Thursday, September 26, 2019

Genesis 40 - Two Dreams from God

This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at

1 Then it came about after these things, the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was furious with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. 3 So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned. 4 The captain of the bodyguard put Joseph in charge of them, and he took care of them; and they were in confinement for some time.

Whatever their offense, these two high-ranking officials were imprisoned. The cup-bearer and baker were highly trusted by Pharaoh, so the offense must have been quite scandalous. They were both left in prison for months or years. Joseph was put in charge of them, and must have gotten to know them very well.

5 Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected. 7 He asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?” 8 Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”

All of this did not happen right away. The cupbearer and baker had been imprisoned for quite some time, and Joseph had been there even longer than them. The LORD works according to His perfect timing, and not according to ours. If we had been in charge of the timing, we would have had all of this happen in the course of a week. But God’s plan is perfect, for He was preparing Joseph for what was to come. Joseph knew nothing of this. He simply acted faithfully before the LORD and trusted Him to bring about the outcome. To that end, he was ministering to the cupbearer and baker, seeking to encourage them, when they revealed that they had had dreams that night. Joseph offered to interpret it, since interpretations belong to God. Since everyone knew that God had greatly blessed Joseph, they were not hesitant to share their dreams with him.

9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream, behold, there was a vine in front of me; 10 and on the vine were three branches. And as it was budding, its blossoms came out, and its clusters produced ripe grapes. 11 Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days; 13 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you will put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand according to your former custom when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. 15 For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”

The men were right, because this interpretation could only have been revealed to Joseph by God. He interpreted the dreams favorably, according to the revelation that God gave him. Seeing an opportunity for himself, he asked the cupbearer to tell Pharaoh about him in order to get him out of prison. He explained his unjust imprisonment, and expressed his desire to be freed.

16 When the chief baker saw that he had interpreted favorably, he said to Joseph, “I also saw in my dream, and behold, there were three baskets of white bread on my head; 17 and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” 18 Then Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 19 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off you.”

Joseph could only answer according to the revelation of God. When it was revealed to him that the chief baker was going to be executed, he could not sugarcoat his interpretation. He told it to him straight. While the head of the cupbearer would be lifted up, the head of the baker would be lifted off.

20 Thus it came about on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand; 22 but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Our trust is in God alone, because men fail us. Yet the cupbearer would be used sometime later to tell Pharaoh about Joseph at just the right time, so that God’s purposes would be brought about. This chapter is only one small step in God’s plan for Joseph.

Genesis 39 - Joseph in Egypt

1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there.

Contrary to his brothers’ assumptions, Joseph was not sold into hard and menial slavery where he would be worked to death. Instead, he was sold to a high ranking Egyptian officer, where he would be well treated.

2 The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian.

Just as the LORD had been with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so He was now with Joseph to prosper him and to make everything he put his hand to successful. When Jacob had lived with Laban, Laban’s household had flourished. So it was with the household of Potiphar with Joseph living in it.

3 Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.

Just as Pharaoh and Abimelech had recognized God’s blessing on Abraham, so now Potiphar recognized this blessing on Joseph. So he put him in charge of everything. As a result, the house became more blessed.

5 It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD’s blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. 6 So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate.

Joseph’s master held nothing back from him. Everything was under Joseph’s charge, and Potiphar had no hand in the household dealings since he so trusted Joseph. Everything seemed wonderful, until temptation reared its head.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” 10 As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her.

Joseph was stalwart! He would not give in to the lusty seduction. He feared God, knowing that adultery was a great evil and sin against God. Also, he would not betray his master, who had such trust in him. So he refused her many advances for days.

11 Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. 12 She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.

The only answer to such temptation is to flee it. Joseph had probably went to great strides to always have the other servants close by while in the house. But Potiphar’s wife may have arranged for the servants to all be outside at a certain time. So when he was caught alone with her, Joseph’s only option was to flee. While running away, his clothing (probably nothing more than a loincloth on account of the Egyptian heat) was torn off. So Potiphar’s wife took the chance to have revenge.

