Note: this post takes a non-literal and historically contextualized reading of these Genesis stories; if you prefer a literal reading and do not want your viewpoint challenged, I recommend scrolling past this post. I do not mean to offend anyone; I am merely presenting one interpretation of these chapters.
Since childhood, Genesis has held some of my favorite parts of the Bible. Tales of chaos set into order, renewal of faith and mercy, flawed humans challenged to do great things, and rich historical archives make Genesis a valuable book on both a spiritual and a scholarly level. But what do we make of some of the stories in Genesis – especially the trail from Creation to Babel recounted in its first eleven chapters – that seem, well, more like fiction than reality? My Study Bible has some answers to that question, which I hope to share with you today.
The purpose of this post is to present scholarly information regarding the structure and content of Genesis 1-11, to describe parallels between its stories and the myths of nearby ancient peoples, and to discuss the overall thematic goals and spiritual significance of these stories. I hope to illuminate the spiritual benefits of a non-literal and historically-contextualized reading of these chapters.
This post takes its information from my Study Bible’s reading guide and presents it here for your consideration, with a little commentary of my own thrown in. All quotations and paraphrased information comes from pages 100-107 of this text, sourced here: (x).
(TL;DR Version: This is a long post. If you don’t have the time to read through the historical/mythical material of points 1-4, I recommend skipping to point 5 near the end, which discusses the spiritual significance of the given context.)
Because of a famine, Isaac and his people went to Gerar, and fearing he would be killed of jealousy, called Rebekah his sister (a family theme, apparently). Abimelek finds out and orders that no one shall harm them. Isaac becomes too wealthy for the Philistine’s liking, and Abimelek forces them to move away. Later, seeing that God was with Isaac and his people, Abimelek makes a treaty of peace with them.
The other night after having dinner over at my parents place my Mom began to share with Vanessa and me one important truth she wished she had known when she was younger. It was something I have now heard from a few sources and need to apply to my life.
[featured-image size=“custom_post” single_newwindow=“false” alt=“My Mom and me”]My Mom and me[/featured-image]
Having watched my husband treat and supply water for our community for over 25 years I understand the importance, but I don’t think that I have a clue about the significance of the water in the days of Abraham and Isaac.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog. To be honest, over the past couple of months, I’ve thought about posting, and then something always ends up distracting me. I feel like this semester, I’ve really given up my “birthright” much like Esau did. I was given this amazing chance to grow within a church, to find a community, and I began to shun a lot of it after some sisters and I got into housing drama. That coupled with how difficult school was for me really got to my desire to pursue my faith, and I , again, fell away, and looking back, I feel like I just gave it up without much of a fight.
But as the year closed, I realized just how much I had been neglecting to feed myself spiritually, how I neglected to give my all in keeping my flame for Christ alive, and it’s something that’s really hard to admit. I supposed the anonymity helps on this blog, but I think that’s what I’m the most ashamed of from this past year. God gave me a chance with a new church, and I almost threw it all away because I was hurt by a couple of sisters in the church. It felt like the way I felt with my old church all over again – like the church that I was beginning to warm up to, beginning to feel comfortable with, was pushing me away once again. It hurt to know that I wasn’t valued as a member ( or at least, it didn’t feel like I was valued ) simply because I wasn’t as charismatic as some of the other members, or as social. There was a good period of time where I just stopped eating with my church members because I felt like I didn’t belong, and that there was really no point in me trying to talk to people who didn’t want to, or didn’t care to talk to me.
I guess, in short, this year God has really broken me. The night before my flight out, I sat in my room and cried because I felt the weight of the entire year crushing my shoulders. I felt so broken, so lost, so angry, so confused, so sad, so lonely. After finding out that my grades were so low to the point that I’m still terrified of being kicked out of my major, I felt defeated. But I think that that’s when God really reminded me that He breaks me over and over again to remind me to run to Him. He breaks me to make me realize that I cannot do things on my own, and that I need Him to help me along the way.
Like the song by Sidewalk Prophets says
Make me broken So I can be healed ‘Cause I’m so calloused And now I can’t feel I want to run to You With heart wide open Make me broken
Make me empty So I can be filled 'Cause I’m still holding Onto my will And I’m completed When you are with me Make me empty
[Chorus:] 'Til You are my one desire 'Til You are my one true love 'Til You are my breath, my everything Lord, please keep making me
Make me lonely So I can be Yours 'Til I want no one More than You, Lord 'Cause in the darkness I know You will hold me Make me lonely
I found this song on youtube while taking a break from packing, and it really hit home for me, because I realized that God hadn’t been my one desire, my one true love, my breath and my everything this year. I had been broken, but I hadn’t run to Him, and that’s what He had been challenging me to do.
Since coming back home, I feel like I’ve been running to Him more and more. It’s been about a week, and it’s a constant struggle to keep my head held high, and to keep trusting that He has a plan for me, no matter how bleak things seem. But right now, I’m working on rebuilding that relationship with Him, on making Him my one desire, my one true love, my breath and my everything.
So to the random viewer who bothered reading this long post and made it to the end, please pray for me. Please pray that I’ll keep fighting to run to Him, that I’ll keep fighting to love Him.
Bible in 90 Days: Regarding Philistines and Rebellion
So I actually am running out of time for today. So I’ll be making up a couple chapters over the next couple days. But its okay :)
The boys are at it again. Now Isaac is using the “Sister” move. Aye aye aye.
In Genesis 26 we begin to the hostility between the Israelites and Philistines.
And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines evied him. (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.” (Genesis 2 6:12-16)
Esau seems to live in rebellion and disregard for others. First we saw his disregard for his birthright. Then we see that he took on two wives from the Hittites. This completely abashed his parents because it went against the standard that Abraham had set up for his offspring.
There is a passage of the Bible that contains all these names, one after the other. It is 1 Chronicles 1:1-3, “Adam, Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah.” Now that we know the meanings, this passage can be read as follows:
“Man is appointed mortal sorrow, but the God who is to be praised shall come down, teaching that his death shall bring the despairing rest.”
This is remarkable that in the very names of the ten patriarchs from before the Flood through whose line God was to send the Messiah, should spell out a dramatic statement of the gospel. This can surely be no coincidence. One of the exciting things about studying Genesis that we see over and over again is that it is foundational to the understanding of the entire Bible.