Isaac Loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Genesis 25:8 (NRSV)
There have been times in my life when I definitely was sorry to have been an only child. Others often believe that an only child gets everything that he or she wants. I can attest that those people are mistaken at least regarding this only child. I did not get everything I wanted but I possibly did get more than I would have if I were one of several children. I also got lots of attention!
As the only child, I got all of the attention and I received all of the blame. I did not have a brother or sister “in house” with whom I had to learn the art of sharing. I did not have a sibling whom I could implicate in my mischievous schemes and who could receive correction and punishment along with me. As the only child I was not an older brother, who had to look after younger siblings. As an only child, I did not have an older brother or sister who would find me to be annoying and getting in the way.
As the only child, I suppose I was Daddy’s Favorite and Momma’s Favorite. That was one thing upon which my parents could agree.
In today’s scripture lesson, we have an early story about fraternal twins, two boys … two brothers who were quite different. Esau, the eldest was red and hairy. Jacob was fair. Esau enjoyed being outdoors and especially liked hunting. Jacob took delight living in the tents … being a home body. The father, Isaac loved Esau. The mother, Rebekah loved Jacob.
Though it is not included in the Ten Commandments, there is an unwritten rule that parents are to love their children equally and they are not to show favoritism to their children. Such behavior causes disagreements about the children between the parents and disrupts the marital harmony of husband and wife. Such behavior affects the children so that sibling rivalry becomes rampant. Life within the home can become very strained and stressful because the husband and wife are at odds and the children become jealous and resentful of each other. This old story reminds us of the problems that occur when parents do not love their children equally and when children want desperately to be loved as if they were the only child of one’s parents.
O Lord, help us to learn from this story of Isaac and Rebekah so that the mistakes they made do not threaten family life today. In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.