Binding of Isaac: Rebirth Wiki

Added in Repentance

Tainted Jacob is a character added in The Binding of Isaac: Repentance. He is the alternate version of Jacob Jacob. Tainted Jacob is unlocked by reaching Home Home and using the Red Key Red Key, Cracked Key Cracked Key, or Soul of Cain Soul of Cain to access a special room in one of the walls while playing as Jacob & Esau.

Tainted Jacob spawns with 3 red heart containers and Anima Sola Anima Sola in his consumable slot, which freezes the nearest enemy for 5 seconds. However, he is pursued through the entire game by Dark Esau, who will try to charge into and kill Tainted Jacob. Anima Sola always affects Dark Esau if he is on screen.

If Dark Esau touches Tainted Jacob, Tainted Jacob "dies" and becomes functionally identical to The Lost The Lost but will not have Holy Mantle Holy Mantle. While in this form, having an Eternal Heart Eternal Heart in his last heart slot will block the next hit like a Holy Card Holy Card.

Upon reaching a new floor, Tainted Jacob will return to his living state.

Dark Esau[]

Added in Repentance

Dark Esau is a hostile mini-boss version of Esau Esau.

Dark Esau spawns 20 to 40 seconds after Tainted Jacob goes to a new floor, emerging from a crack in the ground and creating a circle of damaging flames around him in his wake.

Dark Esau continuously pursues Tainted Jacob by floating towards him, speeding up when further away and slowing down to a near standstill when within a fixed distance. If Tainted Jacob remains within that fixed distance for a short period of time, Dark Esau will perform a fiery charge attack in which he will pause for a brief moment with a sound cue before rushing towards him, damaging any enemies in his path.

Anima Sola Anima Sola's targeting always prioritizes Dark Esau. When released, Dark Esau immediately charges towards Tainted Jacob's current position.

Using Anima Sola when used in a room with no enemies will immediately spawn Dark Esau without exhausting the item's charge, bypassing the usual wait period before spawning.

Dark Esau's position at all times is determined by his position relative to the general layout of the floor, meaning he persists in the same location even when Tainted Jacob moves through rooms. Entering a new room cancels Esau's charge if he was preparing one or frees him if he was bound by Anima Sola.

Dark Esau is impervious to damage and cannot be killed, but can block enemy projectiles.

Dark Esau is able to damage enemies as well as Tainted Jacob in the following ways:

  • Creates 12 rings of 8 flames when spawning, each dealing 6 damage to enemies they hit, dealing anywhere between 6-576 damage depending on how close they are to him. These flames can be blocked by obstacles.
  • Deals 30 contact damage per tick to enemies and pushes them (60 damage per second).
  • Deals an extra 10 damage per tick to enemies and inflicts Burning on them when leaving a flame trail while charging at Tainted Jacob (300 damage per second).

Unlockable Items[]

Strategy & Item Notes[]

Throughout the majority of a run, Tainted Jacob is harassed by Dark Esau with no intended way of permanently getting rid of him. Because of this, playing as Tainted Jacob requires the player to manage both the playable Jacob and his vengeful brother Esau.

  • Using Anima Sola Anima Sola is key to success for Tainted Jacob, as it can help prevent damage from Dark Esau or turn him into a powerful weapon against enemies.
  • In the Mines Mines, Tainted Jacob can intentionally run into Dark Esau in order to abuse the mechanics of The Lost form (specifically Flight in an area which normally removes any previous sources of flight you may have attained) to quickly and easily acquire the Knife Piece 2 Knife Piece 2 with a rapid and flight assisted escape if you are attempting to reach the Corpse Corpse to defeat Mother Mother.
    • Typically the escape path would become excessively difficult due to both Mother's Shadow Mother's Shadow and Dark Esau attempting to charge at you in intervals which are typically out of sync, making it very difficult to escape without taking damage or potentially dying.
    • By remaining in The Lost form, this also allows you bypass the damage which would normally be required to enter the door in order to advance to Mausoleum Mausoleum / Gehenna Gehenna.
    • It is recommended to full clear the floor first, as you will remain in The Lost form until you reach the next floor.
  • At the end of each floor with a devil deal spawn, it is possible to intentionally have Dark Esau turn Tainted Jacob into The Lost form in order to receive free devil deals.
    • It should be noted that after fighting Mom's Heart in Mausoleum, Devil or Angel items will disappear even if Goat Head or Eucharist is held. Therefore it is recommended to take deals before the fight.
  • Items that give you Flight (able to dodge Dark Esau easier in rooms with pits and rocks) and/or spectral tears (Quicker room clears with obstacles plus can cheese obstacle mechanics with Dark Esau) can help quickly clear rooms and avoid the brother attacks

Dark Esau[]


Dark Esau himself should be respected. Being touched a single time by Dark Esau has a high chance of leading to a run's end by putting Jacob in his fragile Lost state for the remainder of a floor.

