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Jacob - the Son of Isaac and Rebekah

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Jacob, the son of Isaac and Rebekah, and the twin brother of Esau, was born in Canaan, around 2,000 BC. Even before his birth, great things had been predicted of him by the Spirit of the Lord. It was prophesized that although he was the younger born of the twins, he should have dominion, and be the father of a great and powerful nation. The predictions also included his descendents would reign supreme over all the descendents of his elder brother, Esau (Blunt 123).

Jacob first appears in the Bible in the book of Genesis. The Bible says that Esau was the firstborn of the twins. "Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob." (Genesis 25:26). The boys grew up, and Esau was described as a skillful hunter, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Once when Jacob was cooking a stew in his tent, Esau came in from the from hunting in the fields and was famished. Jacob told Esau he would share with him his stew on the condition that Esau renounce his birthright to him. Esau accepted. Later, as their father, Isaac sat on his deathbed, he blessed Jacob, who was dressed in fur clothing to imitate Esau who had more body hair than Jacob. Isaac thought it was Esau he was blessing (Meeks 41). After this, Jacob's mother advised him to go live with his Uncle Labon in Padan-Aram - afraid that Esau would become vengeful and kill Jacob after he tricked their father into giving him his blessing of the first born.

On his way to Padan-Aram, he came to Bethel to sleep for the night. He took a stone and placed it under his head. Some critics believe that a correction to our traditional misunderstanding of this stone placing is that Jacob took the stone and placed it not under his head as a pillow, but rather "at his head" for protection. While sleeping here, he dreams of a ladder set up on the earth, reaching all the way up to heaven. He saw the angels of God ascending and descending on it. The opinion of some critics is that what Jacob saw in his dream was not a "ladder" but a "stairway". Some years ago, at a site twenty-five miles northeast of Bethel, archaeologists uncovered the remains of a divided stone staircase leading from the city down to its water source. The staircase was evidently divided in order to separate the ascending and descending traffic. Also during this dream, Jacob hears God make the same promises to him that God made to Abraham and Isaac - promises of offspring and land of milk and honey (Holladay 691).

This prophecy that Jacob's future descendants would have Israel as their own country was fulfilled about 3,400 years ago when the Israelites established Israel. God also told him in his dream that his descendants (the Israelites) would be like dust, spreading out to the east, west, north and south, and that the Israelites would have a worldwide impact. These prophecies were also fulfilled. Throughout history, the Israelites, who today are more commonly called the "Jews" are scattered worldwide. The Jews have had a tremendous worldwide impact on many different aspects of today's society and culture. Jews began to spread Christianity on a global scale about 2,000 years ago (Konig).

After many more weary days of journey following the night of his dream in Bethel, Jacob came into "the land of the people of the East.", which was Padan-Aram. The first people he meets there are shepherds who are assembling their flocks to water them. While speaking with them, Rachel, Jacob's first cousin, came up with her father's sheep. Rachel's father was Jacob's uncle Laban. Jacob was embraced and kissed by both Rachel and her father. He fell in love with Rachel, and made a covenant with Laban to work for him for seven years for her. He married her, and then the next morning instead of finding himself married to Rachel, he woke up and realized it was Leah, her sister. He stayed married to Leah, but still wished for his true love, Rachel's hand in marriage. So, he then had to work seven more years for Rachel. The Bible tells us that Rachel was very beautiful and well-favored, while Leah was "tender-eyed". Critics are unsure what "tender-eyed" means in relation to Rachel. The Bible does not give an explanation. (Todd)

Rachel was Jacob's favorite wife. When Leah married Jacob she found out that her husband despised her and still wanted her sister instead. She had to share her husband and continue to take second place to her sister for the rest of her life.

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