About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Gets Isaac's Blessings (ch. 27:1 - 40)
In verse 1 we see that
Isaac was now getting old, or at least he felt he was old.
Most scholars say he was around 137 years old.
They come up with this figure by combining a number of passages
with dates. You might
remember that Ishmael died when he was 137 years old.
Maybe Isaac had this in the back of his mind, along with the way
he had been feeling. We
learn in this verse that he
was now blind, so he was probably feeling old.
The ironic thing here is that most scholars say Isaac lived
another 40 or so years. So
he did not die right away.
In verses 2 through 4
Isaac tells Esau, his oldest son, to go out into the wilds and kill and
animal to bring home and cook for him.
Isaac, as we learned earlier like to eat meet.
Yet the meal Isaac wanted to eat at this moment in time wasn't
just any meal. The text says
that Isaac wanted to bless Esau. This was a covenant meal.
The blessing here was
meant to be a passing of the torch so to speak from Isaac to Esau.
This would have required a covenantal type meal.
Isaac wanted to hand over the reigns of authority and the
inheritance to his oldest son, as was normal procedure.
We should note here that
Isaac should have known better not to do what he had planned to do here.
God specifically told Isaac's wife Rebekah that this blessing was
not to go to Esau but to Jacob. So
we really don't know why Isaac would do such a thing, except for the
fact that he liked Esau better than Jacob. We learn that from Genesis
25. We also know that Jacob
was Rebekah's favourite son.
Whatever the reason for
Isaac's plans here, he wanted to bless Esau with the birthright. We
don't know for sure if Isaac knew that Esau had already dealt this
birthright away. Isaac may
or may not have known this, and even if he did, it might not have
mattered to him.
Verse 5 tells us that
Rebekah was listening into the conversation between Esau and Isaac.
She was simply being nosey. You
might picture her with her ear up to the tent door and secretly
In verses 6 through 11 we
see Rebekah called Jacob in and told him what she overheard between
Isaac and Esau. Her plan was
to get Jacob to go out to their flock, kill two goats so she could cook
up a meal just the way Isaac liked.
The whole plan was to trick Isaac into thinking Jacob was Esau.
That way Jacob would get the blessing.
What Rebekah was
planning, and what Jacob would participate in, was certainly trickery
and dishonest. Let's look at
this a little closer. Here
Rebekah overheard that the blessing was now going to go to Esau, but she
knew the Lord told her that it was to go to Jacob.
Imagine how she felt. She
had to do something to stop this. You
might suggest that she could have simply reminded Isaac what the Lord
had already said. That
probably would not have worked. I'm
not convinced that Isaac and Rebekah had the best relationship, mainly
because of the favouritism that each of them showed to their boys.
I imagine much friction over the years with this issue.
Besides, women did not have a lot to say in these situations in
those days. I think she just
felt pressure to do something to stop what was going to happen, and this
is what she decided to do. Was it honest?
No, yet in the long run it was the will of God.
As a side note, we should
notice that God spoke to Rebekah
and told her His plans for Jacob. For
some reason He did not speak to Isaac, although I can't believe that
Rebekah wouldn't tell Isaac what God had told her.
Notice in verse 7 Isaac
said that he wanted to impart this blessing to Esau "before the
Lord", that's before Yahweh, the covenant God.
Isaac understood this was a serious matter.
This was just as much a spiritual ritual as it was a family
ritual for Isaac. I think
Isaac did view what he was about to do as the will of the Lord.
The question is this. Why
would Isaac pass this blessing on to Esau, and do it "before the
Lord', when he apparently knew that it was not to be his.
I'm not sure I can answer this question.
Isaac loved Esau so much that maybe the will of God didn't to
matter to him. This can
often be the case. The love
of things, even people, can and often does distract us from the will of
In verses 11and 12 Jacob
responds with some logistical questions.
Esau was a hairy man. He
was smooth skinned. He did
not have much hair. He
was concerned that Isaac would touch his skin and know it wasn't Esau,
not him. This would result
in a curse, not a blessing. These
people believed just as much in curses as they did in blessings.
There is something to this. Even
the Law of Moses speaks of
In verse 13 Rebekah
replied by saying, "let the curse fall on me."
She was serious. This
was her plan, not Jacobs, even though he would carry it out.
Rebekah new what God had clearly told her, and she was willing to
lose it all, because she knew the will of God.
It is hard for us to get
into the motivations of everyone in this event.
It seems everyone wasn't acting properly and honestly.
Rebekah was planning dishonestly. Jacob was participating in a
lie. Isaac was disobeying
God, and Esau wasn't, and hadn't acted properly in matters concerning
his birthright. Yet in all
this mess, God's will was done. That
being said, that does not excuse the dishonest behaviour we see from
Rebekah and Isaac.
