Scripture Reading: Genesis 35-36 (NRSV)
We have a large reading of genealogy today. These long lists represent material from what scholars often term the Priestly (or P) source. Sometimes you have a rather odd insertion into the lists such as at 36:24 when Anah is referenced as “he is the Anah who found the springs in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon.” This likely recalls family lore that would have been well-known at the time of the writing but is now lost in antiquity.
Another interesting bit of information is in 35:22 where we see Jacob’s son Reuben disrespect his father (not to mention his two half-brothers Dan and Naphtali). If these were written from a priestly source, it is interesting that they would have come from the line of Levi. Levi was a full-brother of Reuben and they throw a little shade toward their cousins with this inclusion.
The sons of Jacob (Israel) represent the tribes of Israel and they are listed in an interesting order. They are listed by mother first and then chronologically. The order of the mothers starts with Leah likely because she has his firstborn. Then we move to Rachel who had his youngest children. Then we move to Rachel’s maid Bilhah and then to Leah’s maid Zilpah. This would have been the order that the maids had children but this chronology doesn’t outrank the legitimate marriage of Rachel even though her children came later.
I like how Jacob is called by God in the beginning of the chapter to settle and worship at a specific place. He calls his family together and asks them to purify themselves. They turn over all of their idols and earrings. These could have been plunder from the Hivites from the previous chapter. Some of these idols may have been those stolen from Laban’s house by his wife, Rachel. In any event, it is interesting that rather than destroying them, he buries them under a great oak tree. This may have been a way to hedge his bets – in case it doesn’t work out with God, we can always go back and dig these up!
|I picture it as a great oak similar to the picture above!|