Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More on Jacob

Here's some stuff that didn't go into the chapel meditation on Genesis 29:21-30 (mostly inspired by or directly stolen from Wenham, Jordan and Cotter).
  • Rachel's name means (apparently) 'ewe' or 'lamb' or something like that. This makes an interesting parallel between her and the flock(s) Jacob gains from Laban, and of course the flock Jesus snatches from the clutches of the 'strong man.'
  • Rachel is therefore the bride of the heir, and as such is his flock/lamb, but also she is described as a Shepherdess (and is the only person thus designated in the scripture). Cue some thoughts on the church as the bride/flock/shepherdess of Christ the husband/shepherd. The Church both receives Christ's shepherdly care as well as partnering him in it.
  • This also sets up an interesting parallel with Leah, whose name means 'wild cow.' Not sure what to make of that.
  • The key to the whole Jacob narrative seems to be when the LORD wrestles with him and we find that all of Jacob's struggles have been divinely appointed as the means to his prevailing. Jacob's limp becomes a sign of victory-through-weakness.
  • Jacob's question in 29:25 resembles the LORD's (to Eve) in 3:13, Pharaoh's (to Abraham) in 12:18 and Abimelech's (to Isaac) in 26:10. They all refer to occasions of deception.
  • Also, there must be something in the fact that Jacob has to work seven years for each wife, and that the seven-day wedding feast is called a 'week' , especially given that this is Genesis - the book that begins with the first ever week. But what I'm not sure yet.
  • The positive portrayal of Jacob flows in some senses from the somewhat more negative portrayal of Isaac. Given how much of the Abraham narrative is about the birth of Isaac in some way or another, given that he's the child of promise, his whole part in the story is a bit of a let down to some extent. If anything, we might have expected him to be the one who had lots of sons and gave birth to a nation. But in some senses his part in the story doesn't move the promises on to fulfillment very much at all. That is left rather to Jacob who plays a far more significant role in the founding of the nation, and whose sojourner experiences mirror the future experiences of Israel. Could this relate to the way that Jacob talks about Isaac in 31:42 where he says the LORD is the God of Abraham but the 'fear' of Isaac?

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