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INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 27
In this chapter we are informed, that Isaac, being old and dim sighted, sent for Esau to get him venison, that he might eat of it, and bless him before he died, Genesis 27:1; that Rebekah hearing of this formed a scheme for Jacob to get the blessing before him, which she communicated to Jacob, to which he at first objected, but afterwards complied,
Genesis 27:5; and also how that he succeeded in the attempt, and got the blessing from his brother, Genesis 27:18; and that this was confirmed to him by his father, even when his mistake was discovered upon Esau's coming, Genesis 27:30; which occasioned a most bitter cry in Esau, a severe reflection on his brother, and an earnest expostulation with his father for a blessing, which he obtained, Genesis 27:34; the consequence of this were hatred in Esau to Jacob, and an intention to kill him, which Rebekah hearing of, advised Jacob to flee to her brother Laban,
Genesis 27:41; and to facilitate this, complains to Isaac of Esau's wives, and suggests, that should Jacob marry among the same people, it would add to the distress of their lives; and therefore hints it to him, that it was necessary and proper he should go to her family for a wife, Genesis 27:46; and whether Isaac sent him, as the following chapter shows.
And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old,.... He is generally thought to be about one hundred and thirty seven years of age at this time, which was just the age of his brother Ishmael when he died, Genesis 25:16; and might put him in mind of his own death as near at hand; though if he was no older, he lived after this forty three years, for he lived to be one hundred and eighty years old, Genesis 35:28:
and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see; which circumstance is mentioned, not only as a sign of old age, and as common to it, but for the sake of the following history, and as accounting for it, that he should not know Jacob when he blessed him; and this was so ordered in Providence, that by means of it the blessing might be transferred to him, which otherwise in all probability would not have been done, if Isaac had had his sight:
he called Esau his eldest son; who though he was married, and had been married thirty seven years at this time, yet still lived in his father's house, or near him; for as he was born when his father was sixty years of age, and he married when he himself was forty, and his father must be an hundred, so if Isaac was now one hundred and thirty seven, Esau must have been married thirty seven years; and though he had disobliged his father by his marriage, yet he retained a natural affliction for him; nor had he turned him out of doors, nor had he any thoughts of disinheriting him; but on the contrary intended to bestow the blessing on him as the firstborn, for which reason he is here called "his eldest son":
and said unto him, my son; owning the relation, expressing a tender affection for him, and signifying he had something further to say unto him:
and he said unto him, behold, [here am] I; by which Esau intimated he was ready to hear what his father had to say to him, and was willing to obey him. The Targum of Jonathan says, this was the fourteenth of Nisan, when Isaac called Esau to him.
And he said, behold, now I am old,....
I know not the day of my death; how soon it will be; everyone knows he must die, but the day and hour he knows not, neither young nor old; and though young men may promise themselves many days and years, an old man cannot, but must or should live in the constant expectation of death.
Now therefore, take, I pray thee, thy weapons,.... Or "thy vessels", or "instruments" n, his instruments of hunting: as
thy quiver and thy bow; the former is the vessel or instrument, in which arrows were put and carried, and has its name in the Hebrew language from its being hung at the girdle, though another word is more commonly used for a quiver; and Onkelos and Jarchi interpret this of a sword; and which is not disapproved of by Aben Ezra and Ben Melech, who explain it either a quiver or a sword; and the latter was as necessary for hunting as the former, see Genesis 27:40; and such a sword may be meant, as Mr. Fuller observes o, which we call a "hanger" (i.e. a small sword often worn by seamen); and of the bow being an instrument of hunting, not anything need be said:
and go out to the field, and take me [some] venison; this does not necessarily intend what we commonly call so, but anything hunted in the field, as hares, wild goats, c. and indeed the latter seems to be what Isaac loved, by the preparation Rebekah afterwards made.
n כליך "instrumenta tua", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator "vasa tua", Vatablus. o Miscell. Sacr. l. 1. c. 17.
