Jacob continued east and saw a well in the distance. Three flocks of sheep and goats lay in an open field beside it, waiting to be watered. But a heavy stone covered the well.
It was custom to wait for all of the flocks to arrive before removing the stone and watering the animals. (In case you were wondering.) Jacob asked the shepherds where they were from.
“Do you know Laban, grandson of Nahor?”
“Yes. Here comes his daughter Rachel with their flock now.”
Jacob removed the stone and watered his cousin’s flock. Then he kissed her and wept aloud. He explained they were cousins and she went to tell Laban.
Laban ran to meet Jacob and kissed him before bringing him home. Jacob told him his story and Laban said “You really are my own flesh and blood! Gotta keep it in the family!”
After Jacob had stayed with Laban for a month, Laban said “You shouldn’t work for me for free just because we’re relatives. How much should I pay you?”
Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he said “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel as my wife.”
“Agreed! Rather you than anyone else. Jacob’s love for her was so strong, the seven years seemed but a few days to him.
Finally, the time came for them to be married.
So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a feast. But that night, in the darkness, Laban took Leah, his older daughter (who was described as lacking a spark in her eyes) to Jacob, and he slept with her.
Jacob woke in the morning and said “What have you done to me? I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?”
“It’s not our custom to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban said. “But wait until the bridal week is over, then we’ll give you Rachel, too. Provided you promise to work another seven years for me.” (Could all this not have been explained ahead of time?)
Jacob agreed. A week later he married Rachel and slept with her, too. He loved her much more than Leah. For some reason, he kept his commitment and worked seven additional years for Laban.
When God saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel couldn’t. Leah gave birth to a son that she named Reuben. She said “The Lord has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.”
She gave birth to another son and named him Simeon. She said “The Lord heard I was unloved and gave me another son.”
She named her third son Levi and said “Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!”
She gave birth to one more son, named him Judah, then stopped having children. She said “Now I will praise the Lord!”
So Isaac called for Jacob and gave him another blessing.
“You must not marry any of these Canaanite women. Instead, go at once to Paddan-aram and marry one of your cousins. May God bless you and give you many inbred children. Nations, descendants, all that jazz. Oh, and lots of land.”
So Jacob went to live with his uncle Laban.
Esau knew Jacob had gone to live with Laban and that Isaac disliked Canaanite women. So Esau married his cousin Mahalath, one of Ishmael’s daughters.
Meanwhile, Jacob stopped to camp on his journey. He used a stone as a pillow and dreamed of a stairway to heaven. He saw angels going up and down the stairway.
God stood at the top of the stairs and gave Jacob another blessing. “[insert standard blessing here].”
Jacob awoke and said “God is here and I didn’t even know!” But he was also scared. “What an awesome place! This is the house of God, the gateway to heaven!”
The next morning Jacob took the stone he’d used as a pillow and set it upright as a memorial. Then he poured olive oil over it and renamed the place Bethel, meaning “house of God.”
Then Jacob made this vow: “If God protects me on this journey, provides me food and clothing, and safely returns me to my father’s home, then he will certainly be my God. And this memorial will become a place of worshiping God, and I will present God a tenth of everything he gives me.” (Imagine the blessings he’ll receive after he accepts God.)
One day when Isaac was old and turning blind, he told Esau, “I don’t know when I’m going to die. Go hunt some wild game for me. Prepare my favorite dish, turkey mac n cheese, and bring it for me to eat. Then I will pronounce your blessing as my firstborn son.”
But Rebekah overheard him, so when Esau left to hunt, she told Jacob, “Bring me two fine young goats. I’ll use them to prepare his favorite dish.”
Jacob said “But his favorite dish is turkey mac n cheese.”
“Shut up and do as I say. All you have to do is get the goats, then take the food to your father so he can bless you.”
“But Esau is hairy and my skin is smooth. What if daddy touches me? He’ll see I’m trying to trick him, and he’ll curse me instead.”
“Then let the curse fall on me! Just do what I say! Now get the goats! Go on, git!”
So Jacob got the goats and Rebekah made goat mac n cheese. Then she gave Esau’s favorite clothes to Jacob. She also covered his arms and neck with the goat skin.
Jacob took the food to his father. “My father?”
“Who are you, Esau or Jacob?” (He’s going blind, and apparently his taste buds are bad enough that he can’t tell the difference between goat and turkey, and he can’t tell the voices of his sons apart.)
Jacob said “It’s Esau, you know, your firstborn son. Here is your turkey mac n cheese. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing.”
“How did you find it so quickly?”
“God put it in my path.”
“Come closer so I can touch you and make sure that you’re really Esau.” Jacob went close and his father touched him. “The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands are Esau’s.” (Nevermind, he can tell.) “But are you really Esau?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Bring me my food. Let me eat, then I will bless you.” After eating and drinking, he said “Please come closer and kiss me.”
