Well welcome to this verse by verse Bible study podcast. I’m your host Randy Duncan, and I thank you for listening. As a reminder, in the last episode, we covered Genesis chapter 26, and we read about the famine in the land, and the situation that resulted due to Isaac lying to King Abimelech. But in the end, King Abimelech sees that God is with Isaac, so makes peace with him.
And that brings us now to chapter 27. Which is the story of Isaac blessing Jacob, OR, is it the story of Jacob stealing the blessing from Esau? Well, let’s jump right in and see what we can make of this famous scene.
27 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
Now the way this scene begins, you sort of get the impression that Issac is facing his imminent death, and so he feels the need to bless his son. Isaac was 60 years old when Esau was born, and we know Esau was 40 years old when he married a Hittite woman that brought bitterness to the family. So at this point, Isaac is probably 100 years old. However, we will learn later on that Isaac actually lives for several more years.
It tells us that at this time Isaac was blind. Ironic, because now his physical blindness matches his spiritual blindness, which we will discuss more as we make our way through this chapter.
But Isaac calls for his son, Esau. Esau responds by saying “Here am I”, which is the same response Abraham gave to God. It is sort of like saying “Yes sir”. It appears that Esau respected Isaac, and we know that Isaac favored Esau. Keep in mind, the Bible doesn’t depict Esau as a bad person…only that he is unworthy to carry on the Abrahamic covenant.
But Isaac tells Esau that he is old and doesn’t know the day of his death. Even though Issac will live many more years, he doesn’t appear well here, and Esau doesn’t argue with him, assuming that his father’s death is imminent. Later on, we will see that his sons actually come into his room, and ask him to sit up. So, whatever the situation here, Isaac is not well.
But Isaac tells Esua to go and gather his weapons, his bow and quiver, and go and hunt game, and to make him that delicious meal he loves. Interesting, Esau sold his birthright for some food, and here we see Isaac spiritually blind, preparing to bless the wrong son over some food. It’s like they are both betraying the spiritual aspects of their lives for the physical aspects.
There is a lesson there for all of us. The spiritual is forever, the physical is only temporary. Don’t trade the eternal for the temporary. Mark 8:36 tells us “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Now I’m not at all suggesting Isaac forfeited his soul or anything. I’m simply pointing out the importance of placing the spiritual over and above the physical.
But Isaac tells Esau to go and do this so that he may bless him. The Hebrew here is literally “so that my life, my soul, may bless you”. God will actually mediate the blessing through Isaac.
Now, just a word about this blessing. The son that was blessed became the primary inheritor of the family heritage, including the social, the economic, and religious standings. IOW, the elder son became the head of the family, the one who would carry on the family tradition. And more importantly, for this family, it also meant bearing God’s promises into the next generation,
Remember, Esau earlier despised his birthright, and therefore the blessings that went along with it. So right here, in this moment, Esua could have confessed to Isaac that he had sold his birthright, that he had despised it. Forfeited it for a bowl of stew. But he didn’t. We tend to focus on Jacob and Rebekah’s deception, and rightfully so, but Esau’s failure to be honest was also a form of deception.
But now, he apparently changes his mind. But it’s too late. Esau wanted the blessings, but not the requisite lifestyle. And God will not allow this blessing to take place. God already knew this, and had already told Rebekah that the older would serve the younger. No doubt that Rebekah has also told Issac. And yet, despite that, here we are.
V5-13..5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.”
And so this is where it begins. Rebekah makes it her business to know what Isaac and Esua are talking about. She wants to know what is going on. And after she hears this discussion, she goes and tells Jacob about their conversation. In fact, she actually embellishes what Issac told Esau. Rebekah says that Issac wanted to bless Esua “in the presence of the Lord”, but that is not what Isaac said. So perhaps Rebekah is adding this part to emphasize to Jacob the importance and urgency of the situation. They have to act now in order to save the family from Isaac’s and Esau’s spiritual faithlessness.
We have had no reason up until now to believe Rebekah is a deceptive person, but here, she thinks that if she doesn’t intervene, Esau will receive the blessing that God intended for Jacob.It’s amazing how often we think God needs us to act in an immoral way in order to help God out! As if God is incapable of pulling off what He has already decreed what will happen! In Isa 55:11 God tells us “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty or void, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it”. No, God doesn’t need us to act immorally to bring about His plans.
So Rebekah devises a plan to trick Isaac into blessing Jacob. She tells Jacob to go and bring her the two young goats, and she will prepare the food that Isaac loves. Jacob will then present it to Isaac, pretending to be Esau, and will therefore receive the blessing. As a side note, when we read that Rebekah “tells” Jacob to do this, the English does not capture the full Hebrew meaning. The Hebrew word here means “to command”. So she isn’t asking or suggesting Jacob to do this, she is commanding Jacob to obey her.
