Notes and Ideas based on my reading of
Undesigned Coincidences in the Writings of Both the New and the Old Testaments, An Argument of Their Veracity by John James Blunt
(published by Robert Carter & Brothers, New York, 1851)
Ideas to Think About Regarding: Leadership
- Cain and Abel may have brought their offerings to the East of Eden, near where the angel with the flaming sword guarded the entrance, in order to be as close to God as possible. While scripture only suggests that there was a designated spot for offerings, this spot has been suggested historically and does make sense.
- The ‘coat of many colors’ given to Joseph may have been a priestly garment.
Arguments for this theory include:
-The high priests garments were blue, purple and scarlet (many colors).
-The garment of Esau’s that Rebekah places on Jacob is called a ‘goodly rainment.’ The Hebrew word translated as ‘rainment’ is also the word used for the high priests clothing later in scripture, and, when referring to the priests’ regular clothes (when they are told to rend their garments) a different word is used. Further, the word translated here as ‘goodly’ is also used to describe sacred things elsewhere in scripture. Isaac ‘smelled’ Jacob’s clothing, and believed him to be Esau. This may be because the clothes smelled of incense offered to God, and not due to Esau’s natural scent.
If the clothing mentioned in these passages is a priestly garment, then the histories actually make more sense from a human nature stand point.
First, if Cain, as first-born is being raised to be the priest of his future extended family, then his belief that he could vary the offering makes more sense. Cain may believe as priest he is ‘in charge’ of how things are done, and in changing things finds out that, despite some God-given authority, God is still the one ‘in charge’ and that God can remove His priests from their position if they do not obey.
Further, it explains why Cain becomes so upset over Abel’s offering being preferred. Not only is there sibling rivalry, and a dislike of not being the ‘best’ in comparison, there may also be a ‘how dare you question my authority and make me look bad’ reaction. Even though Abel does nothing wrong, many in authority do not like being confronted by their wrong doing, or even seen being less than perfect.
This also explains how Esau profaned his birthright. Esau was a hunter and enjoyed being away from the household, while Jacob stayed close. As priest, Esau would have been expected to learn from his father and be present for sacrifices, judging, counseling etc. Jacob may have been performing these tasks and the soup was just an excuse for the brothers to finalize what was already becoming apparent- that Esau had no desire to behave as the head and priest of the family when his father passed away. Esau may have thought to only be shedding the burden of the priesthood however, and may not have realized that the headship of all his father owned would go with it as well.
Joseph, as Rachael’s oldest son, and the son of the only wife Jacob really wanted, may also have been chosen as the family priest. Jacob may have begun to train Reuben (his oldest) as priest and heir, and then, when Joseph was born, decided to split the first born role between the first born of Leah and the first born of Rachel. Having their actions judged by a much younger brother, and knowing this role was stripped from their other brother, would have caused dissention. It would also explain why Joseph was back home studying. Reuben would later lose his role as head of the clan (first born) to Judah when he slept with his father’s concubine.
Why did Reuben sleep with his father’s concubine?
Likely, after Joseph as sold and Jacob was depressed, Reuben assumed head of house duties. As Jacob did less, and Reuben took on more responsibility, it is possible that Reuben saw himself as truly the head of the clan, even though his father was still alive. In those days concubine were property, and were passed down to the new ruler when a change of leadership occurred. (This is why Absalom slept with David’s ten concubines, who were left to care for the palace, in a public way in a tent on the roof. Absalom was saying, through his actions, that he was the new ‘head’ and demonstrating that David could not protect his women. The irony that David first gazed at Bathsheba from this roof is also not lost to history…) This action, of course, infuriated Jacob. Reuben lost his rights as first-born, and Judah became the future head of the clan.
These accounts teach us much about authority.
- We must remember when we are in authority that our word is not law. As leaders God’s Word is law and our actions and decisions better line up with it.
- As leaders we must remember that we can, and will, be removed from leadership if our actions merit it.
- If we, as leaders, do not fulfill our role, there will be those who are willing, and able (no pun intended) to take our place. We are not indispensible. Leadership requires hard work, time and attention.
- We must wait on God’s time to assume leadership. Absalom may have become the next king, Reuben may have inherited as first born, and Jacob may not have had to flee if God’s timing had been respected.
- Jealousy will be fueled by a leader’s misbehavior and cause others to seek your position, and perhaps your life. Servant leaders who obey God’s Word are less likely to have this problem.
- Sleeping with your father’s concubines is never a good idea. It is a sure way to ruin the relationship.