Mark Twain, not in possession of the Jewish mesorah, made an interesting comparative assessment of Joseph and Esau in his best-selling work, The Innocents Abroad.
Without Rashi as a companion, Jacob very much appears to take advantage of Esau’s hunger to swindle him out of his birthright — whatever that means — only to have Esau complain later on that his brother got the best of him twice: once in bartering for his birthright and now in copping his blessing. (Genesis 27:36)
I never really understood what Esau thought the birthright was, other than a ticket he was to redeem at some future time for the firstborn’s blessing, in which case Jacob had only employed artful trickery once, but it’s possible that Esau was wrong — recall that it is only Esau and not the omniscient narrator of the Torah stating that Jacob perpetrated two acts of deceit.
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