Jacob Steals Esau's Blessing


Romans 8:28, ESV

And we know that for those who love God
all things work together for good, for those
who are called according to his purpose.


Genesis 27:1-4, NIrV

1 Isaac had become old. His eyes were so weak he couldn’t see anymore. One day he called for his older son Esau. He said to him, “My son.”

“Here I am,” he answered.

2 Isaac said, “I’m an old man now. And I don’t know when I’ll die. 3 Now then, get your weapons. Get your bow and arrows. Go out to the open country. Hunt some wild animals for me. 4 Prepare for me the kind of tasty food I like. Bring it to me to eat. Then I’ll give you my blessing before I die.”


Many years earlier, the Lord appeared to Isaac's dad, Abraham. God gave Abraham a pile of precious promises: to bless him, to grow his family into a great nation, to give that nation a great land to live in, and to use his family to bless the world! After Abraham died, God appeared to Isaac to pass along Abraham’s promises to him. This makes sense: Isaac was Abraham’s only son! But Isaac had two boys: Jacob and Esau. Which twin should the priceless promises of God be passed on to after Isaac died? If you asked Isaac, now an old man, he would have said, “Easy! To Esau, my firstborn son!”

+ What problem did Isaac have because he was so old? (vs. 1)

+ After Esau hunted and brought back food, what was Isaac going to do? (vs. 4)


Genesis 27:5-10, NIrV

5 Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. Esau left for the open country. He went to hunt for a wild animal and bring it back. 6 Then Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I heard your father speaking to your brother Esau. 7 He said, ‘Bring me a wild animal. Prepare some tasty food for me to eat. Then I’ll give you my blessing before I die. The Lord will be my witness.’ ” 8 Rebekah continued, “My son, listen carefully. Do what I tell you. 9 Go out to the flock. Bring me two of the finest young goats. I will prepare tasty food for your father. I’ll make it just the way he likes it. 10 I want you to take it to your father to eat. Then he’ll give you his blessing before he dies.”


Jacob might be the most famous trickster in the entire Bible. In the last chapter of Genesis, we watched him convince his foolish big brother Esau to trade away his firstborn rights for a single bowl of stew! But Jacob wasn’t the only trickster in his family. When his mother heard about Isaac's plan to bless Esau, she came to Jacob with a sinister scheme of her own. Rebekah hoped to trick her blind old husband into giving his blessing (and passing on God’s promises) to Jacob instead of Esau. But for her plan to work, it was going to take some quick cooking, a clever disguise, and lots of lies!

+ What did Rebekah tell Jacob to do? (vs. 9-10)

+ What was the reason Rebekah planned to trick her own husband? (vs. 10)


Genesis 27:11-17, NIrV

11 Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “My brother Esau’s body is covered with hair. But my skin is smooth. 12 What if my father touches me? He would know I was trying to trick him. He would curse me instead of giving me a blessing.”

13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse be on me. Just do what I say. Go and get the goats for me.”

14 So he went and got the goats. He brought them to his mother. And she prepared some tasty food. She made it just the way his father liked it. 15 The clothes of her older son Esau were in her house. She took Esau’s best clothes and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She covered his hands with the skins of the goats. She also covered the smooth part of his neck with them. 17Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.


Since Isaac’s blind old eyes could no longer see, Jacob didn’t need to look like Esau. But he did need to feel and smell and sound like Esau! To fool his father, Jacob needed to feel as hairy and to smell as outdoorsy as his big brother. So his mother Rebekah came up with a plan to turn smooth and sweet-smelling Jacob into a hairy hunter like Esau. She dressed him up in his big brother’s smelly clothes. She wrapped the furry skins of a young goat around her son’s arms and on the back of his neck. Then she quickly whipped up some supper and sent her son in to steal his big brother’s blessing.

+ What did Jacob think Isaac would do to him if he discovered their trick? (vs. 12)

+ What made Jacob smell like Esau? What made Jacob feel like Esau? (vs. 15-16)


Genesis 27:18-27, NIRV

18 He went to his father and said, “My father.”

“Yes, my son,” Isaac answered. “Who is it?”

19 Jacob said to his father, “I’m your oldest son Esau. I’ve done as you told me. Please sit up. Eat some of my wild meat. Then give me your blessing.”

20 Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”

“The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied.

21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son. I want to know whether you really are my son Esau.”

22 Jacob went close to his father. Isaac touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob. But the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 Isaac didn’t recognize Jacob. Jacob’s hands were covered with hair like those of his brother Esau. So Isaac blessed him. 24 “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked.

“I am,” Jacob replied.

25 Isaac said, “My son, bring me some of your wild meat to eat. Then I’ll give you my blessing.”

Jacob brought it to him. So Isaac ate. Jacob also brought some wine. And Isaac drank. 26 Then Jacob’s father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son. Kiss me.”

27 So Jacob went to him and kissed him. When Isaac smelled the clothes, he gave Jacob his blessing. He said,

“It really is the smell of my son.

    It’s like the smell of a field

    that the Lord has blessed.


Wrapped in goat fur and dressed in his big brother’s clothes, Jacob must have looked totally ridiculous as he carried dinner in to his dad! Straight away, there was a hiccup in his plan. Jacob had done his best to feel like Esau and smell like Esau, but when he spoke, he didn’t sound like Esau! His dad may have been blind as a bat, but his ears were working just fine! Since the person who said “I’m Esau” sounded like Jacob, Isaac called him close to investigate. However, when Jacob’s fuzzy hands passed the feel test and his brother’s clothes passed the smell test, Isaac finally fell for Jacob’s lies.

