Selecting wives

Esau hated Jacob for the wholesale robbery of their father’s blessing, and he was often heard mumbling his plan of revenge.

“After Father dies and I’ve mourned his death, I’ll snuff out that thief in the night and take back what’s mine by right.”

Rebekah heard Esau’s venomous pronouncements, so she called for Jacob. “Run to your uncle Laban’s house in Haran,” she said, “and stay there until Esau’s anger has subsided. When your offense is no more than a distant memory, I’ll send a messenger for you. Don’t make me mourn the loss of my husband and my beloved son at the same time.”

Then Rebekah insisted that Isaac have a heart to heart with Jacob about a wife.

“These Hittite women make me want to puke,” she complained. “If Jacob marries one, I see no reason to live.”

So Isaac sat his younger son down and said, “Look, don’t marry a Canaanite. Instead, go to Grandpa Bethuel’s house and find a wife among Laban’s daughters. God’ll give you the family blessing, numberless descendants and all the real estate you could ever want.”

After hearing from both of his parents, and seeing they were in agreement for once, Jacob left for Haran to find his uncle, Laban.

In the meantime, after having overheard the part of the conversation about not marrying a Canaanite, and realizing his wives disgraced his parents, Esau went to visit his uncle, Ishmael. While there, he took Ishmael’s daughter Mahalath, also called Basemath, as a wife in addition to his foreign wives, Judith, Adah, and Oholibamah.

Inspiration: Genesis 27-28

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