The Brothers: Part 3
Posted on 15/06/2012
Many years later and Jacob was well advanced in years. God blessed him abundantly, with two wives and several children. Even though he often had to deal with his swindling father-in-law, Jacob had many reasons to be grateful in the land of Paddan Aram.
On another hot afternoon, as he stood on top a mole hill, Jacob watched with contentment at his growing herd of sheep and his sons lounging in the grass. His two wives, Leah and Rachel, sat by the tents giggling among themselves.
Peace, he cherished it. With all he had around him and Laban finally clearing his conflict before returning home, there was nothing else that could go wrong right now. “Thank you God Almighty, for your great blessings!” Jacob said aloud.
“Master Jacob!” a servant gasped for air, racing up the hill to meet Jacob. “We have trouble!”
Jacob’s heart suddenly fell. So much for peace and quiet. “What is it?” he called back to the servant, now walking down to meet him halfway.
“Y-y-y-your, y-your…” the servant stuttered painfully.
Jacob frowned. “Take a breath and spit it out, man.” He held his breath, waiting.
“M-m-m-master Jacob, it’s E-E-esau!“
Jacob’s face grew white. “What did you say? Who?”
The servant sighed heavily, finally catching his breath. “Master Jacob, it’s Esau, he’s coming. One of the shepherd men saw him up ahead. He’s coming this way.” The man placed a hand on his head, frantic with fright. “What should we do, Master?” Although he only joined Jacob’s tribe in Paddan Aram, he among others had heard stories of the two estranged brothers, especially the infamous Esau who could snap Master Jacob in two. “What should we do?”
Jacob could not speak. He stared over the servant’s head at the fields ahead, already picturing Esau and his mighty men of war marching to meet him and his family. He closed his eyes to say a quiet prayer before opening them to meet the servant’s expectant gaze. “Call for the others. We must have a meeting now.” He walked around him and headed down the hill, the servant calling out the orders to the flock.
Maybe he was a coward, he knew some of his tribe thought so even as they walked in front, watching him hold back with his children and wives. But Jacob could not risk having his children meet Esau first. What if he took his revenge on them? It would be his fault, not theirs.
Turning to his first wife, he managed a smile. “You and the children follow after me.” He glanced over at the other, Rachel, and smiled warmly, hoping to calm her fears. “Follow right after Leah and the children. Keep Joseph safe with you.” Then with a sigh, he straightened his shoulders and walked down the hill, a few meters behind his men.
Even with this dislocated hip of his, he reminded himself that having wrestled with God could be a good sign. Even with his brother coming to battle with him, he was a blessed man. Rolling his neck, he took a deep breath, remembering the last expression on his older brother’s face right before he escaped to Paddan Aram.
“We meet again, Esau… I’m sorry for hurting you. Please find it in your heart to forgive me,” he recited his words aloud, hoping his brother would be in a good mood after receiving the gifts he’d sent ahead. He prayed and hoped to himself that Esau would indeed meet him with smiles instead of a pointed spear.
Esau waited patiently, something he wasn’t born to do but found himself doing more often. He’d waited for all these years to meet Jacob. A few more hours wouldn’t hurt. He stared over the crowd of people and bleating sheep and goats in front of him, but still no sign of his younger brother.
Eying one of the servants standing with his head bowed before him, Esau cleared his throat. “Where’s Jacob? Isn’t he coming after you?”
The servant laughed nervously. “Oh, he’s coming. He has a bit of a limp, so he’s slow.”
“Limp?” Esau frowned and glanced again down the hill. His eyes then lit up, noticing another crowd of people walking slowly up the hill. Jacob was coming.
Pushing away from his tribe, Esau walked past the sheep and servants to meet with Jacob.
Soon enough, the two brothers stood with an invisible thick line between them, staring at each other with no expression on each other’s faces. Jacob fell to his knees and bowed right in front of his brother and the people, his servants openly surprised at their master’s submission.
Esau then smiled at Jacob’s bent head and stepped over the line, gathering his brother in an embrace. “You’re still as scrawny as I remember, even after all these years!” Esau roared.
Jacob gaped at his servants and sheep who remained untouched, unharmed. His brother’s arms pressed tightly around him brought him back to his senses, or rather the feeling of air leaving his body did. He choked a cough but dared not complaining, aware of Esau’s quick temper.
Esau slapped Jacob on the back before lowering him to his feet. He grabbed his shoulders. “Let me look at you, my brother.”
Jacob swallowed hard, still confused by Esau’s unexpected welcome. What if it was a trick to catch him off-guard and then finish him off at night? “Brother… I’m sorry.”
“Hmm, I see you’ve been busy,” Esau ignored his brother’s request, noticing the women and children trailing behind. He patted Jacob’s shoulder and grinned down at him, poor Jacob still standing stiffly beside him. “Now, tell me you send your servants and sheep ahead of you. That was foolish. What if I’d slaughtered them in my furious anger?”
Jacob’s wives gasped loudly, shifting back toward the hill. Jacob faced his brother; feeling embarrassed by Esau’s blatant mocking. “I was sending a peace offering ahead of me.”
“Sure you were,” Esau gave him a side glance before laughing aloud at the women’s terrified expressions. “Calm down, dear sisters-in-law. I mean no harm. I’m glad to see you all.” He ruffled Jacob’s graying hair. “We’ve got some catching up to do, don’t we, dear Brother?”
With a weak smile that still showed he was terrified, Jacob let Esau pull him away from the clan. Even though Esau’s face looked softer, despite the wrinkles and white hair that was once red… he wasn’t ready to forget that Esau had every right to be angry with him and take revenge. Still, Jacob hoped God would protect him from Esau’s wrath.