THE BOOK OF GENESIS

Chapter 1
GOD, at the beginning of time, created heaven and earth. Earth was still an empty waste, and darkness hung over the deep; but already, over its waters, stirred the breath of God. Then God said, Let there be light; and the light began. God saw the light, and found it good, and he divided the spheres of light and darkness; the light he called Day, and the darkness Night. So evening came, and morning, and one day passed. God said, too, Let a solid vault arise amid the waters, to keep these waters apart from those; a vault by which God would separate the waters which were beneath it from the waters above it; and so it was done. This vault God called the Sky. So evening came, and morning, and a second day passed.
And now God said, Let the waters below the vault collect in one place to make dry land appear. And so it was done; the dry land God called earth, and the water, where it had collected, he called the Sea. All this God saw, and found it good. Let the earth, he said, yield grasses that grow and seed; fruit-trees too, each giving fruit of its own kind, and so propagating itself on earth. And so it was done; the earth yielded grasses that grew and seeded, each according to its kind, and trees that bore fruit, each with the power to propagate its own kind. And God saw it, and found it good. So evening came, and morning, and a third day passed.
Next, God said, Let there be luminaries in the vault of the sky, to divide the spheres of day and night; let them give portents, and be the measures of time, to mark out the day and the year; let them shine in the sky's vault, and shed light on the earth. And so it was done.
God made the two great luminaries, the greater of them to command the day, and the lesser to command the night; then he made the stars. All these he put in the vault of the sky, to shed their light on the earth, to control day and night, and divide the spheres of light and darkness. And God saw it, and found it good. So evening came, and morning, and a fourth day passed.
After this, God said, Let the waters produce moving things that have life in them, and winged things that fly above the earth under the sky's vault. Thus God created the huge sea-beasts, and all the different kinds of life and movement that spring from the waters, and all the different kinds of flying things; and God saw it, and found it good. He pronounced his blessing on them, Increase and multiply, and fill the waters of the sea; and let there be abundance of flying things on earth. So evening came, and morning, and a fifth day passed. God said, too, Let the land yield all different kinds of living things, cattle and creeping things and wild beasts of every sort; and so it was done. God made every sort of wild beast, and all the different kinds of cattle and of creeping things; and God saw it, and found it good.
And God said, Let us make man, wearing our own image and likeness; let us put him in command of the fishes in the sea, and all that flies through the air, and the cattle, and the whole earth, and all the creeping things that move on earth. So God made man in his own image, made him in the image of God. Man and woman both, he created them. And God pronounced his blessing on them, Increase and multiply and fill the earth, and make it yours; take command of the fishes in the sea, and all that flies through the air, and all the living things that move on the earth. Here are all the herbs, God told them, that seed on earth, and all the trees, that carry in them the seeds of their own life, to be your food; food for all the beasts on the earth, all that flies in the air, all that creeps along the ground; here all that lives shall find its nourishment. And so it was done. And God saw all that he had made, and found it very good. So evening came, and morning, and a sixth day passed.
Chapter 2
Thus heaven and earth and all the furniture of them were completed. By the seventh day, God had come to an end of making, and rested, on the seventh day, with his whole task accomplished. That is why God gave the seventh day his blessing, and hallowed it, because it was the day on which his divine activity of creation finished.
Such origin heaven and earth had in the day of their fashioning. When heaven and earth God made, no woodland shrub had yet grown, no plant had yet sprung up; the Lord God had not yet sent rain upon the ground, that still had no human toil to cultivate it; there was only spring-water which came up from the earth, and watered its whole surface. And now, from the clay of the ground, the Lord God formed man, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and made of man a living person. God had planted a garden of delight, in which he now placed the man he had formed. Here, at the bidding of the Lord God, the soil produced all such trees as charm the eye and satisfy the taste; and here, in the middle of the garden, grew the tree of life, and the tree which brings knowledge of good to and evil. The garden was watered by a river; it came out from Eden, and went on to divide into four branches. One is called Phison; it is the river which surrounds all the country of Hevilath, a gold-producing country; no gold is better; bdellium is found there too, and the onyx-stone. The second river is called Gehon, and is the river which surrounds the whole country of Ethiopia. The third river, which flows past the Assyrians, is called Tigris, and the fourth is the river Euphrates. So the Lord God took the man and put him in his garden of delight, to cultivate and tend it. And this was the command which the Lord God gave the man, you may eat your fill of all the trees in the garden except the tree which brings knowledge of good and evil; if ever you eat of this, your doom is death.
But the Lord God said, It is not well that man should be without companionship; I will give him a mate of his own kind. And now, from the clay of the ground, all the beasts that roam the earth and all that flies through the air were ready fashioned, and the Lord God brought them to Adam, to see what he would call them; the name Adam gave to each living creature is its name still. Thus Adam gave names to all the cattle, and all that flies in the air, and all the wild beasts; and still Adam had no mate of his own kind. So the Lord God made Adam fall into a deep sleep, and, while he slept, took away one of his ribs, and filled its place with flesh. This rib, which he had taken out of Adam, the Lord God formed into a woman; and when he brought her to Adam, Adam said, Here, at last, is bone that comes from mine, flesh that comes from mine; it shall be called Woman, this thing that was taken out of Man. That is why a man is destined to leave father and mother, and cling to his wife instead, so that the two become one flesh. Both went naked, Adam and his wife, and thought it no shame.
Chapter 3
Of all the beasts which the Lord God had made, there was none that could match the serpent in cunning. It was he who said to the woman, What is this command God has given you, not to eat the fruit of any tree in the garden? To which the woman answered, We can eat the fruit of any tree in the garden except the tree in he middle of it; it is this God has forbidden us to eat or even to touch, on pain of death. And the serpent said to her, What is this talk of death? God knows well that as soon as you eat this fruit your eyes will be opened, and you yourselves will be like gods, knowing good and evil. And with that the woman, who saw that he fruit was good to eat, saw, too, how it was pleasant to look at and charmed the eye, took some fruit from the tree and ate it; and she gave some to her husband, and he ate with her. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they became aware of their nakedness; so they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves girdles.
And now they heard the voice of the Lord God, as he walked in the garden in the cool of the evening; whereupon Adam and his wife hid themselves in the garden, among the trees. And the Lord God called to Adam; Where are you? he asked. I heard your voice, Adam said, in the garden, and I was afraid, because of my nakedness, so I hid myself. And the answer came, Why, who told you of your nakedness? Or had you eaten of the tree, whose fruit I forbade you to eat? The woman, said Adam, whom you gave me to be my companion, she it was who offered me fruit from the tree, and so I came to eat it. Then the Lord God said to the woman, What made you do this? The serpent, she said, beguiled me, and so I came to eat.
And the Lord God said to the serpent, For this work of yours, you, alone among all the cattle and all the wild beasts, shall bear a curse; you shall crawl on your belly and eat dust all your life long. And I will establish a feud between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers; she is to crush your head, while you do lie in ambush at her heels. To the woman he said, Many are the pangs, many are the throes I will give you to endure; with pangs you shall give birth to children, and you shall be subject to your husband; he shall be your lord. And to Adam he said, you have listened to your wife's counsel, and have eaten the fruit I forbade you to eat; and now, through your act, the ground is under a curse. All the days of your life you shall win food from it with toil; thorns and thistles it shall yield you, this ground from which you do win your food. Still you shall earn your bread with the sweat of your brow, until you go back into the ground from which you were taken; dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.
The name which Adam gave his wife was Eve, Life, because she was the mother of all living men.
And now the Lord provided garments for Adam and his wife, made out of skins, to clothe them. He said, too, Here is Adam become like one of ourselves, with knowledge of good and evil; now he has only to lift his hand and gather fruit to eat from the tree of life as well, and he will live endlessly. So the Lord God drove him out from that garden of delight, to cultivate the ground from which he came; banished Adam, and posted his Cherubim before the garden of delight, with a sword of fire that turned this way and that, so that he could reach the tree of life no longer.
Chapter 4
And now Adam had knowledge of his wife, Eve, and she conceived. She called her child Cain, as if she would say, Canithi, I have been enriched by the Lord with a man-child. Then she bore a second time; this child, his brother, she called Abel. Abel became a shepherd, while Cain tilled the ground. Time passed, and Cain brought the Lord an offering out of the crops the land had given him; Abel, too, brought an offering, and his offering was out of the first-born of his flock, with their fat. On Abel, and on his offering, the Lord looked with favour, but not upon Cain, or his offering; so that Cain was much enraged, and his looks were lowering. But the Lord asked Cain, What does this anger mean, this frowning face of yours? If your actions are good, can you doubt they will be rewarded? If not, can you doubt that guilt, thenceforward, will lie at your door? Meanwhile he is at your mercy, and you can have your way with him. Then Cain said to his brother, Let us go out together; and while they were out in the open, Cain turned upon his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, Where is your brother Abel? I cannot tell, said he; is it for me to keep watch over my brother? But the answer came, What is this you have done? The blood of your brother has found a voice that cries out to me from the ground. Henceforward you shall be an outlaw from this ground, that has opened to drink in your brother's blood, shed by your hand. Till that ground, and it will yield you its fruit no longer; you shall be a wanderer, a fugitive on earth. Then Cain said to the Lord, Guilt like mine is too great to find forgiveness. And now you are robbing me of the ground, and I shall be cut off from your protection, and wander over the earth, a fugitive; anyone I meet will slay me. But the Lord told him, It shall not be so; whoever kills Cain shall pay for it sevenfold. And the Lord gave Cain such token of his protection as should warn the chance-comer not to kill him.
So Cain was banished from God's presence, and lived as a fugitive, east of Eden. And now Cain had knowledge of his wife,and she conceived. She called her child Henoch; and Cain built a city which he called Henoch, after his son's name. This Henoch was the ancestor, through Irad, Maviael, and Mathusael, of Lamech. Lamech married two wives, the one called Ada and the other Sella. It was Ada that gave birth to Jabel, the first founder of all those who live in tents and herd sheep; and he had a brother called Jubal, the founder of all those who play music, on the harp or the pipe. Sella gave birth to Tubalcain, who became a smith, skilled in every kind of brass and iron work; and Tubalcain had a sister called Noema. It was to his wives, Ada and Sella, that Lamech uttered the saying, Listen to these words of mine, you wives of Lamech, note my saying well. The man that wounds me, the stripling who deals me a blow, I reward with death. For Cain, sevenfold vengeance was to be taken; for Lamech, it shall be seventy times as much.
And once more Adam had knowledge of his wife, and she bore a son; Seth was the name she gave him, as if she would say, Seth, the Lord has secured a line of issue for me in place of Abel, now that Cain has murdered him. Seth, too, had a son whom he called Enos; and he began to call upon the name of the Lord.
Chapter 5
This is the record of Adam's posterity. When God created human kind, he made them in his own image. Man and woman both, he created them, and gave them his blessing; and Adam was the name by which he called them at the time when they were first created. Adam was a hundred and thirty years old when he begot in his image, his likeness, the son whom he called Seth. He lived eight hundred years more, and lived to be nine hundred and thirty. Seth was a hundred and five years old when he begot Enos, and lived to be nine hundred and twelve. Enos was ninety years old when he begot Cainan, and lived to be nine hundred and five. Cainan was seventy years old when he begot Malaleel, and lived to be nine hundred and ten. Malaleel was sixty-five years old when he begot Jared, and lived to be eight hundred and ninety-five. Jared was a hundred and sixty-two years old when he begot Henoch, and lived to be nine hundred and sixty-two. All these had other sons and daughters besides.
This Henoch was sixty-five years old when he begot Mathusala. For three hundred years after the birth of Mathusala, Henoch lived as God's close friend, and he had other sons and daughters besides; thus Henoch lived altogether three hundred and sixty-five years, the close friend of God; then God took him to himself, and he was seen no more. Mathusala was a hundred and eighty-seven years old when he begot Lamech; he lived for seven hundred and eighty-two years more, and had other sons and daughters besides; he died at the age of nine hundred and sixty-nine. And Lamech was a hundred and eighty-two years old when he begot a son, whom he called Noe, as if he would say, Nahem, He will console us, that have toiled and laboured with our hands so long on ground which the Lord has cursed. He lived for five hundred and ninety-five years more, and had other sons and daughters besides; he died at the age of seven hundred and seventy-seven. And Noe was five hundred years old when he became the father of Sem, Cham, and Japheth.
Chapter 6
Time passed, and the race of men began to spread over the face of earth, they and the daughters that were born to them. And now the sons of God saw how beautiful were these daughters of men, and took them as wives, choosing where they would. But God said, This spirit of mine shall not endure in man for ever, he is but mortal clay; his life-time shall be a hundred and twenty years. Giants lived on the earth in those days, when first the sons of God mated with the daughters of men, and by them had children; these were the heroes whose fame has come down to us from long ago.
And now God found that earth was full of men's iniquities, and that the whole frame of their thought was set continually on evil; and he repented of having made men on the earth at all. So, smitten with grief to the depths of his heart, he said, I will blot out mankind, my creature, from the face of the earth, and with mankind all the beasts and the creeping things and all that flies through the air; I repent of having made them. Only on Noe did God look with favour. And these were the children of Noe, the man who was accepted as faultless in such a generation, the close friend of God; Noe begot three sons, Sem, Chain, and Japheth.
There lay the world, corrupt in God's sight, full of oppression; and God, seeing the world so corrupt (no creature on earth. but had lost its true direction), said to Noe, The time has come for me to make an end of all mankind; their coming has filled the earth with oppression; I mean to destroy them, and earth with them. Make yourself an ark from planks of wood; in that ark make cabins, and give it a coat of pitch within and without. These are to be the measurements; three hundred cubits of length, fifty cubits of breadth, and thirty cubits of height. The ark is to have a course of windows, which you will make a cubit in height; and you will make a door in its side; and it is to have a hold, and a lower and upper deck. You must know that I mean to bring a flood of waters over the earth, and destroy every creature that lives and breathes under heaven; all that earth holds must perish. But with you this covenant of mine shall stand; you shall take refuge in the ark, you and your sons, and your wife, and your sons wives with you. And take with you into the ark, to preserve them, a pair of each kind of living creature, male and female, all the different birds, all the different beasts, all the creeping things of earth; two of each shall go in with you, so that all may survive. And it is for you to provide yourself with all that is eaten as food, and store it up, so that you and they may have food to eat. All this Noe did, at God's bidding.
Chapter 7
And now the Lord said to him, Take refuge in the Ark, with all your household; looking upon this generation of yours, I find you only guiltless. Take seven pairs of all the clean animals with you, male and female, and two pairs of all the animals that are unclean, and of all the birds that fly in the air, seven pairs; no breed must vanish from the earth. In seven days from this, I mean to send down rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and blot out this whole world of living things, my own creatures, from the face of the earth. All this Noe did, at God's bidding; he was six hundred years old when the waters of the flood covered the earth. Noe and his sons and his wife and his sons wives with him took refuge in the Ark from the waters of the flood; of all the beasts, clean and unclean, of all the birds, and all the creeping things of earth, pairs took refuge with Noe in the Ark, male and female, as God had commanded him.
Seven days passed, and then the waters of the flood covered the earth. It was the seventeenth day of the second month of Noe's six hundredth year, when all the springs of the great depth beneath broke through, and the flood-gates of heaven were opened; and it rained for forty days and forty nights on the earth. That very day, Noe and his sons, Sem, Cham and Japheth, his wife, and the three wives of his sons, took refuge in the Ark; and with them all the different kinds of wild beasts, of cattle, of the creeping things of earth, and of things that fly, birds and winged creatures; there was refuge with Noe in the Ark for pairs of all mortal things that live and breathe. Into the Ark they went, males and females, as God had commanded; and the Lord shut him in. For forty days that flood came down on the earth, and the water grew deep, till it lifted the Ark up from the ground; full the tide flowed, covering the whole face of the earth, but still the Ark rode safe on the waters. Higher and higher the waters rose above the ground, till all the high mountains under heaven disappeared; the flood stood fifteen cubits higher than the mountains it covered. All mortal things that moved on earth were drowned, birds and cattle and wild beasts, and all the creeping things of earth, and all mankind; all that lived and moved on the earth perished together. God wiped out the whole world of earthly creatures, man and beast, creeping things and all that flies through the air, so that they vanished from the earth; only Noe and his companions in the Ark were left. And the waters held their own over the land for a hundred and fifty days.
Chapter 8
Then God bethought him of Noe, and of all the wild beasts and the cattle that went with him in the Ark; so he set a wind stirring over the earth, and with that, the waters abated. The springs of the great depth closed up again; so, too, did the flood-gates of heaven, and rain fell from heaven no longer; more and more the waters receded from the land, beginning to abate, now that the hundred and fifty days were over. And now, on the twenty-seventh day of the seventh month, the Ark came to rest upon the mountains of Armenia. Inch by inch the waters abated, until the tenth month came; on the first day of the tenth month, the hill tops began to shew. Noe let forty days pass, and then undid the window he had made in the Ark, and sent out one of the ravens, which went this way and that, and had not come back to him when the waters dried up over the earth. Then to make sure whether the waters had become shallow over all the surface of the ground, he sent out one of the doves. But the dove came back to the Ark and its master, finding never a resting-place to perch on; and he put out his hand to catch it, and took it back into the Ark. Seven days more he waited, and then sent the dove out from the Ark again; this time, it came back to him at night-fall, with a twig of olive in its mouth, the leaves still green on it; and then Noe could not doubt that the waters had become shallow all over the ground. But still he waited another seven days, and now, when he sent it out, it came back to him no more. It was the first day of the first month of his six hundred and first year when the waters ebbed away from the land, and Noe, withdrawing the covering of the Ark, looked round him and found that the whole surface of the ground was clear. And by the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the land itself was dry.
Then God's word came to Noe, telling him, Come out of the Ark, with your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out with you all the living creatures you have there, of all kinds, birds and beasts and creeping things that creep on the earth; occupy this earth, increase and multiply upon it. So Noe came out, and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him; and the living creatures came out of the Ark, beasts and all creeping things that roam on the earth, in all their various kinds. Thereupon Noe built an altar to the Lord, and chose out beasts that were clean and birds that were clean, and made burnt-offerings there. And the Lord, smelling such a scent as pleased him, made the resolve, Never again will I plague the earth on man's account, that has all the thoughts and imaginations of his heart, even in youth, so bent towards evil; never again will I send affliction such as this upon all living creatures. While the earth stands, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall keep their course unaltered.
Chapter 9
And God pronounced his blessing on Noe and his sons; Increase, he said, and multiply, and fill the earth. All the beasts of earth, and the winged things of the sky, and the creeping things of earth, are to go in fear and dread of you, and I give you dominion over all the fishes of the sea. This creation that lives and moves is to provide food for you; I make it all over to you, by the same title as the herbs that have growth. Only, you must not eat the flesh with the blood still in it. The shedder of your own life-blood shall be held to account for it, whether man or beast; whoever takes the life of his brother-man shall answer for it to me. Man was made in God's image, and whoever sheds a man's blood must shed his own blood in return. And now, increase and multiply; occupy and fill the earth.
