The 12 Sons of Jacob (January 25, 2021)

God responded to Leah. She became pregnant and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob…”Now my husband will honor me since I’ve borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. After this, she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah. Then God remembered Rachel, responded to her, and let her conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my shame.” She named him Joseph, saying to herself, May the Lord give me another son.

The 12 Sons of Jacob (January 25, 2021)
12 Sons of Jacob

Genesis 29:31–32:21, CEB

When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb; but Rachel was unable to have children. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben because she said, “The Lord saw my harsh treatment, and now my husband will love me.” She became pregnant again and gave birth to a son. She said, “The Lord heard that I was unloved, so he gave me this son too,” and she named him Simeon.She became pregnant again and gave birth to a son. She said, “Now, this time my husband will embrace me, since I have given birth to three sons for him.” So she named him Levi.She became pregnant again and gave birth to a son. She said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing children.

When Rachel realized that she could bear Jacob no children, Rachel became jealous of her sister and said to Jacob, “Give me children! If you don’t, I may as well be dead.”

Jacob was angry at Rachel and said, “Do you think I’m God? God alone has kept you from giving birth!”

She said, “Here’s my servant Bilhah. Sleep with her, and she will give birth for me. Because of her, I will also have children.” So Rachel gave her servant Bilhah to Jacob as his wife, and he slept with her. Bilhah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Jacob. Rachel said, “God has judged in my favor, heard my voice, and given me a son.” So she named him Dan.Rachel’s servant Bilhah became pregnant again and gave birth to a second son for Jacob. Rachel said, “I’ve competed fiercely with my sister, and now I’ve won.” So she named him Naphtali.

When Leah realized that she had stopped bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as his wife. Leah’s servant Zilpah gave birth to a son for Jacob, and Leah said, “What good luck!” So she named him Gad. Leah’s servant Zilpah gave birth to a second son for Jacob, and Leah said, “I’m happy now because women call me happy.” So she named him Asher.

During the wheat harvest, Reuben found some erotic herbs in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Give me your son’s erotic herbs.”

Leah replied, “Isn’t it enough that you’ve taken my husband? Now you want to take my son’s erotic herbs too?”

Rachel said, “For your son’s erotic herbs, Jacob may sleep with you tonight.”

When Jacob came back from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must sleep with me because I’ve paid for you with my son’s erotic herbs.” So he slept with her that night.

God responded to Leah. She became pregnant and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob. Leah said, “God gave me what I paid for, what I deserved for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar. Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob, and she said, “God has given me a wonderful gift. Now my husband will honor me since I’ve borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. After this, she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.

Then God remembered Rachel, responded to her, and let her conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my shame.” She named him Joseph, saying to herself, May the Lord give me another son.

After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me off so that I can go to my own place and my own country. Give me my wives and children whom I’ve worked for, and I will go. You know the work I’ve done for you.”

Laban said to him, “Do me this favor. I’ve discovered by a divine sign that the Lord has blessed me because of you, so name your price and I will pay it.”

Jacob said to him, “You know how I’ve worked for you, and how well your livestock have done with me. While in my care, what little you had has multiplied a great deal. The Lord blessed you wherever I took your livestock. Now, when will I be able to work for my own household too?”

Laban said, “What will I pay you?”

Jacob said, “Don’t pay me anything. If you will do this for me, I will take care of your flock again, and keep a portion.I will go through the entire flock today, taking out all of the speckled and spotted sheep, all of the black male lambs, and all of the spotted and speckled female goats. That will be my price. I will be completely honest with you: when you come to check on our agreement, every female goat with me that isn’t speckled or spotted and every male lamb with me that isn’t black will be considered stolen.”

Laban said, “All right; let’s do it.” However, on that very day Laban took out the striped and spotted male goats and all of the speckled and spotted female goats—any with some white in it—and all of the black male lambs, and gave them to his sons. He put a three-day trip between himself and Jacob, while Jacob was watching the rest of Laban’s flock.

