Isaac – The Archer of Paran
A Story of Biblical Fiction
The Conclusion Read Part One
The story of Isaac can be found in Genesis chapters 17-34.
For the first few days of Ishmael’s stay, all appeared to go well. He and Esau went hunting together and the nephew marveled at his uncle’s prowess with the bow. Nonetheless, it wasn’t long until the visit was shattered by a complaint made by Ishmael to Isaac.
With a stony expression and spasms of anger flexing his brow, his dark eyes flashing with deep indignation, and his voice ominous with threat, Ishmael stated, “Isaac, my brother, your son, Jacob, has grievously slandered me and my sons; so much so that, though he has not yet reached his full maturity, if he were not your son, I would have slain him where he stood! ”
Isaac gawked in disbelief. When he recovered, he asked, “Ishmael, how has Jacob done such injury to you and your sons? What did my son say, that so grievously slandered you?”
“Jacob said to many of your chieftains, in the presence of me and my sons, that I and all those who came with me are as wild, savage boars. He said that, even as such boars, we are not fit dwell among civilized tribes.”
During the exchange, Isaac had been sitting just outside the door of his tent. Now he stood to his feet, his expression one of anguish. With a gesture, he waved to the chief steward of his household to him.
“Yusaf, send three of your strongest menservants to find my son, Jacob. Order them to bring him to me. If he ignores their summons, have bring him here in bonds,” he commanded.
“At once, master,” the flabbergasted Yusaf replied and hurried to obey.
Isaac – The Archer of Paran
In Isaac’s tent, Jacob stood apprehensively before his father. His uncle sat across the tent from them. Jacob had never seen his normally placid father appear so angry. Just as Isaac was about to speak, Rebecca rushed into the tent and stood next to her son.
“Why have you come, Rebecca?” her husband asked.
“It was reported to me that Jacob is here and the lies you have been told about him. I come to defend him,” she replied.
“You will leave here now, Rebecca! This is a matter for which Jacob must answer for himself,” Isaac ordered.
“I shall not leave without my son!” she stated.
Isaac stood and walked to the entrance and called, “Yusaf, please enter!”
After his chief steward entered, Isaac instructed him, “Yusaf, have the same servants who brought Jacob to me escort your mistress from this tent. If she resists, have them gently carry her out. No one is to enter here until I say otherwise.
“Yes, my Supreme Chief, Isaac,” Yusaf replied with a respectful bow of his head.
Furious, but unresisting and herself apprehensive, Rebecca permitted herself to be led away. This was a side of her husband she had never seen. Before this episode, she always felt able to get her way with him. And, like Jacob, she also had never seen Isaac so angry.
“Now, Jacob,” Isaac began when the three were alone, “Your Uncle Ishmael has told me of your slander against him.”
“My father, I did not slander Uncle Ishmael,” Jacob whined.
“You did not tell our chieftains that your uncle and those who came with him are as wild boars?” Ishmael asked.
“And you did not say that my brother Ishmael and his sons are not fit to dwell among civilized tribes?”
“No, I did not say these things, my father,” Jacob affirmed.
Isaac continued his interrogation of Jacob. “Then, are you saying to me that your uncle has lied in reporting that you did say these things?”
Jacob went silent, understanding that if he affirmed that his uncle had lied, and that he himself was telling the truth, there were witness among the chieftains who would back up Ishmael’s report.
“I await your answer, Jacob,” Isaac prompted, his tone harsh.
“I have no answer, my father. My uncle did not lie. I know there are chieftains who can witness that I did say these things. I beg my uncle’s forgiveness.”
“Hear me, Jacob. Understand what I say now, for you are no longer a child. Had a stranger said the thing you said about your uncle, the stranger would have slain been executed by him. You live now only because you are my son.
“Hear my sentence upon!” Isaac decreed, “Each day until they depart, you shall wash the feet of your uncle and your cousins each time they ask it of you. I shall ask them if you have done so. You shall feed and water their camels and horses, as well as our own. You shall trim the hooves of their animals and our own. You shall milk the sheep and goats, bake the bread, make the cheese and churn the butter.