13 When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. 15 When he heard that I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled and went outside.”

Potiphar’s wife first alerted the servants who were outside, and played off their anti-Semitism—which was apparently already existent—in order to stir up their hatred and give Joseph nowhere to run. Having gained the support of the servants, she would wait until her husband returned home.

16 So she left his garment beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; 18 and as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”

This false accusation cost Joseph everything that he had gained in Egypt. The LORD gave him his high position and had taken it away. But God had something even greater in mind, and the route to that future greatness involved great loss.

19 Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” his anger burned. 20 So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail.

According to Egyptian law, Potiphar had every right to kill Joseph. Either he did not fully believe his wife or he had much love for Joseph, for he settled on imprisonment instead of execution. Yet even in prison, God prospered Joseph.

21 But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22 The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. 23 The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper.

Just as Potiphar had not concerned himself with anything in his household while it was under Joseph’s care, so now the chief jailer did not concern himself with the prisoners in the jail. He put them in Joseph’s charge, because he saw how God was blessing him. It is amazing how God continues to pour out grace on His beloved people.


God would continue to use Joseph, eventually putting him into position as Pharaoh’s second-in-command in order to provide for the people of Israel and for the world. In the same way, God provided for Israel and the world by sending His Son, Jesus, to die in their place in order to take away their sins. Through His death, reconciliation is made between God and whoever believes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are reconciled are forgiven of their sins, and will receive eternal life in the kingdom of God when He fulfills His covenant with Abraham and his descendants. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and come to know the hope of eternal life in the presence of God.

Genesis 38 - Judah and Tamar

This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at

1 And it came about at that time, that Judah departed from his brothers and visited a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; and he took her and went in to her. 3 So she conceived and bore a son and he named him Er. 4 Then she conceived again and bore a son and named him Onan. 5 She bore still another son and named him Shelah; and it was at Chezib that she bore him.

Judah left the family dwelling place to go out on his own into the land of Canaan. While there, he married a Canaanite woman. She bore him three sons, and they lived in Chezib, which was about half a day’s journey from Hebron.

Many years passed, and the children grew.

6 Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD took his life. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.”

This is what came of Judah living among the Canaanites. The LORD killed Er because he was so wicked. Er had no male heirs, so Judah ordered Onan, his second-born, to have children with Er’s wife, Tamar. This was done among the ancient people in order to propagate the family line after a man died without children. One of his brothers would produce offspring with his brother’s wife on his brother’s behalf. That child would then inherit the father’s wealth and household. That includes, as here, a share in the grandfather’s inheritance in place of his father. Since Er was the firstborn, he would have received the double portion of the inheritance when Judah died. If Onan and Tamar had a son in Er’s name, that child would receive the double portion of Judah’s inheritance. Thus,

9 Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. 10 But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also.

Thus Judah lost two sons because of their wickedness. The family of Israel seemed to be spiraling into great sin, perpetuated by their closeness to the residents of Canaan. It would seem that Joseph—not Judah—would be the logical choice for the covenant blessing and kingly line. But there was still time for refinement. And God did just that.

11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up”; for he thought, “I am afraid that he too may die like his brothers.” So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.

Judah thought that Tamar was cursed, for he had lost two sons that had lain with her. His third son, Shelah was apparently too young to lay with Tamar and produce offspring on behalf of Er.

Many more years passed.

12 Now after a considerable time Shua’s daughter, the wife of Judah, died; and when the time of mourning was ended, Judah went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 It was told to Tamar, “Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14 So she removed her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, for she had covered her face. 16 So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, “Here now, let me come in to you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He said, therefore, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” She said, moreover, “Will you give a pledge until you send it?” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” And she said, “Your seal and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she arose and departed, and removed her veil and put on her widow’s garments.

Judah, now a widower, sought the company of a prostitute by the roadside. He had no idea that the prostitute was Tamar, who had grown weary of waiting for Judah to allow her to wed Shelah in order to raise up offspring for Er. She knew that if she became pregnant, she would need Judah’s things in order to prove that that baby was his.

