INSIDE THE HEARTS
OF BIBLE WOMEN

9 ~ Not MY Children
(Rebecca)

(based on Genesis 24 and 27-28)





Part 1 ~ Family Confrontations
        "That Esau will do anything!"  

        "What did you say, Jacob?  I couldn't hear you.  Come over here a minute, Son.  What did he do this time?"  [1]

        "Oh nothing, Mom," Jacob jested as he leaned over his mother and gave her a kiss on the cheek.  

       "Now don't tease me, Jacob.  What's going on?"  

       "You'll never believe this, Mom.  Well, maybe you would since it's Esau."  

      "Believe what?"  Rebecca replied, impatient at his evading her questions again.  

        He sat down on a stool nearby.  "Well," he finally began, "You know how Esau has been breaking his poor ole back getting those
rocks out of the field that worked themselves up over the winter."  

       "Seems like a never-ending task.  Did he get hurt?" their mother inquired, trying to help him get to the point of his story.  

       "Well, he didn't hurt his back, but he sure hurt his pocket book."  Jacob laughed again and stared at his flock grazing in the pasture
near the compound.  

        "Come on; get on with it."  

        "Well, you know how he never plans anything, never prepares for anything.  He just expects things to work themselves out by
themselves."  

        "Yes, yes."  

        Jacob began laughing hysterically.  And in between each speel, he managed to get it out.  "He, he....worked on those rocks from
sun up, and never took anything along to eat....Said he forgot because he had so much on his mind....Rocks on the brain is what I think."  

        "When did you see him?  When he was coming home hungry?"  

        "Yes, Mom.  And you wouldn't believe it.  His stomach must have had nostrils of its own, for it led him straight to where I was camped
with the sheep and eating some of those red beans."  

       "You did share with him, didn't you?  He's still your brother, your own flesh and blood."  

        "Of course I did.  He had something that I wanted, so I sold him a bowl of my hot beans for it."  

       "You sold it?  Why, Jacob.  I'm ashamed of you."  

        "Well, he had something I wanted, and I had something he wanted.  Even trade." Jacob started laughing again.  "He said he'd
die....if I didn't let him have the beans....He actually said he'd die!  He's so stupid...."  

       "Those boys," Rebecca thought aloud, shaking her head.  "Always trading."  

        Jacob wandered off still laughing while her thoughts went back in time.  The Jacob she saw walking away was now a little toddler....  
         "Mommy," she recalled Esau crying.  "Jacob got my toy wagon."   

        "Jacob, did you get his wagon?"  

       "It was an even trade.  I was playing with my sling shot minding my own business, Esau came up whining and saying I always got the
good toys.  So we traded."  

       "Is that true, Esau?"  

       "Well, yes.  But now I want it back."  

       "You can't do that; it was an equal trade."  

        Esau began to cry.  Jacob just laughed.  "Don't pay any attention to the big baby.  Whatever I have, he's got to have it.  So when I
trade with him, he's still not happy.  He just sees me with something else and says I have the best again.  He never gives up.  He's never
satisfied."  [2]

        Rebecca returned to the present.  "Well, it's not the first time he's made a foolish trade.  When will Esau ever change?  I can't go
around behind him trying to protect him from his foolish decisions all the time.  How could he have been my first born?  Jacob was born
only a few moments later ~ hanging on to his brother's heal as though he were saying, 'Hey, wait a minute there, brother.  You're not
going anywhere without me.  I'll be right there at your heal, and sometimes I'll even pass you up.' "  

        She smiled.  Jacob surely was living up to his name.  

        A few hours passed.  Esau walked in to the compound leading his donkey.  

        "Tired, dear?" she inquired politely as he walked closer.  But he kept on walking.  His eyes were squinted in anger, and his jaw was
set.  He never could let his anger out.  He just bottled it up.  And this scared both her and Isaac.  A person can't take the ridicule and
teasing such as Jacob could hand out forever without blowing up.  When the blow came....  Well, they just prayed it never would.  [3]

        "Here comes the cry baby,"Jacob taunted when Esau got close enough to his brother.  

        "Lay off, Jacob,"Esau declared almost under his breath, his teeth clinched.  

       "How was it?  Pretty rich bean stew I'd say."  

        "Jacob, I mean it."  

       "Let me see now.  If you had a total of 100 beans, that would make each bean worth about, uh, I'd say one-half pound of gold."  
Jacob burst into laughter again, and then gradually into a mock song.  

        "Esau the impetuous redhead, sells his fortune for red beans instead..."  

      Esau, who had been taking the bridle off his donkey, paused, turned to his younger brother, and bravely declared, "It didn't mean a
thing!  You cannot supplant me and take away my birthright, my right to inherit the family's estate.  I'll swear you are lying.  You'll never
carry it off.  I just said it because you wouldn't share your food with me.  You'll never make it stick."  

