Journey through the Book of Genesis with me. The plan is simple. Read ONE chapter a day. Blog or journal 5* things you learned that you previously didn't know and ask 5* questions about the chapter that you'll ponder all week. Let's go!
** You'll probably learn way more than 5 things and have more than 5 questions about each chapter. That's totally fine. The more the merrier!
QUESTION 1: Did Reuben resent his brothers, especially Judah and Joseph for receiving the first son birthright blessings he should have received?
QUESTION 2: What was it about Zebulun's character or lifestyle that led Jacob to prophecy about him becoming a maritime trader?
QUESTION 3: Was Issachar a sloth? ("...he saw a resting place...and he bowed his shoulder to bear...")? If he was so strong "strong donkey", then how is it that he became a servant at slave labor?
WHAT I LEARNED:
INSIGHT 1: (Verse 3-4) Reuben was Leah and Jacob's firstborn. Reuben lost his privileged position as first born and the accompanying rights due to his actions earlier in life when he slept with one of his father’s concubine (Genesis 35:22-23). At the time, Jacob said and did nothing about it, but here, he recalls the details and Reuben suffers the consequences. This is a jarring reminder that ALL will give an account for every careless word ever spoken and for every action ever taken, for nothing done in secret will escape God's eyes.
INSIGHT 2: (Verse 5-7) Simeon and Levi, whenever together, proved to be highly volatile and destructive. In Genesis 34, when their sister, Dinah is raped, all the brothers plot to deceive the Hivites, but it was Simeon and Levi who actually committed the murders of all the men in the city. Jacob foresees that an ongoing alliance between them will prove violently disastrous for their brothers, hence his curse on them being scattered among their brothers.
INSIGHT 3: (Verse 8-12) Judah got the whole package! He'd already demonstrated great maturity and responsibility through the ordeal with the family's reunion with Joseph, and so, here, Jacob is "projecting" some of those great qualities unto Judah's future descendants. It is through Judah that the Davidic kingdom would come and through him that the "second David", Jesus would enter the world. The phrase, "...and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." (v.10b) is a subtle hint at how the Gentiles would be included into God's kingdom. Not only will Judah's brothers "praise" him and "bow before" him, but the nations would be blessed through him.
INSIGHT 4: (Verse 13) Zebulun is Leah's sixth born (Genesis 30:19-20) and his mom made this statement following his birth, "“God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she called his name Zebulun." The name Zebulun can mean "honor" or "dwelling". Jacob blesses him (and his descendants) with prosperity as maritime traders; he and his descendants will become successful fishermen/traders?? There's not a lot of information about what became of him. One can perhaps surmise that Jacob was pronouncing a future blessing on an aspect of Zebulun's life he had already survived.
INSIGHT 5: (Verse 14-15) On the night when Issachar was (likely) conceived, this happened (Genesis 30;16-18), "When Jacob came out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” And he lay with her that night. And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. Leah said, “God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar." A few things we can discern about Issachar from this passage. One, he was strong, certainly in his physicality, but possibly also in his resolve. Other passages in scriptures seems to imply this about his descendants. In Judges 10:1-2, we meet an Issaacharite who led Israel for 23 year and was considered a brave leader. In Judges 5:15, they are commended for standing with Deborah and Barak in battle. In 1 Chronicles 7:1-5, they're praised as "mighty men of valor" who were ready for war. In 1 Chronicles 12:32, they are referred to as, "...men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do," So, while Jacob's prophecy may seem to suggest that they were passive lazy men who allowed themselves be taken into slavery, perhaps it's best to see Jacob's words as describing a man (and descendants) who were so strong in their insight that they were humble enough and willing to bear the burdens of their brothers.
INSIGHT 6: (Verse 16-18) Dan was born to Bilhal, one of Rachel's maid whom she gave to Jacob to bear a son for her. Though Dan is blessed by Jacob to become a judge, (which was fulfilled through the most famous Danite, the powerful Samson), he is also associated with a serpent and a viper, which is not a good sign. The imagery of the serpent calls to mind the event in Genesis 3 where the sepernt decieves Eve.
INSIGHT 7: (Verse 19) Gad had it hard! The NKJV says it this way, "“Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him, But he shall triumph at last." While this may sound disheartening, it's actually an indication that Gad would graduate from the school of hard knocks with flying colors. His hardships would shape him and his descendants into fierce warriors. This is attested to in the time of David in 1 Chronicles 12:8 where it says of the Gadites, "Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the wilderness. They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains."
INSIGHT 8: (Verse 20), "Asher's food shall be rich, and he shall yield royal delicacies." Asher was Gad's brother from Zilpah. Unlike his warrior brother, however, Asher was all about producing the finest delicacies. He would also be blessed with the privilege of serving as the chefs in charge of the king's kitchen. Not a bad gig!
INSIGHT 9: (Verse 21), "Naphtali is a deer let loose; He uses beautiful words." The combination of his swiftness of foot (like a deer let loose) and his use of beautiful words may mean Naphtali will be a poet, writer, or musician who will be a blessing to others in the future?
INSIGHT 10: Let's just say Jacob highly favored Joseph in his pronouncement of his blessings (verse 22-26). Nuff said!
INSIGHT 11: Descriptions of Benjamin's character suggest his descendants will become tough fighters who would prosper in battle, and would be generally fierce in nature. A few prominent Benjamites give testament to this: Ehud, the left handed fearless warrior who took down a fat king (Judges 3:12-30); Saul, the first king of Israel and warrior king who took down armies (1 Samuel 11:1-11); and Saul-turned-Paul, the fierce persecutor of the early Church who would become a central figure in the worldwide expansion of the Church.
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.