Episode 14 – Jacob the liar

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – Old Testament

Based on Genesis chapter 27 verses 1 – 41

Jacob the liar

It wasn’t long before the whole family knew what’d happened between Esau and Jacob, how Jacob had tricked Esau out of his birthright for a bowl of red lentil stew! But it didn’t change the way their parents felt. Isaac still wanted his favourite Esau, the great hunter, to be head of the family – for no other reason than that he liked the food Esau caught. And Rebekah wanted her favourite, Jacob to be the head. Things weren’t looking good; they were a family at war!

A while later, when Isaac was older and his eyesight had almost failed, he decided it was time to pass on the blessing of God to his children. Normally, the head of the family would have called a gathering of family members, and with them all present to witness the event, he would have publicly blessed his children for all to see… kind of like reading your will – but before you’ve died.

But you see – Isaac knew all about the prophecy Rebekah’d had when she’d asked the Lord about her pregnancy… he knew that the Lord had said the older son would serve the younger son. He also knew of the time Jacob had tricked Esau out of his birthright for a bowl of red lentil stew… that Esau had given up his birthright with a solemn promise. And yet, even though Isaac knew all these things, he was still determined to do what he wanted and pass the blessing onto Esau. So, without calling a family meeting, in fact, without telling anyone at all what he intended to do, he called Esau in for a private chat.

But even as he made his plans, he couldn’t get his mind off his stomach! ‘Now Esau,’ he started. ‘ I’m getting to be an old man, I could die any day! So I want you to do something for me. I want you to get your bow and arrows and go out and catch something for me to eat. Bring it back and prepare a meal for me – just the way I like it. And then, when you’ve done all that and I’ve had my meal, I’ll give you my blessing, the blessing that belongs to my first born son.’

Isaac was trying to go directly against what God had said! Not only that, he was also trying to ignore the solemn promise Esau had given – that the birthright would belong to Jacob! And Esau was no better! Ignoring his own promise to Jacob, he ran off to get his bow and arrows, anxious to take the blessing for himself!

But what they didn’t realise as they hatched their little plot together, was that Rebekah had overheard the whole thing! And she had no intention of letting it happen. (P) As soon as Esau left for the hunt she ran to find Jacob. ‘Jacob, I overheard your father talking to Esau. He’s sent him off to catch some wild animal to make him a tasty meal. After that, he plans to bless Esau in the Lord’s presence before he dies! Now listen and do exactly as I tell you. Go to the flock of goats and bring me two fine young goats. When you’ve done that, I’ll prepare a meal – just the way your father likes it. Your father can’t see very well, so when you take the food to him, pretending to be Esau, he’ll bless you instead of Esau.’

Oh dear, Isaac was planning to do something he shouldn’t with Esau agreeing to his evil plan, and now Rebekah and Jacob were planning to trick Isaac! Why no one talked to the Lord about it all and asked Him for help we’ll never know. And one thing you can be sure of when people try to trick each other is that no good’ll come of it!

However, Jacob had seen a flaw in his mother’s plan. ‘But mum,’ he said. ‘What if dad touches me for some reason? I’m not all hairy like Esau, and when he finds out that I’m trying to deceive him, he’ll curse me instead of blessing me!’

‘Let the curse fall on me, my son.’ Rebekah said, ‘just go and get the goats (P) quickly.’

While the goat stew was cooking, Rebekah took some strips of goatskin and made a hairy covering for Jacobs’s arms and hands. She also took another strip and put it around his neck. Then she made Jacob put on some of Esau’s clothes. Her plan was almost ready. So when she’d prepared the stew, with a rich mouth-watering smell, along with some freshly baked bread, she gave them to Jacob to take to his father. The deception was complete!

‘Father,’ said Jacob, trying to sound as much like Esau as he could.

‘Yes,’ said Isaac. ‘Who is it – Esau or Jacob?’

