What if Jacob Had Been Cursed? (Genesis 27:12)

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I’m a big fan of alternate history. In fact, I did a whole 13-week class during the Pandemic called “What If.” In it, we took various Biblical stories and tried to figure out what it would have been like if something had turned out differently.

What if Moses didn’t intercede on Mount Sinai?

What if Pilate freed Jesus instead of putting Him on the Cross?

What if Judas had asked for forgiveness instead of hanging himself?

Questions like this are ultimately pure speculation, but they’re fantastic thought experiments to stretch our mind.

You can do that in Genesis 27:12. In this chapter, Rebekah helps Jacob to steal the birthright from his brother by tricking his father.

It’s not easy. After Rebekah tells him how to deceive his father, Jacob balks. “What if he knows I’m not Esau and gives me a curse instead of a blessing?” (Genesis 27:12).

What if indeed! Can you imagine a scenario where Jacob is the one that is cursed, driven away from the presence of his father, and Esau is the one that receives the blessing? 

I recognize that the prophecy in Genesis 25:23 says that “the younger will serve the older,” but allow your mind to drift for a while.

God knew what Esau would do. He knew that Esau would have so little regard for the birthright that he would sell it for a pot of “that red stuff there” (Genesis 25:30). His subsequent marriage to a Hittite woman shows just how little value he placed on spiritual matters.

Of course, one could also make the argument that Jacob was kinda cursed anyway. He was tricked by Laban into working 14 years for Rachel’s hand, then had to suffer the loss of his favorite son Joseph when his other children claimed he had died. 

We also have to remember that many of the blessings that Jacob received came to Esau as well. Just as Jacob became a powerful figure in the Near East, with twelve sons that made up the eventual nation of Israel, so Edom was powerful too. He is the father of a great nation himself. When he meets up with Jacob, it’s at the head of an entire army.

In a way then, both were blessed, and both were cursed. But only one nation would be the one that survived through time. The Edomites eventually became the Idumeans and were subsequently lost to history.

Also, only through Jacob would the Christ come into the world. If Isaac had blessed Esau instead, would Jesus have been an Edomite? It’s impossible (and not appropriate) for me to speculate on that, but I do know God knew exactly what would happen.

He knew Esau would sell his birthright, and Jacob was the one to buy it from him when the day came.