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At the start of the novel, Jacob is a confident and charismatic
man, favored by his god. He is a good husband and a kind and gentle lover
to each of his wives, giving and taking satisfaction in equal measure.
He meticulously ministers his attentions to each of his wives, wanting
to keep peace in his household and to do what is best for his family.
He works diligently as a herdsman to grow Laban’s flocks and honor
his bargain of bride-prices for Leah and Rachel, while also increasing
the prosperity and prospects of his family.
As a father, he is attentive to his sons and brings them
to the fields with him, teaching them the ways of good pasturage
as well as the religion of his father’s people. He is entirely devoted
to his god and liberal with his sacrifices. When he leaves Laban’s
lands to return to his own people, his is fairer and more generous
in his settlement with Laban than might be expected by a son-in-law
who has been treated as poorly as he was.
As Jacob grows older and his properties multiply, he changes.
He becomes less of the fair and honest man he was in his youth and relies
more on the poor counsel of his sons Simon and Levi than the just
counsel of his wife Leah and son Reuben. He grows greedy, seeking
to move continuously to new lands to increase their property. Never
attentive to Dinah as a child, he is callous and unfeeling when
he hears the news of her union to Shalem. He allows his sons’ suggestion
of a hideous bride-price to be exacted and in doing so orchestrates
his downfall. Full of regrets, Jacob dies cursing several of his