Jacob was born at the same time as Esau, (had his hand wrapped around his heel) therefore he could legally say he was Esau. Gen 25:26, Jacob bought the birthright from Esau like someone would purchase a car. Esau SOLD his birthright for a bowl of lentils. Gen 25:31-34 Clearly Esau scorned his birthright! Why do some continue to make Jacob (Israel) out to be this horrible person when God was with him? Gen. 28:12-15
Genesis 25:31 - 34
KJV - 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
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To me, it is the Bible's unvarnished account of both the strengths and flaws of fallible humans (even those who were clearly used of God for the accomplishment of His will and purposes) that gives it a credibility that has endured through the centuries; that continues to speak to us today about both what can be achieved by people who allow God to work through them, as well as what pitfalls to avoid in seeking to serve God; and that nevertheless also does not detract from the positive examples set by those individuals. Consider the following examples (in addition to Jacob (Genesis 25-27)): Noah became drunk, and then cursed his son Ham, who had discovered him lying naked in his tent (Genesis 9:20-27). Abraham yielded to Sarah's suggestion that he father a child with Hagar (Genesis 16). As a young man, Joseph appeared to take pleasure in his father Jacob's favoritism; in informing on his brothers to Jacob regarding the brothers' misconduct; and in telling his brothers and his parents of his dreams that seemed to show that they would someday bow down to him, to the point that his brothers hated him and wanted to kill him (Genesis 37:2-11). Moses killed a man (Exodus 2:11-12), and was also punished by God for self-glorification (Numbers 20:1-13). Samson allowed his weakness for women to compromise his service (Judges 16). David committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11-12). Elijah fled from Ahab, and asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:1-18). Jonah initially ran from God's call, and then cared more about losing his own credibility than about the welfare of the Ninevites (Jonah 1-4). Peter denied Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-27). Paul persecuted the church (Acts 8-9).
My opinion is that indeed Jacob was a thief. But, not in the matter of Esau's birthright. Clearly Esau "sold" Jacob his birthright. Nothing was stolen there. The continuation of people calling Jacob a thief refers to Genesis 27:1-40. In this story, Rebekah overhears Isaac talking to Esau and tells him to go hunt some game, cook it, and prepare him a meal that he loves with it. Then he will give Esau his blessing. That means, Isaac intended to grant Esau leadership over his people/clan. Rebekah wanted Jacob to have the blessing. So, she cooked up some goats, convinced Jacob to dress up like Esau in his clothes so he would smell like Esau, covered his hands and neck with fur from a goat so he would feel like Esau, and fed Isaac the meal she prepared. Jacob was to act like Esau and receive the "blessing." Isaac was blind and would rely on those senses to identify people. It almost didn't work since Isaac heard the voice of Jacob and questioned him. But Jacob lied to Isaac and said "I am Esau." Isaac touched him and smelled him and agreed it had to be Esau, and gave Jacob the blessing instead of Esau. Jacob stole Esau's blessing. Jacob, although encouraged by his mother, was a thief. God was with Jacob later on, but things were still less than perfect; in fact, his life was quite messy with deceptions and wife issues in the following chapters. So, yes, Jacob was a thief.
When Elohim changed his name to Yishra’el (Israel) he was not considered a deceiver anymore. He was made new.
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