Monday, May 2, 2016

Post Challenge Trivia

There were many interesting facts I came upon as I researched and wrote this year's blog but didn't include in the challenge.  Perhaps you may want to use them for some Bible trivia.

If you want to know the exact birth order of Jacob's children:

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah, Joseph, and Benjamin.

Or, if you want to go by their name's meanings:

May He Add
My Struggle/My Right Hand

The order the tribes marched in the desert and camped by the Tabernacle:

On the East side - Judah (1), Issachar (2), Zebulun (3)
On the South side - Reuben (4), Simeon (5), Gad (6)
On the West side - Ephraim (7), Manasseh (8), Benjamin (9)
On the North side - Dan (10), Asher (11), Naphtali (12)

The Levites marched in the middle, carrying the Tabernacle and its furnishings.

Ezekiel saw the Tribes in heaven this way:

At the North Gate - Reuben, Judah, and Levi
At the East Gate - Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan
At the South Gate - Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun
At the West gate - Gad, Asher, Naphtali

There was a time when the tribes were divided up into two groups to bless and curse the Israelites.  Those who called the blessings did so upon Mount Gerizim and they were:
 Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, Benjamin.

Those who called the curses did so upon Mount Ebal and they were:
 Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

The explorers of the promised land from each tribe:
Reuben - Shammua son of Zaccur
Simeon - Shaphat son of Hori
Judah - Caleb son of Jephunneh
Issachar - Igal son of Joseph
Ephraim - Hoseha son of Nun
Benjamin - Palti son of Raphu
Zebulun - Gaddiel son of Sodi
Manasseh - Gaddi son of Susi
Dan - Ammiel son of Gemmali
Asher - Sethur son of Micahel
Naphtali - Nahbi son of Vopshi
Gad - Geuel son of Maki

The priest's breastpiece was made of 
Ruby, topaz, beryl, turquoise sapphire, emerald, jacinth, agate, amethyst, chrysolite, onyx, jasper.

Heaven's wall, as seen in John's vision was made of
Jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, amethyst

The Levites were responsible for the care of the Tabernacle.  Levis sons divided up the tasks.
Gershon was responsible for the care of the tabernacle and the tent, its coverings, the curtain at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, courtyard, curtain to the entrance of the courtyard surround the tabernacle, altar and the ropes and everything related to its use.

Kohath was responsible for the care of the ark, the table, the lamp stand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain and everything related to its use.

Merari took care of the frames of the tabernacle, crossbars, posts, bases, all its equipment, and everything related to its use as well as the posts surrounding the courtyard and their bases, tent pegs, and ropes.

When the offering was made for the Tabernacle, after everything was prepared as the Lord has instructed Moses, a representative from each tribe brought:

one silver plate weighing 130 shekels filled with fine flour mixd with oil as a grain offering
one silver sprinkling bowl weighing 70 shekels 
one gold dish weighing 10 shekels filled with incense
one young bull
one ram,
one male lamb one year old for the burnt offering
one male goat for a sin offering
two oxen
five rams
five male lambs a  year old for the fellowship offering.  

The days in order each tribe presented their offering.
Day 1 - Judah
Day 2 - Issachar
Day 3 - Zebulun
Day 4 - Reuben
Day 5 - Simeon
Day 6 - Gad
Day 7 - Ephraim
Day 8 - Manasseh
Day 9 - Benjamin
Day 10 - Dan
Day 11 - Asher
Day 12 - Naphtali

The number of men 20 years old and older at the first census/second census:

Reuben - 46,500/43,700
Simeon - 59,300/22,200
Levi - Not counted in the first census/Males one month old and older at second: 23,000
Judah - 74,600/76,500
Dan - 62,700/ 64,400
Naphtali - 53,400/45,400
Gad - 45,650/40,500
Asher - 41,500/53,400
Issachar - 54,400/64,33
Zebulun - 57,400/60,500
Joseph (Ephraim) - 40,500/32,500
           (Manasseh) - 32,200/52,700
Benjamin - 35,400/45,600

Some more well known descendants of the tribes:

Simeon - Asa; Josiah
Levi - Moses
Judah - Caleb; Jesus
Asher - Anna
Benjamin - King Saul; Apostle Paul
Ephraim - Joshua

It's been a great ride, I hope you have been challenged to dig deeper.



Saturday, April 30, 2016


Zebulun seems a weird place to end this year's challenge.  It seems like Zebulun should have been dissected a few weeks ago.  If you are reading this and have read all of the posts this month, thank you.  I hope I didn't lead you down rabbit trails but instead peaked your curiosity and saw Jacob's story in a new light.  If I confused you or am off on any historical detail, please forgive me.  I did my best to stay true to cultural understanding as best I am able.  I realize my western understanding penetrated much of my posts, and I hope you will use this as a springboard to research on your own for more clarity.

