Deuteronomy 21:15-17 Birthright
Moses turns to an issue of favoritism that plagued Israel from the beginning. The treatment of children from the loved v unloved wife.
Jacob/Israel dealt with this in his home. From the beginning of his married life he held one wife above the other. Rachel was his beloved. Leah was his unloved wife. There was rivalry between the two women throughout their years together. And Jacob’s affections were at the center of those quarrels.
Jacob’s differential treatment didn’t end with his wives. His preferences carried over to his children. EVERYONE could tell who he favored. We don’t know how Jacob treated his sons before Joseph was born but we see clear evidence afterwards of his favor towards him. Joseph and Benjamin were Jacob’s most precious children. Their lives meant more to him that all the others combined. Benjamin’s life almost outweighed ALL their lives.
When Jacob was dying he gave Joseph a double portion of blessing by making his two sons heirs along with their uncles. Joseph was not the firstborn but he received more than any of his brothers, as he was the firstborn of Jacob’s beloved Rachel.
Jacob’s true firstborn did not rank high with his father. He had sinned against him. His second and third born had also committed sins their father would not forgive. The firstborn blessing passed to Leah’s fourth born, Judah, instead.
God did not correct this “problem” with Jacob’s heirs’ ranking. Jacob’s choice of Judah as firstborn would also be the line that God would send His “firstborn” through. God also honored Jacob’s bequest to Joseph of a double portion by making tribes out of both Joseph’s sons. The tribe of Joseph was replaced by the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim.
But from the time of God’s gift of His Law to Moses, this type of behavior was not permitted. The birthright of firstborn, even of an unloved wife was protected. God also insisted that the father make up for the love that was not shown in life by providing doubly for an unloved firstborn upon death.
As a parent and as a child I know how hard it is to keep favoritism out of your home. Some children are easier to relate to. Each is talented in their own areas. Some respond to direction easier. Some demand attention and others fade into the background. And MANY times favoritism is perceived even when it is not implied.
But God was speaking of a clear cut example. He was also speaking of an issue that would continue to be an issue in Israel for a LONG time. God did not forbid polygamy in His Law. He did forbid not caring for the children of such unions. The children were not at fault for the issues of their parents and deserved protection.
God looks out for those who are wronged through no fault of their own. He provides out for the widows and orphans. He is Father to the fatherless. He loves the unloved.
Thinking about that last statement got me thinking about how we come to Him in the first place. I’m banking on the majority of people feeling the same way I did when I turned to Him for real. I was looking for love and acceptance. There was a hole that not even my family could fill. I felt unloved and He offered me love unlike any other.
I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say that they turned to God because their life was so perfect they just HAD to “add the cherry on top.” We come to Him because we are broken. We seek Him when we see no other hope. He is hope of the hopeless; friend of the friendless.
He still loves us when we are on the mountaintops but seldom do we seek Him there initially. But once we have found His love He takes us to the mountaintops AND through the valleys. We don’t have to walk alone ever again. We are ALL God’s “favorites!”
Father God, I’m SO glad You loved me, even before I was born. I know I saw favoritism in places where there probably wasn’t any. I also saw a lack of love where there was an abundance. But that lack was a lack of a personal love with You. THANK YOU for helping me recognize that lack. Without that hunger in my heart I wouldn’t have come seeking to fill it and found the ONLY way for it to truly be satisfied. Thank You for calling out to me.
Thank You Jesus that You chose me and saw my need while You were walking the road to Calvary. You saw my need during Your long night in the garden. You chose to walk the path God put before You because of me. I know I’m not the only one You did this for and am certainly not the grandest You did this for but I’m confident that I’m still one of Your “favorites.” Thank You for Your special love. Thank You for making me feel special. Thank You for helping me KNOW that I am loved. I know my family loves me too and would NEVER discount their love but Your love makes me whole.
Right now I need that wholeness again. I have felt empty lately. Thank You for reminding me and bringing me to this special place. “Your love let me live again. Your love set me free.” Please make me free again.