1.After reading this Torah portion how would you describe the personalities of Jacob and Esau. How did their personality traits work to their advantage or disadvantage? Do you see yourself in either one of these brothers?

Genesis 25:27 where the Torah gives us a hint of who these two young men had become. Esau had become a skillful hunter, a man of the field. 

Jacob became a pure man living in tents. In the culture of the time Esau, the first born, was to become the patriarch of the family, leading it both in life and in faith. He was to prepare himself for this role by being involved in those things that would bring him to the level of knowledge to take over at his father’s death. 

How does the Torah describe him? He was a skilled hunter, a man of the field. So, if game needed to be killed for food the task would have fallen to a servant, not to the coming leader. What we see however is a man who hunted and killed because he liked it. His time was not spent preparing for his coming role but in hunting. So it would seem he cared little for his responsibilities.

Now, what does the Torah say about Jacob? He was a pure man. The word “tam” is the word used in Hebrew. It is commonly used in reference to the service of G-d in the sacrifices that were offered. It also is one of the most common words used to describe someone who whole-heartedly walked with G-d. This verse also says he was a dweller in tents. He was always around learning both about G-d and about life.

As time goes on we see Esau being a person who represents a life not lives to its fullest, someone who lived for the day with only the thought of what would satisfy him in the moment. We see in verse 34 where Torah says he despised his birthright. He preferred the thrill of the hunt, who needs a birthright.

2.Genesis 25:29-34 we look at the whole stew birthright story. First, on the surface this is a business deal between the two brothers. One is hungry and the other had food. Esau sold his birthright for stew. First, what was His birthright?  What was included in a birthright? Did the first born have any spiritual responsibility in the family?

Each of us have probably had moments when we made rash decisions that we wish we could retract. We wish we had thought it through. Sometimes we have to live with the result of that moment but spiritually all is not lost. David was forgiven by G-d and so are we when we ask. Our daily struggle is to win the battle of each moment that it will bring us closer to the Father not push us further away.

The most important issue is the place of spiritual responsibility this son assumes and performs all the priestly duties of the family. He is the spiritual representative before G-d.

We have a birthright from G-d sealed by the Messiah yet if not careful we can waste it. We cannot realize it without effort. We must work out our own salvation as James says. To do less would be a waste of our life as G-d meant it to be. As Israel, Deut. 4:20, we have to pass through the iron furnaces of Egypt to be who we are called to be.

3.Esau sold his birthright for just a bowl of stew but what did it really cost Jacob? How long did it really take Jacob (Israel) to actually be recognized as the owner of this birthright? What lesson can we learn from this?

Read Genesis 35:9-12. Here  G-d says his name will no longer be Jacob but will be called Israel. G-d also makes the same covenant with Jacob that he made with Avraham and Isaac. It took years for Jacob to mature and move into that position. He went through being deceived himself by his father in law Laban and later by his own sons. What lesson can we learn from this? Our faith takes work.  

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Coming to the L-rd is the beginning for us, not the end. We can’t just sit down and say, “Come on heaven.” No, G-d requires us to be purified. 

We have a birthright from G-d sealed by the Messiah yet if not careful we can waste it. We cannot realize it without effort. We must work out our own salvation as James says. To do less would be a waste of our life as G-d meant it to be. As Israel, Deut. 4:20, we have to pass through the iron furnaces of Egypt to be who we are called to be.

4.We also read in this Torah portion about the digging of wells. What could these wells represent? Can you find a meaning for each of these wells?

What does a well give us? Water – or in Hebrew – living water. These wells might represent for us digging spiritual wells that last. The wells we dig will nourish us through our life or they will dry up and leave us thirsty depending on where we dig them. Isaac dug wells, wells that lasted. These particular wells were dug in the days of Abraham (Genesis 21:30).

The first one was named Esek – “dispute” 

It signified the physical strife between his herdsmen and the local people. Is it easy to dig a well? Do we meet obstacles? Of course we do. But they continued digging. We too must go on and finish our well. We can’t be caught up in the physical struggle and give up. It is hard to dig our spiritual well. There are many things that we may encounter as we dig… old habits, old friends, family… but we cannot stop.

The name of the second well is Sitna or hatred.

As we press on through the physical struggle that comes with well digging we reach a point where sometimes our emotions become involved. This is a step above the physical work. But here our emotions come into play. This is harder work. Emotions are not bad but often we allow them to cloud our vision and distract us from the work at hand. G-d is our help in channeling our emotions to finish the well and not give up.

Finally as we allow the Spirit to guide us and strengthen us we come to the last well, Rechovot, or that broad place where the Spirit is unhindered in our lives and our well nourished not only us but everyone around us.

We may need to check our spiritual wells from time to time to identify any area in our lives that have become filled with the things of the world or neglected. If we find we need to reclaim our spiritual wells so they will flow with living water again we may face obstacles and oppositionmuch like Isaac experienced. 

During challenging seasons in our spiritual life, it is vital to maintain perseverance and faith. We must keep the promise that God is with us and will guide us through difficulties. Additionally we should seek support and accountability from other believers who can strengthen and encourage us. 

5.In Genesis chapter 27 we come to the incident of the blessing. Isaac was planning to bless Esau. Rebekah knew that Jacob was to be the leader of the family. G-d told her as much. How did she handle the situation? What can we learn from this incident?

She knew that Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob. She is faced with a dilemma. What to do? Here we come to the faith crisis. As believers we are often faced with choices. How to deal with an issue, face it head on or maybe employee methods that we learned in our families of origin that do not bring life. 

Are we ever tempted to lie or not be completely honest to get the result we think is best? I expect she had this battle in her spirit – trust G-d or take care of it yourself. She reverted back to what had worked at home and did not rely on G-d to bring about His will in the blessing of her sons. 

She and Jacob both deceived their husband and father. My point is, good does not come from deception. We surely see it in Jacob’s life. He is cheated and deceived over and over in the years of his life. Laban cheated him and he worked many years for his love. His sons later deceived him saying Joseph was dead. 

Notice anything about these two deceptions? First he married the wrong woman, as Isaac had blessed the wrong son, both because they could not see. Later he is told his favorite son is dead and it is proven to him by the clothes of the son. He and his mother used Esau’s clothes to deceive Isaac. The deception of Jacob returned to him.

My point is, we as G-d’s children have been and are adopted into the family of G-d. We can’t return to the ways of our past. If we do the lessons can be difficult for us to bear. We are new creations and as such are called to live not as deceivers but as believers. G-d has us. We do not have to resort to our old unredeemed ways to work things out in our life.