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Did Jacob Steal His Blessing From Esau?

The Story of Esau Selling His Birthright

It is recorded in the Book of Genesis that, when Esau was hungry, he sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob for a bowl of soup.

Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25: 29-34

But, was Esau's birthright really sold?

The Answer is "NO", Straightforward and Simple!

Jacob did NOT steal his blessing from Esau, and Esau's birthright was not sold. Why? Because this blessing had already been given to Jacob by God before he was born!

God's Blessing has been Given to Jacob Before his Birth

It is written in Genesis 25:23 that Lord had already announced to their mother Rebekah that the older shall serve the younger while the twins were still in the womb.

And the LORD said to her (their mother Rebekah): “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23

It appears that Jacob, just like prophet Jeremiah, had already been chosen by God before his birth (Jeremiah 1:5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.")

However, since it was the customs at that time to appoint the eldest son to be the Head, the two infants fought in the womb. Therefore, to confirm His blessings to Jacob, the Lord announced to Rebekah that "the older shall serve the younger".

Was Birth Right Transferred to Jacob After Esau Sold it?

Just by common sense, probably not!

It is recorded in the Bible that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew (Genesis 25:29-34). However, birth right is not a commodity, how can it be transacted? Birth right is also not something earned, so how can it be sold for a price?

One more proof is that, if the birth right had been transacted at that time, Jacob would not have received the blessing from God. This is because the Lord had already declared that, "the older shall serve the younger".

Nevertheless, this incident shows that "Esau despised his birthright" (Genesis 25:34)

Role of Their Father Issac

The real obstacle to Jacob receiving God's Blessings probably came from their father Issac. Even though the Lord had already declared that Jacob would be the chosen heir, their physical father Issac also had influence over the inheritance of his sons.

The Bible tells us that Issac was in favor of following the customs to give his blessings to his elder son Esau, but their mother Rebekah who knew that Jacob was the chosen one stepped in. Therefore, through Rebekah's careful arrangements, Issac finally gave his blessings to Jacob, which aligns with the Will of God.

The Lord Confirmed Jacob's Blessings

This blessing was later also confirmed by the Lord on Jacob's way to Haran to escape from his brother Esau who wanted to kill him.

And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you". Genesis 28:13-15

This is the same promise the Lord gave to Abraham and Issac. We can therefore be sure that it is the Lord's will to give this blessing to Jacob.

The Actual Anointing of Jacob

Even though the Lord had already declared that Jacob would the chosen heir, his actual anointing came after he wrestled with an angel.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. Genesis 33:24-29

This incident happened shortly after Jacob had left his father-in-law Laban with his family, and was on his way returning to his homeland. A man (often interpreted as an angel or a messenger of God) came and wrestled with him. It is clear from this record that Jacob received his blessings directly from the Lord and not by any deceptive act! The reason is because he has overcome in his fight with both God and with men.

Jacob did NOT steal his blessings from Esau! It was given to him by God!

How Could Jacob Wrestle with an Angel and Won?

The wrestle between Jacob and the angel is in fact a very puzzling incident to many people. If the "man" could wrench Jacob's hip with a single touch, he could have won the fight easily in a minute!

So, how did this happen?

This is another very interesting story, and we will discuss about this incident in a later blog. Together we will also talk about many misconceptions about this man Jacob. Stay tuned!

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