Did Jacob Cheat Esau?…The Bible and Islam pt 6

And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.(Genesis 25:27-34)

The book of Genesis is all about election, contrasting God’s choice and man’s choice. Abraham would have chosen Ishmael the firstborn, but God had chosen Isaac. Isaac had twins, and his favorite was his firstborn, outdoorsman,hunting son, Esau. But God had chosen Jacob, and stopped Isaac from blessing Esau as He had intended to.

Further into the story, Jacob favored Rachel as his wife, but God chose Leah to be the wife who was to bear the “Seed of the woman”through her son Judah.

Man choses one person, but God choses another, and often the choice of God presents an offense to unregenerate man. In this way the text of scripture actually reveals the (fallen) hearts of men.

It has become the conventional wisdom to this day, that Jacob cheated Esau, and was a lying conniver. But the scripture text teaches no such thing. No where does God accuse Jacob of wrong in the manner of his dealings with Esau, or even his father Isaac. But man does.

There are two  stories in Genesis by which people commonly (but erroneously)  draw the conclusion that Jacob cheated Esau; the incident of the pot of stew, and the incident of JAcob dressing up like Esau to gain the blessing.

In the account above, of Esau coming home from hunting, hungry enough to sell his birthright for Jacob’s stew, all that scripture establishes is that Esau was a profane man, without any sense of the spiritual or the holy. There is no indication of Jacob plotting and scheming to take anything away from his brother, he just happened to be making lentil soup, at the time that his brother returned from his hunt.

Esau was the firstborn, jacob and Esau both knew it. But there is no reason to doubt that they had both heard their own birth story and the prophecy which accompanied it. I don’t believe Jacob had to make the trade to buy the birthright, for God had already said that “The elder shall serve the younger”.

This story doesn’t establish Jacob’s duplicity, rather Esau’s profanity and unworthiness to receive the Abrahamic blessing. The epistle to the Hebrews warns us,

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.(Hebrews 12:15-17)

The lesson of this passage is that afterwards, Esau wanted to receive the blessing, (After he had profaned the idea of a birthright), but could not. There was nothing he could do to undo his situation,(Found no place of repentance). The incident of the stew didn’t disqualify him, it just served as an example that he was disqualified.

The second incident is a bit more offensive for people, leading them to judge Jacob as a conniver and cheat…the incident of Jacob dressing up as Esau and fooling his blind father.

I see why this is hard to take, but for those of us who believe scripture, we must ask, where does God in any way condemn Jacob or his mother Rebbekah for this incident? Esau certainly hated him for it, bitterly complaining that he (who had ‘sold’ his birthright for stew), had been cheated! But where does the author of scripture condemn him for this?

One of the ways I have learned to read the narrative of Genesis and indeed most of the Old Testament itself, has been by seeing these stories as a record of the attempted corruption of the “Seed of the woman” and the preservation of the same.

Why does Pharoah take Abraham’s wife? The devil wanted to corrupt the seed. Why did a later Pharoah seek to destroy Hebrew babies? Satan was after the seed! Why did Queen Athaliah destroy all of the children of her deceased son, the King of Judah and son of David? The Serpent was after the ‘seed of the woman’, but God preserved Josiah, the one child the Messiah was coming through.

The story of Jacob and Esau is not merely a morality tale, we are talking about the people chosen to bring into the world the seed of the woman who would save the world and crush the serpent! God had chosen Abraham, and Isaac, and now Jacob! Not IShmael and Esau! God chose Judah, who would come through Leah, not Rachel!

Isaac was intent upon ‘blessing’ his favorite son, Esau, with the very blessing of Abraham, even though he knew what God had said about the two twins. Rebekkah wasn’t going to allow that to happen, neither was Jacob.Look at Rebekkah’s deception in a similar way to the deceptive tale of Nathan to King David about the poor farmer and his only beloved sheep! It was a ruse to get David to see the error of his ways, and it worked!

Isaac’s blindness is shared by much of the world today. He couldn’t tell the chosen Son from the other brother.

There are massive demonstrations going on in European capitals on behalf of the Palestinian cause, and in support of HAMAS, and indirectly ISIS, by normally civilized people. Incredible expressions of hatred for Jews are being publicly demonstrated in Europe of all places!(Whatever happened to ‘never again’?).

This is because the impression still remains, that Jacob is cheating Esau out of his inheritance again! The “evil Jews” supposedly have cheated and oppressed the sons of Esau out of their “holy Land’, and millions are taking sides against them.

Isaac eventually was able to see. The book of Hebrews 11 tells us that Isaac blessed his sons by faith… . Once he realized what Rebekkah and Jacob had done he validated it by telling the crying Esau, “…He shall indeed be blessed…”, recognizing the hand of God.

Unfortunately the whole world has to take sides in the modern Jacob/Esau dispute, unwittingly fighting, not against the Jews, but against the God who brought them back into their ancestral land as He said he would.

For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.(Joel 3:1-3)

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16 Responses to Did Jacob Cheat Esau?…The Bible and Islam pt 6

  1. Bill says:

    My comment on this-well this is very poignant in its interpretation-however the unbelieving world will certainly have problems excepting this. Give a lecture like this at the Arab league or better yet in the streets of Gaza. People don’t like being told God has chosen someone else. I’m sorry to say but the world would never accept this sort of teaching

    • billrandles says:

      That is my point, this scandalizes the whole world to this day! However it should be pointed out thatJacob was not chosen over Esau for salvation, rather the Jews were chosen to be the custodians of scripture, and to brng in the MEssiah.

      • Garry says:

        The whole point of Romans 9 was to say that it is absurd for the clay to tell the potter what he can or cannot do. Please stop trying to defend God. He is sovereign and does not need our approval or permission to not to choose us. If he chooses, it is because of His mercy. There is still a bit of sinfulness in people if they do to accept the idea of God’s absolute sovereignty. They feel entitled to something they never deserve, so they are really saved by God’s grace, but their idea that God is obligated to love us more than he hates us. God hated Esau means exactly that.

  2. Thanks for your writings, they are much appreciated. Thanks to God for the work He is doing in your life!!!

  3. Megan Reardon-Bester says:

    “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor…..” The human conflict of our flesh, this teachihg applies to us all, is the age old story of Eve, Essau, Jobs wife, Sarah, Ahab & Jezebel coveting Nabal’s vineyard, Nabal’s inheritance given by the Lord, despising what God in His Sovereign authority has given, despising your birthright. The flesh is never happy with what God has given, it covets and is jealous of another, hence all the strife, hatred, slander, and there is always a woman involved, complaining to her husband, enticing her covering to act for her disatisfaction, ie. being single and not married, not having enough worldly goods to satisfy lusts, Sarah – all taking matters into their own hands to get what they think will satisfy, but this is not the perfect will of God, whatever God has given is perfect, we despise His perfect gifts for us. Herewith the exact story replayed through Ishmael and Isaac. The innocent always gets hurt, is always attacked, no one to defend, except God almighty, but because they cannot see this Covering/Authority, they believe the weak they attack will not be defended – we need to check our hearts always and ask the Lord to show us the motivations of what we pursue, are they pure in heart, are they full of acceptance for what He has given (whether we think it is good or bad, we do not understand His ways) – He tells us to be content, satisfied, have Joy in all situations. If we will only accept what the Lord has given, our souls will be at rest, for God almighty knows best, we must not consider what is given is unfair, who are we to think we deserve more and despise Him.

    I do not believe Mary (the mother of Jesus fancied what the angel told her, must have been terrifying the difficult path set before her) – however she said: ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) I pray this is our heart, as we Trust totally in what God has given, He is truly a faithful Father who knows what is best for ‘each’ individual child of His.

  4. Croc says:

    I am sorry, but simply because one is against zionism and the state of Israel does not equate being anti-Jewish. Judaism, as a religious tradition has been up and running long before the modern nation state of Israel. The state of Israel is the result of rampant, systematic and institutionalized Jewish hatred in Europe. To solve ‘the problem’ Europe either wanted the Jews dead, or gone. It worked, but at the expense of other people.
    It is Western European Christianity that hates Jews. And now they (and you) hate Muslims.
    FYI – There are Christians in Gaza who would spit on your defense of modern European colonialism raped in religious clothing.
    Institutions of European Protestantism and (to a lesser extent) Catholicism have created this mess. Your hands are red with innocent blood. I pray that G-d does not forgive you for that in the hereafter, or for trying to misrepresent His texts to hide your own ideological hatred … towards everyone else.

    • John says:

      “I am sorry, but simply because one is against zionism and the state of Israel does not equate being anti-Jewish.”

      Yes, it does. This lie gets repeated too often but that doesn’t make it true.

  5. nannette says:

    Pastor Bill, Thank you for opening my eyes. I know by listening to your sermons, you do not hate anyone. As a pastor of the sheepfold you love muslims, and want them to be saved just like everyone else. The only way to be saved is through Jesus, and being born again, John 3:3! That is why you preach and teach and make it available to all who have ears to hear on your website. One of God’s commandments is ‘thou shalt not murder’ Exodus 20:13. Jesus said, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ “But I (Jesus) say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘you fool’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” Matthew 5:21&22. Further scripture explains “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15. Pastor Bill only says what God says. God says if you hate your brother it is the same as murder. Whoever hates Israel is in great danger according to God’s word, period!

  6. Pete says:

    This is a pretty good exposition of the scripture and very apt for today as well as other times.
    The people of Hebraic descent have always been the subject of western and muslim scorn. It isn’t going to get better.
    thank you Pastor Bill for holding to the truth, there are so few that do these days.

  7. Garry says:

    Yes, Jacob did cheat Esau. Which is no surprise. Everyone is sinner, including Jacob, and he was saved by God’s grace and sovereign election of him over Esau. Is God unrighteous because he did not bless Esau in the same way? God forbid. For his unrighteousness is more righteous than the righteousness of men. God did this – choosing Jacob over Esau – to display his unlimited kindness to those who trust him and is chosen by him. Please stop defending God by justifying Jacob. He cannot be justified. He is a sinner, just like you and me, saved by God’s sovereign grace. Please understand this once and for all stop being amateurish in your theology. This is the 21st century and these arguments and “blog posts” of yours were settled by intelligent, God-fearing and holy men a couple of centuries past. God bless.

  8. Bryan says:

    What always amazes me about this is how pastors will not only beat up on Jacob as they preach this, but that Jacob as a “trickster” becomes the central theme in their sermons. I have seen how this teaching is pervasive in seminaries and pulpits throughout the world. I see Satan, unable to spoil the Seed, now trying to do so with words – imagine how happy he must be to see God’s chosen shepherds disgracing the anointed one, Israel? What is hard is engaging pastors in a discussion about this…as I try and drive them to look at the Scriptures alone, they can’t separate themselves from believing Jacob to be a trickster. Sad.

  9. Pastor paschal says:

    In a field of equal expectations, any lapses or short comings from one equal in contention means excellent to others.I Strongly belief that God searches the heart of everyone. So if He find out that you betray Him ,He has every right to stop you on the way. Who is man to question God. The scripture recorded that Esau was a profane and cunning man while Jacob was in his own ways plain before God. Conclusively, Jacob did not cheat Esau .Rather it is how God wanted it and it was so..My beloved Garry stop stagnating yourself by arguing God`s supremacy .Thanks

  10. Ibn Muhammad says:

    The Old Testament is clearly corrupted. Scamming is okay? Really?

    God has power over everything. If he wanted Isaac and Jacob to be first born. He would have done so. But be did not. Ask yourself why. Why cause all this drama for nothing?

    • wjblewis says:

      Ibn,

      If you follow such an approach to the Scriptures – a sovereign God who does what we think makes sense – then you end up with a God who does not allow us to make choices. Your statement is correct that “God has power over everything”, but his power is yielded in His way, not ours. He does tell us that not the least stroke of a pen has dropped from His word. His sovereignty lies in His word, which is trustworthy and true – He is clear as to His protection of His word, revealed via the Holy Spirit. The beauty is in the fact that God used Jacob, who became Israel, to show His love for us and willingness to use/redeem broken people, not only this, but He calls himself “God of Jacob”. Quite amazing that he would allow His name to include Jacob, whom He redeemed.

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