        Just as he turned to leave, Jacob grinned and sat up on the sheep corral and began to chant until Esau was out of hearing
distance.  "Just you wait.  Just you wait.  Just you wait."  [4]

        "Hey, what's going on out there?" Isaac demanded.  "Will you never cease your quarreling?"

        Esau walked past his father on his way to his tent.  Jacob was not too far behind him taunting.  "That is enough of that, Jacob.  Esau
has worked hard today."  

        Isaac was generally a very patient man.  But when he told Jacob "That is enough," Jacob knew to stop right there.  

        "Yes, sir," he acknowledged, clearing his throat and lowering his eyes.  [5]

        Times continued on as they had for the twins for many years.  Esau continued his farming.  Jacob continued his ranching.  Rebecca
and Isaac continued trying to influence their sons for good.  And Isaac continued to tell the stories the boys had heard all their lives ~
about their ancestors Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, and the others.  [6]

        They never met any of them.  But they did have clear memories of Abraham, their grandfather, for they were fifteen years old when
he died.  

        They often wondered what it was like when their grandfather nearly offered their father as a sacrifice.  Abraham always said if he'd
gone through with it, he knew God would have raised Isaac back from the dead for him.  Jacob marveled at it.  Esau thought they were
fanatics about their religion.  

        Isaac reminded them daily of Jehovah's covenant with Abraham, and also how Jehovah had renewed that covenant with Isaac
himself.  

        Since he fully believed God would renew it once more for the next generation, he often told Esau of the blessing he would receive
when he spoke directly with God some day.  Esau would carry out the covenant, and Isaac felt confident in the future of the family and the
eventual nation that would grow out of him according to God's promise.  

        More and more Rebecca spoke with her sons about the wives she and Isaac had in mind for them.  Good godly girls.  They had to
be.  After all, they were of the family of Terah, their great grandfather, patriarch of Babylon.  Everyone in the family had intermarried
distant relatives.  When Abraham was ready to choose Isaac's wife, he sent back to Babylon where he had grown up for his brother's
grand daughter.  That, of course, was Rebecca.  Now there was Leah and Rachael ~ daughters of Rebecca's brother.  Just perfect.  Two
daughters for two sons.  

        "Leah is the oldest daughter, Esau.  If I know oldest children of families like I think I do, she is stable and sincere, and will help settle
you down.  The time is not too far away for you to make the trip and request her hand in marriage.  

        Rebecca would continue with Jacob.  "Rachael is a little younger, but I'm sure she will make you a good wife.  Of course, we will have
to wait for Esau and Leah to marry before we begin to make any serious plans for you.  It won't be a long wait, I'm sure."  

        But one day Esau shattered their dreams.  For once in his life he was going to do something that his father, nor his mother, nor his
brother badgered him into doing.  He decided on his own, and no one was going to change is mind.  The time had come for him to stand
on his own two feet as the future head of this household.  

        "Mother.  Father.  I have chosen my wife."  

        "Of course you have, dear," Rebecca interrupted nervously.  We've known for years it would be Leah."  [7]

        "No, Mother.  It is not Leah.  I'm the one marrying, and it is going to be whom I choose.  And I choose Judith."  

        His parents stared at their son in disbelief.  

        "No, Son!" Isaac declared.  "You will NOT marry Judith!  I forbid you!"  

        "You can't stop me.  It's my life and I'm going to do what I want."  

        "But your destiny with Jehovah.  You must carry on the eternal promise.  Each generation from son to son, until he has developed
our family into a tribe and finally into a nation."  

        "Who cares about the family tradition?  I, for one don't.  I've got my life to live.  Let someone else carry out your stuffy old religion.  
Let Jacob.  He's always trying to outdo me and get what I have.  He can have the tradition ~ and that nation you keep talking about - if he
can live long enough."  

        "I forbid it!"  Isaac was to his feet.  

        "You can't forbid it, Father."  

        "Oh yes I can, and I do!"  

        "I married Judith yesterday."  [8]

        Silence.  Shock.  Then the numbness.  

        Rebecca threw her hands up to her face and shook her head over and over.  "No.  No.  No.  You can't do that to us."  

       "My own son," Isaac managed at last to reply.  

        "So, what's so terrible?  Judith's a nice girl.  You'll like her once you get to know her better."  

        "Nice girl has nothing to do with it.  You must carry on the Promise.  Who knows but that your son will become the first king of the
new nation.  Now what will happen?  She is an unbeliever.  She won't fit in with the plan."  

        "So what?  Jacob will do it.  Just watch him jump at the chance.  Who cares, anyway?  I sure don't."  

        "Son, leave us alone.  Go to your Judith.  Right now we don't much want to see or talk to you."  

        "That's about what I expected,"Esau replied as he walked out.  

       "Esau," his mother called out to him as he turned to leave.  "We'll pray for you anyway."  

        "Yeah, sure."  [9]

        Time continued to pass.  Rebecca and her husband struggled within themselves to accept what Esau had done.  They tried to love
Judith, but it just wasn't the same.  It wasn't what they'd dreamed and planned for him.  How could he just ruin his entire life overnight like
that?  

