Call me Esau. Or call me Edom, for that, is the name of my nation and of my people, the Edomites. I have become very wealthy and powerful, acquiring vast amounts of land, countless flocks and herds, a great household, and an army of 400 men. I am a self-made man. All that I have wanted I have achieved on my own terms, and from my own diligent work, without the help of my father Isaac’s blessing, and without the help of the blessing of his God Yahweh.
My father Isaac has just died at the age of 180 years. My twin brother Jacob and I buried our father earlier today in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, the field that Abraham, my grandfather, purchased from the Hittites (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Gen. 25: 9-10). Because of the burial of my father today, I cannot sleep tonight. I have been tossing and turning, thinking about the events of my life, particularly the relationship between my brother Jacob and I.
Esau was his father’s favorite son
I was always my father’s favorite son. I am a skilled hunter and he loved the game that I would bring home for the family. Jacob, on the other hand, was my mother Rebekah’s favorite. Yahweh also favors Jacob over me. He is a quiet man, a shepherd. The relationship between my brother and I had always been strained. Apparently even as far back as when we were in our mother’s womb; she told us that we “struggled together within her” (Gen. 25:22). When we were born I came out first, therefore entitling me to receive Isaac’s blessing. “Afterward [my] brother came out, with his hand gripping [my] heel” (Gen. 25:26). Even as a newborn, Jacob was trying to one-up me; trying to hold me back so he could claim firstborn status. So we had a brotherly rivalry. As kids, I would call him lazy and a mama’s boy. He would fight back by trying to insult me based on the red hair that covered my body. Nevertheless, I truly loved him; we were brothers after all. But my love for Jacob turned into a bitter hatred.
The Importance of the father’s blessing
Firstborn status and the blessing of our father was so important to Jacob that he was willing to betray me (not to mention trick our father in his old age) to achieve them. It has been many years since these events have occurred, and I have forgiven Jacob, but as I reflect on it now I still feel some of the pain and anger that consumed me from the trickery and deceit of my brother so many years ago.
I was in the field all day hunting wild game so that my father and mother and brother could have some savory food to eat. It was a hot day and I was having trouble finding a suitable game to present to my family, so when I returned home I was definitely in need of some nourishment. I saw that Jacob was making a stew so I said to him, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished” (Gen. 25:30)!
Now, one would think that your brother, your own flesh and blood, would graciously give you some of the stew after seeing you tired and hungry after a hard day’s work. But no! not Jacob. He saw this as the perfect opportunity to steal my birthright from me by taking advantage of my hunger.
I said to him, “For I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me” (Gen 25:32)? He made me swear to him that the birthright was now his; only then would he give me the food.
The birthright belonged to Jacob
So, from that point on, the birthright belonged to Jacob. Sure it was foolish for me to sell something so precious for a simple bowl of lentil stew, but the point is: that selfish bastard shouldn’t have put me in that position in the first place! And what about Yahweh? Surely He saw my brother’s dishonorable act as something to look down upon. Surely He would now see me in his favor as opposed to my brother, the trickster. Unbelievably, this was not the case. Jacob was still in God’s favor!
Without the birthright, all was not lost (or so I thought). For I still expected to receive my father’s blessing. So when Isaac was old and blind he called me to him and said, “Take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. Then prepare for me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die” (Gen. 27:3-4).
But somehow, Jacob caught wind that I was about to blessed by Jacob. He wasn’t happy enough taking only my birthright; he also wanted to receive the blessing that was supposed to be given me. So while I was out hunting game for my father in preparation to receive his blessing, Jacob went into our father’s tent, posing as me, and received what was rightfully mine. When I returned from hunting, I saw Jacob leaving Isaac’s tent, and he was wearing my finest garments! I was suspicious, but I thought surely my brother wouldn’t stoop so low to commit an atrocity such as this.
But my suspicions were confirmed when I went to my father. I said to him, “Let my father sit up and eat of his son’s game, so that you may bless me” (Gen. 27:31). He seemed puzzled and asked me who I was. When I told him that I was his firstborn son Esau, he started to shake violently as if he was seizing.
He said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? yes, and blessed he shall be (Gen. 27:33)!
I cried out to my father and pleaded with him that he may also bless me. “Is he not rightly named Jacob”, I wept. “For he has supplanted me these two times” (Gen 27:36). The bitter tears flowed freely from my eyes, not only because I had lost my father’s blessing, but also because my twin brother whom I loved betrayed me once again. I asked my father again if he had reserved a blessing for me.
He said, “I have already made him your lord, and I have given him all his brothers as servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son” (Gen 27:37)?
My father then blessed me by telling me that I shall live away from the fat of the earth and that I will serve Jacob then break lose of him. This was certainly not the blessing that I had waited all these years to receive! I left my father’s tent in a rage. My anger for my brother Jacob at that moment was so great that I vowed to kill him after my father had died.
Well, many years have passed since that day and Isaac our father is now dead. He was buried today by the hands of my brother Jacob and I, working together. Despite my vow, I no longer have any desire to kill Jacob. The twenty years that I was apart from Jacob proved instrumental in wiping away the anger that I once had for him.
Jacob received his father’s blessing
After Jacob received our father’s blessing, he left Canaan and went to Paddan-aram and married two of Laban’s daughters. He became fruitful and wealthy and lives in abundance. I left Canaan and settled in the land of Seir. I became fruitful and wealthy like my brother. The difference between my brother and I though is the fact that Jacob was blessed. He was blessed byIsaac and he was blessed by Yahweh. He couldn’t lose. He was destined for prosperity. I, Esau, on the other hand, did not receive those blessings by any man or deity!
All that I have, I have achieved by myself. I know myself better than anyone, therefore I did what was right for me.
I wonder if Jacob would be in the position he is in had it not been for Yahweh’s help. I don’t need Yahweh. He has not been there for me, and lo and behold, it hasn’t hindered me in the least. And if Yahweh were to finally offer me a blessing after all these years, or if He were to propose a covenant with me and my people, I would refuse. Yahweh is a God who sides with a trickster and a deceiver. He blesses a man who betrays his brother and lies to his father. Therefore, I believe Yahweh to be a god of trickery and deceit. He is a god of betrayal and lying.
There, with that off my chest, I think I can go to sleep now.