Today’s reading concludes a chiastic structure begun several chapters ago:
1A: Gen 32:3, Esau in Seir, the country of Edom;
1B: Gen 32:4-6, Jacob came to Esau;
1C: Gen 32:7-8, the wives and seed of Jacob;
1D: Gen 32:9-12, prayer to Elohiym to remind Him of Abraham’s covenant;
1E: Gen 32:24-30, Elohiym blessed Jacob, changed name to Israel;
1F: Gen 32:31-33:20, repentance, journey to Succoth and Shechem, altar El-Elohe-Israel;
CENTRAL AXIS Gen 34:1-31, defilement with Canaanites;
2F: Gen 35:1-8, repentance, journey to Bethel, altar El-Bethel;
2E: Gen 35:9-10, Elohiym blessed Jacob, changed name to Israel;
2D: Gen 35:11-15, Elohiym renews the Abrahamic covenant with Jacob;
2C: Gen 35:16-26, the wives and seed of Jacob;
2B: Gen 35:27-29, Jacob came to Isaac;
2A: Gen 36:1-43, Esau in Seir, the country of Edom.
Isn’t it interesting that defilement with Canaanites is the topic of the central axis of the chiastic structure concerning Jacob’s life in the Land? After God told Jacob to flee to Bethel (for I believe Jacob was as fearful after the destruction of Shechem as he was when he was fleeing from the wrath of his brother Esau. Bethel was a significant place in Jacob’s life, where God met him in his fear and strengthened him and reassured him that He would not forsake him), Jacob instructed his household to repent and rid themselves of their idols.
I believe that they had truly been defiled even to the point of idolatry, by not just sojourning among the Canaanites, as Abraham and Isaac had, but by purchasing land to dwell among them, by investing in their way of life. And before you know it, bit by bit, their ways began to defile all of Jacob’s household, culminating in the rape of Dinah and sin of murder.
It is a warning to us, again. It is an easy thing to slip into, living like the Canaanites (i.e., pagans, i.e., unbelievers of this world) that are in the Land, first in a small thing here, then in a small thing there. One day we wake up and realize there is idolatry in the house, and we need to return to the pure worship of YHVH.
I find it fascinating, that surrounding this defilement with the Canaanites, is repentence and renewal toward YHVH, and Jacob’s new identity as Israel, “Upright of El”, as well as the affirmation of Abraham’s covenant. Once we are in covenant with YHVH, we might slip up and sin, but that defilement is not our identity any longer. Our identity is the name that God has given us, wrapped up in the covenant God has made with us!
For further study: Find the “p” – strong – and “s” – weak – paragraph divisions in these two chapters (the Hebrew Bible in English has them marked). Find the topics or themes of each of the weak and strong paragraphs. What is the Scripture trying to say? If you would like, outline in the same manner the chapters of Genesis we have already read.
Finding Messiah: Rachel died in today’s reading … notice how the mothers of the seed of Abraham were barren – Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Sarah was even past the age of childbearing, so it was impossible for her to bear a son. Both Rebekah and Rachel were barren and only had their sons by God’s miraculous intervention.
It is exactly the same with Messiah Yeshua. His mother wasn’t barren or past the age of childbearing, but in the natural it was impossible for her to be pregnant, being a virgin, outside of God’s miraculous intervention. The mothers of the patriarchs prophesy of the miraculous birth of our Lord!
For further reading:
Biblical Edom (Wikipedia)