Lesson: Jacob Tricks Esau

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A lesson by negative example not to be deceptive or greedy. Includes 3 games.

Needed: plastic cups and dice or small balls, coins or paper markers, various objects to set in front of you

Intro Game: Cups

Give each student five coins or paper markers. Set three cups upside down in front of you. As students watch, place a die or small ball under one of the cups. Explain that you’re going to move the cups around to try to confuse them about where the object is.

Quickly slide the cups around. After a few seconds, stop. Tell the students to place a coin or marker in front of the cup that they think the object is under.

Then, reveal what cup the object is under. If the students guessed right, they take back their markers. You take the markers in front of the wrong cups. Keep playing until all the students are out of markers.

Afterward, explain that the game is meant to trick students. It’s not a fair game because it’s too difficult to keep track of which cup the object is under.

If you have a large group, you can set up multiple stations with different leaders all playing the same game.


Ask students, Has anyone ever done something wrong to you? What did they do?

Has anyone ever lied to you or tricked you, besides when I tricked you with this game?

How did that make you feel?

(Tell about an appropriate time when someone hurt you this way.)

Well, we’ve been learning about Abraham and his family. You remember that God told Abraham to leave his country and his friends and his family and go live in the country of Canaan. Does anyone remember what promise God made to Abraham about the country of Canaan?

God promised that He would give the whole country to Abraham’s children and grandchildren forever.

Then, when Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were very old, God let them have a son named Isaac. When Isaac grew up, he married a young woman named Rebekah. Today, we’re going to learn about the time when Isaac and Rebekah had children.

Summarize Genesis 25 and 27 with the following Bible story, asking the included questions as you read.

Rebekah couldn’t have children for a few years after she married Isaac. But Isaac prayed that she would have children, and God eventually let Rebekah have twin boys. The first boy was named Esau and he grew up to be a big, strong hunter. He was also very hairy. The second boy was named Jacob and he liked to stay at home. Isaac liked to eat the food Esau hunted, so Esau was Isaac’s favorite. But Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite.

Once, when Esau went out hunting for a long time, he didn’t catch anything. He finally gave up and came back home because he was so hungry. Jacob was cooking some stew and Esau said, “Jacob, give me some of that red stew you’re cooking! I’m so hungry, I’m about to die.”

Jacob said, “Okay, but first you have to give me your birthright.”

What do you think a birthright is?

The birthright is the privilege that the oldest child in a family got back then. When the parents in a family died, the oldest child inherited most of the money and became the leader of the family.

Do you think Jacob should have asked for Esau’s birthright? Should he have asked for Esau to give him most of the family money and make him the leader of the family instead of Esau when their parents died?

What should Jacob have done instead?

He should have let Esau have some food if he was hungry. God wants us to help each other without being greedy for something in return.

But Esau said, “You can have the birthright. Just give me some food. I’m about to die.” So, Esau gave Jacob his birthright, and Jacob gave him some stew.

A few years later, Isaac was very old and he was blind. “Esau!” he called.

Esau came and said, “Here I am, father.”

“Esau,” Isaac said, “go hunt me some food and I will bless you before I die.”

So Esau went hunting, but Rebekah called Jacob to her and said, “Put some of Esau’s clothes on and cook some food for your father and go in and act like you’re Esau so your father will bless you instead of Esau. Your father won’t know that you’re not Esau because he is blind and can’t see who you really are.”

“But what if my father touches me?” Jacob asked. “Esau is hairy and I’m not. If my father touches me and feels that I’m not hairy, he’ll know that I’m trying to trick him and he will curse me instead of blessing me.”

So Rebekah put goat hair on Jacob’s hands and on his neck so that he would feel hairy and would trick Isaac.

Do you think Jacob should try to trick Isaac?

Do you think the trick will work?

Jacob went in and gave Isaac the food he had made. “I hunted this food for you, father,” Jacob lied. “Now please give me your blessing.”

“How did you hunt the food so quickly?” Isaac asked.

“God helped me find it,” Jacob answered.

“Come here and let me touch you,” Isaac said. Jacob let his father touch his hands and Isaac said, “You sound like Jacob, but you feel hairy like Esau. I guess you really are Esau.” Then, Isaac said, “Here is my blessing for you: God will give you lots of food and you will be the ruler of your brother.”

Then Jacob left and Esau came in. “I’m back, father,” Esau said. “I hunted you some food and now you can give me your blessing.”

Then, Isaac realized what had happened. “Your brother came,” Isaac said, “and tricked me. I already gave him the blessing. I gave him lots of food and made him ruler over you.”

“What about me?” Esau cried. “Bless me too!”

Then Isaac said, “Jacob will be your ruler, but eventually, you will break free from him.”

Esau went back out and said, “Jacob has done two things wrong to me. He took my birthright when I was so hungry and now he’s stolen my blessing, too. When my father, Isaac, dies, I will kill my brother, Jacob, for what he has done to me.”

Rebekah heard Esau say that he was going to kill Jacob, so Rebekah went and told Jacob, “You have to run away from here because Esau is going to kill you.” So Jacob ran away from home.

Why did Jacob have to run away?

He was afraid. He did some mean things to his brother, Esau, so Esau wanted to kill him.

What do you think will happen with Esau and Jacob? (The next lesson will tell the rest of the story.)

Game: Tag the Bear or Poke the Bear

Both of these games are a fun way to teach kids about arousing people’s anger.

Tag the Bear

Like a normal game of team Tag, you’ll divide your group into two groups and choose one side to be It. The difference is that you’ll also secretly choose one leader or student on the other side to be the Bear. When the It tags anyone on the other team, they’re out. But when someone tags the Bear, the Bear roars and starts chasing them! The whole second team joins in for a role reversal of who’s chasing who. The last person left on the original It team wins.

Poke the Bear

Similar to the “No!” game from the Isaac Gets a Wife! Lesson, you’ll set a series of random objects in front of a leader or student at one end of your play area. The chosen person (the Bear) secretly decides which object will be their trigger. One by one, students from the other side of the play area run up and take one of the objects in front of the Bear. If it’s not the Bear chosen object, the Bear does nothing and the student stays in the play area. If the person takes the Bear’s chosen object, the Bear roars and chases after everyone, including those who haven’t taken their turn yet. Anyone the Bear tags is out. The last one left is the winner.

After either of these games, remind students that Jacob did some very mean things to Esau that made him very angry. It was fun to make the Bear bad in our game, but we should be careful not to treat people badly in real life so that they don’t get upset as Esau did.

Closing Prayer

Jesus, we pray that You’ll help us not to cheat or lie to anyone. Help us not to treat anyone badly so that we don’t make them upset. Instead, help us to show Your truth and love to everyone. Amen.

This lesson is included in my book, Father Abraham: Children Sunday School Lessons on Genesis 12-50.

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