Esau – The Archer of Paran
A Biblical Fiction Story
Part Three Read Part Two
Isaac’s sons, Jacob and Esau, were twins, but a person wouldn’t suspect it by looking at them. From his puberty, Esau was hairy and rugged. The tribal history chroniclers alleged that Esau’s name was derived from the word “Seir,” claiming that the word meant “hairy.” Tribal seers and prognosticators predicted that Seir was a territory Esau would one day claim as his own. (Genesis 25:19-34)
An outdoorsman, camp life bored Esau. Instead he delighted in the chase of the hunt, often returning to the encampment with an antelope, a wild goat, or a bighorn mountain sheep he had slain slung over his broad, hairy shoulders. On his return with game from a successful hunt, Esau always simmered a stew from the meat of his kill, sharing it with his father. Isaac relished these stews; he looked forward to them. It was well known among Isaac’s tribes that Esau was his favorite son.
Jacob, who was born a second or so after Esau, entered life clutching onto his brother’s heel. Tribal chroniclers were at odds regarding the meaning of his name. Some claimed it meant, “heel-catcher,” while others asserted that the name meant, “supplanter.”
Unlike Esau, Jacob was a man-about-camp, a homebody who enjoyed the activities associated with domestic life, especially that of cooking. Perhaps it was for this reason that he became the son favored by his mother, Rebecca. The favoritism displayed by both parents engendered a scorn for each other within the twins. Jacob considered Esau an ignorant lout, often implying that his twin’s shagginess indicated that he should live among the wild animals. He also vilified Esau as an oaf who brought disgrace to the family.
Esau, on the other hand, heaped insults on Jacob. Now into his adolescence, Esau was enormously popular among the tribesmen. He once laughingly stated to his numerous camp cronies, “My brother, Jacob, is still our mother’s infant. He continues to suckle at her breasts. I believe he shall do so even when he attains his manhood – if one can call that which he attains a manhood.”
Another time, after they had a scuffle in which Rebecca, as always, intervened on the side of Jacob, Esau referred to his twin as a “cowardly camp puppy that fears to defend itself when other puppies steal a bone it is chewing on. Like a cowardly puppy, he whimpers and whines until his mother comes to defend him.”
Rebecca slapped Esau hard across his cheek for making the statement. He only chuckled and said, “Jacob, my brother, our mother has courageously defended you. Now follow after her like an obedient camp dog.”
Esau – The Archer of Paran
Esau had just returned from a hunt with an antelope and a large mountain sheep slung across the back of a packhorse he led behind his own stallion. Dismounting, he thoughtfully unloaded his kills some distance from the cooking fires. He did not want to disturb those who attended the fires, where Jacob assisted Rebecca in supervised the camp cooks; they were readying bread dough for baking on the flat hot stones placed over the cooking fires. Having been notified by an advance rider of the soon arrival of Isaac and his brother Ishmael, the entire camp was in a state of anxious anticipation.
“Jacob, come, help me skin these animals,” Esau called out, “If we cut them up quickly, there shall be meat for our father and those who come with him. Come help me.”
“Can you not see that my son, Jacob, is too busy that which you ask of him,” Rebecca sharply remonstrated, “Unlike you who, in your laziness, do nothing but ride horses and chase after animals, Jacob works hard here at the fire.”
Before Esau could respond, the blast of a ram’s horn sounded, and a camp sentry shouted, “The caravan approaches; the caravan approaches! The caravan of our Supreme Chief is still distant, but it is drawing closer! The caravan of our supreme chief approaches!”
Hearing the urgent summons, each of Isaac’s chieftains mounted their camels to ride out and meet the caravan. Esau dropped what he was doing, jumped on his horse and raced after them. As his speedily passed the camels, it left a cloud of dusty sand that forced the chieftains to cover their faces. Speeding on, his mount taking tortured breaths in the blistering heat, Esau soon arrived at his destination, reigning up next to his father.
“I am happy to see you, my father. I greet you in the name of the God of Abraham,” he said.
“And I greet you in the name of my father’s God, my son.” Isaac stared intently at his son. “But why are you thus attired? Your garments are stained with blood. Have you suffered injury?”
“I have no injury, my father. I have just returned from a hunt. I was beginning to skin the animals I slew, when the report of your coming sounded. I left all to ride out to greet you. Please forgive my soiled garments. I thought only of meeting you.”
“I understand, my son,” Isaac assured him, motioning to Ishmael. “This is my brother, your uncle Ishmael.”
Esau bowed his head in a gesture of humility. “I greet you in the name of the God of Abraham, my uncle,” Esau said in a tone of meekness, “Please forgive the rudeness for having greeted you in garments such as these. I mean no disrespect.”
“I thank you for your welcome, Esau, my nephew. I take no offence at your appearance, for I understand the hunt. I also am a hunter.”
Isaac summoned one of his outriders. “Halt the caravan,” he ordered, “I would have my son meet his cousins before my chieftains arrive.”
© Josprel (Joseph Perrello)