Jacob and his twin brother, Esau, are the sons of Rebekah and Isaac. As Abraham’s grandchildren, they are inheritors of the covenant that God makes with Abraham in
Did you know…?
- Jacob was the father of thirteen children, to whom the twelve tribes of Israel traced their ancestry.
- Jacob’s name comes from the Hebrew, ya’aqob, meaning “he will follow/supplant.”
- Jacob was later called Israel (yisra’el), a reference to a narrative in which he struggled (sarita) with god (’elohim).
Why did Jacob steal his brother Esau’s birthright and blessing?
Because Esau is born first, he is destined to inherit a double portion of his father’s estate (his birthright) and to receive his father’s blessing. Jacob and his mother, however, have other plans. In
Rebekah is instrumental in securing Isaac’s blessing for the younger twin. In
In Jacob’s acquisition of both birthright and blessing, he exploits his brother’s hunger and takes advantage of his father’s old age to trick him. The narrator does not criticize Jacob for his deception though, but instead upholds him as an example of cleverness. The valorization of Jacob’s sly tactics is tied to this story’s political message. The twin brothers represent the kingdoms of Edom and Israel, which strove against one another for supremacy throughout Israel’s history. King David conquered Edom during his reign (
Why is Jacob also called Israel?
Jacob received his name because he emerged from the womb clinging to his brother’s heel. His name in Hebrew, ya‘aqob, means “he will follow/supplant” and is related to the biblical word for heel: ‘aqeb. Over the course of his adventures, he acquires a new name as well. In