"JACOB RETURNS TO CANAAN!" & "JOSEPH IS SOLD INTO SLAVERY!"
THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER RECORDS THE MARRIAGE OF JACOB TO LEAH & RACHEL, DAUGHTERS OF HIS UNCLE LABAN IN PADAN-ARAM, & their 2 maids, Bilhah & Zilpah, the 4 of whom gave him 13 children, 12 sons & 1 daughter! The time covered is about 30 years.
AFTER 21 YEARS IN THE EMPLOY OF LABAN he started to his father's house at Hebron. While in the mountains of Gilead he awakened to the fact that he had been a very selfish man, & after spending an entire night in prayer‚ he "prevailed with God."
HIS NAME WAS CHANGED TO ISRAEL & HE BECAME A NEW MAN from that night. Esau came up from Mount Seir to meet him before he crossed the Jordan, & Jacob was assured of his brother's unqualified forgiveness. Jacob now prepares to cross into Canaan‚ where we shall follow him in the following Chapter.
1. THE RIVER JORDAN. Jacob, now called Israel, is at Succoth, near the Jordan, where he had tarried for some time. He now crosses the river & proceeds on his journey to his father's house in Hebron.
2. SHECHEM LIES ON THE ROUTE TO HEBRON & is about 25 miles west of Succoth. No doubt Jacob had heard Abraham his Godly grandfather speak of Shechem, & he was evidently curious at least to see the place where Abraham had built an altar to the Lord.
3. THE PLAIN OF MOREH AT SHECHEM. So Jacob's next halting place is here at Shechem. He probably liked it very much, for he bought a field here & pitched his tent over on that plain, & erected an altar to the Lord as Abraham had done years before. Gen.33:18-20.
4. GERIZIM & THE PLAIN. We are standing in Sychar (John 4). The mountain is Gerizim & there is a well over at the foot of the hill, said to have been dug by Jacob. In John 4:6 it is called Jacob's Well, where Christ nearly 2000 years later met the Samaritan woman.
5. THE BATTLE OVER DINAH. Jacob evidently intended locating here, but because of an unpleasant affair in which Dinah, his daughter, got involved with the King's son, & which resulted in a pitched battle between his sons & the sons of Shechem, he decided to quit the place. Gen.34.
6. DISPOSING OF THE IDOLS AT SHECHEM. Before they left, Jacob demanded of his family that they "bury their strange gods". He may have just learned that Rachel really did have her father's idols! "And Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem." Gen.35:2-4.
7. "NOW GOD SAID UNTO JACOB, ARISE‚ GO UP TO BETHEL & DWELL THERE." Bethel is about 20 miles south of Shechem, on the crest of the Judean Hills.
8. AN ANCIENT ALTAR. "So Jacob came to Luz which is in the Land of Canaan, that is Bethel, & he built there an altar & called the place El–beth-el because there God appeared unto him when he fled from his brother." Deborah, Rachel's nurse, died here & was buried by an oak. Gen.35:6-8.
9. JACOB IS NOW HERE AT BETHEL, WHERE GOD TOLD HIM TO GO! Abraham & Lot had dwelt here at Bethel. Jacob had seen the ladder to heaven here in a dream. And now God reassures him he is Israel indeed, & that instead of his older brother Esau, he is Divinely chosen to succeed Abraham & Isaac. And Jacob called it the very "House of God"—Bethel. Gen.35:9-15.
10. BETHLEHEM, WHERE JESUS WAS BORN 2000 YEARS LATER, IS ABOUT 20 MILES SOUTH OF BETHEL. In those days it was called Ephrath. Gen.35:19.
11. BETHLEHEM. The first great sorrow came to Jacob as he approached Bethlehem. He had loved Rachel so dearly.
SHE HAD GIVEN HIM ONE SON, JOSEPH‚ & here at Bethlehem her second son‚ Benjamin was born‚ but Rachel, the mother, died in childbirth—perhaps because she was so weak in faith & strayed after other gods. Gen.35:16-20.
12. RACHEL'S TOMB. "And it came to pass as her soul was in departing that she called his name Ben-oni, but his father called him Benjamin, son of my right hand. And Rachel died & was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.
"AND JACOB SET A PILLAR UPON HER GRAVE. That is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day." Gen.35:18–20. This is the first recorded monument to the dead mentioned in the Bible. This shrine is now said to cover the spot where she died.
13. A WATCHTOWER NEAR BETHLEHEM. It must have been late in the day when Jacob left the grave of Rachel, for he spread his tent near the Tower of Edar that night, which is believed to be only 2 or 3 miles south of Bethlehem. Gen.35:21.
