Summary: This is part one of a Bible study series about Jacob, his early beginnings and vision in the night as he fled Esau.
A Bible Study by
Charles W. Holt
Let’s Make a Deal: The story of Jacob.
Part One of Two
Jacob is a problem.
Perhaps, I rather should say, Jacob is my problem.
Don’t ask me to explain any of that. Notwithstanding my patently negative beginning,this entire study will be built around my feeble effort to deal with how Jacob is a problem to me and--as I have learned--to others. I will talk about how he is a problem but don¡¦t lift your expectations too high in anticipation of solutions to the deeper issues. I will attempt to convey simple principles. I will leave the complexities of doctrinal issues found in Jacob¡¦s story with scholars and philosophers who thrive on getting the proverbial "blood out of the turnip," if you know what I mean.
Up until the time I actually sat in front of my computer screen to type these words I spent three to four weeks reading and researching all I could find about the man in an exhaustive effort to write the first sentence. So, after weeks of personal thought and finding out what others think, I come to my first sentence: Jacob is a problem. Brilliant. Well, not really but it is a beginning. I think of Charlie Brown’s Snoopy. I see him perched atop his house. His posture lets me know that he is in deep concentration. He leans forward, fingers poised, intently staring at the blank sheet of paper in his typewriter. His goal, as always, is to write the great American novel. At last, his first sentence appears. "It was a dark and stormy night," he writes. I have been told that it is not unusual for some of the truly great American novelists to spend an entire day staring at a blank page in their typewriter before they typed in the first sentence. I remember the classic proverb, "every journey begins with the first step." I am not at all encouraged by any of it. But I persist. I stare at the white screen of my computer. It’s my empty sheet. I think of borrowing Snoopy’s line. I write, "It was a dark and stormy night as Jacob sat pondering his mother’s incredible plan to snatch the family’s wealth from his twin brother. It would be both daring and bold. Would it succeed?" That results in another wadded piece of paper torn from the typewriter. Mine, like Snoopy’s, would result in another rejection slip. Let’s move on.
I admit what you have probably already discovered, that all this is simply a flight of fantasy. You know how it works. We get into a tight spot and don¡¦t know what to say so we will use wit, sarcasm, or even humor to deflect stinging realities we don’t want to admit to. Now you know what I’ve been doing¡ stalling. We need to get down to business on a very serious subject. "And this we will do if God permits" (Heb. 6:3). (Now that has a certain spiritual ring to it doesn’t it?) Holt proverb: When you don’t know what to say, hide behind a Scripture.
This study will emphasize major highlights of Jacob’s life from chapter 27 through 33 of Genesis. His story actually ends down in Egypt, but we won’t go that far except to say, "And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into his bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people" (Gen. 49:33 NKJV). He was about 180 years old. Just to bring a little perspective to the story, Abraham lived until Isaac was 75-years old, and lived to celebrate his grandson Jacob¡¦s fifteenth birthday.
In order to set the proper scene for what will unfold in the seven chapters composing this study we need to go back for a snippet of information found in chapter 25 regarding the birth of the twins Esau and Jacob. They were born in response to the desperate prayer of Isaac on behalf of his wife Rebekah. Her pregnancy was a difficult one. It proved so troublesome that she went to the Lord about it. He assured her that the struggle she was feeling inside her womb was because, "two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger" (vs. 23 NKJV). Jacob was 60-years old when the twins were born. Here is a bit of very revealing biography:
"So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob" (Gen. 25:27,
Much has been written and even more has been said based upon those two verses. As plain as the nose on your face you can see that it is a family divided. Daddy loves the oldest boy, Esau. Momma loves the youngest, Jacob. Favoritism, and the many problems its generates, plays a key role that ultimately affects the course of Hebrew history.