- Jacob's theft of his brother's blessing was
actually sanctioned by Isaac and Rebekah, as
they were deeply distressed at the news of Esau's
marriage to a Caananite woman (Gen. 26:34-35),
thus rendering Esau unfit for the blessing.
Curiously, as Norman Cohen states in Voices
from Genesis, "Isaac would live for [over
twenty years] which indicates that he had not
been old and senile at the time of the dual
blessings, but had known about the deception,
and was a party to its outcome... [in order
for ] Jacob to assert his own strength and independence,
Isaac had no choice but to appear weak and easily
- Jacob lived up to his name, "the wily
one" or, "he who seizes the heel." 2
- Esau referred to him, Gen 27:36: "Is
he not rightly named Jacob? for he
has supplanted me these two times..." 3
- Dreams in this case are "external forms
of divine communication, in which actual encounters
with God take place. When Jacob refers to this
event, he does not speak of God's presence in
his dream; he speaks of God's presence in the
- Imagine the depth of Jacob's surprise that
God cared for him. After all, he had just deceived
his father and stole his brother's blessing.
- Jacob recognizes God's voice and His personal
direction of his destiny.
- "Jacob's vow is a model for believers
today. He sought only the basics from God, not
luxury. Jacob asked that God would: (1) be with
him and watch over him on his journey; (2) give
him food to eat and clothes to wear; and (3)
return him safely to his father's house. In
gratitude for this basic provision, Jacob committed
himself to God and committed a tenth of all
he possessed as an expression of thanks." 5 (Gen. 28:20-22)
- Later, Jacob, the deceiver, is himself deceived
when his Uncle Laban substitutes his oldest
daughter, Leah, for the beloved Rachel whom
he worked seven years.
- After confronting Laban with his deception,
Jacob is allowed to marry Rachel at the end
of the seven-day bridal week. He gets both women
within a week, but must work another seven years.
- "Jacob's marriages were moral within
the context of the society in which he lived." 6
- When Laban attempts to deceive Jacob with
the flocks, God intervenes. Gen 31:7 "And
your father hath deceived me, and changed my
wages ten times; but God suffered him not to
- The number ten stands in scripture as meaning
- Jacob was unaware that Rachel had stolen her
father's house gods. He was willing to die,
if Laban found them. Rachel stashed them in
the saddle bag where she was sitting. She told
him she was having her menstrual cycle and that
stopped him from removing her from where she
was sitting. Women were considered unclean at
that time of the month and tainted everything
they came in contact, thus men stayed away from
- Jacob divides the herds to give a large present
to Esau. Giving Esau such a large gift isn't
a bribe to appease him. This form of gift-giving
was an established practice in the ancient Middle
East. Jacob's actions didn't indicate a lack
of trust in God, but an act of being culturally
- At Peniel, Jacob's name is changed to a new
and significant name "...
expunging the implications of his former name,
'supplanter or deceiver'
and replacing it with Israel or 'one who perseveres
with God.' " 9
- This event was a turning point for Jacob.
Up to this point he trusted his own strength
and shrewdness for success. Now he learned his
own strength was of no avail in wrestling with
God and that he must resort to prayer for the
blessing that he could not do without. 10 This blessing he couldn't steal. This recognition
altered the course of his life and his nature
- He is greeted with forgiveness by Esau. They
have a sweet conversation. Gen. 33:5-15. They
- When Esau asks who is with him, Jacob tells
him that these are his children, God's gifts.
The oldest of his sons, Reuben, is about 14
- The rape of Dinah, Jacob's daughter, causes
all kinds of problems. Simeon and Levi avenge
their sister's reputation by destroying all
the male inhabitants of Shechem and conquering
everything in the city.
- Jacob returns to Bethel, where he first encountered
God. He was to settle here and God spoke to
him once again. "We too can return spiritually
to the place where God first spoke to us. We
can settle there spiritually, and keep our hearts
open to hear God's voice." 11
- On the trip to Bethlehem,
Rachel dies after giving birth to a son she
names Benoni. Jacob changes his name to Benjamin.
One would think he should give his beloved wife
her wish. Benoni means the son of my sorrow.
Every time he would call him, it would bring
to remembrance sorrow, so he renamed him Benjamin
meaning the son of my right hand. That is a
- Jacob shows great favoritism to Joseph, thus
separating his sons.
- While Jacob was no longer the deceiver, he
instead was subjected to deception and grief
by his own sons!
- Jacob's life after Haran was God-centered.
He knew God was fulfilling His promise to him
through his sons
1 Norman Cohen. Voices from Genesis. Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998, p. 112.
2 Samuel Schultz. THE OLD TESTAMENT SPEAKS . New York: Harper and Row, 1960.
4 The New Interpreter's Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994 vol 1 p. 542.
5 Lawrence Richards. Richards Complete Bible Dictionary. Iowa Falls: World Bible Publishers, 2002 p. 538.
7 Robert Jamison. A Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1993 Vol 1 p. 208
8 Richards, p. 538
10 The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1974, p. 440.
11 Richards, p. 538
12 Matthew Henry's Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1961 p. 56.