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Bible Time Period: Patriarchs
In the time of the Patriarchs, you called Abraham and promised his children land, a royal kingdom, and worldwide blessing: Help me to trust in your promises today.
Today’s readings cover a lot of ground: Jacob is married and has children, outwits his father-in-law before getting out of town, prepares to meet the brother he tricked out of the blessing, and gets caught up in an all-night wrestling match with God.
From now on, Jacob (“deceiver” or “he grasps”) will also be known as “Israel” (“he struggles with God”). The one who grasped with his own power birthright and blessing had learned to struggle with God and be blessed. The nation that comes to bear his name will exhibit the characteristics of both of these names.
How does Jacob get back what he dished out to his brother Esau?
Join the discussion below!
Human nature just does not change that much from generation to generation, it seems at first. Laban tricked Jacob out of his wages the way Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright. Jacob, ever resourceful, managed to thrive with wives, children, servants, livestock, nevertheless. How truly ironic that Leah and Rachel both offer their servants as concubines just as Sarah did in order to gain heirs! God truly blessed Jacob and he seemed to recognize this in giving thanks. Wrestling with God, in my opinion, characterizes the maturing relationship between God and Jacob – a stubbornness in petition and groaning growth process toward true trust in God’s promises. Esau, for his part, shows great maturity in forgiving his brother instead of killing him as he threatened 20 years earlier. Like Abraham and Isaac, these men have blessed the Lord in their faithfulness, ensuring their names are remembered throughout salvation history.
Laban tricks Jacob into believing Leah is Rachel similar to Rebekkah & Jacob tricking of Isaac. Thus making Jacob work for 14 years before receiving Rachel. Jacob gains much during his time with Laban, including wives, sons & possesions, before departing for home.
I also believe he learned patience and learned about God’s goodness.
I see two things that Jacob gets back from what he dishes to Esau. (1) Jacob is tricked by Laban to marry Leah the eldest before Rachel whom he truly. Laban gets a husband for his two daughters but also gets an additional 7 years of Jacobs labor. (2) this may be a stretch, yet I see Jacob restoring or gaining a struggle with God. As much as Jacob wrestled or conflicted with his twin brother so to he wrestles with God. Perhaps this dimply reflects our relationship with God – we struggle with each other.
Israel(he struggles with God).if God is love what is Jacob struggling with?maybe fear?there is no fear in love.perfect love drives out fear.thus one who fears is not yet perfect in love.(1 Jn 4 ).his trickery to his neighbor (Esau) is trickery to God.his ongoing struggles with God is the journey of replacing trickery with love. his name change Jacob(deceiver) to Israel reflects this.
I think Jacob is probably struggling with trusting God. It seems to be the main question posed to each of the figures in the Bible, “Do you trust Me?” Adam and Even didn’t trust him, Noah did, Abraham learned to, and so are all the other characters. I have that same question asked over and over of me in my own life. I am trying so hard to trust and not take matters into my own hands. Giving up control is hard but it feels so good when I can rest in the arms of God and allow Him to lead my life, trusting that he has a plan and knowing that if I seek and knock doors will be open that are meant to open. I just have to be careful to pray, stay close to Him, and allow his lead so I don’t pry open doors that are not meant to be opened unto me.
Is that not everyones’ struggle? As one who continually struggles with trust, that is where I am at.
Jacob is tricked by Laban, just as Jacob tricked Esau…we don’t think when we are young that our actions will follow us; or that they will carry on from one generation to another…but they do…this same thing happened to me with my children recently…I saw that the girls were doing a similar pattern that I had done…In the Old Testament patterns were repeated time and time again because there was no recourse for them to turn the coarse of the tide…this was altered when Jesus came into the world as our Lord and Savior…He provided us with the helps we need to change to stem of the tide…we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Confirmation, Baptism; and the other Sacraments to strengthen us with the grace to help us stem the tide of repeating patterns that can cause us to leave the presence of God.
I think you a wise woman! I too see patterns of behavior in generation after generation and also see great blessings to my children who have recognized God and Jesus as their Savior, and how I long for the other two to come to that recognition! God willing, I will see that if not in this world, in Heaven!