This, too, God said to Noe, and to Noe's sons: Here is a covenant I will observe with you and with your children after you, and with all living creatures, your companions, the birds and the beasts of burden and the cattle that came out of the Ark with you, and the wild beasts besides. Never more will the living creation be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again a flood to devastate the world. This, God said, shall be the pledge of the promise I am making to you, and to all living creatures, your companions, eternally; I will set my bow in the clouds, to be a pledge of my covenant with creation. When I veil the sky with clouds, in those clouds my bow shall appear, to remind me of my promise to you, and to all the life that quickens mortal things; never shall the waters rise in flood again, and destroy all living creatures. There, in the clouds, my bow shall stand, and as I look upon it, I will remember this eternal covenant; God's covenant with all the life that beats in mortal creatures upon earth. Such was the pledge God gave to Noe of his promise to all living things.
These, then, were the names of Noe's three sons, who came out of the Ark with him, Sem, Cham and Japheth; and of these, Cham was the ancestor of Chanaan. All three were Noe's sons, and from them the race of mankind overspread the earth. And now Noe turned farmer, and on the ground he tilled, he grew a vine. So he came to drink wine, and, drunk with it, lay all naked in his tent. And Cham, Chanaan's ancestor, saw how his father's body lay naked, and went out to tell his two brothers of it; whereupon Sem and Japheth spread a cloak over their shoulders, and walked in backwards to cover their father's nakedness, their faces turned away, so that they never caught sight of his naked body. When Noe had slept off his wine, he found out how his younger son had treated him; Cursed be Chanaan, he said, he shall be the slave and drudge of his brethren. He said, too, Blessed be the Lord God of Sem; may Chanaan be a slave to him. May God give Japheth dwelling-space, and let him share the tents of Sem, but let Chanaan be his slave. And Noe lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood, so that his lifetime, when he came to die, had filled the measure of nine hundred and fifty years.
Chapter 10
These were the descendants of Noe's children, Sem, Cham and Japheth, through the sons that were born to them after the flood. These were the sons of Japheth; Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Thubal, Mosoch and Thiras. And these were Gomer's sons Ascenez, Riphath and Thogorma. And these were Javan's sons, Elisa, Tharsis, Cetthim and Dodanim; who divided up the islands of the Gentiles, region by region. Each of these became separate nations, distinct in speech and in blood.
These were Cham's sons; Chus, Mesraim, Phuth and Chanaan. And these were the sons of Chus; Saba, Hevila, Sabatha, Regma and Sabatacha. And these were Regma's sons, Saba and Dadan. Chus was also the father of Nemrod, who was the first great warrior; bold, too, by God's grace, at the hunt, from where the proverb arose, By God's grace, a huntsman bold as Nemrod. His empire began with Babylon, Arach, Achad and Chalanne, in the country of Sennaar. It was from that country Assur went out to build Nineve and its suburbs, and Chale; and between Nineve and Chale he built the great city of Resen. Mesraim was the father of the Ludim, the Anamim, the Laabim, and the Nephthuim; the Phetrusim, too, and the Chasluim (from whom the Philistines sprang) and the Caphtorim. Chanaan were the father of Sidon; this was his first-born son. From him, too, come Hethites, Jebusites, Amorrhites, Gergesites, Hevites, Aracites, Sinites, Aradians, Samarites and Amathites; so, in later times, the Chanaanite peoples spread this way and that. That Chanaanite territory, beginning at Sidon, reached as far as Gaza on the road to Gerara, and as far as Lesa on the road to Sodom, Gomorrha, Adama and Seboim. These were the descendants of Cham; such were the tribes, the tongues, the branches, the countries, the peoples that came from him.
Sem, too, Japheth's elder brother, had children; he is father of all who claim descent from Heber. His sons were called Aelam, Assur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram. These were Aram's sons, Us, Hul, Gether and Mes. Arphaxad was the father of Sale, and Sale of Heber. Heber had two sons; one was called Phaleg, Division, because in his time the territory was divided up, and his brother's name was Jectan. This Jectan was the father of Elmodad, Saleph, Asarmoth, Jare, Aduram, Uzal, Decla, Ebal, Abimael, Saba, Ophir, Hevila and Jobab. All these were Jectan's sons, and their territory reached from Messa to mount Sephar in the east. These were the sons of Sem; such were their tribes and tongues and countries and peoples. These were the descendants that sprang from Noe, divided according to their peoples and their races; this was how the nations were scattered over the earth after the flood.
Chapter 11
Hitherto, the world had only one way of speech, only one language. And now, as men travelled westwards, they found a plain in the land of Sennaar, and made themselves a home there; Here we can make bricks, they said to one another, baked with fire; and they built, not in stone, but in brick, with pitch for their mortar. It would be well, they said, to build ourselves a city, and a tower in it with a top that reaches to heaven; we will make ourselves a great people, instead of scattering over the wide face of earth. But now the Lord came down to look at the city, with its tower, which Adam's children were building; and he said, Here is a people all one, with a tongue common to all; this is but the beginning of their undertakings, and what is to prevent them carrying out all they design? It would be well to go down and throw confusion into the speech they use there, so that they will not be able to understand each other. Thus the Lord broke up their common home, and scattered them over the earth, and the building of the city came to an end. That is why it was called Babel, Confusion, because it was there that the Lord confused the whole world's speech, and scattered them far away, over the wide face of earth.
These were the descendants of Sem; Sem was a hundred years old when he begot Arphaxad, two years after the flood. He lived five hundred years more. Arphaxad was thirty-five years old when he begot Sale, and lived three hundred and three years more. Sale was thirty years old when he begot Heber, and lived four hundred and three years more. Heber was thirty-four years old when he begot Phaleg, and lived four hundred and thirty years more. Phaleg was thirty years old when he begot Reu, and lived two hundred and nine years more. Reu was thirty-two years old when he begot Sarug, and lived two hundred and seven years more. Sarug was thirty years old when he begot Nachor, and lived two hundred years more. Nachor was twenty-nine years old when he begot Thare, and lived a hundred and nineteen years more. All these had other sons and daughters besides. And Thare, after reaching the age of seventy, became the father of Abram, of Nachor, and of Aran.
These are the descendants of Thare; Thare's sons were called Abram, Nachor and Aran, and Aran had a son called Lot. This Aran died before his father Thare in Ur of the Chaldees, the country of his birth. Abram and Nachor married; Abram's wife was called Sarai and Nachor's wife was called Melcha. Her father Aran had two children, Melcha herself and Jescha. Sarai was barren, and had no children. And now Thare, with his son Abram, and his grandson Lot, son of Aran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, who had married his son Abram, left Ur of the Chaldees and set out for the land of Chanaan. They went as far as Haran, and there they settled. At Haran, at the age of two hundred and five, Thare died.
Chapter 12
Meanwhile, the Lord said to Abram, Leave your country behind you, your kinsfolk, and your father's home, and come away into a land I will shew you. Then I will make a great people of you; I will bless you, and make your name renowned, a name of benediction; those who bless you, I will bless, those who curse you, I will curse, and in you all the races of the world shall find a blessing. So Abram went out, as the Lord bade him, and with him went his nephew, Lot. Abram was seventy-five years old at the time when he left Haran, took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot with him, all the possessions they had acquired in Haran, and all the retainers born in their service there, and set out for the land of Chanaan. When they reached it, Abram went across country as far as Sichem and the Valley of Clear Seeing. Those were the days when the Chanaanites still dwelt in the land. Here the Lord appeared to Abram, promising to give the whole land to his posterity; and this appearance he commemorated by building the Lord an altar there. Then he moved on from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, where he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Hai on the east; here too he built an altar to the Lord, and invoked his name before it.
Thus Abram journeyed on, travelling always further south. And now the country was stricken with famine; and Abram made his way into Egypt, to take refuge there, so grievous was the famine all over the country. And when he had nearly reached Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, I have it in mind that you are a woman fair to see; and it may be that when the Egyptians catch sight of you, they will say to themselves, She is a wedded woman, this is her husband; and they will kill me, and keep you for themselves. Tell them, I entreat you, that you are my sister; so, for your sake, I shall be well used, and I shall owe my life to you. And sure enough, as soon as Abram set foot in Egypt, the Egyptians remarked the great beauty of his wife, and Pharao was told of her by his courtiers, who sang her praises to him. So Sarai was carried off to Pharao's court, and Abram, for her sake, was well treated; he had no lack of sheep, oxen, and asses, of men and maid servants, of she-asses, too, and camels. But the Lord smote Pharao and his court with great calamities, because of Abram's wife Sarai, till at last he sent for Abram, and asked him, What is this trick you have played on me? Why did you not own to me that she was your wife? How is it that you did call her your sister, and let me wed her? Enough; here is your wife, take her and begone. And Pharao gave Abram an escort to see him on his way, with his wife and all his possessions.
Chapter 13
So Abram came back from Egypt into the south country, with his wife and all that belonged to him; Lot, too, went in his company. Abram was by now the master of rich possessions, with abundance of gold and silver. He took the same road northwards by which he had come, and reached Bethel, and the place between Bethel and Hai where he had pitched his tent before, with the altar still standing there, as he had built it, commemorating the Lord's name. Lot, his companion, had flocks and herds and a camp of his own, so that there was no room for them to live together on the same land; they could not share a camping-ground, with such great possessions, and already a quarrel had broken out between Abram's shepherds and Lot's. In those days, there were Chanaanites and Pherezites living all a around, and Abram said to Lot, Pray let us have no strife between us two, between my shepherds and yours; are we not brethren? See, here is the whole land before you; come, our ways must part. Turn leftwards, and I will keep to the right, or choose the right, and I will go leftwards. Whereupon Lot looked about him, and the great hollow of Jordan met his eye, well watered, in those days before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha, like the garden of the Lord itself, or the land of Egypt approached by way of Segor. So Lot chose the hollow of Jordan, and went away to the east, and the two kinsmen parted company. Abram made his dwelling in the land of Chanaan, while Lot found a home among the cities round Jordan, camping at Sodom. They were evil folk that lived at Sodom, wicked in the Lord's sight beyond all measure.
When Abram had parted from Lot, the Lord said to him, Look about you, turn your eyes from where you are to north and south, to east and west. All the land you see I make over to you, and to your posterity forever. And to that posterity I will grant increase, till it lies like dust on the ground, past all counting. Up, then, and journey through the land at your ease, the length and breadth of it; to you I will give it. So Abram moved his tent, and went to live by the valley of Mambre, at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.
Chapter 14
It chanced at this time that Amraphel, the king of Sennaar, and Arioch, King of Pontus, and Chodorlahomor, king of Elam, and Thadal, king of the barbarians, went out to war. And their enemies were Bara, king of Sodom, Bersa, king of Gomorrha, Sennaab, king of Adama, Semeber, king of Seboim, and the king of Bala (or Segor). All these joined their forces in the Valley of the Forests, where the Salt Sea is now; they had been tributary to Chodorlahomor for twelve years, and in the following year they had revolted from him. So, in this fourteenth year Chodorlahomor and the kings allied with him came out to battle. They had defeated the Raphaim, in Astaroth-Carnaim, and the Zuzim in their company; the Emim, too, in Save-Cariathaim, and the Horrites in the hills of Seir, right up to the plains of Pharan, out in the desert. And now, returning, they had reached the spring of Misphat (or Cades), where they fell upon all the Amalecite country, and the Amorrhites that lived by Asason-Thamar. So the kings of Sodom, Gomorrha, Adama, Seboim and Bala (or Segor) came out to meet them, and prepared to do battle with them in the Valley of the Forests. Chodorlahomor, king of Elam, and Thadal, king of the barbarians, and Amraphel, king of Sennaar, and Arioch, king of Pontus, these were the four kings those five kings had to meet. The Valley of the Forests contained many pools of asphalt, and among these the Kings of Sodom and Gomorrha were overcome and routed; those who survived took refuge in the hill country. All the wealth of Sodom and Gomorrha, and all their supply of food, was carried off by the victors as they went; so, too, was Abram's nephew Lot, who dwelt at Sodom, with all the wealth that was his.
And now word came by one of those who had escaped, to the Hebrew chieftain Abram, where he lived in the valley of Mambre the Amorrhite, brother of Escol and Aner; all these were confederate with Abram. Abram himself, as soon as he heard that his kinsman Lot was a prisoner, mustered the men he had in arms, all of his own household, to the number of three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit all the way to Dan. Here he divided his confederates into companies, and fell upon the enemy by night, routing them and driving them in their flight as far as Hoba to the left of Damascus and he brought back all that wealth with him, Lot, too, and the wealth that was his, and the women, and the common folk.
Thus he defeated Chodorlahomor, and the kings who were with him. And as he came back, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Savé, which is the same as the Royal Valley; Melchisedech, too, was there, the king of Salem. And he, priest as he was of the most high God, brought out bread and wine with him, and gave him this benediction, On Abram be the blessing of the most high God, maker of heaven and earth, and blessed be that most high God, whose protection has brought your enemies into your power. To him, Abram gave tithes of all he had won. As for the king of Sodom, he said to Abram, Give me these living souls; all the rest you may take for yourself. But Abram answered, By this hand, which I lift up to the Lord God, the prince of heaven and earth, I will take nothing of yours, though it were but a thread from the woof or the strap of a shoe. Never shall you say, Abram got his wealth from me. Take all, except the food my men have already eaten, and the share that falls to the three who came out with me, Aner, Escol, and Mambre; let them have their part.
Chapter 15
It was after this that the Lord sent word to Abram in a vision, Have no fear, Abram, I am here to protect you; your reward shall be great indeed. But Abram answered, Lord God, what can this gift of yours be? I must go the way of childless men; Damascus here, the son of Efiezer, is but the son of my steward; to me (Abram added) you have given no children, so that all the heir I have is a slave born in my house. Whereupon the Lord sent word to him, This man shall not succeed you; you shall have an heir sprung from your own body. Then he took him out of doors, and said to him, Look up at the sky, and count, if you can, the stars in it; your race, like these, shall be numberless. So Abram put his faith in God, and it was reckoned virtue in him.
And now God said to him, I am the Lord, who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldees, to give you possession of this land instead. And when he asked, Lord God, what assurance may I have, that it is mine? the Lord answered, Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, and a three-year-old ram, and a turtle-dove, and a pigeon. All these he brought to him, and cut them in half, laying the two halves of each on opposite sides, except the dove and the pigeon; he did not divide these. The whole day long Abram stood there, driving away the carrion-birds as they swooped down on the carcases; but when the sun set, deep sleep fell upon him, and in the darkness a great dread assailed him. So a voice came to him, This you must know, that your race will live as strangers in a land not their own, reduced to slavery and ill-used for four hundred years. But I am there to pass judgement on the nation which enslaves them; and when this is done, they shall come back rich in possessions. For yourself, you shall be buried with your fathers, grown old in comfort; but the fourth generation will have come before these return hither; the wickedness of the Amorrhites has not reached its full term. So the sun went down, and when the darkness of night came on, a smoking furnace was seen, a torch of fire that passed between the pieces of flesh. And the Lord, that day, made a covenant with Abram; I will grant this land, he told him, to your posterity, with its borders reaching up to the river of Egypt, and the great river Euphrates; the land of the Cinites, and the Cenezites, and the Cedmonites, the Hethites and the Pherezites, the Raphaim, too, and the Amorrhites, and the Chanaanites, and the Gergesites, and the Jebusites.
Chapter 16
And still Abram's wife Sarai bore him no children. But she had an Egyptian maid-servant, called Agar; and now she said to her husband, The Lord, as you see, denies me motherhood; betake yourself to this maid of mine in the hope that I may at least have children through her means. So Abram consented to the wish of his wife, and she brought this Egyptian maid-servant of hers, Agar, and gave her to her husband as his mate, ten years after they had taken up their abode in the land of Chanaan. Abram, then, had knowledge of her, and she, finding herself with child, began to look on her mistress with scorn. And Sarai complained to Abram, I am being wronged, through your fault; here is this maid-servant of mine, whom I bade you take in your arms, treating me scornfully, now that she has conceived. May the Lord do justice between us. To this, Abram made answer, Is she not in your power, your own maid-servant? Do what you will with her. Thus it was that Sarai used her cruelly, and she took refuge in flight.
She was sitting by a well out in the wilderness, on the desert road to Sur, when an angel of the Lord found her. Whence comes Agar, he asked, and whither does she go, that was Sarai's maid-servant? And she answered, It is from the threats of my mistress, Sarai, that I have fled. Then the angel of the Lord said to her, Go back to your mistress, and submit to her will. Still will I grant increase, he said, to the race that shall spring from you, till its numbers cannot be counted. And he added, Now you are with child; it is a son that will be born to you, and you shall call him Ismael (that is, God hears), in token that God has listened to you in your affliction. His shall be a nature none can tame; hating all and hated by all, he shall pitch his camp eastwards of his brethren. Thus the Lord spoke to her, and thus she named him, You are God, that have looked on me; for indeed, she said, there was one who looked on me here, and I saw him as he left me. So she called that well, the Well of him who lives and looks on me; it is between Cades and Barad. Agar, then, bore a son to Abram, and called him Ismael; Abram was eighty-six years old at the time of Ismael's birth.
Chapter 17
It was when he reached the age of ninety-nine that the Lord was revealed to him with the words, I am God Almighty; live as in my sight, and be perfect. Then, on my part, I will make a covenant with you, to give your posterity increase beyond measure. At this, Abram fell prostrate before him. And God said to him; I AM, and here is the covenant I make with you, you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, you shall be called Abraham, the father of a throng, such is the multitude of nations I will give you for your children. I will make you fruitful beyond all measure, so that you shall count among the nations; from your issue, kings shall rise. I will honour this covenant of mine with yourself and with the race that shall follow you, generation after generation; an eternal covenant that pledges me to be your God, and the God of the race which follows you. To you, and to that race, I will give the land in which you dwell now as a stranger, the whole land of Chanaan their inheritance for ever, and I their God.
Then God said to Abraham, You, too, shall observe this covenant of mine, you and the race that shall follow you, generation after generation. This is the covenant you shall keep with me, you and yours; every male child of yours shall be circumcised; you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, in token of the covenant between me and you. Generation after generation, every male child shall be circumcised when it is eight days old. And this law shall be binding on your slaves, both those born in your households and those you have bought, though these be of alien breed. So my covenant shall have its seal in your flesh, ratified to all time. If any male person has the flesh of his foreskin uncircumcised, there is no place for him among his people; he has violated the covenant between us.
This, too, God said to Abraham, you shall call your wife Sarai not Sarai but Sara, the princess. Her I will bless, giving you a son by her; and him, too, I will bless, giving him whole nations for his posterity; kings with their peoples shall take their origin from him.
At this, Abraham fell prostrate before him; but in his heart he said, laughing at the thought, Shall I have a son when I am a hundred years old? Will Sara, with all her ninety years, become a mother? And this was what he asked of God, If only you will grant life to Ismael! But God said to Abraham, you shall have a son by your wife Sara, and shall give him the name of Isaac; it is to him and to the race which shall follow him that I will make good my promise, ratified for ever. As for Ismael, for him too I grant your prayer; be sure that I will bless him, and make him fruitful, and grant him increase beyond all measure, so that he will be the father of twelve chieftains. From him, too, a great nation shall arise; but when I make good this promise of mine, it will be for Isaac, the son you will have, at this time next year, by your wife Sara.
