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Jacob and Esau

Jacob and Esau

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Birth of the Twins

Twenty years had passed since Isaac’s and Rebecca’s marriage, but as yet, they had not been blessed with children. Finally, G‑d answered Isaac’s prayers, and Rebecca gave birth to twins. The first child to be born was covered with hair like a fully grown person. His parents called him Esau (from the Hebrew word “osso” -- finish). The second child followed Esau, holding on to his brother’s heel, and Isaac called him Jacob (Yaakov, “One that takes by the heel”).

Jacob and Esau Grow Up

Although the children were twins and grew up together, they displayed a difference in character. Jacob spent all his time at home, engaged in study with his father and grandfather Abraham. Esau, however, resorted to countless tricks to avoid studying, and spent most of his time in the fields. He enjoyed hunting and killing, and was often absent from his home for many days.

Abraham’s Death

Abraham lived to a ripe and happy old age, and died at the age of one hundred and seventy-five. His sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him in the Cave of Machpelah.

Esau Kills Nimrod

On the day of Abraham’s death, Esau had been out in the fields as usual. He had lost his way and was trying to find his way back, when King Nimrod arrived with two servants. Esau hid behind a rock, and when Nimrod was left unguarded, he killed him and fought the two servants who rushed to the aid of their master. Esau escaped with King Nimrod’s clothes. These were Adam’s garments which later became the property of Noah; Noah’s son Ham, who was Nimrod’s grandfather, had subsequently become their owner, and finally Nimrod had acquired them. These divine clothes had made Nimrod a powerful and skillful hunter and a mighty ruler over all other kings. Now Esau had come into possession of the most valuable and cherished property a hunter could desire.

Jacob Buys the Birthright

The birthright was a sacred privilege enjoyed by the first-born son. This privilege made the first-born the real heir and successor to his father, as the head of the family. Isaac’s first-born son was to be devoted to the service of G‑d and to the sacred traditions of the family. But in the case of Esau, it soon became apparent that he was not the one to fulfill this sacred duty. Esau did not wish to shoulder this responsibility, preferring a happy and carefree life as a hunter and man of the fields. Jacob, on the other hand, seemed the ideal inheritor and successor. The day that Esau returned from that fateful hunting trip, his clothes still covered with the spatter of mud and blood, Jacob rebuked him for neglecting his holy duty as first-born. Esau, however, ridiculed Jacob and spoke very mockingly of the birthright. Jacob was shocked to hear such abuse of, and disrespect towards, the sacred privilege of the first-born, and proposed to buy the birthright from Esau who willingly agreed to make the deal. Thus Jacob came into the possession of something he cherished more than all the treasures of the world.

Isaac Goes To Philistina

After Abraham’s death, famine again swept over the land of Canaan. Isaac wanted to follow the example of his father Abraham and go to Egypt. However, G‑d ordered him never to leave the land that had been promised to his father and to him, and Isaac traveled down only to the land of the Philistines. Isaac took the same precaution his father had taken when he sojourned among the Philistines. He said that Rebecca was not his wife, but his sister. King Abimelech desired to marry Rebecca, for she was the fairest woman he had ever seen. But when he found out that Rebecca was really Isaac’s wife, he was afraid to touch her or Isaac. When Isaac grew very prosperous, the Philistines became envious and requested him to leave. Isaac went to Beer Sheba, where his father Abraham had dwelt. Soon after, Abimelech paid Isaac a friendly visit, desiring to make up for his former unfriendly act. Abimelech asked Isaac to make a treaty of peace with him. This Isaac did, and Abimelech returned to his land.

From Our People by Jacob Isaacs published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society 1946-1948
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Floodguy January 19, 2017

To continue my thought, that staff went on into the hands of Aaron, and then into the ark of the covenant. The garments that Esau regained may have remained with him. Since it was a grandson of his, Zepho, who founded Rome, perhaps the garments ended up in his hands, and remain in the vicinity to this day. The Vatican maybe? The epic battle still plays on between the descendants of Jacob and Esau to this day, with these two heirlooms still lurking in the background. I could be way off, but it's a great story! Reply

Karen Richmond January 6, 2017

Jacob and Esau God saw a chance for Jacob to be molded into the man God wanted him to be while Esau was pretty egotistical and couldn't be changed. Neither one followed God in the beginning. Esau didn't honor his birthright and didn't care that he had sold it (he wasn't tricked) until Isaac gave the blessing to Jacob. The blessing involved deception on the part of Rebekah and Jacob but God would have given it anyway (prophetic from birth 25:23) Guess Esau didn't mention selling his 1st born birthright to Isaac! Jacob (name changed to Israel 35:10)12 sons-Jewish. Esau, Edomites 36:47. Esau had a lot of kids from many wives chap 36. These twins make an interesting study. Reply

Jay Abrie November 21, 2016

So who represents either of these descendants today? Hebrews? Or Ahskanazis? Reply

Carl lMoore Hayesville, North Carolina 28904 August 14, 2016

Esau's decendants If so, who were they? Were Esau's offspring illegitimate children? What tribe/nation sprang from Esau? What eventually happened to Esau? One of my Sunday School pupils asked me these questions - unable to answer. Reply

