Genesis 29-30: Brother-In-Law, Sister-In-Bed (Season 1, Episode 15)
What happens when Jake decides to marry the daughter of his mother’s brother? A woman goes bald, the mandrakes from Harry Potter turn out to be an aphrodisiac, and there's an incestuous sex-a-thon.
|Jay Willem||Oct 2, 2019|| 4|
This is the latest episode in a serialised narrative. If jumping into things mid-way doesn’t bother you, ignore this and keep reading. If you like to start from the beginning, check out the archive here.
If you are a creationist, evangelist, fundamentalist, or biblical literalist, this will probably offend you.
If you have any sense of propriety, this will probably offend you.
If you have the capacity to be offended, this will probably do the trick.
If you're okay with that, then read on.
If you want to read on just so you can tell me how terrible I am and that I should never write another word ever again, feel free.
Who knows? It might actually work.
Not far outside Haran, two shepherds are sitting around a fire, shooting the shit. Their flock of sheep is huddled off to the side. It’s a night like any other...until they hear footsteps approaching.
They turn and see a hooded figure walking up to them. His face is completely hidden, but the way he’s carrying himself, he looks weary. Exhausted.
“Hold it,” one of them says, and the figure stops.
He just stands there, breathing. Wheezing, almost. The shepherds exchange a ‘what the fuck?’ kind of glance.
“Who are you?”
“What are you doing here?”
“Haran...” the figure says. “Laban...”
His voice is raspy, like he hasn’t had a sip of water in days. The shepherds grow increasingly wary. They’re from Haran, after all. And they know Laban. In fact...
One of them stands up, trying to mediate the situation. “Listen, man...you’re really freaking us out with that hood. The sun isn’t out, it’s unnecessary. Just take it off and let’s talk about this like normal human beings.”
No response for a few seconds. Then, slowly, the figure removes his hood, exposing his ghost-white skin and blood-red eyes.
The men scream in terror and run for their lives, falling over each other in their haste to get away, leaving the sheep to be devoured by this pale-skinned demon.
“It’s just a pigment deficiency,” Jake calls after them. No use. He lets out a sigh. “Every time...”
I feel like I need to re-stress how odd white skin is in this story.
Unless otherwise specified, people tend to assume that the characters in a book are white.
They also assume that they’re cisgender and heterosexual, but we won’t get into that here.
Everyone we’ve met so far in this story, as well as everyone we’re going to meet, will not conform to the image you’re probably picturing if you think that those paintings of Jesus as a delicate white guy with long flowing hair are accurate.
That’s not to say that there aren’t (or weren’t) light-skinned people who lived in the Middle East, but I just wanted it to be something you’re thinking about as you read.
So when the shepherds scream and run off because Jake has albinism, they’re not being dicks – as would be the case in our time – they’re simply reacting to something they’ve probably never seen before (ie. a person with white skin).
Still, it’s hard not to feel sorry for the guy they’re running away from.
Jake spies a waterskin by the fire and his eyes light up. He ran out yesterday morning and has been slowly dying of thirst ever since.
Jake pounces on the bottle, unscrewing the cap and gulping down it’s contents so quickly that he ends up pouring most of it over his face and neck. The stuff he actually gets in his mouth goes down the wrong way,
Within seconds, he’s reduced to a coughing, spluttering, retching mess.
It’s actually pretty disgusting to look at.
Long strings of bile and saliva hanging from his lips. His face all purply-red. Not his finest moment.
When he recovers, he tries to drink from that waterskin again, only to find it empty.
Way to go, Jake. Sweet survival skills.
Luckily, there’s another skin nearby and Jake shows a little more restraint this time. He takes actual mouthfuls and actually swallows them. There, that’s better, isn’t it? More haste, less speed.
When he’s slaked his thirst, Jake sits by the fire and warms his hands. Apart from the shepherds fleeing in terror at the very sight of him, this actually turned out pretty good.
It lasts about 2.5 seconds.
Jake hears the clatter of sticks being dropped and looks over to see a woman, Rachel (probably don’t need a nickname for her – Rach, maybe?) standing there, frozen.