14. ONE DAY MORE OF TRAVEL WILL BRING JACOB TO MAMRE (HEBRON), which is 15 miles away. Old Isaac & Rebekah, his father & mother, have been waiting there 21 years for his return, & now they are to receive, a joyous surprise by the return of Jacob!
15. "AND JACOB CAME UNTO ISAAC HIS FATHER UNTO MAMRE, unto the city of Arbah which is Hebron, where Abraham & Isaac sojourned." Gen.35:27. We are not told of the reception given Jacob upon his return, but it must have been one of Oriental splendour & rejoicing, since he had been faithful to the wishes of both Isaac & Rebekah & found a wife—in fact, four—in Haran amongst their own relatives.
16. ABRAHAM'S OAK. This very old oak, the last of this specie that thrived in the days of his grandfather Abraham & father Isaac, still stands at Mamre. Not far from here Isaac received Jacob upon his return.
ISAAC LATER DIED AT THE AGE OF 180 YEARS! Chronologists agree that he died about 1724 B.C.‚ or about the time of the imprisonment of Joseph. So he must have lived more than 20 happy years after Jacob's return.
17. JOSEPH & HIS BROTHERS. Now there comes a new story in Gen. 37—Years pass, concerning which there is no record. Joseph is now 17, & his father Jacob's favourite son.
JACOB MADE JOSEPH A COAT OF MANY COLOURS, which was an acknowledgement of his favouritism for Joseph‚ & the brothers became very jealous of Joseph because of it. Gen.37:4 says "they hated him!" Maybe Jacob spoiled Joseph.—Was he bragging & lording it over them, acting to "smart"? Had he told on them when they were bad, though rightfully?
18. JOSEPH'S DREAM. Certainly his dreams didn't make them feel any more kindly to him! They became even more deeply incensed over the dreams of Joseph in which they thought they could read his feelings of superiority over them. Gen.37:5-11. In this one, his brother's sheaves of grain bow down to Joseph's sheaf.
19. IT WILL BE REMEMBERED THAT JACOB OWNED A PARCEL OF LAND AT SHECHEM. Thither the older sons had been sent to pasture their flocks, a distance of about 50 miles north of Hebron. Also note that Dothan lies some 15 miles beyond Shechem, & to thence it was that Joseph went to find his brethren. Why wasn't he helping tend the flocks?—He was his father's favourite, & so stayed home to care for his father.
20. JACOB'S WELL AT SHECHEM. After the sons had been gone some days, Jacob sent Joseph to inquire if it were well with them & the flocks. But when Joseph got to Shechem his brothers could not be located. Whether they were afraid of the Shechemites because of the former trouble over their sister, Dinah, or that the pastures had failed, we are not informed. Gen.37:12-14.
21. THE ROAD NORTH OF SHECHEM. At last Joseph got information that they had gone 15 miles beyond to Dothan, so the boy pushed on northward. This photo shows the nature of the country which lay on his route.
22. THE VALLEY OF DOTHAN. "And Joseph went after his brethren & found them in Dothan. "Gen.37:17.
23. "AND WHEN THEY SAW HIM AFAR OFF‚ EVEN BEFORE HE CAME NEAR UNTO THEM, THEY CONSPIRED AGAINST HIM TO SLAY HIM‚ & said one unto the other, Behold this dreamer cometh! Come now therefore & let us slay him!" Gen.37:18-20
24. IT WAS ONLY THROUGH THE INFLUENCE OF OLDER BROTHER REUBEN THAT THEY DID NOT IMMEDIATELY PUT HIM TO DEATH! He recommended instead that they put Joseph into an empty cistern or pit, with the hope that he (Reuben) might secretly save the boy's life later.
25. THEY ALL AGREED TO REUBEN'S SUGGESTION & CAST HIM INTO A PIT, the others fully intending to leave him there to die of starvation! Gen.37:21-24.
26. BUT JUST THEN THEY SIGHTED A CARAVAN OF ISHMAELITES, their second cousins, sons of their grandfather Isaac's brother Ishmael‚ going down into Egypt with a cargo of spices from Gilead. Judah proposed that they life & Joseph from the pit & sell him to these dusky relations, & thus save themselves from the responsibility of his death. So they withdrew him from the pit.
27. JOSEPH WAS SOLD TO THE ISHMAELITES (ALSO CALLED MIDIANITES) for 20 pieces of silver‚ a type of Christ. They then carried him down into Egypt where he was re–sold into slavery at a handsome profit.
28. JACOB HAD DECEIVED HIS FATHER IN AN UNFAIR DEAL WITH ESAU, & now he is himself to be more sorely deceived! "Whatsoever a man soweth‚ that shall he also reap!" (Gal.6:7.)
