And you thought your family was messed up.
Don’t forget Genesis 25:28. That one statement two chapters ago gives us all the character motivations we need for this story. I also can’t help but wonder how long 25:23, the LORD’s word to Rebekah when she was pregnant with the twins, rang in her ears. Is she still thinking about it all these years later in this story when she overhears Isaac preparing Esau for the ancient ritual of blessing?
One of these twin sons will carry on the God’s Story of Redemption. The other will fade into history. No big deal.
It’s difficult for us 21st century Americans to understand just how big a deal the blessing to the firstborn was for these ancient people. It’s huge.
In a world without hospitals or police or grocery stores or government like we know, the oldest male in the family was responsible for all of these aspects of life for the entire family and extended family—protection from enemies, provision in hard times, everything.
So imagine living with all of your family and extended family under one roof and your grandpa takes care of everybody. If you’ve seen The Godfather, that may be our best contemporary image of family life back then. Minus the awesome suits and Italian soundtrack.
When the father is about to die, he passes that enormous responsibility to the firstborn. Yeah, there’s honor and bragging rights in that, but like Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker, with great power comes great responsibility.
This is what Jacob has just swindled out of Esau. Not just the inheritance of stuff but also the power to call the shots of the family business, and it is Jacob’s son, not Esau’s, that will continue the line of power and responsibility.
Think about that when we read the genealogies in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, and see the line that traces straight to Jesus.
What about you? What do you see?