Jacob and Esau

Jacob and Esau: Sibling Rivalry in the Bible

The Bible tells us that Jacob and Esau were the fraternal twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah and grandsons of Abraham and Sarah. The relationship of Jacob and Esau was so rocky that they even fought each other in the womb. When they were born, Jacob developed more of a homebody personality, while Esau became a great hunter. Isaac favored Jacob, while Rebekah favored Esau.

angel at the tomb

Several other incidents showed the conflict involved in Jacob and Esau's relationship. The Bible says that after several days of hunting, Esau asked Jacob to give him some stew. Jacob agreed on the condition that Esau give him the birthright, or privilege of inheritance. Esau agreed. This story shows Esau's rashness and Jacob's sneakiness.

Another example is found later when Isaac is an old man and ready to give the blessing to Esau. As the firstborn, Esau would have received all the rights to inheritance. While Esau was hunting a meal for Isaac, Rebekah dressed Jacob in Esau's clothes and prepared food as Esau would. They were able to fool the senile Isaac and Jacob received the blessing instead. Esau later returned and Isaac, even after finding the truth, cursed Esau. This marks the low point of the relationship of Jacob and Esau.

As a result, Esau threatened to kill Jacob and Jacob fled for his own safety. Although he was on the run for the sin of lying, God still used this time to allow Jacob to grow in faith and mature as a person.

Later, Jacob and Esau reconciled, although Jacob still feared Esau's bad intentions to the very last moment. In the end, however, Esau showed love and generosity to Jacob, his shocked brother. Jacob and Esau were the founders of the nations of Israel and Edom, respectively. The conflicts of Jacob and Esau foreshadow the conflicts between those peoples in later times.