Cartalk / Tabletalk 5: Sibling rivalry

In this story, Jacob persuades Esau to swap his birthright for a meal: a birthright Jacob has already been promised as a free gift from God. Later, also over a meal, he tricks Isaac into giving him the blessing meant for Esau (27.25). In many cultures, contracts made over meals are legally binding and cannot be broken.

  • READ: Genesis 25:19-34 (Year A Proper 10)

These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.”

When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. When the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:19-34)

  • REFLECT: What word or phrase jumps out? What do you think was in the stew? How do you think the brothers got along when they were kids?
  • RELATE: Have you ever competed with a sibling? What happened? How has it hurt you? What, if anything, has brought healing? Talk about it.
  • RESPOND: Is God calling you to any practical response now? Pray about it, then act.
  • REPORT: If you or your household do take action, text or email a photo of that action to Sanctuary with a brief explanation. We can use it during the service or, with your permission, add it to the Facebook page.
  • RELAX: You might like to watch Home Alone (PG) or Thor Ragnarok (M), both currently on Disney+. In each film, you might ask: What are some of the sibling dynamics being played out? Does the rivalry lead to creativity or destruction? What, if anything, heals the relationship?

Cartalk / Tabletalk © Sanctuary, 2020. Year A Proper 10. Image credit: MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash.

Cartalk / Tabletalk

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