Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Hello;

Back around 2000 or 2001; I got the daring idea to begin composing a daily, bite-size commentary on the book of Genesis. It was a clumsy effort at first but I stuck with it and as time went by, it got pretty good. On some forums where I've survived opposition long enough to complete the whole fifty chapters, Genesis has attracted several thousand views.

As of today's date, I'm 76 years old; and an on-going student of the Bible since 1968 via sermons, seminars, lectures, Sunday school classes, radio Bible programs, and various authors of a number of Bible-related books. Fifty-two years of Bible under my belt hasn't made me an authority; but they've at least made me competent enough to tackle Genesis.

Barring emergencies, accidents, vacations, unforeseen circumstances, and/or insurmountable distractions, database errors, pandemic shut-downs, computer crashes, black outs, brown outs, deaths in the family, Wall Street Armageddon, thread hijackers, excessive quarrelling and debating, the dog ate my homework, visiting relatives, ISIS, car repairs, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, student walk-outs, Carrington events, gasoline prices, medical issues, and/or hard luck and the forces of nature; I'm making an effort to post something every day including Sundays and holidays.

Some really good stuff is in Genesis: the origin of the cosmos, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the Flood, tower of Babel, and the origin of the Jews.

Big-name celebrities like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph are here.

Not here are Moses vs. Pharaoh and the parting of the Red Sea. That story is in Exodus; Samson and Delilah are in Judges, David and Goliath are in 1Samuel; and Ruth and Esther are in books of the Bible named after them.

The author of Genesis is currently unknown; but commonly attributed to Moses. Seeing as he penned Exodus (Mark 12:26) it's conceivable that Moses also penned Genesis; but in reality, nobody really knows for sure.

Scholars have estimated the date of its writing at around 1450-1410 BC; a mere 3,400± years ago, which is pretty recent in the grand scheme of Earth's geological history.

Genesis may in fact be the result of several contributors beginning as far back as Adam himself; who would certainly know more about the creation than anybody, and who entertained no doubts whatsoever about the existence of an intelligent designer since he knew the creator Himself like a next door neighbor.

As time went by, others like Seth and Noah would add their own experiences to the record, and then Abraham his, Isaac his, Jacob his, and finally Judah or one of his descendants completing the record with Joseph's burial.

Genesis is quoted more than sixty times in the New Testament; and Christ authenticated its Divine inspiration by referring to it in his own teachings. (e.g. Matt 19:4-6, Matt 24:37-39, Mk 10:4-9, Luke 11:49-51, Luke 17:26 29 & 32, John 7:21-23, John 8:44 and John 8:56)

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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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WebersHome wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 11:59 am .
Gen 1:27 . . So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

It's okay to pity people who refuse to be identified by their gender and prefer to be known as non binary, i.e. as neither male nor female. But there is no just no way on God's green earth that Bible-believing Christians should ever be supportive of the non binary movement because the image and likeness of God finds its completeness in distinct male and female gender identities.

There's a term for people who believe themselves to be someone and/or something other than what and/or who they really are. I think it might be called Dissociative Disorder. There was a time when society confined people with those kinds of conditions to psychiatric facilities for observation and therapy, but nowadays political correctness requires that they be "included". But God-honoring Christian churches dare not accept into their membership someone known to identify themselves as non binary.

"See to it that no one misses the grace of God, and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (Heb 12:15)

A bitter root is one belonging to a species unfit for human consumption. When you find noxious vegetation sprouting in your garden, you've got to get out there with a hoe and dig that stuff up before it spreads out of control.


NOTE: The pronoun "them" in Gen 1:27 is a bit ambiguous. It can refer to the first couple; but it can just as easily refer to the human species in total. In other words: Gen 1:26-27 speaks of all of us; and by extension, so does Gen 2:16-17 because according to Acts 17:26, that's how it worked out.

Some women would be offended by association with a male pronoun but it's a biblical designation nonetheless. Regardless of one's natural gender, all human beings are of the 'adam species and can be legitimately referred to as a him or as a he because all of us, regardless of gender, are extensions of a solo specimen; including Eve because she was made with human material taken from a man's body. Bible students really have to watch for that because when they run across the word "man" and/or "men" in the Bible, it doesn't always indicate males only.
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This seems to be a type of justified bigotry which comes from one type of biblical interpretation. It seems at odds with nature as it does not take into account the fact that some humans are born with both male and female parts. {Penis breasts and vagina.} [I would even post a picture as evidence but this would most likely incure moderator intervention and a warning against me for doing so...but Hermaphrodites' do actually exist [and thus are an aspect of The Creators Handiwork] - google it if you don't believe me.