Then Jacob took new branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees; and he peeled white stripes on them, exposing the branches’ white color. He set the branches that he had peeled near the watering troughs so that they were in front of the flock when they drank, because they often mated when they came to drink. When the flock mated in front of the branches, they gave birth to striped, speckled, and spotted young. Jacob sorted out the lambs, turning the flock to face the striped and black ones in Laban’s flock but keeping his flock separate, setting them apart from Laban’s flock. Whenever the strongest of the flock mated, Jacob put the branches in front of them near the watering troughs so that they mated near the branches. But he didn’t put branches up for the weakest of the flock. So the weakest became Laban’s and the strongest Jacob’s. The man Jacob became very, very rich: he owned large flocks, female and male servants, camels, and donkeys.

Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob took everything our father owned and from it he produced all of this wealth.” And Jacob saw that Laban no longer liked him as much as he used to.

Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your ancestors and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

So Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah and summoned them into the field where his flock was. He said to them, “I am aware that your father no longer likes me as much as he used to. But my father’s God has been with me. You know that I’ve worked for your father as hard as I could. But your father cheated me and changed my payment ten times. Yet God didn’t let him harm me. If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your payment,’ the whole flock gave birth to speckled young. And if he said, ‘The striped ones will be your payment,’ the whole flock gave birth to striped young. God took away your father’s livestock and gave them to me. When the flocks were mating, I looked up and saw in a dream that the male goats that mounted the flock were striped, speckled, and spotted. In the dream, God’s messenger said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I said, ‘I’m here.’ He said, ‘Look up and watch all the striped, speckled, and spotted male goats mounting the flock. I’ve seen everything that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a sacred pillar and where you made a solemn promise to me. Now, get up and leave this country and go back to the land of your relatives.’ ”

Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there any share or inheritance left for us in our father’s household? Doesn’t he think of us as foreigners since he sold us and has even used up the payment he received for us? All of the wealth God took from our father belongs to us and our children. Now, do everything God told you to do.”

So Jacob got up, put his sons and wives on the camels, and set out with all of his livestock and all of his possessions that he had acquired in Paddan-aram in order to return to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. Now, while Laban was out shearing his sheep, Rachel stole the household’s divine images that belonged to her father. Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not sending word to him that he was leaving. So Jacob and his entire household left. He got up, crossed the river, and set out directly for the mountains of Gilead.

Three days later, Laban found out that Jacob had gone, so Laban took his brothers with him, chased Jacob for seven days, and caught up with him in the mountains of Gilead. That night, God appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and said, “Be careful and don’t say anything hastily to Jacob one way or the other.”

Laban reached Jacob after Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountains. So Laban and his brothers also pitched theirs in the mountains of Gilead. Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me and taken off with my daughters as if they were prisoners of war. Why did you leave secretly, deceiving me, and not letting me know? I would’ve sent you off with a celebration, with songs and tambourines and harps. You didn’t even let me kiss my sons and my daughters good-bye. Now you’ve acted like a fool, and I have the power to punish you. However, your father’s God told me yesterday, ‘Be careful and don’t say anything hastily to Jacob one way or the other.’ You’ve rushed off now because you missed your father’s household so much, but why did you steal my gods?”

Jacob responded to Laban, “I was afraid and convinced myself that you would take your daughters away from me. Whomever you find with your divine images won’t live. Identify whatever I have that is yours, in front of your brothers, and take it.” Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen them. Laban went into Jacob’s tent, Leah’s tent, and her two servants’ tent and didn’t find them.

So he left Leah’s tent and went into Rachel’s. Now Rachel had taken the divine images and put them into the camel’s saddlebag and sat on them. Laban felt around in the whole tent but couldn’t find them. Rachel said to her father, “Sir, don’t be angry with me because I can’t get up for you; I’m having my period.” He searched but couldn’t find the divine images.