Beverly, What sagacious words! You seem to filled with the Holy Spirit that guides your hand in writing down what God is trying and has been trying to tell us for such a long time! May God bless you
This was such a good reading! I figured that Jacob received a bit of payback for his shrewdness against his brother. When he stayed with Laban, Jacob was duped not once but many times. Could it be that God was teaching Jacob a lesson in honesty and honor?
When he was about to confront Esau, he was very worried for his family, his possessions, and his own life. He knew he needed to make amends with his brother and had his servants go ahead of him to present Esau with a gift of livestock. That night, before he met up with his brother, he wrestled with a man who gave Jacob the name Israel. Was it God that appeared as that man wrestling with Jacob? Was the wrestling a sort of a catharsis for Jacob to rid him of his transgressions? I don’t know, but what a great story to learn from!!
OK some one help me with all this. One of the big lessons is that trickery is the way to get ahead? Laying around with a bunch of women not your wife reaps rewards? And did Jacob once again trick his brother?
Ed. Did you not read the second to last verse.
32 At sunrise, as he left Penuel, Jacob limped along because of his hip
.In short for the rest of his life Jacob suffered from sciatica. They didn’t have pain meds or hip replacement in those days. I think that was sufficient penance, I speak from experience
I put my hope in verse 31 Jacob named the place Peniel, “Because I have seen God face to face,” he said, “yet my life has been spared.” As one who struggles with trust, this is a special verse to me! Perhaps the constant pain Jacob lives with helps him to focus on God in humility.
Gig Rose absolutly right about the pain thing. Constant pain is the only way God could get my attention. That sciatica pain really caught my attention. I can relate to Jacob/Israel because this morning my pain got much worse because of the storm. God did bless Jacob, but that blessing came with some pain. I will think of this passage every time I get my walker out.
Prayers for you!
Thank you for your prayers
I am by no means a subject matter expert but I find it very interesting and educational seeing how we each see these readings through our own lens. I absolutely agree with you about the use of trickery and infidelity, wrong, wrong, wrong! However, I believe God is working through each of those negative instances in Jacob’s life to help him to grow in his faith and devotion to God! After all, some of the biggest sinners have become saints!
So there’s hope for us all!
Oh Marianne, I certainly hope so. Have a blessed evening.
Thanks Michelle, you too. God bless you…
You are right Michelle. I believe God usually works with spiritual brokenness. God works on us using our weakest side to make us stronger. Patience was definitely not Jacob’s virtue as he wanted to get everything quick and with shortcuts. God made him wait and wait long time. In other words God broke his spirit until Jacob became a better person
I think it was a custom back in those times to have multiple wives and concubines. Note that Isaac only has one wive, Rebekah, to whom he is faithful. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he is the only one who lives peacefully in the Promised Land.
It seems to me that Leah suffers most from Labans trickery. As she must endure a loveless marriage,
And yet, many Sons and a Daughter! Children are truly a blessing from God. I think Leah was comforted by her children and remember it was her son Judah, the son whose name meant “I will give grateful praise to the Lord”, that our Lord is descended from.
Yet those Sons and daughter were the result of a loveless marriage and Jacob favored Joseph and Benjamin causing discord in the Family. It must have hurt Leah to see her children treated unfairly.
I agree with the lifeless marriage you speak of which Leah suffered but am wondering how much true love had to do with these early marriages. To me, each of these marriages were conducted more like business arrangements as Laban first gave Leah to Isaac in marriage as was the custom of the eldest child to marry first. Perhaps, at this moment, Isaac was brokenhearted at not being able to marry Rebekah, whom he desired, but Isaac was most concerned with securing his bloodline, otherwise, he would never have had relations with Leah, right? Sadly enough, I think love was a moot point. We even saw this with Rebekah offering sex with Isaac to Leah in exchange for her son’s mandrakes. What! Sex was an act performed for procreation, period. As Gig mentions, so correctly, Leah was blessed with many children, a great reward from God in and of itself. I hope these children brought Leah the love she wanted after being given in marriage due to protocol. Leah did indeed suffer.
It seems that the entire family becomes disfunctional after Jacob’s trickey (aided by Rebecca)
Although she doesn’t know it, Leah is rewarded by being chosen as an ancestor of Jesus, through her son, Judah. I’m always fascinated by the twists and turns in the genealogy of Jesus!