I've heard some say over
the years that it is okay to lie if it furthers the
In verses 14 through 17
Rebekah cooks the food, dresses Jacob in Esau's clothes, and covers his
arms and neck in hairy goats skin. Goats
in that area of the world and at that time in history were somewhat
hairy, with fine hair, much like human hair.
In verse 18 through 20
Jacob goes into see is father. Isaac
asked, "who is it?" Remember,
Isaac was either blind or very close to being blind.
You would think by now in his life that Isaac would be able to
recognize voices, especially that of his own sons.
But the point here is that Isaac was expecting Esau, and I'm sure
Esau's voice was different from Jacobs, although there might have been
some similarities, and also I would think that Jacob would do his best
to sound like his brother.
Anyway, Jacob replies by
telling a lie. He tells his
father that he is Esau, and this from a man that the Bible says God
loves and is seen as righteous. Once
again, we need to note that no man is righteous in his own right.
Man, and that's every man, is sinful at heart.
God declares us as being righteous.
His declaration doesn't mean that we are righteous. This is one
of the fundamental points to the salvation message.
In verse 20 we see that
Isaac is surprised that Esau had return so quickly with the wild game
and had it cooked just the way he liked.
Maybe this was a slip-up on the part of Rebekah,
Jacob did not have to go far for his meat.
They were being raised by him.
He did not have to hunt them down, and so he was able to get the
meat faster than Esau. On
the other hand, Rebekah probably did not want to miss this opportunity
So she made sure that her meat was prepared and ready before Esau
returned from his hunt. So
we clearly see the cunningness and craftiness of both Rebekah and Jacob
here, and Rebekah had actually had God Himself speak to her.
This shows us the frailty of man.
Even after hearing the voice of the Lord, we can still attempt to
work out the will of God in a humanistic way.
I think this is one of the downfalls of the church today.
Jacob answers his father
with yet another lie, and this lie was worse than the last.
I'd suggest that this lie was next to blaspheming God.
He told his father that the Lord had given him success in hunting
down the wild game. This was
an out and out lie, but attributing the deceit to God is especially bad.
That's why I suggest that this is next to blasphemy.
This would be something that any New Testament Christian should
be appalled at doing themselves. It
is hard for me to imagine that Jacob would associate God with the deceit
he was involved in.
We see in verses 23 and
24 that Isaac is really uncertain that the one standing before him is
really Esau, so he asked Jacob to come closer so he could touch him, to
see if he had hairy hands like Esau.
This is where the cunningness of Rebekah comes in.
The goat skin that she placed on Jacob's arm did the trick.
So you can see that when Isaac asked who was coming into the
room, he had suspicions. The
voice of Isaac was not the voice of Esau.
Isaac felt that the voice
was not the voice of Esau, but rather the voice of Jacob, but the skin,
that seemed to be the skin of Esau, so he accepted Jacob as really being
Esau, and he was willing to bless him.
Yet before he finally
gave the blessing, he asked one more time. "Are you really my son
Esau." He was not sure,
but how could he be sure? I
suppose he could have called someone else into the room to verify this,
but he didn't.
Once again Jacob lies.
This is the third time in the chapter that we see Jacob lying.
He said to his father that he was indeed Esau.
Once again, this is from the lips of the man of God, the one
declared as being righteous, the promised son of Abraham, the type of
In my thinking, verse 25
clearly suggests that the eating of this meal was a covenant meal.
Isaac told Jacob to
bring him the meat to eat so he could give the blessing to him.
The blessing is clearly linked to the eating of this meat.
Many scholars see this covenant meal eaten here as a type of the
last supper that Jesus ate with His disciples.
What we call the "last supper"
is in fact a covenant meal. It
is the New Covenant meal, and really the New Covenant is simply an
extension of the Old Covenant. It's
actually the fulfillment of the Old Covenant. It is not new in the sense
that it has nothing to do with the Old Testament, because all of what it
is, has altogether everything to do with the Old Testament.
The rest of verse 25
states that Isaac ate the meat and also drank the wine, just as the
disciples and Jesus did in the upper room centuries later.
In verse 26 Isaac asked
Jacob, who he thought was Esau to come close to him and kiss him.
The deceiver kissed his father.
Yet another allusion to Jesus when Judas, another deceiver,
kissed a very unholy kiss. Jacob's
kiss could almost be seen as another lie.
It was a kiss of deception. You
wonder how Isaac could actually lie in this fashion.
He obviously wanted that birthright pretty bad, or perhaps he
knew beyond any doubt that it belonged to him by divine appointment.
In verse 27 Isaac smelled
the clothes of Jacob. One
last test before Isaac gave the blessings.
If you remember, the clothes that Jacob was wearing were actually
Esau's clothes, that why they smelled like Esau's clothes.
Esau would have smelled differently than Jacob after being out in
the wild hunting all day.
