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Authors: Gilbert Morris

Tags: #FIC042030, #FIC042000, #FIC026000

The Gate of Heaven (9 page)

BOOK: The Gate of Heaven
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“Yes. Listen to me now and do everything that I command you. Will you do it, Jacob, no matter what I say?”

“Why, Mother, I've always been obedient to you. You wouldn't tell me to do anything that wasn't for my own good.”

Relief washed through Rebekah, and her voice grew stronger. “Listen to me. Go now to the flock and bring me two good kids, the best you can find. I'm going to make savory meat for your father such as he loves, and when I have prepared it, I want you to take it in to him.”

“But Esau is going to bring him savory meat.”

“He won't be back until late in the afternoon. By the time he finds the game, kills it, dresses it, and cooks it, it may even be tomorrow.”

Jacob shrugged his shoulders. “Of course I'll do as you say, Mother, but what purpose will this serve?”

Rebekah felt for one moment as if her entire existence hung in the balance. She had prayed for years for the prophecy God had given her to come true, and now she felt a rush of exultation. Everything was falling into place! She kept her grip on Jacob's arm, squeezing it even harder. “Listen, my son. When you go to your father, he must think that you are Esau, for then he will bless you with the blessing of the firstborn.”

“Why, Mother, he would never mistake me for Esau!”

“Yes, he will. He is confused in his mind now and is expecting Esau to come back. When you take the food in, simply put it before him and say as little as possible.”

Jacob ran his hand through his hair, confusion sweeping across his face. “But Esau is such a hairy man, and my skin is smooth. You know how father sometimes likes to touch. If he puts his hand on my arm, he'll know that I'm not Esau.” His voice sounded alarmed. “If he finds me out, he will put a curse on me and not a blessing.”

Rebekah reached up and locked her hands behind Jacob's neck, compelling him to look straight into her eyes. She had always had the most beautiful, expressive eyes Jacob had ever seen, and now they were glowing with life and excitement. Her voice had a slight tremor in it, but it was strong and clear. “The curse be on me, my son, if there be one! I have waited for this moment for years. The strong God has chosen you to be His own special being. Esau is a man of the earth. He is my son, and I love him, but
you
are the one God has chosen. God himself told me that.”

“But, Mother, are you sure? After all, Esau is the firstborn.”

“God can do anything He chooses, Jacob. He's chosen you, and He will put you over your brother. Only do as I say, and you will see that I speak the truth.”

For a moment Rebekah thought Jacob was going to refuse. He had grown up, like other Hebrews, with strong feelings about the firstborn. Rarely was the oldest son's position ever challenged. Rebekah knew she was asking Jacob to go against the teachings and traditions of the tribe, but she was absolutely certain that God had spoken to her. She could see no way other than this to bring about what God had said would come to pass. “Go now, my son. Quickly. We must hurry.”

Jacob straightened up, and a determined look changed the set of his features. His eyes narrowed, his lips grew tight, and his very body seemed to grow taller. “Yes, Mother. If this is what God has said, then we must take whatever steps are necessary.” He turned at once and left.

Rebekah stood watching him go, and for one moment doubt assailed her. She, too, was strongly taught in the ways of the Hebrews, and the tradition of the oldest son as the leader was very strong in her. But stronger than this was the memory of God's message to her, which over the years had not grown fainter but had only increased. Even now she could recall every detail of that moment when God had spoken to her. She lifted her hands and said, “Oh, God, Jacob and I will do your will, and it will come to pass as you have said—that the older shall serve the younger.” She turned quickly then and left the tent.

The sun was high in the sky, beaming down its warmth and life-giving qualities. Jacob had paced throughout the camp all morning after he had delivered the dressed kids to his mother. He knew she had started cooking the meat, and she had warned him not to get too far away.

Now he started toward the cook tent, and when he stepped inside, his mother turned to face him. She was pale, he saw, but her back was straight and her eyes glowed with an intensity he had never before seen.

“All things are ready, my son. Come, let me prepare you.”

Jacob stepped forward and saw that she held something in her hand.

“What's that, Mother?”

“Let me tie these on your forearms.”

Jacob obediently put out his right arm and leaned forward as she quickly put something over him. “What is this?” he said. “It looks like a skin of the kid.”

“It is. Your father, as you say, loves to touch. He will put his hands on you, and your smoothness will tell him at once that you are Jacob.” As she spoke, Rebekah fastened the woolly skin over his forearm. It fit exactly, and she tied it on with leather thongs through holes she had pierced. Jacob ran his left hand over it. “It does feel like hairy skin,” he murmured.

“Here. Let me put on the other one.”

Jacob watched as she finished the work and held his arms up. “How did you ever think of this?”

Rebekah did not answer. She turned and said, “I've prepared the meat. Your father won't be able to tell it from venison. I've seasoned it the way he likes.” She went outside and Jacob followed her. Bending over, she picked up a bowl and then a wooden ladle. Dipping it into the black pot that was sitting over the fire, she filled the bowl and put a smaller spoon in it. She turned and held it out to Jacob. As he took it, she stared at him intently. “Speak as little as possible. Your brother's voice is stronger. So speak loudly.”