As it is at odds with nature and in a previous post you have argued that The Creator is "Spirit" and has no image. This contradicts the reason for the bigotry you interpret the Bible encourages.
I would say that if anyone who is a Christians reads your words, that they don't just take what you say as gospel. I do acknowledge however that even on this board I have encountered Christians who argue pretty much the same as you are doing here...although their language is more shielded, the sum total of their arguments say as much as you have expressed in your post.

How I would biblically argue against your comments is that All Humans Beings are "Of The Spirit" [Related to/Adopted by The Creator as you put it] so it has to be accepted that an Individuate Spirit Consciousnesses [ ISCs ] might not be able to successfully identify with its form and might feel it would rather be in the form of the opposite gender - Form is not the issue as to whether said ISCs succeed or fail...if there is to be a call on such things [certainly Christians tend to believe so] - there is no reason to believe it is considered a 'failure' not to identify with skin you are in.

On that note, all such problems and accompanying bigotry vanish when one self identifies as "Spirit" rather than "Body" so we are not the container...we are the contained...and identifying with the container only adds to the confusion. Accepting the "adoption" automatically means dropping the bigotry your post promotes. Who and what you/me/we are

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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #252

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Gen 33:20 . . He set up an altar there, and called it El-elohe-yisrael.

El-elohe-yisrael is actually 'Eel-'Eloheey-Yisraa'eel which is a compound of three separate Hebrew words.

'Eel is from 'el (ale) and means strength; as an adjective; viz: mighty.

'Eloheey is from 'elohiym (el-o-heem') and means god(s) in a nondescript sense; viz: the one true god and all manner of imitation gods.

Yisraa'eel is from Yisra'el (yis-raw-ale') and means: he will rule as God, which, according to Gen 32:29, was Jacob's new name.


NOTE: Jacob himself was never personally seated on God's throne and ruling as God; but one of his biological descendants does. (Num 24:17, Col 3:1, Phil 2:8-11)

So, if we put it all together, Jacob's altar was dedicated to The Almighty God of he who will rule as God; or just simply The God Of Israel. It was the very, very, first altar to ever be named after the god of the people of Israel. A true milestone in the nation's history, and Jacob's too.

Just exactly how much time elapsed between Jacob's temporary camp at Succoth and the events coming up in chapter 34 are unknown.

In the interval, Jacob very likely visited his dad and also traveled down to Seir to visit his brother Esau too; like he promised in verse 14. Just because the Bible doesn't say so; doesn't mean he didn't. One of the aspects of the Bible that some people find very annoying is that it doesn't record every little detail.

For example at Matt 2:22-23 it's reported that the prophets said Jesus would be called a Nazarene. But you won't find that quote in the Old Testament, so there's no use in looking for it; and that's because not every word spoken by the prophets was recorded: same as not every word spoken by Jesus was recorded in the gospels; and not every detail of the patriarchs' lives are recorded in Genesis.

Scripture's omissions can often lead people into error via a kind of logic called an Argument From Silence; which is a kind of reasoning that assumes that if something isn't clearly stated, then it's inferred from the silence that there was nothing to state.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #253

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William wrote: Thu Apr 01, 2021 1:24 am
It's okay to pity people who refuse to be identified by their gender and prefer to be known as non binary, i.e. as neither male nor female. But there is no just no way on God's green earth that Bible-believing Christians should ever be supportive of the non binary movement because the image and likeness of God finds its completeness in distinct male and female gender identities.
This seems to be a type of justified bigotry which comes from one type of biblical interpretation. It seems at odds with nature as it does not take into account the fact that some humans are born with both male and female parts.
These are complex issues that everyone should look at. These are just initial thoughts, quickly summarized, and leave plenty of room for exploration, clarification, etc. Please take this response in that light.

I don't see how this passage speaks against (or for) intersex individuals (or transgenderism and other related issues). It could be referring to Adam and Eve being created, a male and a female. It could be referring to God creating various clearly male and female humans. It doesn't say anything for or against future intersex individuals. Even if one believes intersexuality is the result of the Fall, a corruption of God's designed order, this passage still wouldn't advocate bigotry towards intersex individuals anymore than Christians would advocate bigotry towards the blind.

To the bigger issue, I find "gender" (as opposed to biological sex) itself to be a cultural creation and the source of the trauma, but I think that would need a different thread to pursue.