I am always disturbed by genealogy. I only want to know those of my ancestors who I have met in the flesh. I am very disturbed when Jesus has less than perfect ancestors. But I guess all humankind has less than perfect ancestors in Adam and Eve
Jacob finds himself Jacob ed by his uncle Laban. But it was God’s plan all throughout. Since Leah was not as beautiful as Rachel she is protected and blessed by God with early children. Finally Rachel is blessed with Joseph. I too did not like the idea of both Leah and Rachel giving their slave girls Zilpah and Bilhah to Jacob. . But at end everything appears as a blessing to Jacob. Jacob gets troubled by Laban in terms of wages but with the grace of God Jacob overcomes everything. His wrestling with God is very special. He gets the name Israel. What I understand is that God was with Jacob in all his struggle for 20 years. .
I absolutely agree, Mark!
Thank you Michelle.
Jacob had a long time living in Haran with Laban to think about what he did to his brother and must have realized the treatment of Laban was his just deserts! And yet, God had made promises to him, the awareness of the faithfulness of God, even in the light of his deception must have been humbling. In his gift offering to his brother, I see how he understands his brother and what would be impressive to him. Some might have required an apology, but Esau would have been impressed with his brothers’ wealth and how willingly he shared it with him. In jacob’s “hiding” his wives and children he was still aware of the impetuous character of his brother. Knowing his brothers strength and skill in killing animals, I think Jacob’s fear was justified in the human sense and yet he did trust God when He told him to return to his country. Quite a dicey situation for Jacob. And so, we all learn about the consequences of our actions and trusting that God is in control and is faithful if we but trust Him.
Gentle reminder and comment: God is ALWAYS faithful and the offer of salvation and all things good are not dependent upon our trust in Him. The message of salvation history is that until Jesus “lets go and lets God” and trusts completely in The Father things do not work out for us.
I should have said, and we see the results of God’s faithfulness, when we put our trust in Him. God cannot be anything but faithful.
How does Jacob get back what he dished out to his brother Esau? (1) He acquired the wrong bride through deception, he got Leah instead. Just as Esau felt helpless when he lost his birth right, Jacob too felt powerless most likely. Jacob was taught a valuable lesson, after working for seven years to reap his reward of love from Rachel, he did not acquire her. Maybe working for the first seven
years was easy for Jacob because he loved Rachel, however the second seven years of labor probably made him think what he had done years earlier to his brother. What goes around comes around, a lesson well learned, he had 7 years to mull over it. (2) When he meets Esau after so many years, Jacob was afraid, he knew he was wrong in stealing his brothers birth right 20 years earlier. I am not clear why he still feared his life after 20 years when he knew that God was with him. He most likely had a little faith. So he tries to soften his brothers heart with money, his wealth, really? I am surprised he felt he had to do that. If his brother was still angry he would have killed him and acquired all of his livestock.
How does Jacob get what he dished to Esau. As I mentioned in my post yesterday it was difficult getting on either brother’s bandwagon but in my opinion, Jacob is maturing into the man God wants him to be in these readings today. He needed to exhibit extreme patience while waiting for Rebekah only to be told he must first marry Leah. Then he was duped by his father in law as he took away the choicest sheep, and goats when it was time for Isaac to be paid. I am not saying these weren’t in some form of atonement to Esau but this was God’s master plan. Rectifying the wrongs he committed to Esau and his dealings with Laban were all challenges that helped to form Jacob into a noble follower of God. We see how he was able to negotiate a non-aggression treaty with his father-in-law in Gilead after propagating the animals in his herd for his benefit. (Remember, God came to him in a dream with this idea.) During the negotiations Isaac spoke with the truth and was firm….I worked hard for you and you gave me nothing! Likewise, when Jacob goes to confront Esau he knows he is walking into a potential lion’s den. He has faith in God, however, as He told him to return to his home and his relatives. Jacob then humbly prays that he is “unworthy of all of the acts of kindness and faithfulness that you have performed” for me. “Save me from the hand of my brother.” Then that evening he “wrestles with God,” and is left with a lifelong hip injury. Perhaps this is to be a constant reminder of Jacob’s, now known as Israel, past sins. At any rate, Israel secures a blessing from God and is ready to face what lies in front of him. This was a very different Jacob returning to Canaan then the one who departed so many years earlier. He is a wiser, more obedient man and ready to face his past head-on. I believe he is so willing because he now has faith in God. This faith only grew because of his past which includes the ill-treatment of his-brother and deception of his father to secure his blessing. God is with him, just like He is in all of us. We just have to put our trust in Him and all will be well.
