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HOW JACOB STOLE HIS BROTHER'S BLESSING
Genesis xxv: 27, to xxvii: 46.
FTER Abraham died, his son Isaac lived in the land of
Canaan. Like his father, Isaac's home was a tent; and
around him were the tents of his people, and many
flocks of sheep and herds of cattle feeding wherever
they could find grass to eat and water to drink.
Isaac and his wife Rebekah had two children. The older
was named Esau and the younger Jacob. Esau was a man of
the woods, and fond of hunting; and he was rough, and
covered with hair. Even as a boy he was fond of hunting
with his bow and arrow. Jacob was quiet and thoughtful,
staying at home, and caring for the flocks of his
father. Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob, because Esau
brought to his father that which he had killed in his
 hunting; but Rebekah liked Jacob, because she saw that
he was wise and careful in his work.
ESAU WAS FOND OF HUNTING
Among the people in those lands, when a man dies, his
older son receives twice as much as the younger of what
the father has owned. This was called his "birthright,"
for it was his right as the oldest born. So Esau, as
the older, had a "birthright" to more of Isaac's
possessions than Jacob. And besides this, there was the
privilege of the promise of God that the family of
Isaac should receive great blessings.
Now Esau, when he grew up, did not care for his
birthright or the blessing which God had promised. But
Jacob, who was a wise man, wished greatly to have the
birthright which would come to Esau when his father
died. Once, when Esau came home, hungry and tired from
hunting in the fields, he saw that Jacob had a bowl of
something that he had just cooked for dinner. And Esau
said: "Give me some of that red stuff in the dish. Will
you not give me some? I am hungry."
 And Jacob answered, "I will give it to you, if you
will first of all sell to me your birthright."
And Esau said, "What is the use of the birthright to me
now when I am almost starving to death? You can have my
birthright if you will give me something to eat."
Then Esau made Jacob a solemn promise to give to Jacob
his birthright, all for a bowl of food. It was not
right for Jacob to deal so selfishly with his brother;
but it was very wrong in Esau to care so little for his
birthright, and with it God's blessing.
ESAU SELLING HIS BIRTHRIGHT FOR A MEAL
Some time after this, when Esau was forty years old, he
married two wives. Though this would be very wicked in
our times it was not supposed to be wrong then; for
even good men then had more than one wife. But Esau's
two wives were women from the people of Canaan, who
worshipped idols, and not the true God. And they taught
their children also to pray to idols, so that those who
came from Esau, the people who were his descendants,
lost all knowledge of God, and became very wicked. But
this was long after that time.
Isaac and Rebekah were very sorry to have their son
Esau marry women who prayed to idols and not to God;
but still Isaac loved his active son Esau more than his
quiet son Jacob.
Isaac became at last very old and feeble, and so blind
that he could see scarcely anything. One day he said to
"My son, I am very old, and do not know how soon I must
die. But before I die, I wish to give to you, as my
older son, God's blessing upon you, and your children,
and your descendants. Go out into the fields, and with
your bow and arrows shoot some animal that is good for
food, and make me a dish of cooked meat, such as you
know I love; and after I have eaten it, I will give you
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Esau ought to have told his father that the blessing
did not belong to him, for he had sold it to his
brother Jacob. But he did not tell his father. He went
out into the fields hunting, to find the kind of meat
which his father liked the most.
Now Rebekah was listening, and heard all that Isaac had
said to Esau. She knew that it would be better for
Jacob to have the blessing than for Esau; and she loved
Jacob more than Esau. So she called to Jacob, and told
him what Isaac had said to Esau, and she said:
 "Now, my son, do what I tell you and you will get the
blessing instead of your brother. Go to the flocks and
bring to me two little kids from the goats: and I will
cook them just like the meat which Esau cooks for your
father. And you will bring it to your father; and he
will think that you are Esau,
give you the blessing; and it really belongs to you."
