The Speckled Ones

April 26, 2008

Connemaras

I won’t go into why I wrote this; I’ll simply say that I’m finding the story a comfort just now, so I’ve written a loose paraphrase of it. It’s from the second half of chapter 30 of Genesis.

Jacob had been working hard for years. He had given a lot to his boss and father-in-law, Laban. An awful lot. He had worked twice as hard as any other of Laban’s workers, because he loved Laban’s daughter Rachel. Really, Jacob put up with a lot of sheep manure.

One day, Jacob thought maybe it was time for him and Rachel to leave and settle down on their own bit of turf. Laban said, “Sure! What do I owe you?”

Jacob said, “I don’t want any money. I would just like the rejects from your flocks of sheep and goats. You know, all the speckled ones, the spotted ones, the striped ones, the brown ones. They have so much less market value than the pure white ones.”

“Fair enough,” said Laban. “Tomorrow morning, we’ll go see the herds and you can take all the rejects.”

Unfortunately, Laban wasn’t much of a family member. That evening he went to the flocks and separated out all the speckled ones, the spotted ones, the striped ones, the brown ones. Then he got a few of his underlings to drive the rejects out to a place about three days’ walk away.

The next morning, Laban and Jacob went out to see the flocks. They saw white sheep and white goats. “Wait a minute,” said Jacob. “Where are all the speckled ones, the spotted ones, the striped ones, the brown ones?”

“Oh, those,” Laban answered. “They’ve all wandered off somewhere. Now, what were the terms of our agreement? Lemme get the affidavit out here…”

Jacob sighed. “You know what? I think I’ll work one more year for you — since you’re such an honest employer, and good father-in-law. I owe you that much at least.”

Laban agreed. Over the course of the year, with G*d’s help — obviously, since having white sheep mate in the shadow of a whittled stick doesn’t ordinarily produce un-white babies — Jacob bred lambs and kids. There were speckled ones, spotted ones, striped ones, brown ones. Jacob loved his rejects. At the end of his allotted employment extension, he had the biggest flocks around — way bigger than Laban’s. One day he called his family and his flocks, and off they went with songs of thanksgiving.

Moral: Those who love the spotted ones, the striped ones, the speckled ones, and the brown ones will be blessed.