Home  |  Authors  |  Books  |  Stories 
   T h e   B a l d w i n   P r o j e c t
     Bringing Yesterday's Classics to Today's Children                 @mainlesson.com
Search This Site Only
Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
Table of Contents




REBEKAH was afraid that Esau might inflict some punishment upon Jacob because of the deceit he had practiced upon him, and she therefore besought her husband to choose a wife for Jacob from among her own kindred. And Isaac having consented that Jacob should marry Rachel, the daughter of her brother Laban, the young man was sent to visit her in her native country. On his journey through the land of Canaan, Jacob, because he knew the people who dwelt there were idolaters, refused all their offers of hospitality and pre- [27] ferred rather to take up his lodgings in the open air. At night-time he gathered up a heap of stones to serve as a pillow. And once as he was sleeping thus he beheld a wonderful vision. He seemed to see a ladder that reached from the earth unto heaven, and angels were going up and down upon it, and at last God himself stood above it and was plainly visible to him. And God, calling him by name, told him that because he was the son of so good a father, and because he was the descendant of Abraham, He would watch over him and bless him. And the marriage which he contemplated would be a happy one, and he would have a great multitude of descendants, to whom the land of Canaan would be given.

"Fear no danger, therefore," said the Lord, "and be not disheartened because of the many hardships thou must undergo, for I will watch over thee and direct what thou art to do in the time present, and still more in the time to come."

Jacob rose from his sleep refreshed and strengthened. And because of the great promise that had been made to him in that place, he poured oil upon the stones, and promised that if he lived and returned safe he would offer sacrifices upon them, and that of all the flocks and herds and silver and gold which God should give him, he would give a tenth part to the Lord. That is to say, he would build altars and offer sacrifices and do good to the poor.

So he proceeded on his journey, and at length came to Haran. Meeting a number of shepherds in the suburbs of the town, he questioned them whether they knew a man named Laban, and whether he was still alive. And they answered that they knew him well, for he was an important man in the town, and that his daughter Rachel fed her father's flock together with them. They wondered, indeed, that she was not now among them, for it was the usual time for her appearance. And even as they spoke, the maiden came out of the city and came near to where they were. Then the other [28] shepherds pointed Jacob out to her, and told her that he was a stranger who came to inquire about her father's affairs. And she, being pleased with his appearance, spoke kindly to him, and asked him who he was and what he wanted, and hoped it might be in their power to supply his wants.

Jacob was surprised at the beauty and grace of the maiden, which were greater than that of any one he had ever seen. And he hastened to tell her who he was, that he was the son of Isaac and Rebekah, and the nephew of her father Laban.

"And now," he continued, "I have come to salute you and your family, and to renew tose friendly feelings which are proper between us."

The maiden gladly welcomed him to their country, and having embraced him, she bade him follow her, as she led the way to her father's house. She assured him that his visit would give Laban the greatest pleasure, for he was always thinking of Rebekah and talking of her. And it was, indeed, as she had said. For when Laban heard who Jacob was, he threw his arms round him and kissed him, and eagerly welcomed him into the house. After they had conversed together for some time, Laban asked Jacob why it was that he had left his aged father and mother to come on so long a journey, and assured him that if he stood in need of any assistance he would gladly give it to him. Then Jacob opened his heart to Laban, and told him that he had left his father's roof because of his fear of Esau, and also because his mother did not wish him to marry any of the Canaanitish women, but to choose a wife from her own tribe.

Laban promised that he would treat Jacob with great kindness, and make him head-shepherd of his flock, and when he should have a mind to return to his parents he would send him back loaded with presents. Jacob replied that he would gladly work for his uncle and would serve him faithfully, but as the reward of his labors he asked only that Laban would give him his daughter Rachel to wife. Laban [29] was well pleased with this arrangement, and said he would give her to Jacob provided he would agree to stay with him for some time, for he was not yet prepared to part with her. And Jacob consented to stay seven years, for his love for Rachel was so great that this seemed a small sacrifice. But when the seven years were ended, Laban refused to give Rachel to Jacob, and in her place he gave him his elder daughter, Leah. For he said it was not right that the younger sister should be married before the elder. However, he told Jacob that if he would work another seven years he might have Rachel also as his wife. So Jacob remained with Laban and worked seven more years for him, and at the end of that time he had both Leah and Rachel for his wives. And they bore him sons and daughters.

For six years longer Jacob and his wives and children dwelt in the land of Chaldea. Then, having been full twenty years absent from his own land, he desired leave of his father-in-law to take his wives and go home. But, as Laban would not give him leave, he decided that he would go secretly. Calling his wives to him, he asked them what they thought of this journey. And he found that they approved of it and were willing to go. Therefore, one day when Laban was away from home, shearing his sheep, Jacob gathered together all his flocks and his other possessions, put his wives and his children upon camels, and set out on his journey towards the land of Canaan. But Laban, after one day's time, learning of Jacob's departure, was much troubled, and pursued him, leading a band of men with him. On the seventh day he overtook the fugitives, and found them resting on a hill. It was evening, and Laban determined not to disturb them then, but to wait until next morning. But in the night-time God stood by him in a dream and warned him to treat his son-in-law and his daughters in a peaceable manner, and not to venture upon anything rashly or in anger, but to make a league with Jacob. And God told him that if he despised their small [30] number and attacked them in a hostile manner, He would Himself assist them. Laban, being warned in this manner by God, next day called Jacob to him and asked him why he had gone away secretly, and had carried Rachel and Leah and their children with him without letting him know. Jacob answered that he had gone in secret because Laban would not let him go in any other way.

"I am not," said Jacob, "the only person to whom God has given a love for his own country. He has made it natural to all men, and therefore it was but reasonable that after so long a time I should wish to go back to my home. And as to thy daughters, I did not force them to come away with me, but they were willing to do so, from that just affection which wives naturally bear to their husbands. They follow, therefore, not so much myself as their own children."

And after more conversation of the same nature, Laban was obliged to acknowledge that Jacob was in the right. So he made a promise, and bound it by oaths, that he would bear him no malice on account of what had happened, and Jacob made the same promise, and swore also that he would always love and cherish Laban's daughters. And in memory of these promises they raised a pillar in the form of an altar upon the mount where they were standing; whence that mount was called Mount Gilead, which means the mount of testimony, and the land was known as the land of Gilead ever after. Now when they had feasted after the making of the league, Laban returned home.

[Illustration] Hundreds of additional titles available for online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics

Learn More

 Table of Contents  |  Index  | Previous: Jacob and Esau  |  Next: The Meeting of Jacob and Esau
Copyright (c) 2000-2018 Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.