YA'AQOV VS ESAV Gen 27; 25:19-34; 28:1-9


          CONTEXT: The naming of Esav and Ya’aqov is a learned play on words. Esav came to be associated with Edom and S’ir, areas south of the Dead Sea and the first of the twins turns out to be both ruddy and hairy: “Edom” suggests adom, “red” and S’ir suggests se’ar, “hair,” The second has his hand clamped on his brothers heel, eqev, and gets called “Ya’aqov.” The image is of tripping another, suggesting one who lives by slyness. These are examples of folk etymology, which is really folksy etiology, explaining how things got to be the way they are. A second folk etymologist, probably a glossator, explains the name “Edom” as based on Esav’s taste for red stew. As for Ya’akov, eqev עקב, as a verb means  “follow,” “reward.” A more likely meaning for the name–in a different context–would be that God will follow and protect him, and. Oddly, the name “Esav” has neither folk nor scholarly etymology.
            Note that the title of the second section, ch. 27, is verse 23. Where it is found in the text the line is a banal gloss, inept and clumsy. Some well meaning copyist summed up the story in a sentence that, however, makes a fine introductory title. A second gloss, this one more apt, at 27:40 seems to refer to the successful revolt of Edom (Esav)from Y’hudah in the reign of Yoram, ca. 840 BCE (2Kings 8:22).
            The chapter opens with two P (Priestly writer) verses of vital statistic. The first words serve as title for what follows, the J (Jawhist) patriarchal narrative. P inserts the note about Esav taking local women. (Ch 26:34-5. Marrying out became an issue of foreign religious influence in Deuteronomy and was a major concern in the post exilic period, the time of days of Ezra and P.) This story skips most of ch. 26, which includes the third iteration of the “Wife? Sister!” narrative, a theophany/blessing scene, and an encounter over water sources with Avimelech, a Philistine king.

            Avraham begot Yitschaq. 20Yitschaq was forty years old when he took as woman, Rivkah bat B’tuel the Arami, from Padan Aram, sister of Lavan the Arami.

            21Because she was barren, Yitschaq, stood in front of his woman and entreated Yahh. Yahh being entreated for him, his woman Rivkah conceived. 
            22The children were crushing one another within her and she said: “If this is what it’s like, what am I about?” She went to seek out Yahh and 23Yahh told her:
                        Two nations are in your belly.
                        Two peoples from your womb will split.
                        One people stronger than the other people,
                        The older serve the younger.
            24When her days were full to give birth, indeed there were twins in her belly. 25The first came out totally ruddy, like a hairy cloak, and they called him Esav. 26Next came his brother, his hand clasping Esav’s heel. They called him Ya’aqov/Heel Grabber. Yitschaq was sixty when they were born.
            27The lads grew. Esav became a man knowledgeable at hunting, a man of the field. Ya’aqov was a simple man, a tent dweller. 28Yitschaq loved Esav, because he had a0 taste for game. Rivkah was loving Ya’aqov.
            29Ya’aqov was stirring stew when Esav returned from the field, faint with hunger and exhaustion. 30Esav said: “Give me a gulp of the red, this red. I’m tired and hungry.” (That’s why they called him “Edom/Red.”) 
            31“Sell me, right now, your birthright,” Ya’aqov said.
            32Esav: “Well, I’m about to die.  What do I need a birthright for?” 
            33Ya’aqov: “Swear to me, right now.”
            So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Ya’aqov. 34Then Ya’aqov gave Esav bread and lentil stew. He ate. He drank. He got up. And he left. Esav despised the birthright.

            2634It happened when Esav was forty, that he took a women: Y’hudit batB’eri the Chiti and Bosmat batElon the Chiti. 35They were a source of bitterness for Yitschaq and Rivkah.

