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Chapter VIII.

Now, Rebecca, having long been barren, at length, through the unceasing prayers of her husband to the Lord, brought forth twins about twenty years after the time of her marriage. These are said to have often leaped259259    So in LXX. in the womb of their mother; and it was announced by the answer of the Lord on this subject, that two peoples were foretold in these children, and that the elder would, in rank, be inferior to the younger. Well, the first that was born, bristling over with hair, was called Esau, while Jacob was the name given to the younger. At that time, a grievous famine had taken place. Under the pressure of this necessity, Isaac went to Gerar, to King Abimelech, having been warned by the Lord not to go down into Egypt. There he is promised the possession of the whole land, and is blessed, and having been greatly increased in cattle and every kind of substance, he is, under the influence of envy, driven out by the inhabitants. Thus expelled from that region, he sojourned by the well, known as “the well260260    This is the meaning of the Hebrew word, Beersheba. of the oath.” By and by, being advanced in years, and his eyesight being gone, as he made ready to bless his son Esau, Jacob through the counsel of his mother, Rebecca, presented himself to be blessed in the place of his brother. Thus Jacob is set before his brother as the one to be honored by the princes and the peoples. Esau, enraged by these occurrences, plotted the death of his brother. Jacob, owing to the fear thus excited, and by the advice of his mother, fled into Mesopotamia, having been urged by his father to take a wife of the house of Laban, Rebecca’s brother: so great was their care, while they dwelt in a strange country, that their children should marry within their own kindred. Thus Jacob, setting out for Mesopotamia, is said in sleep to have had a vision of the Lord; and on that account regarding the place of his dream as sacred, he took a stone from it; and he vowed that, if he returned in prosperity, the name261261    “Titulum sibi domus Dei futurum”: the rendering of the Hebrew original is here obviously faulty, and the words, as they stand, are scarcely intelligible. of the pillar should be the “house of the Lord,” and that he would devote to God the tithes of all the possessions he had gained. Then he betook himself to Laban, his mother’s brother, and was kindly received by him to share in his hospitality as the acknowledged son of his sister.


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