She’s returned from collecting firewood to find her fellow shepherds gone and in their place, a hooded, white-skinned dude who probably looks, to her, like the Grim Reaper.
...if such a concept exists in her mind.
...which it almost certainly doesn’t.
Still, it’s fairly safe for her to assume that this guy has killed and eaten her friends.
Jake stands up slowly, holding his hands out to show he means her no harm.
“I know how it looks,” Jake says. “Those screams were them running away. I swear I didn’t kill them and devour their corpses.”
“Oh, good,” Rachel says. “Now I can rest easy.”
Jake instantly regrets his choice of words. “Look, I’ve just come all the way from Beer-sheeba. I’m looking for Laban.”
Rachel’s facial expression changes from mildly-terrified to somewhat-curious. “You’re looking for Laban?”
“Yeah...why? Do you know him?”
“He’s my dad.”
“He’s my uncle.”
Their eyes lock.
A long, sexually-charged moment ensues.
As we’ve been over several times already, in the world of the Old Testament, the closer related you are to someone, the more attractive you find them.
And with the addition of the roaring fire, you could cut the sexual tension with a knife.
In the morning, Rachel takes Jake the rest of the way to Haran, along with the traumatised flock of sheep who were forced to bear witness to their incestuous lovemaking.
As they approach her father’s house, they notice that the doors and windows have been sealed up with wooden boards. One of the shepherds emerges from behind a low wall running along the roof, holding a bow with the arrow drawn back, ready to fire.
“Don’t come any closer,” he says. “I’m warning you.”
Jake stops, Rachel with him.
“Rach, what are you doing? Get away from him.”
“Rach is there?” someone else says. A second later, the other shepherd stands up, holding his own bow. When he sees Rachel, he breathes a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank Christ. I thought he must’ve killed you and devoured your corpse.”
Rachel frowns, glances at Jake. “What is it with you guys?” Then, to the shepherds, she goes, “And thanks for bailing on me, you assholes.”
The shepherds exchange a sheepish glance.
Another guy stands up. This one’s older, and Jake has no doubt that it’s his uncle Laban.
“What do you want?” Laban says, eyeing Jake suspiciously. “Have you come to kill me? To steal my flocks? To have your demonic ways with me while I lay naked and hog-tied over a barrel?”
Jake frowns. Rachel frowns. The shepherds frown at each other behind Laban’s back.
“Uh...No, actually,” Jake says, clearing his throat. “I came here to marry your daughter.”
Rachel smiles and loops her arm through Jake’s, kissing him on the cheek.
Laban frowns. The shepherds lower their bows.
“This has all been a misunderstanding,” says the newcomer. “I’m Jake, Becca’s son.”
There’s a flash of recognition in Laban’s eyes.
But it’s not a good flash.
He remembers all too well the circumstances of his sister’s departure. The kidnapping. The counterfeit silver he was paid for her dowry.
Laban’s eyes narrow, the gears turning in his mind.
“Well, in that case...” He plasters a jolly smile onto his face and holds his arms out wide. “Welcome, nephew, to the Casa de Laban. Let us celebrate this joyous occasion. Might as well leave those boards up, ‘cause this place about to get trashed.”
As you might remember, the last engagement party we saw in this house ended with Laban’s dad, Huell, drunkenly attempting to throw a knife and hit an apple balancing on Laban’s head.
As you may have been able to predict, that did not end well.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Huell died of liver cirrhosis long ago.
That, and a knife through the eye from an impatient loanshark. Yes, Huell had some gambling debts. Again...shocker.
I only bring this up so you’re not caught off guard when Jake and Rachel’s engagement party results in several broken bones, a shaved head and a completely-ruined house.
In the morning, Jake lifts his head groggily from the wreckage to find another woman, Leah (again, no nickname needed – way to make things easy, the Bible) cleaning up the place. Everyone’s still passed out cold, including Rachel, who he may or may not have slept with – he can’t remember.
He rises shakily to his feet, holding his head. “Jesus...”
Leah sees him, gives him a disapproving up-and-down, then continues sweeping up shattered clay jars.
“Can I help you with anything?” he says.
“No, don’t trouble yourself.”
Sensing resentment, he tries to break the ice. “I’m Jake, by the way.”
“I know who you are.”
