Bible blog 1673

This blog is following the book of Genesis and the Gospel of Mark in tandem, using very literal translations. The series began on 1st January and can be accessed from my archives. The headlines are reminders of the world we live in.


Co-pilot under suspicion

Co-pilot under suspicion

GENESIS 30 from verse 14

Re’uven went in the days of the sheet harvest and found some love-apples in a field

and brought them to Lea his mother.

Ravel said to Lea:

Pray give me some of your son’s love-apples.

She said to her:

Is your taking away my husband such a small thing

that you would now take away my son’s love-apples?

Rahel said:

Very well, he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son’s love-apples.

So when Yaakov came home from th fields in the evening, Lea went out to meet him and said:

You must come in to me,

for I have hired, yes hired you for my son’s love-apples.

So He lay with her that night.

And God hearkened to Lea

so that she became pregnant and bore Yaakov a fifth son.

Lea said:

God has given me my hire – wages

because I gave my maid to my husband!

So she called his name Yissakhar / There is hire.

Once agin Lea became pregnant, and she bore a sixth son to Yaakov.

Lea  said:

God has presented me with a good present,

this time my husband will prize me

for I have borne him six sons.

So she called his name Zevulun / Prince.

Afterwrds she bore a daughter and called her name Dina.

but God kept Rahel in mind,

God hearkened to her and opened her womb

rahelso that she became pregnant and bore a son.

She said:

god has removed / asaf

my reproach.

She called his name Yosef


May YHWH add / Yosef

another son to me!

This is the culmination of the story of the pregnancies of the sisters. At last the better – loved Rahel bears a child who is ambiguously named either for adding or taking away. The audience, which of course knows the bones of the story, recognises that this one will be both vital for the family’s future yet never fully part of it. Again we see that YHWH has a special relationship with the woman who appears infertile. The story of Sara has trained the audience to expect a special birth from Rahel.

The incident of the love apples turns the contest back in favour of Lea who clearly gets more than one night of Jacob out of the deal, and bears him three more children. We note that poor Dina hardly counts more than a brief mention in the midst of all these sons, but also that the lord and master Jacob is passed between two women like a commodity in short supply.

The very controlled narrative of the pregnancies and the births, with the emphasis on the naming of the sons, signals to the audience that these boys are all important and will have a place in the continuing story of the children of Yaakov / Yisrael. Later in this story the sons will be characterised in Yaakov’s blessing according to aspects of their tribal history. Here they are characteristic by stages in the competitive love of two sisters. Although Dina is virtually ignored at this point, the desires and machinations of the women are crucial to the story.

Sometimes believers imagine that the often messy relationships of family life are of not much importance to God and are certainly not a fit subject for theology. Genesis shows us that this is a misunderstanding of God  who has chosen to work in the world through his/ her creatures. For such a God, human relationships are more important than hymns. Yes, faith is to do with the beyond; but for Christian believers the beyond is only found in the midst of life.


Iraq: he that endures to the end shall be saved

Iraq: he that endures to the end shall be saved

11 But when they shall lead you away to deliver you up, be not careful beforehand as to what you shall say, nor prepare your discourse; but whatever shall be given you in that hour, speak it; for you are not the speakers, but the Holy Spirit.
12 But brother shall deliver up brother to death, and father child; and children shall rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death.
13And you will be hated of all on account of my name; but he that has endured to the end shall be saved.

Doubtless this prophecy of Jesus that his disciples will be made to suffer like their teacher, has been worded so that it reflects the experience of Jewish Christians at the hands of their own people at a time of national crisis. The experience of being arrested and. questioned is presented as so normal that a special promise of the Spirit ‘s inspiration is attached to it.

Discovering that you cannot assume the support of your family is a bitter part of persecution. Jesus knew it in his own family and was ever ready to counter sentimental views of family life. Probably in the expulsion of Jesus’ followers from the synagogues there were many betrayals and much bitterness. Jesus was talking about religious conflict; those who have grown up in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Iraq, Bosnia, will know at first hand the savagery he is prophesying.

Believers might have hoped that Jesus would offer some kind of rescue plan for those caught in terror, but no, his only word of hope is that those who endure to the end shall be rescued. Presumably he means the sort of rescue he hoped for himself: resurrection. Well, that’s nice, to be sure. in return for giving up the life I know with all its joys and sorrows, I get a life I know absolutely nothing about at all.

If you don’t feel any anger at Jesus’ words here, that may be because you’ve never  been in such conflicts or been close to someone who was. But of course the anger should not be for Jesus’ unsparing realism, but for those who cause these conflicts. Still, if I really loved my child, would I want her to follow this teacher who expected his followers to have an above average chance of suffering?

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