id you ever notice a peculiar feature of the way the Bible designates God’s chosen people, the Jews, in the Old Testament? Their famous ancestor was Abraham, man of towering faith (plus very human weaknesses). We would expect the chosen people to be called “the children of Abraham,” but instead they are everywhere “the children of Israel.”
Israel? That’s another name for Jacob, the quintessential cheat of the Old Testament. He was a cheat by name, and a cheat by nature. He came from Rebekah’s womb grasping the heel of his twin brother, Esau, and so was named Jacob, which means “he grasps the heel,” that is, “he deceives” (Gen. 25:26, NIV margin).
He cheated his old, blind father; he cheated his brother Esau; he ... »