Jake frowns. He doesn’t remember meeting her.
She notices this, stops sweeping and puts a hand on her hip. “You burst into my room in the middle of the night and shook me awake to introduce yourself, said we were going to be brother- and sister-in-law. Then you and Rachel proceeded to have sex in my bed, with me still in it.”
Jake gives himself a mental high-five, then realises Leah’s waiting for some sort of apology.
“Oh, uh, sorry about that.”
“I’m sure.” She continues sweeping.
At that moment, Rachel lifts her very hungover and newly-shaven head (yes, Rachel was the one who got her head shaved), rubbing her bare palm across the stubble and giggling. “Holy shit...”
Leah just shakes her head, unimpressed. She doesn’t expect anything more from her sister.
After all, Rachel was always the more outgoing one. She worked with the men, drank with the men. She was the captain of the cheerleading squad – Leah was the nerdy girl with glasses.
Don’t worry – just like all terrible rom-coms, Leah’s going to take those proverbial glasses off at one point and suddenly be the hottest thing anyone’s ever seen.
I always liked the glasses, personally.
A little later, everyone’s having breakfast and piecing together the previous night in a Rashomon-style act of collective remembering. They’re all laughing and groaning with embarrassment and generally having a great old time.
The only one not present is Leah. Laban’s other daughter.
Well, that’s not entirely accurate. She is present. She’s just not a part of their shenanigans.
You see, Leah’s the one making the breakfast.
Yes, that’s right. After cleaning the entire house – during which, no one even offered to lift a finger – she’s now been put to work cooking up a massive batch of bacon and eggs (or the biblical equivalent) and serving them to a bunch of ungrateful family members.
And Jake...who is, she supposes, a family member now, too.
After breakfast, Rachel goes out with the shepherds to tend their flock, and Jake stays back to talk marriage with Laban.
Leah, naturally, is washing the dishes and cleaning down the table. Jake finds himself staring at her while she works – the way her hair moves, the way her hips sway, the way her...
“So I take it you can’t offer much in the way of a dowry?”
Jake snaps out of his trance and turns to Laban, who is awaiting a response.
He swallows, half-ashamed for having no money, half-fearful that he’s just been caught staring at his future sister-in-law. “Uh, no, not really.”
“That’s no problem. I didn’t have much in the way of funds myself at your age. I’m sure we can work something out.”
Laban smiles, revealing his crooked, yellow teeth. If Jake had seen any Disney movies – off the top of my head, I’m thinking Stromboli from Pinnochio and Jafar disguised as the prisoner in Aladdin – he would’ve known to high-tail it out of there.
Unfortunately, Disney didn’t exist yet.
The deal they end up coming to is that Jake will work for seven years for Rachel’s hand in marriage.
You heard right.
Why is it always seven?
I would say it must have been one memorable night with Rachel, but he was too freaking drunk to remember it.
What could it be, then?
Loyalty to his mother? A desire to have children, raise a family?
Not so much.
He’s still angry at his mom for kicking him out of the house and stepping on his dream of being a writer. And he doesn’t really give a shit about being a dad.
What he does want is Leah.
And little by little, day by day, week by week, he endears himself to her.
While Rachel spends her days tending flocks with the shepherds, and her nights drinking and bare-knuckle boxing, Jake spends his with Leah around the house – cooking, cleaning, making and repairing clothes. He learns how to work the loom, how to sow, how to clean and dress a slaughtered goat.
Yes, indeed – it’s a fertile bed for romance to grow.
Slowly, they realise they have a lot in common. He’d been a shy, introverted kid, much as she had been.
He likes to read and write – just like her.
He dreams of publishing his novel one day, and wouldn’t you know it, so does she.
They begin reading each other’s work and giving each other feedback. He’s writing the kind of pretentious, literary, partially-autobiographical piece that’s typical of the first-time author.
She, on the other hand, has gone straight into an awesome genre-mashup series that features dragons, spaceships and time-travel. She’s already written three scrolls in the series, while he spends his days moving commas around on his first.
Gradually, their feedback sessions turn into something a little more, but no one bats an eye.
They all think Jake is a pussy for indulging his interest in literature – especially Rachel, who opts to go out drinking with the boys while he and Leah have their ‘sessions’.
