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Genesis 32-35
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 10


(Genesis 32-35)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: One GoBible volunteer, Shirley Babienco, posts these lessons on e-Sword modules. (E-Sword is now my primary electronic Bible program.) Shirley wrote to me a few days ago to alert me to the advanced age of Jacob. I started looking at that issue and found that the Bible gives us enough clues to arrive at the following: when Jacob fled from his home he was 71 years-old. When he left Laban to return home he was 91 years-old. We continue our story this week with a man in his 90s wrestling with God! Let’s jump into the ring and learn more!

  1. Wrestling
    1. Read Genesis 32:22-23. We have skipped over the verses that inform us that Jacob is still afraid of Esau. Jacob’s strategy is essentially to send everything he owns, plus his family, ahead of him. Jacob is leading from behind in the encounter with Esau. Is Jacob a coward? Or, is this just being practical?
    2. Read Genesis 32:9. Who told Jacob to return? (God!)
      1. Did God intend to punish Jacob? (No. This text has God saying to Jacob that he should return “that I may do you good.” Leading from behind is another failure to trust God.)
    3. Read Genesis 32:1-2. What interesting beings met Jacob earlier on his trip? (Angels meet him!)
      1. How can Jacob still doubt God’s protection?
    4. Read Genesis 32:24-25. Does Jacob’s failure to trust God keep him safe from danger? (No. A stranger attacks him apparently while he is sleeping. Amazingly, Jacob wrestles him all night - and neither win! John MacArthur’s commentary asserts that Jacob is 97 by this time.)
      1. If you were Jacob and someone attacked you in the night, who would you think sent the attacker? (I would think Esau sent someone to kill me.)
    5. Read Genesis 32:26-28. This tells us that God is the one who attacked Jacob. What is going on? Why cannot God defeat Jacob?
      1. What is the point of this attack? (Jacob is afraid. He is not trusting God. When Jacob is first attacked, I think he believes Esau is behind this. But, at some point he understands God is the attacker because Jacob demands a blessing of his attacker.)
      2. Is God working to increase the faith of Jacob? Do you find that struggling with God increases your faith?
      3. What does the name change mean? (John MacArthur’s commentary reports that his name goes from meaning “deceiver” or “heel catcher” to “God’s fighter.”)
    6. Read Genesis 32:29-31. Do you think Jacob’s limp has a purpose? (Jacob has a name change and a battle injury. Both remind him of his encounter with God. They give him courage.)
  2. The Meeting
    1. Read Genesis 33:1-3. What has changed in Jacob’s battle plan? (Those he most wants to keep safe are still placed in the rear. You can tell how much you are loved by how far back you are in the group. What is different now is that “He himself went on before them.” Jacob is leading from the front. He shows courage.)
      1. Do you think the 400 man army of Esau has Jacob worried?
    2. Read Genesis 33:4. What a meeting! Imagine how things would have been different if Jacob had trusted God all along?
      1. How many times have you worried about something bad happening and it never happened?
  3. The Disgrace
    1. Read Genesis 34:1-4. Shechem is the son of the local prince. Is he trying to make things right?
    2. Read Genesis 34:5. Why do you think that Jacob held his peace? Is he uncertain about the right thing to do? (Skip down and read Genesis 34:30. We can see that Jacob’s situation is complicated.)
      1. Is Jacob’s situation complicated only because he does not trust God to protect his family?
    3. Read Genesis 34:6-8. What would you decide to do?
      1. Are Hamor and Shechem trying to do the right thing?
      2. Are the brothers correct that this is an outrageous act against their sister? Or, is this only an “outrageous thing in Israel” and they are not in Israel?
      3. Read Genesis 28:1. Is intermarrying the right answer?
    4. Let’s peek behind the curtains of Hamor’s thinking. Read Genesis 34:16 and Genesis 34:23. What is Hamor’s true goal? (Hamor has the equivalent of a corporate merger in mind. He thinks that if they merge, then he will own all of Jacob’s things. We see that Hamor believes that he can turn a profit from this problem.)
    5. Read Genesis 34:13-16. Is it true that Dinah (the sister) should not marry an uncircumcised man? (There is a small amount of truth in this. Circumcision is merely a sign of the problem. The real problem in intermarriage with pagans, and circumcision by itself does not cure that.)
    6. Read Genesis 34:17. Do you think this is an honest offer? (I don’t. More important, this “threat” tells me that Jacob’s sons realize Hamor’s true motive for this deal.)
    7. Read Genesis 34:24-29. What does this tell you about the character of Jacob’s sons? (They are worse than Hamor. Hamor may have had the same goal, but he did not intend to achieve it by murder and theft.)
    8. Read Genesis 34:30. Is this the correct reaction? (No! Jacob does not condemn the murders or theft. He is concerned that he and his household “shall be destroyed.” If he trusted in God, he would know that outcome was not going to happen.)
      1. Since Jacob is God’s representative in Canaan, what does say to the pagans about God? (This is a horrid situation. God’s representatives are acting in a completely immoral way. Not even Jacob is concerned about the evil and how it reflects on God.)
    9. Read Genesis 34:31. Do the sons have a point? Does this justify what they did? (No. Their sister would have become a wife. They killed her future husband.)
  1. The Return
    1. After this terrible incident God decides that it is best that Jacob not stay in that place, but return to his ancestral home. Read Genesis 35:1-4. Why would Jacob command this change now?
      1. Is this like cleaning up your act to attend church? To visit your parents?
      2. Why does Jacob merely bury the foreign gods rather than destroy them? (He is merely hiding them. If he wanted to get rid of them he would destroy them or leave them where someone else would take them.)
    2. Read Genesis 35:9 and Genesis 35:16-19. Is Jacob like us? He takes half-measures about idol worship, but God blesses him. He is blessed, but his favorite wife dies in childbirth. (When I look at this story I see a loving and gracious God. Jacob is not the man he should be. At the same time, God does not protect Jacob and Rachel from all tragedy.)
    3. Friend, I feel like we are reading a novel about God’s special people on earth. God wanted us to read their story, which includes terrible sins. What is God teaching us? I think He is teaching us that we should not grieve over our past sins. At the same time, we should ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be better representatives of the Great God of Heaven. He deserves better from us!
  2. Next week: Joseph, Master of Dreams.