Isaacs’ Two Sons Jacob and Esau

In their old age, Abraham and Sarah were given a special son, who they named Isaac.

Isaac married Rebekah. Isaac prayed to the Lord that Rebekah would have children, and God answered his prayer.

When the time came for Rebekah to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau (hairy). After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob (grasps the heel). Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!”

Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright (the rights of the oldest son).”

“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.

When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he planned to give Esau, his oldest son, a special blessing before he died. But while Esau was out in the open country hunting game to make a meal for his father, Rebekah and Jacob tricked Isaac into giving his special blessing to Jacob instead of Esau.

Isaac blessed Jacob and said, “May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”

After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting and preparing a meal. Then Esau said to Isaac “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

“I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.”

Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”

When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”

But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides.”

Excerpts and edited verses from Genesis 25:19–28:9