Stolen blessing

Esau was forty when he married Judith and Adah. Neither Isaac nor Rebekah were impressed with his taste in women, mainly because they were Hittites.

When Isaac was close to death and had all but lost his vision, he called for Esau. “My time here is short, son,” he said, “and one of the last things on my bucket list is a meal of fresh game from my favorite son’s bow.  Go. I want to give you my blessing before I die.”

Rebekah overheard their conversation, so when Esau took to the field with his quiver and bow, she pulled Jacob aside and said, “Get the best two kids from the flock so I can prepare delicious cutlets for your father. After you serve him the meal pretending to be Esau, he’ll bless you.”

But Jacob answered, “Esau is a hairy fellow, and I’m as slick as an eel. What if Father reaches out and literally feels the betrayal? He’ll curse me as well as my future children.”

“No, he’ll curse me,” his mother assured him. “Now, go.”

Jacob brought in the meats, and his mother made Isaac a meal fit for a king. Then she disguised Jacob in some of Esau’s clothes and attached the hides of the freshly skinned goats to Jacob’s hands and neck.

“Now,” she smiled satisfactorily, handing Jacob a bowl and some bread, “serve your father this food, so he will bless you.”

Jacob went in, and his father asked, “Who are you, my son?”

“I’m Esau,” Jacob rasped, then cleared his throat. “I’m your firstborn. I’ve come back from hunting, and I’ve prepared some food the way you like it. Sit up and eat so you can bless me.”

“That was quick,” his father answered, sitting up and leaning on his banister.

“God brought me success.”

“Come over here, son,” Isaac said, “so I can touch you and confirm that you’re really Esau.”

Jacob approached his father, his heart pounding, and he placed the dish of food onto his father’s side table.

“You are Esau, aren’t you?” he asked, after feeling his son’s arms.

“Yes, Father,” Jacob said with a sigh of relief.

“Bring me my food,” Isaac concluded, so I may eat of your game and bless you.”

Jacob moved the table close to his father’s bed and served him the prepared goat cutlets. Isaac enjoyed every bite of his meal and chased it down with some wine.

Then Isaac said, “Come and give me a kiss, son.”

Jacob came close and kissed his father. Isaac recognized the scent of Esau on the clothes Jacob was wearing, so Isaac blessed him right then and there.

“The scent of my son is like a field blessed of God. May God grant you the best of heaven and earth. Let other nations serve you, and may your brothers submit to you in your dominion. Those who curse you are themselves cursed. Those who bless you are blessed indeed.”

Inspiration: Genesis 26-27

Cain’s tattoo

Adam and Eve settled in a valley somewhere east of paradise and eventually had two sons: Cain, a farmer, and Abel, a shepherd.

Each son religiously offered part of their yield on an altar as a sacrifice, a gesture of faith in their God’s continued provision. Underneath a blistering sun, Cain would throw together an indiscriminate mix of berries and greens and scatter them upon the unwrought stone. Abel, on the other hand, would take from the firstborn of his flocks, carefully cut the choicest sections of meat from the bone, and burn them down to a charred powder.

Abel’s labor of love pleased God, so He blessed him with healthy flocks and herds. But Cain’s offering He ignored. In time, grubs and other pesky insects consumed the farmer’s produce.

God asked Cain in a dream, “If you offer your best, will you not be blessed?” Then everything went dark, and he saw a hideous serpent bearing fangs through a curled lip, hissing under his breath. Cain inched closer to seize the viper and snap its neck, but the unholy creature struck his ankle and bit clean through the sinew.

Cain let out a visceral shriek and awoke with a start.

The next day, he and Abel were walking together in the fields, when Cain, lagging a few steps behind, gripped his bronze sickle with both hands. Then he called to his brother, saying, “Abel.”

When Abel turned around, Cain swung the tool swiftly and lopped his brother’s head off.

God nightly visited Cain’s dreams after that, haunting him with the question, “What have you done with Abel?”

“When did I become my brother’s designated guardian?” Cain asked, writhing in a pool of cold sweat.

A thick shadow emerged from the ground where Abel’s carcass lay rotting, and his drying blood cast a spell on the fields. The stained soil no longer yielded fruit for the murderous farmer, and soon rumors about his treachery echoed in the valley, causing Cain to become a nomad with a price on his head.

Ravaged by malnutrition and paranoia, Cain eventually begged for God to rescue him from himself. God met him with tenderness and mercy.

“If anyone kills you,” He promised, “I will punish them with a multiple of seven.” God burned a mark into the outcast’s flesh to deter anyone from messing with him, and Cain settled in the land of Nod.

From his family tree came some of the earliest civilized people, including shepherds in made-made huts, musicians, and smiths.

God eventually blessed Adam and Eve with another son, Seth. From Seth’s family tree came godly men such as Enoch the Consecrated One.

Enoch walked with God, just as Adam and Eve had done in the beginning. Meditating on the stars in their fixed orbits, the recurring cycle of summer and winter, and of the trees withering and flourishing in their season, he remembered his ancestor’s prelapsarian state, seeing that nothing in nature transgressed the laws of God. So he walked the righteous path, creating order from the everyday chaos around him. One day, Enoch mysteriously vanished with God.

From Enoch’s tree came a man they called Noah.

Inspiration: Genesis 4