20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. 21 He asked the men of her place, saying, “Where is the temple prostitute who was by the road at Enaim?” But they said, “There has been no temple prostitute here.” 22 So he returned to Judah, and said, “I did not find her; and furthermore, the men of the place said, ‘There has been no temple prostitute here.’” 23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep them, otherwise we will become a laughingstock. After all, I sent this young goat, but you did not find her.”

If word of this got around, Judah’s family could have been embarrassed. So they kept quiet about it for three months.

24 Now it was about three months later that Judah was informed, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the harlot, and behold, she is also with child by harlotry.” Then Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!” 25 It was while she was being brought out that she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “I am with child by the man to whom these things belong.” And she said, “Please examine and see, whose signet ring and cords and staff are these?” 26 Judah recognized them, and said, “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not have relations with her again.

Since Judah was not willing to give Tamar to his third son, it would have been his duty to wed Tamar and produce an heir. But he had been unwilling to do so. Tamar’s deceit brought about what was just, though that does not excuse the deceit. Having produced the desired heir to Er, Judah did not have sexual relations with Tamar again.

27 It came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. 28 Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” So he was named Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah.

Like Rebekah, Tamar gave birth to twins. It was important to know which twin came out first, because of the inheritance. The twin that put his arm out first ended up being the second born. Thus, he was named Perez. The Messiah would come from the line of Perez.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Genesis 37 - Joseph Sold Into Egypt

This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at

As the storyline of Genesis has unfolded, three of Jacob’s sons have disgraced themselves. Reuben slept with his father’s concubine. Simeon and Levi murdered the men of Shechem to avenge for the rape of their sister. The text now highlights two other sons of Jacob. Judah, the fourth-born of Leah, is now in the running to receive the right of the firstborn due to the disqualification of Leah’s three older sons. Joseph, the firstborn of Rachel, is also in the running to receive the double inheritance. These next chapters contrast the two men, and highlight God’s divine choice.

1 Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan. 2 These are the records of the generations of Jacob.

After much wandering, Jacob and his family were officially dwelling in the land of Canaan where Abraham and Isaac had dwelled. They were no longer living on the outskirts of it but were living in Hebron. He was expecting the fulfillment of God’s covenant, looking forward to the promised kingdom just as Abraham and Isaac had waited for it prior to him.

The next events transition the focus from Jacob to Joseph. There will be a contrast between Judah and Joseph as the reader wonders which son will receive the double portion of the inheritance and the scepter (whenever a king would arise in Israel). Though not the firstborn of Leah, Judah was the next in line to receive the double portion and scepter, because Leah first three sons had disqualified themselves. Joseph was the firstborn of Rachel, Jacob’s favored wife, but was eleventh in line in terms of age.

The history of Joseph and Judah begins:

Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. 4 His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.

Jacob’s open favoritism of Joseph sets the scene for a gruesome story. It was because of his favoritism that the brothers hated Joseph so much. They were envious, and their envy turned into hatred. In turn, their hatred presented itself in hostility.

5 Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; 7 for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

This is the first instance of prophetic dreams in the Bible. Others had been visited by God and angels in their dreams, but this is a prophetic vision revealed in a dream. There were others in the Bible who had such dreams, though they were by no means common. Such visions were understood to be from God, and could be understood with the help of a wise man of God. Joseph was a wise man of God, though in relating his dream to his brothers, he caused them to hate him all the more.

9 Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.

Joseph’s dreams had made his brothers all the more envious, hateful, and hostile toward him. Though Jacob rebuked Joseph, he remembered the saying, and seems to have thought about it from time to time. Thus, when Joseph’s dreams were fulfilled, Jacob must have been astonished.

12 Then his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock in Shechem. 13 Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “I will go.” 14 Then he said to him, “Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

Having made the journey, Joseph could not find his brothers. Finally,

15 A man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16 He said, “I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing the flock.” 17 Then the man said, “They have moved from here; for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

If Jacob sent to look for Joseph, he would not find him, because he was no longer at Shechem. So the brothers saw their opportunity.