But Jacob said, "You know that Esau and I are not
alike. His neck and arms are covered with hair, while
mine are smooth. My father will feel of me, and he will
find that I am not Esau; and then, instead of giving me
a blessing, I am afraid that he will curse me."
 But Rebekah answered her son, "Never mind, you do as I
have told you, and I will take care of you. If any harm
comes, it will come to me; so do not be afraid, but go
and bring the meat."
Then Jacob went and brought a pair of little kids from
the flock, and from them his mother made a dish of
food, so that it would be to the taste just as Isaac
liked it. Then Rebekah found some of Esau's clothes,
and dressed Jacob in them; and she placed on his neck
and his hands some of the skins of the kids, so that
his neck and hands would feel rough and hairy to the
Then Jacob came into his father's tent, bringing the
dinner, and speaking as much like Esau as he could, he
"Here I am, my father."
And Isaac said, "Who are you, my son?"
And Jacob answered, "I am Esau, your oldest son. I have
 done as you bade me; now sit up, and eat the dinner
that I have made; and then give me your blessing, as
you promised me."
And Isaac said, "How is it that you found it so
Jacob answered, "Because the Lord your God showed me
where to go, and gave me good success."
Isaac did not feel certain that it was his son Esau,
and he said, "Come nearer and let me feel you, so that
I may know that you are really my son Esau."
And Jacob went up close to Isaac's bed, and Isaac felt
of his face, and his neck, and his hands, and he said:
"The voice sounds like Jacob, but the hands are the
hands of Esau. Are you really my son Esau?"
And Jacob again told a lie to his father, and said, "I
Then the old man ate the food that Jacob had brought to
him, and he kissed Jacob, believing him to be Esau, and
he gave him the blessing, saying to him:
"May God give you the dew of heaven, and the richness
of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. May nations
bow down to you and people become your servants. May
you be the master over your brother; and may your
family and descendants that shall come from you rule
over his family and his descendants. Blessed be those
that bless you, and cursed be those that curse you."
ISAAC BLESSES JACOB
Just as soon as Jacob had received the blessing he rose
up and hastened away. He had scarcely gone out, when
Esau came in from his hunting, with the dish of food
that he had cooked, and he said:
"Let my father sit up, and eat the food that I have
brought, and give me the blessing."
And Isaac said, "Why, who are you?"
Esau answered, "I am your son, your oldest son Esau."
And Isaac trembled and said, "Who then is the one that
came in, and brought to me food? And I have eaten his
food, and have blessed him; yes, and he shall be
When Esau heard this he knew that he had been cheated;
and he cried aloud, with a bitter cry, "O my father, my
brother has taken away my blessing, just as he took
away my birthright! But cannot you give me another
blessing, too? Have you given everything to my brother?
And Isaac told him all that he had said to Jacob.
 He said, "I have told him that he shall be the ruler,
and that all his brothers and their children will be
under him. I have promised him the richest ground for
his crops, and rains from heaven to make them grow. All
these things have been spoken, and they must come to
pass. What is left for me to promise you, my son?"
But Esau begged for another blessing, and Isaac said:
"My son, your dwelling shall be of the riches of the
earth, and of the dew of heaven. You shall live by your
sword, and your descendants shall serve his
descendants. But in time to come they shall break
loose, and shall shake off the yoke of your brother's
rule, and shall be free."
All this came to pass many years afterward. The people
who came from Esau lived in a land called Edom, on the
south of the land of Israel, where Jacob's descendants
lived. And after a time the Israelites became rulers
over the Edomites; and, later still, the Edomites made
themselves free from the Israelites. But all this took
place hundreds of years after both Esau and Jacob had
passed away. The blessing of God's covenant or promise
came to Israel, and not to the people from Esau.
It was better that Jacob's descendants, those who came
after him, should have the blessing, than that Esau's
people should have it; for Jacob's people worshipped
God, and Esau's people walked in the way of the idols,
and became wicked. But it was very wrong in Jacob to
obtain the blessing in the way that he obtained it.