Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 7
JACOB’S WIVES AND 12 SONS
Let’s turn back again to Genesis 28 We will pick up where we left off in our last lesson.
We were studying about the Almighty (El Shaddai) and how He is going to make Jacob fruitful. Now I must point out that Jacob is still an unbeliever. He is the perfect picture of the Nation of Israel as a whole. He is going to be sent out into a far country, out of the Land of Promise. He’s going up into Syria, and even though he’s up there in unbelief, God still has His hand on him.
And this is what so many people today can’t comprehend. I have to remind folks, even in our class last night, that if you take the Nation of Israel today, their government is just as secular, and no more godly than any other government on the face of the earth. And don’t expect them to be any different. But, who is watching out for that little nation? Almighty God is!
I’ve said it over and over throughout the years, that God loves the Arab as much as he does the Jews. He loves Americans just as much as the Middle-Easterners, because this is the day of Grace. But, going back to His Covenant promises, God has delineated that the Nation of Israel is His chosen and Covenant People, and He is going to bring to fruition all of those promises He made to Abraham. That is why the little nation is in the news everyday. Even though they are out numbered, no one dare attack them. We all know right today, Syria has been fiercely building up their armed forces. And for all practical purposes, you would have to say that Syria could overrun Israel in a day or two. But, Almighty God is holding everything in check!
How would we feel if all of a sudden Mexico and Canada, and other nations would attack us? That’s exactly what happened to Israel in the six-day war in 1967. They were invaded from four different directions all at once. And yet, in a matter of hours, they turned the tide and literally destroyed those Arab armies. Now, what was that? That was a miracle of a Sovereign God! Even though they are for the most part in unbelief. So it is with Jacob; he’s going to be under the protection of The Almighty God. But he himself is still an unbeliever. He is still the deceiver, and supplanter. He is still Jacob.
“And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padan-aram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.”
“When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padan-aram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan;” (Which Esau had already done of course.)
“And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother,…”
Even in his unbelief, he has just enough faith, that he obeyed his parents, but it was enough that Esau could see that Jacob obeyed his father and had gone.
“And Esau seeing that the daughter of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;…”
Now Esau tries to do two wrongs and make a right. And it just doesn’t work. It was bad enough to marry Canaanites, but now he takes one step worse, and what does he do? He marries daughters of Ishmael.
“Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.”
“And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran”
Now we come to the story of Jacob on his way to Haran, where he has a dream.
“And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.”
“And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, ‘I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed:'”
Now, there you have it, The Abrahamic Covenant repeated again, and again, and again.
“‘And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'”
Now, what is that Seed? That Seed is The Christ? The Messiah. It would be through the promised Messiah, that all the nations of the world, someday, would receive the blessing of God.
“‘And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land (Canaan); for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.'”
“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.'”
“And He was afraid, and said, ‘How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven,'”
“And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.”
In verse 19 he names the place that becomes famous in Scripture. If you will notice, in “Bethel” you have the two letters el which is a short, or contraction of Elohim and Beth simply means house in Hebrew. So this place is called the House of God. Later on, when he comes back, he calls another place El Beth-el, for he had met face to face the God of the House of God. Do you see that? All of these words are so significant.
“And he called the name of that place Beth-el,”
“And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,”
“‘So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:'”
Is He Jacob’s God yet? No. I think that he’s bargaining with God. It’s sort of akin to a lot of battlefield statements where men say, “Lord if you will just bring me through this I’ll serve you.” But as yet, Jacob is not a true believer.
“‘And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.'”
Here again we have that tenth which has been in the Scriptures since Abraham gave the tenth of the spoil. Now, in Chapter 29 we want take it verse by verse, but first we find Jacob coming to the house of his relatives, and immediately he runs into the flocks of his Uncle Laban:
“And he said unto them, ‘Is he well?’ (Asking about Laban) And they said, ‘He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.'”
Here, we are introduced to the apple of Jacob’s eye. And it was love at first sight. Everyone knows the story, and we won’t go through that verse by verse. But what happened? Jacob was deceived himself this time. It’s interesting as you read the story, and I would encourage you to read the story again, when you have time. Jacob, the deceiver, meets his match with his Uncle Laban. I’m convinced these two are two of a kind. They are constantly hoodwinking each other.
Jacob has love at first sight of Rachel, and eventually comes to his wedding night. Remember it was dark. Today with all the security lights it’s hard to find a dark place, but that’s not the way it was back then. And so it was no problem whatsoever for Laban to convince Leah, Rachel’s older sister, to go in as the bride. For after all, Laban can’t let Rachel become his wife when Leah is the eldest. So the wily Laban pulls one on Jacob before Jacob even gets started.
When it become daylight, instead of Rachel, the bride is Leah the oldest sister. Of course, Laban had a logical excuse. He said it’s the custom of his country that the younger daughter cannot have a husband until the eldest is married. So he makes a deal with Jacob, that if Jacob would serve him another seven years (and this is beyond the seven that Jacob had promised to serve for Rachel), then he could also have Rachel. There’s one thing I want you to understand. Jacob did not wait until the fourteen years were up before marrying Rachel. He had both Leah and Rachel from day one, but his contract calls for fourteen years of service in order to have them both.
As you go through those chapters, where Jacob is there with Laban those twenty years, you’ll see he has the two wives, Leah and Rachel. Leah will have six sons herself, and then she becomes barren. And as was the custom of that day (and God seemingly did not disapprove of it), he also had sons by Leah’s handmaid. Finally, Rachel also has some sons by her handmaid. That gives us ten sons by now. And then Rachel has Joseph. Ten years after they are back in the land of Canaan, Rachel gives birth to Benjamin to make a total of twelve sons. However Rachel dies during childbirth to Benjamin.
