Before the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge begins I'd like to provide a cheat sheet of sorts if you find my topic interesting, but hard to follow. Although I am providing my topics in alphabetical order, reading it out of chronological order may be somewhat confusing, so today's post is one that you can go back to each day and to help sort out in your mind the daily posts. I will provide a link to this post each day so you don't have to go searching for it. If you would like to wait till the Challenge is over and read it chronologically, this is the order you may find makes more sense. (I know this all sounds confusing now, but by April 3rd or 4th this will make more sense). So this is the chronological order (as best I can determine) of my topic:
Don't hold me too close to this being an exact time roll, but for birth order purposes and how the story got started, this is how I would write it if I were, oh say, writing a book. (I'm not, but if I were, the book has already been written, this is just my two cents worth of commentary on it).
As I studied and searched for answers to the questions that were beginning to invade my brain back in January when I was going to start my "Read the Bible in 90 days" (yeah, I think I got to about January 5th) I had to start with a notebook and pen to keep things straight. I found I was stopping - A LOT - and saying to the Lord, "Wait! Who was this? What is going on?"
So the underlying theme of my Blogging challenge this year is based on the twelve sons of Jacob who would eventually be called the twelve tribes of Israel. They would be the sons whose families would be slaves in Egypt for 400 years before Moses, the baby who was found floating in a basket in the Nile river and rescued by Pharaoh's wife. Moses eventually grew up to lead those same families across the Red Sea and into the Promised land.
There are two sub themes to the twelve sons. (There are 26 letters for goodness sake, I had to fill the holes somehow)! So, if you stick with reading my Challenge posts you will learn about the original 12 sons of Jacob but we'll jump ahead in time once in awhile to the time the families of the original 12 were in slavery, through the mass Exodus from Egypt, a little bit about the Tabernacle and a lot about the shenanigans from the start of the birth of the first son, Reuben. (I wrote the preceding paragraph awhile ago, and changed a few things since then, so you'll just have to trust me that it will all make sense and I'm writing about what I said I would write about.
The story begins like this:
God promised Abraham that He would have a bunch of children out of one child. Out of that one child, Isaac, was born Jacob. Jacob had a brother named Esau. Because of the dysfunctional dynamics of that family, Jacob and Esau were not nice to each other and it caused a major rift and parting of ways for many years.
Jacob, because he had tricked and deceived his father, Isaac, and his brother Esau, with the help of his mother, Rebekah, became fearful for his life and ran away. While on the run, Jacob had a dream. In the dream God told Jacob, "I will," several times.
God promised Jacob land for him and his descendants,
he promised that all families of earth will be blessed through Jacob and his descendants.
God said, "I am with you,
I will protect you wherever you go.
I will bring you back to the land I promised
Those were God's personal promises. To Jacob, the rascal, the manipulator, the conniver, the deceiver.
To which Jacob replied, "If God will be with me, protect me, provide food and clothing for me and if I return safely,
then the LORD will certainly be my God."
If God does this, then I will believe.
But I digress.
So in the end, what Jacob was saying was this, "I will not make God my God until I have proof. Even though you have said you will and promised all these great things, I won't call you God until you prove yourself to me."
Did God say, "Sorry. It's my way or no way?"
God did the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the so opposite of what we humans would do... inhuman thing: He blessed Jacob anyway.
But it was in hard ways. I hate it when God has to do things the hard way to bless me because I choose not to believe him FIRST. There's something about needing to test God out before I believe him. Do you do that? It's probably just me.
So, instead of trusting God right from the start, Jacob had to take matters into his own hands. He fell in love with Rachel, but Rachel's father, Laban, tricked him and made him marry Rachel's sister, Leah. Rachel was unable to have children, Leah was a baby factory. But Jacob didn't love Leah. He loved Rachel.
So, to plant the seed for future tv soap operas, Leah and Rachel took matters into their own hands and tried to play God with their own lives. Rachel couldn't get pregnant so she gave her servant to Jacob to make a baby. Rachel's baby. When Leah couldn't get pregnant anymore, she gave her servant to sleep with Jacob. In all, 13 children, 12 sons and one daughter, all came from Jacob through four mothers.
Did it go that way because Jacob said, "Prove yourself to me, God?" Maybe. We'll know in heaven. But until then, here is the breakdown of Jacob's children, in order of their birth.
Reuben, Simon, Levi, Judah (these four boys were all born to Leah, from Leah's body).
Dan, Naphtali (Bilhah, Rachel's servant, birthed these two boys, but Rachel is considered their mother. Rachel was jealous of her sister, the one who could have children but who was not loved by her husband).
Meanwhile, Leah realized she was no longer getting pregnant, and, not to be out done by her sister who was LOVED more by hers (and Leah's) husband, but couldn't conceive on her own, gave her servant, Zilpah to Jacob. Zilpah birthed Gad and Asher, but Leah took the credit and Zilpah's boys called Leah, "Momma."
Rachel, who was still unable to have her own children, bargained some plants that Leah's and Jacob's son, Reuben, had found that were thought to be fertility idols, and let Leah sleep with Jacob for the plants.
Leah, fertile Myrtle again, has Issachar, Zebulun, and a daughter, named Dinah.
Finally, finally, Rachel gets pregnant and has a son whom she names Joseph. Soon after, she has another son, but dies while giving birth to him. Jacob names that son Benjamin. So, if that has confused you, here is the simplified breakdown of babies/mommas/and one daddy:
Jacob's sons with fertile but unloved Leah:
Jacob's sons with infertile but loved Rachel, via Bilhah:
Jacob's sons with Leah via Zilpah:
Jacob's sons with Leah (after the low price of a few magic plants)
Jacob's sons with Rachel:
Benjamin (whom Rachel never knew)
The birth order of Jacob's kids
It is these 12 boys, along with baby sister Dinah, who formed the ancient history of most of the Old Testament. Sadly, the details of Dinah's story are short and sad, but her life changes the course of two of her brothers and the consequences reached far and wide.
In the posts about the twelve boys there will be three quotes I will include:
what their mother said when they were born
what Jacob said to them before they died
and what Moses said about them and their descendants before he died
Clear as mud? Good! Let's get started! See you on Friday!
If you'd like to get familiar with the story, or your curiosity gets the best of you during April and you need to "find out for myself" what Ronda is talking about here's where you can start:
Genesis 26:19 - Genesis 50 for the story of Isaac, Jacob, Esau, and the rest of the soap opera characters and their shenanigans
Exodus - Moses, slavery in Egypt, escape from Egypt, wanderings and whining in the desert
The bits and pieces of trivia of the 12 tribes (formerly known as the 12 sons of Jacob):
Where you can find the 1st census numbers: Numbers 1, 3
Where you can find the 2nd census numbers: Numbers 26
The Order in the Desert: Numbers 2
The Offering Order: Numbers 7
The designated campsites around the Tabernacle: Numbers 2, 3
The Ten Commands: Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5
Jacob's deathbed blessings of his sons: Genesis 49
Moses Blessing: Deuteronomy 33
Ezekiel's vision of the Twelve Tribes: Ezekiel 47-48
John's vision of the Twelve Tribes: Revelation 7