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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #254

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Gen 34:1 . . Now Dinah, the daughter whom Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.

Even though Dinah was brought up in a God-fearing home, she is going to fall prey to the morals of a local culture; and that can happen to anybody, so no one should ever think themselves immune to it.

"Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals." (1Cor 15:33)

Paul's letter to the Corinthians wasn't written to bad people to encourage them to live like Christians. No, it was written to Christians to discourage them from hanging out with impious people and thereby becoming one of them.


Gen 34:2 . . Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, chief of the country, saw her, and took her and lay with her by force.

The words "by force" aren't in the Hebrew text. By penciling those words into the text, translators make Dinah appear to be the victim of a rape rather than a willing partner in a hot affair.

Most Bible students are well aware of the oftentimes low moral character of the people of God, so if Dinah was truly accommodating in this episode, it shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, young girls are very susceptible to hero worship, and Shechem was a prince; the son of a sheik. What young girl doesn't dream of being swept off her feet by a prince? It's pretty common; and it's all part of being a real girl; for example:

I was amazed at an AeroSmith concert by the numbers of shapely, drop-dead gorgeous young girls crowded up against the stage trying to get Steven Tyler to notice them. If you've seen Mr. Tyler, I think you would agree with me he will never qualify as a hunk. But Tyler is a famous entertainer; and entertainers have a powerful sensual charisma regardless of their looks.

I observed an even more impressive display at a Rolling Stones concert (now there's a study in ugly). Women of all ages, sizes, and waistlines, slingshot their bras and panties up on the stage for the men to keep as love tokens. There were so many female undergarments cluttering the stage that the situation became a safety hazard. Keith Richards and the others had to kick them away to avoid tripping and falling.


Gen 34:3 . . Being strongly drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and in love with the maiden, he spoke to the maiden tenderly.

Shechem's feelings for Dinah weren't the typical violent lusts that rapists expend upon their victims. That boy was truly overwhelmed by Dinah; just like Jack was overwhelmed by Rose in the movie "Titanic".

I wonder if anyone reading this can remember the last time you felt that way about somebody-- how you had difficulty catching your breath, and how utterly vulnerable you felt in their presence. No, I just can't believe Shechem raped Dinah. He really did like her as a person. She wasn't just a girl toy for Shechem to exploit; no, Dinah was "the one" and to him, she lit up the room the moment she walked in-- in his eyes; everything around her was a silver pool of light.


Gen 34:4 . . So Shechem said to his father Hamor: Get me this girl as a wife.

In modern American culture, Shechem would be regarded as a wimp for not being man enough to speak with Dinah's parents himself instead of seeking his dad's assistance. But in that day, a man's parents or relatives did all the negotiating in nuptial matters; and when it reached that stage, the romance was pretty serious business.

Gen 34:5a . . Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah;

From whom Jacob heard the news is not stated. Dinah had been taken into Shechem's home (Gen 34:2) and remained there until this episode was over (Gen 34:26). So news came probably by some of Dinah's girlfriends from town whose friendships she sought in Gen 34:1. By now, Dinah must be feeling very alone, and afraid to come home and face the music.

When guys lose their virginity, it's different. They feel more like a man, they feel better about themselves, and they feel highly regarded in the eyes of their male friends. But girls oftentimes feel like cheap goods: soiled and fallen; not to mention the fear of pregnancy and family disgrace. Not all girls feel the same about pre-marital trysts. Some relish the excitement. But others are scarred for life, and never really get over it.

The Bible is silent about Dinah's feelings about all this, and after chapter 34, she's mentioned only one more time at Gen 46:15 and that's it.


Gen 34:5b . . but since his sons were in the field with his cattle, Jacob kept silent until they came home.

If Jacob had allowed his passions to overrule his better judgment, he might have stormed out and confronted Shechem's family all by himself, and they just may have been annoyed enough to murder him on the spot. No, best to wait for back-up on this one. And besides, brothers were often key decision makers in a sister's betrothal (e.g. Gen 24:29-61). So Jacob needed his boys; if not for personal defense, then at least to take part in the decision concerning whom Dinah would wed.

Gen 34:6-7a . .Then Shechem's father Hamor came out to Jacob to speak to him. Meanwhile Jacob's sons, having heard the news, came in from the field.

