Genesis 12-50 is a large part of the Pentateuch, but always an interesting read.
The first thing that stood out to me was in Genesis 12 when Abram telling Sarai to be his ‘sister’ and not wife when they meet Pharaoh. This part of Genesis was always confusing to me. It didn’t make sense because I just don’t understand why they would go through with this. What if Pharaoh, or someone else, wanted to marry her?
Genesis 15:1 reads, “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be Afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward'”. I love this verse, and of course we must read it in context, but it is such a good reminder of who our protector is, and to find peace in the Lord for our protector. When I was 18, I had full spinal surgery for scoliosis, and I remember being so terrified prior to the surgery taking place. Two days before the surgery, I got an email from one of my parent’s friends and they felt God sharing this verse with me. It brought great peace for me as I went into the surgery. It is so powerful in Abram’s story, and was also powerful in my life too.
It seems throughout this whole passage, God promises Abraham what He will give to Abraham, but Abraham continues to doubt. I often find myself thinking, ‘Abraham, God said it so clear, why are you doubting?’. I then picture myself in Abraham’s position and realize how much sense it makes that Abraham is doubting. God is telling him that he will inherit so much land, but it is not immediate, and in the mean time, the Israelites will be oppressed, and Abraham will not see it in his lifetime- it makes perfect sense to doubt. What a crazy thing to be going through! I can never imagine his position, but I try to sympathize with him so I can begin to imagine how hard it must be to trust the Lord, when the rest of the people around him are sinning greatly, and the Israelites (and Lot) doubt. God was so gracious and understanding about this, and whenever Abraham doubted, He continued to work with Him and show Him how He would provide. With this in mind though, it makes sense why God wanted to question Abraham with the sacrificing of his son, Isaac, to see how committed he was to the Lord.
In Genesis 18, did God know that there would be less than 10 good people in Sodom and Gomorrah, and so although Abraham was trying to have a back and forth discussion with the Lord, that the Lord would still win? Even still, it shows God’s grace.
God is so so gracious! Abraham had a child with Hagar, and that whole act was so sinful. However, because the Lord is gracious and knew that it was not Hagar or the baby’s fault, God blessed them to be a nation. I find Genesis continues to reveal God’s character more and more, as just, merciful, and gracious.
Though, there are some weird things in the Bible, through all this. Often, I find the Bible just says things, and we take them as they are and don’t question them. The whole marriage of Rebekah and Isaac was done so quickly and nonchalantly. In verse 50, the parents just say, “this is from the Lord, take her!” without even consenting her, and it just all happens so fast! Obviously, the story did not happen exactly like that, but sometimes the Bible just seems so overly simplified and takes out the human factors. For example, the family must have been so sad she was leaving, but the text does not convey this at all.
Now, as a female, the Bible is often read through a male gaze. Interesting that men had so many wives, but even more interesting, and I have never noticed this before, but how Leah and Rachel were described in verses 17 and 18: “Leah’s eyes were weak,but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel”. Why was it described this way? The first thing we learn about them is their age, and what they look like, particularly, who looks better. On top of that, we learn Jacob likes the better looking one. Is she God fearing, I don’t know, but she looks good in form and appearance. I guess this is just a little weird to me, and seems a little simplistic (again), and objectifying.
Jacob is going from four women: Leah, Rebekah, to their slaves and sleeping with all of them. How do we reconcile this?
I think this verse makes me understand what Paul was talking about in Galatians regarding circumcision. This is a “works without faith” situation and it is satisfying the Israelites. However, just because the men are becoming circumcised does not mean (at all) that they are following the Lord, or that their heart is with the Lord. Faith in the Pentateuch is a little confusing. I wonder how many people believed in the Lord, and how many just followed the ‘laws’. I guess it is also like our society, but the Israelites allowed the intermingling because of circumcision.
How cool would it be if we all looked at our situations the way that Joseph does. If instead of holding grudges towards people for things they have done to us, we say, “do not feel bad for what you have done, it was not you who did this to me, but God and his plan needed this to happen” (7-8). The world would be much more of a loving, God-fearing place.
Many things happen in Genesis, all within a matter of 50 books. Such a good foundation for the Pentateuch and the rest of the Bible. Every time I read through Genesis, God will speak through it, in different and beautiful ways!