Gwen Minneapolis April 12, 2016

This was really enlightening.. thank you... In today's terms we can say that Esau was definitely a man of the streets.. as he was gone often hunting and killing. Now Esau is what one would call a thug... Seeking the easiest way of gain, I'll gotten, even to the point of marrying forbidden women... Esau was definitely a rebellious man filled with rivalry....I used to feel bad that Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. Now I see that he would of no doubt not have been able to keep to the will of GOD... Reply

Annmarie Smith Crestwood January 18, 2016

Really? We need to ask God for wisdom and understanding of His word. That's why we're so hard pressed. It's because we're already filled with man-made doctrines. Then when the truth is before us; it appears to be wrong for we already know it wrongfully. Reply

Anonymous buffalo June 3, 2015

This story ia awesome!!! Reply

Peter Gathirimu Nairobi, Kenya November 22, 2014

Another way of looking at it: Esau was already complete, finished, ossos when he was born. Jacob was 'crooked' ,from 'akov'. Yet he was ish tam, a plain / smooth / innocent man. Devoid of any defining features. So Jacob was a man who needed to be made straight and also moulded. He obeyed his mother without question. He believed in the authority and blessing of his father. Therefore, he had the need and the resources for his perfection. And in that perfection comes excellence. Only the crooked and the plain need work, and when they accept it, their blessings are multiplied. (Esau thought he was 'ossos'- complete, finished. He therefore even rejected his birthright). Reply

Julie May 25, 2017
in response to Peter Gathirimu:

It is sad to believe one has to reject one's creator and father in order to be complete. A real man can come under another's authority. A coward rejects authority, and believes he can do everything himself, until he fails. A coward and a fool believes he has all the answers himself, and does not need the help of someone smarter (God) and more experienced (parents/elders) than themselves. Reply

Anonymous Ca June 12, 2014

Isaac trembled very exceedingly, ... Isaac discovered he was not in control of that blessing (Gen. 25:23) Reply

Donald L Seattle Wa March 25, 2014

Esau did not want to honor the responsibility of the birthright. He wanted instead to hunt and be outside, thinking because he was the oldest all he had to do was wait and then be given the birthright automatically. I was so surprised reading when Esau cried and yet did nothing to honor such a wonderful gift of creation and honor from God himslef. Reply

Anonymous Farrockaway ny March 21, 2014

Jacob vs Esau just a few days ago, the pastor and I was speaking about Leah (Jacob's 1st wife), I I said that Jacob tricked Esau into giving the birthright to him, but he didn't,
Esau exchanged the birthright for a bowl of soup, and he didn't think about the birthright. he was concerned about "right now", not what the future held.
odessa Reply

Amy October 18, 2013

Jacob's motive in taking the birthright I remember reading that Jacob's sole motive in wanting the birth right was that he wanted to make sure that the sacrifices and worship due to God (which was the duty of the firstborn) was done regularly and in a proper manner ,failing which God's wrath would be kindled .By nature Esau was negligent of this and would have brought trouble on everybody .It looks unlikely Jacob wanted worldly possessions ,remember he ran away and had to work hard for his living . Reply

Lisa USA September 10, 2013

I think Esau was tricked by his brother and his mother. I think you better read it for yourself rather than just take this paraphrased version from this poster. Reply

Julie May 25, 2017
in response to Lisa:

I think you should back up and read from the beginning of the chapter! This was ordained by God, and to have an unworthy, unGodly man lead his descendants would have not worked. Jacob loved God and his nation, Esau loved himself, not his father, not his nation. It was prophesied from before their birth that Esau would serve Jacob. Reply

Steve Colorado April 24, 2013

Why did Esau sell his birthright? I always wondered why Esau sold his birthright. Seems that if he did kill Nimrod then I would imagine that Nimrod's family &/or followers would want to kill him so perhaps he figured he was a dead man so what did it mater if he sold his birthright?

Interesting but where did you get the info showing Esau killed Nimrod - I cannot find it in torah or the bible.

Shalom Reply

Stanley Burnet Zimbabwe March 8, 2013

Am grateful that through you God have shed light to me with regards the story of Jacob and Esau. Reply

Anonymous January 14, 2013

I, too enjoyed reading the story of Esau & Jacob. I have read it many times in my Bible and each time I understand it better. Reply

Malkie Janowski for Chabad.org November 17, 2012

In truth, Jacob bought the birthright from Esau. The Bible tells us in Genesis 25 that Jacob was cooking a stew when Esau came in from hunting. He was famished, and asked Jacob to give him the food. Jacob offered to sell him the soup in exchange for the birthright, and Esau agreed. Thus, it legally belonged to Jacob. Reply

texasboy June 15, 2017
in response to Malkie Janowski for Chabad.org:

Agree! Reply

david November 11, 2012

trick didn't jacob trick Isaac into giving him the birthright? Reply

Donald L Scarborough Kent, Wa August 31, 2012

Knowledge I enjoyed reading the truth about the birthright of Issac and Easu, I never knew the complete story, and I am thankful for your research and posting of this story of Isaac and Easu. Through my research and learning more I am thankful. Reply

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