Here are some interesting observations about Jacob: Abraham’s servant travels to Laban and his clan to find an adequate spouse for Isaac. Abraham rejects Esau because he marries a local girl who follows the local gods. Rachel is Jacob’s favorite. Laban’s god and the God of Jacob are different gods. Genesis 31:19 tells us how Rachel stole her father’s false gods.
The Hebrew word for the household gods means soft or decayed, foul, obscene. Genesis 29:17 tells us how Leah’s eyes were soft, although the writer uses a different word for “Soft.” The hated one, Rachel, is the pious one who gives birth to Judah, the Jews, and the Levites.
The reason for opposing marriage to Canaanites cannot be their false gods. Rachel had them. An important thread in each of the two stories about Abraham saying how Sarah is his sister, is how Abraham is prejudiced against, first Pharaoh, and then Abimelech. In both cases, he turns out to be wrong. When they learn the truth about Sarah and Rebeka, they do not try to kill Abraham or Isaac, but give them wealth. Pharaoh also gives Abraham’s descendants wealth when they leave Egypt.
When Joseph enters Egypt, it is on the basis that they are kin similar to sisters. They are really, married/holy. Entering Egypt, they leave the tribal concept of Justice and move to justice, as it relates to that which comes from the lips of God.
As they move toward Deuteronomy they will move to the concept of community Judaism and Christianity have today. We were all oppressed in the land of our ancestors, so when we see others suffer; we suffer with them and strive to alleviate their suffering. Abba/אב, means Father. Bah sounds like the baying of sheep, but it refers to the one who is to come, “Bah.” Jesus is the Lamb of God. A Ha Bah refers to love, a love welcoming all people, Hispanic, African-American, African, Muslim, Arabic, Persian, Russian, all people. Abraham/E Pluribus Unum, teaches us there is only room for love, welcoming all people, with all of their faults into our hearts.
The relationship between Abraham and Sarah was not the best. Abraham and Sarah were brother and sister. Some of the stories in Genesis may be a writer from the Northern Kingdom justifying the rules of Leviticus 18. The rule against marrying near relatives, in particular brother marrying sister may come from the grief Sarah suffered being married to her brother. Rachel marrying Jacob is a violation of Leviticus 18:18. The meal Abraham serves the angels on the way to Sodom violates the dietary law against eating meat and milk together.
To be asked to prostitute oneself, even once, even to save one’s spouse, would be humiliating. This works itself out in two generations. Isaac does the same.
We see how the strained relationship between Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18:6. Abraham must push Sarah to make flour. He does not have to push his servants to kill the fattened calf, which they serve with dairy products. Genesis 18:9 relates how Abraham has his conversation with the strangers about Sarah being barren, a strong embarrassment for women in that era. This is a woman, a princess, who leads a very humiliating life.
Sarah pushes Abraham to engage in the act producing Ismail. Like Leah, she is a victim of the life forces around her, including her marriage. Still, she is an active agent. When the time comes, she will insist that her child be the child to inherit all that belongs to Abraham. Abraham never asks if she is willing to sacrifice her son. There is no mention of what happens when Isaac gets home, no mention of her becoming upset. She is a complex character.
She, like Leah is the victim of a dysfunctional family and this causes her to act in very dysfunctional ways. Leah’s children go on to become Israel as we know them today. One tribe, from Rachel’s womb is Benjamin. His tribe is wiped out, according to Judges 21:1-3. The other child, Joseph marries outside the tribal clan. Her only other child, Joseph, married outside of the clan, as Esau did.
Rachel and Leah some up their existence in Genesis 31:14, “Rachel and Leah answered, “Do we still have an heir’s portion in our father’s house? Are we not regarded as outsiders? He not only sold us; he has even used up the money that he got for us!” They understand what it means to be property and human beings in the fullest sense of the term. Women hurt and bleed like the rest of us. Like all of humankind, we are individuals acting on and being acted upon, by very strong outside forces.