Jacob probably sent a runner out to get the boys and have them come home as soon as possible. By luck, they arrived the same time as Shechem and his dad. So the key players are present, the stage is set, and they can all get down to business.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #255

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Gen 34:7b . .The men were distressed and very angry, because he had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter-- a thing not to be done.

This is the first instance of Jewish tribalism in the Bible. Ironically; the boys were far more upset for what Shechem did to the family name then what he did to their sister. However; that's a very common reaction from male siblings. Brothers typically take it personal when a guy abuses their sister or says something derogatory about her; even when the brothers themselves don't even like her.

The phrase "a thing not to be done" didn't apply to Shechem and Hamor. Promiscuity wasn't considered immoral in their culture. Extra-marital activity was a normal social interaction in many parts of Canaan, and nobody gave it a second thought. In fact, neither Shechem nor his dad felt any inclination whatsoever to apologize for what happened and probably would have become indignant if asked to; but Israel's moral standards were God-influenced, and ran counter to common mores. (cf. Gen 18:19)


Gen 34:8-9 . . And Hamor spoke with them, saying: My son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him in marriage. Intermarry with us: give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves:

The only problem is: whose religion would be taught to Dinah's children? Would it be the Canaanites' religion or Jacob's religion? Would they be taught both religions; and thus create confusion in the children's minds? People for whom religion means very little; can cross breed all they want and it doesn't make any difference.

However; as a general rule, it is never, ever a good idea to marry outside your own religion. Marriage is tough enough without dividing the family with differing religious philosophies. Couples should make every effort to strive for unity in all things; especially in the area of religion.

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what province hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2Cor 6:14-18)

For Jacob's family, marriage with another culture was not a good idea at all. Their granddad was called to a very high purpose-- a purpose in which they were all expected to have a role; and that would be the role of engendering a great nation whose God would be Yhvh; and thus be a witness to the one True God: and a nation that would ultimately be a blessing to the whole world. A people like Hamor's were a serious threat to fulfilling that purpose.


Gen 34:10 . .You will dwell among us, and the land will be open before you; settle, move about, and acquire holdings in it.

That must have been a very tempting offer to Jacob. Hamor's people would protect his family, and let him use choice grazing lands, and sell him property to build a home on if he joined their clan instead of going off on his own with no one but Yhvh to rely upon. But then Israel would be assimilated; and that was something Jacob had to avoid at all costs.

A holy nation has got to remain separated and independent from its unholy neighbors so God can bless. Just look what assimilation has done to the people of Israel over the years. Only a measly ten percent of them today are orthodox. Many of them are secular, worldly, conformed, and totally without their God. That is truly pitiful; and totally unacceptable.


Gen 34:11-12 . .Then Shechem said to her father and brothers: Do me this favor, and I will pay whatever you tell me. Ask of me a bride-price ever so high, as well as gifts, and I will pay what you tell me; only give me the maiden for a wife.

Shechem really did love Dinah, and was willing to go to some pretty extreme lengths to keep her. Unfortunately, he got off on the wrong foot with Dinah's brothers; which would prove fatal to every man in his village, including Shechem's dad.

Gen 34:13a . . Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor

It's uncertain all eleven of Jacob's boys took part in this. Later, only two of them, Simeon and Levi, would subsequently go into town and murder all the men. Jacob apparently said nothing in the negotiations; he only witnessed it all, listening to everything, but letting his sons do all the talking.

Gen 34:13b-17 . . speaking with guile because he had defiled their sister Dinah-- and said to them: We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to a man who is uncircumcised, for that is a disgrace among us. Only on this condition will we agree with you; that you will become like us in that every male among you is circumcised.

. . .Then we will give our daughters to you and take your daughters to ourselves; and we will dwell among you and become as one kindred. But if you will not listen to us and become circumcised, we will take our daughter and go.


It's difficult to ascertain what the boys were implying by the prerequisite of circumcision. Were they implying that Shechem's clan could only blend with the people of Israel via Abraham's covenant of circumcision? Apparently that's the impression they were giving, and Hamor seems to understand that if the two families were to become one clan, then Israel's religion has to be in common.

Jacob's silence suggests he was thinking the very same. As for Hamor, being a covetous man at heart; circumcision surely seemed an insignificant price to become co-owner of Jacob's possessions.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #256

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Gen 34:18-19 . .Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor's son Shechem. And the youth lost no time in doing the thing, for he wanted Jacob's daughter. Now he was the most respected in his father's house.

Shechem took the lead and set the example for the rest of the men in his village. He apparently had quite a bit of influence, and people looked up to him.

