Interesting Bible People: Jacob
Jacob, a Cheat and a Liar, yet God Loved Him
Jacob is among the most interesting Bible peopleThis is a story of the grandson of Abraham. He wasn't supposed to be the inheritor of the promise given to Abraham but it turned out that way anyway.. He is good at dishing out the cheating and lying, but he has to learn to take it later in his life. Come with me on the journey which is Jacob's life.
The photo is my own
A Mother's Story
Twins, Jacob and Esau
My name is Rebekah. I'm the mother of Jacob and Esau. Now Isaac would say I should say Esau and Jacob because Esau was the older, but I've always favoured Jacob. I can't help it, I've always thought that Jacob was the one who listened eagerly to the stories Isaac told of his father Abraham, whilst Esau would fidgit and want to be away off out doors hunting enjoying his life here and now. He just didn't understand all this talk of the promised land and God's promise to our family. I could never understand why Isaac favoured Esau, of course he did love venison and Esau was a great hunter.
Also when my twins were on the way I didn't know I was having twins. They were moving such a lot in my belly I was perplexed about what was happening. Then a wonderful thing happened to me. God spoke to me and told me I had two nations in my belly and they were struggling against each other. He said the older one would serve the younger one, so I always knew Jacob was the important one. Now to show you the difference between our boys let me tell you this. One day Esau went out hunting for a long time and came back exhausted and hungry. Jacob was making broth, he liked to cook. Esau asked for some of the broth. At once Jacob asked him to give him the birthright in exchange for the broth. It might not have been very nice of him to ask this but it shows the difference between my two boys. Jacob wanted the birthright because he knew its value. Esau's attitude was, "What good will the birthright do me if I die of hunger." So he said Jacob could have it. Esau was giving up his right to the things the first born should have.
Cheating and Lying
A Mother Helps Her Son,jacob Deceive His Father
Years went by and Isaac realised his time to die was coming and he decided to put the blessing on Esau. I heard him tell Esau to go out where the deer ran and kill a deer and bring the venison to Isaac. It was his favourite meal. As soon as Esau was gone I found Jacob. I knew he should have the blessing. This is how we humans behave, we get hold of the truth of God and then we think we have to make it happen, instead of waiting God's time.
I told Jacob to kill a goat and I knew a few tricks to make it taste like venison and in any case Isaac's taste buds weren't as keen as they once had been, also he was blind by this time and wouldn't see any difference in the meat. When the meal was ready we tied goatskin to Jacob's arms and put some around his neck. That was because Esau was so hairy, whilst Jacob had smooth skin, You never saw twins so different from one another.. Then I put one of Esau's cloaks around Jacob's shoulders and sent him in to Isaac.
Jacob Takes the Blessing
The Old Man Blesses the Wrong Son, Jacob
Isaac said,"You've been quick." Jacob replied,"The Lord helped me." Isaac embraced Jacob. "The feel of you and the smell of you is Esau but the voice sounds like Jacob." He said. "Are you really my son Esau?" Isaac said, and Jacob said,"I am." Isaac ate the meal and then blessed Jacob. I was listening all the time outside of the tent.
And what a blessing it was. Isaac said " my son smells
like the scent of an open field
which the Lord has blessed.
May God give you
the dew of the sky
and the richness of the earth,
and plenty of grain and new wine.
May peoples serve you
and nations bow down to you.
You will be lord over your brothers,
and the sons of your mother will bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed,
and those who bless you be blessed
And then Esau came back. Cheated out of his blessing. I knew Jacob was safe from Esau's anger as long as his father lived, but I knew I must send Jacob away. I suggested to Isaac that he should send Jacob back to my brother to find a wife. I never saw my son again but I heard he found a good wife.
