Random thoughts on today's readings

Some of my thoughts for today's readings

Genesis 32:13-32
We've got Jacob wrestling with somebody, getting all out of joint (), and then getting a new name. The whole "wrestling" story has always bothered me. It just seems to come out of nowhere. It doesn't "fit" with the rest of the narrative, as far as I can see. If the Bible were written with a computer, I would say it was a case of somebody making a mistake with cut and paste.

I was struck, however, with the renaming of Jacob to Israel. I'm sure I'd read it before, but it didn't "stick" that Israel means both "God Strives" and "Strives with God." I think that both of those meanings are significant, not just for Jacob, but for the nation which descended from him, which shares his name. And, by extension, to us who descend, morally and culturally, from that nation.

Genesis 33
Israel goes off to meet Esau. (Maybe Jacob wanted to have a name change so Esau wouldn't recognise him? ;)  ). Anyway, Jacob assumes that Esau will be angry, and sends off gifts to appease him. It's apparent to me that Jacob is expecting Esau to act as he himself would. Even when it's clear that Esau has no intention of taking revenge, Jacob appears to stall, to keep as much separation as possible. I think this is still a consequence of Jacob's deceitful behavior in earlier chapter. He acted falsely, so he expects others to do the same.

Genesis 34:1-31
When one of Jacob's daughters is raped, her brothers trick the household of the rapist into incapacitating themselves, and then kill them all. When Jacob learns of this, he is angry with the brothers, because he's finally learning the consequences of deceit. Unfortunately, the brothers haven't. After all, these are the same brothers who will plot to kill one of their own, and then sell him into slavery, in just a few chapters.

Matthew 11:7-30

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light

I've seen a lot of discussion about the fact that a "yoke" is meant for two animals, not for one alone. The idea usually put forth is that we're sharing the burden with Jesus. But I think this misses the mark slightly. The passage says "my yoke" not "our yoke." In a typical plowing situation, the yoke doesn't belong to either animal, but to the driver of the plow. If you're going to talk about the yoke as being for two, then I think the lesson would more appropriately be that we, as fellow believers, share the burden with each other, so that none has to bear it alone. But of course, Jesus, as the driver, tells us that he is "gentle and humble in heart," meaning that he won't drive us beyond what we can bear. I just don't think it means that he carries our load for us. We're still responsible for it.
Question from our "moderator"

Creationism vs Evolutions vs Intelligent design (creationism lite?)
I'm sure I'll take some heat for this, but I see abolutely no conflict between any of these. They are fundamentally different things. The creation story in Genesis is not a history book or scientific text. It is first and foremost a story. Stories can be True (with a capital 'T') without being accurate. Evolution is a theory to explain the mechanism of how life on this planet came to be as we find it today. It doesn't know, or care, why these things happened. That is what the Genesis stories tell us.

I do not believe that creationism or intelligent design belong in public schools. At least, not in the United States, where separation of church and state is supposed to be one of our fundamental principles.



Hi Dwayne,
Re Creationism vs Evolution vs ID - no heat from me. Just thanks for expressing it so compactly. That's how I see it.
Andrew B