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)

Buen Camino

(Pleasant Journey)
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 49:8 . .You, O Judah, your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the nape of your foes; your father's sons shall bow low to you.

Reuben was the original ranking brother, then the position passed to Joseph, and finally to the family of Judah's grandson David; and that's where it remains to this day. (Ps 89:20-27 and Matt 22:42-45)

Gen 49:10a . .The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the scepter from between his feet

Refer to: 2Sam 7:16, 2Sam 23:5, Ps 85:35-38, Ps 89:4, and Ps 89:30

Gen 49:10b . . And the homage of peoples be his.

The "peoples" of that verse are non Jews; viz: Gentiles. The jurisdiction of Davidic monarchs is normally limited to their own country, among their fellow Jews; but one is coming in Judah's family who will one day rule the entire world. (Dan 7:13-14 and Ps 2:7-9)

This next prediction is the scariest one of all.


Gen 49:11-12 . . He washes his garment in wine, his robe in blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.

See: Isa 63:1-6, and Rev 19:15-16

Gen 49:13 . . Zebulun shall dwell by the seashore; he shall be a haven for ships, and his flank shall rest on Sidon.

Zebulun never did actually occupy a Mediterranean shore (Josh 19:10-16) but their proximity to the coast, via the territory of Ashur, gave them opportunity to earn their livings in sea related trades like stevedoring, ship building, and possibly crews on fishing vessels and cargo ships owned and operated by the Philistines and Phoenicians.

Zebulun's flank didn't extend to the coastal city named Sidon, but to a region generally known as Sidonia-- which included the city of Trye --a territory often labeled Sidon for short.


Gen 49:14-15 . . Issachar is a strong-boned burro, crouching among the sheepfolds. When he saw how good was security, and how pleasant was the country, he bent his shoulder to the burden, and became a toiling serf.

Men like Zebulun, and Issachar are the invisible people. They don't want much out of life; and they're never really in the news as movers and shakers; the paparazzi don't follow them around, nor are they among the rich, famous, and powerful. Zebulun, and Issachar represent the blue collar labor force, the non-professional working men and women who make a country productive in goods and services.

Unfortunately, the two tribes, on the whole, believed in peace at any price, and were wont to trade their independence for corvee labor in order to avoid conflict with overlords and invaders-- the two notable exceptions being Zebulun's response when mustered for duty with Gideon (Judg 6:35) and the two tribes responses when mustered by Barak (Judg 5:14-15) but they rarely took the initiative to go on the offensive.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 49:16 . . Dan shall govern his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.

That prediction alludes to Dan's autonomous attitude towards the other tribes. In point of fact, Dan's tribe didn't join forces with the others in the north to help repel oppressors. (Judg 5:17)

A good example of Dan's autonomous attitude is Mr. Samson. During his tenure as a Judge in Israel (Judg 13:1-16:31) Samson never mustered an army nor led his own men in a charge up a San Juan hill. He fought alone, and he died alone; and seemed to prefer it that way. Definitely neither a commander nor a team player.


Gen 49:17 . . Dan shall be a serpent by the road, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that his rider is thrown backward.

A number of poisonous snakes-- e.g. rattlesnakes --don't hunt for food by chasing their prey in racy pursuit but choose rather to coil up and patiently wait along the edges of paths for something to come along. They're typically sluggish on the move but very speedy on the strike. Rattlers, especially, are powerful strikers that don't even have to clamp down to bite. Their strike inertia is powerful enough to drive their fangs into a target's flesh like sewing needles.

When rattlers bite large animals like horses, it's not for food, but generally a reflexive response to a perceived threat; which suggests that Dan's tribe would have hair-trigger tempers that flair up at every provocation-- real or imagined --totally surprising the objects of their fury. People like that are extremely reactive: they're never rational and objective, no, they are emotional, thin-skinned and easily insulted; they get mad over nothing, and every disagreement is an act of war.

It's conceivable that the viper-ish nature of Dan's tribe reminded Jacob of Gen 3:15's prediction to crush the head of the Serpent who caused Man's ruin; and possibly prompted his next remark.


Gen 49:18 . . I wait for your deliverance, O Lord!

Everyone becomes curious at one time or another how the Old Testament's luminaries were saved prior to Christ's crucifixion. Well, the interesting thing is: they were all aware that Christ was on the way.

"Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow." (1Pet 1:10-11)

A prophet is simply an inspired man-- the earliest known were Abel (Luke 11:50-51) Enoch (Jude 1:14) Noah (2Pet 2:5) and Abraham. (Gen 20:7)

In other words: pre-crucifixion believers looked forward to Christ, while post-crucifixion believers look back.

"Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad." (John 8:56)


Gen 49:19 . . Gad shall be raided by raiders, but he shall raid at their heels.

