The Need of Mankind: Genesis 12-50

  • Author: Ray C. Stedman
Read the Scripture: Genesis 12-50
Genesis 12-50

1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

2 "I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you."

4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh's officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.

17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. "What have you done to me?" he said. "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!" 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.

3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.

5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

8 So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left."

10 Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.

14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you."

18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.

1 At this time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim 2 went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea ). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim 6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 7 Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar.

8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.

13 One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley).

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
"Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.

20 And blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand."
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself."

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich.' 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share."

1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward. "

2 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."

4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

7 He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it."

8 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"

9 So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."

1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me."

6 "Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.

7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?"
"I'm running away from my mistress Sarai," she answered.

9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." 10 The angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count."

11 The angel of the LORD also said to her:
"You are now with child
and you will have a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery.

12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone's hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers."

13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi ; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty ; walk before me and be blameless. 2 I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers."

3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."

9 Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."

15 God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."

17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" 18 And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"

19 Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year." 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.

23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that same day. 27 And every male in Abraham's household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.

1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

3 He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant."
"Very well," they answered, "do as you say."

6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread."

7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

9 "Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him.
"There, in the tent," he said.

10 Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son."
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?"

13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, "I did not laugh."
But he said, "Yes, you did laugh."

16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."

20 Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

26 The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."

27 Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?"
"If I find forty-five there," he said, "I will not destroy it."

29 Once again he spoke to him, "What if only forty are found there?"
He said, "For the sake of forty, I will not do it."

30 Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?"
He answered, "I will not do it if I find thirty there."

31 Abraham said, "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?"
He said, "For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it."

32 Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?"
He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."

33 When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 "My lords," he said, "please turn aside to your servant's house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning."
"No," they answered, "we will spend the night in the square."

3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."

6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."

9 "Get out of our way," they replied. And they said, "This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We'll treat you worse than them." They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

12 The two men said to Lot, "Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it."

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished."

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!"

18 But Lot said to them, "No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I'll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn't it? Then my life will be spared."

21 He said to him, "Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it." (That is why the town was called Zoar. )

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let's get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father."

33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, "Last night I lay with my father. Let's get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father." 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

36 So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab ; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi ; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, "She is my sister." Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, "You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman."

4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, "Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, 'She is my sister,' and didn't she also say, 'He is my brother'? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands."

6 Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die."

8 Early the next morning Abimelech summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham in and said, "What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done." 10 And Abimelech asked Abraham, "What was your reason for doing this?"

11 Abraham replied, "I said to myself, 'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.' 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father's household, I said to her, 'This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, "He is my brother." ' "

14 Then Abimelech brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelech said, "My land is before you; live wherever you like."

16 To Sarah he said, "I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated."

17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again, 18 for the LORD had closed up every womb in Abimelech's household because of Abraham's wife Sarah.

1 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

6 Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me." 7 And she added, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age."

8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."

11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring."

14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, "I cannot watch the boy die." And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation."

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.

22 At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, "God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you are living as an alien the same kindness I have shown to you."

24 Abraham said, "I swear it."

25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech's servants had seized. 26 But Abimelech said, "I don't know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today."

27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelech asked Abraham, "What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?"

30 He replied, "Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well."

31 So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.

32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.

1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!"
"Here I am," he replied.

2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"
"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
"Here I am," he replied.

12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."

19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

20 Some time later Abraham was told, "Milcah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel." 23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milcah bore these eight sons to Abraham's brother Nahor. 24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maacah.

1 Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.

3 Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, 4 "I am an alien and a stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead."

5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 "Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead."

7 Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. 8 He said to them, "If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf 9 so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you."

10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. 11 "No, my lord," he said. "Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead."

12 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13 and he said to Ephron in their hearing, "Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there."

14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 "Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between me and you? Bury your dead."

16 Abraham agreed to Ephron's terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants.

17 So Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.

1 Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. 2 He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac."

5 The servant asked him, "What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?"

6 "Make sure that you do not take my son back there," Abraham said. 7 "The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, 'To your offspring I will give this land'-he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there." 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.

10 Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. 11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.

12 Then he prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too'-let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."

15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor. 16 The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.

17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, "Please give me a little water from your jar."

18 "Drink, my lord," she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.

19 After she had given him a drink, she said, "I'll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking." 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.

22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. 23 Then he asked, "Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?"

24 She answered him, "I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor." 25 And she added, "We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night."

26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, 27 saying, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master's relatives."

28 The girl ran and told her mother's household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. 30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister's arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 31 "Come, you who are blessed by the LORD," he said. "Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels."

32 So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. 33 Then food was set before him, but he said, "I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say."
"Then tell us," Laban said.

34 So he said, "I am Abraham's servant. 35 The LORD has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, menservants and maidservants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master's wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, 'You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but go to my father's family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.'

39 "Then I asked my master, 'What if the woman will not come back with me?'

40 "He replied, 'The LORD, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father's family. 41 Then, when you go to my clan, you will be released from my oath even if they refuse to give her to you—you will be released from my oath.'

42 "When I came to the spring today, I said, 'O LORD, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring; if a maiden comes out to draw water and I say to her, "Please let me drink a little water from your jar," 44 and if she says to me, "Drink, and I'll draw water for your camels too," let her be the one the LORD has chosen for my master's son.'

45 "Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, 'Please give me a drink.'

