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Jacob (jāˈkəb), in the Bible, ancestor of the Hebrews, the younger of Isaac and Rebecca's twin sons; the older was Esau. In exchange for a bowl of lentil soup, Jacob obtained Esau's birthright and, with his mother's help, received the blessing that the dying Isaac had intended for his older son. Esau became so enraged that Jacob fled to his uncle, Laban, in Paddan-aram. On his way, at Bethel, he had a vision of angels ascending and descending the ladder to heaven. After 20 years serving Laban, Jacob started back to his native land with his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and his many sons—the eponymous ancestors of the 12 tribes of Israel. On the banks of the Jabbok, Jacob wrestled with an angel, received the name of Israel, and reconciled with Esau the next day. Later, Jacob migrated to Egypt, where he was reunited with his son Joseph. Jacob died there, but his sons buried him in the family plot at Machpelah. Modern biblical scholars question the historicity of Jacob. In the New Testament the name James is equivalent to the Hebrew Jacob.


See Y. Zakovitch, Jacob: Unexpected Patriarch (2012).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



according to Biblical myths, the younger twin son of Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob bought the right of primogeniture from his brother Esau for some pottage and then cunningly received Isaac’s blessing as the first-born son. The 12 sons of Jacob, from his wives Leah and Rachel and his concubines Zilpah and Bilhah, became the ancestors of the 12 tribes. After wrestling with god, Jacob himself received the second name of Israel, which means literally “he strove with god,” and his sons became known as the “children of Israel.”



a family of French craftsmen who made fine furniture in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Georges Jacob. Born July 6, 1739, in Cheny, in Burgundy; died July 5, 1814, in Paris. Head of the Jacob family. Became a craftsman in 1765.

Although he began by imitating the work of A. C. Boule, Jacob had created, by the early 1780’s, his own style of furniture, full of austere grace in the classical style. His furniture was carved, with gilding; later he used polished mahogany and gilded bronze with classical motifs. Jacob placed his furniture in many French and foreign palaces, including Pavlovsk. He also worked from sketches made by J. L. David (furniture for the painter’s studio, 1789–90), C. Percier, and P. Fontaine (furniture for the hall in which the Convention met, 1793). In 1796, he entrusted his business to his son.

Francois-Honore Jacob (nicknamed Jacob- Desmalter). Born Feb. 6, 1770, in Paris; died there Aug. 15, 1841. Son of Georges Jacob.

In 1803, Georges Jacob and his son founded a firm (which existed until 1812) that became famous for its Empire furniture for Napoleon’s palaces. Since the mid-19th century, the “Jacob style” has meant furniture made of mahogany, on which corrugated strips of brass are glued. This furniture was manufactured in the workshop of Franc. ois-Honoré’s son, Georges-Alphonse Jacob (born Feb. 21, 1799, in Paris; died there Tune 7, 1870).


Salverte, F. de. Les Ebénistes de XVIII siècle, 4th ed. Paris, 1953.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.



The second and the third dreams reported in Judeo-Christian Scriptures occurred to Isaac’s son, the patriarch Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel. He is considered the father of the chosen people, and his sons represent the heads of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. At the time of his first dream, Jacob was on his way to Haran to take a wife from among the daughters of his uncle Laban:

When he had reached a certain place he passed the night there, since the sun had set. Taking one of the stones to be found at that place, he made it his pillow and lay down where he was. He had a dream: a ladder was there, standing on the ground with its top reaching to heaven; and there were angels of God going up it and coming down. And Yahweh was there, standing over him, saying, “I am Yahweh, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. I will give to you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants shall be like the specks of dust on the ground; you shall spread to the west and the east, to the north and the south, and all the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants. Be sure that I am with you; I will keep you safe wherever you go, and bring you back to this land, for I will not desert you before I have done all that I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Truly, Yahweh is in this place and I never knew it!” (Gen. 28:11–16)

The purpose of this dream was to confirm the Abrahamic covenant directly to Jacob, and to assure Jacob that, although he was in distress, he was yet the object of God’s love and care.

God’s manifestation completely altered Jacob’s view of his own purpose and destiny, and to Jacob this was no mere dream, but a profound spiritual experience. Fourteen years later Jacob was to have another dream, in which he would realize that he was to return to the land of his birth.

After this the Bible records several manifestations of the divine presence to Jacob, like the famous dream at Peniel, in which God appeared to him in the form of an angel and the two of them wrestled until daybreak. Jacob prevailed and would not let the angel go until he had blessed him. The angel blessed him, and also changed his name from Jacob to Israel.

Jacob called the place Peniel, which means “face of God.” “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is spared and not snatched away” (Gen. 32:30). Thus, as a consequence of this dream, Jacob received a new identity, a new status, as the one who provided his people with a name—Israel.

Many years afterward Jacob received a final vision, on his way to Egypt, when God appeared to him personally and assured him that it was in the divine will and plan for him to go to this strange land. God would go with him, but since Canaan was the place for fulfillment of the covenant, God declared that Jacob, as well as his descendants, would be brought back there. Then God promised that Jacob’s long-lost son Joseph would be the one to close his father’s eyes in death.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


dressed as Esau to obtain father’s blessing. [O.T.: Genesis 27:15–16]


serves Laban for fourteen years before receiving permission to marry Rachel. [O.T.: Gen. 24:34]


through guile, obtained blessing intended for Esau. [O.T.: Genesis 27:18–29]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. Old Testament the son of Isaac, twin brother of Esau, and father of the twelve patriarchs of Israel
2. any of an ancient breed of sheep having a fleece with dark brown patches and two or four horns
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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