Lesson 25 w/AnswersGenesis Chapters 26 through 47
We continue our study of Genesis, now entering the second half of the book. It is interesting to note that the first 24 chapters covered everything from the Creation story, the Fall of man in sin, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel, to the life of Abraham. The remaining 26 chapters focus on the lives of three people: Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, who were Abraham’s direct descendants. We will also be studying the key women of those times as well. They comprise the beginning of the creation of God’s chosen people.
In order to establish the proper backdrop for these chapters, and the people who will be their focus, it is useful to introduce a dimension of this study which perhaps you have never considered before. The goal is to help put into context the stories that many of us have all come to know: the birth of the twins, Esau and Jacob, the deception of Isaac, the birth of the twelve sons to Jacob, and the many trials that befell Joseph.
As we test these stories with logic, and apply some inductive reasoning to our studies, we may get fuller picture of these events. So let’s examine a new dimension in the story of these three men and their families, specifically, their ages.
For example, I’m sure that if you ask even the most regular Bible student how old the twins Esau and Jacob were when Jacob deceived Isaac; they would reply with a guess that the twins were probably teenagers or maybe in their early twenties. However, similar to our findings last week when we re-read the scriptures concerning Isaac in which we noted that Isaac had prayed for Rebekah for twenty years before she bore the twins, we will also see something different about these twins, their age, and what it tells us about our walk with God.
So, don your thinking caps and be prepared to read a lot of scripture, scripture that I know will open your eyes and add understanding to the second half of Genesis.
Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph
Read the following passages from the latter half of Genesis:
- Genesis 26:34
- Genesis 27:41
- Genesis 27:42-45
- Genesis 29:26
- Genesis 30:24
- Genesis 37:3
- Genesis 31:38
- Genesis 35:28-29
- Genesis 37:2
- Genesis 41:46
- Genesis 47:9
- Genesis 47:28
Based on your findings above, answer the following questions:
- How old was Isaac when the twins, Esau and Jacob, were born?
- ANSWER: 60 years old.
- How old was Isaac when he died?
- ANSWER: 180 years old.
- How old was Jacob when he came to Egypt during the famine, during the time that Joseph was the Pharaoh’s "main man", administering the gathering and dispensing of food.
- ANSWER: He was 130 years old.
- How old was Jacob when he died?
- ANSWER: 147 years old.
- How old was Esau when he married Judith? By this time, had Esau already been tricked out of his birthright and had his blessing stolen from him by Jacob?
- ANSWER: Esau was 40 years old when he married Judith, and the deception and trickery had not yet occurred. Clearly, this is an early indication that when the deception occurred, Esau and Jacob were not teenagers, but grown adults.
- How old was Joseph when his brothers sold him into slavery?
- ANSWER: He was 17 years old, a teenager. Today, he probably would not yet have graduated high school.
- How old was Joseph when the Pharaoh put him in charge?
- ANSWER: He was 30 years old. In thirteen short years, God had matured Joseph spiritually and physically into a man, and placed him in a location and position of authority which enabled him to literally rule a powerful country (Egypt) at 30 years of age.
- How long did Jacob work for Laban in order to earn his two wives, Leah and Rachel? And how long altogether did Jacob work for Laban before he left with his family?
- ANSWER: He worked a total of seven years for Leah, then seven more for Rachel. Altogether, he worked for Laban 20 years. During this time, 13 children were born to him, and 12 were boys.
- Given all of the above facts and verses, and assuming that Jacob came to Egypt during the second year of the famine, how old were the twins when Jacob and Rebekah deceived his father? And if you remember this from our previous study, just providing the age isn’t good enough. You need to "show your work" and write down how you determined their age.
- ANSWER: At the time of the deception, the twins were approximately 77 years old(!). All of Jacob’s sons were born to him during the time that he worked for Laban. Therefore, if Joseph was 30 years old when he became a ruler in Egypt, and 9 years transpired since after that (7 years of plenty plus 2 years of famine), then he was 39 or 40 when Jacob was summoned to visit. If Jacob was 130 years old at that time, then he must have been 90-91 years old when he fathered Joseph. Given that he had been employed by Laban for 14 years when Joseph was born, then Jacob would have been 77 when he arrived at Laban’s. Thus, the twins were approximately 77 years old when Jacob deceived his father, at which time they thought that he was on his deathbed. However, he did not die until 43-44 years after that.
