13 January 2010

Jan 13

Reference links:
Old Testament

Jacob goes to Paddan-aram so that he can escape Esau (remember, Jacob stole his blessing) and marry a daughter of his uncle (to avoid marrying one of the local women). Before going, Isaac blesses Jacob again. I guess he figured that since he had already blessed Jacob, he may as well continue.

Apparently, the family dislike of local women inspired Esau to go marry one of his uncle Ishmael's daughters. I guess it is good to see the less fortunate members of the family stick together.

Jacob dreams of God. God promises Jacob that Jacob will be blessed with many descendants and protected by God. Upon waking, Jacob made this vow to God:
If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food an clothing, and if I return safely to my father's home, then the Lord will certainly be my God.
These days, people claim that you must take a leap of faith and accept God. Here we see that Jacob sets out very specific and rather demanding conditions that he wants fulfilled before he takes the God of his father as his God. I think again what I thought when we read the story of Abraham's servant finding a wife for Isaac: if God really lived up to such strict standards (reliably, repeatedly, and without selectively ignoring dis-affirming evidence), then Christians would not need to make so many claims about leaps of faith.

Jacob arrives at the home of his uncle. He falls in love with his cousin Rachel and agrees to work seven years to earn her as his bride. After seven years, Jacob has fulfilled his duty, but Laban fools him and gives him Leah for a wife instead. Jacob, of course, reacts with rage. Laban agrees to also give him Rachel for seven more years of work. Rachel is given to Jacob, and he works for Laban for seven more years. I would say that this is another great fan fic opportunity, but it has already been done.

Unlike his father and grandfather, Jacob has no problem having children. Although his favorite wife, Rachel, has trouble conceiving, Leah's fertility cannot be doubted. Four children in today's narrative. Finally we see progress toward that promise of countless descendants.

New Testament

Today Jesus conducts more miraculous healings. The author of Matthew stresses that only the faithful are healed. It has not been made clear whether this is because Jesus only wants to heal the faithful or if it is because faith is required for healing to be effective.

Jesus healed a woman who had "suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding". Now, I once had my period last for three month, and it sucked. I can only imagine how miserable twelve years of bleeding must have been, especially in the days before nice absorbent sanitary pads.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing particularly noteworthy in today's readings.