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When Did Rachel Die?

Discussion in 'OT Historical Books' started by Marrow Man, Jul 25, 2009.

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  1. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    I have a question about the timing of Rachel's death (Genesis 35:19 and the use of the term "mother" coupled with Joseph's dream (Genesis 37:10 -- "Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?").

    Since Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, and since Joseph (apparently later) had a dream in which his father, mother, and brothers bowed down to him, when exactly did she die?

    Genesis 48:7 almost seems to indicate that Joseph might not have been aware of his mother's death (or else Jacob is just narrating what happened to Rachel).

    The dream of Joseph is symbolic of his rise to power in Egypt, but why is his mother mentioned if she is already dead?
     
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I think the reference is either
    1) to Leah (most probably), as she became mother to all the sons with Rachel's passing
    or
    2) to Rachel, in heaven (to which location Jacob could even refer himself at some future point)
     
  3. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Thanks. The Leah reference is probably what I would have figured, but I was wondering if I was missing something in the text, or if there is a chronological wrinkle I'm not seeing.
     
  4. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I would think that he was speaking of Leah.....
     
  5. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    I believe Jospeh's dream was before Rachels death. Jacob speaks of '...your mother' (Gen 37.10) I know the 11 stars of v9 would make one think of Joseph's 11 brothers but it could also be 10 brothers and 1 sister.

    The events of chap 37 need not have occured after chap 35 as Gen 37 is describing the life of Joseph and could have occured before the events of chap 35.

    Rachel dies on the road from Bethel to Bethlehem (35.16-19) 37.3 implies that Joseph was still the youngest as he was the son of Jacobs 'old age' and it was whilst they were still living in Hebron (37.14) that Jacob sent Joseph out to look for his brothers. Jacob was at Hebron when Isaac died (35.27).
     
  6. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I respectfully disagree on that point, Stuart. I don't think the Lord gave Joseph the dreams until after Israel acknowledged Joseph, around age 17, the dreams being God's confirmation of the choice.

    I don't think Genesis does much, if any presentation "out of order" chronologically. I think it would be more clearly stated if that were the case.

    Jacob comes back to the land, but settles not back at Bethel, where God met with him, but in a "convenient" place. Some time passes, giving Simeon and Levi time to reach early manhood. After the trouble with Shechem, Jacob listens to the Lord (ch.35) who directs him back to Bethel, and Jacob purges the house of all idols.

    It is in the aftermath of the fallout from the bloodshed, and the unsettlement of the family that in those travels, Deborah dies (v8) and then Rachel (v19). Then, Reuben fails Jacob (v22). We see many of Israel's sons showing themselves unfit to be the family leader.

    It is in the light of those failures (and at least four others, 37:2) that Joseph comes of age, and is one (the only?) in whom Israel detects the Spirit. The "coat of many colors" is the sign that Joseph will inherit the mantle of the birthright, the spiritual leadership of the family.

    And then, God gives those dreams in confirmation. And for his acceptance of the Lord (as with Seth), his envious brothers hate him. They were already spiritually unfit, this reaction of theirs only confirms their hard hearts.

    So, I think Rachel had died already. The story is basically presented chronologically in my view.
     
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