        Rebecca's husband never seemed to be the same after that.  It was as though he could not face what his beloved eldest son, his
favorite, had done to himself and his family.  He could not face it and could not stand to watch Esau waste his life away.  Isaac grew more
and more blind.  [10]

        One morning the old man sent for a servant.  "Take me out to the north field.  Then come on back home.  You may come back for
me tomorrow morning."  

        "But, Sir.  The wolves.  You cannot see to protect yourself.  It's not safe."  

       "We'll take along some fire and kindling.  I will keep it going through the night.  When I hear the sound of the birds and feel the sun
on my face, I will know it is morning.  Jehovah will take care of me."  

        Isaac sent for Rebecca and told her.  He left, and Rebecca knew without even asking what was about to transpire.  The first time
she had ever seen Isaac he was walking through the field at sunset meditating.  The habit never left him.  Only now that he was much
older, he would not venture out unless he faced a major decision.  This indeed would be a major decision.  It involved the future of their
family and the salvation of that nation promised to Abraham and Isaac
                                         Part 2 ~ The Irreversible Act  

        She designated her normal chores to her maids to do on this day, for she too had a decision to make.  Now that Isaac could not
see, sometimes his mind could not see very well either, she was confident.  She wrapped a piece of bread in a towel and walked up a little
hill overlooking their home where the brook originated out of a little spring.  And there, too, she meditated and worked out her plan.  

        The next day after Isaac returned home, Rebecca made it a point to do some extra cleaning where he was so she wouldn't miss
anything important.  Her hunch paid off.  [11]

        "Esau," Isaac said to his wife, "I'd like to see Esau."  

       "He hasn't left for the field yet.  He's been mending his hunting net.  I'll go get him for you."  

        "Esau entered. "Yes, Father.  You sent for me?"  

        "Esau, sit down here by me."  The old blind father paused a moment, listened for shuffling, then reached toward his left to touch his
eldest son.  

        "You know I am old.  I don't know when I will die, but it is eminent.  Therefore, I must make preparation, and you must make
preparation."  

        Esau's heart beat a little faster.  He smiled.  He knew what was about to transpire.  Jacob hadn't carried out his little scheme to get
the birthright from Esau after all.  

       "Therefore, I want you to do something special for me, and then I will present you with something special."  

        "Yes, Father.  What is it that you desire?  Name it and it is yours."  

        "Take your bow and arrows and get a deer.  Bring it back and cook it for me like I love it, and bring it in for a little feast - just you and
me."  

        Esau could no longer hide his delight.  "Yes, Sir!" he replied enthusiastically.  "You shall have the finest feast of your life, just as
soon as I return."  He left.  

        Rebecca, too, left.  

       "Jacob, where is he?" she wondered as she rushed out toward the corral.  "He hadn't planned to go to the pastures at all this week.  
He's got to be around here somewhere."  Her steps grew quicker.  

       "Jacob!" she called out at last.  "Come to my tent.  Drop everything you're doing, and come at once.  Hurry!"  

        He caught up with her just as she arrived at her door.  She closed it after them, but did not wait to seat herself or allow Jacob to.  
"We must act fast."  

        "What in the world's going on?" he laughed half nervously.  

        "I heard your father talking to Esau.  He has sent your brother out to find venison to bring in and prepare for them to eat.  Then your
father will give the blessing of the eldest son's birthright to Esau."  

        Jacob listened to his mother intently.  

        "Now you must do exactly as I say.  We must not let this foolish son of mine have the heritage of passing on Jehovah's Covenant to
unbelieving children.  You, yourself, told me he gave away his birthright years ago over a mere bowl of beans.  He has no forethought, no
wisdom, no inclination to take care of the family wealth properly.  You, Jacob, you must be put in charge."  

        "Are you sure?  Well, yeah, the idea sounds great.  But how are you going to pull it off?  Just give it up, Mom.  In a couple hours it
will be too late.  There is nothing more we can do."  

        "Yes there is.  Now you listen to me and listen carefully.  You must follow my instructions explicitly.  Run and bring me two kid goats.  
They will make the same amount of meat as a deer.  Bring them to me as fast as you can while I get ready to cook them like your father
likes it.  Then you will beat Esau and be the first to take the meat in to your father.  You will then receive the family blessing."  

       "But Mother, even if we could get all this done before Esau got his ready, Father would know I wasn't Esau.  You know how hairy he
is.  All Father will have to do is touch me.  Then he will curse me instead of bless me, and I will be worse off than ever."  

        Rebecca had never seen her favorite son so hesitant to take advantage of a situation.  "Then let the curse fall upon me."  The
curse?  Was she truly ready to pay that price?  [12]

        She reached up and kissed Jacob's cheek.  He gave her a hug, and then left.  

        As soon as he had gone through the door, Rebecca went to a trunk and got out the festivity clothing that belonged to Esau, and
which she had put in her tent the day before to carry out her plan.  

