Verse 41: “Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing which his father had given him, and he said to himself, ‘The time of mourning for my father will soon be here; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’”
The story of Esau and Jacob offers a look at the competition, trickery, and murderous desires present and active within our psyches. Symbolically, the first-born Esau may represent a way of experiencing and expressing self in response to the outside world. He represents the known order. He follows the established “rules and regulations” of the day, including those of family, institutions, social mores, etc.
We can consider Esau our adaptive self, which includes the ways we defend or create distance from our felt sense or embodied experiences. The most common way of doing this is denial. We deny our emotion, feeling, need, or desire to avoid negative responses.
Jacob, the twin who was second-born, represents something in us that moves with freedom from the adapted restrictions of the known order. After birth, the first social order we know is our family. The first-born way of being in the world is shaped in the family. Jacob represents an alternative way that, though born simultaneously, is not favored because it does not comply with outer standards and expectations.
We offer sacrifice natural tendencies and inclinations toward expression to fit in! Jacob and Esau represent this inner conflict present in all of us. Rote, familiar ways conflict with alternative, less restrictive, and more life-giving ways. We have all experienced this conflict when trying to change a habit. We want something different, yet the old, established way seems intent on destroying the new.
In the scripture story, Jacob has the blessing of his father and the aid of his mother. Symbolically, we can interpret this support to mean that the alternative, unfamiliar, natural way of being has the favor of the Self/God Within, with support for the life-giving desires and energies of our soul. When we look to the Self, we can find a way to bring the new, life-giving energy into being.
Take a few minutes to acknowledge any inner conflicts. Identify the learned, familiar pattern or response and the accompanying alternative way. What comes automatically (the first born) and what accompanies it (the second-born twin)? Ask God Within to show you the way beyond the conflict.