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Saturday, July 14 2012
Israel In History and Prophecy: Jacob's Family
Isaac and Rebekah
As we've covered in the first study in this series, Abraham is the actual physical ancestor of many nations in the Middle East today - the reason that the LORD (i.e. Jesus Christ; see Who Is The LORD?) changed his name from "Abram" (pronounced in Hebrew as awb-rawm, which means high father) to "Abraham" (pronounced in Hebrew as awb-raw-hawm, which means father of a multitude). It was however from a single line of Abraham that the Messiah, of all people, would be born. Abraham knew that he was the root from which many branches would grow (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Roots and Branches), but that only one branch would bear a Chosen "Firstfruit" that would enable the harvest, of the good fruit (see Christ Died For Repentant Sinners), of all of the branches, in their due season (see The Harvest Prophecies). That Messianic line from Abraham began through Isaac.
"21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken [see A Biography Of Abraham: Sarah].
After Sarah died of old age, and with his own physical life nearly accomplished (see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin and The Eighth Day: What Does It Mean?), Abraham arranged to find a wife for Isaac from among his own Iraqi people back in Syria (the journey from Ur had been done in two stages; some settled and remained at the approximate half-way point, in Syria, while Abraham continued on to the land of Canaan; see A Biography Of Abraham: From Ur To Canaan).
"24:1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
The journey was a success; Rebekah agreed to return to marry Isaac.
"24:55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.
Jacob and Esau
Isaac and his wife Rebekah eventually had fraternal (i.e. created "from two separate fertilized ova," therefore different in appearance), definitely not identical (created "from the same fertilized ovum; having the same genetic material," therefore identical in appearance), twin sons - Jacob and Esau, thereby also creating more "other seed" (i.e. other nations) from Abraham, through Esau (all of Genesis chapter 36 is used to list the great number of descendants and nations that originated just from Esau).
"25:19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son:
Although twins, Esau was born before Jacob - an important factor, according to the custom, in which the firstborn son was given more of the father's estate, not merely out of vain favoritism, but as a means of responsibility of continuing, and providing for, the family - which benefited everyone (a principle that applies ultimately to God's firstborn; see Primogeniture and Descent and The Firstborn Of Passover). At the time of their birth, the Messianic line from Abraham and through Isaac would have seemingly continued on through Esau. Jacob however tested his brother's strength and wisdom, and whether Jacob was surprised or not, Esau failed the test - Esau sold his birthright to Jacob.
"25:27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 25:28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
One may have the prosperity of the birthright, but without the father's blessing, it could still be lost - from even a purely natural result of people knowing that the father did not bless his firstborn (and most people therefore refusing to do business with him). At the instigation of his mother Rebekah, Jacob then carried out a scheme to obtain Esau's blessing, along with the property rights of the firstborn that Jacob already had acquired. The result was that Jacob received the blessing that blind Isaac thought that he was giving to Esau: "Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee."
"27:21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.
When he discovered that he had been bested, again, Esau responded with rage. He told others that he was going to kill Jacob, as soon as their elderly father had died. When Rebekah heard of it, she urged Jacob to flee to her home town in Syria and stay with her brother Laban for "a few days" until Esau's anger had subsided (the family had a serious problem with favoritism: "25:28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob" Genesis 25:28 KJV). How long it took for Esau to recover from his murderous Cain-like state of mind is not recorded (although he eventually did, after the LORD prospered him even more than Jacob; see The First Meeting Of Israel And Esau and all of Genesis chapter 36), but Jacob, due to work and business agreements with Laban, stayed in Syria for over twenty years anyway.
"27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.
"Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel"
It was during the two decades that Jacob was in Syria that eleven of Jacob's twelve sons, and his only recorded daughter, Dinah, were born (see Mothers Of Israel). Over that time, Jacob had managed to prosper himself greatly, most at the expense of his uncle Laban (see The House Of Laban The Syrian). Sensing the growing hostility and resentment toward him from his uncle and cousins, "Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels; And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan."
"31:1 And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father's [see Jacob's Ringstreaked, Speckled And Spotted]; and of that which was our father's hath he gotten all this glory. 31:2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before." (Genesis 31:1-2 KJV)
It was during Jacob's return journey from Syria to Canaan that the LORD renamed him as "Israel." It occurred in the area east of the Jordan River (shown in the photograph; see Where Jacob Became Israel), in what is today the Kingdom of Jordan (although centuries later, that trans-Jordan area was held by two and a half of the tribes of Israel; see Why East And West Manasseh?). It was "the LORD God," Jesus Christ (see Who Is The LORD?), Who renamed Jacob as "Israel."
"32:22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok. 32:23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had. 32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 32:25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 32:26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh.
Israel In "The Land Of Canaan" and "The Land of Ham"
Jacob / Israel's return to the land of Canaan began with a tragedy; Rachel died giving birth to the only Israelite patriarch that was actually born in what became the land of Israel - Benjamin (the eleven other sons of Jacob were born in Syria, from which he had just returned, and Ephraim and Manasseh were born in Egypt of an Egyptian mother). Rachel was buried near Bethlehem where her tomb remains a major historic landmark (see The Rachel Prophecies).
