This and That …

I wanted to write about Jacob and Esau, hostile twin brothers from Genesis in the Old Testament. I wanted to look afresh at this ancient story which has always fascinated me. I wanted to look beyond what we hear on the news of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The Genesis story tells of Esau, the hunter, favoured son of Isaac; and Jacob the diligent student, favoured son of Rebekah. When Rebekah asked the Lord what was going on with all the jostling in her womb while she was pregnant, He replied: Genesis 25:23

“Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
    and the older will serve the younger”. 

Esau came out first, red haired and ruddy, with Jacob holding onto his heel. Later, Esau sells his first born birthright to Jacob for a pottage when he comes in from the fields faint with hunger. Later, their mother Rebekah used deception to ensure Jacob’s ascension as leader of Israel by disguising him as Esau, the favoured son of Isaac, in order for her favoured son Jacob to receive his father’s blessing and thereby the covenant, as he lay dying.

And so, Esau went away and became the leader of 12 tribes of Edom, and Jacob went away and became the leader of 12 tribes of Israel. At war with each other for many a year until such time as they saw each other and embraced each other.

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This is a hundred times less than the bare bones of this biblical story.

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 Ishmael, firstborn son of Abraham was born to Hagar, handmaiden to Sarah. Isaac was the second son of Abraham born to Sarah. It was Isaac who became father to Jacob & Esau. While there was rivalry and deception between the 2 mothers, their sons and brothers, Ishmael and Isaac lived in harmony. Again, 1000 times less than the bare bones of this story.

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Why am I telling so much less than the skeleton of these stories?

There is a part of me that finds some comfort in the biblical narrative. Going back in order to go forward. Like looking in the rear view mirror. As in the Lilith myth of the Dark Feminine inter alia. As In the myth of Oedipus, Gilgamesh, Psyche and Amor, Demeter & Persephone and many others. Stories that tell of complex and conflicting relationships, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, conscious and unconscious agendas, betrayals, deceptions, displacement, dominance and subservience, identity crises, marginalisation and fear of ‘the other’, rejection and many more real ongoing psychological complexes and dynamics that are alive and active in today’s world and continue to play themselves out on the world stage.

I find some comfort in the story in that Jacob and Esau ultimately do find peace with each other, albeit after a very long while and were able to put their fractured history somewhat behind them. They embraced and wept with each other. And the earlier story of Abraham’s sons Ishmael & Isaac who became leaders of different nations, like Jacob & Esau, who lived in relative harmony in spite of their mother’s positioning for each of them.

The question of God’s covenant as to who would be the ‘light unto the nations’, is one that is still grappled with among all those with vested interests as well as those of Islamic and Israeli faith in pre-ordained fate and Palestinian faith in pre-ordained fate …

But the stories tell me of possible reconciliation, that God had or has a plan – I am leaning towards possibilities and potentialities that the divine order will be carried out and that nations can reconcile if they get beyond their tribal, cultural and historical influences –  and vested interests – and that peace is possible. The healing of past wounds CAN be healed even though the task of uncovering them requires courage. Which is why I am telling this story right now, even though I’m barely doing it justice. I’m telling it in my maybe naive desire to *trust* in peace, ultimately, between nations and peoples and our shared planet and I’m sharing it –

There are many links to google if you care to in order to get the fuller story. Many of them are pretty well researched and debated, and endlessly analysed by rabbinical scholars, theologians, historians, Jungian analysts, depth psychologists and the like.

 I remember some years ago being on radio about the murder of Abel by his brother Cain who were the sons of Adam & Eve. And God’s question to Abel – where is your brother? And Abel’s response: ”I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

 I’m preparing to leave for Europe tomorrow 8th June with my husband for just over 3 weeks. We’ll be on our own in Paris for a few days, then flying down to Lisbon where we’ll find Sintra and meet up with my husband’s sister and family who live in California. 4 of us are celebrating our June birthdays. After a week in Sintra, my husband & I leave the others behind and take off for Zurich for a few nights before boarding a boat which will take us up the Rhine.  We disembark a week later in Amsterdam and then fly home in early July.

It’s very cold up here on the highveld, though the skies are blue and the trees are green. In about 2 weeks it will be the solstices again, longest night here in South Africa, longest day in Europe. On the 20th we leave from Portugal for Switzerland … transitions everywhere. I’m hoping to see the Black Madonna in Einseideln, Zurich during the few days we’re there.

Thank you for reading! I hope this finds you well wherever you are, and may your centre continue to hold.

42 Comments on This and That

  1. Peace is the hope, always, but we all know that fortunes are made when there’s blood in the streets for the top financial layer of the world. Still … we must hope and try.
    Great story to bring the point of learning and hoping home.
    Have a great vacation, Susan. Europe is always my favorite destination. Looking forward to pictures and stories. Hugs.

    • Thanks Silvia for coming by – it’s a pretty desperate world in my view. So much that is plain wrong. Europe is great – early days – 3 nights in Paris and now in Sintra Portugal for a week. Hugs to you 😀

  2. Hi Susan – as it’s now well after the 8th … I hope Paris is fun, while seeing family in Portugal will be just wonderful .. then on to free Switzerland and the Rhine – enjoy your ride through to Amsterdam … I will be back to properly read this – as I need time to think and read through … cheers Hilary

    • Our first leg in Paris was wonderful, today we’re in Sintra Portugal where we’ll be for a week. Altogether delightful! Thanks for coming by Hilary – I hope this finds you well. Susan

  3. This is a very interesting comparative, Susan. The story of Esau and Jacob and their love for each other that transcended their Mother’s decepection and your correlation of it to the modern fractured world is very intriguing.

