Israel: Origins


There are many patterns in life, from the number of points on a snowflake to the degrees of heat that it takes to bring water to a boil. And the last chapters of Genesis are no different. In Genesis 48-50, we are presented the climax of the origin story of the nation. So you could say this is just the end of the beginning.

First, Jacob is dying. And much like when Isaac chose to bless Esau and Jacob, Jacob’s own blessings are rather controversial.

man-798983_1920Parallels between Isaac and Jacob’s blessings:

  • Old, preparing to die.
  • Calls in one boy in particular to bless
  • Prepares to bless with dim eyesight
  • The blessing is questioned
  • The younger one receives the greater blessing (in this case, Joseph out of all the brothers, and his younger son!)
  • Promise of land and blessing

I bet Jacob smiled as he leaned back from that blessing. His story shows that what goes around, comes around or you reap what you sow.

And then in chapter 49 is a fascinating set of blessings for each of the boys. It sets the stage for how they each became a tribe in the nation of Israel, and lays fascinating clues to watch for as the history of Israel continues to unfold.

Rueben, while firstborn, is passed over because of his sin. Similarly, his tribe was small. And the same with the violent Simeon and Levi. But Levi did find redemption…

Judah, called the king’s line, was not only the leader of Jacob’s sons, but also led the nation. Ephraim, though, was the greater blessed of Joseph’s two sons. He also received an important blessing and later led tribes as the nation of Israel opposing Judah. The old rivalry between Rachel and Leah’s sons continued.

easter-100176_1920.jpgAnd there are some stories you wish were more recorded. What is it with Asher and baking? How did Benjamin go so wrong? And what happened to all the rest?

After the blessings, Jacob died and his sons traveled back to Canaan to bury him in the family tomb. They always traveled back to bury their dead. It was like the home base. And so Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob established home base in Caanan, where God had called Abraham to live so long ago. So when Joseph died, leaving a legacy of plenty in Egypt, he made Israel promise to take his bones with them because just like God had saved them by taking them in, He was going to bring them out again. And that was just the beginning of what God was going to do for the nation promised to Abraham through the special son Isaac, stubborn Jacob, and his wild band that started the twelve tribes of Israel. egypt-1083248_1280


God, it is amazing how the actions of someone so removed from later generations of Israel could make such a big impact. Abraham, for good. Some of the brothers, for bad. They laid down general patterns that Jacob highlighted in his blessings. It will be interesting to trace them further. God, in my life, please help me to lay down patterns that promote the good, and thank You that You give the option to change. Thank You for being so involved, for showing us how much You care, and how trust is so well-founded in You. To You be the glory, God! Amen.



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