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Authors: Gilbert Morris

Tags: #FIC042030, #FIC042000, #FIC026000

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BOOK: The Gate of Heaven
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Isaac could not speak. He put out his hand and touched Esau's face and then let his hand run down his side and over his forearm. His voice rose, and panic threaded his tone. “Who is this? Who comes to me?”

Esau stared at his father. “It is me, Esau. Your firstborn, Father. Don't you know me?”

Isaac fell back and put his hands over his face. “I do not know you. Who brought me the venison earlier? I have already eaten of it and have blessed the one who brought it. And he shall be blessed.”

Esau's mind went blank. He could not understand his father's words. “What do you mean, Father?”

Isaac did not remove his hand, and his voice was muffled. “One has come before you, my son Esau. I thought it was you. He said his name was Esau, and he brought the savory venison such as I love.”

“But you did not bless him, my father.”

“Yes. I blessed him. He received the blessing of the firstborn.”

Esau angrily flung the stew from him. It splattered on the floor, and he fell forward on his knees and grabbed Isaac's arms. He put them on his own head and cried out, “Who was it?”

“It was your brother, Jacob! It must have been. He came and took away your blessing.”

Esau began to shake with a white rage. “Is he not rightly named Jacob? He has usurped me twice. First he tricked me into renouncing my birthright, and now he's taken away my blessing.” His shoulders shook, and he held his father so tightly that the old man winced. “Give me a blessing also, my father!”

But Isaac shook his head. “I have made him your master, and all his brothers have I given to him for servants. I have given him new grain and wine. I have nothing left to give you, my son.”

Esau was not a crying man, but he began to weep, tearing at his robe and loudly lamenting, “Bless me. Even me also, oh, my father!”

And then Isaac reached out his hands, groping for his son, and they fell on Esau's head. The big man had bowed over him and put his head down on Isaac's chest, and Isaac began to speak. “Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.” He then embraced his son, clinging to him tightly. “Your brother has the blessing of the firstborn, my son Esau. You must accept it.”

Esau rose. Tears ran down his face, and he turned and stumbled blindly out of the tent. Rage began to fill his entire being, and he stopped and stared at the tent where Jacob lived. His mind was crazed with murderous thoughts, yet for once he restrained himself. Staring at his brother's tent, he whispered, “I will not touch him while my father lives—but as soon as he dies, I will kill my brother for stealing my place!”

Chapter 6

Everyone in the tribe walked widely around Esau in the days that followed Isaac's granting of the blessing to Jacob. Always a violent man, Esau did not hesitate to state his intent that he would have his revenge on his younger brother after his father's death. His threats were joined by a rash act, which was typical of Esau. His wrath against his brother so flowed through him that he was not reasoning well. He was never a man to think things through, so knowing that his parents despised his Canaanite wives and hoping to gain their favor, he went to Ishmael and took his daughter Mahalath as a wife. When questioned about why he added a third wife to his already conflict-filled household, he said, “My parents do not like the Canaanite women, so I will win their favor by marrying one of our own people.”

But Rebekah was not deceived. She knew Esau was capable of murder, and she did not miss the looks of hatred he always gave his brother, Jacob. Finally she devised a scheme and went directly to Jacob with it.

She found him out in the fields with the flock, for he often stayed away from the camp now. She knew he was troubled over having deceived his father and was fearful of his brother's revenge. When he turned to her, she said, “Jacob, your brother will kill you as soon as he has a chance.”

“I know it,” Jacob said bitterly. He stared at his mother and shook his head almost violently. “I wish I'd never done it, Mother.”

“It was necessary,” Rebekah said. She put her hand on his chest and felt his heart beating. “It will be all right. In time he will forget it.”

“Not Esau. He
never
forgets a wrong.”

“Listen to me, Jacob. I want you to go to Haran.”

“To Haran? What for?”

“I want you to go stay with my brother Laban.”

“Stay with him? For how long?”

“A few days…or weeks, perhaps. Even a few months would not be too much. You must stay away long enough for Esau to lose this hatred for you.” She spoke quickly and persuasively. “Esau is an impulsive man. He will forget what you've done to him, and when he does I will send word for you to come home again.”

Jacob felt a weight lift at her words. “I will go, Mother, but what will we tell Father?”

“Let me talk to him. We've already talked about your finding a wife. You must not marry one of these Canaanite women. You must find a wife among our own people.”

Jacob shrugged. “I'm not worried about finding a wife. All I want to do is stay alive.”

Rebekah leaned forward and pulled Jacob's head down and kissed him. “All will be well,” she said. “You will not be gone long, and you may find a woman there to love. A woman of our own people. Get ready. I will go tell your father.”