The cycle of deceit and discord continues in this story but there are interventions that enable growth. Laban and Jacob meet their match in each other, neither is the master. Laban conceded the loss of family and Jacob experienced Esau’s suffering. For the first time in years, the two sisters are not rivals. Jacob hurt his brother deeply and despite his fears, he still turns to his brother with a peace offering. We seem to hurt our family members more deeply than anyone else, yet the capacity for forgiveness seems greater within family members than anyone else, maybe that is because of the deep bonds. In the story, everyone is very much alone unless God intervenes directly. Today we are blessed to also have the Bible, Jesus, the Saints, Religious, Priests and lay teachers to guide and inspire us to move out of negative behavior and sin. No matter our circumstance, there is always a person in the Bible or a Saint who has shared some element of our situation and is able to offer sage advice from the past, which gives me a sense of kinship, community and family.
Very nicely said, Liz.
Yes Liz, much of what you said above, I agree ! Family – blood family, that chooses to grow, heal and act “the Jesus way only” is what counts.
Thanks to all of you who responded to my plea for help on that trickery stuff. I appreciate the thoughts and it helps. For those of you that have the sciatica pain let it be know that I am on a regular system of four pain and three muscle relaxers daily for mine. I never thought to connect the pain to suffering for my sins but it certainly makes sense. Thanks again. Ed
I mentioned recently, I think our suffering enables us to be compassionate to others who are hurting. Think of the power of redemptive suffering. Even St. Paul had “a thorn in his side” which he begged the Lord to take away from him.
Suffering is not always due to sin. Think of the
innocent children who are born with medical conditions or physical deformities.
I think it’s more likely that the way we suffer for our sins is the consequences of our sins. When we sin against others, we hurt them; when we sin against ourselves, we hurt ourselves; when we sin against God, we hurt God. It’s more of an emotional turmoil and suffering. Look again at Jacob and Esau. You can see what all this trickery has produced.
May God bless you all and provide His comfort and relief from the pain.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
I am sure these are the readings that really highlight the saying “you reap what you sow”! Jacob must have been red-faced all over when Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the first-born.” For that is what he did when he tricked his elder brother and his father to get Isaac’s blessing. In this readings, what really struck me is how God’s plan for His people is unfolding, despite all the imperfections of the people He set up to carry this on!
God is a loving God, He is also a faithful God and keep his promise! Jacob has been shape into a mutual man under Laban’s house, not that Laban is good, but his way to marry his daughters to Jacob, the son of his sister Rebekkah is so clever. The 20 years away from fear of being kill by his brother Esau would be a good time for Jacob to learn that he has to pay a price to get what he want. God is a faithful God that Jesus promise He will not leave us orphan, as God promise Abraham many descendants and protected Jacob back to his homeland.
Like we say today, “What goes around comes around.” I have never read the bible in this way before, not with such understanding and thought. I have never related that saying to biblical times. Jacob was tricked by his uncle the same way he tricked his father and brother. We always need to be mindful of what we do in life. It may not always affect us directly but we need to think of our children our children’s children.
I read what I wrote last year and by rereading these chapters, contemplating on them, and sought out other thoughts on Jacob and Esau’s relationship, I came up with something a bit different.
Jacob was a manipulator! You can see how he used his cunning in fooling Laban when he and his family left. He also split his camp in two so that if Esau was to fight, he would have half of his riches intact. Jacob even challenged God by mentioning what God said to him! “I will be very good to you, and I will make your descendants like the sands of the sea, which are too numerous to count.’” Genesis 32:13 I figured he wanted to be in control all the time.
Through this life of cunning and finally being quite concerned for his life because he was meeting his brother after all those years of separation, Jacob was finally forced to release his control and believe absolutely in God. So what he got back from Esau was probably one of the best gifts he had ever attained.
