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
Zebulun: Dwelling in Exaltation
If you have been following this series of investigations into the family of Jacob, who was later to become Israel, you are aware that Leah, the elder daughter of Laban, was betrothed to a man who did not ask for her, nor have desire for her. And throughout this pageant, Jacob was thereby forced to accept a ‘wife’ he didn’t want in return for having access to the woman he loved. If you or I were writing this script, this is probably not the beginning we would suggest for the makings of a solid marriage and prosperous future. And yet it is the very scenario experienced by the one that was destined to manifest the full meaning of the name ‘Yah-qove’ (Jacob), and who was later to learn what it means to have to die to being ‘Yah-qove’ in order to experience the blueprint known as ‘Israel’. The journey from ‘Jacob’ to ‘Israel’ is synonymous with the journey from ‘adam’ to Christ, and that journey is a storyline that could only be conceived in the Heart/Mind of God, the Wholly Spirit of Truth in Love.
Leah, the wife reluctantly accepted, has given birth to five sons for Jacob, while Rachel, whom Jacob loved, was still barren and could produce no ‘fruit of the womb’. After the incident of ‘the mandrakes’, Rachel was still barren, but Leah produced a fifth son which she named Issachar; “My Wages” or “My Reward”. And even while Rachel remained childless, as if to add insult to injury, Leah conceived again to produce a sixth son for Jacob.
KJV Genesis 30:19 And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son. KJV Genesis 30:20 And Leah said, “God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell (zah-bal, Strong’s # 2082) with me, because I have born him six sons”: and she called his name Zebulun. The name ‘Zebulun’ is derived from the verb ‘zah-bal’.
While we have no direct information about what has been transpiring in the life of Leah since the birthing of Issachar, her demeanor and mindset seems to have begun to change; and for the better. Leah seems to be more at peace with herself, and her circumstances. And there is more going on in this scenario than we can plumb in this setting. The significance of the birth and naming of Zebulun seems to indicate that Leah is more accepting of her place in relationship with her husband, and the other ‘wives’ and their children. Leah emphasizes that she has now produced six sons for Jacob, and she relates that to being a ‘good dowry’, and a gift from God.
One of the unique mysteries revealed in this passage of scripture is the relationship between two words used by Leah in this proclamation; ‘zah-bahd’ and ‘zah-bal’. The English words ‘endued’ and ‘dowry’ in this verse, Gen. 30:20, are from the same Hebrew word, ‘zah-bahd’, which is listed as Strong’s #2064-2066. The primary root ‘zah-bahd’, as recognized in Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, is defined as this: “…to endow; to impart; to bestow a gift, etc.” This verse is the only place in scripture where I can find this word listed as a verb, and used as a common noun. Every other use of this three-letter word is as a proper noun name. That makes the use of this word as a verb/noun combination in this verse leap out at me, and causes me to ask ‘why’?
What is going on in the life of Leah that would inspire her to refer to giving birth to six sons as ‘a good dowry’? The English ‘dowry’ is referred to as a gift of money or property, or something of intrinsic value, that a woman’s family usually gives to a husband so that the future intended husband has something of value with which to provide for and protect his betrothed. Leah was well aware that the dowry that Laban, her father, had pledged to Jacob was the opportunity to work further for Laban, just so Jacob could receive Rachel, his true love, as his wife. However, after the birthing of Issachar, and now Zebulun, Leah declares that God has provided her with the acceptable ‘dowry’ for Jacob; six sons. That, to me, is a remarkable progression in the heart and mind of Leah as she has had to endure competing with Rachel, and two ‘handmaid’ wives, for respect and loyalty and attention from Jacob. Leah is proclaiming that the six sons she has born to Jacob is the proper dowry that she has to bestow (zah-bahd) upon her husband. Leah has apparently recognized and accepted the valuable role she has to offer this clan. She can now see the true worth of her presence. Leah has found her ‘dwelling place’; the place where she belongs.
The other unique Hebrew word used in this verse is the verb ‘zah-bal’, Strong’s #2082. ‘Zah-bal’ refers to the proper dwelling place of a thing, or person or idea. The use of this word is indication that an idea or person or item is dwelling, actually residing, in its proper locale; where it naturally belongs. And both of the Hebrew words in this verse, ‘zah-bahd’ and zah-bal’, come from a common word association based on the first letter of the words, which is the ‘zayin’, and ‘zayin’ is the seventh letter of the Hebrew ‘aleph-beyt’ (alphabet). The use of the ‘zayin’, the seventh letter, particularly when the ‘zayin’ is the first letter of a word, is indicative of having arrived, via a proper progression, to the correct location of a person or thing or idea. Many times a person or thing or idea can be recognized as not being in its most fitting locale. But that is not so with this word ‘zah-bal’. This word is indicative of a person, thing or idea being specifically where it is most suited; where it belongs. Hence the word ‘Zebulun’, derived from this verb ‘zah-bal’, is descriptive of perpetually dwelling in your most suitable location or condition.
The second letter of these two words is the ‘beyt’ (b), which is also the second letter of the ‘aleph-beyt’. And the role of the ‘beyt’ is to communicate a dwelling place, or cave, or house. The Hebrew spelling of these words is significant in how these words are being used to communicate. In this context, the word ‘zah-bal’, which is loosely translated as ‘to dwell’, is indicative that Leah has recognized that she sees herself as now being in her relevant role, and in her proper dwelling place. Now that Leah is in her proper dwelling place, mentally and emotionally and spiritually, she believes her husband will now desire to ‘zah-bal’, or ‘dwell’, in her presence. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that Jacob will only dwell with her, and no longer desire his relationship with Rachel, Leah is now at peace with her situation. Leah has, in her own unique way, found peace in this troubled clan. As testimony of her finding her God-endowed place of peace, she will be rewarded with giving birth to another; a daughter, which she names Dinah.
When Leah names her daughter Dinah, the name indicates that Leah has accepted God’s discernment (diyn Strong’s #1777-1781) as a righteous judgment (diyn) for her situation. The word ‘dinah’ (see Strong’s # H1783) is from the same word that is translated in Psalm 7:8 as “…’judge’ (diyn; discern) the people;”, and also in many other places where ‘judge’ or ‘judgment’ is actually better recognized as ‘discernment’. However, the word ‘Dinah’ has the fifth letter of the ‘aleph-beyt’, the ‘hey’, added as suffix to this word ‘diyn’, which makes the word ‘dinah’ a feminine context. Words which are a ‘feminine’ context’ are descriptive of an activity or idea actually being acted out, and/or physically expressed. The name ‘Dinah’ indicates that this discernment/judgment (diyn) is actually a quality of life being lived out.
Leah has now become ‘zah-bahd’, a good dowry. She doesn’t have a good dowry; she is a good dowry. ‘Zebulun’ (zah-bal) has now become the dwelling place of Leah, and ‘Dinah’ has become her quality of Life; in God, and in her family. Well done, Leah! Well done, indeed!
I can now see that until Jacob had become the complete and proper husband to his first wife, Leah, he could not have sons from his true love, Rachel. Jacob has arrived because Leah has arrived. And now Joseph, the legitimate ‘firstborn’ of Jacob, can come forth, and the journey to ‘Israel’ may continue. Jacob faces more pruning from God before he can be confronted with the role of Israel, which is his intended destination. Just as we all, in our own progression from ‘adam’ to Christ, must experience and learn from many prunings that shape us and equip us to “image God”. For God is Spirit, and ‘image’ is an action verb, and we must learn to ‘image God’ by manifesting the Spirit of God in our daily conduct and association with all others in our ‘Garden’.
Sahlom, Y’all !