46 "She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too.' So I drank, and she watered the camels also.

47 "I asked her, 'Whose daughter are you?'
"She said, 'The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to him.'
"Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master's brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn."

50 Laban and Bethuel answered, "This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has directed."

52 When Abraham's servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the LORD. 53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there.
When they got up the next morning, he said, "Send me on my way to my master."

55 But her brother and her mother replied, "Let the girl remain with us ten days or so; then you may go."

56 But he said to them, "Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master."

57 Then they said, "Let's call the girl and ask her about it." 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, "Will you go with this man?"
"I will go," she said.

59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham's servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
"Our sister, may you increase
to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
the gates of their enemies."

61 Then Rebekah and her maids got ready and mounted their camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, "Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?"
"He is my master," the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

1 Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

7 Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

12 This is the account of Abraham's son Ishmael, whom Sarah's maidservant, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham.

13 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17 Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. 18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers.

19 This is the account of Abraham's son Isaac.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.

21 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.

23 The LORD said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger."

24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, "Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!" (That is why he was also called Edom. )

31 Jacob replied, "First sell me your birthright."

32 "Look, I am about to die," Esau said. "What good is the birthright to me?"

33 But Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.
So Esau despised his birthright.

1 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the earlier famine of Abraham's time—and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws." 6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.

7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," because he was afraid to say, "She is my wife." He thought, "The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful."

8 When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, "She is really your wife! Why did you say, 'She is my sister'?"
Isaac answered him, "Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her."

10 Then Abimelech said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us."

11 So Abimelech gave orders to all the people: "Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."

12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.

16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, "Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us."

17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

19 Isaac's servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen and said, "The water is ours!" So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, "Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land."

23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham."

25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.

26 Meanwhile, Abimelech had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, "Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?"

28 They answered, "We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, 'There ought to be a sworn agreement between us'-between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not molest you but always treated you well and sent you away in peace. And now you are blessed by the LORD."

30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace.

32 That day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, "We've found water!" 33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.

34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.

1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, "My son."
"Here I am," he answered.

2 Isaac said, "I am now an old man and don't know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your weapons—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die."

5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 'Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.' 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies."

11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "But my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I'm a man with smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing."

13 His mother said to him, "My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me."

14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.

18 He went to his father and said, "My father."
"Yes, my son," he answered. "Who is it?"

19 Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game so that you may give me your blessing."

20 Isaac asked his son, "How did you find it so quickly, my son?"
"The LORD your God gave me success," he replied.

21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not."

22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau." 23 He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he blessed him. 24 "Are you really my son Esau?" he asked.
"I am," he replied.

25 Then he said, "My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing."
Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come here, my son, and kiss me."

27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,
"Ah, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a field
that the LORD has blessed.

28 May God give you of heaven's dew
and of earth's richness—
an abundance of grain and new wine.

29 May nations serve you
and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed
and those who bless you be blessed."

30 After Isaac finished blessing him and Jacob had scarcely left his father's presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, "My father, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing."

32 His father Isaac asked him, "Who are you?"
"I am your son," he answered, "your firstborn, Esau."

33 Isaac trembled violently and said, "Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!"

34 When Esau heard his father's words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, "Bless me—me too, my father!"

35 But he said, "Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing."

36 Esau said, "Isn't he rightly named Jacob He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he's taken my blessing!" Then he asked, "Haven't you reserved any blessing for me?"

37 Isaac answered Esau, "I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?"

38 Esau said to his father, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!" Then Esau wept aloud.

39 His father Isaac answered him,
"Your dwelling will be
away from the earth's richness,
away from the dew of heaven above.

40 You will live by the sword
and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless,
you will throw his yoke
from off your neck."

41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob."

42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, "Your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother's fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I'll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?"

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, "I'm disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living."

1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him and commanded him: "Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother's father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother's brother. 3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien, the land God gave to Abraham." 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, "Do not marry a Canaanite woman," 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." 17 He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."

1 Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2 There he saw a well in the field, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well's mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.

New International Version
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Imaginative writers of our day seek continually to depict what kind of world this would be after an atomic holocaust had completely wiped out all life as we know it. What would it be like to be the first people to start out in such a world? Noah and his family knew, for that is exactly what happened after the flood.

Physically and materially they began again to fulfill the original divine command to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." Spiritually, having been on both sides of the flood, Noah becomes a picture of regeneration. He went through the waters of judgment, being preserved in the ark, and came out into a new world and a new life, as a Christian passes from death into life in Christ.

Genesis 12--50 traces three great truths that belong to this new life. In the lives of four men--Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, Genesis reveals what man is always seeking:

Righteousness,the sense of being right. Man dislikes the feeling of guilt or unrighteousness and wants always to be seen as acceptable by whatever standard he views as relevant. We see the fulfillment of this need in the life of Abraham.

Peace, a sense of inner well-being. Man is ever seeking a certain calmness and inner confidence which can only be described as peace. The story of Isaac and Jacob,who portray sonship and sanctification, are in themselves the secret of peace of heart.

Joy, a sense of gladness and happiness out of life. This is so evident as to require no documentation other than life itself. Joseph manifested the truth of glorification.

These three virtues are the unseen, almost unconscious goals of life everywhere. But where are they truly to be found? Romans 14:17 says, "The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Only God can impart these things to men, and this is the story of the rest of Genesis.