I just love the beautiful struggle that Jacob endures as it reflects quite much on our lives. Aren’t we always wrestling with God? Our faith may wax and wain and at times we feel jubilant in the light and others we feel lonely in the dark. Prayer and faith aren’t easy. It isn’t all roses. It is a struggle. We are all wrestling in our own ways. We may have what we perceive as power, money, and greatness but when stripped down we are all vulnerable and subject to weakness, failure, depression, discouragement, and doubt. We need to keep wrestling to help us see the true beauty and loyalty of our god. Our vulnerabilities are why we must have faith and keep that faith. The only riches we ever need are the ones our god clothes us in.
I just read my responses to last year. They were somewhat the same as yours. Only I was feeling very real physical pain. This year it is the same. Yesterday, God blessed me with a miracle, but I still limp. I was found to be cancer free when the Dr. said I should be dead.
What a blessing
The struggle for power, the display of self-importance, and the deception continues as we will see throughout our journey. There were comments on yesterday’s blog about the relative inactivity or focus on women which seems to have changed in these verses. We read of the same competition for favor or blessings between Leah and Rachel; we also see the same struggle for power over others (Jacob) to gain favor. This theme is a repeat from previous readings and shows the intrigue brought on my human failings.
Having made these reflections on human weakness; I must also recognize the plan being laid out by God to establish the foundation for his people Israel and to further his promise to Abraham that his descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky. The unfolding of the plan is quite fascinating.
yes, humans are weak – weak, and yet God still wants us, all of us…
As Jacob had disguised himself to deceive his father, Laban presented the veiled Leah at the wedding instead of Rachel. Like Jacob’s deceptive behavior, divine providence also facilitated this deception. Jacob suffers Laban’s deception as Esau had to suffer his. There are many ironies in the passage, the major irony is that Jacob, the deceiver of his father and brother about the blessing (chap. 27), is deceived by his uncle (standing in for the father) about his wife. He then had to serve 14 years as an indentured worker for Rachael and thus spent much more time than he anticipated there. Jacob later flees with his family from Laban. The strife that has always accompanied Jacob continues as Laban’s sons complain, “he has taken everything that belonged to our father”; the brothers’ complaint just about echoes Esau’s (27:36). He then faced a new crises ahead of him: Jacob must confront the problem he left to escape – Esau, who, for all he knew, was on a mission of revenge. Behind him was Laban, who also was not too pleased with Jacob. If he went forward, Jacob was marching into a potential minefield. But, because of the bridges he had burned between himself and Laban, he could not retreat. So he was stuck. He was afraid (32:7). Seems like a good Penance to me 🙂
Seems that not much has changed, if we leave a problem or situation unsettled as Jacob had to, eventually we will have to return and resolve the problem. If only we could be honest from the beginning we would avoid many of our problems!
Agree with you Marjorie honesty is always better than liying not matter how small that lie could be it would grow as a snowball
Jacob gets back what he dished out to his brother when Laban tricks him and ‘swaps’ Leah for his bride, as opposed to Rachel. He must have been very merry! I can imagine his dismay the next day when he realizes that it was Leah and not Rachel, talk about pay back time! I am sure he must have realized that he was just getting what he deserved. His apprehension at meeting his brother when he returns home tells us that he was remorseful for what he had done.
Time heals. It takes 20 years for both brothers to come to a place of forgiveness. However, we don’t always have 20 years to reconcile with our friends or family. Christ gave us the sacrament of Reconciliation knowing fully well that his children (the Church) will need to avail the healing power of forgiveness more often, and thus receive needed nourishment for our earthly pilgrimage.
I think that doing this Bible Study is akin to Jacob wrestling with God. Each of us is wrestling with the word of God and as we wrestle we grow and we learn. The more we learn the more hope we have and we become more attuned to his Word, to Christ. This is maturing in faith.
I hadn’t thought of this study as ‘wrestling with God’ but great insight! I am amazed each day what I am learning about our awesome God.
True. I am currently wrestling with how bad Jacob was and God chose him!
Jacob was a lying son, a stealing brother, a cheating husband, a selfish father, and a mud-slinging son-in-law. Not much to be impressed with. And that is what makes Genesis 28:10–22 so amazing. The Bible is either crazy or Genius!
