Abram was the first in scripture to be called 'Hebrew'. Why? What does it mean? Is it only referring to the lineage that Abram descended from? Or, is there an understanding of this discriptive term that also applies to us, as Believers In Christ? This writing explores this concept.
The Sons of Jacob / Israel
Dan; Judged by Discernment
KJV Genesis 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare not to Jacob, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me sons, and if not I die.
When Laban gave his daughter Leah to Jacob for wife, he also gave to Leah a handmaid; Zilpah. When Laban gave his daughter Rachel to Jacob for wife, he also gave to Rachel a handmaid; Bilhah. These two, Zilpah and Bilhah, were ‘handmaids’ to Laban before he gave them to his daughters. The complete job description of ‘handmaid’ to Laban is not discussed here, and so we won’t speculate.
The story of the sons of Jacob/Israel begins to change dramatically after the birth of Judah. The competition of the two sisters, Leah and Rachel, becomes more complicated and entangled with the introduction of the two handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah. There is so much going on in this pageant that one could spend countless hours of study to investigate all that is hidden here in plain view. This soap opera is about to take on a new dimension of chaos and stress.
Rachel was beginning to feel like she was being squeezed out of the picture, and the inheritance. Women in this culture had no real opportunity for self-sustainment. A woman was dependent upon her husband and her children for daily provision, and her family was her only security blanket. Rachel was in a pickle. Her husband had another wife that was producing heirs for sustaining the family, and her position as wife #2 was precarious, at best. At least this is what seemed to be going through Rachel’s mind; and remember, she had not yet read the end of the book to see how all of this plays out. Being told that she was Jacob’s true love was becoming less comforting as she saw her older sister producing all of the substance of the family lineage. Where was her contribution to this family circus? In her rationale, Rachel had to come up with a workable plan or she could see herself being dropped off at the waste recycle center on a journey to take the flocks to pasture. There wasn’t a great demand for used and recycled wives in this culture. Imagine the plight of very poor women in India today and you will get a fairly good idea of what Rachel might have been imagining. I don’t think that is a too farfetched scenario.
The name ‘Bilhah’ (Strong’s # 1090) is a manifestation of the verb ‘bah-lah’ (Strong’s # H1087). The basic concept of the verb ‘bah-lah’ (Strong’s # 1087) is that of being worn out; spent; used up. The idea is really more of being exhausted and consumed because of constant or continual ‘confusion’. Confusion is the basic definition of the word ‘bah-lal’ (Strong’s # 1101), and these two words, ‘bil-hah’ and ‘bah-lah’, are both derived from the verb ‘bah-lal’. Also, ‘bah-lal’ is the same root verb from which we get ‘babylon’. The literal definition of the word ‘babylon’ is “…in confusion”, and so all words derived from this verb ‘bah-lal’ are representative of the symptoms and/or results of continuous confusion.
The most prevalent use of this verb ‘bah-lal’ (Strong’s # H1087) is when describing the mixing of oil with flour for a ‘meat/meal/grain’ offering to YHVH in the sacrificial offerings of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. King James Version translates this verb ‘bah-lal’ most often as ‘mingled’; to ‘mingle’, or mix, oil with flour. Num. 6:15 is a good description of the various oil/flour mixture offerings, and each one is representative of a type of people, or a mindset of people. In this context, oil is most often associated with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, while flour is most often associated with the barley/wheat of carnal humanity. Therefore, the ‘mingling’ (bah-lal) of oil and flour is indicative of the mixture that leads to the exhaustion of confusion; worn out. Hopefully that gives a useful background, though not exhaustive, of the name ‘Bilhah’.
KJV Gen. 30:3 And she said, “Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.” 30:5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. KJV Gen. 30:6 And Rachel said, “God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore she called his name Dan.”
The name ‘Dan’ has been long associated with the concept of judgement, and/or judging, and rightly so. The primary root verb from which we derive the word/name ‘dan’ is ‘dah-nan’ , or ‘dnn’. However, this primary root form of ‘dnn’ is never used in the Old Testament Hebrew. The basic meaning of this primary root ‘dnn’ is that of being “…low; to be low in value, potential, influence or authority”. The idea that this primary root conveys is of being in a position of oppression, or suppression, and having need of a higher authority to rescue, and deliver from the situation of helplessness. This root verb is describing one that needs a deliverer to ‘judge’ their plight, and consequently give relief. This description is probably a fair assessment of the emotional state of Rachel.
KJV 30:6 “God hath judged [‘dyn’, pronounced ‘deen’; Strong’s # 1777] me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore she called his name Dan [‘dn’, Strong’s # 1835]”.
In calling this ‘son’ ‘Dan’, Rachel is declaring that God had ‘judged’ her situation, found her guiltless, and provided for her a ‘son’ to present to her husband. This very language reveals that Rachel was feeling guilty, or incomplete, for not having provided sons for Jacob. The very word used in this verse, and translated as ‘judged’ (dyn), indicates her declaring that God had investigated her plight, and vindicated her. Psalm 68:5 is a good representation of how this word ‘dyn’ is better understood. This word ‘dyn’ [Strong’s #1777] is better recognized as ‘discerned’. To ‘discern’ is to evaluate a matter through Spiritual insight. The word ‘discern’ reveals much more understanding of a situation than the more simple word of ‘judge’. A ‘judge’, or ‘judgement’, infers the activity of making an authoritative decision, based on facts that are provided to the ‘judge’. ‘Discern’, however, indicates being able to see much more than what is revealed simply by facts. Facts are facts, but they are rarely the whole story. There is always more story behind the story, and to ‘discern’ the truth often requires more than just the presented facts.
NKJ Psalm 72:2 “He will judge (dyn, #1777) Your people with righteousness, And Your poor with justice”. The ‘judge’ (dan) may make a judgement, based solely on the facts. But to ‘discern’ (dyn, Strong’s #1777) requires a deeper understanding; a Spiritual understanding. Such was the case with Rachel.
KJV Genesis 49:16 Dan (Strong’s #1835) shall judge (Strong’s #1777) his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Ah, the Goodness of God, in that God is not limited or handcuffed by the confusing mingling of the heart/mind of man. Dan, as the fifth son born to Jacob, was not born of the accepted wives of Jacob. And yet Dan has a major role to play as a tribe of Israel; not Jacob, but Israel. For God discerns (dyn) the heart.
KJV 30:6 “God hath judged [dyn, Strong’s # 1777] me, and hath also heard my voice,” Rachel was also emphasizing that Leah wasn’t the only one that was being ‘heard’ (Simeon). Rachel was declaring that God had heard the sound of her plea, discerned in her favor, and allowed her to provide a son for Jacob. Rachel was laying claim to her role in the fruitful productivity of this family pageant. However, she apparently was indifferent to her own ‘confusion’. She was also laying claim to a ‘son’ born of the confusion of a mingling, and a mixture; and that of her own making. And, she wasn’t through; not yet.
To be continued;