Jacob and Esau
Jacob and Esau, two brothers’ sons of Isaac and the grandsons of Abraham one of whom is destined to carry on the patriarchal tradition. They ultimately give birth to the Jewish people as a covenanted people, invested with the task of doing God's will. Jacob and Esau share both good and bad traits upon which to try to build leadership for the future. God has a divine plan in choosing between two combinations of traits and to select what would be better for leadership of his people. God Knew from the beginning who shall carry on the Abrahamic line but still allowed the brothers to go through trials. This will serve Gods purposes in the development of a societal model for the world. The Bible leaves us with the problem of trying to understand the choice between two flawed individuals and what that means for us. Esau and Jacob are introduced as struggling (vayitrotzetzu) with each other from the womb (Genesis 25:22). Jacob is to become Israel (literally: one who struggles with God) whose energy is to be directed by the covenant with God, while Esau will struggle with men and animals (nature) to become, in the eyes of the Midrash, the exemplar of a non-Jewish imperial ruler. Jacob takes advantage of Esau's weakness, namely an unthinking impulsiveness, to press his advantage in a most unbrotherly way; first acquiring Esau's b'khora (birthright) for a bowl of lentils and then his father's blessing Genesis 25:31, 32, and 33. The birthright has to do with inheritance of goods and position both. The tale is typically biblical. The "bottom line" is that by his actions, Esau demonstrates that he does not deserve to be the one who continues Abraham's responsibilities and rewards under God's covenant, since he does not have the steady, thoughtful qualities which are required. Rather than getting his own food -- after all, he was not really starving to death and Jacob was not the only kitchen in the encampment -- he responds impulsively to a good smell and, in...
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