A Daily Genesis

Genesis 28:20-21

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 28:20-21 . . Jacob then made a vow, saying: If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my father's house-- Yhvh shall be my God.[/B]

What's he saying? That the Lord has not been his god up to this point? Not necessarily. It wasn't uncommon in those days for people to worship other gods right along with Yhvh. This practice was later strictly forbidden by the first of the so-called Ten Commandments. (Ex 20:1-3)

Jacob's uncle Laban (the very father of his beloved Rachel) was notorious for polytheism. On the one hand, he recognized Yhvh's divinity (Gen 24:50 and 31:29) while on the other hand he harbored a collection of patron gods in his home (Gen 31:19 and 31:30). In the ancient Semitic world; patron gods were equivalent to Catholicism's patron saints-- objects of devotion venerated as special guardians, protectors, and/or supporters; viz: alternative sources of providence.

Jacob knew about Abraham's god and believed that He existed (Gen 27:20). But that's merely an educated consent, and nothing personal. It's like knowing and believing that Mr. Barak Hussein Obama is the President of the United States. But so what? Has the President ever come to your home for coffee or dinner? Have the two of you been to a movie together or to a picnic? Where was he when you were sick, down and out, and/or feeling helpless, hopeless, despondent and depressed? See what I'm saying?

Lots of people glibly venerate the Bible's God. But very, very few can honestly say: The Lord is my friend, He cares about me, He cares about my life, He protects me and provides for me wherever I go. I am His, and He is mine. We are one; we are together.

Jacob's vow reflects a personal decision of his own volition to make Yhvh the sole object of his religious devotion to the exclusion of all the other gods that people commonly venerated in his day. So we could paraphrase Gen 28:20-21 to read like this:

"If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my father's house-- then Yhvh shall be my only patron."

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