She doesn’t think for a second that her betrothed will see anything in her plain-Jane nerd of a sister, or that Jake (who’s shaping up to be the most henpecked of stay-at-home dads) will ever dare to betray her.
Slowly, the illicit romance blossoms into love.
Slowly, Rachel’s hair grows back.
Come time for the wedding, Jake’s planning on making a run for it – leaving Rach at the altar and high-tailing it out of there with Leah, planning to elope somewhere and live off the land.
They’ll be alright. Surely, they will.
Leah can hunt and cook and clean. She can provide for them. She can protect them.
They’re having the wedding just outside the house, with the aisle running from the doorway to the arbour (that arch thingy with the flowers and shit). Jake is standing under it with the priest, the bridesmaids and his groomsmen – weddings haven’t changed in four thousand years, right?
Jake’s looking around, bug-eyed, mapping out every possible route of escape, judging which one is least likely to get him castrated.
But where the fuck is Leah?
She was supposed to be waiting at the back to give him the signal when Laban was distracted getting ready to walk down the aisle with Rachel, but he can’t see her anywhere.
Jesus Christ, did Rach seriously not invite her own sister to the wedding?
What a bitch.
Just as Jake is summoning his courage, doing calf stretches and eyeing the exits, the band kicks into action, playing its best approximation of Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” – but instead of a pipe organ, they’re using harps and tambourines and shit.
Laban appears at the end of the aisle with the bride, veil hiding her face, and they begin taking slow, measured steps toward him.
“Fuck!” Jake thinks, panicking. “I’m too late...”
Laban and Rachel stop a few paces short of Jake. The father hugs his daughter and goes to stand off to the left with the two shepherds. Together, the three of them comprise the entirety of the bride’s side of the aisle.
There is no one standing on Jake’s side.
Rachel comes up to stand beside her groom, who’s scanning the crowd for Leah, but still – no sign.
In the ancient Middle Eastern wedding tradition, the priest begins with, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today...”
After the vows and the rings and the “I do’s” – again, weddings were the same back then, right? – it comes time to unveil the bride for a big old smooch.
Jake tenses up.
He prepares himself for life without Leah.
He prepares himself for waking up next to a woman he doesn’t love.
He prepares himself for Rachel hosting all-night card games with the shepherds where he wanders out, half-asleep, and asks if they could please keep it down.
He prepares himself for a night of rough sex with his well-muscled bride, in which he will no doubt be the bottom.
But, as the veil comes back, it’s not Rachel underneath...
Jake doesn’t know what to say.
Laban jumps forward, pointing at him and going, “Ha! That’s what you get, you fucker! That’s what you get for paying me with counterfeit silver.”
Jake frowns, like, “What the fuck are you talking about?”
He says, “I didn’t pay you with counterfeit silver.”
“I know you didn’t. But your ol’ granddaddy did, when he sent his goon to come kidnap my sister for your dad.”
Jake’s head spins as he tries to connect the faces to the pronouns. “Wait – he paid my mom’s dowry with fake silver?”
“That’s right. And I’m sorry that it has to be you, but someone’s gotta pay for what he did.”
Jake goes to say, “Well, that doesn’t seem fair,” then catches himself.
What the fuck is he arguing with?
So what if Laban thinks he’s sticking it to the now-deceased Abe for something that happened decades ago?
Jake still gets what he wants.
He looks back at Leah, who’s smiling at him. Jake can’t help it – he smiles back. Only for a second, but Laban catches it. His gleeful expression crumbles.
Jake tries to look dejected, like his new father-in-law has really pulled one over on him. “Goddamn it.”
Laban steps toward them. “Hold on a minute...”
He glances between the bride and groom, eyes narrowed in suspicion. He points from one to the other. “What’s going on here?”
Both of them feign ignorance.
“Nothing,” says Leah. “What do you mean?”
“You smiled. I saw it.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“You did.” He turns to the priest. “You saw it?”
The priest steps back, holding his hands up in mock surrender. “I’m not getting anywhere near this, man.”
Slowly, it dawns on the not-so-proud father of the bride. His eyes flare with anger and he looms over Jake. “You son of a bitch...”
