Allah conveyed to the Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) glad tidings regarding the birth of elite Prophets Ishaq and Yaqub (A.S.). The Holy Quran says:
We gave him Ishaq and Yaqub. Each of them We made a Prophet. And We gave them of Our mercy and assigned to them a high and true renown.
Qualities of the Prophet Yaqub (A.S.)
The Prophet Yaqub (A.S.) was the son of Prophet Ishaq (A.S.) and his wife Rebecca. He (A.S.) was born at Palestine. He (A.S.) passed his life exactly in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He (A.S.) had full faith in the Oneness of Allah. He (A.S.) directed his followers to do good and shun evil. He (A.S.) advised them to keep up prayer and give alms. He (A.S.) was a man of peace and wisdom. Allah showered His blessings on him and his kith and kin. The Holy Quran affirms:
And We gave him tidings of the birth of Ishaq, a Prophet of the righteous and We showered Our blessings on him and on Ishaq and of their offspring are some who do good and some who plainly wrong their own selves.
At the age of sixty the Prophet Ishaq (A.S.) was blessed with a pair of twins namely Esau and Yaqub. Esau was a hunter and provided his aged parents with meat. Yaqub (A.S.) was chosen to be the Prophet of the Bani Israel (Israelites).
Yaqub’s (A.S.) Request – from the People of the Book
Yaqub (A.S.) then asked his uncle Laban to let him go and visit his family. His uncle said to him: “I have been blessed because of you; ask for whatever money you need.” Yaqub (A.S.) said: “Give me each spotted and speckled goat born this year and each black lamb.”
But at Laban’s command his sons removed their father’s goats that were striped, spotted or speckled, and the black lambs, lest others should be born with those traits. They walked for three days with their father’s goats and sheep while Yaqub (A.S.) tended the remaining flock.
The People of the Book said that Yaqub (A.S.) took fresh rods of poplar, almond and plane. He (A.S.) peeled streaks in them and cast them into the water troughs for the goats to look at. The young inside their abdomens were terrified and moved and they were born striped, spotted, or speckled. When the sheep were breeding, he (A.S.) set their faces towards the black sheep in Laban’s flock and put the rods among them. Their lambs were born black. This was considered an example of supernatural powers, a miracle. Yaqub (A.S.) had many goats, sheep, beast and slaves. His uncle and his sons faces changed as if they (the sheep and goats) had been stolen from them.
His Marriage and Offspring
It is narrated that his uncle Laban made Prophet Yaqub (A.S.) serve him for seven years on promise to marry Rachel with him. At the end of this period the marriage was solemnized. Later on he (A.S.) entered into matrimonial contract with three more women. The Prophet Yaqub (A.S.) had four wives and twelve sons who became the progenitors of twelve tribes. Prophet Yusuf (A.S.) and Benjamin were from Rachel. Yaqub (A.S.) had great affection for them.
Plot Against Prophet Yaqub (A.S.)
As the offspring of his other wives were jealous of Yusuf (A.S.) they hatched out a plan to separate Yusuf (A.S.) from his father. They took him out on a lame excuse of playing & enjoy and threw him into a waterless well. They came back home shedding crocodile tears and said: “A wolf has devoured Yusuf.” Yaqub (A.S.) suspected foul play on the part of his sons. He (A.S.) bore with patience the mental torture to which he (A.S.) was subjected in his old age. He (A.S.) wept bitterly day and night and lost his eyesight. After a long time he came to know that Yusuf (A.S.) was alive. He (A.S.) was the custodian of storehouse in Egypt. Yaqub (A.S.) along with the whole family proceeded towards Egypt on the invitation of his son. They were awarded a warm reception. He (A.S.) settled in Egypt. He (A.S.) died at the age of 140 years. He (A.S.) was buried in Hebron (Al-Khalil) according to his will.
When the Prophet Yaqub (A.S.) was on the point of death, he (A.S.) called his sons and held conversation with them. It is mentioned in the following Verses of the Holy Quran: The same did Abraham enjoin upon his sons, and also Yaqub (saying): O’ my sons! Lo! Allah has chosen for you the true religion, therefore die not save as men who have surrendered (unto Him) or were you present when death came to Yaqub when he said to his sons: What will you worship after me? They said: We shall worship your Allah, God of your fathers, Abraham and Ishaq, One God and unto Him we have surrendered.” (Quran 2:132-133)