Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 35:23-26

23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:

24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:

25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:

26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padan-aram.

Now that we have heard about the birth of Benjamin, the Biblical record takes a moment to list out all twelve sons of Jacob, the future tribes of Israel. Well, technically, Joseph’s branch will further divide into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. I mentioned yesterday that the first three sons of Jacob had all compromised themselves in one way or another, and after them was Judah. Judah, of course, would go on to be one of the most significant tribes in Israel, and beginning with David, its kings would rule over all the other tribes. Even later, Jesus would himself be born of that favored line.

It also stands out to me that Joseph, though one of the youngest of the sons, was a firstborn in his own branch of the family, the one brought through Rachel. We will soon hear about his vision of all the other brothers bowing to him, to which they will take offense, but will ultimately fulfill.

Thus, the eldest of Rachel and the eldest-worthy of Leah will become two leaders among their brethren, sons who set the mark for the others to follow.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 25:29-34

29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:

30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.

32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

Here we have the famous scene of Esau selling his birthright for a mess of pottage. Of course, God had already foretold that his covenant blessings would be continued through Jacob, not Esau, and I wonder whether Jacob was aware of that prophecy, or if he was fulfilling it unknowingly.

There are those who decry Jacob for taking advantage of his brother, though personally his methods have in these verses have never disturbed me. Esau might have said “I am at the point to die,” but he was still walking and talking, hardly the behavior of someone who is literally at death’s door. And if Esau was willing to trade the blessings of God to satiate his hunger, then he didn’t deserve to have it in the first place. He was literally valuing the things of the body more than the things of God. Even after Esau had taken care of his physical needs it then describes him as simply rising up and walking away, not showing the slightest sign of remorse at the priceless birthright that he had just given up.

And no doubt Esau’s temporal-focused mindset was evident in the way he lived his life, even before this moment. Jacob would have known that his brother would never honor and cherish God’s birthright in the same way that he would. Perhaps part of the reason why Esau was willing to sell the birthright was because he knew it, too.

There is a good deal of supposition from me in all of that, but I do think there is enough room for doubt that we shouldn’t try to judge Jacob on the matter. Maybe he was in the wrong, but also maybe he was not. And in any case, this whole exchange was only a bit of human theatrics, it did not actually change either man’s destiny. God had already determined where the blessings would go years prior, and Esau and Jacob were merely playing into his foreordained plan.