18 When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer! 20 Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!” 21 But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, “Let us not take his life.” 22 Reuben further said to them, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father. 23 So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; 24 and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.

Although Reuben had saved Joseph from being murdered by his brothers, Joseph was still in grave danger. There was no water in the pit, and he would die quickly if he was not rescued soon.

25 Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. 28 Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.

So Judah, in line for the double portion of the inheritance and the scepter of the kingdom, sold his own brother to some Ishmaelites, who were also their kinsmen. These in turn, sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt. Apparently Reuben was absent for the transaction, for

29 Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments. 30 He returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is not there; as for me, where am I to go?” 31 So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; 32 and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, “We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic or not.” 33 Then he examined it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!” 34 So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” So his father wept for him.

Jacob’s grief was so great that he would later be unwilling to send his youngest son with the ten brothers even though it meant that his entire household starve. No parent wants to endure such grief, and certainly would do everything to not have to experience it twice! However, unbeknownst to Jacob, Joseph had been taken down to Egypt by the caravan of Ishmaelite traders.

36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard.

Judah stepped up as leader and sold Joseph into slavery. He led the brothers in deceiving Jacob into believing that Joseph had died by a wild animal attack. Judah probably thought that Joseph was as good as dead, and even if he did survive, he would never be heard from again. At this time, Judah was not walking according to the LORD or His covenant. He was living for himself. This will become evident in the next chapter.

Joseph walked with the LORD, and he received dreams from the LORD. In later chapters, he will continue to walk by faith, and God will use him to bring blessing upon the nations of the earth. It seems as if God’s blessing is upon Joseph, but Judah is the one who remains in the Promised Land. Who will receive the inheritance from Jacob?

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Genesis 36 - The Line of Esau

This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at

Out of all the genealogies in Genesis, this is the most perplexing. Many readers stumble through this repetitive list of names without catching any significance to its meaning. Yet all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, and correction with the goal of making us adequate and equipped people of God (cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17). So what was the Holy Spirit’s intent in giving us this chapter of seemingly unimportant names?

Surely one of the points of this chapter is to give a brief history of Esau and inform the reader about how Esau became the nation of Edom made up of tribes with chiefs over each tribe and how these tribes were unified as a nation by a monarch. This genealogy reaches forward to the time of the writing of the Torah, so that Israel—on the precipice of entering the Promised Land in conquest—would have a knowledge of the fate of Esau.

This chapter also compares and contrasts Esau (Edom) and Jacob (Israel). Isaac had blessed the men in chapter 27. Jacob received the blessing of the inheritance of the covenant, and Esau received a sort of anti-blessing of coming servitude and escape. However, contrary to expectations, Esau quickly multiplies into an organized and militarily strong nation. He lived ‘away from the fertility of the earth…and away from the dew of heaven from above,’ (Gen 27:39), for he moved to the hill country. He also lived by his sword, just as Isaac predicted. Jacob, however, multiplied greatly to become the nation of Israel. But instead of making Edom their slaves, they became slaves themselves in Egypt. Hundreds of years later, they were newly freed slaves, having been delivered by the LORD, and had very little experience at war. If they ever had to face Edom, their only hope was in the LORD.

1 Now these are the records of the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). 2 Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and the granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite; 3 also Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth. 4 Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, and Basemath bore Reuel, 5 and Oholibamah bore Jeush and Jalam and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

Esau’s three wives bore five sons to him. His household was not as numerous as the household of Jacob. All but one of his children were descended from Canaanites, and the remaining child was descended from Ishmael. Esau’s household was large enough that he had moved to Seir, from where he had come to meet Jacob upon Jacob’s return to the Promised Land.

6 Then Esau took his wives and his sons and his daughters and all his household, and his livestock and all his cattle and all his goods which he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land away from his brother Jacob. 7 For their property had become too great for them to live together, and the land where they sojourned could not sustain them because of their livestock. 8 So Esau lived in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom.

