This blog is following the book of Genesis and the Gospel of Mark in tandem, using very literal translations. The series began on 1st January and can be accessed from my archives. The headlines are reminders of the world we live in.
GENESIS 30 from verse 25
Now it was, once Rahel had given birth to Yosef, that Yaakov said to Lavan:
Send me free, that I may go back to my place, to my land.
Give over my wives and my children
for whom I served you,
and I will go.
Indeed you yourself know my service in which I have served you!
Lavan said to him:
Pray, if I have found favour i your eyes…..
I have become wealthy,
and YHWH has blessed me on account of you.
And he said:
Specify the wages that are due you from me and i will give you payment.
He said to him:
You yourself know how I have served you,
and how it has gone with your livestock in my charge.
For you had but few before me
and they have since burst out into a multitude.
Thus YHWH has blessed you at every step!
But now, when may I too do something for my household?
What shall I give you?
You are not to give me anything –
only do this for me, then I will return, I will tend your flock, I will keep watch:
Let me go over the whole flock today,
removing every speckled and dappled head;
and every dark head among the lambs,
and every dappled and speckled one among the goats-they shall be my wages.
And may my honesty plead for me on a future day:
when you come to check my wages that are before you,
whatever is not speckled or dappled among the goats or dark among the lambs,
It will be as though stolen by me.
Good, let it be according to your words
Even those who don’t know the story sense that Yaakov is here setting up one of his tricks, which seems legitimate because clearly Yaakov has been used by Lavan, who has made him work for his marriages to his daughters. The audience is meant to appreciate the battle between Yaakov and Lavan, two rogues looking to gain advantage but wanting to appear just. It’s interesting that Lavan has seen Yaakov bringing him a meaningful blessing from YHWH. In this sense YHWH has given Yaakov a good bargaining point: if you get Yaakov you get YHWH free of charge.
I am engaged at present in a “scriptural reasoning” programme which offers Jewish Christian and Moslem scripture for comment by a mixed group of participants. It’s a great idea, and is carried out in a good spirit, but people tend to be pious about all scripture and about the heroes of scripture. The author (s) of Genesis would be horrified by that attitude, because he/she/ always shows a God who is with his people”in their uncleanness” (as the Jewish phrase has it), and who nevertheless delights to be with them.The point about the fathers and mothers of Israel is not that they are always good, but that in their undisguised humanity they assist the goodness of God.
We are too imagine that not only the audience but God also as delighted with Yaakov’s splendid, lying phrase, “Let me honesty plead for me on a future day.”!