Today’s readings take us through the story of Jacob tricking Esau out of his birthright. Esau, the firstborn, would typically inherit the lion’s share of livestock and land when his father died, and in this case would receive a blessing from Isaac that would make him the new recipient of the covenant that God had made with Abraham. Instead, Jacob tricks Esau out of his inheritance and tricks Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing- now God’s covenant will be fulfilled through Jacob and his descendants, instead of Esau.
It seems strange that God would go along with this- Jacob’s kind of a scumbag in this story. God won’t make Jacob’s life easy, as we’ll learn, but God goes along with it and Jacob and his sons will become the nation of Israel. This isn’t because of Jacob’s behavior, it’s in spite of it.
- 25:1-6; having more than one wife is common in the Old Testament, but it never seems to work out well. Neither does having concubines. Remember, the Bible doesn’t always support everything it reports.
- 25:23; this was unusual. Normally the oldest son received the power and blessings.
- 25:29-34; Esau’s birthright, as the oldest son, was the choice land and livestock, and more. In his haste, he allowed a temporary condition to cause long-term destruction.
- 26:2-5; God extends and confirms the covenant he made with Abraham to Isaac.
- 26:6-7; interesting that Isaac commits the same sin as his father.
- 26:12-16; this is not the only time the Israelites will grow to be numerous and powerful and the people whose land they’ve settled in feel threatened. This is the same reason the Egyptians enslave the Israelites later on.
- 26:19-22; Isaac knows where God wants him to go based on the complaints of local herders when he digs wells. When nobody complains about his well, he knows he’s made it. Sometimes God speaks to us in weird ways.
- 26:35; this is one of those strange little details that lends authenticity to the story
- 27:1-29; Rebekah and Jacob tricked Isaac to bless him instead of Esau. Jacob had already tricked Esau out of his birthright and now he attempts to steal his father’s dying blessing. Jacob is sneaky and a liar and yet, he seems to be blessed over and over.
- 27:30-42; When Esau lost his birthright, it was, in large portion, his own fault. In this case, however, he was simply obeying his father and due to his mother and brother’s trickery, he loses his blessing as well. Esau’s anger is understandable.
- 27:46; Jacob has to flea because of his and his mother’s deceitfulness. Rebekah is afraid Jacob will marry a Hittite woman while he is among them, but if that were to happen it would be a consequence of her sin.
- 28:1-9; Jacob is sent to find an Israelite to marry. Esau already had two Canaanite wives, which Jacob is strictly forbidden from. Esau then marries a woman descended from Ishmael.
- 28:10-13; In the book of John, Jesus likens himself to this ladder Jacob dreams of when he explains that angels will ascend and descend on the Son of Man.