From Genesis 27-29
This is a longer than normal post because the story is so good. Isaac wants to bless his son Esau. He ends up blessing his other son Jacob and his family in disarray. Today we read about the greatest deceptions in the Old Testament.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Isaac has aged. He is not quite at deaths door. But he sees it coming.
27 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.” (Gen 27.1-4)
‘Called Esau’. Normally, fathers would call all their sons so they could each receive blessings. Isaac shows bias and favoritism by only calling for Esau. He ignores Jacob.
‘Delicious food’. Isaac also desires some comfort food. Some game from the field. Something Esau has to go away and hunt for. This gives opportunity to another.
5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.”
11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.”
13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.”
14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. (Gen 27.5-17)
‘Rebekah was listening’. Rebekah has other plans. Her favorite is Jacob and she conspires with him to deceive Isaac, so he can take the blessing for himself.
‘Bring a curse’. Jacob is initially afraid of getting caught and receiving a curse. Rebekah says she would take it upon herself. She then cooks delicious food for Isaac and dresses Jacob up in Esau’s clothing, also wrapping him in goats skins around parts of his body.
What first strikes one as Rebekah’s scheme unfolds is the sheer improbability that this can possibly work. Can goat meat be made to taste like venison? Can goatskin feel like human hair? How can Jacob possibly pass as Esau when his voice can so easily give him away? We must conclude that beyond being blind, all of Isaac’s senses are dulled—not only his five senses but his common sense and his sense of reason as well. (Walton, J.H., 2001. Genesis, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)
18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.”
20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.”
21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.”
22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him.
24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.
26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,
“See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed!
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” (Gen 27.18-29)
Isaac tests the identity of his son using reason (27:20), touching him (27:21–22), the sound of his voice (27:22), his word as a man (27:24), and body odor (27:27). Isaac deceives he way through most of them. All except the sound of his voice.
‘So he blessed him’. He blessing involves fertile land, authority over other nations.
30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.”
32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.”
33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.”
34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!”
35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.”
36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?”
38 Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:
“Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high.
40 By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.” (Gen 27.30-40)
‘Isaac trembled very violently’, ‘great and bitter cry’. The gig is up. Jacob has got away with the blessing and leaves a wake of tumult behind him.
‘Is he not rightly named Jacob?’. Jacob’s name reflects his character. At birth Esau was ‘heeled’ by Jacob’s grasp, and now much later he is ‘heeled’ by his mothers ambition and Jacob’s grasp for the blessing.
41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— 45 until your brother’s anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?” (Gen 27.41-45)
The story ends with expected results. The family experiences a breakdown in relationships. Jacob is forced to flee to his uncles abode to escape his brothers wrath. What he did today will not be forgotten.
This amazing story shows how God is able to bring about his purpose despite the presence of favoritism, jealousy, deceit, and conflict. Through the mess of life God is able to preserve his covenant and bring blessing, especially to those who do not deserve it. In this case Jacob.
In the gospel Jesus blesses the undeserving all the time, so long as afterward they repent and change their lives. Jesus was once brought a woman caught in adultery. The Jewish leaders were about to stone her to death.
7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (Jn 8.7-11)
After several trials Jacob also grew and matured in his faith following this event.
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