            1It happened, when Yitschaq grew old his eyes weakened to see.  He called Esav, his elder son. “My son?”
            “Right here.”
            2“Be aware, please, I’ve grown old. I don’t know when I shall die. 3So now, take up your gear, your bow and quiver and go out to the field. Hunt me some game. 4Make me tasty foods the way I like and bring it to me and I’ll eat. That’s so that my soul will bless you before I die.”
            5Rivkah was listening as Yitschaq was talking to his son Esav. When Esav went out to the field to hunt game to bring back, 6she said to her son Ya’aqov, “I just heard your father speaking to your brother Esav.  He said, 7‘Bring me game and make me tasty foods. I’ll eat and bless you before Yahh before I die.’ 8Now, my son, listen to my voice, to what I’m ordering you. 9Go, please, to the flock and get two kid goats, good ones. I’ll make of them tasty foods for your father, as he likes. 10You will bring it to your father and he’ll eat so as to bless you before his death.”
            11Ya’aqov said to his mother, Rivkah, “But my brother Esav is a hairy man and I’m a smooth man. 12Father may feel me and I’ll be a mocker in his eyes. I’ll bring on myself a curse, not a blessing.”
            13“Your curse be on me, my son. Just listen to my voice and go get for me.”
            14So he went and got and brought to his mother. She made the tasty foods the way his father liked. 15Rivkah took her elder son’s clothes, the most desirable things that were with her at home. She dressed her younger son. 16The skins of the kid goats she dressed on his hands and on the smoothness of his neck. 17The tasty foods and the bread she had made she put into the hand of her son Ya’aqov 18and he went to his father.
            “My father?”
            “Right here. Who are you, my son?”
            19Ya’aqov said to his father, “I am Esav, your first born.  I have done as you spoke to me. Sit up, please, and eat of my game so that your soul may bless me.”
            20“What is this, my son, that you have hastened to find?”
            “It’s because Yahh, your god, made it happen before me.”
            21“Approach, please, my son, so that I can feel you and tell if you are the one, my son Esav or not?” 22Ya’aqov approached his father. He felt him and said: “The voice is the voice of Ya’aqov and the hands are the hands of Esav. 24Are you the one? My son Esav?”
            “I am.”
            25“Serve me and I’ll eat of my son’s game so that my soul will bless you.”
He served him and he ate. He brought him wine and he drank.
            26“Then Yitschaq his father, said to him, “Appoach and kiss me, my son.” 27He approached and kissed him and Yitschaq smelled the smell of his clothes, and he blessed him:
                        See my son’s smell!
                          Like the smell of a field blessed by Yahh.
                        28The god grant you
of dew of the sky,
of fat of the land,
                                    abundance of grain and wine.
                        29Let nations serve you,             peoples bow.
                            Be boss to your brothers,
                              Your mother’s sons bow to you.
                        Cursed be they who curse you.
                           Blessed be they who bless.
            30It happened when Yitschaq finished blessing Ya’aqov–it happened just as Ya’kov emerged from his father’s presence–Esav returned from his hunt. 31He too made tasty foods. He brought it to his father: “Let my father rise and eat of his son’s game so that your soul may bless me.”
            32“Who are you?” said his father, Yitschaq.
            “I am your son, your first born, Esav.”
            33Yitschaq trembled a great tremor, tremendous. “Who was it then who hunted game and brought it to me and I ate of all of it before you came? I blessed him! And blessed he is.”
            34When Esav heard this father’s words he shouted, a great and tremendously bitter shout. Then he said, “Bless me! Me too, my father.”
            35“Your brother came in fraud and took your blessing.”
            36Esav said: “Isn’t it because his name is “Ya’aqov”?  He has tripped me twice now. He took my birthright and now he has taken my blessing.” Then he said: “Haven’t you saved a blessing for me?”
            37“I have made him your boss. All his brothers I have given him as slaves. By grain and wine I have supported him. What’s left for you? What can I do, my son?”
            38“Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me. Me too, my father!” And Esav lifted his voice and wept.
            39Yitschaq answered him:
                        Of the fat of the land be your dwelling
                           And of the dew of sky above.
                        40Live by your sword though you serve your brother.
(And it shall be, when you grow restless, you will break off his yoke from your neck.)
            41Esav begrudged Ya’aqov for the blessing his father had given him. In his heart he said: “The days of mourning for my father will be here soon. Then I’ll kill my brother Ya’aqov.” 
            42The words of her elder son were passed on to Rivkah. She sent and called Ya’aqov, her younger son: “Be aware. Your brother Esav is appeasing himself about you with killing you. 43Now my son, hear my voice.  Up! Flee to Lavan, my brother, to Haran. 44Stay with him a few days till your brother’s anger subsides. 45Once your brother’s fury turns from you and he forgets what you have done to him, I’ll send and bring you back from there. Why should I be bereft of both of you in one day?”

            46To Yitschaq Rivkah said: “I loathe my life on account of these daughters of Chet. If Ya’aqov takes a woman of the daughters of Chet, like these of the daughters of the land, what will I have to live for?”
            281Yitschaq summoned Ya’aqov and blessed and commanded him: “You shall not take a woman from the daughters of K’na’an. 2Up. Go to Padan Aram, to the home of B’tu’el, your mother’s father.  There take a woman: of the daughters of Lavan, your mother’s brother. 
                        3El Shadai bless you, make you fruitful and many.
                           Become an assembly of peoples.
                        4May He grant you the blessing of Avraham,
                           You along with your seed,
                        For your inheriting of the land of your sojourn
   That God gave to Avraham.”
            5Yitschaq sent Ya’aqov off and he went to Padan Aram, to Lavan benB’tu’el the Arami, brother of Rivkah mother of Ya’aqov and Esav.
            6Esav saw that Yitschaq had blessed Ya’aqov and sent him to PadanAram to get himself a woman from there. (In blessing him he had commanded: “You shall not take a woman of the daughters of K’na’an.”)
7Ya’aqov obeyed his father and his mother and went to Padan Aram.
8Esav saw that the daughters of K’na’an were bad in his father Yitschaq’s eyes. 9So he went to Yishma’el and took as woman, Machalat batYishma’el benAvraham, sister of N’vayot, in addition to his women.

© Rabbi David L. Kline            http://good-to-be-a-jew.blogspot.com/

No comments: