1 “And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he
could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said
unto him, Behold, here am I.” And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, -
according to the generally accepted calculation, in his one hundred and thirty-seventh
year. Joseph, having been introduced to Pharaoh in his thirtieth year (ch. 41:46), and
having been thirty-nine years of age (ch. 45:6) when his father, aged one hundred and
thirty (ch. 47:9),
came down to
ninety-one; consequently, as his birth occurred in the fourteenth year of Jacob's
must have taken place when he was seventy-seven. But Jacob was born in Isaac's
sixtieth year (ch. 25:26); hence Isaac was now one hundred and thirty-seven.
There are, however, difficulties connected with this reckoning which lay it open
to suspicion. For one thing, it postpones Jacob s marriage to an extremely late period.
Then it takes for granted that the term of Jacob's service in Padan-aram was only
twenty years (ch. 31:41), whereas it is not certain whether it was not forty, made up,
according to the computation of Kennicott, of fourteen years' service, twenty years'
assistance as a neighbor, and six years of work for wages. And, lastly, it necessitates
the birth of Jacob's eleven children in the short space of six years, a thing which
appears to some, if not impossible, at least highly improbable. Adopting the larger
number as the term of Jacob s
only one hundred and seventeen (vide 'Chronologer of Jacob's Life,' 31:41) –
and his eyes were dim, - literally, were failing in strength, hence becoming dim
(I Samuel 3:2). In describing Jacob s decaying vision a different verb is employed
(ch. 48:10) - so that he could not see, - literally, from seeing; מִן with the inf. constr,
conveying the idea of receding from the state of perfect vision (compare ch. 16:2;
he called Esau his eldest son, - Esau was born before his twin brother) -
Jacob (ch. 25:25) - and said unto him, My son: - i.e. my special son, my beloved
son, the language indicating fondness and partiality (ch. 25:28) - and he (Esau)
said unto him, Behold, here am I.
2 “And he said (i.e. Isaac), Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:”
Isaac had manifestly become apprehensive of the near approach of dissolution. His
failing sight, and probably the recollection that Ishmael, his half-brother, had died
at 137 (if that was Isaac's age at this time; see above), occasioned the suspicion
that his own end could not be remote, though he lived forty-three or sixty-three
years longer, according to the calculation adopted, expiring at the ripe age of 180
3 “Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and
go out to the field, and take me some venison;” Now therefore take, I pray thee,
thy weapons, - the word "weapon" signifying a utensil, vessel, or finished instrument
employed in hunting, and in particular those next specified - thy quiver - the
ἅπαξ λέγομενον, תְּלִי: from תָּלָה to hang, properly is "that which is suspended;"
hence a quiver, φαρέτραν – pharetran - (Septuagint), pharetram (Vulgate), which
commonly depends from the shoulders or girdle (Aben Ezra, Rosenmüller, Keil,
Kalisch, et alii), though by some it is rendered "sword" (Onkelos; Syriac) –
and thy bow (see ch. 21:16), and go out to the field, - i.e. the open country
inhabited by wild beasts, as opposed to cities, villages, or camps (compare
ch. 25:27) - and take me some venison - literally, hunt for me hunting,
i.e. the produce of hunting, as in ch. 25:28.
4 “And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat;
that my soul may bless thee before I die.” And make me savory meat, - "delicious
food," from a root whose primary idea is to taste, or try the flavor, of a thing.
Schultens observes that the corresponding Arabic term is specially applied to
dishes made of flesh taken in hunting, and highly esteemed by nomad tribes -
such as I love (ch. 25:28, the ground of his partiality for Esau), and bring it to me,
that I may eat; - "Though Isaac was blind and weak in his eyes, yet it seem-eth his
body was of a strong constitution, seeing he was able to eat of wild flesh, which is
of harder digestion" (Willet) - that - the conjunction בַּעֲבוּר followed by a future
commonly expresses a purpose (compare Exodus 9:14) - my soul may bless thee –
notwithstanding the oracle (ch. 25:23) uttered so many (fifty-seven or seventy-seven)
years ago, Isaac appears to have clung to the belief that Esau was the destined heir
of the covenant blessing; quoedam fuit coecitatis species, quae illi magis obstitit
quam externa oeulorum caligo (Calvin) - before I die.
5 “And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to
the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.” And Rebekah (who, though
younger than Isaac, must also have been old) heard when Isaac spake - literally,
in the speaking of Isaac; בְּ with the inf. forming a periphrasis for the gerund, and
being commonly rendered by when (ch. 24:30; 31:18), the subordinated noun
being changed in translation into the subject of the sentence - to Esau his son
(to which the "her son" of v. 6 stands in contrast). And Esau went to the field
to hunt for venison, - literally, to hunt hunting. (see on v. 3) and to bring it –
i.e. "the savory meat" or "delicious food," as directed (v. 4).
6 “And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father
speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, 7 Bring me venison, and make me savoury
meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death.”
And Rebekah (having already formed a plan for diverting the patriarchal blessing
from Esau, whose habit of life and utterly unspiritual character may perhaps have
recalled to her mind and confirmed the declaration of the oracle concerning Jacob's
precedence) spake unto Jacob her son, - i.e. her favorite, in contrast to Esau, Isaac s
son (v. 5) - saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying,
Bring me venison (see on v. 3), and make me savory meat, that I may eat (literally,
and I shall eat), and bless thee - the lengthened form of the future in this and the
preceding verb (compare וְאֹכֵלָה in v. 4) is expressive of Isaac's self-excitement and
emphatic determination - before the Lord. The word Jehovah, by modern criticism
regarded as a sign of divided authorship, is satisfactorily explained by remembering
that Rebekah is speaking not of the blessing of God's general providence, but of the
higher benediction of the covenant (Hengstenberg). The phrase, though not included
in Isaac's address to Esau, need not be regarded as due to Rebekah's invention. She
may have understood it to be implied in her husband's language, though it was not
expressed (compare ch. 14:20). That it was designedly omitted by Isaac in consequence
of the worldly character of Esau appears as little likely as that it was deliberately
inserted by Rebekah to whet her favorite's ambition (Kalisch). As to meaning, the
sense may be that this patriarchal benediction was to be bestowed sincerely
(Menochius), in presence and by the authority of God (Ainsworth, Bush, Clericus);
but the use of the term Jehovah rather points to the idea that Rebekah regarded Isaac
simply "as the instrument of the living and personal God, who directed the concerns
of the chosen race (Hengstenberg). Before my death. Since Rebekah makes no remark
as to the groundlessness of Isaac s fear, it is not improbable that she too shared in her
bed-ridden husband's expectations that already he was "in the presence of" his end.
8 “Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.”
Now therefore, my son, - Jacob at this time was not a lad, but a grown man of mature
years (if Isaac was 137, he must have been 77), which shows that in the following
transaction he was rather an accomplice than a tool - obey my voice according to
that which I command thee. We can scarcely here think of a mother laying her
imperative instructions on a docile and unquestioning child; but of a wily woman
detailing her well-concocted scheme to a son whom she discerns to be possessed
of a like crafty disposition with herself, and whom she seeks to gain over to her
stratagem by reminding him of the close and endearing relationship in which they
stand to one another.
