Understanding the Old Testament

Jacob and Esau

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

Were two brothers ever more different than Jacob and Esau? The first-born Esau grew up to be a hunter, “a man of the field,” and apparently very simple-minded. His brother Jacob became a “peaceful” man who lived in tents, but also a schemer.

We see the contrast immediately in Genesis 25:29-34. Jacob cooked some lentil stew, and Esau came in from the field hungry. In return for a bowl of stew and some bread, he sold his birthright to Jacob. This was no trivial asset Esau so casually discarded, for the first-born son was entitled to twice the inheritance of other male children. (See Deuteronomy 21:15-17.) In addition, the first-born son was entitled to greater honor, and presumably the covenant blessings God had promised to Abraham and his descendants. Thus, Genesis criticizes Esau for despising his birthright (Genesis 25:34).

When he was 40 years old, Esau “brought grief” to his parents by marrying two Hittite women against their wishes, for they probably wanted him to marry within the family as Isaac had done. (Genesis 26:34.)

And of course, we see the craftiness of Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, when they conspired to deprive Esau of his father’s blessing by having Jacob pretend to be Esau. The idea was Rebekah’s, but Jacob went along. And their plan worked. Isaac, who was old and nearly blind, blessed Jacob instead of Esau. The blessing included a pronouncement that Jacob be “master of your brothers” and that “your mother’s sons bow down to you.” (Genesis 27:29)

When Esau learned what had happened, he vowed to kill his brother. So Rebekah arranged for Isaac to send Jacob to Haran, to her brother Laban, where she knew her younger son would be safe. Twenty years later Jacob and Esau would be reunited, and all would be forgotten.  Esau, also known as Edom, would become the father of the Edomites—whom we will meet again after the Exodus—while the Israelites would be Jacob’s descendants..

Question to ponder or discuss: In his younger days, Jacob aggressively went after what he wanted, rather than waiting on God to bless him. Why is it often hard for us to wait for God’s blessings?

Copyright 2017 by Don Davidson

My book, Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15), is available on Amazon.com as either a print book or a Kindle e-book. Here's the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074MVHVHP Read Chapter 1 (pdf format)



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