This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February 5 -- Feast of Jacob the Patriarch

With the ladder he saw in a vision
The parents of Jacob were Isaac and Rebekah.  The parents of Isaac were Abraham and Sarah.  Thus Jacob, also called Israel, is the third patriarch of God's people (by covenant).  With his wives Rachel and Leah, as well as their handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah, he had twelve sons -- fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  He also had at least one daughter, named Dinah.  There may have been more daughters, but it is tough to know because girls didn't always make the official histories.

Pottage -- mmmm, mmmm good.
Jacob, whose name means heel-puller, was the second twin to be born.  His slightly older brother, Esau, and he fought in the womb and quarreled all their lives.  Esau, a hairy kid from birth, was a hunter and outdoorsman.  He was Isaac's favorite.  Jacob, who hung around the tents more, was Rebekah's favorite.   Rebekah helped Isaac cheat Esau out of his inheritance by covering him with goatskin so he could get Esau's blessing from their blind father.  But that was after Esau, hungry from hunting, had swapped his birthright for a bowl of pottage.  Although Jacob had now twice managed to lay claim to the full inheritance from Isaac, he had to hide out for a while because Esau was, after all, mighty pissed and mightier.  It was while he was on the lam among his Uncle Laban's tents that he became the cousband (cousin-husband) of both Leah and Rachel.  Laban had cheated him out of some years of labor, but he in turn cheated Laban out of the flocks.  Cheating was sort of his business, really, and business was good. He returned to his father's land a very wealthy man, but fearful of his brother's resentment.  Indeed, Esau met him with 400 soldiers; Jacob presented Esau with flocks and herds, along with an admission of fealty.  That was good enough for a happy reunion, though Jacob quickly departed from his brother's troops and found his own path through the land.  The night before he met Esau, he wrestled with an angel, or maybe with God, out in the desert.  He was lame the rest of his life, but he extracted a blessing from his opponent.
Israel: fighting with an angel

Jacob doesn't really come up short.  He's always looking for angles that will turn tough situations into opportunities.  He doesn't respect this in his sons, Simeon and Levi, who disable and slaughter all the men of Shechem, whose prince had abducted and raped their sister, Dinah.  Of all the underhanded tricks in Jacob's saga, I'd say this was the best, but he didn't like it because he thought the Canaanites and Perrizites would disapprove of the slaughter and pillaging.  Indeed, what will the neighbors think?  My guess is that they'd think twice before they abducted one of Jacob's daughters.

There's so much more to his story than this.  Births and deaths, wealth and then famine, land claims and exile.  Eventually he wound up in Egypt, living under the aegis of his son Joseph, chamberlain to the Pharaoh.  Joe had been sold to Egyptian slave merchants because he was their father's favorite, but like his dad, he converted misfortune into opportunity.  Although Jacob died in exile, his body was carried to the tomb at Machpelah in Canaan where Isaac and Abraham were  buried. 

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