        While the meat was cooking, she instructed Jacob to take the goat skins to her tent and then put on the clothing she had set out
belonging to his brother.  

        Putting on Esau's clothing made sense, but what did the goat skins have to do with anything?  In a few minutes she came in to him.  

        "This will never work.  What will Father do when he finds out?"  

       "All right now," Rebecca began.  "You only have your hands and neck showing.  So we will put this goat hair on those places, and
that should convince Isaac you are Esau."  

        "But what about my voice?  I can't imitate Esau's voice."  

       "Don't worry about that.  He's getting old, remember.  Just trust me, Jacob.  Remember, Esau not only despised his birthright by
selling it for a cheap bowl of beans, but he also despised his religious heritage by marrying an unbelieving woman.  You, Jacob, are the
only one to do that.  We are doing the will of God!"  

        After hesitating in the quiet a moment and reflecting on her words, Jacob's demeanor changed.  He stood up straight, raised his
head, smiled, and repeated his mother.  "Yes, indeed, I am definitely doing the will of God.  I am the only one left who is willing to.  You are
so right, Mother."  

        "Good.  Now, let's go get the meat I've prepared just like your father loves it; and the bread to go with it."  

        They went out and gathered everything up, Rebecca smiled reassuringly and whispered, "My prayers will be with you," and Jacob
went in unto his father with his lie..  

        "Father."  

        "I'm over here," Isaac acknowledged.  "Which one are you?" he asked confused, expecting only Esau, but much later.  

        At this moment, the destiny of a man and a nation changed.  

        "I am Esau, your firstborn.  I have done as you asked.  Come sit here and eat of my venison so you can then bless me."  

       "How is it that you found it so quickly, Son?"  

        Uh, oh.  Jacob and his mother had been a little too efficient.  He groped for a reply. "Uh, because the Lord your God brought it to
me" he lied again.  

        Yes, that was a very good answer.  But Isaac wasn't as convinced as Jacob thought.  

        "Come closer so I may feel you, Son, and make sure you really are my son Esau."  

        Jacob's stomach knotted up.  His mother had promised him Isaac was too old to hear that well, and wouldn't get suspicious.  He did
as his father asked, and walked over to him.  

        Isaac stretched out his hands, groping in his personal darkness for his Esau.  Jacob understood and moved close enough to be
touched.  

        The moment was here.  No turning back.  Blessing or cursing.  Which would it be?  He hoped his mother had been right.  

        Finally, "The voice sounds so much like Jacob's," Isaac announced.  

        "The curse!  That's what I'm going to get!  The curse!  He knows!"  Jacob's thoughts swirled around the thunderous heart beats that
tried to jump out of his chest.  [13]

       "....but your hands are definitely Esau's hands.  Maybe my hearing is going too.  But my touch will never betray me. I know Esau's
hands when I touch them.  This must indeed be you, Esau.  The Lord has blessed us both by sending the deer to you so quickly.  Praise
be the Lord."  

        Isaac smiled in relief.  Jacob, too, smiled in relief.  

        Then, pausing one last time, Isaac asked, "Are you really and truly my son, Esau?"  

        "I am."  

        Finally, leaning back and laughing, the old man declared, "Well then, bring the venison to me so we may eat it.  It smells so good.  I
am starved!  Then I will give you your blessing."  

        Jacob's nervousness shifted like a boomerang, and he went flying to the other side of the tent to get his father's food.  He set
everything up, and catered to his father's every whim as they ate.  

        "More wine....  Where did you lay the bread?  How about some more venison?  Do you have anything there for me to wipe my hands
on now?  I need a bowl of water...."  

        Jacob kept listening for footsteps outside the tent.  What would he do if Esau came in and caught him?  But surely his mother would
keep the way guarded and stall him somehow.  She was always resourceful that way.  

        At last the meal was over and Jacob moved the leftovers out of the way.  

        "Come over here now, and kiss me, my son."  

        Jacob came near, leaned over, and kissed Isaac his father.  While he was so close, the old man smelled Jacob.  "Definitely the smell
of the fields.  Definitely the smell of Esau," he reassured himself.  

        Jacob knelt down in front of his father and Isaac placed his hand on Jacob's head.  Still not footsteps.  If he would only hurry....  

        "God will give you rain for your crops, good soil, and plenty of corn and wine.  May people serve you, and nations bow down to you.  
May your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone that curses you.  Blessed be he that blesses you."  

        It was all over.  The blessing belonging to the first-born, the one with the birthright, had been completed.  

        "Now go, my son Esau.  I have eaten, I have given you the greatest thing in the world I have to give, and now I shall rest."  

        Jacob wasted no time in picking up the leftovers of the meal and leaving.  

        Hardly had his shadow escaped the premises that Esau walked in.  

        "Let my father get up, and eat of his son's venison, that you may bless me afterwards!"  Esau was elated.  