9 “Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats;
and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth: 10 And
thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee
before his death.” Go now to the flock, and fetch me - literally, take for me,
i.e. for my purposes (compare ch. 15:9) - from thence two good kids of the goats.
According to Jarchi kids were selected as being the nearest approach to the flesh
of wild animals. Two were specified, it has been thought, either to extract from
both the choicest morsels (Menochius), or to have the appearance of animals taken
in hunting (Rosenmüller), or to make an ample provision as of venison (Lunge),
or to make a second experiment, if the first failed (Willet). And I will make them –
probably concealing any difference in taste by means of condiments, though Isaac’s
palate would not be sensitive in consequence of age and debility - savory meat for
thy father, such as he loveth (see v. 4): and thou shalt bring it to thy father,
that he may eat (literally, and he shall eat), and that he may bless thee - בַּעֲבֻר אֲֶשר,
in order that, from the idea of passing over to that which one desires to attain; less
fully in v. 4 - before his death. Clearly Rebekah was anticipating Isaac's early
dissolution, else why this indecent haste to forestall Esau? There is no reason to
surmise that she believed any connection to subsist between the eating and the
benediction, though she probably imagined that the supposed prompt obedience
of Isaac's son would stimulate his feeble heart to speak (Rosenmüller).
11 “And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a
hairy man, and I am a smooth man:” And Jacob (who was not yet such an adept
at trickery as he afterwards became, and who, if he had no scruples of conscience
in either imposing on a senile parent or despoiling an open-hearted brother, was
yet averse to being detected in his frauds, as deceivers usually are) said to Rebekah
his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man (see ch. 25:25) and I am a
smooth man - חָלָק, smooth (opposed to שָׂעִיר," hairy); the primary idea of which
is to cut off the hair.
12 “My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver;
and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.” My father peradventure
will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; - literally, shall be in his eyes
as a scorer (Keil, Lange), with the idea of mocking at his aged sire's infirmities –
ὡς καταφρονῶν – hos kataphronon – a despiser (Septuagint); or as a deceiver,
an imposter, one who causes to go astray (Vulgate, Rosenmüller, Ainsworth, Murphy);
though perhaps both senses should be-included, the verb תָּעע, to scoff, meaning
primarily to stammer, and hence to mislead by imperfect speech, and thus to cause
to wander or lead astray, תָּעָה, (vide Gesenius, p, 870, and Kalisch, p. 506) –
and I shall bring a curse - קְלָלָה - (from קָלַל, to be light, hence to be despised)
signifies first an expression of contempt, and then a more solemn imprecation –
upon me, and not a blessing.
13 “And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey
my voice, and go fetch me them.” And his mother said unto him, Upon me be
Tempted to regard Rebekah's words as the utterance of a bold and unscrupulous
woman (Aben Ezra), we ought perhaps to view them as inspired by faith in the
Divine promise, which had already indicated that of her two sons Jacob should
have the precedence (Willet, Calvin, Lange), and that accordingly there was
every reason to anticipate not a malediction, but a benediction. Only obey my voice
(i.e. do as I direct you, follow my instructions), and go fetch me them - or, go and
take for me (sc. the two kids I spoke of).
14 “And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother
made savoury meat, such as his father loved.” And he went (to the flock), and
fetched, - or, rather, took (the two kids as directed) and brought them (after slaughter,
of course) to his mother: and his mother made savory meat, such as his father loved.
All this implies that Rebekah reckoned on Esau's absence for a considerable time,
perhaps throughout the entire day.
The Stolen Blessing: a Domestic Drama (vs. 1-14)
1. Issac and Rebekah, or plotting and counterplotting.
Ø Its sinful object. The heavenly oracle having with no uncertain sound
proclaimed Jacob the theocratic heir, the bestowment of the patriarchal
benediction on Esau was clearly an unholy design. That Isaac, who on
Mount Moriah had evinced such meek and ready acquiescence in
Jehovah’s will, should in old age, from partiality towards his firstborn, or
forgetfulness of Jehovah’s declaration, endeavor to thwart the Divine
purpose according to election affords a melancholy illustration of the
deceitfulness of sin even in renewed hearts, and of the deep-seated
antagonism between the instincts of nature and the designs of grace.
Ø Its secret character. The commission assigned to Esau does not appear
to have been dictated by any supposed connection between the gratification
of the palate, the reinvigoration of the body, or the refreshment of the spirit
and the exercise of the prophetic gift, but rather by a desire to divert the
attention of Rebekah from supposing that anything unusual was going on,
and so to secure the necessary privacy for carrying out the scheme which
he had formed. Had Isaac not been doubtful of the righteousness of what
he had in contemplation, he would never have resorted to maneuvering and
secrecy, but would have courted unveiled publicity. Crooked ways love the
dark (John 3:20-21).
Ø Its urgent motive. Isaac felt impelled to relieve his soul of the theocratic
blessing by a sense of approaching dissolution. If it be the weakness of old
men to imagine death nearer, it is the folly of young men to suppose it
farther distant than it is. To young and old alike the failure of the senses
should be a premonition of the end, and good men should set their houses
in order ere they leave the world (ch. 25:6; II Kings 20:1; Isaiah 38:1).
Ø Its inherent weakness. That Isaac reckoned on Rebekah’s opposition to
his scheme seems apparent; it is not so obvious that he calculated on God’s
being against him. Those who meditate unholy deeds should first arrange
that God will not be able to discover their intentions.
Ø The design was legitimate. Instead of her behavior being represented as
an attempt to outwit her aged, blind, and bed-ridden husband (for which
surely no great cleverness was required), and to stealthily secure the
blessing for her favorite, regard for truth demands that it should rather be
characterized as an endeavor to prevent its surreptitious appropriation for
Ø The inspiration was religious. Displaying a considerable amount of
woman’s wit in its conception and execution, and perhaps largely tainted
by maternal jealousy, Rebekah’s stratagem ought in fairness to be traced to
her belief in the pre-natal oracle, which had pointed to Jacob as the
theocratic heir. That her faith, however mixed with unspiritual alloy, was
strong seems a just conclusion from her almost reckless boldness (v. 13).
Ø The wickedness was inexcusable. Good as were its end and motive, the
stratagem of Rebekah was deplorably wicked. It was an act of cruel
imposition on a husband who had loved her for well-nigh a century; it was
a base deed of temptation and seduction, viewed in its relations to Jacob —
the prompting of a son to sin against a father; it was a signal offence
against God in many ways, but chiefly in the sinful impatience it displayed,
and in the foolish supposition that His sovereign designs needed the
assistance of, or could be helped by, human craft in the shape of female
Ø The confederate of Isaac. The guilt of Esau consisted in seeking to
obtain the birthright-when he knew:
o that it belonged to Jacob by Heaven’s gift,
o that he had parted with any imaginary title he ever had to expect it,
o that he was utterly unqualified to possess it, and
o that he was endeavoring to obtain it by improper means.
Ø The tool of Rebekah. That Jacob in acting on his mother’s counsel was
not sinless is evinced by the fact that he
o perceived its hazardous nature (vs. 11-12),
o discerned its criminality, and yet
o allowed himself to carry it through.