And make me savoury meat, such as I love,.... For, though he had lost his sight, he had not lost his taste, nor his appetite for savoury food:
and bring [it] to me, that I may eat; this, was enjoined to make trial of his filial affection and duty to him, before he blessed him:
that my soul may bless thee before I die; not only that he might do it with cheerfulness and vivacity, having eaten a comfortable meal, and being refreshed with it, but that having had proof of his son's duty and affection to him, he might confer the blessing on him heartily: this blessing was not an ordinary and common one, but what parents used to bestow upon their children at the time of their death, or a little before it; and good men oftentimes did this under a spirit of prophecy, declaring what would be the case and circumstances of their children in time to come; and particularly the principal part of the blessing of Isaac, which Abraham had entailed upon him by divine direction, and he thought to have entailed on Esau his firstborn, was the promise of the descent of the Messiah from him and his seed, and of the possession of the land of Canaan by them: and this shows that Rebekah had not made known the oracle to Isaac, that the "elder should serve the younger",
Genesis 25:23: or, if she had, he had forgot, or did not understand it, and might think it respected not the persons of his sons, but their posterity; or however, from a natural affection for Esau his firstborn, and that the blessing and inheritance might go in the common channel, he was desirous he should have it; and he might also be ignorant of Esau's having sold his birthright to Jacob, or that he made no account of it.
And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son,.... She might hear Isaac call to him by one means or another, that he had sent for him, or might see him go into his father's tent, and might stand at the door of it and listen to hear what he said to him; though the Targum of Jonathan says, she heard by the Holy Spirit;
and Esau went to the field to hunt [for] venison, [and] to bring [it]; as his father directed and enjoined him; and thus it was ordered by divine Providence, that there might be time and opportunity for Jacob to get the blessing before his broker.
And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son,.... Who was in the tent with her, and for whom she had the strongest affection:
saying, behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother; heard the conversation that passed between them, and particularly what Isaac had given in charge to Esau,
saying, as follows:
Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat,.... Fetch him venison out of the field, and dress it in a savoury manner, and bring it to him:
that I may eat, and bless thee before the Lord before my death; the phrase "before the Lord" is here added, which yet perhaps might be expressed by Isaac, though before omitted by the historian, and has a very considerable emphasis in it; for this solemn blessing was given not only in the presence of the Lord, and before him as a witness, but by calling upon him, and praying for direction in it, and then pronouncing it in his name and by his authority, he approving of it, so that it was ever after irrevocable.
Now therefore, my son, obey my voice,.... Hearken to what I am about to say, and do
according to that which I command thee, in every particular; she required of him filial obedience to all that she enjoined him; which, though not difficult to be performed, she was aware Jacob would make objections to, as he did; and therefore she is so pressing and peremptory in her injunctions, as well knowing it was respecting an affair of the greatest moment and importance.
Go now to the flock,.... To the flock he had the care of, and that immediately, for the case required haste:
and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; two young kids that were fat, as Jonathan and Ben Melech interpret it; and, though two may seem to be too much to be dressed for Isaac only; it may be observed, that Rebekah intended only to take out some of the choicest and most tender and delicate parts of them, and which would best suit her purpose, and which she would make most like to venison; and the rest could be disposed of for the use of the family: and, if it should be questioned whether Rebekah had a right to do this without her husband's leave, the Jewish writers have an answer ready; that, in her dowry or matrimonial contract, Isaac had allowed her to take two kids of the goats every day p:
and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth; such as would pass with him for venison: Jarchi says, that the taste of a kid is like the taste of a young roe or fawn; however, by seasoning, the natural taste might be altered so as not to be distinguished, as we find it was; and such as have the best skill in venison may be imposed upon and deceived by more ways than one, as well as Isaac was.
p Bereshit Rabba, sect. 65. fol. 57. 4. Jarchi in loc.
And thou shall bring [it] to thy father,.... For venison; and as if he was Esau that brought it:
that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death; to whom she knew by the divine oracle the blessing belonged, Genesis 25:23, as well as by virtue of the sale of the birthright to him by his brother,
Genesis 25:33, and through Esau's forfeiting of it by marrying with the Canaanites, Genesis 26:34; in these her sentiments she was right, but wrong in the ways and means she took to get it for him.
