2.19 Jacob's Exile

One of the great themes of the Bible is the exile of the chosen one, or even of the entire chosen people.  It is necessary for the development of the anointed one for him to go through a purgatory of many years:  Joseph in Egypt, Moses in Sinai, Israel in Egypt, Israel in Sinai, David amongst the Philistines, Israel in Babylon, Jesus in the wilderness.

So Jacob fled Esau into exile.  What was forbidden by Abraham of Isaac ("Make sure that you do not take my son back there" (Gen 24:6))  was necessary for Jacob, lest his brother kill him.  He was going back to "the old country" for an indefinite stay.  To us, this looks like "two steps backward."  This was not occupying the Promised Land, it was going back in time and space.  What good is a birthright when you have lost home and family?  The fact that God was the master planner of all this was apparent only after the fact, not to the people going through the drama of the family's disintegration.   
       
And yet,  it was this very breakup that was the precondition of the experience of revelation.  Moses did not meet God until he had left Egypt.  So Jacob did not encounter God till he had left Canaan.  Until this experience, he knew about God only as Isaac's God, he knew the family stories about Abraham and leaving Haran, and the miraculous birth of his father.  But none of this touched him directly.  At Bethel, he became a "firsthander."