  4. Look back with understanding, move forward with hope. Sounds like a good message for daily life, and for a long vacation. Happy travels, stay safe, enjoy it all.

    • Lovely succinct sentence loaded with meaning Ally Bean thank you – look back with understanding and forward with hope ..😀 Thank you for good wishes.

  5. Interesting post, Susan, with stories told in brief. I too believe (hope) in reconciliation and peace. The world could sure do with some right now.
    Enjoy your trip away. Stay safe. Your plans sound like a fun-filled adventure. Enjoy your birthday celebration. I am also a June “baby”. Happy days!

  6. Dear Susan, Enjoy your birthday and European travels! What a wonderful trip you have planned with your husband and friends. Amsterdam is one of my favourite’s places ever … I just love the vibe there and all those art houses and museums, most especially the notable “Van Gough” museum. If you have the time, do visit, it’s such a creative, inspiring place!

    What a great Genesis quote re Esau and Jacob story, it makes me want to explore this in more (Jungian) depth. Hmm, without looking back and exploring my childhood I wouldn’t have been able to move towards acceptance and forgiveness. I recognise that peace is possible because I’m living it, yet it was hard fought and not very easily won. Blessings, Deborah.

    • HI Deborah, thanks so much for coming by and for your good warm wishes! I like what you say about embodying living peace, albeit hard fought – a further affirmation of its possibility! Blessings to you, from gay Paree 🌼

  7. Happy birthday Susan, wishing you Gods abundant blessings on you – may you enjoy good health, happiness and harmony, Love post on Jacob, Easu , brought me some memories of the reading these stories and also hearing from my dad… i would be so immersed and interested in all these lovely tales… let s hope for peace. I wish you the very best for your travel.Love and hugs.:)

    • Thank you Genevive for your lovely travel and birthday wishes! Amazing that you were told and remember these stories with love. I am pleased to be ‘learning’ about them in my adulthood! 🌺

  8. I want to believe peace is possible, but I’m losing the faith that humans want to make that happen. We seem mesmerized by the shadow side of relationship now. I hope I’m wrong. I hope the brothers and sisters can find peace in the Middle East and everywhere in the world. What’s happening on our borders to the south is hard to imagine and believe. We have sunk so low. Sigh… and the the world is beautiful here.

    Have a wonderful vacation with your husband, Susan. It sounds like you have much good planned and seeing the Black Madonna will be unforgettable. Peace and love on your journeys.

    • Thanks Elaine – faith and doubt are the strangest bedfellows, though doubt can strengthen faith if we’re prepared to go through the awfulness of doubt. I agree the shadow side of everything has loomed and is large … yet an opportunity to look deeply into it. What is that saying – to touch bottom is no bad thing. I’m not going to say that this means that the only way then is up. But to sit at the bottom in the muck. I’m reminded of the lotus that arises from the mud.

      Thank you for your travelling wishes! Am now packing 🙂 Have a good weekend.

  9. Thank you for exploring the fascinating narrative of Jacob and Esau. I have to hope for peace as I ponder your words here: “But the stories tell me of possible reconciliation, that God had or has a plan – I am leaning towards possibilities and potentialities that the divine order will be carried out and that nations can reconcile if they get beyond their tribal, cultural and historical influences – and vested interests – and that peace is possible.”

    God has a plan and as it unfolds I will continue to trust in Him.

    You have a robust travel itinerary ahead of you. I’m sure you will make wonderful memories. Safe travels. And remember, memories are the best souvenirs And fodder for future blog posts too!

    • Thank you Marian … you affirm what I say. On my side, hope and trust are somewhat different. There are times that hope is too closely allied to despair so for me it works better that I trust irrespective –

      Thanks for good travelling wishes. And I hope that all is well with you and yours 🙂

  10. What does it really mean to be another’s keeper? Very complex. each of the stories you mention has profound betrayal. Seems that is such a hard place to get through yet it does bring awareness if one can become honest in the process.
    Safe travels…

    • Thanks Susan – I guess also the attitude we bring to awareness if gained, would be a help if the attitude was open. Self-deception is one of the, if not THE hardest lesson. Thank you for travelling wishes!

  11. Oh my I admire your travel gene! I’m doing a two-week cross-America trip with my son in July with only three stops. That’s all I can handle. I look forward to hearing about your journey.

  12. I love your notion of looking backward to see more clearly and move forward towards reconciliation. Not naive at all, I feel, but a path of wisdom without projecting pollyanna outcomes.

    Have a wonderful vacation. It’s lovely to know where you’re going and to sense some of the wonders ahead, including the Black Madonna! I”m sure you’ll have plenty to share when you return…

    • Thanks so much Andrea. There’s value in looking back and this is what I wanted to convey. Plus to add my bit about Israel-Palestine.

      Thank you for your good wishes re the vacation … it seems a little unreal right now, but once I’m in the air (my Gemini habitat) I’ll relax … 🙂

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