And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother,.... Being timorous lest he should do an ill thing, and be accounted a deceiver, and bring a curse upon himself:
behold, Esau my brother [is] a hairy man; covered all over with hair; as with a hairy garment; so he was born, and so he continued, and no doubt his hair increased, Genesis 25:25:
and I [am] a smooth man: without hair, excepting in those parts where it is common for all men to have it.
My father peradventure will feel me,.... For, though he could not see him, and so discern whether he had any hair or no on him, yet, suspecting him by his voice, he might call him to him to feel him, as he did; for Jacob understood his mother right, that he was to represent his brother Esau in the transaction of this affair:
and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; one that imposes upon another and causes him to err, leads him to say or do wrong things: and not only appear as one, but be really one, and even a very great one, as the doubling of the radical letters in the word shows; yea, the worst of deceivers, a deceiver of a parent, of one that was both aged and blind:
and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing; and he might justly fear, that should he be found out, it would so provoke his father, that instead of blessing him, he would curse him, see
And his mother said unto him, upon me [be] thy curse, my son,.... That is, if thy father should curse thee, which I am well assured he will not, let the curse, be what it will, fall upon me, and not on thee; I shall bear the blame and the punishment: this she said in the strong faith of the divine oracle, being fully persuaded her scheme would succeed, and that Jacob would have the blessing, and therefore she feared no curse falling upon her or her son; and this she said to encourage him: the Targum of Onkelos is,
"to me it has been said in prophecy, that the curses shall not come upon thee, my son:''
only obey my voice, and go fetch me [them]; the two fat kids of the goats from the flock.
And he went and fetched and brought [them] to his mother,.... Being satisfied with what his mother had said, he went to the field where the flock was, and took out of it two young kids, and brought them to his mother; and thus far he did right to obey her commands:
and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved; by picking out proper pieces, and seasoning them well, it was as grateful to him as if it had really been venison, such as he loved.
And Rebekah took goodly garments of her eldest son Esau,.... Or "desirable" q ones, exceeding good ones:
which [were] with her in the house; which she had the care and keeping of, and were wore only on particular occasions: some think these were priestly garments, which belonged to him as the firstborn, and were not in the keeping of his wives, being idolaters, but in his mother's keeping; which is not very probable, yet more likely than that they were, as some Jewish writers r say, the garments of Adam the first man, which Esau seeing on Nimrod, greatly desired them, and slew him for them, see Genesis 10:10; and hence called desirable garments:
and put them upon Jacob her younger son; that be might be took for Esau, should Isaac examine him and feel his garments, or smell them.
q החמדת "desideratissimis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. r Targum Jon. in loc. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 65. fol. 58. 1. Pirke Eliezer, c. 24. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 3. 1.
And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands,.... Upon both his hands, and the whole of them that was bare, that he might appear to be like Esau:
and upon the smooth of his neck; which in Esau was covered with hair as his hands; and Hiscuni, a Jewish writer s, observes, that the skins of goats are rough, and like the skin of a hairy man; and so Bochart t remarks, that goats' hair in the eastern countries is not much unlike human hair; see 1 Samuel 19:13.
s Apud Drusium in loc. t Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 51. col. 626.
And she gave the savoury meat,.... Seasoned and dressed in such a manner as might be taken for venison:
and the bread which she had prepared to eat with it,
into the hand of her son Jacob; the dish of meat in one hand, and the bread in the other.
And he came unto his father,.... Into the tent and apartment where he was:
and said, my father; to try whether he was awake, and to let him know that he was come, since he could not see him:
and he said, here [am] I; what hast thou to say to me?
who [art] thou, my son? for, from the voice and the quick dispatch made, he suspected it was not his son Esau.
