Saturday, January 14, 2006

Jacob Returns Home

Jacob remainded twenty years with Laban, whose daughter Rachel he had married. In those days men's chief riches consisted in flocks and herds. Jacob had to care the sheep belonging to Laban. His uncle tried to deprive him of the wages which he had promised to give him, but Jacob himself grew rich in cattle, and beasts servants.

At the end of the twenty years that Jacob had been with Laban, God told him to return to his own land. He gathered all his possessions, and set out.

Jacob still feared the anger of his brother Esau, whom he had cruelly treated, he sent messengers before him into Edom, where Esau lived, to say that he, and all his family with him, were coming, and that he hoped his brother would be friendly with him. But when his messengers returned, bringing word that Esau, with four hundred men, was advancing to meet him, he was afraid, thinking now his brother was going to kill him.

He divided his people and his flocks into two so if one were attacked, the other might escape away. He prayed to God that Esau might not kill him, with his children and servants.
Jacob took a great number of his cattle, his sheep and camels, and sent them on before him in separate droves and told the men who were with them to tell Esau, when they met him, that they were a present from his servant Jacob.

It was not long before Esau and his four hundred men came in sight and Jacob, putting his children in a place of safety, went forward to meet him, bowing himself down to the ground to do honor to his brother.

Esau, who had forgiven his brother's ill deeds, ran to him in the most loving manner, kissing him, and weeping for joy that they had at last met. He asked him kindly about all the people with him and what was the meaning of the droves of cattle he had seen on the road.

Jacob told him that the people were his family, and that the cattle were for a present to himself. And when Esau refused to take it, he urged him, that he might be sure his brother had forgiven him. Esau returned to his own country, and Jacob, in time, came back to the land of Canaan, as God had promised that he should do.

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