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Authors: Gilbert Morris

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BOOK: The Gate of Heaven
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“Everybody told him, but you know Esau. He won't listen to anyone.”

Rebekah reached up and pushed a lock of Jacob's hair back from his forehead. “I want you to marry a Hebrew girl, son. Not one of the wicked women from this country.”

“Mother, I'm not likely to marry anyone. I can't afford it.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You know what I'm talking about. Esau will have control of everything, and he doesn't have any affection for me.” Jacob wanted to scream in frustration. “What about your vision, Mother. What about—” Jacob put his hand to his chest.
No, I must not say anything about the medallion
.

“I do not know. Maybe your father will change his mind.” Rebekah placed her hand on Jacob's shoulder. “If he weren't so ill, he'd see that you were treated better.”

Jacob felt a pang of compassion for his mother, for Isaac was very stubborn where Esau was concerned. “Don't worry about it,” he said. “We'll work something out.”

The next day Jacob tried to speak with Esau concerning the behavior of his wives. The two were standing out looking over the flocks where Esau, for once, had come to help with the shearing. He was a good hand at this when he wanted to be, but his interest usually tapered off after a hard day's work, and he would go off hunting again. He had listened impatiently while Jacob explained that their father was feeble and didn't need to listen to his wives complain.

“Just let me know if they give Father any more trouble. I'll give them both a beating.”

That's his answer for everything,
Jacob thought with disgust, and he changed the subject to the flock. “It's time to move from here, Esau.”

“No, it's not time yet.”

“But the grass is nearly gone, and our herds have grown. We've got to move up north.”

Esau stared at Jacob and merely clamped his lips together and shook his head. Jacob continued to explain the need for the move, but Esau finally waved his hand and said, “I'm not ready to move yet.”

“But the herds—”

“Look—Father's illness has put me in charge of this clan. Despite your trickery, Father knows I am the better leader. And I'll tell you something else, Jacob—when Father dies, I'll be the master. Then you'll have to work instead of being a woman. Mother spoils you, but I'll take care of that.”

“That's not fair, Esau. I work very hard.”

But Esau just shook his head and shouted, “We're not moving and that's final! Now, don't talk to me about this again.”

“But, Father, it's time to move,” Jacob pleaded. “We're losing animals for the first time. You've got to talk to Esau.”

“I can't do that,” Isaac said in his tired, gravelly voice. His voice had once been clear and strong, but those days were gone now. He was sitting on a mat in his tent while Rebekah did her work, listening. She motioned for Jacob to continue. It had been her idea for Jacob to talk with Isaac, but her son was convinced it was a waste of time.

“Father, you've got to listen to me. For some reason God has blessed us here. We've never had such harvests, and we've never had such increase in our herds. But we've got to use good judgment. Esau doesn't know much about the animals. He's too interested in hunting.”

“You've always complained about your brother, Jacob. I don't want to hear it.”

Jacob threw up his hands and would have left, but Rebekah intervened. “You've got to listen to him, Isaac. Jacob is right.”

“And you always stick up for him, Rebekah. You've spoiled him.”

“You've been listening to Esau,” Jacob said bitterly.

“Everyone knows that you're your mother's favorite.”

“And everyone knows Esau is
your
favorite!” Jacob spat out before he could think. He saw that the words hurt Isaac, and he immediately apologized. “I'm sorry, Father, but there's some truth to it.”

“Well, he's the firstborn.”

Jacob bit his lip, and Rebekah spoke up. “You've got to do something for Jacob, Isaac. He needs a portion. He's worked hard all of his life, and he deserves a reward.”

“The firstborn must be the head of the clan,” Isaac insisted. “I'll talk to Esau. He's a good man. Just a little rough.”

Jacob knew it was useless to say any more. “Father, I've been thinking of going away and starting over. Perhaps you could give me just some of the flock.”

Isaac shook his head. “Your brother will take care of you,” he said.

Jacob stared at his father, then turned to his mother. But he saw only the helplessness in her expression. “I wish Grandfather were alive,” he muttered quietly, then rose to his feet and left the tent.

“That boy is wrong,” Isaac said. “Isn't he, Rebekah?”

Rebekah loved Isaac, but she loved Jacob fully as much. “No, he's not wrong. You've got to show more concern for him.”

“Esau is the firstborn. Now, let's have no more talk about it!”

Chapter 5

Standing outside the tent, Rebekah felt a calm possess her as the night passed away and the new day was born. She sighed deeply, for the last month had been hard. Jacob had been restless, and it had taken all her persuasive powers to keep him from leaving home. Esau had been hard on his younger brother—arrogant and constantly harping on Jacob's shortcomings. As for Isaac, there was nothing to be said. His appetite was good, but he usually kept to his bed and rarely ventured more than a few yards outside his tent. His blindness had dimmed his appetite for the outdoors he had always loved, and it was all Rebekah could do to persuade him to get a little exercise.

The camp was beginning to wake up with the usual morning vigor. The sky was still dark and Rebekah stared up at the stars, which looked like sequins on black velvet. As she turned to face the east, she saw the horizon crack apart as if a fissure had divided earth from sky.

