Jacob and Esau's Religious Background

I wanted to write about Jacob and Esau's religious background and where you can see that religious influence, their family tree, and where it's referred to in Lost. If MIB is Esau, as I believe, what is Jacob & Esau's history prior to the island as told in religion? I'm not a religious studies major, most of this is pulled right from wikipedia and I just edited and added Lost themes. This is gonna be long.

ABRAHAM AND ISAAC Let's start with their grandfather, Abraham. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are sometimes referred to as the "Abrahamic religions" because of the role Abraham plays in their holy books. God promised Abraham that through his offspring, all the nations of the world will come to be blessed. Jews, Christians, and Muslims consider him father of the people of Israel through his son Isaac by his wife Sarah. For Muslims, he is a prophet of Islam and the ancestor of Muhammad through another son Ishmael - born to him by another woman, Sarah's servant, Hagar.

Abraham had a brief mention in "Catch-22" during a conversation that Desmond had with Brother Campbell. The wine they were crating is labeled as "Moriah Vineyards". Abraham was commanded by the Lord to offer his son Isaac (Jacob & Esau's father) up as a sacrifice in the land of Moriah. Isaac carrying the wood upon which he would be sacrificed repeatedly asked Abraham where the animal for the burnt offering was. Abraham then replied that the Lord would provide one. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he was prevented by an angel, and given on that spot a ram which he sacrificed in place of his son. The New Testament sees Abraham as an obedient man of God, and Abraham's interrupted attempt to offer up Isaac is seen as the supreme act of perfect faith in God. "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called', concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead. Desmond questions what was the point and why would God put Abraham through this cruel test and Brother Campbell replied that it wouldn't be much of a test of faith if it weren't. During this episode Desmond is conflicted as to whether he should allow Charlie to be sacrificed and wonders that if he prevents Charlie's death from happening if he would be punished for it. Ultimately, Desmond exercises free choice over preceived destiny and saves Charlie. In this case, Desmond is not a "man of faith" not to say that Desmond is not a man who isn't doing what he believes is right.

In reference to the Egyptian themes found in Lost, Abraham had spent two seperate occasions in Egypt , where he tells his wife Sarah to pretend to be his sister because he fears he would otherwise be killed because of her. On each occasion, the ruler in question, first Pharaoh and later Abimelech, is attracted to Sarah and attempts to marry her. On both occasions the Lord and the ruler send Abraham away with great wealth. Another tie in to Lost could be that Abraham was born outside Mesopotamia. When Locke discusses backgammon to Walt he claims the game is the oldest game on Earth, light vs. dark, and that backgammon sets have been found as far back as Ancient Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is also the place where Abraham also sends his steward to with the purpose of finding a wife for Isaac. The steward chose Rebekah for Isaac. After many years of marriage to Isaac, Rebekah had still not given birth to a child and was believed to be barren. Isaac prayed for her and she conceived twins.

REBEKAH'S PREGNANCY Rebekah was extremely uncomfortable during her pregnancy and went to inquire of God why she was suffering so. According to the Midrash, whenever she would pass a house of Torah study, Jacob would struggle to come out; whenever she would pass a house of idolatry, Esau would agitate to come out. She received the prophecy that twins were fighting in her womb and would continue to fight all their lives, and after birth they would become two separate nations. The prophecy also said that the older would serve the younger; its statement, "One people will be stronger than the other" has been taken to mean that the two nations will never gain power simultaneously — when one falls, the other will rise, and vice versa. According to tradition, Rebekah did not share the prophecy with her husband. Rebekah gave birth to twin boys, Esau and Jacob. Esau was firstborn with Jacob following. In the episodes "The Incident 1 & 2", there seems to be some kind of power struggle between Jacob and MIB. Jacob seems to be in control at this time and has power over Esau at the begining of this episode, MIB says he wants to kill Jacob and is brushed off, then MIB seems to take control of the situation (switches power) at the end of the episode through a loophole to trick Ben into stabbing Jacob for him.

