I am very much excited about this story and glad you stopped by. We’re only at the second part, but you can read it from the beginning by clicking here. As always, thanks for stopping by.
* * *
Evening comes and Judah joins his family for dinner. They sit around the camp fire, outside of Jacob’s tent, with Jacob in the seat of honor; and Rachel and Deborah on either side of him. Around him sit the sons of Leah, who, as official heirs of Jacob, bask in the glory of the position – though it meant nothing compared to receiving Jacob’s love as Rachel did. It was no secret his grandfather had deceived Jacob into marrying Leah many years ago, but given everything she had done to redeem herself, Jacob should have done more on her behalf – at the very least given her the honor he reserved for Rachel.
Judah scowls; this was not the type of man he wanted to be and if he could muster up the courage to confront his father, then he could make certain that never happened. Carefully judging the situation, Judah weighs his options: speak with his father in private where he can argue and put off deciding, or speak now and force him to make a decision – good or bad. His mother would say no, of course, but ultimately, it wasn’t for her to deny him. No, he had to do it now, while the morning’s conversation was still fresh in his father’s mind.
Judah picks up a piece of roasted goat and looks around him. Though his father sits deep in thought, his older brothers, Reuben, Simeon and Levi carry on loudly as they eat, roaring and laughing boisterously. His younger brothers Zebulon and Issachar, still young boys, fight with the concubine’s sons, Dan and Gad, while their mothers correct them. Only Asher and Naphtali sit quietly with their and eat, as Rachel listens to Deborah tell tales of Jacob’s childhood.
With a deep breath, Judah connects eyes with Judah and states, “Avi, I wish to go to Hebron.”
Jacob’s expression doesn’t change, though the older brothers stop their play and Leah snaps to attention.
“Most certainly not,” she says harshly.
“Why do you want to go there?” Reuben asks.
With everyone’s attention now on him, Judah realizes he hadn’t thought this far ahead. He had imagined Leah saying no, igniting Jacob’s pride to make a decision. Leah had done her part, but Jacob remained silent.
“I…,” he begins, hesitating, wondering why he thought this was a better alternative to speaking with his father alone. How was he to explain himself to the family?
Something snaps in him. He didn’t have to explain himself to the family. This was his life, not theirs.
“Our inheritance in is Hebron; you have told us this countless times. I wish to go there, to learn, to see what Elohim has set aside for us. You have Reuben, Simeon, Levi and all the others to watch the livestock. Certainly you can spare one son to go ahead of you , join your avi and imma and prepare for your arrival.”
Judah is more eloquent than he intended and as silence descends upon them again, he wonders if perhaps he was too articulate. He wasn’t lying – entirely. Jacob had often spoken of Canaan and insisted they worship Elohim, the god of his father Isaac, instead of the numerous deities of their land. And it was an unspoken truth that as long as Rachel remained barren, they would be planted in Padan-Aram. Still, the explanation seemed out of character even for him.
Again, Leah is the first to speak.
“No. You are not going,” she insists. He knows it’s out of anger and fear: surely if they had duped her, would they not deceive him? But her word means nothing, especially to Jacob, who, as Judah expected, responds with, “The boy can go.”
Leah becomes combative with Jacob and argues, as Rachel, Reuben, Simeon and Levi join in on the fight. This was the very thing Judah hated about his family, but tonight, he didn’t mind it so much – his days as a bene Jacob were numbered and in a less than a week, he would be a free man.