Jacob

Concise Bible Dictionary:

Son of Isaac and Rebekah. Though a twin, he is called “the younger,” being born after Esau. Before the children were born it was said, “the elder shall serve the younger.” The promises made by God to Abraham were thus confirmed to Jacob, as they had been to Isaac. When they grew up, Esau became a hunter, whereas Jacob was a peaceful man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau, and Rebekah loved Jacob. The typical character of these three patriarchs has been described thus: “In general, Abraham is the root of all promise, and the picture of the life of faith; Isaac is a type of the heavenly Man, who receives the church; and Jacob represents Israel as heir of the promises according to the flesh.” The difference may be seen by comparing Genesis 22:1717That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; (Genesis 22:17) (“stars” and “sand”), with Genesis 26:44And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; (Genesis 26:4) (“stars” only), and Genesis 28:1414And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 28:14) (“dust of the earth” only).
Though Jacob was heir of the promises, and valued God’s blessing in a selfish manner, he sought it not by faith, but tried in an evil and mean way to obtain it: first in buying the birthright when his brother was at the point of death; and then, in obtaining the blessing from his father by lying and deceit: a blessing which would surely have been his in God’s way if he had waited (compare Gen. 48:14-2014And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, 16The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. 17And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. 18And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. 19And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. 20And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. (Genesis 48:14‑20)).
Jacob had then to become a wanderer; but God was faithful to him, and spoke to him, not openly as to Abraham, but in a dream. The ladder reaching to heaven, and the angels ascending and descending on it, showed that he on earth was the object of heaven’s care. The promises as to the land being possessed by his descendants, and all nations being blessed in his Seed, were confirmed to him, with this difference that in connection with the latter promise it says “in thee and in thy seed,” because it includes the earthly blessings to his seed in the millennium. God also said He would keep Jacob wherever he went, and bring him back to the promised land. Jacob called the place Beth-el, saying that it was the house of God, and the gate of heaven. It is figurative of Israel’s position, not in heaven, but the “gate” is theirs. He made a vow that if God would bless him and bring him back in peace, Jehovah should be his God. This was not the language of faith.
Jacob, who had tricked his brother, was treated in a similar way by Laban, and Leah was given to him as wife instead of Rachel, though he had Rachel, the one he loved, afterward. He had not learned to trust God, but used subtle ways to increase his possessions; and he also was dealt with in a like manner, having his wages changed “ten times.” But God was watching over him and bade him return to the land of his fathers; and when Laban pursued after him, God warned him in a dream not to speak to Jacob either good or bad. They made a covenant together, and each went his way.
Immediately afterward the angels of God met Jacob, and he recognized them as “God’s host.” Then he had to meet Esau, and doubtless conscience smote him, for he was greatly alarmed. He prayed to God for help, yet was full of plans, sending presents to appease his brother, and dividing his people into two bands, so that if one of them were smitten, the other might escape. When he was alone God took him in hand: a “man” (called “the angel” in Hosea 12:44Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Beth-el, and there he spake with us; (Hosea 12:4)) wrestled with him. He was lamed, yet he clung, and in faith said, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” He was accounted a victor, and his name was changed from Jacob to ISRAEL: “for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” God did not yet make known His name to him.
God protected him from Esau, as He had from Laban: they kissed each other and wept. He then feigned that he would follow Esau to Seir, but turned aside to Shechem, where he bought the portion of a field, thus settling down for his own ease in the midst of the Canaanites, instead of going to Beth-el, God’s house, from whence he had started. His peace was soon disturbed by his daughter Dinah going to see the daughters of the land, and being dishonored, which was avenged by the slaughter of the Shechemites by his sons Simeon and Levi, bringing Jacob into great fear.
God used this humiliating sorrow to discipline Jacob, and recover him to his true calling. He therefore bade Jacob go to Beth-el, and make an altar there. This disclosed a sad state of things: he had to meet God, and must purify himself, and his household must put away their strange gods. He built an altar and called it, “El-beth-el”; “the God of Bethel.” God renewed His promises and revealed Himself to Jacob as GOD ALMIGHTY.
Jacob loved Joseph more than all his other sons, which caused them to hate Joseph; they also hated him for the communications given to him through dreams, and eventually sold him to the Ishmeelites. Again Jacob was dealt with deceitfully; his sons pretended that they had found Joseph’s coat stained with blood, and Jacob was greatly distressed. But God was watching and overruling all for good. When Jacob and his household arrived in Egypt, he as a prince of God blessed Pharaoh king of Egypt. He lived in Egypt seventeen years, and died at the good old age of 147.
Jacob at the close of his life rose up to the height of God’s thoughts, and by faith blessed the two sons of Joseph, being led of God to cross his hands, and gave the richest blessing to Ephraim. Then, as a true prophet of God, he called all his sons before him, and blessed them, with an appropriate prophecy as to the historical future of each (considered under each of the sons’ names). He fell asleep, and his body was embalmed and carried into Palestine to lie with those of Abraham and Isaac.
Jacob being named ISRAEL led to his descendants being called the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL. They are however frequently addressed as “JACOB,” or “house of Jacob,” as if they had not preserved the higher character involved in the name of “Israel,” but must be addressed by the natural name of their forefather, Jacob (Gen. 25-49).

Jackson’s Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names:

he will take by the heel