Jacob Escapes to His Uncle
A Lonely Journey for Jacob
Rebekah said to Isaac that she could not bear to think of Jacob marrrying the local girls who did not serve the same God and she wanted Jacob to go away to his uncle Laban, her brother and find a wife there. Esau had married some of the local girls and Rebekah did not like them. So Jacob was sent packing to Haran. He set out probably with some camels for company and maybe some servants too, after all they were a wealthy family. The first night he settled down using a large boulder to lean against. No doubt he had some soft baggage to soften the boulder and with the camels close to him should have been relatively comfortable.
As he settled down to sleep his mind must have turned on the recent events. It must have been puzzling to think of his cheating and lying which had brought to this situation, also he was thinking of the Lord God in whose name he had been blessed. He drifted off into sleep and then a wonderful dream started. He could see a stairway going from earth up to heaven and on it angels moving up and down. And then most wonderful of all he saw God and God spoke to him. God said that Jacob would be the father of a great nation and that He would be with him always and would bring him home safely. When Jacob awoke in the morning he felt over-awed. He decided to name the place Bethel, which means house of God. So that he would recognize the spot when he returned he put the boulder in an upright position to mark the spot, just like a mini stone henge. Then he went on his way to see what he would find at his uncle's home.
Love at First Sight
What Lies Ahead for Jacob?
Having had his exhilerating experience of meeting with God, Jacob arrived at Padam Aram. He came to a well with three flocks of sheep lying near it, waiting to be watered. The well had a large stone over it. When all the flocks from around had come together the shepherds would roll away the stone and water the sheep.
Jacob asked the shepherds where they came from. They replied from Haran Jacob asked if they knew his uncle Laban.They replied that they did. Jacob asked, "Is he well?." They replied, "Yes, and here comes his daughter, Rachel with his sheep." Jacob said, "It's still early afternoon. Why don't you water the sheep and take them back to pasture." Was he wanting to be rid of them while he greeted Rachel?They replied,"We can't until all the flocks are gathered. That's the agreement we have."
Rachel arrived with her father's sheep. What a beautiful sight, Rachel leading the flock. How beautifully she moved and came with confidence and coming towards her was a stranger. He came right up to her and kissed her. Then he told her he was her cousin Jacob. Then, as all young men like to do , he showed how strong he was. He went to the well and tore away the stone so that she could water her sheep. I guess it was love at first sight for them. Rachel ran off to tell her father that Jacob had come. When they met Jacob was overcome with emotion and broke down in tears.He told Laban all the news of his sister Rebekah.
Some More Cheating Takes Place
After Seven Years' Work Laban Agrees Jacob Can Marry Rachel
After spending a month with Laban and his family Laban said Jacob should have wages. Jacob asked to marry Rachel in exchange for seven years work. Laban agreed. So after seven years the wedding took place. The heavily veiled bride was brought to Jacob's tent at night. He made love to her. In the morning he found that it was not the beautiful Rachel but her older sister Leah who had something wrong with her eyes. Maybe she was cross-eyed. The trickster had been tricked. Laban explained that it was their custom to marry the older daughter first. He said if Jacob wanted to marry Rachel now he would have to agree to another seven years work. Jacob agreed and took Rachel as his bride. This was not a recipe for a happy family. Soon Leah had children, while Rachel had none. Rachel told Jacob to get her a child from her maid servant, and then Leah did the same with her maid servant.
Jacob grew wealthy. Laban said he could have all the spotted sheep. Jacob must have understood something about genetics because more and more sheep were being born spotty. Trouble began to brew between him and Laban. Jacob decided to go back to the land God had promised to Grandfather Abraham.
Jacob Becomes Prosperous
Jacob wanted to go home with his family but Laban wanted him to stay as he felt God was blessing him because Jacob was with him. Laban said as payment for all his work Jacob could have all the spotty and striped sheep and goats. They parted company and Jacob set about mating his sheep and goats. More and more were born spotted or striped. He was becoming very rich. Laban's sons became very jealous because Jacob was prospering and having all the strongest sheep.
