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Jacob - "Where was God?"
by Jim Vasquez
Now oft I've thought that my poor name,
Has been a bit maligned,
I've heard the things they've passed around,
And slurs some have assigned,
They've thought me a deceptive man,
They've cared not for just how,
I gained my rich inheritance,
Nor will they quite allow,
The blessing that my father gave,
They say I cheated some,
When, feigning to my brother be,
I furtively did come,
But let me from the start take up,
My tale of truth and woe,
And tell you how my life has been,
That thus apprised you'll know.
Indeed I was a twin from birth,
And quickly showed my zeal,
Though Esau first did come to light,
I grasped him by the heel.
From early moments thus inclined,
I sought what gain I could,
Resisting those who interfered,
Or who before me stood,
Which some then thought a sign that I,
Of character did lack,
And in things virtuous and good,
I showed myself quite slack.
But others, too, were part of this,
I never was alone,
Though some have judged me harsh and said,
That I was evil-prone.
And only later did I learn,
How God had favored me,
And how by His election I,
A prince one day would be.
My brother loved the field by day,
A hunter he became,
He blessed our table greatly for,
He brought us tasty game.
While I preferred the quiet of,
Our spacious, breezy tent,
Assisting mother in her chores,
And there my hours spent.
And thus it was that I became,
Our mother's favored son,
While Esau for the food he brought,
Our father's fondness won.
But then the day arrived when I,
A tasty, crimson stew,
Was stirring as its odors rose,
Enticing all in view.
And Esau, then, returning from,
The field empty of hand,
So weary from the hunt was he,
That he could barely stand.
And when aromas from my pot,
O'ertook my famished twin,
His only thought was to partake,
Of what I had therein.
And I, no fool, perceived that he,
Would part with anything,
To satisfy that suffering and,
An end to hunger bring.
And was I crafty thus to think,
The time had come at last,
To gain his birthright then and there,
Before the moment passed?
He swore to me without delay,
In moments it was done,
Preferring steaming lentils o'er,
His right as first-born son.
And if his birthright then was mine,
Why not the blessing, too?
Some better plan I'd need for this,
And not another brew.
And then my mother said one day,
"Now listen well, my son,
Your father's old, I know just how,
His blessing can be won,
"The blessing will be yours if you,
Will set some favored plate,
Of tasty meats before your dad,
His appetite to sate,
"Pretending to be Esau and,
Requesting that he give,
His blessing to attend your days,
As long as you may live."
I feared I could not fool ol' dad,
And things would go the worse,
"He'll find me out for sure," I said,
"I'll get, instead, a curse."
But mother then insisted that,
I fetch a tender goat,
While Esau still was hunting in,
Some field, wild and remote.
"And let the curse come down on me,"
My mother, angry, said,
"Now go and fetch the animal,"
And out the tent I fled.
Then she prepared a savory goat,
And clothes and hairy skin,
That less myself I might appear,
And more like my dear twin.
So, trembling, as I neared the bed,
I offered what I'd brought,
I told him I was Esau just,
Returned with what I'd caught.
"The voice," he said, "has Jacob's sound,"
And so he held me near,
He smelled and felt my clothes, my hands,
And oh, how I did fear!
And once again he asked if I,
Were truly his first-born,
For doubts continued in his mind,
Despite the skins I'd worn.
And finally it was Esau's smell,
So redolent and full,
That reached and filled his nostrils from,
Those garments of spun wool.
He blessed me then as fathers do,
Invoking in God's name,
The favors of both heav'n and earth,
And widespread, lasting fame.
"Your smell, dear son, well pleases me,
Above all others and,
Is like the fragrance of a field,
Enriched by God's own hand,
"And may the dew of heav'n fall,
And all your lands caress,
Your wine and fields of grain enrich,
And all your harvests bless.
"May nations serve you humbly and,
Their people lowly bow,
Your brothers bend the knee to you,
And loyalty avow.
"May those who curse you ever find,
That they themselves are cursed,
While others, blessing you, will see,
Their larders fairly burst."
I left my father at these words,
Assured I had attained,
The thing for which I played this game,
And had astutely feigned.
And barely gone, my brother, then,
Appeared, in hand his kill,
Who quickly did prepare a meal,
With customary skill.
And is there need that more I say?
There followed such a row,
As father and his son then learned,
Just what I'd done somehow.
And though he begged most urgently,
That father bless him, too,
Poor Esau! There was not a thing,
For father left to do.
About that time I thought I'd take,
A trip to see some kin,
For mother had advised me of,
The anger of my twin.
And mindful of the things I did,
As northward then I trod,
I thought how well my plans had gone,
But where, I asked, was God?
(end of part one, (click here for part 2)
from the January 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine