Isaac and Rebekah had two sons. Their names were Jacob and Esau. Esau was the firstborn, and in those days the firstborn son had what was called the birthright. This made him chief of all the rest, and heir to the most of his sire’s wealth.
When the boys grew up to be men, Esau took to the fields and to outdoor sports, while Jacob was a plain man and dwelt in tents. And Isaac was fond of Esau, who killed the deer, and brought him the meat to eat. But Rebekah was more fond of Jacob.
One day Jacob had made some food called pottage, and Esau came in from the field and said, Feed me, I pray thee, with that pottage, for I am faint.
And Jacob said, Sell me thy birthright.
And Esau said, I am at the point of death, so what good will a birthright do me?
So he sold his birthright to Jacob—which was a wrong thing for him to do—and took the bread and meat, and ate and drank, and then went on his way.
Now there came a time when Isaac was an old man, and his eyes were dim, for he had not long to live. And he called Esau to his bedside and told him to go out with his bow and shoot a deer and bring him some of the meat he was so fond of, that he might eat it and bless Esau ere he died.
And Rebekah heard what Isaac had said to Esau, and she told it to Jacob. And she said to him, Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids, and I will make such a dish as thy father loves. And thou shalt bring it to him that he may eat, and that he may bless thee ere his death.
So Jacob did as he was told, and brought the kids to his mother that she might cook them in a way that would please the good man of the house.
Then Rebekah put some of Esau’s clothes on Jacob, and put the skins of goats on his hands, for Esau’s hands had on them a thick coat of hair. And then Jacob took the meat and the bread and went in to his father.
And Isaac said, Who art thou, my son?
And Jacob said, I am Esau, thy firstborn. Rise, I pray thee, and eat of the deer’s meat I have brought, that thy soul may bless me.
And Isaac said to Jacob, How is it that thou hast found it so soon, my son?
And he said, The Lord thy God brought it to me.
And Isaac said to Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, and know if thou be my son Esau or not. And Jacob went near to his father and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.
And he said, Art thou in truth my son Esau?
And Jacob said, I am.
And he said, Bring near the food, and I will eat, that my soul may bless thee.
And Jacob brought it near to him, and he did eat, and he brought him wine and he drank.
And his father said to him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.
And he came near, and gave him the kiss. Then the old man asked God to bless this whom he thought was his firstborn, and make him great, and give him all good things.
Jacob was scarce yet gone out from his father when Esau came in from the hunt. And he brought in a nice dish of meat, and said, Let my father rise and eat of the flesh of the deer, that thy soul may bless me.
And Isaac said, Who art thou?
And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn, Esau.
And Isaac shook like a leaf, and said, Who? Where is he that took deer’s meat and brought it to me so that I did eat ere this, and bless him? Yea, and he shall be blest.
When Esau heard these words he cried out with great grief, and said to his father, Bless me too, O my father!
But Isaac said that he could not take from Jacob what was now his—though he had won it through fraud.
And Esau said in his heart, My father will soon be dead, and then I will kill Jacob.
And these words were told to Rebekah, and she sent for Jacob and said to him that Esau meant to kill him, and he must leave home at once and go and stay with her brother Laban till Esau’s wrath had cooled.
And Jacob went out from Beersheba.
And as he went on his way he came to a place where he thought he would lie down and rest. The sun was set, the day had been a long one, and he was quite worn out. So he put some stones for his head to rest on, and was soon sound asleep.
And while he slept he had a strange dream. He saw a flight of steps that stood on the ground, the top of which was far, far up in the sky. And bright angels went up and down the steps. And the Lord stood at the top, and said, I am with thee, and will take care of thee, and will bring thee back to this land, for I will not leave thee till I have done that which I have told thee of.
And Jacob woke out of his sleep, and said, ‘Tis true the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.
And he was in great fear, and said, This is the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!
Then he rose up and took the stone on which his head had lain and set it up on end, and he poured oil on top of it. And he gave to that place the name of Bethel, and made a vow to love and serve God all the rest of his life.
And though he had done wrong, God forgave him, and he was known as a great and good man.