JACOB AND ESAU Genesis 25:19-25 narrates Esau's birth. He emerges from the womb with Jacob grasping his heel. He is described as follows: "Now the first came forth, red all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau." The boys displayed very different natures as they matured. The Bible depicts Esau as a hunter who prefers the outdoor life, qualities that distinguished him from his brother, who was a shy or simple man. "Esau became a hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a simple man, a dweller in tents". Moreover, the attitudes of their parents toward them also differed: "Isaac loved Esau because game was in his mouth, but Rebekah loved Jacob". In the episode "Further Instructions", there is theme that some people are hunters and other people are farmers. Locke wants to be the hunter, but when he confronts Eddie with a gun for betraying him, Eddie tells him he knows Locke isn't going to shoot him, that John's not a murderer, he's the farmer. If you take the information from the Bible, Esau the hunter was loved was loved by his father, perhaps that is why Locke was always so insistant to be known as the hunter to somehow be the hunter would also mean his father would love him. This may also be so in the episode "Cabin Fever", in Locke's mind he wants to be the hunter, the jock, a father's son and not a momma's boy, who is the farmer or the kid who goes to science camp. Even as a child after showing intrest in the other objects on the table, when asked which of these items were his, he chooses to pick up the knife perhaps thinking that's what a hunter or a boy who was close with his father would pick.

Later on, immediately after Abraham died, Jacob prepared a lentil stew as a traditional mourner's meal for his father, Isaac. The Hebrew Bible states that Esau, returning famished from the fields, begged Jacob to give him some of the stew. Jacob offered to give Esau a bowl of stew in exchange for his birthright (the right to be recognized as firstborn), and Esau agreed; the dating indicates both men were 15 years old at the time. Genesis shows him willingly selling his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a "mess of pottage" (meal of lentils). Controversy has surrounded this scripture, in that some who have noted that Esau may have been in danger of starving to death and was taken advantage of by Jacob in a vulnerable moment. Certainly, Jacob's refusal to share his food without exacting a high price from Esau is in conflict with Biblical principles for moral living such as charity and goodwill. However, others who suggest that among the large entourage of Isaac's wealthy household, death from starvation would not likely have been a genuine danger simply on account of Esau not having caught anything while hunting that day. Rather, Esau's words about being close to death may have been dramatic exaggeration of the type frequently found in the Old Testament and that selling his birthright indicated Esau's lack of appreciation for the long-term value of such an intangible right when he was more interested in fulfilling his immediate needs. Curiously, the Old Testament of the Bible does not tell us which of these views is correct, whether in God's eyes Esau was cheated by Jacob or whether Esau carelessly sold his birthright to Jacob. However, the New Testament Book of Hebrews depicts Esau as unspiritual for thoughtlessly throwing away his birthright. In the episode "The Incident I", Jacob offers MIB some of his fish. MIB responds "No thanks. I've already eaten." Perhaps this is an inside joke of MIB not accepting Jacob's offer because of what it cost Esau when he foolishly traded a meal for his birthright. Now he knows better not to take anything from Jacob.

Isaac became blind in his old age and decided to bestow the blessing of the firstborn upon Esau. According to the Midrash, Isaac had reached an age close of the age his mother, Sarah, had been at her death. At this time, one might begin to think he might not exceed the age of whichever parent died first. Isaac therefore sent Esau out to the fields to trap and cook a piece of savory game for him, so that he could eat it and bless Esau before he died. Rebecca overheard this conversation and realized that Isaac's blessings should go to Jacob, since she was told before the twins' birth that the older son would serve the younger. She therefore ordered Jacob to bring her two goats from the flock, which she cooked in the way Isaac loved, and had him bring them to his father in place of Esau.

When Jacob protested that his father would recognize the deception and curse him as soon as he felt him, since Esau was hairy and Jacob smooth-skinned, Rebecca said that the curse would be on her instead. Before she sent Jacob to his father, she dressed him in Esau's garments and laid goatskins on his arms and neck to simulate hairy skin. Disguised, Jacob entered his father's room. Surprised to perceive that Esau was back so soon, Isaac asked how it could be that the hunt went so quickly. Jacob responded, "Because the LORD your God arranged it for me"; Isaac's suspicions were aroused because Esau never used the personal name of God. Isaac demanded that Jacob come close so he could feel him, but the goatskins felt just like Esau's hairy skin. Confused, Isaac exclaimed, "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau!". Still trying to get at the truth, Isaac asked him point-blank, "Are you really my son Esau?" and Jacob answered simply, "I am" (which can be taken as "I am me", not "I am Esau"). Isaac proceeded to eat the food and to drink the wine that Jacob gave him, and then he blessed him with the dew of the heavens, the fatness of the earth, and rulership over many nations as well as his own brother.

