Wednesday 11 May 2016

Reading the Bible - Genesis 27

Genesis 27 is traditionally known as the tale of Jacob pulling the wool over the eyes of his father Isaac to steal his brothers blessing. To me, Genesis 27 is a summary of the functioning of a seriously dysfunctional family. So let us look at the families figures and the parts they play in the story of Jacob stealing Esau's blessing.

Father Isaac.

Of all the characters in this tale, I probably feel the most for Isaac as he is old and blind. It is these reasons that lead to him being duped into giving the eldest sons (Esau) blessing to the young usurper Jacob. However, it was foretold that Jacob would become the more important brother so I would expect him to have been more careful, especially since Jacob had already made a deal to steal/take Esau's birthright. It could be argued that Isaac was careful in that he checked if Jacob was hairy and smelt him to make sure he smelt like his brother, but he even said that the fake Esau sounded like Jacob so my sympathy runs a little thin.
"So Jacob came near to his father Isaac, and he felt him, after which he said: “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Eʹsau.”"
So, yes Isaac was deceived. But after his family have seen all his dubious business dealings in the past it is hardly surprising that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Mother Rebekah.

It is a difficult toss up between who is the main deviant in the story, but I have to say it is Rebekah for the simple fact that she says she will take all the blame if the plan to deceive Isaac fails.
"What if my father feels me? Then I will certainly appear to be mocking him, and I will bring upon myself a curse rather than a blessing.” At this his mother said to him: “Upon me be the curse meant for you, my son. Just do as I say and go, get them for me.”"
She is also the one that tells Jacob of the plan after overhearing Isaac talking to Esau about how it is time for him to get the blessing. To top it off this mastermind, uses goat hair to mimic Esau's hairy body, cooks stew for Isaac that is to his liking, and clothes Jacob in Esau's clothes to mask his natural scent. Mother of the year?

Jacob, the deviant son.

It is not surprising that Jacob gets the blessing from Isaac really. After all he fits the mold of Biblical Patriarch perfectly by being a deviant that cheats his way to the top. He really has no hesitation in lying and deceiving, as such we can truly only expect the best for him.
"Jacob said to his father: “I am Eʹsau your firstborn. I have done just as you told me. Sit up, please, and eat some of my game, so that you may bless me.” At that Isaac said to his son: “How were you so quick in finding it, my son?” He replied: “Because Jehovah your God brought it to me.” .......... After that he asked: “Are you really my son Eʹsau?” to which he replied: “I am.”"
So after all the lies, under the gaze of the just Jehovah we get Jacob receiving the blessing, and it is a good blessing as Jacob even gets to have his brother as a slave. Additionally, he basically gets blessed in a way that makes him a god as others will bless him and then be blessed.
"Let peoples serve you, and let nations bow low to you. Be master over your brothers, and let the sons of your mother bow low to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you.”"
Pretty cool really, so from now on you can direct all your prayers to Jacob as he is probably less busy than God.

Esau, the other deviant son.

So Esau is the big loser in this whole story, as he has lost everything at this point. In fact there is nothing Isaac can give to him except a promise that he has to serve his younger brother.
"But Isaac answered Eʹsau: “Here I have appointed him master over you, and I have given him all his brothers as servants, and I have bestowed grain and new wine for his support. What is left that I can do for you, my son?”"
Then to rub salt into the wounds, Isaac gives the following blessing.
"“See, away from the fertile soils of the earth your dwelling will be, and away from the dew of the heavens above. And by your sword you will live, and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will indeed break his yoke off your neck.”"
Needless to say Esau was not pleased with all that has transpired, and so he plans to kill his own brother. Now, this just shows what a truly dysfunctional family this is, as what ever happened to talking things over before reverting to the dull edges of the stone age sword.

In closing, luckily for Jacob, Rebekah overhears what Esau is planning and gets Jacob to run away like any good son with every blessing should do. However, as with everything Rebekah, this runaway was well coordinated in such a way that Isaac actually sends him away to get married and thereby saves Jacob the embarrassment of being a coward. But, that is a story for next week.

All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website