Jacob And Esau As A Metaphor

When Rebecca was pregnant after 20 years of marriage she had great pain, more than the usual pain that women have when they are pregnant. And she asked herself “why does this happen to me?” and she went to the sages Shem and Ever to ask for advice.

The answer that Rebecca received was: “Two people are in your belly, and two nations will separate from your abdomen, and the one people shall be stronger than the other people, and the elder shall serve the younger.”

When the time came, Rebecca gave birth to twins: The firstborn was Esau, and the second was Jacob.

Jacob and Esau are archetypes: Jacob symbolizes the human soul and Esau symbolizes the worldly physical-material-mechanical-dimension of our lives.

The struggle between the spirit, the human soul, and the material is immense but eventually, the spirit will win. The physical-material-mechanical forces will serve the spirit.

In the painting, we see Esau selling his firstborn right to Jacob for a red stew. From this moment and on Esau will be named “Edom” on the behalf of the red stew, and from this moment on he will turn to be a red slave “servus rubeus” of the human soul.

The painting was made by Matthias Stomer (1615 – 1649)

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