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THE

FAMILY SUNDAY-BOOK;

OR,

PLEASANT PAGES FOR SABBATH HOURS.

BY THE AUTHOR OF "PLEASANT PAGES."

son.

Cwenty-fifth Sunday.

JACOB SUPPLANTETH ESAU.

"And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau bis eldest son, and said unto him, My And he said unto him, Behold, here am I. And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death: now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; and make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die. And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it. And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck. And she gave savoury meat and bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.

"And he came unto his father, and said, My father. And he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son? And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy first-born; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.

"And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and he said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me. And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy first-born Esau. And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed. And when Esau heard the voice of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father! And he said, thy brother came with subtilty, and bath taken away thy blessing.

"And Esau hated Jacob, because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob."-GEN. xxvii. 1-5, 15-19, 30-35, 41.

"ISAAC was old, and his eyes were dim—”

L. So that he could not see. But do you think, papa, that he was quite blind?

P. Perhaps not-I cannot say; but the dimness in his eyes had come. This dimness was a good warning for him—it caused the world to seem indistinct when he gazed at it. It made the world seem further off-as though he were going away from it. This dimness was like a curtain which was falling, and would soon shut him out of the world for ever; or like the nightly curtain that closes around us when our day is ended, and we are going to rest.

W. That is why I like a curtain at night; it makes me feel that I have nothing more to do with the place outside-I am going to rest.

P. So also did Isaac feel, I dare say. He would say to himself, perhaps, in the long days, "I have had nearly enough of this world. I have lived a very quiet life, and now let me die in peace. I want to see God, and to be with Him."

But he had something to do before he went. It was the custom in Isaac's time, as it is now, for every man to make a will before his death. Wills, now, are generally written upon paper, but in the days of Isaac, no written documents were made; it was the custom for a father, before his death, to gather his sons around him, and say what was "his will." He first blessed his sons, and then told each what he was to do, and what he was to have.

But in the case of old Isaac, the son of Abraham, his "will" was particularly important. He could easily say how many sheep, oxen, and servants each son was to have, and he could easily give his own blessing to each, but he had to give something which was not exactly his own. There was the blessing which God had given to Abrahamthe promise that his children should form a great nation. This blessing Abraham had given to Isaac, and Isaac had now to bestow the same blessing on one of his sons. Isaac, I dare say, thought to himself, "When my father Abraham died, I was his only son, and God had often declared that I was to inherit his blessings; but I have two sons, and, before I die I must declare now which is to inherit those peculiar blessings promised by God to Abraham."

Ion. Then, papa, he would send for Esau, I think, because he loved Esau better than Jacob.

P. But he had no right to do so-to give away God's promises to the one whom he loved best. He should have asked God, "Which son is to inherit the blessing?"

L. Only, papa, he might have thought, that of course Esau was the proper heir, because he was the first-born.

P. True. Isaac did send for Esau; but whatever reason he had for doing so, it appears that he acted on his own authority, for if he had asked God, he would have been told that Jacob was appointed to be heir. God had told Rebekah that "the elder son should serve the younger."

But, hear his message to his son Esau! "My son, behold now I am old, I know not the day of my death: now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver, and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; and make me some savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die." And when Esau heard these words from the mouth of his old father, I dare say that he did not stop, but went out for the venison at once. He was very anxious to have his father's blessing.

Let us look at the state of things just at that moment. Esau had positively sold his birthright to his brother Jacob-the bargain that his brother had made with him was not a fair one,-but still, if Esau had agreed to it

W. Then the birthright belonged to Jacob; and Esau ought to have gone to Jacob at once, and have told him all that their father had said.

P. It so happened, however, that two persons heard those words of Isaac-not only Esau, but his mother Rebekah heard them; and how different were her thoughts on the subject! Indeed the thoughts of each were very different. ESAU, hastening over the plain toward the mountains, in search of deer, thought to himself, "I certainly have the greater right to my father's blessing. I will not let Jacob have it. He acted very unfairly in making me sell my birthright for that red pottage. He took advantage of my hunger, so I may take the advantage of him.” L. There was his mistake-he had no right to act unfairly, because his brother had acted unfairly.

P. Now, hear Rebekah's thoughts. REBEKAH said to herself, "The birthright belongs to Jacob, certainly, and he shall have it. I will—” What would she do?

Ion. Well, she ought to go and explain the matter to Isaac, to tell him the whole case.

L. But she would not like to say anything about Jacob's bargain. It was such a mean act.

P. True; and therefore I am sorry to say she did not; but she tried to deceive. The story of her actions is only the old story over again, that bad deeds lead to worse. Jacob had behaved badly; Esau had behaved badly; and now, Rebekah herself-older than both-their mother, she also behaved badly.

L. What did she do, papa?

P. I am almost ashamed to tell you. She taught her son Jacob, whom she loved, to deceive, and speak an untruth. Rebekah went immediately to Jacob, saying, "I heard thy father speak unto thy brother Esau, saying, Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat and bless thee before my death."

L. Then, Jacob would feel jealous.

P. "Now, therefore," said Rebekah, "do what I command thee. Hasten to the flock, and bring two kids, and I will dress them; then― before Esau returns-thou shalt take it to thy father, and make him believe that thou art Esau; and he shall bless thee instead."

Ion. Oh, for shame!

P. It was very wicked to try and deceive good old Isaac, to take advantage of him, because his eyes were dim. Jacob then thought, "But, if my father cannot see, he can feel. Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man, so my father will feel that I am not Esau; then," he said to his mother, "I shall gain a curse instead of a blessing." This difficulty, however, Rebekah met, saying, "Upon me be thy curse, my son, only obey my voice, and fetch me them." And, when the kids had been killed, Rebekah dressed them, and made them to be "savoury meat." She next went for the best clothes of her eldest son Esau-his "goodly raiment." This she put on Jacob, and covered his hands with skins, also putting goat-skins round the smooth part of his neck. Then she put the savoury meat and the bread into her son's hands, and told him to go.

W. How nervous he must have felt! He must have made haste, and have trembled very much for fear lest his brother should return.

P. He did. I do not like to describe to you any more of Jacob's deceit. When he came into his father's presence, he said that he was Esau; and when he was asked how he had found the venison so

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