I’ve been reading my Bible lately, and I’m almost done with Genesis. I have a question, however. In the mid-twentieth chapters of Genesis, Jacob receives Esau’s birthright as firstborn because Esau is very hungry and Jacob basically sells him some manner of soup for his birthright. Later, Jacob deceives Isaac into thinking he is Esau, and he receives Esau’s blessing, and Esau is almost kind of “cursed” it seems like by Isaac. Jacob goes on to establish the town of Bethel, and later receives two wives, and blessings from God. I’m not doubting God’s decision, but why was Jacob rewarded and everything by God if he largely tricked his father and brother? I don’t really understand. Keep in mind I haven’t finished Genesis yet, so I don’t know all of the story.
I’m interested too. We finished Genesis a few months back and are now on Numbers, but I would like to know as well! Thank you for asking!
I share an interest in this question, but I wold like to point out something.
Jacob had to flee his home and lived as a stranger for many years, as a direct result of this act of deception.
He labored seven years to be allowed to marry Rachel and then was tricked into taking Leah instead. Then he had to labor another seven years to get Rachel.
Laban persistently tried to cheat Jacob of his pay, by changing which animals of the flock would be his. It seems reasonable to me that living in Laban’s house was not a pleasant experience for the man he wanted to cheat.
In short, Jacob began as a deceiver. As a direct result he lost his brother’s friendship, was driven from his home, lived in fear of Esau’s hate and was deceived over and over.
This is just my opinion, but I think the answer is in the spiritual realm: in other words, I think there’s a deeper meaning.
I think there are two types of people in the world: one type can be depicted as being like Jacob, the other like Esau.
God, of course, is the head of us all, and He offers us all his salvation.
A person like Jacob would accept God’s gift of salvation and strive to enter the kingdom of heaven.
A person like Esau would reject and disdain God’s gift of salvation.
Esau, as the first born, was in line to inherit everything. But He chose a bowl of soup over his inheritance. In symbolic spiritual teaching: God offered him everything…but he threw it all away, and for what, a bowl of soup??
Jacob, in spiritual terms, wanted all that God was offering Him. He fought for it; he did everything he could do to obtain it. He even lied and cheated–not that we should do that. God’s gifts are the highest prizes we should search after. As Jesus said, “seek ye first the kingdom of God”. We should be like Jacob, we should strive with all our might to enter the Kingdom of God.
No wonder God said, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. He didn’t hate him, but how foolish God thought he was: to take everything that God was offering Him and to throw it all away.
Both of these are magnificent answers, Thank you both!
But he was really hungry…:shrug:
Why are any of us blessed by God, being liars and idolaters all? Jacob, like us, us not rewarded for his sin, but because of it. I like the typology above, where we see the attachment of Esau to the thing of this world, the physical, and Jacobs understanding of the importance of God’s promise. The blessing that was given came after. Earlier in life, Jacob valued the promise of God his brother thought of no worth. This being said, how can we speculate that Esau was more “deserving” than Jacob?
I think its not so much that Jacob tricked them, but that Esau was not at all interested in giving any sort of honor to his birthright… He didn’t care about it. It honestly meant nothing to him that just because he was hungry one day he’d give it up just to eat… It means his fleshy desires were more important to him than his desire for God. His gift from God was banal to him.
I think the ‘trickery’ of Jacob was not so much a matter of deception, but a matter of having those rights transferred in a right way to someone who actually desired and honored them. I think when God sees a better person for the job, and the ones that had it don’t really care about it, caring more about earthly and fleshy desires, God finds a way to make sure those to whom it should belong, get it… so that His Will is done. God uses those of his who are with Him. John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.…
If you look back in church history, you can find examples of this. Jesus kind of eluded to this in Luke 19:39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." 40But Jesus answered, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!" Meaning, God will get the job done one way or the other... People can't put God in a box. We like to, and we think we can manipulate God but we can't. I'm sure Esau felt assured in his placement..that it couldn't be lost. He felt proud in it, and used it to his own benefit to his wants and desires (bowl of soup when hungry).
I really do not know if that is the right interpretation… it was just my interpretation. I also have difficulty in thinking God would honor deception.
One word: hesed
I have been taking a course called “The Bible Timeline:The Story of Salvation”. Right now we are studying in depth the Patriarchs. They were not very nice people. I have come to the conclusion that God works with us where we are. Abraham was deceptive. Jacob was deceptive. They were people just like the rest of us. Why are any one of us blessed? I don’t have an answer. We can speculate but for now, I don’t think we are really ever going to understand fully God’s reasoning. It could have been simply that Jacob was a great deal smarter than Esau.
But then again, God often confounds us by blessing the most unlikely of people.
Jacob obeyed his mother.
The eldest male child held the birthright. The one with the birthright had the right to sell it, trade it or even give it away. He was free to do with it as he pleased. The birthright entitled him to a double portion of the inheritance but also made him responsible for caring for the family after the death of his father.
Esau was a “man of the field”, always running around hunting and never at home. Esau was too irresponsible. Rebeka did not want Esau as the head of the family. Jacob was a peace loving man who “Dwelt in tents”. This was the man Rebeka wanted caring for her in her old age.
Jacob did exactly as his mother told him. He even protested when his mother told him to impersonate his brother. In the end he was an obedient son and secured the blessing.
Rebeka and Jacob are types or forshadows of Mary and Jesus.
***Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. **(Genesis 27:8)
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)*
The Early Desert Fathers wrote extensively about these topics and saw the connection between the Jacob’s obedience to his mother and the obedience of Christians to Mary. In both cases the woman secures the blessing for her child.
First, because of God’s promise to Abraham and Isaac. The one who said Hesed (meaning covenant mercy and loving kindness) was correct, but did not explain. Second, God knew Jacob and so gave his Laban a man ten-times as deceitful and under Laban Jacob learned his lesson and after wrestling with God became Israel. Jacob’s story gives us all hope (as others have said). Two wives was not a blessing but a curse resulting in much conflict in Jacob’s short life (compared to his father or grandfather). Jacob like Adam and Eve tried to cut short the time until he/they could receive the promised blessing.
Grace and peace,