In my last installment on the Jacob and Esau story, I drew your attention to how distraught Rebekah and Isaac were over Esau’s choice of women for marriage, and how they impressed it upon Jacob to steer his course in a direction that will please them. They didn’t just leave Jacob to mull over this decision, without actively creating the environment to bring their desire to fruition, even though in sending Jacob to “… to Paddan-aram, unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah …” (Genesis 28:5), so he could marry any of Laban’s daughters, Rebekah purposed to protect Jacob from his brother Esau, whose intention was to kill Jacob once Esau, their father dies, and is buried and days of mourning for him over. This turn of event led Esau, who sensed his parent’s displeasure at his marital choices, to go to Ishmael (his father’s stepbrother), “… and took, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife” (Genesis 28:9).
Remember how Isaac despite been blessed by his father Abraham, had to have confirmation of those blessings with a sort of repetition by YAHWEH? Well, it turned out that when Jacob left his parents on his way to Labans’, towards Haran, that he decided to take a nap at evening. There he dreamt and saw a ladder that extended from the earth to heaven, with angels “… of YAHWEH, ascending and descending on it” (v.12). Above this ladder was YAHWEH, who introduced himself as the “… Elohim of Abraham your father, and the Elohim of Isaac…” (v.13), before going ahead to transfer the blessings HE’d afore given to Jacob’s forebears to him. I have often wondered what would’ve happened, had Isaac succeeded in blessing Esau, against YAHWEH’s will, even though I know that that could still not have forced HIS hand to go against HIS own will, but as usual, while Isaac proposed, YAHWEH disposed, a narrative that you’d find not only in the scriptures, but in life as well to be a truism.
In introducing Himself to Jacob, in order to start a relationship with the latter, YAHWEH made the point that the fact that ones father had a relationship with Him, doesn’t mean automatically transfer same to the son, just like that. The son in spite of his father must chart a path, his own path with the Elohim of his fathers. That’s why when I look at the fallacy of sons being named (sometimes even without grooming) to replace (as if spiritual gifts run in family DNAs) their pastor fathers (which isn’t a bad idea in itself, if not that in some cases because the pastor wants to maintain wealth gotten from the church coffers within the family), over and above other members of the church that have shown promise, I shake my head, wondering how it was arrived that the best way is to anoint a son, after his father to head a church, or hold a prominent position in the church.
Back to the story. So YAHWEH went on to say to Jacob, that “… the land on which you lie to you will I give it, and to your seed; and your seed shall be as the dust of the earth (much like HE said to Abraham), and you shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in you and in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (v.13-14). Away from the general, YAHWEH ventured also into the personal, saying “… and behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go (understanding the conditions under which Jacob had to leave his father’s house, virtually with nothing), and will bring you again into this land (meaning that though YAHWEH had promised the land to him, he still would have to leave it for the moment); for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you of” (v.15). Now, none of these would make sense to you, or you wouldn’t understand the gravity of these words, if you do not take into cognizance the context in which these words, so uttered were used, so I’ll outline them for you.
1. Forget the fact that Jacob was going away to Laban to pick a wife. Would he, and can he marry any of Laban’s daughters like that, just like that, with nothing tangible to his name?
2. The deal was more for Jacob’s safety. He was indeed going away to Laban’s for protection. While Abraham’s servant went to negotiate a wife for Isaac from Bethuel, Laban’s father, he went from a position of authority, in contrast to how Jacob went, which is more like a refugee.
3. Jacob was going on exile, a better option to risking been killed by his brother Esau, whose anger showed no sign of abating while Jacob remained in the house, tempered only by the respect Esau had for his father.
YAHWEH’s promises therefore was for him to accept his present woeful condition presently, and be encouraged by the fact that he was the bearer of Abraham’s blessings, not his brother. In my short time of researching the scriptures, I have come to find that each time a blessing from YAHWEH goes forth to a man, it is immediately followed by hardships. It happened to Joseph, after he saw in a dream his siblings and parents bowing before him. Same thing happened with the Israelites in Egypt after Moses returned to deliver them from Pharaoh, and at the first asking, caused the workload of the already stretched Hebrew ‘slaves‘ to be increased unjustifiably. I have experienced same in my life, but that’s a story for another day.
When Jacob woke from his sleep, and dream, he was afraid, and thought the place he’d laid his head to be the House of Yahweh, “… and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called that name of that place (formerly known as Luz) Beth-El” (v.18-19). It was right there that Jacob vowed, bearing in mind the contexts I’ve afore listed, that “… if YAHWEH will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go (much like Isaac in acquiescing to YAHWEH’s desire for him not to head to Egypt in Genesis 26:2), and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on (which at that moment were no longer things he could take for granted any longer), so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, and YAHWEH will be my Elohim….” (v.20-21). Thus Jacob sealed a deal with His Creator, marking the beginning of a personal relationship with HIM, something I always ask of so called believers. It is not until one has done this, can anyone claim to worship The Almighty in spirit and in truth. It is my belief, and I’ve found it to be true as well, that the proliferation of religious leaders with the immense power over the minds of men that they control, stem from the fact that the people (who now call such pastors “Papa” or the likes, when Yahshua admonished that only YAHWEH must we call Father) over whom they exercise power, spiritual or otherwise have neglected the need to have a personal relationship with their creator. These people have become like Israelites in the later part of their lives, after their sojourn in Egypt, who abandoned YAHWEH and sought for themselves Kings, just so they can be like other nations, and by Biblical Accounts, we know where that led them.
Furthermore, in verse 22 of Genesis chapter 28, Jacob used the stone which he used as a pillow, to set up a pillar, proclaiming it as YAHWEH’s House, promising that “… of all that You shall give me, I will surely give the tenth unto you.” In the same way as Abraham gave a tenth of his war booty to Melchizedek, King of Salem, and Priest of YAHWEH (Genesis 14:19-20), in what is to become the early origins of tithing, before it became the source of stupendous wealth for many, so called pastors worldwide, with the subsequent bastardization of the letter and intent, as well as true meaning of the principle of tithe, and tithing. Jacob exhibited character, spiritually similar to his ancestors, evidence that YAHWEH didn’t miss his target in choosing an Abraham, or Isaac (over Ishmael), or Jacob (over Esau), in terms of those he was sure would “… command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of YAHWEH, to do righteousness and justice, to the end that YAHWEH may bring upon Abraham that which he has spoken of him” (Genesis 18:19), and that’s in spite of their personal failings as humans. Shalom!
– Genesis Chapter 28 Verses 5 – 22, THE SACRED SCRIPTURES (Bethel Edition), An Assemblies of Yahweh ®, Publication, © 1981 (Fourth Printing, 1993).