This is how salvation can be absolutely free. God did not choose us because of anything we have done or will do. This is the whole lesson of Jacob’s life. Whether or not an individual or family belongs to God is ultimately God’s decision. And thank God it is. Because if we are anything like Jacob and his sons, and we have seen that we are, then we do not want to depend on our own works or our own wills but on God who shows mercy!
Wow! I never thought about it that way! I struggle with the Bible stories because they don’t portray the patriarch’s in a very good light. Maybe it is because no matter what they do, God chose THEM and will keep His promises with them, and this is despite their imperfect state.
In the sins of the Patriarchs and many others throughout the Bible, I see God’s mercy and love toward all of us. In John 8, Jesus is asked about stoning the adulterous woman. I love his response…”Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”. I’ve never really studied the Patriarchs in this way before and I’m finding it interesting how their own humanity is so evident. Like all of us, they make bad decisions and end up sinning. But, God’s love doesn’t end in spite of their sins. Someone said earlier that God uses our frailty as opportunities for us to grow. I believe that to be the case. In our frailty, we grow closer to God. It’s rather refreshing to know that the Patriarchs weren’t blameless and perfect. It just tells me that I shouldn’t cast any stones because I’m not blameless either and my wrong choices are opportunities to learn to trust God more.
Indeed God does not choose us because of what we have done or will do. Even his Apostles whom he hand picked weren’t perfect. He chooses us out of love.
In the Old Testament times, God chose his family (Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob….). His plan for redemption of mankind was designed around his ‘hand picked’ family. This ‘chosen family’ was supposed to be a light to other nations. When Jacob was fleeing from Esau, he had a dream where God says to him ‘…and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves.’ (Gen 28: 13-15). This is in spite of the fact that Jacob had flaws (as we all do).
My thought at this point is that Christ, who offered himself, a perfect sacrifice once and for all, has chosen us (believers) to be his family. Through Baptism, we become members of the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church), and we now carry on Christ’s mission. Therefore, like Jacob and these OT characters, stories will also be written about us, and the same question will be asked of us – did we trust God and keep all his commandments?
Hello, everyone! I’m new to the group. I would like to contribute to the discussion by pointing out that Jacob receives “payback” by having to offer much of his hard-earned flock as a gift to buy back his brother’s mercy–and hopefully forgiveness. Don’t we do the same with the gifts that God bestows on us? Often times we try to barter with God by offering him menial things as sacrifice in exchange for all of his tremendous gifts of mercy and love. Jacob doesn’t realize that gifts of sheep and goats are not comparable to the gifts of oneself in the ways of showing respect, dignity and love to others. I guess that is why God eventually reveals Christ to the world as a sign that animals are no longer viewed as acceptable sacrifices for sin. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your wonderful group! I look forward to being able to read more and more of your comments. I am learning so much!
Did anyone else think it significant that when Leah gave birth to her 4th son she said “I will praise the Lord” naming him Judah, the tribe from which David and Jesus come?
no… 4 sons in a row that lived?? she was well-meant when she said that! 🙂
I found it comforting that God chose Leah (with the dull eyes and not loved by Jacob) to be the one to give birth to Judah instead of the loved and beautiful Rachael.
Yes I have always noticed that. It is from the fourth son of the rejected wife the the Messiah is born. So also is the Messian rejected.
Yes, and this mention of the Jesus our Savior reminds us of the 2nd reason why God chose Jacob—to demonstrate God’s grace! We may read this account and protest, “This isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that God should choose Jacob and not Esau. It isn’t fair that God permitted Jacob’s schemes to work.” And we would be absolutely correct. It isn’t fair. What would have been fair would have been for God to have sent Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s whole family to hell. They were all, in some ways, fairly rotten characters, as we have seen! And what would be fair would be for God to send all of us to hell, too. For there is a little bit of Jacob in each of us. Perhaps it comes out in different ways, but there is a con artist in each of us; a spin doctor in each of us; a cheater in each of us; a greedy heart in each of us. And “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
So it may seem unfair that God loved Jacob, the scoundrel. But you see, when we are thinking clearly, we really don’t want God to treat us fairly. Rather, we want God to grant us his grace as he did Jacob! And thank God he has! He has given “His only begotten Son, [so] that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Have you believed in the Son of God? Have you entrusted yourself to the God whose grace is given to us unfairly? If you have, then you realize that you and I are the dirty, rotten, undeserving scoundrels with the silver spoons in our mouths. Thank God!