Isaac said that the smell
of his son, who he thought was Esau, was like the smell of an open field
that the Lord had blessed. You
can tell by this that Isaac liked the open fields.
He was not the home-body as his son Jacob was.
This is where Esau got his love for the open countryside.
This is also one reason why Isaac loved Esau better than Jacob.
Jacob was more like his mother, than his father, and that's why
Rebekah liked Jacob better
The blessing begins in
verse 28 with the words, "may God give you of heaven's dew."
They lived in a part of the world that was very dry.
Wells were important because of the lack of rain and rivers.
Dew was very important for the crops that they could grow.
It provided sufficient moisture to grow certain types of plants.
Also in verse 28 Isaac
continued by saying that may God bless his son with the earth's richness
and with an abundance of grain and wine.
Note the words "may God".
This is not what some teachers of the Prosperity Movement might
think it is. This is not a
promise for abundance. It's
more like a request to God for these things, if God so chose to give
these things to Jacob. You
can't get a "name it and claim" doctrine out of the words
"may God give…"
Verse 29 begins the
prophetic nature of this blessing, although you might include that last
statement as being prophetic as well.
Isaac said, "may nations serve you and peoples bow down to
you." I think there are
three ways to view this blessing. First
of all it is a prayer for Jacob himself.
It's a personal prayer and blessing for him, but it has farther
implications than that if you understand Biblical prophecy and all the
prophetic inferences we've seen throughout Genesis to date.
This has all to do with Jesus and Israel. Nations will serve and bow
down to Jesus at the end of this age when He returns to earth and rule
as king of the world. Also,
at that time Jesus will make Israel
the number one nation on earth, and all nations will be subservient to Israel. I don't believe the New
Testament changes any of these prophecy spoken to or about Israel
Verse 29 also says,
"be lord over your brothers.."
These are the words that make Jacob the head of the household.
He now takes the place of Isaac as being the father of the
family. Yet beyond that,
this is a prophetic allusion to the rule of Israel
after the return of Jesus to earth.
The blessing ends in the
last part of verse 29. Isaac said, "may those who curse you be
curse, and those who bless you be blessed."
This is clearly a restating of part of the Abrahamic Covenant
from Genesis 12:2 and 3. Isaac
is passing down the terms of the promise that God made to Israel. Once again, these
blessings and cursings will find their ultimate fulfillment after Jesus
returns to earth. That being
said, the nature of this
part of the covenant clearly state in my thinking that these blessings
and cursings are an ongoing thing through history.
I think history proves that out as well.
I also think that even in today's world, people and nations need
to think seriously how they treat
The blessing is now over.
Jacob leaves Isaac. The
mantle has been passed from one generation to the next.
Within minutes after Jacob left, the real Esau comes into the
room in verse 30. So in
verse 31 Esau brings his father the food for the covenant meal to ate.
In verse 31 Isaac asked, "who are you".
What a surprise and shock this must have been.
This voice sounded like the voice of Esau. Esau
answered by saying that he
was Isaac's firstborn son Esau, with the emphasis on
"firstborn" since that is what this blessing was all about.
The firstborn would receive the inheritance and become the head
of the family.
In verse 33 we see that
Isaac was more than shocked. The
text says that Isaac "trembled violently".
This was no small matter to Isaac.
This was one very important issue to him and to all of society
back then. A horrible
mistake had just been made. He
just gave away all he had to the wrong person, that is, the wrong person
in his thinking. It was the
right person in God's thinking, something Isaac should have known, but
seemingly forgot or ignored.
Isaac proceeds to
question who he had actually blessed.
Here we see the importance of this blessing.
Isaac finally realized that he had blessed the wrong son, but he
could not revoke the blessing It
had already been given. You
can see how serious of a matter this was in those days.
Today, we might simply change our mind and rewrite our will.
In verse 34 Esau responds
by crying out loudly and bitterly. He
said "bless me, me too".
These words show the intensity of Esau's feelings here.
He had been outwitted by his brother.
Being the rough and tough man that he probably was, he demanded a
blessing as well. I think
what he was demanding was a split in the blessing. He might have figured
each son should get half of the blessing, half of the inheritance, but
that couldn't be. The
blessing was already given.
One thing that Esau seems
to forget here is that he sold or traded away his blessing some time
earlier for a meal to fill his stomach.
In chapter 25 verse 34 the text says that Esau despised this
birthright. He clearly has
different thoughts now. That
shows you the impetuous nature of Esau.
He was hungry. He'd
traded his birthright for food because that mattered more at the time,
yet all along he figured he'd get his birthright anyway.
Even though he promised and made an oath to Jacob that Jacob
would get the blessing, I don't think he meant it.
He took the oath under false intentions.
This too is why the book of Hebrews calls Esau and ungodly man.
Se here we see Esau not behaving right.
No one in this chapter is behaving right.