“You mean your sister?”
“I mean you! You tricked me.”
“Oh, please, dad,” Leah says. “You’re just angry because all this time you were planning on screwing him over, when we’ve been screwing each other for years.”
Everyone turns to see Rachel at the end of the aisle, having emerged from her hiding place inside. She storms up the aisle, furious.
“How dare you sleep with my husband!”
“He’s not your husband, babe. Check it.” She flips Rachel the middle finger – on which, by no accident, is the wedding ring.
(Okay, so there’s one difference from weddings in the ancient world to the kind we have today. The ring was worn on the middle finger. You happy? Still, I’m fairly certain that’s the only difference.)
This is that glasses-off, nerd-turns-into-a-supermodel moment I was telling you about.
Rachel screams and charges at Leah, about to tear her hair out. Jake and Laban jump in between them, husband holding wife, father holding daughter. Eventually, everyone calms down.
“Alright, look,” Laban says. “What are we gonna do about this? You guys are married now, it’s official. As far as I know, there’s no way to annul the union, or to somehow...” He searches for the right word. “...divorce you guys from one another. If only there was some concept that allowed a married couple to be separated, and if they had children, maybe the man would have to make regular payments to the woman to support that child in some way. Maybe some mediation would be involved, whereby an unbiased third party would...”
“Well, too bad,” says Leah, cutting him off. “We’re married. Your plan didn’t work. It’s over. That’s what you get for using your daughter as a pawn in your revenge scheme. Now, if you don’t mind, we’re going to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.”
Laban glares at her. He glares at Jake.
They give him smiles of matching smugness, watching as the gears turn in his head, a plan taking shape.
Finally, Laban looks over at the still-fuming Rachel, and a very different kind of smile creeps onto his face. A menacing one.
“Very well,” he says. “I have a proposal.”
“You work for me another seven years, and in return, you can marry Rachel as well.”
“I don’t want to marry Rachel,” Jake says. A quick, apologetic glance at Rachel. “Sorry, Rach, it’s just...y’know...the chemistry’s not there.”
Rachel shrugs. “Y’know, I actually don’t think I care. Like, at all. You’re too skinny for me anyway. I need a real man, and you’re just a boy.”
“He’s my boy,” Leah says, holding Jake’s head to her chest in a creepily-maternal way.
“He’s both of your boy!” Laban shouts. He quickly realises what he said was grammatically incorrect, and tries to remedy it. “Both of yours boy? Both of your boys?” He shakes his head, giving up. “The fact remains – I’m not going to have an unmarried daughter if I can help it, and Rachel was always going to be the harder of the two to get rid of.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Rachel says.
“Well, you’re not exactly feminine, are you?”
“And how do you define femininity?”
Laban gives an exasperated sigh, not wanting to get into it. He’s had this discussion before, and it always ends with him looking like an asshole.
Jake’s like, “So, wait – you mean to tell me that you already had Rachel signed, sealed and delivered, but threw it all away just to try and fuck me over?”
Laban goes quiet, feeling foolish. “I thought it would be all poetic and stuff. Like how you deceived your dad by pretending to be your older brother. I thought that, like, by inverting that situation and replacing the younger Rachel with the older Leah, you’d be all like, ‘Whoa, mind blown,” and be really pissed and stuff.”
“I’m sorry it didn’t work out that way.”
“Admit it – it would’ve been awesome if it had worked. Just imagine you pulling back Leah’s veil if you actually had wanted to marry Rachel.”
“Yeah, it would’ve been pretty rad. Instead, I was just incredibly happy and relieved.”
Laban’s face falls even further at the thought of how terribly his plan has backfired.
“So...thanks, man. I owe you one. Figuratively-speaking, of course. I don’t actually owe you anything. My seven years is done.”
“Now,” Leah says. “If the two of you don’t mind, we’re going to screw each other’s brains out.”
She loops her arm through Jake’s and goes to lead him away.
“Not so fast,” Laban says. Something Jake mentioned has given him an idea. “I wasn’t done with my proposal.”
“Just give it up, man,” Jake says. “You lost. It was a nice try, but it didn’t work out. Nobody likes a sore loser, Labe. Don’t be that guy.”