MAN SEEKS RIGHTEOUSNESS (Genesis. 12-25)

Abram appears first as celled by God to exemplify in his entire life story the process of achieving righteousness by means of faith, or as the New Testament calls it, "justification by faith."

God appeared and conversed with Abram on seven occasions, beginning with Abram's call in Ur and ending with his offering of his son Isaac in obedience to God's command. Out of this relationship with God Abram learned eight lessons of faith. The parallel to all these is found in the life of every believer today. For this reason, Abraham is known as the father of the faithful and is called "the friend of God." He depicts forever the friendship which God desires to have in intimate communion with everyone who is made righteous by faith.

The first lesson faith must learn is that of obedience. Itis not faith to simply say "I believe"; it is necessary also to add "I obey." In his first encounter with God, Abram is sent out on a march without a map to an unknown destination, but with the promise that God will go with him and show him the way. The promise includes seven specifics: 1) I will make of you a great nation; (2) I will bless you; (3) I will make your name great; (4) you shall be a blessing; (5)1 will bless those that bless you; (6) 1 will curse them that curse you; (7) in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Though Abram was 75 years of age when this call came to him, his obedience was immediate. He left Ur and went to Haran where his father Terah lived. There, after his father's death, he came into the land of Canaan in obedience to the call of God. The spiritual parallel of this in today's believer is found in a willingness to turn from the natural claims of family and friends, and to recognize the right of God to lead and direct his life.

In the land of Canaan God appears to Abram for the second time. He promises to give the land to Abram's seed, despite its present possession by the Canaanite tribes. Abram's life in the land is immediately characterized by two meaningful symbols: a tent and an altar. Whenever Abram is walking in faith these two symbols are always present. The tent is the symbol of the pilgrim character of his existence. He is never to own the land outright but is to be a sojourner in it, looking for that "city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:10). The altar is the symbol of fellowship and communion with a living God. It is the secret of the ability to endure in a land possessed by enemies. Every believer must have such an altar, a personal time alone with God, for Bible reading and prayer, that he might endure in a hostile world.

The second lesson Abram learns in the lifeof faith is that of thesufficiency of faith tomeet all human need. Abram's faith was tested by a famine in the land. He trusted God enough not to return to the land of Haran, but he does attempt to flee the famine by going down to Egypt. During his time in Egypt, there is no record of either the tent or the altar. His weak faith led Abram to resort to a lie to defend his wife's honor and finds himself a recipient of Pharaoh's rebuke (see Genesis. 12:1~19). Thus, through failure, Abram learns the necessary truth: God is able to supply his need, even in the midst of pressure and circumstantial difficulty. Humbled and repentant, Abram returns to the land and once again the tent and the altar appear.

Abram's third lesson of faith is that of humility, to learn to take second place.Abram and his nephew, Lot, illustrate different principles of Christian living: Abram was following God; Lot was following Abram--he was a tag-along believer. When a dispute arose between the herdsmen of the two men over the use of the land, even though Abram was the older and had the God-given right of first choice, he exhibited the humility of faith and allowed Lot to choose first. Lot chose his land on the basis of human measurements and ended up in Sodom. However, even though he obtained, he did not truly possess the land, because God gave Abram all the land, including that which Lot had chosen for himself (Genesis. 13:14-18). In this lesson of Abram's we see that God's children are called to risk the obedience of faith, believing that God will take care of them even though they apparently are giving up their rights.

Abram's fourth lesson was to exhibit the boldness of faith.Chapter 14 records the historic invasion of the valley of the Dead Sea by the five united kings from the east. Lot was captured and, through this, Abram learned this fourth lesson. Though greatly outnumbered, Abram gathers his servants about him and with a company of 318 he pursues the united armies as far north as Dan and overcomes them in a great battle.

On his triumphant return he is met by Melchizedek at the King's Vale (now known as the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem). Melchizedek appears as the type of an eternal priesthood, to strengthen Abram to meet the most subtle encounter of his career so far: the offer of the king of Sodom to make him rich. Strengthened by the bread and wine which Melchizedek gave him (forerunner of the Lord's Table established centuries later), Abram refuses to be made rich except by God Himself, thus manifesting the fifth quality of faith.

Faith is independent of all natural resources.Chapter 15 is the account of the fourth direct appearance of Jehovah to Abram. Abram had now passed through several testings of his faith and the divine voice declares that He is Abram's shield (for his protection) and his exceeding great reward (as Abram's ultimate resource). Abram's intimacy with God had grown to the point where he can now share the temptation to doubt that was in his heart. God's response is to promise him an heir from whom would come a progeny as numerous as the stars of the sky.

Despite his age Abram believed in the promise of a coming son and for the first time in Scripture we read the great sentence, "his faith was reckoned to him for righteousness" (see Genesis. 15:6). Abram is now the friend of God, not by his own merit but on the basis of his faith. Jehovah renews the promise of the land as Abram's inheritance and confirms it with a sign at Abram's request. The sign is a vision of a smoking furnace and a lamp indicating the furnace of affliction Abram's descendants would go through in Egypt before the land was granted to them. Here Abram begins to learn the sixth quality of faith.

