Did Jacob Really Steal the Inheritance?

You see it all the time in Crossword puzzles: Bible twin (4 letters) . The answer is, of course, Esau. And one of the best known Bible stories is the story of how Jacob forced Esau to sell his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. Oh, let’s not forget that Jacob also stole the blessing for the firstborn by lying to his father, Isaac, and pretending to be Esau.

Truth be told, Jacob was a sly little devil. He was a “Mama’s Boy”, the stay-at-home type, and he married into a family just as sneaky as he was: Laban fooled Jacob into marrying Leah before Rachael, he tried 10 times to change the conditions of his wages, which Jacob reversed to his own benefit,  and Rachael lied to her brother after she stole the family gods when Jacob returned to Canaan.

Seems they were really not a very honest bunch. That’s what it looks like, until we look a little deeper.

First off, Esau was a very “passionate” man, meaning that he was a real macho-macho. Hairy, big, strong, smelly, and he loved to hunt. Jacob was the brains of the family, studious and, yes, a Mama’s Boy in every respect. Then again, he had the penultimate Jewish mother. Esau was all about the moment, and when he was hungry and over-dramatized his condition, Jacob took advantage of Esau’s lack of respect for his own birthright. C’mon, really- did Esau meet Jacob miles away from any civilized area? Was Jacob in the middle of the desert cooking lentil stew? Of course not- Jacob was home. Esau could easily have found something to eat, but he was desperate in his own mind and traded the birthright with no concern or respect for it. When you read that passage it also says Jacob gave him bread and something to drink, as well. Free refills, too, so Jacob wasn’t really as selfish as we may think he was.

Later, when Rebekah knew that Isaac was going to give his blessing to Esau, she is the one who came up with the idea of having Jacob get the blessing, instead. Maybe it was because she favored Jacob, maybe it was because she didn’t want Isaac’s blessing to be wasted on Esau, maybe (even though you can’t make an argument from nothing, and the Bible says nothing about this) because she knew about the sale of the birthright.

Here’s something to ponder: if Jacob did own the birthright of the firstborn, then didn’t he also own the blessing that goes with it? That’s what I find to be an interesting interpretation of the “stealing the blessing” story. If the blessing for the firstborn is tied to and part of the birthright of the firstborn, then as owner of the birthright Jacob was entitled to that blessing, and Isaac was (unknowingly) going to give it to Esau, who did not deserve it anymore. Rebekah didn’t do anything wrong; even though it was underhanded, she did, in fact, secure for Jacob what was rightfully his. Did she know about the sale of the birthright? I don’t know- it doesn’t say in the Bible. In the end, though, I think Jacob did deserve the blessing because he owned the birthright.

What do  you think?

Throughout the Bible we see the first born not getting the firstborn’s blessing: Jacob was over Esau, Joseph was over Reuben, Ephraim was over Manasseh, Solomon was over Amnon. Jacob may have been the first son who was not firstborn to receive the blessing of the firstborn, but he wasn’t the last one.

We don’t have to worry about who gets which blessing anymore. Thanks to Yeshua, we all have the blessing of the firstborn- we are children of God and all who accept the Grace of God are equal inheritors of the blessings of eternal joy and peace. Yeshua tells us there are many rooms in His Father’s house, and He will prepare one for each and every one of us. All who believe in Yeshua and accept Him as their Messiah receive the blessing of the firstborn. But better than that, it is not a blessing from an Earthly father, but our blessing is from The Father, God.

Next time you read this story, when you come to where Jacob had to fool his father to get the blessing he had purchased with the birthright, remember how Yeshua purchased that blessing for us; not with lentil stew but with His blood.

Hmmmm…..I just had a thought: the stew was red, and so was the blood of Messiah, and with that “red stuff” the blessing of the firstborn was purchased. Maybe the story of Jacob also contains a Messianic prophesy?


  1. Steven R. Bruck
    Standing in the Eleventh Hour September 18, 2014 at 15:16

    Shalom. I think about this quite a bit myself! I interpret this as God judging Esau for selling his birthright, because whatever Isaac said to Jacob as he imparted the blessing, Isaac considered it Davar Elohim- a word of God. As he told Esau about Jacob, “I have blessed him- and indeed he shall be blessed.” (Gen. 27:33). I think, while Esau sold his birthright on earth, it was sold in heaven. That is why Isaac didn’t correct it – because this thing was of HaShem. This event, along with other events in the Torah of the younger favored before the older, are a spiritual lesson and prophecy of “the last shall be first, and the first last.”

    • Steven R. Bruck
      Steven R. Bruck September 22, 2014 at 07:55

      I hadn’t thought about the Ruach leading Yitzhak in this way, and I don’t see any reason to disagree with your thoughts. I don’t have any doubt that many of the things that have been said and done on Earth, even by non-believers such as Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel, can be influenced by God without the person realizing it. You have a really nice thought-= thank you for commenting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Name *
Email *