Son of Isaac and Rebekah, and twin-brother to Esau. As at his birth he held his brother’s heel, he was called Jacob, that is, the heelholder, one who comes behind and catches the heel of his adversary, a supplanter, Genesis 25:26. This was a king of predictive intimation of his future conduct in life. Jacob was meek and peaceable, living a shepherd life at home. Esau was more turbulent and fierce, and passionately fond of hunting. Isaac was partial to Esau, Rebekah to Jacob. Jacob having taken advantage of his brother’s absence and his father’s infirmity to obtain the blessing of the birthright, or primogeniture, was compelled to fly into Mesopotamia to avoid the consequences of his brother’s wrath, Genesis 27:1-28:22. On his journey the Lord appeared to him in a dream, (see LADDER,) promised him His protection, and declared His purpose relative to his descendants’ possessing the land of Canaan, and the descent of the Messiah through him, Genesis 28:10, etc. His subsequent days, which he calls "few and evil," were clouded with many sorrows, yet amid them all he was sustained by the care and favor of God. On his solitary journey of six hundred miles into Mesopotamia, and during the toils and injuries of this twenty years’ service with Laban, God still prospered him, and on his return to the land of promise inclined the hostile spirits of Laban and of Esau to peace. On the border of Canaan the angels of God met him, and the God of angels wrestled with him, yielded him the blessing, and gave him the honored name of Israel. But sore trials awaited him: his mother was no more; his sister-wives imbittered his life with their jealousies; his children Dinah, Simeon, Levi and Reuben filled him with grief and shame; his beloved Rachel and his father were removed by death; Joseph his favorite son he had given up as slain by wild beasts; and the loss of Benjamin threatened to bring his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. But the sunset of his life was majestically calm and bright. For seventeen years, he enjoyed in the land of Goshen a serene happiness: he gave a dying blessing in Jehovah’s name to his assembled sons; visions of their future prosperity rose before his eyes, especially the long line of the royal race of Judah, culminating in the glorious kingdom of SHILOH. "He saw it, and was glad." Soon after, he was gathered to his fathers, and his body was embalmed, and buried with all possible honors in the burial-place of Abraham near Hebron, B. C. 1836-1689. In the history of Jacob we observe that in repeated instances he used unjustifiable means to secure promised advantages, instead of waiting, in faith and obedience, for the unfailing providence of God. We observe also the divine chastisement of his sins, and his steadfast growth in grace to the last, Genesis 24:1-50. His name is found in the New Testament, illustrating the sovereignty of God and the power of faith, Romans 9:13 Hebrews 11:9,21.
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'JACOB'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".