Esau Sold His Birthright: Or Did Jacob Steal It?
Esau Sold His Birthright or Jacob Stole It?
Genesis 25:20 is where the story of twin brothers Jacob and Esau begins for those who'd like to read it for themselves. Verses 27 thru 34 of chapter 25 tell us that Esau was a hunter while Jacob was a "plain" man who apparently enjoyed cooking as one of the activities in which he engaged. We learn that one day Esau was famished when we returned from hunting and asked his brother, Jacob, to give him some of the food he had prepared. Jacob agreed to give food in exchange for his brother's birthright (Esau was the first born of the twins; therefore, he owned the birthright, which is a special set of blessings). Genesis 25:33 says that these blessings were "sold." Therefore, we know that Esau SOLD his birthright, which is not the same thing as saying that Jacob stole it.
Scripture also reveals Esau's attitude towards the special blessings that were given to the first born, because he said, "...I am at the point to die (starving), and what profit shall this birthright do to me" (Genesis 25:32)?
What a careless attitude held by Esau concerning a set of very special blessings. He is the one who made the choice either to neglect eating a good meal before going hunting or to stay out hunting until he became famished. It cannot be any more obvious that Esau was concerned only with immediate pleasure and gratification, whatever the costs. He sold a precious set of lifelong blessings for immediate, but temporary, satisfaction. We later learn of the tricks used by Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, to "steal" Esau's birthright. However, their schemes were successful because Esau had already sold his birthright.
Although it is understandably said that Jacob and Rebekah should not have done what they did, the story is about what Esau did that opened the door to his permanent loss of special blessings. It is Esau's ungrateful attitude that is condemned by scripture, not Jacob's full realization of the value of a birthright--a realization that Esau should have had.
We read, "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright" (Hebrews 12:16). Esau is called "profane." To be profane is to be impure and defiled. Esau's attitude towards the blessings
bestowed on the first born was profane. He was ungrateful and held a careless attitude toward what was so precious that Jacob held it in high enough esteem to scheme and plot to enjoy what he realized was a prize. What was wrong with Esau that he didn't see the privilege he had been given? He did come to realize later what he had given up. However, it was too late; he had lost out forever. We read, "For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place of repentance
, though he sought it carefully with tears" (Hebrews 12:17).
The real-life story of Jacob and Esau and the loss of the birthright is also a reminder that the blessing of salvation
is not to be handled carelessly. It's a reminder that there are many other things in life for which we should be grateful and to which we should cling, because if we carelessly let them go, we might not ever be able to regain them, no matter how hard we try. Esau sold his birthright, and could never recover it.
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