The world is once again witness to yet another installment in the war between Arabs and Jews. It is very important to realize that this conflict goes far beyond land disputes or charges and countercharges of racism and oppression. Neither is the current conflict merely the fruit of May 1948, with the establishment of the modern State of Israel, and the Arab resentment to it.
What we are seeing is the fulfillment of prophecy which extends as far back as the book of Genesis. The Bible offers us an explanation to this seemingly intractable problem, and it does so in the foundational book of beginnings, Genesis.
This conflict centers around Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their extended families. Abraham and his family are important becauseGod chose them to be the line through which His Messiah would come. Though he and his wife were barren and aged, God promised them that through his seed, the whole earth would be blessed!
Abraham and Sara waited for the promise , but eventually sired his first child in His old age, whom He named Ishmael. The child was born because Abraham slept with his Egyptian maid, Hagar, rather than through his wife, because neither He or Sara could figure out how they would have children any other way. Abraham loved Ishmael, and wanted him to be the heir, but God had not chosen Ishmael to be in the Messianic line. Eventually Abraham and Sara bore Isaac, a miracle baby, through whom Christ would come.
Isaac came of age, and married. He and his wife waited for children but found that they were barren also, until they cried out to God, to fulfill His promise.
And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord.(Genesis 25:21-22)
But when she had trouble with her pregnancy, she inquired of the LORD and received this prophecy, concerning the twins she was bearing;
And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.( Genesis 25:23)
This would be the first prophecy concerning Jacob and Esau, (there would another prophecy later).
- The struggling twins would become two nations
- They would be two separate kinds of people from birth,
- One of the people would be stronger than the other,
- The Elder one would serve the younger one.
The Bible then recounts the birth story of the two boys. The first baby that emerged was covered in red, perhaps he had red hair and a ruddy complexion. Thus He was named “Esau”, that is “Red”. He was the firstborn, and would be known either as Esau or Edom(which also means “red” and is akin to “Adam”).
When Esau had come out of the womb first, a little hand came out after him and grabbed his heel, (as if to vie with him for the privilege of being born first!). This second born twin was named “Jacob”, which means “heel grabber”, or to “follow at the heel”.
Isaac loved Esau. He would have passed on to Him the birthright , the blessing of the firstborn, granting him spiritual leadership of the family. This would have been unthinkable though because Esau turned out to be a very profane man, who didn’t value Spiritual things, and thought nothing about marrying two Canaanite women, in defiance of the wishes of his parents.
Esau was a pagan at heart, He didn’t love or fear the LORD. But Isaac, the Patriarch couldn’t see it, because he was blinded by his affection for his firstborn Son.
The Divine account gives us an example of this when Genesis relates the story of Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of Lentil soup.
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 25:25-30)
The text literally says, ” …And Red said to Jacob, ‘give me some of that red stuff’… . .
When the time came, that Isaac literally was preparing to pass on the Abrahamic blessing to his firstborn son, Rebecca sprang into action, having received the prophecy as to the future of the two twins. She was not going to allow Jacob to be denied the blessing that He was prophesied to receive.
Jacob did receive the full Abrahamic blessing, from his Father Isaac , (who thought he was blessing Esau), and slipped out of the tent just in time to avoid Esau who thought he was going to receive the blessing of Abraham, being the eldest.
Isaac now realized that he had been tricked into blessing Jacob, with the Abrahamic blessing, and Esau realized to his horror that he had lost out on the blessing . Ironically, the book of Hebrews tells us that Isaac “blessed his sons by faith”. How could that be?
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.( Hebrews 11:20)
Isaac’s faith would come into play after realizing the deception, but acknowledging that it was totally of God, that he had blessed Jacob over Esau. God’s choice had prevailed over his own parental indulgence.
And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed.( Genesis 27:33)
Isaac couldn’t “take it all back” on the basis of having been tricked. He knew he had spoken in the Spirit of the LORD and that the proper son had received the Blessing ordained by God. He didn’t like Jacob’s method, but wouldn’t argue that God had truly spoken.
…And he ( Esau) said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? ( Genesis 27:36-37)
Could He now give a blessing to Esau? This leads to the second prophecy over Esau,
And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.( Genesis 27:38-40)
The KJV is one of the only translations that obscures the true nature of this “Blessing”, for Esau’s dwelling would be “Away from the fatness of the earth…”, according to these versions of scripture…
NIV His father Isaac answered him, “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above.
ESV Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: “Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high.
Berean Study Bible His father Isaac answered him: “Behold, your dwelling place shall be away from the richness of the land, away from the dew of heaven above.
NASB Then his father Isaac answered and said to him, “Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, And away from the dew of heaven from above
The territory allotted to Edom can be seen from Space, as being brown, Arid and south of the Dead Sea, is literally “away from the fatness of the earth”.
Esau would live by the Sword, (that is no blessing). He would serve his younger brother, until eventually he would become restless, and break the yoke off of his neck.
NIV You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”
ESV By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
Berean Study Bible You shall live by the sword and serve your brother. But when you rebel, you will tear his yoke from your neck.”
This is the Biblical, spiritual explanation for the everlasting strivings between Jacob and Esau, but as I will show you, Esau’s ‘restlessness” and his attempt to no longer be bested by his brother, will eventually engulf the entire world. Already, people are no longer just watching, they are becoming participants in this prophetic fight.
more on this to come…