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Monday, August 12, 2019

M³ Jacob's Trauma

Joseph, still in disguise, is all too happy to sell the brothers food, although he does ask for a ransom of sorts. In order to know if the brothers are truly spies, he holds one back (Simeon volunteers) and asks that they return with their youngest brother Benjamin. He’s not heartless, though, as he returns the brothers’ money in with their sacks of grain.

The brothers return home, and explain everything to Jacob, along with a minor freakout over the returned money. Jacob is not fairing so well when the brothers return. He still laments Joseph’s death, and is now worried that Simeon will be gone, or, worse, that Benjamin will be taken from him.
This is quite a change from the Jacob who snookered Esau out of his birthright. This is even a change from the Jacob who was concerned more about status than about Dinah’s rape. I think we can attribute this partly to age as Jacob has seen his family grow, and he is approaching the end of his own life. Joseph will later question the brothers whether or not Jacob is even still alive. Joseph, at the time, was the youngest, and now has children who were born before the seven years of plenty were up, and Jacob himself had twelve sons, so for the youngest to be married and having children in ancient times makes Jacob, well, ancient.
While we did spend quite a bit of time with Abraham, this is the first time in the Bible that a character has been allowed to age so thoroughly. Yes, we had Isaac, but all we have of him is potential human sacrifice, and then he’s blind and dying. We’ve actually been with Jacob his entire life, watching him from his adventures over the course of a lifetime. The changes are interesting to look at, too, as the priorities seemingly shift, but the reality is that Jacob has always been putting family first.
This was true when he acquired Esau’s birthright so that he could look after his father’s lands and take care of his mother. He labored for the hands of Leah and Rachel so that he might have his own family. While he may have shown callousness in the treatment of Dinah’s rape, he was concerned about the welfare of his entire family, fearing retribution that would destroy them all. So it’s not surprising to see Jacob’s concern, here. It is surprising to see him so traumatized by Joseph’s death, as if that one loss was the loss of the entire family.

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