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THE STORY OF ESAU


Genesis 25:19     This is the story of Isaac's children. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddam-aram. Rebekah was the sister of Laban. 21 Isaac pleaded with Jehovah to give Rebekah a child, for even after many years of marriage, she had no children. Then at last she became pregnant. 22 And it seemed as though children were fighting each other inside her!

"I can't endure this," she exclaimed. So she asked the Lord about it. 23 And he told her, "The sons in your womb shall become two rival nations. One will be stronger than the other; and the older shall be a servant of the younger!" 24 And sure enough, Rebekah had twins. 25 The first was born so covered with reddish hair that one would think he was wearing a fur coat! (some references say "cloak" or "mantle" or "hairy garment") and they called his name "Esau," like "hair" in Hebrew. 26 Then the other twin was born with his hand grabbing Esau's heel and his name was called "Jacob," meaning "grabber" or "cheater." Isaac was threescore years old when the twins were born. 27 And the boys grew; and Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the outdoors; and Jacob was a farmer, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Jacob sowed pottage of red lentils; One day Esau came from the hunt without game, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, "Am I starved! Give me a bite of that red pottage there!" (From this came his nickname "Edom," which means "red stuff." 31 And Jacob replied, "All right, trade me your birthright for it!" 32 Esau said, "When a man is dying of starvation, what good is his birthright?" 33 Jacob replied: "Well then, vow to God that it is mine!" And Esau vowed, thereby selling all his eldest-son rights to his younger brother. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; so Esau ate and drank, for earthly things were not important to him.

Genesis 26:34       And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. But Isaac and Rebekah were upset about his marrying them, for they were outsiders.

Genesis 27:1       And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son to him and said, 2,3,4 "I am an old man now, and expect every day to be my last. Take your bow and arrows out into the fields and get me some venison, and prepare it just the way I like it--savory and good--and bring it to me to eat, and I will give you the blessings that belong to you, my first-born son, before I die."

5 But Rebekah overheard the conversation. So when Esau left for the hunt, 6 7 she called Jacob and told him what his father had said to his brother. 8,9,10 Rebekah said, "Now do exactly as I tell you. Go out to the flocks and bring me two young goats, and I'll prepare your father's favorite dish from them. Then take it to your father, and after he has enjoyed it he will bless you before his death, instead of Esau!" 11,12 Jacob replied, "But mother! He won't be fooled that easily. Think how hairy Esau is, and how smooth my skin is! What if my father feels me? He'll think I'm making a fool of him, and curse me instead of blessing me! 13 Rebekah replied, "Let his curses be on me, dear son. Just do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats." 14 So Jacob followed his mother's instructions, bringing the dressed kids, which she prepared in his father's favorite way. 15 Then she took Esau's best clothes--they were in the house--and instructed Jacob to put them on. 16 And she made him a pair of gloves from the hairy skin of the young goats, and fastened a strip of hide around his neck; 17 then she gave him the meat, with its rich aroma, and some fresh-baked bread.

18 Jacob carried the platter of food into the room where his father was lying. "Father?" said Jacob. "Yes? Who is it, my son--Esau or Jacob?" 19 Jacob said, "It's Esau, your oldest son. I've done as you told me to. Here is the delicious venison you wanted. Sit up and eat it, so that you will bless me with all your heart!" 20 "How were you able to find it so quickly, my son?" Jacob replied, "Because Jehovah your God put it in my path!" 21 Isaac said, "Come over here. I want to feel you, and be sure it really is Esau!" 22 Jacob goes over to his father, who touches him. Isaac says to himself, "The voice is Jacob's but the hands are Esau's!" 23 The ruse finally convinces Isaac and he gives Jacob his blessings. 24 "Are you really Esau?" "Yes, of course." 25 "Then bring me the venison, and I will eat it and bless you with all my heart." Jacob brings the food and Isaac eats; he also drinks the wine Jacob bring him. 26 Then Isaac says, "come here and kiss me, my son!" Jacob goes over and kisses him on the cheek. Isaac sniffs his clothes, and finally seems convinced. 27,28,29 "The smell of my son is the good smell of the earth and fields that Jehovah has blessed. May God always give you plenty of rain for your crops, and good harvests and grapes. May many nations be your slaves. Be the master of your brothers. May all your relatives bow low before you. Cursed are all who curse you, and blessed are all who bless you." 30 As soon as Isaac has blessed Jacob, and almost before Jacob leaves the room, Esau arrives, coming in from his hunting. 31 He also has prepared his father's favorite dish and brings it to him. Esau, "Here I am, Father, with the venison. Sit up and eat it so that you can give me your finest blessings!" 32 Isaac says, "Who is it?" Esau replies, "Why, it's me, of course! Esau, your oldest son!" 33 Isaac begins to tremble noticeably. Then who is it who was just here with venison, and I have already eaten it, and blessed him with irrevocable blessing?" 34 Esau beings to sob with deep and bitter sobs, "O my father, bless me, bless me too!" 35 Isaac answers, "Your brother was here and tricked me and has carried away your blessing." 36 Esau bitterly cried, "No wonder they call him 'The Cheater." For he took my birthright, and now he has stolen my blessing."