Wow! I was thinking of what we read in Gen 4 & 5, in a way comparing it to the genealogies of Cain whose descendants were murderers etc. and Seth whose descendants from the beginning were praised as in the image of God. I must admit when I had my sons my first comment was “he is beautiful” not as it should have been “may he walk in the way of the Lord and praise Him” Unfortunately a different time in my life.
Jacob is tricked into marrying a woman who is not of his choice. Like Jacob and Esau these two sisters quarrel.
I’ve read many answers and they all have great insight and I thank everyone. What I learned from this is that life is not fair, e.g., Esau is cheated, Jacob is deceived, etc. Although life is not fair, I can see that God makes things right and, most importantly for me, I see God makes things right in a way different than I might expect. I need to remember this in the future.
Gods ways are not our ways. How many times have we heard that. And here we can definitely agree – God loved undeserving Jacob to demonstrate that God, as God, can love anyone he chooses! He is sovereign. And in the same way that God chose Jacob before he was ever born, so God chooses everyone who ever becomes a son or daughter of the covenant. And it works the same way with each of us who inherits the promise of salvation in Jesus. We do not come into the world looking for God. We are born like sheep, each one turning to his or her own way (Isa. 53:6). And if God had not sought us before we sought him, none of us would ever seek him. If God hadn’t chosen us before we chose him, none of us would ever have chosen him.
Thank you, Anthony. I have to remind myself how it is about God. It gets into humility……Just love God, know He loves me, and let go. May God bless you..
Wow, there have been some really great posts here! As usual! I have a question… Was Jacob/Israel ever regarded as a Priest ? I have heard it said that when Jacob wrestled with the strange man during the night, it was St. Michael the Archangel. God was unhappy that he injured his Priest, so St. Michael asked St. Raphael to heal the hip, which he later did. It is also said that Michael may have been Joseph’s Guardian angel, so in a sense, Joseph was wrestling with his conscience all night…
I found this in Wikipedia:
Judaic midrash (exegesis) identifies Melchizedek with Shem the son of Noah. Although the Book of Genesis affirms that Melchizedek was “priest of God Most High”. (Genesis 14:18), The Midrash and Babylonian Talmud maintain that the priesthood held by Melchizedek, who pre-dated the patriarch Levi by five generations (Melchizedek pre-dates Aaron by six generations; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Kehoth, Amram, Aaron) was given in his stead to Abraham who in turn passed it on to his patrilineal descendents, Isaac and then to Jacob. Midrashic literature attributes this transition as a consequence due to Melchizedek preceding the name of Abraham to that of God, such as in the Midrash Rabbah to Genesis. Tractate Nedarim. While some Jewish commentators, such as Chaim ibn Attar, write that Melchizedek gave the priesthood to Abraham willingly.
The link here points to the entire article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priesthood_of_Melchizedek
for 8 days, I have been reading the Bible, studying with you the salvific history of man under God’s design…
it occurs to me that once you say “Yes” to God, He will do any thing in His power to keep you…
and we respond as children – we argue against His way; we fight others who do not follow our version of His way; we put off the decision to follow Him until we understand the wheres and why fors; we begin without ending until we are on the point of dying – when our “Yes, I will follow” or our “No, I cannot follow any thing” makes our decision for us…
I wondered who Jacob was wrestling with, and found myself assuming it was one of God’s angels. Maybe God was trying to prepare Jacob with his subconscious anxiety before meeting his brother. I’m sure he may have had troubling thoughts how their meeting would take place. I’ve had those anxious feelings when I’ve reached the point in my life to reconcile with someone I have had strong differences with. You don’t know how it will end, and you can’t help thanking God if it ends well.
After wrestling with the man, “Jacob named the place Peniel, “because I have seen God face to face” (Genesis 32:31). From my bible study on Genesis, I learned that Peniel means “the face of God”. The usccb web site footnotes (Gen 32:29) refer to “divine beings”. However, my bible study notes emphasize that the last two letters of Jacob’s new name, Israel (el) mean God, so Israel means he strived, or “contended WITH God”.
