登天梯
——狱中给女儿的信选刊之七十四
亲爱的小文:
    你注意到警察局里消防车上的云梯(ladder)了吗?那种梯子升起来很高,可高出一百英尺。美国underworld slang把ladder叫做Jacob,你知道是谁吗?
Jacob was the son of Isaac, and the father of the 12 sons who founded the Twelve Tribes of Israel, according to the Old Testament. He bought his older brother Esau's birthright with a bowl of savory stew(“mess of pottage”). Later, Jacob enforced his claim by pretending to his blind and aged father that he himself was Esau. Thus, he obtained from Isaac the words of blessing Isaac had meant for Esau. Esau was so angry that Jacob fled for his life.
On the way to his uncle Laban, Jacob slept at a place called Bethel, where he dreamed of a wonderful ladder between heaven and earth. In the dream, God promised to protect and bless him while he was away from home. Much encouraged, Jacob went on to Laban's home. There he fell on love with Laban's daughter, Rachel. But Laban forced Jacob to marry hid older daughter. Leah, before he could have Rachel for his wife. After working 20 years for Laban, Jacob left for home.
On the way, Jacob prayed all night until God reassured him that Esau would spare his life. Esau met him with forgiveness, and they parted good friends. Jacob spent his last years in Egypt, where his son Joseph brought him to live.
Esau was the son of Isaac and Rebecca, and twin brother of Jacob in the Bible. He is a main character in many stories found in Genesis 25-33. The best known are Jacob's cheating him out of his birthright for a“mess of pottage”(Gen.25:27-34), and the loss of his blessing through the plotting of his mother and brother(Gen.27). Esau was reconciled to Jacob after the latter's return to Palestine 20 years later.
Biblical history regards Esau as the founder of the Edomite nation.
Jacob就是现在以色列(Israel)人的老老老老老老老老老老……老祖宗。
Mess of pottage就是“因小失大”、“得不偿失”、“划不来”的意思。
A Jacob's ladder is a ladder made of rope or cable, usually with wooden rungs. It is dropped over the side of a ship to enable people to ascend from or descend to small boats alongside. Harbor pilots usually come aboard via a Jacob's ladder.
The Jacob's ladder gets its name from an incident in the Book of Genesis(28:12). The patriarch Jacob falls asleep and the a vision:“And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and he top of it reached to heaven;and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.”
Jacob's ladder has been used in at least two other quite earthly meanings. A small plant with a flower-and-leaf formation resembling a ladder bears this name. In England, also what we Americans call“runs”in hosiery were formerly called Jacob's ladders. Nowadays they are simply ladders.
Jacob's ladder可以登天,所以美国黑社会的thieves' Latin(盗贼的隐语,切口)就把梯子叫Jacob。
植物里头花葱属(polemoniums)中的一种就叫Jacob's ladder,因为它们有ladderlike leaves。
爸 爸 一九七五年十一月一日