Time Line - Historical Overview
We turn now to Isaac’s son JACOB, about whom much could be spoken.
1. Jacob Strives with Esau
There was Jacob’s beginning - born striving it seemed with his brother Esau even in the womb - and the prophecy about Jacob:
" And the LORD said to her, 'Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.’" (Gen.25:23)
Jacob (the younger) obtained the inheritance and the blessing (Gen 27), including the words:
"Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you." (Gen 27:29)
2. Jacob Serves Laban
When Esau promises to KILL Jacob, Jacob flees to his uncle Laban in Haran, seeking a wife (Gen.27:41-28:5). At Haran, Jacob agrees to serve Laban. (Gen.29:1-20) During his service, as Laban repeatedly tricks Jacob, Jacob agrees to take the speckled and spotted lambs - and prospers! Gen.30:32-43)
When Laban’s sons become jealous and angry, Jacob flees from Laban taking his two wives Rachel and Leah - and Laban’s household gods (Gen.31:1-25) Laban pursues Jacob and searches for his idols. Finally, Jacob exposes Laban’s deceit and acknowledges GOD’s providence. (Gen.31:38-42)
Laban departs, but now Esau pursues Jacob with 400 MEN! (Gen.32-33)
3. Jacob Strives with Angel of GOD
While waiting for Esau, Jacob strives all night with the Angel of GOD at Peniel, but Jacob is not defeated. Instead of a blessing, the Angel announces that Jacob’s name is changed to Israel. (Gen.32:22-32)
After reconciliation with Esau, Jacob returns to Shechem. He purchases land from Hamor, father of Shechem, for 100 pieces of money (Gen.33:18-20) This is the second recorded transaction in the Hebrew Scriptures of the purchase of land in Canaan by the Jewish People.
But the Scriptures record that the tribe of Jacob at this point still possessed foreign gods. (Gen.35:2-4)
4. Covenant at Bethel
We read the full wording of GOD’s covenant with Jacob, given by GOD at Bethel. As part of that covenant, Jacob’s renaming to Israel is confirmed -
"God also said to him, 'I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you.
'And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your descendants after you." (Gen 35:11-12)
E. SINFUL SONS OF JACOB
At this point in Jacob’s story, Israel is only a tribe - numbering 70 total (Gen.46:27) by the time of Jacob’s move to Egypt. At this point, Jacob has 12 sons and one daughter: born in this order (3) -
and also Dinah.
(Gen.29:31-30:25) (Gen.35:18) (Gen.34:1)
BUT NOW there is a distinct change in the character of the story as the background turns dark and foreboding.
There are four important events which occur, considered sins by GOD, which taken together we claim help to explain why it is that GOD would no longer allow Israel to remain in the land of milk and honey, in Canaan, but instead to move with all their belongings to the firepot of Egypt! (On this point, we share the view of Prof. Arnold Fruchtenbaum.) We will follow the chronology in the Hebrew Scriptures as we examine each of these events.
1. Dinah’s Night Out
In the first event, Dinah, the only named daughter of Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of Canaan. When Shechem saw her, he desired her and went into her by force. Jacob’s sons on hearing of this were angry, for such a thing ought NOT to be done!
When Shechem approached Jacob and Dinah’s brothers asking for her in marriage, her brothers conceived a plot. When Shechem asked that his tribe be allowed to intermarry with the daughters of Jacob, her brother replied that this could only happen if every male of Shechem’s tribe be circumcised, like the Hebrews, an arrangement to which Shechem agreed.
After every male of Shechem’s tribe was circumcised, on the third day when they were in pain, Simeon and Levi, Jacob’s 2nd and 3rd sons, came upon the village by surprise and murdered every male. They captured and looted all their wealth and their livestock and their little ones and their wives.
On learning what his two sons had done, Jacob complained that by this act, they had made all of Jacob’s tribe odious among the Canaanites, that they would gather together and destroy Jacob’s tribe. But Jacob did nothing to punish his sons. (Gen.34)
2. Joseph Sold as Slave
Joseph became Jacob’s favorite son. When Joseph would describe his dreams in which his brothers, mother and father would all bow down to him, Joseph’s brothers became very jealous.
This was how the second event occurred. One day, when Joseph went to the fields to see how his brothers and the flock were doing, the brothers saw him coming at a distance and at that moment vowed to kill him. They stripped Joseph of his beautiful cloak, threw him in a pit and smeared blood on the cloak to show his father, claiming he was killed by a wild beast. But about Joseph, when a caravan of traders passed by on their way to Egypt, instead of killing him they sold him as a slave. (Gen.37)
(The price they were paid is worthy of note - 20 pieces of silver!)
We will return to Joseph shortly!
3. Judah and the Levirate Duty
The third event is a bit more complicated to explain. But nevertheless this one has a favorable and important outcome.
Judah, the 4th son of Jacob, went traveling in the land of Canaan to visit a certain Adulamite. There he saw the daughter of a Canaanite and went into her.
She conceived and bore a son, Er. She conceived again and bore another son, Onan, She conceived a 3rd time and bore still another son, Shelah.
