Jacob the Supplanter
Lesson #9 for May 28, 2022
Genesis 25:21-26: 21Because Rebecca had no children, Isaac prayed to the LORD for her. The LORD answered his prayer, and Rebecca became pregnant. 22She was going to have twins, and before they were born, they struggled against each other in her womb. She said, “Why should something like this happen to me?” So she went to ask the LORD for an answer.
23 The LORD said to her,
“Two nations are within you;
You will give birth to two rival peoples.
One will be stronger than the other;
The older will serve the younger.”
24 The time came for her to give birth, and she had twin sons. 25The first one was reddish, and his skin was like a hairy robe, so he was named Esau. 26The second one was born holding on tightly to the heel of Esau, so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.?American Bible Society. (1992). The Holy Bible: The Good News Translation* (2nd ed.,Genesis 25:21-26). New York: American Bible Society [abbreviated as Good News Bible].†‡ [Why didn’t God arrange for Jacob to be born first?]‡
Romans 9:10-13: 10 And this is not all. For Rebecca’s two sons had the same father, our ancestor Isaac. 11–12But in order that the choice of one son might be completely the result of God’s own purpose, God said to her, “The elder will serve the younger.” He said this before they were born, before they had done anything either good or bad; so God’s choice was based on his call, and not on anything they had done. 13As the scripture says, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.”?Good News Bible.*
[From the Bible study guide=BSG:] The contrast between the two brothers is immediately fulfilled in their behavior and choices. Like Ishmael (Gen. 21:20), Esau is a skillful hunter, a man who loves to be outdoors in the open fields, whereas Jacob is a mild man who prefers dwelling at home. Esau is loved by his father, while Jacob is loved by his mother (Gen. 25:28). The spiritual and sensitive nature of Jacob contrasts with the tough and physical nature of Esau. The Hebrew word tam (translated “mild”), which qualifies Jacob, is the same word that characterizes Job [Job 1:8, NKJV] (Job 8:20) and Noah (Gen. 6:9). Likewise, the verb yashab (translated “dwelling”), meaning “sitting,” suggests the quiet and meditative temperament of Jacob (comparePs. 84:4,Ps. 91:1). This information regarding their characters anticipates the incident of the meal, which will determine their respective priorities (Gen. 25:29S31). Jacob has considered the spiritual significance of the birthright that he wants so passionately to obtain; Esau, in contrast, does not concern himself with things beyond the present life and is not interested in what could take place after his death. Unlike Esau, who is present-oriented, Jacob is future-oriented and particularly sensitive to spiritual values, and yet is so eager to secure the birthright at this moment that he uses material means for that purpose. Ironically, Jacob has enough faith to “see” spiritual values and the future profit of a birthright but not enough faith to trust God for it (compareGen. 27:41S45). Before the institution of the priesthood, the birthright “included not only an inheritance of worldly wealth but spiritual preeminence. He who received it was to be priest of his family.”?Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 177. Esau’s request (Gen. 25:30) suggests that, for him, the birthright had no spiritual significance; he was concerned only with his immediate gratification. Thus, he despised his birthright (Gen. 25:32, 34; compareHeb. 12:16, 17).?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 120.†‡§
Job 1:8: Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”?New King James Version.*†§
Job 8:20: Behold, God will not cast away the blameless,
Nor will He uphold the evildoers.?New King James Version.*†
Genesis 6:9: These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.?King James Version.*† [In the time of Moses, Hebrew had a very limited vocabulary.]‡
Hebrews 12:16-17: 16Let no one become immoral or unspiritual like Esau, who for a single meal sold his rights as the elder son. 17Afterwards, you know, he wanted to receive his father’s blessing; but he was turned away, because he could not find any way to change what he had done, even though in tears he looked for it.?Good News Bible.*
Genesis 26:34-35: 34 When Esau was forty years old, he married two Hittite women, Judith the daughter of Beeri, and Basemath the daughter of Elon. 35They made life miserable for Isaac and Rebecca.?Good News Bible.*
Genesis 27:46: Rebecca said to Isaac, “I am sick and tired of Esau’s foreign wives. If Jacob also marries one of these Hittite women, I might as well die.”?Good News Bible.*
The promises made to Abraham and confirmed to his son were held by Isaac and Rebekah as the great object of their desires and hopes. With these promises Esau and Jacob were familiar. They were taught to regard the birthright as a matter of great importance, for it included not only an inheritance of worldly wealth but spiritual pre-eminence. He who received it was to be the priest of his family, and in the line of his posterity the Redeemer of the world would come.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 177.3.† [How would you feel if someone who knew told you that One of your Descendants would be Son of man and Son of God?]‡
[From the writings of Ellen White=EGW:] Esau did not tell his father that he had sold his birthright to Jacob, and confirmed it with an oath. Rebekah heard the words of Isaac, and she remembered the words of the Lord, AThe elder shall serve the younger,@ and she knew that Esau had lightly regarded his birthright and sold it to Jacob. She persuaded Jacob to deceive his father, and by fraud receive the blessing of his father, which she thought could not be obtained in any other way. Jacob was at first unwilling to practice this deception, but finally consented to his mother=s plans.?Ellen G. White, Spirit of Prophecy,* vol. 1, 106.2-107.0.†‡ [Jacob and Esau were 70 years old then!]‡
[EGW:] No sooner had Esau departed on his errand than Rebekah set about the accomplishment of her purpose. She told Jacob what had taken place, urging the necessity of immediate action to prevent the bestowal of the blessing, finally and irrevocably, upon Esau. And she assured her son that if he would follow her directions, he might obtain it as God had promised. Jacob did not readily consent to the plan that she proposed. The thought of deceiving his father caused him great distress. He felt that such a sin would bring a curse rather than a blessing. But his scruples were overborne, and he proceeded to carry out his mother’s suggestions. It was not his intention to utter a direct falsehood, but once in the presence of his father he seemed to have gone too far to retreat, and he obtained by fraud the coveted blessing.