- How many years before Jacob traveled to Egypt during the famine was it when Isaac died? Would Isaac have heard about the "death" of Joseph when the brothers sold him off to slavery?
- ANSWER: Isaac was 60 years old when the twins were born, and he died 120 years later. So, if Jacob was 130 years old when he entered Egypt, then Isaac would have died ten years earlier. And lf Joseph was in Egypt for 13 years (arriving when he was 17 years old) and was 30 years old, then we can deduce that Joseph was sold into slavery (at 17 years old) 3 years before Isaac’s death, and it is conceivable that Isaac would have learned of it. As pointed out above, when Jacob deceived his father, he thought that he was near death, but Isaac did not die for another 43 years (i.e., Jacob’s age when Isaac died was 120 years old, minus Jacob’s age when the deception occurred, 77 years old.)
Having now gained a better understanding of the key men in the second half of Genesis via an examination of their relationships and relative ages, we now a look at the women identified in the last half of Genesis. They also provide much insight into these times. As we look closely at each of these women, we will observe characteristics that perhaps we had not noticed before, and we will see that people have not changed much, even since the time of Abraham.
In all of this, we will see that God is a God of love, and, in spite of our shortcomings and weaknesses, He remains faithful. If you have ever dealt with someone who uses deception, cunning, and trickery to accomplish their will, or if you have ever been falsely accused of something, you may relate to some characters’ experiences in this lesson.
Rebekah: A Cunning Woman
Read Genesis 27:1-17, 41-46 and answer the following questions:
- What was Rebekah doing while Isaac was talking to Esau about getting him food so that he could bless Esau?
- ANSWER: She was eavesdropping on the entire conversation.
- Did Jacob decide to take advantage of the opportunity to trick his father while his twin brother Esau was out hunting game? What was Rebekah’s role in his decision to deceive his father?
- ANSWER: Rebekah was actually the instigator. Jacob was a very willing accomplice, but the idea to trick his father originated with Rebekah, who did not want Isaac’s blessing going to Esau.
- Isaac had instructed Esau to cook the meat that he killed and bring it to him. Who actually cooked the meat and prepared the meal, and at who’s direction?
- ANSWER: Once again, Rebekah is the key perpetrator. Not only did she tell Jacob to go out and get some young goats, but she prepared them exactly as Isaac would. Jacob is again the willing accomplice to Rebekah, the orchestrator of the deception.
- Who came up with the idea regarding the disguise? What was Jacob’s role in all of this deception?
- ANSWER 1: Clearly Rebekah is leading the entire deception. Jacob questions her regarding how he is to approach Isaac without bringing down a curse on himself if he is found out by his father Isaac.
- ANSWER 2: We see that Rebekah has thought this plan through, from beginning to end; and she has an idea for a disguise. She even goes out on her own and retrieves Esau’s clothes, selecting the "best clothes" of Esau for the deception. Jacob simply followed orders and waited on his mother to do whatever needed to be done.
- How did Jacob put on the disguise?
- ANSWER: He actually didn’t put it on himself; his mother Rebekah dressed him in the disguise.
- How did Jacob know to flee the family home because Esau was mad at him and wanted to kill him?
- ANSWER: Rebekah found out after someone overheard Esau and informed her of Esau’s anger. She then told Jacob.
- What made Jacob decide to flee to Laban’s in Haran?
- ANSWER: This was Rebekah’s strategy to keep Jacob safe. She sent him to Laban, her brother.
- How was Jacob to ascertain when it was safe for him to return home?
- ANSWER: Jacob was told by Rebekah to stay at Laban’s until she sent for him.
- What was Rebekah’s final role in Jacob’s departure? (see Genesis 27:46)
- ANSWER: She pretended to be upset by the fact that they were living among the Hittites, telling Isaac that she does not want Jacob getting involved with Hittite women. This was a ruse that she put on in order to get Isaac to direct Jacob to go to Laban’s.
Leah and Rachel: Women in Conflict
Read Genesis Chapters 29 through 31 and answer the following questions:
- Years later, long after the lives of Leah and Rachel have ended, how were they remembered by their kinsman? (see Ruth 4:11)
- ANSWER: They were held in high esteem as two women who, together, "built up the house of Israel".
- Leah had a behavioral trait was similar to one of Rebekah’s. Can you identify it from your readings? (see Genesis 29:21-25)
- ANSWER: Like Rebekah, Leah used deception to get her way. She deceived Jacob on his wedding night and pretended to be Rachel—much the same way that Jacob used deception against his father Isaac.