It seems that Esau moved his household close to Jacob for a time. Presumably, he was seeking to spend time with his brother. However, like Abraham and Lot, the combined wealth of the two brothers was too much to be sustained by the land. So Esau moved his household back to the hill country of Seir. For later readers, Moses recorded that Esau’s family had become the nation known as Edom.

9 These then are the records of the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. 10 These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz the son of Esau’s wife Adah, Reuel the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. 11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho and Gatam and Kenaz. 12 Timna was a concubine of Esau’s son Eliphaz and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These are the sons of Esau’s wife Adah. 13 These are the sons of Reuel: Nahath and Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath. 14 These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah and the granddaughter of Zibeon: she bore to Esau, Jeush and Jalam and Korah.

There were ten recorded grandsons born to Esau through two of his sons. Some of his sons and grandsons became the tribal chiefs of the Edomites.

15 These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz, the firstborn of Esau, are chief Teman, chief Omar, chief Zepho, chief Kenaz, 16 chief Korah, chief Gatam, chief Amalek. These are the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Adah. 17 These are the sons of Reuel, Esau’s son: chief Nahath, chief Zerah, chief Shammah, chief Mizzah. These are the chiefs descended from Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath. 18 These are the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: chief Jeush, chief Jalam, chief Korah. These are the chiefs descended from Esau’s wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah. 19 These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are their chiefs.

There were fourteen chiefs in the land of Edom, who were descended from Esau. So Esau became a large nation, just as God had promised that Abraham’s descendants would all multiply to a great extent.

20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan and Shobal and Zibeon and Anah, 21 and Dishon and Ezer and Dishan. These are the chiefs descended from the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22 The sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan’s sister was Timna. 23 These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan and Manahath and Ebal, Shepho and Onam. 24 These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah—he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness when he was pasturing the donkeys of his father Zibeon. 25 These are the children of Anah: Dishon, and Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah. 26 These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan and Eshban and Ithran and Cheran. 27 These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan and Zaavan and Akan. 28 These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29 These are the chiefs descended from the Horites: chief Lotan, chief Shobal, chief Zibeon, chief Anah, 30 chief Dishon, chief Ezer, chief Dishan. These are the chiefs descended from the Horites, according to their various chiefs in the land of Seir.

The chiefs of Seir joined their forces to Esau, so that Edom was a very mighty people. As Jacob’s family heard news about Esau’s power, they may have wondered how Isaac’s prophecy that Esau would serve them would come true.

31 Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the sons of Israel. 32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, and the name of his city was Dinhabah. 33 Then Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah became king in his place. 34 Then Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites became king in his place. 35 Then Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the field of Moab, became king in his place; and the name of his city was Avith. 36 Then Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah became king in his place. 37 Then Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates River became king in his place. 38 Then Shaul died, and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor became king in his place. 39 Then Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar became king in his place; and the name of his city was Pau; and his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab.

By the time of Moses’ writing of the Torah, Edom had been ruled by many kings. They had much experience at war, and had faced some of the same enemies that Israel had already faced while traversing the wilderness. Israel, which had never had a king, was relatively inexperienced at war. They might have feared Esau, if they had not known Isaac’s prophecy of Edom’s servitude to Jacob.

40 Now these are the names of the chiefs descended from Esau, according to their families and their localities, by their names: chief Timna, chief Alvah, chief Jetheth, 41 chief Oholibamah, chief Elah, chief Pinon, 42 chief Kenaz, chief Teman, chief Mibzar, 43 chief Magdiel, chief Iram. These are the chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of the Edomites), according to their habitations in the land of their possession.

These chiefs were over eleven tribes of Esau, which rivaled Israel’s twelve tribes. So Esau had multiplied and become powerful during the centuries that Israel was in captivity.