So God finished speaking to Abraham, and went up out of his sight. And Abraham sent for his son Ismael, and for all the slaves born in his house and those, too, whom he had bought, every male child that belonged to any of his household, and on that very day he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins, in obedience to the Lord's bidding. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, and Ismael, at the time of his circumcision, had reached the age of thirteen. On this same day all were circumcised, Abraham, and his son Ismael, and the men of his household, slaves born in the house and aliens that were his by purchase, all alike.
Chapter 18
He had a vision of the Lord, too, in the valley of Mambre, as he sat by his tent door at noon. He looked up, and saw three men standing near him; and, at the sight, he ran from his tent door to meet them, bowing down to the earth. Lord, he said, as you love me, do not pass your servant by; let me fetch a drop of water, so that you can wash your feet and rest in the shade. I will bring a mouthful of food, too, so that you can refresh yourselves before you go on further; you have not come this way for nothing. And when they had agreed to what he proposed, Abraham hastened into the tent to find Sara. Quick, he said, knead three measures of flour, and make girdle-cakes. Meanwhile, he ran to the byre, and brought in a calf, tender and well-fed, and gave it to a servant, who made haste to cook it. Then he brought out butter and milk with the calf he had cooked for them, and laid their meal ready, and stood there beside them in the shade of the trees.
When they finished eating, they asked, Where is your wife Sara? She is here, he answered, in the tent. I will come back, said he who was speaking to him, next year without fail; and, live she till then, your wife Sara shall have a son. Sara, behind the tent door, overheard it and laughed; both were old, and past their prime, so that Sara was no longer subject to the lot of womanhood. What, she said, laughing to herself at the thought, am I to have dalliance with this lord of mine, grown old as I too have grown old? Whereupon the Lord said to Abraham, Why does Sara laugh, and ask whether she is indeed to become a mother in her old age? Can any task be too difficult for the Lord? At this time of year, the time I have appointed, I will come back to you; live she till then, Sara shall have a son. And when Sara, overcome with terror, denied the charge of laughing, Ah, he said, but you did laugh.
And now the men rose up, and turned towards Sodom, Abraham going with them to put them on their way. And the Lord said, Should I hide my purpose from Abraham, this man who is destined to give birth to a people so great and so powerful? This man through whom all the nations of the world are to find a blessing? Have I not chosen him as one who will teach his children and all his race after him to follow the paths which the Lord shews them, and to do what is just and right, winning him the fulfilment of all the Lord has promised him? So the Lord told him, The ill repute of Sodom and Gomorrha goes from bad to worse, their sin is grievous out of all measure; I must needs go down to see for myself whether they have deserved the ill report that has reached me or not; I must know for certain. And Abraham stood there in the Lord's presence, as the men turned and went on towards Sodom.
Abraham drew close to him, and asked, will you, then, sweep away the innocent with the guilty? Suppose there are fifty innocent men in the city, must they too perish? Will you not spare the place to save fifty such innocent men that dwell there? Never that, you will not destroy the innocent with the guilty, as if innocence and guilt were all one; that is not your way, that is not how the Judge of the whole earth executes justice! And the Lord told him, If I find fifty innocent citizens in Sodom, I will spare the whole place to save them. And Abraham answered, Dust and ashes though I be, I have taken it upon me to speak to my Lord, and speak I will. What if there should be five wanting to make up the tale of fifty innocent men? Will you bring the whole city to ruin because there are five less than fifty? No, he said, if I meet with forty-five such, I will not bring it to ruin. But he plied him once more, What will you do, then, if forty are found there? I will hold my hand, said he, to save forty. Then he said, Lord, do not be angry with me for pleading thus; what if thirty are found there? If I find thirty, he said, I will not do it. I have taken it upon me, said he, to speak to my Lord, and speak I will; what if twenty are found there? I will grant it life, he said, to save twenty. And he said, Do not be angry with me, Lord, I entreat you, for making one more plea still; what if ten are found there? I will spare it from destruction, he said, to save ten. So God finished speaking to Abraham and left him, and Abraham turned and went home.
Chapter 19
It was evening when the two angels reached Sodom, and Lot was sitting at the town gate. He rose up when he saw them, and went to meet them, bowing down his face to the earth. Pray, sirs, he said, turn in to my house and spend the night there; wash your feet now, and go on your journey to-morrow. And when they said, No, we will stay here in the open square, he would take no denial, they must needs lodge with him. So they went to his house, and he baked unleavened bread for them, which they ate. And before ever they had gone to rest, the townspeople laid siege to the house, old and young, from every quarter of the city, calling for Lot, and crying out, Where are your evening visitors? Bring them out here, to minister to our lust. So Lot went out, shutting the door behind him, and said, No, brethren, I entreat you, do not be guilty of such a wrong. I have two daughters here, that have as yet no knowledge of man; these I will bring out, and you shall have your will with them, but do these men no harm; are they not guests under my roof? What, said they, would you come here as a stranger, and then set yourself up as a judge? Stand back, or it will be worse for you than for them. And they pushed Lot aside with great violence, trying to break the door in. So the two men reached out and pulled Lot back into the house, shutting the door after him; and they put a ban of blindness on the folk without, so that never a man of them could find the entry. And now the two men asked Lot, Is there any here besides yourself, son-in-law, or son, or daughter of yours? If so, take them out of the city, all that are yours. Our intent is to destroy this place; the ill repute of it goes from bad to worse, and the Lord knows of it, and has sent us to destroy them. So Lot went out, and spoke to the suitors who were betrothed to his daughters; Up, he said, leave this place; the Lord means to destroy the city. But they thought he was speaking in jest. Then morning came and the angels were urgent with him; Up, they said, take your wife with you, and the two daughters who are still at home, or else you too will perish with the offending city. And when they found that he hung back, they pulled him away, with his wife and his two daughters, so resolved was the Lord to spare him; led him out, and set him clear of the city. Here they said to him, Flee for your life, never once looking behind you, never lingering once in all the plain round about you; take refuge in the hills, or you, too, will perish.
But now Lot pleaded with them, My Lord, he said, I entreat you as you love your servant, as you have shewn me signal mercy in saving this life of mine, bethink you that I have no strength to reach the safety of the hills; calamity will overtake me first, and I must die. But there is a city close by that I may reach in safety, a little city, but I can find refuge there. So small a city, and will you not grant me life if go there? Once again, said he, I yield to your entreaty; I will not overthrow the city you plead for. Only make haste, and take refuge there; I can do nothing till you have reached it. That is how it came to be called the little city, Segor. Into Segor Lot entered as the sun rose over the earth; and thereupon the Lord rained down brimstone and fire out of heaven, the Lord's dwelling-place, and overthrew these cities, with all the plain about them, and all those who dwelt there, and all that grew from their soil. And Lot's wife, because she looked behind her as she went, was turned into a pillar of salt. That morning, Abraham rose up early, and from the place where but now he had stood talking to the Lord, he looked out over Sodom and Gomorrha, and all the plain where they stood, and saw nothing but smoke going up from the land, like the smoke of a furnace. So it was that when he overthrew the cities in that plain God remembered Abraham, and rescued Lot from the ruins of his chosen dwelling-place.
But Lot left Segor, and went up to live in the hills, taking his two daughters with him; he was afraid to live at Segor, and took up his abode in a cave. There his two daughters dwelt with him, and the elder of these said to the younger, Our father grows old, and as for us there is no one in the land to mate with us, after the wont of human kind. Why then let us give him wine and make him drunk, and so sleep with him, to preserve our father's posterity. So that night they gave their father wine to drink; and the elder went in and slept with her father, lying down beside him and rising up without his knowledge. And next day, the elder said to the younger, Last night it was I that slept with our father; let us give him wine again tonight, and you shall sleep with him, to preserve our father's posterity. So that night too they gave their father wine to drink, and the younger went in and slept with him, and still he knew nothing of it when she lay down, or when she rose up. Thus the two daughters of Lot were got with child by their father, and the elder bore a son whom she called Moab, the ancestor of the Moabite race that still survives; the younger, too, had a son whom she called Ammon, as if she would say Ben-ammi, the son of my people; his descendants still survive as the Ammonites.
Chapter 20
There was a time when Abraham made his way from there into the southern country, first settling down between Cades and Sur, then living as a wanderer in Gerara. And of his wife Sara he gave out, She is my sister; whereupon Abimelech, king of Gerara, sent and took her for himself. But God visited Abimelech in a dream by night, and told him, your life is forfeit, on account of this woman you have taken for yourself; she is wedded to a husband. Abimelech, as yet, had had no intercourse with her. What, Lord, he said, must a nation perish that has done no wrong, except through ignorance? Did he not tell me himself, She is my sister? And she, did not she herself claim him as her brother? My conscience has been clear, my actions honourable, in all I have done. And God said to him, I know that you have acted with a clear conscience; that is why I preserved you from sinning against me, and would not let you have intercourse with her. But now you must give her back to her husband; he is a prophet, and will intercede for your life; if you do not restore her, I give you good warning, you and yours must perish. So Abimelech rose up at once before dawn of day, and summoned the whole company of his servants to let them hear all this; whereupon they were all overcome with terror. Then Abimelech sent for Abraham too, and asked him, What is this trick you have played on us? What wrong have we done you, that you should involve me and my kingdom in such guilt? You have treated us amiss. And still he plied him with reproaches; What was in your mind, that you should act thus? I thought to myself, answered Abraham, This may be a place where they have no fear of God, and then they will kill me on my wife's account. Besides, she is indeed my sister, on the father's side but not on the mother's, though she is none the less my wedded wife. When God bade me leave my father's house and go on my travels, I said to her, Do me this kindness; give it out, wherever we go, that I am your brother.
So Abimelech made Abraham a present, of sheep and oxen, of men and maid servants, and gave his wife Sara back to him. Here is my land, he said, at your disposal, dwell where you will. And to Sara he added, See, I am giving this brother of yours a thousand silver pieces; such amends will enable you to look the world in the face, wherever you go; only, do not forget that your pretence was discovered. And now, at Abraham's intercession, God restored health to Abimelech, to his wife and to his servant women; up to now, on account of Abraham's wife Sara, the Lord had made all Abimelech's household barren.
Chapter 21
And now, true to his undertaking, the Lord visited Sara and fulfilled his promise; old as she was, she conceived and bore a son at the very time God had foretold. To this son whom Sara had borne him, Abraham gave the name of Isaac, and circumcised him, as God had commanded, when he was eight days old. He himself was then a hundred years old; so great an age had he reached before Isaac was born to him. And Sara cried out, God has made me laugh for joy; whoever hears of this will laugh (Isaac) with me. Who would have thought, she added, that Abraham would ever be told, Sara is nursing a son, born to you in your old age?
The boy grew, and was weaned; on the day of his weaning, Abraham made a great feast, and Sara found the son of the Egyptian woman, Agar, mocking her own son Isaac. Whereupon she said to Abraham, Rid yourself of this slave-woman and her son; it cannot be that the son of a slave should divide the inheritance with my own son, Isaac. At this Abraham was greatly distressed on his son's behalf; but God said to him, Do not take it to heart so, the boy's lot and the lot of your slave; attend to all Sara's bidding, for indeed it is through Isaac that your posterity shall be traced. As for the slave's child, I will make him, too, the founder of a great nation; he too is your son. So, when he rose next morning, Abraham fetched some bread and a bottle of water, which he put on her shoulder, and bade her take the boy and begone. Thus she left him, and soon she was wandering to and fro in the desert of Bersabee. At last all the water in the bottle was spent, and she left the boy under one of the trees there, while she went and sat down opposite where he was, at a bow-shot's distance; I cannot bear to see my child die, she said. And there, sitting opposite him, she wept aloud. But God had listened to the child's crying, and now his angel called to Agar out of heaven. Agar, he said, what ails you? Do not be afraid, God has listened to the crying of your child, where he lies yonder. Up, and take your child with you, hold him fast by the hand; I will make him the founder of a great nation yet. With that, God gave clear sight to her eyes, and she saw a well that had water in it; to this she went, and filled her bottle, and gave the boy drink. Thenceforward, God was with him; he grew up, and made his dwelling there in the wilderness, and became a great archer. It was in the desert of Pharan that he dwelt, and the wife his mother chose for him was an Egyptian.
It was at this same time that Abimelech, with Phicol the commander of his army, said to Abraham, God goes with you in all you do; swear to me, then, in the name of God, that you will do no injury to me, to those who follow after me, or to my race; that you will repay the kindness I have shewn you by like kindness shewn to me, and to this land where you have dwelt as a stranger. That oath, Abraham said, I will take; but meanwhile, he had a complaint to bring against Abimelech over a well where he used to draw water, that Abimelech's servants had seized by violence. I have no knowledge, said Abimelech, who has done it; you have never told me of it, and I never heard of it till to-day. So Abraham brought sheep and oxen, and gave them to Abimelech, and they made a treaty there between them. There were seven ewe-lambs that Abraham set apart from the rest of the flock; and when Abimelech asked what was the meaning of the seven lambs he had set apart, he answered, your acceptance of these seven lambs shall be my witness, that it was I who dug this well. That is why the place was called Bersabee, the well of the oath, because the two men swore friendship there. Thus they made their treaty over the Well of the Oath, and then Abimelech rose, and went back with Phicol, the commander of his army, to the country of the Philistines. At Bersabee, Abraham made a plantation, and invoked there the name of the Lord God eternal. And for a long time he dwelt on alien soil, in the country of the Philistines.
Chapter 22
After this, God would put Abraham to the test. So he called to him, Abraham, Abraham; and when he said, I am here, at your command, God told him, Take your only son, your beloved son Isaac, with you, to the land of Clear Vision, and there offer him to me in burnt-sacrifice on a mountain which I will shew you. Rising, therefore, at dawn, Abraham saddled his ass, bidding two of the men-servants and his son Isaac follow him; he cut the wood needed for the burnt-sacrifice, and then set out for the place of which God had spoken to him. It was two days later when he looked up and saw it, still far off; and now he said to his servants, Wait here with the ass, while I and my son make our way yonder; we will come back to you, when we have offered worship there. Then he took the wood for the sacrifice, and gave it to his son Isaac to carry; he himself carried the brazier and the knife. As they walked along together Isaac said to him, Father. What is it, my son? he asked. Why, said he, we have the fire here and the wood; where is the lamb we need for a victim? My son, said Abraham, God will see to it that there is a lamb to be sacrificed. So they went on together till they reached the place God had shewn him. And here he built an altar, and set the wood in order on it; then he bound his son Isaac and laid him down there on the altar, above the pile of wood. And he reached out, and took up the knife, to slay his son. But now, from heaven, an angel of the Lord called to him, Abraham, Abraham. And when he answered, Here am I, at your command, the angel said, Do the lad no hurt, let him alone. I know now that you fear God; for my sake you were ready to give up your only son. And Abraham, looking about him, saw behind him a ram caught by the horns in a thicket; this he took, and offered it as a burnt-sacrifice, instead of his son. So Abraham called that spot, The Lord's Foresight; and the saying goes to this day, On the mountain top, the Lord will see to it.
Once more the angel of the Lord called to Abraham out of heaven; and he said, This message the Lord has for you: I have taken an oath by my own name to reward you for this act of yours, when you were ready to give up your only son for my sake. More and more will I bless you, more and more will I give increase to your posterity, till they are countless as the stars in heaven, or the sand by the sea shore; your children shall storm the gates of their enemies; all the races of the world shall find a blessing through your posterity, for this readiness of yours to do my bidding. Then Abraham went back to his servants, and took them with him to Bersabee; it was at Bersabee that Abraham made his dwelling.
It was after this Abraham had news that his brother Nachor, too, had had sons by his wife Melcha. Hus was the name of his first-born, and the next brother was called Buz; then Camuel from whom the Syrians are sprung, and Cased and Azau, Pheldas too and Jedlaph, and then Bathuel, the father of Rebecca; all these eight sons were born to Nachor, Abraham's brother, by his wife Melcha. He had, too, a concubine called Roma; she bore him Tabee, and Gaham, and Tahas, and Maacha.
Chapter 23
Sara reached the age of a hundred and twenty-seven; then she died, at the town of Arbee (that is, Hebron) in the land of Chanaan. And there Abraham came, to make lamentation and to mourn for her. When the last rites were paid, he rose up and said to the Hethite folk, Here am I, a newcomer and a stranger among you; will you grant me rights of burial among you, to bury my dead? And this was the answer the Hethites gave him, Sir, as a heaven-sent chieftain you have come to dwell among us; bury your dead in the choicest of all our graves; no man among us but shall grant you his own tomb, to bury your dead in. So Abraham rose up, and made obeisance to the people of the land, the Hethites. If you have a mind, said he, to grant my dead burial, do me this favour; plead for me with Ephron, the son of Seor, to give the double cave at the end of his lands. Let him make it over to me for a just price, here in your presence, as my burial-ground. Ephron had his place there among the Hethites; so, in the hearing of all those who came in by the gate of his native town he gave Abraham this answer: My lord, that must not be. Do but listen to me; it is my gift to you, both the field and the cave in it; in the presence of these, my fellow-countrymen, I give it to you; bury your dead there. Whereupon Abraham made obeisance before the people of the land; and said to Ephron, in the presence of the whole assembly, Pray listen, rather, to me; I must make payment for the land, and you must accept it, before I will bury my dead in it. And Ephron answered, My lord, listen to me; the land for which you are asking is worth four hundred pieces of silver, but what is such a price between you and me? Bury your dead. Upon hearing this Abraham paid Ephron the sum which he had named before the Hethites, four hundred silver pieces of current money; so the field that had been Ephron's, with the double cave in it facing towards Mambre, not only the cave but the field itself, with all the surrounding trees that were in the confines of it, changed hands; and Abraham took possession of it, with the Hethites to witness it, and all those who came in by the gate of Ephron's native town. And so, in the double cave there that looks towards Mambre, Abraham buried his wife Sara; Mambre is the Chanaanite city now called Hebron. Both cave and field were made over to Abraham by the Hethites for a burying-ground.
Chapter 24
Abraham was old now and his life was near its end; and still, in all his doings, the Lord had blessed him. So now he called the oldest servant in his house, one who had charge of all his possessions, and said to him, Put your hand here under my thigh, and let me take an oath of you. Swear to me by the Lord God of heaven and earth that when you find a wife for my son, it shall not be some daughter of these Chanaanites, among whom I dwell; that you will make your way to my own country and my own kindred, and find a wife for my son Isaac there. What then, said the servant, if the woman of my choice refuses to come back to this land with me? Must I then take your son back instead to the place that was once your home? Beware of that, Abraham said; never take this son of mine back there. It was the Lord God of heaven that called me away from my father's house and from the land of my birth; and he has spoken with me, swearing to make over this land to my posterity. His angel will go before you, enabling you to find a wife for my son there. If the woman will not accompany you, then you are quit of this oath of yours, but never must you take my son back there instead.
