Genesis 27:1-5 – Despite the obvious lack of discernment and spiritual dullness demonstrated by Esau, Isaac still wants to impart the blessing of the first born on Esau. In most commentaries Jacob is characterized as a liar, a deceiver, a usurper, a lover of money, shrewd, covetous, and lacking ethical scruples, caring only for his self-interests. In making these observations most commentators pay little heed to what the Bible says but add what I believe are prejudicial perspectives rooted in either latent or blatant anti-Semitism. Sadly, these characteristics are also projected on on all the sons of Israel. It must be noted that nowhere in Scripture is there a criticism of Jacob except from the lips of Esau and Laban, both who the Bible clearly describe as unworthy and ungodly men. Every time God speaks to Jacob, it was with a message of blessing and promise, never one of rebuke or chastisement. We would do well to remember the words of God to Isaiah (Isa 55:8) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. Isaac here appears to be set on thwarting the express promises of God because he is blinded by his love for Esau which maybe the result of a lack of fellowship with God, and his love of Esau’s personality and hunting skills. Isaac is over 100 years of age here and very nearsighted if not blinded by cataracts. The setting for a solemn action like this is generally a meal and what could be more appropriate in Isaac’s mind than to have a meal prepared with the skill of Esau. It appears that this was unfolding without consulting Rebekah, which gives us insight that many spiritually foolish things can be avoided if we have our spouses involved in our decisions. He probably did this knowing that she would have disagreed with him because of what God told her prior to the birth of the boys.
Genesis 27:6-10 – Esau went along with Isaac’s plan to bestow on him the birthright rather than mentioning that he had sold his birthright to his brother. This demonstrates that Esau is involved in deceit as well. Rebekah immediately rolls into action to prevent these plans from being carried out. Like her husband she lacks faith and trust in God’s Word to accomplish His will and promises concerning her son Jacob. Rather than allow God to fulfill His promise to her regarding her son Jacob, she decides by her actions that the Lord helps those who help themselves. Rebekah comes up with a plan to disguise Jacob as Esau so that a deceived Isaac would bless Jacob thinking it was Esau. The plan was made possible because of Isaac’s near blindness. She would prepare food from the goats and Jacob pretending to be Esau would serve it to his father. Perhaps she thought that by coming up with this plan Isaac might realize the folly of his actions to bless Esau instead of Jacob. It should be noted that nowhere in Scripture does God ever condemn Rebekah or Jacob for their actions here. However, we so see his judgment in the consequences of their actions.
Genesis 27:11-17 – While Jacob thought that the plan was just, he had reservations. While he knew that the blessing belonged to him, he did not want his father to think him as a deceiver and be cursed instead of blessed if he’s discovered. While the voices of the brothers might be similar their bodies were different. Esau from birth was hairy, while Jacob was smooth. Rebekah was so confident that her plan would work that she immediately said that any curse would be upon her since this whole idea was hers. She also invokes her authority by commanding Jacob to do what she tells him. While she is preparing the goats, she comes upon the idea of using their skins to give the appearance that Jacob was hairy. She places the skins in such a manner on Jacobs arm, hands and neck so that he will appear to be hairy when Isaac touches and embraces him. She then had him wear Esau’s clothing so that the “aroma” would be apparent to Isaac as well. This all must have taken a good amount of time, and they could only hope that Esau would not be successful in his hunting efforts. Jacob, properly outfitted and with the food in hand went to his father’s tent to receive the blessing.
Genesis 27:18-25 – Jacob comes in and probably tries to speak with the voice of Esau, Isaac by his response seems a little suspicious. He probably could smell the food and was expecting Esau, but the voice didn’t sound right. Jacob responds that he is indeed Esau. Trying to confirm his doubts Isaac requests his son to draw near so that he might feel his hands. Even after feeling him he asked the question are you really Esau? And Jacob lies that he is. When further asked how he managed to get the game and prepare it so quickly, not only does he lie again but also uses the Lord’s name as the reason for his speed. Why is there no rebuke from God, either then or in the narrative, or later in Scripture? The only answer can be that the sin of Esau and Isaac was so great that their actions allowed God to remain silent so that the people who caused this scenario should be so treated. We see a similar situation in Ex 1:15-20 with the Hebrew midwives and in Josh 2:3-6, when Rahab hid the spies and lied. There are other instances when Godly men broke commandments in order to accomplish God’s will. We need to emphasize that these are exceptions and not the rule. In these cases, there was a clear overriding mandate that allowed these breeches to occur in God’s law without rebuke. Moreover, in this case there were consequences to be reckoned with as a result of Rebekah and Jacob’s actions as we shall see. In all these cases the motives were not fully for personal gain but the furtherance of the kingdom. The Hebrew midwives risked their own lives, and so too Rahab. Rebekah and Jacob risked the wrath of her family for the sake of the clearly revealed will of God.
