The Family Finding Reconciliation

MEMORY VERSE: “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” —Ephesians 4:32

GENESIS 27:43-45

JACOB and Esau were grandsons of Abraham to whom God had promised that his seed, or offspring, would bless all the families of the earth. This promise, which God afterward confirmed by his oath, was the chief consideration in connection with the birthright which Esau, being the older of the two sons by a few moments, and therefore the rightful heir, sold to his brother Jacob for a mess of pottage.

Apparently the father, Isaac, had not been aware of this transaction between his two sons, and when the time came to confirm the heirship of the birthright, he supposed that this particular blessing properly belonged to Esau. Seemingly, however, the mother knew that Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob, so she took what steps she thought were proper to make sure that Jacob received that which he had purchased; and this, we know, involved deceiving her husband into believing that Jacob really was Esau.

Most commentators on this hit of biblical history take the position that Esau was largely above reproach in what took place, and that Jacob and his mother took unjust advantage of him. But we think that another viewpoint of this incident is possible. In the first place, the Apostle Paul refers to Esau as a “profane” person (Heb. 12:16) “who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” Genesis 25:34 states that “Esau despised his birthright.”

However, he had relinquished his birthright to Jacob, and the honorable thing to have done under the circumstances would have been to acquaint his father, Isaac, with this fact, so that when the time came to confirm the passing on of the birthright it would have automatically been bestowed upon Jacob. This was not done, so the mother, working with Jacob, deceived Isaac into bestowing the birthright upon the one to whom it belonged.

Probably the mother felt justified in doing this because before the twins were born “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.” (Gen. 25:23) This doubtless clearly indicated to Rebecca which of her boys would be the Lord’s choice, and she co-operated to this end.

When the birthright blessing was properly bestowed upon Jacob, Esau became very angry and threatened to kill his brother. Upon advice from the mother, Jacob then fled from the homestead, and went to live with Laban, his mother’s brother, who lived in Haran.

GENESIS 33:4-11

Jacob, on his way to Haran, was blessed with that wonderful dream of a ladder stretched from heaven to earth, with angels ascending and descending upon it. This assured Jacob of the Lord’s blessing, and he went on to Haran.

Laban, on account of the circumstances, was glad to see Jacob and his family and possessions move away from his ranch. But now Jacob faced a real problem. Esau, with a contingent of men, started out to meet him, and what would happen when these two “enemies,” after so many years, came together face to face?

Jacob prayed earnestly about the matter, and it was in one of these prayers that an angel appeared to him and wrestled with him. It was on this occasion that Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, the name meaning “prevailed with God.” Through faith and action Jacob had prevailed with God, and eventually this name will apply to the people of all nations who likewise demonstrate their loyalty to God.

Finally the two brothers met. Time had largely healed the wound in Esau’s heart, and Jacob was happy that the two could be friendly brothers again. However, they went their separate ways. Esau became the progenitor of the people later known as the Edomites, while Jacob became the head of twelve tribes, all being identified in the Scriptures as having taken the name Israel, which Jacob received from the angel of the Lord.


Relate the story of Jacob and Esau, and how it was that Jacob received the birthright instead of Esau.

Who were the descendants of Jacob, and who were the descendants of Esau?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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