Archive for October 22nd, 2021

joyFriday, October 22, 2021

Genesis 31

Joy and the Deceiver

This is the first in a number of posts in which we will visit scripture looking for stories about joy. These tales will surprise us in a number of ways as we explore. If you wish to read more about how joy astonishes us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see what surprises you there. Today we begin with the book which holds scripture’s oldest stories: Genesis.

In today’s story we read of the relationship between Jacob and his uncle Laban. After deceiving his father and brother – with the help of his mother – and depriving his older twin brother of his birthright, Jacob leaves home to travel to a distant land where he lives with his mother’s brother. Laban promises protection and wages and Jacob settles into his new life, taking his wives Leah and Rachel from among Laban’s daughters, and establishing his own family. But as happens so often in family dynamics, Jacob’s uncle and cousins become jealous of Jacob’s prosperity.

Verse 2: Jacob saw the attitude of Laban, and behold, it was not friendly toward him as formerly.

And also as so often happens in our human relationship with God, the all-knowing creator sends word to guide and assure us.

Ribera: Jacob with the Flock of Laban

José Ribera: Jacob with the Flock of Laban

Verse 3: Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you”.

Jacob and his wife Rachel deceive Laban so that they might take their children, livestock and belongings to return home; but Laban pursues them and all hope seems lost until God surprises Jacob’s household with joy.

Verses 24 and 25: God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night and said to him, “Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad”. Laban caught up with Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen camped in the hill country of Gilead.

Laban and Jacob meet and each speaks his mind. They argue. They air grievances and sort out quarrels.

Verse 27: Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and did not tell me so that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with timbrel and with lyre; and did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters?

Finally uncle and nephew reach a covenant agreement and seal their pact with ritual stones at Mizpah. The drama ends with each man stepping away from violence, each man going his way, each man blessing the other.

Verse 55: Early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.

Brugghen: Jacob Reproaching Laban for Giving him Leah in Place of Rachel

Hendrick Ter Brugghen: Jacob Reproaching Laban

In a story chock full of deceit, joy surprises us. In a tale with so much potential for violence, God speaks to the heart. In the patriarch saga of bloodshed and deception God brings us to the joy of mercy. Let us consider today the times we have moved out of a relationship without allowing the joy of knowing one another kindle forgiveness. Let us reflect on the times we have deceived another without offering the gift of asking pardon. Let us remember the joy that surprises all deceivers. And knowing that God is always with us, let us look for the joy that is waiting to surprise us today.

To learn about the story of Jacob, spend time with Genesis chapters 25-36. For insight into the relationship between Jacob, Leah, Rachel and Laban, and how both joy and deception play roles in Jacob’s life, visit: https://bible.org/seriespage/never-satisfied-story-jacob-and-rachel 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

Ribera image from: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jusepe-de-ribera-jacob-with-the-flock-of-laban 

Brugghen image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hendrick_ter_Brugghen_-_Jacob_Reproaching_Laban_-_WGA22181.jpg

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