Sunday, March 14, 2010

Old Testament Intrigues

Some sunday school classes are much more entertaining than most. My friend Hollie was teaching our class on sunday. It was one of the most entertaining classes i've ever been to, I'm so glad i skipped out on YSA class. And it was about the Old testament, which is one of the more boring and hard to understand standard works. The lesson was, i think meant to focus on Joseph in egypt and how he managed to wrangle himself out of the clutches of Potiphars wife, the original cougar. But it started off with Josephs mum, dad and aunty. First of all, something i didn't know before, it doesn't have a definition of concubines in the bible dictionary, but they were apparently legal wives, but with less rights than a proper wife.

So Leah was the first wife only because her father married her off without Jacob knowing. Which brings me to my first question. Marriages in Israel were apparently preceded by a bethrothal, which was a legal binding contract between the husband and wife, meaning that they were technically married, only they hadn't yet been through the proper ceremony and they weren't living together. So if Jacob was bethrothed to Rachel first, did swapping her and Leah make such a big difference? And it seems like there's something they're not saying in the story because why would Laban swap his daughters over like that? And why would the girls go along with it? And what does "doe-eyed" mean anyway. Was she short sighted or was something else wrong with her why she wasn't married before Jacob came along? So even though Rachel was obviously the preferred wife, why wasn't she the first wife, since she would have been legally contracted to him prior to their marriage ceremony?

The evidence that she wasn't the first wife is because Reuben, Leah's eldest, got the birthright, until he lost it by cavorting with his father's concubine. At which point it dropped through to the second to last child, Joseph, favoured son of his father. Weird that it didn't go to Leah's next son. And I feel so sorry for her, reading all the names she gave to her sons in the hope that her husband would finally love her. Seems like she got ripped off the most in the story. I wonder what she thought about her father marrying her off to her sisters fiance.

When Joseph went to go visit his brothers, at the tender age of 17, it was apparently 42 miles to wherever he went to visit them to see how they were. Then when he got there he got told they were in Dothan, another 12 miles away. So he took off straightaway to go see them there. Thats when his brothers starting plotting to kill him. It seems like Reuben was either an honourable man, or else repenting of earlier sins, or maybe he just liked his brother, or possibly felt responsible to his father as the eldest son, because he told them not to kill him but to put him in a pit. And its recorded that his plan was to get rid of his brothers and return Joseph safely back to Dad. At which point he went away somewhere, because when he came back they'd sold their little brother into slavery and Reuben was so gutted he rent his coat. Maybe he thought he'd get the blame for something happening to the apple of his fathers eye.

Why did his father send a 17yr old boy off by himself to go see to his brothers, when he was so beloved? Or did Joseph talk his father into letting him go? And what was he thinking telling his brothers and his father about his dream of them all bowing down to him. Did he seriously think they'd not mind? Or maybe he was just oblivious to his brothers envy. In any case, I like considering their motivations and what was going on with them.

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