Esau gives away his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. A steep impulsive decision considering the firstborn gets double or more of the inheritance when their father passes! A youthful and rash decision for immediate gratification. Jacob manipulated his brother’s immaturity to have the firstborn birthright. At first glance, we could interpret this as merely brotherly gesturing and joviality. However, the Old Testament does not tend to present joviality or gestures. Every passage has intended purpose, and this passage captures brotherly jealousy and hatred and foreshadows further division.
A Baylor University Graduate thesis summed it up this way: “The primary thesis is that YHWH both uses and engages in deception for the perpetuation of the ancestral promise (Gen 12:1-3), giving rise to what I have dubbed a theology of deception. Through a literary hermeneutic, emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between both how the text means and what the text means, with theological aims, this study examines the various manifestations of YHWH as Trickster in the Jacob cycle. Attention is given to how the multiple deceptions evoke, advance, and at times fulfill the ancestral promise.”[i]
This is truly horrific. Isaac calls to his son Esau and says, “Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death.” He then asks Esau to go and prepare him an exquisite “savory meal” so that he may eat it and then bless Esau in the presence of God before his death.” Esau takes off at once to prepare the meal. Jacob and his mother, however, prepare and execute an elaborate scheme and deceive Isaac. Jacob brings him a meal first, dressed up as Isaac, and received the blessing reserved for Esau.
Prepostouris? $36.5 billion is stolen from the elderly every year by financial abuse. Jacob clearly deceived his father and would be defined as financial elder abuse today! “It is estimated that $30 trillion will be inherited in the next 30 years . The result is a significant percentage of children and grandchildren fighting for what they believe is their fair share of inheritance while either one or both aging parents are still alive.” If your getting on in years, please save your loved the trouble and lock down your intentions now by a legal will and make peace with everyone so that their are no surprises. That is a legacy worth sharing.
My vision of Jacob has always been somewhat colored by Jacob’s Ladder story, which comes a little later on in Genesis. He rests his head on a rock and settles in for a night’s sleep while on his journey away from Esau’s wrath and has a beautiful epiphany known historically as Jacob’s ladder. God speaks to Jacob in this dream: ‘And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest'” Jacob exclaims, “How full of awe is this place!” This is the Jacob my Christian roots celebrate and remember! Jacob, by this point, has now entirely supplanted Esau and becomes a patriarch in Jewish biblical history.
In Matthew chapter 11 today, Jesus entirely supplants John the Baptist, who is sitting in jail at the moment. Poor John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ. He bought people knowledge of the Messiah’s coming, as Jesus proclaimed John the Baptist is a prophet, as it was written:
“Behold, I send My messenger before your face, Who will prepare your way for you.”
John the Baptist life demonstrates extreme faith, humility and obedience. Biblically, both John and Jesus miraculous birth were predestined and revealed by an Angel. John was born first, and Jesus later.
Jesus preached that the time for preaching and prophets are done. He is bringing us final knowledge.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Paul MccCarren, SJ captures this message as Jesus telling us now is the time to “take on the burden he carries, the hardship of turning to God’s desires rather than our own.”
Before my hand hit the keyboard this a.m. my paint brush etched out the above drawing. The Old Testament representing Knowledge and the New Testament capturing practice. Esau replaced by Jacob. John the Baptist replaced by Jesus. Esau and Jacob account replaced by John the Baptist and Jesus Account?
I am left feeling Jesus and YHWH perhaps do have a sense of Jovialty. I do not believe following the way prepared by John the Baptist, foreshadowed by the Old Testament, and bought to fruition by Jesus Christ presents us with a “light burden.”
Hidden within both text are linkages and foreshadowings that unravel one moment and disappear next. Everyday is a new canvas.
We are left in the present moment practicing the embodiment of our knowledge in our everyday actions.
The moral lessons in these two accounts are too many to draw out here except one: My first born son owes me a savory dinner!
Jesus Christ is my bodhisattva. Walking in his steps is filled with challenges, failures, and ever unfolding mystery. Everyday starts afresh with a blank slate for which I can live in the present moment relying on the knowledge of the past and the practice today of being aware of what is God’s will.
While it is true we will have our share of adversity and suffering here on earth, truly walking God’s path provides the ability to project calm, joy, and peace to others no matter what the circumstance. We do not have to wear suffering on our sleeves, we can carry that weight in prayer and with others when called to do so.
Have a beautiful and blessed day where ever you find yourself physically and spiritually today.