Genesis 24 starts out with an interesting method of oath. Putting the hand under the thigh. Literally, believe or not, from what I have researched on the internet, this meant putting your hands on or very near to a man's balls. Yes. Balls.
They certainly were a strange set of people in those days, weren't they? In my next arbitration/mediation/settlement negotiation, I might try this! NOT!
A justification against intermarriage is also contained... Abraham did not want his son marrying any of the Canaanites... he wanted someone from his own family. Oh, boy. Justification for incest ("go to to my father's family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son," says Abraham in Genesis 24:38)? Incest is abound in this reading portion. Issac is betrothed to Rebekah, who is his father's great niece.
I suppose this makes them second cousins? As for Jacob and Rachel, they were actually FIRST cousins. Like Hebrew Hillbillies!
In Genesis 25, Ishmael is back in the picture as assisting in burying his father, but he gets no inheritance. A brief account of Ishmael is presented, ending with "And they lived in hosility toward all their brothers." Amazing that this holds true this very day!
Family favoritism is a repeated theme here, too. Issac favors Esau. Rebekah favors Jacob. Rachel favors Joseph as does it turns out (as we see later) so does his father Jacob/Israel.
In Genesis 25, the selling of Esau's birthright for a meal seems very strange. Esau was a great hunter. Presumably, he could've killed something and put it over a fire? But he was so famished that he couldn't wait? Weird.
Interesting parallel in Genesis 26 between Isaac and his father Abraham. They both tried to fool Abimelech by convincing the king that their beautiful wives were their sisters. Still, even though these fellas put the king at risk of beng "cursed," they were spared.
Justification for multi-marriages abound here, too... (Esau marries twice -- marries the daughter of Ishmael, in fact; Jacob marries Leah and Rachel) )as well as it being okay to cheat on your wife if you have her permission. Lots of sex with concubines (maidservants) and every woman who is not a maidservant suffers from infertility. Weird, again.
Marie and I were reading our portions together last night and chuckled over the thought that there is no mention of the women getting down with the "menservants," but what could possibly be holding them back?
Deception is also a major theme in this reading portion. Jacob "pulls the ankle" off of Esau's birthright not only by a bargain for a meal but by tricking his father into giving him the blessing/birthright. As my mom says, why couldn't Isaac just take it back and give it to Esau?
And, why does Jacob (the deceiver) become God's chosen one.
But, deception had the potential to bite Jacob/Israel in the butt when his sons do the same to the man who "defiled" their sister Dinah. This is an interesting chapter, too, as it is presumed that Dinah was raped.
But, was she?
We never hear from her! Typical patriarchal writing... was it on purpose? But, check this: the brothers say to Shechem and his father -- "But if [all the men in the town] will not agree to be circumsized, we'll take our sister and go." Genesis 34:17 -- was Dinah a hostage, or staying willingly? It looks like the latter.
What the brothers were pissed about was the premarital sex, it seems.
Genesis 32 has Jacob wrestling with God and getting renamed... but this is very strange. While this unknown wrestler cannot overtake Jacob, he can disable Jacob's hip, thereby ending the "match."
Doesn't it seem strange that God could not overtake Jacob?
These are my notes from this reading... who is caught up?
"Treat the Earth not as if it was given to you by your parents, but as if it was lent to you by your children." - Kenyan Proverb
"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw