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,
outdoors, enjoyed hunting, and liked to eat of the venison he had
killed. Rebekah's favorite was Jacob, who was quiet and
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."
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.
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."
thinking he recognized the voice as Jacob's, asked, "How did
you find it so quickly?"
Jacob answered, "Because the Lord brought it to me."
still doubting, said, "Come near that I may feel you and know
whether or not you are really Esau."
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
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."
had barely left his father when Esau came in from his hunting. He
also had prepared savory meat and brought it to his father.
are you?" Isaac asked.
answered, "I am your son, your first-born, Esau."
trembling, asked, "Where is the one who just brought me
venison? I ate it all before you came, and I blessed him."
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?"
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."
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
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."
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."
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."