‘It’s me, Esau, your eldest son,’ he lied, ‘I’ve been hunting and made you some stew, just the way you like. Sit up and eat, then you can give me your blessing.’

‘But how were you able to catch an animal so fast son?’ Isaac asked.

‘Oh, the Lord your God put it right in my path father – I couldn’t miss it!’ Jacob lied – again.

‘Come here Esau,’ Isaac said, a little suspiciously. ‘I want to touch you so that I can be sure it’s really you.’ So Jacob went to his father who touched the goatskin on Jacob’s arm. ‘Well,’ he said to himself. ‘The voice’s Jacob’s, but the hands are all hairy like Esau’s!’ Then out loud he said, ‘Are you really Esau?’

‘Yes of course I am,’ lied Jacob.

And then, because he could think of nothing else except the lovely meal prepared for him, Isaac said. ‘Ok, bring me my meal (licks lips) and after I’ve eaten it I’ll give you my blessing. (Smacks lips)’

So Jacob took the meal over to his father and waited while he watched the old man greedily eat up his meal without even realising that it wasn’t made from wild animal at all, but from goats! However, Isaac was still a little unsure if the person in the room with him was really Esau and not Jacob, so after he’d finished eating he called him over again. ‘Come here boy and give your old father a kiss.’ As Jacob came across, Isaac caught the smell of Esau’s clothes that Jacob was wearing. It was enough to finally convince him. ‘That’s a good smell,’ he said. ‘The smell of the open fields that the Lord God has blessed.’ And then he started to bless his son.

‘May God always give you plenty of dew for healthy crops and a good harvest of grain and wine.’

‘May many nations become your servants.’

‘May you be master of your brothers, and may all your mother’s sons bow low before you.’

 ‘All who curse you are cursed, and all who bless you are blessed.’

It was a close-run thing. Because as Jacob left his father, having received the blessing, Esau returned. Thankfully he didn’t see Jacob and got on preparing the meal for his father. When he’d finished he strode into his father’s tent. ‘Right, here I am with this wonderful wild game stew you wanted. Sit up and eat so that you can give me your blessing.’

Isaac was spooked. ‘Who are you?’ He asked in a quavering voice.

‘It’s me of course, Esau, your eldest son. Who else would it be?’

Isaac began trembling uncontrollably. ‘Then who was just in here serving me food? I’ve eaten already and I blessed that person with a blessing that can never be undone!’

It took a while for Esau to realise what’d happened. But when he realised that Jacob had tricked him again, he began to cry out loud. ‘Oh Father, bless me too!’

 ‘Your brother’s tricked me. He’s taken away your blessing,’ said Isaac.

Esau: ‘No wonder his name’s Jacob – the deceiver. He’s deceived me twice. Once when he tricked me into selling my birthright and – and now he’s stolen my blessing. (P) Oh father, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?’

But Isaac knew that he’d been beaten, and he also knew that it was what the Lord’d said would happen all those years ago when Rebekah went to talk to him about the children in her womb. ‘I – I have made Jacob your master. I have made all his brothers his servants and I have blessed him with grain and wine… what else is there left to bless you with?’

‘Oh please father, please – there must be some blessing for me too?’ Then Esau fell to his knees crying bitterly.

‘All I can say is this,’ Isaac continued. ‘You will live off the land and what it gives. And you will live by the sword. You will serve your brother for a time, but then you will make yourself free.’

After that, Esau hated his brother Jacob and waited for an opportunity to murder him.

Episode 12 – A bride for Isaac

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – Old Testament

Based on Genesis chapter 24

A Bride for Isaac

‘I am the servant of Abraham. And I am going to tell you how the God of Abraham blessed me when my master asked me to deal with a matter of great importance.’

‘When he spoke to me about this matter, Abraham was already a very old man. His dear wife Sarah had died. And his son Isaac, who was now in charge of the household, was missing his mother greatly. Isaac needed a wife!’

