Yitzchak (Isaac) marries Rivka (Rebecca). After twenty childless years their prayers are answered and Rivka conceives. She experiences a difficult pregnancy as the "children struggle inside her;" God tells her that "there are two nations in your womb," and that the younger will prevail over the elder.
Esav (Esau) emerges first; Yaakov (Jacob) is born clutching Esav's heel. Esav grows up to be "a cunning hunter, a man of the field;" Yaakov is "a wholesome man," a dweller in the tents of learning. Yitzchak favors Esav; Rivka loves Yaakov. Returning exhausted and hungry from the hunt one day, Esav sells his birthright (his rights as the firstborn) to Yaakov for a pot of red lentil stew.
In Gerar, in the land of the Philistines, Yitzchak presents Rivka as his sister, out of fear that he will be killed by someone coveting her beauty. He farms the land, reopens the wells dug by his father Avraham (Abraham), and bores a series of his own wells: over the first two there is strife with the Philistines, but the waters of the third well are enjoyed in tranquility.
Esav marries two Hittite women. Yitzchak grows old and blind, and expresses his desire to bless Esav before he dies. While Esav goes off to hunt for his father's favorite food, Rivka dresses Yaakov in Esav's clothes, covers his arms and neck with goatskins to simulate the feel of his hairier brother, prepares a similar dish, and sends Yaakov to his father. Yaakov receives his fathers' blessings for "the dew of the heaven and the fat of the land" and mastery over his brother. When Esav returns and the deception is revealed, all Yitzchak can do for his weeping son is to predict that he will live by his sword, and that when Yaakov falters, the younger brother will forfeit his supremacy over the elder.
Yaakov leaves home for Charan to flee Esav's wrath and to find a wife in the family of his mother's brother, Lavan (Laban). Esav marries a third wife -- Machlat, the daughter of Yishmael (Ishmael).