Esau Was the Ancient Version of Elmo

Esau Was the Ancient Version of Elmo

Genesis 25:28 – Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.  

Yesterday, we learned that Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, had two boys who had conflict their entire lives, starting with their time in the womb.

The first son born was Esau meaning “hairy”, also called Edom meaning “red”, so he was a red and hairy child perhaps like Elmo on Sesame Street. The second son born was Jacob which means “trickster” as he came out of the womb grasping his brother’s heel. As the boys grew, Esau was the man’s man who hunted, ate wild game, and was favored by his father. Jacob was a momma’s boy who preferred to stay around the house and be doted over by his mother. This sort of favoritism became a damaging sin that Jacob also committed years later as a father himself (Genesis 37:3). The warning against parental favoritism between children is a recurring theme in Genesis.

As the firstborn, Esau was entitled to the family birthright, which would grant him a double portion of his father’s estate and leave him as the head of the family upon his father’s death, as well as enable him to receive a special blessing from his father.

One day, Esau came home hungry and his brother Jacob, the trickster, got his brother to trade his birthright for a meal. In this account, the younger brother displaced the older, as had happened previously in Genesis with Cain and Abel as well as Isaac and Ishmael. At the bottom of Esau’s sin was an indifference about God’s covenant promise to bless the nations through the descendants of Abraham that would ultimately bring forth Jesus Christ, flippantly dismissing God’s covenant for a simple meal. His act also reminds us that people will sometimes give up everything for a fleeting moment of pleasure.

In this scene, we are starkly reminded that once sin enters human history, it is often most painfully felt in our families. The key is to stay close to the Lord and live in obedience to His will, something Isaac does despite the death of his mother and father, evilness of his brother, barrenness of his wife, and godlessness of his son. Human history is moving forward, despite human sin, to bring forth from this family Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.

What negative lesson do we learn about parents favoring one child over another in this story (and throughout Genesis)?

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Mark Driscoll
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