Esau Selling His Birthright – (to the crafty Jacob, ancestor of Moses)
From the Scribe (7/8/14)
Today’s post was written in beautiful Montreal, as part of my vacation to “Yankee-land and beyond,” but more about that later. In the meantime:
The Bible readings for next Sunday, July 13, are: Genesis 25:19-34, Psalm 119:105-112, Romans 8:1-11, and Matthew 13:1-9,18-23.
The Genesis reading – 25:19-34 – began with the birth of Jacob and Esau, to Isaac and Rebekah. It moved to “Esau‘s loss of his birthright to Jacob and the conflict that had spawned between their descendant nations.” (Jacob was “father of the Israelites,” while Esau was progenitor of the Edomites, from the land of Edom, or Idumea. “The Edomites may have been connected with . . . nomadic raiders mentioned in Egyptian sources.” Edom – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
The conflict started in the womb and continued to young adulthood, with Isaac liking his first-born Esau more, while Rebekah loved the younger Jacob more. (Keep in mind, Jacob was an ancestor of Moses, who wrote the book.)
Surprisingly, the writer emphasized Jacob’s trait of being sneaky, again starting in the womb as Jacob grabbed Esau’s heel, “seemingly trying to pull Esau back into the womb so that he could be firstborn. The grasping of the heel is also a reference to deceptive behavior.”
The deception continued to young adulthood when Esau gave up his birthright in exchange for a bowl of stew, because he was so hungry. (In the painting above Esau is the hungry one on the right. The shifty-looking guy on the left is Jacob.) But as Wikipedia noted:
The birthright has to do with inheritance of goods and position both. The tale is typically biblical. Esau acts impulsively. As he did not value his birthright over a bowl of lentil stew, by his actions, Esau demonstrates that he does not deserve to be the one who continues Abraham’s responsibilities and rewards under God’s covenant, since he does not have the steady, thoughtful qualities which are required. Jacob shows his wiliness as well as his greater intelligence and forethought. What he does is not quite honorable, though not illegal. (Emphasis added.)
There are a host of object lessons here, one of which might be that we as Christians are expected to be harmless as dove, but also expected to be “wise as serpents.” That’s Matthew 10:16, where some translations say to be “cunning as serpents,” “crafty as snakes,” or “shrewd as serpents.” And since the serpent is a metaphor for the Devil, what Jesus seemed to say in Matthew 10:16 was that we should be “wise as hell” or “wise as the Devil.”
Which by the way is something much harder to do if you only interpret the Bible in a narrow, strict, or “fundamental” way. (BTW: that’s the theme of this blog.)
The Psalm 119 reading begins with the beloved Bible-verse, “Thy word is a lantern [or lamp] unto my feet.” That’s Psalm 119:105 in the King James Version ( the one God uses). If you Google that phrase, you’ll get some 3,900 results.
[T]he word of God is like a torch … in a dark night. It shows … the way; it prevents [us] stumbling over obstacles, or failing down precipices, or wandering off into paths which would lead into danger, or would turn him away altogether from the path to life.
(See Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, at Psalm 119:105 Commentaries: Your word is a lamp to my feet …, and Second Peter 1:19, saying we have – from Jesus – “a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”)
The Psalm 119 reading ends at verse 12, “I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes, for ever and to the end.” As noted in the “About” pages above, those statutes were fulfilled in Jesus and his three main promises: 1) that He would accept anyone, 2) that He came so His followers could have life in abundance, and 3) that He expected His followers to perform even greater miracles than He did. See ABOUT THIS BLOG.
In Romans 8:1-11, Paul compared the old law and the new grace, available through faith in Jesus. In Romans 8:6 Paul said, “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Compare that with what he said in Second Corinthians 3:6, that the letter of the law kills, while the Spirit of the law gives life. See also John 4:24 (in the KJV), “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
That’s another way of saying rather than focusing only on the literal sense of the Bible, the better course to try and discern what it means spiritually, in a deeper sense, or what Paul Harvey might have called “the rest of the story.” (See below.)
And finally, in Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, Jesus told the Parable of the Sower. For more on that see Parable of the Sower – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The bottom image is courtesy of Paul Harvey’s 1978 ‘So God Made a Farmer’ Speech – Garance …. On the matter of being “wise as the devil,” noted above, see also Harvey’s “If I were the Devil,” at If I Were the Devil – (BEST VERSION) by PAUL HARVEY audio ….
Speaking of “the rest of the story,” see also Paul Harvey – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which added of Harvey’s service in World War II: “He eventually enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces [after Pearl Harbor] but served only from December 1943 to March 1944.” Some critics claimed he was “given a psychiatric discharge for deliberately injuring himself in the heel. Harvey angrily denied the accusation, but was vague about details: ‘There was a little training accident…a minor cut on the obstacle course…I don’t recall seeing anyone I knew who was a psychiatrist…I cannot tell you the exact wording on my discharge.'”