"35:16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
Jacob then returned to the area of Hebron. Not long afterward, Isaac died. Notice that Jacob and Esau had indeed made peace at their father's funeral (i.e. Esau's threat was that he was going to kill Jacob as soon as their father died - although it took over 20 years longer than Esau had thought that it would), but "his sons Esau and Jacob buried him" without conflict.
"35:27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned [see A Biography Of Abraham: Mamre in Hebron]. 35:28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. 35:29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him." (Genesis 35:27-29 KJV)
Like his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac, "Jacob dwelt in the land," not as the founder or leader of a country named "Israel," but as "a stranger, in the land of Canaan."
"37:1 And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan." (Genesis 37:1 KJV)
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob looked forward to the Kingdom of God. They all "were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" who looked to the future for "a country."
"11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went [see A Biography Of Abraham: From Ur To Canaan].
When a severe drought and famine struck the land of Canaan, Jacob and his family went to live in Egypt, which is within "the land of Ham" (see The Family Of Ham). Jacob lived his entire life in the land of Canaan (where he was born), then in Syria, then back in the land of Canaan, and the remainder in Egypt, in the land of Ham, where he died.
"105:23 Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham." (Psalm 105:23 KJV)
Jacob never knew of "Israel" as a country (as stated in the verses above, after his return from Syria, he lived "in the land of Canaan" and then "in the land of Ham"). From the day that the LORD renamed him, to the day that Jacob/Israel died as a refugee in Egypt (after living there about seventeen years; Why Did They Go To Goshen?), the only "Israel" that Jacob knew was himself. According to custom, Israel's children were known as "Israelites" (if the LORD hadn't changed Jacob's name to Israel, his children and descendants would have been known as Jacobites).
"46:1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
"Israel" at the time that Jacob lived was not a country, it was not a people, it was a man with a family of seventy people.
"46:26 All the souls [see What Does The Bible Really Say About Your Soul?] that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six;
Jacob / Israel lived in Egypt for about seventeen years before died. When he realized that his journey was ending, he conducted the customary family blessing - without any misrepresentation, as happened when Jacob's father Isaac had blessed him.
In Jacob / Israel's blessing is the first specific mention of the Messiah ("and unto him shall the gathering of the people be," verse 10 below) to be born of Judah's descendants. It couldn't have been specifically stated much sooner than that because Judah, and his children, the "Jews," had just come into existence. Keep in mind that Judah had only two children and two grandchildren (as listed in Genesis 46:12) at that time - the first four descendants of Judah, or in abbreviation of the name, "Jews" (see Who Were The First Jews?)
"49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. 49:2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
Jacob / Israel then gave instructions for his funeral, to be done at the family tomb in Hebron where Abraham and Isaac were already buried.
"49:29 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 49:30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace. 49:31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. 49:32 The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth.
The magnificent funeral procession from Egypt to the land of Canaan was due to the great political status of Jacob's son Joseph, who was the Prime Minister of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh, not to Jacob / Israel, who was, in contrast, just a foreign man with a large family being taken from the country where he died to "the land of Canaan."
"50:6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.
So Israel's journey was completed: "his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre."
"50:12 And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them: 50:13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre. 50:14 And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father." (Genesis 50:12-14 KJV)
Fact Finder: How did the Messiah's ancestral line survive the later division of Israel into "Israel" and "Judah"?
This Day In History, July 16
622: The beginning of the Islamic calendar.
1048: Benedict IX, known as the "Boy Pope," resigned from the Papacy.
1054: The "Great Schism" began between the Western and Eastern churches over rival claims of universal pre-eminence. In 1965, 911 years later, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras met to declare an end to the schism.
1212: The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa ended Muslim power in Spain.
1377: The coronation of Richard II of England.
1661: The first bank notes in Europe were issued, by the Bank of Stockholm.
1774: Russia and the Ottoman Empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) signed the treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji, ending their six-year war.
1917: The Bolsheviks began an attempt to seize power in Petrograd but were defeated. Trotsky was arrested and Lenin went into hiding.
1918: Nicholas II, the last Russian czar (the Russian form of "Caesar"), was murdered together with his family and entourage by the Bolsheviks at Yekaterinburg.
1940: Adolf Hitler ordered the preparations for the invasion of Britain. The invasion plans were later cancelled after the Royal Air Force won the "Battle of Britain" air war.
1942: Nearly 14,000 Jews were arrested in Paris as part of a Nazi roundup of the Jewish people in France.
1945: The U.S. detonated the first atomic bomb, a plutonium weapon named "Trinity," in the New Mexico desert.
1965: The seven-mile tunnel through Mont Blanc connecting France and Italy was opened.
1969: Apollo 11 was launched. It made the first manned moon landing a few days later.
1979: Saddam Hussein became the President of Iraq, succeeding President Hasan al-Bakr.
1994: The fragmented Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 began 7 days of impacts on Jupiter.
1999: John F. Kennedy Jr., 38, his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, 33, and his wife's sister Lauren Bessette, 35, were killed in a plane crash in the waters off Massachusetts. Investigators found that the relatively inexperienced pilot, John Kennedy, who did not have an instrument rating, may have become disoriented in the darkness, over water (when and where the horizon is much more difficult to see) and put the small plane into a stall or spin from which he was unable to recover before crashing into the ocean.