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24. Family Problems

June 25, 2009

Text:   Genesis 34:1-37:36

Key Verses:   Genesis 35:8-14

Outline:                I. Dinah Wanders      Gen. 34:1-10

II. The Brothers Deceive and Kill      Gen. 34:11-31

III. Jacob Becomes Nomadic      Gen. 35:1-20

IV. Reuben Takes His Father’s Concubine      Gen. 35:21-28

V. Esau and Jacob Keep their Distance      Gen. 36:1-40

VI. Jacob Plays Favorites      Gen. 37:1-4

VII. Joseph Brags      Gen. 37:5-10

VIII. The Brothers Err      Gen. 37:12-30


This portion of Scripture tells of Jacobs life in the Promised Land, the land of the Canaanites. Perhaps it should have been divided up but I thought it best to look at it all together. We said Isaac had a “less than smooth sail” living near Beersheba. Jacob’s road is rough and bouncy as he moves from Shechem to Bethel to Bethlehem to Hebron.

We see Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, wandering from home and violated. Much pressure is bought on Jacob to let her marry the Hivite. It begins as an innocent love story but we soon learn that greed on both sides is what motivates them. The Hivites want to intermarry to gain wealth. Jacob’s sons are looking for revenge resulting in death and plundering. Deception raises its’ ugly head once again. The Hivite men are slaughtered, their women and children taken as slaves, and their possessions plundered by Jacob’s sons. Jacob is distraught because now all the other tribes in the area will consider them as an enemy. Therefore Jacob is forced to keep moving so his family doesn’t become a sitting target.

While at Bethel, God appears to Jacob once again to tell him his new name is Israel and reconfirming thathe will father a large nation and live in this land. God reaffirms that, in spite of all the problems he has had, God is watching over him and protecting him. God’s promise is still valid and God is faithfully fulfilling His Promises.

While on the move, Rachel bears Jacob another son, Benjamin, but dies in childbirth. She is buried near Bethlehem. Next, Reuben commits adultery with his fathers concubine. Jacob then moves on near Hebron when his father dies at age 180 years so he mourns and buries his father with the help of Esau. Esau is still marrying Canaanite women so Jacob feels it’s best to keep his distance. Esau has chosen to be a part of the culture around him whereas Jacob wants to be separate and follow God’s leading.

Jacob has his own problem in that he favors Joseph, the first son born to his favorite wife Rachel. This causes problems among the sons and they hate their brother Joseph and despise their father Jacob. Joseph doesn’t help matters any when he brags about his dreams and their implication that he will rule over them. The brothers end up erring when they sell Joseph and claim he was killed by a wild animal. Little did they realize that God turned this error into good for the sake of his chosen people, Israel.


1. A Godly household is not necessarily void of problems.

2. The secret to making good decisions is to always remember who you serve.

3. Dinah has a tendency to wander and she wandered into danger. We have a tendency to do likewise. Consider whose you are [God’s] and do not stray from God’s Will. It will keep you out of temptation and trouble. There is a good reason we are called to be separate from the world around us.

4. Certain sins seem to run in a family. Deception was the trait associated with Jacob’s family. Don’t let emotions overrule good judgment. Sin [deceit] always has its consequences and they always reach beyond the perpetrators. Deceit is fostered by revenge and greed, and sometimes both. Never take action against someone else without consulting God.

5. Killing is never a good solution to your problem.

6. Lack of good judgment may result in mandatory relocation to find work or to live in peace.

7. When trouble surrounds us, God is near to reaffirm the promises He made and to reassure us that He is with us to protect us. When trouble surrounds us, come before Him in worship.

8. Be careful who and how you judge another’s behavior. You may do a similar act. Stealing from your neighbor is the same as stealing from your father. Showing disrespect for your neighbor is no different than showing disrespect for your father.

9. Harsh words and deceitful actions may never heal completely. Guard what you say and do. Consult with God before taking any unilateral action.

10. Playing favorites with your children is the quickest path to disrupt family harmony. Protect your conceited and egotistical children by teaching them that boasting is not appreciated by anyone anywhere.

11. When hatred rules your heart, it is impossible to think clearly and rationally. Step away, step back, and consider all the alternatives. We live with the decisions we make, both good and bad. Minimize the bad if you want to live without guilt for wrong doing.


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