The Supplanter

“Esau replied, “Is he not rightly named Jacob (the supplanter)? For he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright, and now he has taken away my blessing. Have you not reserved a blessing for me”” (Genesis 27:36)?

There is a familiar example of a supplanter in the Old Testament. Jacob’s name translates to mean the supplanter. A supplanter is someone who seizes an opportunity from someone else, a person who circumvents or usurps authority. “Afterward his brother came out, and his hand grasped Esau’s heel, so he was named Jacob (one who grabs by the heel, supplanter). Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them” (Genesis 25:26). Esau was born before Jacob and true to form, Jacob grasped Esau’s heel as he came out of the womb. The name given to him was characteristic of his birthing position.

The name followed Jacob throughout his life and we see him usurping his brother’s authority. Jacob was clever, observant and able to use his brother’s weaknesses against him. “Jacob answered, “First sell me your birthright (the rights of a firstborn)”” (Genesis 25:31). Jacob observed that Esau was impulsive, impatient and someone who was unwilling to delay gratification. Esau conceded to sell Jacob his birthright because he was hungry and tired after a long day’s work. On the second occasion, Jacob had help from his mother to deceive his father.

“Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me”” (Genesis 27:19). Esau was so angry when he discovered his brother’s scheme, that he made up in his mind to kill him. Jacob had help from his mother to escape, so that his brother could not harm him. There are a few lessons that we can learn, from Esau’s mistakes with his brother Jacob. We have to be discerning of supplanters, who may wait for the right opportunity to circumvent our blessing. Esau had to take responsibility for his impulsivity, when he sold his birthright.

His brother had so carefully studied his movements, that he knew the times when he was at his weakest. Don’t make decisions on impulse and particularly life changing decisions. Understand the value of what you carry and don’t trade something of lasting value for a moment of pleasure. We have to also pray and be discerning enough to decipher destiny helpers from supplanters. A destiny helper will help to push you into purpose and destiny, while a supplanter will look for opportunities to exploit your weaknesses. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).


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