Genesis 25:27 describes Jacob and his brother Esau this way in the New International Version:
"The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents."
Some of the other English words used for quiet are:
The short definition of the Hebrew word for quiet - tam - means: complete, blameless, guiltless.
Before Leah and Rachel and their father Laban's shenanigans, Jacob was described as complete, blameless, guiltless. If you've gotten anything out of the last 20 days here, you probably would not use those words to describe Jacob.
So what happened?
How did someone go from being described as tam to downright angry and not afraid to voice that anger at his own flesh and blood instead of using it against the true wrong doers, the rapist of his only daughter?
Does a man described as quiet have it in him to curse his sons and refuse to have anything to do with them?
Maybe the boy hanging around the tents was a sleeping bear, with more of his father's and brother's influence in him then we learn when we first met Jacob.
Maybe Rebekah had a great influence on him during their time in the camp. Maybe being around the women and children, Jacob learned how to not make waves, how to let things be, how to remain silent. Maybe he learned how to pick his battles carefully, but all the while a roaring lion lay beneath the tam exterior.
Maybe when his daughter Dinah was raped and his ears heard her cries he went into his learned way of coping with injustice. Maybe while his sons waited for him to lead, waited for him to stand up like their uncle Esau may have, Jacob was praying and listening. Maybe as they waited for their blameless and guiltless father to take revenge, the same father was listening for the voice that had told him, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
But while Jacob was waiting on God to lead, the boys could wait no longer. They themselves acted when their quiet father couldn't or wouldn't or didn't know how. For the first time...maybe... Jacob was starting to get what God had promised him all along.
But the man who was described as quiet did not remain quiet and two who shared his DNA bore the brunt of that hidden roaring lion.
Quiet Jacob. Flawless Jacob. Innocent Jacob.
The Psalmist wrote:
"Consider the blameless (tam), observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace."
Jacob's life was far from peaceful. Living with the estrogen of not just one woman but four certainly does not bring peace to anyone! But somehow, some way, God ordained it that the quiet roaring lion and his descendants would be the line to peace. Real peace. Although there were many detours and misguided turns along the way, God still paved the way for real peace to come through Quiet Jacob and his revenge seeking sons.
Perhaps while Levi and Simeon were waiting on their father to act, quiet Jacob was waiting for God's direction. Sadly, their haste and impatience led them to take matters into their own hands. Perhaps Jacob was just starting to connect the dots between the two encounters he had had with God when his sons barged past him with their knives.
Who knows? We weren't there. But I'm sure the rest of the details will be exciting to hear when we meet Jacob and Levi and Simeon on the other side. All we know is what the Bible tells us happened.
A quiet man's seeming lack of action led to his sons seeking revenge in brutal ways. Even though it appeared to them their father was sleeping, he was instead listening and waiting and...listening. When Jacob first encountered God he was afraid. The second time Jacob encountered God he wrestled him and declared he had seen God face to face. The third time, well, it happened after the tragedy of his daughter, but it all came full circle in the third encounter.
"God appeared to him again and said to him, 'Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel....I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.' Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.
"Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel (house of God)."
That Prince of Peace would later stand before a jury of accusers and listening to others tell lies about him. Instead of defending himself or seeking revenge, Peace "remained silent and gave no answer." A quiet man.
Q is for Quiet.
Genesis 28: 10-22