1. In your family of origin, where did you fall in the birth order? Consequently, what role best describes you?

    1. Golden child, always coming out on top.
    2. Scapegoat, always getting the blame.
    3. Not good enough, always coming up short.
    4. The outsider, never quite fit in.
    5. Other _________________.



God made a covenant with Abraham to make a great nation (Genesis 12:2-3). We now find Abraham’s second generation—son Isaac and wife Rebekah—asking God for children to start generation three. God answers with twin boys who couldn’t be more different from each other. They are in open conflict from the start, even before they’re born! Birth order mattered to these ancient peoples, as the firstborn inherited the “birthright” or double portion of the father’s property at death. The birthright comes into play in today’s story, sets the stage for the brothers’ life-long rivalry, and shapes the future of God’s new nation.

God’s Story

Have someone read aloud Genesis 25:19-34.

Finding My Story in God’s Story

2. What is the story behind your name? How did you live into or flesh out that name as you grew older?

3. In your mind, play the role of Esau. You come home from work frustrated, tired, and starving. You walk in the door and smell a delicious stew on the stove, hot and ready to eat. You can’t wait to dig in, but your obnoxious brother won’t share until you give him your most valued possession. What do you do?

      1. Beat him up and take the stew, knowing I’ll be in big trouble with our parents.
      2. Don’t take him seriously; give him what he wants, because “who cares anyway”?
      3. Before selling out, call my lawyer to go over every long-term ramification.
      4. Invent “Bronze Age McDonalds” for grab-n-go eats—or learn to cook for myself.
      5. Other _________________.

4. What are your first impressions of Jacob (whose name means “heel grabber,” slang for deceiver or schemer) and Esau (whose name means “hairy,” rugged or wild)?

      1. Esau is a man’s man, while Jacob is a mama’s boy.
      2. Esau is all brawn, no brain, and so easy to take advantage of.
      3. Jacob is a smooth operator, clever, and quick to get away with a steal.
      4. Jacob and Esau were born to fight; their conflict triggers memories for me.
      5. Other _________________.

5. Esau was favored by his father, while Jacob was favored by his mother. When you were a child, which parent were you more attached to? Did that change as you grew older? How do you feel about that relationship now?

6. Esau and Jacob were both predators and patsies in different ways. Talk about a time in your life when you were either taken advantage of or, conversely, you ripped someone else off. Maybe you were hunted, trapped, or forced to make a decision that did not turn out so well at first. Who did what to whom? Did you scheme to bring that about, or were you the one tricked? How did that feel at the time? How did that turn out later?

7. As the parents of Esau and Jacob, what responsibility do you take for this sibling rivalry? What advice would you give Isaac or Rebekah about their parenting?

      1. I stay out of such sibling rivalries, as kids do not need such protection.
      2. I always will favor the underdog in any fight, so I’d protect__________.
      3. Nothing could be done to prevent this conflict, as boys will be boys.
      4. Nothing could be done about this turn of events, as it was all God’s will.
      5. Other _______________.

Our Story

8. Toward the end of their lives, Jacob and Esau reunited and found peace. What useful life skills do you think Esau and Jacob might have learned from each other?

      1. Esau learned how to be more patient and thoughtful about the future.
      2. Jacob learned to live in the moment and not be scheming all the time.
      3. Esau learned what it’s like to cook and serve as well as hunt and kill.
      4. Jacob learned the joy of connecting with nature and God’s creation.
      5. They learned to see how God uses everything, even conflict, for his purposes.
      6. Other ________________.

9. Take a moment to think about whether your nature is more like Esau or Jacob.

    • Go around the group letting each group member give their identity as an Esau or Jacob type. Early in life or later in life?
    • After each has given their identity, let each group member pose a question to those who represent Esau to their Jacob, or Jacob to their Esau—to better understand their opposite.
    • After each question is raised, several who self-identify as either Jacob or Esau briefly respond to the question.

Let the leader close by reading this suggested prayer while the group members silently affirm the prayer in their hearts and minds.

God, we are each made in your image, but we are also unique. None of us are perfect, nor can we escape without experiencing conflict or error. Thank you for the blessing of my brothers and sisters who bring different skills and views to the table. Make me more aware of the things I can learn from them. Also, make me alert to where I can show others godly kindness and brotherly love. Thank you for the gift of introspection, learning through my mistakes, and giving me another chance through repentance and forgiveness, which we freely receive through Christ Jesus.     Amen.