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Jul 11 2011

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Jacob and Esau – The Divided Family

Jacob and Esau Part 2

In Part 1 we discovered that the unresolved conflicts between Jacob and Esau were fueled by their parents’ favoritism.  Let’s see what happened when these roots were allowed to grow.

Because of a famine, Isaac moved his family to another area. God reinstated promises to bless his family, and Isaac began to prosper. Perhaps Esau began to realize how much of an inheritance he had lost to his brother. There is no indication that he ever sought after God, whom his father and mother served. In fact, he married two women from the idol worshiping tribes around them, and those women brought grief to his parents.

Maybe her disappointment with Esau’s choice of wives caused Rebekah to harden her heart toward him even more. Not only did she favor Jacob, but she plotted to help him supplant Esau even further. She did this, even though it meant deceiving her own husband. The seeds of conflict had taken root and would yield a crop of bitterness that would tear apart her family. But Rebekah was blind to the horrible effects on her family that this deceit would bring.

She overheard her husband telling Esau that it was time for him to give him his blessing.” Isaac’s blessing on his firstborn would put him in the position of being head of the family when Isaac died. It was meant to pass on the spiritual blessings promised to Abraham and Isaac as well. Isaac was old and blind and believed he might die soon. He told Esau to go out hunting and bring back game to make the savory food that he always enjoyed when Esau brought home wild game. He said he would give his blessing after eating.

Rebekah called Jacob and told him to go out to their flocks and bring back two choice goat kids. She said she would make the kind of food that Isaac loved. Then Jacob could take it to his father, pretending to be Esau, and receive the blessing. Jacob was hesitant, not able to figure out how to trick his father into believing that he was Esau. He knew that Esau had thick hair on his hands, arms, and neck. Jacob was not hairy, but was smooth skinned. He knew that if his father touched him, he’d know the difference right away. He expressed fear that his father would curse him instead of blessing him.

Blessings and curses are powerful. God and demons both respond to our words. Jacob knew that if his father cursed him, there would be negative results. He was not yet in a relationship with God in which he could walk in the favor of God’s blessings that are poured out on His servants. He and Rebekah both were making the mistake of trying to work human situations around to accomplish blessings that are already available through seeking after God.



Rebekah spoke words over herself that resulted in dire consequences. She said, “Let your curse be on me, my son.” She covered his hands and neck with the hairy goat skins and had him change into his brother’s clothing, which had the smell of the field on them. She sent him off to his father with the delicious meal. Isaac recognized Jacob’s voice, but became confused when he said he was Esau.  Isaac called him over to touch him and felt the hair on his hands and neck. He could smell the earthy smells of the clothing as well, and therefore thought this really was Esau bringing him food. Jacob also gave him wine, which might have lessened Isaac’s ability to figure out what was going on.

After eating, Isaac pronounced his father’s blessing over Jacob, including that nations would bow to him and that his mother’s children would bow to him. That, of course, included Esau.

Isaac  blesses Jacob

Isaac gave Jacob the blessing

When Esau returned and prepared a tasty meal for his father, both of them were shocked to discover the trickery. Esau cried out bitterly about how Jacob had stolen both his birthright and his blessing. He begged Isaac for a blessing, and Isaac prophesied over him that he would live off the earth, serve Jacob, and eventually break free of his brother.

Esau then hated Jacob and planned to kill him as soon as Isaac passed away. Rebekah got wind of this and convinced Isaac to send Jacob away to her brother Laban in a far-away country. The sad truth is that the conflict that Rebekah had helped to fuel resulted in her and Jacob never seeing each other again. She had received the curse she said she was willing to take. She died before Jacob returned twenty years later. We can only imagine that her relationship with her husband and with Esau was damaged as well..

When she had been pregnant, Rebekah had heard God predict that Jacob would have a more important place than Esau. But instead of waiting for God to bring about His promise, she and Jacob manipulated the situation to try to make it happen in their own way. They didn’t realize that Jacob did not need either the birthright or his father’s blessing to come into the position that God had for him.

In fact, being separated from his family, he had to learn to depend on God for favor and blessings. He never did receive his father’s physical inheritance. But he did receive the spiritual inheritance passed on to his father and his grandfather directly by God. But it took times of being alone and having struggles and personal encounters with God before that spiritual inheritance came to him.

Along the way, Jacob encountered God through a dream of a ladder from heaven with angels ascending and descending. God was above the ladder and directly spoke to him. From that point on, he began to develop his relationship with God and to learn to hear God’s voice. Later God removed the curse of his name of Supplanter and gave him the name of Israel. He could not connive and manipulate situations for blessings to happen. He had to trust and walk with God.

We can learn from this Bible story of Esau and Jacob. Let’s not let strife and competition grow in our families. Let’s not show favoritism to our children or grandchildren. And most of all, let’s not try to manipulate people and situations to gain anything, including the promises of God, for ourselves. Let’s walk with God day by day and seek Him. The blessings will follow in God’s time and in His way.

909370: Discover 4 Yourself, Children"s Bible Study Series: Extreme  Adventures with God (Isaac, Esau and Jacob) Discover 4 Yourself, Children’s Bible Study Series: Extreme Adventures with God (Isaac, Esau and Jacob)

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