Patriarchs

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PATRIARCHS

In his dotage Isaac grew blind, and he knew he would soon die. So he told his favorite son Esau to fetch him some fresh venison, prepare it well, and then he would receive Isaac's blessing before he died.

Rebbecca heard all this, and she made her move to advance the cause of Jacob, the younger son. She told him to get a couple of young goats, and she would broil them fast and pass them off on Isaac and that way Jacob would receive the blessing. But Jacob objected that the plan wouldn't work, because Esau was a hairy man while his own skin was as sleek and smooth as a baby's bottom. Jacob knew that his father would feel the difference, know Jacob was a deceiver, and and give him a cursing rather than a blessing.

But Rebbecca had already thought of that, and she told Jacob to go do as his mother said. When he came back in with two kids, Rebbecca started cooking them, together with some bread, and meanwhile she fetched some of Esau's clothes and fitted them on Jacob. Finally, Rebbecca put the skins of the slain young goats on Jacob's hands and on the back of his neck.

Jacob took the food and delivered it to his father Isaac, but Isaac was suspicious because Jacob didn't talk much like Esau and the food was ready so quickly, and it didn't much taste like venison. But Jacob insisted that he was Esau, he was feeling a little sick which is why his voice was different, and he that said El brought the animal to him.

Isaac was still suspicious, so he told his son to come near so he could feel that it was really Esau standing there. There was the test of the food. Jacob passed. There was the smell test. He had to kiss his father, and Isaac smelled Esau's sweaty clothes and it was enough.

So Isaac said to him, "May El give you from the dew of heaven, the abundance of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let the people of the earth serve you and nations pay homage to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be every one that curses you, and blessed be he that blesses you."

And so it was done, and Jacob immediately departed. Needless to say there was an embarrassing scene later when the real Esau came in with fresh venison, but it was too late. Esau was to get nothing, and he wailed to his father at the injustice.

When his father grew silent, because nothing more could be done, Esau hated his brother and grew apoplectic. And in Esau's great wrath he forgot certain basic principles of operational security. He started mumbling about planning to kill Jacob, and a report of this got back to Rebbecca through servants.

Mother and son held a quick meeting, and Rebbecca told Jacob to flee to his uncle Laban with only the clothes on his back. Thus Esau did inherit everything after all, by default.

This narrative, found also in the scriptures of the Jews, seems written to elicit sympathy for Esau, but Jacob, the father of El's chosen people, demonstrated cleverness and foresight. The Immigrants would need those qualities when they lived among their enemies in Egypt and Canaan.

When Jacob came into the land of his family on his mother's side, he inquired after Laban. And soon he saw his cousin Rachel, bringing along her father's sheep. He ran up to her and kissed her, and wept, and said he was the son of Rebbecca.

Rachel ran to tell her father, and Laban welcomed Jacob into his house, where he spent a month doing some odd jobs for him. After the month had passed, Laban asked Jacob what he thought a fair wage would be for all the help he was doing.

By this time Jacob was in love with his cousin Rachel, and he said he would serve Laban for seven years in return for the hand of Rachel in marriage. Laban was agreeable to this, because Jacob was a much better choice than giving her to another man, he judged, but Laban insisted on unloading his less beautiful daughter Leah on Jacob first, and doubled the term of his servitude. So much did Jacob love Rachel that it seemed to him the fourteen years just flew right by.

Jacob was also patient in extracting his revenge. For twenty years, he used subterfuge to incrementally increase the health and numbers of the cows with speckles and spots, which by a prior arrangement with Laban were to belong to Jacob, while decreasing the vitality and numbers of the other cows without blemishes, which were to belong to Laban. So it came to be, after a time, that Laban and his sons grew less and less happy to see Jacob, though they had no evidence to attribute the blame to Jacob for the disparity of numbers between the two herds.

Even so, Jacob realized that it was time to depart for the land of his father before the acrimony grew much worse. He told this to Leah and Rachel, and they agreed to depart with Jacob, without telling Laban. And Rachel decided to grab her fathers idols and take them along with her as a final departing blow.

When Laban found out his daughters and his idols were gone, he pursued them for a week. When Laban caught up to Jacob there were hard questions. Why did he just take off in the middle of the night with his daughters, with not even a word of warning. Laban had a big party planned, and Jacob ruined it.

But nevertheless, even if Jacob felt he had to go right away because he missed his parents, which was understandable, why did Jacob have to steal his gods as well? That was without excuse. But Jacob knew nothing of Rachel's theft, and he bid Laban to search his caravan all he wanted, and he promised death to anyone found hiding the carven gods.

