Jacob and Esau

Jacob and Esau were born twins but could not have been more different if they’d tried. Esau was a big, hairy guy who loved to hunt and be outdoors while Jacob was fair and quiet and liked to stay inside with the women. As you might expect, Esau was Issac’s favorite while Rebecca loved Jacob.

Technically Esau was the older son since he’d come out first and, being the older son, he was entitled to all that was the first born’s right, which in those days was basically everything. By this time Issac was worth a fortune.

But Jacob was a sneaky little guy and he and Rebecca went about methodically taking away all of Esau’s rights.

The first thing Jacob did was get Esau to trade him his birthright for a bowl of stew. Really, I’m not kidding. A birthright, especially that of the first born child, was more precious than gold. But it seems Esau had come in from the field and was exhausted and Jacob was making stew. Rather than just give his brother some stew he made Esau sell him his birthright for a bowl of stew.

I guess Esau was a pretty impetuous guy, or just not too smart, but he went for it. Jacob made him swear so that sealed the deal.

After Esau ate his stew he realized what he’d done and was pretty pissed about it. But he couldn’t take it back, after all, he’d sworn to it.

Later on, when Issac was about to die, he called Esau to him and asked him to go hunt down a deer and prepare the venison just the way he liked it. Afterward he would give him his blessing.

Well, Rebecca heard Issac and put a plan in motion. She told Jacob to go get a couple of sheep and she would prepare them the way Issac liked. Then Jacob could take it to him and, pretending he was Esau, receive the blessing. Issac was blind so he’d never know. “But Esau’s hairy,” Jacob says; “No problem,” says Rebecca.

So Rebecca fixed the food and dressed Jacob up in Esau’s clothes so he’d smell like the outdoors. She put sheep skins on the back of his hands and his neck so he felt hairy like his brother. Then she sent Jacob in to see his dad.

Jacob straight up lied to Issac, pretending he was Esau. But Issac wasn’t convinced so he made him come near. Even though he heard Jacob’s voice he could smell the field on his clothes and the sheep skins did the trick so he was convinced it was Esau.

And so Issac blessed Jacob, thinking he was blessing Esau. In essence the blessing said he would be super prosperous, he’d lord over his brothers and his mother’s sons would bow down to him. Those who cursed him would be cursed and those who blessed him would be blessed. With that, Jacob took off.

But scarcely had Jacob left when Esau came in with his food and was all ready to get his blessing. It didn’t take long before he and Issac figured out that Jacob had scammed him. But here’s what’s weird; rather than say, “Wait a minute! That little sucker tricked me!” Issac told Esau he was out of luck and basically screwed. Even though he’d blessed Jacob, thinking he was Esau, since Jacob was the one in front of him, the blessing stuck with Jacob.

I could never understand why Issac didn’t just go get Jacob and slap him for being a thief and a cheat. At the very least, he thought he was blessing Esau so shouldn’t the blessing actually belong to Esau anyway? Doesn’t make an ounce of sense. But it works for the story.

As you might expect, Esau wanted to kill Jacob. But Rebecca got wind of it and she tricked Issac into shipping Jacob off to live with her brother, Laban, about 600 miles north at a place called Haran. Needless to say, Jacob was more than ready to get out of Dodge.

Along the way to Laban’s house Jacob had a dream. God restated his intention to give all this land, the “Promised Land”, to the children of Abraham, which now apparently meant Jacob.1

1] But for some reason, not Esau.

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