Appears 47x in the Bible (all but once in the O.T.).
She bore Jacob two sons, Joseph and Benjamin.
Sounds like “weary.” It is less likely it means “dull” or “wild cow.”
Interpreters often suggest her eyes lacked luster.
Appears 34x in the O.T.
She bore Jacob six sons and one daughter (Dinah).
Yosef (Joseph, pronounced “yo-SAFE”) — may he add / increase
Excerpts used in the podcast: 29:23-24, 31; 30:1-3, 22-24; 31:14-20; 33:1-2; 35:16-19; 48:7.
Broader sections: Genesis 28-31, 33, 35, 48
28 and 24 — going back to the people of God when seeking a spouse.
Other passages cited:
The Shulammite: Song of Songs 1:8, 6:13.
Leviticus 18:18: Mosaic law forbade (simultaneously) marrying sisters.
Some things we learn about God:
God blesses those who marry within the faith.
God’s plan is monogamous marriage. Polygamy does not work, and only leads to great dysfunction.
Superstitions are vain. God is the one in control. He cannot be controlled by magic.
Those the Lord has chosen to bless do not always have the smoothest relationships — even (especially?) within their own families.
The objects of our prayers often have a high price tag. Be careful what you pray for!
With the Lord, it isn’t just quantity, but quality. Though Leah had seven children, and Rachel only two, these two gave rise to:
The first king of Israel and his N.T. namesake, Saul of Tarsus.
A man, Joseph, whose sons’ descendants would not only constitute a plurality within Israel, but who himself would save his brothers, father, and in fact millions. Moreover, there are numerous parallels between Joseph and Christ.
For kids (devotional discussion):
Share some selective readings, e.g. from chapters 28, 29, and 30.
Talk about the two sisters. What were they like? How were they different? How was their relationship?
Explain that they both wanted children, and jealously competed with each other. What do you want? Is there a toy, privilege, or anything else you very much want? How do your siblings compete with you (and vice-versa)?
What makes us happier: sharing, or wanting it all for ourselves?
Explain that mothers sometimes die in giving birth. Read 35:16-19. Ask how Jacob felt, and then read 48:7.
In what ways should we want to be like Rachel? (This is a good question for girls, and even for boys.) Focus on her character.
29:20 — Her husband loved her deeply. See also 48:7.
Original pronunciation: Barabbás (accent on last syllable)
Bar is Aramaic for son, and is found in names like Bartholomew, Bar-Jonah, Bartimaeus, Barsabbas, Barnabas
Meaning of Barabbas
Traditional view: this was the son of Abbas
Another possibility: Bar-rabban (son of the rabbi)
Either way, he must have had a first name; he was more than merely “son of Abbas” or “son of the rabbi.”
Some late manuscripts (see Matthew 27:16-17) supply a first name: Jesus. Pilate then would have been asking which Jesus he should release.
Jesuses in the Bible: Joshua, son of Nun; Jesus son of Sirach (Apocrypha); one of Jesus’ ancestors (Luke 3:29); Jesus called Justus (Colossians 4:11); Jesus of Nazareth… the early church may have known as many as 12 men named Jesus.
Note: Jesus was a common name in the first century AD.
The political situation
High tension. The Roman occupation had begun in 63 BC. Discontent will boil over in the revolution of 66-73 AD. By 70 AD, however, both Jerusalem and her stunning temple would lie in ruins.
Zealots dissatisfied with the Roman occupation longed for autonomy, and were willing to result to violence to achieve their ends.
Might persons like Barabbas have been heroic figures for some of the Jews?
Yet would the Romans really release such a (presumably dangerous) man? This is exactly what another Roman governor did in 85 AD, so the Barabbas account appears historical.
Barabbas: crime & punishment
Matthew 27 – notorious prisoner
Mark 15 – murderer
Luke 23 – murderer
John 18 – robber
Acts 3:14 – murderer
The Romans would have crucified Barabbas. This was a common punishment for rebels and political criminals.
We relate. We know guilt.