Jacob had scarcely left the room when Esau returned from the hunt to receive the blessing. The realization that he has been deceived shocks Isaac, yet he acknowledged that Jacob received the blessings as sworn, by adding, "Indeed, he will be blessed!" Esau was heartbroken by the deception, and begged for his own blessing. Having made Jacob a ruler over his brothers, Isaac could only promise, "By your sword you shall live, but your brother you shall serve; yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved, you may cast off his yoke from upon your neck". If MIB is Esau, then perhaps this is a prophecy to the "loophole" MIB finds to defeat Jacob. Also, under Isaac's blessing Esau is suppose to serve Jacob and perhaps that is why he can't kill him even though he wants so bad to kill Jacob.

Esau was filled with hatred toward Jacob for taking away both his birthright and his blessing. He vowed to himself to kill Jacob as soon as Isaac died. Rebekah prophetically perceived Esau's murderous intentions and ordered Jacob to travel to her brother Laban's house in Haran, until Esau's anger subsided. She then convinced Isaac to send Jacob away by telling him that she despaired of him marrying a local girl from the idol-worshipping families of Canaan (as Esau had done). After Isaac sent Jacob away to find a wife, Esau realized that his own Canaanite wives were evil in his father's eyes, and he took a daughter of Isaac's half-brother Ishmael as another wife.

Jacob does not immediately receive his father's inheritance after the elaborate deception aimed at taking it from Esau. Jacob having fled for his life, leaves behind the wealth of Isaac's flocks and land and tents in Esau's hands. Jacob is forced to sleep out on the open ground and then work for wages as a servant in Laban's household. At Haran, Jacob saw a well where the shepherds were gathering their flocks to water them, and met Laban's younger daughter Rachel, Jacob's first cousin; she was working as a shepherdess. He loved her immediately, and after spending a month with his relatives, asked for her hand in marriage in return for working seven years for Laban. Laban agreed to the arrangement. These seven years seemed to Jacob "but a few days, for the love he had for her"; but when they were complete and he asked for his wife, Laban deceived Jacob by switching Rachel's older sister, Leah, as the veiled bride.

According to the Midrash, both Jacob and Rachel suspected that Laban would pull such a trick; Laban was known as the "Aramean" (deceiver), and changed Jacob's wages ten times during his employ. The couple therefore devised a series of signs by which Jacob could identify the veiled bride on his wedding night. But when Rachel saw her sister being taken out to the wedding canopy, her heart went out to her for the public shame Leah would suffer if she were exposed. Rachel therefore gave Leah the signs so that Jacob would not realize the switch.

In the morning, when the truth became known, Laban justified himself, saying that in his country it was unheard of to give the younger daughter before the older. However, he agreed to give Rachel in marriage as well if Jacob would work another seven years for her. After the week of wedding celebrations with Leah, Jacob married Rachel, and he continued to work for Laban for another seven years.

Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, and Leah felt hated. God opened Leah's womb and she gave birth to four sons rapidly: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Rachel, however, remained barren. Rachel gave Jacob her handmaid, Bilhah, in marriage, so that Rachel could raise children through her. Bilhah gave birth to Dan and Naphtali. Seeing that she had left off childbearing temporarily, Leah then gave her handmaid Zilpah to Jacob in marriage so that Leah could raise more children through her. Zilpah gave birth to Gad and Asher.Afterwards, Leah became fertile again and gave birth to Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah. God remembered Rachel, who gave birth to Joseph. If pregnancies of different marriages overlapped, the twelve births could have occurred within seven years.

