So let’s go back to Micah 1:5 for a moment.
Micah 1:5 NASB All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?
The verse states, “All this is for the rebellion of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel.” As you can see the verse ends with a period, and then, inserts a question. Perhaps they should have ended with a comma and then said, “but,” what is the rebellion of Jacob, because I, nor you, know. I can now conclusively tell you how Samaria came to hold such disdain in the eyes of the Jews, but I cannot tell you what this rebellion was with any specificity. So let’s find out.
“What is the transgression of Jacob?”
The transgression of Jacob. (According to the UCRT cross reference all these references apply to Jacob’s transgression.) 2Ki_17:7-23, *2Ch_36:14-16, Isa_50:1-2; Isa_59:1-15, Jer_2:17; Jer_2:19; Jer_4:18; Jer_5:25; Jer_6:19, Lam_5:16, 1Th_2:15-16.
Without diving into scripture, there is the incident that all of us who have been around organized church for a long time are aware of; the short version of it goes like this. Issac is old, cannot see, and is dying., At his mother’s prodding Jacob deceives his brother Esau, and then his father. Because of this deception, Issac gives Jacob (the second born) the blessing that was due the first – sheep, land, and the promise of God’s best upon his life. Esau of course now wants to kill his brother Jacob, and so Jacob flees for life, at his mother’s direction, to the land where her brother Laban resides, and thus begins our tale.
Now this deception aspect alone might be the answer to what the transgression of Jacob might be, but strangely, you still the blessing of God (what a coincidence that Issac gave him that blessing,) upon his life – along with constant problems. So, I am uncomfortable pinning the transgression/rebellion to this incident alone.
When searching for a reference that explains the transgression of Jacob, this passage in Genesis 31:1-3 is one of the places you are taken.
Genesis 31:1-3 NASB Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has made all this wealth.” 2) Jacob saw the attitude of Laban, and behold, it was not friendly toward him as formerly. 3) Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
Note how Jacob heard Laban’s son say, Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s. They were, of course, referring to the goats that had distinct markings, an agreement that Laban made with Jacob, and broke several times by stealing the goats away from Jacob.
Genesis 30:31-35 NASB So he said, “What shall I give you?” And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your flock: 32) let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted sheep and every black one among the lambs and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages. 33) “So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, will be considered stolen.” 34) Laban said, “Good, let it be according to your word.” 35) So he removed on that day the striped and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats, every one with white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the care of his sons.
Laban agreed and then had his sons take those same sheep out of the herd so he would not have to pay Jacob. At this point, I would say that all the transgression is on the part of Laban.
The sons of Laban may have also been referring to their sisters when they said “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s,” but that too was an agreement that their father had made and did not uphold. Still, Jacob had done nothing wrong to Laban.
As I go through references to Jacob, the first thing I find is the deception performed by Jacob and his mother, against Esau and Issac. But as I follow that trail, it seems that God had his hand in it all along, and blessed Jacob regardless.
There is, however, a drastic change when they meet Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite:
Genesis 34:2 MKJV And when Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and humbled her.
Almost all of Genesis 34 is centered upon Dinah, this young man Shechem and his actions, and the primary focus, the deception and deadly violence committed by Jacob’s sons.
Who or what’s to say men are good; but didn’t this young man and his father seem to want to do the right thing. What you can’t ignore is that Shechem raped Dinah; at best he seduced her, but when you consider the Jewish idea that a young girl is marriageable at 12 years and a day, how could you expect her to have the skills to resist some smooth talking man?. Besides all that, Shechem, we learn loved Dinah and wanted to marry her; while that seems excellent look at the IVP commentary below. Still, it seems men died without cause at the hands of Jacob’s sons, while Jacob did and said nothing. Perhaps now we have what might be the transgression of Jacob.
The IVP Bible Background Commentary has this to say about rape.
Ravishing women. Rape as a means of obtaining a marriage contract was apparently one stratagem used in the ancient Near East. Laws regulating this practice are found in Exo_22:16-17, Deu_22:28-29, the Middle Assyrian Laws and the Hittite laws. These often require the rapist to pay an especially high bride price and sometimes forbid any possibility of divorce. Sumerian Law 7, like Genesis 34, deals with a case where a young, unbetrothed woman leaves her parents’ home without permission and is raped. The result is an option by the parents to marry her to the rapist without her consent.
On a side note: this phrase, “and he did and said nothing,” should have a familiar tone, for this was the way King David ran his own family.
Genesis 34:11-13 MKJV And Shechem said to her father and to her brothers, Let me find grace in your eyes, and whatever you shall say to me I will give. 12) Heap upon me ever so much price and dowry, and I will give according as you shall say to me. But give me the girl for a wife. 13) And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, speaking with deceit because he had defiled Dinah their sister.
Again, the conversation starts with Jacob but quickly turns to the sons, who are doing all the speaking on behalf of the family. Everything the son’s say is deceitful, with the purpose of making them pay for what Shechem did to Dinah.
Genesis 34:14-17 MKJV And they said to them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised. For it is a reproach to us. 15) But in this we will agree with you, if you will be as we are, that every male of you be circumcised, 16) then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will live with you, and we will become one people. 17) But if you will not listen to us, to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter, and we will go.
Jacob is sitting right there, listening to every word, and yet he says and does nothing. Maybe he thinks this is all reasonable; and maybe it is.
