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JACOB, JOSEPH, AND GENESIS
By Sy Schechtman email@example.com
left young Jacob somewhat in fear and trembling at a vision of God and angels and his tentative
promise to obey God’s path if only he is successful. Jacob is about 17 and is on his way to
Haran, an adolescent fleeing his brother Esau’s rightful wrath. Once Jacob reaches distant
There was almost epic duplicity along the way, however, and frustrating fertility problems, as with Sarah, Abraham’s wife, before the ultimate birth of Isaac. In one instance biblically quoted, Rachel, beautiful but barren, bargains away her connubial rights for sleeping privileges with shared husband Jacob for a time, in exchange for much heralded mandrake roots, which one of rival Leah’s sons had acquired. These roots were thought to be a a prime fertility enhancer at that time. But the prime duplicity was that of the fraudulent bride! Instead of Rachel, Jacob under false pretenses, is married to older sister Leah instead. “When morning came there was Leah! So he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I was in your service fof Rachel! Why did you deceive me?”. Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the older. Wait until the bridal week of this one on is over and we will give you that one too, provided you serve me another seven years…….And Jacob cohabited with Rachel also; indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah. … And he served him another seven years.”
That explains why even in orthodox weddings now a joyous but still ceremonially involved group of young male friends of the groom dance playfully up to the seated and veiled bride and gently remove her face covering to make sure that the true beloved is the one to be wed and bedded that most eventful first marital night!!
There was active distrust, it not fraud, between Jacob and Laban in the matter of wages to be paid Jacob for his strenuous work as chief shepherd of Laban’s flock. Jacob did not want pecuniary reward; merely the right to the dark off color sheep and goats. Jacob had devised a sort of visual stimulation influence with wooden darkened color saplings and sticks while the sheep and goats were mating. These flecked and darkenened sticks was an evidently successful photo synthesis method Jacob used successfully; Laban used a time tested method not quite as subtle or nature oriented. From time to time he and his help sneaked through Jacob’s thriving flocks to steal some of the thriving mixed color flock Jacob had.
Also there was domestic discord. We learn that on Jacob’s death bed not all the children received equal amounts of tender reflection or approbation. Most receive favorable attention from languishing Jacob, but some are roundly condemned. Reuben, his first born, had “mounted your father’s bed, you brought disgrace—my couch he mounted!..” (Reuben had sex with Jacob’s concubine). Simeon and Levi are essentially outlawed for the atrocities we shall discuss below, but Judah is praised and the rest of the twelve brothers are confidently foretold strong futures. The climax of Jacob’s career is the successfully organized flight from the Laban household with his entire retinue intact,under the implicit order of the Lord---“Return to the land of your fathers where you were born, and I will be with you”. With great haste Jacob gathers up his family and possessions and flees but Laban and his group pursue and the climax is the scene after a seven days catch up. After much heated discussion peace is restored. Laban finally calms himself. “I have it in my power to do you harm; but the god of your father said to me last night ‘Beware of attempting anything with Jacob, good or bad’. Very well you had to
leave because you were longing
for your father’s house but why did you steal my gods?”
And Jacob fatefully vows that “I was afraid that you would take your daughters from me by force. But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not remain alive…….Jacob, of course, did not know that Rachel had stolen them.” Laban searches diligently all Jacob’s tents, finally Jacob’s own personal tent, where Rachel was sitting on the object of the frantic search. “Let not my Lord take it amiss that I can not rise before you, for the period of women is upon me.” Rachel’s deception worked splendidly at the time, allowing Jacob to forthrightly stand his ground and inadvertantly spare his guilty wife. Very soon after that Rachel is in great difficulty with the birth of her second child, Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob’s favorite child. Rachel does not survive, and a deeply mourning Jacob buries her on the roadside nearby. Some later sages wondered if her death at this time was divine punishment for her duplicity with the alien gods and her father’s fruitless fervent search. Certainly she was still a very nubile woman and seemingly eager to compete with alternate wife Leah for Jacob’s affections and attention.
Besides these dramatic domestic events
two overwhelming events happen during
Jacob’s family flight from
on the heels of this overwhelming event comes Esau and his 400 cohort who Jacob
had grave doubts about. But it is a
smiling, happy brother Esau who was embracing him, lo these 20 years later! Meanwhile Jacob was presenting the
considerable entirety of his
family, all bowing low before Esau.
our story does not continue cordially in this arm and arm fashion. No “living
together happily ever after” scenario.
Jacob has little chance to show the magnanimity manifest in is new name
As this story progresses it is evident that Jacob’s parental status is not unlimited. His sons are very angry and use “guile” the Torah says to negotiate this sexual outrage. The sons insist the union can take place “only if all the Hivite men are circumcised and become like us, then we will give our daughters to you and take your daughters to ourselves and we will dwell among you and become as one kindred, but if you will not listen to us and become circumcised, we will take our daughter and go.” And all the men of Shechem agreed after being exhorted by both Shechem and his father Hamor, chief of the country, who stressed the economic advantages of the affluent Hebrew tribe in their midst. “And all the males of the town agreed and were circumcised.”
“…On the third day , when they were in pain, Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob’s sons, brothers of Dinah, took each his sword, came upon the city unmolested, and slew all the males. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword, took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. The others sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the town bacause their sister had been defiled. They seized their flocks and herds and asses. all that was in the houses, all their wealth and all their children and wives they took as captives and booty.
Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me, , making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and Perizzites;’ my men are few in number, so if they unite against me, I and my house will be destroyed.” But they answered, “Should our sister be treated as a whore?”
here until the end of Genesis “Jacob” and “
As we shall see in our final installment of