Another interesting point is CCC 2573: “God renews his promise to Jacob, the ancestor of the twelve tribes of Israel. Before confronting his elder brother Esau, Jacob wrestles all night with a mysterious figure who refuses to reveal his name, but he blesses him before leaving him at dawn. From this account, the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance.”
And so our struggles in life are symbolic of this “battle of faith and triumph of perseverance”.
Thank you Marianne for clarifying this interpretation for me. Now I understand why God was willing to wrestle with Jacob just to make him prevail to God’s will. It made me realize how God places us in situations to test our own beliefs, our own sense of spirituality. A few years ago I got caught up in a scam which I thought was a blessing in disguise. I was invited to be a secret shopper by testing these money gram locations. I was sent checks to cash and then would go and submit a money gram to a specific person for about $1200, to check out the money gram’s customer service tactics. Of course it was with the cash I received after cashing those checks. Naturally there would be a balance in my account from the checks, after I sent a money gram, that I was allowed to keep. (my easy income) After about receiving and cashing 3 checks at my bank, I was notified a few weeks later that those checks that I cashed, bounced and I had to cover them. After losing over $5,000 with this scam, I asked God why? Now, I see… God probably answered me, “Why not, Margie?”
I also had a situation a while back that I thought was a blessing in disguise, which turned out to be a disaster. I believe that God does test us, but I’m not sure He would answer your “Why” with “Why not?” I’m sorry you got caught in that scam; I’m guessing that it was a setback for you to lose that $5000. We have to beware of “easy money” that expects us to shell out our own money. This just goes to show us to take everything in our lives to God and pray for His guidance.
I’m struggling with an issue right now that’s very different and yet, the concept is the same. I’m thinking that sometimes we have to look at our motives when such “opportunities” arise. We have to pray constantly, and consider whether everything that we do gives glory to God. And I mean everything. For it is only when we totally surrender to God that we are able to grow.
Marianne you have great spirit, and thank you for sharing the fact that we all are faced with situations to determine if a decision is right or not. I appreciate now that I’m not alone in my past mistakes and misgiving feelings.
Thank you Margie. And trust me, you are not alone!
I am confused by the idea that Esau was cheated or that Jacob “dished out” anything but the red stuff Esau asked for? Which Esau also agreed to sell his birth right for the red stuff in Genesis chapter 25.
forgive me, Sarah, for assuming to know what you meant, but allow me to explain it to Sandy…
the law of the time of Genesis was very plain – the eldest got double what the younger ones would receive when their dad died… that was their right, because when they were born played out that way…
for instance, my girls would receive half of my husband’s earthly goods when he dies… I would receive my half… that is their right, no matter how badly they treat me or my husband – merely for being born…
now, Esau agreed to sell his right to double portion of his father’s inheritance, you are right – but did he immediately give it up, or had Jacob withheld his pottage from until he agreed? I believe after re-reading, you will find that Jacob held it out… no, he wasn’t deceived, except to sell out so cheaply… probably all it was worth at the time, at least in the eyes of the boys…
however, some years later, his decision started to wear on him – why else would he mention it when Jacob had gotten Isaac’s blessing as well? of course, he felt cheated, and hated Jacob for it…
but did Jacob actually dish it all out on Esau himself? as kids, perhaps yes… no mention is made of anybody else… as an adult? no… it was his mom’s plan, and his mom’s blame for the plan – but it was Jacob who, after all, had to pull off his mother’s plan… so, yeah, Jacob bears some blame – maybe most – for not saying “No” to his mother…
so… Jacob “dished out” disappointment on Esau twice… and in return, did Esau get his revenge? no… but Jacob had 14 years of doing Laban’s work for his daughters, plus (after Joseph was weaned and pretty much ready for the family’s planned move) 6 more years for some of the flocks… 20+ years for 2 daughters and some sheep and goats…
at 96, Jacob’s old by anyone’s standards, but it was at that age when he left, with his wives, concubines, children, and flocks, Laban at last… Jacob was 40 years old, at least, when he left Isaac and Rebekah… so for between 20 years and 56 years Jacob had to put up with Laban for his wives…
does that put any kind of comparison-switch on what Jacob had to deal with vs. what Esau had?