But Laban doesn’t back down. “If you don’t marry Rachel, you can’t have Leah, either.”
Bride and groom exchange a worried glance.
“You can’t do that,” Leah says.
“Can he do that?” Jake asks the priest.
This time, the priest says, “I think I’m gonna go,” and walks off.
They turn back to see the shepherds approaching, drawing daggers.
“I can do whatever I want,” Laban says. “Now, you either agree to the revised deal, or you fuck off back to Canaan on your own. What’s it gonna be?”
Jake puffs his chest out. “And what if I say no?”
“Then I’ll have Rach and the shepherds hold you down while I scoop out one of your eyes and fuck the eye-hole.”
“Jesus...” Jake says.
“Then I’ll scoop out your other eye and do the same with that one, so the last thing you see is my nutsack slapping you in the face.”
“You know what?” Jake says. “Seven years isn’t such a long time, after all.”
He promptly shakes the man’s hand.
Seven years later, Jake’s finished up his last day of work, and married Rachel along with Leah.
Now comes the fun part.
The whole reason Becca sent Jake back east in the first place was to find himself a wife (or two, as it happened) and get to work cranking out grandkids.
So that’s what he does.
You’d think that, from the past seven years he’d spent with Leah, he’d already have at least a few kids to his name.
Not so much.
Apparently, Leah was barren.
Only, she wasn’t barren.
God was just...well, playing God.
See, the big guy had been watching this little family drama play out and decided Jake hadn’t been fucked with enough already.
It could be argued that he saw how Rachel was being neglected and felt sorry for her, but you should know by now that God’s intentions are never that honourable.
Despite his distaste for the man himself, God couldn’t argue that Laban’s plan was a stroke of genius. Get back at Jake by replacing a younger child with an older child. Why didn’t he think of that?
So goddamn poetic.
He cared less about the reason Laban deceived Jake – intergenerational punishment for some bullshit reason (what is this, North Korea?) – and contented himself with the end result, which was that Jake was being punished.
After that blasphemous display of pissing on the makeshift altar in the desert, God was happy to watch Jake suffer a little bit longer.
So, no matter how hard Jake and Leah try, no matter how much sex they have, no matter what time of the month or how many positions they do it in, they just can’t seem to get pregnant.
But Rachel, within mere weeks of the nuptials, announces to the dinner table that she’s with child.
That’s right, bitch.
Leah glares at her across the table, and Rach just gives her a smug “how do you like that?” smile right back.
Rachel cranks out four kids in no time flat. Their names are, in order: Reuben (Rube), Simeon (Sim), Levi (just Levi), Judah (Jude).
I want you to remember these names – they’ll be important later on.
Hint: they’re the names of the tribes of Israel.
I guess that wasn’t really a hint – I pretty much just flat out told you.
Needless to say, the whole time Rachel’s been pumping out kids, Leah’s been fuming.
One night, the sleep-deprived Jake is on his way to grab a few minutes of sweet unconsciousness, when Leah grabs him by the collar and shoves him against the wall, saying, “If you don’t give me a child soon, I’m gonna kill myself!”
“Jesus!” Jake says, half-surprised by her sudden appearance, half-shocked by what she said. She’s wide-eyed, frenzied – the look of a person possessed by envy.
Jake goes, “Look, you think this is my fault? We’ve tried everything.”
“Not everything,” Leah says.
She takes him into her room, where a maid is laid out naked on the bed, propped up on her elbows.
I should explain...
As each of his daughters was married, Laban had given them one of his own maids. Bilhah (Billie, for short) was given to Rachel, while Zilpah (or Zillie) was given to Leah.
“You want to do a Hagar?” Jake says, recalling the method by which his good old granddad, Abe, had his first child, Ishmael – yet another person displaced by their sibling.
Before Abe was aware that God was planning to ‘open Sarah’s womb’, as the needlessly-gross saying went, he panicked and banged Sarah’s maid, Hagar, instead, resulting in the birth of a son whom he later left to die, along with Hagar herself.
Great guy, Abe.
“We don’t have a choice,” Leah says. “Her kids count as my kids, seeing as she’s basically my property with no agency of her own.”