And Jacob said unto his father, I [am] Esau thy firstborn,.... Had he only said that he was his firstborn, he might have been excused from lying, because he had bought the birthright of Esau; but when he says, I am Esau, he can by no means be excused; for to say he impersonated Esau will not do; besides, he afterwards says he was his very son Esau, Genesis 27:24:
I have done according as thou badest me; which is another lie; for Isaac had not bid him bring him any venison, nor go into the field for it, and take it and dress it for him; nor indeed had Jacob done either of these:
arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison; or "hunting" u, what he had hunted; another untruth, for it was not venison he brought him, nor anything that was hunted by him: by this it seems that Isaac lay upon a bed or couch through infirmity, and therefore is bid to arise and put himself in a proper posture for eating, which in those times and countries was usually sitting:
that thy soul may bless me; as this was the thing in view, so speaking of it as soon as he came in, and which he desired might be done after his father had eat and drank, might serve to take off the suspicion of his being another person; since this was what Isaac himself proposed to Esau to do; and this he said when there were none else present.
u מצידי "de venatione mea", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, &c.
And Isaac said unto his son,.... Supposing him to be Esau:
how [is it] that thou hast found [it] so quickly, my son? that is, the venison; that he had met with it so soon in, the field, and got it dressed and ready in so short a time, which was not common, and seemed to be too little for doing all this in it, and so still created some suspicion of deceit:
and he said, because the Lord thy God brought [it] to me; which was another falsehood; for it was not the Lord, but his mother brought it to him: and this seems to be the most marvellous of all, that so good a man should dare to bring the name of the Lord God into this affair; indeed he does not say the Lord my God, or our God, but thy God; which some think was done on purpose, the more to cover the deceit, because they suppose that Esau, whom Jacob impersonated, was an idolater, but this is not so evident; rather it looks as if Jacob had not the confidence to call the Lord his God with a lie in his mouth.
And Isaac said unto Jacob, come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son,.... Still suspecting some fraud in the case; and whereas he knew that Esau was a hairy man, and Jacob smooth, he thought by feeling he could discover the imposture, if there was any:
whether thou [be] my very son Esau, or not; which he still pretty much questioned.
And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father,.... Boldly and without trembling; which he could the better do, as his father could not see him, and so not capable of discerning any change in his countenance or outward behaviour:
and he felt him; some parts of his body, especially his hands:
and said, the voice [is] Jacob's voice; very like it, as if it was the same, as indeed it was:
but the hands [are] the hands of Esau; are like them, being hairy as they; or, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem,
"the feeling of the hands is as the feeling of the hands of Esau;''
they feel like them.
And he discerned him not,.... As he could not see, he could make no judgment by that sense; and, though he had his hearing, and thought the voice was like Jacob's, he might imagine there might be an alteration in Esau's voice, coming in haste and weary from the fields; yet, as there could not be any deception in his feeling, he thought it safest to trust to that, as it follows:
because his hands were hairy as his brother Esau's hands; which could not in a short time become so naturally; it was more reasonable to think that Esau's voice should be altered and become like Jacob's, than that Jacob's hands should become like Esau's:
so he blessed him; or intended and determined within himself to bless him, for the blessing was not given till afterwards; unless this is to be understood of a common blessing, congratulating him on the quick dispatch he made, and the great success he met with; and after this gave him the patriarchal blessing, which as yet he had not, being not thoroughly satisfied of him, as appears by what follows.
And said, [art] thou my very son Esau?.... Still having some doubt on his mind whether he really was so or not, because of his voice:
and he said, I [am]; as for the observation of Jarchi upon this, in order to excuse Jacob from lying, that he does not say, "I am Esau", only "I", it will not do, since it is an answer to Isaac's question, with a design to deceive him; and he intended by it that he should understand him as he did, that he was really Esau.
And he said, bring [it] near to me,.... Being in a good measure satisfied that it must be Esau that was with him, he agreed that he should set his savoury meat before him he had prepared and brought to him:
and I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless thee; this showed that as yet he had not blessed him, at least that the main and principal blessing was yet to come:
and he brought [it] near to him, and he did eat; set it on a table before him, and guided his hands to it, or fed him with it, and he made a meal of it:
and he brought him wine, and he drank; and so was comfortably refreshed, and in a good temper and disposition of mind to confer the blessing.
