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“Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me."
“Who art thou ?”
“I am thy son, thy first-born, Esau.” The old man trembled with exceeding agitation : he recognized the voice.
“Who? where is he that hath taken venison, brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him ? yea, and he shall be blessed.”
The oldest born raised “a great and exceeding bitter cry.” When he could find words, they were in deepest anguish,
“Bless me, even me also, O my father!” The old man's anguish was not less keen :
“Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.”
“ Is he not rightly named Jacob” [the Supplanter]? said Esau ; “ for he hath supplanted me these two times; he took away my birthright; and behold now he hath taken away my blessing.” He cried then in that bitterness of despair which only such a heart can know
“ Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me ?” The answer came
“Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given him for servants; with corn and wine have I sustained him; and what shall I do now unto thee, my
“Hast thou but one blessing, my father ? bless me, even me also, O my father!” “And Esau lifted up his voice and wept."
The father's tears must have been as bitter; for not only had he failed in rightly bestowing the blessing, but he felt also the heinousness of the deception practised upon him by the twin-born. He answered
“Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. And by thy sword shalt thou live and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.”
Both father and son felt that the blessing so strangely misdirected must have its way, and could not be recalled.
What is lost is apt to take additional value in our eyes because it is lost. So Esau's mind brooded over these late scenes until, in addition to hatred toward his brother, an intense desire for revenge grew up in his heart. He was not naturally revengeful, but frank and manly; but this very frankness and manliness helped now to fill the measure of his disgust and abhorrence toward one who had supplanted him by trick and treachery. In his rage he uttered dark threats against the life of Jacob. Any check imposed on him by his father's presence he believed would soon be removed by the death of the latter. “Then,” in his usual frankness and his intense hatred, he said, “ I will slay my brother Jacob."
But the mother's love for her favorite made her keenly watchful of all Esau's proceedings and his words. The tent was indeed in a turmoil of feeling; all peace had departed from it. The old man, feeble and blind and now distrustful of all, was overwhelmed by sadness; he could only listen and grieve. All else was reciprocal wrath ; he lay fearful and trembling for the possible result. Esau could not be a counsellor to him ; Rebekah had helped to betray him ; Jacob was too artful and selfish to be trusted ; whom could be trust ?
His wife roused him from this stupor of body and mind and heart. She stood by his side and the tones of her voice indicated fretfulness and anger; both feelings were partly real, partly assumed. “I am weary of my life,” she said, “because of the daughters of Heth [the two Hittites]; if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?” Doubtless they had, with sharp tongues, been
venting upon her some of their husband's and their own spleen ; but her words came more from a fear for Jacob than from her own personal discomfort. Her watchful attention had brought to her a knowledge of Esau's threats; she had sent for her favorite and had advised him to flee to her brother Laban in Haran, with the counsel,“ Tarry with him a few days until thy brother's fury turn away; .... then will I send and fetch thee from thence. Why should I be deprived also of you both in one day ?” Esau, indeed, was not apt to harbor revengeful feelings for a long while, but they were the more violent when they did rule him; his mode of life made him open and forgiving, but his indignation and hatred while they lasted were the more deadly.
The father sent for Jacob, and directed him to go to Padan-Aram (Haran), and take as a wife there one of the daughters of Laban, brother of his mother : “And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee, that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.”
So the son went forward on his long journey in sadness and loneliness, and yet with a feeling of relief. This was not a pleasant home to him any more. Even in his mother's presence there was a feeling of self-condemnation, which he knew she also must have in her own heart; and there was the mutual distrust even of each other, such as people always have when they have been accomplices in premeditated iniquitous acts.
Esau, seeing how distasteful to the father his marriage with the Hittite women had been, went now to Arabia and procured there as wife a daughter of his half-uncle Ishmael; but after a while he took his wives, and doubtless also a share of the flocks and removed to a mountainous country about forty-five miles east from Beersheba ; and settling there, soon
became the head of a tribe. It was called after him, Edom (Gen. xxv. 30; xxxvi. 1), and was a fertile region, intersected by deep, wooded valleys, with which his hunting expeditions must have made him familiar. The fact of his going there for a permanent home was itself a sinful slighting of the promises of God to Abraham and Isaac with regard to Canaan as an inheritance for their descendants. Indeed, the tribe eventually became idolaters.
Ishmael was now prospering in Arabia. He became there the father of twelve sons, each of whom was made a prince of a district or tribe.
JACOB IN EXILE.
TACOB'S heart felt relieved of a weight when he had left J that tent behind him, although he was not sure that Esau, skilled in the chase and in the use of weapons, might not pursue him or be lying in wait amid uninhabited spots, where murder could be so easily concealed. But he passed on, mile after mile, without interruption; and at last the long distance intervening gave him more assurance of safety; and he slackened his pace, and had time to think.
Thinking is not often pleasant after a wicked act; for even success and triumph are then dashed with bitterness. He tried to justify himself for that deed by his father's bedside ; and arguments came, as they always will come in any unrighteous cause, when they are called for. His very name, he saw, had always been suggestive to him of supplanting,—the meaning that Esau himself had given to it in his indignation, and which must often have been sportively or angrily given to it by others. Such a character
istic, therefore, seemed to be impressed upon him by his name itself, and that name derived from a significant circumstance at birth.
He argued also, as he went along, how utterly unfit Esau was for such a last, formal blessing. The manner in which that brother had bartered away his birthright showed how little value he would place on any blessing; and indeed, it seemed as if no blessing could avail, unless it would also change the character and life of the reckless man. Then also, it was only a few minutes' precedence in birth that gave him any claim; and that claim, through indifference to it by its owner, seemed to have been altogether forfeited in favor of the twin-brother, who prized the father's blessing above all other things in life.
So Jacob could argue, as he travelled on in that journey, left now to shape his future away from the influences of home, which indeed seem never to have been of the best kind, whether we consider the mother's injudicious partiality toward himself, the father's leaning toward the reckless brother, or that brother's selfish disregard of the comfort of others. Jacob's home education had not been a good one.
A thought will probably here occur to the reader's mind, and assume the shape of the query, “ Why were such men chosen to be the demonstration for God before the world ?”!
The best answer perhaps is, that He took those who were willing. Abraham was willing, and although a man full of weaknesses, was, even with them, still the friend of God. Isaac was willing, though also a man of weakness. And so was Jacob. None of them were perfect; all of them weak, yet willing. So Jacob was taken now, and God's blessing came upon him.
We are to judge those men, also, not by the improved knowledge in our time, when we have libraries of books in which God in history through near six thousand years can be read, and when we have also the greatest of all teachings