Jacob Was a “Plain” Man…or Was He? (Genesis 25:27)

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I am not a Jacob apologist. Let me state that right away.

I do not think that Jacob acted in a virtuous way when he “stole” the birthright from Esau. In fact, I think he legitimately manipulated Esau and took advantage of his weakened position to claim the birthright.

In other words, I do believe he stole it. Yes, Esau gave it up, but it wasn’t Jacob’s to take — no matter how he acquired it (Disagree? Email me here and let me know!).

But there’s something to be said for the way in which these two men operated. Esau was a mighty hunter, a man of the field that spent his days (and nights) chasing game. 

Jacob, on the other hand, was a peaceful man. He cooked stew. He lived in tents.

Both are perfectly fine paths. I know a lot of hunters (even though I’m not one of them), and I know a lot of guys that prefer to get their meat from the grocery store.

If you’re going to challenge one of them to a fight, though, there’s no doubt most would choose Esau. And yet, in this scenario, the “peaceful man” wins. How?

First off, the fact that he’s “peaceful” now doesn’t mean he’ll always be peaceful. His manipulation of Esau to the side, later, God changes his name to Israel because he “wrestles with God” (Genesis 32:28). 

That verse also mentions that Jacob has wrestled with people too “and prevailed.” So, just because he hung out at home all the time, it doesn’t mean he can’t put up a good fight.

Other translations say that Jacob was a “mild” man, or a “quiet” man. One even claims that he is “harmless.”

The best idea of this passage though, at least in my opinion, comes from the fact that he was “plain.” He was steady, easy-going, respectable. He went about his work without a bunch of hooplah.

Perhaps it was that very un-exciting aspect about him that made Esau let his guard down. He might not have suspected Jacob was capable of manipulating him, and yet…it happened.

This goes to show us that we can’t always trust those who appear to be run-of-the-mill humans. It could be that there is something sinister beneath the surface. Or, more likely and more hopefully, that there’s something truly great beneath the surface.

It also shows us that we don’t have to be the one always in the fight to make a difference. Jacob chose his time carefully. When it was time to act, he acted.

Everything else was secondary.