So Laban and his servants ransacked Jacob's entire caravan, and finished up by inspecting Jacob's tent, where the idols were actually concealed. Rachel was sitting on them.

She said, "Forgive me father if I don't stand up, but I'm having my period right now. You know how it is." Menstruation and other woman issues always made the patriarchs blanch, and not even Laban could bring himself to believe that Rachel would sit on his stone gods while she was having a period. The whole affair was sufficiently disgusting to Laban that he never required her to stand up so he could search beneath her.

Even the animals in the flocks were all of spotted ones, which Laban had agreed would belong to Jacob, and not a single calf or lamb or kid could be claimed by Laban.

Now Jacob had finally had enough of Laban, and he let the accumulated indignation of twenty years all pour out. "You've searched all my goods. If you found anything of yours set it here in the open so that all may judge. No? Twenty years I served you, Laban. Not once did I eat one of your rams. If any animal was torn by beasts, I absorbed that loss myself rather than pawn it off back on you, as was my right according to the Code of Hammurabi, because I looked up to you as my kinsman and the father of my wives. Through drought and cold sleepless nights I served you without grumbling, even when you downgraded my salary ten times. Surely if the God of my fathers was not with me I would have nothing now, but he is a God of justice and he preserved me."

So Laban was shamed into releasing his daughters and he created a covenant with Jacob. Jacob agreed never to take another wife than Leah and Rachel, and Laban agreed to stay on the Jordanian side of Mount Gilead. So ended Jacob's first extended trip abroad.

By much trial and error Belial contrived the possession of a yang named Israel, and for a time he walked the Middle Lands under that name, experiencing the life of Gorpai directly in the way the nephilim experienced it, exactly as Chokhmah had done with Ariel, except that Belial forced the possession upon Israel.

And Belial-Israel never wanted for any thing, because he made himself known as the incarnation of Belial to the prophet Zadkiel, and so even the limitless resources of the patriarch Kirodiel Gerash were at his disposal.

But in the opening years of the world war on Gorpai, Zadkiel lost the Battle of Aramel and allowed Ariel to escape. In his wrath Israel slew Zadkiel and took direct control of the Eyes of Belial and the Army of Belial.

Thus it was that Belial himself, in the guise of Israel, brought all of Gorpai under the rule of the patriarch Kirodiel Gerash. Then he turned his thoughts to Earth, and the family that had been chosen by El, but had been neglected for many years because after the betrayal of King Turel, Belial himself forbade any more nephilim from serving on Earth as an agent of El.

With the leave of El, Belial-as-Israel journeyed there to see the place with his own eyes, and meet Jacob, who currently held the inter-generational Blessing of El. Israel took little thought for his personal safety, since Israel was a mighty yang, seven feet tall, hardened by the violence of Gorpai, and he heard from El that Jacob was more the son of his mother than the son of his father. Jacob was, by all reports, a passive man who preferred the womanly arts of back room whispering and plotting to the masculine arts of direct action on the field.

After Jacob crossed the river Jordan, he sent messengers ahead of him to meet his brother Esau and mention that he had a lot of oxen and asses and flocks and servants and hint that he could smooth over any hard feelings Esau might still have over losing his Blessing.

The messengers returned to him saying that Esau was coming out to meet him with four hundred men. That worried Jacob to no end. He divided his caravan into two halves, in case Esau smote one, the other might escape. Jacob prayed a humble prayer to El for deliverance, and then set aside a portion of his herd as a gift to Esau

Jacob sent two hundred and twenty goats, two hundred and twenty sheep, thirty camels, fifty cattle, twenty asses, and ten foals, which his servants took on ahead to deliver to Esau.

As for Jacob himself, he hung back as a rearguard, not against Laban and his people, which he had left behind, but against someone he had noticed watching him from afar. Jacob hid himself cleverly amid vegetation near the stream called Jabbok, a tributary of the Jordan river.

When the stranger approached, unaware of Jacob's presence, Jacob assailed him suddenly, and there ensued a bitter fistfight that changed into a wrestling match that went on through most of the night.

As they continued to fight, Jacob kept saying, "Who are you?" but the stranger refused to say. For Belial it was Jacob was fighting, possessed of the body of Israel the nephilim, and he was dismayed that Jacob was proving so tenacious. Even when he wrenched Jacob's femur out of its socket at the hip, causing great torment, Jacob refused to yield.

Finally even Belial-Israel was at the end of his resources, and near exhaustion, and he commanded Jacob to let him go. Jacob said, "I will not release you until you bless me."

Then Belial-Israel said, "No longer shall men call you Jacob, but Israel, for you have contended with elohim and nephilim and human alike, and you have prevailed, and wrested my name away, and taken it for your own."