Jacob was angry and complained to Laban, “What have I done wrong and what’s my crime that you’ve tracked me down like this? You’ve now felt through all of my baggage, and what have you found from your household’s belongings? Put it in front of our relatives, and let them decide between us. For these twenty years I’ve been with you, your female sheep and goats haven’t miscarried, and I haven’t eaten your flock’s rams. When animals were killed, I didn’t bring them to you but took the loss myself. You demanded compensation from me for any animals poached during the day or night. The dry heat consumed me during the day, and the frost at night; I couldn’t sleep. I’ve now spent twenty years in your household. I worked for fourteen years for your two daughters and for six years for your flock, and you changed my pay ten times. If the God of my father—the God of Abraham and the awesome one of Isaac—hadn’t been with me, you’d have no doubt sent me away without anything. God saw my harsh treatment and my hard work and reprimanded you yesterday.”

Laban responded and told Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. Everything you see is mine. But what can I do now about my daughters and about their sons? Come, let’s make a treaty, you and me, and let something be our witness.”

So Jacob took a stone, set it up as a sacred pillar, and said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” So they took stones, made a mound, and ate there near the mound. Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed.

Laban said, “This mound is our witness today,” and, therefore, he too named it Galeed. He also named it Mizpah, because he said, “The Lord will observe both of us when we are separated from each other. If you treat my daughters badly and if you marry other women, though we aren’t there, know that God observed our witness.”

Laban said to Jacob, “Here is this mound and here is the sacred pillar that I’ve set up for us. This mound and the sacred pillar are witnesses that I won’t travel beyond this mound and that you won’t travel beyond this mound and this pillar to do harm. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor will keep order between us.” So Jacob gave his word in the name of the awesome one of his father Isaac. Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and invited his relatives to a meal. They ate together and spent the night on the mountain. Laban got up early in the morning, kissed his sons and daughters, blessed them, and left to go back to his own place.

Jacob went on his way, and God’s messengers approached him. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp,” and he named that sacred place Mahanaim.Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau, toward the land of Seir, the open country of Edom. He gave them these orders: “Say this to my master Esau. This is the message of your servant Jacob: ‘I’ve lived as an immigrant with Laban, where I’ve stayed till now. I own cattle, donkeys, flocks, men servants, and women servants. I’m sending this message to my master now to ask that he be kind.’ ”

The messengers returned to Jacob and said, “We went out to your brother Esau, and he’s coming to meet you with four hundred men.”

Jacob was terrified and felt trapped, so he divided the people with him, and the flocks, cattle, and camels, into two camps. He thought, If Esau meets the first camp and attacks it, at least one camp will be left to escape.

Jacob said, “Lord, God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I’ll make sure things go well for you,’ I don’t deserve how loyal and truthful you’ve been to your servant. I went away across the Jordan with just my staff, but now I’ve become two camps. Save me from my brother Esau! I’m afraid he will come and kill me, the mothers, and their children. You were the one who told me, ‘I will make sure things go well for you, and I will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, so many you won’t be able to count them.’ ”

Jacob spent that night there. From what he had acquired, he set aside a gift for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty nursing camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. He separated these herds and gave them to his servants. He said to them, “Go ahead of me and put some distance between each of the herds.” He ordered the first group, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, ‘Who are you with? Where are you going? And whose herds are these in front of you?’ say, ‘They are your servant Jacob’s, a gift sent to my master Esau. And Jacob is actually right behind us.’ ” He also ordered the second group, the third group, and everybody following the herds, “Say exactly the same thing to Esau when you find him. Say also, ‘Your servant Jacob is right behind us.’ ” Jacob thought, I may be able to pacify Esau with the gift I’m sending ahead. When I meet him, perhaps he will be kind to me. So Jacob sent the gift ahead of him, but he spent that night in the camp.

Job 12:1–25, MEV

And Job answered:

“No doubt but you are the people,

and wisdom will die with you!

But I have understanding as well as you;

I am not inferior to you.

Yes, who does not know such things as these?

“I am a laughingstock to my neighbor,

who calls upon God, and He answers him;

the righteous, upright man is a laughingstock.

He whose foot is unsteady

is despised in the thoughts of him who is at ease.

The tents of robbers are at peace,

and those who provoke God are secure,

into whose hand they bring their own god.

“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;

and the birds of the air, and let them tell you;

or speak to the earth, let it teach you;

and let the fish of the sea declare to you.

