Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebekah and the twin brother to Esau (Gen 25:23-26). Jacob means “grabber,” at birth he was holding onto Esau’s heel. With the help of his mother, he received his father’s blessing that was meant for Esau. Cheated by his brother, Esau vowed to kill Jacob (Gen 27:41). Jacob left his home and went to the town of Padan Aram where his uncle Laban lived.
At the outset of his journey, near Bethel, Jacob was given a vision by God of Israel’s future (Gen 28):
The Jews would establish their own nation.
They would be scattered like dust to the ends of the earth.
They would have a worldwide impact.
They would one day return to their homeland.
All of these things have happened.
He worked seven years as a herdsman for his uncle Laban, in exchange for his youngest daughter’s hand in marriage. But Laban deceived Jacob by instead of giving him Rachel; he was given his eldest daughter, Leah, in marriage. Jacob consented to work another seven years for the permission to marry Rachel (Gen 29:1-30).
Leah bore Jacob four sons, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Rachel, who was barren, gave her maid, Bilhah, to bear Jacob’s children for her. Bilhah bore Dan and Naphtali. Leah likewise gave Jacob her maid, Zilpah, who bore him Gad and Asher. Afterwards, Leah gave birth to Issachar and Zebulun, and Jacob’s only daughter, Dinah. Only then did Rachel conceive, bearing Joseph (Gen 29:32-24).
Jacob packed up his large family and went back to Canaan (Gen 29:25). On this trip, one night Jacob wrestled with an angel, asking for a blessing. The angel blessed him and gave him a new name: Israel (“You have struggled with God”) (Gen 32:24-30).
Jacob made amends with his brother Esau (Gen 33). Rachel died in childbirth of Jacob’s last son, Benjamin (Gen 35:16-19).
Jacob settled again in the land of Canaan. After some years, his son Joseph became a high ranking official in Egypt (Gen 41:41). Jacob and his family moved to Egypt and lived there and Jacob blessed Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen 48). When Jacob died his body was taken back to Canaan for burial (Gen 49:33).
The 12 sons of Jacob/Israel became the 12 tribes of Israel. They multiplied greatly in Egypt for a few hundred years and returned to Canaan with Moses during the Exodus.
The story of Jacob is found in Genesis 25:24-50:14.