Ø The wickedness of trying to subvert the will of Heaven —
exemplified in Isaac.
Ø The sinfulness of doing evil that good may come —
illustrated by the conduct of Rebekah.
Ø The criminality of following evil counsel, in opposition to
the light of conscience and the restraints of
shown by the conduct of both Esau and Jacob.
15 “And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with
her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:” And Rebekah
took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, - literally, the robes of Esau her son
the elder - the desirable, i.e. the handsome ones. The בֶּגֶד was an outer garment
Septuagint, - and was often made of beautiful and costly materials (compare
I Kings 22:10). That the clothes mentioned as belonging to Esau were sacerdotal
robes possessed by him as heir of the patriarchal priesthood (Jewish Rabbis), though
regarded by many as a probable conjecture (Ainsworth, Bush, Candlish, Clarke,
Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Inglis), is devoid of proof, and may be
pronounced unlikely, since the firstborn did not serve in the priesthood while his
father lived (Willet, Alford). They were probably festive garments of the princely
hunter (Kalisch) - which were with her in the house, - not because Esau saw that
his wives were displeasing to his parents (Mercerus, Willet), or because they
were sacred garments (Ainsworth,
married, had not yet quitted the patriarchal household (Kalisch) - and put them
upon Jacob her younger son. The verb, being in the hiphil, conveys the sense
of causing Jacob to clothe himself, which entirely removes the impression that
Jacob was a purely involuntary agent in this deceitful and deeply dishonorable
16 “And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the
smooth of his neck:” And she put the skins of the kids of the goats - not European,
but Oriental camel-goats, whose wool is black, silky, of a much finer texture than
that of the former, and sometimes used as a substitute for human hair (compare
Song of Solomon 4:1); see on this subject Rosenmüller's 'Scholia,' and commentaries
generally - upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck - thus cautiously
providing against detection, in case, anything occurring to arouse the old man's
suspicions, he should seek, as in reality he did, to test the accuracy of his now dim
sight and dull hearing by the sense of touch.
17 “And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared,
into the hand of her son Jacob.” Who forthwith proceeded on his unholy errand.
18 “And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I;
who art thou, my son?” And he came unto his father, - by this time a bed-ridden
invalid (see v. 19) - and said, My father. If he attempted to imitate the voice of
Esau, he was manifestly unsuccessful; the dull ear of the aged patient was yet
acute enough to detect a strangeness in the speaker's tone. And he said, Here am I
who art thou, my son? "He thought he recognized the voice of Jacob; his suspicions
were aroused; he knew the crafty disposition of his younger son too well; and he felt
the duty of extreme carefulness" (Kalisch).
19 “And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done
according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison,
that thy soul may bless me.” And Jacob (either not observing or not regarding
the trepidation which his voice caused, but being well schooled by his crafty mother,
and determined to go through with what perhaps he esteemed a perfectly justifiable
transaction) said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn. (F irst lie) A reply for which
laborious excuses have been invented; as that Jacob spoke mystically, meaning not
that he individually, but that his descendants, the Church, were Isaac's firstborn
(Augustine); or figuratively, as importing that since he had already bought Esau’s
birthright, he might justly regard himself as standing in Esau's place (Theodoret,
Aquinas). It is better not to attempt vindication of conduct which to ordinary minds
must ever appear questionable, but rather to hold that "Jacob told an officious lie
to his father" (Willet). I have done according as thou badest me. If the former
assertion might be cleared of untruthfulness, it is difficult to see how this can.
By no conceivable sophistry could he convince his conscience that he was acting
in obedience to his father, while he was knowingly implementing the instructions
of his mother. This was Jacob's second lie. - Arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my
venison. Lie three. One lie commonly requires another to support or conceal it.
Few who enter on a course of deception stop at one falsehood. That thy soul may
bless me. It was the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant he craved.
20 “And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly,
my son? And he said, Because the LORD thy God brought it to me.
21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee,
my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.” And Isaac (still dissatisfied,
but still resolving to proceed with caution) said unto his son, How is it that thou
hast found it so quickly, my son? Giving expression to a natural surprise at the
speedy success which had attended Esau's hunting expedition; an interrogation
to which Jacob replied with daring boldness (Murphy), with consummate effrontery
(Bush), not without perjury (Calvin), and even with reckless blasphemy (Kalisch,
Alford). And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me. (Fourth lie)
Literally, caused it to come before me; by the concurrence, of course, of His
providence; which, though in one sense true, yet as used by Jacob was an impious
falsehood. Solemn as this declaration was, it failed to lull the suspicions or allay
the disquiet of the aged invalid. And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee,
that I may feel thee, my son, - the very thing which Jacob had suggested as likely
to happen (v. 12) - whether thou be my very son Esau (literally, this, my son Esau)
22 “And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said,
The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. 23 And he
discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands:
so he blessed him.” And Jacob (with a boldness worthy of a better cause) went
near unto Isaac his father; and he (i.e. Isaac) felt him (i.e. Jacob), and said, The
voice is Jacob's voice, but (literally, and) the hands are the hands of Esau. And
he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands:
so he blessed him. Isaac must either have forgotten the heavenly oracle which
announced the destinies of his sons at their birth, and distinctly accorded the
precedence to Jacob, or he must not have attached the same importance to it as
Rebekah, or he may have thought that it did not affect the transmission of the
covenant blessing, or that it did not concern his sons no much as their descendants.
It is hard to credit that Isaac either did not believe in the Divine announcement
which had indicated Jacob as the heir of the promise, or that, believing it, he
deliberately allowed paternal partiality to interfere with, and even endeavor to
reverse, the will of Heaven.
24 “And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am. 25 And he said,
Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless
thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat: and he brought him wine,
and he drank. 26 And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and
kiss me, my son.” And he said (showing that a feeling of uneasy suspicion yet
lingered in his mind), Art thou my very son Esau? Luther wonders how Jacob
was able to brazen it out; adding, "I should probably have run away in terror,
and let the dish fall;" but, instead of that, he added one more lie – the fifth –
to those which had preceded, saying with undisturbed composure, I am - equivalent
to an English yes; upon which the blind old patriarch requested that the proffered
dainties might be set before him. Having partaken of the carefully-disguised kid's
flesh, and drunk an exhilarating cup of wine, he further desired that his favorite
son should approach his bed, saying, Come near now, and kiss me, my son –
a request dictated more by paternal affection (Keil, Kalisch) than by lingering
doubt which required reassurance (Lange).
27 “And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment,
and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field
which the LORD hath blessed:” And he came near, and kissed him. Originally
the act of kissing had a symbolical character. Here it is a sign of affection between
a parent and a child; in ch. 29:13 between relatives. It was also a token of friendship
'Cyrop.,' 7. 5, 32). With the Persians it was a mark of honor (Xenoph., 'Agesil.,' 5. 4).