        Isaac sat up straight.  His helpless eyes searched the darkness, his brows pushed down heavily, dumbfounded.  

        "Who are you?" he demanded.  

        "I am your son, your firstborn Esau," he replied confused.  

        Isaac began to tremble.  "Who?  Who did you say you are?" He felt for the table that had been by his side just moments earlier.  

        "Father, let me get the table for you." Esau's smile was beginning to be forced.  

        "But where is he who brought me the venison that I have just finished eating?"  

        Esau tensed, and a cold horror swept up his spine.  By the time it reached his head it burst out in a heat.  

        "What are you talking about, Father?   

        "I have blessed him.  God's will has been done.  I have blessed him, and he will be the one who is blessed."  

        Esau did not have to be told who received the blessing.    

        "No!  No!" he cried, shaking his fists heavenward.  [14]

        He knelt down by his father, took hold of his aged hands and put them on his head in the ceremonial manner.  

        "Bless me also, oh my Father!  Bless me!  Please, Father!  Bless ME!"  

        Isaac bent over, put his cheek on the head of is eldest son, and the two men sobbed together.  

        Gradually they regained their composure.  But the silence continued to mock them.  Finally Isaac spoke softly.  

        "Your brother came with deception and has taken away your blessing."The tears returned to his helpless eyes.  [15]

        Esau arose and clinched his fist in the direction of Jacob's tent.  "Is he not rightly named Jacob?  For he has twice now supplanted
me.  He forced me to give him my birthright.  And now he has taken the blessing that goes with the birthright.  Jacob!" he shouted.  
"J-a-c-o-b!!!!"  

        His cry echoed in Isaac's head.  It swirled around and rushed out to the courtyard and into the trembling hearts of Jacob and
Rebecca.    

         He knelt once again at his father's feet.  "Have you not reserved any blessing for me?"  

        Isaac took a deep breath, sighed, again placed his cheek on Esau's head and put his arms around his shoulders.  "Esau, I have
made him your ruler, and all his brothers have I given to him for servants, and he will be blessed with bounteous crops."  

        "MY blessing.  That's MY blessing!"  [16]     

        "What is left?  What can I give to you?  Esau, tell me with what I can yet bless you?"  

        "Haven't you got even one blessing left?  Isn't there anything you can think of you didn't give Jacob?  Bless me too, oh my
Father...."  

        In a moment, "Sit up, Esau.  Yes.  You will have your blessing."  

        Esau raised his head, though he continued to kneel.  Isaac placed his hands on Esau's head.  

        "Esau, you will not be blessed with the fatness of the earth, with good soil or much rain."  

        "Yes, Father.  But the blessing?  Is there anything for me?"  

        "You will indeed serve your brother.  But you will live by your sword and eventually have the dominion, for you will break his yoke off
your neck."  

        "I will get all of this back for myself?  Is that what you're saying?  Is that possible?  Is there anything else, Father?"  

        "Use your blessing well."  

        As Esau rose to his feet, the rage within him stirred and rumbled like an awakening volcano.  The moment he had lived for his entire
life had been stolen from him.  He rushed out of the tent and out to the field.  His servants saw him and greeted him with mirth for the word
had spread that this was the day of his blessing.  He flew past them.  Something must have gone wrong.  What could have happened?  

        His most trusted servant and confidant caught up with him.  Esau spewed out his long pent-up anger.  

        "I'm going to kill him!  I'm going to kill that supplanter!" [17]
                                              Part 3 ~ Falling Apart  

        Esau stopped, walked in the opposite direction for a moment and suddenly turned back.  He spoke calculatingly.  "He has cheated
me for the last time.  My father won't live forever.  He is old.  All I have to do is wait for him to die."  

        Esau paced in front of his servant like a caged animal.  Then he lifted his fists up toward heaven. "And then I will kill Jacob!"  

        He pointed his finger threateningly at his servant.  "It could happen any day now."  

        Then he looked toward his mother's tent.  "And as for my mother," tears now rushed to his eyes, "I wish I had never been born to
her!  She has taught Jacob all this deceit."  He shook his fist.  "She is no mother of mine."  

        Esau dropped to the ground.  His servant left him alone.  

        The word spread fast among the servants, and by that night Rebecca had been told Esau's words by one of her maids.    

      She had expected violent anger from Esau and had figured out how to handle it.  But she had not expected him to connect her to
anything.  It threw her completely off guard.  How could he disown her like this?  Her son?  Her very own son?

        In a very real sense, she had just lost a son.  All she now had left was Jacob.  She had to help him.  She already knew where she
would send him until Esau's anger died down.  "Find Jacob for me.  Quickly.  Have him come to my tent."  

        Jacob slipped over to her tent as soon as the shadows of evening were deep.  Rebecca told him everything that had transpired.  
"You must escape across the desert to Haran where my brother Laban lives.  Stay with him for a few days until your brother' fury turns
away.  He'll forget what you have done to him.  Then I'll send for you.  I have lost Esau as a son.  I do not wish to lose both my sons in one
day."  