Faith endures and has patience.Chapter 16 is the account of Abram's second major deflection from faith. After 12 years of waiting for God to fulfill His promise of a son, Sarai and Abram resort to a human expediency to help God along. Hagar, Sarai's maid, is given to Abram as a wife and from her is born Ishmael. No tent or altar appears in this chapter and Abram reaps the harvest of his folly by continual strife between Sarai and Hagar and the eventual exclusion of Hagar from the household. Thus the man of faith of chapter 15 becomes the man of flesh of chapter 16 and the far-reaching result visible today is the strife between the Arabs (of Ishmael) and Israel (of Isaac). Yet God tenderly cares for Hagar and sends her back to her mistress with a promise of divine support.

God then appears to Abram for a fifth time and an everlasting covenant is made, symbolized by the change of names from Abram to Abraham and from Sarai to Sarah. This is clearly what the New Testament calls "the new covenant," by which God undertakes Himself to be the total resource of the believer for daily activity. This is confirmed by a new revelation of God's name, that of El Shaddai, which means "the God who is sufficient." The sign of this new covenant is that of circumcision, which involves the cutting off of the flesh. It was the outward sign of an invisible inward truth. Abraham's faith falters slightly in seeking to bring Ishmael before God for blessing, but Jehovah patiently explains that he cannot be the heir of the promises since his birth does not rest upon faith, as does Isaac's. (The apostle Paul will base a great argument upon this difference in the letter to the Galatians 3:15-18)

The next chapter records the sixth appearance of God to Abraham, during which God announces the imminent birth of the promised son, and reveals to Abraham His plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. The encounter grows out of Abraham's warm hospitality toward three strangers who appear to him as he sits in the door of his tent. As he shows them hospitality there gradually dawns upon him the realization that it is the Lord Himself who thus comes, accompanied by two angels.

Sarah, listening behind the tent door, hears the announcement that she would bear a son within a year. She laughed when she heard it. But God graciously meets her with a divine revelation upon which her faith may seize and rest. He asks the question, "Is there anything too difficult for the Lord?" (Genesis. 18:14). Sarah doubtless meditated on that for the intervening months, and by the time her son was born she was strong in faith, even as Abraham her husband.

Then Jehovah reveals to Abraham, His friend, the second purpose of His coming, that of the imminent destruction of the cities of the plain for their extreme wickedness and unbelief. This introduces a most helpful manifestation of the authority of faith, exercised in prayer by Abraham out of concern for Lot and his family and the inhabitants of Sodom. With obvious reverence Abraham intercedes with God on behalf of the doomed cities. This intercession is based upon Abraham's awareness of the character of God: " Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" (v. 25). It would be a mistake to view Abraham's prayers as reflecting more mercy than does God. We learn from the New Testament that it is the Spirit of God who prays within the believer, urging him to the specific requests that are made. Thus it is God's mercy, expressed through Abraham's prayers, that limits and tempers the Justice and wrath of God. The sequel shows that God goes beyond anything we ask. Abraham stopped at ten righteous persons, but God saved the two or three in whom there was any recognition of Himself.

Chapter 19 records in vivid detail the sequel of the two angels' visit to Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot himself is righteous, as the New Testament makes clear, but his righteousness has been compromised by his conformity to much of Sodom's ways and he finds himself unable to influence his city, even his own family, toward righteousness. The homosexuality practiced in Sodom reflects the curse of Canaan upon these Canaanite tribes, and the ugly story of Lot and his incest with his daughters reveals the degree to which such practices may pervert those who maintain only an external pattern of righteousness.

Again, for the third time, we see a weakness in Abraham's faith (Genesis. 20). Surrounded by the men of Gerar (who afterward were known as the Philistines) Abraham again lies concerning his wife Sarah. Once again the man of faith is censured by the man of the world as Abimelech, the heathen king, rebukes him for his lack of complete honesty. These deflections in Abraham's faith are never in the great things but in the smaller details of his life. Clearly they illustrate for us the danger we face in matters where we feel no compulsion to act in confidence and trust in the living God.

At long last Sarah's laugh of incredulity is turned into the laughter of realization. As Isaac, the child of promise grows, conflict breaks out with the son of bondage, Ishmael. Eventually Abraham must make a choice between the two and in simple obedience he sent forth the child and the bondwoman, and leaned back on the gracious provision of God to fulfill His promise.

Chapter 22 records the last great lesson offaith, the intimacyof faith.In this chapter we also find the seventh and last appearance of Jehovah to Abraham. A gap of perhaps 20 years is evident between chapters 21 and 22. Isaac has grown to young manhood and, as the pride of his father's heart, God asks that he be offered up as a sacrifice to Him whom Abraham serves. It is Abraham's greatest test and must have proved a stunning and desolating trial to him. But faith enables him to triumph as he rests upon the character of God and feels that God is able even to raise the young man from death. Thus, as Hebrews (11:17-19) tells us, in a figure of resurrection Abraham received his son back from the dead. It is most striking that, according to biblical scholars, the mountain on which Isaac was offered is the same mountain upon which the Temple was later built and upon whose summit, many centuries later, Jesus Himself was offered as the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.