The Rabbins permitted only three kinds of kisses - the kiss of reverence, of reception,
and of dismissal. The kiss of charity was practiced among disciples in the early
not deliberately, in order to detect whether they belonged to a shepherd or a
huntsman (Tuch), but accidentally while, in the act of kissing. The odor of
Esau s garments, impregnated with the fragrance of the
aromatic herbs of
excited the dull sensibilities of the aged prophet, suggesting to his mind pictures of
freshness and fertility, and inspiring him to pour forth his promised benediction –
and blessed him (not a second time, the statement in v. 23 being only inserted by
anticipation), and said, - the blessing, as is usual in elevated prophetic utterances,
assumes a poetic and antistrophical form (compare Esau's blessing, vs. 39-40) –
See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field - the first clause of the poetic
stanza clearly connects with the odor of Esau's raiment as that which had opened
the fount of prophetic song in Isaac's breast, so far at least as its peculiar form was
concerned; its secret inspiration we know was the Holy Ghost operating through
Isaac's faith in the promise (see Hebrews 11:20) - which the Lord hath blessed.
The introduction of the name Jehovah instead of Elohim in this second clause
proves that Isaac did not mean to liken his son to an ordinary well-cultivated field,
but to "a
field like that of
field, bearing the same relation to
an ordinary one as
a kind of enchanted garden, such as
would be realized at a later period in
as far as the fidelity of the people permitted it" (Hengstenberg).
28 “Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth,
and plenty of corn and wine:” Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, -
literally, and the Elohim will give thee, with an optative sense (a wish or hope);
i.e. and may the - Elohim give thee! The occurrence of הָךאלֹהִים in what is usually
assigned to the Jehovist (Tuch, Bleek, Davidson) is not to be explained as a special
Jehovistic formula (Colenso), or as a remnant of the fundamental Elohistic writing
(Kalisch), or as indicating that the personal God, and not Jehovah, the God of the
covenant, was the source of the blessing (Keil, Gosman in Lange), or as intimating
a remaining doubt as to whether Esau was the chosen one of Jehovah (Lange);
but as identifying Jehovah with Elohim, the art. being the art. of reference, as in
ch. 22:1 (Hengstenberg). The blessing craved was substantially that of a fertile soil,
in Oriental countries the copious dew deposited by the atmosphere supplying the
place of rain. Hence dew is employed in Scripture as a symbol of material
Haggai 1:10-11) - and the fatness of the earth, - literally, of the fatnesses, or
choicest parts, of the earth (ch. 45:18) - and plenty of corn and wine - i.e. abundance
of the produce of the soil (compare Deuteronomy 33:28).
29 “Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy
brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one
that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.” Let people serve thee
(literally, and will serve thee, peoples; at once a prayer and a prophecy; fulfilled
in the political subjection of the Moabites, Ammonites, Syrians, Philistines, and
Edomites by David; the thought being repeated in the next clause), and nations
bow down to thee (in expression of their homage): be lord over thy brethren, -
literally, be a lord (from the idea of power; found only here and in v. 37) to thy
brethren. Imminence among his kindred as well as dominion in the world is thus
promised - and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee (a repetition of the preceding
thought, with perhaps a hint of his desire to humble Jacob, the favorite of Rebekah):
cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee - framed
on the model of the Abrahamic benediction (ch. 12:3); but not so full as that, either
because Isaac felt that after all Esau was not to be the progenitor of the holy seed
(Murphy), or because, not being actuated by proper feelings towards Jehovah and
His promises, the patriarch could not rise to that height of spiritual benediction to
which he afterwards attained – ch. 28:3-4 (Keil), or because the prerogative of
pronouncing the Abrahamic blessing in all its fullness Jehovah may have reserved
to Himself, as in ch. 28:14 ('Speaker's Commentary').
The Successful Stratagem (vs. 15-29)
Ø Deftly prepared. The ingenious Rebekah, having dressed him in the
fragrant festal robes of the princely hunter, covered his smooth skin with
the soft, silky hide of the camel-goat, and put into his hand the simulated
dainty dish which she had cooked. It is a melancholy thing when either
woman’s wit or man’s sagacity is prostituted to unholy ends.
Ø Boldly avowed. Entering his father’s tent, and approaching within easy
reach of the invalid’s couch, at the same time imitating Esau’s intonations,
the heartless impostor calls upon his aged parent to arise and eat of his
son’s venison, in response to his father’s inquiry also openly declaring
himself to be Esau; in which was a fourfold offence against:
o his venerable father,
o his absent brother,
o himself, and
o against God.
Never is a lie, and seldom is a sin of any kind, single or simple in its
criminality. That scheme cannot be a good one of which the first act is a
Ø Persistently maintained. In the face of his father’s searching
interrogation, careful examination, and manifest trepidation, Jacob brazens
out the imposture he had begun, covering his first falsehood by a second,
and his second by a third, in which he verges on the limits of blasphemy,
allowing himself to be handled by his aged parent without betraying by a
word or sign the base deception he was practicing, and at length capping
his extraordinary wickedness by a solemn asseveration of his identity with
Esau that carried with it in the hearing of Isaac much of the impressiveness
and weight of an oath, — “I am thy very son Esau!” It is amazing to what
depths of criminality those may fall who once step aside from the straight
paths of virtue.
Ø Completely successful. Critical as the ordeal was through which he
passed, he was not detected. So God sometimes allows wicked schemes to
prosper, accomplishing His own designs thereby, though neither approving
of the schemes nor holding the schemers guiltless.
Isaac uttered was:
Ø Divinely inspired as to its origin. It was not within the power of Isaac
to either conceive or express it in any arbitrarily selected moment, or in any
particular way or place that he might determine. Least of all was it the
production of Isaac’s ordinary faculties under the physical or mental
impulse of delicious food or paternal affection. It was the outcome of an
unseen afflatus of the Divine Spirit upon the venerable patriarch’s soul
Ø Providentially directed as to its destination. Intended for the firstborn, it
was pronounced upon the younger of his sons. Had Rebekah and Jacob not
interposed with their miserable trick, there is reason to suppose that God
would have discovered means of defeating the misguided patriarch’s
design; perhaps by laying an embargo upon his lips, as he did on Balaam
(Numbers 22:38); perhaps by miraculously guiding his speech, as
afterwards he guided Jacob’s hands (ch. 48:13=14). But nonetheless is
the Divine finger discernible in carrying the heavenly blessing to its
predestined recipient, that he does not interfere with Rebekah’s craft, but
allows it, beneath the guidance of His ordinary providence, to work out its
Ø Richly laden as to its contents embraced:
o Material enrichment, represented by the dew, corn, and wine, which
may also be regarded as symbolic of spiritual treasures;
o personal advancement in the world and the Church, foreshadowing
both the political supremacy and ecclesiastical importance to which
o spiritual influence, emblematic of the religious priesthood enjoyed first
by the Hebrew people as a nation, and latterly by Christ, the true Seed
of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.
o Absolutely permanent as to its duration. Though Isaac subsequently
learned of the deception which had been practiced towards him, he felt
that the words he had spoken were beyond recall This was proof
decisive that Isaac spake not of himself, but as he was moved by
the Holy Ghost. His own benediction, uttered purely by and from
himself, might, and, in the circumstances, probably would, have
been revoked; the blessing of Jehovah transmitted through his
undesigned act he had no power to cancel.
1. That those who attempt to deceive others are not infrequently
2. That those who enter on a sinful course may speedily sink deeper into
sin than they intended.
3. That deception practiced by a son against a father, at a mother’s
instigation, is a monstrous and unnatural display of wickedness.
