The name Jacob in Hebrew means ‘to supplant’ or ‘he who grasped the heel’ because he was born holding his brother Esau’s heel. Dressing or covering up to deceive played a big part in Jacob’s life. The first instance was when he tricked his own father to give him, the younger son, the blessing meant for the firstborn in response to his own mother, Rebekah‘s influence. She covered him with goat fur to disguise his smooth skin and together deceived Isaac into thinking that he was dispensing a blessing to the hairy Esau. Second, his uncle Laban turned the tables and gave Leah under the cover of darkness for Jacob to marry instead of Rachel. Lastly, Jacob was deceived by his own sons when they brought back Joseph’s bloodied multicolored coat and tricked him into thinking his favorite son was killed by a beast.
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All these acts of deception marred the lives of everyone involved and caused unnecessary heartaches to Jacob. Jacob did not escape the consequences of his actions which included his escape to Paddan Aram or risk being killed by his own brother. The years of work he rendered to Laban just to marry Rachel, and the deceit of his own sons which mirrored the deception he did years ago to his own father are further examples of the price he paid. Yes, he was blessed by God, but he also reaped what he had sown years ago in his father’s household in Canaan.
If you really think about it, the Bible does not cast Jacob in a very flattering light. From the womb to the major moments of his life, the father of the nation of Israel repeatedly acted in very unscrupulous manner and tricked his way to get what he wanted. That doesn’t mean, however, that he did not have good qualities. The author of Genesis did not feel the need to justify Jacob’s actions but laid out his true character to show how God’s mercy, grace, and love worked in Jacob’s life. As well as show that this love is not be earned by his (or our) special merit or attributes.
Picture By Horst, Gerrit Willemsz. (c.1612 – 1652) – ArtistDetails of artist on Google Art Project – 1QHvqb64da2aKg at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22152078