Gen 34:20-24 . . So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the public place of their town and spoke to their fellow townsmen, saying: These people are our friends; let them settle in the land and move about in it, for the land is large enough for them; we will take their daughters to ourselves as wives and give our daughters to them.

. . . But only on this condition will the men agree with us to dwell among us and be as one kindred: that all our males become circumcised as they are circumcised. Their cattle and substance and all their beasts will be ours, if we only agree to their terms, so that they will settle among us. All who went out of the gate of his town heeded Hamor and his son Shechem, and all males, all those who went out of the gate of his town, were circumcised


Hamor convinced the men of his village that they would prosper by submitting to the surgery. His village apparently operated on the commune principle: What you have is mine, and what I have is yours. So everyone would benefit from assimilating Jacob's family because they would become co-owners of his possessions; which, when he departed Laban, was a goodly amount of livestock and slaves. The arrangement was appealing: it made good business sense, and would have been very lucrative for Hamor's village if only Jacob's sons had been honest about it.

Gen 34:25-26 . . On the third day, when they were in pain, Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob's sons, brothers of Dinah, took each his sword, came upon the city unopposed, and slew all the males. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword, took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went away.

The boys did all that without Jacob's knowledge. Exactly what effect the massacre of her boyfriend and his dad had upon Dinah is not said. Family rivalries, like the old hillbilly feuds, are bitter and driven solely by the code of the vendetta. There's no justice in a vendetta; only pay-back.

Oh, The Martins and the Coys,
They were reckless mountain boys,
And they scarred the mountains up with shot and shell.

There was uncles, brothers, cousins,
Why; they bumped them off by dozens,
Just how many bit the dust is hard to tell.

(Gene Autry)

Gen 34:27 . .The other sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the town, because their sister had been defiled.

Only two of the brothers did the killing, but apparently all who were old enough participated in the pillaging. I tell you, some of the patriarchs were brutal men; and it was from them that the nation of Israel sprang. Later, they will sell their own kid brother Joseph into slavery simply because they envied his favorite-son status with their dad.

Gen 34:28-29 . .They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys, all that was inside the town and outside; all their wealth, all their children, and their wives, all that was in the houses, they took as captives and booty.

What they did was what conquerors legitimately do in war. But Jacob wasn't at war with Hamor's clan. Those boys were nothing in the world but murderers, kidnappers, thugs, and thieves. To think Messiah came from that blood line is beyond belief!

Gen 34:30-31 . . Jacob said to Simeon and Levi: You have brought trouble on me, making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my men are few in number, so that if they unite against me and attack me, I and my house will be destroyed. But they answered: Should our sister be treated like a harlot?

Dinah's brothers were rash and hot headed; placing their own rage above and beyond their family's safety, and their father Jacob's honor. That is the self-centered attitude of criminals; which is exactly what they were. Without God's providence, surely all of Canaan would have banded together and justly hanged every last male in Jacob's camp so that the nation of Israel would have ended right then and there. There would have been no holocaust and no crucifixion, and the Palestinians today would have a country to call their own. It's almost impossible to comprehend how those boys could have ever descended from the world's most respected religious figure the world has ever known: Abraham ben Terah

Many years later, Moses' people came to the brink of annihilation again because of the pride of just one lone Jew in the book of Ruth. Boy! I tell you: God has really had His hands full keeping those people from destroying themselves. Truth be told: if it weren't for God's promise to Abraham, the Jews would have been extinct as a people long ago. (2Kings 13:23)
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #257

Post by William »

The Tanager wrote: Fri Apr 02, 2021 11:13 am
William wrote: Thu Apr 01, 2021 1:24 am
It's okay to pity people who refuse to be identified by their gender and prefer to be known as non binary, i.e. as neither male nor female. But there is no just no way on God's green earth that Bible-believing Christians should ever be supportive of the non binary movement because the image and likeness of God finds its completeness in distinct male and female gender identities.
This seems to be a type of justified bigotry which comes from one type of biblical interpretation. It seems at odds with nature as it does not take into account the fact that some humans are born with both male and female parts.
These are complex issues that everyone should look at. These are just initial thoughts, quickly summarized, and leave plenty of room for exploration, clarification, etc. Please take this response in that light.

I don't see how this passage speaks against (or for) intersex individuals (or transgenderism and other related issues). It could be referring to Adam and Eve being created, a male and a female. It could be referring to God creating various clearly male and female humans. It doesn't say anything for or against future intersex individuals. Even if one believes intersexuality is the result of the Fall, a corruption of God's designed order, this passage still wouldn't advocate bigotry towards intersex individuals anymore than Christians would advocate bigotry towards the blind.