4. That God can accomplish His own designs by means of man’s crimes,
without either relieving them of guilt or Himself being the author of sin.
5. That the blessing of God maketh rich and addeth no sorrow therewith.
6. That the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (Romans 11:29)
30 “And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob,
and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that
Esau his brother came in from his hunting.” And it came to pass (literally, and
it was), as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet
scarce gone out - literally, and it was (as soon as, or when) Jacob only going forth
had gone; i.e. had just gone out (Ewald, Keil), rather than was in the act of coming
out (Murphy), since the narrative implies that the brothers did not meet on this
occasion - from the presence of Isaac his father, that (literally, and) Esau his
brother came in from his hunting.
31 “And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father,
and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison,
that thy soul may bless me.” And he also had made savory meat (see v. 4),
and brought it unto his father, and said unto him, Let my father arise, and eat
of his son's venison - compared with Jacob's exhortation to his aged parent (v. 19),
the language of Esau has, if anything, more affection in its tones - that thy soul may
bless me. Esau was at this time a man of mature age, being either fifty-seven or
seventy-seven years old, and must have been acquainted with the heavenly oracle
(ch. 25:23) that assigned the precedence in the theocratic line to Jacob. Either,
therefore, he must have supposed that his claim to the blessing was not thereby
affected, or he was guilty of conniving at Isaac's scheme for resisting the Divine will.
Indignation at Jacob's duplicity and baseness, combined with sympathy for Esau in
his supposed wrongs, sometimes prevents a just appreciation of the exact position
occupied by the latter in this extraordinary transaction. Instead of branding Jacob
as a shameless deceiver, and hurling against his fair fame the most critical epithets,
may it not be that, remembering the previously expressed will of Heaven, the real
supplanter was Esau, who as an accomplice of his father was seeking secretly,
unlawfully, and feloniously to appropriate to himself a blessing which had already
been, not obscurely, designated as Jacob's? On this hypothesis the miserable craft
of Jacob and Rebekah was a lighter crime than that of Isaac and Esau.
32 “And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son,
thy firstborn Esau.” And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? The
language indicates the patriarch's surprise. And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn
Esau. The emphatic tone of Esau's answer may have been dictated by a suspicion,
already awakened by Isaac's question, that all was not right (Inglis). Esau's claim to
be regarded as Isaac's firstborn, after having bartered away his birthright, is
considered by some to be unwarranted (Wordsworth); but it is doubtful if Esau
attached the importance to the term "firstborn" which this objection presupposes.
33 “And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath
taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest,
and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed.” And Isaac trembled very
exceedingly, - literally, feared a great fear, to a great degree; shuddered in great
terror above measure (Lange). The renderings ἐξέστη δὲ Ἰσαάκ ἔκστασιν μεγάλην
σφόδρα – exestae de Isaak ekstasin megalaen sphodra - (Septuagint), Expavit stupors,
et ultra quam credi potest admirans (Vulgate), "wondered with an exceedingly great
admiration" (Onkelos), emphasize the patriarch s astonishment, the first even
suggesting the idea of a trance or supernatural elevation of the prophetic consciousness
(Augustine); whereas that which is depicted is rather the alarm produced within the
patriarch's breast, not so much by the discovery that his plan had been defeated by
a woman s wit and a son's craft - these would have kindled indignation rather than
fear - as by the awakening conviction not that he had blessed, but that he had been
seeking to bless, the wrong person (Calvin, Willet) - and said, Who? where is he –
quis est et ubi est? (Jarchi); but rather, who then is he? (Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Lange) –
that hath taken venison, - literally, the one hunting prey - that hunted, or has hunted,
the part having the force of a perfect - and brought it me, And I have eaten of all
before thou earnest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed - thus
before Jacob is named he pronounces the Divine sentence that the blessing is
Jacob’s Deceit, Esau Supplanted (v. 33)
In this familiar narrative the following points may be distinguished:
gratification of the senses, neglect of the Divine word, favoritism towards
the son less worthy.
to him; he might have obtained the blessing by fair agreement. His fear of
Esau lay at the root of his deceit. One sin leads on to another. Those who
entangle themselves with the world are involved more and more in moral
and unwifely treachery to Isaac. The son’s guilt rested much on the
mother’s shoulders, for she laid the plot and prepared the execution of it.
All were sad examples of self-assertion destroying the simplicity of faith.
OF HIS PEOPLE. The blessing was appointed for Jacob. Although
pronounced by an instrument blind, foolish, sinful, deceived, it yet is the
blessing, which, having been lodged in Isaac, must pass on to the true heir
of Isaac, who, according to the promise and prediction, is Jacob.
represents the distinction between THE
WHO, WHILE NOT INCLUDED IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF
portion of the Divine benediction from it. Both in pre-Christian and
Christian times there have been nations thus situated.
no possibility of averting the consequences of his own error (Hebrews 12. 17),
no place where repentance would avail to recover that which was lost. The
“great and exceeding bitter cry” only reveals the shame, the blessing taken
away. Those who, like Esau, despise their place in the family of God are
driven out into the fierce opposition of the world; “by their sword” they
must live and “serve their brethren.”
INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY DISORDER AND SUFFERING.
Yet again the merciful hand interposes to over-rule the errors of man.
Jacob’s flight from Esau’s hatred is his preservation from ungodly alliance
with heathen neighbors, and the commencement of a wholesome course of
discipline by which his character was purged of much of its evil, and his
faith deepened and developed.
34 “And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and
exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my
father.” And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and
exceeding bitter cry - literally, he cried a cry, great and bitter exceedingly;
expressive of the poignant anguish of his soul (Kalisch, Bush), if not also of his
rage against his brother (Philo, Eusebius), of his envy of the blessing (Menochius,
Lapide), and of the desperation of his spirit (Calvin). Compare Hebrews 12:17 –
and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. A proof of Esau's
blind incredulity in imagining it to be within his father's power to impart
benedictions promiscuously without and beyond the Divine sanction (Calvin);
a sign that he supposed the theocratic blessing capable of division, and as
dependent upon his lamentations and prayers as upon the caprice of his father
(Lange); an evidence that "now at last he had learned in some measure adequately
to value" the birthing? (Candlish); but if so it was post horam (after the fact).
35 “And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy
blessing.” And he (i.e. Isaac) said, Thy brother came with subtlety, - with
wisdom (Onkelos); rather with fraud, μετά δόλου – meta dolou – with deceit
(Septuagint) - and hath taken away thy blessing - i.e. the blessing which
I thought was thine, since Isaac now understood that from the first it had been
designed for Jacob.
36 “And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me
these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken
away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?”
And he (Esau) said, Is he not rightly named Jacob? - literally, is it that one has
called his name Jacob? הֲכִיְ being employed when the reason is unknown. On the
meaning of Jacob compare ch. 25:26 - for (literally, and) he hath supplanted me
(a paronomasia [a play on words] on the word Jacob) these two times - or, already
twice; זֶה being used adverbially in the sense of now (Gesenius, 'Grammar,' § 122).
