Jacob (he grasps the heel )

First years

Before his and Esau's birth, God talked to Rebekah. He told her, that there are two peoples growing in her womb. This two peoples would be separated and the older (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob).

Jacob was a quite man and stayed with the tents. He was loved by Rebekah.

He got Esau's birthright for some bread and some lentil stew.

When Isaac was old, he sent Esau out to hunt some wild game for him. He promised Esau to bless him. But Rebekah who heard this, told Jacob to get some goats. She then cooked it and changed Jacobs clothes and skin. So Jacob went in, served the food and got the blessing. When Esau got back from his hunting, Isaac could not give him any other blessings. So Jacob became ruler over Esau.

Live in Haran

Esau then wanted to kill Jakob. But Rebekah convinced Isaac to send Jacob to Laban to find a wife. So Jacob fled and went to Haran.

There he worked for Laban. Laban did not want Jacob to work for free. Because Jacob loved Rachel very much, he asked for her and promised to work for seven years to earn her. After this seven years, Laban gave him Leah as wife. Jacob had to work another seven years in order to earn Rachel, too. Jacob did not love Leah. So the Lord opened Leah's womb but closed Rachel's one. Leah then bore him six children, while Rachel only got Joseph.

Leaving Haran

When Jacob got very rich, he asked Laban for permission to leave. Laban did not want to let him go. But they then agreed, that Jacob was allowed to go and that he could take every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-coloured lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. He then proceeded with a trick to give all the strong animals the desired colors, so that he could take them.

After 20 years where Jacob had been with Laban, God told Jacob to run away. So Jacob took his wives and children and all his livestock and went to Paddan Aram, to his father Isaac. On the way there, Laban caught up with him. He was looking for the gods, that Rachel had stolen. He did not find anything and made a covenant with Jacob at Jegar Sahadutha (as it was called by Laban) or Galeed (as it was called by Jacob) or Mizpah. The covenant did not allow Jacob to ill-treat Laban's daughters or take any wives beside Laban's daughters. Additionally they set up a frontier which both would not pass to harm the other.

Struggling with God

On his way back, Jacob sent messengers to Esau. Esau then set out to meet Jacob which greatly distressed Jacob, because he thought that Esau still wanted to kill him. So he prepared a lot of gifts and sent them ahead of him.

After all the people and all his possessions were sent over the Jordan, Jacob was left alone on the other side. Then he wrestled with a man all night long. This man could not overcome Jacob and in the end he broke Jacob's hip. Jacob would not let this man go until he had received a blessing. And so he did. There he was named Israel. This place was then named Peniel.


After all the preperation, Jacob met Esau again. But Esau did not hold any grudge against Jacob and accepted him in the country cheerfully. Only because Jacob insisted forcefully on giving Esau a lot of goods, did Esau accept them. After this encounter with Esau, Jacob went to Succoth via Shechem. In Shechem he bought a field for a hundred pieces of silver and built an altar on it called "El Elohe Israel". In Succoth he built a place for him and his belongings.

Dinah went out one day to visit other women in the country. She was then raped by Shechem, who proposed that the two families should intermarry. The sons of Jacob accepted, but only under the condition that Shechem's whole city would be circumcised. Then Simeon and Levi attacked the city and killed all males and took Dinah with them again. Jacob did not agree with that, because he was afraid of the people living in the land.


God said to Jacob to go up to Bethel and settle there. Additionally, Jacob had to build an altar there. Jacob then told his whole clan to get rid of the foreign gods and buried them all under an oak in Shechem. He then built the altar in Bethel (also Luz). There Deborah died and was buried under an oak there.

Later, God appeared to Jacob again and blessed him. God again told Jacob, that he was now called Israel. He also promised, that a community of nations would come forth from Jacob.

On their way from Bethel, Rachel gave birth to Benjamin, but she died because of this.

Then Jacob went home to his father Isaac in Mamre. After this, Isaac died and Jacob buried him together with Esau.


Jacob lost Joseph early, because Joseph's brothers sold him to Egypt.

During the famine in Egypt and the other lands, Jacob sent ten of his sons to Egypt to get grain. There, Simeon was put into prison and was only to get out if Benjamin was brought to Egypt, too. This plan was carried out by Joseph, but his brothers did not recognize him. Jacob did not want to let Benjamin go, because he did not want to loose yet another son.

Because the famine took longer, Jacob sent his sons again. But Judah would only go, if they could take Benjamin with them as Joseph had asked them to. Jacob was very reluctant to let Benjamin go, as well, but in the end he sent all of them.

He was rewarded richly for this, because Joseph finally made himself known to his brothers. Then Jacob was invited to move to Egypt with all of his belongings and livestock and family. Jacob eventually decided to follow that invitation and moved to Egypt. On that trip, they stopped in Beersheba, where Jacob offered sacrifised to God. At night, God spoke to Jacob, comforting him about his trip to Egypt and promising to make him into a great nation.

Jacob and his descendants going to Egypt were 66 people (not counting his son's wives). In the area of Goshen in Egypt, Jacob finally met Joseph again. Jacob exclaimed "Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive". He was 130 years old when he arrived in Egypt.


Seventeen years later, Jacob was dying. He made Joseph promise him not to bury him in Egypt. He also blessed Joseph's two sons Manasseh and Ephraim and prophesied over them, that Ephraim would be greater than the first-born Manasseh.

Before his death, he assembled all his sons and prohesied over them. See the twelve sons for the detailled blessings and prophesies. He then died. At his death he probably was 147 years old, as that is the age when he became ill.

He was embalmed, which took forty days. The Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. Joseph then asked the Pharaoh for permission to bury Jacob in the land of Canaan. The permission was granted and they buried Jacob in the cave in field of Machpelah near Mamre. The field and the gave had been bought by Abraham from Ephron.

In God's name

Instances when God is refered to as "the God of Jacob".

  • Exodus 2:24
  • Exodus 3:6,15,16

Referred to

  • Exodus 6:3,8
  • Exodus 32:13
  • Exodus 33:1
  • Exodus 39:6-7,14
  • Leviticus 26:42
  • Numbers 32:11


Timeline of Jacob