The message of this chapter is that God surely does all that He says that He will. Also, Israel was not to fear Edom like Jacob had feared his brother. God would protect them and bring His word to pass. Israel and Edom have a long history together, striving together in the pages of Scripture. But God is faithful to His covenant people. And He is their only hope of salvation when the powerful enemy looms.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Genesis 35 - Jacob Called Again

This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at

God is patient toward those whom He loves. Just as He called Abram to leave Ur (11:31) and then later to leave Haran to complete the journey (12:1), so God was patient with Jacob. Jacob had delayed in obeying God’s command to go to Bethel, and he had suffered greatly for it. His daughter, Dinah, had been raped by Shechem, the prince of the land. But God was not finished with Jacob. He would keep His covenant with Jacob, proving Himself faithful even when man is not.

1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; 3 and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4 So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.

How gracious is God! Though Jacob had been slow to obey, living in spiritual passivity for around ten years, God again called him again to Bethel where He had first revealed Himself to Jacob. Jacob responded by sanctifying his household unto God, recognizing that it was God alone who had answered him and protected him. How slow we are to recognize that God is all that matters, but how patient God is to guide us to such an understanding.

5 As they journeyed, there was a great terror upon the cities which were around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. 7 He built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother.

Jacob traveled despite the danger from the cities of Canaan who could have attacked his family because of what they did to the people of Shechem. God put a great terror upon the people so that they did not pursue or make war with Jacob. He protects those whom He has chosen so that no harm can come upon them except that which He allows for their good. Jacob arrived in Bethel and worshiped the LORD with a sacrifice upon an altar which he called ‘the God of Bethel.’

8 Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; it was named Allon-bacuth.

It was never recorded that Rebekah had called Jacob from Paddan-aram. Nor is it ever recorded that Rebekah died. She disappeared from the pages of Scripture after her deceit of Isaac. However, the death of Rebekah’s nurse is suddenly mentioned. Apparently she had went to live with Jacob at some point, probably after her mistress died. This occasion caused much weeping, therefore the tree which she was buried under was called ‘the oak of weeping.’

9 Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. 10 God said to him,

“Your name is Jacob;
You shall no longer be called Jacob,
But Israel shall be your name.”

Thus He called him Israel. 11 God also said to him,

“I am God Almighty;
Be fruitful and multiply;
A nation and a company of nations shall come from you,
And kings shall come forth from you.
12 “The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac,
I will give it to you,
And I will give the land to your descendants after you.”

For the first time in many years, God appeared to Jacob and reiterated the promises of the Abrahamic covenant. He also officially changed Jacob’s name to Israel, which had first been done by the Angel of the LORD many years before. The Abrahamic covenant had not changed, for the LORD will never change His promises.

13 Then God went up from him in the place where He had spoken with him. 14 Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel.

After God spoke with him, Jacob put up a pillar of stone as a memorial. He anointed it with oil and sacrificed a drink offering to solemnize the occasion and worship God for His promises. So the place was named Bethel.

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and she suffered severe labor. 17 When she was in severe labor the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for now you have another son.” 18 It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Jacob set up a pillar over her grave; that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day. 21 Then Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.

God answered Rachel’s prayer for another son to be added to her, yet He did not allow her to live past the birth of her child. For that reason, she named the boy ‘the son of my sorrow.’ However, Jacob called him ‘the son of my right hand.’ Jacob would have been very old by this point, having lived past one hundred years.

22 It came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine, and Israel heard of it.

This act disqualified Reuben’s house from possessing the kingship. The promised seed of the woman, the Messiah who would reign forever, would not come through Reuben. Nor would He be born of the tribes of Simeon or Levi because of their actions against the Shechemites on account of their sister, Dinah.

Now there were twelve sons of Jacob— 23 the sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, then Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Zebulun; 24 the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin; 25 and the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali; 26 and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

These twelve sons will inherit the Abrahamic Covenant, becoming a great nation of people who would be given the Promised Land and through whom would come the great King. These twelve tribes would bring blessings upon the world for those who bless them and curses for those who curse them. At this time, they were a long way from the holy nation and kingdom of priests that God would make them to be.

Many years after leaving Paddan-aram, Jacob finally went to his father, Isaac:

27 Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned. 28 Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years. 29 Isaac breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, an old man of ripe age; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Since Isaac was sixty when Jacob and Esau were born, both Jacob and Esau were one hundred twenty when their father died. Jacob would live for another twenty seven eventful years. With the passing of Isaac, the baton was officially passed to Jacob to live in the land and expect the fulfillment of the covenant.