Pleasure came to her as the light of morning broke, and for a long time she stood there, simply drinking in the birth of a new day.

The noises of the camp gradually became more pronounced, the voices of children with their treble cries, men from the outskirts shouting at the cattle, and the singing and chattering of the women as they began the morning meal. The air was soon filled with the smell of woodsmoke, and the heat of the sun began to warm the camp. With a sigh Rebekah turned and began her day. She entered the smaller tent, which adjoined the large one where she and Isaac slept and spent most of their waking hours. The smaller tent held the cooking supplies, and she began, after a moment's thought, to select ingredients for the morning meal.

As she worked, her mind went back to the problem with Jacob. She ground corn into fine flour to make the mush that Isaac liked so much without thinking about her labor. She was good at blocking out everything except what was in the center of her thoughts, and now this was Jacob and his brother, Esau.

She had always striven to be fair to Esau, but he had been a hard child to love. Whereas Jacob was affectionate, often showing his love with caresses and pats, Esau was never demonstrative toward her. At first Rebekah had tried to share her caresses equally between the two boys, but Esau had early drawn away or laughed at her. As her sons had reached manhood, the differences between the two had become more pronounced. Rebekah sighed and shook her head at the thought.

Maoni, the sixteen-year-old servant girl, came in yawning and rubbing her eyes.

“Start preparing that fruit, Maoni,” Rebekah commanded.

The girl was attractive and was already drawing the attention of young men. Rebekah was making plans for the girl, selecting which of the suitors would be best. Even as she thought of this, she was suddenly disgusted with herself.
Why do I think I have to manage everyone? Maoni's old enough to know which man she likes the best. As long as he's suitable, I'll have nothing to say about it
. Satisfied with her decision, she said, “You go get some water from the spring, Maoni. I'll finish this.”

“Yes, mistress.”

By the time Maoni had returned with a jug of fresh water, Rebekah had milked a goat and filled a cup with the frothy liquid. She arranged the mush and the veal she had pounded into small bits on a platter, preparing to take the breakfast to Isaac. She had left the small tent and started to enter the larger one when she halted abruptly. She could hear Esau's voice inside, which was a surprise. He was rarely seen about the camp in the early morning because he was either out hunting or sleeping late. She started in, but then stopped and stood listening instead, deciding to come back later. She had developed a suspicion, and what she heard confirmed what she had feared for some time.

“What can I bring you, Father?” Esau's voice was clear, strong, and throbbing with life. “Anything you would like in particular?”

Isaac's voice by contrast was weak and feeble. “My son, is it you, my son Esau?”

“Yes, Father. Shall I get you something to eat?”

Rebekah listened intently during the long pause that followed, and then she heard Isaac say, “Son, I am old, and I know not the hour of my death.”

“Why, you'll be here for many years yet, Father. Never fear.”

“No. My death is coming.” The voice was pleading and frail—almost as if he were afraid, Rebekah thought. “Take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, son. Go out to the fields and bring me some venison.”

“Why, of course. I was going hunting anyway.”

“Good, son! Make me some savory meat such as I love and bring it to me so that I may eat.”

“I will be back by nightfall. Game has been a little scarce lately, Father, but I promise you will have your venison.”

“Yes. The savory meat that I love. Fix it for me.” And then Isaac's voice became clearer. “And when you bring me the meat, my son Esau, I will bless you with the blessing of the firstborn.”

Rebekah's heart grew cold. This was the final step. For once the father's blessing was given, it was irrevocable. She heard Esau's voice quivering with excitement, saying, “Yes, my father, I will go at once.”

Immediately Rebekah whirled and dodged into the smaller tent. She heard Esau's footsteps as he left; then she took a deep breath. There was a struggle within her for a moment as she stood holding the breakfast she had made. But her mind was on her son Jacob.

“Esau must not have everything!” she whispered into the silence. “Jacob must not be left out. Oh, Lord God, you spoke to me and said that the elder would serve the younger. And now, Lord, help that I might bring this to pass.”

Quickly she went into the tent and found Isaac almost asleep again. “Here, husband, you must eat.”

She fed Isaac his breakfast, but her mind was elsewhere. As soon as he finished his breakfast, she said, “You get dressed now, and you can sit out in the sun this morning. It's a fine day.”

“I think I'll sleep a little more, wife.”

“Very well, then.”

Leaving the tent, Rebekah went at once to Jacob's tent. She spoke as she approached the flap. “My son, are you awake?”

“Yes, Mother.” Jacob stepped out fully dressed. “I was just coming to have breakfast with you.”

“There's no time for that.”

“Is something wrong, Mother? Is Father ill?”

“No, he's not ill, but something has happened that I've feared for a long time.”

Jacob stepped closer and looked into his mother's face. “What is it?”

“It's your father. I heard him speaking to Esau. He told him to go hunting and bring him some venison. You know how he loves savory meat.” She hesitated as if reluctant to bring out the news, but she knew it was necessary. She put out her hand and grasped Jacob by the arm. “Son, he's going to give your brother the blessing of the firstborn.” She saw Jacob's face fall and said, “But I have a plan.”

“A plan? But there's nothing to be done, Mother. Father has the final say.”

BOOK: The Gate of Heaven
4.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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