Genesis Week 8 – From Jacob to Israel

Thank you for reading Genesis with us! Here are the readings for this week:

Genesis 32 – 35
□ 32:1-21 – Jacob prepares to meet Esau
□ 32:22-32 – Jacob wrestles with God
□ 33 – Jacob meets Esau
□ 34 – The tragedy of Dinah
□ 35 – Jacob returns to Bethel

Main Topic – From Jacob to Israel
In the previous section of Genesis we saw that Jacob went into exile in the land of Laban and experienced the pain and drama of being deceived. During these twenty years of exile, God has been working in Jacob’s heart. In this section of Genesis, Jacob faces his greatest fears in reconciling with his brother Esau. Jacob wrestles with God, is given a new name, and finds a remarkable picture of the grace and forgiveness of God in his reconciliation with Esau.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion
1. Jacob prepares to meet Esau (Gen 32) – Jacob is obedient to God’s call to return home (Gen 31:3) but he is gripped with fear. He brings this fear before God in prayer. What characteristics and promises of God strengthen Jacob and enable him to cast his fear upon God?

2. Presents for Esau (Gen 32) – Jacob sends a lavish present to Esau. What is it? Why does he send it? The language of “appease him with a present so he will accept me” is often used of sacrifices made before God. How do these gifts reflect the reality of repentance in Jacob’s life?

3. Wrestling with God (Gen 32) – We see a dramatic event in Jacob’s life here. Arguably the turning point for Jacob is the confession of his weakness, his acknowledgement that he is a cheater. Why is this significant? What new name is he given? What message for Jacob is there in this new name?

4. Jacob meets Esau (Gen 33) – Though Esau had been deeply wronged and formerly wanted to kill Jacob, we see a remarkable change in him. How does Esau react to Jacob? How is this story similar to the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15)? Why is this story of grace and reconciliation so important for Jacob, and for us?

5. The tragedy of Dinah (Gen 34) – Nothing good happens in this terrible story from Shechem. Jacob is failing as a father. Consider his response to the events in 34:5-7, 30-31. How would you describe his response and parenting? Where is his focus? Consider 34:13, 25-30. What do the sons of Jacob do? What are the consequences of this, especially as seen in Gen 49:5-7?