St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
A General Overview of the Old Testament
A Discussion led by The Rev. Mike Kreutzer
Sunday, November 8, 2009
The Old Testament
At 175 years-old Abraham finally dies. He retained his faith, however, right up to the end. Isaac’s life is not revealed in detail as the story picks up with the birth of Jacob, who shall become a central character. At 40, Isaac married Rebecca and when Isaac was 60 Rebecca had twins, Esau (Edam) and Jacob. Esau was skilled as a hunter whereas Jacob was a gentle man who lived in tents. (There is a similarity here to Cain and Abel.) Jacob, the second born, gets ahead because he is his mother’s favorite. The first born birthright means double the inheritance.
Esau is starving and Jacob would not give him any food unless he first sells him his birthright. (What kind of brotherly love is this anyway!)
When Jacob and Esau are forty-years-old, Esau marries Judith. Isaac is now old and blind. Jacob goes off for twenty years before deciding to return. Rebecca, who favors Jacob sets him up to trick his father into giving him his official “blessing.” He put on goat skins so that Isaac would think he was Esau. He was successful in this attempt and it was something in those days that could not be taken back or changed. When Esau finally returned and found out about the scam, he was outraged and wanted to kill Jacob. He also also asked his father if he could receive another blessing, but was refused.
Isaac told Jacob to go to his mothers brother’s place and marry one of our own people. So he went to his Uncle Leben’s and took the daughter of Ishmael as his wife. He stars a 20-year journey. It was during this time he had a dream about a ladder descending from heaven that was filled with angels and the Lord gives him his blessing. Note that Jacob’s attitude is far different from his father’s in that he will only accept God if he lives up to his promises!
In the pursuit of his bride he wants Rachel and Uncle Leben bargains with him to work seven years to win her over. After the seven years, Leben backs off on his word and instead weds him with older sister Leah. He then bargains for Rachel a second time and ends ups staying another seven years. Leah bears him four sons and Rachel appears to be barren so she offers up her slave girl who has two sons. Leah has two more and a daughter and then finally Rachel produces Joseph and later on Benjamin. At that point Jacob has a total of twelve sons.
Finally, in the battle of wits between Jacob and Leben, Uncle Leben tries to keep Jacob from getting any wages by removing the black and speckled sheep from his flock. But Jacob fools him by arranging the necessary conditions for the next litter of sheep to be born black and speckled!