  • Dark Esau deals no contact damage to Jacob while chained down with Anima Sola.
  • Dark Esau's touch effect can be avoided while shielded, invulnerable, or otherwise immune to damage (such as with Holy Mantle Holy Mantle or Gnawed Leaf Gnawed Leaf).
  • Dark Esau keeps a consistent distance from Jacob, and will only charge if he is within this distance. Dark Esau will never actually be able to touch Jacob unless he starts his charge animation, charges, or Jacob runs into him.
    • As such, running from and maintaining enough distance from Dark Esau will prevent him from charging.
    • In some cases such as being next to an obstacle, Dark Esau will stop moving within the prop and will be unable to charge until Jacob moves away from it.
  • Dark Esau's position at all times is determined by his position relative to the general layout of the floor, meaning he persists in the same location even when Tainted Jacob moves through rooms. Entering a new room cancels Esau's charge if he was preparing one or frees him if he was bound by Anima Sola.
    • Caution should be taken when moving between rooms where Dark Esau is near the doorway, as this may lead to a situation where Tainted Jacob immediately runs into Dark Esau.
    • Teleporting a great distance or traveling quickly through rooms with the help of special items or a high speed stat makes it harder for Dark Esau to catch up to Jacob.
    • If Dark Esau is in the process of traveling between rooms, it is possible to use Anima Sola to chain him outside of the current area Tainted Jacob is in.
  • As Dark Esau takes time to respawn after entering a new floor, the first few seconds on every floor can be used to explore rooms freely.
  • Dark Esau will not charge at Jacob if he eats a Paralysis Pill.

Considering the damage Dark Esau can deal to enemies and the fact that Anima Sola can be canceled early by using it a second time, Dark Esau can become a powerful, albeit dangerous weapon to use against enemies by positioning Tainted Jacob in ways that manipulate him into charging into enemies. This is further compounded, as his charge attack ignores Boss Armor.

  • Anima Sola can be used in an empty room to instantly summon Dark Esau in order to use him advantageously.
    • Dark Esau's charge is able to single-handedly kill most early bosses in one or two hits. He can also be held in place with Anima Sola to bait chasing enemies, as Jacob can stand behind Dark Esau and cause them to run into him.
  • In Greed Mode, Anima Sola will always be charged at the beginning of a new wave. This can be taken advantage of by binding Dark Esau before a new wave begins and then letting him charge into a freshly spawned enemy group or a priority enemy like a champion. Since releasing Dark Esau manually does not consume the item charge, the item will still be available to restrict him again immediately afterwards.
  • Dark Esau's charge will extinguish Fire Place Fire Places.
  • Dark Esau cannot damage friendly enemies.
  • When Dark Esau charges while in fear, he charges away from Tainted Jacob.

Co-Op Mode[]

  • Dark Esau cannot affect other players and ignores them completely.
    • If multiple players are playing Tainted Jacob, then any Tainted Jacob who touches any Dark Esau will still be turned into a ghost or die. Tainted Jacob players will only be able to use Anima Sola on their own Dark Esau, and if one of the Tainted Jacobs is completely killed, both Dark Esaus will begin to target the one that is still living.
    • When Tainted Jacob completely dies and is turned into a small ghost baby as a Co-Op partner, Dark Esau will still follow the ghost of Tainted Jacob if no other Tainted Jacob players are in the match, allowing them to still use him as a high damage weapon to help their teammates.
  • If Tainted Jacob was turned into his ghostly form by Dark Esau, then dying and being revived upon completion of the boss will have him revive as his ghostly form.
    • If Tainted Jacob is dead at the start of a floor, Dark Esau will still spawn, but will target one of the living players instead. Unless they are also playing Tainted Jacob, he will never hurt them outside his spawning animation.
  • Dark Esau is considered a boss.
    • Like every other "boss", Dark Esau can be spawned with debug commands. However, if playing as someone other than Tainted Jacob, the player will be immune to his attacks.
      • Jacob Jacob, even in his normal non-tainted form, is an exception. When touched by Dark Esau, he will take damage, but will not turn into a ghost. Esau Esau, like most characters, is still immune to Dark Esau.
  • When the console command "restart 39" is loaded, the player will be spawned as a ghostly version of Tainted Jacob. The only differences is that Dark Esau never seems to spawn and that this version of Tainted Jacob has the health of The Lost The Lost.