Jacob and Rebekah succeeded in their purpose, but they gained only trouble and sorrow by their deception. God had declared that Jacob should receive the birthright, and His word would have been fulfilled in His own time had they waited in faith for Him to work for them. But like many who now profess to be children of God, they were unwilling to leave the matter in His hands. Rebekah bitterly repented the wrong counsel she had given her son; it was the means of separating him from her, and she never saw his face again. From the hour when he received the birthright, Jacob was weighed down with self-condemnation. He had sinned against his father, his brother, his own soul, and against God. In one short hour he had made work for a lifelong repentance. This scene was vivid before him in afteryears, when the wicked course of his sons oppressed his soul.?Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 180.2-3.†‡
Isaac: Did not consult with his wife, did not recognize the true character of his sons, ignored God=s word, and tried to defeat God=s plan.
Rebekah: Assumed she understood God=s will, argued with her husband, planned deceit, ran ahead of God, and schemed with Jacob to deceive her husband.
Esau: Despised the birthright, did not care about spiritual matters, lived for the moment, and chose to ignore God=s promise.
Esau grew up loving self-gratification and centering all his interest in the present. Impatient of restraint, he delighted in the wild freedom of the chase, and early chose the life of a hunter. Yet he was the father=s favorite. The quiet, peace-loving shepherd [Isaac] was attracted by the daring and vigor of this elder son, who fearlessly ranged over mountain and desert, returning home with game for his father and with exciting accounts of his adventurous life.?Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 177.2.‡
Jacob: Lied, schemed, envied, ran ahead of God, deceived his father, and stayed more at home.
Jacob, thoughtful, diligent, and care-taking, ever thinking more of the future than the present, was content to dwell at home, occupied in the care of the flocks and the tillage of the soil. His patient perseverance, thrift, and foresight were valued by the mother. His affections were deep and strong, and his gentle, unremitting attentions added far more to her happiness than did the boisterous and occasional kindnesses of Esau. To Rebekah, Jacob was the dearer son.?Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 177.2.
Genesis 28:10-22: 10 Jacob left Beersheba and started towards Haran. 11At sunset he came to a holy place and camped there. He lay down to sleep, resting his head on a stone. 12He dreamt that he saw a stairway reaching from earth to heaven, with angels going up and coming down on it. 13And there was the LORD standing beside him. “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham and Isaac,” he said. “I will give to you and to your descendants this land on which you are lying. 14They will be as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth. They will extend their territory in all directions, and through you and your descendants I will bless all the nations. 15Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all that I have promised you.”
16 Jacob woke up and said, “The LORD is here! He is in this place, and I didn’t know it!” 17He was afraid and said, “What a terrifying place this is! It must be the house of God; it must be the gate that opens into heaven.”
18 Jacob got up early next morning, took the stone that was under his head, and set it up as a memorial. Then he poured olive oil on it to dedicate it to God. 19He named the place Bethel. (The town there was once known as Luz.) 20Then Jacob made a vow to the LORD: “If you will be with me and protect me on the journey I am making and give me food and clothing, 21and if I return safely to my father’s home, then you will be my God. 22This memorial stone which I have set up will be the place where you are worshipped, and I will give you a tenth of everything you give me.”?Good News Bible.*†
[BSG:] In this dream, Jacob sees an extraordinary ladder that is connected with God. The same Hebrew verb, natsav, is used to refer to the ladder that is “set up” (Gen. 28:12, NKJV) and the Lord who “stood” (Gen. 28:13, NKJV), as if the ladder and the Lord are the same thing.
