So You Think You Know Your Bible: Genesis Part 3 – Chapters 26-32

The book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is found in the Chumash or Pentateuch. Chapters 26 – 32 relate God’s encounters with the Abraham’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob; Esau’s loss of his birthright; and Jacob’s marriage and prosperity in Haran. This study follows on from Parts 1 and 2 of the same title.

The Medicine of G*d’s Word

My son, pay attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them out of your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to their whole body – Proverbs 4:22

Genesis Part 3: Chapters 26-32 – test yourself

1. Name Abraham and Sarah’s two sons.

2. Name Isaac and Rebekah’s two sons

3. Which major fault of Abraham did Isaac display?

4. Why did Abimelech insist upon a treaty with Isaac?[Gen 26:28].

5. Where did Jacob flee after stealing his brother’s birthright? [Gen 27:43]

6. What does the name Bethel mean?

7. What was the blood relationship between Esau and his wife Mahalath, and what was his reason for the marriage?

8. Name Jacob’s two wives and their maidservants. Why were the maidservants important to the nation of Israel?

9. Why did G*d preferentially open Leah’s womb? (Gen 29:31)

10. Name the first four sons of Leah, and the meanings of their names [Gen 30:4-12]

11. Name the four sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, in chronological order of their birth.

12. Name the remaining four sons of Jacob, indicating their mothers.

13. Where and when did Jacob wrestle with G*d, and what was the consequence? [Gen 31:22-32]

14. What does Peniel mean?

15. Whom did Abraham marry after Sarah’s death, and how many sons did they have?

Highlights of Genesis Chapters 26-32

Isaac marries two Canaanite women, incurring his mother’s displeasure. Jacob steals Isaac’s birthright, and is forced to flee his home in Canaan. At sunset on the day of his flight, he stops for the night, and dreams about a stairway bridging heaven and earth, bearing angels. Above it stands the Lord, Who promises to give the land on which he is lying to him and his numerous descendants. G*d tells him, “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 promised you.” Jacob, awe-stricken, anoints the stone he had been using as a pillow, and changes the name of the place from Luz to Bethel. He in his turn makes a vow to worship the Lord, and to start tithing his income.

As previously instructed by his mother Rebecca, Jacob makes his way to Haran, dwelling in the home of his uncle Laban. There, he meets and marries Rachel, the love of his life, but only after Laban tricks him into marrying Rachel’s sister Leah first. The two sisters vie for Jacob’s attention in child-bearing (which conferred status), involving their maids in the competition. 20 years later, Jacob returns to his ancestral home at Beersheba, taking with him his wives and their maids (now his concubines), his twelve children and all the wealth he had gathered beyond the river Euphrates. On his way back, he wrestles with G*d and acquires a new name: Israel.

Jacob’s Struggle

The name Israel (Hebrew Yisrael) is derived from the Hebrew words Yisra (to prevail) and El (G*d). The relationship of the biblical heroes and of those who follow G*d in spirit and in truth is, similarly, one of active dialogue, struggle and even confrontation with G*d, for it is written:

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” – (James 5:16).

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched his hip socket, putting Jacob’s hip out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Then the man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have striven with G*d and with men, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:24-28

Answers

1. Abraham and Sarah’s two sons were Ishmael (from Hagar) and Isaac

2. Isaac and Rebekah’s two sons were Esau and Jacob.

3. Isaac lied to Abimelech the philistine king about his wife, claiming that she was his sister.

4. Abimelech insisted on a treaty with Isaac because he saw that the Lord was with him, so took steps to ensure his own safety in the presence of such a powerful neighbour.

5. After stealing his brother’s birthright, Jacob fled to Haran in Paddam Aram, Mesopotamia, to the house of his uncle Laban.

6. Bethel means ‘house of G*d.’

7. Esau’s wife Mahalath was the daughter of Ishmael, his father’s half-brother. Believing that his earlier marriages to Hittite wives displeased his parents, Esau married Mahalath to placate them.

8. Jacob’s two wives were the sisters Rachel and Leah. Rachel’s maid was called Bilhah and Leah’s maid Zilpah. The maids are important in Israel’s history because they gave birth to the founders of four out of 12 tribes of Israel.

9. G*d preferentially opened Leah’s womb because He saw that she was not loved.

10. The first four sons of Jacob were Reuben (see, a son); Simeon (one who hears); Levi (attached); and Judah (praise).

11. From Bilhah, Rachel’s maid, came Dan (he has vindicated) and Naphtali (my struggle). From Zilpah came son number seven, Gad (good fortune) then Asher (happy).

12. From Leah, the next son was Issachar (reward) followed by Zebulun (honour); and finally, from Rachel, Joseph (may he add) and Benjamin (son of my right hand).

13. Jacob wrestled with G*d at a place he named Peniel, at the desert stream of Jabbok while on his way to pacify Esau. The result was a blessing and a change of his name to Israel.

14. Peniel means Face of G*d.

15. After Sarah’s death, Abraham married Keturah, and they had 6 sons.