Genesis 27



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 Egypt, must have been born before Jacob was

ninety-one; consequently, as his birth occurred in the fourteenth year of Jacob's

sojourn in Mesopotamia (compare ch. 30:25 with ch. 29:18, 21, 27), Jacob's flight

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 sojourn in Mesopotamia, Isaac would at this time be

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;

31:29) - 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

(ch. 35:28).


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

of any sort (compare ch. 14:23; 31:37; 45:20). Here it manifestly denotes weapons

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, φαρέτρανpharetran - (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 καταφρονῶνhos kataphronona 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

thy curse, my son (compare ch. 43:9; I Samuel 25:24; II Samuel 14:9; Matthew 27:25).

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 Providence

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

worn by the Oriental (ch. 39:12-13, 15; 41:42), - στολὴ - stolaegarment –

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, Poole), but probably because Esau, though

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)

or not.


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 liethe 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

(Tobit 7. 6; 10:12; II Samuel 20:9; Matthew 26:48; Luke 7:45; 15:20; Acts 20:37).

The kissing of princes was a symbol of homage (I Samuel 10:1; Psalm 2:12; Xenoph.,

'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

Christian Church (Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 16:20; II Corinthians 13:12;

I Thessalonians 5:26; I Peter 5:14). And he smelled the smell of his raiment, -

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 Palestine,

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 Paradise, resplendent with traces of the Deity - an ideal

field, bearing the same relation to an ordinary one as Israel did to the heathen –

a kind of enchanted garden, such as would be realized at a later period in Canaan,

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

prosperity (Deuteronomy 33:13, 28; Zechariah 8:12), and the absence of dew

and rain represented as a signal of Divine displeasure (II Samuel 1:21; I Kings 17:1;

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)


  • JACOB’S DECEPTION OF ISAAC. Jacob’s impersonation of Esau was:


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’S BENEDICTION OF JACOB. The patriarchal blessing which

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

(Hebrews 11:20).


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

appropriate result.


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

Israel should afterwards attain;


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.


  • LEARN:


1. That those who attempt to deceive others are not infrequently

themselves deceived.

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.

    (Proverbs 10:22)

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

σφόδραexestae 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

irrevocable (Lange).



Jacob’s Deceit, Esau Supplanted (v. 33)


In this familiar narrative the following points may be distinguished:


  • ISAAC’S ERROR connecting a solemn blessing with mere

gratification of the senses, neglect of the Divine word, favoritism towards

the son less worthy.


  • JACOB’S SUBTILTY AND SELFISHNESS. The birthright had been sold

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



  • REBEKAH’S AFFECTION was perverted into unmotherly partiality

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.

And yet:



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.


  • The lower character and standing of Esau and his inferior blessing

represents the distinction between THE CHOSEN PEOPLE AND THOSE


ISRAEL, may yet by connection and intercourse with it derive some

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.”




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 δόλουmeta dolouwith 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?” Jacob, Israel — how widely different the

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

became Israel, and Israel had once been Jacob. The plant of faith has often

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

faith. Consider:


  • THE DANGER OF SELF-DECEPTION (compare Ezekiel 13:10). One

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.


  • THE WAY OF SAFETY. Realize the living Christ (Ephesians

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 land of Canaan,

the descendants of Esau should be located in a sterile region (Tuch, Knobel, Kurtz,

Delitzseh, Keil, 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 Canaan; while according to modern travelers the

glens and mountain terraces of Edom, covered with rich soil, only want an

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

(compare I Samuel 14:47; II Samuel 8:14; I Kings 11:16; II Kings 14:7-10;

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 Edom while under Israel's

yoke which should eventually terminate in regaining their independence. The exact

rendering of the clause is obscure, but perhaps means that when Edom should roam

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

profoundest pity.


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 Esaus subjection to Jacob. “Behold, I have made him thy lord.” A

prediction of:


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 Esaus 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

    blamebut themselves.

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,

however disappointed and remorseful (compare Obadiah 1:10-11; I John 3:12, 15) –

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

wrath, another proof of his ungracious character (Galatians 5:21; James 4:5) –

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

his brother.


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

brother to Haran;  44 And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury

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,

flee thou - literally, flee for thyself (compare ch. 12:1; Numbers 24:11; Amos 7:12) –

to Laban my brother to Haran (see ch.11:31; 14:29); and tarry with him a few days, -

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 Haran the

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

to Haran was not to seek a wife, as she seems to have desired Isaac to believe, but to

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 Haran, and

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.


  • LEARN:


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,

and ,

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





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