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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Jacob and his family (part two)

You can’t raise children in a vacuum.

For one thing, it’s illegal.

More to the point, it’s never just you and the kids. No, it’s you and the kids, and the grandparents, and all the aunts and uncles and cousins, and your brother-in-law’s ex-wife’s children (who created such havoc last Christmas), not to mention those bratty kids who live next door and have a mouth on them like you wouldn’t believe.

In short, the whole stinking village gets to help raise your child – whether you like it or not.

And what better way to talk about this than to study by studying the life of Jacob!

Genesis 29
“History doesn’t repeat itself,” said Mark Twain, “but it does rhyme.” Notice how this story “rhymes” with the way Isaac acquired a wife – and notice the way Laban’s actions “rhyme” with those of his sister Rebekah! What are some of the patterns that seem to keep repeating in your family?

Genesis 30
How do Rachel and Leah battle for their husband’s affection – and how do their children get drawn into this battle? Are there any similarities between their behavior, and that of Laban? Of Isaac and Rebekah? Who do you blame the most for what’s happening here?

Genesis 31
Why doesn’t Jacob trust Laban – and why do Laban’s daughters now share his mistrust? Do Laban’s actions justify their feelings about him? What are some of the ways that Laban’s daughters have shown that they are like him? Why do Jacob and Laban draw a “boundary” between them – and what do they hope to solve by this? (Note: “household gods” may have indicated property rights; in losing them, Laban may have lost his right to pass on his own property to his heirs!)

General reflection
Twice now, Jacob has dealt with family problems by leaving – the first time by leaving his own family, the second time by leaving his in-laws. How effective is this at solving problems? Is it ever justified? When have you used a similar strategy – and what were the results? With whom do you identify in this story, and why?

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