        "But what will we tell Father?  He will not believe anything I say now."  

        "Are we not doing the will of Jehovah God?  Didn't I convince you of that earlier, Jacob?  We had to do it this way, to make sure you
got the blessing.  There was no other way.  Esau has married that godless girl, and no telling what else he has planned.  You are our only
hope now.  I will just go to Isaac and explain that you want to carry out your responsibility to his blessing now and go to my brother's home
to find a wife.  Leah and Rachael are still untaken as far as I know.  The real reason - one of his sons trying to kill his other son~- would
break his heart and kill him.  Now trust me. I know what I'm doing.  You go get your things ready.  You should leave tonight."

        Rebecca went in to her husband.  "What is it now?"  Isaac didn't really want to know.  Did she know any of this was going on, he
wondered.  She went to her husband's side.  She was crying.  

        "I'm so tired of living.  I try so hard to do what is right and teach my children to do what is right.  I just can't keep facing life, knowing
the way Esau did us in marrying that woman who is an atheist.  What good is my life to me if Jacob does the same thing?  I may as well
die."  [18]

        In her heart Rebecca knew these things she spoke were her true feelings.  Therefore she had no trouble convincing Isaac what
must be done.  And, too, it would help formulate in his mind the fact that Esau was an undeserving son for the birthright and blessing
anyway, without her actually having to make the connection out loud.  

        Isaac called for Jacob, and Jacob came to his father immediately, fearful of making Isaac even more angry.  Would he now receive
the curse?  

        The unbelievably patient Isaac spoke slowly and deliberately so that he could maintain self-control.  "Jacob, mistake or not, I have
given you the blessing, and the blessing shall indeed stay upon you.  You must not do what your brother did now.  He has broken your
mother's and my heart by marrying a godless girl.  Get ready and go to your uncle Laban's house to find a wife."  

        Jacob was relieved to be hearing these words, and amazed that his mother had been so convincing.  

        "Go as soon as possible, Son.  May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you so that you may become a
multitude of people.  And may he give the blessing of Abraham to both you and your descendants, so you may inherit this land which God
promised to Abraham for the new nation."  [19]

        Jacob kissed his father and stood there trying to memorize his features.  His mother had told him he could return when Esau got
over his anger, but Jacob knew better.  The long dormant volcano he'd grown up with was about to erupt.  He doubted he'd ever see his
aged father again.  His mother?  Yes.  But not his father.  

        Jacob and Rebecca left together.  She helped him pack what he would need.  She embraced her son, and reassured him that she
would be sending for him in no time.  She knew how to handle Esau's anger  It would all blow over sooner than he might realize.  Then
they could all be a family again.  Jacob turned his back on his home and walked away.  [20]

         A few days later Esau inquired among the servants what had happened to his brother.  He was told that he had gone to his
mother's relatives to choose a wife.  

        "That's what they always kept trying to get me to do.  Now that goody-goody has gone and done it again, just so he can get even
more favor with our parents.  Well, if they think they don't like Judith, just maybe they'll like a grand daughter of Abraham."  

        Esau told his father he wanted to go visit his uncle Ishmael for a little while.  Isaac was always distrustful of that half-brother of his.  
But after all that Esau had been through lately, perhaps he needed to get away a few days.  

        Indeed a few days later Esau returned.  With another wife.  One of the daughters of Ishmael, the unblessed half-Jew son of
Abraham.  "Father, I took a wife from your brother's family.  Are you pleased with me now?"  [21]

        "Oh Lord.  What has happened to Esau?  He is just getting worse and worse?"  Rebecca prayed.  "We didn't raise him this way.  He
is going against every important principle we have taught him.  Does he not realize what he is doing to himself and to his family?  He is
breaking our hearts.  Oh, Lord, where did we go wrong with Esau?  Oh, my son, Esau...."  [22]

        She prayed another prayer also.  "Lord Jehovah.  Watch over my son, Jacob, my beloved son.  Help Esau forget what happened.  
He has all the wealth and benefits that would have been his had he received the blessing anyway.  So why is he so angry at Jacob?  
Please help Jacob come back home soon to the land you gave Abraham."  [23]

        She prayed thusly for her twin boys daily.  She did not know that it would not be Isaac who would never see Jacob again, but her.  
Weeks passed.  Months.  A whole year came.  And left.  Then two years.  Then three.  Five.  Ten.  Eternal dilemma.  Sometimes she
remembered the curse on herself....  

         "My sons.  My sons," she continued to pray.  But now her prayer was shorter.  She was confused.  She fought away her threatening
bitterness.  God was not answering her prayers.  She did not know any more what to pray, what to ask for.  She did not know whether to
pray for Jacob's return, or Esau's moving away, or the two meeting each other in travel by accident, or Isaac's death bringing them
together.  She just did not know any more.  All she could do is groan, "My sons.  My sons.  God, where are you?  Do you not even hear
me?"  [24]

         She often spoke with her husband about it.  Isaac, too, had begun to lose hope.  It had been too long.  The rift between their sons
was too deep.  And Esau had compounded things by leaving their religion.  What else could go wrong?  Oh, if they could do things over
again, how differently they would raise their boys.  

