Like a Funeral Pyre

The *previous posting* ended with Jacob agreeing to work a further seven years in his Uncle Laban’s fields. It was a sort of labour dowry to get Laban’s younger daughter, Rachel. Jacob had now, in effect, two wives – the sisters Leah and Rachel. But he loved only the younger and beautiful Rachel, and disliked the elder and plain Leah – a dislike fueled by Leah’s having tricked him into sleeping with her, when he thought he was sleeping with Rachel.

A silver lining in the cloud of Jacob having to toil in Laban’s fields for a further seven years to have Rachel, was that he could now sleep with Rachel. So Jacob could now take Rachel to wife on credit so to speak. His payments in labour would end at the end of the next seven years. However, before Jacob could sleep with Rachel, he had first to sleep with Leah for the next seven nights as part of the wedding festivities.

So the next night as Jacob was lying on his bed and trying to go to sleep, he heard the presence of someone at his tent’s opening, and the same words in a female voice that he’d heard the previous night, “You hoo, Jacob, are you there?”

This time, though, there was no mistaking Leah’s voice.

“Oh God, it’s you again” said Jacob, “what do you want?”

“Don’t you know?” said Leah as she slipped off her robes and slid into the bed.

“Yes, I suppose I do know, but I’m not in the mood. And even if I was, I would want Rachel with me, not you.”

“If you aren’t in the mood, I’ll put you in the mood. Oh Jacob, I know from last night just how to put you in the mood.”

Whereupon Leah began doing things to Jacob to put him in the mood – things which took Jacob’s willpower away.

You can’t resist me, can you, Jacob?” said Leah.

“No……I can’t resist you”

“You’re my slave.”

“Yes…….oh yes Leah….I’m your slave…….”

“Do I light your fire?”

“Yes……Oh God……..yes…….you light my fire………yes……yes…..you do…….c’mon baby…..light my fire………light my fire…….light my fire……”

“Shall I set the night on fire?”

“Yes….yes…….set the night on fire…..Oh God Leah……. Oh God……..I’m on fire……..oh..oh..oh…..I’m on fire……”

“Like a funeral pyre?”

“Yes…..yes…..Oh God……yes…..a funeral pyre……I’m a funeral pyre……I’m burning up…….Oh God Leah……you’re incredible……..Oh God I love you……”

With few variations, this scene repeated itself in Jacob’s tent during the remaining nights of the wedding festivities for Leah. Always in the morning, though, Jacob would be filled with self-loathing, feeling he’d wallowed in the mire. But only until Leah’s next visit…………

***

At last came the night when Jacob could openly receive Rachel in his tent. Considering that Jacob had courted Rachel *for seven years* without her allowing him to engage in the act of ultimate union with her, he was all eager anticipation as he lay on his bed in the dark in his tent and awaited Rachel’s arrival. Eventually he heard a rustling noise and a female voice which called out softly, “Yoo hoo Jacob, are you there?”

“Is it really you, Rachel?” said Jacob.

“Yes dearest Jacob, it’s really me,” said Rachel as she came into the tent, disrobed, and slid into the bed.

“I’ve dreamt of this night for seven years” said Jacob, “I only hope I won’t disappoint you, dear Rachel.”

“I’m sure you won’t” said Rachel.

Whereupon Jacob began doing things to Rachel to facilitate the act of ultimate union. But things didn’t go the way they should have.

“What’s the matter?” said Rachel.

“This……..this…….feels somehow strange.”

“Strange? Is it not perfectly natural?”

“Ordinarily, of course, yes. But, throughout the seven years we’ve known each other when we engaged only in ‘heavy petting’ without going ‘all the way’ because you wouldn’t let me, I got so used to this that now I can’t seem to go any further.”

“Don’t worry, dear Jacob. Let’s tonight just continue doing only what we’ve always done. I’m in no hurry. Things will soon work out.”

***

Over the next few nights, though, things changed hardly at all.

“If only you’d allowed me to go ‘all the way’ with you before I took you to wife, then we wouldn’t be having this problem,” said Jacob.

“Oh, so it’s my fault is it?”

“Well………..yes,”

“You do love me, don’t you?”

“Of course I love you. Oh dearest Rachel, haven’t I told you this a hundred times?”

“Do you love Leah?”

“No.”

“No?

“No. I dislike her, actually,”

“So then, how were your nights with Leah?”

“Wonderful. Oh God were they wonderful.”

“I don’t understand. How could you make love to a woman you dislike?”

“It’s just the way I am. I can’t help it. Maybe it’s my low self-esteem.”

“Well, it appears I had the wrong man take me to wife. From what I’ve heard about your brother, Esau – an ape-like hairy man’s man who smells the way a woman likes a man to smell, and who would make love to me every night to the break of the day – he’s the man I should have had take me to wife. Oh, if only Esau had come here to Mesopotamia and not you.”

“Your insensitive words aren’t doing anything for my love for you, dear Rachel,”

“You may love me, but what’s love without passion? Perhaps I’d like some passion, even if without love, like it is with Leah. I’m upset right now. I’ll leave you now to Leah for the next little while.”

With that, Rachel left Jacob’s tent for her own.

Source: Genesis 29, 29-30

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4 Responses to Like a Funeral Pyre

  1. Richard says:

    Slowly, teasingly, this work is revealing itself as the Authentic Version

    Philippe, this is immensely entertaining. You are unique.

    Which is truer, the record or the imagination?

  2. Philippe says:

    This last posting, if nothing else, simply fleshes out Genesis 29, 29-30 which is so skimpy that it demands a more substantive accounting.

    Doctoral candidates in theology or biblical studies might do worse than visit this site regularly, the better to make their theses more pleasing to their examiners.

  3. jenny says:

    Fits with what I’ve been reading lately, actually: a collection of Ovid’s love poems and remedies, translated by David Slavitt. Slavitt says that the poems (Ovid’s) are about being in love with a person you don’t like very much. Ugh. It’s all hopeless.

    My daughter has told me that I’m forbidden to say that things are hopeless. But I mean it in the most lighthearted way….

    She and I are now preparing to watch MANHATTAN, which makes everything seem OK. In my book, anyway. Watching MANHATTAN with someone who has never seen it–that’s a pretty sweet deal, eh?

  4. Philippe says:

    “…..Slavit says that the poems (Ovid’s) are about being in love with a person you don’t like very much…….”

    Ah, but how does Slavitt define “love”?

    I got the idea of the scenes between Jacob and Leah, from the results of a survey where most male respondents said they could be sexually attracted to women they hate.

    As for “Manhattan”, it is about my favourite Woody Allen film, if only for its black and white cinematography (which I’ve always preferred to colour) and the music of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”.

    And in the relationship between between the 42 two year-old character played by Woody Allen, and his 17 year old girlfriend (Muriel Hemingway – who does look a lot like her granddaddy), Woody Allen was – no doubt unconsciously – revealing much about his own off-screen life.

    It is said that Woody Allen’s films don’t appeal to today’s young people. So, if your daughter does happen to like “Manhattan”, will this mean she’s out of step with her own generation?

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