They’re not Jacob’s sheep, they are mine…
“What shall I give you?” he asked.
“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”
Jacob, the son of Isaac and Rebecca, was a dishonest cheat, with exquisite taste in sheep. His habitual lies, petty fraud and tricks earned him an unenviable reputation. Employers expected him to steal, his wives expected him to cheat. In the end he only kept spotty sheep because that way he could prove that he hadn’t nicked them from his boss.
In Hebrew, Jacob means “one who follows on another’s heels”, a description that suits the sheep just as well as it does the shepherd. He was born holding onto his twin brother’s ankle, symbolic of their life long feud. As a “young” man, Jacob tricked his brother into giving him a double portion of inheritance from his father. Later in Genesis, God communicates (through His ghost writer Moses) that Jacob is now called Israel and that he should go and build an actual country.
According to Biblical account, Jacob was a bit of a legend with the sheep. He developed the coloured anti-theft breeding stock into stronger, better animals than the plain white, previously more valuable sheep.
Moses details the jealousy and dastardliness that stems from Jacob’s special flock. It was, in fairness, a family plagued with base emotions and criminal behaviour.
Jacob’s own uncle tricked him into marrying the wrong girl, the brothers fought each other from before birth, and in the end the siblings all ganged together to sell Dad’s favourite lad into slavery. Nice family. Jacob himself met Rebbeca when he was 77 and she was just 14. He fell in love with her immediately and everyone seemed completely unphased by the massive age gap.
All modern sheep originate in the Near East in the fertile crescent (along with writing, the wheel, irrigation and agriculture). It this regard at least the Biblical origins of the Jacob sheep could be true. In 2017 Jenna and Gil Lewinsky shipped 119 Jacob sheep to Israel, in a project that sought to return this Biblical breed “back” to Israel.
Lamb of God?
The Jacob fleece might well be Godly, but it is probably a stretch too far to say it is Biblical. Jacob sheep were named in the 19th century, in the UK, where the modern breed was developed. Its name came naturally to folks looking for words that matched the description, black sheep with white patches (sometimes extensive). So rather than being the same breed as mentioned in the Bible, it is more likely that the Jacob has been developed somewhat in its image.
We can’t guarantee the sleep of the angels, divine insight, or any other connection between sheepskin and the most basic of earthly tangibles. What we can guarantee is luxurious and stylish sheepskin, with colours that can tie a room together. Biblical? Hardly, but comfort like this does bring to mind a good book. Take a look at our rare breed sheepskins, and do subscribe if you’d like to hear the moment new skins come in.