Now, onto Zebulun.

Zebulun was the 10th son born to Jacob.  The 7th son born to and for Leah, but born as part of the bargain his mother and Aunt Rachel made:  sex with Jacob for a plant.

Zebulun was third in line during the desert wanderings.  His family camped on the east side of the tabernacle, a representative from his family brought their offering for the dedication of the tabernacle on the third day, and Ezekiel saw Zebulun's gate on the south side of heaven.

When he was born, his mother, Leah, said, "God has presented me with a precious gift.  This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons."  Hence, Zebulun means "dwelling."

When Jacob was dying he said this to his tenth son:  "Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon."

Moses said, about Zebulun and his brother Issachar:  "Rejoice Zebulun, in your going out, and you, Issachar, in your tents.  They will summon peoples to the mountains and there offer sacrifices of righteousness; they will feast on the abundance of the seas, on the treasures hidden in the sands."

When Jesus walked the planet he lived in Capernaum, in the area of Zebulun.

Zebulun had three sons:  Sered, Elon, Jahleel of whom no other significant details are found in the Bible.

I found the meaning behind the words Leah spoke when Zebulun was born somewhat heartbreaking.  The Hebrew transliteration says it this way:  

 has bestowed God upon me dowry a good now dwell with me will my husband because I have born to him six sons and she called his name Zebulun."  (Hebrew transliteration)

 "God has presented me with a precious gift.  This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons."  (NIV)

presented:  zabad - bestow upon, endow with

gift - zebed - gift, dowry

precious - towb - beautiful, pleasant, agreeable to the senses

dwell - zabal - dwell - English - to remain for a time; to live as a resident; to keep the attention directed

Synonyms of dwell:  abide, stay, hang around, remain, stick around
Antonyms:  bail, bail out, bug out, buzz off, clear off, walk out, take off, vamoose

Zebulun - zabal - see dwell above

Zebulun  was the last boy born to Leah.  When she named him, apparently she hoped the sixth son would be enough to make Jacob stay longer than his previous visits to her side of the camp.   (Apparently she must have forgotten that she had claimed Zilpah's sons as her own too).

But she couldn't make Jacob stay.

She looked into her little baby boy's eyes, the sixth of her womb, drinking him in, smelling that precious baby smell.  She looked at him and used the holy word God used when he looked upon his creation and saw that it was good.

Leah saw good like God saw good.  ("And God saw that it was good" sound familiar?)  She recognized good when she saw it.  She saw it in her precious boy Zebulun.

But it wasn't enough to make Jacob stay.

What Leah actually said, though the NIV English translates it poorly is in effect this (my paraphrase):

My time is now.  This precious gift from God is what will keep Jacob around.  Instead of running back to Rachel, this time, this time maybe he'll stay.  This time he'll stick around.  This time he won't bug out and take off in disgust.  This time...maybe this boy will keep him close by.

But there is no record that says sweet little Zebulun changed his father's mind about his mother.

But God did not walk out on Zebulun.  God hung around.  God planted Zebulun, Issachar, and Judah  on the east side of the Tabernacle, where the gate was and toward the sunrise.  Isaiah's prophecy concerning Zebulun was fulfilled in Matthew.  Eleven of the Christ's disciples came from Zebulun's territory in Galilee.

How many times do we fear God will walk out on us because of all we've done or haven't done?  Or is it just me?  How precious are the names of the twelve sons of Jacob.  They give us a picture into the heart of God.  Each child is precious to him.  Each of us grown physically, but infant in our understanding is precious to the God who created us.

He will never leave us or forsake us.  He is with us for the long haul.



Isaiah 9:1
Matthew 4:13-16
Judges 5:18
1 Chronicles 12:40
Deuternonmy 31:6
John 15

Friday, April 29, 2016


Psalm 90:4  
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.

2 Peter 3:8  
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

If we were to take those two verses literally, the life of Jacob and his twelve sons happened a few days ago.  So with that premise I give you: 

Y is for yesterday.

Yesterday, Jacob doubted.  Today Jacob believes.

Yesterday, Leah was hated.  Today Leah is experiencing pure love.

Yesterday, Rachel suffered.  Today Rachel is experiencing true joy.

I've had the opportunity this past month to return to the south and spend the entire month taking care of my granddaughter.  On my list of things to do while here was to visit some historical sights that I never made an effort to see when I lived in the south for 15 years.