The death of Isaac by no means demonstrates God inability to bring about the promises of the covenant. Abraham and his covenantal descendants will indeed inherit the land promised to them, and will be ruled by the great King, Jesus Christ. Entrance into this kingdom is through faith in Jesus Christ who takes away sin. He will return soon and reign forever.

Genesis 34 - The Rape of Dinah

This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at

God had called Jacob back to the Promised Land and Jacob had returned. He did not immediately go to Bethel, where God had commanded him to go. He set up camp first in Succoth, then near Shechem. Jacob and his family lived on the land that they bought in Shechem for many years. At the end of that time, Jacob’s disobedience and spiritual passivity brought disaster upon their family.

1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. 2 When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force. 3 He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. 4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young girl for a wife.”

Having moved to the land of Shechem instead of going to Bethel as the LORD commanded, Jacob put his family in danger. Like Lot, he moved his family toward a place that would become dangerous for them. When Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, went out to visit the other young women of Shechem, she was raped by Shechem, the prince of Shechem. Having lain with her by force, he decided that he loved her, and asked for the marriage to be arranged.

5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in. 6 Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. 7 Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.

No words of Jacob are recorded at this point. Jacob is a silent character in the story. Though Hamor had purposed to speak to Jacob, he ended up speaking to his angry sons instead.

8 But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage. 9 Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 Thus you shall live with us, and the land shall be open before you; live and trade in it and acquire property in it.” 11 Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “If I find favor in your sight, then I will give whatever you say to me. 12 Ask me ever so much bridal payment and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; but give me the girl in marriage.”

The danger that this posed for the family is immense, for if they intermarried with the people of the land, they would soon lose their distinction as the covenant family. They would descend into great apostasy, having their hearts turned away from the LORD. Shechem was an important city in Canaan, so the offer was a great temptation to the family. If their anger had not been so hot, they may have accepted the offer and the bridal payment on top of it.

However, like their father before them,

13 But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor with deceit, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15 Only on this condition will we consent to you: if you will become like us, in that every male of you be circumcised, 16 then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go.”

They told the prince and his father that it was a dealbreaker for them to intermarry with uncircumcised people. So they convinced Shechem and Hamor that they would intermarry with the people of the land if they would circumcise themselves.

18 Now their words seemed reasonable to Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son. 19 The young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was more respected than all the household of his father. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, 21 “These men are friendly with us; therefore let them live in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters in marriage, and give our daughters to them. 22 Only on this condition will the men consent to us to live with us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their livestock and their property and all their animals be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will live with us.” 24 All who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.

The wealth of Jacob and his sons must have been indescribable, because the greed of the people overcame them. They considered circumcision a small price to pay to gain the wealth and daughters of the covenant family.

25 Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares, and killed every male. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth. 27 Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and looted the city, because they had defiled their sister. 28 They took their flocks and their herds and their donkeys, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field; 29 and they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives, even all that was in the houses.

Leah’s sons, Simeon and Levi, who were Dinah’s full-brothers, killed every man in the city of Shechem while they were in pain from the circumcision. They released their sister, and all of the sons of Jacob looted the city together. They took everything. The greed of the men of the city caused everything that they had to be taken away by a vengeful family.

30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.” 31 But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?”

Jacob spoke for the first time in the narrative, not to mourn for his daughter but to grieve for the trouble that would come upon him through the actions of his sons. Since he had not taken charge of the situation or his family, Jacob’s entire household was in danger of attack. He had not led them to seek the LORD but had remained quiet and passive.


The actions of Simeon and Levi disqualified them from the blessing of fathering the King of Kings. Reuben, Leah’s firstborn, disqualified himself a few chapters later. For that reason, Jesus was born from Leah’s fourth child, Judah. The sons of Israel were stubborn and hard-hearted. They took vengeance in their own hands instead of seeking the counsel of the LORD.