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Genesis 27: Favorite Son and Casual Racism




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"Isaac Blesses Jacob" by Govert Flinck (1615-1660).
Isaac was old and practically blind.  He felt the end was coming, so he called his boy Esau in and told him to go out hunting wild game for him.  “Kill me something that tastes good and I’ll do something really nice for you before I die.  Which is soon.”  So Esau took off for the countryside to go kill an animal.

Rebekah heard this and approached her boy Jacob.  She told him she’d like him to bring her a couple of kids so she could make something she knows Isaac will like, rather than take their chances on whatever animal Esau happens to catch.  (Oh, and kids means baby goats, just to be clear.  Isaac hasn’t converted to Baalism or anything like that.  Kosher laws do not exist yet, but cannibalism is still frowned upon.)  Jacob wasn’t sure about this plan.  “Dad expects Esau to do this, not me,” he told his mother.  “He can barely see anymore, so we might be able to pull this over on him.  But what if he touches me?  Then he’ll know I’m not that hairball wilderness-dweller of a brother of mine, but rather the clean-shaven, upwardly-mobile one.  Dad isn’t going to like that.”

“Oh, don’t let that old man get to you.  If there’s a problem, it’s on me.  Now go get those kids.  While I’m cooking, you can get dressed in your brother’s clothes, so your dad won’t be able to tell it’s you.  We’ll use them to cover up that smooth skin of yours.”

“But if he’s blind, how would he know?  I mean, couldn’t I just wear my clothes, and—“

“Enough!  Just do it already!  You worry too much!  Your father’s soft enough in the head that we could tell him you’re King Nimrod and he’d believe it.”

At dinnertime, Jacob got ready to bring the meal to his father.  To make extra sure, his mother took the hides of the dead kids and draped them around his neck and over his arms.  “Dad,” said Jacob, “I’m Esau, your first born, remember?  I did what I asked you to.  Here’s the meat, cooked to perfection.”

“That was quick,” said old Isaac.  “How’d you manage to get an animal that fast?”

“Because God helped,” Jacob told him.  “That’s how.”

“Can’t argue with that logic,” replied Isaac.  “Now come on over here.  I want to make sure you’re actually Esau.”

“Don’t you trust me?” asked Jacob.

“Uh… sure.  Now get over here.”  Isaac felt funny about this.  This person had Jacob’s voice, but was hairy like Esau.  Or like a young goat.  One of those.  “You’re really Esau, now?”

“I am,” said Jacob, who was already in this too deep to back out.

“Okay.  Now serve me this game you caught (whatever this animal is) so I can give you my blessing.”  Jacob did, and Isaac ate and drank.  “Come even closer now, and kiss me, my son.”  As Jacob kissed him, Isaac could smell his clothes, which convinced him that this was indeed his son.  Then he blessed Jacob-cum-Esau like this:

“Ah, that’s my son!
He smells like the goat
Wrapped ‘round his throat!

May God give you
Lots of great stuff
And it never comes tough
And He gives you enough!

I hope everyone does
What you want, because

You’re the master of your brothers,
Of all women’s boys, including your mother’s.

If anyone curses you, if they try,
I hope God pokes them in the eye!”

“That was beautiful, Dad,” said Jacob.

“Thank you, Esau, my eldest son.  I meant every word of it.”

Satisfied that the con worked so well, Jacob left.  Not long after that, the real Esau showed up, announcing, “Dad!  I killed some kind of animal, and I cooked it!  It’s really good!  You hungry?  Can you give me one of your special blessings, with the rhyming couplets and everything?”

“Who are you?” asked Isaac.

“I’m Esau,” said Esau.  “Your first born.  First.  Because the first son is the most important one.  Remember that.”

Isaac was so mad he started shaking.  “So who was it that went hunting and brought me that other animal that I ate just a little bit ago?  Because I gave him a blessing, and that blessing’s gonna stick!  No backsies!”

Esau was pissed.  “Dad, bless me, too!  I mean, I did what you asked, right?”

“No.  I see it now.  Jacob dressed up as you and took your blessing.  I can’t write another one now.  Those things take time to come up with, you know.”

“What’s with this guy?  First he takes my birthright, then he takes my blessing.  Granted, I didn’t really want the birthright, ‘cause I play by my own rules and stuff, but blessings are different.  I can always use one of those.”  Then Esau turned to his father and asked, “Are you sure you don’t have another blessing for me?”

“Jacob already has all the stuff that the eldest child usually gets, Esau,” said Isaac.  “Sorry about that.  What can I do for you, at this point?”

“A blessing!” said Esau.  “Weren’t you listening?  I just want a blessing!  They’re free!  Can’t you just come up with something?  I don’t even care if it rhymes, at this point!”  Esau started to cry as his father sat there listening, stone-faced.

Isaac then said:

“Do as you should:
Go out in the wood,
You’ll find stuff that’s good.

Live by your sword,
Jacob got my whole hoard,
It’s your brother who scored.

See?  You’re basically Jacob’s slave now.  When you win your freedom, you won’t have to answer to him anymore.”

“Some blessing, Dad.  Thanks a lot.”

Because he was so used to wandering around in the woods by himself, Esau said aloud, “Dad’s gonna die soon.  When he kicks, I’m gonna kill Jacob and then I’ll get everything.”

Rebekah heard all this, and ran to Jacob to warn him.  “Your brother wants to murder you,” she said, “but he’ll get over it, I’m sure.  But for now, go to Haran, where your Uncle Laban lives.  He’ll take you in while this blows over.  I’ll let you know when it’s okay to come back.”

After Jacob left, Rebekah said to Isaac, “I sent Jacob to live with my brother in Haran for a while.  I hope he doesn’t take up with one of those Hittite women.  They’re gross.  If he marries one of them, then what?  My other son will be running around in the woods, and you’ll be dead.  What’ll there be for me?  Oh, I hate those Hittites.”

“I love and respect you, my wife,” said Isaac.  “I’ll make sure our son carries on your brand of racism”


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