Then the Lord spoke to Jacob and told him to go home. Jacob told his wives and they agreed to leave the only home they had known and go with him to the land promised to his fathers. So off they set. Three days later Laban heard they had left and pursued them with his relatives. Quite an imposing sight, no doubt. Then he had a dream from God telling him not to confront Jacob. When they meet Jacob tells of all the hard work he had put in for Laban. He had worked fourteen years for his wives to be his and six more to get together his flocks of sheep. All the time Laban kept changing his wages. If there were lots of spotted sheep he would say that now Jacob could have the stripey ones. He had changed Jacob's wages ten times. Jacob said if God had not been with him he would have become a pauper.They decided to part in peace and made a heap of stones as witness to the fact. The next day Laban kissed his daughters and grandchildren and went home in peace.
How Will Esau React?
Jacob's Return to the Promised Land
Jacob is going home but this means meeting Esau again and Jacob is fearful. On the way the angels of God meet Jacob. Jacob sends a message on ahead to Esau hoping to find favour with him. the messengers return saying that Esau is on his way with four hundred men. Jacob is full of fear but he divides his company into two parts so that at least one has a chance of survival. Then Jacob prayed to God and told him all he feared. He admitted he did not deserve God's help, but also reminded God of how he had promised to be with him.
Then Jacob made some gifts for Esau. These consisted of two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young,forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. He put each herd in the care of his servants and told them to space out and then when Esau received all these herds one by one he would be placated. This "little" present gives us an idea of how prosperous Jacob had become. So the gifts were sent ahead but Jacob spent the night in the camp.
The Strange Wrestling Match
Jacob sent his children and wives across a river called the Jabbok and jacob was left alone on the other side. A man wrestled with him till the dawn began to come. the man could not overcome Jacob and Jacob would not let him go.. The man touched Jacob's hip and it was wrenched. the man said,"Let me go it is daybreak." Jacob said,"I will not let you go until you bless me." The man asked him his name then he said,"Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel because you have struggled with God and man and overcome. Jacob said,"Please tell me your name." He would not tell his name but as far as Jacob was concerned he had been face to face with God. Some theologians believe that this was Jesus before his incarnation. Jacob went on his way limping, probably feeling it was not a good way to meet Esau.
Jacob's Meeting with Esau
Jacob arranged his wives and children with the servant girls of Leah and Rachel first, then Leah and her children and finally Rachel and Joseph. He went in front to meet Esau. He need not have worried ,the meeting went well and Esau said he had plenty of flocks and didn't need Jacob's gifts.But Jacob insisted on giving them to Esau. I guess he wanted to make amends for stealing the blessing. However they parted friends and went in different directions. Jacob settled at Succoth.
I will now leave the rest of Jacob's story untold because it overlaps with his son Joseph. Just to say that by various means Joseph went to Egypt and stored grain for a famine. Then Jacob and the family went down to live in Egypt. All will be revealed when I tell you Joseph's story at another time
I Am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Lord I can understand that you are the God of Abraham, a good man who followed you, even when he didn't know where he was going. He loved you so much he would have sacrificed his son to you. And Isaac the son, probably a teenager at the time, acquiesced in the plan. They were good people, but Jacob, how could you be the God of Jacob? He had so many faults, a tricky person, doing his brother out of the birthright, out of the blessing. How could you, the holy one, be his God? "Jacob have I loved," you said. you are God, your decision is right, but how am I to understand it? I call you my God, but I too am as bad as Jacob. I have often gone down the wrong path in rebellion, thinking I knew what was for the best, when you had said otherwise. I'm glad you are the God of Jacob - there is hope for me and others like me. When I was a "good chapel girl" my sinfulness was not apparent. When I strayed into adultery, my sinfulness, always there, was exposed. now I really know what I am and in repentance find God is the God of Liz, as He is the God of Jacob. He loved Jacob, loves him still - and He loves me too.