Jacob Gets the Blessing in Rebekah’s Words

My name is Rebekah.  My husband, Isaac, and I live here with our twin sons, Esau and Jacob.  Esau is older than Jacob, but only by a heel.  But Jacob, well, Jacob is my favorite.  I know, I know.  I’m not supposed to have favorites, but Jacob is such a nice boy.  He mostly just sticks close to the tent and keeps me company while Esau goes out hunting for days on end.  While I was pregnant, the Lord told me that the older would serve the younger which was very strange because in our culture it’s the oldest is the one that receives the blessing.  But I have trusted God for these many years and knew that he would make it happen.

So you can imagine my shock a couple of days ago when I overheard Isaac telling Esau to bring him his favorite dish so that he could bless him.  I just couldn’t believe my ears.  Esau?  But God told me specifically that Jacob would be the blessed one!  How could Isaac do this to Jacob???  He knows of God’s intention!  How dare he try to go against God?  I thought perhaps that Isaac might still be mad a Jacob for trading Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew a while back.  Or, well, Isaac is getting pretty old and his mind isn’t what it used to be.  Maybe he just forgot. Whatever the reason, I knew I had to to make this right!

So I came up with a plan.  Now, it wasn’t a great plan, but I knew that Esau would be back from hunting in a few days so our time was short.  I called Jacob in and told him to go and get the two best goats from the flock so I could cook up the special dish Isaac had requested.  Because I had made this dish hundreds of times, this was the only part of the plan that I knew would go off without a hitch.  Then I told Jacob he would go into his father and pretend to be Esau to receive the blessing.  I know, I know.  You’re thinking that all Isaac had to do is look at Jacob and the jig would be up.  Thankfully, and this is going to sound positively heartless, Isaac is almost blind so that wasn’t going to be a problem.

However, Jacob did bring up a very good point.  His brother is hairy.  And he was right.  Even as a child Esau had more hair than the rest of us put together!  So we had our first legitimate wrench in the works.  It took me a minute, but I thought about the hair from the goats that we would be slaughtering.  I would just attach that to Jacob’s arms and neck.  See?  Not a great plan.  But that also got me to thinking of other ways that Esau and Jacob are different.  Obviously, Jacob would have to try and mimic Esau’s voice.  We tried it a few times, but Jacob just couldn’t manage to sound like Esau.  We could only hope his father’s hearing was getting as bad as his eyesight.  The last factor was the smell.  Because Esau hunts regularly and doesn’t pay as much attention to personal hygiene as I would like for him to, how do I put this gently?  He stinks to high heaven!  And for as bad as Isaac’s eyesight is, there’s nothing wrong with his nose.  Thankfully, I hadn’t done the laundry yet (literally the only time procrastination has worked in my favor) so I told Jacob to put on some of Esau’s dirty clothes.  He was so disgusted you would have thought I asked him to eat some bacon.

Then came the time to put the plan into action.  Isaac’s dinner was cooked, Jacob was dressed in Esau’s clothing, and he had sheep hair attached to his arms and neck.  When I saw him, I had to stifle laughter because he looked ridiculous.  It was like a little boy playing dress-up in his father’s clothes and doing it very badly.

I stood outside the room where Isaac was sitting so I could spy.  The whole scene played out like Little Red Riding Hood.  You know, the part where the wolf dresses up like Red’s grandma and hides in the bed and there’s the whole exchange of “Grandmother, what big ears/eyes/teeth you have!”  You never know until the end if Red is going to figure out that it’s the wolf in her Grandmother’s bed or not.  That’s what I was feeling right at this moment.

Jacob tentatively walked in carrying the food that I had prepared and Isaac asked him who he was.  He said he was Esau.  I was on pins and needles waiting to see if Isaac would notice that it was Jacob’s voice.  He didn’t say anything right away so it seemed like we passed the first hurdle.  I still couldn’t manage to breathe.  He then asked Jacob how he had made it back so quickly from his hunting trip.