Now, those twelve sons are the setting for the Nation of Israel. I would hope that everyone clearly understands the Nation of Israel comes about by Abraham’s son Isaac, Isaac’s son Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons from which we get the TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL. It will be those twelve sons that wind up in Egypt. But now, Jacob is coming back from Haran. He’s been there twenty years, and remember old Laban and Jacob have been hoodwinking each for those twenty years, but Jacob has finally gotten the upper hand. He’s got his wives and children, and the best of the flocks, and herds. So he comes back with quite a caravan.
Now lets come over to Chapter 31. Word comes back to Laban, that indeed, Jacob and Laban’s daughters, and the children are leaving. But the important verse I want you to see is verse 30. I’ve been teaching that, since the Tower of Babel, everyone on the face of the earth of the then-known world were idolaters. Then God called Abram out of idolatry, and Abram becomes a man who worships the one true God, as does Isaac, and we are going to see that Jacob will. But other than this family, they are all idolaters, even the relatives up there in Syria. Now, here it is in verse 30, where Laban catches up with Jacob’s caravan. He says:
“‘And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longest after thy father’s house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?'”
Notice it is a small “g.” What kind of gods? They were his idols. Here is another thing that most people miss. Why was Laban so concerned about a bunch of little images? They were the family gods. And according to the pagan customs of that day, the child who received the blessing, was also the child to whom the family gods were given. Now, that meant something, if you had the family gods, you had it all. So Rachel, knowing that, slips them out without her father knowing about it, and she takes them along, and has them hidden.
“Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel’s furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent, but found them not.”
“And she said to her father, ‘Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me.’ And he searched, but found not the images.” Oh he looked but didn’t find them.
“And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, ‘What is my trespass? what is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?'”
Then they go into a conversation of accusing and re-accusing each other. They finally make an agreement, or treaty, and in verse 55 we read:
“And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them: and Laban departed, and returned unto his place.”
“And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him,”
“And when Jacob saw them, he said, ‘This is God’s host (You see Jacob is aware of all of these things that God is doing, but he is still not a “heart believer”): and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.'” In the Hebrew it means the two hosts. The one of course was God’s host, and the other his own.
“And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother…”
And, here again, you know the story of how Jacob sends this tremendous gift of livestock and wealth to appease his brother. But evidently Esau has forgotten his bitterness and there is no problem. Now, I want to come to verse 22. Jacob has divided some of his flocks and his family – he has sent them over the brook and is heading down to Canaan to meet Esau.
“And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two women servants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok,”
Jabbok was a little stream that flowed into the Jordan from the east. Probably just below the Sea of Galilee.
“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”
“And when he saw that he prevailed not against him (In other words when the stranger saw that he could not overcome Jacob), he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint,”
In other words, he crippled Jacob. And from this point on, Jacob walks with a limp – it’s called a halt in Scripture. And the stranger said:
“Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, ‘I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
That was quite a wrestling match wasn’t it. It must have gone on nearly all night. Now, does Jacob know who the stranger is? You bet he does! And who is it? The LORD himself.Now, here is what we call a theophany. It’s a great big word that simply means the appearance of God in human form. And anytime there is a theophany in the Old Testament it’s alwaysGod The Son. This is Christ, in other words, in an Old Testament appearance in human form, and He has literally been wrestling, flesh and blood with Jacob all night long.
Right there is the statement of Jacob’s faith! Simple? Absolutely! He suddenly realizes that he is dealing with the God of his father, Isaac, and his Grandfather, Abraham.
“And he (The LORD) said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.” (the deceiver, the supplanter.)
“And he said, ‘Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed,'”
There is Jacob’s salvation! Now he becomes a child of God. Never again does the Scripture give the account of Jacob the deceiver. Never again will you find Jacob trying to cheat someone. He is now a changed man, and that is why God changes his name. From the deceiver to the prince with God. Every good Bible student should understand these two terms; Jacob and Israel. Many times they seem to be used synonymously, however they are not synonymous. It is the same nation, but it’s two aspects of that nation.
“The LORD sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.”
Do you see what that is saying? God sent the word into the whole nation into Jacob, but who heard it? The believers, the spiritual part of Jacob. So you will see this all through Scripture. Let’s go to Romans for another Scripture concerning this.
“Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect; For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:”
See the distinction? In other words Israel too has a believing remnant. They are all called the house of Jacob or the Sons of Jacob, or Abraham. But Israel was that spiritual element of true believers. Paul tells us here in Romans that all of Israel will be saved:
“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:”
And it’s that same connotation – of course all Israel will be saved. Every believer in Israel, but that doesn’t mean the whole nation. So always keep those two pictures sorted out in your mind. Now, let’s come back to Genesis.
“And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name, And he said, Wherefore is it that thou doest ask after my name? And he blessed him there.” Now only God can do that. And if you doubted what I’ve been telling you, look at the next verse.
“And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
Always remember, no man has seen the Triune God, the Trinity, the Spirit part of God, but they have seen God the Son all through the Old Testament. Remember Abraham in Chapter 18, what did he do? He killed the fatted calf, and he sat down and ate. Who was it with? It was God the Son. At the burning bush (and we’ll see that in a few weeks), who was it? It was God the Son. So, remember, no man has seen God face to face in the Trinity, but Jacob saw God the Son face to face and his life was preserved.