We know the shame of saying “Never again,” only to backslide. We know the destructive power of anger, what it is to be impulsive, how far we sometimes go to get our own way.
Barabbas was robber, rioter, murderer.
Yet haven’t we too robbed the Lord of his time, his money, his honor? We have treated as our own what truly belongs to him.
We have rioted in our hearts, our innards a seething sea of attitudinal, chaotic, self-focused feeling.
As for murder, collectively we share the guilt for the crucifixion of our Lord.
A substitution has taken place!
“He paid a debt he did not owe / I owed a debt I could not pay / I needed someone to take my sins away…”
Human substitutions are rejected (Moses, Exodus 32:32; Paul, Romans 9:3). But a divine substitution? See Psalm 49! (And be sure to follow up this lesson with the Ransom podcast.)
Conclusion: Who goes free?
“Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:17)
Shall the guilty be released and the innocent suffer? Yes. The innocent is willed by God to suffer, and the guilty walk free. “Go in peace,” they said in former times.
We are all Barabbas!
With all of this in mind, let’s live a life worthy of our Lord: grateful, making the most of our new lease on life!
Ya’aqov (Jacob) — sounds like “he deceives/supplants.”
Jacob appears 380x in the O.T.
Compare this to Isaac (133x) and Abraham (309x).
Beth-el (Bethel) — house of God
Ye’abeq (Jabbok) — he wrestles
Yisr’ael (Israel) — God strives
Peni’el (Peniel) — face of God
His life falls into four periods: Canaan, Aram, Canaan (again), and Egypt. Find the exact chapter numbers for each period.
There are also four monuments/pillars/markers: 28:18, 31:45, 35:14, 35:20. What would be the “markers” in your own spiritual pilgrimage?
Our study in Genesis: 25:26 (birth); 25 (deception of Esau); 27 (deception of Isaac); 28:10-15 (Bethel — see John 1:51); 31:42, 53 (“Fear of Isaac”); 29:14-28 (marriage[s] in Aram); 32:22-32 (wrestling match at the Jabbok); but had Jacob profoundly changed? (33–fear of Esau, 33:14–deceit?, 34:1ff–lack of concern for Dinah, 35–lack of concern for Bilhah (cp. 49:2-3); 37 (“death” of Joseph); 46:2, 29-30 (reaffirmation of divine promise and reunion with Joseph); 48-49 (blessing Joseph’s sons and his own sons); death (49:33) and burial (50:14).
Sexual purity: compare and contrast Genesis 29 (Jacob and Rachel) with Genesis 34 (Shechem and Dinah).
In summary, Jacob led a hard life:
Not so impressive as his father’s and grandfather’s lives (47:9).
Endured the loss of his beloved (favorite) wife and his special (favorite) son.
Ran away from his parents.
Still, he kept his eye on the promises, insisting that he be buried in Canaan (49:29-33).
Other Old Testament books: Joshua 24:3, 4, 32; Psalm 105:10-23; Hosea 12:2-4, 12; Malachi 1:2ff.
New Testament: John 4:5-6, 12; Acts 7:12, 14-16; Romans 9:10-13; Hebrews 11:9, 20ff.
Some things we learn about God:
Even if God appears to us or works in our life in an intense way, our basic personality type will probably remain unaffected. He will not force us to change. We are all “under construction.”
God does not spare his chosen ones from tragedy.
We can wrestle the Lord for his blessing, but if he has already given his word, this is wholly unnecessary — exhausting, unproductive, and ultimately faithless.
For kids (devotional discussion):
Read the story of Jacob at the Jabbok. For younger children, role-play: the angel, Jacob.
If you were wrestling your daddy (mommy), who would win?
Why do we fight (wrestle) God?
Why does Jacob try to make God bless him, when God has already promised to be good to him?
Why is Jacob so afraid?
28:12 — sees the “stairway to heaven”
29:20 — Jacob’s profound (and pure) love for Rachel.
32:36 — He demands God’s blessing at the Jabbok.
49:26 — tearful reunion with Joseph, whom he believed to be dead.