+ Why was Isaac suspicious of the person who said he was Esau? (vs. 22)

+ Look through these verses again. How many times did Jacob lie to his father?


Genesis 27:26-33, NIRV

26 Then Jacob’s father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son. Kiss me.”

27 So Jacob went to him and kissed him. When Isaac smelled the clothes, he gave Jacob his blessing. He said,

“It really is the smell of my son.

    It’s like the smell of a field

    that the Lord has blessed.

28 May God give you dew from heaven.

    May he give you the richness of the earth.

    May he give you plenty of grain and fresh wine.

29 May nations serve you.

    May they bow down to you.

Rule over your brothers.

    May the sons of your mother bow down to you.

May those who curse you be cursed.

    And may those who bless you be blessed.”

30 When Isaac finished blessing him, Jacob left his father. Just then his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food. He brought it to his father. Then Esau said to him, “My father, please sit up. Eat some of my wild meat. Then give me your blessing.”

32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

“I’m your son,” he answered. “I’m Esau, your oldest son.”

33 Isaac began to shake all over. He said, “Then who hunted a wild animal and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came. I gave him my blessing. And he will certainly be blessed!”


Thanks to his scratchy and smelly disguise, Jacob successfully tricked his dear old dad. Isaac believed his blessing belonged to Esau, but he actually gave it to Jacob without knowing it! After Isaac’s prayer, the precious promises God had first given to Abraham now belonged to Jacob. Isaac's sneaky son slithered out of his father’s tent with his big brother’s blessing. As soon as Jacob left, Esau arrived home from his hunt. He whipped up a delicious dinner and brought it to his dad. As soon as Isaac heard the real Esau's voice, he realized the terrible truth: the boy he blessed had been an impostor!

+ Write down a couple of things Isaac said when he blessed Jacob. (vs. 28-29)

+ What did Isaac do when he finally realized what Jacob had done? (vs. 33)


Genesis 27:34-41, NIRV

34 Esau heard his father’s words. Then he yelled loudly and bitterly. He said to his father, “Bless me! Bless me too, my father!”

35 But Isaac said, “Your brother came and tricked me. He took your blessing.”

36 Esau said, “Isn’t Jacob just the right name for him? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me. First, he took my rights as the oldest son. And now he’s taken my blessing!” Then Esau asked, “Haven’t you saved any blessing for me?”

37 Isaac answered Esau, “I’ve made him ruler over you. I’ve made all his relatives serve him. And I’ve provided him with grain and fresh wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”

38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept loudly.

39 His father Isaac answered him,

“You will live far away from the fruit of the earth.

    You will live far away from the dew of heaven above.

40 You will live by using the sword.

    And you will serve your brother.

But you will grow restless.

    Then you will throw off the heavy load

    he has caused you to carry.”

41 Esau was angry with Jacob. He was angry because of the blessing his father had given to Jacob. He said to himself, “The days of sorrow over my father’s death are near. Then I’ll kill my brother Jacob.”


Esau was a manly man. But when he figured out his father gave his blessing away, he wailed like a tiny toddler! It wasn’t hard for Esau to figure out the secret identity of the blessing burglar. It had to be Jacob, the same little trickster who had taken away his birthright, too! Now, Esau’s foolish decision to trade his birthright for some stew played a big part in that, but he was way too angry to care about little details!

Esau begged his dad, “Don’t you have another blessing to give to me?” This reveals that Esau didn’t really understand how special this blessing was. Isaac didn’t have a kitchen cupboard full of blessings to hand out to anyone who asked – this blessing was a special gift from God! God first gave it to Abraham, then handed it down to Isaac, and now it belonged to Jacob. Isaac didn’t have any blessing left to give to Esau!

Esau was fighting mad about all this. In his mind, his little brother was now a dead man. But he knew his father wouldn’t want him to kill his twin brother. So he made a plan: after his old father was dead and buried, Esau would do everything in his power to make sure Jacob was dead and buried, too!

The Bible doesn’t paint a rosy picture of the family of Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, and Jacob. Instead, it tells us the ugly and messy truth. Why was their life so messy? Because they were all sinners, and sin always makes a huge mess of things! But in the middle of this messy family, there was good news: God was in control.

From the very beginning, before anything was made, God had a perfect plan for his world. And here's the amazing thing about our great God: he’s able to complete his perfect plan using imperfect people like Jacob and Esau... and you and me, too!

Isaac’s family was messy, but Jacob’s? You'll learn that his family was even messier! Still, they were the people of God’s promises. While Jacob’s children did a whole lot of bad, our great God used them to do good! To tell the tale of the messiness of Jacob’s family and the goodness of God, we’ll need to finish the whole rest of the Bible.

Here’s the good news: because of God’s perfect plan, the messy story of the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has a happy ending. Many years later, a perfect child was born into this far-from-perfect family. His name was Jesus and there was a reason he was different from his family members born before him: he was the Son of God!

God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “The whole world will be blessed because of your family.” Sending Jesus was how God kept that promise. Jesus came to rescue messy sinners like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob... and you and me, too! He died to pay for our sins, then rose from the dead. Because of him, we can become a part of God’s family, living with him in his good kingdom forever!

+ What did Esau say he was going to do to Jacob after Isaac died? Why? (vs. 41) 

+ Look ahead to verses 42-44. What did Rebekah tell Jacob to do? Why?

© 2023 Andrew Doane. All rights reserved.