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To return to this narrative. In the fortieth year of his age, Isaac was married to Rebekah, and in the sixtieth, his only children, Esau and Jacob, were born. (B.C. 1837.) The boys grew, and displayed very different dispositions ; and a very different destiny awaited them. Esau was active and bold ; Jacob, mild and affectionate. Esau delighting in sports of the field, procured the venison which Isaac loved. Dressing it with his own hands according to the taste of his father, he became his favourite ; while Jacob, devoted to the gentler pleasures of domestic life, remained near his mother and secured her almost exclusive attachment.
Having lived a century and a half, and become nearly blind from age, Isaac thought his days were almost numbered ; anxious, therefore, to settle the inheritance on his eldest son,
he called Esau, and directed him to take his bow and once more procure the dish that he loved; that he might eat of it, and bless him before he died. This was overheard by Rebekah, who immediately conceived the design of imposing on her husband and procuring the blessings for her favourite. Accordingly she directed Jacob to run quickly and bring a kid from the flocks, with which she would imitate the venison of Esau so completely that the latter would be supplanted.
Jacob's conscience disapproved of the fraud. He hesitated. “ I shall bring a curse on myself," said he, stead of a blessing.” But his mother silenced his scruples : on me be the curse," said she only obey me."
FANNY. What else could poor Jacob do, when commanded by his mother?
Mrs. M. Parents very seldom desire their children to do what is obviously wrong. If from ignorance or depra
vity, they so criminally disregard their own duty, they are not entitled to obedience. Perhaps Rebekah remembered, though Isaac had forgotten, the prophecy which had declared before their birth, that the blessing was entailed on the younger; yet she ought also to have recollected, that He who pronounced it, did not require the unjustifiable arts of his creatures to accomplish his purposes. But Jacob was probably aided by selfishness to yield to the dictate of his mother's affection. Yet we are not unwilling to plead in his behalf, that he was laudably ambitious to succeed to the spiritual inheritance bestowed on his family, and which he knew must be transmitted either through him or his brother. He was encouraged, too, by Esau's apparent carelessness of the distinction; for he had before this agreed to relinquish to Jacob for a trifling recompence the privileges of an elder brother, even then desirable, though they were afterwards augmented when the first born were required to be peculiarly devoted to the services of religion. He was persuaded, however, to disguise his person and present the dish prepared by his fond mother ; nor did he hesitate to assure his father that he was * his very son Esau.” “ God give thee,” said the pa. triarch, “ of the dew of heaven and the fatness of earth, and plenty of corn and wine. Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee; be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee; cursed be every one that corseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.” Scarce had this imposition been effected, when Esau came in, and presenting his venison, demanded the promised benediction. Astonished at the fraud of which he had been made the victim, Isaac lamented that “ Deceiver had come,” and to him he had given the superiority ! “I
bave made him thy lord, said he, all his brethren have 1 given to hiin for servants, and what shall I do now for thee, my son ?” “ Hast thou but one blessing ?" cried the afflicted Esau, “ bless me, even me also, O my father !" “ Thy dwelling," replied his affectionate parent, “shall be the fatness of the earth, and the dew of heaven from above, and by thy sword shalt thou live, and shaltserve thy brother."
CATHERINE. As Esau had evinced his willingness to give up his birth-right, one would not think that he would have been much affected by the injury he received.
Mrs. M. So you would naturally suppose; but we are inconsistent creatures. Though we may seem, for ourselves, to disregard a just claim, yet we do not suffer it to be wrested froin us with impunity. So it was with Esau ; he was highly incensed against Jacob, and even threatened to take
away his life, when he should no longer be restrained by respect for their venerable father. The anxious mother, ever watchful for the honour and safety of her favourite son, was not long ignorant of his danger. She saw that she had brought dissension into her family, and had armed the hand of one of her children against the other, by the indulgence of her unjust partiality, and that something must be done to avert that dreaded catastrophe. She im. mediately called Jacob, and telling him the terrible menace of Esau, she besought him to flee for his life;—to go to Haran to her brother Laban, and remain under his protection till the anger of Esau should subside, and she should send a messenger to conduct him home. But how should she obtain the consent of his father, whose great age hardly allowed them to hope that he might live to see him return. A plausible pretext was found in the recent marriage of Esau, who had grieved them both, by connecting himself
with the abandoned people amongst whom they lived. If Jacob should follow his example, she pathetically exclaimed, “ what good shall my life do me!” Persuaded by her complaints, and remembering that he had not himself been permitted to marry a Canaanitish woman, he sent Jacob away with a solemn charge, that he should go into Syria to the house of his uncle. Laban, and ask his daughter in marriage, and on no account should he take a wife from amongst his neighbours.
This point gained, no time was lost in preparation. Anxious now only for the safety of the youth, for whose advancement she had hazarded so much, and even sullied her own fair reputation, Rebekah provided no sumptuous retinue, like that which attended her own espousals. Not even one servant of his father's numerous household, protected the favoured heir---but dejected and alone, he takes the road to Padan Aram! (B. C. 1760).
CATHERINE. This did not look like lording it over his brethren. Jacob is obliged to flee from the presence of Esau, and leave him in possession of affluence, who was to be “ his servant,” according to the prediction of his father!
Mrs. M. You may remember, I told you in the case of Ham, that prophecies belonged rather to a race of people than to the progenitor to whom they may have been spoken. You will see as we advance, that the family of Jacob became indeed illustrious, and all the promises were vérified in them. Individuals follow their own imaginations, but all conspire to accomplish the designs of Him who cannot be disappointed! The hope of Jacob might indeed Janguish under such discouraging circumstances, immediately succeeding to his triumph, but he was soon revived
by happier prospects; for when he rested the same night; the unceasing providence of God was represented to him in a vision, by a ladder, whose foot rested on the ground where he slept, and whose top reached the heavens. Angels continually passed up and down on errands of mercy to an unworthy world, whilst the voice of “the God of Abraham and of Isaac," assured bim of protection, withersoever he went; and confirmed to him, in their fullest extent, the promises that had been graciously given to them!
Awed by a vision so extraordinary, he beheld the place with reverence! “Surely,” said he, “ this is the house of God, and I knew it not !” And of the stones that pillowed his head, he built an altar, and consecrated it, and there devoted himself to his Almighty Patron. "Jf God," said he, “ will be with me in this way
and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then* shall the Lord be my God,” Confiding now in his efficient shield, he cheerfully pursued his journey eastward till he came to a well near Haran. Springs of water are rare in that country, and wells only at considerable distances, so that wherever they are found, they are the resting places of the traveller, and the centre of communication for the inhabitants; for there they all assemble at certain hours, to water their cattle. That time had not yet arrived ; the stone that covered the well yet lay on its mouth ; but the shepherds were collecting, and Jacob embraced so favourable an opportunity of inquiring for Laban, the son of Nahor. The answer he received, was not less grateful than
* This vow of Jacob is to be considered as a grateful acknow. ledgment of his obligation to serve the lord-not a conditional promise.