21 ¶ And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar. 22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve: 23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun: 24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin: 25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali: 26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram. 27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. 28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. 29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Reuben was Leah and Jacob’s firstborn. He had sex with Bilhah, Rachel’s maid, given to Rachel by her father, Laban. Rachel had herself given Bilhah to Jacob to wife (Genesis 30:4) or to bear children on her mistress’s behalf. In this unseemly arrangement Bilhah was not considered a full, legitimate wife but a concubine, an inferior legal status for a woman. Women had little, if any, rights in this culture and a servant concubine would have almost no rights. We have seen Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid, used in such a way, as well, with really only God’s mercy assisting her. As all reality and events and behaviors are either part of God’s direct and perfect will as what He prefers to happen or a part of His permissive will in that He permits it for a reason often unknown to us we can examine this condition in the light of those facts. God does not create culture or civilization but He manipulates and modifies it to achieve His purposes in spite of man’s wicked condition. There is nothing particularly Godly about this setup for God already gave His direct will, what He wants, early on. A single man and a single woman unite as one flesh. There is no allowance for harems, concubines, secondary wives, girlfriends, mistresses, or any of the other sinful things man desires.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
However, God will use this condition for His purpose of creating the people of Israel.
Here Reuben is said to have sinned, not against Bilhah, but against Jacob, who possesses her as a secondary wife or concubine. Under the Law given to Moses as the Hebrew’s civil and religious regulations we have the following command.
Leviticus 20:11 And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
While under the spiritual rules given to Christians, which can have no proper civil significance as Christ’s order cannot be enforced by the civil magistrate without violating the principle of a willing heart, the offender is to be banned from the congregation until repentant to keep from polluting the attitudes and behavior of the church.
1Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
Here, Jacob’s sons are listed. From these men the children of Israel will issue. It is also mentioned that Esau and Jacob buried their father Isaac. Isaac is said to give up the ghost. This is a reference to his spirit. Here is a reference to Jesus’, who was fully man and fully God, human spirit or ghost, lowercase s and g. Here the human spirit belongs to and ascends to God.
Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
Again, not only the soul leaves the flesh at death but here we see the spirit leaves, as well. Notice Solomon’s question in Ecclesiastes that suggests mankind doesn’t know what he thinks he knows.
Ecclesiastes 3:21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
God uses the spirit of man as one means to examine him from the inside-out.
Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
The Godhead consists of a soul (God the Father), the seat of self-identity and will, a Spirit (the Holy Ghost called the Holy Spirit or Spirit of God when referencing acting on physical reality), and a body, a physical presence, (Christ or the Word by which all things were created and are held together) it is important to understand that only God’s three parts can act independently although guided by one will. If either our soul or spirit leave us as humans we physically die. Jesus, being fully man and fully God, was not only the physical image of the invisible God but, as a human, possessed a lowercase spirit or ghost which He surrendered when He gave up his brief temporal existence before rising from the dead.
In these last two passages we’ve studied we have seen that the soul and the spirit or ghost both leave the body at death. Neither is said to be extinguished or ceases to exist. When a person’s body dies what makes them who they are, the soul and the spirit, are not there.