Scala/Art Resource, NY

A broken promise. “My son,” Isaac tells his elder son, Esau, “I am old now, and I do not know how soon I may die. Take your gear, your quiver and bow, and go out into the open and hunt me some game. Then prepare a dish for me such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my innermost blessing before I die” (Genesis 27:1–4).

As depicted in this late-12th-century mosaic from the Cathedral of Monreale, in Sicily, Esau listens attentively at Isaac’s bedside and then obediently heads out to hunt. After overhearing her husband’s promise, Rebecca (peering through the window at left) entices their younger son, Jacob (not depicted), to disguise himself as Esau and obtain the blessing of the firstborn before his brother returns from the hunt.

Although traditional interpreters have painted Esau as evil, Elie Wiesel finds much to empathize with in this unfortunate victim of a family conspiracy.