Jacob the Supplanter

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Genesis 25-29
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 9

Jacob the Supplanter

(Genesis 25-29)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Have you heard the phrase, “What goes around, comes around?” I have observed in life that wrongs people inflict on others end up being the same kind of wrongs those people suffer at the hands of others. This week we see this played out in our study of Jacob and Esau. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Isaac’s Descendants
    1. Read Genesis 25:19-21. Put yourself in Isaac’s place. The Bible reports that Rebekah, his wife, is barren. When you think about your life, do you consider the lives of your parents? Do you think about how they handled similar situations?
      1. If I’m right about Isaac’s thoughts, how do you think he responded to his prayer being answered right away? (He should be grateful.)
      2. Is there any record up to this time of Isaac being unfaithful to God or having a failure of faith? (Not in what we have read so far. Last week we learned that Isaac allowed himself to be bound in preparation to be killed based on the command of God. His father, Abraham, was a giant of faith by then, but so, it seems, is Isaac.)
    2. Read Genesis 25:22-24. What do we learn about the character of Rebekah? (All of the references to her so far are very positive. She goes to God with her question and He answers!)
      1. Focus on verse 23. What does this teach us about free will? (It teaches us what we intrinsically know, that some are born with certain advantages. However, that does not limit our free will.)
    3. Read Genesis 25:25-26. Let’s revisit something we discussed earlier. Genesis 25:21 sounds like Rebekah became pregnant immediately after Isaac prayed. What do we learn here? (Genesis 25:20 tells us Isaac was 40 years-old when they married, and Genesis 25:26 tells us he was 60 years-old when the twins were born.)
      1. Isaac waited a third of his life for his children. What does that teach us?
    4. Let’s take a little detour to consider whether Isaac is a giant of faith. Read Genesis 26:6-7. Is Isaac trusting in God? (No, like his father Abram, he is trusting in a lie. Perhaps that twenty-year delay was intended to help him with his faith.)
    5. Read Genesis 25:27–28. What problem do you see here? Do we now find character flaws in Isaac and Rebekah?
      1. The text literally says that Isaac loved Esau because of food. Put yourself in Isaac’s place. Would you admire the rugged hunter as opposed to a “quiet” man who hung around the tents? (Esau sounds like a “man’s man.” The Adam Clarke Commentary helps us to see this differently. He reports that Jacob was breeding and tending cattle, “which was considered in those early times the most perfect employment.” This tells us that Jacob is the intellectual, living by his study of breeding. Esau lives by conquest.)
  2. The Fraud
    1. Read Genesis 25:29-31. What does this say about the character of Jacob? (What a greedy, unloving brother! The proper response is “Sure, brother! I’ve eaten plenty of animals that you have hunted. How was your day?”)
    2. Read Genesis 25:32-34. What does this say about the character of Esau? (He is unserious. He does not appreciate the value of the birthright.)
      1. Which of these brothers is worse? (I vote for Jacob. Esau seems immature. Jacob is a greedy schemer.)
    3. Let’s skip forward two chapters. Read Genesis 27:6-7. What is Isaac’s intention toward Esau? (He is going to bless him.)
      1. Is this blessing the same as the birthright? (Read Deuteronomy 21:15-17. The birthright is a “double portion” of the father’s possessions.)
      2. Is it peculiar that Isaac only tells Esau about his plan? He does not tell his wife and he does not create a family ceremony around this blessing?
    4. Read Genesis 25:23. What has God promised when it comes to the two boys? (God says that Esau will serve Jacob. This does not sound like the birthright.)
    5. Read Genesis 27:8-12. Why not trust the blessings of God instead of trusting in lies?
      1. What kind of a blessing do you receive from deceit?
      2. What alternative plan for Jacob and Rebekah would you suggest? (Rebekah should have told Isaac what God had told her about the two sons and who would serve the other. On the other hand, the fact that Isaac only confides in Esau about the blessing suggests Isaac knows what God wants.)
    6. Read Genesis 27:13. Is Rebekah cursed as a result of this? (Yes, in the sense that Jacob leaves and she dies before he returns. She never sees him again - the boy she loves.)
    7. Read Genesis 27:15-20. Would you do this? Would you claim God’s blessing to support your fraud?
    8. Read Genesis 27:21-24. Consider that Isaac has considerable concerns about which son he is blessing. Why doesn’t he call in others to confirm the identity of the person he is about to give the blessing? (This is another indication that he is trying to do this secretly.)
    9. Read the blessing in Genesis 27:28-29. Is this the birthright? (Not specifically. Instead, if given to Esau it would directly contradict God’s promise (Genesis 25:23)that Esau would serve Jacob.)
    10. After Isaac blesses Jacob, Esau arrives with his food for his blessing. Read Genesis 27:32-33 and Hebrews 11:20. How can it be said that Isaac “by faith” blessed Jacob?
      1. Why does Isaac say about Jacob, “and he shall be blessed?
      2. And, why did Isaac tremble so terribly when he realized the fraud? (I see no reason why Isaac could not have “fixed” the fraud right then, except that he knew that he was acting contrary to the will of God. That caused him to tremble and confess that the blessing would remain on Jacob.)
    11. Read Genesis 27:41-43. How is this blessing turning out so far?
  1. The Promise
    1. Read Genesis 28:10-15. The promise made to Abraham and Isaac is now made to Jacob. Is that appropriate? (We saw that Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah all had trouble believing the promises of God. They all depended on lies. Jacob’s lies seem rather extreme, but the outcome is consistent with God’s promise to Rebekah. God works with flawed people.)
  2. It Comes Around
    1. As his mother suggests, Jacob flees to his Uncle Laban. Read Genesis 29:15-19. Jacob enters into a seven-year work agreement with Laban. Should Jacob have been a better negotiator? Obtain his payment up-front?
    2. Read Genesis 29:20-25. Is everyone in that family dishonest?
    3. Read Genesis 29:26. If Laban is telling the truth about country customs, why didn’t he reveal that when they entered into the contract? Why, as Jacob asks, did he deceive him?
    4. Read Genesis 29:27-30. How would you compare Laban’s deception to that of Jacob?
      1. Assume that Jacob refused to deceive his father, and God worked out the result just as promised. Do you think that Isaac would have commissioned a visit to Laban for a wife for Jacob? Would Isaac have done the same thing Abraham did for Him?
    5. Friend, the deceiver is deceived! The last deception flows from the earlier deceptions. I believe that if Jacob and Rebekah had trusted God, Jacob would have later received Rachel as his wife and taken her home. Rebekah would have lived with Jacob and Rachel. Will you determine, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to trust God and not lies?
  3. Next week: Jacob-Israel.