Jacob, Esau, and Birthright

Jacob and Esau meet (Genesis 33:4)

Certain people in the Old Testament who had deep reverence towards God experienced moments which gave them a foretaste of the grace, and truth, that would ensue in the fullness of time. The story of Esau and Jacob, twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah, is an example.

Esau loved to hunt and became Isaac’s favourite. Jacob, who was quieter, was Rebekah’s favourite.

One day, Esau returned home after working in the fields. He was famished and asked Jacob for bread and a bowl of stew. Jacob seized the opportunity to obtain the advantage awarded only to the firstborn of the Jews. He asked Esau to “trade” his birthright for the food. Esau agreed … “Behold, I am at the point to die – and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” (Gen 25).

Later, Rebekah guided by the Holy Spirit and God’s preference that Jacob and not Esau be the one to lead the Jews, tricked the blind Isaac to give his blessing to Jacob instead of Esau (Gen 27).

So that the infuriated Esau wouldn’t kill Jacob, Rebekah sent Jacob into the desert where he labored long and hard. However, he longed to return to his father’s house but could not due to Esau’s rage. The night before the confrontation, he took refuge in unceasing prayer. He felt the presence of God early in the morning. Intensifying his prayer, he told God that he will not leave him unless He provided him with His blessing! God replied, “Because you have been strong with God, you will also be strong with men” (Gen 32).

The next day, under God’s protection, Jacob went to meet Esau, who was pursuing him with an army to annihilate him. On approaching Esau, Jacob made seven full prostrations. Esau’s heart softened and he fell on Jacob’s neck sobbing as brotherly love was re-established.

Jacob had humbled himself before God through prayer and also before his brother, receiving divine blessing as the next Patriarch of God’s chosen people.


Source: Lychnos April-May 2020