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Sold for a Bowl of Stew

Genesis 25:19–34; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 177–179


The Message

I can love people who are different from me.

Memory Verse

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).

Imagine that you have been outside all day. Maybe you were playing with friends or helping in the garden. You come into the house and smell something good. Someone is cooking in the kitchen. All of a sudden you are very hungry. That was just how Esau felt one day. Let’s find out what happened.


Isaac and Rebekah had been happily married for many years. Rebekah loved to remember the day she had met the stranger at the well. She had offered to water his camels—and her life had changed forever. Isaac praised the Lord for bringing her to him from so far away. Yes, Isaac and Rebekah loved each other very much.

But something was missing in their lives. Rebekah was not able to have children. It made her very sad. Isaac knew about God’s promise to Abraham, his father. God had told Abraham that his family would become a mighty nation. Isaac spent a great deal of time wondering how that could be. How could a mighty nation come from Abraham’s family? Isaac didn’t have any children. It was a sad puzzle. One that Isaac longed to solve.

Finally, Isaac pleaded with God. He begged God to give Rebekah a child. And God answered Isaac’s prayer—in a surprising way. Rebekah had not one child, but two! God gave Isaac and Rebekah twin boys!

Even before the twins were born, they struggled together inside their mother. Rebekah thought this was strange. No one could explain why this was happening. Her husband couldn’t. Her nurse couldn’t. Neither could anyone else she asked. So Rebekah talked to God. She prayed and asked God what was happening.

God answered Rebekah’s prayer. He told her that the two children inside her were very different. They would be the beginnings of two different nations, two nations that wouldn’t like each other very much. One twin would be stronger than his brother. And the elder would serve the younger.

Isaac and Rebekah named their twins Esau and Jacob. And just as the Lord had said, the boys were very different. Esau, the older, liked to travel away from home. When he wanted something, he wanted it right now. He liked to hunt and often brought his father things from afar. And he was his father’s favorite twin.

Jacob, on the other hand, liked to stay close to home. He learned how to take care of his father’s flocks and herds. He learned to cook. He spent a lot of time with his mother. And Jacob was his mother’s favorite twin.

One day Esau came in from hunting. He was very hungry, and he smelled something good. Jacob was cooking something good. It might have been a lentil stew. Esau stood before his brother and exclaimed, “I’m starving!” Then he demanded, “Let me have some of that.”

Jacob replied, “Are you really so hungry? Hungry enough to trade me your rights as the firstborn son?”

Esau answered, “I am about to die of hunger! What good will my rights do me then?” So Jacob gave him some bread and some of the food. Esau ate and drank, then got up and left. He did not care about his rights as the firstborn son. All he cared about was how he felt at the moment. And because of that, he gave up something that would have been a blessing for the rest of his life.