“She’s right,” Zillie says, matter-of-factly. “Now are we doing this, or what?”
Jake is so sleep-deprived already at this point that he can’t tell if arguing or having sex is the path of least resistance to him getting a few minutes shut-eye. In the end, he strips off his clothes and gets to work.
Shortly thereafter, Zillie gives birth to two sons: Dan (no nickname necessary – maybe Big D?) and Naphtali (Naph).
Now it’s Rachel’s turn to get jealous. Even though she has four beautiful, healthy children of her own, the most recent birth technically counted as Leah’s, so she...is...pissed.
Ignoring the cries of her children who just want to be held or played with, she catches Jake off-guard as he’s heading to bed to get a few minutes shut-eye. Grabbing him by the collar and shoving him up against the wall, she says, “If you don’t give me another kid, I’m gonna kill you!”
“Goddamn it,” says Jake, exhausted. “I can’t keep doing this. I don’t have any bodily fluids left.”
“Then find some,” Rachel says. “You got some fucking to do.”
She drags him to her room, where her maid (Billie) is laid out on the bed, waiting to be impregnated.
“I’m still waiting for my shit to heal up,” Rachel says. “So get in there, chief. Make me proud.”
Jake sighs, and starts undressing.
I know this all happened over a number of years, but I like to imagine it as a montage of Jake being dragged from room to room, sleep-deprived and drained of all bodily fluids, forcing himself to copulate again and again like some sort of insomniac sperm-machine.
It sort of dismantles the idea that all men want is sex.
All single men want is sex.
All committed men want is a good night’s sleep...and then maybe once or twice a week, you put on some Al Green and go to town.
And if you’re a guy out there who thinks having four sexual partners who know about each other – and are cool with it – is a good thing, you clearly haven’t been in that situation before.
This isn’t recreational sex.
He’s also got (at this point) six kids that need constant attention, feeding, diaper changes, you name it.
Find me a guy in that situation who can summon the will to live, let alone the enthusiasm to have sex with four different women (with the stated intention of generating more needy, screaming miracles), and I’ll show you a liar.
You also might find it strange that the cause of the sisters’ anger isn’t that Jake is sleeping with the other one, but merely the tally of children being had. What can I say? It was a different time. They had different priorities.
We (I’m assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that you, like me, are bound by the psychological shackles of monogamy) look at this situation and think, how can they stand being married to someone who’s fucking someone else? Wouldn’t that just drive you crazy?
Apparently, all these sisters care about is getting more kids on the board than the other one. They’re even willing to throw their maids’ uteruses into the ring to win the fight.
Rachel’s maid (Billie) ends up having another two kids: Gad (Josh?) and Asher (Ash).
At this point, Jake’s really struggling. He’s basically tapped out, and needs a little pick me up. A little juice to keep him going.
One day, Reuben, the first born (who I guess can walk already?), is out in the fields helping with the wheat harvest. He finds a couple of mandrakes – remember those things out of Chamber of Secrets? The screaming potato goblins? I’m not sure how accurate that depiction is, but...that.
Their roots were thought to be powerful aphrodisiacs at the time. They were basically the oysters of their day, even though oysters are goddamn disgusting, but then again, so are the screaming potato goblin plants out of Harry Potter 2, so I guess it checks out.
Reuben brings them back to his mother like the best little wing-man ever, and she tousles his hair and tells him to go play – she and his dad have got some fucking to do.
Before Rachel can get a chance to use them, Leah enters the room and sees what she’s holding.
A tense showdown.
“Give me those mandrakes,” she says.
“Fuck you,” Rachel shields the roots. “These are mine.”
“Fuck you,” Leah says, starting to tear up. “You’ve already got four kids. I’m sitting over here pretending like my maid’s vagina is just an extension of my own. Everyone’s having kids except me. Come on, Rach, give me a break.”
Rachel considers it. The hatred in her heart dissolves in the face of such a genuine emotional appeal.
While she’s distracted, Leah’s fingers have curled around a clay jug and she hurls it at Rachel. It hits her in the head, shatters, and Rachel drops, out cold.
Leah quickly drags the unconscious body of her sister out of sight, then returns to the kitchen with the mandrakes and distils them into a potent love serum.
