Jacob meets the Easterners


I was studying for my Friday morning bible class when I came to Genesis 29. Jacob has just experienced meeting God at the stairway between heaven and earth.  Chapter 29, “And Jacob lifted his feet and went on to the land of the Easterners.”  Literally: “sons of the East.”  Soon Rachel, his uncle Laban’s daughter shows up with her flock of sheep.

In Genesis the east is often a place of with negative connotations.  When Adam and Eve leave the garden of Eden, the cherubim with flaming whirling sword stand east of Eden.  Cain became a wanderer and lived in Nod, a place of wandering, east of Eden.  After the flood, the descendants of Noah’s son Shem lived in the east.  The tower of Babel is built by people from the east.  Lot, Abraham’s nephew, chooses land toward the east. After Sarah’s death, Abraham marries two women and has several children whom he sends to the east away from his son Isaac.  Some 1,500 years later, the inhabitants of Judah/Jerusalem are exiled in Babylon to the east.

But in Matthew 2, after Jesus birth, “Wisemen (astrologers) from the east came to Jerusalem, ‘Where is the child born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east…’”

The Wisemen are representatives of Gentiles or all non-Jews.  Could it be they are also a sign that the East, the direction of exile, wandering, grasping for greatness of one’s own, the location of Sodom and Gomorrah etc., will also be part of Jesus people with whom God will be present as Immanuel, their savior from sin?

What do you think?

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