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When Isaac felt his end approaching, he called his two sons to him, and charged them with his last wish and will, and gave them his blessing. He said: "I adjure you by the exalted Name, the praised, honored, glorious, immutable, and mighty One, who hath made heaven and earth and all things together, that ye fear Him, and serve Him, and each shall love his brother in mercy and justice, and none wish evil unto the other, now and henceforth unto all eternity, all the days of your life, that ye may enjoy good fortune in all your undertakings, and that ye perish not."

Furthermore he commanded them to bury him in the Cave of Machpelah, by the side of his father Abraham, in the grave which he had dug for himself with his own hands. Then he divided his possessions between his two sons, giving Esau the larger portion, and Jacob the smaller. But Esau said, "I sold my birthright to Jacob, and I ceded it to him, and it belongs unto him." Isaac rejoiced greatly that Esau acknowledged the rights of Jacob of his own accord, and he closed his eyes in peace.[315]

The funeral of Isaac was not disturbed by any unseemly act, for Esau was sure of his heritage in accordance with the last wishes expressed by his father. But when the time came to divide Isaac's possessions between the two brothers, Esau said to Jacob, "Divide the property of our father into two portions, but I as the elder claim the right of choosing the portion I desire." What did Jacob do? He knew well that "the eye of the wicked never beholds treasures enough to satisfy it," so he divided their common heritage in the following way: all the material possessions of his father formed one portion, and the other consisted of Isaac's claim upon the Holy Land, together with the Cave of Machpelah, the tomb of Abraham and Isaac. Esau chose the money and the other things belonging to Isaac for his inheritance, and to Jacob were left the Cave and the title to the Holy Land. An agreement to this effect was drawn up in writing in due form, and on the strength of the document Jacob insisted upon Esau's leaving Palestine. Esau acquiesced, and he and his wives and his sons and daughters journeyed to Mount Seir, where they took up their abode.[316]

Though Esau gave way before Jacob for the nonce, he returned to the land to make war upon his brother. Leah had just died, and Jacob and the sons borne by Leah were mourning for her, and the rest of his sons, borne unto him by his other wives, were trying to comfort them, when Esau came upon them with a powerful host of four thousand men, well equipped for war, clad in armor of iron and brass, all furnished with bucklers, bows, and swords. They surrounded the citadel wherein Jacob and his sons dwelt at that time with their servants and children and households, for they had all assembled to console Jacob for the death of Leah, and they sat there unconcerned, none entertained a suspicion that an assault upon them was meditated by any man. And the great army had already encircled their castle, and still none within suspected any harm, neither Jacob and his children nor the two hundred servants. Now when Jacob saw that Esau presumed to make war upon them, and sought to slay them in the citadel, and was shooting darts at them, he ascended the wall of the citadel and spake words of peace and friendship and brotherly love to Esau. He said: "Is this the consolation which thou hast come to bring me, to comfort me for my wife, who hath been taken by death? Is this in accordance with the oath thou didst swear twice unto thy father and thy mother before they died? Thou hast violated thy oath, and in the hour when thou didst swear unto thy father, thou wast judged." But Esau made reply: "Neither the children of men nor the beasts of the field swear an oath to keep it unto all eternity, but on every day they devise evil against one another, when it is directed against an enemy, or when they seek to slay an adversary. If the boar will change his skin and make his bristles as soft as wool, or if he can cause horns to sprout forth on his head like the horns of a stag or a ram, then shall I observe the tie of brotherhood with thee."

Then spoke Judah to his father Jacob, saying: "How long wilt thou stand yet wasting words of peace and friendship upon him? And he attacks us unawares, like an enemy, with his mail-clad warriors, seeking to slay us." Hearing these words, Jacob grasped his bow and killed Adoram the Edomite, and a second time he bent his bow, and the arrow struck Esau upon the right thigh. The wound was mortal, and his sons lifted Esau up and put him upon his ass, and he came to Adora, and there he died.

Judah made a sally to the south of the citadel, and with him were Naphtali and Gad, aided by fifty of Jacob's servants; to the east Levi and Dan went forth with fifty servants; Reuben, Issachar, and Zebulon with fifty servants, to the north; and Simon, Benjamin, and Enoch, the last the son of Reuben, with fifty servants, to the west. Judah was exceedingly brave in battle. Together with Naphtali and Gad he pressed forward into the ranks of the enemy, and captured one of their iron towers. On their bucklers they caught the sharp missiles hurled against them in such numbers that the light of the sun was darkened by reason of the rocks and darts and stones. Judah was the first to break the ranks of the enemy, of whom he killed six valiant men, and he was accompanied on the right by Naphtali and by Gad on the left. They also hewed down two soldiers each, while their troop of servants killed one man each. Nevertheless they did not succeed in forcing the army away from the south of the citadel, not even when all together, Judah and his brethren, made an united attack upon the enemy, each of them picking out a victim and slaying him. And they were still unsuccessful in a third combined attack, though this time each killed two men.

When Judah saw now that the enemy remained in possession of the field, and it was impossible to dislodge them, he girded himself with strength, and an heroic spirit animated him. Judah, Naphtali, and Gad united, and together they pierced the ranks of the enemy, Judah slaying ten of them, and his brothers each eight. Seeing this, the servants took courage, and they joined their leaders and fought at their side. Judah laid about him to right and to left, always aided by Naphtali and Gad, and so they succeeded in forcing the enemy one ris further to the south, away from the citadel. But the hostile army recovered itself, and maintained a brave stand against all the sons of Jacob, who were faint from the hardships of the combat, and could not continue to fight. Thereupon Judah turned to God in prayer, and God hearkened unto his petition, and He helped them. He set loose a storm from one of His treasure chambers, and it blew into the faces of the enemy, and filled their eyes with darkness, and they could not see how to fight. But Judah and his brothers could see clearly, for the wind blew upon their backs. Now Judah and his two brothers wrought havoc among them, they hewed the enemy down as the reaper mows down the stalks of grain and heaps them up for sheaves.

After they had routed the division of the army assigned to them on the south, they hastened to the aid of their brothers, who were defending the east, north, and west of the citadel with three companies. On each side the wind blew into the faces of the enemy, and so the sons of Jacob succeeded in annihilating their army. Four hundred were slain in battle, and six hundred fled, among the latter Esau's four sons, Reuel, Jeush, Lotan, and Korah. The oldest of his sons, Eliphaz, took no part in the war, because he was a disciple of Jacob, and therefore would not bear arms against him.

The sons of Jacob pursued after the fleeing remnant of the army as far as Adora. There the sons of Esau abandoned the body of their father, and continued their flight to Mount Seir. But the sons of Jacob remained in Adora over night, and out of respect for their father they buried the remains of his brother Esau. In the morning they went on in pursuit of the enemy, and besieged them on Mount Seir. Now the sons of Esau and all the other fugitives came and fell down before them, bowed down, and entreated them without cease, until they concluded peace with them. But the sons of Jacob exacted tribute from them.[317]

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