Old Testament Story List

Isaac's Twin Sons

Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, whom they named Esau and Jacob. As the boys grew older, they were quite different, no only in appearance but also in temperament. Esau, the first-born, was a very fine hunter and a man of the fields. Jacob was more quiet, a plain man who dwelt in the tents. Isaac preferred Esau because Isaac, too,

loved the outdoors, enjoyed hunting, and liked to eat of the venison he had killed. Rebekah's favorite was Jacob, who was quiet and home-loving.

One day, when Jacob was fixing some lentil soup, Esau came in from the field faint and weak from hunger. He asked Jacob for some soup to sustain him. When Jacob saw how weak his brother was, he did not feed him at once, but said, "Sell me first your birthright, so that I may be as the elder son." He would not give Esau any food until he agreed and sold his birthright. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and soup to eat.

When Isaac grew old, he was nearly blind. Feeling that he would not live much longer, he called his beloved Esau one day and said, "Take your bow and arrows, go out in the woods, and hunt some venison. Then roast it as I like it and bring it to me, so that I may eat it and bless you before I die."

Rebekah heard Isaac, and immediately she wanted his last blessing to be for Jacob, who was her favorite. As soon as Esau was gone to hunt, she sent Jacob to bring her two kids from the flocks, and she prepared the savory meat, roasted as Isaac loved it, and had Jacob bring it to him.

When Jacob brought the food to his father's bedside, he said, "I am Esau, your first-born son. I have done as you said. Sit up and eat, and then bless me."

Isaac, thinking he recognized the voice as Jacob's, asked, "How did you find it so quickly?"

And Jacob answered, "Because the Lord brought it to me."

Isaac, still doubting, said, "Come near that I may feel you and know whether or not you are really Esau."

Rebekah had already thought of this. Not only had she dressed Jacob in Esau's clothes, but she had coved his smooth hands and arms with the skins of the lambs, so that they were very hairy, like Esau's. Isaac felt his hands, since he could not see, and said, "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau."

Then he at the meat and bread and drank the wine that Jacob had brought him. When he had finished, he kissed Jacob and, smelling his clothes, said, "The smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed. Therefore, God give you rain from heaven, and the richness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. You shall be a leader of men and nations."

Jacob had barely left his father when Esau came in from his hunting. He also had prepared savory meat and brought it to his father.

"Who are you?" Isaac asked.

Esau answered, "I am your son, your first-born, Esau."

Isaac, trembling, asked, "Where is the one who just brought me venison? I ate it all before you came, and I blessed him."

When Esau heard this, he cried out bitterly, "Bless me, too, father. For it is Jacob who tricked you to get your blessing. First he took away my birthright, and now he has stolen your last blessing. Oh, father, have you not one for me?"

Isaac answered sadly, "I have already made Jacob lord of the family and promised him wealth. That I cannot change. You shall serve your brother, but the time will come when you will be free."

From that day on, Esau hated his brother. He vowed that when his father should die and the days of mourning were over, he would slay his brother, Jacob.

When Rebekah head of this, she called Jacob and told him, "Your brother intends to kill you. Therefore, once more do as I tell you. Go to my brother Laban in Haran, and stay with him awhile until Esau's anger has passed and he forgets what you have done. Then I will send for you."

In order to obtain Isaac's permission for Jacob to go, Rebekah said, "It is enough that Esau has married a Hittite woman. If Jacob does the same, we shall have lost all connection with my tribe. He must find a wife in Haran."

Isaac agreed, as Rebecca knew he would. He called Jacob and charged him, saying, "Do not take for a wife a daughter of the land of Canaan. Go to your mother's people and find a wife there. May God bless you and give you many children. May you inherit the land where you are a stranger, the land which God promised to the descendants of Abraham."

With this blessing, Jacob set out for Haran.

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