The precise import of Esau's exclamation has been rendered, "Has he not been justly
(δικαίως - dikaios, LXX.; juste, Vulgate; rightly, Authorized Version) named
Supplanter from supplanting?" (Rosenmüller). "Is it because he was named Jacob
that he hath now twice supplanted me?" (Ainsworth, Bush). "Has he received the
name Jacob from the fact that he has twice outwitted me?" (Keil). "Shall he get
the advantage of me because he was thus inadvertently named Jacob?" (Lange).
"Has in truth his name been called Jacob?" (Kalisch). All agree in bringing out
that Esau designed to indicate a correspondence between Jacob's name and Jacob's
practice. He took away my birthright; - this was scarcely correct, since Esau
voluntarily sold it (ch. 25:33) - and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing.
Neither was this exactly accurate, since the blessing did not originally belong to
Esau, however he may have imagined that it did. And he said, Hast thou not
reserved a blessing for me? The question indicates that Esau had no proper
conception of the spiritual character of the blessing which his brother had
Unfaithfulness in Believers (v. 36)
“Is not he rightly named Jacob?”
thoughts suggested by the two names. Both tell of success. But one is the
man of craft, who takes by the heel to trip up. The other, as a prince of
God (compare Luke 1:15), prevails through believing prayer. Yet Jacob
to struggle through a hard soil. To understand the lessons of his life,
1. In contrast to Esau, he was a man of faith. His desire was for a future
and spiritual blessing. He believed that it was to be his, and that belief
influenced his life. But:
2. His faith was imperfect and partial in its operation, and this led to
inconsistencies (compare Matthew 14:29-30; Galatians 2:12). Naturally
quiet, his life was passed chiefly at home. Godly influences undisturbed by
outward life taught him to worship God, and to prize His promise. But he
had not proved his armor (compare I Corinthians 10:12); and, as often
happens,- the object of his faith was the means of his trial. His father’s
purpose in favor of Esau shook his faith (compare I Peter 4:18). He yielded
to the suggestion to obtain by deceit what God had promised to give
(Isaiah 49:1), and earned his brother’s taunt, “Is not he rightly named
Jacob?” Yet it does not appear that he was conscious of having failed in
brought up among godly influences may seem to possess faith. Ways of
faith, hopes of faith, may be familiar to him. He may really embrace them,
really desire a spiritual prize. But not without cause are we warned
(I Corinthians 10:12). Some plan of worldly wisdom, some point of self-
seeking or self-indulgence, attracts him; only a little way; not into anything
distinctly wrong. Or he falls into indolent self-sufficiency. Then there is a
shrinking from a close walk with God. Formality takes the place of
confidence. All may seem outwardly well; but other powers than God’s
will are at work within. And if now some more searching trial is sent, some
more distinct choice between God and the world, a self-satisfying plea is
easily found. And the self-deceit which led to the fall makes it unfelt. And
the path is lighted, but not from God (Isaiah 50:11).
CHRISTIANS (compare Romans 2:24; 14:16). The world is quick to mark
inconsistencies of believers. They form an excuse for the careless, a plea
for disbelieving the reality of holiness. And for weak Christians they throw
the influence of example on the wrong side (compare I Corinthians 8:9).
Deeds have more power than words; and the course of a life may be turned
by some thoughtless yielding. Nor can the harm be undone even by
repentance. The failure is visible, the contrition and seeking pardon are
secret. The sins of good men are eagerly retailed. The earnest supplication
for pardon and restoration are known to few, and little cared for. The man
himself may be forgiven, and rise stronger from his fall; but the poison in
the soul of another is still doing its deadly work.
3:17). Rules of themselves can do little; but to know the love of Christ, to
bear it in mind, is power.
37 “And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord,
and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine
have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?”
And Isaac answered and said unto Esau (repeating the substance of the blessing
already conferred on Jacob), Behold, I have made him thy lord, - literally, behold,
a lord (see on v. 29) have I constituted him to thee; Isaac hereby intimating that in
pronouncing the words of blessing he had been speaking under a celestial impulse,
and therefore with absolute authority - and all his brethren have I given to him
for servants (for the fulfillment see II Samuel 8:14), and with corn and wine have
I sustained him: - i.e. declared that by these he shall be sustained or supported
(compare v. 28) - and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?
38 “And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father?
bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.”
And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? Not as
desiring either the reversal of the patriarchal sentence upon Jacob, which he appears
to have understood to be irrevocable, or an extension of its gracious provisions, so as
to include him as well as Jacob; but as soliciting such a benediction as would place
him, at least in respect of temporalities, on a level with the favorite of Rebekah,
either because he did not recognize the spiritual character of the covenant blessing,
or because, though recognizing it, he was willing to let it go. Bless me, even me
also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept (compare Hebrews 12:17).
"Those tears expressed, indeed, sorrow for his forfeiture, but not for the sinful levity
by which it had been incurred. They were ineffectual (i.e. they did not lead to genuine
repentance) because Esau was incapable of true repentance."
39 “And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling
shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above;”
And Isaac his father (moved by the tearful earnestness of Esau) answered and
said unto him, - still speaking under inspiration, though it is doubtful whether
what he spoke was a real, or only an apparent, blessing - Behold, thy dwelling
shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. Literally,
from (מִן) the fatnesses (or fat places) of the earth, and from the dew of area; a
substantial repetition of the temporal blessing bestowed on Jacob (v. 28), with
certain important variations, such as the omission of plenty of corn and wine at
the close, and of the name of Elohim at the commencement, of the benediction
(Vulgate, Luther, Calvin, Ainsworth, Rosenmüller, 'Speaker's Commentary');
though, by assigning to the preposition a privative rather than a partitive sense,
it is readily transformed into "a modified curse" - behold, away from the fatnesses
of the earth, &c., shall thy
dwelling be, meaning that, in contrast to the
the descendants of Esau should be located in a sterile region (Tuch, Knobel, Kurtz,
Kalisch, Murphy). In support of this latter rendering
it is urged
(1) that it is grammatically admissible;
(2) that it corresponds with the present aspect of Idumaea, which is "on the whole
a dreary and unproductive land;"
(3) that it agrees with the preceding statement that every blessing had already been
bestowed upon Jacob; and
(4) that it explains the play upon the words "fatness" and "dew," which are here
chosen to describe a state of matter exactly the opposite to that which was
declared to be the lot of Jacob.
On the other hand, it is felt to be somewhat arbitrary to assign to the preposition
a partitive sense in v. 28 and a privative in v. 39. Though called in later times
(Malachi 1:3) a waste and desolate region, it may not have been originally so,
or only in comparison with
glens and mountain terraces of
industrious population to convert the entire region into "one of the wealthiest,
as it is one of the most picturesque, countries in the world."
