The Birth of Jacob and Esau

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Genesis 25:19-34, Genesis 26:1-35, Hebrews 12:14-17, James 3:13-18

When I was seven years old, my family went to Disney World. At the time, we lived in Virginia, which meant that in order to get to Space Mountain, we had to drive from the D.C. area all the way to Orlando. To survive an eleven-hour drive with three daughters under the age of fourteen, my parents came up with a plan. They told us that when we got to Disney World, we would all get $50 as spending money, but that any misbehavior during the drive would lead to a deduction from that amount. And so the drive began.

A few hours later, their plan had backfired. Rather than sitting quietly, trying to maintain our $50 allowances, my sisters and I had devised a game of our own, in which we attempted to provoke one another into losing more and more of their allowance. Anytime one of us misbehaved, my mother would take out her notepad where she was keeping track of deductions. While one sister sulked, the other two would pull down an imaginary lotto-lever and shout “cha-ching!”

We weren’t all that nice to one another. But our misbehavior pales in comparison to the sibling rivalry recounted in the story of Jacob and Esau, twin brothers who came out of the womb as enemies. And their parents were no help. From the beginning, Isaac and Rebekah chose favorites, and that favoritism only stoked the enmity between these brothers.

At stake in this passage is Esau’s birthright, the inheritance he stood to receive as the firstborn of his family. Knowing the value of that inheritance, Jacob plotted against his older brother, as if land and money were a finite resource. Meanwhile, Esau didn’t place adequate value on his birthright. He was “immoral and irreverent,” selling “his birthright in exchange for one meal” (Hebrews 12:16). Know this: favoritism and strife is not God’s plan. In fact, the Mosaic Law will later forbid a father from favoring a younger son merely because he comes from a preferred wife (Deuteronomy 21:15–17). But for now, we see that Jacob uses the means at his disposal to manipulate his way into wealth.

God is not interested in breaking up families over dollars and cents. Perhaps the greatest problem with Jacob and Esau’s behavior is that they both forgot God’s character. They forgot that the same God who blessed Isaac also blessed Ishmael. God never runs out of goodness. He does not “dock” us for misbehavior, nor will He look favorably upon those who provoke others into deceit. God’s goodness exists equally for His dearly loved children. We know this, because Jesus calls us His friends (John 15:!5).

Jesus, the most favored Son of all, gave us the right to become His brothers and sisters, His co-heirs to the kingdom (Romans 8:17). He is willing to share the blessing. He knows there is more than enough blessing to go around.

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28 thoughts on "The Birth of Jacob and Esau"

  1. Melissa Mcronney says:

    Powerful read. I need God more then ever

  2. Anastasia says:

    “They forgot that the same God who blessed Isaac also blessed Ishmael”

    SO SO GOOD!

  3. Camille English Davis says:

    I’m drawn to Rebekah’s words that she “went to inquire of the Lord” in the opening paragraph. So, so often I struggle to figure something out myself and forget that my Heavenly Father is just waiting for me to inquire. I love to figure things out myself but when I can’t…Lord help me remember to quickly turn to you!!

  4. Tracie Nall says:

    Although the focus of this devotional is the Birth Right of Esau and deception of Jacob, I am drawn to something from chapter 26 v 28 specifically, when A

    1. Tracie Nall says:

      When Abelemech says 28They said, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you,”. How quickly Gods favor shifts an enemy to an ally!
      Do others see that the Lord has been with me or that like the men of Acts 4, that I have been with the Lord? Do I put His blessings on display or do I disguise them as my own/personal achievements or accomplishments?
      Do I give God the glory for the good in my life or do I promote my own goodness and take the glory?

      1. Angela Girlando says:

        This verse jumped out at me as well for the first time . Oh that people would see the Lord is with us. Not so that we look good but so that He looks good . So that people would want what we have – which is Him.

      2. Allison Gehman says:

        What great thoughts! I desire this too- Christ in me, the hope of glory!

      3. Kathleen King says:

        Great feedback … that stood out to me as well

  5. Renna Peer says:

    History often repeats itself. Just as Abraham did, Isaac told a king that his beautiful wife was his sister! We, too, do the same things our parents did if we fail to learn from their mistakes. I am so grateful that God loves me so much even though I sin every day. He mercy and love astounds and comforts me daily!

  6. Rachel Whited says:

    My dearest community. I humbly ask for your prayers. My beloved best furry friend, Ralph is ill. He’s been my faithful companion for 13 years. I am heartbroken and I ask for your prayers for his wellbeing. Thank you all ❤️

  7. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I love that we all have an inheritance in Jesus. We don’t have to try and steal someone’s else’s inheritance or be envious of what someone else has. I pray that I would be aware of the inheritance I have in the Lord.

  8. Traci Gendron says:

    For where there is envy & selfish ambition, there is disorder & every evil practice. This feels so much like our world today. Thankful for God’s word to find peace in an otherwise unpeaceful world. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy & good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace. God please bless me with pure wisdom that is gentle & unwavering. Help me to cultivate peace.