So, you could say I've been visiting "yesterday" a lot.

Yesterday, when the south was neck deep in slavery and excess and war and turmoil.


What do we do about yesterday?

Yesterday Jacob was struggling with God, Joseph was sitting in a jail cell, Rachel was crying herself to sleep and Leah was longing to be loved.

We look back on yesterday because God has given us yesterday to look back upon, but he doesn't want us to stay in yesterday.  Yesterday is over.  We can't redo yesterday.  We can only learn from yesterday.

As I visited plantations and saw evidence of our painful past, I also saw remnants of great joy and celebration.  If all we glean from yesterday is pain, what is to be done with yesterday's joy?


If you struggle like me you trip over your own yesterdays a lot.  They stick out like uneven pavement, tripping me up when I least expect it.  I can throw my yesterdays and its pain and its joys in a box, refusing to open them, and locking them tight, throwing away the key.  But when I do that, I lose out on the benefits of the lessons each want to teach me.  Each wants me to learn from.

What is yesterday for if not to give us the reason to start over today?  To do better than what was done yesterday; to take the next step to finding the joy in our struggles.

Yesterday matters.  But only as a jumping board for making today matter more.  We can lament our yesterdays, our country's yesterdays, our world's yesterdays and feel despair and discouragement.  Or we can rejoice that we have today to do it better than it was done yesterday.  As our fingers loosen their grip on yesterday's pain, yesterday's joys and victories will be more visible.

Jacob and his family now see fully the meaning of all their yesterdays.

It's time for us to start looking for the meaning of ours.

Y is for Yesterday.



Thursday, April 28, 2016


It always comes down to the word for X.


Before I start outlining my theme, the first question I ask myself is, "What will be my word for Q and X?"

Always, always X is the tough one.

Many in the challenge use a word that has an X in it, like eXamine, but I try to find an actual X word.  So then the dictionary hunt starts and because I've had a Biblical theme my choices are sometimes fewer.

As the world refugee crisis is touching our hearts and minds and fears these past few months the word Xenophobe is being tossed around a lot here in the United States.  To be accused of being xenophobic means someone is describing you as

"unduly fearful of what is foreign and especially of people of foreign origin."

Yeah, we can all be called xenophobic.    Prejudice is really the better word, if you ask me.  Prejudice is the nature of this beast we wear called the slug suit of sin.  It is a dirtier word and it means

  "a feeling of like or dislike for someone or something especially when it is not reasonable or logical."

We become afraid and prejudicial of those things we can't predict, we don't know, we don't understand, or we've only heard about from someone else rather than experience for ourselves.

I grew up in white skin world.  I probably saw two black people the first 18 years of my life.  When I married and moved away and lived in Navy towns, my world suddenly became much more colorful.  Then when I got to know a few people who didn't look like me I realized that they were a lot like me and the only thing that was really different about us was our skin color.

I was afraid of that which was not like me, that which was "foreign."

We don't have to be from different countries to go to someplace foreign.  Go anywhere in the United States.  The customs and traditions of the midwest are foreign to the customs and traditions of the northeast or the south.  Sometimes even crossing a county line one can feel they are in a foreign land.
How many cities are deemed "the bad part of town" or "where the bankers live?"  We don't need to get on a plane and travel outside of our own country to go to a foreign land.

Some do, I realize.  And some are "unduly fearful of what is foreign and especially of people of foreign origin."

Are you?

Are you afraid to get to know the person of a different color or religion or denomination who sits next to you at work? Are you afraid you won't have anything in common?

I'm so glad God is not "unduly fearful of what is foreign and especially of people of foreign origin."

Where would that leave us if he were?

Jesus wasn't afraid to come to our neighborhood, to our neck of the woods and get to know what it's like living as slugs.

Jesus wasn't unduly fearful of this foreign sinful land that he left his sinless home for to love on us and teach us and walk with us and suffer and die in our place.

Aren't you glad?

Aren't you thankful Jesus loves the foreigner, the one so not like him?  Aren't you filled with joy when you realize the barriers he busted through to get to you?  He didn't worry about walls and documentation and sponsorships.  He busted through the walls, he tore up the forged paperwork and he said, "I am your sponsor.  You are loved and welcomed in my home!"

We earthly vessels have a lot to figure out as we struggle with our tendency towards xenophobia.  Jacob's family, on top of all their soap opera struggles, lived as foreigners in a foreign land.  They were looked at as foreigners, as odd, as different, yet their struggles were like our struggles.  If we were to sit around their fires or they were to come into our living rooms, after the initial small talk was complete, the stories of struggles could be shared.

