I started doing some research on ashes, particularly rings of ashes. I was trying to find out where a ring of ashes has been used. I've heard it said, and not only in relation to Lost, that a ring of ashes is supposed to be for protection - to keep something out - or in.
But as I did intense research (through google and wikipedia :P), the same thing kept popping up - the phoenix. Over on Nikki's blog, humanebean mentioned a phoenix in connection to Jacob, wondering if he would rise from the ashes the way a phoenix in mythology would. So I started looking into it.
I'm not saying this is conclusive or anything, but here's an interesting proposition... Jacob is a phoenix. If you look at his tapestry (which I looked up on lostpedia here: http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/File:5x16_Jacob%27s_tapestry.jpg
You'll see that across the top is a span of wings. People have been pointing out the sun rays and assuming that it is referring to Ra, but in almost every picture I could find, Ra is represented by a circle, not by wings.
Wings, however, are used in every picture of a phoenix, since the phoenix is a bird. Here's an example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phoenix_detail_from_Aberdeen_Bestiary.jpg
In that example you'll also notice that there is the image of the sun above, but this is because Ra and the phoenix were closely related. Here's an excerpt from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Phoenix_(mythology)
"Living a long life (the exact age can vary from five hundred to over a thousand years), the bird dies in a self-created fire, burning into a pile of ashes, from which a phoenix chick is born, representing a cyclical process of life from death. Because it is reborn from its own death, the phoenix also took on the characteristics of regeneration and immortality."
Sound like anyone we know? The fire was burning in the foot before MaybEsau arrived and someone pointed out that it may in fact be the same fire that was burning as the episode opened. If so, then the fire that Jacob burned in was a "self-created" fire.
Occasionally, the phoenix was depicted in a white robe, according to the site. Hmm.... Jacob, white robe...
Here's another quote from the newworldencyclopedia:
"The Bennu [phoenix] also became closely connected to the Egyptian calendar, and the Egyptians kept intricate time measuring devices in the Bennu Temple."
The temple on the Island seems to be connected in some way to Jacob, since Richard was taking Ben to Jacob. And Jacob also seems to be very connected to time and time keeping.
Perhaps his appearances to each of the Losties was at the correct time to move them in the direction that would bring them to the Island at the right time. That might explain why he appeared to each of them at different periods in their lives. Hurley and Sayid were already going to be on the plane, but Kate and Sawyer and Locked needed to be prodded in the right direction.
Think about it: If Kate hadn't gotten away with the lunch box then she may never have ended up on the run from the law so many, many years later. If she was never a fugitive then she never would have ended up in Australia and, therefore coming back under the custody of the marshall.
If Sawyer had thrown that letter away then he might have gotten over the bitterness eating at him and then he never would have been in Australia hunting down the man he thought was the original Sawyer.
If Locke hadn't been thrown out the window, he never would have been paralyzed. He wouldn't have become obsessed with the idea of "Don't tell me what I can't do", never would have become obsessed with the idea of going on a walkabout and never would have ended up in Australia.
Maybe we'll discover next season that Jacob appeared to other Losties earlier on, but the numbers already had Hurley travelling to Australia to try to break the curse. It isn't until he's one of the O6 that he needs the extra convincing to get him to come back to the Island.
Sayid would never have come back to the Island willingly, either. With Nadia dead, he turns to working for Ben, which brings him into contact with Ilana (who now seems to be working for Jacob) and he never would have been on 316 and back on the Island.
Jacob is a keeper of time and a director of getting people to the right place at the right time.
So, if Jacob is in fact a "phoenix", then what does that make MaybEsau? Does the phoenix have an enemy in mythology? In eastern mythologies, the phoenix-type creature is an enemy of snakes and serpents, including dragons. Interesting, because, if Jacob is in this sense "good" then MaybEsau would be, in this sense "bad" and the serpent in biblical symbolism is representative of satan, the deceiver, the liar, the evil.
According to http://www.newsfinder.org/site/more/phoenix_the_symbol_of_rebirth/
in Chinese mythology, the dragon and the phoenix represent "the complete yin-yang mutual interdependence in the universe in terms of duality."
If that is the case, then I bring it back to my original statement earlier today that perhaps neither Jacob nor Esau are necessarily good or evil, they represent free will and destiny and for everything to work the way it's supposed to, there needs to be a balance of both.
By killing Jacob, I think MaybEsau has tilted the balance - he may think it's in his favor, but I'm not so sure. Perhaps Jacob is simply about to rise from the ashes.