A Daily Genesis

Genesis 32:14-25a

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 32:14a . . After spending the night there, [/B]

No one knows yet just exactly where Mahanaim was located. According to a Jordanian tourism web site, it was north of the river W[B].[/B] Zarqa (N[B].[/B] Yaboq) up in some elevated ground a few miles east of Deir Alla. If your map doesn't show Deir Alla; then from 'Amman Jordan look northward to the W[B].[/B] Zarqa river and follow it west to its junction with the Jordan River. Deir 'Alla is about 3 or 4 miles northwest of the point where the W[B].[/B] Zarqa river meets the Jordan.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 32:14b-16 . . he selected from what was at hand these presents for his brother Esau: 200 she-goats and 20 he-goats; 200 ewes and 20 rams; 30 milch camels with their colts; 40 cows and 10 bulls; 20 jenny donkeys and 10 jack donkeys.[/B]

That's a total of 580 animals altogether. I don't know what each of those species are worth on the hoof at today's prices, but all combined; it has to be a heck of a lot of money. Especially for the camels. In Birqash Egypt, prices for camels vary from 100 to 1,200 US dollars. Jacob sent Esau 30 females with their calves. Even in the median price range, that's about 16,500 US dollars worth of dromedaries.

[B][SIZE=2][FONT=Garamond]NOTE[/FONT][/SIZE]:[/B] Milch camels are the equivalent of dairy cows. Camel's milk is much more nutritious than that from a cow. It's lower in fat and lactose, and higher in potassium, iron and Vitamin C. It's normally drunk fresh, and the warm frothy liquid, heavy and sweet, is usually an acquired taste for the Western palate. Most Saudi Arabian camels are females reared for their milk in dairy herds.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 32:17-21a . .These he put in the charge of his servants, drove by drove, and he told his servants: Go on ahead, and keep a distance between droves. He instructed the one in front as follows: When my brother Esau meets you and asks "Whose man are you? Where are you going? And whose [animals] are these ahead of you?" you shall answer: Your servant Jacob's; they are a gift sent to my lord Esau; and [Jacob] himself is right behind us.

. . . He gave similar instructions to the second one, and the third, and all the others who followed the droves, namely: Thus and so shall you say to Esau when you reach him. And you shall add: And your servant Jacob himself is right behind us.[/B]

Some people have proposed that Jacob's tactic was an evidence of a lack of faith in God's providence. I don't accept that theory for one second! Here's a better way to look at it.

Supposing you were a university student with poor grades. So one night, in desperation, you pray and ask God to help you pass the finals. After prayers, you go to bed with all the confidence in the world that God will somehow pack all the information you need to pass the test into your brain cells while you're asleep. Next day you fail the test. You know why? Duh! You didn't prepare for it.

When men praise the Lord in battle, they should also pass the ammunition; and when a farmer prays for a good crop, he should say amen with a hoe; and when people pray for a safe trip to grandma's house, they should put gas in the tank and check the oil, the water, and the tires, and fasten all the seat belts. Never pray for success without taking some initiative to make all the sensible preparations in your power that are necessary to get it. If you do your part to the best of your ability; the odds are in your favor that God will do His part too.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 32:21b-22 . . For he reasoned: If I propitiate him with presents in advance, and then face him, perhaps he will show me favor. And so the gift went on ahead, while he remained in camp that night.[/B]

The phrase "propitiate him" is from [I]kaphar[/I] (kaw-far') which means: to cover (specifically with bitumen); figuratively, to expiate or condone, to placate or cancel. That is a very common word for atonement, and that is exactly what Jacob had in mind: to show his brother that he wished to reconcile their differences. (cf. 1John 2:2)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 32:23 . .That same night he arose, and taking his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children, he crossed the ford of the Jabbok.[/B]

The Jabbok is in the country of Jordan and is a very loopy stream. It's path traces out a huge fish hook beginning in the hills near Amman; then goes about 7½ miles northeast to Az Zarqa. From there it goes about 6½ miles north to As Sukhnah, then about 7¼ miles northwest; passing by Al Qunayyah. From there it goes sort of west, drawing a pair of camel humps for about 10½ miles to a lake near Jarash. From there it goes dead west for about 11 miles before turning southwest for ten miles to its junction with the Jordan River.

I'm sure Jacob's decision was mostly a security measure. If he waited till daylight to get his family across, Esau might show up unexpected while they were crossing and have the camp at a disadvantage. It was to Jacob's credit that he distanced himself from the women and children. If Esau and his men were coming for Jacob's blood, the mothers and their children would very likely get hurt in the fracas if Jacob were among them.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 32:24-25a . . After taking them across the stream, he sent across all his possessions. Jacob was left alone.[/B]

After helping his family to cross over, Jacob took some help and returned to the other side to gather up all their stuff. He stayed while they went on back over with everything and underwent a very strange close encounter of a third kind.

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