jacob and Esau

I have decided to study the OT. I just was reading how Jacob steals Esau’s blessing that their father gave. Now God blesses Jacob.
Jacob lied to receive his blessing yet God blessed him anyways…what am i missing here ? To me this seems to say to us, do what ever you have to do to gain Gods favor.

The story of Jacob and Esau has to be read in its full context and within the understanding of how inheritances were passed on to a man’s sons.

Esau was the older brother, so he would normally have been given the inheritance, but he sold his rights to Jacob for a bowl of vegetable soup–out of anger after an unsuccessful hunt for game. So, it was a private agreement between the brothers that Esau no doubt thought Jacob would forget or that he could get around. But Jacob meant it and meant to have it.

The moral isn’t that we should be deceptive to get what we want, but rather we should do all we can to ensure we receive the inheritance that God has for us–that of eternal life.

I guess i missed the soup incident…thanks :slight_smile:

Yes, it’s where we get the expression: “He sold his rights for a mess of pottage” taken from the KJV of the Bible. :slight_smile:

It’s about Mary. :slight_smile:

The whole thing was thought up by Jacob’s mother. Rebekah introduced the idea that Jacob should receive the blessing. Rebekah hatched the scheme to present the lambs as game to Issac. Jacob actually protested and was afraid that he would be cursed, but his mother convinced him.

His mother said to him, "Upon me be your curse, my son; only obey my word, and go, fetch them to me." (Genesis 27:13)

Jacob secured the blessing because he was obedient to his mother. The son receives the blessing from the father because he is obedient to the mother.

Issac represents God who gives blessing. Rebekah represents Mary. Jacob and Esau represent you and I. Esau is always out in the field, running around, hunting and not paying attention to his mother. Jacob is in the house, taking care of his mother, obedient to his mother at all times. The mother secures the blessing for the son who is obedient to her while the son who pays no attention to her gets nothing. Mary clothes us in the righteousness of her firstborn son, just as Rebekah clothed Jacob in the garments of her firstborn son. Mary secures blessing for us, but only if we pay attention to her, pray to her, and are obedient to her. This story is one of the reasons I consecrated myself to Mary.

Ignore at your own peril.


Thank you Tim! I still havent found the soup reference…is it not in the catholic bible?

Genesis 25:29-33

Also, bear in mind, stories in the Old Covenant are not always the perfect form of a moral teaching, rather they would point to some type in the New Covenant. i.e. Adam was a type of Christ, but Adam was but a shadow of the real one. If you peruse the book of Hebrews, it will speak of all the “better” versions of things in the New Testament vs. the Old. Examples would be better “covenant” (Heb. 7:22); better sacrifices (10:34); better word (12:24); etc… So we needn’t impose on an OT tale as the benchmark of moral activity, but it will resemble something in the New Covenant, even if imperfectly.

All the typology stuff is fine and good, but it doesn’t address the event in itself. If it were just a parable, you could say, its only value was to convey some truth about the New Testament. But it actually happened. Jacob told a lie about a serious matter, and was blessed. That is what we have to contend with, whatever it may be a figure of.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I think MarcoPolo may be onto something. In that vein, maybe it has something to do with revelation being gradual. For a time God seems to have tolerated polygamy, for example, and Moses allowed divorce. By the time the fullness of revelation was revealed in Christ, the world had received centuries of preparation (although his own people rejected him, even with all that preparation). With this knowledge, I don’t think deception of the sort Jacob pulled off would be tolerated, but maybe I’m off base here.

I’ll take a shot at it. Jacob is the figure of a new generation of God’s people - the New Covenant people, Christians. He is the “younger” son. The “older” son is represented by Esau. This unfolds in Romans 8-9 or so when Paul speaks about the two covenants and draws the parallel between Jacob and Esau, the younger and the elder, as icons for the younger (Christian) and the elder (Judaic) faiths. Whereas Jacob attained his inheritance over the elder by way of a lie, the “Jacob” of the New Covenant, i.e. followers of Christ, receive the inheritance by way of the “Truth,” who is Christ himself.

Yeah, God’s will be done, but I still say Jacob was a shmuck.
God works in mysterious ways, nevertheless God worked his
will through that mess to fulfill his purposes.