- How many children did Leah bear to Jacob, including both her and her maidservant? (see Genesis 29:31-35, Gen. 30:9-12, and Gen. 30:17-21)
- ANSWER: Leah bore Jacob six sons and a daughter by, and provided him an additional two sons by her maidservant, Zilpah.
- How many children did Rachel bear to Jacob, including both her and her maidservant? (Genesis 30:1-7, 22-24, and Genesis 35:16-18)
- ANSWER: Rachel bore Jacob two sons, and provided him an additional two sons by her maidservant, Bilhah. Thus, among the four women identified in these scriptures, Jacob fathered twelve sons and one daughter.
- What can we infer regarding Rachel’s relationship with her sister early on in the marriage? (see Genesis 30:1)
- ANSWER: We certainly see a sister jealous, or envious, of her older sister’s ability to have children. Herbert Lockyer notes in his book, All the Women of the Bible, that H.V. Morton described her as "bitter, envious, quarrelsome, and petulant. The full force of her hatred is directed against her sister Leah."
- Among Jacob’s two wives and two maidservants, who did God use to bring forth the root that will continue the line through which the Savior will come? (Genesis 35:23-26)
- ANSWER: Jesus came from the tribe of Judah. Both Judah and Levi, the line of the Priests, were sons born to Leah.
- While we see early on that Leah will play a key role in the deception of Jacob, do we see similar behavior in Rebekah? (see Genesis 30:14-16, and Genesis 31:19, 35)
- ANSWER 1: Mandrakes were regarded as an aphrodisiac in Biblical times, and Rachel wanted them to give to Jacob. She bartered for them by giving Jacob to Leah to sleep with one night in exchange for the mandrakes. This plan had the opposite effect, as Leah became pregnant that night, and the mandrakes had no effect in helping Rachel have a child. Instead of relying on God to provide children, she was relying on her own cunning and "wisdom".
- ANSWER 2: We also observe that Rachel stoles the household idols belonging to her father and then lied about having her menstrual cycle in order to hide the theft from her father. In both examples, we see that she also could be a deceiver in order to achieve her own ends.
Potiphar’s Wife: A Nameless but Influential Woman
Read Genesis Chapters 39 and answer the following questions:
- After reading the story of the encounter between Potiphar’s wife and Joseph, how would you characterize her> How is this behavior similar to, or different than, anything that we have seen previously in our study of Genesis?
- ANSWER 1: What makes the story of Potiphar’s different is that it is the first time that we see a story of infidelity driven strictly by sensuality and lust. Again, in his book All the Women of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer again references H.V. Morton’s writings, in which Morton writes "she occupies a prominent place as the first sensualist in the gallery of Scriptural women. The sins against morality committed by women up to this point in the bible story were committed for dynastic reason, or were due to the customs of the times."
- ANSWER 2: Morton goes on to point out that the story is "a picture of a woman, spoilt, rich and beautiful, the product of a luxurious and licentious civilization."
- Contrast the behavior of Potiphar’s wife with that of Joseph in the same story.
- ANSWER 1: The story is a real contrast between the righteous and honorable behavior of a man of God, and that of Potiphar’s godless wife and her treacherous behavior: first in trying to lure Joseph into sin, and then lying about her deception in order to be seen as the virtuous heroine in the story.
- ANSWER 2: Joseph is remarkable, in that both his faith and his walk with God remained steadfast. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, then falsely accused by his master’s wife, but yet through it all, even in jail, he maintained his faith and walk with God, always living a righteous life.
Hopefully you have noted that when we apply ourselves to studying God’s Word and look for the opportunities to induce and integrate what we find there, we will discover new principles that we may have missed before. For example, we found that the main figures in the narrative are older and theoretically "mature" people who are acting in very immature ways. We see youth both from its good side and from its bad side, as God’s plan continues to unfold perfectly, in spite of man.
Our brief examination of the last half of Genesis has shown us that God used people with flaws, sinners like us, to accomplish His will and His plan. We also saw how faithful He was to His people, and we have the promise that He will be equally faithful to us in our time of need. In spite of our behavior, God’s love for us goes beyond understanding. In the next lesson, we will more closely examine the life of Joseph, from his time in prison as an accused man, to his time as a man with authority over the whole of Egypt, concluding when his father and brothers were finally reunited with him.
Thanks for studying with us.
Yours in Christ,