So, putting his hand under his master Abraham's thigh, the servant pledged himself to fulfil this errand. He brought out ten of the camels in his master's herd, and took part of all his master's treasure with him; thus he set out, and made his way to the city where Nachor dwelt, in Mesopotamia. He was resting his camels by a well close to the town, just at the time of evening when women go out to draw water, and he prayed thus: Lord, who are the God of my master Abraham, speed my errand to-day, and shew kindness to my master Abraham. I have taken up my post by this well, and the daughters of the citizens will be coming out to draw water. It may be that one of them, when I ask her to let down her pitcher and give me drink, will say, Here is drink for you, and I will water your camels as well. Let this be the bride you have chosen for your servant Isaac; if it proves so, I shall know that you are shewing kindness to my master.
Before he had finished praying thus in his heart, Rebecca, the daughter of Bathuel, came out with a pitcher on her shoulder. (Bathuel was one of the sons of Melcha, who married Abraham's brother Nachor.) A maiden most beautiful, fair of face, and a virgin that had no knowledge of man; and now she had gone down to the well, and filled the pitcher, and was on her way back, when the servant went to meet her. Give me a drop of water to drink, he said, from that pitcher of yours. Drink, sir, she answered, and quickly let down the pitcher on to her arm, to give him drink. Then she added, when he had finished drinking, Now I will draw water for your camels, too, till they have had their fill. And with that she emptied her pitcher into the troughs, and ran back to the well to draw water again, and gave what she drew for all his camels to drink. He, meanwhile, watched her in silence, wondering whether God had sped his errand or no. Then, when the camels had drunk, he took out two golden ear-rings, that weighed ten pennyweights, and two bracelets, weighing five ounces; and he said, Tell me, who is your father? And can your father's house give us lodging for the night? Bathuel is my father, she answered, the son of Nachor by Melcha; and she added, We have no lack of straw or of hay, and it is a roomy house to lodge in.
At this the servant bowed low and praised God; Blessed be the Lord, he said, the God of my master Abraham, still so merciful, still keeping his word to this master of mine, and guiding me straight to his brother's house! So the girl ran back home, and told her mother all that had been said to her. She had a brother called Laban; and he hastened out to meet the servant at the well. Full of the sight of those ear-rings, and the bracelets on his sister's arms, and of the words she had reported, he went to look for the man, and found him still standing by the camels, close to the well. Come in, he said; why do you stand without, so high in the Lord's favour as you are? I have made the house ready, and found stabling for the camels. So he brought the servant home, and unharnessed the camels for him, and brought straw and hay for them; water, too, so that the servant and his companions could wash their feet.
Then they put food before him, but he said, I cannot eat until I have delivered my message. So Laban gave him leave to speak, and he said, I am one of the servants of Abraham. The Lord has blessed my master abundantly and made him great, giving him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, men-servants and maid-servants, camels and asses. And now Sara, my master's wife, has borne him a son in her old age, the heir of all his property. So my master took an oath of me to do his bidding; When you find a wife for my son, he said, it shall not be some daughter of these Chanaanites, among whom I dwell; you must make your way to my father's house, and find a wife for my son among my own kindred. What then, I answered, if the woman of my choice refuses to come back with me? And he said, The Lord, in whose sight I live and move, will send his angel with you, to guide you on your journey and enable you to find a wife for my son among my own kindred, my own father's household. And if, when you reach them, these kinsmen of mine will not give her up to you, no curse of mine shall light upon you.
So I found myself, to-day, at the well; and my prayer was, Lord, who are the God of my master Abraham, will you speed this present errand of mine? I have taken up my post by this well; it may be that some maiden, when I ask her to let me drink a drop of water from her pitcher, will say, Here is drink for you, and I will draw water for your camels as well. Let this be the bride the Lord has chosen for my master's son. I was still praying thus in the silence of my own heart, when I saw Rebecca coming down to the well with a pitcher on her shoulder, and drawing water there; and I asked her for a drop of water to drink. And she, without waiting, let down the pitcher from her shoulder; Do you drink, she said, and I will water your camels as well. So I drank, and she gave the camels their drink. Then, when I questioned her, asking who her father was, she said, Bathuel is my father, the son of Nachor by Melcha. And with that I hung these ear-rings upon her, to deck her face, and put these bracelets on her arms; and I fell down to worship the Lord, blessing him, the God of my master Abraham, for guiding me where my master's niece waited for my master's son. And now, if you are ready to shew love and loyalty to my master, tell me your mind; if you have other thoughts, tell me your mind none the less, so that I may know where my course lies, to right or to left.
Laban and Bathuel had but one answer; This comes from the Lord; when his will is made known, it is not for us to say Yes or No. Rebecca stands before you, take her and go on your way; she must wed your master's son at the Lord's bidding. Upon hearing this, Abraham's servant bowed down to earth and gave the Lord worship; then he took out cups of silver and gold, and garments, too, as a present for Rebecca, and gave precious gifts to her brethren and her mother besides. So the feasting began, and they ate and drank and passed the night there; but when morning came, the servant rose up and said, Now give me leave to go back to my master. And when her mother and her brethren would have kept her with them for ten days, at least, before her departure, he begged them, Do not detain me, now that the Lord has sped my errand so well, let me go back to my master at once. Then they said, Let us send for the maiden herself, and find out what her will is. So they fetched her, and when she came in, they asked, are you ready to go with this man? And she told them, I am ready. So they let her go, and her nurse with her, and Abraham's servant, and his companions, wishing their sister good fortune as she went: Sister of ours, may thousands of thousands spring from you, and may your posterity storm the gates of their enemies.
So Rebecca and her maids mounted their camels and followed the servant, who went back to his master with all speed. At this time, Isaac, who now lived in the South country, used to walk along a certain road, leading to the well called, God lives and looks on me. And one evening he had gone out of doors, to meditate there, when suddenly, looking up, he saw camels coming towards him from a distance. As for Rebecca, when she saw Isaac, she alighted from her camel, and asked the servant, Who is this coming towards us across the fields? When he said, It is my master, she quickly took up her veil, and veiled herself. And now the servant told Isaac of all that he had done, and Isaac led her to the tent which had been his mother Sara's, and made her his wife, and found comfort over the loss of his mother in his love for her.
Chapter 25
Abraham, too, married again; his second wife's name was Cetura, and his children by her were Zamran, Jecsan, Madan, Madian, Jesboc and Sue. Jecsan was the father of Saba and Dadan, and Dadan's children were the Assurim, the Latusim and the Loömim. From Madian came Epha, Opher, Henoch, Abida and Eldaa. All these were descended from Cetura. Abraham left Isaac the heir to all he possessed and made gifts to the children he had by his concubines. These children of his he bade journey eastwards, while he was still alive, to keep them apart from his son Isaac. Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years; then his strength failed him, and he died, content in late old age, his tale of years complete, and he became a part of his people. His sons, Isaac and Ismael, buried him; buried him in the double cave, on the land opposite Mambre that had once belonged to Ephron, son of Seor, the Hethite. Abraham himself had bought this land from the Hethites, and there he was buried, like his wife Sara before him. And now that he was dead, God's blessing passed to his son Isaac, who had made his home close to the well that is called, God lives and looks on me.
This was the lineage that came down from Ismael, Abraham's son by Agar, the Egyptian, Sara's waiting-woman; these are the names of his sons, arranged by the order of their birth. Ismael's eldest son was Nabaioth, then came Cedar, Adbeel, Mabsam, Masma, Duma, Massa, Hadar, Thema, Jethur, Naphis and Cedma. These were Ismael's sons, and these the names they left to their villages and towns; each of the twelve was chieftain of a tribe. As for Ismael, he lived a hundred and thirty-seven years; then his strength failed and he died, and became a part of his people. The country where he lived reaches from Hevila to Sur, at the gate of Egypt, where the way to Assur lies; and he died with all his kindred about him.
And this was how the race of Abraham's son Isaac continued; Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Laban's sister Rebecca, daughter of Bathuel the Syrian, who lived in Mesopotamia. At first she was barren, but he prayed to the Lord for her, and his prayer was answered; Rebecca conceived. But the children fell to struggling in her womb; How am I the better for conceiving, she asked, if this is to befall me? And she went to ask counsel from the Lord. The answer he gave was this: There are two nations in your womb; in your body the separation of two peoples has begun; here is a victory of people over people, and it is the elder that shall be subject to the younger. And now the time came for her giving birth, and it was found that there had been twins in her womb. The first to come was of a red complexion, and hairy all over as if he had worn a coat of skin; this one was called Esau. Then the second came, with his hand clutching his brother's heel; and she called him, for that reason, Jacob, the Supplanter. It was when Isaac was sixty years old that these sons were born to him.
When the twins grew up, Esau turned into a skilful huntsman, that loved the open plains; Jacob was a tent-dweller and a man of peace. All Isaac's love was for Esau, who brought him game to eat; Rebecca's favourite was Jacob. One day, when Esau was coming back tired from the chase, he found Jacob making broth, and said to him, Let me have a mouthful, pray, of that red broth of yours; I am full weary. (That is why he came to be called Edom, the Red.) First then, Jacob answered, make over to me your birthright. Why, surely, said he; I shall have little profit of my birthright, if I am to die of hunger as I stand here. Give me your oath, said Jacob; and Esau gave his oath, and made over his birthright. Then Jacob gave him bread, and some of the lentil broth, and he ate and drank and came away, as if the loss of his birthright were a thing of little moment.
Chapter 26
When a famine came upon the land again, like the famine which had visited it in Abraham's time, Isaac was for leaving it; and he had reached the court of Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerara, when the Lord appeared to him and said, No, do not take refuge in Egypt; you are to remain in the land of my choice. Dwell in that land, though it be alien soil, and I will be with you and bless you; I mean to give all this land to you and to your race after you, in fulfilment of the oath I took to your father Abraham. I will make that race plentiful as the stars in heaven, and grant the whole of this land to your descendants; in your posterity all the nations of the world shall find a blessing. Such reward shall Abraham have for obeying me, for keeping every command and charge I gave him, following observance and decree of mine. So Isaac remained where he was, at Gerara. And now, when certain of the inhabitants asked him about his wife, he told them, She is my sister; he was afraid to own that she was his wedded wife, thinking they might be tempted by her beauty to kill him. And one day, when he had already spent a long time in the country, the Philistine king, Abimelech, looked out of a window and saw Isaac and his wife in dalliance together. Whereupon he summoned him, and said, It is plain enough, now, that she is your wife, why did you pretend she was your sister? I was afraid, he answered, that she might be the cause of my death. What is this trick you have played on us? said Abimelech. One of my people might easily have dishonoured your wife, and so you would have led us into grievous guilt. Then he issued his command to all his people, If anyone touches this man's wife, his life must pay for it.
In this country, Isaac began growing crops; and in that first year they yielded a hundredfold; such was the Lord's blessing on him. Thus he became rich, and went on prospering more and more, until he rose to great influence; flocks of sheep were his, and herds of cattle, and a great retinue. And now the Philistines, out of envy, stopped up all the wells which the servants of his father Abraham had dug there, filling them in with earth. At last Abimelech himself said to Isaac, Separate from us; you have become altogether too powerful for us. So he went to live in the valley of Gerara. Here he opened afresh other wells, dug by his father Abraham's servants, and stopped up long since by the Philistines, when Abraham died; calling them by the old names his father had given them. While they were thus digging in the valley, they came upon running water; but here, too, the herdsmen of Gerara disputed the rights of Isaac's herdsmen, and claimed the water as their own. So he called the well, in memory of what had happened, the False Claim. Then they dug another, and this, too, was a cause of contention, so he called this well the Feud. And at last, when he had gone further on and dug another well, over which they did not dispute with him, he called it Freedom; Now at last, he said, the Lord has given us freedom to spread over the land. From there he went to Bersabee; and here, the same night, he had a vision of the Lord, who said to him, I am the God of your father Abraham; fear nothing, I am with you. I mean to bless you, and give increase to your posterity, in reward of Abraham's true service. So he built an altar, and invoked the Lord's name, and pitched his tent there, and bade his servants dig a well.
When Abimelech came from Gerara to visit him there, with Ochozath, his counsellor, and Phicol, the commander of his army, Isaac asked them, What means your visit? Here is a man you have treated as an enemy, and driven him away from you. But they answered, We have seen how all this while the Lord is with you; and our thought was, It is time there was an oath between us. Let us make a covenant that you will do us no wrong; we never laid hands on you, never did you anything but good; we parted from you peaceably, and the Lord's blessing was yours. So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank with him; then, when they rose up in the morning, they bound themselves by oath each to the other, and so Isaac took leave of them, and they went home in peace. It was on that very day that Isaac's servants came to him and brought word of the latest well they had been digging; We have found water, they told him. So he called it Abundance; that is how the city came to be called Bersabee, as it is to this day.
Esau, who was by this time forty years old, married two wives, Judith the daughter of Bari, the Hethite, and Basemath, the daughter of another Hethite, Elon. Both of these distressed the hearts of Isaac and Rebecca.
Chapter 27
And now Isaac was old, and his eyes had grown so dim that he saw nothing. One day he called to his elder son Esau, My son! and when he answered, I am here, at your command, See, his father said, how old a man I have grown; there is no telling how soon I may be overtaken by death. Come, fetch that armoury of yours, your quiver and your bow, and go out hunting; when you have slain your quarry, make me a roast dish, such as I love well, and bring it me to eat. And so you shall have my blessing, against the time of my death.
To all this, Rebecca listened; and when Esau had gone out hunting, to do as his father had bidden him, she said to her son Jacob, I heard your father talking to your brother Esau, and thus he spoke to him; Bring my venison from the chase, and make me a dish of meat; so you shall have my blessing, with the Lord to witness it, against the time of my death. Nothing remains for you, my son, but to fall in with this plan of mine. Make your way to the herd, and bring me two choice kids; of these I will make such a dish as your father loves to eat, and you shall take it in to him; so, when he has eaten it, his dying benediction shall be yours instead. Bethink you, answered Jacob, how hairy my brother Esau's skin is and mine how smooth! What if my father should feel it? He will think that I have been trying to make game of him, and it is a curse, not a blessing, I shall win. A curse, my son? said his mother. Let it fall on me; do but attend to my bidding, and fetch me what I ask for. So he went and brought them to his mother, and she made a dish of meat, such as she knew his father loved. She had fine clothes of Esau's by her in the house, and she dressed Jacob in these; enclosed his hands, too, in skin he had taken from the kids, and covered his bare neck with it; then she gave him the dish, and some loaves which she had cooked, to carry with him.
So he brought them in, and said, Father. Yes, my son, he said; who is it? I am Esau, said Jacob, Esau, your first-born; I have done your bidding. Rise up, I pray you, sit at table, and eat this venison of mine, and give me a father's blessing. Why, answered Isaac, how did you come to find your quarry in so short a time, my son? It was God's pleasure, said he, to send it in my way. Then Isaac said, Come near, and let me feel you, to make sure whether you are my son Esau or not. So he went close to his father; and he, upon feeling the touch of him, said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. There was no recognizing Jacob, since his hands were hairy like Esau's hands, and he must needs give his blessing. You are my son, he said, my son Esau? Yes, he answered, I am. Why then, said he, bring it here; let me eat my son's venison, and give him a father's blessing. So he ate what was brought him, and Jacob offered him wine too, and he drank.
Then he said to Jacob, Come here, my son, and kiss me. And when he came near, and kissed him, all at once Isaac caught the smell of his garments, and this was the blessing he gave him: How it breathes about this son of mine, the fragrance of earth when the Lord's blessing is on it! God give you dew from heaven and fruitful soil, corn and wine in plenty. Let nations serve you, and peoples bow before you; may you be lord over your brethren, receive obeisance from your own mother's sons; a curse on those who curse, a blessing on those who bless you! Scarcely had Isaac finished speaking, and Jacob gone out, when Esau returned. And now he brought his father a dish of venison; Rise up, father, he said, eat your son's venison, and give me a father's blessing. Why, who are you? Isaac asked. I am your son, he answered, your first-born son Esau. At this, quite overcome with dread, astonished past belief, Isaac cried out, Why then, who is it that has already brought me venison from the chase? Before ever you came back to me, I have eaten my fill and to him given my blessing; on him the blessing will come.
Esau, on hearing his father's words, broke out into a loud cry of anguish; your blessing, father, for me also your blessing! Your brother, it seems, Isaac answered, came in disguised; he has snatched your blessing from you. Why, said Esau, he is well named Jacob, the Supplanter; first he took away my birthright, and now he has stolen my blessing. And then, turning to his father, he asked, have you no blessing left, then, a blessing for me too? Nay, answered Isaac, I have designated him your master; I have condemned all his brethren to do him service; I have assured him of corn and wine; what claim have I left myself to make for you my son? But Esau pleaded still, have you only one blessing to give, father? I pray you, bless me too. And he could not control his voice, but wept aloud. Then Isaac said, greatly moved, All your blessing shall come from earth's fruitfulness, and from the dew of heaven. Your sword shall be the breath of life to you, but you shall be subject to your brother, until the day comes when you will rebel, and will shake off his yoke from your neck.
But ever Esau bore Jacob a grudge over the blessing he had won from their father. Soon, he thought, the days will come when we shall be mourning for my father's death; that is the time to kill my brother. News of this reached Rebecca; so she sent for her son Jacob, and told him, your brother Esau is threatening your life. You must needs do what I bid you, my son; bestir yourself, and take refuge in Haran with your uncle, Laban. There you must dwell for a short while, till your brother's anger dies down. Soon his rage will cool, and he will forget the wrong you have done him; then I will send there, and bring you back home; only begone; shall I let one day's work rob me of both my sons? And to Isaac Rebecca said, I am weary of life, with these Hethite women about me; if Jacob weds a bride of this native stock, may I not live to see it!
Chapter 28
So Isaac summoned Jacob to him,and gave him his blessing, and laid this charge upon him: It is not for you to marry a woman of Chanaanite stock; rather bestir yourself, and make your way to Mesopotamia of the Syrians; there dwelt your mother's father, Bathuel, there you may wed one of the daughters of your uncle Laban. God Almighty bless you, and make your posterity thrive and increase, so that a multitude of nations may spring from you. May he grant to you, and to your race after you, the blessing which he promised to your grandfather Abraham; possession of the land in which you dwell now as a stranger. Jacob took leave of him, and set out on his journey to Mesopotamia of the Syrians, to the home of his uncle Laban, son of Bathuel, the Syrian. An ill day for Esau; here was Jacob sent with his father's blessing to find himself a wife in Syria; forbidden, as he would win that blessing, to marry a Chanaanite; here was Jacob gone all the way to Mesopotamia in obedience to his parents whim! These women of Chanaan, Esau thought, are little to my father's liking; so he betook himself to Ismael, and married a third wife, Maheleth, daughter to Abraham's son Ismael, and sister to Nabaioth.
Meanwhile Jacob had left Bersabee, and was on his way to Haran. There was a place he reached as nightfall overtook him, so that he must lie down and rest; so he took one of the stones that lay around him, to make a pillow of it, and went to sleep. He dreamed that he saw a ladder standing on the earth, with its top reaching up into heaven; a stairway for the angels of God to go up and come down. Over this ladder the Lord himself leaned down, and spoke to Jacob, I am the Lord, he said, the God of your father Abraham, the God of Isaac; this ground on which you lie sleeping is my gift to you and to your posterity. Your race shall be countless as the dust of the earth; to west and east, to north and south you shall overflow your frontiers, till all the families on earth find a blessing in you, and in this race of yours. I myself will watch over you wherever you go, and bring you back to this land again; before I have done with you, all my promises to you shall be fulfilled.
