How Could Rebecca Trick Her Husband Isaac?

Isaac And Rebecca: Would You Steal A Birthright From Your Blind Husband?

Rabbi David Fohrman
Rabbi David Fohrman


When reading about Jacob and Esau in the Bible, we understand how Jacob became the third of our three patriarchs. Isaac wanted to give his elder son Esau the blessings, he wanted him to inherit the mantle and take the rightful birthright. But, as the story of Rebecca goes, she preferred Jacob, and wanted him to get the blessings. So Rebecca hatched a plan, enlisted Jacob, and together they tricked Isaac.

It was devious and sneaky – they took advantage of an old man with poor eyesight, and lied that Jacob was the eldest son. Jacob went on to become one of the three Jewish patriarchs – so the deceit had a significant outcome. Did the end justify the means? What is the meaning of the story of Isaac and Rebecca? Jacob stole Esau’s birthright – and his mother helped him. What does this summary tell us about Isaac, Rebecca and their family relationship?

In this series, Rabbi Fohrman questions the meaning of the story of Isaac, Rebecca and Esau’s stolen birthright. Through a close reading of the text, Rabbi Fohrman shows that actually, this whole thing spiraled out of control. That was not what Rebecca and Jacob intended to do at all – instead, Rebecca intended to empower Jacob, to stand up for himself, to make a case that he, too, deserved blessings from his father.

For more, see The Binding of Isaac... Where You Least Expect It

For even more, see Jacob: Man of Truth?