Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I received two responses to Going Bananas that I thought were worthy of addressing. First, my friend Liz McGuire shared this 'FWIW' information on the possible context of the Jacob and Esau story. I found it interesting and thought you might also.  I am indebted to Liz and Geri for their thoughtful responses.

In the [apocryphal] Book of Jasher, Nimrod has the garments which the Lord made for Adam ("with which Nimrod prevailed over the whole land"). Ham had stolen them from Noah (possibly the real reason Ham was cursed), and they were handed down to Nimrod. ....For unknown reasons, Nimrod is jealous of Esau (one is left to fill in the backstory and how the two might behave because of this). One day Esau is out hunting, sees Nimrod, and hides himself until Nimrod and two of his men are near. Then Esau jumps out and slays Nimrod. Esau fights desperately with the two men and kills them as well. But "all the mighty men of Nimrod" heard the cries during the fight and came to see. Esau steals the garments, runs, and hides them in his own house.

Then Esau took the garments and ran into the city, "on account of Nimrod's men" (presumably they're still hot on his trail). He goes to his father's house and meets Jacob there. He tells Jacob he's going to die that day, so what good is his birthright? "And Jacob acted wisely with Esau in this matter, and Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, for it was so brought about by the Lord."

Esau is never brought to account for the death of Nimrod, so we might infer that Jacob hid Esau and saved him from being found and killed by Nimrod's men...

So, perhaps Jacob should have helped Esau without condition, or perhaps this was as the Lord wished all along. Certainly, Esau shouldn't have gone around murdering and thieving... Either way, there's an awful lot of conflict between Esau and Jacob, not just in this story.

Geri Hooker was intrigued by the account of Cathy and Seig Arp sharing food with four families in one night. She wondered if this was unusual and if it is a cultural thing. The answer is, yes, and yes.  As Cathy once explained to me, all that is necessary for anyone asking for help of any kind is to extablish a family connection.  Here on this small island, that is not difficult. You don't have to go back far to come to a family relationship.  The family is critical in every part of Samoan culture. It controls land holdings, leadership and status (matai titles), and exerts great influence on politics, education, village life and on and on. There is an expectation that when help is needed, the obligation is to provide if at all possible. Sadly, in some cases, debt will be incurred to meet the request of someone in need. In the case of Seig and Cathy, as it is with many, they grow a variety of staple crops on their land, and could have and probably did provide without great out of pocket cost.

So now you know. Or think you know. Or wonder even more. That's about where I am. 

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