Rebekah and Jacob lie and deceive.
Esau is demanding something that wasn't his.
And Isaac should have being doing the will of God in the first
place by blessing Jacob, something he didn't want to do.
In verse 35 Isaac said
that Jacob had deceitfully took Esau's blessings.
That was partly true. Jacob
did use deceit in getting the blessing, but the blessing wasn't Esau's
to get. It belonged to
Jacob. Jacob got what was
his, but through wrong ways.
In verse 36 Esau said,
"isn't he rightly named Jacob.
He has deceived me these two times."
Jacob means deceiver. Jacob
did deceive this time, but I wouldn't call the time when Esau traded his
birthright for a meal
deceptive. That was a simple
deal, confirmed in an oath.
Esau then asked,
"haven't you reserved any blessing for me."
Well, why would have Isaac done that?
He thought he was blessing Esau, so he gave everything to the one
he thought was Esau.
Verse 37 must have really
made Esau mad. Isaac told Esau that he made Jacob lord over him, and the
rest of the family would be subservient to Jacob.
That could not be revoked. Isaac
blessed Jacob with grain and wine, and I suggest that's Isaac's grain
and wine. So there was
nothing left for Esau. Esau
had to be boiling mad at this point.
In verse 38 we see Esau
weeping. Were these tears of
sorrow. I'm not sure.
I'd suggest that these might have been tears to make his father
feel sorrow for him. He
pleaded with his father to do something about this bad mistake.
He wanted a blessing as well.
In verse 39 Isaac said
that Esau's dwelling would be away from the earth's dew and richness.
This is just the opposite to what he told Jacob.
I'm sure than didn't sound acceptable to Esau.
That isn't what he wanted to hear.
I need to comment on the fact that there is a discrepancy between some translations and others in interpreting this verse. The NIV says that Esau will live "away" from the dew and richness of the earth. Some other translations say the same. But, the KJV, and other versions say just the opposite to the NIV. They say that Esau's dwelling will be with the richness of the earth and the dew of the earth. I can't say for sure why there is this discrepancy. It's clearly a matter of understanding and translating the Hebrew text here.
problem arises over the Hebrew word that is translated as
"away", here n the NIV.
The same Hebrew word is used in verse 28 when Isaac promised
Jacob that he would receive the abundance "of"
the earth. The way
the KJV puts it, in both cases, it appears that both men word receive
good things from the earth. The
way the NIV puts it is that Jacob would receive good things from the
earth, while Esau wouldn't. It
comes down to a simple play on words.
Let me put it this way. I
can receive grain from the land, or I can move away from the land.
In both cases, the word "from is used, but with total
different meanings. This is
what is going on here. The
NIV has it right, and the context clearly says this to be true.
Verse 40 states that Esau
would live by the sword and that he would serve his brother, something
else he didn't want to hear. Serving
his brother at this point would be the last thing he would want to do.
And "living by the sword", even though he appeared to
be a pretty rough and tough guy, would sound a bit dangerous.
Normally this term is not associated with using your sword simply
for food, but also for fighting off your enemies.
I'm sure Esau thought he had better things to do than that.
The last thing Isaac said
is that when Esau gets restless, he will throw this yoke of bondage from
his neck. I'm not sure when
this took place. There have
been various interpretations of this over the years.
A few times in Old Testament history Edom, who Esau became, did throw off this bondage. But somehow, I think
there might be some future significance here.
Most scholars feel that Jacob and Esau were around 70 years old at this time in their life.
The biggest question that I have in connection with this chapter is "did Isaac know that Jacob was God's choice to receive this blessing"? I've always thought that he did know, but I could be wrong. I can't imagine Rebekah not telling Isaac what God had told her. Yet some suggest Rebekah is like Mary in the New Testament, who hid the Word of the Lord in her heart and pondered on it for years. If Isaac didn't know God's will, he would have naturally thought that Esau was God's choice. It's clear from the text that Isaac's intention was to bless Esau which he did "before the Lord", suggesting in his heart, he wanted Esau to be blessed. So, from this chapter, we do not know if Isaac knew of what the Lord told Rebekah.
Hebrews 11:20 is interesting concerning this chapter. The writer of Hebrews says that "by faith Isaac blessed both Jacob and Esau. What does this mean? Did Isaac understand what he was doing when he blessed Jacob when he thought he was blessing Esau. When we read this Genesis account it appears that when Isaac didn't blessed Jacob he thought he was blessing Esau. How then could he have done that by faith? Why then does Hebrews 11:20 say that Isaac blessed both men by faith? We may never know the answer to this question, but at some point between blessing the two men Isaac knew what had happened. He clearly blessed Esau by faith, but did he bless Jacob by faith, or was he simply tricked into blessing Jacob? When all was said and done, I do believe that Isaac knew what had happened, and that in the long run it was the will of God.