Jacob At Penuel -- By: Walter F. McMillin

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 091:363 (Jul 1934)
Article: Jacob At Penuel
Author: Walter F. McMillin

Jacob At Penuel

Walter F. McMillin

Jacob was seventy-seven years old when he left his father’s house to go to Haran.1 He was in disgrace, had incurred the bitter hatred of his only brother, and had shown himself a thief, liar, and scheming, mercenary wretch. Up to this advanced age the extant pages from his biography only record deeds of which any one may well be ashamed. In process of birth, his infant hand, guided by what Coue would call his subconscious mind, seized his helpless brother by the heel, thereby suggesting the name he bore with such appropriateness till God mercifully relieved him of it and substituted for it the name of “Israel,” freighted with thoughts of royalty and victory.2

His early years are passed over in silence till the well-known occasion upon which he discovered what advantage could be taken of the fainting condition of Esau, who had just returned starving and discouraged from the field. In reply to his request for food, Jacob, not being his brother’s keeper (or feeder), proposed an exhorbitant price for a mess of pottage. Again, there is a period of silence till a time came when, masquerading as his brother, he told his blind and unsuspecting

father that he was Esau, and thus filched from him the paternal blessing.3

Then Esau, whose anger and resentment had been pent up till now, said that the limit had been reached, that patience had ceased to be a virtue, that the hour for vengeance had arrived, that the days of mourning for his father were at hand,4 then he would rise up against his brother and kill him. We are not told to whom he said this, but it soon reached the ears of Rebekah, who made plans for Jacob to go at once to her brother and family until Esau’s anger should be over.

Thus he came to Bethel and later to “the land of the people of the east.” There he met Rachel who presented him to her father, with whom his lot was cast for the next twenty years. Here he met tactics similar to those he had employed at home. He found his uncle a man whose lying, cheating and low principled dealings were developed to the very italics of crookedness. Therefore, that score of years was filled with mutual efforts of each to outdo the other, with the result that Jacob came off victor, and, at the end of the period, had possession of nearly everything that belonged to Laban.

One day, while eavesdropping, he overheard Laban’s sons saying, “Jacob has taken to himself all that was our father’s, and of ou...

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