After Joseph was born, Jacob decided to return home to his parents. Laban was reluctant to release him, as God had blessed his flock on account of Jacob. Laban asked what he could pay Jacob, and Jacob proposed that all the lesser goats and sheep of Laban's flock, at any given moment, would be his wages. Jacob placed peeled rods of poplar, hazel, and chestnut within the flocks' watering holes or troughs, an action he later attributes to a dream. The text suggests that Jacob performed breeding experiments over the years to make his own flocks both more abundant and stronger than Laban's, that Laban responded by repeatedly reinterpreting the terms of Jacob's wages, and that the breeding favored Jacob regardless of Laban's pronouncements. Thus Jacob's herds increased and he became very wealthy.

As time passed, Laban's sons noticed that Jacob was taking the better part of their flocks, and Laban's friendly attitude towards Jacob began to change. God told Jacob that he should leave, and he and his wives and children did so without informing Laban.

As Jacob neared his homeland of Canaan, he sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau. They returned with the news that Esau was coming to meet Jacob with an army of 400 men. With great apprehension, Jacob prepared for the worst. He engaged in earnest prayer to God, then sent on before him a tribute of flocks and herds to Esau, "a present to my lord Esau from thy servant Jacob".

Jacob then transported his family and flocks across the ford by night, then recrossed back to send over his possessions, thus being left alone in communion with God. There, a mysterious being appeared "man" or "God" or "angel" and the two wrestled until daybreak. When the being saw that he did not overpower Jacob, he touched Jacob on the sinew of his thigh, and as a result, Jacob developed a limp.

Jacob then demanded a blessing, and the being declared that from then on, Jacob would be called Israel meaning "one that struggled with the divine angel", or "one who has prevailed with God", or "a man seeing God", or "he will rule as God", or "a prince with God". Jacob asked the being's name, but he refused to answer. Afterwards Jacob named the place Penuel "face of God"), saying "I have seen God face to face and lived."

Because of the ambiguous and varying terminology, and because he refused to reveal his name, there are varying views as to whether this being was a man, an angel, or God. Josephus uses only the terms "angel", "divine angel", and "angel of God", describing the struggle as no small victory. According to Rashi, the being was the guardian angel of Esau himself, sent to destroy Jacob before he could return to the land of Canaan. Trachtenberg theorized that the being refused to identify itself for fear that, if its secret name was known, it would be conjurable by incantations. Literal Christian interpreters like Henry M. Morris say that the stranger was "God Himself and, therefore, Christ in His preincarnate state", citing Jacob's own evaluation and the name he assumed thereafter, "one who fights victoriously with God", and adding that God had appeared in the human form of the Angel of the LORD to eat a meal with Abraham in Genesis 18.

(On a side note, I have a theory that this fight with this mysterious being has a crucial part in Lost. Perhaps this Being is the smoke monster or some part of the island that can take human form. If it was Esau's guardian angel (a sort of secruity system) or some other powerful force for example and gave Jacob a blessing of "godlike powers" that could be the cause and source of many of the strange unexplained things that have happened in Lost. We don't know the extent of Jacob's powers are in Lost (or what his limits would be) but when they do get revealed perhaps he gained them from this moment in history. About the "mysterious being" theory that this could be the smoke monster... it would tie in with Ben stating to Locke that the thing they calls "the monster" that he and the others don't even have a name for it... because smoke monster refuses to answer as he did with Jacob. Just a theory though.)

Jacob assembled his 4 wives and 11 sons, placing the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. Some commentators cite this placement as proof that Jacob continued to favor Joseph over Leah's children, as presumably the rear position would have been safer from a frontal assault by Esau, which Jacob feared. Jacob himself took the foremost position. Esau's spirit of revenge, however, was apparently appeased after Jacob sent bounteous gifts of camels, goats and flocks.

Esau offered to accompany them on their way back to Israel, but Jacob protested that his children were still young and tender (born 6 to 13 years prior in the narrative); Jacob suggested eventually catching up with Esau at Mount Seir. This was a prophetic reference to the End of Days, when Jacob's descendants will come to Mount Seir, the home of Edom, to deliver judgment against Esau's descendants for persecuting them throughout the millennia (see Obadiah 1:21). Jacob actually diverted himself to Succoth and was not recorded as rejoining Esau until, at Machpelah, the two bury their father Isaac, who lived to 180 and was 60 years older than them.

