Genesis (Part 116)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

Genesis 27:5-13

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, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.’ Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 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.”

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Here we find that Isaac and his wife Rebekah are at odds. Further, we have reason to believe that Isaac and God are also at odds.

Genesis 25:23 23 And the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
    the older shall serve the younger.”

Genesis 25:28 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Genesis 26:34 34 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 35 and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

Despite the Lord’s words as provided in verse 23 above, Isaac prefers the older brother anyway. Esau apparently won the love of his father through his father’s stomach. Even Esau’s grieving marriage decisions did not dissuade Isaac’s preference. We are not told whether or not Rebekah’s motives for preferring Jacob are pure but prefer him she does. She orchestrates a plan to deceive her husband. From Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:

(5) Rebekah heard.—She was possibly present when Isaac gave the order, and he may even have wished her to know his determination to give the blessing to his favourite son. But the words filled her with dismay. She had, no doubt, treasured the prophecy of Jacob’s ultimate superiority, and now it seemed as if the father would reverse it. Had her faith been pure and exalted, she would have known that God would fulfil His word without her help; but all alike act from unworthy motives, and all have their meed of punishment. But here the fault began with Isaac, and Rebekah probably considered that she was preventing a grievous wrong.

After Rebekah hears Isaac’s plan in verse 5, she sets out to stop it beginning with verse six. From the Pulpit Commentaries:

And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son,—i.e. her favorite, in contrast to Esau, Isaac’s son (Genesis 27:5)—saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, Bring me venison (vide on Genesis 27:3), 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 (cf. וְאֹכֵלָה in Genesis 27:4) 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 (cf. Genesis 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.

There is something somewhat comedic about this entire scene to me. Rebekah is VERY old and Jacob is himself not exactly young. She hatches a plan to deceive his blind father Isaac and sets about helping Jacob to impersonate his older brother.

Just a refresher on the relative ages of the people involved here.

I want to point out the languge in verse 7. Rebekah seems to add some language, when explaining to Jacob, that is not present in the recounting of the earlier verses. From Ellicott:

(7) Before the Lord (Jehovah).—Rebekah has been accused of inserting words which Isaac had not used; but it is unreasonable to suppose that more is recorded of Isaac’s address to his son than the main sense. Still, these words had a meaning to Jacob which they did not bear to Esau. The latter cared for his father’s blessing, partly from natural affection, but chiefly because of the temporal benefits connected with it. To Jacob its value consisted in the covenant between Jehovah and the family of Abraham.

Continuing on with verses eight and nine, from the Pulpit Commentaries:

Go now to the flock, and fetch me—literally, take for mei.e. for my purposes (cf. Genesis 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 (vide Genesis 27:4): and thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat (literally, and he shall eat), and that he may bless thee—בַּעֲבֻר אֲשֶר, in order that, from the idea of passing over to that which one desires to attain; less fully in Genesis 27:4before 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).

Jacob has his doubts about the plan’s success. He points out that his brother is hairy while he is not. He is worried about being caught by his father due to this. Rebekah reassures him by offering to take any curse he might receive, upon herself, if they are found out.

From the Pulpit Commentaries:

And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man (vide Genesis 25:25and I am a smooth man—חָלָק, smooth (opposed to שָׂעִיר,” hairy); the primary idea of which is to cut off the hair. Cf. χαλκός χάλιξ κόλαξ γλυκός, γλοῖος γλίσχρος; glacies, glaber, gladius, glisco; gluten, glatt, gleiten, glas—all of which convey the notion of smoothness.

My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver;—literally, shall be in his eyes as a scorer (Keil, Lange), with the idea of mocking at his aged sire’s infirmities—ὡς καταφρονῶν (LXX.); or as a deceiver, an imposter, one who causes to go astray (Vulgate, Rosenmüller, Ainsworth, Murphy); though perhaps both senses should he-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,—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.

And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son (cf. Genesis 43:9; 1Sa 25:24; 2 Samuel 14:9Matthew 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).

From Ellicott on verse 13:

(13) Upon me be thy curse.—No curse followed upon their conduct; but, on the contrary, Isaac acknowledged the substantial justice of the act of Rebekah and her son, and confirmed Jacob in the possession of the blessing (Genesis 27:33). It seems strange, nevertheless, that neither of them had any scruples at the immorality of the deed, but apparently thought that as the end was right they were justified in using falsehood and treachery.

As the verse points out, these events continue to get stranger. Eventually Isaac seems to confirm and support Jacob’s blessing despite knowing that it was obtained through a deception. Further, Isaac eventually gives Jacob *another* blessing when he departs in fear of Esau. We will examine that further when we get to the end of this section. However, this does begin to lead one to wonder about Isaac’s mental and physical status. He believes himself on the edge of death when his death is many decades hence. He seems (as we will see) oddly agreeable as to the deception played upon him. The text does not give us any answers. This particular event continues on through the beginning of the next chapter, after which, we do not hear about Isaac again until Genesis Chapter 35. Isaac not only lives for many long years after the story told in these verses, he even appears to outlive Jacob’s future wife Rachel.

Much as we read very little about Abraham’s final decades, we also hear little from Isaac. Perhaps extreme old age, even for the Patriarchs, looked the way that extreme old age does now.

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