Jacob succeeds Isaac as the next link in the genealogical chain that transmits the Messianic seed. While his predecessors, Abraham and Isaac, each fathered two genealogical branches, only one of which was retained in the line of the covenant, Jacob is the first patriarch who gives birth to the single line of the covenant, the 12 tribes of the people of Israel.
Jacob’s life is rife with fights and troubles. In this section, we will follow Jacob’s struggles from the time of his birth to the time of his exile in Mesopotamia. Jacob’s temperament and destiny already are signaled in his mother’s womb, where he fights with his brother for supremacy. Jacob comes out of his mother with his hand on his brother’s heel. Later, he will deceive his brother around a meal of lentils in order to gain the preeminence, and will steal the birthright blessing from his brother. As a consequence, Jacob must flee to his uncle in Padan Aram in order to escape his brother’s wrath. In exile, Jacob is himself deceived by his uncle, and as a result, he will be obliged to work for him for more years than he expected. On the other hand, God is with Jacob and orchestrates events in his favor. God reveals Himself in a dream that reassures the anguished Jacob. Jacob’s story ends with the birth of his 12 sons, who will be the ancestors of God’s people.
Thought question: Look at the characters of these people (Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Esau, Laban, Rachel, Leah) in some of these accounts of sacred history. Look at all the lies and deception involved. What does this teach us about human nature in general and God’s grace?
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