Our comments:

This is a classic story of the chaos and havoc parents cause when they openly show favoritism to one child over another. Understandably, Esau hated Jacob because of Jacob's lies and greed and because he was their mom’s favorite child. Jacob hated Esau because Esau was first born and would inherit more goodies and because their dad favored Esau. Jacob should never have asked for the birthright, but he was greedy. Esau should never have sold it to him, but he was careless. But even when Esau agreed to sell it to him, Jacob should never have accepted. Some things are simply immoral and sinful to accept, like buying a million dollar painting at a garage sale for $10 because the owner is not aware of the true value. Jacob took advantage of Esau’s goodness. In return, Esau plotted to kill Jacob, which was wrong, of course. Their lying, scheming mother Rebekah got wind of it and contrived to have Jacob sent away for safety to her brother Laban. Because of his evildoings, Jacob was exiled and he was never permitted to see his mother again, nor she, him. In exile, Jacob reaped as he had sown. He had cheated his brother and his Uncle Laban returned the bitter pill. Jacob labored 7 years to marry Rachel, but Laban deceitfully substituted her older sister Leah in her place at the last minute. Then Jacob had to labor 7 more years to marry Rachel. Because Jacob favored Rachel over her sister Leah, Rachel and Leah were always bickering among themselves. Having more than one wife or husband is a prescription for disaster anyway. Jacob agreed to take the spotted and black sheep and goats for himself while his Uncle Laban kept the white ones. But Jacob mated his uncle's strong white goats and sheep only with his own black ones, so as to strengthen and increase his own herds of spotted lifestock. And he left the feeble animals for Laban. Laban's sons realized that Jacob was cheating and convinced their father to send Jacob away. When will Jacob realize that honesty is the best policy?

After 20 years in exile, Jacob departed for home. He found that Esau was on the way to meet him--with an army of 400 men! Esau probably felt that Jacob was up to no good yet again and might need the protection. Jacob, feeling guilty about how shabbily he had treated Esau, was frantic with fear and sent bribes of goats and sheep and cows and donkeys to Esau. He was such a coward that he even sent his wives and children to the front while he hung back in the rear in safety! What decent man will hide behind a woman’s skirts? None! But a “cheater” will! Esau ran to greet Jacob and hugged him and both were in tears. Esau asks, "What were all those flocks and herds that I met as I came?" Jacob replied, "They are my gifts to you, to patch up our relationship." Esau, ever generous, laughed, "Brother, I have plenty, keep what you have.

