The Story of Jacob /p1
After Abraham died, his son Isaac lived in the land of Canaan. Like his father, Isaac had his home in a tent; around him were the tents of his people, and many flocks of sheep and herds of cattle feeding wherever they could find grass to eat and water to drink.
Isaac and his wife Rebekah had two children. The older was named Esau and the younger Jacob.
Esau was a man of the woods and very fond of hunting; and he was rough and covered with hair.
Jacob was quiet and thoughtful, staying at home, dwelling in a tent, and caring for the flocks of his father.
Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob, because Esau brought to his father that which he had killed in his hunting; but Rebekah liked Jacob, because she saw that he was wise and careful in his work.
Among the people in those lands, when a man dies, his older son receives twice as much as the younger of what the father has owned. This was called his "birthright," for it was his right as the oldest born. So Esau, as the older, had a "birthright" to more of Isaac's possessions than Jacob. And besides this, there was the privilege of the promise of God that the family of Isaac should receive great blessings.
Now Esau, when he grew up, did not care for his birthright or the blessing which God had promised. But Jacob, who was a wise man, wished greatly to have the birthright which would come to Esau when his father died. Once, when Esau came home, hungry and tired from hunting in the fields, he saw that Jacob had a bowl of something that he had just cooked for dinner. And Esau said:
"Give me some of that red stuff in the dish. Will you not give me some? I am hungry."
And Jacob answered, "I will give it to you, if you will first of all sell to me your birthright."
And Esau said, "What is the use of the birthright to me now, when I am almost starving to death? You can have my birthright if you will give me something to eat."
Then Esau made Jacob a solemn promise to give to Jacob his birthright, all for a bowl of food. It was not right for Jacob to deal so selfishly with his brother; but it was very wrong in Esau to care so little for his birthright and God's blessing.