To the bigger issue, I find "gender" (as opposed to biological sex) itself to be a cultural creation and the source of the trauma, but I think that would need a different thread to pursue.
It could be that biblical writ is the result of those who only see male and female human relationships as relevant to The Creator and why one rarely if ever hears about how The Creator also created Hermaphrodites.
Perhaps having the image of a creator who makes mistakes is a means in which to get around this matter of fact...

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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 35:1 . . God said to Jacob: Arise, go up to Bethel and remain there; and build an altar there to the god who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.

That is some very strange language. Why didn't God say "build an altar to Me; who appeared to you when, etc". On the surface, it appears that God is speaking of a god other than Himself. But according to Gen 35:2, Jacob's family had a number of gods in their possession and I think God just wanted to make sure Jacob understood that He wanted no truck with them. For example:

"You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, Jehovah your god, am a jealous god," (Ex 20:3-5)


Gen 35:2 . . So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him: Rid yourselves of the alien gods in your midst, purify yourselves, and change your clothes.

This is embarrassing. To top off the shame of recent events-- Dinah's tryst, the murders, and the subsequent looting in town-- now it turns out that the one family on earth who was supposed to be a witness to the one True God., and all that He stands for, had other gods in their midst! They were also wearing clothing taken from the dead in town, clothing that more than likely honored the religions-- and thus the morals-- of the Canaanite gods! No doubt the alien gods themselves were booty too, collected from Shechem's town after the massacre.

Precisely what Jacob meant for his household, and all who were with him, to do in order be "purified" is not said. Bathing in water was the usual means of purification in the Old Testament; and often done in preparation to meet with God; but it's more likely that he simply regarded the alien gods and the stolen booty as ill gotten gain; ergo: contamination.


Gen 35:3 . . Come, let us go up to Bethel, and I will build an altar there to the God who answered me when I was in distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.

Jacob thus made a distinction between the mute gods of the Canaanites, and the vocal god of Israel. Jacob's god had been extremely active and useful in his life; whereas the Canaanite gods were only inanimate pieces of superstitious statuary, like voodoo dolls.

The altar would serve a couple of important purposes, but the one that would really count in this case is its capacity as an official place of confession and absolution of sins. The people of God, whether Jew or Christian, have never been sinless. But sinless-ness is not an indicator that certifies whether or not someone is in God's family. Confession and absolution are far better indicators, e.g. Ps 32:5-7.

The advantage of being in the family of Israel's God is the latitude His own have for being themselves. Jacob's household sinned big time, yes, but their sins will effect neither their divine purpose, nor their eternal destiny.


Gen 35:4 . .They gave to Jacob all the alien gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the terebinth that was near Shechem.

According to Webster's, a terebinth is a small European tree (Pistacia terebinthus) of the cashew family yielding turpentine. The Hebrew word for "terebinth" is 'elah (ay-law') which just means an oak or other strong tree.

The religious items Jacob collected, were not only in the possession of his kin, but also in the possession of "all who were with him" (Gen 35:2) which would have included servants, his slaves; and the recent captives. Some of the items would have come from looting the town of Shechem, but many would have been acquired in the area up and around Laban's vicinity in Mesopotamia; which is where Jacob acquired the bulk of his labor force (Gen 30:43). Jacob lived for many years in close proximity to religions centered upon gods other than Israel's God, and the influence of those religions had a heavy impact upon the most holy community existing on the entire planet at that time.

Exactly why Jacob chose to bury those items under a terebinth, instead of just burying them in a hole out in pasture, is not said. He could have incinerated them too, but, for some undisclosed reason, didn't. Some have tried to find symbolism in that, but his decision may have been motivated by something as simple as a hot day, and Jacob would rather work in the shade than out in the open.


Gen 35:5 . . As they set out, a terror from God fell on the cities round about, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

The patriarchs had some very interesting advantages. Even when they deserved to die, or at least assaulted and battered, the Bible's God was often on hand to prevent it. Think about it though. If you knew that a small force of Jews were able to overpower a whole town, would you want to lock horns with them? I don't think so. Jacob's boys no doubt had a reputation in those parts now, and made their neighbors nervous.

People were very superstitious in those days and often gave the credit for military victories to their own personal gods; or to the gods of their conquerors, if that's the way things went in battle. So that the god of the people of Israel now became the one to be feared in those parts.

