I started this as single post about Jacob wrestling with the angel (who most people consider to be Jesus). The point of the article was that we need to adopt the attitude of “hanging onto Jesus.” But I decided that while most who come here know the story, there may be visitors who do not know the whole story about Jacob and I originally was going to give a paragraph or two as background. I quickly found that wasn’t going to be satisfactory, so this is the first of two parts.
The story of Jacob is a complex story that is filled with intrigue and double-dealing, so let’s start at the beginning. Soon after Isaac and Rebekah were married she discovered she was barren, so Isaac prayed to God for children and God provided. This is a perfect example of intercessory prayer: Isaac prayed for Rebekah. This is part of the husband’s duty to their family … not only to pray for them, but pray with them. Husbands, your wife will look at you in a whole new light if you suggest setting aside a time of prayer each day for the two of you to pray together. Your marriage will be renewed and take on a whole new dimension. Do it!
Her pregnancy produced twin boys and it was competition from the get-go between those two. Even while in the womb they wrestled and at birth Jacob grabbed hold of Esau’s heel, following as if to fight for the distinction of being the first-born. Gen 25:21-26
The Birthright Sale
Each parent had their favorite, too: Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob. When they were grown, Jacob had become a farmer and Esau a hunter.
Esau came home one day and was famished to the point of fainting. Jacob was boiling a pot of soup and Esau asked for a bowl. Jacob saw his opportunity for some competition and asked him to sell his birthright for a bowl of soup. Esau, being hungry to the point of death, couldn’t see what use a birthright would be anyway, so he sold it. The birthright was very important in ancient times. It dictated one’s status and wealth in life. Gen 25:26-30 :: Gen 25:32
Jacob Grabs the Blessing
Now Isaac was nearing death. He was blind and confined to his bed when he called Esau, asking him to make his favorite venison meal so he could bless him and pass on the birthright. Rebekah wanted Jacob to have the blessing, so, with the help of his mother, and quite a lot of deception on her part, Jacob received the birthright. Gen 27:1-29
This is the last sentence in the blessing:
Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.
The phrase I have emphasized is important for us, as gentiles, to understand. This is a promise given to Jacob that affects us today. This is the blessing over Israel which we need to follow if we want to enjoy Yahweh’s blessings. Israel was chosen by Yahweh to be a nation of priests. This passage affirms that we need to do everything we can to assist and support Israel because Yahweh never changes and His promises are never revoked.
Esau Loses the Blessing
Shortly after Jacob had exited his father’s tent, Esau arrived with the venison his father had asked of him. Isaac informed him that he had already given his blessing. He didn’t say that he gave it to Jacob – I don’t think he knew who had received it. He only said he had been tricked. Esau pressed him for the blessing, asking, “Have you only one blessing?” But Isaac was firm: He had given the blessing of the firstborn to Jacob who was born after Esau and it could not be taken back. Gen 27:31-40
Do you remember Genesis 25:23? Jacob’s receiving of the blessing was preordained.
And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
It is also interesting that once the blessing was given, even though he was not the first-born, it could not be changed. At least Isaac refused to amend it.
Esau’s Plan for Revenge
Esau was hateful mad about this and he vowed to kill Jacob after Isaac died. Rebekah heard of his oath and decided Jacob needed to get away as soon as possible. She decided the best place would be with her brother Laban – a long way away. She raised an alarm in Isaac’s mind saying the only available women were Canaanite women and that she didn’t want Jacob to marry one of them, but that he should travel to her brother’s land and find a wife among them. Isaac dutifully blessed Jacob and sent him on his way. Gen 27:42-46 :: Gen 28:1-5
In his fury, Esau saw that it would displease his father if Jacob were to take a Canaanite wife, so he went to Ishmael and took two wives of the Canaanites. He wanted to hurt his father while at the same time show him how much he had hurt his eldest son! I think that’s called “cutting off one’s nose to spite the face.” Yes, he was bent on getting some sort of vengeance on his parents at the expense of the good of his own life. Gen 28:6-9
We’ll leave the story there for this post. Part II, the follow-up, is close on the heels of this one.
Thank you for reading.