(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Two brothers, twins, Esau and Jacob – we have looked at Esau, the Godless older twin who despised his birthright, and fathered a line of descendants who included his grandson Amalek. The Amalekites were wicked and perpetual enemies of Israel! Now let’s consider Jacob, looking at Genesis 24:21 and 23:
And Rebekah…Isaac[‘s]…wife conceived. But the children struggled
together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I this way?”
So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her, “Two
nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your
body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall
serve the younger.”
Jacob had his name and life changed in Genesis 32:24 through 30. Here are some highlights from these verses:
…a Man wrestled with…Jacob…until the breaking of day….Jacob…said, “I
will not let You go unless You bless me.” So He asked him, “What is your
name?” And he said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer
be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men,
and have prevailed.”
This was on Jacob’s way back from Haran, where his uncle Laban, his mother Rebekah’s brother lived (see Genesis 28:2, 10). Jacob had spent 20 years serving Laban (see Genesis 31:38); had married his two daughters, Leah and Rachel, and their servants, Zilpah and Bilhah; and had fathered twelve children by his wives. So how old was Jacob when the LORD laid hold of him? Would you believe about 97 years old?!! To come to this conclusion, we must work backwards from…
• Genesis 47:7 through 9 – “Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob…before Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How old are you?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years….”
• Genesis 41:46 – “Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt..,” and interpreted the king’s dreams concerning the coming years of plenty and famine (see Genesis 41:14-36). Since the “…seven years of great plenty…” (Genesis 41:29) had already come to pass, and “…the seven years of famine…” (Genesis 41:54) was in its second year (see Genesis 45:11), Joseph was then 39 years old when Jacob was brought in before Pharaoh. This means that when Joseph was born, Jacob was 91 years old!
• According to Genesis 30:25, “…when Rachel had borne Joseph…Jacob…” contracted with Laban, his uncle, to serve him in Haran for another six years (see Genesis 31:41). This means that Joseph was about six years old when Jacob went back to Canaan! So Jacob was then about 97!
• Genesis 31:41 tells us that the total time Jacob was in Haran serving his uncle Laban was twenty years! It was on the way back to Canaan when the LORD wrestled with Jacob, so Jacob was 97 when God changed his name and nature!
• This also means that Jacob was 76 years old (giving him a year to cover travel time) when he fled from his brother Esau’s wrath! (See Genesis 27:41-45).
Don’t ever think you are too old to begin another adventure in life – especially if God is leading you!
We began this study of Esau and Jacob by saying in the last blog, “These Two are good examples of what the lives of a Godly person and an ungodly person look like.” Since Esau has been shown as the ungodly one, then (obviously) Jacob is the Godly example! But the first 97 years of Jacob’s life did not show a lot of God’s divine nature!
• Genesis 25:26 – “Afterward his brother came out [of the birth canal], and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.” According to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, Jacob means, “…heel catcher (that is, supplanter)….” It comes from another Hebrew word that means, “…to seize by the heel; figuratively to circumvent (as if tripping up the heels); also to restrain (as if holding by the heel)….” So the name Jacob did not portend of a Godly person!
• Genesis 25:29-34 – “…Esau…sold his birthright to Jacob…[for] bread and stew of lentils…” Yes, it says that “…Esau despised his birthright…” in verse 34. But Jacob connived the whole affair! He understood that he was illegally acquiring the rights of the firstborn’s blessing from his elder brother!
• Genesis 27:35 – Isaac told Esau, “Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.” (See Genesis 27:1-41). This is the famous story of Rebekah’s conspiracy to get her husband to bless Jacob with the paternal birthright blessing reserved for the firstborn! It worked! But it was a deceitful deed!
• Jacob had four wives: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah (see Genesis 29:23, 24, 28, 29). But his definite favorite was Rachel ! If we move on to Genesis 37:3 we discover, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age.” It says in in Galatians 3:28, there is to be for believers equality in our thinking concerning people (see also James 2:1-9). Jacob certainly did not show this grace!
• According to Genesis 30:31 through 43, Jacob used tricky procedures to gain the upper hand as he shepherded his uncle Laban’s flocks!
• Genesis 31:1 through 21 tells the story that Jacob, his family, flocks, and herds fled Laban without proper notification!
…Laban said to Jacob, ‘What have you done, that you have stolen away
unknown to me, and carried away my daughters like captives taken by
the sword?…Now you have done foolishly in so doing. It is in my power
to do you harm….” (Genesis 31:26, 28, 29).
This is not the Godly way of doing things!
We’ll complete the study of Jacob on Monday. But the main lesson we should learn from this patriarch’s long life – long before his conversion and long after – is this: we all naturally have a wicked Jacob-type heart (see Jeremiah 17:9) that needs the touch of God! (See Ezekiel 36:26). We all need to be converted and learn to live the Godly life our Savior desires of us! (See I Timothy 2:4; II Peter 3:18).