Friday, May 17, 2013

Genesis: Yeah… Jacob’s Kind of a Jerk

Today we get into one of the more messed up stories I’ve read so far. Not “messed up” in that the characters behave badly (though they do), but more in that it’s just complete nonsense. Hopefully, you’ll see what I mean.

Isaac is getting old, and going blind. Worried that he could die any day now, he wants to give a final blessing to his eldest son Esau. So he calls Esau in and tells him to go hunt him up something good to eat, and once it’s prepared he’ll go ahead and bless Esau.

Now Rebekah overhears this conversation. And since Jacob is her favorite, she’d rather he get Isaac’s blessing than Esau. So she tells Jacob to snag a goat from the herd, prepare it the way daddy likes it, and impersonate Esau so blind old Isaac will bless him instead. When he points out that Esau is much hairier than him, she tells him to wear the skins of young goats on his hands and neck so if Isaac feels him it won’t give away the game (it’s not enough for poor Esau to be continually taken advantage of, the author – or cruel God/genetics, depending how factual you think any of this is - has to make him this big hairy gorilla as well).

So Jacob goes and gets a goat, and his mom prepares it for Isaac to eat. Then she dresses him up in Esau’s clothes and covers him with goat hair, then sends him in to Isaac. At first Isaac is skeptical that it’s Esau, because it sounds like Jacob, and he got back from his hunt too fast. But Jacob claims that God provided game for his hunt, and Isaac feels the goat hair on his hands and smells Esau’s clothing, and is finally convinced that Jacob really is Esau. So he gives him his blessing.

“Gen 27:27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said ‘See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed! 28 May God give you the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. 29 Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!’”

So Jacob departs, and almost immediately Esau returns from his hunt. He prepares his food and takes it in to Isaac. It doesn’t take too long for them to figure out what had happened. Now, you might expect at this point that Jacob might be called in, roundly berated, told that all the shit in the blessing really applies to Esau, and he can pretty much fuck off. But no, this is the Bible, so insanity must prevail. Thus we get:

“Gen 27:37 Isaac answered and said to Esau ‘Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?’ 38 “Esau said to his father ‘Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me also, O my father.’ And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.”

That’s right. These dipshits actually think that the words spoken to Jacob are legally and mystically binding, and that nothing can be done about it. Now, I realize that they’re both the products of intensive inbreeding, and Isaac is both near death and the victim of severe childhood trauma when his psycho dad nearly cut him open and set him on fire for God, but c’mon! These are grown men expected to be the heads of their households, and they’re both batshit insane!

And when you think about it, both Jacob and Rebekah believe the same thing or they wouldn’t have gone through all this effort to steal the blessing.

It occurs to me that these people seem to be operating on a very different definition of “blessing” than what we think of nowadays. Generally, I think most of us think of a blessing as a request for God to intervene for someone’s benefit. Well, if that were the case here, the solution would be simple. If God is all-knowing, then he knows the intent of the blessing and Esau is all set. If God is fallible, Isaac could simply pray to God and correct the error.

But these guys are acting like the words as spoken contain power independent of the intent behind them, and that makes them irreversible. That’s not a blessing as we understand it – that’s a magic spell! It’s an incantation. Isaac is performing sorcery.

Anyhow, Isaac gives Esau a separate blessing that reinforces the idea that he has to serve his brother now, but includes a loophole to allow him to break out of that servitude at a later date. Whatever.  It’s a whole lot of backstabbing, conniving, and misery over nonsense. Illustrative, perhaps, in its own way.

That’s it for today! Tune in next time when we find out how Jacob comes to marry his cousins!


  1. Amen! I'm glad someone else besides me sees just how insane the Bible is. Holy book? Please! If this story's author was God or some divine prophet, then truly they are the real sinner.