Esau and Jacob
Categories: Men in the Old Testament
- Rebekah talks with God about the conflict
in her body. (Gen. 25:22-24) God tells her the
younger son shall rule the elder son.
- Esau was born first, followed by Jacob.
- Esau was red and hairy.
- Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field.9
- Jacob followed in the footsteps of his father
and grandfather and was a semi-nomadic shepherd.
- Esau lacked spiritual depth. He was a man
of the moment.
- Esau impetuously bargained away his birthright
for a bowl of pottage.10
- Pottage was a soup or stew made with vegetables
and sometimes with meat.11
- The birthright included the primary headship
of the family, that is, rights as the eldest
son, a double portion of the inheritance, priestly
rights, and, in Abraham's family, heir to the
- Isaac chose to avoid conflict with the Canaanites
over the wells Abraham had dug. God told him
not to be afraid.13 (Gen 26:15-24)
This appears to be a turning point in Isaac's
life. Up to this point he passively accepted
what happened in his life; being used as the
potential object of sacrifice; waiting for the
selection of a bride; walking away from the
strife over the first two wells; being heartsick
over Esau's foreign wives. God tells him not
to be afraid. Not to be afraid to make decisions?
Not to be afraid of what others might think?
Not to be afraid to live?
- Esau was indifferent to his parents' wishes
when he married not one but two Hittite women.
- Esau was 40 years old when he first married.
He later married four more foreign wives.
- Esau's offspring were called the Edomites. 17
- Jacob and Esau were approximately 60 years
old when Jacob stole Esau's blessing.
- Isaac was 120 years old and blind when he
asked Esau to prepare the meal of venison for
- Isaac thought he was ready to die, yet he
lived another sixty years after blessing Jacob.
- The blessing of Isaac certainly appears unalterable.
"Acts of blessing in the OT rest on accepted
conventions. If the blessing could not be revoked
by Isaac, it was because no convention was available
for its revocation. If there is such a convention,
Isaac chooses not to make use of it. Esau, in
asking for another blessing, appears to believe
that no such convention exists."18
- "One basic reason cited by Isaac for
not retracting the blessing involves the consumption
of a meal. (Gen 27:33) The meal was an integral
part of a conventional blessing ritual, without
which it would not have been valid."19
- It was unnecessary for Jacob and his mother
to conspire to steal the blessing. God had spoken
to Rebekah when she was pregnant, and predicted
that Esau would serve Jacob. (Gen. 25:23) Their
trickery and deceit obtained something God would
have provided freely had they behaved morally.20 A great lesson in yielding all to God!
- The great deception produces suffering: "Isaac
suffers for his preference for Esau, which was
not determined by the will of God but by his
weak affection: Esau suffers for despising the
blessing of the firstborn:" Rebekah suffers
in never seeing Jacob again: Jacob suffered
a strain of hardship and deception at the hand
9 The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1963, p. 127.
10 Ibid. p. 127.
11 Lawrence O. Richards. Richards Complete Bible Dictionary. Iowa Falls: World Bible Publishers, 2002, p. 806.
12 J.R. Dummelow, ed. A Commentary on the Holy Bible. New York: Macmillan Co., 1908, p. 32.
13 Richards, p. 522.
17 Ibid, p. 345.
18 The New Interpreter's Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994, Vol 1, pp. 538-539.
19 Ibid, p. 539.
20 Richards, p. 538.
21 Dummelow, p. 33.