The End of the Book of Genesis: Stations in Jacob’s Life

Yesterday we finished reading all of the “Pharashot” (weekly Torah portions) of the Book of Genesis and this upcoming week we will begin with the next book in line – Exodus. Before we begin with Exodus, I would like to discuss briefly about one of the main figures of Genesis – Jacob. If we take a closer look into Jacob’s life, we will notice one very interesting element which follows him through crucial events in his life. It is all started before Jacob was even born when his mother Rebekah asked, “Why is this happening to me?” Rebekah was referring the struggle of the twins in her belly and then God replied: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”(Genesis 25:23). The key words are: “the older shall serve the younger” and as we about to see, this is exactly the story of Jacob’s life. When Jacob was just born, the struggle over who would be the firstborn, him or his brother Esau, determined his path in life. After following his mother’s advice, he pretended to be his older brother Esau in order to obtain Isaac’s blessing. By doing so, Jacob changed the order of the older comes before the younger for the first time. Then, as a result of the last action, he needed to flee to Charan where he worked for Laban for seven years in order to get marry to Laban’s younger daughter Rachel. After long seven years of hard labor, Laban tells Jacob: “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.” (Genesis 29:26) And so the same thing that Jacob ran away from, the whole story with Esau came back to his life, but now it has been done to him! At the end of the Book of Genesis, Jacob is old and his days are numbered. Before he dies, he wishes to see and to bless his two grandchildren, Joseph’s sons: Manasseh and Ephraim. Now, when the two boys come near their grandfather in order to receive their blessing, Jacob switches his hands so Ephraim (who was the younger son) suddenly became the older replacing Manasseh! And so Jacob’s life ends exactly as promised in God’s words to Rebekah, before Jacob was born:”… the older shall serve the younger”.