5.b. Jacob

Play 5B, JACOB: FOOTNOTES


1 Jacob follows

2 Here let [Jacob] awake

3 That God leaned upon a ladder (see note)

4 Here Jacob leaves the land of Aran for the land of his birth

5 Here he should examine his household things, and the angel should wrestle with him (see note)

6 He divides the crowd into three parts

7 And Jacob goes to kiss Esau; Jacob comes, bends his knees, praying to God

8 And [Jacob] rising, Esau rushes to his embrace

9 [Esau] speaks to his servants

10 Here ends Jacob


Play 5B, JACOB: EXPLANATORY NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: Chester: The Chester Mystery Cycle, ed. Lumiansky and Mills (1974); CT: The Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson (1987); DSL: Dictionary of the Scots Language; Elliott: The Apocryphal New Testament, ed. Elliott; EP: The Towneley plays, ed. England and Pollard (1897); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (“the Towneley manuscript”); N-Town: The N-Town Plays, ed. Sugano (2007); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; REED: Records of Early English Drama; SC: The Towneley Plays, eds. Stevens and Cawley (1994); s.d.: stage direction; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).

While presented as separate works in the manuscript, the incomplete play of Isaac and the Jacob play that follows effectively form a single unit, with a continuous narrative involving the same characters written entirely in couplets; the subject — the feud between Isaac’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau, based on Genesis 25–33 — is unique in early English biblical drama. This edition therefore treats them as a single play, but respects the original manuscript division into two parts or pageants, giving separate lineation and retaining the original manuscript titles. It is impossible to know what exactly is missing from the Isaac pageant, but the action could well have begun with the episode in Genesis 25 in which a hungry Esau, the firstborn and Isaac’s favorite, sells his birthright to Jacob, favored by their mother, Rebecca, for a bowl of lentil stew. The extant pageant begins with Jacob’s gaining his father’s blessing by deceit. Just prior to this in the biblical account, blind Isaac asks Esau to go hunting and to prepare a meal for him; Rebecca cooks meat and has Jacob bring it to his father, wearing Esau’s clothing in order to smell like him, and with the skin of young goats wrapped around his arms and neck so that he better resembles his hairier brother (Genesis 27:1–17). The pageant continues with the encounter between Isaac and Esau, who realize the deception. Jacob is then sent away into Mesopotamia (line 58) for his protection; he is still on his way there at the beginning of the Jacob pageant, when he encounters God in a dream. A more significant break in the action occurs after this, when he returns to the land of his birth, suddenly accompanied by his wives and children and “two ostes of men” (line 5.b.68). The existing division between plays is likely an error: a copyist (whether the Towneley scribe or someone responsible for transcribing an earlier original) was perhaps confronted by a leaf beginning with a speech heading for Jacob, following a leaf that (like many medieval biblical plays) ends with a blessing, and thus mistook these for the ending of one play and the beginning of another. The title “Jacob” may have been supplied from this initial speech heading or from an explicit or colophon, the most common placement for a title; the now-separate first part of the play could then have been entitled “Isaac” in order to differentiate it from what followed.


1 Lord Adonay. See note to 4.1.

37 That God leynyd hym to a stegh. This line translates Genesis 28:13 in the Vulgate: “Dominum innixum scalae.” According to Genesis 28:11–12, this ladder stood on the earth and reached up to heaven, and accommodated the ascent and descent of angels. God’s later appearance in the form of an angel (line 84, s.d.; see note below) may indicate that an actual ladder or staircase was to be used onstage, leading to an upper level signifying heaven, from which God could descend (in the form of an angel; see note to line 84, s.d. below).

58, s.d. Hic egrediatur Iacob de Aran in terram natiuitatis sue. This stage direction effectively covers a gap of fourteen years during which Jacob worked for his uncle Laban, Rebecca’s brother (see 5.a.59), and married Laban’s daughters Leah and Rachel, prior to returning to Canaan.

70 To multyplye my seede as sand of see. See Genesis 32:12.

74 These moders with thare barne-teme. Jacob fathered twelve sons and a daughter, through two concubines as well as his two wives, but only Rachel’s children, Joseph and Benjamin, are named in the play (line 117); in the biblical account Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin (Genesis 35:16–19) well after their arrival in Canaan and the reconciliation with Esau.

