…then let us arise and go up to Bethel, that I may make there an altar to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” Genesis 35:3 RSV
Tragedy! Dinah was raped. When Ya’cob (Jacob) did not seem willing to do anything but give her in marriage to the man who defiled his daughter, her brothers Simon and Levi, took matters into their own hands. They massacred the men of the town of Shechem and brought their sister home. Once again, Ya’cob is in fear for his life. The men of Shechem have kin-folk who will want revenge.
This is when the Almighty tells Ya’cob to come back to Beth-El, the house of God, where he met the Elohiym of his father and grandfather just after receiving the heritage of seed-bearer after deceiving his dad and thinking he was cheating his brother out of it. It was always his birth-right, but no one did anything to let him know that. He was in fear for his life then too.
Perhaps, when it comes to the idols of his beloved wives, Ya’cob had been looking the “other way” for too long. His wives and the people traveling with him had a collection of idols; stolen in the same manner that he thought he stole his heritage, by deception right to their father’s face. Ya’cob is the first person in Scripture to use the word TAHAR- purify yourselves. The Almighty is not to be added to your collection of traditions. When you come to God, you release your baggage and the items that have a place in your heart. You “come clean” when you serve the Almighty. He will purify you, but your job is to rid yourself of what you know is wrong. That is the difference between religion and relationship.
Is this the first time that Ya’cob introduces his family to the God of his Fathers? Maybe it is the first time he has taken a stand for YHVH (the LORD) because the family is no longer living under another man’s authority. Perhaps he is doing what daddies do and telling the story again. What I know is the family is in distress and Ya’cob is going to take them to the Elohiym who answered him in the day of his deepest distress. He speaks of this God who has directed him in The Way. In English it just says, “…has been with me…” as if Ya’cob has made his own choices and Elohiym simply followed him about like a faithful collie dog. That is NOT the sense I get in the Hebrew. The Almighty directed Ya’cob’s journey. In fact, Ya’cob testified that he HALAK (a spiritual, obedient walk) on The Way. He conformed his life to the Almighty’s hand of guidance (poorly translated in English as “where ever I have gone). If it seemed that Ya’cob had no power in his life, it is probably because of his submission to his father-in-law and the tolerance of his wives religion to the family idols. That is not the heritage he wants to leave his sons and it is time to demand that their mothers attend a funeral for their idols.
Bringing it home: My husband and I have been in the process of cleansing our lives of the pagan traditions and trinkets that we have accumulated. We have been purging our home and lives of the traditions handed on to us by our families. Just this last autumn we threw out hundreds of dollars worth of halloween paraphernalia. I actually had no idea just how much stuff we had accumulated. Coffee cups, teddy bears, snow globes with bats and orange glitter instead of snow, aprons, candy dishes, pillows, table runners. We put out three large trash-bags of items dedicated to halloween. Just today I found another coffee cup I had overlooked. I had no idea there was so much. It creeps in because it is seasonal and cute.
The immediate effect of Ya’cob’s family cleansing was physical safety as they traveled through towns with hostile kin to the men Simon and Levi murdered. Safe passage in a hostile world. That is a good start. Is that enough for you to cleanse your home and your heart of the pagan things you have collected and hold dear? I’m telling you, there are even better blessings that follow, but you will never know unless you risk meeting the Almighty free of the baggage you have collected.
Mrs. Hagerty, reposted on July 24, 2016
On the Suburban Farm: Just this morning at Sabbath worship, we received conformation that the Shemitah is for the land of Israel, not for us in Everett. What a relief! We will be starting our garden chores with joy! I feel like I am getting a late start, but it is still only February!
February 14, 2015 in Everett, WA the sun came up at 7:17 but was absorbed by gray clouds without rain. High-53, Low-37, 0% chance of rain. 10 hours and 12 minutes later the sun set at 5:29 Shabbat Shalom!