The majority of Bible readers struggle with the biblical figure of Jacob when they consider his life. The basic question they ask is: “How can a thief, a liar, and a coward be considered the father of God’s people, Israel?”

The blind, elderly Isaac had two different blessings in store for his sons. One was the blessing of the firstborn son prepared for Esau, and the other was the blessing of Abraham prepared for Jacob. The first was a general blessing of prosperity and power, but the second one had to do with a special blessing for Abraham:

“May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. And give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham.” (Genesis 28:3)

Jacob’s place in the covenant was not based upon the blessing he stole, but upon the blessing that Isaac gave him before he departed for Padan Aram. In fact, Jacob (upon his return from Haran and before meeting Esau) sent Esau reparations; thereby honestly acknowledging the sin of his youth.  In so doing, he returned that which he had stolen (see Gen 32:1-21). Prior to meeting Esau, Jacob’s encounter with the angel of the Lord enabled him to overcome his fears (see Gen 32:22-30).

Jacob experienced the opposite of the things described in the stolen blessing (prosperity and power) while at the same time, his life unfolded in accordance with the great covenantal blessing that Isaac had bestowed upon him (see Gen 47:9). Prosperity and power belonged to Esau (see Gen 27:28-29), but God had promised Jacob the blessing of Abraham – an everlasting heritage of children and the land (see Gen 28:1-5).

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198 COMMENTS

  1. In this narrative, we see that Yahweh sees each of us how we would be in HIM. None of us are perfect, we each have our natural man in us. We see Yahweh's love and patience for us as we grow in HIS Word and knowledge. Also Jacob's mother had a word from the Lord, so her actions guided him as well.
    • Jacob's mom was absolutely wrong in how she understood and acted upon that Word. Her evil and manipulative intent was the initiating factor of Jacob's sin. But of course God's providential hand was at play.

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    • This forum is wonderful! Thank you all! I recently taught on Jacob's wrestling match. Even after lots of study this conversation has mined deeper truths for me. Such a powerful story! I'll be volunteering in the Land til April. I plan to take a course when finished.

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    • Should we always assume that Isaac knew nothing of the word from the Lord that was revealed to Rebecca : that the older would serve the younger. Hadn't Esau sold his birthright? The narrative also indicates that Esau was favoured by Isaac because he loved the venison. Consider these things.

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  2. Jacob was a new person after the night with the angel, he was a converted man. Not the Jacob who had left his father's house.
  3. Hi Eli thanks for your reply. Yes she manipulated Jacob to her own ends as he was I believe her favourite. Even then as he wrestled with the Metatrone - Yeshua? His life was turned around. In my opinion each of us as believers wrestle each day with our natural sinfull natures. When Jacob walked with the Lord he was called by his new name Israel if not Jacob. This shows us the grace and mercy of the Lord to bless him.

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    • What may be lost in our perceptions of Jacob is the intention of God in spite of whatever else we may see from the times and understanding of our current perspective. The scriptures gives us two things we MUST consider when reading this account. The first is this that reveals what God planned:

      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. KJV Gen 25:23

      At this point, it does not matter what you think of Jacob or Esau. Before they were born, God had already planned how He was going to use or not use either of them.

      Then the Apostle Paul explains how God eventually treated Jacob whom he has pre-chosen:

      So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
      KJV Rom 9:16
      S0 based on these verses, it really does not matter what any of us may think!

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  4. Thank you for this explanation. Although not a theologian, I have held the substance of your interpretation. When Jacob left home, he more or less abandoned his claim and ran for his life. Hopeless and remorseful, God visited him at Bethel and blessed him afresh. It was that blessing he hung on to. On his return, he met a very rich Esau despite Isaac's claim of having no more blessings. And Isaac, who thought he was about to die lived to Jacob's return!!
    • Isaac never claimed he had no more blessings to give, but that there was only one blessing of the first born (the one that was already stolen but his brother). Thank you for taking part in our forum.
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  5. Interesting! Well, did the manipulation by the mother have any lasting effect on the destiny of the twins? Esau—the first born became very rich as recorded in Gen 39 (richer than Jacob?), while Israel on the other hand got the promised land, became the progenitor of Yahweh’s people and of the Messiah Yahshua. In my opinion, the mother’s canal intervention was an unnecessary seed of bitterness among the siblings.
  6. Hears a queston related. In the new testment Saul who became Paul persicuted Christians. Why did he become one the greatest calling to serve Jesus and King David a murderer and adulter to great?
  7. It is interesting that I read this a while I am studying this part of scripture concerning Jacob and Esau. Thanks so much! It is much clearer to me now.
  8. We called similar things (Peter denied 3 times, Paul asked 3 times, John wept and wept and wept) to be signs of not being regenerated (without Holy Spirit). Your title “the thief, liar, and coward” & your explanation of the blessing sound more like the second death, Rev 21:8. Rev 2:11 says “The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. The blessing seems very Powerful. What does blessing mean?
  9. I believe Jacob was justified. His leadership was planned before his birth in Gen 25:23 and in 25:26. Esau was the stronger in body but was very weak in his spirit where it counted most. Esau had riches and a great army but Jacob had the spiritual power, even over Rebekah's brother. If Esau had been chosen we would be serving a weakened savior today.
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