“So, what did you guess? What did Jacob do to earn God’s favor?” Shirlee looked for a raised hand. “Mark?”
“I think he killed Esau’s nasty wives. That’d make both of his parents happy.”
“That’s a good guess, and it probably would have brought him favor; but that’s not what he did. Yes, John?”
“Did he get Esau’s wives pregnant? After all, he already screwed his brother, why not . . .”
“Besides, not only would that be a sin, John, but it would also not make Jacob’s parent’s happy, now would it?”
“I guess not.”
“Ginny, do you have a guess?”
“Um . . . Well, you said Jacob was a shrew . . .”
“Shrewd, dear. It means clever. A shrew is a small rodent.”
“OK, shrewd. So the only shrewd thing I see in the list would be that he schemed with his mother to steal Esau’s blessing.”
“I think that’d make him a shrew, Ginny,” Mark scowled.
“Only a little rat would do such a thing!”
“Hush your noise, Mark!” Shirlee thumped her Bible. “Let’s see what Jacob really did, shall we?”
Isaac got very old and lost his sight. So, he called Esau, and told him that he was old. This may not have been news to Esau.
Isaac expressed concern that he might die any day, so he asked Esau to go kill a deer and cook up his favorite meat dish, and that then he would bless Esau. (Genesis 27:1-4)
“Conditional love, anybody?” Mark was laughing. “What’s wrong with this guy? He can’t just give a blessing, he needs his favorite dinner first?”
“Maybe his idea of ‘love’ got a bit warped after his father Abraham tried to sacrifice him to God,” John offered.
“Enough!” Shirlee hollered. Sometimes she thought these kids were worse than the Dullards, who just sat there silently while she read the Bible to them. “Do you want to learn what God values, and go to Heaven, or not?”
“Yes, Shirlee,” the boys sighed.
Rebekah heard Isaac giving Esau instructions. She waited for Esau to go off hunting, and then told Jacob to grab two kids from the goats of the flock, and Rebekah would make the tasty meat dish for Isaac, and Jacob could bring it to Isaac and get the blessing.
Jacob objected. (Genesis 27:5-11)
“I knew it!” a triumphant Ginny cried. “He’s no shrew, Mark! He knows that lying to his father is evil and sinful, and it’s stealing from his brother!”
Shirlee smiled knowingly. “Jacob did see a problem with his mother’s plan, that’s for sure!”
Jacob objected, pointing out to his mother that Esau was hairy but Jacob was smooth. So what if Isaac touched him and realized that he wasn’t Esau? Then Isaac might curse him instead of blessing him!
Rebekah said, ‘If you get caught, then may the curse come upon me. Now obey, and go get the kids.’ (Genesis 27:11-13)
“He didn’t do it, did he?” John wondered.
“It’s the Bible, John. I’m sure he changed his mind. Right, Shirlee?” Ginny’s eyes pleaded.
Jacob went and got the kids, and his mother cooked them the way Isaac liked. Then she put some of Esau’s best clothes on Jacob, and put the skins of the kids — which were furry — on Jacob’s hands and the back of his neck.
Jacob took the food and went in to see his blind father, claiming to be Esau returning with the deer meat dish Isaac had requested.
When Isaac asked how he got back so quickly from the hunt, Jacob said that God had delivered the deer to him. (Genesis 27:14-20)
“Whoa! So this guy is not only a liar, but didn’t he just bring God into his lies?”
“He was being . . . um, he was being shrewd, John,” Shirlee stammered.
“So ‘shrewd’ means ‘lying about God’?”
“It was obviously what God wanted to happen. After all, He had told Rebekah that ‘the elder would serve the younger’ (Genesis 25:22-23).”
“So God wanted Jacob to lie to his father and claim that God had helped him?”
Shirlee sighed. There was just no reaching this one. “Apparently so, John.”
Isaac wasn’t sure about the story, and told Jacob to come close so he could touch him to be sure he was really Esau. So Isaac touched Jacob’s hands, noting that while he had Jacob’s voice, his hands were hairy like Esau’s.
Isaac then asked if Jacob really were Esau, and Jacob said he was. (Genesis 27:21-24)
The children were silent, shocked at the actions of a Patriarch.
“Liar! Liar,” shouted Tom. “Liarpantsonfire!”
“Not again,” muttered Shirlee.
“Ginny, could you calm your cousin, please?”
Ginny sighed, then turned to Tom. “Tom Cerveaux, you’re being disruptive. Stop it right now.” Her firm yet gentle voice caught Tom’s attention.
“Liar,” he muttered.
Shirlee waited a moment then, seeing that Tom had calmed down, continued:
Jacob gave Isaac the tasty meat dish and wine, but no salad course or vegetables. Isaac then blessed Jacob, thinking he was blessing Esau.
No sooner did Jacob leave, than Esau arrived, having hunted and cooked a deer for his father!
‘Wait, who are you?’ asked Isaac. When Esau explained, Isaac began shaking and explained that he’d already eaten the venison (which was actually baby goat) and blessed someone, and they realized it had been Jacob.
‘Can’t you bless me, too?’ begged Esau. ‘First he took my birthright, and now even my blessing!’
Isaac said, ‘Look here, I made him your master, and gave him all his brothers for slaves. What do you want me to give to you?’
Esau cried and begged for a blessing, too. So Isaac told him that Esau would live off the land, and by his sword, as servant to Jacob, but eventually break free from Jacob. This blessing wasn’t too pleasing to Esau.
Esau decided then that after his father died, he would kill Jacob. (Genesis 27:25-41)
“Sounds fair to me,” said Ginny. “Yeah!” added Mark.
Shirlee, surprised at such violent talk from Ginny, asked her why she was so upset. “Jacob was chosen by God! Why do you think he should be killed?”
“Shirlee, in the story you just told, Jacob lied to his blind father, stole from his brother, and even pretended that God — who Isaac and Rebekah both had met in person — had helped him hunting! How can that be a righteous man?”
Shirlee paused, taken aback.
“Yeah, Shirlee,” John chimed in. “This guy sounds like a real scumbag! A liar and a thief, and that’s someone chosen by God?”
“Sounds like Greek mythology to me,” said Mark. “Like Odysseus or Jason, they were both clever thieves and liars, and the Greek gods favored them because of it.”
“Greek GODS?” Shirlee was livid. “How can you compare the Word of God to a bunch of pagan nonsense stories? What’s wrong with you children? God loves you, He’s not just some silly story in a book like Zeus or Thor or . . . or . . .”
“Dagon,” whispered Tom.
“Whatever, that too, Tom. All fiction, made up silliness. So stop comparing God’s Word to silly mythology books!”
The cracked church bell sounded its off-key clang, indicating the end of church services. “I’ll see you next week, children. Try not to mock God’s Word in the meantime!” Shirlee slammed her Bible shut, grabbed her bag and coat, and stomped out of the room.
“I guess Shirlee’s not a fan of comparative religion study,” Mark said with a smirk.