Introduction 1-4 Isaac Wants to Bless Esau 5-17 Conspiracy 18-29 Jacob Steals the Blessing 30-40 Isaac Blesses Esau 41-46 Rebekah Wants Jacob to Flee

In this chapter Isaac is a picture of a believer who lives in the land, that is the believer who is blessed with all spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, but who seeks the things of the earth and is guided by them. In practical terms, we see the consequences of this in this chapter. We see a family that knows God, but where nothing of this knowledge and trust in Him is found. On the contrary, we see how desires, deceit and lies play a role. Every member of the family acts without asking God what to do.

It is a cautionary example for us that we will always be aware that the blessings we have received have been given us by grace. As soon as we forget that, we start looking for our own interests with all the sad consequences thereof.

Isaac Wants to Bless Esau

1Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” 2Isaac said, “Behold now, I am old [and] I do not know the day of my death. 3Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; 4and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.”

Isaac has become blind. In the application this means that his understanding of spiritual things has disappeared. He can no longer see the blessings of the land. That was different with Moses (Deu 34:77Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated.).

He wants to bless Esau, while knowing that the LORD has given Jacob the birthright. This is the result of his predilection for “a savory dish”. That makes blind to see things as the Lord sees them. Isaac, who has started so well, fails when he gets old.

He talks about the day of his death, but it will take still forty-three years before he dies. He will be one hundred and eighty years old. Here he is one hundred and thirty-seven years.


5Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game to bring [home], 6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, 7‘Bring me [some] game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death.’ 8Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you. 9Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them [as] a savory dish for your father, such as he loves. 10Then you shall bring [it] to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death.” 11Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, “Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. 12Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing.” 13But his mother said to him, “Your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get [them] for me.” 14So he went and got [them], and brought [them] to his mother; and his mother made savory food such as his father loved. 15Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob.

Rebekah hears of Isaac’s intention. That makes her worried. She thinks that the Divine blessing will pass Jacob by. Instead of going to Isaac and reminding him of God’s intention to bless the youngest for the eldest, she resorted to deceit. It is one thing to know the thoughts of God, it is another thing how they are realized. It is terrible to help God by deceit.

Wouldn’t God have answered her if she had gone to Him with this problem? She used to do that (Gen 25:2222But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I [this way]?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.). She started with Isaac in such harmony. They have received one another from the LORD (Gen 24:1-4,12-15,57-671Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way.2Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Please place your hand under my thigh,3and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live,4but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”12He said, “O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham.13Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water;14now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’—[may] she [be the one] whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.”15Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder.57And they said, “We will call the girl and consult her wishes.”58Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”59Thus they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men.60They blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“May you, our sister,
Become thousands of ten thousands,
And may your descendants possess
The gate of those who hate them.”
61Then Rebekah arose with her maids, and they mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.62Now Isaac had come from going to Beer-lahai-roi; for he was living in the Negev.63Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming.64Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel.65She said to the servant, “Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?” And the servant said, “He is my master.” Then she took her veil and covered herself.66The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.67Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
). Together they sought Him for having children (Gen 25:2121Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.). Now she is going to cheat on her husband. She thinks she can secure Jacob and the blessing for him by this, but she loses Jacob by it.

The cheating is done by two young goats and their skins. Later Jacob will be deceived in the same way (Gen 37:31-3431So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood;32and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, “We found this; please examine [it] to [see] whether it is your son’s tunic or not.”33Then he examined it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!”34So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.). Jacob still objects first. He thinks along, but only in a negative sense. He only thinks about what the consequences would be if the fraud were discovered. There is no feeling of guilt, but only fear of the curse when discovered.

Rebekah declares that he is prepared to take on the curse. She does see a solution. The skins provide the solution. Then she prepares the savory food “such as his father loved” (verse 14b14So he went and got [them], and brought [them] to his mother; and his mother made savory food such as his father loved.). She prepares the goats so that it looks like game, making it “deceptive food” (Pro 23:33Do not desire his delicacies,
For it is deceptive food.

It is very bad to misuse the knowledge that a man and a wife have acquired from each other in a marriage for their own plans. Here knowledge undermines their unity, while what spouses know about each other should serve to strengthen their marriage. There is no more openness. They play hide and seek for each other.

Jacob Steals the Blessing

18Then he came to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me.” 20Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have [it] so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because the LORD your God caused [it] to happen to me.” 21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. 24And he said, “Are you really my son Esau?” And he said, “I am.” 25So he said, “Bring [it] to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, that I may bless you.” And he brought [it] to him, and he ate; he also brought him wine and he drank. 26Then his father Isaac said to him, “Please come close and kiss me, my son.” 27So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said,
“See, the smell of my son
Is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed;
28Now may God give you of the dew of heaven,
And of the fatness of the earth,
And an abundance of grain and new wine;
29May peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you;
Be master of your brothers,
And may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be those who curse you,
And blessed be those who bless you.”

Jacob, disguised as Esau, comes to his father. Isaac touches him and says: “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” If we apply this to a believer, we can say: “He talks like a believer, but his deeds are those of the world. What we say should correspond to what we do.

When Isaac kisses Jacob, he smells the smell of the field. What a sad thing it is, when the ‘scent’ of the world hangs around a believer. What we eat determines how we scent. Do we eat the food of the world or the food of the Lord Jesus?