This last experience ended the testing of Abraham's faith. He had learned his faith lessons and there are no more failures of faith on his part. The testing however is followed by the repetition of God's great promises to Abraham, with the addition of a promised seed, as numerous as the sands of the seashore (22:17). It is clear from this that Abraham is to have two lines of descendants: a heavenly line, symbolized by the stars of the heavens; and an earthly line, symbolized by the sands of the seashore. Thus the writer of Hebrewswill later reflect upon a heavenly Jerusalem which is above, and an earthly Jerusalem which is below. Those who by faith are the children of Abraham, whether Jew or Gentile, are of the heavenly seed. Those who belong to the earthly Jerusalem are the physical descendants of Abraham, the Semitic nations of today (see Romans. 4:9-16; 9:6-8).

Chapters 23 through 25 record the death of Sarah and Abraham's sorrow at her passing. For her burial Abraham purchases the cave of Machpelah from the Hittites. Thus Abraham's first actual possession in the land is a grave.

In the story of Abraham's servant, Eliezer, sent to find a bride for Isaac, we have a beautiful Eastern idyll, picturing in accurate terms the sending of the Holy Spirit from the Father to seek the church as a bride for His own dear Son. Running throughout the account is the theme of the sovereign call 'of God. This alone accounts for Rebecca's willingness to leave her home and family to join a man she has never seen, in a land to which she has never been before. She finds Isaac waiting for her, meditating in the fields at evening time. Abraham's faith is rewarded by seeing the union of his son with a woman of his own kindred, who, though they are of two different temperaments, would walk together in the fulfillment of the divine purpose.

The final years of Abraham's life are gathered up for us in chapter 25, following his marriage to Keturah. From this union there came six more sons who also fathered tribes that later appear in the record of Israel. They form no part of the heirs of the promises made to Isaac, but are nevertheless given, by God's grace a place to dwell and made to flourish as nations.

Finally, at the age of 175 Abraham dies and is buried by his two sons Isaac and Ishmael in the cave of Machpelah, beside Sarah his beloved wife. Throughout the rest of the Bible, the figure of Abraham looms as preeminently the man of faith. By his experiences with God, and even by his failures, he has been taught the ingredients of righteousness which come by faith alone. These, as we have seen, may be summarized as: the obedience of faith, the sufficiency of faith, the humility of faith, the boldness of faith, the independence of faith, the authority of faith, and finally, in the sacrifice of Isaac, the intimacy of faith.

MAN SEEKS PEACE

Isaac symbolizes the condition of those who are the sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ. He dwells in the land in the midst of God's blessing and is refreshed by a continual supply of water in the wells that he digs in various locations, despite the opposition of his enemies. This truly depicts one who has found peace.

There is another aspect to Isaac: the principle of sonship. While his father was alive Isaac was the darling of his father's heart, and after Abraham's death he becomes the heir of the promises to Abraham and of the blessings of God. But Isaac's sonship also reflects the weaknesses of his father. For in the land of Gerar he repeats his father's sin: he lies about his wife Rebekah. Abimelech--not a proper name but the title of the kings of the Philistines--was the man of the world who rebuked Isaac.

As the heir of the promises, Isaac is given authority to pass these along to his posterity. When he was an old man, nearing the end of his life, he called his sons before him to give them his blessing. Before his twin sons, Jacob and Esau, were born, God told their mother Rebekah that the elder would serve the younger. Even though Isaac must have been aware of this prediction, when the sons appeared for their blessing Isaac sought to reverse the divine command. He intended to give the greater blessing to Esau, the firstborn.

Through a series of deceptions, masterminded by Rebekah, Jacob appears before his blind father in the guise of Esau, and receives the blessing of the firstborn. When Isaac found out that he had been tricked, he dares not alter the blessing he has pronounced. Instead he confirms to Esau the fact that he must serve his brother, but assigns to him the role of rebel and proud overthrower of his brother's yoke.

When Isaac died, the story centers on Jacob. Isaac has been a man of peace, quite content to enjoy his close relationship with his father and to experience his own spiritual relationship with God, distinct from those of Abraham or Jacob. He has learned how to pray and receive God's answer and to obey God's word and experience His blessing. In the brief record of his life we learn the secret of being a son and enjoying the inheritance of a great and glorious father.

Just as the life of Abraham vividly illustrates what is involved in the teaching of justification by faith, and that of Isaac, his son, portrays the meaning of sonship, so the life of Jacob describes and illustrates for us in exceedingly helpful ways the doctrine of sanctification by faith. Jacob's story is that of the struggle of two natures within him. His natural disposition was one of cunning and self-centered shrewdness. When he was born he emerged from the womb with his hand upon his brother Esau's heel and thus was given the name Jacob which means "heelcatcher" or "supplanter," one who seeks to take another's place. But Jacob had another bent within him which Esau, his twin brother, seemed totally to lack. Jacob had a hunger for spiritual relationships. He valued his brother's birthright which he took from him by trickery. He had a strong personal faith, was a hard worker and anintensely loving person. The story of Jacob, therefore, is the story of how God so dealt with a man of like passions with ourselves that He taught him how to rise above his lower nature and to become a man of God and a man of respect and dignity in his own generation.

Jacob's life can be seen in three clear stages. The first stage is his early years at home when he was basically a deceiver of others, living up to his name. In the second period of his life he learns what it is like to be deceived. Finally, Jacob learns to live as a man devoted to the word and will of God.