“No servants shall assist you in these tasks; neither shall your mother do so. You shall remain apart from her, until I say otherwise. If either you or she refuses to remain apart, I shall extend your punishment. If you refuse to fulfill this sentence, I shall disown you as a son, and you shall be driven from the camp. Hitherto you have been an indolent, lazy and have refused to do the work of the encampment. Now you shall know what it is to work. Should you abandon this camp and go elsewhere to escape my sentence, do not attempt to return. Your sentence begins immediately! Do you have more word to speak to me?”
His eyes lowered, Jacob replied, “No my father.”
“Then leave us and ask Yusaf to return. He must be made aware of your sentence.”
The next three months passed quickly. Ishmael, his sons and their caravan were about to depart for home. Isaac, Esau and the chieftains had gathered to bid the travelers farewell. Rebecca also was present, but reluctantly, and at Isaac’s explicit command. Isaac, however, had excluded Jacob, whose sentence had not been lifted.
Each of Ishmael’s sons gave Isaac a kiss of departure. Isaac kissed his brother on both cheeks, saying, “Farewell, my dear brother Ishmael. May the God of our father, Abraham, guide you safely to your home.”
Ishmael returned the kisses. “And may your God bless and keep you, Isaac,” he replied.
He took both of Rebecca’s hands in his and kissed them. “I and my sons leave you now, my lady. We thank you for your hospitality to us. Would your God had permitted my spouse Aseneth, the mother of my sons, to live. She would have loved you as a sister, he stated. Rebecca nodded, but remain silent.
Ishmael drew his brother aside. “Isaac, for my sake, please pardon the young man, Jacob. Lift your sentence from upon him. Please, do this as a farewell gift to me. And send for him now, that I also may bid him farewell. Remember how you forgave Massa, my son, when he spoke disrespectfully of you?”
“I remember,” Isaac responded. “Bring my son, Jacob, to me, immediately.” he said to a servant.
“Yes master,” the man replied.
It wasn’t long before Jacob arrived, appearing tired, disheveled and disheartened. “I am here, my father. What do you wish of me?”
“I have sent for you at the request of your uncle. As you know, he and his sons are now departing for home. Your uncle Ishmael desires to bid you farewell.”
Embracing his nephew, Ishmael kissed him on both cheeks, and then said, “Come my nephew, kiss me farewell, also. I have asked your father to release you from your sentence. I desire that we part from each other with love.”
Jacob began to weep. Though his sobs, he said. “Forgive me for my foolish word, Uncle Ishmael. It was right for my father to punish me, for my speech against you was worthy of my execution. Forgive me my uncle.”
“I gladly forgive you, Jacob. Stop weeping now and kiss your cousins farewell.”
As Jacob did so, Ishmael walked over to Esau. Facing him, he grasped his favorite nephew by both shoulders. “Esau, my hunting companion,” he loudly exclaimed, “you must come to visit me and we shall again hunt together. There are vast herds of wild oxen near our castles in the land of the Egyptians. When you visit us, we shall hunt them together. It shall be great sport. And should the Egyptians attempt to prevent us, we shall do battle against them. That too shall be great sport! What say you?”
Esau was about to respond, but Isaac intervened, saying, “It is my prayer that I also shall again be able to visit with you in your land, Esau. At that time, I shall have all of my family with me.”
“And at that time, shall you and Jacob battle the Egyptians along with Esau and me, if the need arises?” Ishmael teased, “I venture to you will not, for you and Jacob are lovers of peace. I again bid you farewell, Isaac.”
As the caravan moved out, Esau asked, “My father, please permit me to ride with them until they arrive at the Oasis of Medi; it is only a short ride. I shall then return.”
Receiving a nod from his father, Esau mounted his horse and followed the caravan. When it reached the oasis, he again waved goodbye to his uncles and cousins, waited until the caravan blended into the horizon, then spurred his horse homeward toward the encampment.
© Josprel (Joseph Perrello)