Here's an at-home bible study to do with your household or friends. Many of the questions are accessible to all ages. There's a household activity at the end.
1. Have you ever been jealous of someone? Have you ever been jealous of how someone else was treated (maybe a sibling or a teammate) or of something someone else had? Do you think it was fair that they had that and you didn't?
2. Read Genesis 25:21-26. Jacob's name means "heel grabber" or "supplanter" (someone who tries to take the place of another). Based on Jacob's birth story, what do you think he'll do later in life?
3. What's the most important thing in your life? Or what's the thing you want most in life? What would you be willing to do to keep or get that thing?
4. Read Genesis 25:29-34. In ancient culture, the firstborn son had a "birthright" to the land his father owned and 2/3rds of the wealth as his inheritance. What do you think of Jacob in this story? Why do you think Esau was willing to sell his birthright?
5. We often don't get our way. But that doesn't stop us from trying! When is sometime you've tried to trick someone into doing what you wanted? Or when have you played a trick on someone? Did your trick work? How did the other person feel when they realized they'd been tricked?
6. Read Genesis 27:1-45. This is a longer but beautiful story. Jacob, with his mom's help, is using his tricks to get his way again. At the end of the story, how does Esau feel about what happened? How do you think Jacob feels? What do you think it'll take to heal their relationship?
7. When someone's angry at you, what does it take to make thinks right again?
8. Read Genesis 32:3-8. Jacob was so scared of Esau that he didn't return home for 20 years! Now that Jacob is almost back home, how is he feeling?
9. Read Genesis 32:13-21. How does Jacob try to fix his relationship with Esau? Do you think Jacob's plan will work?
10. Read Genesis 33:1-9. How does Esau feel about Jacob? Are the gifts the reason Esau feels this way? Esau seems to have forgiven his brother; why do you think he forgave Jacob?
Bonus Question: Jacob is one of Israel's patriarchs (meaning: founding ancestors). In fact, the people of Israel are named after him (God renames him "Israel" right before he returns home to Esau). But Jacob obviously wasn't perfect. Why do you think God chose him to be the father of Israel instead of Esau? Do you agree with God's choice?
When we do something wrong, it can often be scary to face the person we've wronged. We're both afraid that they'll be angry, and we're afraid to be punished.
One simple definition of "repent" is to turn around. Here's a simple repent game you can play with little children.
For elementary children, you might print out this poster and learn some simple steps for repentance.
But what really makes repentance hard is our fear of what the other person will do. Here's a simple activity you can try to help each other not be afraid. The Gratitude Game: Take turns reminding one another what you love about each others. You can go one-by-one around the circle, make top ten lists, or whatever you like. Keep sharing for as long as you can (try to make sure everyone receives the same amount of compliments).
If you can, make a poster for each person with their name in big letters at the top, all the things you love about them in the middle, and the words "I will always love you" at the bottom. Have everyone sign the poster and hang it up in your bedrooms. Tell each person that when they've done something wrong and are afraid of what might happen to look at their poster and remember how much they are loved. If they're really afraid, tell them to bring that poster with them as a source of courage.
Did you know this is the same promise God makes to us? "There's so much I love about you. No matter what you do, I will always love you." In the Church, we remember that God's great love for us is what gives us the courage to repent.
Bonus: Rebekah, the Awesome Matriarch
1. What's your favorite type of movie? Lots of movie genres have the same plot every time. Westerns always have the same basic plot. So do romantic comedies, Disney animated movies, and superhero origin stories. For you favorite type of movie, what's the basic plot in almost all movies of that genre?
2. The Bible also has stories that also follow the same basic plot. One of them is called "the well scene". Here's the basic plot:
If man is looking for a wife, he himself should go to a foreign land
In the foreign land, he must go to the well outside the city he's visiting
He should get the first woman he sees a drink from the well
Then he goes with the woman and eats dinner with her family
Next thing you know, that woman becomes his wife!
3. Read Genesis 24:1-20. What makes stories that all use the same plot memorable is the ways they change the plot. "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" changed the Western plot by adding a 3rd character. "Frozen" changed the Disney plot by making the main character a woman and changing the definition of true love. In this story, you'll get parts 1-3 of "the well scene" plot. What's different in this story from a normal well scene (hint: there's at least 2 big differences)?
4. Reread Genesis 24:15-20. The twists from the normal story often tell us something significant. One of the differences from a normal well scene in this story is that the man is supposed to get water for the woman. What happens in this scene instead? Rebekah will become one of the matriarchs of Israel. What does this scene tell you about Rebekah?
5. Read Genesis 24:61-67. Does Isaac agree with your assessment of Rebekah?
6. Often the Bible overlooks women and focuses on men. Later, in the story of Jacob and Esau, it was primarily Rebekah pulling all the strings but the story focused on the boys and their father. It would be easy to miss how amazing Rebekah really is. Who are your favorite women of the Bible? What makes them special to you?
7. Have you known any amazing women of faith in your life? What would you tell others about these women?