All I could think was, “Oh no!!!  We didn’t talk about this at all!”  I mean we had talked about the hair, the voice, and the odor, but not an explanation for this.  Thankfully, Jacob was quick on his feet and said that God had directed him in his task.  Isaac then asked for Jacob to come closer so he could touch him to make sure he was Esau.  Jacob did as he was told and Isaac felt his arms and neck.  Isaac vaguely mumbled “Hmmmm…you’re definitely hairy like Esau.  Yet, you have the voice of Jacob.”  Jacob quickly cleared his, feigned a couple of coughs, and said, “I think I’m coming down with something.”  Perplexed as Isaac was, his stomach was also growling so he asked for his dinner and wine.  Jacob nervously fumbled the tray but managed to bring the food and wine to his father.

After he was done with his dinner (didn’t I tell you that this was the only thing that would come off without a hitch?), Isaac told Jacob to come and kiss him so he could bless him.  When Jacob got close enough, I heard Isaac inhale deeply and knew that he still wasn’t convinced.  He needed to smell “Esau” to make sure it was really him.  Satisfied with the pungent odor from Esau’s clothes, Isaac blessed Jacob.

And just like that, God’s words to me were fulfilled!  Sure I took matters into my own hands, but the end justifies the means.  Right??

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More Fear and Trembling Than I’m Comfortable With

It makes me sad that I started this blog to record my thoughts about working through my faith and that the reason I haven’t written anything lately is that I’m having somewhat of a crisis of faith and I’m kind of embarrassed about it.  I mean, of all people, I should not be having this crisis.  I grew up in church.  I was there every time the doors were open.  I knew all of the right answers.  If you named a Bible story, I probably could tell you that story from beginning to end.  I always took notes during sermons; my Bible margins were filled with writing.  I proudly showed off the fact that my Student Bible from 1995 started falling apart.  I was in heaven when I got my first NIV Study Bible because it had more study notes for me to read and learn.

And then I got to seminary where it was a whole new ball game.  For the most part, professors aren’t concerned with Sunday School answers.  They want you to reach past the easy answers and get deep into the text and read it like you’ve never read it before.  And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this semester.  Ironically, this is the root of my crisis in Dr. Ngan’s Scriptures I class.  Anyone that has taken her class, will attest to the difficulty of the course.  Yes, there’s a lot of reading, but it’s more than that.  After 6 weeks in class, I know that the difficulty lies in its ability to stir up questions about some of the more difficult Bible passages as well as the ability to make you start questioning if certain stories actually happened.  I bet you weren’t expecting that last part.  Neither was I.

I was fine until we read Ancient Near East epics such as Gilgamesh and The Deluge.  When you compare biblical accounts of creation and the flood with these epics, you start noticing many similarities.  As in the essence of the story is the same, but with names changed.  That’s when I started questioning which came first.  Because if the Bible wasn’t written first, then that means that the stories in Genesis didn’t really happen.  And then the room starts spinning and I think that if Genesis isn’t true, then what’s to say any of the Bible is true?  And then I started questioning my entire life and purpose (not kidding).  I’ve been doing this for 6 weeks and my panic level just keeps growing.

The good(?) news is that many of Dr. Ngan’s students have gone through the same thing.  I spoke with one of her former students today and he said that some people drop the class because they can’t handle the deconstruction of everything they were taught in church. He also added that she doesn’t necessarily do anything to reconstruct a “correct” belief system, either.  The big-picture part of me can accept that because we all have to decide on our own beliefs, hence the working out of our salvation with fear and trembling.  But the terrified child within me just wants a Sunday School teacher (or seminary professor) to tell me what to believe.

So that’s where I am, fellow pilgrim.  I simultaneously want to continue and quit.  But continue is winning for now.  I’ll let you know if that changes.

If you’re intrigued by the epics that I mentioned above, leave me a message and I can get you those.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.