40 “And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall
come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke
from off thy neck.” And by thy sword shalt thou live, - literally, upon thy sword
shalt thou be, i.e. thy maintenance shall depend on thy sword; a prediction that Esau’s
descendants should be a warlike and tumultuous people of predatory habits (compare
Josephus, B. 1, 4. 4) - and shalt serve thy brother; - a prediction afterwards fulfilled
II Chronicles 20:22-25) - and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the
dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck. The verb רוּד, used
of beasts which have broken the yoke and wander freely about (Gesenius, Furst),
appear to hint at an incessant
restlessness on the part of
yoke which should eventually terminate in regaining their independence. The exact
rendering of the clause is obscure,
but perhaps means that when
about as a freebooter (Lange), or should revolt (Alford), or should toss, shake, or
struggle against the yoke (Vulgate, Keil, Hengstenberg, 'Speaker's Commentary),
he should succeed. Other renderings are, when thou shalt bear rule (Kimchi), when
thou shalt repent (Jarchi), when thou shalt be strong (Samaritan), when thou prevailest
(Murphy), when thou shalt truly desire it (Kalisch), when thou shalt pull down
(Septuagint); because thou art restless (Havernick).
Isaac and Esau, or the Hunter’s Lamentation (vs. 30-40)
Ø Unexpectedly made. The return of Esau from the hunting-field with a
dish of venison was a sudden and most unpleasant revelation to the aged
patriarch, showing that in some inexplicable manner he had been out-
maneuvered, and, as it were, constrained against his will to bestow the
blessing upon Jacob. So in common life it is not infrequently seen that the
unexpected is that which happens, that wicked schemes prove abortive,
that the deceiver is himself deceived (my prayer has often been to God
that He would thwart evil! CY - 2018) — “the engineer hoist on his own
petard (small bomb),” — and that men are often made the involuntary and
unconscious instruments of furthering the will of Heaven.
Ø Tremblingly received. Apprehending what had taken place, the blind old
invalid “feared a great fear exceedingly,” saddened with an inward horror,
not through disappointment at the failure of his scheme, or indignation at
the wicked craft and heartless duplicity of Rebekah’s favorite, but alarm at
his own sinful intention which God had thus manifestly seen and thwarted.
It is well when the soul trembles at a discovery of its own wickedness.
Gracious souls dread nothing more than standing on the verge of sin.
Ø Pathetically acknowledged. "Thy brother came with subtlety, and hath
taken away thy blessing;” and, “I have blessed him: yea, and he shall be
blessed.” It becomes parents to commiserate their children’s misfortunes,
and especially to sorrow if they miss the blessings of salvation. They who
lack these, even when they do not wish to obtain them, are objects of
Ø Meekly acquiesced in. Recognizing the hand of God in the remarkable
transaction in which he had been an actor, with true humility and faith the
venerable patriarch bowed before the will of the Supreme. Neither Esau’s
prayers and tears, nor his own paternal affections, could stimulate so much
as a wish to undo what had been done. To a truly pious heart THE WILL
OF GOD IS FINAL! “Thy will be done” is the language of faith.
Ø His bitter lamentation for himself. Esau’s “great and exceeding bitter
cry” was expressive not of heartfelt grief for his sinful levity in parting with
the birthright, or guileful behavior in attempting to secure the blessing; but;
o of deep mortification at being over-reached by his crafty brother;
o of remorseful chagrin at not recovering the blessing he had practically
surrendered in the sale of the birthright;
o of earnest desire to induce Isaac to revoke the words he had spoken.
The repentance which he sought carefully with tears (Hebrews 12:17)
was not his own change of heart, but his father’s change of mind.
Ø His wrathful indignation against his brother. “Is he not rightly named
Jacob for he hath supplanted me these two times." A statement not quite
accurate; but angry men are seldom remarkable for accuracy of statement;
a statement also expressive of hatred against Jacob, and incensed brothers
often call each other bad names. Good men should be angry and sin not.
(Ephesians 4:26) Indignation, even when righteous, should be restrained.
Ø His tearful request to his father. “Bless me, me also, O my father!”
Having lost the blessing of the covenant, he was still desirous of possessing
some sort of blessing. Wicked men often covet the material advantages of
religion who have no desire to share in its spiritual enrichments.
Ø Of Esau’s subjection to Jacob. “Behold, I have made him thy lord.” A
o political subordination, afterwards fulfilled in the conquests of Israel;
o of possible salvation to Esau and his descendants through believing
recognition of the spiritual ascendancy of Jacob and his seed.
Ø Of Esau’s portion from God.
o A fat soil. God appoints to all men, individuals and nations, the bounds
of their habitation (Acts 7:26). Inhabitants of fertile regions have a
special call to thankfulness.
o A roving life. Though the warlike character of Esau’s descendants was
of God s appointment and permission, it is no just inference that savage
tribes are as useful as those of settled and improved habits, or that God
does not desire the diffusion of civilization and the elevation of the race.
o Ultimate independence. Though some nations have been placed in
subjection, it is God’s will that all should aspire to freedom. Revolt,
rebellion, insurrection are sometimes a people’s highest duty.
1. The blessing of the covenant is not of him that willeth or of him that
runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.
2. Those who despise God’s salvation in youth cannot always obtain it in
manhood or age. (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
3. Those who finally come short of ETERNAL LIFE will have no one to
4. No one need sue in vain for Heaven’s favor, since the blessing is not
now for one, BUT FOR ALL!
5. There is a difference between penitence and remorse.
6. Though no man can hope to change the mind of God, it is within the
power of all men to desire and to effect a change upon their own hearts.
7. The prediction of a nation’s or a person’s future does not interfere with
the free operation of the human will
41 “And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him:
and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then
will I slay my brother Jacob. And Esau hated Jacob - a proof that he was not penitent,
because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: - notwithstanding the fact
that he too had received an appropriate benediction; a display of envy as well as
and Esau said in his heart, - i.e. secretly resolved, though afterwards he must
have communicated his intention (see v. 42) - The days of mourning for my
father are at hand. The Septuagint interpret as a wish on the part of Esau that
Isaac might speedily die, in order that the fratricidal act he contemplated might
not pain the old man's heart; another rendering (Kalisch) understands him to say
that days of grief were in store for his father, as he meant to slay his brother;
but the ordinary translation seems preferable (Rosenmüller, Keil, Murphy, et alii),
that Esan only deferred the execution of his unholy purpose because of the near
approach, as he imagined, of his father's death. Isaac, however, lived upwards of
forty years after this. Then will I slay my brother Jacob. That which reconciled
Isaac and Ishmael (ch. 25:9), the death of a father, is here mentioned as the event
which would decisively and finally part Esau and Jacob. Esau's murderous intention
Calvin regards as a clear proof of the non-reality of his repentance for his sin, the
insincerity of his sorrow for his father, and the intense malignity of his hate against
42 “And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent
and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau,
as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee.” And these
(literally, the) words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: - not likely by
revelation (Augustine), but by some one to whom he had made known his secret
purpose (“A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till
afterwards.” Proverbs 29:11) - and she sent and called Jacob her younger son
(to advise him of his danger, being apprehensive lest the passionate soul of the
enraged hunter should find it difficult to delay till Isaac's death), and said unto
him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing
to kill thee. Literally, behold thy brother Esau taking vengeance upon thee (the
hithpael of נָחַם meaning properly to comfort oneself, hence to satisfy one's feeling
of revenge) by killing thee. The translations ἀπειλεῖ - apeilei - threatening
(Septuagint) and mina-tur (Vulgate), besides being inaccurate, are too feeble to
express the fratricidal purpose of Esau.