The ladder is linked to the attempt at Babel to reach heaven. Like the Tower of Babel, the ladder is to reach the “door of heaven.” But while the Tower of Babel represents the human effort to go up and reach God, the ladder of Bethel emphasizes that access to God can be achieved only through God’s coming to us, and not through human effort.
As for the “stone” on which Jacob has put his head and had his dream, it becomes the symbol of beth-El, “the house of God” (Gen. 28:17; compare withGen. 28:22) [both of which we just read], which points to the temple, the sanctuary, the center of God’s saving activity for humanity.?Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* for Monday, May 22.†‡§
The phrase “gate of heaven,” which occurs only here (Gen. 28:17) in the entire Hebrew Bible, is reminiscent of the name “Bab-El” (“gate of God”) and thus of the vain enterprise of the men of Babel who never reached the “gate of heaven.” The phrase “the gate of heaven” parallels the phrase “the house of God,” which refers to “this place” that is “the stone” (Gen. 28:18, 19); this place, in turn, is the earthly spot of “the ladder” (Gen. 28:12) of Jacob’s dream. Therefore, as the heavenly counterpart of the earthly “house of God,” “the gate of heaven” points to the heavenly abode or temple sanctuary.?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 120.§
Because God is the God who cares about and takes care of Jacob’s physical needs, and because God is the source of all he has (Gen. 28:22), Jacob responds by pledging to give his tithe to God. The biblical text does not indicate that Jacob fulfilled his two vows regarding the sanctuary and tithe. Only God’s part of the deal is recorded in the book of Genesis. Jacob will acknowledge God’s part when he refers to his experience of God’s protection (Gen. 35:3; compareGen. 46:3, 4). Later, Israel’s building of the sanctuary, the sign of the worship of the God of heaven, and the institution of the tithe, the sign of the recognition of the God of the earth, suggest that Jacob also fulfilled his vows.?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 121.†§
[EGW:] Jacob thought to gain a right to the birthright through deception, but he found himself disappointed. He thought he had lost everything, his connection with God, his home, and all, and there he was a disappointed fugitive. But what did God do? He looked upon him in his hopeless condition, He saw his disappointment, and He saw there was material there that would render back glory to God. No sooner does He see his condition than He presents the mystic ladder, which represents Jesus Christ. Here is man, who had lost all connection with God, and the God of heaven looks upon him and consents that Christ shall bridge the gulf which sin has made. We might have looked and said, I long for heaven but how can I reach it? I see no way. That is what Jacob thought, and so God shows him the vision of the ladder, and that ladder connects earth with heaven, with Jesus Christ. A man can climb it, for the base rests upon the earth and the top-most round reaches into heaven.—Ellen G. White, Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary,* vol. 1, 1095.3.†‡ Compare Christ Triumphant 86.3-4.
Genesis 29:1-14: 1 Jacob continued on his way and went towards the land of the East. 2Suddenly he came upon a well out in the fields with three flocks of sheep lying round it. The flocks were watered from this well, which had a large stone over the opening. 3Whenever all the flocks came together there, the shepherds would roll the stone back and water them. Then they would put the stone back in place.
4 Jacob asked the shepherds, “My friends, where are you from?”
“From Haran,” they answered. [Jacob had walked 500 miles from home!]
5 He asked, “Do you know Laban, grandson of Nahor?”
“Yes, we do,” they answered.
6 “Is he well?” he asked.
“He is well,” they answered. “Look, here comes his daughter Rachel with his flock.”
7 Jacob said, “Since it is still broad daylight and not yet time to bring the flocks in, why don’t you water them and take them back to pasture?”
8 They answered, “We can’t do that until all the flocks are here and the stone has been rolled back; then we will water the flocks.”
9 While Jacob was still talking to them, Rachel arrived with the flock. 10When Jacob saw Rachel with his uncle Laban’s flock, he went to the well, rolled the stone back, and watered the sheep. 11Then he kissed her and began to cry for joy. 12He told her, “I am your father’s relative, the son of Rebecca.” [It is likely that they had been completely cut off from any news.]
She ran to tell her father; 13and when he heard the news about his nephew Jacob, he ran to meet him, hugged him and kissed him, and brought him into the house. When Jacob told Laban everything that had happened, 14Laban said, “Yes, indeed, you are my own flesh and blood.” Jacob stayed there a whole month.?Good News Bible.*‡
Though Jacob was the deceiver, he himself was the deceived. How can we learn to trust God when we don’t see “justice” being done, when we see people who do evil get away with it, or when we see the innocent suffer??Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* for Tuesday, May 24.
