Student Teaching in the New Millenium

Water Willed (5772 Vayechi)

In Genesis on January 4, 2012 at 8:00 am

I drink from a brook
Water runs through my fingers
Life flowing away

1 Kings 2.1-2.12
Genesis 47.28-50.26

What means the blessing of Reuben?

Reuben, thou art my first-born, my might, and the first-fruits of my strength; the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, have not thou the excellency; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it–he went up to my couch.
(Genesis 49.3-4)

And it came to pass, while Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard of it.
(Genesis 35.22)

Is water a blessing? Water is the source of all life and the great equalizer: we’re all made of water. Regardless of race, sex or creed, we’re all water.

Is water a curse? Clean water is precious. Men fight wars to control it. Water is wealth. Water is power.

Here’s an interesting thought: we’re all water, and men fight wars to control water. Is this significant?

What does all this have to do with us?

If we read ahead in 1 Kings, we see King Solomon’s response to his brother Adonijah’s request to marry Abishag the Shunamite, King David’s last woman. Adonijah requests this through Bath-sheba, Solomon’s mother, stating that the kingdom should be his, but he’d accept Abishag as a booby prize. This represented a renewed threat to King Solomon, in fact. King Solomon could have passively acquiesced. A reaction. Instead, he executed Adonijah. A response.

Water’s power is that it does what it wants, when it wants, untroubled by externals. Water’s response to all stimuli is to flow. Water doesn’t choose its direction but reacts to its surroundings on impulse. What does this teach us?

Is go with the flow always a good thing?
If you’re sitting under a falling tree should you stay there?
If your friends drink the kool aid, should you?
If your company beckons you, should you betray your wife?
If your stepmother invites you to bed, should you go?

If tsunamis destroy villages, do they destroy families?


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