Isaac and Rebekah were married and lived happily together but as the years went by they still did not have a little boy or girl. Rebekah and Isaac waited and waited until finally, Isaac prayed to God, asking Him to make it possible for Rebekah to have a baby. A short time later, God answered Isaac’s prayer, but not in the way he expected. There was not one baby growing inside Rebekah but two, twins!
The babies got bigger and bigger and Rebekah could often feel their little feet pushing against her. One night, Rebekah woke up suddenly. The babies had been kicking and hitting each other so hard, she hurt inside. She prayed to God. “Lord, are my babies be all right? If I hurt when they push and shove, they must hurt, too. Why is this happening?”
God answered her. “The two boys you carry will someday become fathers of whole nations. One people will become stronger than the other and the elder son will do what the younger tells him.”
The time finally came for Rebekah to have her babies. The eldest, the first one to come out, was red. All of his little body was covered with hair. He was named Esau, which meant “hairy.” A few minutes later, his brother was born. His tiny hand was holding onto Esau’s foot so his parents named him Jacob, which meant “He Grabs the Heels.”
Many years passed and the boys grew up and were both good at doing different things. Jacob was quiet and often helping at home and talking to his parents while Esau could hunt and catch wild animals. One day, while Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came back from hunting. He was very hungry because he had not eaten anything all day.
“Quick, give me some of that stew!” He said to Jacob as he sat down on the other side of the fire from Jacob. He could hardly wait for Jacob to dish up the stew.
Jacob listened to his elder brother talk about how hungry he was, and he thought of a plan. There was one thing Esau had that he wanted, and that was Esau’s birthright. Esau was the eldest and had a right to receive all of his father’s riches and animals and servants after Isaac died. This right was called Esau’s birthright and Jacob wanted that.
Jacob made a deal with Esau. “If you’re really so hungry,” Jacob said, “if you’re really, really hungry, then sell me your birthright and I’ll give you some stew.”
Esau hardly heard what his little brother was mumbling about. He was so hungry, he thought his stomach had shriveled up and died. He did not care what he had to do, he wanted food. “Yes, all right, whatever you say. Give me some stew now!”
“Swear to it first.” Jacob said. And so, Esau swore an oath, selling his birthright to Jacob.
As the two brothers grew older, Jacob became Rebekah’s favorite son. She loved Esau too, but she wanted only the very best for Jacob. When Isaac had grown very old, he could no longer see. One day, Isaac told Esau. “My son, because you are the eldest, I want to give you my blessing. First, though, go hunting and cook some tasty meat for me. Then I will give you your blessing.”
Rebekah had overheard what Isaac said to Esau. After Esau left, she said to Jacob. “Your father is about to give Esau his blessing. I want that for you. Go and kill two of our best goats. I will fix them just the way Isaac likes his meat. Then you can bring it to him and you, instead of your brother will get his blessing.”
Jacob did as he was told. When the food was ready, Rebekah glued goat fur to Jacob’s neck and arms and hands so his skin would feel like Esau’s hairy skin and Jacob went into his father’s room.
“How did you find the food so fast, my son?” Isaac asked.
“The Lord helped me.”
“But you sound like Jacob. Come here.” Isaac said. He ran his hands over Jacob and felt the hair of the goat skin. “You feel like Esau,though.” He said.
Then Isaac tasted the food Jacob gave him. “Ah,” he said. “Here is your blessing.”
A blessing was a very special thing. Isaac knew God was listening so he asked Him to make his son rich and to have other people, including his brother, serve this son. He asked God to bless all the people who were good to his son, and curse those who were mean. When Isaac finished praying Jacob left the room. No sooner was Jacob gone, did Esau came back from his hunting trip. He rushed into his father’s room, but Isaac said “Why have you come back a second time?”
“But this is my first time.” Esau said.
Isaac sighed. “That must have been Jacob then, Esau, your brother has stolen your blessing.”