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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
Table of Contents




GOD blessed Isaac and Rebekah, and gave them two sons, who were twins. Just before their birth God told Isaac that He would give him these sons, and that they should both be the founders of great nations, but that the younger should [25] excel the other. And when they were born, Isaac called the elder Esau, which means rough or hairy, because the child was born with hair all over his body, and the younger he called Jacob. Esau was the favorite son of Isaac, but Jacob was his mother's favorite. When these sons had grown up to be men, and Isaac was very old and feeble, and also blind, he called to his favorite son Esau and explained to him that, being himself now unfitted for offering up the sacrifices to God, he was anxious that his son should be his worthy successor. He therefore bade him go out into the woods and kill as much venison, as he could, and prepare him a supper. After the supper was over, Isaac said, he would bless his son and pray to God for him, and God would let him know what his future life would be. So Esau went out hunting. But Rebekah had overheard what Isaac said, and she was anxious that Jacob also should receive the blessing of his father and have his future revealed to him. She therefore bade Jacob kill some young goats and prepare a supper. Jacob obeyed his mother, and when the supper was ready he took a goat's skin and laid it upon his arm. He thought that his blind father, feeling the hair of the goat, would mistake him for his brother Esau. And it happened indeed as he had expected. For, when he brought the supper to his father, Isaac, hearing his voice, recognized it as the voice of Jacob, and bade him approach. But when he took hold of Jacob's hand, which was covered with the skin of the goat, he said, "Thy voice is like the voice of Jacob, yet because of the thickness of thy hair thou must be Esau."

So, suspecting no deceit, he ate of the supper, and then poured out his prayers to God, and said, "O Lord of all ages, and Creator of all substance; for it was Thou that didst propose to my father great plenty of good things, and hast vouchsafed to bestow on me what I have; and hast promised to my posterity to be their kind supporter, and to bestow on [26] them still greater blessings; do Thou therefore confirm these Thy promises, and do not overlook me because of my present weak condition. Be gracious to this my son; and preserve and keep him from everything that is evil. Give him a happy life, and the possession of as many good things as Thy power is able to bestow. Make him terrible to his enemies, and honorable and beloved among his friends."

Such was Isaac's prayer, and he had just finished when Esau came in from hunting. Esau was grieved and angry when he found what his brother had done, and he prayed his father to give him the same blessing that he had given to Jacob. But Isaac, though he too lamented the mistake, could not now remedy it, because all his prayers had been spent upon Jacob. However, when Esau burst out weeping, the father strove to comfort him, and predicted that he should excel in hunting and strength of body and bravery, and should obtain glory forever on those accounts, he and his descendants after him, but nevertheless that he should always serve his brother.

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