Let’s read that verse from the Amplified Bible.  It says, “Let everyone beware of his neighbor And do not trust any brother. For every brother is a supplanter [like Jacob, a deceiver, ready to grab his brother’s heel], And every neighbor goes around as a slanderer.”  Now let’s read that verse from the KJV.  It says, “Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders.”

While most versions of the Bible do not mention Jacob in this verse, some do mention him.  It is actually a play on words that we find in Jeremiah 9:4.  The word ‘supplant’ is defined as “to seize by the heel; figuratively, to circumvent (as if tripping up the heels); also to restrain (as if holding by the heel):—take by the heel.”  Of course, this is an obvious reference to Jacob.  Genesis 25:24-26 tells us, “And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out, and HIS HAND TOOK HOLD ON ESAU’S HEEL; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.”  Later, after Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing, we read the words of Esau in Genesis 27:36, “And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for HE HATH SUPPLANTED ME THESE TWO TIMES: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?”  Let’s also read Hosea 12:2-3, “The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God.”

Although the Lord used Jacob mightily, in this instance, he was indeed a supplanter and a deceiver.  We read in Romans 9:10-13, “And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, THE ELDER SHALL SERVE THE YOUNGER. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”  The eldest son, which was Esau. By the law of the Hebrews, he would have been entitled to particular honors and privileges. But it was said that in his case this custom should be reversed, and that he should take the rank of the younger.  It was the Lord’s plan for Jacob to be over Esau, yet that does not excuse Jacob’s actions.  After tricking Esau out of his birthright, he later tricked Isaac into giving him the ‘elder’s blessings that would naturally have belonged to Esau.

Esau, personally never was in a position of service to Jacob, but we read in Genesis 25:23, “And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and THE ONE PEOPLE SHALL BE STRONGER THAN THE OTHER PEOPLE; and the elder shall serve the younger.”  The Edomites (the descendants of Esau) often found themselves in servitude to Jacob’s descendants.

Because of his actions, Jacob is remembered as a supplanter and deceiver.  I’m reminded of the words of Charles Spurgeon who said, “I wonder how many Christian people could have their biographies condensed into this line, HE LIVED TO MAKE CHRIST KNOWN?  May we be acutely aware of our actions so that we might be remembered as being faithful to the Lord.  (352.2)