Genesis & Job

An ancient African proverb imparts wisdom about tackling huge projects: “How does one person eat a whole elephant? One bite at a time.” The Genesis & Job Series is the first bite of Eyewitness Bible Series in tackling the Old Testament.

The most casual reader soon recognizes the majority of the writings of the Old Testament have to do with the history of the Israelites (also known as Hebrews or Jews). Embedded in the Old Testament is a wealth of knowledge about God and his character, books of poetry and proverbs, and a host of prophecies.

In Bibles used by most Protestant Christians, the Old Testament consists of 39 writings, called books. The Eyewitness Bible Series groups these books into three different series:

  • Genesis & Job: Genesis describes the creation of Earth, gives the history of all mankind, and describes a brief history of the Israelite nation from its beginning until it moves to Egypt. All of Genesis is saturated with knowledge about God, his power, and his relationship with mankind. Job is a story of an ancient man, his struggles, and his dealings with God. Although nothing is absolutely clear concerning the time period of his life, it seems as if Job lived in the time before the Israelite nation existed.
  • Promised Land: Covers the time period from the Israelites being slaves in Egypt, their exodus to Canaan, and the conquering of Canaan. This series includes the Old Testament books of Exodus to Judges.
  • Prophets and Kings: Covers the time period from the first prophet and king until the last prophet. It describes the initial occupation of Canaan, the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, the exile of the Southern kingdom, and the return to Judah. With the exception of Job, this includes the Old Testament books of Ruthto Malachi.


Jacob Renamed

When Jacob returned to Canaan, Rachel stole her “family’s gods.” As the story unfolds, it is clear that the family’s gods were very important. Apparently, Jacob agreed that these gods had power. Before going to Bethel, Jacob requires that they abandon all of their foreign gods and purify themselves. This may be the point when the family finally accepts God as their only God. It is shortly after abandoning their gods, that God reaffirms that Jacob’s name is changed to “Israel.”

Although Jacob and Esau had a contentious relationship virtually their entire lives, when their father, Isaac, died, they came together to bury him. This could have been a time for the brothers to mend fences for good, but they apparently did not. History shows their descendants fought for centuries.

Choices have consequences, and Jacob’s choices had everlasting consequences. He had twelve sons by his two wives, and their handmaidens. Here is the list:

Leah: Reuben, the firstborn; Simeon; Levi; Judah; Issachar and Zebulon.

Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.

Rachel’s handmaiden, Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali

Leah’s handmaiden: Gad and Asher.

As the Bible unfolds, we find that Reuben does have special responsibilities as the firstborn. We don’t know the reasons, but Jesus will come from the tribe of Judah.

Primary Scriptures:
Genesis 35-38
Story Summary:
Jacob returns; death of Isaac; Joseph’s dreams; Joseph sold into slavery
Jacob’s birth is probably 2050 - 1900 BC