So Esau went back home and Jacob made camp. Jacob was neglectful of his kids by Leah, being that they were not his favorites. So Dinah, his daughter by Leah, went out exploring around the camp and trying to meet the women of the land, something that was dangerous to do and which she probably wouldn’t have done if Jacob had been a better father. Maybe she wanted to escape her dysfunctional family situation, with her mom and her Aunt Rachel bickering constantly. When Shechem, the son of the ruler of the area saw her, Dinah probably flirted with the handsome, young prince. She might have thought he might be a way for her to escape the chaos at home. Shechem “spoke tenderly to her,” seduced her or perhaps she seduced him, and they made love, unfortunately for both of them. Shechem took Dinah to his house and wanted to marry her. He asked his father to go to Jacob to ask for her hand and said he was willing to pay whatever the bride price was, no matter the cost. Little did the overly trusting young man know how high it was to be! Shechem’s father thought it was a good idea, “The land has plenty of room for them and us.” He knew the Jacobites had lots of livestock, the same livestock that Jacob had stolen from Laben, so there was no danger the Jacobites would become moochers. “All their animals will become ours, too. Let them settle among us.” But the Jacobites lied and said they would give consent only if Shechem would be circumcised. Circumcision as an adult can result in post-op complications and fatal infections, so this was a major good-will concession on the part of the Shechemites, especially because adult men do not ever want anyone tampering with their private parts. Shechem must have loved Dinah immeasurably! Not only Shechem, but amazingly, his father, and all the men of the city were then circumcised. Three days later, while the Shechemites were “still in pain,” two of Jacob’s sons attacked the unsuspecting, overly trusting city and put Shechem and everyone else to the sword. The Jacobites murdered the Shechemites while the Shechemites had “their pants down,” literally. This is absolutely heinous behavior, but typical for a “cheater.” The Jacobites then looted the city, stole everything they could lay their hands on, and hauled Dinah back home. They even carried off the women and children of the Shechemites so they could rape and enslave them at leisure! Deceit, murder, rape, and theft, all typical of cheaters. Poor Dinah and her dead, star-crossed lover….Her life must have become even more intolerable back at home. But what a magnificent love story…..a handsome, young man who loved a woman so much he sacrificed all for her…. It seems both groups coveted all of Laban’s stolen livestock, but the Shechemites were honest about it, while the Jacobites acted with evil and malice. And actions always speak louder than words.

So what is Jacob’s reaction to this evil? He tells his sons, “You have brought trouble to me by making me a stench to the people of this land.” What a selfish response! True to form, Jacob is only concerned about himself. He should have told his sons, “You have become murderers of innocent people and thieves and rapists. I disown you. You are disgusting to me. Begone with you!” Or perhaps in an even more just world, “You two are guilty of mass murder, of genocide of these people who were honest and friendly to us. Even though you are my sons, you must be executed for the murders of these innocent people. I will free their wives and children and return all the plunder you stole to these women. I will not keep even a single kid goat that does not belong to me. They will need their goods to feed themselves and their children and to find husbands to care for them.” But cheaters always want more, more, more. They suffer from the “Dis-ease of Never Enough.” Jacob’s sons then replied, “Should Shechem have treated our sister like a prostitute?’ But they lied again. Shechem didn’t do that. He didn’t f—k Dinah and dump her, as a man might do with a prostitute. After making love with her, he brought her home to his family and was willing to sacrifice everything to marry her. In fact, the exact opposite actually occurred. It was the Jacobites who treated the women of Shechem as prostitutes and slaves! Meanwhile, eventually, Jacob arrived home and Isaac died soon after. Both his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Let’s look again at Esau’s life. Esau married 3 local girls, a practice that is now fortunately illegal. (It's hard enough for one man to get along with one woman without bickering, let alone adding several more! And then that inevitably means some of the too-many-to-care-for children, like Dinah, are neglected and damaged for life.) After Jacob returned, Esau, continuing his goodness of heart, moved away from Canaan for there wasn't enough grazing land for both brothers’ herds together. Now that shows an amazing amount of forgiveness and generosity! Esau had many children and grandchildren and his descendants were called "Edomites," after his childhood nickname. Jacob also had 12 sons, the future 12 tribes of Israel. He continued to pay for his lies, as his own neglected, unfairly-treated sons by Leah deceived him about Joseph, his first son by Rachel and his favorite, tricking Jacob into thinking that Joseph was dead when his half-brothers had actually sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt. Jacob continued his parents’ dysfunction, called the “intergenerational transfer of abuse,” by showing favoritism to some over others, thus creating ill will and chaos.