Judah took a wife for Er his first-born, whose name was Tamar, a Canaanite. But Er was evil in the LORD’s sight, so GOD struck him down.
Then Judah said to Onan his second-born, to go into his dead brother’s wife and perform his Levirate duty as brother-in-law.
For women had no right to property, so that all that belonged to her dead husband would be lost unless she had a son by his name. It was already the custom in Jacob’s time - later codified in the Mosaic Law - that the husband’s brother must go into her that she have a son within the family, that the son would have the name of his mother’s dead husband, that his name would still carry on. (Deut.25:5-10)
But Onan sought to enjoy the act without allowing conception, so GOD struck Onan down also.
However, Judah’s third son Shelah was still too young, so Judah advised his son’s wife Tamar, to remain a widow until Shelah grows up. But when Shelah grew up, she was not given to him as promised.
Seeing this, Tamar one day, after Judah’s wife had died, posed as a temple prostitute and seduced Judah, but he did not recognize his dead son’s wife. In return, she asked for a pledge from Judah, to which he gave his seal and cord. When Judah later came with a gift in order to redeem his pledge, the harlot had gone.
When it became apparent that the widow Tamar had conceived and would soon give birth, Judah accused her and ordered her burned. Then Tamar produced the ring and cord. Judah recognized his own pledge and responded, "She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah." (Gen.38:1-26)
The outcome of this third event has SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE. For you see, rather than one conceived by this union, there were two. One of these sons was named Zerah, but the other named Perez. You see, this same Perez would become the ancestor of King David! (We will speak more of this significance shortly.)
4. Sin with Father’s Concubine
In the fourth event, one time while Jacob was traveling in the land, Jacob’s 1st son Reuben went in to Jacob’s concubine Bilhah, and Jacob heard of it.
FOUR EVENTS, by which the four oldest sons of Jacob sinned importantly - (4)
* Simeon (2nd)
* Levi (3rd), and
* Reuben (1st)
And in the attempt to murder their brother Joseph, most of the sons took part (though few are named in the account).
5. Reason for Refuge in Egypt
Understand that in Genesis 3, following the sin by Adam and Eve in the Garden, GOD prophesied that the head of the serpent (Satan) would be crushed by the "seed of the woman," a miraculous deliverer. In Genesis 12, we learn in the Covenant of Abraham that the deliverer would be one of Abraham’s descendants. That promise was passed on in turn to Isaac and Jacob, so that a descendant of ONE OF JACOB’S SONS would be the deliverer.
Therefore, Satan’s intent was to corrupt the Holy Seed, so that the prophecy of Satan’s defeat could never be fulfilled.
We learn later concerning WHICH son’s descendant would be that deliverer. After Joseph had received power in Egypt, and the promised famine in all the land had caused Jacob with his entire tribe to find refuge in Egypt, we note Jacob’s final blessing before his death, announced to his sons -
"The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes. And to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples." (Gen 49:10)
The promise of a scepter denotes KINGSHIP. That is, the kingship which would come to Judah’s descendant would be everlasting. The meaning of "everlasting kingship" is unclear.
* Whether once established, there would be a king on the throne of Judah forever; or,
* Whether a king would come of the line of Judah who would never die. (CORRECT!)
The precise meaning of the name "Shiloh" is disputed by Biblical scholars, though it certainly refers to the miraculous deliverer. But some of us take the meaning from modern Hebrew, namely -
"His!" or "He to whom it belongs!"
Jacob’s blessing, then, means that the miraculous deliverer promised by GOD in Genesis 3, would be a DESCENDANT OF JUDAH. Indeed, we have seen that one of Judah’s two sons by Tamar was Perez, an ancestor of King David.
Later Scripture passages show that this miraculous deliverer would be a DESCENDANT OF DAVID, a so-called "Son of David."
THIS, THEN, was the danger posed by the four incidents. Satan sought by whatever means the corruption of the "seed of the woman," a descendant of one of Jacob’s 12 sons. Now that Jacob’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th sons had sinned, and potentially 10 of the 12 by the attempt to murder Joseph (Benjamin was apparently too young to take part), GOD chose another course to protect the Holy Seed.
After the first event (rape of Dinah), GOD already set in motion the process to lead to the rescue of the tribe of Jacob to a protected place in Egypt, away from Canaan. In so doing, He turned the sinful intent of the brothers to bring about good.
And in the third event (with Judah), when the Holy Seed itself was threatened with non-existence, GOD caused through Tamar, who was not of Jewish descent, for good to occur.
FGOD had a plan from the beginning for Israel’s rescue and the rescue of the Holy Seed, even before the first event. For GOD warned Abraham that his descendants would have to spend many years in Egypt, in bondage.
This is a portion of a more extensive historical overview prepared by Mr. Charles Quigley. Select the more inclusive "sessions" for the TANAKH SURVEY (from the menu on the left) to view the overview in its entirety. This historical overview was originally created for oral presentations that cover Israel's history from its origin to a period leading to the 'Current Era' (CE). See note below on use of this presentation material.
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