History, Theology, & Wrestling with God | Genesis 32.24-32


Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.
Genesis 32:24-32

Some Historical thoughts: Where the heck did this story come from?  It’s certainly looks like a later insertion into the story (it has no connection whatsoever to the surrounding verses and is never mentioned again in the OT), but where did it come from? That last verse implies it may be simply to explain the dietary habits of Israelites that arose in some other way. But really, why appeal to such an odd, powerful, and incredibly profound story for such a simple message.

Some Theological thoughts: Holy crap, what a concentrated text of such meaning. Jacob “wrestles” with God, and it’s in the midst of his greatest stress and travail. It testifies to us how our greatest struggles in life are often wrestlings with God himself. We get a new name, we bear life-long scars, and it affects our ancestors for years to come. But we are blessed, and we know God all the more deeply. May we wrestle with God.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

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How Christians can read Old Testament horror | Genesis 34.25-31


On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city unawares, and killed all the males. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. And the other sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and made their prey. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” But they said, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”
Genesis 34:25-31

On one hand, I am glad that the story does not leave itself as a justification of this woman’s rape as long as the individuals were circumcised (as the verses before this segment seemed to suggest–it was a ploy to trick the rapists into being in pain). On the other hand, the other women in the story, the wives of the men killed, are not treated much better (although admittedly, it doesn’t seem like Jacob’s sons rape them like Dinah was raped).

Okay, so what can Christians pull from this story? Mainly, we should be shocked that these people are “the circumcised”. These are the covenantal people. They have the covenant of God carved into their bodies. And yet, they receive the full judgement of God. They did not escape judgement. In fact, they perhaps received a harsher one than most other people in the Old Testament. I don’t think ancient Israelites would have taken circumcision so lightly as to just chuckle at that having been a deceitful turn that the sons of Jacob did. Rather I think they would have taken it very seriously that this people were a circumcised people that God’s people destroyed.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

When morning came, it was Leah | Genesis 33.10


When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”
Genesis 29.25

I can’t remember who told me, nor can I remember what pastor they were quoting (I think it was Tim Keller), but this verse is a pretty powerful one. We all go into marriage thinking we are marrying a “Rachel”, but in the morning, it is always a “Leah”.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Responding to the Covenant | Genesis 35.9-13


God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. God 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 spring from you. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him.
Genesis 35.9-13

Here is God renewing the Abraham covenant with Jacob. Notice that this is not a new covenant, but a passing of the mantle of stewardship on to Jacob. This is the same covenant we are under, except this mantle of stewardship has gone to, and stayed with, Jesus himself.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Wrestling with God: History & Theology | Genesis 32.24-32


Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.
Genesis 32:24-32

Two strands of thinking here:

Critical-Historical: Where the heck did this story come from?  It’s got to be a later interpolation (it has no connection whatsoever to the surrounding verses and is never mentioned again in the OT), but from what?  That last verse implies that the story came about simply to explain the dietary habits of Israelites. But really, why appeal to such an odd, powerful and incredibly profound story for such a simple message?

Biblical-Theological: Holy crap, what a concentrated text of such meaning. He “wrestles” with God, but it’s in the midst of his greatest stress and travail. It testifies to us how our greatest struggles in life are often wrestlings with God himself. We get a new name, we bear life-long scars, and it affects our ancestors for years to come.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

God’s Camp is Our Camp | Genesis 32:1


Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; and when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called that place Mahanaim.
Genesis 32:1

Jacob experiences God here, says that this is God’s camp, and yet the name he gives it means “two camps”. I love this idea. The camps that are God’s are also ours. We have an “ownership” of sorts in God’s presence. His presence “belongs” to his people. It also speaks of devotion. Where He camps, we camp. The good news of the covenant? In Jesus, the whole world is God’s “camp”. Therefore, the whole world is our inheritance.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Weirdest. Love story. Ever. | Genesis 29.10-12


Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of his mother’s brother Laban. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son; and she ran and told her father.

Genesis 29.10-12

Weirdest. Love story. Ever.

Also notice that he kisses her even before they’re betrothed.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

You marry a family | Genesis 29.13-14


When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.

Genesis 29.13-14

Well isn’t this interesting? Rachel’s father says the same the marital vows to Jacob that Adam said to Eve. It just goes to show you that marrying one person is, quite literally, marrying their family. This is what covenant is. Think of the implications for church life as well. When someone joins the church they’re joining the entire family. This is why it is so deeply flawed to see Baptism as one’s individual “public declaration”. It is the marital vows of God and his family toward us that bring us into the family.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Abraham’s son Ishmael was part of Covenant! | Genesis 17.23-27


This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised… and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you…. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”… As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year.”…. Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the slaves born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him…. And his son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised; and all the men of his house, slaves born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
Genesis 17.23-27

Yes, God said that Ishmael would not be the primary bearer and “administrator” of the covenant, but he still bears its marks. Reminds me of a reading from Lesslie Newbigin where he talks about how through our election and Covenantal relationship with God, Salvation is extended to all the nations. “Election” isn’t about blessing; it’s about responsibility to extend the Blessing to others.

Other peoples (even those not in the elect people of God) participate in and receive the full benefits of being part of the Covenant. To be elect is to extend these Covenantal blessings to all nations (as we see here with Abraham). To be marked as God’s is to be placed on mission.

Ishmael was still joined to the covenant! Praise God for his gratuitous grace!

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.