Jacob and Esau can be compared to the Egyptian gods Re and Geb. A careful reading of the Genesis text reveals that they were also typecast as the Cain and Abel of their generation. Esau, we are told, determined to kill Jacob. He had the motive, but apparently lacked the opportunity. Such is the "character development" chosen by the Genesis author.
The birth of Joseph comes only after Rachel is said to be barren for a long time. This might indicate that Rachel was still a child upon her marriage. It could also indicate that Rachel and Jacob were a sterile pair. And even if they were not, it was customary for a woman in ancient times to have her first child out of wedlock.
Based on the Genesis stereotyping, Esau would be a leading candidate as the biological father of Joseph ("Enoch son of Cain"). The second and last son of Rachel was named Benjamin. Archetypal Benjamin (Horus the Younger) had not been a true son of Jacob but of Judah (Horus the Elder). So we should expect that this relationship was deliberately repeated, or at least attempted. In other words, Judah would have been directed to sire a child by Rachel. We have already seen that Zebulun was not a true son of Jacob, but of Reuben and Billah, and was the result of Reuben trying to fulfill his own designated role.
Going back a generation further, we could question whether Jacob and Esau were actual twins or allegorical twins. Was Esau, as the firstborn son of Rebecca, actually sired by someone other than Isaac? And was this the real reason he was passed over in the kingly succession?
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.