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The Patriarch's
(Israel's Beginning)

The time of the Patriarchs is when God begins to establish His covenant with man. His covenant begins with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who through them the seed of God is manifested, and the nation of Israel begins with Jacob's 12 sons.

Abram called by God – The time of the Patriarchs is when God begins to establish His covenant with man through a nation of people. His covenant begins with Abram, to whom God told to leave his father’s house and land so that he could gain a new land and become a great nation in God. This covenant is the beginning of God choosing a people to live with and walk with.


God made a promise to Abram that he would become a great nation and that his seed (children) would be as the stars of heaven. Those stars would begin to multiply with God’s promise to Abram about his son. The promise says that he would have one son, and that son would be born of a spiritual promise and not of the flesh. This is a prophecy and example of the true Son of God, Jesus Christ, that must also be born of promise in the coming generations.


Birth of Ishmael – Before God fulfilled His promise, Sarai, Abram’s wife, pleaded with Abram to give her a child through her bondmaid, which is her servant. She did so because she could not have a child herself. Abram did so, and Ishmael was born, a child of the flesh, because he was born after the desire of man and not after the promise of God. 


God still blessed Ishmael but said that he is not the son promised to be the true heir. God then told Abram that his seed would be as the stars of heaven and as the sands of the sea, representing both spiritual and earthly, Jews and Gentiles. God revisited Abram and reminded him that He would give him a Son named Isaac to fulfill His promise.


Abram’s name changed to Abraham – God told Abraham that all the families of the earth will be blessed in him. Genesis 12:2-3. Because Abraham is a father of many nations, God changed his name from Abram to Abraham. He also changed his wife’s name from Sarai to Sarah.


Birth of Isaac – When Abraham and Sarah were past the age of giving birth, God visited them and said that it was time to have a son. Sarah gave birth to a son and named him Isaac. Isaac, who is the promised seed born of Abraham and Sarah, would be the example of the promise that would come forth in Jesus Christ (If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29).


As Isaac grew, God tested Abraham’s faithfulness by telling him to sacrifice his only son to the Lord. Abraham believed God and made an attempt to sacrifice Isaac, but the angel of the Lord stopped him before he could go through with it. The angel told him that he was trustworthy to be the true father of all the children of the promise because he was willing to do whatever God asked of him. Abraham was God’s friend and a faithful father. God’s promise with Abraham carried on in Isaac.


God makes a covenant with Isaac – After Abraham died, the Lord appeared to Isaac and made him a promise that He would be with him and bless him and his children just as He did his father, Abraham. Isaac was more than just a miracle baby. He was God’s promise manifested in the earth so that we could all see what God’s intent is for the people of the earth. Isaac was married to Rebekah and had two sons named Esau and Jacob.


The birth of Esau and Jacob – These are the two sons born of Isaac and Rebekah. They are twin brothers, who God declares to be two nations. Esau was older than Jacob, but God loved Jacob and hated Esau (This serves as a continual remembrance of the covenant of promise that God made with Abraham. Jacob will become the father of the nation of God’s people). 


Jacob was blessed by Isaac – When Jacob was of age, his father Isaac blessed him. This blessing is generally given to the older son, but Esau, who was unfaithful to God, sold his birthright to Jacob for food when he was hungry. For Esau, not receiving the blessing made him angry against his brother. When Jacob saw it, he fled away from Esau to Laban for fear of his life.


Jacob’s vision of a ladder – While on his way from escaping Esau, Jacob dreamt of a ladder that reached from heaven to earth with angels ascending and descending on it. The Lord stood at the top of the ladder and spoke to him concerning the blessings of God. He previouly spoke to his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac. Jacob would now carry on that same promise that they had, but it was he who would be chosen to be the father of this great nation of God’s people that He wanted to establish.