Item Interactions[]

  • Birthright Birthright: Dark Esau splits into two. Both Esaus will always charge at the same time, and one will not charge if the other is not in position. Using Anima Sola Anima Sola chains both Dark Esaus at once and forces them together into one spot. Subsequent uses of Anima Sola release each Dark Esau one at a time.
  • Health Ups (eg; Breakfast Breakfast): Tainted Jacob will still receive the additional health, even in his Lost form.
  • While in his Lost form, Tainted Jacob can take devil deals in the same way as the Lost.
  • Homing and most other targeting effects will not target Dark Esau despite him being an enemy. On-kill effect items will also activate if Dark Esau kills enemies.
  • Cube Baby Cube Baby: Dark Esau can also "kick" the baby into enemies.
  • Strawman Strawman: Dark Esau ignores and does no harm to Strawman. Strawman can also walk through Dark Esau.
  • Angry Fly Angry Fly: Will chase only Dark Esau whenever possible.

Good Items[]

  • 9 Volt 9 Volt: Reduces the charge time of Anima Sola by half, giving the player much better control of Dark Esau.
  • Glowing Hour Glass Glowing Hour Glass: Returns Jacob to his regular form if he was turned into the lost in the previous room.
  • Belly Jelly Belly Jelly/Infamy Infamy: The chance to avoid damage still applies to Dark Esau, potentially saving Jacob from death/being turned into the Lost.
  • Holy Mantle Holy Mantle: Block attacks from Dark Esau and also protects Tainted Jacob in his Lost form.
  • How to Jump How to Jump: Can be used to jump over Dark Esau.
  • Pause Pause: Stopping time while Dark Esau is charging through an enemy will cause him to constantly damage it via contact until the effect wears off.
  • Punching Bag Punching Bag: When Dark Esau spawns, he will aggro to the closest of Punching Bag or Jacob. So long as Anima Sola is not used, he will never re-target Jacob, making him endlessly attempt to kill the Punching Bag until the next floor, where he will target whomever is closest upon spawning.
  • Satanic Bible Satanic Bible/Devil's Crown Devil's Crown: Allows Jacob to intentionally turn into his Lost form to receive free Devil Room items every floor.
  • Sigil of Baphomet Sigil of Baphomet: Kills made by Dark Esau will also trigger a temporary shield.
  • Stop Watch Stop Watch: Dark Esau is slowed by this item, making him easier to dodge and outrun.
  • Ventricle Razor Ventricle Razor: Entering portals created by this item while Dark Esau is charging will immediately interrupt the charge.

Poor Items[]

  • Book of Virtues Book of Virtues: The wisps generated from Anima Sola Anima Sola will target Dark Esau, despite his invincibility.
  • Isaac's Heart Isaac's Heart: Dark Esau no longer kills Jacob if he touches his body, but contact with the heart will. This makes it far easier to die since both Isaac's Heart and Dark Esau's default positions are behind Jacob, and causes them to collide very frequently.
  • Lost Soul Lost Soul: The soul can be killed by Dark Esau, making it very difficult to keep it alive.
    • This can be somewhat assuaged with BFFS! BFFS!.



  • Dark Esau may be based on a story in the Book of Genesis, in which Esau attempts to kill Jacob after both Jacob and their mother tricked their father Isaac into giving Jacob a blessing intended for Esau, resulting in Jacob fleeing from Esau's wrath.
    • This is also further backed up by Tainted Jacob's unlock achievement name, "The Deserter."
    • This is also supported by Tainted Jacob's Birthright Birthright effect, which benefits Dark Esau more than Jacob himself. The Birthright was originally intended for Esau.
    • Tainted Jacob unlocks both XIX - The Sun? XIX - The Sun? and XVIII - The Moon? XVIII - The Moon?, this is a reversal of Jacob and Esau Jacob and Esau as his radiance disappear along with Esau's misery for no longer being Jacob's slave, as now Esau is the eternal tormentor of Jacob, Jacob fulfills both the misery of the reverse Sun and the instability and lowkey terror of the reverse Moon.
  • Dark Esau is referred to as "The Revenant" in his Four Souls card.
    • A Revenant is a spirit that has come back from the dead to enact their revenge on somebody that has wronged them. This fits as Dark Esau is a demon trying to kill Jacob for stealing his birthright and blessing from their father Isaac.
  • Anima Sola targeting Dark Esau may be referring to Genesis 27:40 where Isaac tells Esau that he will live by the sword and serve his brother, but throwing his yoke from his neck when grown restless.
  • The item description which appears when obtaining Birthright Birthright as Tainted Jacob may be a reference to a story in Genesis, where Esau sells Jacob his birthright for stew.
  • Dark Esau's behavior is similar to that of Mother's Shadow Mother's Shadow.
  • Prior to v1.7.5, Dark Esau had a health bar. Upon death, he would be dragged into a pit by Big Horn Big Horn and create a Mama Mega! Mama Mega!-like explosion that would turn Tainted Jacob into his Lost form.
  • Dark Esau still shows that he has 250 Hp in the bestiary despite after v1.7.5 he is invulnerable and does not have any health.
  • Dark Esau will not damage any other playable character except for Tainted Jacob and Jacob. Notably, Esau is not affected.