34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
35 And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.
1 Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” And he answered him, “Here I am.”
2 Then he said, “Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death.
3 Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me.
4 And make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt game and to bring it.
6 So Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son, saying, “Indeed I heard your father speak to Esau your brother, saying,
7 ‘Bring me game and make savory food for me, that I may eat it and bless you in the presence of the Lord before my death.’
8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to what I command you.
9 Go now to the flock and bring me from there two choice kids of the goats, and I will make savory food from them for your father, such as he loves.
10 Then you shall take it to your father, that he may eat it, and that he may bless you before his death.”
11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth-skinned man.
12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.”
13 But his mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.”
14 And he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother made savory food, such as his father loved.
15 Then Rebekah took the choice clothes of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son.
16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck.
17 Then she gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
18 So he went to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?”
19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.”
20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because the Lord your God brought it to me.”
21 Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.”
22 So Jacob went near to 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 did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him.
24 Then he said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He said, “I am.”
25 He said, “Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, so that my soul may bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.
26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near now and kiss me, my son.”
27 And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: “Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed.
28 Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!”
One paramount consideration must be kept in mind in trying to understand and apply these passages in the Book of Genesis. There is never a single instance in the Bible of criticism of Jacob (except on the lips of Esau and Laban, both of whom are unworthy witnesses). Every time God spoke to Jacob, it was in a message of blessing and promise, never one of rebuke or chastisement. If we would be faithful Bible expositors, therefore, we must be guided by what God has actually said, not what we think He should have said.
God’s judgment concerning Jacob is given in Genesis 32:28: “As a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and has prevailed.” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? said the Lord: yet I loved Jacob and I hated Esau” (Malachi 1:2-3).
God’s decision to establish the Messianic line and promises through Jacob, rather than Esau, even before the two boys were born … was clearly conveyed to Rebekah and Isaac; but the latter nevertheless favored Esau, resolving to give him both the birthright benefits and the patriarchal responsibilities and blessings associated with God’s promise to Abraham. As the boys grew, their characters soon proved that God’s decision had been eminently wise. “Jacob was a plain [literally “perfect” or “complete”] man (Genesis 25:27). Esau, on the other hand, “despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34). — Morris, page 428.
Esau was forty years old when he married these two women; so it was hardly a matter of youthful indiscretion. It was a deliberate choice and was certainly made against the counsel of his parents, as well as against God’s will, as he well knew. These wives “were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah,” probably not only because they were “daughters of Canaan” (Genesis 28:8) and because Abraham had so carefully avoided taking one of “the daughters of the Canaanites” (Genesis 24:3) as a wife for Esau’s father, but probably also because they were idolaters and ungodly in life as well. They no doubt still further alienated Esau from concern for God’s promises and purposes, as well as His standards of holiness. — Morris, page 429.
But in spite of God’s instruction concerning Jacob before he was born, in spite of the plainly obvious superiority of Jacob’s character and spiritual discernment and convictions over those of Esau, in spite of Jacob’s further legalization of his claim to the patriarchal blessing through his purchase of the birthright from Esau, confirmed by Esau’s solemn oath, in spite of Esau’s obvious indifference to his spiritual heritage and to the will of God—in spite of all this, Isaac nevertheless determined that he was going to give the blessing to Esau.
And evidently, Isaac’s deliberate intent to thwart the purpose of God was motivated primarily by his personal love of Esau, and that was “because he did eat of his venison” (Genesis 25:28).
Jacob may have been about seventy-five and Isaac 135 at this particular time. Everyone involved in this episode was thus quite mature, though Jacob and Esau at least were still quite vigorous and, gerontologically speaking, relatively “young” men in terms of the aging process as it existed in those days. As a matter of fact, even Isaac was not as near death as he seems to have feared, since he lived to be 180 before he died (Genesis 35:28).
Perhaps [Rebekah] intended to use this means [trickery] to call Isaac’s attention to his presumptuous determination to thwart God’s will. … If [Isaac] could be made to realize that God’s will was so important that Rebekah (and Jacob, as well) was willing to sacrifice even his own love for it, then perhaps the shock would be a means of bringing him back to his senses and get him to realize his error. … Since all this turned out to be the actual result of Rebekah’s strategy, as we will see, can we not at least give Rebekah (as well as Jacob) the benefit of the doubt? — Morris, pages 431-432.
Jacob’s fear that his father would think him a “deceiver” needs a little clarification. The word actually means “mocker,” and seems to suggest that discovery of the plan by his father would make him seem to be mocking his father’s blindness.
There is also a possibility that the “goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house,” were special garments associated with the priestly functions of the head of the house. It would have been appropriate for the recipient of the father’s commission, centering as it did in the transfer of Isaac’s patriarchal commission to his son, to be so clothed. … This was an interpretation of the ancient Hebrew commentators. — Morris, page 433.
When Jacob said “that my soul may bless thee,” it should be noted that the word “soul” is the Hebrew nephesh, and refers to the mind and heart, or the consciousness, of man. It is an emphatic way of saying “I,” stressing the deep conviction of the person regarding the action undertaken.
It would seem that the only way of understanding this situation is to conclude that, whatever may have been wrong with the stratagem and deception of Jacob and Rebekah, the sin of Esau and Isaac was infinitely more grievous. — Morris, page 435.
That this blessing was definitely the same as the blessing given to Abraham and Isaac is clear from the words spoken by Isaac at its climax. First, however, Isaac referred to the material aspects of life which so occupied Esau and which had apparently increasingly concerned Isaac. … Then, Isaac got to the heart of the matter, as he repeated God’s own promise to Abram: “Cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee” (note Genesis 12:3). At the same time, note his awful presumption in saying to, as he though, Esau; “Be lord over they brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee.” This is in direct opposition to God’s statement: “The elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). — Morris, page 437.
Morris is certainly correct in stating that most commentators spend most of their time on this passage by talking of Jacob’s and Rebekah’s sins of deception and dishonesty. In their view, God would have worked His will somehow if they had enough faith to wait for Him. And, although Jacob was God’s choice, it was purely a matter of grace because Jacob proved himself so unworthy.
Perhaps. But I think Morris’s take is worth considering since the Bible never says Jacob was wrong. Wechsler, takes the convention view, but with some twists. Notice that he doesn’t seem to make much of the actual blessing.
Since Isaac intends to bless Esau it may be reasonably deduced that Rebekah has not yet revealed to her husband God’s choice of “the younger” son over “the older” (see Genesis 25:23)—which is certainly consistent with the parents’ complicit dysfunction of favoring separate sons. For this reason, rather than trusting God to make His will known to and through the patriarch, Rebekah, who overhears Isaac’s intention, initiates a plot to deceive her husband into blessing her favored son Jacob instead. Isaac—who, it should be borne in mind, is not yet a believer (see Genesis 28:21) [!]— thus succeeds in stealing the blessing by presenting himself as Esau to the touch and smell of his blind father, in response to which his brother, when he finds out, justly points out that Jacob (which name means “he supplants”; see Genesis 25:26) has again lived up to his name, “for he has supplanted me these two times.” — Wechsler, page 230.