However, it's far better-- if at all possible --for the people of God to give a testimony to the love of God rather than to the terror of God. But because of the patriarchs' recent violent behavior, the love of God was far from the minds of the people in Jacob's vicinity. They saw the people of Israel and their god as a serious threat to the safety and well being of their communities rather than seeing Israel's God as a potential source of blessing and providence.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 35:6-7 . .Thus Jacob came to Luz-- that is, Bethel --in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. There he built an altar and named the site El-bethel, for it was there that God had revealed Himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.

Bethel is located approximately 11 miles directly north of Jerusalem. Jacob erected a stone cairn there when he left home; and gave the site its name: Bethel (House Of God). At least thirty years have gone by since then. He stayed twenty years with Laban, and had lived for an undisclosed number of years in the vicinity of Schechem. Jacob was 75 when he left home, and was now easily over 100. He is not only older now, but he's a lot wiser too. The experience at Shechem changed Jacob in a remarkable way.

This time he builds an altar instead of a cairn, and names the site El-bethel (the god of the House Of God). So Jacob's focus has shifted. Previously his emphasis was upon a special site to worship God. This time, Jacob puts the emphasis where it should have been in the first place: upon the object of his worship. Because, unless God is actually present during worship, then designating a special place for worship is futile.

In Rev 3:14-22, the church of the Laodicians is depicted as so entirely christless that Jesus isn't even a member, no, he's on the outside of the building banging on the door trying to get someone's attention to let him in. That was a solid Christian church at one time; but as time went by; it somehow became quite christless.


Gen 35:8a . . Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, died, and was buried under the oak below Bethel;

By now, Deborah was very aged; older than Rebecca, and had come south with her to Canaan twenty years prior to Jacob's birth (Gen 24:59, 25:20, 25:26). Deborah was already a mature woman when she came south with Rebecca because the word for nurse-- yanaq (yaw-nak') --indicates a wet nurse. So Deborah did the surrogate task of breast feeding the infant Rebecca, whose biological mom, for reasons unknown, couldn't do it herself. Jacob knew Deborah quite well, having grown up with her in his own home, and remained with her a good number of years before leaving home himself at 75.

There's pretty good reason to believe that Rebecca had died prior to Gen 35:8 because it's extremely doubtful Deborah would leave her to join Jacob's troupe otherwise.


Gen 35:8b . . so it was named Allon-bacuth.

Allon-bacuth means: oak of weeping. Deborah's passing was surely as emotionally painful a loss to Jacob as the loss of his own mother.

Gen 35:9a . . God appeared again to Jacob on his arrival from Paddan-aram,

Paddam-aram was the region up north, in and around where Laban lived, and from whence Jacob fled a number of years prior to Gen 35:9. But God reckoned Jacob still on-route for the simple reason that he had yet to strictly comply with the order to "Return to the land of your fathers where you were born" and "arise and leave this land and return to your native land." (Gen 31:3, 31:13).

Instead of going directly to Bethel, as God apparently expected Jacob to do, he settled in the region around Shechem-- where his daughter became promiscuous, his sons became murderers and thieves, and Jacob alienated his neighbors: thus; he, and his whole family, had become quite useless as a witness to the knowledge of the one true God in that region.


Gen 35:9b-10 . . and He blessed him. God said to him: You whose name is Jacob, you shall be called Jacob no more, but Israel shall be your name. Thus He named him Israel.

This wasn't news to Jacob. He was renamed Israel by the angel (Gen 32:29). But Jacob wasn't living up to his new identity. He needed urging to live as who he now is, not live as who he once was before meeting God face to face.

Gen 35:11a . . And God said to him: I am El Shaddai.

The patriarchs were aware of God's other name Yhvh, and often referred to Him by it; but El Shaddai is a name of God that they knew Him by in a personal way. It means: God of all might; viz; the all-power god; or the god who invented, created, and controls all natural and supernatural powers.

El Shaddai is the god who can make things happen, even things that are impossible by natural means, and things that are above and beyond Man's mortal imagination; so that El Shaddai is "the" god of providence who is easily strong enough to meet any, and all, human need.

The name El Shaddai relates to Jacob's vow in Gen 28:20-21 where he said: If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my father's house-- Yhvh shall be my God.

God did remain with Jacob, protected him, provided for him, and got him back home. Time now to make good on that vow.