Genesis 27:26-29 – The blessing of Isaac does not include anything of a material nature; it is the spiritual blessing that is given here, the promise of the continuation of the line of Abraham. In V 29 we have aspects of the Abrahamic formula found in Gen 12:3. In giving this blessing to Esau, Isaac was going against the specific will of the Lord who said that the older would serve the younger in Gen 25:23. But the blessing was passed to the right person even though Isaac was willfully doing what was wrong. It recalls the attempts of Baal to curse when he was to bless in Num. 23:11-12. Similarly, the High Priest prophesied concerning the nature of the death of the Messiah without meaning to in John 11:49-52. This should serve as a reminder to us that nothing can thwart God’s will from being done and thus, we should always seek to align our will to God’s as revealed in His Word. The result was that the blessing did go to Jacob as God said it would, even though this was not Isaac’s will.
Genesis 27:30-33 That God allowed this to unfold seems apparent in the timing of the arrival of Esau. Just after Jacob leaves, Esau arrives with the food prepared ready to receive the birthright that he sold to Jacob years earlier. Now that his father is ready to die, he wants all that he can get from him and Isaac’s God. He must have been surprised at Isaac’s response when he asks the question “who are you”? The impact of what Isaac had almost done hits him powerfully in V 33 when we see him shudder in realization of what has happened. The trembling of Isaac is described in the original Hebrew as a violent trembling. It’s the same word David uses in (Psa 55:5) Fear and trembling come upon me; And horror has overwhelmed me. He seems to realize that his actions to bless the wrong son caused this hoax to come about. He likely came to understand that his son Jacob has deceived him with the help of his wife, but now recognizes what was right and confesses to Esau that the blessing shall be upon Jacob by saying, “he shall be blessed”, thus confirming knowingly what he did unknowingly. He had almost gone against the Lord and subverted the promises of Abraham his father, all because of his love for game and blind love of his ungodly son.
Genesis 27:34-40 – Esau is initially stunned by these events, but then starts to cry in great bitterness pleading with his father to bless him as well. It seemed reasonable and fair to nullify a blessing that was obtained through deception. But God’s ways are not man’s, and Isaac now knows that the blessing rightly belongs to Jacob. Esau in anger now confesses that Jacob had the birthright but claims that it was taken from him. He fails to acknowledge that he sold it him, and that he despised the birthright as well. Now he blames Jacob for taking his blessing. He uses Jacob’s name to come up with the description of a “supplanter”. This is not what the word means, it is literally “heal grabber”. He accuses Jacob of being a supplanter of his birthright and his blessing. Crying he begs his father for a blessing of some kind for himself. The heavenly response to Esau’s tears and anger is recorded in Heb 12:1517. Isaac under the influence of the Holy Spirit prophecies concerning Esau. Esau would dwell away from fertile and well-watered ground. This was fulfilled by his dwelling in the region of Edom which is a rugged and rocky area not suitable for farming. The descendants of Esau the Edomites were known for their violence and cruelty. The story of Esau is alive and well today in the lives of many people raised in a godly home who sell their birthright to enjoy the pleasures and distractions of the world, and when they seek a blessing it’s too late.
Genesis 27:41-46 – Filled with hate for his brother Esau begins to plan for the destruction of his brother, when his father dies. These words are brought to the attention of Rebekah who once again comes up with a quick solution. She tells Jacob to go to her brother Laban and remain there until the anger of Esau wears off. She believes that his anger would be short lived, and Jacob would be able to return soon. Jacob however remains away from home for 20 years. She never did see her son again, but her actions probably saved both of her sons. Jacob’s life spared from the wrath of Esau, and Esau’s life spared by not having to be punished for the death of his brother by his hand. Rebekah in a sense proved to be correct in her thinking, because once Esau accumulates wealth, he no longer wants to enact vengeance on his brother (Gen. 33). Chapter 27 ends not only with Rebekah distraught over the loss of her son but driven to the point of suicide over the wives that Esau has. This is still another reason to send Jacob away to Rebekah’s family. Isaac on his part should have sent one of his servants to find a wife for Esau and Jacob as his father did.
This sad chapter can teach us some important lessons. Hebrews 11:20 says, “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.” The faith of Isaac is commended here and leads some to conclude that Isaac trusted God to overrule his spiritual dullness and the issues that it will create in his family. We have seen and will continue to see that our choices have consequences when we are not attuned to God Word. Abraham and Sarah doubted God’s promise of a son and the consequences were the birth of Ishmael and all the drama associated with their actions operating on their disbelief. In the following chapters we will see the consequences of Isaac and Rebecca’s doubt of God’s Word by their actions. These events are written in Scripture that we might learn from their mistakes. Isaac’s faith reminds us that our past failures do not negate God’s future blessing. We have a great God and a great hope. John reminds us in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Yes, there may be consequences but ultimately God’s promises to us will be fulfilled. If we ever doubt that we need only look at Genesis and the history of His people to see the truth of what Paul wrote in Rom. 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”