Isaac never spoke of the blessing Jacob had tricked him into making. Rebekah had prepared Isaac to meet with Jacob by saying, “You must be kind. What's done is done, and Jacob must not marry a Canaanite woman. He must go to my brother Laban. There will be young women there, and my brother will help him choose.”

Isaac reached out toward his son, and when Jacob took his hand, he said, “My son, you must not take a wife from among the daughters of Canaan. Your mother and I want you to go to Paddan Aram, to the house of Bethuel, your mother's father. Take a wife from one of the daughters of Laban, your mother's brother.” He hesitated, then seemed to grow freer. He lifted his head and strained to see his son's face. “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing of Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien, the land God gave to Abraham.”

Relieved that Isaac had not mentioned his deceit concerning the blessing, Jacob kissed his father and left the tent. His mother had gathered his things together, and now she embraced him. “Go quickly, my son.”

“I will miss you, Mother!”

“It will not be long,” Rebekah promised. “You will be back in a short time. Now, God be with you.”

Jacob shouldered his belongings and, taking his staff, left the camp. As he did, a sinking feeling came to him. He turned back to see Rebekah standing in front of her tent. Something about her posture disturbed him. He waved and smiled and called, “Good-bye, Mother,” but she did not move for a long time. Finally she lifted her hand in a gesture of farewell, but he saw she was weeping.

Why is she weeping? I'll soon be back—maybe with a fine wife
. With this thought he comforted himself and hurried out of the camp.

The night was coming on, and Jacob sought a place to rest. He had been on his journey four days now, and his provisions were almost gone. He had brought a bow and arrows but had been unable to take down any game. The game was plentiful, but Jacob had never honed his skill with bow and arrow. Bitterly he thought,
If Esau were here, he'd be feasting by now
.

When he stopped for the night, the place was filled with rocks. He had to search to find some softer ground in between them.

Opening his bag, he ate the portion of mutton that was left and saw that he was practically out of food. He drank the last of the wine in the goatskin and then sat back and watched the sun set.

All day he had walked under a bright, full sun, and now the crimson disk was settling into the west, far away behind the mountains. The air was becoming chilled, and he shivered. Drawing out his blanket, he wrapped it around himself, lay back, and tried to sleep. All around him, as the sun disappeared, pearl-colored shadows covered the rocks, and the rough terrain with its scrub bushes took on soft, silver shadings. The peace of evening magnified distant sounds, and a sense of loneliness came over him as he heard the far-off cries of a wild dog. He watched as dust whirled in the small wind gusts, skimming along the surface of the world. Then night settled almost at once.

Jacob lay awake for a while, his mind full of his life history. He had the gift of almost total recall, and time and again he relived the scene when his father had put his hand on him and given him the blessing of the firstborn. He tried desperately to believe that his real motive had been to fulfill the prophecy his mother had been given. He tried to convince himself that what he and Rebekah had done had been a good thing. It had been necessary for God to achieve His purpose. But when Jacob tried to pray, the scene came before him, and he could sense God's displeasure. The thought chilled him.

Finally he built up a fire and sat for a long time watching it. From time to time he would light a twig and watch the yellow flame as it glowed briefly in the darkness. Overhead, stars spangled the ebony skies. There were no clouds, and when he looked up and saw the stars, he remembered his grandfather repeating the promise God had made him—that he would have descendants as many as the stars in the sky.

Jacob tried to count them, then shook his head, feeling foolish. “No man could count them,” he said aloud. The sound of his own voice startled him, and he picked up a stick and poked the fire. The action sent hundreds of tiny sparks flowing upward, twisting and turning in the breeze. They rose high in the air and seemed to mingle with the distant dots of fire in the sky.

Finally weariness overtook Jacob, and he wrapped himself as warmly as he could. But for a long time he lay thinking of his past, wishing he could undo some of the things he had done.

A light came so abruptly and sharply that Jacob could not bear it. He was confused and put his hands over his eyes to blot out the intense brightness. He was frightened also, for such brilliance out of such darkness was not natural.

And then he knew he was dreaming. This had happened to him before when in a dream he knew he was dreaming. It always gave him an eerie feeling, and the thought troubled him now as he lay shielding his eyes.
What if I never wake up? What if this is the Strong One coming to kill me?

A sound came to him then that he had never heard before, and in his dream he sat up and removed his hand from his eyes. What he saw that moment he would never forget. A stairway glowing with light appeared before him. The bottom of it was planted on the desert, but it went up and up and up, higher than any mountain Jacob had ever seen or could even conceive of. It rose high into the air, and the size and magnificence of the stairway, which glowed like pale gold and glittered like diamonds, would have been enough to frighten him.

BOOK: The Gate of Heaven
13.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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