Up to three times Isaac expressed his suspicion, his uncertainty, whether he really has to do with Esau (verses 20,22,2420Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have [it] so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because the LORD your God caused [it] to happen to me.”22So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”24And he said, “Are you really my son Esau?” And he said, “I am.”). Because he depends on his sense of touch and smell, he does not find out the truth and believes the lie. If he had trusted God, he would never have been deceived despite his blindness (cf. 1Kgs 14:4-54Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age.5Now the LORD had said to Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son, for he is sick. You shall say thus and thus to her, for it will be when she arrives that she will pretend to be another woman.”).

Jacob plays the role of Esau well. That is clear from what he says when Isaac notices that he is back from the hunt so quickly. Jacob then speaks of “the LORD your God”. That is what Esau would say. Esau has no connection with the LORD and would therefore never speak of ‘the LORD my God’, while Jacob would say so.

The blessing that Isaac pronounces on Jacob is a blessing as it would be meant for Esau. Isaac blesses Jacob with the abundance of heaven and the earth, with being the master of other nations and his brothers, and with curse upon all who curse him, and blessing upon all who bless him. It is not the blessing as God in its fullness intended for Jacob. That makes Isaac somewhat right in Genesis 28 (Gen 28:44May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.”), while God Himself describes the full blessing in Genesis 35 (Gen 35:11-1211God also said to him,
“I am God Almighty;
Be fruitful and multiply;
A nation and a company of nations shall come from you,
And kings shall come forth from you.
12“The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac,
I will give it to you,
And I will give the land to your descendants after you.”

History as it is mentioned here does not show much evidence of faith. Yet Isaac is not a man who lives without God. In the blessing he passes on, faith is present (Heb 11:2020By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.).

Isaac Blesses Esau

30Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31Then he also made savory 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.” 32Isaac his father said to him, “Who are you?” And he said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was he then that hunted game and brought [it] to me, so that I ate of all [of it] before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34When 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!” 35And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.” 36Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?” 38Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, [even] me also, O my father.” So Esau lifted his voice and wept. 39Then Isaac his father answered and said to him,
“Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling,
And away from the dew of heaven from above.
40“By your sword you shall live,
And your brother you shall serve;
But it shall come about when you become restless,
That you will break his yoke from your neck.”

When Esau comes, Isaac trembles violently. He is not indignant about Jacob, but his conscience speaks. Suddenly he comes into the light of God. He sees that God has come in between. He does not turn back the blessing, but confirms the blessing given to Jacob. With this he submits himself to the will of God. Therefore the blessing he gave Jacob can be seen as an act of faith (Heb 11:2020By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.).

Esau searches with tears for the blessing with which Jacob is blessed, but is rejected (Heb 12:16-1716that [there be] no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a [single] meal.17For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.). The blessing is not taken from Jacob and given to Esau. In verse 3636Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”, Esau gives a misrepresentation of the situation. He seeks the blame with the other. We also sometimes do. This already happens at the time of the fall into sin. What is needed is straightforward confession.

Esau also receives a blessing, but one much less than Jakob received. The first blessing Jacob receives is that of the dew of heaven. Esau receives the fatness of the earth, for that is the most important thing for him, while he is excluded from the dew of heaven.

Rebekah Wants Jacob to Flee

41So Esau bore a grudge against 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 near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42Now when the words of her elder son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she sent and called her younger son Jacob, and said to him, “Behold your brother Esau is consoling himself concerning you [by planning] to kill you. 43Now therefore, my son, obey my voice, and arise, flee to Haran, to my brother Laban! 44Stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury subsides, 45until your brother’s anger against you subsides and he forgets what you did to him. Then I will send and get you from there. Why should I be bereaved of you both in one day?” 46Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”

The fact that Esau is an ungodly man is also evident from what he says to himself. He talks about killing his “brother Jacob”. In this is revealed the spirit of Cain, who “was of the evil one and slew his brother” (1Jn 3:1212not as Cain, [who] was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.).

Rebekah and Jacob both won when it comes to getting what they wanted, even though they got nothing more than what God wanted to give them. However, they have also lost a lot of what they have wanted to secure. We see that here.

Rebekah wants Jacob to flee. According to her, it will only take a few days (verse 4444Stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury subsides,). The reality is that she will never see him again. Rebekah also suffers the consequences of their common deceit. The stolen blessing only brings grief and separation. Jacob will become a vagabond for twenty years. He owes that to himself.

It seems Rebekah uses another trick in verse 4646Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”. She talks to Isaac about the wives of Esau and sighs that Jacob will not “take a wife … from the daughters of the land”. By noticing this she indirectly says that Jacob should leave. What is meant as running away from Esau, becomes in this way a permissible departure, with the blessing of Isaac. That in reality it is a fly, says the prophet Hosea (Hos 12:1212Now Jacob fled to the land of Aram,
And Israel worked for a wife,
And for a wife he kept [sheep].

That God, with Jacob, through all deceit and tricks, still fulfills His own plans with Jacob is a matter that arouses great admiration. Thus is God, Who can use the failure of man, also of His own, to fulfil His plans. This does not in any way reduce the responsibility of man, it increases in all cases the worship that God deserves for it. The history of Jacob begins with trickery and deception; the last thing we read of Jacob is that he worships.

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