THE SONS TORE JOSEPH'S BEAUTIFUL COAT & SMEARED IT WITH BLOOD & returned & showed it to poor old Father Jacob, suggesting to their father that some wild beast had destroyed his favourite son! Gen.37:31-33.
29. THE DECEPTION WAS COMPLETE, & JACOB RAGED WITH GRIEF. He donned sackcloth & mourned for many days, saying, "Joseph is no doubt rent in pieces & I will go down to my grave into my son mourning." Gen.37:33-35. He temporarily lost faith in all God's promises to him!
30. THE TRADERS CARRIED JOSEPH 'WAY DOWN INTO EGYPT! For a boy of 17 it must have been interesting indeed, if not so pleasant. They passed through the old cities of Canaan, then through the sandy Sinai wastes beyond. Here & there is a beautiful oasis, & an occasional glimpse of the blue Mediterranean to their right lends wonderful interest to the traveler even today.
31. THE RIVER NILE. To a boy reared amongst the dry hills of Judaea, the grandeur of the mighty Nile River must have thrilled him!
32. THEN BEYOND THE NILE IS THE SPHINX, seen by his great-grandfather Abraham. It's the most colossal statue in the world! It stands 70 feet high, the eye is 4 feet in diameter & the ear is 7 feet across!
33. THE GREAT PYRAMIDS. Long before he saw the Sphinx the pyramids loomed high against the horizon. These mighty monuments had probably been seen by his great–grandfather Abraham!
34. THIS ONE, CHEOPS, STANDS NEARLY 500 FEET HIGH (about 160 meters), & can be seen from 30 miles away! You can get an idea of its immense proportions if you can imagine its base covering about 14 football fields!
35. THUS FAR THE TRIP COULD NOT HAVE BEEN WITHOUT GREAT INTEREST. But he must go to Memphis, the capital, the residence of Pharaoh & the Metropolis of Egypt, capital of the world!—(Indicated by arrow.)
36. THE SITE OF MEMPHIS. About 10 miles south of the great pyramids was Memphis on this plain, but it has long since disappeared, as a result of the curses of God upon the wicked idol–worshipping Egyptians!
37. EXCAVATIONS AT MEMPHIS. Archaeologists have tried in vain to tell us of the teeming population, the conduct of business, the great buildings of state & wonderful scenes that once were witnessed upon this very were witnessed upon this very soil when Memphis was at the zenith of her glory!
38. HERE IN MEMPHIS JOSEPH WILL BE SOLD AS A SLAVE. He is no doubt conscious of this fact, & is wondering every moment who will be his master & what will be required of him.
39. AS HE OBSERVES OTHER SLAVES He no doubt reasons: "If I am esteemed as more than these, it will only be by the graces of God!
40. SLAVERY WAS A COMMON THINGS IN EGYPT IN THAT DAY, & though it cannot be said that there exists an actual slave traffic there now, there are many poor who are still virtually in slavery there.
41. JOSEPH'S EARLY TRAINING HAD FITTED HIM FOR USEFULNESS, & his integrity was soon to lift him far above the level of the average bondman like these
Review Questions for Chapter 6:
1. What river flows between Succoth & Shechem?
2. Who of Jacob's relation had been at Shechem?
3. What did Jacob buy at Shechem?
4. What is the name of the plain?
5. What large mountain is near it?
6. Why did Jacob leave Shechem?
7. What did he bury there?
8. Where did he move from Shechem?
9. What experience had Jacob had at Bethel 20 years before?
10. What 2 people had lived at Bethel?
11. What does Bethel mean?
12. Where did Jacob go from Bethel?
13. How far & what direction is Bethlehem?
14. Which son of Jacob was born at Bethlehem?
15. Who was his mother?
16. Where was Rachel buried?
17. How far & what direction is Hebron?
18. Who were waiting at Hebron for Jacob?
19. How old is Isaac now?
20. How many sons has Jacob?
21. Which was his favourite?
22. How did Jacob express his favouritism for Joseph?
23. What did the brothers think of Joseph?
24. Where were they sent to pasture the flocks?
25. Why was Joseph sent to Shechem?
26. Where did he find the brothers?
27. What direction is Dothan from Shechem?
28. What did the brothers decide to do to Joseph?
29. Where did they first put him?
30. Why did they take him out of the pit?
31. To whom was Joseph sold?
32. What did they pay for him?
33. Where did the Midianites take him?
34. What did the sons tell Jacob?
35. What proof did they bring?
36. Did Jacob believe their report?
37. What did Jacob say?
38. Whom had Jacob deceived years before?
39. What direction is Egypt from Palestine?
40. What was the capital of Egypt then?