When he awoke from his dream, Jacob said to himself, Why, this is the Lord's dwelling-place, and I slept here unaware of it! And he shuddered; What a fearsome place is this! said he. This can be nothing other than the house of God; this is the gate of Heaven. So it was that, when he rose in the morning, Jacob took the stone which had been his pillow, and set it up there as a monument, and poured oil upon it; and he called the place Bethel, the House of God, that was called Luza till then. And there he took a vow; If God will be with me, he said, and watch over me on this journey of mine, and give me bread to eat and clothes to cover my back, till at last I return safe to my father's house, then the Lord shall be my God. This stone, too, which I have set up as a monument, shall be called the House of God. And of all the gifts you send me, a tenth part shall be the offering I make you.
Chapter 29
Then Jacob went on his way, and reached the eastern country. Here, in the open plain, he found a well, with three flocks of sheep lying down beside it. It was here that the flocks were watered; but the mouth of the well was closed by a great stone, and it was not the custom to roll this stone away till all the flocks were assembled. When these had had their fill, the stone was put back on the well mouth. Whence come you, brethren? he asked the shepherds. From Haran, they answered. And his next question was, whether they knew Laban, son of Nachor. Yes, they said, we know him. Is all well with him? asked Jacob. Yes, said they, all is well with him. That is his daughter, Rachel, yonder, coming towards us with her flock. Then Jacob said, The sun is still high, and it is a long time before the flocks need to be folded; why do you not water the sheep at once, and take them back to their pasture again? That cannot be done, they answered, until all the herds have assembled here; we wait till then before we move the stone from the well mouth and water our flocks. The words were scarcely spoken, when Rachel came up with her father's sheep; Rachel herself was their shepherdess. Jacob watched her as she came; this was his cousin, these were his uncle Laban's sheep; so he moved away the stone by which the well was shut in. Then, when she had watered her flock, he went up and kissed her, weeping aloud; and he told her that he was her father's kinsman, Rebecca's son; whereupon she went quickly home to tell her father the news.
No sooner did Laban hear of his nephew Jacob's arrival, than he ran out to meet him, embraced him, covered him with kisses, and brought him back home. He listened to the reasons that had brought him there, and said, you are my own flesh and blood. And he waited till a month had passed; then he said, Because you are my kinsman, that is no reason why you should work for me free of charge; tell me what reward you would have. Laban had two daughters; Rachel was the younger and her elder sister was called Lia. But Lia was dull-eyed, whereas Rachel had beauty both of form and face, and on her Jacob's love had fallen. So he answered, I will work seven years for you to win your younger daughter Rachel. Better you, said Laban, than any other husband I could find for her; stay, then, at my side. So Jacob worked seven years to win Rachel, and they seemed to him only a few days, because of the greatness of his love.
Then he said to Laban, Give me my bride; the time has come now for me to wed her. So Laban invited a great company of his friends to the wedding feast; but that night he matched Jacob with his daughter Lia instead, giving her a maid called Zelpha to wait on her. So, with all due ceremony, Jacob took her to his bed, and it was not till morning he found out that it was Lia. Whereupon he said to Laban, What mean you? Did not I work for you to win Rachel? What is this trick you have played on me? And Laban answered, It is not the custom of our country to wed our younger daughters first. Celebrate this wedding of yours for a full week, and I will give you Rachel too, and you shall work for me another seven years to earn her. To this Jacob agreed, and when the week was over he made Rachel his wife; the waiting-maid her father gave to Rachel was called Bala. So, at last, he won the bride he had longed for, and loved her better than he had loved her sister; meanwhile, he spent another seven years in Laban's service.
And now, seeing Lia thus despised, the Lord gave her issue, while Rachel must remain barren. So she conceived and bore a son, whom she called Ruben, as if she would say, the Lord has looked on my lowliness, Raa-beoni. Now, she thought, my husband will love me. Then she conceived again, and again bore a son; Fresh gift, said she, is fresh proof the Lord has come to hear of the despite done me; so she called him Simeon, Hearing. Then she conceived a third time, and bore another son; This time, she thought, my husband will be closely knit to me, now that I have borne him three sons and she called him Levi, Knit together. And when she conceived a fourth time, and bore a son, she said, Now I may praise the Lord, and she called him Juda, Praise. Then, for a while, she had no more children.
Chapter 30
Rachel, meanwhile, when she found she remained barren, looked with envy on her sister; you must needs give me children, said she to her husband, or it will be my death. What, answered Jacob, angry at her mood, Must I stand in the place of God to you? It is he that has denied you motherhood. Here is Bala she said, my maid-servant; get her with child instead, and it shall be born on my knees; thus, through her means, I shall have a family of my own. So she gave him Bala as his mate; and Bala, got with child by Rachel's husband, bore a son. Whereupon Rachel said, God has pronounced judgement for me, and listened to my plea, by giving me a son; and she called the boy Dan, as if she would say, He has pronounced judgement. Afterwards Bala conceived again and bore a second son; of him Rachel said, God has matched me like a wrestler against my sister, and I have won the bout, so she called him Nephthali, Wrestling. Lia, too, finding that she was not having any more children, gave her maid-servant Zelpha to her husband for his mate; and when Zelpha conceived and bore a son, Lia said, Good fortune has come to me, and called the boy Gad, Fortune. Zelpha, too, bore Jacob a second son, and Lia said, Here is a blessing for me; women must needs call me blessed now; so she gave him the name of Aser, Blessedness.
Once, at the time of the wheat harvest, Ruben went out and found some mandrakes, which he brought back to his mother Lia; and Rachel said to Lia, Give me some of the fruit your son has found. What, answered she, are you not content with stealing my husband from me? Must you have my son's mandrake fruit as well? And Rachel said, Jacob shall sleep with you to-night, if I may have some of your son's mandrake-fruit. So, when Jacob came back from work at evening, Lia went out to meet him; you are to share my bed to-night, she told him; I have paid your hire with the mandrake fruit which my son found. So he slept with her that night; and now God listened to her prayers, so that she conceived again and bore a fifth son. Whereupon she said, God has paid me too my hire, for the maidservant I lent to my husband, and she called the boy Issachar, Reward. And again Lia conceived, and bore a sixth son; This is a fair dowry, she said, God has endowed me with; once more my husband will dwell with me, now that I have borne him six sons; and she called the boy Zabulon, Dwelling. She had one more child after this, a daughter called Dina. Meanwhile, the Lord had not forgotten Rachel; her prayer was answered, and she, too, had issue. When she conceived and bore a son, her thought was, God has taken away my disgrace. And she called him Joseph, Increase; If only, she thought, God would increase my house-hold with another son.
After Joseph's birth, Jacob said to his father-in-law, Give me leave to go back home, to my own country. And when I go, let me take with me the wives and the children I have earned in your service; how hard I have worked for you, none knows better than you. Let me ask a favour of you, said Laban. Proof needs none that it is for your sake God has made me prosper so. Work for me still, and name your own hire. None knows better than you, answered Jacob, how hard I have worked for you, and how these herds of yours have increased under my care. It was little enough you had before I came to your house, and now you have become rich; the Lord has blessed you from the day when I came hither. Now it is time that I should I think of my own household too. What shall I give you? Laban asked. Give me nothing, said he; but I will consent to feed and tend your herds still on this condition. Go round all your flocks, now, and remove from them every sheep that is speckled, or has a blotched fleece. And the hire you are to pay me shall be all the lambs that are born, even so, grey or spotted or speckled; and so with the kids. So, later, when our agreement is fulfilled, my honesty shall be on its trial; if I keep for myself any beast except those which are speckled or spotted or grey, whether it be lamb or kid, call me a thief. Your request, said Laban, is granted; and, that same day, he set aside she-goats and ewes, he-goats and rams, that were speckled and spotted; all those, too, that were of one colour, white (among the goats) or black (among the sheep); and these he gave in charge of his own sons. And he put a distance of three days journey between himself and his son-in-law.
Jacob, then, left in charge of the rest of the flocks, did this. He took green branches of poplar, and almond, and plane, and partly peeled them; so that (now the bark had gone) the white shewed through where they had been stripped, whereas the parts he had left untouched remained green; everywhere the colour was varied. These branches he fitted into the troughs where his flocks were watered, so that when they came to drink, they should have these speckled branches before their eyes, and the dams would conceive in full view of them. Looking at the branches at the very heat of their coupling, the dams bore spotted and speckled and piebald young.
There, then, were the two flocks divided, and there were Jacob's branches set up before the very eyes of the rams. All the white (sheep) and all the black (goats) were to be Laban's, the rest Jacob's, when the flocks were sorted afresh. And this was his plan; at the earlier breeding-season he fitted the branches into the troughs, before the eyes of ram and ewe, so that the dams might be looking at them when they conceived; but when the later breeding happened, and the time for conceiving was at an end, he put the branches there no longer. So all the late-bred (weaklings) belonged to Laban, and all the (strong) early-bred belonged to Jacob. Thus he became rich beyond measure; many were the herds, the men-servants and maid-servants, the camels and asses that were his.
Chapter 31
Meanwhile, Laban's sons were complaining, Our father has been robbed of all his goods by Jacob, who has become rich at his expense. Jacob was aware of this; he found, too that Laban looked on him more coldly than hitherto. But what moved him most was that the Lord had bidden him, Return to the land of your fathers, to your own kindred. So he sent word to Rachel and Lia to meet him on the pasture-ground where he was feeding his flocks, and said to them, I find that your father looks on me more coldly than hitherto; and all because the God of my father has prospered me. You know well that I have worked for your father with all my might, whereas he has defrauded me altering, time and again, his bargain with me; it was only God's mercy that prevented him doing me an injury. As it was, whenever he said, The speckled beasts shall be your wages, it was to speckled lambs that all my ewes gave birth; when he changed about, and said, you shall have all the white lambs for your pay, all my flocks bore white. That is how God has taken away your father's wealth and given it to me. I had a dream at the time when to my ewes were mating; as I looked round, I could see none but speckled and spotted and blotched rams coupling with the ewes. And in my dream, an angel of God called me by name, and when I answered, I am here, at your command, he said, Look about you, and mark well that all the sires coupling with the dams are speckled, spotted, or blotched; that is because I have taken good note of all Laban's dealings with you. I am the God who dwells at Bethel, where you did anoint the stone, and did take a vow to me. It is time for you, now, to bestir yourself, to leave this country, and go back to the country of your birth. Why, answered Rachel and Lia, we have no reversion left to us in all our father's wealth and possessions. He has treated us as if we were no kindred of his, putting us up for sale, and keeping the price for himself. And now, it seems, God has taken away our father's wealth from him, and given it to us and to our children. Why then, do as the Lord has bidden you.
Upon this, Jacob waited no longer; he mounted his children and wives on the camels, and set out on his journey; taking with him all his possessions, his cattle and all the wealth he had gained in Mesopotamia; he would return to his father Isaac, and the land of Chanaan. Meanwhile, in the absence of her father Laban, who had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole his household gods from him. Jacob had given his father-in-law no warning of his flight, and it was not till he and all that belonged to him had gone away, and crossed the Euphrates, and were making for the hills of Galaad, that a message came to Laban, three days too late, Jacob has fled. So now he took his kinsmen with him and gave chase; and he had been on the road seven days before he overtook him on the hills of Galaad. Here, in his sleep, he had a vision of God warning him, Have a care you do not speak to Jacob harshly. Jacob had already pitched his tent on the hills, and now Laban, coming up with his kinsmen in pursuit, encamped in these same hills of Galaad. What mean you, he asked Jacob, by thus tricking me, and carrying off my daughters as if they were prisoners of war? Why would you run away when my back was turned, instead of warning me of it, so that I could have sped you on your way with good cheer, with singing, and music of timbrel and harp? But no, you would not even let me part from my own grandsons and daughters with a kiss. This was a rash act of yours, and see where it has brought you. You are in my power, and I could repay the injury if I would; but the God who protects your father's race warned me yesterday, Have a care you do not speak harshly to Jacob. You were hastening to return to your own kindred? You were longing for your home? Tell me then, why have you carried away my household gods with you? To this Jacob answered, If I left you unawares, it was because I was afraid you would rob me of your daughters by violence. But as for your charge of theft, whoever is found with these gods of yours in his possession shall pay for it with his life. Make search in the presence of your kinsmen and mine, and take away with you all you find here that belongs to you. Of Rachel's carrying off the images, Jacob knew nothing.
So Laban went into Jacob's tent, and Lia's, and the tents of both the serving-women, but found nothing. At last he came to Rachel's tent; and Rachel, who had quickly hidden the images among the harness of her camel, now sat down upon the harness. As her father looked in vain all through the tent, she said, Forgive me, sir, if I do not rise to greet you; the common lot of women has come upon me; and so the anxious search came to nothing. And now Jacob broke out into angry reproaches against Laban. For what fault, what guilt of mine, have you so hotly pursued me, and made this search of all my goods? What treasure have you found here, of all the treasures in your house? Bring it out here, before my brethren and yours, and let them judge between us. Was it for this that I spent twenty years in your service? All that time, your ewes and she-goats were never barren, no wether lamb of yours did I take for my own eating. If wild beasts preyed on them, I made good the damage, instead of bringing it to shew you; I must needs give account to you of all that was lost by theft. Burning heat by day, and biting frost at nights, till my eye-lids lost the power of sleep; thus it was that I spent twenty years as a servant in your household, fourteen years for your daughters, and six for your flocks; time and again you did alter your bargain with me. Why, if the God of my father Abraham, the God before whom Isaac trembles, had not prospered me, you would have sent me away penniless; as it is, God has taken account of my wretchedness, and the toil these hands have borne; that is why he gave you, yesterday, his warning. And Laban answered, These are my daughters, these boys are mine, as your flocks, and all you see before you, are mine; something I must do to protect my own daughters, my own grandchildren. Come, let us make a covenant, which shall stand on record between us.
So Jacob took a stone, and set it up there as a monument; he said, too, to his kinsmen, Bring stones here. And they gathered stones, and made them into a heap; and over that heap they took food together. Laban called it the Cairn of Record, and Jacob called it the Witness-heap, each according to the usage of his own tongue. Laban had said, Let this heap bear record of our covenant to-day; that is how it came to be called Galaad, the Witness-heap. Let the Lord keep watch, he said, and see justice done between us, when our ways have parted. If you do treat these daughters of mine amiss, and bring home other wives instead of them, there will be no one else to bear witness of what we have said, but God will bear witness; he is here to see us. He said further to Jacob, Look at this heap, this stone which I have set up between us; these shall be witnesses, heap and stone shall be there to accuse us, if I pass by them on my way to you, or you on your way to me, with harmful intent. May the God who is Abraham's God and Nachor's, the God of their common father see justice done between us. Then Jacob swore by the God his father Isaac held in reverence, and summoned his kinsmen, when sacrifice had been done on the hill, to take food there. So they took their meal, and remained there, while Laban rose up at daybreak, kissed his grandsons and his two daughters, and blessed them, and went back to his home.
Chapter 32
Jacob, too, set out to continue his journey, and as he went, God's angels met him. This is God's encampment, he said when he saw them, and called the place Mahanaim, which means a Camp.
And now he sent messengers of his own on before him, to greet his brother Esau in the country of Seir, which is Edom's territory. These were his directions, You are to tell my lord Esau this, from his brother Jacob: I have been living abroad, on a visit to Laban, and am but just returned. I have brought back oxen and asses and sheep, men-servants and women-servants with me. And now, my lord, I have sent these envoys to you to secure your good will. And this was the news the messengers brought back with them, We found your brother Esau; even now he comes hastening to meet you, with four hundred men. At this, Jacob was overcome with terror, and in his extremity he divided up his followers, the flocks of sheep, too, and the cattle, and the camels, into two companies; If Esau, he thought, should meet with one company, and fall upon it, at least the other will come through safely. And now Jacob said, God of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, you, Lord, who have bidden me return to my own country, the land of my birth, and have offered to bless me, I, your servant, am not worthy of all the mercies you have shewn me, the faithful observance of your promises. I had nothing but this staff with me, when I crossed the Jordan, and now I have come back with two companies behind me. Save me now from the power of my brother Esau; I fear grievously that when he comes he will spare neither women nor children. Have you not promised me your continued favour, and a posterity spread wide as the sand by the sea, that is beyond all counting?
When he had slept the night there, he chose out of all his possessions a present for his brother Esau, two hundred she-goats and twenty buck-goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty camels in milk with their colts, forty cows and twenty bulls, and twenty she-asses with ten colts. All these he sent on, with their drivers; Go on in front of me, he told his men, and leave a space between one herd and the next. And to the first of these, his directions were, If you should encounter my brother Esau, and he should ask, Whose man are you? or Whither go you? or Whose are these beasts you tend? your answer is to be, They belong to your servant Jacob, who is sending them as a present to my lord Esau; and he himself follows behind us. Then he bade the second do the like, and the third, and all the drovers in turn; these same words you are to use, he said, when you fall in with Esau, and be sure to add, your servant Jacob follows on behind us. I will not see him, he thought, until I have disarmed his anger with the gifts I have sent before me; then perhaps he will be well disposed towards me!
So the gifts went on in advance of him, and he waited in the camp all night. But before dawn he rose, and took his two wives, their serving-women, and his eleven sons, across the ford of Jaboc. And now he had set down all that was his on the further side, and he was left there alone. And there one appeared to him who wrestled with him until the day broke. At last, finding that he could not get the better of Jacob, he touched the sinew of his thigh, which all at once withered; then he said, Let me go, the dawn is up. But Jacob answered, I will not let you go until you give me your blessing. What is your name? asked the other, and when he heard that it was Jacob, Jacob, he said, is no name for you, you shall be called Israel, one that prevails with God. If you have held your own with God, how will you prevail over men! Tell me, asked Jacob, what is your own name? Why would you know my name? he answered, and gave him there and then his blessing. So Jacob called the place Phanuel, the Face of God; I have seen God face to face, he said, and my life was not forfeit. As soon as he passed beyond Phanuel, the sun rose, and he went limping on one foot; that is why the race of Israel, to this day, will not eat the sinew of the thigh, in which Jacob's strength failed him, the sinew of his thigh that withered when it was touched.
Chapter 33
And now Jacob looked in front of him, and there was Esau coming towards him, with four hundred men at his back. So he divided up his children into families, Lia's sons and Rachel's and those of the two serving-women. He put these first, with their children, and Lia second with hers; Rachel and Joseph came last of all. He himself; as he came up, prostrated himself seven times before his brother reached him. Seeing this, Esau ran to meet his brother, embraced him, clung to his neck and kissed him, in tears. Then, as he looked round him and saw the women with their sons, he asked, What are these? Are they part of your company? And he was told, They are the children God has granted to your servant. So the serving-women and their children came up first, and made their obeisance, then Lia with her children; and when they had done the like, Joseph and Rachel made theirs last of all.
