Tuesday, April 12, 2011

NOT a Mamma's Boy


Esau was the firstborn son of Isaac and Rebecca. As a firstborn son in that culture, it was his job to learn the family business and prepare himself to serve as the family head upon the death of his father.

Esau and Jacob's father Isaac was a nomadic shepherd with very large flocks and many families of live-in workers. If some hunting needed to be done for some reason, there were plenty of servants to send on that errand. Esau's hunting would come under the category of sport, not work.

But Esau was not a young student learning to be a wise chieftain to those who would someday look to him for leadership. It wasn't that he liked to hunt occasionally for relaxation. No, the text says, he was "ish sadeh," 'a man of the open fields'. His life orientation was to shirk his responsibilities to go hunting.

The last phrase of Genesis 25:27 gives a specific behavior of Jacob's that demonstrated the contrast between Esau's character and the character of our ancestor Jacob. That phrase refers to Jacob as "a tent-dweller."

I've heard people who have misunderstood this verse in mistranslations call Jacob "a mamma's boy" and Esau "a he-man." That is probably how Esau understood the situation, too. But the Holy Spirit, through the text of this verse, is introducing us to Jacob as a man who showed his sincere devotion to God by honoring his parents and working at the family business, while his older brother, the heir to the business, spent his time skillfully hunting down animals for fun.

by Glen Penton

1 comment:

  1. That's a good clarification to note. Thanks.