Interrupting Genesis

Readings Review

Last week: Genesis 25-31, John 13-16
This week: Genesis 32-38, John 17-20

Let me remind you of this lovely resource to highlight the readings coming up: https://ctrnorthshore.org/the-daily-office-vlog-week-of-2-2/

In Genesis we are wrapping up the Jacob stories and heading into the last major “Genesis Story” of the book: Joseph and the rest of the twelve tribes of Israel.  But before we get there, we find three little “interruptions”:

  1. the story of Dinah (ch. 34)
  2. the Genesis of Esau/Edom (ch. 36)
  3. the story of Tamar (ch. 38)

Dinah is the only named daughter of Jacob, and she is unpleasantly married off to the local gentiles, much to her brothers’ chagrin.  The enmity that springs up between Jacob’s clan and the local tribes is but the beginning of strife that continues to this day, really.

Esau is named here the ancestor of Edom, one of the neighboring kingdoms that would be a thorn in Israel’s side for centuries to come.  They’re even identified (and cursed) for their cheering on the Babylonians when Jerusalem was finally sacked in 586 BC.  But their ancient ancestry is named and honored here because they are a ‘brother nation’ to Israel, and thus they foreshadow the redemption of the Gentiles that the prophets would eventually proclaim, and the Church would finally realize in her own growth and ministry.

Tamar, finally, is the wife of Judah’s firstborn, Er; but Er is struck down by the Lord for his wickedness, so the expectation was that Tamar should be married to Judah’s next son.  This foreshadows the levirate marriage laws that would be enshrined in the Law of Moses, and would go on to be a central point to the story of Ruth.  Judah, however, fails to get Tamar a new husband, so she disguises herself and has a child by Judah herself.  Judah accepts his guilt when he is later called out for this act, and Tamar is vindicated.

These are “interruptions” to the larger stories of Isaac & Jacob and Joseph, but they’re also important entries in their own right.  Not only do two of these stories bring important women to the spotlight (which is relatively unusual in ancient writing) but they also give us deeper insight into the moral shortcomings and failings of God’s people.  This may be the chosen family, the line of promise, but they are still as fallible as any other.  Their elect status is not due to their own works or earnings or deservings, but entirely to God’s grace.  Let that be an important reminder to us, too, who rejoice in our calling unto salvation – God called pulled us out of the mire, not rewarded us for our prior righteousness!

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