Then Belial was released by Jacob, and he went back to Gorpai to rule family Gerash directly by taking possession of the body of each of the Patriarch's descendants in turn, and he came never again to Earth.

At sunrise Israel hurried to join his wives and children, but he walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

When Esau drew near with his four hundred men, Israel put forth his eleven children with their four mothers, then passed in front of them and bowed to the ground seven times before standing face to face with his brother. And to his everlasting surprise, Esau did not assail him, but rather embraced him, and kissed him, and they both wept.

So the feud was ended, if ever there was a feud, for after Israel had fled for his life all those years ago Esau soon forgot that his blessing and birthright had been stolen, since he obtained all of Isaac's possessions anyway by default, and he had come to miss his brother.

Israel introduced his children and their mothers to Esau, and begged his brother to accept the gift of herd animals he sent him, "Take them, please, because El has dealt graciously with me, and I have enough."

Throughout this meeting Israel was extremely courteous to Esau and called him "my lord" even though the Blessing required Esau to call Israel lord. The love Israel still had for his own twin brother superseded all such considerations.

Then after a short discussion, Esau agreed to go on ahead because Israel had children and young animals who could not travel very fast. So they parted with good feelings between them, because blood is thicker than water. The next time Israel and Esau met it would be to bury their father Isaac.

Israel loved both of his wives, Leah and Rachel, but Rachel he loved more, because he chose her of his free will, but Leah was forced upon him as the price for Rachel. When she died giving birth to her second son, Benjamin, Israel was devastated. As a memorial to her, Israel set Benjamin and her first son Joseph aside from the eleven other sons he sired on Leah and the handmaidens of both his wives. Joseph and Benjamin he kept near him in his tents, and Joseph was the apple of Israel's eye. But his other sons he set to toil for their living.

When Joseph was older he was made Israel's representative, and often he was sent by his father to the fields to check on his brothers in an official capacity, to make sure they weren't being lazy. They saw him coming and determined to kill him. But his oldest brother Reuben took pity on him, blood of his blood, and suggested they throw Joseph into a pit instead. And he hoped to rescue him later when the hot heads had cooled. The other brothers saw an Ishmaelite caravan passing by so they sold Joseph as a naked slave to them. They they killed a goat, dipped Joseph's coat in the blood , and told Israel they found the coat exactly like that. They never outright lied to their father, but they let him imagine a wild animal had killed his favorite son, and Israel was inconsolable.

When the caravan arrived in Egypt, Joseph was sold as a slave to a wealthy landowner, but he was not set to toil the fields, for he had learned many skills in the tents of his father, and Joseph was a man of letters, with a good head for figures, so the landowner made him his accountant, and he came to trust Joseph utterly.

A number of years later Pharaoh Hyksos ruling from the city of Avaris was troubled by two dreams he had one night that terrified him, but he couldn't say why. In the first dream, seven skinny cows came up out of the Nile and ate seven fat happy cows that were feeding in a meadow. In the second dream, seven dessicated, sickly ears of corn devoured seven full, ripe ears of corn.

Pharaoh told these dreams to his advisors, but none of the wise men and magicians in Egypt could guess what the dreams meant. Then a servant told Pharaoh he knew an accountant who interpreted dreams, and the man seemed to be very good at it.

Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and when he was brought before the powerful sovereign, Joseph listened to him relate his dream. "The seven fat cows and seven full ears are seven years of plenty in Egypt," Joseph said. "They will be followed by seven years of famine so severe that the first seven years will be forgotten. So important is this dream, my liege-lord, that El sent essentially the same dream twice. So what you ought to do, O great Pharaoh, is set a minister over the harvest, to set aside a portion of the corn in the fat years, and store it against the seven years of lean times which are to come."

Pharaoh was so impressed with this counsel the made Joseph that minister, and renamed him Zaphnath-paaneah, which means God speaks and he lives. Then Pharaoh gave him the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On, and the girl's name was Asenath. And Asenath afterward bore unto Joseph two half-Egyptian sons, Ephraim and Manessah.

Joseph was accorded great honors by Pharaoh, given a private chariot, and assigned a stature in Egypt second only to that of Pharaoh himself.

During the next seven years, Joseph served as the chief minister of Pharaoh, gathering a portion of the harvest and storing it up in the cities. So great was the harvest that he lost count of all the grain. Then the seven years of plenty were ended, and famine struck all over the known world, but in Egypt people still had bread because they drew from Joseph's stores.

