Reflections on the Bible Challenge – Day 13 – April 13, 2013

13 Apr

Genesis 34-36:
Genesis 34 – Dinah, Leah’s daughter, is raped by Hamor, the Hivite… and then he has the audacity to say he loves her and would like her for a wife!  This sure is a glaring example of how drastically different the cultural context of the narrative is from ours.  “Traditional marriage” as described in scripture.  Jacob’s sons have inherited a bit of the “trickster” from their father, and they deceive the Hivites to convert to their covenant with God through circumcision… and then while the Hivites are still in pain Jacob’s sons have them all killed, and loot their town.
Genesis 35 – Jacob is told by God to go back to Bethel… the place where he had the dream of the ladders and the angels going up and down.  Jacob is told again by God that because of their covenant relationship, Jacob will be blessed — through him will be a nation, a company of nations shall come from him.  Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin, and is buried on the way to Bethlehem (where Jesus is said to have been born).  And there is a strange inclusion of Reuben having relations with Bilhah.  Isaac, Jacob’s and Esau’s father dies.
Genesis 36 – A long list of descendants, that confounds me… so don’t worry if you don’t read them in too much detail… I admit to skimming them myself.

I find it interesting that the Lord doesn’t punish, but rather rewards, the sons of Jacob for their deceit and violence against the Hivites.  I also find it interesting that Rachel is buried on the side of the road, instead of in a place of honor (like Abraham provided for Sarah).  I also find it interesting that the Lord has Jacob return to Bethel.  It seems to be a place of importance.

Matthew 12 – The Pharisees are out to catch Jesus and his followers up, questioning why they can harvest a bit of grain to eat on the Sabbath… I suppose that would be considered labor.  And Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, also considered “labor” by the Pharisees.  But Jesus refers to a power and a way that transcends the Law (Torah — the Book of Moses).  They wonder if Jesus is wielding the power of Beelzebul, a powerful demon, sometimes used interchangeably with our concept of Satan or the Devil… although it’s not a great comparison.  Jesus affirms that what is good is good, and what is evil is evil.  If healing occurs then it is by the Holy Spirit.  This is an intense exchange, vv34-42… “You brood of vipers!”  He is accusing them of being blind to God’s healing power, even in their “righteousness”.  vv48-50 is hard for us to hear… what can he mean, “who is my mother”?  Jesus means that God intends for all of us to be like kin… to be like family of one another.  To love and support, and be patient and tolerant… just like we are with our kin.

Psalm 12 is a good match for Matthew 12… a reflection of the challenge of living a good and Godly life in the midst of a troubled and misguided world.  Let’s now worry so much about what we shouldn’t be like, and live in love and charity with one another.  World peace begins in our hearts and homes, and spreads out from there.

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