A sobered and mature Jacob journeys back to Bethel, the place where God appeared to him. Along the way, he gains son but loses a wife and his father. So basically, Genesis 35 was another downer chapter.
Not so fast! What about this little gem!
“While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine; and Israel heard of it.”
What?! Where did that come from?! That came out of nowhere! And we are offered no explanation whatsoever! (Insert MILF joke here.)
But seriously folks, this chapter was about death. It was about people getting buried. Here are the three funerals:
No offense, but who are you? I swear we have never met you before. I guess you are Rebekah’s nurse or something? Well, I usually don’t do this but I am feeling generous today. You can have an oak tree in your honor.
As far as I can tell, the two sentences about Deborah have nothing to do with the story. Why are they there? Is it just to tell us why the oak tree has a name? R.I.P. Deborah.
Goodbye Rachel. You were the first victim of the curse; the first one to die of childbirth.
Rachel’s last act is to name her son “Ben-Oni.” Despite being a Star Wars caliber name, it is a pretty lame thing to be called. “Ben-Oni” means “son of my trouble.” Rachel wants to name him after what he did to her.
Jacob will have none of that. He changes Ben’s name to “Ben-jamin” which means, “son of my right hand.” Why? Well, I have a theory.
Jacob’s right hand was Rachel. He chased that girl for 14 years! She meant the world to him. No, they didn’t have a perfect relationship but she was very special to him.
Jacob wants to name Benjamin after what Rachel meant to him.
That is a much better name. R.I.P. Rachel
Isaac, you had a good run. 180? Shoot. Your life wasn’t flashy but you stayed the course and followed God. Now you will be remembered forever by your descendants. Can’t really ask for much more than that.
And with that, we are down to our last patriarch. Isaac lived out the rest of his days in what we can only assume was peace, unless Esau’s wives continued to drive him crazy.
It seems that Isaac really didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy. He wasn’t the first to leave his home. He didn’t have an epic argument with God. He wasn’t required to sacrifice his son. He didn’t act like his crazy son.
All in all, he was pretty normal.
But God chose him. God was with him. And God blessed him. R.I.P. Isaac.
Here’s to all the “normal” people out there! God is with you and using you even though you might not know it.
Who is a quiet, unassuming person whom God has used in your life?