© 2009, Mike ParkerFor personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Way, way back many centuries ago, not long after the Bible began, Jacob lived in the land ofCanaan, a fine example of a family man.a)(Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It’s hard not to talk about this story without breaking intosong.
)b)As we read last week, Jacob lived for twenty years in Haran, where he married Leah andRachel, the daughters of Laban.i)He also took Bilhah and Zilpah, the servants of Leah and Rachel, as additional wives.According tothe custom of the day, the children they bore to Jacob were legally Leahand Rachel’s children.c)Genesis 29–30 records that Joseph had twelve sons and one daughter by his four wives.This week’s handout has information on what their names mean, but brieflythese sonswere:i)By Leah: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.ii)By Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali.iii)By Zilpah: Gad and Asher.iv)By Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.(1)Rachel died in childbirth, naming her last son
(“son of my suffering”),but Jacob changed his nameto
(“son of the right hand”). (Genesis35:18.)d)As the oldest son, Reuben heldthe birthright and promise of his father’s blessing.However, he had sexual relations with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Jacob heardabout it. (Genesis 35:22.)i)Because of this transgression, Reuben lost his birthright.
e)Simeon and Leviwere next in line to receive the birthright, but they lostit through theirexcess in avenging the rape of their sister Dinah, and the fact that they turned a sacredrite (circumcision) into a tool for deceit and revenge. (Genesis 34.)
f)So, as the next oldest son,Judah took the leadership role.g)Joseph was the eldest sonof the second wife, and therefore in line to receive thebirthright. But hewas much younger and from a wife with whom the relationship withthe other wives, especially Leah, was quite strained, so he was not at all liked by hisbrothers.
I am grateful to my friend Greg Smith of Raymond, Alberta, for allowing me to liberally borrow from the notes heprepared for Gospel Doctrine on this material.
See 1 Chronicles 5:1. Reuben’s act probably had other purposes than merely satisfying his sexual desire. By having sexwith Bilhah, Reuben (Leah’s oldest son) would have prevented Bilhah from succeeding Rachel as the favorite wife, and bysleeping with his father’s concubine he would also be attempting to take over leadership of the clan.
Jacob’s response to this action wasn’t exactly honorable, either: He didn’t reprove Simeon and Levi for murder, but onlyfor making trouble for him in the land. (Genesis 34:30.)