Monday, August 9, 2010

Genesis 28-30: The misadventures of Jacob (Pt. 1)

Before Jacob leaves, Isaac tells him that while he's fleeing for his life, he may as well find one of his cousins and marry her. Then he blesses him again, and says that he hopes God will give Jacob the same blessing (curse?) he gave to Abraham and Isaac.

Hearing this, Esau finally figures it out: his parents hate the local girls. So he marries two more of them, bring his total up to 4. Way to go Esau, break that inbreeding mold.

On his way to Laban's house, Jacob is sleeping one night and has a dream. There is a stairway to heaven, and God is there telling him the usual...basically that Jacob inherits the blessing of Abraham and Isaac..

Jacob marks the place when he wakes up, and makes a vow that if he ever makes it back to Isaac's house, "the Lord will be his God." So...what, Jacob doesn't really believe yet? He's bargaining? Yeah, I'll worship you God, if you do this for me. That's hilarious.

So Jacob eventually gets near to where Laban lives, and comes across some shepherds near a well. He starts talking to them, and learns that one of his cousins, Rachel, is on her way to that well. I can't quite tell what happens next...Jacob is either trying to get rid of them so he can be alone with Rachel, or he's just randomly trying to tell the shepherds how to do their job. He basically tells them to hurry up and water their sheep and go away. The shepherds are like, hell no. They are still talking about it when Rachel comes along.

Jacob seems to instantly fall in love with Rachel...he waters her sheep for her, kisses her, cries, then tells her he's her cousin. Then she "ran and told her father." Stranger danger!!

But no, Laban likes Jacob. After Jacob has been there for a while, Laban says, you shouldn't have to work for free! Name your wage. So Jacob says he will work for 7 years for Rachel, and Laban agrees. And Rachel agreed too!!!! Just kidding! Rachel had nothing to do with it, obviously.

So 7 years later Jacob gets married and sleeps with his new wife. But the next morning he learns that it had been Rachel's older sister Leah all along! Wow...either old testament weddings happened entirely in the dark, or there were unbelievable amounts of booze involved.

Jacob tells Laban, (paraphrasing) "what the hell?" Laban explains that it is their "custom" to marry off the oldest daughter first. But if Jacob will only work for 7 more years, he can have Rachel too. Tricksy Laban!

So Jacob marries Rachel also, one week later, in exchange for promising 7 more years work.

The next part is basically a baby-making contest between Rachel and Leah. Leah has 4 babies while Rachel has none (apparently this is because God noticed that Jacob didn't like Leah much, so he took pity on her). Rachel is pissed, and tells Jacob to sleep with her servant...he knocks her up twice. Then Jacob has 2 kids with Leah's servant. Then Leah buys sex with Jacob, from Rachel, in exchange for mandrakes (WTF?) and has another son. Then Leah has another son, and a daughter. Then finally, Rachel has a son.

Busy, busy. I guess this supports that whole "quiverful" thing...have an assload of babies, or you are utterly worthless as a human being.

After (I assume) the 7 years are up, Jacob tells Laban, I want to go home, let me take my family and go. Laban says, you should totally stay, name your price. Jacob says, I'll take all the spotted or speckled animals, and Laban agrees. They split the animals up that day...Jacob's son takes care of Jacob's animals, while Jacob watches Laban's animals.

Prepare yourselves for this bit of biblical "science": Jacob tries to make Laban's animals give birth to spotted babies by making them look at bits of branches that appear spotted while they are mating. And apparently it works. .....WTF???

The strange thing is that there is actually a decent bit of science wrapped up in this story. Jacob only shows the animals the spotted branches if they are strong, thus making it so only the strong animals have spotted babies, so he'll have the strongest animals. That actually makes some sense...if you ignore the "looking at spotted things makes you have spotted babies" thing.

So, a halfway decent bit of evolutionary science (selective breeding) wrapped up in a scientific EPIC FAIL. Fascinating.

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