And when Esau asked, What of those companies I met on my way? Jacob answered, A gift, my lord, to secure me your good will. I have abundance, said he; keep what is yours. But Jacob said, No, I entreat you; do me the favour to accept this present of mine; to gain audience with you is like gaining audience with God himself. Assure me of your favour by receiving the offering I have brought you, God's gift to me, who has given me all I have. So at last Esau consented, overcome by his brother's persuasions; then he said, Let us travel on together, so that I can be the companion of your journey. But Jacob answered, My lord, bethink you that I have young children with me; that I have ewes here in lamb, and cows in calf; so that I may lose a whole herd if I overdrive them. Pass on, my lord, in advance of your servant; I will follow slowly, at whatever pace suits these children of mine, and meet you again, my lord, in Seir. Pray then, said Esau, take some of my followers to escort you on your journey. No need for that, answered Jacob; enough for me, my lord, that I should have your good will. So that day, Esau went back to Seir the way he had come; Jacob went as far as Socoth, and there built himself a house, with sheds for his cattle; that is why he called the place Socoth, which means Sheds. He passed on from there to Salem, a city belonging to Sichem, thus returning to Chanaan after his journey to Mesopotamia of the Syrians. Here he dwelt near the town; he bought the piece of ground where he encamped from the men of Hemor's clan, that was father to Sichem, at the price of a hundred lambs. And here he built an altar, and dedicated it to the almighty God, the God of Israel.
Chapter 34
A time came when Dina, Lia's daughter, went out to visit some of the women who dwelt in that country. And one of the chieftains, Sichem, son of Hemor the Hevite, cast longing eyes at her; then seized her and mated with her, violating her virginity. And indeed his heart was set on her, so he comforted her sorrow and went to his father Hemor, asking him to demand the girl's hand in marriage. When Jacob was told of it, his sons were away, engaged in feeding their cattle; so he kept silence, awaiting their return. But even as Hemor, Sichem's father, was on his way to confer with Jacob, Jacob's sons came back from the plains and heard what had befallen. They fell into a great rage; Sichem had dishonoured the whole race of Israel, and done great wrong, by violating their father's daughter.
And now Hemor began to plead with them, My son Sichem has set his heart on this maid of yours; grant him her hand in marriage. It is well that we should intermarry, that you should give us your daughters, and wed ours, and settle down amongst us. Our country is yours; you may till and trade and have your dwelling here. Sichem too, said to her father and her brethren, Grant my request, and I will pay whatever price you name. Increase the sum of the dowry, ask for presents in addition, you shall have what you will so you will let me make the girl my wife. But the sons of Jacob, enraged at their sister's disgrace, made a treacherous answer to Sichem and his father: We cannot grant your request, if it means bestowing our sister's hand on a husband who is not circumcised; that is a forbidden thing, abominable to us. But we can enter into a treaty with you, if you will consent to be like ourselves, and have every male among you circumcised; then we will give our daughters to you in marriage, and accept yours; we will share your country, and form one people with you. If you refuse to be circumcised, we must take the girl with us and be gone. This offer of theirs commended itself to Hemor and his son Sichem; nor did the young man lose any time in having their request fulfilled, such was his love for the girl, and such was the influence he had with all his father's kindred. They both went to the city gate, and there made it known to the people: These are peaceable folk, ready to share our country with us; let us allow them to trade here and to till the land, wide and open as it is, and in need of farming; let us marry their daughters, and give them ours in exchange. There is but one thing that stands in the way of this happy agreement. We must adopt the custom of their race, and have all the males among us circumcised. Then their wealth and these cattle of theirs and all they have will be ours too; we have only to humour them in this, to make them form one people with us. To this everyone agreed, and all their men folk were circumcised.
The third day came, which is the day on which the pain of the wound is most felt. Then, two of Jacob's sons, who were brothers to Dina, Simeon and Levi, took up their swords, and made their way boldly into the city, where they killed all the men folk; making an end of Hemor and Sichem with the rest, and carrying off their sister Dina from Sichem's house. When they had left the city, the rest of Jacob's sons broke in, to find the men already slain; so they plundered the city to avenge the wrong done; making spoil of their sheep and oxen and asses and all they found in houses or in fields, and seizing their children and their wives as captives. Recklessly the deed was done; in vain did Jacob protest to Simeon and Levi, You have much injured me, to Chanaanite and Pherezite all around, making my name abominable; see how few we are! If they make common cause against me, I and mine will perish. What, they answered, should we allow him to treat our sister like a harlot?
Chapter 35
In the meanwhile, too, God had said to Jacob, Bestir yourself, go up to Bethel, and make your dwelling there; there build an altar to the God who revealed himself to you when you were in flight from your brother Esau. Whereupon Jacob summoned all his household; Cast away, he told them, whatever images of alien gods you have among you, purify yourselves, and put on fresh garments. We must leave this and go up to Bethel; there we must build an altar to the God who listened to me in time of trouble, and escorted me on my journey. So they gave him all the images of alien gods that were in their possession, the rings, too, which they wore on their ears, and he buried them under the mastic-tree, close to the town of Sichem. Thus they set out on their journey, and God inspired terror into the hearts of all who dwelt around them, so that they durst not pursue them as they went.
Jacob, then, with all his clan, made their way to Luza, which is now called Bethel, and built an altar there. It was he who called the place Bethel, the house of God, because it was there God appeared to him when he was in flight from his brother. It was at this time that Debora, Rebecca's nurse, died; she was buried under an oak, by the spur of the hills where Bethel is and the place came to be called, The Oak of Mourning. Once again God revealed himself to Jacob, after his return from Mesopotamia of the Syrians, blessing him, and assuring him, You shall not be called Jacob any longer; Israel is to be your name. So, calling to him by this name of Israel, he said to him, I am God all-powerful, and I bid you increase and multiply; peoples shall descend from you whole families of nations, and kings shall be born of your stock; and that land, which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give to you and to your posterity after you. Then God went away out of his sight; and he built a monument of stone at the place where God had spoken to him, offering libations there and pouring oil upon it. Bethel was the name he gave to the place, and when he left it, in the spring, he journeyed into the country that lies towards Ephrata. Here Rachel was in travail, and the difficult labour she had was endangering her life; but the midwife said to her, Do not be afraid; this time, too, you will give birth to a son. But her life was ebbing away in her pangs; she saw that she was close to death, and called her son Benoni, the child of my distress. His father's name for him was Benjamin, the child of his right hand. So Rachel died, and was buried on the way that leads to Ephrata (the same as Bethlehem). Over her tomb, Jacob raised a monument; it is called, to this day, the Pillar of Rachel's Tomb. And he went on from there and pitched his tent on the further side of the Sheep-tower.
It was while he was living there that Ruben betook himself to his own father's concubine, the one who was called Bala, and slept with her; nor did he contrive to keep Jacob in ignorance of it. Jacob had twelve sons altogether: by Lia, this first-born son, Ruben, as well as Simeon, Levi, Juda, Issachar, and Zabulon; by Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin; by Bala, Rachel's serving-woman, Dan and Nephthali; by Zelpha, Lia's serving-woman, Gad and Aser. These were Jacob's sons, and Mesopotamia of the Syrians was their birthplace.
He went, too, to visit his father Isaac at Mambre, the city of Arbee, also called Hebron; here, as strangers, Abraham and Isaac had dwelt. And now Isaac finished his life, of a hundred and eighty years; he died at last, worn out with age, his tale of years complete. He too became a part of his people; and his two sons, Esau and Jacob, gave him burial.
Chapter 36
Here is a list of the descendants of Esau (or Edom). Esau's Chanaanite wives were Ada, daughter of Elon the Hethite, Oöilibama, who was daughter of Ana and grand-daughter of Sebeon the Hevite, and Basemath, who was daughter of Ismael and sister of Nabaioth. Ada became the mother of Eliphaz, Basemath of Rahuel, and Oöilibama of Jehus, Ihelon and Core; all of these were born while their father still lived in the land of Chanaan. Afterwards Esau removed to another region, with wives and sons and daughters and all his household, with his wealth and his cattle and all that Chanaan had given him. He must needs part from his brother Jacob, now that they had become too rich to live side by side; the country in which they lived as strangers hitherto could no longer give feed for all their cattle. So Esau (or Edom) dwelt thenceforward in the hill country of Seir.
Thus Esau is the father of those Edomites who live in the hill country of Seir, and this was the line that came from him through those two sons of his, Eliphaz who was his son by his wife Ada, and Rahuel, his son by his wife Basemath. The sons of Eliphaz were called Theman, Omar, Sepho, Gatham, and Cenez. He also had a concubine called Thamna, by whom he became the father, and Esau the grandfather, of Amalec. All these were descended from Esau's wife Ada. And Rahuel's sons were called Nahath, Zara, Samma, and Meza; these were descended from Esau's wife Basemath. Esau's other three sons, Jehus, Ihelon and Core, were borne to him by his wife Oölibama, daughter of Ana and grand-daughter of Sebeon.
These, then, were the Edomite chieftains: of the family of Eliphaz, Esau's first-born, Theman, Omar, Sepho, Cenez, Core, Gatham, Amalec, all Edomite chieftains descended from Eliphaz, and so through Ada. Of the family of Esau's son Rahuel, the chieftains called Nahath, Zara, Samma and Meza, all Edomite chieftains descended from Rahuel, and so through Esau's wife Basemath. And three chieftains, Jehus, Ihelon and Core, were sons of Esau's wife Oölibama, who was daughter of Ana. So the descendants of Esau (or Edom) are named, after the chieftains who ruled them.
There were other chieftains native to the land, descended from Seir, the Horrite. Their names were Lotan, Sobal, Sebeon, Ana, Dison, Eser, and Disan; all Edomite chieftains, but Horrite by race and descended from Seir. Lotan had a sister called Thamna, and the names of his two sons were Hori and Heman. The names of Sobal's sons were Alvan, Manahat, Ebal, Sepho and Onam. Sebeon had two sons, Ala and Ana. It was this Ana who was feeding his father's asses, when he came upon hot springs, out in the desert. He had a son called Dison, and a daughter, Oölibama. Dison's sons were called Hamdan, Eseban, Jethram, and Charan; Eser's were called Balaan, Zavan, and Acan; Disan's were called Hus and Aram. Thus the Horrites had for their chieftains Lotan, Sobal, Sebeon, and Ana, Dison, Eser, and Disan. These were the Horrite chieftains who bore rule in the land of Seir.
There were kings ruling in the Edomite country before the Israelites had kings of their own; these are their names; Bela the son of Beor reigned in Denaba, and after his death Jobab son of Zara, from Bosra, who was succeeded by Husam from the Themanite country; his successor was Adad, son of Badad, who defeated Madian in the territory of Moab; he ruled at Avith. Adad was succeeded by Semla from Masreca and Semla by Saul from the river Rohoboth, and Saul by Balanan, son of Achobor, and Balanan by Adar, who ruled at Phau; his wife's name was Meetabel, daughter of Matred, who was daughter of Mezaab.
And these chieftains of Esau's race have clans and territories called after the names; Thamna, Alva, Jetheth, Oölibama, Ela, Phinon, Cenez, Theman, Mabsar, Magdiel, and Hiram. Such were the chieftains of Edom, each bearing rule over the territory about him; and the father of the Edomite race was Esau.
Chapter 37
Jacob, meanwhile, had settled in the land of Chanaan, where his father lived a wanderer's life before him; and this is the record of Jacob's line. By now, Joseph was sixteen years old, and helped his brethren to feed the flocks, young though he was. He worked with the sons of his father's wives, Bala and Zelpha; and against these brothers of his he told his father ill tales. Among his children, Jacob loved Joseph best, as old men love the sons old age has brought them; and he dressed him in a coat that was all embroidery. Whereupon his brethren, who saw that he was his father's favourite, bore him a grudge, and never had a good word for him. They hated him the more, when he recounted to them a dream of his; Listen, he said, to this dream I have had. I dreamt that we were all binding sheaves in a field, and my sheaf seemed to lift itself up and stand erect, while all your sheaves stood about it and did reverence to mine. What, said his brethren, are you to be our king? Are we to be your subjects? So this talk about his dream fed the fires of their envious anger. Then he had another dream which he disclosed to his brethren; In this dream of mine, he said, it seemed to me that the sun and the moon and eleven stars did reverence to me. When he reported this to his father and his brethren, his father said, in reproof, What means this dream of yours? Must I and your mother and your brethren bow down to earth before you? So his brethren eyed him with jealousy, while his father pondered over the story in silence.
One day, when his brethren were away at Sichem, feeding their father's flocks, Israel said to him, your brethren are pasturing the sheep at Sichem; I have an errand for you there. And when Joseph answered, I am here, at your command, he said to him, Go and see whether all is well with your brethren, and with the flock, then come back and tell me their news. So he set out from Hebron valley and reached Sichem, where a stranger found him wandering on the open plain, and asked what was his errand. I am looking for my brethren, he said; can you tell me where they are feeding their flocks? They have left this part, the man answered; I heard them say, Let us go to Dothain. So Joseph went on in search of his brethren, and it was at Dothain he found them. Before he came up to them, they caught sight of him in the distance, and began plotting against his life. They said to one another, Here comes the dreamer; how if we kill him, and throw his body into a dry well? We can pretend he has fallen a prey to some wild beast. Now we shall see what good these dreams of his can do him! Upon this, Ruben began scheming to save Joseph from their violence; No, he said, do not take his life, there must be no bloodshed. Throw him down into this well here, far from all help, and so keep clear of any murderous act. His meaning was to rescue Joseph out of their hands, and restore him safe to his father. As soon, then, as Joseph reached his brethren, they stripped him of his long, embroidered coat, and threw him into a disused well, which had no water left in it.
And now, as they sat down to take their meal, they saw a company of Ismaelites mounted on camels, who were on their way from Galaad to Egypt, with a load of spices, balm, and myrrh. Whereupon Juda said to his brethren, What shall we gain by killing our brother, and concealing his murder? Far better sell him to these Ismaelites, and keep our hands clean of crime; remember that he is our brother, our own flesh and blood. His brethren fell in with the plan; so, when the merchants from Madian passed by, they dragged Joseph up out of the well, and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to these Ismaelites, who carried him off with them to Egypt. In vain did Ruben go back to the well, there was no sign of Joseph there. For grief he tore his garments, then he went back to his brethren, crying, The boy is not to be seen; what is left for me? Where can I betake myself now?
Meanwhile, they killed a goat, and dipped Joseph's coat in its blood; then they sent a message to their father, We have found this coat; satisfy yourself, whether it is your son's or not. And their father recognized it, It is my son's coat, he said; past doubt, some wild thing has devoured him, my son Joseph, the prey of a wild beast! And he tore his garments, and put on sackcloth; and long he mourned for his son. Vainly did all his children conspire to solace their father's grief; he would admit no consolation. I will go down mourning, he said, to keep my son company in the grave; and would not dry his tears. Meanwhile, the Madianites had sold Joseph in Egypt, to Putiphar, one of Pharao's courtiers, and captain of his guard.
Chapter 38
A time came when Juda left his brethren up in the hill country, and went to lodge with a man called Hiras, at Odollam. Here he cast his eyes on the daughter of one Sué, a Chanaanite, and wedded and bedded her. She conceived, and bore a son, whom she named Her; then conceived again, and called her second son Onan; then bore a third, whom she called Sela, and after that had no more children. Juda found for his eldest son, Her, a wife whose name was Thamar; but this first-born son of his was a sinner, and God saw it and cut him off in his prime. Whereupon Juda bade his son Onan mate with the widow, and do a husband's duty by her, so as to beget children in his brother's name; but Onan, who knew that they would not be reckoned as his, frustrated the act of marriage when he mated with her, sooner than breed sons in his brother's name. Him, too, for this abominable deed of his, the Lord punished with death. And now Juda said to Thamar, his daughter-in-law, Go back to your father's house, and there support your widowed state until my son Sela has grown up. The truth was he was afraid the same doom might overtake Sela. Thamar, then, went back to live at her father's house.
Time passed, and Sué's daughter, the wife of Juda, died. And when his grief for her was assuaged, he went with his friend Hiras of Odollam, who was a shepherd, to see the men who were shearing his flock at Thamnas. When she heard that her father-in-law was going up to Thamnas for the sheep-shearing, Thamar laid aside her widow's weeds, put a veil on, and disguised herself; then she went and sat at the cross roads on the way to Thamnas. She knew well that Sela had grown up, and still no husband was given her. Juda saw her without recognizing her as his daughter-in-law (for she kept her face veiled), and took her for a harlot; so he accosted her, and asked for her favours. What will you give me, she asked, as the price of enjoying them? I will send you a goat, he answered, from my herd. And when she told him he might have his will, on condition that he gave her a pledge, to hold until he kept his promise, What will you have, asked Juda, for a pledge? your ring, she answered, and your bracelet, and the staff you carry. At this single mating she conceived; and now she rose up and was gone, took off her disguise, and was back in her widow's weeds again.
Then Juda bade his shepherd at Odollam take the woman a goat, so as to recover the pledge he had given her. But the shepherd could not find her; and when he asked the townsfolk, What has become of the harlot that used to sit at the cross-roads? they said, There was never a harlot there. So he went back to Juda, and told him, I could not find her; and what is more, the townsfolk would have it there was never harlot sitting there at all. Let her keep what she has, said Juda; she cannot call us dishonest, now that I have sent the kid as I promised, and she was not to be found. So three months passed; and then word came to Juda, Thamar, your daughter-in-law, has proved a light woman; she is big with child for all to see. Whereupon Juda said, Bring her here, then; she must be burned alive. But she, on the way to her place of punishment, sent a message to her father-in-law to say, These belong to the man who got me with child; satisfy yourself, whose are this ring, this bracelet, and this staff. And Juda, recognizing his own gifts, said, She is in the right, not I; why did I not give her my son Sela in marriage? Yet would he never mate with her again.
When she was near her time, it proved she had twins in her womb. And at the very moment of her delivery, one of the children put his hand out; so the midwife tied a red cord round it, thinking to herself, This one is the first-born. But he drew his hand in again, and the other was born first. Whereupon the woman said, would you break your way out? And so he was called Phares, which means, A breach in the wall. And when his brother was brought to birth after him, with the red cord round his hand, he was called Zara, the Dawn.
Chapter 39
Meanwhile, Joseph had been taken away into Egypt, where his Ismaelite owners sold him to an Egyptian called PutiPhar, one of Pharao's courtiers, and captain of his guard. The Lord was with him, so that he prospered in all he undertook; and he was given a lodging in the house of his master, who saw clearly enough how God was with him, giving him success in all he turned his hand to. Thus Joseph became his master's favourite servant, and had the management of all his affairs, and of all the property that was entrusted to him. For Joseph's sake, the Lord blessed the household of this Egyptian, and gave him large revenues of stock and store; he ate what was put before him, and could not tell how he came by it.
Joseph had beauty of form and face, and after a while his mistress cast longing eyes at him, and bade him share her bed. But he would have nothing to do with such wickedness; My master, he said, entrusts everything to my care, and keeps no count of his belongings; there is nothing of his but I, by his appointment, have the keeping of it, save you only, his wedded wife. How can you ask me to wrong him so grievously, and offend my God? Such was the talk between them day after day, she ever more importunate, and he still resisting her shameful desire. A day came at last when Joseph must needs be within doors, busy with some task when no one else was by; and she caught him by the hem of his garment, inviting him to her bed. Whereupon he went out, leaving his cloak still in her hand.