Genesis 34:18-24 MKJV And their words pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son. 19) And the young man did not hesitate to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter. And he was more honorable than all the house of his father. 20) And Hamor and Shechem his son came to the gate of their city, and talked with the men of their city, saying, 21) These men are at peace with us. Therefore let them live in the land, and trade in it. For behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters. 22) Only on this condition will the men agree to us, to live with us, to be one people, if every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. 23) Shall not their cattle and their substance and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will live with us. 24) And all that went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to Shechem his son. And every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.
The assumption, on the part of the Hivites, was that these people and their “wealth” would be joined to their community, making it stronger. The sons of Jacob had no intention of doing that and therefore waited until the third day after this barbaric surgery so that they could kill them all.
Genesis 34:27-29 MKJV The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. 28) They took their sheep and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field. 29) And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives, they took captive, and plundered even all that was in the house.
What was it that Laban’s sons accused Jacob of taking, all that belonged to their father; and now Jacob’s sons have done just that to the Hivites. Jacob, who has said nothing, now has something to say.
Genesis 34:30 MKJV And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, You have troubled me, to make me stink among those who live in the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites. And I, being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and kill me. And I shall be destroyed, my house and I.
Now the story goes on, but is it possible that this incident is one of the primary roots of Jacob’s transgression?
2 Kings 17:7 MKJV And it happened because the sons of Israel had sinned against Jehovah their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,
Note what 2Kings 17:7 says, “ And it happened because the sons of Israel had sinned against Jehovah their God.” While the reference has little to do with Shechem and the Hivites, these are the tribal names that evolved from the same sons that we just witnessed, deceiving the Hivites, slaughtering all the males, taking all the females captive, and looting all that they possessed. Is it possible, that as representatives of God on this earth, that they just misrepresented God? Why can I ask that question, because I have learned that God is, above all else, filled with mercy and justice.
If you know the story of Jonah, then you know that narrative ends with Jonah having a pity party because God showed the Ninevehites mercy and temporarily spared them. I can think of one other misrepresentation, and that was performed by Moses when he, against God’s direction, struck the rock instead of speaking to it. Oh sure, water flowed, but what I see is Moses misrepresenting God. The people, most likely see God as an angry, vengeful God instead of one who operates out of mercy.
What is a predominant belief that most of us have?
That God is a vindictive God with one purpose, send as many people to hell as possible. I have come to understand this twisted theme from the mouths of church elders who lead studies at the churches I have attended over the years.
There is one last predominant thing that stands out against Jacob, although it is preceded by God’s blessing once again as God changes Jacob’s name to Israel.
Genesis 35:6-16 MKJV And Jacob came to Luz in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people with him. 7) And he built an altar there and called the place El-bethel, because God appeared to him there when he fled from the face of his brother. 8) But Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried beneath Bethel, under an oak. And the name of it was called Oak of Weeping. 9) And God appeared to Jacob again when he came out of Padan-aram and blessed him. 10) And God said to him, Your name is Jacob. Your name shall not be called Jacob any more, but Israel shall be your name. And He called his name Israel. 11) And God said to him, I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall be from you, and kings shall come out of your loins. 12) And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give to you, and to your seed after you I will give the land. 13) And God went up from him in the place where He talked with him. 14) And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked with him, a pillar of stone. And he poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it. 15) And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him, Bethel. 16) And they moved from Bethel. And there was only a length of land to come to Ephrath. And Rachel travailed, and she had hard labor in her bearing.
This is where things get even tougher for Jacob, as Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin, and Reuben has sex with one of Jacob’s concubine.
Genesis 35:22 MKJV And it happened when Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard it. And the sons of Jacob were twelve:
You follow the story out to the end of Genesis 35 and what do see happening to Reuben? Nothing. The next time we hear of Reuben is in Genesis 37:21 where he is trying to save Joseph’s life. While his words may have diverted the brothers from killing Joseph, Joseph was still sold into slavery. Reuben says something interesting here which tells us that many things happen in the background and we are not aware.
Genesis 37:29-30 MKJV And Reuben returned to the pit. And behold! Joseph was not in the pit! And he tore his clothes. 30) And he returned to his brothers and said, The child, he is not. And I, where shall I go?
Much time has passed. Joseph has become second in command in Egypt, and the brothers have convinced Jacob/Israel that they need to go and get some grain from Egypt or they will die. Things go badly for the brothers because Joseph recognizes them and wants them to squirm a little.
Genesis 42:22 MKJV And Reuben answered them, saying, Did I not speak to you saying, Do not sin against the youth? And you would not hear. Therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
After all these years, Joseph is a middle-aged man with a family, since Reuben’s indiscretion with his father’s concubine, and finally, we hear some disdain against him.
Genesis 49:3-4 MKJV Reuben, you are my first-born, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. 4) Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it. He went up to my couch.
Jacob/Israel called his sons to him and spelled out prophetically, how their lives would go as a nation. Jacob had no idea it would include 400+ years of slavery in Egypt, but that was yet to come. Jacob died and was buried with Rachel in Samaria.
Now that is the summary of Jacob’s fraudulence, the transgressions done to him, and his lack of action about his sons’ bloody violence. Can I pin any one thing on Jacob and say this is what got him in trouble? Not really, but if you noticed, God seems to portray a consistent family line and ownership of problems through that line. Rebecca, taught Jacob; and Jacob taught his sons; and when they got out of line, we see nothing done to them.