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Why is the birthright issue such a big deal?

Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” Genesis 25:31

The most famous story from the Bible that dealt with birthright was Jacob and Esau, born of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau and Jacob were twins.

Esau had every right to all the inheritance. He was the firstborn out of the womb by only seconds. Jacob was always in pursuit of that birthright, even at birth when clinging on to Esau’s heel as they entered the world.

The process of relinquishing the birthright (also seen later when Isaac is dying in Genesis 27) showed Esau’s character weakness. He was not worthy of such a great honor. The story is an incredible one and shows God fulfilling his prophecy (verse 23) that the older child will serve the younger. Unheard of in that culture.

Birthright was tied to financial inheritance. Esau could have received the family fortune. Birthright also meant that you received the power and privilege. Your father’s name was passed on to you, so you inherited his influence. Finally, you received the father’s blessing, a moment of parental approval and a sign of God’s blessing on you too.

In history, Esau fades as a footnote, while Jacob is the father of a nation still in existence today. The birthright made all the difference.