84, s.d. Hic scrutetur superlectile et luctetur angelus cum eo. According to Genesis 32:24, a mysterious man wrestles with Jacob until morning and is subsequently recognized as a manifestation of God (see Genesis 32:30); Hosea 12:4 refers to this wrestler as an angel. In the play, as indicated by subsequent speech headings, this is God in the form of an angel, not an additional character.

110 This place shall hight Fanuell. See Genesis 32:30, which translates the Vulgate “Phanuhel” (Peniel or Penuel) meaning “face of God.”

114, s.d. Hic diuidit turmas in tres partes. This division of those accompanying Jacob is based on Genesis 33:1–2. Facing what he thinks might be a hostile army sent by Esau, Jacob puts his two concubines and their children in front of Leah and her children, with Rachel and Joseph (see note to line 74, above, for Benjamin, named at line 117) safely in the rear (“in the last eschele,” as in line 115). The “crowd” here would also include any supernumeraries onstage constituting the “two ostes of men” mentioned at line 68; however, these “hosts” could signify the audience itself.

140–41 Go we togeder . . . and his wife. This line suggests that the play as a whole should end with the reappearance of Isaac and Rebecca from the Isaac pageant; staging the reunion of the two sons with their parents at this point in the narrative has no biblical warrant.


Play 5B, JACOB: TEXTUAL NOTES




ABBREVIATIONS: EP: The Towneley Plays, ed. England and Pollard (EETS, 1897); Facs: The Towneley Cycle: A Facsimile of Huntington MS HM 1, ed. Cawley and Stevens; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (base text); SC: The Towneley Plays, ed. Stevens and Cawley (EETS, 1994); s.d.: stage direction; Surtees: The Towneley Mysteries, ed. Raine; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).

110 shall hight Fanuell. So EP, SC. MS: shall Fanuell.

124 That thou save. So SC. MS: That save.

 
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5.b. Jacob

from: The Towneley Plays  2017









JACOB



5




10


GOD

15




20




25




30







JACOB
36



40




45




50


[fol. 17r]

55







60




65




70




RACHEL
76


JACOB
80



LEAH



GOD
JACOB
87

GOD
90



JACOB
GOD
95

JACOB
GOD

JACOB
GOD
100




105



JACOB
110


RACHEL




JACOB
116



120
[fol. 17v]




JACOB




ESAU
126


JACOB
130



ESAU



JACOB
136
ESAU


140




 
Jacob
God
Rachel
Leah
Esau

Sequitur Iacob. 1

Help me, Lord Adonay,
And hald me in the right way
To Mesopotameam,
For I cam never or now where I am;
I cam never here in this contré.
Lord of heven, thou help me,
For I have maide me in this strete
Sore bonys and warkand feete.
The son is downe; what is best?
Her purpose I all nyght to rest;
Under my hede this ston shal ly.
A nyghtys rest take will I.
Jacob! Jacob, thi God I am,
Of thi forfader Abraham
And of thi fader Isaac.
I shall thee blys for thare sake;
This land that thou slepys in
I shall thee gif, and thi kyn.
I shall thi seede multyply
As thyk as powder on erth may ly;
The kynd of thee shall sprede wide
From eest to west on every syde,
From the south unto the north.
All that I say I shall forth,
And all the folkys of thyne ofspryng
Shal be blyssyd of thy blyssyng.
Jacob, have thou no kyns drede;
I shall thee clethe, I shall thee fede.
Whartfull shall I make thi gate.
I shal thee help, erly and late,
And all in qwart shall I bryng thee
Home agane to thi countré.
I shall not fayll, be thou bold,
Bot I shall do as I have told.

Hic vigilet. 2

A, Lord, what may this mene?
What have I herd in slepe and sene?
That God leynyd hym to a stegh 3
And spake to me, it is no leghe.
And now is here none otheregate
Bot Godys howse and hevens yate.
Lord, how dredfull is this stede
Ther I layde downe my hede.
In Godys lovyng I rayse this stone,
And oyll will I putt theron.
Lord of heven that all wote,
Here to thee I make a hote:
If thou gif me mete and foode
And close to body as I behoved,
And bryng me home to kyth and kyn
By the way that I walk in,
Without skathe and in quarte,
I promyse to thee with stedfast hart
As thou art Lord and God myne,
And I, Jacob, thi trew hyne,
This stone I rayse in sygne to day
Shall I hold holy kyrk for ay,
And of all that newes me
Rightwys tend shall I gif thee.

