The Bible’s Guide to Tricking Your Parents

This post is part of a year-long experiment wherein, week-by-week, we write the Bible better than it was in the original.

 

Genesis 25:19- 28:9

Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Esau was the oldest, so naturally he was set to inherit everything his dad owned. That’s just how things worked back then. (NOTE: We still practice a modified iteration of this system today: Oldest children inherit their parents’ high expectations.) Isaac was old, so old that he was almost completely blind. Or maybe he was just farsighted, it’s not like they had glasses back then.
 
ISAAC: Esau, my son!
ESAU: Hm?
ISAAC: Esau, I’m old.
ESAU: I don’t care.
ISAAC: Shut up. Esau, beloved son, I’m so old, I could drop dead any second. Also, I’m starving. Go out and hunt an animal, and make me some stew. When you give me it, I’ll bless you.

Now, I can’t help feeling like we’re missing part of the story that went like:

ISAAC: Get me dinner, son.
ESAU: No.
ISAAC: I’ll bless you if you do.
ESAU: So?
ISAAC: Then you’ll officially have all my stuff after I die. It’s like writing you into my will.
ESAU: Fine.
 
Meanwhile, Rebecca, Isaac’s wife, overhears this conversation. She likes Jacob more than Esau, and she hatches a plan with him: She’ll make a stew, which Jacob will take to his blind dad, pretending to be Esau. Then Isaac will bless Jacob, and Jacob will get paid.

JACOB: That’s ridiculous.

Yes, Jacob realized that this plan was dumb for a billion reasons, number one being—

JACOB: Esau’s hairy as hell. Isaac will touched my baby smooth skin and figure out who I am. Then he’ll put a curse on me.

Apparently Isaac also has cursing powers.

REBECCA: Okay, fine. I’ll also kill a goat and put its skin on your arm, so your Dad can stroke your elbow and think he’s touching Esau.

So Jacob, covered in fresh, bloody goatskin, brings his dad the food.

JACOB: Yo Dad! Here’s the stew. Now bless me.
ISAAC: Your skin feels like Esau, but your voice sounds like Jacob.
JACOB:
ISAAC: Whatever, I’ll just bless you anyway.

Then Esau comes back and he and Isaac figure out what happened. But it’s too late. According to the most sacred of ancient times rules, there are no takebacksies.

So Jacob got all the blessings, and he got to be the protagonist of tons of Biblical stories. All Esau got was a Wikipedia page.

 

Illustration by Dana Lo

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About The Author

Ilana Strauss

Ilana E. Strauss is a human-shaped collection of atoms that have written for The Atlantic, Reader's Digest, the Washington Post, Tablet, and the Toast.

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