‘One day I was called to Abraham’s tent. My master had a look of concern on his face, and I could tell at once that the matter he wished to discuss with me was of the utmost importance.’

‘Thank you for coming’, he said. ‘You’re the most senior and important servant in my entire household. And so, I must ask you to do a very important thing for my family. (P) As you know, many years ago now, the Lord God told Sarah and me to leave Haran and come and live in this beautiful land of Canaan. The Lord promised that one day He’ll give this land to my descendants. But I’m concerned that in his loneliness, my son Isaac might think about marrying one of the girls from this country, a Canaanite. And that wouldn’t please God because they don’t know Him or worship Him. (P) So I want you to make me a solemn promise – one that you can’t break – I want you to swear by the Lord God of all heaven and earth that you will not let my son marry one of these local girls. Instead, I want you to go to the land that I came from, to my own relatives, and find a wife for Isaac from amongst them.’

 ‘I was horrified that he should ask such a thing of me and I replied, ‘But what if, when I have travelled such a distance, I cannot find a young woman who will return with me to live here? Could I then take Isaac to live amongst your own relatives in that place?’’

‘Abraham shook his head fiercely.’

‘No! Under no circumstances are you to ever let Isaac return to the place I left. God told me to leave – to come to this land. And it’s this land that He’s promised to my offspring.’ Then his face brightened up a little. ‘ Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘For God’ll send an angel ahead of you, and when you get there he’ll make sure that you find the right young woman for Isaac’. (P) Then he thought for a moment. ‘But – if she isn’t willing to come back with you, I’ll set you free from your solemn promise.’

‘My master was so sure of what His God would do. He seemed to believe that – already the Lord God was working things out to make sure His promises to my master would all come true. (P) I wish I could say that I had the same confidence he had. (P) In fact, if it had not been that my master would free me from my solemn promise if a woman would not come home with me, I do not know if I would have made the promise at all.’

‘But, as he had allowed me to be set free if the woman wouldn’t come, I made the solemn promise. – Then at once, I loaded 10 of my master’s camels with the best of everything he owned and started on my journey, travelling 400 miles to the north.’ (PAUSE)

‘It was early evening many days later when we came to the small town not too far from the city Abraham had originally come from. I made the camels kneel down beside a spring just at the time when the young women came out to collect water.’

‘But now what was I to do? I had travelled all this way (PAUSE) all I could do was ask the God of my master Abraham to make my journey successful, and so I prayed.’

‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham. Please show kindness to my master by giving me success and letting me achieve all I have set out to do. As I stand here beside this spring of water, and as the young women of the village come to fetch water – this is my request of You. I will ask one of these young women for a drink. If she agrees, and then offers to give water to my camels as well, then let her be the one who is to be a wife for Isaac. This is how I will know that you have shown Your kindness to my master.’

‘Even as I prayed, a beautiful young woman named Rebekah arrived with her water jar. After she had filled her jar with water, I ran over to her and asked, ‘Please may I have a drink?’’

‘‘Of course you can, sir,’ she replied. And took the jug from her shoulder to give me a drink. And then, when I had finished my drink, she turned to me and said, ‘Now I’ll get some water for your camels, until they’ve all had enough.’’

‘Could this be the one I had travelled so far to find? I watched in silence wondering if this was the woman the Lord intended me to meet. I watched as Rebekah emptied the rest of the jug of water into the watering trough for the camels and then ran back and forth from the spring to fill the trough until the camels had drunk all they wanted! (P) When the camels had finished drinking, I gave Rebekah a beautiful ring for her nose and two fine gold bracelets for her wrists.’

‘Then, hardly daring to ask, I said, ‘Who is your father? And would he have room to put me up for the night?’

