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Who is Jacob?
        (heel-catcher, supplanter), the third of the Jewish patriarchs, the son of Isaac and Rebekah, and twin brother to Esau. He received his name from the circumstance which occurred at his birth. Gen 25:26. The family were then living at Lahai-roi. The twins greatly differed in tastes: Esau was a hunter, Jacob "a plain man, dwelling in tents." Gen 25:27. But though domestic, he was selfish and scheming. He bought the birthright from Esau, taking advantage of the latter's temporary weakness. Gen 25:29-34. When Isaac, fearing a sudden death, desired to bless Esau, whose manly character made him his favorite, while the more pliable Jacob was the favorite of Rebekah, Jacob was ready to fall in with his mother's plan, and, by deceiving his blind and aged father, to secure the elder brother's blessing. The event, so momentous to all parties, is related in detail in Gen 27. The hate of Esau, naturally aroused, compelled Jacob in fear to flee somewhere, and the anxiety of Rebekah lest Jacob should marry a daughter of Heth was the ostensible reason for turning his steps toward Padan-aram, where her brother Laban lived. Previous to his departure Isaac blessed him again, and thus with the assurance of divine favor, but with a heavy and fearful heart, did this man of at least 50 years (it is usual to call him 78 years old) turn his back upon his home and wearily go among strangers. But, though unworthy, he was the heir to the promises; and accordingly, God cared for him. At Bethel his eyes were opened to see a glorious vision and his ears to hear the voice of God. On awaking he made a vow to serve the Lord, giving the tenth, if the Lord on his part would protect and prosper him. Gen 28:20-22. An every-day incident introduced him to the family of Laban; an act of gallantry won him a home at once. Loving Rachel, he promised to serve Laban for her. But when the time was fulfilled, Laban, favored by the marriage-customs of the Orient, fraudulently married him to the elder daughter, Leah, but afterward to Rachel also. Jacob contrived an expedient whereby his flocks became larger and healthier than Laban's, and thus in the course of time the desire of his heart after the things of this life was gratified. He had "increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and men-servants, and camels, and asses." Gen 30:43. Eleven sons and one daughter had been born to him by his two wives and their two servants, who were his concubines. But he yearned after his native land and determined to brave his brother's anger. Secretly, knowing Laban's feelings, he fled, but was followed and overtaken. A parley ensued. Jacob asserted his grievance: "I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle; and thou hast changed my wages ten times." A covenant of peace was made, of which a pillar was a reminder, Gen 31:45-54, and Laban left him with expressions of goodwill. Still dreading Esau, he sent messengers to him, and found Esau was approaching -- he feared with hostile intentions. He prudently guarded against destruction by separating his company into two bands and by sending a handsome present to Esau. Fear acted like a slave to bring him to God. He prayed humbly, not to say cringingly, quoting the divine promises. After sending his family over the brook Jabbok, he tarried behind to see that nothing was forgotten, when there appeared "a man" who wrestled with him till the breaking of the day. The wrestling forms an extraordinary scene. Gen 32:24-32. God prevailed not against man. But when the day dawned the exhausted son of Isaac was no longer Jacob, but Israel; for though the sinew of his thigh shrank under the angel's touch, and though after this he was to know much sorrow, the all-night conflict had brought victory, so that the angel of the Lord could say, "As a prince hast thou power with God and with men; and hast prevailed." With the new name came the new nature. The man who met Esau was not Jacob, the supplanter, but Israel, the soldier of God. Behind him lay the guilty past; before him stretched the illimitable future, whose near part was full of trial, but whose far part was full of glory. Like many other awaited ills, the meeting with Esau was an agreeable disappointment. Esau was all kindness, and Jacob was compelled to refuse his friendly offers. After the brothers separated, Jacob finally settled near the city of Shechem, where he bought some land. Gen 33. In retaliation for the ravishment of Dinah by Shechem, the son of the prince of the country, by a stratagem the city was destroyed. See Dinah. The patriarch was therefore compelled to leave that part of the land. By divine direction he came to Bethel, where he paid the vow he had made so many years before, and here God again appeared unto him. On their way to Hebron, at Bethlehem, Benjamin was born, but Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob, died. The memory of the event was ineffaceable. Gen 35:19. Shortly after his arrival, it would seem, Isaac died, and he and Esau buried him. Gen 35:29. The history now is taken up with Joseph, and Jacob does not play a prominent part until, lying upon his deathbed, he utters his prophetic blessing, tracing from the starting-point of individual character the fortunes of the tribes his twelve sons were destined to found. But the future was revealed to him only a little while before he belonged to the past for ever, for scarcely had he spoken out the pride, affection, apprehension, and warning of his fatherly heart than he "yielded up the ghost," aged 147 years, "and was gathered unto his people." Gen 49:33. He was buried with great pomp; his body was embalmed by the court-physicians and carried to Hebron, and there at last, after 147 years of wandering and trouble, Jacob rested with his ancestors in the cave of Machpelah. Gen 50:13. Jacob had more weaknesses and faults by nature than his father and grandfather, but his life was also more checkered and troubled, and his character purified by affliction, Abraham exemplifies heroic faith; Isaac, quiet humility; Jacob, patience and perseverance. His checkered life teaches us the lesson that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of heaven. The terms "Jacob" and the "seed" or "children of Jacob" are often applied to the body of true believers generally. Deut 33:10: Ps 14:7; Ps 22:23; Ps 105:6; Ps 135:4; Isa 14:1; Isa 44:2; Mic 7:20.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'jacob' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

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