Wayward children?  Yep, one or two.

Jealousy?  Definitely.

Women fighting?  Most certainly.

Men who don't listen?  Girl, let me tell you!

Fighting children?  Ooooo, where do I start.

And then the deeper parts of the soul would be shared.

Broken hearts?  Head nods.

Loneliness?  Yes.

Fear?  Whispered yeses go around the circle.

What is foreign?  Only what we don't know.  Once we experience what is foreign we no longer have need to fear it or them or that way of doing things because we've tasted a little bit of what it's like to be the foreigner.

Xenophobic?  There is a cure.

Cross the line.  Break down the wall.  Extend a hand.  Bake a dish and bring it to a neighbor.  Then there won't be foreigners anymore.



Wednesday, April 27, 2016







Five women.  One man.

How do these five women of the ancient world fit into our modern world?  What can be said of them to uplift?  What can be said of their roles as sisters, wives, concubines, surrogates, daughters?  How can we (I) reconcile those ancient lives with yours and mine?  What can I boil down for you in a few words, on this W day of the A to Z Challenge that will give you hope?

I've struggled in my own role as a woman.  Being a Navy wife I've struggled in my role as wife/deployment head of house.  Having been married 31 years, I struggle with my role.  It's not easy living in the place God has for you with so many influences of my culture, my country, and the boundaries, or lack thereof, we have been born into.

Some use the ancient words to force submission.  Some use the ancient words to abandon submission.  Some don't use the ancient words at all.

I grew up in the late 60's and 70's when women left the honored role of homemaker in search of the greener grass.  They believed the lie that women could have it all - career, husband, family - yet, statistics are telling a different story.  We can look around us, in our families, our schools and our churches and see that as wonderful as it is to see women in roles that breed confidence, a price has been paid.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about Leah and Rachel, and their concubines Zilpah and Bilhah the past four months.  I've tried to imagine what it is like to be in their culture trying to find love and meaning through giving a man a child.  Although many things are different, the curse of Eve is still alive in 2016:

"Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you."

Before the fall - women were never meant to be ruled by their husbands.

Before the fall - woman's desires were meant for God.

Before the fall - the word equality wasn't necessary.  The word submission wasn't a bad word.

But after the deception - a woman's desire will be for her husband

After the deception  - a woman will be ruled by her husband.

It's not the original intent of the male/female relationship.

But even these thousands years later the curse is still in effect.

No one knows their real roles.  In my country, many women think their role is supposed to be equal to or the same as a man's and men are afraid to live their role without being accused of ruling.  Or, women think they don't need a man and men sadly believe them.

I've had some tender moments with God as I've faced my own role, my own identity as a woman by studying these ladies.  I remember and see all the times Jesus reached out to a woman.  It was a woman he first showed himself to, long before any of the men saw him after the crucifixion and burial.  It was a woman he pulled from being stoned, while pointing out that in God's eyes, all sin is worthy of punishment, no matter the gender of the offender.  It was through a woman he came to earth.  It was a woman who offered him her richest treasure as she poured it on his feet.  It was a woman who stood at the cross watching him die.  It was a woman who broke the good 'ol boy rules and sat at the feet of Jesus to be taught.

The prophet Joel saw a time when the LORD "Will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see vision.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days."

The curse from the garden is not the law.  The curse from the garden is where the struggle lies.  The curse has never negated God's plan for the roles of male and female.  His plan still includes both men and women in the beautiful roles He has designed and purposed for them.

We may have lost our way, trying to follow the world's way of equality.  Surely when suffering was in our rearview mirror as the feminist movement backed out of the driveway, driving us down a path not  even considered or imagined, we still don't have it as God originally intended.

So what is there to learn from Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah and even no-story Dinah?

That's a personal question only you can answer.

Are you still like Leah and Rachel, hoping to find significance in having children, or in having a man love you?  Or are you more like Zilpah and Bilhah, unable to stand up and be more than someone's servant, to be used at your master's whim?

The grace that God bestowed on Jacob and his wives, despite everything we think they did to mess things up, is still beautiful grace.  Grace that sees beyond the daily sin and struggle of loving God most.  He loves us most, whether we love him back or not.

His love for us is true and unending and merciful.

He loves women.  He loves men.  He loves you.

You can never change that fact, no matter how hard you think you've messed up.

W is for (Wo)man



Genesis 3:16
Matthew 1:18-25
Matthew 26:6-13
Matthew 28
Mark 14
Mark 16
Luke 1:26-66
Luke 7:36-50
Luke 24
John 8
John 12
John 19:25-27
John 20