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Friday, September 14 2018
A Bible Journey, 29: Israel's Syria Origin
"Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother"
Jacob (the LORD hadn't changed his name to "Israel" yet - that would happen on the return journey, two decades later) arrived in Syria as a fugitive, seeking refuge from the deadly wrath of his brother Esau (see A Bible Journey, 27: The Blessing And Birthright From Esau To Jacob and A Bible Journey, 28: The Stairway To Heaven Dream).
It was nevertheless no mere chance that Jacob immediately came into contact with his relatives of the family of Abraham (see A Bible Journey, 12: The Haran Connection) that the LORD had chosen to fulfill the Messianic branch of Abraham's seed (see also A Bible Journey, 17: A Father Of Many Nations and A Bible Journey, 15: The Exodus Prophecies).
Although Jacob didn't realize it when he arrived, it would be his home for the next twenty years. While he arrived poor and alone, he would return home as a wealthy patriarch with two wives and two concubines with eleven sons (of all of the Israelite tribal patriarchs, only Benjamin wasn't born in Syria; see the Fact Finder question below).
"29:1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.
The meeting of Jacob and the family of his wives was similar to the centuries-later meeting of Moses to the family of Zipporah in the Sinai (see also Moses And Zipporah).
29:4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye?
There is no way that Rebekah could have told her brother Laban that Jacob was coming beforehand - there was no means of communication, other than the first to come with the news. The running-for-his-life Jacob was himself the first arrival.
"29:13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things. 29:14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh.
As was customary of the time, Jacob made a formal agreement with Laban for the marriage of his daughter to Jacob.
"29:16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 29:17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. 29:18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
Jacob's mother Rebekah had been the mastermind of Jacob's elaborate posing as Esau to get Esau's blessing. It seems that Rebekah and Laban were a brother and sister of similar manipulative character. Laban concocted a similar switch in the darkness, but this time, it was Jacob who was deceived. When the ruse was discovered the next morning, Jacob hypocritically protested what had been done to him.
"29:22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
Although Jacob agreed to the marriage, there was no love from him for Leah, emotionally or physically, at the beginning. "And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren." The great irony of that, in the end, was that Leah became the mother of more children of Jacob/Israel (including Judah) than any of the other three women - and she is today the only wife of Jacob buried with him in the family tomb at Hebron (see also Jacob's Mummy).
"29:31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.
Fact Finder: Who were the women of Syria who became the mothers of most of the Israelite lines - including Judah?
This Day In History, September 14
81: Domitian became the 11th Roman emperor (see The Roman Emperors: Domitian). He reigned (81-96 AD) during the time that the apostle John was given to write the book of Revelation (see Revelation: Thy Kingdom Come). Domitian succeeded his brother Titus who oversaw the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem in 70 (see The Roman Emperors: Titus and What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones?).
629: Byzantine Emperor Heraclius entered Constantinople (named after Roman Emperor Constantine; see also Emperor Constantine's Sun Dogs) after his victory over the Persian Empire.
1180: The Battle of Ishibashiyama in Japan.
1262: Cadiz, Spain, was captured by Alfonso X of Castille, ending a 500-year occupation of the city by the Moors.
1741: The German-born English composer George Frederick Handel finished his "Messiah" oratorio, after working on it non-stop for 23 days.
1812: During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon's invasion of Russia reached Moscow to find that the entire city had been abandoned and set on fire by retreating Russian forces (see Russia Or Europe - Who Has Been The Invader?).
1829: The Russo-Turkish War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Adrianople between the Ottomans and the Russians (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1854: British and French forces landed in the Crimea to fight the Russians, who had started the Crimean War with their invasion of Turkey in July 1853.
1901: U.S. President William McKinley died at age 58, a week after being hit by an assassin's bullet while standing in a reception line in Buffalo, New York. McKinley was one of many U.S. Presidents who did not survive their elected office (historically, the greatest danger for U.S. Presidents hasn't been foreign enemies, but their own people). In 1989, Ronald Reagan broke what some called the "year zero curse" when he became the first U.S. President since 1840, who won a Presidential election in a year ending in a zero, to leave office alive (although not without incident - Mr. Reagan was very seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in March of 1981):
1960: John F. Kennedy, assassinated
1917: After the communist revolution that overthrew the Czar Nicholas ("Czar" was term used for the Russian king, which was derived from the Roman "Caesar"), Russia was proclaimed a republic by the victorious rebels (see When Do Liberals Become Conservatives? and The Origin Of Politics and Republics).
1939: The first functional helicopter, Russian-born Igor Sikorsky's VS-300, made its first flight (see also Who Was The First To Fly?).
1944: Belgium, Luxembourg and part of Holland were liberated from Nazi occupation by U.S., British and Canadian troops.
1948: Construction of the United Nations buildings in New York began.
1959: The Soviet Union's unmanned Luna-2 became the first man-made spacecraft to land on the Moon.
1960: Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia formed OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
1982: Bashir Gemayel, President-elect of Lebanon, was assassinated by a bomb while speaking before a Maronite women's group. The explosive device, which was set by a pro-Syrian dissident, demolished the building and killed dozens of other people.
2001: A "National Prayer Service" was held at the Washington National Cathedral for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. A service was also held on Parliament Hill in Canada, the largest such service in Canada's capital.
In the hours after 9-11 happened, President George W. Bush closed U.S. airspace to everyone - even U.S. airliners over the Atlantic. That wasn't a problem for those who weren't yet half-way - they could turn around and return to Europe. But those closer to home didn't have enough fuel to turn around, but were still warned not to enter U.S. airspace or they'd be shot down. Fortunately for the 7,000 people on those U.S. airliners, there is a little airport in Canada, known as Gander.