Jacob understands now what it means to be the victim of deception. Ironically, God teaches Jacob about his own deception through Laban’s deception. Although Jacob as “deceiver” (Gen. 27:12) knows well what deception means, he is surprised when he is the victim of deception. Thus, he asks the question, “ ‘Why . . . have you deceived me?’ ” (Gen. 29:25, NKJV), which shows that he knows deception is wrong.?Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* for Tuesday, May 24.§
Genesis 29:15: Laban said to Jacob, “You shouldn’t work for me for nothing just because you are my relative. How much pay do you want?”?Good News Bible.*
[BSG:] God opened Leah’s womb, and she had a son Reuben, whose name contains the verb ra’ah, which means to “see.” Because God “saw” that she was unloved by Jacob (Gen. 29:31), this child was compensation for her in her pain and suffering.
In addition, she gives the name of Simeon, which contains the verb shama‘, “heard,” to her second son, because God had “heard” (shama‘) the depth and the humiliation of her pain and, thus, had pity on her just as He had heard Hagar’s affliction (Gen. 29:33).
Leah’s son “Simeon” also will resonate with the name of Hagar’s son “Ishmael,” which means “God will hear” (seeGen. 16:11). When Leah gives birth to her last son, she calls him Judah, which means “praise.” Leah does not refer to her pain or even her blessing anymore. She just focuses on God and praises Him for His grace.
Strangely, it is only when Leah cannot give birth again that God “remembers” Rachel and opens Rachel’s womb (Gen. 30:22). Rachel, the loved wife, had to wait seven years after her marriage, and 14 years after her betrothal with Jacob, to have her first son (Gen. 29:18, 27; compare withGen. 30:25). She gave him the name of “Joseph” to signify that God had “ ‘taken away [’asaf ] my reproach’ ” and “ ‘shall add [yasaf ] to me another son’ ” (Gen. 30:23, 24, NKJV). However wrong some of these situations were, God was still able to use them, even if He didn’t condone them, in order to create a nation from the seed of Abraham.?Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* for Wednesday, May 25.†‡§ [Brackets and the content in brackets inside the paragraphs are in the Bible study guide.]‡
Genesis 30:22: Then God remembered Rachel; he answered her prayer and made it possible for her to have children.?Good News Bible.*†
At the birth of Rachel’s first son, Joseph, Jacob finally reached the fourteenth year of his “service” to Laban (Gen. 30:26), and now considers leaving Laban in order to return to the Promised Land. But Jacob is concerned about providing for his “ ‘own house’ ” (Gen. 30:30).?Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* for Thursday, May 26.§
Genesis 30:25: 25 After the birth of Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Let me go, so that I can return home. 26Give me my wives and children that I have earned by working for you, and I will leave. You know how well I have served you.”?Good News Bible.*
[BSG:] Jacob’s Blessing. When Jacob proposes the deal that all the speckled and spotted sheep (Gen. 30:32) be removed from the flock and considered as his wages, Laban agrees immediately (Gen. 30:34). To reach his goal, Jacob uses the poplar, almond, and chestnut trees (Gen. 30:37). This system is not accidental, since these three trees contain chemical substances that have various health benefits. Because hybrid animals are naturally stronger than other breeds, by choosing the stronger ones (Gen. 30:41) in accordance with the divine vision, Jacob selects the rams that already have the recessive genes. Using this method, Jacob is able to produce a large flock composed of strong multicolored sheep and goats. Jacob’s method may appear to be superstitious magic; yet, the biblical text informs us that Jacob proceeded under divine guidance (Gen. 31:11, 12). In addition, scientific studies indicate that Jacob’s method could have been consistent with the law of modern genetics. In the end, Jacob became “exceedingly prosperous” (Gen. 30:43, NKJV). This expression recalls Jacob’s qualification of Laban’s wealth (Gen. 30:30). This echo between these two evaluations of Jacob’s and Laban’s wealth suggests that Jacob has now become wealthier than Laban and that his prosperity has been acquired from Laban’s prosperity, which was the result of God’s blessing for his sake (Gen. 30:27).?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 121-122.†‡§
Two mentalities are suggested through the contrast between Jacob and Esau.… Why are the kind of people represented by Jacob the ones who are pleasing to God? Are all the values of Esau (enjoyment of good food, sport, strength, love of his father) less valuable than those cherished by Jacob (meditation, gentleness, love of his mother)??Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 122.
©2022, Kenneth Hart, MD, MA, MPH. Permission is hereby granted for any noncommercial use of these materials. Free distribution of all or of a portion of this material such as to a Bible study class is encouraged. *Electronic version. †Bold type is added. ‡Text in brackets is added. §Italic type is in the source. ¶Compared with the first source, this source has punctuation and/or capitalization differences only. [email protected]
Last Modified: April 11, 2022
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