She goes to find Jake passed out in a rocking chair with a sleeping baby in each arm. She cobbles together an IV drip, using a needle made out of a very fine animal bone, a tube made out of the intestines of that same animal, and a fluid bag made from – you guessed it – that same animal’s bladder.
I mean, talk about using every part of the buffalo.
Leah pours the serum into the ‘IV bag’, stabs the bone needle into a vein on the inside of Jake’s elbow – no response from the cadaverous father of eight – then waits while the essence of mandrake begins to make the rounds in his circulatory system.
Pretty soon, his eyes snap open.
The kids are palmed off to the maid (they are hers, after all), and Jake and Leah begin going at it like a couple of teenagers.
It’s at this point that God takes pity on the guy.
He doesn’t want to just ‘allow’ Leah to get pregnant again, lest Jake think he’s going soft. But under the pretence of the mandrake serum (which was, of course, ridiculous, not to mention unbelievably dangerous), God thinks it might be time to ease up on the old punishment factor. If Jake manages not to die of mandrake poisoning, he’ll finally be able to have a child with the woman he loves.
Within weeks, Leah announces that she’s pregnant, and eventually gives birth to two sons, Issachar (Izzy) and Zebulun (Zeb). She also gives birth to a daughter, Dinah, who actually turns out to be a fairly prominent character in the not-too-distant future.
I know! A prominent female character. Who’d have thunk it?
Who have we had so far?
Eve? Sarah? Becca?
Okay, we’ve had a few.
I’m doing my best to shed light on the women in this story, but it’s slim pickings, guys. Not too many chicas, and the ones we do find aren’t given a whole lot to do.
Even Dinah gets pretty short shrift.
But that’s the good thing about this story – I can twist it and shape it however I want.
So don’t worry – I’m working on it. Not just for Dinah, but for the rest of the Old Testament. You’ll see what I mean.
Now, where were we?
So Leah’s finally got a few kids on the board – not as much as Rachel, and if you’re judging these kids based on their gender, as you better believe they were doing, then she really only has two-and-a-half kids.
In the period we’re discussing, and for a long time after, girls are the equivalent of the foul-shot. That is, they only count for one point, where a boy counts for two.
A boy who grows up to be a mighty warrior or a hero (or just a fundamentally-decent person) is a fade-away jump-shot taken from half-court, because as we all know, most people are vile cowards.
A boy who grows up to be king is, to continue this very-appropriate basketball metaphor, the same as a desperate, buzzer-beating, one-armed catapult throw from the other end of the court.
Rachel has another two kids after that – Joseph (Joey) and Benjamin (Ben, or Benji, depending on his mood) – bringing the grand total to a nice, even, lucky thirteen.
You might be asking yourself: what kind of time-frame are we talking about here?
Well, if the pregnancies had overlapped, then all of Jake’s children could have been born within a seven-year timeframe.
What is it with this goddamn number?
You know what, screw this – I’m asking the big guy.
Hey God, what’s up with you and the number seven?
God’s in the process of ripping a bong when I barge in on him. Seeing me causes him to cough up the lungful of smoke he just inhaled, and he waves me away, telling me to get the fuck out of there, he’s busy.
Oh, well – I’ll try again later.
You like that fourth wall breaking that happened just there?
Wait, is that breaking the fourth wall?
No, I think that’s when the characters talk to the audience.
What’s it called when the narrator talks to his characters? Is there even such a thing?
Hold on, I’ll Google it...
Okay, I clicked on the first few results and couldn’t find anything. I could go further down the page, but I’m not going to.
Did I just invent a new method of storytelling?
Holy shit, I think I might have.
And you know what I’m gonna call it?
Breaking the fifth wall!
Hold on, let me just trademark this...
There we go.
Breaking the Fifth Wall™.
I mean, I could continue Googling to see if it’s already a thing.
It wouldn’t take long, maybe a minute, tops.
Ah, it’s not important.
The important thing is, Jake did what he set out to do. He found a wife (or two), had a bunch of kids, and now, he’s ready to return home and earn the approval of his terrifying mother.
Only thing is, Laban’s not going to let him go so easily...
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