THE philosophy of the proverb, “Give a dog a bad name and it will stick to him,” has never had a better vindication than in the case of Jacob, upon whom so much abuse has been heaped. It is high time a vigorous protest be entered against the unwarranted vilification of the man concerning whom God said, “I have loved Jacob.” Here, for example, are a few of the unjust ways the God-fearing Patriarch has been described:
“Jacob . . . completely justified his name. The first recorded utterance attributed to Jacob is that directed to his brother Esau—‘Sell me this day thy birthright’ (Genesis 25:31). There we see one in whom the commercial instinct had developed . . . Jacob, getting, grabbing” (Israel, A Prince of God. By John R. Stephen).
Another writer makes this sinister observation:
“It seems that Jacob was the father of the modern bargain counter. The world is always after bargains. The bargain day and the bargain counter are the crowded day and the crowded counter” (A Crooked Man Made Straight” By W. B. Walker. The Pentecostal Herald, July 23, 1930).
This same writer, describing Jacob’s experiences with his father over the blessing, says:
“Jacob receives the blessing, hastens out, wiping the sweat from his brow, and says, ‘I am glad that’s ended at last” (Ibid).
Yet another author; this one makes heavy drafts on his confessedly fertile imagination thus wise:
“Characteristics of cunning and crookedness came to Jacob quite honestly. What we see in him, we also find in the blood stream of his family, on the mother’s side. Rebekah, his mother, hatched the foul plot to deceive the blind father, so that her favorite son, Jacob, might benefit through the parental blessing . . . Jacob’s name indicates all that he was . . . Everything that his name indicates, he was; a crafty, cunning, crooked character; a man who lived absolutely by his own gift and genius and subtle scheming” (A Supplanter Becomes a Prince. By Albert Hughes. Page 20).
The Bible teacher we have been quoting is careful to say in the introduction to his book on Jacob:
“It is not our intention to insult anyone; and less do we plan to injure Abraham’s grandson . . . If we are all wrong, our apology will gladly be given when we meet Jacob in the glory.”
Our only comment to such empty talk is that there are a good many professed friends of Jacob who will be forced to apologize when they meet this grand patriarch of God in the Glory. And we will let pass the incalculable contribution this brother has made to the Jew-hate propaganda of our day, with its ever widening circles of diabolic sequences.
We rather fear that the apologies will be a bit late, and that for the evil done by these vicious diatribes, no apologies will ever be able to atone! What a shame that such men, who are not worthy to lace old Jacobs’ shoes, dare to besmirch a character of whom God says, “Jacob have I loved!”
A popular pastor once declared, “Nobody defends Jacob!” How true! Why is he misrepresented? Why is he not known as the Bible really presents him? As one has ably remarked,
“Sunday school journals and comments seldom refer to Paul’s statements in Romans 9 about Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Esau, as illustrating the purpose of God as touching election. How many attempt to confuse the story of Jacob and Esau with the inspired and plain statements of the Scriptures concerning them! Which shows that modern theological Shylocks, whether Jew or Gentile, are in character and spirit like Esau, and not like Jacob; and that like Esau, they are even the more persistent and unmerciful in their malignant assaults on Jacob.”
It is because our hearts have been grieved at the superficial way in which Jacob has been treated that we now present the portrayal of a great character.
Joseph Hoffman Cohn.
AN ANCIENT writer said, “Of the making of many books there is no end.” That is doubtless true and many books that have been made, have made little contribution to the thought of the world because they were much like other books. Here is a book that is decidedly different and quite unusual. Every chapter is written with a passionate conviction because the author deeply and sincerely believes it is necessary to properly appraise a much maligned and misunderstood man and to help the reader to a scriptural appreciation of a great patriarch.
The title of the book will stimulate the curious interest of the reading public and the contents will provoke considerable thought. They will give reason for reflection as to why the motives of Jacob have been so much impugned and his character made the target of many hateful antagonisms. The book will incite many to indignation because of preconceptions and previous conclusions, but as they follow the scriptural and logical presentation of the argument the indignation will give way to admiration for the author, and for the man Jacob who has held such a unique place in the life of Israel and was under the covenant care of God in spite of the satanic machinations against him.
Dr. Cohn has made us his debtors in helping us to a clearer and biblical understanding of the patriarch’s character.
I predict the provocation of considerable controversy by the book and also many changed opinions as a result of a careful perusal.
W. H. Rogers.
New York, N. Y.
First Baptist Church,
New York City