Jacob, the Deceiver

Esau, the older of Isaac's twin sons, was a man of the field, a skilled hunter, hairy and of ruddy complexion; he was also calledEdom,which means red. Jacob, his brother, on the other hand, was a quiet lad and content to live in the tent around his mother. As the firstborn, Esau had the right to the blessing of Isaac, but God had told Rebekah that the "elder shall serve the younger." So Rebekah was determined that Jacob would receive the inheritance.

One day, in a moment of hunger, Esau traded his birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage. The Bible said that "Esau despised his birthright." So when the time came for her sons to receive their father's blessing, Rebekah decided to make sure that Jacob would get the firstborn blessing. Isaac, old and blind, had sent Esau out to the field to hunt game "and prepare a savory dish" for his father. While he was gone, Rebekah told Jacob to dress in Esau's clothes. She covered his hands with hair. Then she prepared a savory stew of goat meat and sent Jacob to his father with the food. When Jacob entered his father's room hesaid." I am Esau your first-born; Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me" (Genesis. 27:19). Isaac was a little doubtful at first, but finally gave Jacob the blessing.

When Esau returned from the field, he also prepared a savory stew from the game he brought. He approached his father to receive the blessing. As Isaac learned of the deceit practiced upon him he fell into a violent fit of trembling, undoubtedly caused by his consciousness of the sovereign overriding of God. Isaac, aware of the divine prediction which he had sought to evade, gave Esau a lesser blessing.

Rebekah, fearing what Esau would do, convinced Isaac to send Jacob to Laban, her brother, to find a wife. Isaac sent Jacob off with his blessing.

Jacob, the Deceived

It was 600miles from Jacob's home at Beersheba southwest of the Dead Sea, to Haran in Mesopotamia where Rebecca's family lived. Jacob spent his first night in lonely homesickness at a spot which he later named Bethel. There God appeared to Jacob in a dream of a ladder reaching up into heaven upon which angels ascended and descended. The ladder symbolized the continual communication open between him and God. This was followed by God's renewal of the promises which He made to Abraham, now extended and confirmed to Jacob. Thus God's first step in the process of sanctifying Jacob was not to scold him or punish him or rebuke him, but rather to reveal to him His love and faithful concern. Jacob was shown that the way was open between himself and God and was given a promise upon which his faith could rest and which he could pass on to this descendants.

Jacob had thought he was alone and uncared for, but he found that God was with him, loving him and seeking to help him. In response, Jacob erected a great stone, anointing it with oil, and named the place Bethel--the house of God. To this place Jacob returned again and again, gaining from each visit a renewed awareness of God's faithful love and sure promise. So the sanctifying process in each believer today will consist of ~ returning again and again to the faithful promises of God and the reminders of His love and care for us.

The rather lengthy account in chapters 29 through 31 of Jacob's life in Haran is the story of God's loving discipline of a favorite son. It is a record of God's careful mingling of blessing and chastisement so that Jacob's spiritual fiber is toughened and strengthened while his heart is kept from discouragement by the love of Rachel, one of his wives, the fertility of Leah, another wife, the birth of sons, and by his growing prosperity even under the exacting hand of his uncle Laban. The scene when Jacob arrived at Haran and met Rachel beside the well is reminiscent of the story of Rebecca and the servant of Abraham many years before. Jacob fell in love with Rachel at first sight and, having been welcomed initially into Laban's family, felt that all was working out well for him, for he was promised his beloved Rachel for his wife after seven years of service to his uncle.

But Jacob must learn the harvest of deceit, and at the end of seven years he found himself tricked into marrying Leah, Laban's older daughter, instead. When Jacob protested, Laban offered to let him have Rachel for yet another seven years' servitude. So great was Jacob's love he consented to this as well. Fortunately for him, Rachel was given to him immediately and he had her love and companionship throughout the second seven years of service.

During this time a total of 11 sons were born to Jacob's wives and their handmaids who became his concubines. This was in accordance with the customs of the day and before the written law made such practices clearly wrong. When Rachel gave birth to a son after many years of barrenness she named him Joseph At that point Jacob decided that the time had arrived when he should return to Canaan.

But God was not yet through with Jacob's training. He must again experience the deceitfulness of his uncle in the matter of obtaining flocks and herds to take on his journey. After 14 years of service Jacob had learned much of the need for straightforward honesty and integrity and so he offered to make a deal with his uncle. He would take only the speckled and spotted sheep and goats while Laban would retain all those who were totally white, which was certainly a predominance of the flock. To this Laban readily agreed but secretly separated the spotted and speckled sheep and goats and put them under his sons' care at a distance of three days' journey. Jacob was left with nothing but white sheep and goats. He resorted to what he felt would be a stratagem to overcome his uncle's deceit. He tried a method that we would consider an "old-wives-tale" to insure that he would have sheep and goats to take with him. What he did not know was that God, who understood the laws of genetics since He Himself had called them into being, was using the invisible, hereditary genes for color in the white sheep to produce offspring which were spotted and speckled. The result was a spectacular increase in Jacob's flocks.

At this point God appeared to Jacob again in a dream and commanded him to return to the land of promise. To escape from Laban's wiles Jacob left in the middle of the night with his wives, children and flocks, and though Laban pursued him and caught up with him, God intervened to keep him from harming Jacob any further. Instead Jacob and Laban made a covenant of peace with one another and Laban returned to his own home. Despite Jacob's suffering during all these 20 years there was no trace of bitterness in his attitude, but one of praise to God for His blessing. Jacob had grown spiritually in tremendous ways during the 20 years of his servitude, but he would reach his true potential only after he had wrestled with God and his human strength was broken completely.