Gen 35:11b . . Be fertile and increase;

At this point in his life, Jacob was just about done reproducing. He had one more to go: Joseph. But Jacob's increase went way beyond his twelve sons were just the beginning.

Gen 35:11c . . A nation, yea an assembly of nations, shall descend from you. Kings shall issue from your loins.

That's pretty much what God promised Abraham back in chapter 17. The most important kings were those of Israel, and in particular, the ones in David's line who preceded Messiah.

Gen 35:12 . .The land that I assigned to Abraham and Isaac I assign to you; and to your offspring to come will I assign the land.

Ownership of the land didn't pass from Abraham down to Isaac, and then to Jacob as if it were an heirloom. God promised each patriarch full ownership along with their progeny. We might call that kind of ownership tenancy in common, community property, or joint-heirship. However, there's yet a fourth tenant in common: Christ. (Gal 3:16)
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 35:13-14 . . God parted from him at the spot where He had spoken to him; and Jacob set up a pillar at the site where He had spoken to him, a pillar of stone, and he offered a libation on it and poured oil upon it.

The pillar that Jacob erected on this same site back in Gen 28:18 received a somewhat different treatment. In that instance, Jacob poured only oil on it. In this instance, he added a libation. The precise recipe is unknown, but could have been a forerunner of the libation rituals that would come later in Israel's history-- typically an alcoholic beverage made from grapes. (e.g. Ex 29:40, Lev 23:13)

Wine is an ingredient in a formal Temple offering called the daily burnt offering (Ex 29:38-46) whose recipe lists a lamb, a paste made of flour and oil, and some wine. The entire offering is totally destroyed; incinerated by fire. The residing priests, serving at the Temple, arranged this offering every day during the course of their duties; including the Sabbath day; which normally would be illegal since it's against the law to kindle a fire on the Sabbath. (cf. Ex 36:3, Mtt 12:5)

Some have interpreted the libation as representing the offerer's life's work; which in the case of the daily burnt offering, would be the life's work of the entire nation of the people of Israel; and of course including the priests themselves. So that every twenty-four hours, the whole nation's every-day activities went up in smoke.

We could interpret Jacob's libation as a formal act of dedication-- not of the pillar; but of Jacob himself. Right after his first encounter, on this very spot, with the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac, a good thirty years ago; Jacob vowed to dedicate himself to Yhvh if only He would fulfill certain stipulations.

Jacob's vow at that time included a promise to make Yhvh his god-- implying his only god --and to give God a tithe of "all that You give me". Jacob's libation implies that, from here on in, it's his sincere intent to start living up to his new name, and to make good on those promises.

This is a really huge event, and marks a serious milestone in Jacob's spiritual life. And I believe it's important to point out that Jacob didn't take this turning point when he was living at home with ma and pa. Too many people are in their parents' religion just because they were born into it. Jacob chose a spiritual path for himself long after he became an adult.


Gen 35:15 . . Jacob gave the site, where God had spoken to him, the name of Bethel.

That could look back in time to Gen 28:10-22; or it could just simply mean that Jacob decided that the name Bethel would not just be a pet name of his own: but knowing (and believing) that this land would one day be inhabited by his progeny, Jacob willed it to be on the map as the town of Bethel when such a time as his progeny took actual physical possession of Canaan later on in the book of Joshua.

Gen 35:16a . .They set out from Bethel; but when they were still some distance short of Ephrath,

This is the very first mention of Ephrath; which is actually Bethlehem (Gen 35:19, Gen 48:7). Apparently this area wasn't yet on the map as either Ephrath or Bethlehem in Jacob's day, but later during the author's day. It's not uncommon for Bible authors (or later scribes and/or editors) to give the contemporary name as well as the ancient name of a city or town so that his readers knew where to look in their own day for those old-time places.

Ephrath can also be spelled Ephratah. The founder of Bethlehem was a Jewish man named Ephratah, and his name became attached to Bethlehem so that you could refer to it in compound form as Bethlehem Ephratah; or Bethlehem of Ephratah (e.g. 1Chrn 4:4, Mic 5:2). Ephrath is apparently the female spelling (1Chrn 2:19) and Ephratah is the male version.

The next incident didn't actually occur in Bethlehem, but "some distance" from it. Other than Gen 48:7 (which is a citation of the section we're in now), the only other place the phrase "some distance" is used again in the entire Old Testament is 2Kgs 5:19; where some feel it indicates a distance about equal to that required for a runner on foot to catch up with a chariot on the move; but the true meaning is lost in antiquity.
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