(Here’s the schedule if you’d like to read along! 90 Days in the Bible)
Day 3 of the 90 Days through the Bible
I’m just as much at fault for pop culture’s fascination with the rise of the antihero in these days as the next obsessed viewer of “Dexter,” “Breaking Bad,” and the rest. I can’t help myself. I love watching these shows with terrible, terrible people as the protagonists. Why is it we seem to gravitate toward these flawed characters? Is it our ability to better relate to them? Do we just like cheering on the underdog who might change for the better?
I wrestle with the patriarchs and matriarchs of the church – the men and women who we hold up as models to learn from. Most of the ones we encounter in Genesis are conniving, self-serving, and despicably motivated. Yet these are the ones through whom we trace our faith. Don’t get me wrong, I love the history of our faith but I’m a bit concerned with these men and women and what they do our don’t do for their family, children, and neighbors.
As an aside, I have to recognize how great these stories are in Genesis. I mean, wow are these interesting, intriguing, and page turners. Maybe that is why we are so drawn to them – everybody likes a bit of scandalous drama to spice up their lives, right?
Anyway, here are my stray observations about today’s readings:
- Jacob kisses Rachel and then weeps aloud. Talk about a first date. It seems a bit bold for the times but maybe this is how things were done? Too bad Laban makes the situation utterly complicated by tricking Jacob into working, marrying another daughter, and giving up some good years of his life. Still, he says it seemed like only a few days while he worked those seven years. Poetic, romantic, and beautiful phrasing.
- The hope that Jacob would love her because Leah was able to bear him four sons is sad and troubling. What a difficult experience for Leah – your husband loves your sister more than you and all you want is to please him? She deserves better.
- Can’t think of the last time I went out looking for mandrakes. Anybody else gone mandrake hunting?
- Jacob gets back Laban through selective breeding of goats? Interesting tactic for a son-in-law to take.
- Why does Rachel steal her father’s gods? What does that even mean? Seems like a strange insertion into the fleeing narrative.
- Wrestling with God is one of my absolute favorite images in the Bible. How often do we wrestle with the Lord until sunrise? How do we struggle to make sense of what will happen next, what we fear, and what we desire?
- The rape of Dinah – this is such a powerful, uncomfortable, and challenging story in Genesis. I can’t help but ask, what did Dinah feel, think, want throughout her encounters with Shechem, the proposal, the circumcision trick, and the eventual murder of all the men. Did she speak with her brothers? Is this what she wanted? Did they care what she wanted? Such a tough passage to teach, read, and interpret.
- Rachel names her final son “son of my sorrow.” Powerful expression…was she sorrowful about all things or just her impending death during the birth? Did she ever feel remorse about her relationship with Leah? With Jacob? Her father?
- Chapter 36 is a bit dry but it does contain some interesting side notes about various people and their families.
- Enter Joseph – Just because you had this dream doesn’t mean you need to tell it to your family, does it?
- They sell their brother for 20 pieces of silver. Is that the going rate for an impetuous younger sibling?
- The side story about Judah? Lots of weird family issues going on here. Tamar is allowed a voice (unlike Dinah) but the situation is still just as difficult. It is important to note that it is through Tamar that we find David’s lineage. Just sayin’.
- Joseph interprets dreams. What a strange gift…is this a curse or a blessing?