Jacob, Man of God

As Jacob came to the ford of the river Jabbok he learned that his brother Esau was on his way to meet him with 400 armed men. Immediately his reaction was to resort again to wiles and stratagems of his own. He divided his household into two groups and planned to send them on before him to try to appease the wrath of Esau with gifts before he must encounter him personally. While he waited alone, an angel in the form of a man, met him and began to wrestle with him through the long night. As the day broke the angel sought to disengage himself but Jacob clung with stubborn persistence. The angel touched Jacob's thigh and threw it out of joint; but still Jacob clung in helplessness to the divine messenger, refusing to let go until he was blessed of God. Then the divine being changed the name of Jacob to Israel which means "he who prevails with God." As the sun rose, Jacob limped off to meet Esau with a totally different attitude in his heart. He no longer feared man but was confident that God would fight his battles for him. When Esau arrived his own heart had been strangely altered and instead of attacking he fell upon Jacob's neck and embraced him. Thus Jacob learned the great principle of sanctification: that God was his strength and his refuge and is fully capable of working out all the problems with which he may be confronted.

As the result of an incident involving Jacob's daughter Dinah, God appeared again to Jacob and sent him back to Bethel to dwell there with a tent and an altar, as his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac had done before him. There God renewed His promises to Jacob and there Jacob's beloved wife, Rachel, gave birth to her second son Benjamin, and died in childbirth. Jacob traveled on to Mamre where he found his aged father on his deathbed and he and Esau joined together in burying Isaac with honor and reverence. The record then traces in one chapter (36)the extent of the sons of Esau and the nation of Edom which came from his loins. From here on, in Scripture, Jacob and Esau will forever stand for conflicting and opposite principles, the Spirit versus the flesh. The spotlight of Genesis now turns to Joseph and his sons.

MAN SEEKS JOY

With Joseph we come to the last of the four great patriarchs who symbolically present to us the great truths of redemption. To justification by faith, exemplified in Abraham; to sonship, shown in Isaac; and to sanctification, revealed in the life of Jacob; we now add the truth of glorification, set forth in the story of Joseph. He clearly appears as the forerunner, sent into Egypt to prepare the way for the coming of the 12 tribes into that land, and as such he pictures our great Forerunner who has gone on before us, even Jesus our Lord, to prepare the way for all His own to come into glory with Him and to share that glory together. In line with that emphasis, the character of Joseph is presented to us with almost unblemished consistency. He is often regarded as a type of Christ since he was beloved of his father but rejected by his brethren, sold into slavery for 20 pieces of silver, and, in the view of his father Jacob, died and eventually was brought to life again as a triumphant king instead of a suffering servant. Like our Lord he also forgave his brothers for their treatment of him and was used to save them from death and preserve the family line.

Beloved by His Father, Rejected by His Brothers

We have already learned that Joseph was born in Haran while Jacob was serving Laban, his uncle. In chapter 37 we discover him at the age of 17 working as a shepherd in his father's home in Hebron. Joseph was the obvious favorite of his father Jacob, who had bestowed on him a princely coat as a special mark of his favor. Therefore, he was the object of bitter hatred by his brothers. When, further, they learned that God had given Joseph two special dreams which predicted his elevation above his brothers, their hatred took a murderous form and they sought a way to kill him. Like his father Jacob, to whom God also spoke in dreams, Joseph seems to have had a special spiritual quality which God would greatly use in the years that lay ahead.

When Jacob's sons delayed returning from Shechem where they were feeding their flocks, Jacob sent Joseph the 50 miles from Hebron to Shechem to check on his brothers. Upon arriving at Shechem he found his brothers had departed for Dothan and he trudged on another 20 miles further north to find them there. Seeing him coming from afar, and recognizing the hated coat, his brothers plotted together to kill him, throw him into a pit, and tell his father that a wild beast had destroyed him. The oldest of the 12, Reuben, objected and persuaded them to leave him to die in a pit.

One can imagine the agony and fear of the 17-year-old boy who was thus roughly treated by his own brothers and tossed into a pit to die alone. While his brothers were in preparation for their journey home, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites traveling by and hit upon a scheme to sell Joseph to them as a slave, but to tell their father that he had been killed.

Sold for 20 Pieces of Silver

Thus for 20 pieces of silver they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites. Then they brought his coat, dipped in goat's blood back to their father with the report that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. Once again, Jacob who had deceived his own father Isaac, is now most truly deceived by his sons. But God's strange purposes were at work to bring about a quite different turn of events.

Chapter 38 records an incident to show why God found it necessary to remove the chosen family into Egypt for a period of time. Judah the fourth son of Jacob married a Canaanite woman. Their marriage led to a series of events that indicates the degradation of Canaan. To prevent them from being absorbed by a heathen culture God was moving in ways that would eventually put the family out of Canaan.

Meanwhile, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, an officer in the army of Egypt. The excellence of Joseph's character soon elevated him to a place of trust and responsibility and he was put over all of Potiphar's household. Surely he must have felt that the prediction of his dream was soon to come to pass. But a loving heavenly Father saw his need for being made perfect through suffering (see Hebrews 2:10) and events quickly took another turn.