Well, I wouldn’t go that far in describing him. And whenever he made a mess of things he had to pay, and pay dearly for it. But as to getting the inheritance from Esau he had a right, even if his father would not have wanted to recognize it, because Esau sold his inheritance to Jacob. It was a stupid thing for Esau to do and he bitterly regretted it. Esau too became a nation and had great wealth and he and Jacob reconciled later in life. So, it’s really a story about a family squabble on the surface of things, but the underlying story is how God wanted to make a nation for himself and chose Jacob even though Esau would have been the expected choice. It’s like the way he choose the youngest and least likely when he chose David over his bigger and older brothers. God saw something in Jacob and in David that he liked, even with their flaws. Jesus’ message was that God choose the least not the greatest, the strongest because the littlest most often realizes how dependent they are on God. :slight_smile:

How is Jacob a schmuck?

It was the firstborn son’s right to give away or even sell his birthright. The firstborn son had the right to receive a double portion of his father’s inheritance but with it came responsibility to care for the family. Esau was always out in the field, running around all over the place, unfit to care for a family, and he showed his immaturity in that he ran around the field until he was famished and then traded his birthright for a plate of lentils. Esau rightfully traded the birthright and Jacob rightfully received it.

***When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. *(John 19:26-26)

This is exactly what Jesus is doing on the cross, giving his birthright to his best friend John who “took her to his own home” to care for her. St. John gets a double portion of the inheritance - he is the only Apostle not to be martyred and so he has a long life on earth and he gets eternal life in heaven with God - a double portion of life. And John takes care of the family. John receives the birthright from Jesus.

Jacob justly received the birthright. He did nothing wrong. And he did nothing wrong when he received the blessing. The only thing Jacob is guilty of is obedience to his mother. Even Issac knew that Jacob’s blessing was legitimate. Though he was sad to the point of tears Issac did not rescind or take back the blessing.

This is where MarcoPolo is spot on, 100% correct. Esau represents the temple authorities, the priests and scribes and the Pharisees and Sadduccees. Jesus knows that they will be removed from power because they have not tended the flock, have been hypocrites and disobedient, and Jesus weeps for Jerusalem just as Issac weeps for Esau who does not get the blessing. Jacob represents the new authority in God’s kingdom, the Apostles, who receive the blessing of God because of their obedience.

So Jacob received both the birthright and the blessing legitimately. That doesn’t make him a schmuck.


Good insights, Della and Tim.

God bestows his favor on whom he wills.

Can you imagine what a world we would live in when the righteous thought to themselves, “I deserve your favor, Lord, look at all I have done!”? Yet we are unprofitable servants and we have only done what we were asked to do (if that). [Lk 17:7-10]

Of course, we do live in that world where people think this; it was a joke.

You are thinking from within the confines of the box that you have tried to put your own creator into. He will not be told who to show his blessings to, nor his curses.

Edit: Also, Jacob did not receive the blessing “legitimately” if by legitimate you mean “without sin”. That would be incorrect. Jacob lied.
18 So Jacob took the food to his father. “My father?” he said.
“Yes, my son,” Isaac answered. “Who are you—Esau or Jacob?”
19 Jacob replied, “It’s Esau, your firstborn son. I’ve done as you told me. Here is the wild game. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing.”

20 Isaac asked, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”
“The Lord your God put it in my path!” Jacob replied.

And again
4 “But are you really my son Esau?” he asked.
“Yes, I am,” Jacob replied.

Does anyone need evidence that lying is wrong? It is in the CCC. Jacob lied, an intrinsic evil in the eyes of God. That is indisputable.

Yes, he lied to his father and that was sinful no doubt about it. Of course he paid for it later when he had to work an extra seven years to marry Rachel when he’d been tricked in his turn into marrying Leah. God didn’t let him get away with it even though God had chosen him to be the father of the nation of Israel. Being chosen doesn’t exempt anyone from being a fallen human being. Peter was chosen and yet he denied the Lord three times. Still, we look to them both as examples of faith–because they were weak human beings who sinned but who repented and looked to God for forgiveness and healing.


Yes, we are in accord.


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