And now, finding herself alone with his garment in her hands, and all her advances spurned, she summoned the men of the household; Look, she said, what comes of bringing in a Hebrew to insult us! Joseph came in, and would have dishonoured me, but I cried out, and at the sound of my voice he ran out, leaving his cloak in my grasp. She kept the cloak in support of her story, and shewed it to her husband when he came back home; This Hebrew slave, she told him, whom you have brought into the house to insult me, offered me violence; and it was only upon hearing me cry for help that he ran out, leaving me with this cloak in my hand. Upon this Joseph's master, too easily convinced by what his wife told him, broke into a rage, and committed him to the prison in which the king's prisoners were kept. There lay Joseph, then, a captive, but the Lord was still with him, and by the Lord's mercy he became a favourite with the chief gaoler, who put all the prisoners detained there in his charge, and would have nothing done save at his discretion. Thus the chief gaoler, in his turn, knew nothing of what went forward, but left all to Joseph, well knowing that the Lord was with him, and prospered all he did.
Chapter 40
Soon after this, it chanced that two of the king of Egypt's courtiers, his cup-bearer and his pastry-cook, fell into disgrace with their master. The one was chief of all his cup-bearers, the other of all his pastry-cooks, and Pharao, angry with both of them, handed them over to the captain of the guard, to share Joseph's prison. So the gaoler put them in Joseph's charge, and he saw to their needs. They had not been long in captivity when, on a single night, either of them had a dream, portending what it portended to each. Joseph, when he visited them next morning, found both of them downcast, and enquired why they looked sadder than their wont. We have been dreaming, they said, and we can find no interpreter. Why, said Joseph, it is God who interprets our dreams for us; tell me what it was you saw.
The chief cup-bearer related his dream first; I saw in front of me, he said, a vine, which had three shoots. First they budded, and then, when they had flowered, grapes grew upon them. I had Pharao's cup in my hand; so I took the grapes and pressed them out into the cup I held, and gave Pharao the draught. This, answered Joseph, is what your dream meant; the three shoots stand for three days which have yet to pass, after which Pharao will bethink himself that he has need of you, and will restore you to your old office; then you will hand the cup to him by right of your office as you ever did. Pray do not forget me, in that day of your prosperity; as you love me, win from Pharao my release from this prison of ours. It was treachery brought me here, when I left the land of the Hebrews, and now I am in this dungeon for no fault of mine.
Hereupon the chief cook, finding that Joseph could interpret the first dream so well, reminded them that he had dreamt too; I was carrying three baskets of loaves on my head, said he, and the top basket contained pastry of every kind; but the birds came and ate it. Your dream, answered Joseph, means this; the three baskets stand for three days which have yet to pass, after which Pharao will take away your life and so hang you on a gibbet, for the birds to come and prey on your flesh.
The third day after was Pharao's birthday, and he made a great feast for his servants. And as he sat feasting, he remembered the chief cup-bearer and the chief pastrycook. The one he restored to his office of putting the cup in his hand; the other he hung on a gallows, to prove the truth of the prophecy that had been made. But the chief cup-bearer, in his new good fortune, thought no more of the man who had interpreted his dream.
Chapter 41
Then two years afterwards, Pharao himself had a dream. He thought that he was standing by the Nile, and out of its channel there came up seven heifers, sleek and well fattened, which began feeding on the river bank, among the reeds. Then seven others came up, also out of the river, ill-favoured and ill-nourished; and these too stood grazing where it was green close to the river. And it seemed as if they ate up those other seven, that were so fine and well fed. With that Pharao awoke, and when he slept again, it was to dream a second dream. This time, there were seven ears of corn growing from a single stalk, all plump and fair, and another seven ears, all shrunken and blighted, came up in their turn, to eat up the fair promise of the other seven. Pharao, then, awoke from his dream, and as soon as it was daylight, he sent in great confusion of mind for all the diviners and all the wise men of Egypt. When they answered his summons, he told them of his dream, without finding anyone who could interpret it.
And now, at last, the chief cup-bearer remembered; I am much to blame, he said. When you, my lord, were vexed with your servants, you did commit me and your chief cook to prison, with the captain of your guard in charge of us; and there, on a single night, either of us had a dream which foretold what was to become of us. One of our fellow-prisoners, a Hebrew slave, belonging to this same captain, heard what our dreams were, and gave us an account of them which the event proved right, when I was restored to my office, and that other was hung on a gibbet. With that, the king sent to have Joseph released from prison and brought before him, with his beard shaved and new clothes to wear. I have had certain dreams, he said, and no one can tell me the meaning of them; I have heard of you as one who can interpret such things with sovereign skill. No skill of mine is needed, said Joseph; the Lord will give Pharao his answer, and a favourable one. So Pharao described what he had seen; I thought I was standing on the river bank, and seven heifers came up out of the stream, sleek and well fed, that grazed on the rushes, there in the marsh-land. Then, on a sudden, seven other heifers followed them, so pinched and starved that in all this land of Egypt I never saw the like. These ate up the first seven, wholly consuming them, and yet they shewed no sign of having had their fill; they languished there, as gaunt and wretched as ever. Then I woke up, but was soon plunged in sleep again; and this time I dreamed that seven ears of corn, plump and fair, were growing from a single stalk, until seven others, all shrunken and blighted, sprang up out of the stubble near by and devoured all the fair promise of the first seven. This is the dream I have told to these diviners of mine, and none of them can tell me what it means.
My lord, answered Joseph, the two dreams are all one, God is warning my lord Pharao of what he intends to do. The seven sleek cattle, the seven plump ears, have the same sense in the two dreams; they stand for seven years of plenty. Whereas the seven gaunt, starved cattle which came up after them, and the seven shrunken, blighted ears of corn, prophesy seven years of famine. And they will come about in this order; first, there will be seven harvests of great abundance all over this land of Egypt, and they will be followed by seven years of such drought as will efface the memory of the good times that went before them. Famine will ravage the whole country, till the evil effect of the drought does away with all the good effect of those abundant harvests. That you should have dreamed twice to the same purpose, is proof that God's decree stands firm; what he foretells will come about, and there will be no delay in its fulfilment. It is for you, my lord king, to find some man that has the wisdom and the skill for it, and put the whole of Egypt under his charge. He must appoint a commissioner for each region, to collect a fifth of the harvest during the seven years of plenty which are now upon us, and store it up in barns. All this reserve of corn must be held at the royal disposition, and kept in the various cities, to make provision for the seven years famine by which Egypt will be overtaken; if not, the whole land will perish for want of it.
The plan commended itself to Pharao and to all his courtiers. And now he asked them, Where are we to find another man such as this, so full of God's inspiration? Then he turned to Joseph, and said, Every word you have spoken comes to you revealed by God, and shall I look for some other whose wisdom can match yours? You shall have charge of my household and all my people shall obey your word of command; you shall share all I have, except this royal throne. Hereby, Pharao said to Joseph, I put the whole land of Egypt under your care. And with that, he took off the signet-ring from his own hand, and put it on Joseph's hand instead; gave him robes, too, of lawn, and hung a gold chain about his neck; then bade him mount on a chariot that was next in honour to his own, and would have a herald proclaim that all must do him reverence, and acknowledge him as ruler of the whole land of Egypt. And he gave Joseph this assurance, On the word of Pharao, no one in all Egypt shall be free to move hand or foot without your permission. He gave him a new name, calling him in Egyptian Saviour of the World; and bestowed on him the hand of Aseneth, daughter of Putiphare, that was priest at Heliopolis.
So Joseph set out on his mission to the land of Egypt, having thus won the favour of king Pharao when he was only thirty years old; and there was no part of Egypt he did not visit. Seven years of abundance came, and the corn was bound in sheaves and taken away to all the storehouses that could be found in Egypt; all that could be spared of the crops was thus stored away in the various cities. And indeed the yield of wheat was so rich that it might have been sand by the sea-shore; there was no measuring the amount of it. In these years before the famine came, Joseph's wife Aseneth, daughter of Putiphare that was priest at Heliopolis, bore him two sons. He called his first-born Manasses, Oblivion; God has bidden me forget all my troubles, said he, forget my home. The second he called Ephraim, as if he would say of God, Hiphrani, he has made me fruitful, in this land where I was once so poor.
So the first seven years passed, years of plenty for Egypt; and now, as Joseph had prophesied, seven years of scarcity began; famine reigned all over the world, but everywhere in Egypt there was bread to be had. When food grew scarce, there was ever a cry made to Pharao for bread, and still he would answer, Betake yourselves to Joseph, do what he bids you. And Joseph, as the famine grew daily worse everywhere, opened the storehouses and made the Egyptians, too, buy their corn, for they were as hungry as the rest. Soon the whole world was coming to Egypt and buying food to relieve its want.
Chapter 42
The news that there was corn to be bought in Egypt reached Jacob among the rest; and he said to his sons, What means this lethargy? They tell me there is corn for sale in Egypt; why do you not go down there, and buy enough for us to live on, instead of waiting till we starve? So ten of Joseph's brethren went down into Egypt to buy corn there; only Benjamin his father kept at home, saying to the others, Some harm might befall him on the way. So they made their way into Egypt with others who were going there to buy; the whole of Chanaan was by now famine-stricken.
Egypt was under the control of Joseph: it was at his discretion that corn was sold to foreign nations. And when his brethren came and did him reverence, he recognized them; but he treated them as strangers, and talked roughly to them. Whence come you? he asked. From the land of Chanaan, they said, to buy food. Well as he knew them, his brethren did not know him again, and his mind went back to the dreams he had had, long ago. You are spies, he told them; you have come to find out where our country's defences are weak. No, my lord, they said, we are your servants, come here to buy food, sons of one father, all of us, sent on an errand of peace; your servants know nothing of any evil intent. I know better, he answered; you have come to spy out where our country is ill defended. We are all brethren, they said; our father, in the land of Chanaan, is the father of twelve sons; the youngest is still with him, and one of us no longer lives. I was sure of it, said he; you are spies, all of you. I will put you to the test; your youngest brother must come here, or, by the life of Pharao, none of you shall leave this land. One of you must go and fetch him, the rest shall be my prisoners, until you give me proof whether your story is true or not. If you refuse this, as sure as Pharao lives, you are spies.
So he committed them to prison, and kept them there for three days. When the third day came, they were released, and now he said to them, Do what I bade you, and I will spare your lives; I am a man that fears God. To prove whether your errand is peaceful, one of you must be kept here in prison; the rest shall go home, taking with them the corn they have bought. Then you must bring your youngest brother here into my presence; when you have done that, I shall know that your story is true, and your lives shall be spared. And they bowed to his will, saying to one another, It is no more than we deserve, we, who so wronged our brother, and looked on without pity when he pleaded, in anguish, for his life. That is what has brought all this trouble upon us. And Ruben said to the rest, I pleaded with you not to do the boy such wrong, and you would not listen to me; we are being punished, now, for his murder. All this Joseph understood, although they did not suspect it (he always spoke to them through an interpreter); so that he withdrew from them for a little, and gave himself up to tears. Then he went back and spoke to them, taking Simeon, and fastening chains upon him, there in their presence. Meanwhile, he had bidden his servants fill their sacks with corn, enclosing in each sack the money its owner had paid, and providing them with victuals for their journey as well. All this was done, and now they loaded their asses with the corn, and were on their homeward journey, when one of them opened his sack, to feed his beast at a halting-place. And there, in the mouth of the sack, he found his money. Look, he said to his brethren, my money has been restored to me; here it is, in the sack. And their minds misgave them; they said to one another in bewilderment, What is this God has done to us?
When they carne back to their father Jacob, in Chanaan, they told him of all that had happened; how the regent of the country had spoken to them roughly, taking them for spies, and how they had answered, Ours is an errand of peace, we have no mischievous intent; there were twelve of us, all born of one father; one is no longer alive, and the youngest is with our father in Chanaan. And then, the test of their honesty he had proposed; that they should go home with what they needed, leaving one of them behind; that he should remain a prisoner, until they cleared themselves of suspicion by coming back with their youngest brother; then they should be restored, and they should be free to buy as they would. When they had finished their story, they began unloading the corn, and were filled with dismay at finding the money each had paid enclosed there in his sack. As for their father Jacob, he told them, You have made a childless man of me; Joseph is dead, Simeon a prisoner, and you would rob me of Benjamin too; it is I who have to bear all this trouble. Whereupon Ruben answered, Kill my own two sons in requital of it, if I do not restore Benjamin to you in safety; give me charge of him, and I will bring him back. No, said he, I will not let this son of mine go with you; his brother is dead, and he is all I have left; if any harm should befall him in the country of your travels, you would send an old man sorrowing to the grave.
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But still the land was famine stricken and all the food they had brought with them from Egypt was used up. Go back, said Jacob to his sons, and bring us all a mouthful of food. Why, answered Juda, this man we told you of warned us with a solemn oath he would not give us audience, unless our youngest brother came back with us. If you will send him in our company, we will all go together, and buy what you need; not otherwise. How often must we tell you that the man gave us solemn warning, You shall have no audience without this youngest brother of yours? This was great unkindness you did me, Israel said, to tell him you had a brother at all. Why, they answered, the man asked news of all our family in turn, whether our father was still alive, and whether we had any brother besides; we told him no more than he asked, and how were we to know he would demand to have our brother brought into his presence? Let the boy go with me, Juda said to his father; let us go and find something to support life with, or we shall all die, and our children with us. I take the boy under my charge and make myself answerable for his safety; never forgive me if I do not bring him back and restore him to you. If there had not been this delay, we might have gone to Egypt and been back again by now.
And their father Israel said to them, Since it must be so, have your way. Only, take gifts with you in your packs, the most precious this land yields, a little balm, and honey, and storax and myrrh, and mastic, and almonds. Take a double amount of money with you and restore what you found in your sacks; it may have been an oversight. And so go back to the man, taking your brother with you. May the almighty God I serve secure you his favour, so that he will send back that brother of yours who is now his hostage, and Benjamin as well. Meanwhile, I shall be like a man bereft of children. With such gifts, and a double amount of money, they took Benjamin down into Egypt, and presented themselves before Joseph.
As soon as he saw them, and Benjamin in their company, he said to his steward, Take these men home, and kill victims, and make a feast; they will eat with me at noon. The steward did as he was bidden, taking them all to Joseph's house, where they stood dismayed; We have been brought in here because of the money, they said to one another, the money we took home in our sacks. He means to trump a charge against us, and to hold us here in pawn, and our beasts along with us. So, in the very doorway of the house, they approached the steward, Pray, sir, listen, they said. We came here some while since, to buy food, and buy it we did; but when we reached our halting-place we found the money lying in the mouths of our sacks. And now we have brought back the same amount, over and above the sum that is to defray our fresh needs; we cannot guess who it was put the money back in our purses. Set your mind at rest, he said; you have nothing to fear. Your own God, the God your father serves, must have enriched those sacks of yours; I have the money you paid me accounted for. Then he fetched Simeon out to meet them, and took them into the house, where he brought water for them to wash their feet; he also gave their beasts fodder.
There then they waited, with the gifts ready, till Joseph should come home at noon; they had been told that they would be his guests. And as soon as Joseph entered his house, they offered him the gifts they carried, and bowed down to earth. And he, returning their greeting with courtesy, asked how their father was, the old man of whom they had spoken to him. Was he still living? Yes, my lord, they said, our father still lives. And they bent to do him reverence. Then Joseph looked round, and saw Benjamin there, his own mother's son; Is this, he asked, the younger brother you told me of? And he added, God be merciful to you, my son. After this he could wait no more; his heart went out to this, his own brother, and the tears began to come. He withdrew into his private room, and there wept; then washed his face and came out again, master of himself; Serve the meal, he said. So food was brought, with separate portions for Joseph, for his brethren, and for the Egyptians who kept them company; the Egyptians are not allowed to eat with men of Hebrew blood, and would think it foul disgrace to share a meal with them. There they sat in his presence, ranged in order from the eldest, with his birthright, to the youngest in age. And they were not a little surprised when they received the portions he sent them, for the great share of all came to Benjamin, six times as large as the others. So they drank and made merry with him.
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And Joseph gave orders to his steward; Fill their sacks with corn, as full as they can hold, and enclose in each man's sack the money he has paid. And when it comes to the youngest, enclose in his sack not only the money he paid for his corn, but my silver cup as well. His command was obeyed; and now morning came, and they were given leave to depart, with their asses. They had left the city and passed on a little further, when Joseph summoned his steward; Bestir yourself, he said, and go in pursuit of these men. When you overtake them, say, This is a poor return to make for the kindness you have received; you have stolen my master's cup, the one from which he drinks, and takes omens; you have done him a great wrong. The steward obeyed, and as soon as he overtook them, delivered his message by rote. What a charge is this, my lord, they answered, to bring against your servants! That we should have been a guilty of such a shameful deed! When we found our money enclosed in the mouths of our sacks, we brought it back to you all the way from Chanaan; is it likely we would rob your master's house of gold or silver? If the cup that is missing should be found in possession of any of us, let him pay for it with his life; and we, too, will be slaves in our lord's service. I accept this test of yours, said he; the man in whose possession it is found, shall be my slave, and the rest of you go clear. So, with all haste, they lowered their sacks to the ground, and began opening them one by one. And he began with the eldest, and examined each in turn, till at last he found the cup in Benjamin's sack.
And now they tore their garments about them, loaded their asses again, and went back to the city. Joseph was awaiting them there, and Juda led his brethren into Joseph's presence, where they all bowed face to the earth before him. What moved you, said he, to do this? Surely you must know that I have powers of divining such as no other man has? My lord, said Juda, what answer can we make? What plea can we offer in our defence? We are guilty men, and God would not let it pass unnoticed; and now all of us, not only he in whose possession the cup was found, will be your slaves. God forbid I should ask that, answered Joseph; no, the thief who stole the cup shall be my slave; the rest of you may go back to your father as free men.
At this, Juda made bold to draw nearer is him; My lord, he said, let your servant speak a word for your own hearing, without earning your displeasure, Pharao's viceroy though you are, and my sovereign lord. When you did ask us whether we had a father or a brother living, our answer was, My lord, we have a father well advanced in years, and one of his sons is still with him, the youngest, who was born to him in his old age. There was another son by the same mother, but he is dead, and now only this one recalls his mother's memory, so that his father loves him dearly. Upon this, you did bid us bring the boy to you and let you have sight of him. My lord, we urged, our father cannot do without the boy; the parting would kill him. But you did warn your servants, You shall never have audience of me again, unless you bring your youngest brother with you.
Then we went back to our father, and told him of the warning which you, his master and ours, had given us. And when our father bade us come here again and buy a little bread, we told him we could not, unless our youngest brother was allowed to come down with us. In his company, we said, we will go willingly enough, but we dare not face the man we told you of without him. You know, he answered, that my own wife only bore me two sons; I let one of them go out of my sight, and your news was, that some beast had made a prey of him; he was never seen again. If you take this one too, and any harm befalls him on the way, you will send an old man sorrowing to the grave. My lord, shall I present myself before my father, and the boy not with me? His life is bound up with his son's, and if he finds we have not brought him with us, it will be the death of him; must we bring an old man to the grave in sorrow? Enslave me instead; with full justice, I made myself answerable for him. If I do not bring him back, I said, I will never claim my own father's forgiveness. I, therefore, my lord, would be left here as your servant, to wait upon you in his stead; let the boy go home with his brethren. Should I go back to my father without him, and witness the blow that strikes my father down?