        On Rebecca's death bed, as she gradually lost her strength, she could still be heard moaning, "My sons.  I have lost my sons."  

        She drew her last breath on earth believing her prayers for her sons were never answered.  [25]

        Isaac buried her in the tomb of his father and mother, Abraham and Sarah.  Esau stood by.  

        Years came and went.  God continued to shuffle and shift around the mess this family had made of things so long ago.  He did want
to see them blessed.  But it took time, time that Rebecca did not have.  Eventually God had it all worked out and put back together.  

        ....Whatever happened to her beloved Jacob?  Jacob was gone from home for twenty years.  He married both the girls his parents
had had in mind ~ Leah and Rachael.  Then after he had obtained riches in the land of his mother' family, he felt he would not be a threat
to Esau who ended up with the family estate after all.  

        Jacob was homesick.  He wanted to return home and see his parents again.  What had happened to them?  What had happened to
Esau?  He even missed Esau.  He did return home to beg Esau's forgiveness.  When word arrived that Jacob was near, Esau literally ran
to meet his twin brother, embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him.  They wept, forgave each other and were reunited.  [26]

        He asked about his parents.  Esau took him to their father and Isaac embraced him with tears.  

        "What about Mother?  Where is she?"  

        They took him to the cemetery.
                                                          EPILOGUE  

         Jacob settled in the land of Canaan that had been promised to his grandfather Abraham, a little distance from Esau.  His wives
gave him twelve sons.  The sons grew up and had families of their own; families so large they were soon referred to as Jacob's tribe.   

         God appeared to Jacob as he had Isaac and Abraham and reconfirmed the promise.  Then he changed Jacob's name to Israel ~
Prince of God.  

         Esau's family, too, became so large he decided to move away from Jacob to avoid disputes.  Where he settled was to be called the
land of Esau, the land of Edom, full of red rocks and forests.   

         Esau had many sons who grew up to become wealthy and were recognized as dukes among all the people of the land.  The second
king, Esau's great grandson, was named Jobab.  A portion of this land was called Uz.  

         "In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.  This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil."  

         Rebecca, who had said so long ago, "The curse be on me,"did not live to see any of this.  But Isaac saw most of it.  Just ten years
after Isaac's death,Jacob moved his family to Egypt to be near Joseph, one of Rebecca's grandsons, who had just become prime minister
of Egypt. They would come out of the country a mighty people of millions ~ a mighty nation called the Israelites.  

        Rebecca died believing she'd indeed bore the curse, and believing her prayers had not been answered.  Surely God told her later.  
God had overcome her faults and turned them in to triumphs. [27]
                                              THOUGHT QUESTIONS

                                          Part 1 ~ Family Confrontations

1.        Children are as bad as anyone else to label others in an attempt to make themselves look better (1 Corinthians 4:7).  What could you as a mother
do to get such attitudes under control?

2.        We usually assume laughter is always good.  Is it (Job 9:23)?  In your family, is laughter used as a mask for the opposite emotion?  

3.        All children argue, usually over what they want (Proverbs 27:4).  Is it possible to make the arguing stop (1 Corinthians 13:4)?

4.        Teasing occurs in all families.  But it must be used with extreme care and with the right person.  In your family, what does teasing usually
accomplish (Proverbs 21:24)?  Why?

5.        How long should you as a parent stay out of an argument before putting it to a stop?  How could you pacify both children in a dispute (Proverbs
11:17).

6.        Isaac and Rebecca were godly parents who truly tried to do God's will and teach their sons to do the same.  See Genesis 25:21,22 for example.  
What are some ways you as a parent should teach your children about God?

7.        How important is it for your children to marry Christians (Deuteronomy 7:3,4)?  What can you do as they grow up to influence your children to
do so?

8.        When a child chooses to marry a non-Christian despite their upbringing, what can you do to challenge the choice in a way that it does not make
the child even more rebellious?  Keep in mind Proverbs 26:1-12.

9.        When a child does something in direct contradiction to his upbringing, should (s)he be "disowned" or given up on or what (Proverbs 17:24,25)?  
How can "losing a battle but winning the war" help you as a parent at this time?

10.        When your family is going through turmoil, you must strengthen yourself mentally and spiritually all that much more.  Consider Psalm 33:18
and then tell ways you could take time to be strengthened.  What is your plan to get started doing them?

GOOD WORK:  Send a note to someone you know who has a constant struggle with a strong-willed child.  Share with her your admiration for her
dedication to her children.  Let her know God loves her and her family.


                                            Part 2 ~ The Irreversible Act

11.        If someone in your family has made a bad choice and the whole family is dwelling on it all the time, what can happen to that family member?  
Your whole family?  What is the alternative (Proverbs 19:11)?  How can you do this?

