Jacob cheats Esau out of the blessing of Isaac (Gen 27:1-27:45)

“When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, ‘My son.’   He answered, ‘Here I am.’  He said, ‘See, I am old.  I do not know the day of my death.  Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me.  Then prepare for me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die.’”

This starts out as a simple Yahweh story.  Isaac, who was already old and blind, liked Esau.  The conversation begins with the famous response, ‘Here I am.’ Isaac sent Esau out to hunt game and provide ‘a savory meal,’ since he wanted to bless him before he died.

 “Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it,  Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, `Bring me game, and prepare for me savory food to eat, that I may bless you before Yahweh before I die.’  Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you.  Go to the flock, and get me two good kids, so that I may prepare savory food for your father, such as he likes.   You shall take it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.’”

Now the plot thickens.  Rebekah, who liked Jacob, was listening and told Jacob to listen to her. She told Jacob to get two choice kids from the flock so that she could prepare the ‘savory meal.’

“But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, ‘Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a man of smooth skin.  Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him, and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.’  His mother said to him, ‘Let your curse be on me, my son.  Only obey my word, and go, get them to me.’  So he went and got them and brought them to his mother.  His mother prepared savory food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau,  which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob.  She put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she handed the savory food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.”

Jacob resisted saying my brother is hairy and I have smooth skin.   I may bring a curse if my father thinks that I am mocking him.  Rebekah said that she would assume the curse.  Then she cooked the meal and got Esau’s clothes and put kid skins on Jacob’s hands and neck.

“So he went in to his father, and said, ‘My father’.  The he said, ‘Here I am.  Who are you, my son?’  Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me.  Now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.’   But Isaac said to his son, ‘How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?’ He answered, ‘Because Yahweh your God granted me success.’  Then Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.’  So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, ‘The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.’  He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him.  He said, ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ He answered, ‘I am.’  Then he said, ‘Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.’ So he brought it to him, and he ate.  He also brought him wine, and he drank.  Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come near and kiss me, my son.’  So he came near and kissed him.” 

Then Jacob went to Isaac who asked who are you, my son?  Jacob said to his father that he was Esau your firstborn and told him he prepared the meal and now asked for a blessing.  Isaac was a little concerned because Esau had done it so quickly, but Jacob responded that Yahweh had granted him success.  Isaac still wanted to feel him because the voice sounded like Jacob.  However, his hands felt like Esau.  After eating and drinking the food, he asked Esau to kiss him, but Jacob had the smell of Esau’s garments so that all went well for Jacob.

“He smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said, ‘Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that Yahweh has blessed.  May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!’”

Then Isaac gave the famous blessing that was clearly meant for Esau.  The smell of a field blessed by Yahweh field is yours.  Lots of grain, wine and a good earth is yours.  All will bow down to you and others will serve you.  Cursed are those who curse you.

 “As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of his father Isaac, his brother Esau came in from his hunting.  He also prepared savory food, and brought it to his father.  He said to his father, ‘Let my father sit up and eat of his son’s game, so that you may bless me.’ His father Isaac said to him, ‘Who are you?’ He answered, ‘I am your firstborn son Esau.’  Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, ‘Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him?  Yes, and blessed he shall be.’ When Esau heard his father’s words, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, ‘Bless me, me also, father!’  But he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.’  Esau said, ‘Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright.  And look, now he has taken away my blessing.’ Then he said, ‘Have you not reserved a blessing for me?’  Isaac answered Esau, ‘I have already made him your lord, and I have given him all his brothers for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?’  Esau said to his father, ‘Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me, me also, father.’ And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.”

Then, just as soon as he had finished this blessing, Esau came in from hunting.  He prepared the food and brought it to his father and said sit up, eat it, and bless me.  Again Isaac said, ‘Who are you?  He answered I am your firstborn son, Esau.’  Isaac trembled violently and asked then who brought me the food that I just ate and then blessed.  Esau cried out violently, then ‘Bless me, me also, father!’  My brother deceived me and got your blessing.  Esau wept and said that he had been tricked twice, first his birthright and now the last blessing.  ‘Have you not reserved a blessing for me?’ Isaac, however, said that he had already given the blessing that put Jacob in charge of everything. Esau feels betrayed and angry.  Why can’t he get some kind of blessing?

“Then his father Isaac answered him: ‘See, away from the fatness of the earth shall your home be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother.  But when you break loose, you shall break his yoke from your neck.’”

There is then an opposite blessing for Esau.  He will have to live by the sword and serve his brother.

“Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are approaching.  Then I will kill my brother Jacob.’  But the words of her elder son Esau were told to Rebekah.  So she sent and called her younger son Jacob and said to him, ‘Your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you.  Now therefore, my son, obey my voice.  Flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away, until your brother’s anger against you turns away, and he forgets what you have done to him.  Then I will send, and bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?’”

Obviously Esau was mad and hated his brother Jacob, so he began planning to kill Jacob once his father Isaac died.  Once again, Rebekah found out about this and told Jacob how Esau was preparing to kill him.  She told him to go to her brother Laban in Haran until Esau’s ‘fury’ and ‘anger’ went away.  Perhaps he might forget what happened.  She was going to call him back when it is safe, ‘Why should I lose both of you in one day?’

Of all the strange stories of Genesis, this Yahweh tale has more direct deceit than any other story.  Obviously no one was killed like the story of Cain did to Abel.  However, Rebekah and Jacob clearly and deliberately deceived Isaac so that the whole course of history was changed in Jacob’s favor.

Isaac goes to Gerar (Gen 26:1-26:14)

“Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham.  Isaac went to Gerar, to King Abimelech of the Philistines.  Yahweh appeared to Isaac and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt.  Settle in the land that I will show you.  Reside in this land as an alien, and I will be with you, and will bless you.  For to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will fulfill the oath which I swore to your father Abraham.  I will multiply your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and will give to your offspring all these lands.   All the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Now a famine came upon the land, apparently this happened quite a bit. So Isaac went to Gerar where King Abimelech of the Philistines, had concluded an alliance with Abraham in chapter 21.  Anyway, this is friendly territory, south of Gaza.  Yahweh told Isaac not to go to Egypt, but to go to the Philistines so that he could be an alien resident with lots of great land and people as was promised to Abraham, his father.

“Then Isaac dwelt in Gerar.  When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, ‘She is my sister.’  He was afraid to say, ‘My wife, thinking, ‘or else the men of the place might kill me for the sake of Rebekah, because she is attractive in appearance.’  When Isaac had been there a long time, King Abimelech of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw him fondling his wife Rebekah.  So Abimelech called for Isaac, and said, ‘So she is your wife!  Why then did you say, `She is my sister’? Isaac said to him, ‘Because I thought I might die because of her.’  Abimelech said, ‘What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.’  So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, ‘Whoever touches this man or his wife shall be put to death.’ Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in the same year reaped a hundredfold. Yahweh blessed him, and he became rich.  He prospered more and more, until he became very wealthy.  He had possessions of flocks and herds, and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him.”

Isaac told the same lie as his father, when he said that Rebekah was his sister and not his wife, fearing for his own life.  However, one day King Abimelech saw Isaac foundling Rebekah and called him in to find out what was going on.  He admonished Isaac by saying you could have brought great guilt to us if one of my people had slept with her.  Finally, Abimelech issued a decree that no one should touch Isaac or his wife Rebekah.  Isaac sowed seed that rendered a hundredfold.  As he became rich and prospered with flocks, herds, and a great household,  the Philistines began to envy him.

The birth of Esau and Jacob (Gen 25:19-25:28)

“These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son.  Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean.  Isaac prayed to Yahweh for his wife, because she was barren.  Yahweh granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived.  The children struggled together within her.   She said, ‘If it is to be this way, why do I live?’  So she went to inquire of Yahweh.  And Yahweh said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples, born of you, shall be divided. The one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.’”  

Isaac, son of Abraham, was 40 years old when he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel. Bethuel lived in Haran, but in the priestly late tradition it is called Paddan-aram.  Rebekah, who was barren, prayed to Yahweh.  She then conceived twins who struggled in the womb.  She wanted to die, but Yahweh told her that two nations and two peoples  were to come from her womb.  One would be stronger and the elder would serve the younger.  Once again there is a prophesy while the children are still in the womb.

“When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb.  The first came out red, all over his body like a hairy mantle.  So they named him  Esau.  Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel.  So he was named Jacob.  Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.”

The birth of the twins took place when Isaac was 60 years old after 20 years of marriage.  The first to come out of the womb was red with a hairy covering named Esau.  The second child, Jacob, came out of the womb grasping the heel of Esau.  

“When the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents.  Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game.  But Rebekah loved Jacob.”

As the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, whom Isaac loved, while Jacob was quiet and loved by his mother Rebekah.  This shows the two rival ways of life, the hunter and the shepherd/farmer.  Once again, there will be a contrast in life styles and preferences.