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Tuesday, November 6 2012
A Biography Of Jacob: The Blessing
Jacob and his fraternal (i.e. not identical) twin brother Esau had been competitors since before they were born, as their mother Rebekah knew all too well: "25:21 And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 25:22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD." (Genesis 25:21-22 KJV). The struggle continued when they were born - Jacob was named after that grappling (see A Biography Of Jacob: The Second Twin). When they had grown, they struggled over the birthright of the firstborn - with Jacob winning over his firstborn brother Esau (see A Biography Of Jacob: The Birthright). The blessing of the firstborn would be next.
"27:1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac [see A Biography Of Abraham: Isaac] was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.
The parents of Jacob and Esau were also in a struggle, due to their favoritism: "25:27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 25:28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob." (Genesis 25:27-28 KJV). Whether it began in response to the sibling rivalry, or apart from it, is not stated - but it surely played a major part in the final act of the struggle between Jacob and Esau.
"27:5 And Rebekah [see also Who Chose Rebekah?] heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it. 27:6 And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, 27:7 Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death. 27:8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee. 27:9 Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth: 27:10 And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.
According to the custom of the birthright, the firstborn son was given more of the father's estate, not merely out of vain favoritism, but as a means of responsibility of continuing, and providing for, the family - which benefited everyone. The blessing was supposed to be a later validation of the son who received the birthright, that he was worthy of it. But the situation had become distorted when Jacob managed to legally purchase the birthright - which proved that the one who sold it, Esau, wasn't worthy of it. Nevertheless, apparently out of intractable favoritism, Isaac was going to bestow his blessing upon the son who no longer had the birthright. Apart from her own favoritism to her favorite son, and the manner in which she did it, Rebekah was nevertheless attempting to reunite the birthright with the blessing. It was a daring ruse on the part of Rebekah - if it had failed, it would have brought a curse, not a blessing, upon the one who owned the birthright.
"27:18 And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son?
When Esau returned with the venison and asked for the blessing, both father and son discovered that they had been outdone, again. While many have questioned the legality of how it was done, Isaac let the matter stand - perhaps realizing that it was in his own best interest to have the birthright and blessing bestowed on the same son, albeit not the one who had been the father's favorite. It may also have been by that time that Isaac was beginning to realize that Jacob was more capable than Esau, and therefore a better provider for the family.
"27:30 And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 27:31 And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me.
For Esau, it was the final straw. He planned to kill Jacob - again thereby showing his incompetence. He planned to simply murder his brother, for which he would gain nothing and lose everything, rather than, as someone else might have done, provoke his brother Jacob into attacking him, forcing Esau to "defend" himself - a lethal contest that the more experienced Esau would almost certainly have won.
When Rebekah heard of Esau's plan, she made arrangements for Jacob to run away to her brother in Syria and "tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away." As we will cover in a subsequent study in this series, the "few days" turned out to be over twenty years.
"27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.
Fact Finder: What does "temptation" mean?
This Day In History, November 6
355: Roman Emperor Constantius II promoted his cousin Julian to the title of Caesar, assigning him to rule the Prefecture of the Gauls (see The Politics Of Rome and A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars).
1429: Henry VI was crowned king of England, 7 years after succeeding to the throne at age 8 months.
1528: Shipwrecked Spanish conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca became the first known European to set foot in what is today known as Texas. Contrary to popular myth, the voyages of Christopher Columbus were limited to the Caribbean Sea area (see the map of the voyages of Columbus at Thanksgiving In History and Prophecy).
1572: A supernova (a newly-visible "star" caused by the explosion of an old star) was observed in the constellation Cassiopeia.
1632: King Gustavus II of Sweden was killed during the Battle of Lutzen in the Thirty Years War.
1813: Mexico was declared independent of Spain.
1867: The first Parliament of Canada opened.
1889: The Eiffel Tower opened in Paris.
1913: Mohandas Ghandi was arrested in South Africa for leading an Indian miners march.
1917: During the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), the 5-month third Battle of Ypres ended when Canadian and Australian troops took Passchendaele. The advance of 5 miles cost 240,000 men.
1917: The beginning of the "October Revolution" by the Bolsheviks (October 25 according to the then-used Russian calendar), led by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky.
1918: The Republic of Poland was proclaimed.
1923: During the time of out of control inflation in Germany, a single loaf of bread sold for over 100 billion Marks. Much of the inflation was caused by the government printing vast amounts of (eventually worthless) paper money to pay its vast government debt in which it couldn't afford to even pay the interest any longer.
1932: In German elections, the Nazis lost 34 seats and 2,000,000 votes but still remained the largest party in the Reichstag with 196 seats. Adolf Hitler was eventually elected President of Germany (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).
1944: Walter Edward Guinness, first Lord Moyne, British Minister for Middle East Affairs, owner of the Guinness beverage company, was murdered by radical members of the Zionist "Stern Gang," named after its leader Avrahan Stern. With few exceptions, the "Zionists" were horror-stricken by the assassination. The 2 youths who committed the crime were placed on trial in Cairo in January 1945, and swiftly found guilty and hanged (see A History Of Jerusalem: Zionism and A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate).
1962: The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning South Africa for its apartheid policies.
1991: A Canadian fire-fighting team extinguished the last of the 751 oil fires that had been started by Iraqi troops in Kuwait at the end of the Gulf War.
1996: Over 2,000 people were killed or lost at sea when a cyclone struck India's major crop-growing state of Andhra Pradesh.
1999: A referendum in Australia voted to retain the British monarch as head of state.