How Jacob Lived Up to His Name

How Jacob Lived Up to His Name

How Jacob Lived Up to His Name

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Genesis 25:26 – After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.

The Hebrew word for Jacob is Yaakov, the root of which means “heel.” So, dad and mom called their son a heel from the day he was born. Still today, we call people “heels” to describe tricksters, manipulators, and deceivers.

His name became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Later he grabbed his brother Esau by the heel again and tripped him up, stealing his birthright and later Isaac’s blessing. Esau was so angry he wanted to murder him, so Jacob ran to escape his rage. Twenty years have passed when we come to Genesis 32, and Jacob has a large family and a growing business. That’s when God said, “It’s time. It’s time to go back home to Canaan and see your dad and look Esau in the face.”

Genesis 32:3; 6 – Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom…When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

It looks like time does not heal all wounds. Jacob’s message to Esau was friendly, “I’d love to see you, bro. Let’s move on and start a new chapter.” Esau responded by riding out with 400 men – a militia, a posse. When the messengers told Jacob, fear overwhelmed him. Maybe his mind saw a picture of Esau tying his hands with a long rope and dragging him behind a horse back to Dodge. Or perhaps it was a fire blazing in the eyes of his hairy brother, kind of like William Wallace in Braveheart.

He was not yet in a place where he could completely trust God and his promises to provide and protect. He was more self-reliant than God reliant. True to his name, the schemer started scheming. In distress, he concocted a kind of all or nothing, “Hail Mary” plan.

He set aside a massive gift of livestock for his brother – 220 goats, 220, sheep, 30 camels, 50 head of cattle, 30 donkeys, placing them in the care of his servants, with distance between the different herds. When Esau met the first group, they were instructed to say, “This herd belongs to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my you, and he is coming behind us.” The second group would say the same thing, and the third, fourth, and so on. Verse 20 tells us Jacob’s hope.

Genesis 32:20 – …For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.”

He wanted to create a gravy train to appease his brother’s rage. For extra measure, after all the servants and herds, Jacob took Rachel, Leah, their two servants, and all his kids, and he put them next in line. And finally, he crossed a stream and placed himself as the final one in this massive family reception line.

Would his plan work? Or, would Esau slaughter his servants and flocks and take his wives and kids? Was it the end? The great heel had nowhere to run. He’d been hamstrung. But then came a shocking turn of events.

To Be Continued…

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