Day 18: The Heart of Israel

Genesis 35:1-29 God took another step in the formation of his people by having Jacob discard all of their pagan idols and offer a sacrifice. No longer shall your name be called Jacob: When God gives a person a specific mission, he often gives him or her a new name denoting that mission. Jacob thus became ISRAEL, just as Abram became Abraham and, during the public ministry of Christ, Simon would become Peter…(CCC 59, 881)

Ch 36:1-42 The genealogy of Esau is meant to show how God’s promise was fulfilled in Esau as well as Jacob. This list differs from other references in Genesis probably because the original writer was pulling together multiple oral traditions that differed in certain details. The text makes no mention of the dispute over the birthright of Isaac; instead, it makes it appear that Esau and Jacob-like Abraham and Lot before them-parted ways amicably after their herds became too large for the available grazing lands.

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

  • As Jacob (Israel) buries his wife, Rachel, his heart recognizes that his life had been marked by deception, manipulation, cunning, and brokenness

  • His 12 sons came from 4 different women

  • The “Foreign gods” were images or statues of household deities that Jacob’s people brought with them from Paddan-aram and the rings in their ears may have been earrings that were often placed on the statues (*NABRE 3rd ed Catholic Study Bible)

  • We have this renewed birth of a thing that God is continuing to do: A PROMISE

  • God promises to Israel the same things He promised to Abraham and Isaac: A GREAT KINGDOM

  • We get to see this theme throughout Genesis, Exodus, and Judges etc

  • God often accomplishes His will in spite of our brokenness

  • We expect the Bible to be a “Hallmark Story”: clear, predictable, and clean with a “Happily Ever After” ending (that puts us in a Diabetic Coma ;) )

  • We recognize that actual GRACE does not work that way

  • God’s work in a person’s life, a family’s life, a kingdom’s life, and in our lives NEVER works the “Hallmark Way”

  • There are times God manifests Himself in His power

  • There are times God manifests Himself miraculously

  • But there are many more times God allows us to CHOOSE

  • God wants us to choose GOOD

  • God wants us to choose GRACE

  • God wants us to choose the BEST THING

  • God ALLOWS us to choose brokenness and act in a way that HE would not

  • God condemns these ways BUT STILL WORKS WITH THEM

  • There is NOTHING that God cannot use when we give it to Him

  • We will soon learn more about Israel’s 12 sons

  • Particularly Joseph and Benjamin

  • Why does God tell us all about Esau’s descendants?

  • The line of blessing was Israel who passes it on to his 12 sons who will become the 12 TRIBES OF ISRAEL

  • God reveals to us in Ch 36 that even though Esau did not receive the blessing, Esau is a son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham

  • God is faithful to His promises that Abraham would have descendants like the stars in the sky


  • A lot of us are in a place right now where we question and wonder if God is really faithful because of how broken we are

  • And yet, even though there is such brokenness, GOD IS FAITHFUL AND STEADFAST

  • You are not alone, we are journeying together through God’s word

  • His word is journeying through us as we are attentive to Him

  • His word does not return empty, but ALWAYS accomplishes the mission, the plan, and the purpose for which it is sent

  • Keep lifting each other up in prayer

Prayer by Fr. Mike: "Father in Heaven, we give you praise and we give you thanks for your Word. We ask that you please send us your Holy Spirit so that your Word remains powerful and effective in our lives, that your Word penetrates not just our minds and our hearts, but penetrates our very lives and shapes the way in which we respond to your Word. You have revealed your heart to us. Help us now, in this moment, to reveal our hearts to you. You have changed us. We ask you to please change us again. Make us new this day and every day, because we want to belong to you more than anything in this world or in the next. We want to be yours. We want to do your will. In Jesus’ name, we ask you to please help us to be that kind of people. Amen."


Throughout the Bible, one underlying theme in the Story of Salvation is God showing his dominance over all the false gods that appear. From the forbidden fruit onward, idolatry had become more and more the standard, that Rachel's father had his own "household gods" that she was attached to. Genesis 35 is the first instance I've noticed where false gods are abandoned in favor of the one true God. More will continue to fall all the way through to the end.

The details of Rachel's death illuminate details of events in the Gospels that involve Mary, showing how she fulfills where the women that came before her came up short. When we learn more about the relationship between Joseph and his brother Benjamin, and learn more about Rachel in Jeremiah, her story helps further illuminate Mary's role in God's plan for salvation. This is illustrated wonderfully in "Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary" by Dr. Brant Pitre.