In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
We’ve heard how Jacob and Esau were twins: one was a hairy, manly man, his father’s pride and joy, and the other was a pretty mama’s boy. We heard all of the back and forth between these two. How Jacob cheated Esau. How Jacob ran away. How Jacob in turn got cheated. How the Lord sent him back to his murderous brother to face him. (Two weeks ago.) ow Jacob in turn goHow We’ve heard how the Lord took hold of Jacob. Changed him. Gave him a new name, Israel, and secured His promise to bless the world through Jacob’s loins by grabbing hold of the space in Jacob’s thigh. (Last week.) But we didn’t pay much attention to how while Jacob gone those 20 years he had been cheated by his uncle and the impacts of that. Jacob had wanted to marry his uncle’s younger, beautiful daughter, Rachel. He ended up getting both the older and younger daughters. That’s a lousy start to your wedded life with your beloved. And then because of the inevitable competition between these two sisters for their husband’s affection, they also gave him their own handmaidens, Bilhah and Zilpah, as wives, so that these slave girls could each produce kids that would be credited to them. But no one was fooled. Not the least of which was Jacob and his affections. He still loved Rachel best. He still loved the one child she’d bore him, Joseph, best. So he comes back to Esau with four wives, 11 sons and a daughter. He gets back to the land, meets his brother Esau, who forgives him (Gen. 33:1-11), for God has this all worked out in advance. Last week we heard how terrifying it was for Jacob to live through all of it, the fear of his brother’s hatred, but God is in control. But then when he’s back in the land, his favourite wife, Rachel, gets pregnant again. The woman he loves. The only wife he really wanted. The only woman he cares about. She bears him a second son. And dies in child birth. So now he has 12 sons, a daughter, and three wives. He’s bereft of his beloved. So in his grief, in the days that follow he pours love into the first son his beloved wife Rachel bore him. He neglects the rest. And you can imagine how he held his little baby, Benjamin, at arms’ length, the boy who killed his beloved. He’s special because he was born from Rachel, but he will always be a reminder of her death.