Who among all these does not know

that the hand of the Lord has done this,

in whose hand is the soul of every living thing

and the breath of all mankind?

Does not the ear test words

and the mouth taste its food?

Wisdom is with the elderly,

and understanding comes with long life.

“With Him are wisdom and strength;

He has counsel and understanding.

Surely, He tears down, and it cannot be built again;

He imprisons a man, and there can be no release.

Surely, He withholds the waters, and they dry up;

also He sends them out, and they overthrow the earth.

With Him are strength and wisdom.

The deceived and the deceiver are His.

He leads counselors away stripped

and makes fools of judges.

He has loosened the bonds imposed by kings

and bound their waist with a belt.

He leads away priests stripped

and overthrows the mighty.

He removes speech from the trusted ones

and takes away the understanding of the aged.

He pours contempt upon princes

and loosens the belt of the mighty.

He uncovers deep things out of darkness

and brings the shadow of death to light.

He increases the nations and destroys them;

He enlarges the nations and guides them.

He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people of the earth,

and causes them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.

They grope in the dark without light,

and He makes them to stagger like a drunk man.

Isaiah 15–17, NLT

This message came to me concerning Moab:

In one night the town of Ar will be leveled,

and the city of Kir will be destroyed.

Your people will go to their temple in Dibon to mourn.

They will go to their sacred shrines to weep.

They will wail for the fate of Nebo and Medeba,

shaving their heads in sorrow and cutting off their beards.

They will wear burlap as they wander the streets.

From every home and public square will come the sound of wailing.

The people of Heshbon and Elealeh will cry out;

their voices will be heard as far away as Jahaz!

The bravest warriors of Moab will cry out in utter terror.

They will be helpless with fear.

My heart weeps for Moab.

Its people flee to Zoar and Eglath-shelishiyah.

Weeping, they climb the road to Luhith.

Their cries of distress can be heard all along the road to Horonaim.

Even the waters of Nimrim are dried up!

The grassy banks are scorched.

The tender plants are gone;

nothing green remains.

The people grab their possessions

and carry them across the Ravine of Willows.

A cry of distress echoes through the land of Moab

from one end to the other—

from Eglaim to Beer-elim.

The stream near Dibon runs red with blood,

but I am still not finished with Dibon!

Lions will hunt down the survivors—

both those who try to escape

and those who remain behind.

Send lambs from Sela as tribute

to the ruler of the land.

Send them through the desert

to the mountain of beautiful Zion.

The women of Moab are left like homeless birds

at the shallow crossings of the Arnon River.

“Help us,” they cry.

“Defend us against our enemies.

Protect us from their relentless attack.

Do not betray us now that we have escaped.

Let our refugees stay among you.

Hide them from our enemies until the terror is past.”

When oppression and destruction have ended

and enemy raiders have disappeared,

then God will establish one of David’s descendants as king.

He will rule with mercy and truth.

He will always do what is just

and be eager to do what is right.

We have heard about proud Moab—

about its pride and arrogance and rage.

But all that boasting has disappeared.

The entire land of Moab weeps.

Yes, everyone in Moab mourns

for the cakes of raisins from Kir-hareseth.

They are all gone now.

The farms of Heshbon are abandoned;

the vineyards at Sibmah are deserted.

The rulers of the nations have broken down Moab—

that beautiful grapevine.

Its tendrils spread north as far as the town of Jazer

and trailed eastward into the wilderness.

Its shoots reached so far west

that they crossed over the Dead Sea.

So now I weep for Jazer and the vineyards of Sibmah;

my tears will flow for Heshbon and Elealeh.

There are no more shouts of joy

over your summer fruits and harvest.

Gone now is the gladness,

gone the joy of harvest.

There will be no singing in the vineyards,

no more happy shouts,

no treading of grapes in the winepresses.

I have ended all their harvest joys.

My heart’s cry for Moab is like a lament on a harp.

I am filled with anguish for Kir-hareseth.

The people of Moab will worship at their pagan shrines,

but it will do them no good.

