It’s easy to vilify Jacob in this. I mean, it’s pretty absurd to sell stew for a birthright. Even worse to do so while his brother is hungry (although that’s the only time he’ll ever agree to that kind of discounted price, I’m sure). Jacob comes off as kind of predatory in this, and that he doesn’t care about family at all.But it’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that we need to remember, here. So let’s look at the facts.
1. Esau spends all his time dressed in animal skins hunting. He can be gone for days at a time.
2. He can spend that entire time and not bring home any game.
3. He’s dad’s favorite.
4. Jacob is Rebekah’s favorite.
5. Jacob spends all his time at home, tending to things there.
It might be easy to conclude that Jacob is a slacker who doesn’t do anything while Esau is out trying to make something of himself. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Isaac’s possessions consist mostly of fields and flocks. Esau is out playing hunter (and I do mean playing at it instead of actually accomplishing it) having boyhood adventures and living a responsibility-free life.
Jacob, on the other hand, is at home taking care of things, including the very mundane task of cooking food wot they can, you know, not starve. He is behaving responsibly, including overseeing the fields and flocks while Esau is goofing off.
Then there is the idea of legacy, which is a powerful motivator in the ancient world.