Subscribe via RSS Feed

Rightly Understanding God’s Word: Whole-Book Context, Part 2, by Craig S. Keener

Aaron’s staff becomes a snake before Pharaoh. By Gustave Doré.

Most of us do not preach from genealogies; most individual genealogies were probably not designed exactly for preaching anyway. But one must ask why God suddenly interrupts the story of Moses with a genealogy in Exodus 6:14-25. God commands Moses to tell Pharaoh to release his people, but Moses protests that his own people have not heeded him, so how would Pharaoh listen to him (6:10-13)? After the genealogy, the narrative repeats the point: God commands Moses to confront Pharaoh, and Moses protests that Pharaoh will not listen to him.

What is the point of interrupting this narrative with a genealogy? The genealogy itself lists three tribes, the three oldest tribes, which sages who remembered the story might have called out until getting to Moses’ tribe. But the fact that the genealogy occurs at this point in the narrative may indicate more than that. The list reminds us that Moses was descended from Levi, and related to Reuben and Simeon. Reuben slept with his father’s concubine and Simeon and Levi massacred all the men in Shechem. By placing the genealogy here, Exodus may be commenting on why Moses was so uncomfortable with confronting Pharaoh. If he was descended from such people as Levi, Reuben and Simeon, is it any wonder that Moses would act like this?

With the exception of Jesus, all the people God chose in the Bible were people with weaknesses rather than those who might think they “deserved” to be called. God chose broken people whose triumphs would bring glory to him rather than to themselves.


14. Rebekah’s Deceit (Gen 27:5-10)

Some readers have accused both Isaac and Rebekah of equal fault in favoring their sons (Esau and Jacob respectively; Gen 27:1-10). But in context of the entire book of Genesis, the motives of the two parents are quite different. Isaac favors the elder son (25:25; 27:4), but the whole patriarchal line suggests that God does not always choose the elder son (21:12; 49:3-4), and paternal favoritism produces problems (37:4); Jacob himself finally learns and practices this in his old age (48:14-20). What are Rebekah’s motives? The clearest clue the text itself provides is in 25:22-23: she had sought God, and God had told her that the younger would prevail. In contrast to Isaac, Rebekah acts on the basis of a word from God. Further, Esau had married pagan wives and sold his birthright, with apparently no sense of responsibility for the call on this family to be God’s blessing to the earth (25:31-34; 26:34-35). In a culture where the husband’s will was law and Isaac was blind to God’s choice, Rebekah took the only route she knew to secure God’s promise.

Pin It
Page 7 of 9« First...56789

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: Biblical Studies, Spring 2004

About the Author: Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books, including Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (Baker Academic, 2011), the bestselling IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, Gift and Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today, and commentaries on Acts, Matthew, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, and Revelation. In addition to having written more than seventy academic articles, several booklets and more than 150 popular-level articles, Craig is is the New Testament editor (and author of most New Testament notes) for the The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. He is married to Dr. Médine Moussounga Keener, who is from the Republic of Congo, and together they have worked for ethnic reconciliation in North America and Africa. Craig and Médine wrote Impossible Love: The True Story of an African Civil War, Miracles and Hope against All Odds (Chosen, 2016) to share their story. Twitter: @keener_craig

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Invitation: Stories about transformation

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Studies in Acts

    Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but h...

    Will I Still Be Me After Death?