Rebekah here is the primary instigator, not Jacob. As one commentator has said, “Her spiritual values are sound but her method is deplorable”. She is preparing to exploit her husband’s blindness. Furthermore, what we see is this family is not working together, but actually conspiring against one another. Part of this is Isaac’s fault, because he is not stepping up and being the spiritual leader he needs to be.
So how does Jacob respond here? It’s interseting. Jacob doesn’t tell his mother this is wrong! He doesn’t balk at the idea! He doesn’t protest the idea at all. He doesn’t have any objections to the morality of the plan. He is only worried about whether it will work or not! He is worried about Isaac figuring out he is being tricked, and that he would then be cursed rather than blessed. So again, it’s not about the morality of the idea, it’s about the prospect of getting caught! Interesting, Jacob, who will one day wrestle with God, does not have the spiritual fortitude here to wrestle with his mother, or with his own conscience.
Jacob explains to Rebekah that Esau is a hairy man, and he is a smooth-skinned man, and that would present obvious problems should Isaac touch him. Here is another interesting point. Jacob may not have believed he was doing anything wrong here. Notice what he actually says. Jacob says “Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing”. Jacob tells his mother that he shall seem to be mocking him, seem to be tricking him. Jacob may not have thought he was doing anything wrong since Esau was really the one being deceptive here by not confessing and owning up to his giving Jacob his birthright. However, Jacob was apparently afraid to tell his father, because he knew Isaac favored Esau. IOW, we have a real mess brewing here!
So how does Rebekah respond to Jacob’s concerns of getting caught? She tells Jacob, “ “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.” And here we see that Rebekah may well have been the strongest person in the family! She was willing to take full responsibility for her plan should something go wrong. She was staking her life on her convictions. She knows the oracle that God had given her, that the older son would serve the younger, and she takes actions based upon that word of God. We will see that her plan pays off, but Rebekah is still going to pay a heavy price for her deception.
It sort of brings up the moral dilemna we are often faced with in life…Does the end justify the means? And I think there are times when the answer is yes, but other times the answer is no. For example, if you were hiding Jews in your basement in Nazi Germany, and the SS shows up at your door and asks if you are harboring any Jews, how do you respond? By telling the truth? By not telling a lie? Admitting that you have a handful of Jews down in the basement? What happens next? Both you and the Jews you are attempting to help will be executed. Or, do you tell a lie, hope they are not found, and save everyone’s life? You see, in a situation like that, it is a matter of priorities. Which law of God is more important? And of course in this case, life is more important. The end, which was saving lives, justified the means, which was lying. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not at all comparing Rebekah’s situation to Nazi Germany. I’m simply using that example for illustrative purposes. Unlike the example I used, Rebekah had other choices. And even though this particular episode will go her way, she is going to end up paying a very heavy price for her deception.
And so we pick the action back up with Jacob doing as his mother had commanded. He goes and brings her the two goats….V 14-17…14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
So again, Jacob does as Rebekah commanded. In the Hebrew, what we see are three short verbs used in describing how Jacob carried out this task. “He went, he took, he brought”. And it sort of gives the impression that he carried out a task he was dreading with nervous haste.
Rebekah then takeks the best garments of Esau, and places them on Jacob. The best clothes were probably those reserved for festive or ceremonial purposes. She also places goat skin on his hands and the smooth part of his neck in case Isaac touches him, so that he would feel more like Isaac. She then gives Jacob the delicious food she has prepared for Isaac, and then sends Jacob in to see his father.
In the next episode, we will pick up the scene right here, and see how this all plays out. But one observation here. Jacob is about to go to his father Isaac, and deceive him by wearing clothes. Ironically, it will later be Jacob who will be deceived by clothes, as his sons bring him the blood covered coat of his son Joseph. And his pain and mourning will so great that he refuses to be comforted.
You know, this scene we are discussing took place almost 4000 years ago. Sometimes it feels like the world today and the people in it are going off the rails. You know, the proverbial “going to Hell in a handbasket”. You turn on the news or spend more than a few minutes on social media, and it seems there is so much negativity surrounding every conceivable topic. The violence, insolence, hatred, bitterness, anger, and resentment seems to have permeated all of society. And we seem to think that this is a recent phenomenon. Perhaps it’s what is known in philosophy as recency bias, but regardless, the point is none of this is really new. People have lied and schemed and blamed others since the Garden. Up to this point in Geness, we have seen a little bit of everything already.
And people ask, why is the world like this today? Why are people like this today? And we debate and discuss the reasons, the economy, fatherless homes, poverty, prison system, racism and sorts of phobias, education, government intervention, and the list goes on. Why are people like this today!?? Well, the reality is that people have always been like this…before many of the reasons we debate even existed.
So where does it come from? Jeremiah said that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Jesus also provided us insight, when he taught us” For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander…and no doubt, the list goes on
You want to change the world? Start by changing hearts