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Esau Sells his Birthright

Abraham now gave all that he had to his son Isaac, and when he was a hundred and seventy-five years old he died and was buried in the land of Canaan, in the cave of Machpelah, by the side of his wife Sarah. After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac and prospered him so that he grew rich in cattle, and in silver and gold.

God gave Isaac and Rebekah two sons, Esau and Jacob, and Esau was the older of the two. Esau was a cunning hunter and went into the field and killed deer and other animals and dressed them for his father to eat, for his father loved meat. But Jacob was a plain man who stayed about home and looked after his father's flocks and herds and managed the servants and his father's riches of gold and silver. Esau grew to be a hairy man, but Jacob was smooth and fair of skin.

Isaac, who had grown old, loved Esau more than he loved Jacob, but the heart of Rebekah turned to Jacob her younger son. Therefore there was but little love between the two brothers, for they liked not the same things and their parents were divided in their affections for them. Esau being the older had the birthright of his brother Jacob, by which is meant he had the right to more of the cattle and the gold and silver and servants and lands. Jacob being the younger must take the smaller portion of his father's goods, and Jacob was not pleased with this.

One day Jacob made a lot of food called pottage. Esau had been hunting and came back in the evening very tired and feeling sick. He saw the pottage and longed for the good food his brother Jacob had made. Therefore, he said to Jacob: "Feed me with that same red pottage, for I am faint." But Jacob would not feed with him the pottage.

Seeing how hungry his brother was Jacob turned to him and said: "Sell me this day your birthright, that I may take your place as the older one and have the more of our father's goods."

Esau was very hungry and felt very sick. He did not care very much about his birthright anyway, so he replied to Jacob: "Behold, I am at the point to die, and what profit shall this birthright be to me? I will swear to you my birthright. Give me to eat of the pottage."

So Esau swore to Jacob, and gave him his birth right and Jacob fed his brother of the pottage that he had cooked. This was very wrong of Esau to sell his birthright for a mess of pottage, and wrong of Jacob to buy it in this way. For when Esau had eaten he was well and strong again and rose up and went his way having despised the birthright to which he was born.

When Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see he called to Esau and said to him: "Take your weapons, your bow and arrows, and go into the field and kill me a deer. Then make me some savory meat, such as I love and bring it to me that I may eat, and my soul will bless you before I die."

Esau took his weapons and departed into the fields to do as his father had bidden him.

Rebekah heard what Isaac had said to Esau, and called Jacob to her side. She said to him: "I heard your father speak to Esau and tell him to go to the fields and kill a deer, and make a savory meat such as he loved, that he might eat it and bless Esau. Now therefore, my son, go to the flock and bring me two goats' kids and I will make the savory meat such as Isaac loves."

Then Rebekah told Jacob that he was to take the meat to Isaac and pretend to be Esau, and while his father ate, he, instead of his brother was to get the blessing from Isaac. In this way they plotted to deceive the old Isaac who was blind.

"My brother Esau is a hairy man and I am smooth of skin. My father may put out his hand and feel me; and then find I have deceived him, and I shall receive a curse instead of a blessing," Jacob said to his mother.

Rebekah told Jacob to do as she had bidden him and that she would see that no curse came upon him. And Jacob went to his flock and brought the kids and Rebekah made savory meat such as Isaac loved. Then she took some of the clothes that belonged to Esau and put them upon Jacob, and she put the skins of the goats' tails upon his hand and upon the smooth of his neck.

Jacob took the savory meat and the bread which Rebekah had prepared and went to the tent of his father Isaac. He said: "Here am I, father, and here is the meat you love to eat."

"Who are you, my son?" said the old blind Isaac, not knowing his two sons apart except as they told him, for they were of the same size, and spoke much alike.

"I am Esau, and have done according as you bade me. Arise, I pray you and eat of this venison that your soul may bless me," answered Jacob and brought the meat near to his father.

"Come near I pray you, that I may feel you whether you are my very son Esau or not," said Isaac, and when Jacob had come near, the old man felt of the hands and neck of Jacob where Rebekah had placed the skin of the kids which she had cooked.

"The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau," said Isaac. But the old man was deceived and blessed Jacob thinking after all he was blessing the older son. Then he said again: "Come near now my son and kiss me," and Jacob came near his father and kissed him, and as he did Isaac smelled the smell of the clothes he wore and of the skin upon his hands, and said: "The smell of my son is as the smell of the field, and surely you are Esau," and he blessed Jacob again, and told him that he should rule over all the land and that his brother should serve him forever.