Jacob swallowed hard, a touch of fear gripping his stomach. “If he finds me out, I'll be ruined, Mother. I will have to leave forever.”

“You will not be found out. He's expecting Esau, and his mind isn't clear. Go now. This is our time, Jacob, yours and mine. God has told us to do it.”

Jacob had always envied those who heard the voice of God, especially Abraham, his grandfather. Isaac had also been in the presence of the all-powerful God who ruled the world, the Eternal One who made all things. Jacob believed implicitly his mother's words that God had spoken to her, and now he steeled himself and said, “I'm trusting in the word that you got from the Eternal One, Mother.”

“That is good, my son—now, go!”

Jacob walked quickly to the door of the tent, pushing back the front flap. A burning oil lamp threw its yellow corona of light over his father, who lay as if asleep. For one moment Jacob hesitated. His father's face looked so wan and tired that he thought,
I can't take advantage of a poor old man
. But his mother's words overcame his objections. Besides, as he had wandered the camp that morning, he had reasoned for the acceptability of their plan from the behavior of both his father and his grandfather. Both of them did a wrong thing in order for a good thing to come.
If I do this one thing that is wrong, I will be able to do many great things. Esau has much cruelty in him. He would not be kind to our people, but I will be
.

Grasping the medallion through his tunic with his free hand, he firmly imitated Esau's voice as well as he could. “My father, I am here. Are you awake?”

Isaac opened his eyes at once and said, “Yes, I am. Is it my son Esau?”

“Yes, Father, I am Esau, your firstborn. I have done what you have asked. Sit up now and eat of the venison; then give me your blessing.”

Isaac struggled to a sitting position, then took the bowl. He fumbled eagerly for the spoon, but the meat was hot. He blew on it, and as he waited for it to cool, he said, “How is it you have found the game so quickly? It's not past noon, is it?”

“Because the Lord your God brought it to me,” Jacob said quickly.

Isaac turned his head to one side slightly. He blew on the meat again, took a bite of it, and sighed. “That is very good.” Reaching out his free hand, he said, “Come here, Esau, that I may feel whether you are indeed my son Esau.”

Jacob's heart sank, and fear pierced him like a sword.
He knows I'm not Esau
. But there was nothing else to do. He came forward and said, “Yes, I am your son Esau.” He put out his hand and touched the old man's shoulder. Isaac ran his hand over Jacob's forearm. Jacob was petrified. Any man of discernment would know the difference between a man's skin and a kid skin! He was fully prepared for his father to cry out “You're an impostor!” and his mouth was as dry as dust.

Isaac sighed then and removed his hand. “You are indeed my son Esau, and you have brought me such good venison.”

The panic that had been rising in Jacob subsided, and he sat beside Isaac as the old man ate.

“Give me some wine, my son.”

“Yes, Father.” Jacob rose and took the bottle of wine that hung from a peg, poured it into a wooden cup, and handed it to Isaac, who drank gratefully.

Isaac handed back the cup, and when Jacob had set it down, the old man said, “Come here now and kiss me, my son.”

Again Jacob became fearful.
Esau is a big, burly man, and I am not. He will know by the feel of me that I am not Esau
. But he need not have feared, for Isaac merely placed his hands on his shoulders. Jacob felt them lightly at first, like the touch of a bird; then Isaac drew him closer and kissed him.

Isaac's grasp grew firmer, and he put his arms around Jacob's neck and drew him close. “The smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.” His voice then fell into a rhythm and became much stronger—so strong, in fact, that Jacob was shocked. He had not heard his father speak with such power and authority in many years, and he knew that this was the patriarch passing his mantle and staff along to the one who should succeed him.

“May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness—an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”

The blessing went on for some time, and the voice remained strong. But then Isaac began to weep. “My son, I shall soon pass from this earth, and I pray that you will be a man of strength and honor. A man like your grandfather Abraham, who was the friend of God. Always be the friend of God, my son, always!” Jacob felt Isaac's hands loosen, and then he saw that the old man had exhausted himself. He laid him down gently, and when he stared at the worn, tired features of his father, tears filled his eyes. He could not bear to look upon him, and he turned and left the tent.

“I heard him give you the blessing.” Rebekah was standing there waiting. She threw her arms around Jacob's neck and drew him close. “Oh, my son, you have received the blessing of the firstborn! You will be the great man of our people!”

Jacob stood holding his mother, and there was a war inside his breast. He felt the triumph of all that she had said, and yet he knew that for a long time he would see the face of his father—pale, worn, and tired—the man whom he had deceived.

Late in the day, Esau returned from hunting and entered his father's tent with a bowlful of venison stew. The hunt had been difficult. His wives had made the stew under his direction, and now it was dark outside. As he entered the tent, he saw that his mother was not there, which surprised him. Nonetheless he went directly to Isaac and said, “Father, arise and eat. I have brought you the venison. Let your soul bless me.”

Isaac sat up straight and looked around wildly. “Who is this? Who is speaking?”

“Why, I am your son. Your firstborn, Esau.”

Esau was shocked at his father's expression. His face seemed to fall apart. His mouth opened, and he tried to speak but could not. He began to tremble, and Esau leaned forward. “What is it, Father? Are you ill?”

BOOK: The Gate of Heaven
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