Bible Study Lesson 5 – The Patriarchs

Gen 23-50: Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph
Average Time to Read: 3 minutes

Gen 23-50: Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph

2 Parts: (a) Isaac, Jacob, Esau (b) Joseph

A) Isaac

-his life seems the most peaceful because he only has one wife

-Abraham sends a servant to find a wife for Isaac

-Why did the servant pray for the ‘right woman’ to water his camels?  They drink about 40 gallons each!  She would need to be a strong woman to do this.

-Isaac and Rebekah really love each other; she is barren like his mother Sarah, but Isaac intercedes for her and she conceives.

Conflict between Jacob and Esau-the birthright

-Conflict is foreshadowed by their difficult birth, as well as prophecy.

-Jacob did take advantage of Esau’s hunger

-regardless, it was foolish for Esau to do this—Esau is shown to be “unworthy” of the Father’s blessing and a rash individual as well.

*Notice also that God rarely ever chooses the first born son—the younger always receives the blessing.  “God’s ways are not our ways…”

-Because of this, Jacob ‘stealing’ the blessing of the first-born is not actually theft because it is his by right.

“The Punishment fits the crime”:

-God makes Jacob do penance for his initial deception in several ways:

1) By having to work for 14 years to get the wife he wants.  Jacob “grows up” during this time.

-Jacob was a tent-dweller, but working for his wives he does hard labor outdoors.

-because he is tricked into having two wives-this causes division later on for the tribes of Israel depending on maternal descent: After the split of the Davidic kingdom later on, The North will follow the tribe of Joseph (Rachael’s son), but the South will follow the tribe of Judah (Leah’s son)

2) Later, when his son Joseph is sold into slavery, his brothers use goat’s blood on the coat of many colors to deceive their father.  (**Remember that Jacob used goat skins on his arms to trick his father Isaac)

-Jacob’s ladder=type of Christ- Jn 1:51-“You shall see angels ascending and descending on the son of Man”

-‘Leah’ means cow, ‘Rachael’ means ‘ewe lamb’ (basically money for Laban, since he is a herdsman)

Jacob runs away from Laban

-Rachael hiding the “family gods” in her possession means that her descendants are legally Laban’s line

-Jacob’s name changed to Israel because he “struggled/wrestled with God.”  Fittingly, his descendents will wrestle with obeying God’s commands throughout the rest of the Bible.  See the Navarre Bible article on Jacob’s “wrestling” for more explanation of the meaning.

B)- Joseph Narrative begins- Ch 37

3 Themes:

1.) Foreshadowing of Israel’s future strife (arguing among the brothers)

2.) Judah becomes the head of Israel’s descendents

3.) Joseph is Judah’s challenger

How does Judah become the Head?

Leah’s sons:

1.) Reuben

2.) Simeon

3.) Levi

4.) Judah

primogeniture-right of the first born

-this transfers eventually to Judah because:

-Reuben sleeps with Bilhah—Father’s concubine (Remember the sin of Ham?)

-Simeon and Levi kill all the men of Shecum to avenge their youngest sister’s rape-they receive a curse of “scattering” at the end of Genesis.

-Simeon’s tribe becomes assimilated by Judah eventually

-Levi’s tribe becomes one of priests and they scatter throughout Israel

Contrast between Reuben and Judah

Ch 37- Reuben wants to save Joseph from the pit, possibly to regain the Father’s blessing-doesn’t work

-Judah suggests they sell him, and this is carried out for silver (He is a type of Judas at the beginning, Joseph is a type of Christ)

Ch 42- Going back to get food

-Reuben suggests slaying his 2 sons if he doesn’t bring back Benjamin alive (o great, I’ll kill some of my grandchildren to make me feel better)

-Judah puts himself on the line, bearing eternal blame if he doesn’t bring him back to Jacob (now he’s a type of Christ)

Ch 44- Joseph reveals himself to his brothers

Vs 18-Judah intercedes for Benjamin, offering himself on behalf of Benjamin; a complete transformation—Judah has become the leader, the mediator between Joseph and the rest of his brothers (a type of Christ again)

Ch 49- Blessings of Jacob

-2 sons get blessings: Judah (First-born Kingly blessing) and Joseph (prince among his brothers)

-Southern tribes will follow Judah, Northern will select from Joseph in the future.

by the end of Genesis, we get a provisional fulfillment of the promises to Abraham

-Through Joseph, all of the nations are blessed with food; as such he is a type of Christ

-We also see tension between the blessing given to Judah (Kingly) and to Joseph (Princely) in Genesis 49.  The ambiguity of which blessing is greater will lead to the split of the later Davidic kingdom.

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