The story of
Jacob - the Birthright and the Blessing in free Bible Art and lessons
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What Came Before:
AFTER 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 Rebecca 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 Rebecca liked Jacob, because she saw that he was wise
and careful in his work.
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...
And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swore unto
him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and
pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way:
thus Esau despised his birthright.
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 for 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
Esau Selling His Birthright
Hendrick Terbrugghen, 1625 (click images for full size)
"Illustrated Life of Jesus" Art CD
500 High Resolution Images - Royalty Free
And Jacob answered, "I will give it to you, if you will first of all sell to me
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
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
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 so 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 became at last very old and feeble, and so blind that he could see
scarcely anything. One day he said to Esau,
"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 the
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
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, and will 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.
Isaac Blessing Jacob,
Gioacchino Assereto 1640
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 touch.
Then Jacob came into his father's tent, bringing the dinner, and speaking as
much like Esau as he could, he said: "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 quickly?"
Jacob answered, " Because the Lord your God showed me where to go, and gave me
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 am."
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."
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
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
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