They will cry to the gods in their temples,

but no one will be able to save them.

The Lord has already said these things about Moab in the past. But now the Lord says, “Within three years, counting each day, the glory of Moab will be ended. From its great population, only a feeble few will be left alive.”

This message came to me concerning Damascus:

“Look, the city of Damascus will disappear!

It will become a heap of ruins.

The towns of Aroer will be deserted.

Flocks will graze in the streets and lie down undisturbed,

with no one to chase them away.

The fortified towns of Israel will also be destroyed,

and the royal power of Damascus will end.

All that remains of Syria

will share the fate of Israel’s departed glory,”

declares the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“In that day Israel’s glory will grow dim;

its robust body will waste away.

The whole land will look like a grainfield

after the harvesters have gathered the grain.

It will be desolate,

like the fields in the valley of Rephaim after the harvest.

Only a few of its people will be left,

like stray olives left on a tree after the harvest.

Only two or three remain in the highest branches,

four or five scattered here and there on the limbs,”

declares the Lord, the God of Israel.

Then at last the people will look to their Creator

and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.

They will no longer look to their idols for help

or worship what their own hands have made.

They will never again bow down to their Asherah poles

or worship at the pagan shrines they have built.

Their largest cities will be like a deserted forest,

like the land the Hivites and Amorites abandoned

when the Israelites came here so long ago.

It will be utterly desolate.

Why? Because you have turned from the God who can save you.

You have forgotten the Rock who can hide you.

So you may plant the finest grapevines

and import the most expensive seedlings.

They may sprout on the day you set them out;

yes, they may blossom on the very morning you plant them,

but you will never pick any grapes from them.

Your only harvest will be a load of grief and unrelieved pain.

Listen! The armies of many nations

roar like the roaring of the sea.

Hear the thunder of the mighty forces

as they rush forward like thundering waves.

But though they thunder like breakers on a beach,

God will silence them, and they will run away.

They will flee like chaff scattered by the wind,

like a tumbleweed whirling before a storm.

In the evening Israel waits in terror,

but by dawn its enemies are dead.

This is the just reward of those who plunder us,

a fitting end for those who destroy us.

Matthew 9:18–38, The Bible for Everyone: A New Translation

As Jesus was saying this, suddenly an official came up and knelt down in front of him.

‘It’s my daughter!’ he said. ‘She’s just died! But—if you’ll come and lay your hand on her, she’ll come back to life!’

Jesus got up and followed him. So did his disciples.

Just then a woman appeared. She had suffered from internal bleeding for twelve years. She came up behind Jesus and touched the hem of his coat.

‘If I can only touch his coat,’ she said to herself, ‘I’ll be rescued.’

Jesus turned round and saw her.

‘Cheer up, my daughter!’ he said. ‘Your faith has rescued you.’

And the woman was healed from that moment.

Jesus went into the official’s house. There he saw the flute-players, and everybody in a great state of agitation.

‘Go away!’ he said. ‘The little girl isn’t dead. She’s asleep!’ And they laughed at him.

So when the crowd had been put out, he went in and took hold of her hand, and she got up. The report of this went out around the whole of that region.

As Jesus was leaving the area, two blind men followed him, shouting ‘Have pity on us, son of David!’ at the tops of their voices.

Jesus went into the house, and the blind men came to him.

‘Do you believe that I can do this?’ asked Jesus.

‘Yes, Master,’ they replied.

Then Jesus touched their eyes. ‘As you have believed, so let it happen,’ he said. And their eyes were opened.

Then Jesus gave them a stern warning. ‘Take good care’, he said, ‘that nobody gets to know about this.’ But they went out and spread the news in the whole of that region.

After they had left, people brought to Jesus a demon-possessed man who couldn’t speak. Jesus cast out the demon, and the man spoke. The crowds were amazed. ‘Nothing like this ever happened in Israel,’ they said. But the Pharisees said, ‘He casts out demons by the prince of demons.’

Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, announcing the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he felt deeply sorry for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘There’s plenty of harvest to be had, but not many workers! So pray the master of the harvest to send more workers to harvest his fields!’

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