12.        Running ahead of God is not uncommon among people trying to do God's will.  Jacob's grandfather, Abraham, did it when he had a child by
Hagar instead of Sarah to start his new nation (Genesis 16:2).  God did not need Isaac's blessing to decide which son to develop the new nation through,
but Rebecca did not consider that.  Did you ever try to "set things
up" for your child so (s)he would come out ahead in something?  Deep down, how did you feel about it?

13.        Did you ever make a mistake in judgment with a child who later got in trouble with someone else over it?  If you contacted the other person
involved to explain everything, what could you say (Psalm 73:22)?  How could the way you try to reconcile affect your child?

14.        Someone once took sheep he was supposed to have destroyed and offered them to God instead.  The prophet said what about this (1 Samuel
15:22)?  What might Rebecca have done differently?  How about you?

15.        With deceit comes guilt and fear.  As long as the wrong act is being done, either the guilt continues because of a tender conscience, or it ceases
because of lost conscience (John 8:9).  What can you do to help your child keep his/her conscience?

16.        Deceit ran in the family.  Jacob's grandfather and father both used it (Genesis 12:13; 26:7).  Rebecca taught her son to use it.  Her niece used it
to marry Jacob later (Genesis 29:25).  Jacob's sons used it to cover up Joseph's enslavement.  When a parent justifies it, is the child able to see through
it?  What is the alternative (Proverbs 30:5)?

17.        If your child is trapped by something irrevocable (s)he has done that cannot be undone (Proverbs 29:6), what is there left for you as a parent to
do?

GOOD WORK:  Send a note to the mother of a teenager who has difficulty doing right.  Tell the mother you know of her love of God and her zeal in
sharing it with her children.  Assure her that God loves and will be with her family.  (No need to mention any specifics about the child's problems.)


                                            Part 3 ~ Falling Apart

18.        When you first saw the signs of irrevocable rifts in your family, you might have shouted, cried, pleaded, or something similar in a desperate
attempt to make its reality go away, or to just mourn its occurrence (Mark 15:34).  What were the results of a strong show of emotions with your
children, both good and bad?  Do you want to change any of those emotions now?  How?

19.        Salvaging a mistake takes much perception, wisdom, and love.  How can you help your child see that difficulty they are in be turned around
somehow and used for good (Romans 8:28)?   

20.        Isaac told Esau he did not have to wear the yoke put on him by his brother; he could break it off (Genesis 27:40).  You can make your children
believe their hardship will be forever, or can be overcome (Psalm 3:24).  How will you help your child be an overcomer?

21.        Despite Esau's many shortcomings, he still seemed to tell the truth, whether about good or bad.  Perhaps he had a greater sense of fairplay by at
least warning his enemy rather than deceiving (Proverbs 14:8).  If your child got in a lot of trouble, but at least was truthful about it and admitted it, how
can you use this positive trait to help him or her?

22.        Are there instances when you should hold back information from a family member (John 16:12)?  If so, what are these occasions?  

23.        All families break up eventually.  But when it occurs because of things that should not have been done, a tie within that family is broken, and the
parents especially are left heart broken.  Nothing will ever be the same again.  This happened when David's son killed another son (2 Samuel 14:24).  
What can you do to guard against becoming bitter and not forgiving your child?

24.        Children blindly believe their parents' teachings while young, but later challenge them when they develop some analyzing skills.  These teen
years are very difficult for all.  If your child did something strictly against your teachings just to see if you were right, how should you react (Ephesians
4:32)?

25.        If your child "went astray," you are naturally asking where you went wrong in your training.  But children with ungodly parents have been
known to turn out good by themselves (2 Kings 11:1,2; 12:2).  You as a parent must learn once your children are grown to let go of their guilt (Ezekiel
18:4).  How can you do this?

26.        If your child has gotten into trouble, you can hang on to this:  Eventually after learning the hard way, s(he) will return to the teachings of the
parents (Proverbs 22:6).  It may not happen until long after you have died.  Think about people you have known who returned to religious and moral
teachings of childhood late in their adult years.

27.        Read Daniel 10.  Note that Daniel prayed 24 days (verse 4) and the angel who came to him said he was heard on the first day (verse 12).  The
angels of God and of Satan were fighting during this time over the issue Daniel was praying about.  After the reassurance, the angel asked Daniel to go
back to his praying, for he must return to his fighting (verse 20,21).  Since Christians have a kind of "guardian" or ministering angel (Hebrews 1:13,14),
could it be that our prayers strengthen these angels who fight Satan?  Perhaps this is one reason we must often pray for things so long.  No child wants
to stay in trouble; do you think it would help to explain this theory to your troubled child?

GOOD WORK:  Read the newspaper and find articles of young people in your town getting in trouble.  Look up their address in the phone book and
write the humiliated parents a letter of love and encouragement.  Invite them to worship.