When Isaac died at the age of 180, Jacob and Esau buried him in the Cave of the Patriarchs, which Abraham had purchased as a family burial plot. At this point in the Biblical narrative, two genealogies of Esau's family appear under the headings "the generations of Esau".

Esau's family detail. He took two wives from the women of Canaan: Adah or Basemath, the daughter of Elon, Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah. Esau married his cousin Mahalath or another Basemath, daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth upon hearing of his parents' displeasure with his marriage to Canaanite women. Adah bore a son named Eliphaz, Basemath bore a son named Reuel, and Aholibamah bore sons named Jeush, Jalam and Korah. Esau married Canaanite women, but, upon hearing that this greatly displeased his parents, Esau married his cousin Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael. Esau demonstrates loyalty to his parents and their wishes. However, the Bible portrays Rebekah's expression of displeasure with the women of the region as actually being only a ruse to facilitate Jacob's escape from Esau's murderous threats.

Jacob, who had deceived and cheated his brother, is in turn deceived and cheated by his relative Laban concerning Jacob's seven years of service (lacking money for a dowry) for the hand of Rachel, receiving Leah instead. However, despite Laban, Jacob eventually becomes so rich as to incite the envy of Laban and Laban's sons.

Meanwhile, Esau also shows forgiveness and reconciliation. In spite of this bitter conflict, Genesis chapters 32-33 tells of Jacob and Esau's eventual reconciliation. Jacob sends multiple waves of gifts to Esau as they approach each other in hopes of Esau sparing his life. Esau refuses the gifts, as he is now very wealthy and does not need them. Jacob never apologizes to Esau for his actions through the sending of these gifts. Jacob nevertheless bows down before Esau and insists on his receiving the gifts. Nevertheless, commentaries through the ages have read - between the lines - of an animosity only superficially concealed.

LATER HISTORY OF EDOM Genesis Chapter 36 lists some of the early descendants of Esau and describes his people as settling in the hill country of Seir. His death is not recounted in the Bible. However, during the time that the Israelites were in captivity in Egypt, the Edomites established their own kingdom and had several kings before the Israelites established their monarchy. Hundreds of years later, when the Israelites returned from captivity in Egypt during the Exodus, God commands the Israelites to honor and respect their "brothers" the Edomites, the descendants of Esau. The Israelites are commanded to be careful not to provoke the Edomites or take anything from them without paying for it. However, although the Bible does not record it in connection with those events, later God expresses anger at the Edomites for not showing the Israelites hospitality.

There are several Biblical references to hostility between the people of Israel (Jacob) and the people of Edom (Esau), and it is possible that some of the narrative of Genesis is intended to explain the origins and justification of that hostility. The Edomites (also known as Idumeans) came to be dominated by the larger kingdom of Israel, but from time to time fought wars with Israel throughout Israel's history.

Approximately 1000 years after Esau's and Jacob's common birthday, God expresses extreme anger and condemnation upon the Edomites such as in the prophesies of the Book of Malachi Chapter 1 and the Book of Obadiah Chapter 1. However, although the Bible follows the convention of describing the Edomites by the name of their long-dead patriarch Esau, the specific reasons given for God's anger involve then-recent sins of the Edomite people, not of the individual man Esau.

The prophesies of Obadiah and Malachi indicate that the Edomite race will be destroyed during the end times. In Obadiah Chapter 1:18, it is declared: ' "And the house of Jacob shall be fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau shall become stubble, and they shall ignite them and consume them, and the house of Esau shall have no survivors, for the Lord has spoken.'

Okay this was long but how I read this prophesy is that the desendents of Jacob and the desendents of Esau will battle at what is called the End of Days. I wonder if the people on the island will turn out to be desendents of Jacob and Esau and split up. According to the prophesy (destiny) Jacob's side will win. However, in Lost, Jacob seems to be on the side of free will rather then destiny. If they can make progress to stop fighting with each other perhaps the end of days doesn't have to happen. Any ideas? Do you think this religious background is important to season six?

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