Word of this bounty spread throughout the world, and supplicants came from all over seeking to buy grain from Egypt, because the alternative was to starve. In seven years the famine would be over in Egypt, but it would continue in Canaan for a long time. And this would, in due course, result in the mass emigration of the entire House of Israel to Egypt. Fortunately for Israel, he had a friend in the court of Pharaoh, yet he knew it not. When Israel and his people ran out of grain, his sons just stood around looking at one another. And their Israel said, "I heard they still have grain down in Egypt. So get down there and buy us some, geniuses, before we starve to death."

When they came before Joseph, the agricultural minister Egypt, to beg for food, Joseph was done up in the manner of Egyptians, with heavy eyeliner, and none of his brothers recognized him. Then for many weeks, Joseph played a series of practical jokes on his brothers to extract vengeance for being sold into slavery, and he could not be blamed in this matter, for he was a human being after all, and perhaps he was probing to see if his brothers felt regret for what they did to him.

When Joseph missed his brother Benjamin, who remained with their father Israel, he demanded that his brothers produce Benjamin as assurance that their word was true, and he arranged to keep Benjamin in Egypt with a plot that seemed to implicate Benjamin in theft.

But now the jokes began to cause his father real grief, because Israel thought he might never see his beloved Benjamin again, and if he lost him after losing Joseph, Israel felt he would die. Hearing of this from his returning brothers, Joseph could no longer bear to continue his charade. He ordered all the Egyptians to leave, so there was only the thirteen sons of Israel present when Joseph revealed himself as their brother. He declared to them, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" And this stunned all of his brothers to silence.

So he bid all of them to draw near, and said again, "I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold to Egypt. Don't be angry with yourselves, for El sent me here to save your lives! Now I am a ruler throughout the land of Egypt. So go and fetch my father, and return quickly! You shall live in Goshen, you and your children and grandchildren and all their animals, and I will feed you, for there is yet five years left of this famine."

When Pharaoh heard that Joseph's brothers were come, he was greatly pleased. He gave them enough wagons to make the move, fully provisioned, and reinforced Joseph's order to return quickly.

When they returned to their father and told him Joseph was alive, Israel refused to believe it at first. After all, Joseph could have sent word long before this. But when Israel saw the big wagon train that Pharaoh had provided for the move he dared to hope, and made his decision to go south.

When he saw Joseph again, the son he had believed to be dead, Israel and Joseph both wept, but it was tears of joy, and Joseph's brothers could hardly bear to look at them for the raw emotion they knew the two of them were feeling. Joseph never told his father that he had been sold into slavery by his own brothers, because it would have killed Israel to hear it.

After the reunion, Joseph escorted his father and his five eldest brothers to visit Pharaoh in his court. And Pharaoh asked them their occupation. They answered that they were all shepherds, they and also their fathers before them. And they asked of Pharaoh to stay in the land of Egypt because the famine had struck Canaan and there was no fodder to raise animals there.

But shepherds were ritually anathema to the people of the major cities along the Nile, so Pharaoh gave them leave to range over all the province of Rameses instead, also called the region of Goshen, along the easternmost fork of the Nile delta.

As the famine continued, all the money that existed in the land of Egypt was brought into the house of Pharaoh from the sale of grain. When the citizens had no more money, Joseph took their livestock in payment for more grain, just enough for the people to eat, and the animals he fed from his stores of grain.

The next year the people came for more grain, but they had no money and no livestock, so they sold Pharaoh all their land, except the priests of Ra who were allowed to keep and work their land.

Then Joseph organized the people into a state-owned agricultural workforce, and set them to work on land they no longer owned, using state-provided seed corn, and twenty percent of their increase was a tax to Pharaoh.

Israel lived in Goshen another seventeen years, and when he knew the time was short before he must die he made Joseph swear an oath not to bury him in Egypt. After Israel blessed all his sons, he commanded them to bury him with his fathers in the tomb at Hebron, and then he died, one of the most vivid characters in scripture.

Belial's claim that humans would never remain devoted to the elohim if they were left to themselves utterly failed. For a great nation had been raised up to Abraham, the children of Israel, and all of them kept the covenant of Abraham even as they lived in exile from Canaan. They rejected the false gods of the neighboring peoples and worshiped El alone.

On account of the faithfulness of the House of Israel, Belial no longer had valid grounds to call for the destruction of the whole human race. Thus was the oracle of El fulfilled when he said to Abraham, "All the earth shall find blessing in you."

The elohim who were aligned firmly against Belial (Chokmah, Binah, and later Bat-El) and even the elohim who was neutral toward him (El) would never tolerate Belial carrying out the destruction of mankind as he often threatened to do. Binah believed Belial was still looking for any reason to prove their danger to elohim. The faithfulness of the House of Israel went a long way toward laying Belial's accusations to rest. It was clear all of the elohim would need to come to terms with human beings and learn to co-exist with them.

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