Because Joseph was handsome and good-looking, Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce him. Joseph resisted until one day she found him alone and lay hold of his garment, attempting to drag him into her bed. Crying out, "How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?" (Genesis. 39:9),Joseph fled from her presence leaving his garment behind.

Potiphar's wife reported the incident to her husband as though Joseph had attempted to assault her. Potiphar cast Joseph into prison. In all this there is no hint of bitterness or resentment on Joseph's part, but a quiet trust that God was working His way. Joseph's kindliness and skill soon won him a position as trusty over the other prisoners, because "the Lord was with Joseph." Whatever he did the Lord made it to prosper.

Once again, dreams play a large part in Joseph's story. This time Pharaoh's butler and baker, who were cast into prison, were the dreamers, and Joseph was the interpreter. The dreams were fulfilled as Joseph said. The baker went to his death and the butler was restored to Pharaoh's household, but soon forgot his promise to remember Joseph when he was released. But another dream got Joseph out of prison two years later.

From Suffering Servant to Triumphant King

Pharaoh had a dream. He commanded his seers to interpret the dream for him. When they could not the chief butler remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh of his interpretative skill. Joseph was hastily hauled from the dungeon and brought before Pharaoh. There he interpreted Pharaoh's dream, predicting the seven years of good harvest followed by seven years of drought and famine. Pharaoh, impressed not only by Joseph's interpretative skills, but also by the wisdom with which he suggested ways to meet the coming crises, put his signet ring upon Joseph's hand, arrayed him in garments of fine linen, put a gold chain about his neck and made him at the age of30years the second ruler in all the kingdom. Thus the stage was set for the coming of Jacob and his sons down to the land of Egypt.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Canaan, Jacob and his sons were experiencing terrible famine which settled upon the land. Jacob sent all his sons but the youngest, Benjamin, into Egypt to buy grain for their cattle. When the brothers came before Joseph he recognized them immediately, but did not reveal his knowledge. Instead he treated them roughly and accused them as spies come into the land. When they protested he ordered that they leave one of the brothers behind as a hostage and return to Canaan and bring back Benjamin, the youngest, as proof of their integrity. In discussing this among themselves, Reuben, the eldest, reminded them that this was a divine retribution for their treatment of Joseph many years earlier. Simeon, the second oldest, remained behind and the brothers returned to Canaan. Jacob at first was adamant that he would not let Benjamin leave. But the famine forced him to relent.

Upon reaching Egypt, Joseph entertained the brothers in his own home, much to their bafflement and uncertainty. When they left he commanded that the money they used to buy the grain be put back in their bags, and his own private cup be hidden in Benjamin's bag. A short way out from the city he sent his servants after them who accused them of stealing the cup. Protesting their innocence they vowed that the man in whose bag the cup should be found would immediately be put to death. But when the cup was found in Benjamin's bag they were overcome with sorrow and were brought back to Joseph's presence.

There, in a most moving plea, Judah privately recited the whole story in Joseph's ear and begged of him that Joseph would permit Judah to remain as hostage and let Benjamin go. Upon hearing this Joseph could not control himself any longer, and ordering all the Egyptians from the room, in a most moving scene he made himself known to his brothers. Upon Pharaoh's command the brothers returned to Canaan with the good news, and at last Jacob was persuaded to come with them into Egypt. Once again God appeared to Jacob in a vision of the night and reassured him that it was right for him to go into Egypt, for there He promised to make of his sons a great nation and to bring them again to the land of Canaan.

The remainder of the story is quickly told. The Israelites settled in the land of Goshen with Pharaoh's permission and became the herdsmen and keeper of Pharaoh's cattle. As the famine continued, the Egyptians sold first their cattle and then their land to Pharaoh, and at the end of the drought Joseph gave them seed to plant their land and retained the fifth part for Pharaoh's possession.

As the aged Jacob neared his death, Joseph brought his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim before him to be blessed of him. Joseph stood Manasseh, the older one, at Jacob's right hand and Ephraim, the younger, at Jacob's left hand, but when the old patriarch, sitting on the side of his bed, blessed them he crossed his hands so that the blessing of the firstborn fell upon Ephraim the younger and Manasseh, the elder, was given the secondary blessing. Once again the right of the firstborn was withheld from the one born first, and, by means of a cross, was transferred to the younger son. It was God's reminder that the right of the firstborn, which belonged to Adam, was now transferred to the last Adam (Jesus) that He might be "the firstborn of all creation."

In a great predictive chapter, Jacob called his sons before him and in poetic style foretold their destinies. When he had finished charging his sons "he drew up his feet into the bed, and breathed his last."

The final chapter recounts how Joseph brought the body of his father, in a great procession, up to the land of Canaan and buried him with Abraham in the cave of Machpelah. Joseph then returned to Egypt where he lived till the age of 110 and himself died, having made his brothers swear that they would bring his bones into Canaan when at last God brought the nation out of Egypt into the Promised Land (see Exodus. 13:19).

Thus Genesis, which began with the creation of the heavens and the earth, ends in a coffin in Egypt. But behind the sad reality there bums the bright promise of El Shaddai, the God who is sufficient to bring about the fulfillment of all His promises by means of the process of justification, adoption, sanctification, and ultimately, glory.

Title: The Need of Mankind: Genesis 12-50 Author: Ray C. Stedman
   Date:April 2, 1997
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