Terebinths are huge, spreading trees that grow to a height of 20–26 feet (6–8 m). They have reddish-green leaves and red berries that grow in clusters. A perfumed, oily resin flows out of the bark when it is cut. Terebinths grow in hot, dry places, and were thus a source of welcome shade to the […]
The name Succoth (33:17) means “booths.” A booth was a temporary dwelling resembling a tent or a hut. Most of the people around Succoth were nomads, and they probably lived in tents or booths.
The Jabbok River. The Hebrew word for “wrestle” is abbaq. This has led many scholars to believe that the Jabbok River (32:22) was named after Jacob’s famous wrestling match with God.
Why was Laban so upset when his household gods were stolen? Household gods (31:30) had a more practical use than just idol worship. They served as titles of ownership to one’s property and inheritance.
Giving servants as gifts to the bride (29:24) was very common in OT times. Doing so provided the newly married woman the help she would need in running a household. Having servants also gave the wife a position of status within her community.
A father’s blessing (ch. 27) was not just a symbolic gesture. It established the identity of the heir, granting him all the privileges of that position. The father’s blessing was even seen as in some way shaping his future.
Tents were temporary shelters made of cloth and were often woven from black goat’s hair. The tent was held up by ropes and poles. Most tents were rectangular in shape. Because nomadic families moved often, they had little furniture. Tents still provide housing for nomadic peoples living in the Middle East today.
Family ties. Laban took responsibility for his sister Rebekah (24:29-51). Apparently their father, who was still alive, was unable to do so.
Two biblical firsts. The burial of Sarah (23:19) is the first biblical record of a burial. Abraham’s purchase of the burial plot is also the first biblical record of a business transaction.
Why fight over a well? Wells are of great importance in the hot, dry climates around the world. Because lack of water was a constant threat, both military generals and civilian travelers would often plan their routes according to the location of wells. (See 21:25–31.)