Jacob is the grandson of Abraham, son of Isaac and father of Joseph and his brothers. His name was changed to Israel following his encounter with God (often believed to be an appearance of the pre-incarnate Jesus) His story is found in the book of Genesis. Jacob (Israel) founded the Jewish nation.
Jacob is not your typical biblical hero. It is hard to approach his life in the way we often do with other Biblical characters to observed models of how to behave. It is fair to say that none of the biblical heroes are without flaws, but Jacob had few positive traits we can emulate. He was not a good husband. He was not a good father.
The inclusion of the story of Jacob is an evidence for the Bibles truthfulness - it is hard to imagine this story being made up and included as the founder of God's people. No other nation on earth describes its founder in such unsavory terms.
The story of Jacob is also included in Scripture in such gory detail to teach us a message--possibly one of the hardest messages we come across in the whole of Scripture. Paul mentions Jacob as follows: - Romans 9:13 ". . . when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or badin order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who callsshe was told, The older will serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.
Jacob is thus a key example of predestination through no merit of his own. That such a man should be chosen by God and given an unconditional promise should both humble us and encourage us.
Jacobs first recorded words were: Sell me your birthright now. (Genesis 25:31) These words show us what his character was like. He stole his brothers birthright and entered into a competition with his relative Laban to see who could cheat each other most successfully. It was only on his return to face his brother Esau and through his encounter with God that he was humbled. The latter half of Jacob's life is a tragedy involving his sons who's jealousy he appears to have done nothing to reduce. Jacob is praised in Hebrews 11 for the way he passed on the blessing near his death.