Gad's tribe, along with Rueben and Manasseh, chose to settle on the wrong side of the Jordan River instead of crossing over into Canaan (Num 32:1-32). Their decision effectively isolated them from the other nine tribes and left their eastern flank vulnerable to desert marauders; which were more nuisance than anything else as Gad's tribe were competent warriors and able to hold their own. (cf. 1Chrn 5:18)

Though the major portion of Christ's ministry was confined within the national borders of Israel, he crossed over the Jordan on occasion to visit the three tribes on the east side (Matt 11:21, Mark 6:45). Gad was the region of the famous swine-herd suicide. (Mark 5:1-13)


Gen 49:20 . . Asher's bread shall be rich, and he shall yield royal dainties.

Asher's tribe was apportioned land bordering Zebulun and Naphtali, along the Mediterranean coastline in the region of ancient Tyre. The area was famed for its fertility (Deut 33:24). Ashur was located in a Phoenician stronghold of political and commercial activity. The phrase "he shall yield royal dainties" possibly alludes to the tribe's best produce being sold to supply the homes of Phoenician dignitaries.

NOTE: This chapter in Genesis wasn't recorded in prose, but rather, Hebrew poetry, making it difficult, if not impossible, for translators to correctly interpret some of Jacob's sayings. The poem contains tricky metaphors rather than clear facts; which only complicates the section even more.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 49:21 . . Naphtali is a hind let loose, which yields lovely fawns.

A hind is a female of the red deer species-- males are harts. (e.g. Ps 42:1)

Red deer aren't a domestic breed; so the metaphor refers to a captured hind being returned to the wild rather than butchered for its meat. Apparently, this particular hind was pregnant when captured, and the hunter knew the unborn would certainly die if he killed their mother. By returning the expectant hind to the field, the hunter helped assure the survival of local herds; and he no doubt intended to hunt the fawns as adults in the future. That was not only humane, but also a very wise conservation measure too.

Exactly what Jacob meant to convey by this metaphor is difficult to ascertain with confidence. It could be that Naphtali's people exhibited artifice, artistry, intelligence, abilities and aptitudes that their enemies would recognize as far too valuable to waste by just indiscriminately killing them off in wholesale slaughter simply to seize their lands and goods.

As an example; some of Nazi Germany's scientists were brought to American and became very useful in developing the USA's rocket science, and subsequently NASA's space program. What if the US had executed those scientists because they were responsible for the buzz bombs that devastated London? No, sometimes human resources are well worth the restraint to spare them.


NOTE: Barak, an ordinary man recruited by Deborah to become a military commander, was of Naphtali. (Judg 4:4-5:31)

Gen 49:22 . . Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.

Jacob's assessment of Joseph is similar to the assessment of a blessed man in the very first Psalm.

"Blessed is the man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked, nor taken the path of sinners, nor joined the company of the insolent; rather, Yhvh's teaching is his delight, and he studies that teaching day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, whose foliage never fades, and whatever it produces thrives."


Gen 49:23 . . Archers bitterly assailed him; they shot at him and harried him.

The "archers" in that sentence are the kind who wait in ambush.

Well, that certainly happened to Joseph. He was totally ambushed by his very own brothers, and then later on, ambushed by Potipher's wife. But he escaped them all. They thought to ruin Joseph, but he prospered instead.


Gen 49:24-25a . .Yet his bow stayed taut, and his arm were made firm by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob-- there is the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel --the God of your father who helps you, and Shaddai who blesses you

It is so easy to admire Joseph's perseverance in the face of overwhelming adversity while overlooking the real reason behind his success. It was Yhvh's providence all the way. Left to himself, it's very likely Joseph would have been dead before he was thirty years old; either by murder, execution, or suicide.

Gen 49:25 . .With blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lurk below, blessings of the breast and womb.

Those blessings consist of rain, dew, and abundant water resources; all of which depict fruitfulness of the soil and the fecundity of both man and beast.

Gen 49:26. .Your father's blessings surpassed the blessings of my ancestors, to the utmost bounds of the eternal hills. May they rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the elect of his brothers.

Compare Deut 33:13-17 where Manasseh and Ephraim are indirect recipients of Joseph's blessings, and will apparently conquer and colonize quite a bit of the earth some day in the future.

Jacob pronounced Joseph the "elect" of his brothers not out of a spirit of favoritism, but out of a spirit of prophecy. You can easily tell that Yhvh is micro-managing the entire meeting.

Compared to man, the hills really are eternal; viz: perpetual from one generation to another. Jacob's ancestors included Abel, Seth, and Noah. They were good men but none of them inherited the promises God made to Abraham; which are promises just as eternal as the hills; if not more so.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 49:27 . . Benjamin rends in pieces, like a wolf-- in the morning he consumes the prey, and in the evening he apportions the booty.

That is hardly the picture of a peaceful, agrarian society. Israel used to be a land of milk and honey (Ex 3:8) and you have to wonder what on earth happened that caused the transformation of a tribe of herders and farmers into human predators.

As a testament to the cruel nature of the tribe of Benjamin, Israel's first king-- ego-driven, selfish Mr. Saul --came from there. (1Sam 9:1-2)

The nightmarish events of Judges 19 and 20 took place in Benjamin's borders and led to the tribe's decimation in a brief civil war.


