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25th Jan Jacob and Esau, Part 2

Today we will continue our exploration of the story of Jacob and Esau as it relates to decisions that influenced their lives. Wikipedia has a thorough discussion of the story, so I chose to take the easy way out and use them as my resource. The story of these two boys begins in the womb, when their destiny was foretold to Rebecca after she complained that the boys were apparently already not getting along together. Whether their “fate” was ordained by God, or whether God just wanted to give a heads-up to Rebecca about what he knew the boys themselves would decide, is for each of us to ponder, based on our own spiritual beliefs. The bottom line is that the boys came out competing for dominance, and never stopped.

Jacob had the cooler head. He showed that he was the man for the job of leading his nation by always acting responsibly. On the other hand, Esau was much more impulsive. He proved his unworthiness to lead the nation when he equated his birth right to a bowl of soup. But Esau was the first born, which entitled him to an additional special blessing. In order for Jacob to get that one as well, he and his mother decided to hatch a plot to fool Isaac into conferring it on Jacob instead. Not illegal, but surely dishonest. So Esau may have despised his birth right, and treated it without value, but Jacob was underhanded and deceptive by disguising himself as Esau to receive the coveted first-born blessing from his blind father.

Later, even after learning of the deception, Isaac refused to take it back. Instead, he decided to give an inferior blessing to Esau, his former favorite, because he had chosen to marry two women from outside the faith. This impulsive decision by Esau was apparently a blatant example to Isaac that Esau was not qualified to rule the house of Abraham. So even though Jacob was sometimes less than honorable, Isaac felt he was the better choice to succeed him. Have you noticed how that sounds a little like some of the dilemmas we have had to face in our recent elections? Perceptions of responsibility tarnished by dishonesty versus impulsiveness tarnished by a lack of respect……I can really feel for the heaviness of Isaac’s burden in making his choice.

The story continues with many more twists and turns as the various characters have their ups and downs, while they make their own choices and also live with the decisions of others. However, from it we have already gained a deeper understanding of how our own lives can be intertwined in the same way, with decisions made both by us and for us. Readers who want to go further can look at Genesis or resources like the Wikipedia article to glean a greater depth of understanding from the results of the other choices there. Those who do may find that there is much more depth in this story than we ever learned as children in whatever faith we were raised.

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