So Jacob kissed him and Isaac smelled his clothes. “Ah! The smell of the outdoors! May God always give you an abundance of grain and bountiful new wine. May many nations become your servants and may they bow down to you. May your brothers bow down to you. All who curse you will be cursed, and all who bless you will be blessed.” (Isn’t accepting a blessing from someone other than God the same as worshiping another God?)
As soon as Isaac finished his blessing, Esau returned from hunting. He cooked and brought the food to his father. “Sit up and eat so you can give me your blessing.”
Isaac said “Who are you?”
“I’m your firstborn son, Esau.”
Isaac began having a seizure and said “Then who just served me turkey mac n cheese? I blessed him just before you came. That blessing must stand!”
Esau let out a loud and bitter cry. “What about me? Bless me, too!”
“Your brother tricked me and has taken away your blessing.”
“No wonder his name is Jacob, for he has cheated me twice. He took my rights as firstborn and now he’s stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved at least one blessing for me?”
“I have given him everything. What is left for you?”
Finally, Isaac said “You will live away from the richness of the earth and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”
From then on, Esau hated Jacob and began plotting to kill him after Isaac died.
But Rebekah warned Jacob. “Flee to Haran, where my brother Laban lives. When Esau cools off, I’ll send for you to come back. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”
Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m sick and tired of these Hittite women! I would rather die than see Jacob marry one of them.”
A severe famine struck the land, so Isaac moved to Gerar, where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived.
God appeared and told him, “Don’t go to Egypt, stay in Gerar. I will bless you and give this land to your descendants, just as I promised your father, Abraham.
As was the family custom, Isaac told the men of Gerar that Rebekah was his sister. But Abimilech looked out his window and saw Isaac caressing her.
He immediately called for Isaac and said “She is obviously your wife! Why did you tell me she is your sister?”
“Because I was afraid someone would kill me for her!”
“How could you do this to us? One of my people might have slept with your wife, and you would have made us guilty of great sin.”
Then Abimelech made a proclamation: “Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be put to death!”
God blessed Isaac with more grain than he planted. He became rich and acquired so many sheep, goats, cattle and servants that the Philistines became jealous. So they filled up his wells with dirt. The wells Abraham’s servants had dug.
Finally, Abimelech ordered Isaac to leave because he had become too powerful.
So Isaac moved to the Gerar Valley and reopened the wells Abraham had dug there.
Isaac’s servants dug and discovered a fresh water well. But the shepherds from Gerar claimed the spring. They argued with Isaac’s herdsmen, so Isaac named it Esek, meaning “argument.”
They dug another well and again there was a dispute. Isaac named it Sitnah, meaning “hostility.” There was no dispute over the next well, so Isaac name it Rehoboth, meaning “open space.”
Isaac moved to Beersheba and dug another well. He also built an altar for God.
One day Abimelech came with his advisor, Ahuzzath, and his army commander, Phicol. “Why are you here?” Isaac asked. “You obviously hate me.”
Abimelech said “If you can’t beat them, join them. God obviously blesses you. Let’s make a covenant. Swear you won’t harm us, just as we have never harmed you. We sent you away in peace, and look how the Lord has blessed you!”
So Isaac prepared a feast and they promised to leave each other alone.
Another well was dug, water was found, the end.
P.S., Esau married two Hittite women and they made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah.
Abraham married another woman named Keturah. She gave birth to six sons.
Abraham gave everything he owned to Isaac, but gave gifts to his other sons and sent them to live in the east, away from Isaac. (I guess he didn’t want a Cain/Abel situation.)
Abraham died at 175 years old. Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah he’d purchased, the same place he’d buried Sarah. Then God blessed Isaac.
Ishmael had a bunch of descendants. They lived in open hostility toward their relatives.
Isaac pleaded with God because Rebekah couldn’t have children. God answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant with twins, but the two children fought in the womb. So she asked God, “Why is this happening to me?”
God said “Your kids will become two nations and they will be rivals from the beginning. Your older son will serve your younger son.
When she gave birth, Esau was born very red and covered with fur. Jacob was born grabbing Esau’s heel.
Esau became a skillful hunter, but Jacob preferred to stay inside. Isaac loved Esau because of the food he hunted, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
One day Jacob was cooking stew when Esau came home. He told Jacob, “I’m starving, give me some of that red stew!”
Jacob agreed, but added, “You have to trade me your rights as the firstborn son.”
Esau said “Whatever, I’m starving. What good is my birthright now?”
“Then swear to me that your birthright is mine.” So Esau swore an oath.
Then Jacob gave him some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate and showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.