Jacob has twelve sons – While serving and working for a man named Laban for seven years, Jacob desired to marry his younger daughter, Rachel. Laban required him to marry his older daughter, Leah, first. So Jacob married his oldest daughter, Leah, and then after agreeing to work another seven years for Laban, he could marry Rachel, her younger sister. 


Through Leah and Rachel, Jacob has twelve sons who are the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel (Israel is to become God’s people of promise through these twelve sons). Jacob’s eleventh son is named Joseph, and he would be the favorite son of Jacob.


Twelve Sons of Israel (Jacob)

Genesis 35:23-26


Born of Leah (Jacobs 1st wife)

  • Reuben (1) 

  • Simeon (2) 

  • Levi (3) 

  • Judah (4)


Born of Bilhah (Rachel’s handmaid) 

  • Dan (5)

  • Naphtale (6)


Born of Zilpah (Leah’s handmaid) 

  • Gad (7)

  • Asher (8)


Born of Leah (Jacobs 1st wife)

  • Issachar (9) 

  • Zebulun (10)


Born of Rachel (Jacob’s 2nd wife) 

  • Joseph (11) 

  • Benjamin (12)


Jacob’s name changed to Israel – As the Lord blessed Jacob, he is given the name Israel by God, showing that He would continue the covenant with Jacob that He started with Abraham and Isaac. This new name explains why this new nation is called the twelve tribes of Israel because it began with Israel’s twelve sons.


Joseph is sold into Egypt – At this time, Israel had not yet become a great nation and only consisted of the 12 children of Jacob. Jacob’s eleventh son was Joseph, who his father greatly loved. Jacob loved Joseph so much that he made him a coat of colors. 


Joseph began to dream of events that would reveal to his family that they would all serve him according to the will and plan of God for the future of the people of Israel. 


At that time, Israel had not yet become a great nation and only consisted of the twelve children of Jacob. After Joseph began to dream, his brothers became envious of him. They did not like that Jacob loved Joseph so much, so they devised a plan to kill him.


As the time came to carry out the plan, they decided to spare his life and sold him into Egyptian slavery instead. They returned to their father and told him that a beast had killed Joseph. Jacob was very sorrowful over the supposed death of his son.


Joseph goes to prison – In Egypt, Joseph served a man named Potiphar and was faithful to him. One day Potipher’s wife set up Joseph and wanted him to commit adultery with her. But when Joseph refused to do wrong with Potiphar’s wife, as she requested of him, she immediately turned and falsely accused him by saying that it was Joseph who started it.


Potipher got angry and cast him into prison, but even being falsely accused, Joseph never left serving God and was faithful to Him even in prison. While there, he was told dreams from fellow inmates and began to interpret them, being led by God to do so. There were two men from the king's house, the chief butler and the chief baker. When they had dreams, Joseph interpreted them.


Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream – While Joseph is in prison, King Pharaoh has a dream that neither he nor his people could interpret. The king is told about a man in prison who interprets dreams. So because Joseph had already interpreted other people's dreams while he was in jail, he is remembered and is called upon by King Pharaoh. Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream for him and is rewarded by being made the second man in all of Egypt, only under the king. (A true rags to riches story).


Joseph is blessed in Egypt – After Joseph is promoted, it is evident that God is blessing Joseph in Egypt by giving him favor. The dream interpretation to Pharaoh said that there would come a famine in all the land. With this new knowledge, Joseph is put in charge of carrying out the dream's interpretation by stockpiling supplies in Egypt. This will ensure that there will be an increase of reserves in Egypt for seven years and save them from being desolate in seven years of famine. 


When famine struck all of the lands, the storehouses of Egypt were stocked full. Joseph called for his father and his brothers and their families to move to Egypt to be spared from the famine (This is the beginning of a prophecy that Abraham saw about Israel, his seed, being in captivity for four hundred years).


Joseph’s two sons - Because of Joseph’s favor with the king, he was given a wife of Egypt. In this marriage, they have two sons, Manassah and Ephraim. These sons, especially Ephraim, will be a big part of why God remembers Israel in the future.

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