« PreviousContinue »
him ; he embraces his knees and stoops even to his feet, still entreating, “ Hast thou but one blessing, my father ? Bless me, even me also, O my father!" and the strong and proud man lies in the dust, and his soul like that of a woman pours forth its anguish in sobs, whilst his tears bedew the feet of his father.
The heart of the patriarch weeps with his son, and he prays Jehovah to give a blessing for him also; his prayer is heard and words are given him to speak; he answers the passionate entreaties of Esau with this benediction, “Behold thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above ; and by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the diminion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.”
With this blessing Esau went out from the presence of his father. But he hated Jacob for having craftily obtained the superior blessing, And he only tarried until death should remove his father to be revenged by slaying his brother.
When the threatened vengeance of Esau came to the knowledge of Rebekah it filled her with grief. Vainly did she entreat and command him to forgive-vainly essay every expedient that a mother's heart could suggest to effect a reconciliation. The injury he had sustained had turned all the love he had once borne his brother into a bitter and furious hatred, which only his blood could appease. One method alone remained by which she might save the life of her younger and prevent the fearful crime of her elder son. She must send away Jacob. But how can she tell Isaac that so fierce a contention has arisen between his sons ? how can she inflict this sorrow upon her beloved husband and bring him mourning to the close of his pilgrimage ? This she cannot do. With affectionate solicitude she conceals the first cause of her son's journey, and mentions only the secondary one, which was that Jacob should fetch a wife from her own kindred, and not like Esau unite himself to one of the women of the idolaters around them.
“I am weary of my life,” she says to Isaac, “because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, what good shall my life do me?” The piety of Isaac readily acquiesced in the proposal of Rebekah, and he called Jacob, and bade him go to Padan-aram, and take a wife from the daughters of Laban his mother's brother.
Before his departure, Jacob again knelt beside the couch of his father and received his blessing. He wept lest for the last time he heard that loved and honoured voice. For the last time that reverenced hand was pressed upon his head. As he gazed upon the face he feared he must no more behold in this world, tears flowed from his eyes, which even the words of blessing that fell from his father could not stay. Yet did those precious words soothe his sorrow, and as he arose from his knees and went out of the tent they sounded sweetly in his ears. “God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give the blessing of Abraham to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.”
And now he must say farewell to his mother --that dear mother in whose bosom he had been so tenderly cherished—who had so truly, fondly loved him—in whose heart he lay enshrined as the dearest object upon earth. Rebekah awaited her son without the encampment sitting upon the ground and weeping. How can he say adieu to that dear parent ? Long he hesitates and she weeps as he lays his head upon her boson, as he was wont to do in the days of his happy and innocent boyhood; and she clasps her arms around him, and pressés him so closely to her heart as if she would hold him there for ever, fearing that his departure would draw her life along with him. The grass and flowers that sprung around them bent low beneath the heavy drops of the morning dew, as if in sympathy, they mingled their tears with those of the mother and her son.
At length Rebekah tried to speak words of consolation and hope, and of the time when she would fetch him back again, and spoke of methods by which to appease the
nger of Esau ; but her voice trembled, and though she strove to stem them, big tears dropped from her eyes as she said, “Tarry with Laban, my brother, a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done unto him, then will I send and fetch thee from thence ; for why should I be deprived of you both in one day.” Then with one final embrace she suffered him to depart.
She sat and watched until she could no longer discern even the faint outline of her son, and then, burying her face in her hands she again wept, and as her heart told her that she had gazed upon her son for the last time, she bit_ terly repented the deception she had practised; yet, feeling that this separation was but a righteous punishment, she humbled her soul before God and murmured not.
With a sorrowful and heavy heart Jacob went forth from all he loved. The brightness of the heavens and the smiling beauty of the