Chapter 45
Joseph could contain himself no longer, and there were many standing by. So he gave orders that all these should leave his presence; there must be no strangers to see it, when he made himself known. But when he spoke, he burst into such a fit of weeping that these Egyptians, and all Pharao's household, could not but hear it. I am Joseph, said he to his brethren; is my father yet alive? But his brethren were so overcome with fear that they could not answer him, and he must needs use gentleness; Come closer, he said, and then, when they had drawn close to him, I am Joseph, that brother of yours whom you sent away to be sold as a slave in Egypt. And now, do not take it to heart; waste no regrets over the bargain that brought me here; if I came to Egypt first, it was on God's errand, to be your protector. It is two years now since famine came to these parts, and there will be no ploughing, no reaping harvests, for five years more; so God would have me here in readiness to preserve your race, by giving you food to live on. It was not your design, then, it was God's will that sent me here; he it is that has put Pharao himself under my tutelage, made me regent of all his domains, with the whole of Egypt under my care.
Make haste, go back to my father and give him this message from his son Joseph: God has made me ruler of all Egypt; make your way here with all speed. You shall have the land of Gessen for your dwelling-place, so that you can live close to me, with your children and your grandchildren, your sheep and cattle and all that is yours. And there, since there are still five years of famine to come, I will maintain you and keep you from starving, with that household of yours and all you have. You and my brother Benjamin here can assure him from the witness of your own eyes, that it was Joseph who spoke to you. Tell my father of all these honours I enjoy, and of all you saw in Egypt, and bring him back to me here with all speed.
With that, he threw his arms round Benjamin's neck, in tears; Benjamin, too, wept as he clung to him. Then Joseph kissed all his brethren in turn, and wept over them, till at last they found courage to speak to him. And now the news was in everybody's mouth, and all Pharao's court heard that Joseph's brethren were there. Pharao rejoiced heartily over it, and all his courtiers with him; and these were the orders he would have Joseph give to his brethren, Pack your beasts, and go back to Chanaan, bring your father here, and all your family, to share the blessings of Egypt with me, and live on the best the land can give. And they might borrow waggons from Egypt, to carry their wives and children back. Take your father with you (he was to tell them) and make haste over your return; and leave none of your farm stock behind you; all the wealth of Egypt awaits you here.
The sons of Israel did as they were bidden; Joseph providing them with waggons at Pharao's command, and with food for the journey. He also had two new garments brought out for each, and gave Benjamin three hundred silver pieces and five new garments of the choicest sort; sending his father a like gift in both kinds, as well as ten asses laden with the best merchandise of Egypt, and ten she-asses with corn and bread to last him over his travels. Thus he sent his brethren home, and his last word, as they set out, was Be sure there is no quarrelling on the way. So they left Egypt, and when they reached their father Jacob in Chanaan, they gave him their news, your son Joseph is still alive, and it is he that rules the whole land of Egypt. Jacob heard it, with the look of one just awoken from a heavy sleep, but at first he would not believe them, and they must tell him the whole story from first to last. Then, when he had seen for himself the waggons and all the gifts, he could breathe again. If my son Joseph, he said, is still alive, that is all I ask; I will go with you, and have sight of him again before I die.
Chapter 46
So Jacob set out with all his possessions, and when he reached the Well of the Oath, he offered sacrifice there to the God of his father Isaac. That night, in a vision, he heard God calling to him, Jacob, Jacob! and when he answered, I am here, at your command, God said to him, I am the almighty God your father worshipped. Betake yourself to Egypt without fear; I mean to make your descendants into a great nation there. I will go down there with you and when the time comes to return, it shall be under my guidance still; and Joseph shall stand by you to close your eyes in death. So Jacob left the Well of the Oath behind him, and his sons took him on further in the waggons which Pharao had provided, to ease an old man's travel. With him were their own wives and children, and all the possessions he had in Chanaan, and so he reached Egypt with the whole of his family, sons and grandsons and daughters with them, the whole of his race.
These are the names of Israel's descendants who made their way into Egypt. He had his sons with him, of whom Ruben was the first-born, and Ruben's own sons were called Henoch, Phallu, Hesron, and Charmi. Simeon's were called Jamuel, Jamin, Ahod, Jachin, and Sohar; he had another, called Saul, by a Chanaanite. Levi's were called Gerson, Caath, and Merari. Juda's were called Her, Onan, Sela, Phares and Zara, but of these, Her and Onan had already died in Chanaan; Phares had two sons, Hesron and Hamul. Issachar's were called Thola, Phua, Job and Semron; Zabulon's were called Sared, Elon and Jahelel. So much for the sons Lia bore in Mesopotamia of the Syrians, with one daughter, Dina; the whole count of these sons and daughters was thirty-three. Gad's sons were called Sephion, Haggi, Suni, Esebon, Heri, Arodi and Areli. Aser's were called Jamne, Jesus, Jessui and Beria, and they had a sister called Sara; Beria had two sons, Heber and Melchiel. All these were descended from Zelpha, the woman-servant Laban gave to his daughter Lia; thus Jacob counted sixteen descendants through her. Jacob's wife Rachel had two children, Joseph and Benjamin; Joseph's two sons, Manasses and Ephraim, were borne to him in Egypt by Aseneth, daughter of Putiphare that was priest at Heliopolis; Benjamin's were called Bela, Bechor, Asbel, Gera, Naaman, Echi, Ros, Mophim, Ophim and Ared. These were descended from Jacob's wife Rachel, fourteen in all. Dan was the father of Husim, Nephthali of Jasiel, Gum, Jeser and Sallem; these were descended from Bala, whom Laban gave as a serving-woman to his daughter Rachel; through her, Jacob had seven descendants in all. Thus Jacob went into Egypt with sixty-six companions all sprung from his stock, not reckoning his son's wives. Meanwhile, Joseph had had two sons born to him in Egypt; so that Jacob's whole clan, when they found a home in Egypt, reached the number of seventy.
He had sent Juda on before him to tell Joseph of his coming, so that they could meet in Gessen; and upon his arrival, Joseph had horses put in his chariot and drove there to meet his father. At the first sight of him, he threw his arms about his neck, and embraced him, in tears. Now, his father said to him, I can die happy; I have seen you face to face, and know that my son survives me. Then Joseph said to his brethren and to his family, I must go and tell Pharao that my brethren and my family have come here from Chanaan. They are shepherds, I shall say, and all their skill is in tending flocks; those flocks, and their herds, and all they possess, they have brought with them. So when he summons you and asks you what is your trade, your answer must be, your servants are shepherds; to that trade we have been brought up from youth, as our fathers were before us. This profession will win you a home in the land of Gessen; the Egyptians hold all shepherd-folk in abhorrence.
Chapter 47
So Joseph approached Pharao with the news that his father and his brethren had brought their sheep and cattle and all they possessed away from Chanaan, and were there in the land of Gessen. He also presented his five youngest brethren to the king, and these, when the king asked what their employment was, answered, your servants are shepherds, as their fathers were before them. We have come to seek hospitality in this land of yours, my lord, because the drought lies heavy on Chanaan, and there is no pasture for our flocks; our plea is, that you would grant your servants a home in the country of Gessen. So the king told Joseph, Now that your father and your brethren have come here to bear you company, the whole land of Egypt is at your disposal; bid them dwell where they are best able to dwell, occupying the country of Gessen. And if you know any of their number to be skilful at their craft, give them charge of my own herds. Afterwards, Joseph brought his father in, and presented him to the king, to whom he gave his blessing. And when the king asked him, what was his age? I have lived a wanderer's life, said he, these hundred and thirty years; no long life, and no happy one, compared with the years my fathers spent, roaming the world before me. So he gave the king his blessing, and left him.
Joseph obeyed Pharao's bidding, and gave his father and his brethren lands in the most favoured part of Egypt, at Ramesses; and there he maintained them, with all his father's kindred, giving an allowance of food to each. All the world over, bread was still scarce, and the drought bore hardest on Egypt and on Chanaan, till at last Joseph had amassed all the money either land possessed in the royal treasury, through his sales of wheat. So, when they had nothing left to buy with, the Egyptians all came to Joseph asking to have bread given them for nothing; Will you watch us starve, they asked, now that we have no more money left? If you cannot pay, he answered, bring your cattle here, and you shall have food in return for these. So they brought them and he bartered corn for horses and sheep and cattle and asses, feeding them the whole of that year and taking their beasts as the price. By the next year, they came to him and said, My lord, we must needs be open with you; we have come to the end of our cattle, as well as our money; you can see for yourself that nothing is left us except our lives and our lands. Do not watch us starve; you shall have the disposal of our lands and of ourselves, making both of these the king's property, and giving us seed-corn in return; if not, the land will become a wilderness for want of tillage. So Joseph bought the whole land of Egypt, one and all selling their possessions to him because the famine was so grievous; and he made it Pharao's property, with all the inhabitants of it from one end of Egypt to the other; except the land which the king had assigned to the priests. These had a fixed allowance of food made to them from the royal storehouses, and there was no occasion for them to sell their lands.
Joseph said to the people, You can see for yourselves now that Pharao is lord of your lives and lands; you shall have seed-corn to sow your fields with, and when harvest-time comes you shall give up a fifth of your crops to the king; the other four-fifths I will grant you for the next sowing, and to feed your households and your children. Our lives are in your hand, they said; as long as we enjoy my lord's favour, we will gladly be the king's servants. All over Egypt, from that day to this, the payment of the fifth is a custom which has the force of law, except in the priests lands, which are bound by no such conditions.
Thus Israel began to find a home in Egypt, that is, in the land of Gessen, took possession of it, and flourished, and grew great. Jacob himself lived on seventeen years there, so that he reached altogether the age of a hundred and forty-seven. And when he saw the day of his death approaching, he sent for his son Joseph; Do me this favour, he said, put your hand under my thigh, and swear, in love and loyalty, that you will not bury me here in Egypt. I would sleep where my fathers sleep; take me far away from this land and bury me in the burial-place of my kindred. I will do your bidding, answered Joseph; but Jacob would have him bind himself by an oath. So he gave his oath; and then Israel turned his eyes towards the top of his bed, and gave praise to God.
Chapter 48
Soon after this, Joseph was told that his father had fallen sick, and took his two sons, Ephraim and Manasses, to visit him. When the old man heard that Joseph had come to see him, he found strength to sit up in bed, and greeted him thus, The almighty God revealed himself to me at Luza in Chanaan and gave me his blessing there. I will make your posterity increase and multiply, he said, so that a host of nations shall spring from you; and I will give this land to you and to your race after you, to be their possession eternally. Your two sons were born to you in Egypt, before my coming, but they shall be counted as sons of mine; Ephraim and Manasses shall take rank with Ruben and Simeon. Whatever children you shall beget after this shall be yours, not mine, and they shall hold whatever possession they hold under the title of these brothers of theirs. It was when I was on my way back from Mesopotamia that I lost Rachel, there in Chanaan, while we were on our journey, in spring time, and when I reached Ephrata I buried her there, by the road which leads to Ephrata; Bethlehem is another name they call it by. Then he saw Joseph's two sons there, and asked, Who are these? The sons God has given me, said he while I have been living here. Bring them close to me, he answered, and let me give them my blessing; by now, Israel's eyes were failing through his great age, and he could not see clearly.
So they were brought close to him, and he kissed them; then he said to his son, Once I never thought to see you again; that fear was groundless, and now God has given me sight of your children too. And Joseph took them from his father's embrace, and bowed low, putting Ephraim on his right, by Israel's left hand, and Manasses on his left, at Israel's right hand, and holding them both close to him. But Jacob stretched out his right hand, and put it on the head of Ephraim, the younger, and put his left on the head of Manasses, the elder, changing his hands round. And this is the blessing which Jacob gave to Joseph's sons; May that God, in whose presence my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, once lived and moved, that God who has guided me like a shepherd from my youth till now, that angel of God, who has rescued me from all my troubles, bless these sons of yours. Let them inherit my name, and the names of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac; may their posterity spread wide over the earth. Joseph took it amiss when he saw his father put his right hand on the head of Ephraim, and would have raised it up from Ephraim's to put it on Manasses instead; No, father, said he, you are wide of the mark; here is the eldest, upon whom your right hand should rest. But Jacob would not be persuaded; I know it, my son, said he, I know it; Manasses too shall give birth to a people, and spread far; but this younger brother shall outdo him, and beget a multitude of nations. So then and there he blessed them; When men give a blessing in Israel, he said, the words they use shall be, God make you like Ephraim and Manasses. So he put Ephraim before Manasses. He said, too, to Joseph, I must die but God be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. And there I bequeath you one portion to which your brethren shall have no claim, the land I won from the Amorrhite with my sword and my bow.
Chapter 49
Then Jacob summoned all his sons to him; Gather about me, he said, to hear what awaits you in the days still to come; gather about me, sons of Jacob, and listen; it is Israel, your father, who speaks. You, Ruben, are my first-born, my pride, my manhood's first-fruits; yours was the privilege, yours the right to rule, but all went to waste like water. Never may you thrive you who would lie between your father's sheets, and defile his bed. Simeon and Levi are brothers indeed, warriors both, and ready tools of violence. Never may this soul of mine take part in their conspiracy, this heart be of their company; raging, they slew their enemy, recklessly they broke down a city wall. A curse on this unrelenting rage of theirs, this bitter spite! I will distribute them here and there in Jacob, I will scatter them throughout Israel. But you, Juda, shall win the praise of your brethren; with your hand on the necks of your enemies, you shall be reverenced by your own father's sons. Juda is like a lion's whelp; on the hills, my son, you roam after your prey; like a lion couched in his lair, a lioness that none dares provoke. Juda shall not want a branch from his stem, a prince drawn from his stock, until the day when he comes who is to be sent to us, he, the hope of the nations. To what tree will he tie his mount; the ass he rides on? The vine for him, the vineyard for him; when he washes his garments, it shall be in wine, all his vesture shall be dyed with the blood of grapes. Fairer than wine his eyes shall be, his teeth whiter than milk.
Zabulon shall dwell by the sea shore, where the ships find harbour, at Sidon's gates. Issachar lies secure within its own confines, like some beast of burden that has great strength; so pleasant he finds his resting-place, so fair his land, that he is willing to bow under the yoke, and pay tribute to others. But Dan shall administer his own laws, like any other tribe of Israel; Dan is like a snake by the road side, an adder on the path, to bite the horse's heels, and make him throw the rider backwards. I will wait patiently, Lord, for the deliverance you can bring me. Gad shall be at the mercy of armed men, till he goes armed in his turn. Rich in wheat shall Aser's lands be; he shall send out delicacies for the tables of kings. Nephthali is like a roe-deer that goes free, bringing a message of gladness.
Joseph grows upward, upward still, fair to view; see how the maidens pass to and fro on the city walls! Sorely his enemies harass him with the darts they throw, unrelenting in their hatred, but his bow rests in the strength that does not fail him; the power of the God who rules in Jacob gives free play to hand and arm. From Joseph one shall arise, who will be the shepherd and the corner-stone of Israel. The God of your father shall bring you aid; the Almighty shall bless you with all the blessings that lie stored in heaven above, or in the depth beneath us, all the blessings that enrich breast and womb. This blessing which your father gives you draws strength from all the blessings which his own fathers bequeathed; they shall not cease till he comes, whom the everlasting hills await. May they all rest on Joseph's head, rest on his brow who is separated, like a Nazirite, from his brethren. As for Benjamin, he is like a ravening wolf; that must devour his own prey in the morning, and have plunder still to divide at nightfall.
All these names are perpetuated in the twelve tribes of Israel; and these are the words in which their father blessed them one by one, giving each the blessing that was due to him. Then he laid a charge upon them; I must die, he said, and become a part of my people; bury me with my fathers in the double cave on the land that belonged once to Ephron the Hethite, the cave that looks towards Mambre, in the land of Chanaan. It was this cave that Abraham bought, with the ground it stands in, from Ephron the Hethite, to make his tomb there. There they buried him, and his wife Sara with him; there, too, Isaac lies buried with his wife Rebecca; there Lia, too, was laid. So he made an end of giving the directions he would have his sons observe; then lay his full length on the bed, and died, and became a part of his people.
Chapter 50
Joseph, when he saw this, threw himself down at his father's side, weeping and covering his face with kisses. And now he would have the doctors who were in his service embalm his father with spices. Forty days went by, and they were still at their task; that is the custom of the embalmers in Egypt; and for seventy days the whole of Egypt mourned him. Then, when the time of mourning was over, Joseph said to Pharao's courtiers, Do me a favour, and prefer this request of mine to Pharao. My father has left me bound by an oath; I am dying, said he, and I charge you to bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in Chanaan. I would go back there to bury my father, and so return. And Pharao told him, Go back, and bury your father in fulfilment of your oath. So he went, and with him went all Pharao's senators and all the elders of Egypt; Joseph's brethren too and all his household, except the children and the flocks and herds; these were left behind in the land of Gessen. He had chariots and horsemen with him, so it was a great retinue that accompanied him. When they reached Atad's Threshing-floor, on the further side of Jordan, they spent seven days over the funeral rites, mourning long and bitterly; till the Chanaanites, watching it, said This is great lamentation the men of Egypt are making, and the place came to be called, The Lament of the Egyptians. Thus Jacob's sons carried out his command, by taking his body to Chanaan, and burying it in the double cave opposite Mambre, that Abraham bought, with the ground it stands in, from Ephron the Hethite, to be his burial-place.
And Joseph, when the funeral rites were done, went back to Egypt with his brethren and all his retinue. His brethren, now that their father was dead, grew afraid of Joseph; what if he should remember his wrongs, they asked one another, and punish us for our ill deeds? So they sent a message to him, Our father, before he died, laid a charge on us. We were to say to you in his name, Forget, I pray you, the crime which your brethren committed, the cruel wrong they did you. And it is our prayer too that you would grant forgiveness to us, the servants of the God your father served. Joseph wept upon hearing it; and when his brethren came and bowed to the ground before him, owning themselves his servants, his answer was, Do not be afraid; who am I, that I should oppose my will to God's will? You thought to do me harm, but God turned it all to good account; I was to be raised up to greatness, as you see, for the saving of a multitude of people. Do not be afraid; both you and your children shall still have maintenance from me. With such kindly words he comforted them.
So, with all his father's household, he continued to dwell in Egypt, and reached the age of a hundred and ten. He lived to see Ephraim a grandfather, and Machir, son of Manasses, had children whom he took on his knees. After this he said to his kindred, When I am dead, God will have mercy on you, and enable you to return from this country to the home which he promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And he bound them by an oath, When God shews you this mercy, you must take my bones out of this land with you. So he died, a hundred and ten years old, and they embalmed him with spices, and laid him to rest in a coffin, there in Egypt.