First Kiss

You will remember *from last time* that Jacob, while on the way to Haran (in Mesopotamia) to escape his terrifying brother Esau, stopped off for the night at the little town of Luz. While sleeping, he thought he saw Esau standing over him. This so terrified Jacob that his bowels loosened. Jacob’s momentarily later realising it was God, not Esau, who had been standing over him was too late for his very smelly garments and bedding, which he had no option but to clean as best he could.

The next morning Jacob resumed his journey to Haran. He came across some tribesman giving their sheep water to drink from a well. Jacob spoke to one of the tribesmen – a fellow with a crooked nose and a missing front tooth.

“Where are you all from?” said Jacob.

“From Haran.”

“Goodness me” said Jacob, “Haran is the very town I’m headed for. Tell me, do any of you fellows know Laban, who lives there?”

“Why do you want to know?” said the tribesman.

“Well, Laban is my uncle whom I’ll be staying with for a while.”

“Yes, we do know Laban.”

“Is he well?”

“He is, as far as we know.”

Jacob noticed a young woman coming towards them while herding a flock of sheep.

“Who’s she?” said Jacob.

“Rachel, a daughter of your Uncle Laban” said the tribesman.

When Rachel, with her flock – Laban’s flock, actually – came to where Jacob and the tribesman were, Jacob went to her and kissed her.

“Aren’t you being a little forward?” said Rachel, “for I know not who you are.”

“I’m Jacob, your father’s nephew and your first cousin.”

“Oh, then I suppose it was alright for you to kiss me. I hope you won’t take offence, cousin, but you do smell awfully bad. When did you last wash?”

“It’s too long a story to go into right now. Perhaps I’ll tell you of it sometime, but not before I’ve introduced myself to my Uncle Laban, who I do hope you will now lead me to.”

Rachel accordingly led Jacob to the home of her father, Laban. When they reached the dwelling, Rachel went inside to explain to her father who Jacob was. Then Laban came out and warmly embraced his nephew, and welcomed him to his home.

“Before you come in, though” said Laban, “you must have a thorough wash, and your clothes too, for the pong that emanates from you would stink out my home, and I can’t have that. Go to that tree over there, strip off your clothes, and I’ll have a servant pour water over you and scrub you down until the smell is gone. Then we’ll have dinner, and you can tell me more about yourself.”

Source: Genesis 29, 1-14

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8 Responses to First Kiss

  1. jenny says:

    I was listening to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” today. (If you don’t know this show, please give it a try. I think you’ll like it. It’s a product of Chicago Public Radio and you can listen to it online very easily.)

    Anyway, Neko Case was one of the guests on the show. She’s a singer with a group called the New Pornographers. (I wouldn’t know anything about her if it were not for my 18 year old daughter.) Anyway. Anyway, the host (whom I adore) asked her what it’s like being rock star, whether she’s mobbed by hipster boys in skinny jeans, and she said that the only time a boy has ever come up to her after a show, it turned out to be her cousin.

    You see, Philippe, that’s the way it is and has always been, for poor Rachel and for Neko Case.

  2. Philippe says:

    @Jenny – I did manage to track down an episode of *Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me*, that I found funny. I’ll listen to more of them as my mood takes me.

    But, is Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me “Blue State” humour? If so, does NPR have an equivalent programme for “Red Staters”? If not, might this be discriminatory, and thereby infringe one of the countless amendments in the American constitution?

    In the matter of radio humour, I grew up (in the 1950s) listening to BBC radio comedy shows. One such was “Hancock’s Half-Hour”, one of whose episodes I tracked down *here*.

    While it may not appeal to your comedic tastes because it was (a) long ago, and (b) English, you might, if a cultural anthropologist, find it of some academic interest.

    @Richard – I read the obituary in question. I may indeed be tip-toeing in the giant footsteps which the Reverend Eugene Nida left behind. But, will I live to be 96? which I suspect I’ll have to, if, at my present leisurely pace, I’m to re-tell all of the bible!!

  3. dafna says:

    fantastic philippe, you are right on track and getting closer and closer to my Jacob’s torah portion.

    it’s the bit where he again does something in his pants because his brother esau is coming to visit him and he does not know what to expect.

    i can’t wait to check out your BBC link, i’ve ALWAYS loved british humour, but lately i’m turning into an anglophile 🙂

    NIko Case is amazing – i’m the reader that always leaves youtube links – i’m sure i have left one before but here she is again:

    she is also amazing with Jakob Dylan try this: http://youtu.be/vwJAISKaR1s

    called “nothing but the whole wide world” – he is very spiritual

  4. jenny says:

    Thanks, Philippe. Hancock is very fun. I love old radio, actually. Have you ever listened to anything in the old Yiddish radio archives?

    Here, by the way, is Neko’s appearance on Wait, Wait, where she is quite funny: http://www.npr.org/2009/07/11/106504004/not-my-job-neko-case

  5. Philippe says:

    @Dafna, Jenny – Thank you for the links. I confess to not having before heard of Neko Case or Jakob Dylan, despite that my knowledge of popular music from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s is almost encyclopedic. Being always protean, I began in the late 1970s to turn my attention to music not of the “pop” genre.

    What with Wiki, I was able to learn that Neko Case has Canadian connections, and that Jakob Dylan is the son of the legendary Bob. I listened to the songs on the links you sent. I liked them. The lyrics of “I Wish I Was the Moon” are enticingly depressing. Jakob sounds a lot like Bob.

    Now, it’s my turn to leave a link to song of which you may not have heard, by a Canadian singer/songwriter of which you may not have heard – “Black Day in July” by Gordon Lightfoot. It was big in 1968: [ youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPXL3iEVnCM ]

  6. jenny says:

    Terrific song, and, you’re right, I had never heard it. I do a lot of community education about civil rights laws, and I will use this. Thanks, Philippe.

    It was impossible to grow up in the seventies without knowing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by heart, but I am a typical American in many ways, so I was not aware that Gordon Lightfoot was Canadian.

  7. Philippe says:

    You may not have heard of the song because many US radio stations refused to play it.

    If you look at the video you’ll see, beginning at about 3.48 minutes in, a picture of Mitt Romney’s father. Interesting, huh?!!

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