The Story of Jacob

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 1997

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Of the Biblical Patriarchs, Jacob is the most mysterious. Possessing neither the faith nor virtues of Abraham, Jacob is chosen to be the bearer of Divine blessing and the father of Israel. His character emerges through a series of deceptions, intrigues and conflicts which cast serious doubt on the wisdom and appropriateness of God using Jacob as his prophet. A casual reading of the text would indicate that God is rather wary of being too intimately involved in Jacob's schemes and deception. God, who was Abraham's constant companion and guide, now appears to be standing on the sidelines, carefully weighing when and where to make an appearance. With Jacob we seem to be dealing no longer with the life of virtuous prophet in the presence of God, but, rather, with a very human and flawed character. There are many lessons that can be learned from the story of Jacob.

Most importantly, the story of Jacob holds out hope that man, despite his weaknesses and deceits, can live together with God.

The story of Jacob occupies a pivotal position in the stories of the Bible, and serves a dual function. On the one hand, it provides a bridge between the Patriarchs and the people-a transition from the individual lives of the Patriarchs to the history of the people. Abraham is the father of Israel; and Jacob becomes Israel. On the other hand, the story of Jacob provides us with history and can be seen as a continuation and resolution of prior events and subjects of the Bible. Jacob's life is related to events and concerns of history (Genesis 3-11), and serves as its dramatic culmination.

The Bethuel and Penuel revelations place the Jacob narrative within a continuum of events beginning with man's expulsion from the Garden of Eden...