Whether Esau actually had a giant nevus will never be known, but it certainly seems plausible. As mentioned, Isaac and Rebekah made a common error of parenting,each one showing favoritism toward one child over another. That only leads to lifelong bickering and enmity between the children--unless one has the good fortune to have a good-hearted son like Esau! Esau became a hunter, roaming alone away from people while his brother stayed in camp. Could Esau have tired of endless silly questions and stares from people about his skin, like we with a giant nevus often do? Perhaps hunting, spending time in our Creator’s world, the only true “church,” was his escape from his petty, appearance-judging fellows? Esau realized very young that material things count for nothing and that life is very fragile, a common finding among those of us with giant nevi. Could Esau have given up the birthright, including the double inheritance and position as family head that went along with it, so easily because of that? It’s very possible. Jacob's greed, like that of many "normals," knows no bounds. Jacob is smooth and handsome, well thought of in town, yet it isn't enough for him. When his brother comes home, Jacob has the nerve to actually sell food to his own starving twin brother Esau at an exorbitant price--the birthright.... Even that isn't enough for him… Jacob lies and cheats his way into getting his father Isaac's blessing, mimicking the hairy nevus with goat pelts. Jacob certainly lives down to his name "the cheater." Their mother Rebekah aids and abets the lies and cheating. With a mother like her, Esau would have been better off an orphan! Because of Rebekah's lies, her two twin sons are lost to each other for 20 years.

Of course, Jacob was supposedly chosen by God for greater earthly "glory" before he was even born, with descendants as numberless as sand. But even desiring many children, replicas of oneself, is a form of greed and selfishness. Jacob certainly did nothing to merit any of this. Likewise, Esau was chosen by God for greater earthly happiness and serenity before his birth. Being less evil and much more generous than Jacob, one wonders if Esau also received greater heavenly "glory" after earthly death? In the heavens, it is thought that the lowly are raised and the high are brought low.... Esau goes on to marry and have a family, in spite of his skin like a "hairy garment." We nevus people can, too. Esau marries 2 outsiders, which displeases his parents, who are more narrow-minded, as "normals" often will be. Esau probably realizes that what really counts in life is a woman's character, not who her father is or where her family comes from. Esau tries to partly remedy things and marries the daughter of his Uncle Ishmael, the son that his grandfather Abraham had with his hand-maiden Hagar and whom Abraham later heinously abandoned… It is possible that many of the Jewish women were not willing to accept Esau’s skin and outsiders may have been more accepting of it. Jacob, of course, continues his cheating ways through life. 20 years later, Esau, being the better man of the two, forgives Jacob and greets him warmly and refuses all the gifts. Again, actions always speak louder than words….Perhaps thanks to his skin, he has been able to conquer his greed and doesn't want any of Jacob's wealth. He already has sufficient for himself and doesn't seek more. Enough is really a feast!

One of the benefits of a giant nevus is that it releases us from the desperate avarice that often obsesses "normals" like Jacob, who have that terrible spiritual dis-ease of “never enough.” What we really want, normal skin, can't be bought with material possessions. Esau certainly seems to have a happier, more serene life than Jacob does, who definitely has a stressful family life with two wives and their kids bickering constantly. Jacob pays dearly for his lying and scheming by getting into one chaotic situation after another. As mentioned, Esau even decides to relocate after Jacob returns, setting up a healthy boundary for himself, to give Jacob more room and to keep the peace, knowing Jacob is a chronic cheater. But once again, having a giant nevus has possibly enabled Esau to overcome his dis-ease of “never enough,” something Jacob is never able to do. Those of us with a giant nevus are given the wonderful opportunity to live our lives on a higher spiritual plane than normals.

Throughout history, there have been many more boys (including nevus boys!) named Jacob and almost none named Esau. One wonders if parents actually realize the meaning of the name “Jacob?” After all, who would really want to name a child "cheater?" Perhaps the name "Jacob" is more common because it is so easy to get taken in by the earthly "glory" that God supposedly bestowed upon Jacob. It is much more difficult to realize the wonderful bounty through serenity and humility that God clearly bestowed upon Esau. Esau is definitely the stronger of the two: it takes a lot of strength of character to overcome greed and revenge while doing one’s best to live—fortunately at a distance-- in peace with a dishonest person addicted to cheating! “Live and let live” was clearly Esau’s motto. And the older did “serve” the younger, by setting an example of promoting honesty and harmony in one’s life as much as possible! Our take on the story: this earthly world would be a much better place if there were more "Esaus," "hairs," and a whole lot less "Jacobs," "cheaters," in it, regardless of what name they carry!

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