‘She replied, ‘My father is Bethuel, son of Nahor. And yes, we have food for your camels and a room for you to stay as our guest.’ (P) Nahor! Nahor was Abraham’s brother! After all this travelling, the Lord God had led me right to my master’s own relatives! I fell down to the ground and worshipped God. ‘All praise to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, for He has been kind and faithful to Abraham and led me straight to my master’s own relatives.’’

‘After that I stayed by the spring while Rebekah ran to her home and told them all that had happened. And when her brother, Laban, saw the ring and the bracelets he rushed out to invite me to stay with them.’

‘I was so excited, after all I had gone through – to come to the home of a relative of my master Abraham. But I had still not told them of my purpose in coming this great distance. So when it was time for a meal, I could not eat until I had told them all – why I had come.’

‘I am the servant of Abraham,’ I started. ‘The Lord God has blessed my master with great wealth, servants, cattle, camels and donkeys. And when my master’s wife Sarah was in her old age, she gave my master a son, and Abraham has given everything he owns to his son. Now, my master made me swear a solemn promise that I would not let Isaac, his son, marry one of the girls living in Canaan because they do not worship God. Instead, he told me to travel to his own relatives in the land he came from to find a young woman to be Isaac’s wife.’

‘I was fearful to make that promise. ‘What if I cannot find such a woman,’ I asked. But Abraham replied, ‘You will find her – because the Lord – in whose presence I have walked will send an angel with you to give you success.’ But he also told me that if the woman refused to come with me, I would be freed from my promise.’

‘This very afternoon as I came to the spring, I prayed this prayer. ‘O Lord of my master Abraham, if you are planning to make my mission a success, then please guide me in a special way. Here I am standing beside a spring. I will ask a young woman for a drink, as she comes to collect water. If she agrees, and then offers to water my camels as well, then I will know that she is the one You have chosen as a wife for my master’s son.’

‘Before I had even finished my prayer, Rebekah came and did just as I had prayed. And so I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord. I praised Him because He had led me to find a wife from the family of me master’s own relatives.’

‘So now, I need to know, will you show real kindness to my master Abraham and let Rebekah come back with me?’ (PAUSE)

‘Then Laban, Rebekah’s brother, and Bethuel her father replied, ‘The Lord’s obviously brought you here, so what else can we say? Take Rebekah with you and let her become the wife of your master’s son, just as the Lord has directed.’

‘Once again I worshipped the Lord and bowed to the ground. Then I gave beautiful gifts to Rebekah and valuable presents to her mother and brother. And only then did I eat my food and rest for the night.’(PAUSE)

‘Early the next morning I awoke and prepared to leave. I asked the family’s permission to be on my way as soon as possible. But they replied, ‘We were hoping that Rebekah could stay with us ten more days!’ Ten days! I did not want to wait at all, I wanted to get back to show my master how good the Lord had been to him, and so I asked. ‘Please, don’t hold me back. The Lord has blessed my journey with success and I want to go back and report to my master.’

‘Well,’ they replied. ‘We’ll have to see what Rebekah has to say about it.’ So they called Rebekah over. ‘Are you willing to go with this man now?’ they asked her.’

‘Yes I’m willing to go,’ she replied.

‘And so they said their goodbyes to each other. (P) It was to be the last time they saw each other in this world. And Rebekah, along with her maid who had looked after her as a young child, came with me. As she left, Rebekah’s family blessed her saying…’

‘Sister, may you become the mother of many millions! May your descendants overcome all their enemies.’ (PAUSE)

‘Isaac was in the south of Canaan when we came home. It is a dry, dusty and open landscape. He saw us coming from a long way off and started towards us to welcome us.’

‘Rebekah saw Isaac coming towards us. She got down from her camel and asked me who it was that was coming to meet us?

I smiled, ‘It is my master – Isaac.’ Quickly, as was the custom during that time, Rebekah covered her face with a veil. And when we arrived, I told Isaac about all the Lord had done for me on my long journey north.’ (PAUSE)

‘And so Isaac took Rebekah as his wife, and loved her very much. And she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.’