Genesis 31: This chapter is about Jacob fleeing Laban with his wives, their slave girls, his children, all of his other people, and the livestock. Jacob fled because he felt cheated by Laban, who had kept him there for 20 years and deceived him numerous times. So they all left. Unbeknownst to Jacob, Rachel stole “her father’s household gods” (Gen. 31.19). To be honest here, I thought this was a typo. Sorry on that one. I’m assuming they mean idols to other gods. Laban found out they fled and pursued Jacob, catching up after 7 days. Laban is mad about them leaving and especially about losing his gods. He didn’t find them because Rachel hid them underneath her as she sat down. Jacob gets mad and they end up making a covenant. Among the agreement was this phrase from Laban: “If you ill-treat my daughters, or if you take wives in addition to my daughters, though no one else is with us, remember that God is witness between you and me’” (Gen 31.50). I’m guessing that even though Jacob had children with the two slaves, since he never married them, this wasn’t breaking that covenant.
The notes shed some light on what I read: “The household gods (see 1 Sam 19.13–17) may have been figures representing ancestral deities. Possession of them ensured leadership of the family and legitimated property claims.” (p. 54) Now it makes sense why Laban was so angry. What I find interesting in this chapter is that Rachel, who was deceived by her father, now tricks him back. Kinda interesting.
Genesis 32: This chapter was about Jacob continuing his journey home. His messengers reported that his brother, Esau, heard the news and was coming to meet him with 400 men. Considering their history, Jacob was scared of what would happen. So, he chose to offer Esau gifts so he could be in his favor.
One thing that confused me came closer to the end of the chapter: “He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. ²⁴ Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. ²⁵ When the man saw that he did not prevail.” (Gen. 32.23-25) All of a sudden some guy is wrestling Jacob. Then after hurting his hip and a little conversation, the man renames Jacob Israel. The man ends up being God. And because he hits Jacob (now Israel) in the hip socket and hurts that part of his thigh muscle, “Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle” (Gen 32.32). It’s also interesting that even though God renamed Jacob Israel, he still calls him Jacob.
Genesis 33: Jacob and Esau meet again and to Jacob’s surprise, Esau embraces him instead of fighting. I was shocked too. I honestly don’t have much to say about this chapter.
Luke 10: First thing that I thought while reading this chapter was that I’ve noticed references to the number seven or some variation (seventy) many times throughout the readings up to this point. For example, this chapter starts with this: “After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go” (Luke 10.1). I want to see how often this is done in the Bible and if there is any meaning to it. My thought is because of the creation story.
Unlike Genesis 33, several passages in Luke 10 really resonated with me. First, when Jesus was talking to the seventy people he planned to send ahead to the different towns, he said this to them: “Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves” (Luke 10.3). This took a lot of faith in what Jesus told them. I’m impressed. It is something that I would find challenging to do and I’m certain I’m not the only person who feels this way.
Second, the story Jesus tells the lawyer who felt the need to test Jesus. He asked Jesus what must be done to have eternal life. Jesus responds: “He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” ²⁷ He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” ²⁸ And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10.26-28). Seeking clarification, the lawyer asks who counts as his neighbor (I would’ve done the same). Jesus’ response resonates with me:
³⁰ Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. ³¹ Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. ³² So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. ³³ But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. ³⁴ He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. ³⁵ The next day he took out two denarii,b gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ ³⁶ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” ³⁷ He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10.30-37)
It seems that many people are more like the priest and the Levite and less like the Samaritan in this story (myself included). I notice this more and more with many of our elected officials, including those who claim to be christians. This is something that I personally need to work on.
Third, the story of Mary and Martha: “³⁹ She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. ⁴⁰ But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” ⁴¹ But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; ⁴² there is need of only one thing.c Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10.39-42)
Too often we get distracted by things that in general don’t matter in the big picture. It’s because we struggle with seeing the big picture. This doesn’t just refer to religion. One thing I need to remind myself of is the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff.” I agree that the small stuff can still be important, but it typically is not the most important thing at a given moment.