Burning Down the House
Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?
My home is on fire but it isn’t burning. Or is it the other way round? It is burning but it isn’t on fire.
My name is Jacob and I’m running more miles/hour than I have ever run before. I do not even know if I’m being chased but I’m running. I am the fire burning my home. And my twin brother’s anger is kindled against me. I can imagine him red (and he’s normally red! I cannot imagine how crimson he is, now that he’s extremely pissed) going round his house and yelling.
I was born of a really prosperous and God-fearing man named Isaac. In the early days, my father taught me to always laugh. He would say, ‘Laughter brought me here. Your grandfather and grandmother conceived me in such an old age that they named me Isaac, which means Laughter. I mean, the idea was so ludicrous. And you and your brother, Esau, were also products of laughter for me because your mom couldn’t also conceive a child and when she did conceive, both of you always fought in her womb. Thank Yahweh, the Lord, for He has separated you in your hobbies.’
What my father meant when he said ‘separated you in your hobbies’ was that, Esau grew and became such a great hunter; he was the typical awesome dude with all those hairs all over his body. But me? I couldn’t even open the curtains of my room in the mornings. I hated sunlight… or anything going on outside my room. My father would always tell me to ‘take a good look at your brother. When you both came out of your mother, I was so sure you’d be the one up and about – so restless holding on to your brother’s heel as he came out. But now, you do nothing but lie in bed and cook those silly soups with your mom’
Oh my mom! I cannot think of her right now. If I do, I would stop running and would turn around. My mom loves me like I am everything to her. Although I think it is because I always stayed with her in the kitchen and helped her taste her foods and learned to cook really fast, but she does not even hide that she loves me. And it was this love of hers, that helped to set the house on fire.
You see, Esau has always been a queer individual. I mean, he’s my twin and I love him alright, but he’s tardy sometimes (not when he’s in the fields), he has an I-don’t-care-attitude (as long as it has nothing to do with his game); like that time he sold his birthright to me for some bean soup. I had asked as a joke but then he replied ‘All right! I’m about to die; what good will my right do me then?’ Esau also always fishes for compliments and is so unsure of himself. He married way before I did because our dad always talked about marriage (and women naturally love hunters). He however married Judith and Basemath – the worst of the terrible Hittite women who made life miserable for mom and father (But that’s story for another day!)
So now I’m running from my house because it’s on fire. But why and how is it on fire?
Early this morning, as I lay in my bed still contemplating whether or not it was safe to rise at that time, my mom walked into my room acting so secretive and urgent-like. ‘Rise! Now! Now!’ she said as she dragged the covers from around my waist. That was very unlike my mom so I sat upright and asked her what was wrong. She said, ‘I just heard you father tell Esau to bring an animal for him to cook. He has sensed that his time to go has come, and so he wants to bless Esau.’ Then she muttered to herself, ‘I knew he loved Esau but I didn’t know that it was this much’.
I was still trying to wrap my head around everything, so I said, ‘Okay… mom, calm down. First, Esau has come here this morning? Yah, how do people get up so early?? Does he not boast of two wives? I thought wives were to hold one down?’ My mom literally dragged me off the bed and started reciting to me, ‘Now do as I say. Go to the flock behind the house and pick out the two fatest goats. Remember, fat not pregnant. Look well. I’ll cook it just like your father likes and would give you to present it to him. Thankfully, he’s blind so he won’t know whether it’s you or your brother.’ Then she paused, looked heavenward and said ‘Oh Yah, have mercy.’ She looked at me again and said ‘He’ll bless you. Yes, he will’.
I stood there in my loincloth and just stared at my mom in amazement. I don’t know at what point I agreed it was okay to take Esau’s blessings – maybe at the point when I remembered that he actually owed me his birthright, or at the point when I reckoned that I’d need more blessings than him because I was so lazy, or the point when it dawned on me that my dad was not going to bless me – he was going to just die and not bless me?, or the point when I stared at my darling mother and my heart broke at her desperation to help me.
She allayed all my fears and told me of how she’d already kept some of Esau’s best hunting clothes back in the house – I’d wear his cloths to smell like him, and on my neck and arms, I’d wear some goat skin too (yes sir, Esau was as hairy as a goat). I practically only had to go fetch the two goats. My mom prepared the meal, she ran in and got the cloths, she skinned the goat and wore its skin on me and… wait for it… she prayed that in case my father found out and decided to curse me, she’d take upon her head, ALL the curses.
So this is why I’m running from my house:
No, my father did not find out. He suspected, but I was too hairy and smelled too much like Esau for him to confirm the suspicion. However, Esau the great HUNTER, a.k.a Edom, a.k.a. Red vowed to kill me when he discovered that I had taken all his blessings. In fact, I heard he had demanded for a blessing and father gave him somewhat of a curse (which was what I was to have had).
After Esau stormed out to God-knows-where, my mom packed some of my cloths and led me to my father who was still visibly shaken. She said in such a composed voice, ‘Esau has come with his anger again? He did not have this before he married those wives of his. My heart is heavy and I do not want Jacob to also marry one of those Hittite women. He’s here with me and has agreed to go down to Haran and stay with Laban there.’ And so my dad let out a deep and dramatic sigh and counselled me on how to behave in a strange land.
I’m running from my burning house and with me are, my racing heart, my guilty mind, a reservoir of powerful blessings from my father, a feeling of being watched by Esau and a mother’s love.
But even as bad as it seems, I prefer it here in the fields as I race – because, here in the fields, my skin can be without hair, my hands without skills and my guilt without comparison, yet, I feel accepted; because the wind which slaps my face as I race, would also slap the face of Esau as he races after me.