Gen 49:28 . . All these were the tribes of Israel, twelve in number, and this is what their father said to them as he bade them farewell, addressing to each a parting word appropriate to him.

Numbering the tribes of Israel is tricky because Jacob has twelve birth sons, and two adopted sons; which adds up to fourteen. But the tribes are always listed so that the numbering comes out to twelve. Compare the list at Rev 7:5-8 where everybody but Dan and Ephraim are named so that the number again comes out to twelve. The same strange numbering system was employed in counting the Lord's apostles. Even after Judas was eliminated, they were still referred to as the twelve. (1Cor 15:5)

Gen 49:29-33 . .Then he instructed them, saying to them: I am about to be gathered to my kin. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave which is in the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site-- there Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried; there Isaac and his wife Rebecca were buried; and there I buried Leah --the field and the cave in it, bought from the Hittites.

. . .When Jacob finished his instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and, breathing his last, he was gathered to his kin.


The phrase "gathered to his kin" is an action separate from being buried side by side with kin in a cemetery. Jacob was gathered to his kin immediately upon expiration, but wasn't buried with them till more than seventy days after his demise.

According to Christ, though Jacob's flesh expired many centuries ago in Egypt, he continues to exist somewhere else.

"But now, as to whether the dead will be raised-- even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to Yhvh as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. So He is the God of the living, not the dead. They all live unto Him." (Luke 20:37-38)

There is a region in the netherworld where faithful Israelites were at one time warehoused waiting for the resurrection of their bodies. (e.g. Luke 16:19-31, cf. Matt 17:1-9)
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 50:1 . . Joseph threw himself upon his father's face and wept over him and kissed him.

It almost looks like Joseph smothered his dad; but in reality that scene was probably a bit difficult to put in writing because there's so much emotion. I think what we're actually looking at there is a one last cheek-to-cheek farewell with Joseph clutching his father's hand; and I would not have liked to be in the room when it took place because Joseph was terribly broken up by his dad's passing.

The word for "wept" is bakah (baw-kaw') and means not just to weep, but to bemoan; which Webster's defines as: to express deep grief and/or distress. Deep grief is what people undergo when they experience loss.

If there is one salient characteristic of Jacob's family, I would have to say it was a lack of affection. Joseph seemed the only one in the entire home who was truly bonded with his dad. His siblings were somehow detached; and I think that the multiplicity of their mothers might have something to do with that.

When I found out that my own dad had two sons besides me by two other women, it destroyed any notion I had of feeling special in my own home; especially when the only son my dad was ever really proud of was one that didn't even live with us; but with whom my dad stayed in contact over the years without telling me.


Gen 50:2 . .Then Joseph ordered the physicians in his service to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel.

It is apparently well known that mummification, with all its elaborate ritual, played a crucial role in Egyptian religion and was bound up with the cult of Osiris and concepts of the afterlife. Existence after death was taken for granted by the Egyptians. Central to this notion was the belief in the importance of the physical preservation of the deceased's body. They took meticulous care to prevent the putrefaction of the corpse in order to ensure the right of the dead to immortality.

I seriously doubt Egypt's religion played a role in Joseph's decision to embalm his dad. His reason was simply one of practicality. The body was to be transported to Palestine for burial, and if care wasn't taken to preserve it, poor old Jacob would be in a terrible state of decay by the time they arrived; and very smelly too.

Joseph's own personal physicians performed the task rather than professional morticians, thus assuring nobody would come around to defile Jacob with pagan rituals, garments, and/or enchantments and spiritual potions. Jacob's life, and afterlife, were fully consecrated to Yhvh; and no pagan deities were permitted an attempt to claim a share of his future. (cf. Jude 1:9)


Gen 50:3 . . It required forty days, for such is the full period of embalming. The Egyptians mourned him seventy days

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the bewailing wasn't mandatory like that of North Korea's when Kim Jong Il passed. Citizens of that country are not only denied the freedom of speech, but they don't even have the freedom of grief.

There exists no information about embalming procedures from Joseph's era but there is some available from the fifth century BC and from the late Hellenistic period. Herodotus (Histories 2.86) reports that bodies were soaked in niter (potassium nitrate) for seventy days.

Diodorus of Sicily (Histories 1.91) describes a thirty-day dressing of the corpse with oils and spices and seventy-two days of public mourning for a king. That practice probably corresponds to the American flag being raised at half mast for deceased dignitaries and notable personages.

Jacob was afforded royal honors no doubt brought about by Josephs' influence, and his connections with Egypt's aristocrats; sort of like John F. Kennedy Jr's burial at sea from the US Navy's Spruance class destroyer USS Briscoe.

The junior Kennedy never served in the US military, nor in any Federal civil service capacity whatsoever; ergo: he certainly did not merit burial at sea from a US Navy vessel; but the Kennedy dynasty is very influential, and well connected; and has been for a good many years beginning with patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. That just goes to show that there's undue advantages to being connected in this world.

Anyway, under his son Joseph's auspices, Jacob's was the most grandiose funeral of any of Israel's primary patriarchs including Abraham, the paterfamilias of the entire family.
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