If Esav hadn't sold the bechora to Yaakov what, if anything, would have been different?

In other words, what consequence was there to the sale? What did it change, how did it make anything different?

  • I've wondered this one also....if he was the prime heir, but the history still followed Yaacov...maybe nothing? maybe we'd have more history of the Edomites? I sometimes think this story was the "early historical" explanation of the Kingdom of Israel's later primacy over the Kingdom of Edom.
    – Gary
    Nov 20, 2014 at 21:15
  • 2
    Is this question really answerable?
    – Daniel
    Nov 20, 2014 at 22:50
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    user6641, I edited the question to capture what I think was your intent (and hopefully make it on topic). If I didn't capture your intent, please edit further.
    – Yishai
    Nov 21, 2014 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


I've read an article (in Russian) that says that according to misrash (not cited which) if Eisav was making all right then 12 tribes were born from both brothers, 6 from Eisav and 6 from Yaakov.

Translation of the relevant part:

And if Eisav did his job properly, he would retain its status as a descendant of Yitzchak, and the Jewish people, says the Midrash, would occur by two brothers: each of them - Eisav and Yaakoyv - would be the ancestor of the six tribes.


Two separate things happened:

  1. The Bekhora was sold (reminds me of how Abraham insisted on purchasing Me'arat haMakhpela).
  2. Isaac was cheated.

However, it is wrong to approach the text of Genesis from the point of view of (alternative) history. The function of Genesis is to establish the position of man in this world, knowing of god (as in הכרה or ידיעה).

A few implications though are coming to mind:

  1. Jacob wouldn't be punished:
    • with Leah (who did to Jacob exactly what he did to Isaac -- מדרש רבה ע' י"ט);
    • with Reuven (who lost his Bekhora to Josef -- דברי הימים א', ה' א'-ב')
  2. God's promise to Abraham would take a different course regarding being "father of many nations". While Abraham is the father of many nations, Jacob is the father of Israel.
  3. Jacob's dream and promise to God would probably take a different course.

But I personally prefer:

"What have happened, happened, and couldn't have happened otherwise." -- Morpheus, The Matrix Reloaded

  • 1
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Sparkler. Can you edit in sources for your claims here? That would make this a much more valuable post.
    – Scimonster
    Nov 22, 2014 at 20:52

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