Are you familiar with Jacob? Did you know that he was the father of 12 sons and one daughter? Or that he had a twin brother with whom he wasn’t the best of friends? Did you know he actually got into a wrestling match with God? Before we give it all away, let’s just say he’s a Bible character worth learning more about. So if you are ready to get to know Jacob a little better, read on!
Jacob’s life got off to a tricky start—from when he was still inside his mother Rebekah’s belly. He and his twin, Esau, jostled around quite a bit in her womb. When they were born, Esau came out first. However, Jacob was born holding on to his brother’s heel!
Jacob’s name means “he deceives.” Read Genesis 25:26.
Jacob and Esau reunited after about 20 years. At first Jacob was afraid Esau was going to kill him, so he sent his family away to safety. One night he wrestled with a man that he learned was actually God. Jacob refused to let go until God blessed him, and for that God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. Read Genesis 32. Also—Esau was super happy to see his brother again, though Jacob was not so sure.
Jacob and Esau grew up living a nomadic life. Do you know what a nomad is? This is a great opportunity to look that word up. The two brothers couldn’t have been more different, even though they were twins. First, they were fraternal, which means they didn’t look alike. They also had very different interests: Esau was a great hunter, while Jacob was much happier staying at home in the comfort of the family tents. Read Genesis 25:27.
Their mother, Rebekah, was involved in a cheating scandal of sorts. Esau, as the brother born first, was to inherit blessing due the oldest son (read Genesis 27:1-4). But Rebekah plotted with Jacob to deceive their blind father, Isaac, into giving the blessing to Jacob instead! Esau promised to kill Jacob for that, so Rebekah helped Jacob escape to his uncle, Laban. She never saw Jacob again.
Jacob’s story has many twists and turns. God blessed him even though Jacob went through serious troubles. In spite of the issues that get in the way of us doing the best we can for God, He can still use and bless us.
Jacob worked for Laban as a shepherd. After seven years he wanted to marry Laban’s daughter, Rachel. But Laban deceived Jacob and gave him the older daughter, Leah, instead. In order for Jacob to marry Rachel, he had to work another seven years. While both sisters were Jacob’s wives, he loved Rachel more, and that caused a lot of family drama.
Jacob had 12 sons with Leah, Rachel, and two servants. He had one daughter with Leah. Needless to say, the family was a bit complicated. Finally, when Jacob gained enough wealth from raising his own flocks from the animals Laban gave him to tend, he was able to take his family and start a life of their own. But it wasn’t that easy. Read Genesis 30 and 31.