the twins Esau and Jacob. And Abraham was eighty six when he had Ishmael and it was fourteen years later, when he was one hundred, that Isaac was born. While Gods promises do come to pass it’s on God’s timing not man’s.
Both Lea and Rachel believe that he will love them if they give him sons. To the point that they are willing to use their slave girls as surrogates, to bear children on their behalf.
The women obviously have a large say in whom Jacob sleeps with, especially the favourite wife Rachel who Lea accuses of stealing her husband.
We have the account of the mandrake roots being given in exchange for the opportunity to lay with Jacob. Mandrake is a herb the root of which was supposed to enhance fertility and conception and also has some aphrodisiac properties. It obviously didn’t work for Rachel as Lea has three more children before God remembers Rachel and she becomes pregnant. Had Jacob interceded on her behalf and prayed for her it may have been sooner.
God later addresses this sibling rivalry in his list of forbidden relationships amongst the commandments given to Moses. In Lev 18:18 it says “Nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive”.
You can’t help but notice that there is a lot of deceit in this family . Rebecca the sister of Laban commanded Jacob to deceive Isaac in order to get the blessing that should have gone to Esau.
Laban deceives Jacob by giving him Lea instead of Rachel. Lea deceived Jacob by pretending to be Rachel on his wedding night. Thus Jacob is tricked into working another seven years for the wife he wanted in the first place.
Then when Jacob and Laban agree that if he continues to work for him he can have all the speckled, spotted, and black sheep, and goats, from the lambs that his flocks produce. Laban immediately takes step to have his son’s remove all the spotted striped and black sheep and goats three days journey away. In this way he hopes to prevent any future offspring being striped, spotted, or black by removing their gene pool.
God however blesses Jacob and whenever the sheep mate they produce spotted or black or striped sheep and goats. So even though Laban changes the deal ten times God is able to anticipate and produce whatever color sheep or goat that Laban specifies. Meanwhile Jacob is playing his own game allowing the weakest rams mate with Laban’s sheep and goats while he keeps the strongest and most vigorous for his own flocks. Thus his flocks grow bigger while Laban’s diminish. And the deception does not stop there. When Laban realises what has happened to his flocks and herds he no longer looks favourable on Jacob. Thus Jacob decides to flee with his wives and children, his slaves and all his livestock while back to his own country while Laban is away. And to make matters worse Rachel steals the family gods. This I believe is the real reason that she dies in childbirth soon after they leave. God later gave a commandment about this in Deut 13:6
“If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.”
Laban when he hears that Jacob has fled pursues him no doubt intent on taking back what he believes is his. However Yahweh intervenes and in a dream warns Laban not to speak with Jacob from good to evil. Laban has a legitimate grievance in that his family gods have been stolen. Rachel who unknown to Jacob has stolen them then deceives her father by sitting on the camel saddle in which she has hidden them claiming she cannot rise because of her monthly period. Jacob then rebukes Laban for the way he has been treated and they cut a covenant not to pass Mt Gilead to do harm to the other and call upon Yahweh as their witness.
There are several interesting things in these chapters. When Yahweh first speaks to Jacob in a dream at Bethal Gen 28:13 he identifies himself as Yahweh the God of Abraham and Isaac. But later it is an angel or messenger of God who speaks to Jacob Gen 31:11 and declares that he is the God of Bethal to whom Jacob made his vow. I think the best way to understand this is that when it is the Angel or messenger of God speaking it is Yeshua speaking on his own behalf. But when Yahweh or God or the LORD speaks directly, it is Yeshua who as the Word of God is speaking. For he tells us quite plainly in Jn 1:18 “That no one has seen God at any time, The only begotten son who is in the bosom of the Father he declares him.”
To me the most interesting thing about this whole saga is the blessing that Isaac had given him when he sent him away to Laban to find a wife, is the same as the blessing that Yahweh later gives him.
And this is the blessing as found in Gen 28:3-4
“May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham.”
And God came in a dream to Jacob Gen 28:12
“Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
This is the same covenant and promise that God gave to Isaac.
Gen 26:2”Then the Lord appeared to Isaac and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”
When Jacob awoke he made a deal with God.
Gen 28:20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
At that point Jacob had nothing. He possible had a camel to carry his food and water. But no servants and no gifts to give to Laban for his daughters. So he gave the only thing he had his time and labour.
The Bible does not record how Jacob paid his tithe to Yahweh in accordance with his vow but I imagine he would sacrifice them to Yahweh as his grandfather Abraham had done. Certainly Jacob and Laban, sealed their covenant with a sacrifice.
I think the big takeaway from this story is that even though the main characters are flawed and deceitful, God is faithful and fulfils his promise to Jacob. To keep him and bless him, and bring him back to the land he was giving to his descendants and he also honoured the vow that Jacob had made and gave him great wealth.
These promises that God gave to Abraham Isaac and Jacob and also to their descendants who would spread to the whole world, to the east the west and the north and south. These promises also apply to us also, each of us has been called out from mainstream Christianity to learn Torah and to follow God. We learn from Torah Gods covenants and how we may become part of his covenanted people.
.Paul tells us in Gal 3:26-29” For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
James tells us that Faith without actions is a dead faith James 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
This raises the question what are “works”. Well “works” are the actions we take the things we do.
Yeshua gave us two great commandments to love God with all our heart soul and mind and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. These are some of Yeshuas statements
Jn 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
Jn 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
Jn 15:9-10 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
And remember Yeshua as the word of God gave all the commandments to Moses.
Over and over again this same message is given IF you will obey all my commandments statutes and laws. In fact if you search for commandments it appears 172 times in the NKJV.
Some examples Josh 22:5 But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Nehemiah 1:5-9 And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’
Dan 9:4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,
Now some from the New Testament
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 19:17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
Luke 1:6 Which is talking about Elizabeth and Zachariah And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
1 cor 7:19 Being of the Circumcision, a Jew is nothing and of the uncircumcision a Gentile is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
So in conclusion we are just as flawed as Jacob however if we keep his commandments and believe in Yeshua we to will inherit all the promises of God to Abraham.
And I will leave you with one final scripture Rev 22:12-14 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”
The dogs are homosexuals, those who love and practice a lie are those who teach that the Torah is done away with and therefore do not keep the commandments.
And I say it again! This promise was made to us not to Abraham although he is certainly eligible.
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.