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Jacob

Supplanter. (1) The younger of the twin sons of Isaac (Gen. 25:24–26). The two brothers were rivals from their birth, and Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, were rivals of the Israelites (Gen. 25:23). The chief events of Jacob’s life were the “purchase” of the birthright (25:29–34); the dream and vow (Gen. 28); his long stay in the house of Laban (Gen. 29–31); the return to Canaan, the reception at Penuel of the new name of Israel, and the reconciliation with Esau (Gen. 32–33); his later life with his family at Shechem, Ephrath, and Mamre (Hebron) (Gen. 33–37); his journey into Egypt, his death there, and his burial in the cave of Machpelah (Gen. 45–50). It was through Jacob that the covenant of Abraham continued (Gen. 28:1–4, 12–22); it was then passed on to Joseph and Ephraim.

There has been much misunderstanding about Jacob, and even well-meaning students of the Bible criticize some of Jacob’s dealings. The supposed deception of his father in obtaining the blessing (Gen. 27) cannot be taken at face value. The Lord is not obligated to bless an unworthy person simply because gracious words were pronounced upon him by mistake. The key to the matter is expressed in Gen. 27:33 wherein Isaac, after learning Jacob’s true identity, said, “Yea, and he shall be blessed.” Isaac could have revoked the blessing at that time, but he seemed to affirm that it had been rightly delivered. Jacob’s subsequent life demonstrates that he deserved the blessing he received, while Esau’s life shows disobedience and some displeasing choices of wives (Gen. 26:34–35; 28:8–9). The so-called purchase of the birthright from Esau may very well be equally justified by items of Esau’s errant behavior that disqualified him but that are not recorded in our Bible. We learn from latter-day revelation that Jacob “did none other things than that which [he was] commanded” and is today exalted upon a throne in heaven, in company with Abraham and Isaac (D&C 132:37). There are references to Jacob in Hosea 12:3–4, 12; Mal. 1–2; Matt. 8:11; 22:32; Rom. 9:13; Heb. 11:9, 20–21.

(2) Father of Joseph, husband of Mary (Matt. 1:15–16).