Hic egrediatur Iacob de Aran in terram natiuitatis sue. 4

A, my Fader, God of heven,
That saide to me, thrugh thi steven
When I in Aran was dwelland,
That I shuld turne agane to land
Ther I was both fed and borne,
Warnyd thou me, Lord, beforne
As I went toward Aran
With my staff and passyd Jordan,
And now I com agane to kyth
With two ostes of men me with.
Thou hete me, Lord, to do well with me,
To multyplye my seede as sand of see.
Thou save me, Lord, thrugh vertew,
From veniance of Esaw,
That he slo not for old greme
These moders with thare barne-teme.
Oure anguysh, sir, is manyfold
Syn that oure messyngere us told
That Esaw wold you slo
With foure hundreth men and mo.
Forsoth, Rachell, I have hym sent
Of many beestys sere present.
May-tyde he will oure giftys take
And right so shall his wrath slake.
Where ar oure thyngys? Ar thay past Jordan?
Go and look, sir, as ye can.

Hic scrutetur superlectile et luctetur angelus cum eo. 5

The day spryngys; now lett me go.
Nay, nay, I will not so
Bot thou blys me or thou gang;
If I may, I shall hold thee lang.
In tokynyng that thou spekys with me,
I shall toche now thi thee,
That halt shall thou evermore,
Bot thou shall fele no sore.
What is thy name, thou me tell?
Jacob.
         Nay, bot Israell,
Syn thou to me sich strengthe may kythe;
To men of erth thou must be stythe.
What is thy name?
                               Whi askys thou it?
“Wonderfull,” if thou wil wyt.
A, blys me, Lord.
                             I shall thee blys,
And be to thee full propyce,
And gyf thee my blyssyng for ay
As Lord and he that all may.
I shall grayth thi gate,
And full well ordeyn thi state;
When thou has drede, thynk on me
And thou shal full well saynyd be,
And look thou trow well my sayes;
And farewell now, the day dayes.
Now have I a new name, Israell.
This place shall hight Fanuell,
For I have seyn in this place
God of heven, face to face.
Jacob, lo, we have tythand
That Esaw is here at hand.

Hic diuidit turmas in tres partes. 6

Rachell, stand thou in the last eschele,
For I wold thou were savyd wele.
Call Joseph and Benjamin
And let theym not fro thee twyn.
If it be so that Esaw
Us before all to-hew,
Ye that ar here the last;
Ye may be savyd if ye fle fast.

Et vadat Iacob osculando Esaw; venit Iacob flectit genua, exorando deum. 7

I pray thee, Lord, as thou me het,
That thou save me and my gete.

Et leuando, occurrit illi Esaw in amplexibus. 8

Welcom, brother, to kyn and kyth,
Thi wife and childre that comes thee with.
How has thou faren in far land?
Tell me now som good tythand.
Well, my brother Esaw,
If that thi men no bale me brew.

Dicit seruis suis: 9

Wemo, felows, hold youre hend.
Ye se that I and he ar frend,
And frenship here will we fulfill,
Syn that it is Godys will.
God yeld you, brothere, that it so is,
That thou thi hyne so wold kys.
Nay, Jacob, my dere brothere,
I shall thee tell all anothere:
Thou art my lord thrugh destyny.
Go we togeder, both thou and I,
To my fader and his wife
That lofys thee, brother, as thare lyfe.

Explicit Iacob. 10
 








(see note)
keep

before



bones; aching
sun
Here I propose





bless; their







accomplish


no kind of dread
clothe
Prosperous; path

health






mean
seen
(see note)
lie
none else
house; gate

where
praise

know
promise
meat
clothes; need
kind and kin

harm; health


servant
sign
church
comes to
a tenth

(see note)


through; voice
living
return
Where



my native country
hosts (armies)
promised
sea; (see note)
virtue
vengeance
anger
brood of children; (see note)
anguish



Truly
different
Perhaps
decrease



(see note)



Unless; before you go
long

touch; thigh
limp




show
unyielding


know


propitious
always
can do anything
prepare; path

fear
protected
believe; words
dawns

be called; (see note); (t-note)
seen

news


(see note)

line [of defense]
well protected

part

cut down





promised
offspring; (t-note)



native land




mischief prepare for me



hands



reward
servant



(see note)

loves; their


 


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