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The Apocryphal Old Testament Collection of the most important non-canonical Old Testament books designed for general use.

Chapter XXXVII

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Text Commentary

1And on the day that Jacob and Esau's father Isaac died, Esau's sons heard that Isaac had given the elder's portion to Jacob his younger son; and they were very angry. 2And they started a dispute with their father, saying, why has your father given Jacob the elder's portion and passed you over, although you are the elder and Jacob the younger? 3And he said to them, Because I sold my birthright to Jacob for a modest lentil stew; and on the day my father sent me out hunting to bring him back something, so that he could eat of it and bless me, Jacob 1 Lit. ‘he’. treacherously came and brought my father food and drink, and my father blessed him and made me his subordinate. 2 Lit. ‘put me under his hand’. 4And now our father has made us swear, both of us, that we will plan no evil against each other, either of us against his brother, and that we will persevere in love and peace, each with his brother, and not be led astray. 3 Lit. ‘and not make our ways corrupt’. 5And they said to him, we will not listen to you and make peace with him, for our strength is greater than his strength, and we are more powerful than he is: we will attack him and kill him, and we will destroy his sons; 4 So the majority of Eth. MSS: Lat. and (it would seem) one Eth. MS read ‘him and his sons’. and if you will not go with us, we will do you some damage too. 6Listen now to us: let us send to Aram and Philistia and Moab and Ammon and choose for ourselves picked men, ardent for battle, and let us attack him and do battle with him and exterminate him from the earth before he takes root and grows strong.

7And their father said to them, Do not go and make war with him in case you fall before him. 8And they said to him, This is exactly how you always have behaved from your youth till now: you submit your neck to his yoke; but we will not listen to such talk. 9And they sent to Aram, and to Aduram, their father's friend, and they hired along with them a thousand fighting men, picked warriors all of them. 10And there came to them from Moab and from the Ammonites a thousand picked mercenaries, and from Philistia a thousand picked warriors, and from Edom and the Horites a thousand picked fighting men, and from the Kittim mighty warriors. 11And they said to their father, Take the field with them and lead them, or we will kill you. 12And he was furious and indignant when he saw his sons were forcing him to take command of them and lead them against his brother Jacob. 13But afterwards he recollected all the evil thoughts about his brother Jacob that lay hidden in his heart; and he forgot the oath he had sworn to his father and his mother that he would never plan evil against his brother Jacob at any time.

14And in spite of all this Jacob was unaware that they were coming against him to battle (for he was mourning for his wife Leah) until they came very near to the tower with four thousand warriors and picked fighting men. 15And the men of Hebron sent to him, saying, Behold your brother has come against you to fight you, with four thousand men armed with swords and with shields and other weapons. (They told him because they much preferred Jacob to Esau, for Jacob was a much kinder and more generous man than Esau.) 16But Jacob would not believe it until they came very near the tower. 17And he shut the gates of the tower and stood on the battlements and addressed his brother Esau and said, This is fine comfort you come with to comfort me for my wife's death. Is this the oath that you swore to your father and again to your mother before they died? You have broken the oath; and at the very moment you swore to your father you were condemned.

18And Esau answered immediately and said to him, Neither man nor beast knows of any oath that is inviolable, which when once sworn, is valid for ever; 5 Lit. ‘Neither the sons of men nor the beasts of the earth have any oath of righteousness, which in swearing they have sworn for ever’. but they plan evil against each other every day, how they can kill their rivals and their enemies. 19You hate me and my children always; and there is no possibility of observing the tie of brotherhood with you. 20Listen now to this, 6 Lit. ‘Hear these words which I declare to you’.

If the boar can change his skin and make his bristles as soft as wool, Or if he can make horns to sprout out of his head like the horns of a stag or a sheep, Then will I observe the tie of brotherhood with you. 7 All the Eth. MSS add an extra line at this point, which does not fit well into the context. Charles rendered it ‘And if the breasts separated themselves from their mother, for you have not been a brother to me’ and supposed it to be a wandering fragment from verse 19. After transposing the two distinct clauses in the line, and some further emendation, he suggested as the original for verse 19, ‘You hate me and my children always; for you have never been a brother to me since the twins were separated from their mother, and there is no possibility of observing the tie of brotherhood with you’. 21 And if the wolves can make peace with the lambs so as not to devour them or do them violence, And if their hearts are inclined towards them for good, Then shall there be peace in my heart towards you. 22 And if the lion becomes the friend of the ox and makes peace with him, 8 In some MSS ‘and makes peace with him’ is placed after ‘and ploughs with him’: in others it is omitted. And if he is joined under one yoke with him and ploughs with him, Then will I make peace with you. 23 And when the raven becomes white like the raza, 9 According to Charles this was the local name for ‘a large white bird’. Then know that I am well disposed towards you, And that I will make peace with you. But now you shall be rooted up, and your sons shall be rooted up, And you shall have no peace.

24And when Jacob saw that he was so evilly disposed towards him and was determined at all costs to kill him, and that he had come charging at him like a wild boar that hurls itself without flinching 25against the spear that pierces and kills it, he gave the order to his household and his servants to attack him and all his associates.

Notes:

1 Lit. ‘he’.

2 Lit. ‘put me under his hand’.

3 Lit. ‘and not make our ways corrupt’.

4 So the majority of Eth. MSS: Lat. and (it would seem) one Eth. MS read ‘him and his sons’.

5 Lit. ‘Neither the sons of men nor the beasts of the earth have any oath of righteousness, which in swearing they have sworn for ever’.

6 Lit. ‘Hear these words which I declare to you’.

7 All the Eth. MSS add an extra line at this point, which does not fit well into the context. Charles rendered it ‘And if the breasts separated themselves from their mother, for you have not been a brother to me’ and supposed it to be a wandering fragment from verse 19. After transposing the two distinct clauses in the line, and some further emendation, he suggested as the original for verse 19, ‘You hate me and my children always; for you have never been a brother to me since the twins were separated from their mother, and there is no possibility of observing the tie of brotherhood with you’.

8 In some MSS ‘and makes peace with him’ is placed after ‘and ploughs with him’: in others it is omitted.

9 According to Charles this was the local name for ‘a large white bird’.

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