43 “Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my
turn away; 45 Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that
which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why
should I be deprived also of you both in one day?” Now therefore, my son, obey
my voice; - i.e. be guided by my counsel; a request Rebekah might perhaps feel
herself justified in making, not only by her maternal solicitude for Jacob's welfare,
but also from the successful issue of Her previous stratagem (see on v. 8) - and arise,
to Laban my brother to
literally, days some. The few days eventually proved to be at least twenty years
(see ch. 31:38). It is not probable that Rebekah ever again beheld her favorite son,
which was a signal chastisement for her sinful ambition for, and partiality towards,
Jacob - until thy brother's fury turn away; until thy brother's anger turn away from
thee, - the rage of Esau is here described by two different words, the first of which,
חֵמָה, from a root signifying to be warm, suggests the heated and inflamed condition
of Esau's soul, while the second, אֲפ, from אָנַפ, to breathe through the nostrils,
depicts the visible manifestations of that internal fire in hard and quick breathing –
and he forget that which thou hast done to him, - Rebekah apparently had
conveniently become oblivious of her own share in the transaction by which Esau
had been wronged. Then will I send, and fetch thee from thence - which she
never did. (“Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day
may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1; see also James 4:13-15) Man proposes,
but God disposes (People can make plans, God determines how they turn out –
CY – 2018). Why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? I.e. of Jacob
by the hand of Esau, and of Esau by the hand of the avenger of blood (ch. 9:6;
compare II Samuel 14:6-7; Calvin, Keil, Rosenmüller, Kalisch), rather than
by his own fratricidal act, which would forever part him from Rebekah (Lange).
46 “And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters
of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are
of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?” And Rebekah
said to Isaac (perhaps already discerning in the
contemplated flight to
prospect of a suitable matrimonial alliance for the heir of the promise, and secretly
desiring to suggest such a thought to her aged husband), I am weary of my life
because of the daughters of Heth: - referring doubtless to Esau's wives (compare
ch. 26:35) - if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which
are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me? Literally, for
what to me life, i.e. what happiness can I have in living? It is impossible to
exonerate Rebekah altogether from a charge of duplicity even in this. Unquestionably
Esau s wives may have vexed her, and her faith may have perceived that Jacob's wife
must be sought for amongst their own kindred; but her secret reason for sending Jacob
elude the fury of his incensed brother.
Rebekah and Esau, or Fratricide Frustrated (VS. 41-46)
Ø The apparent reason. “Because of the blessing wherewith his father had
blessed Jacob.” No argument can justify willful and deliberate homicide;
least of all an excuse so lame and feeble as that of Esau. The blessing Jacob
had obtained was one which he himself had formerly despised and
practically sold; If Jacob had been guilty of stealing it from him, as he
imagined, it was only what he had been attempting to do with reference to
Jacob. Besides, in so far as the blessing was an object of desire to Esau,
viz., for its material advantages, he had himself received a blessing not
greatly dissimilar. There was therefore no sufficient cause for Esau’s
hostility towards his brother.
Ø The impelling motive. “Hate” — the essential spirit of murder
(Matthew 5:22; I John 3:15). Esau’s causeless hatred of Jacob was
typical of the world’s enmity against the Church: in its ground, the
Church’s enjoyment of the blessing; in its spirit, bitter and implacable;
in its manifestation, persecution and oppression (ibid. v. 13).
Ø The decorous restraint. “The days of mourning for my father are at
hand; then will I slay my brother.” Wicked men who resist all the influences
of piety are not always able to surmount the barriers of public opinion.
Though Esau had no scruples on the score of conscience as to killing
Jacob, he had some scruples on the ground of decency as to doing it while
his father lived. Persons who have no religion not infrequently do homage
to the appearance of religion.
Ø The providential discovery. Though Esau originally resolved on Jacob s
murder in secret, he appears to have inadvertently disclosed his purpose to
another, who forthwith communicated his intention to Rebekah. Those
who have secrets to keep should tell them to no one; but Divine
providence has wisely and mercifully arranged that guilty secrets should be
ill to keep. “Murder will out.”
Ø The inglorious defeat. The information brought to Rebekah enabled her
to counterwork Esau’s design, and thus a second time was Esau outwitted
by a woman. It is obvious that some sons are not so clever as their
Ø Hastily formed. The shrewd sagacity of Isaac’s wife at once perceived
an outlet from the snare. The woman’s wit that had cheated Isaac was not
likely to be baffled with blustering Esau. Calling Jacob from the herds, she
told him of his brother’s murderous design, and detailed her own scheme
for his protection.
Ø Clearly explained. He should immediately betake himself to
seek shelter for a season beside his uncle Laban and his cousins. Though
Rebekah does not mention the propriety of looking for a wife, it is
apparent that the possibility of Jacob’s finding one was present to her
Ø Skillfully urged. Arguments were not long in coming to Rebekah’s aid.
o His brother’s anger would soon burn out.
o His absence accordingly would not require to be long.
o If he did not go he was certain to be killed, in which case Esau would
fall a victim to judicial retribution, and she, a heart-broken mother,
would be deprived of both her sons in one day.
o She was his mother, and her advice should be received with filial
reverence and submission.
Ø Adroitly carried through. Securing her son’s compliance, there was still
the difficulty how to obtain the assent of Isaac. This she does by leading
Isaac himself to suggest the propriety of Jacob’s going north to Padanaram
in search of a wife; and to this she turns the thoughts of Isaac by
expressing the hope that Jacob will not imitate his brother by marrying
daughters of the land, a calamity, she informs her husband, which would
render her already miserable life scarcely worth retaining. It was prudent in
Rebekah to direct the mind of Isaac to the propriety of getting Jacob
married, but there is not wanting a trace of that craftiness which was
Rebekah’s peculiar infirmity.
1. That the world’s hostility to the Church is wholly unreasonable and
2. That wicked devices against God’s people are sure eventually to be
3. That bad men sometimes wear a semblance of religion.
4. That good mothers;
o grieve for the wickedness of bad, and
o work for the safety of good, sons.
5. That while wicked matches in their children are a burden to gracious
parents, it should be a parent’s aim to secure pious wives for their sons,
and Christian husbands for their daughters.
Rebekah, the Disappointed (v. 46)
“What good shall my life do me?” Rebekah as a mother doubtless promised
herself much joy in her children. They grew up.
Ø Esau becomes wayward,
Ø Jacob becomes a wanderer.
Rebekah yielded to favoritism (v. 13), and schemed to carry her point. She cherished
a treacherous spirit, and led Jacob to sin. She was ambitious not for herself, but for
Jacob. This is like a woman; she lives in others. She was reckless as to results, but
when they came she found them bitter. “She loved Jacob more than truth, more
than God.” This was idolatry. No wonder she utters the exclamation, “What
good shall my life do me?” She was a disappointed woman.
Ø Her favorite son was in hiding from the wrath of a wronged brother,
Ø Esau was indifferent towards her and angry. If life is not to be a
disappointment we must beware of:
Rebekah began well. Her advent unto the encampment was a “comfort” to
Isaac. She seems to have been “weary of life,” and asks “what good it shall
do her.” Some who ask at this day “whether life is worth living” may find a
suggestion in Rebekah’s conduct as to the reason wherefore they ask the
"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.
Materials are reproduced by permission."
This material can be found at:
If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.