And his father Isaac said unto him,.... After he had eat and drank, and the repast was over, and all were took away:
come near now, and kiss me, my son; which was desired either out of affection to him, excited by this instance of preparing such savoury and agreeable food; or else having some suspicion still, and willing to have more satisfaction before he proceeded further to bless, from the smell of his breath, and of his garments,
And he came near, and kissed him,.... Jacob came near and kissed Isaac his father:
and he smelled the smell of his raiment; which being not like the smell of a sheep coat, but of a field, might give him more full satisfaction that it was truly Esau:
and he blessed him; with his patriarchal and prophetic blessing, which here begins:
and said, see, the smell of my son [is] as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed; like a field fall of fragrant herbs, flowers, and spices, watered with the dews and rain of heaven, and so made fruitful, which emits a most, delightful odour; this may respect the scent of Esau's clothes, now on Jacob's back, which they received from the fields, which Esau continually frequented; or rather from the odoriferous herbs and fruits which were put among them in the chest, in which Rebekah had laid them up; and it may be, that whereas the goatskins on his hands and neck would be apt to send forth a rank and disagreeable smell, these might be so scented by Rebekah as to prevent that. Some render these words, "see the smell of my son, whom the Lord hath blessed w, as the smell of a field"; and so Isaac pronounces him blessed of the Lord, as well as by himself; the sense is the same: as to the smell many interpreters consider this as a type and figure of the acceptance of believers with God, being clothed with the goodly, excellent, and desirable garment of the righteousness of Christ their elder brother, even of their persons, services, and sacrifices; which is indeed truly spiritual and evangelical; but is liable to this objection, that it makes profane Esau a type of Christ. I see not that anything can well be objected to the application of this son of Isaac's to the Messiah himself, whom he may have a special regard unto in this prophetic blessing, reading the words, "the smell of my son [shall be] as the smell of a field": or "my son, whom the Lord hath blessed", and came before with all the blessings of goodness, and in whom all nations shall be blessed, shall be "as the smell of a field"; all whose garments smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia, Psalms 45:8, even Isaac's principal son, that should be of his seed, of whom Jacob his present son was a type, and who was to spring from him.
w So Junius, Tremellius, Gesner. & Walther. apud Calov.
Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven,.... Or "shall" or "will give thee" x, seeing he was blessed of God, and the blessed seed should spring from him, as well as his posterity should inherit the land of Canaan; for this is said rather by way of prophecy than wish, and so all that follow; and the dew of heaven is the rather mentioned, not only because that makes the earth fruitful on which it plentifully falls, but likewise because the land of Canaan, the portion of Jacob's posterity, much needed it, and had it, for rain fell there but seldom, only twice a year, in spring and autumn; and between these two rains, the one called the former, the other the latter rain, the land was impregnated and made fruitful by plentiful dews; and these signified figuratively both the doctrines and blessings of grace, which all Jacob's spiritual offspring, such as are Israelites indeed, are partakers of, and especially under the Gospel dispensation, see
and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine; and such the land of Canaan was, a fat and fertile land, abounding with all good things, see Deuteronomy 8:8; by which are figured the plenty of Gospel provisions, the word and ordinances, which God has given to his Jacob and Israel in all ages, as he has not given to other people, and especially in the times of the Messiah, Jacob's eminent seed and son, see Psalms 147:19.
x ויתן לך "dabit ergo tibi", Schmidt; so Ainsworth.
Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee,.... Which was literally true in the times of Joshua and the judges, when the Canaanites were conquered and subdued, and those that remained became tributary to the Israelites; and still more so in the times of David, a son of Jacob, in the line of Judah, when the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Ammonites, and Edomites, became subject to him, his servants and tributaries; and yet more so in the times of the Messiah that was to spring from Jacob, and did, to whom many nations have been already subject, and all will in the latter day, Psalms 72:11. And this passage is applied to the Messiah, and his times, by the Jews, in an ancient book y of theirs, at least said to be so. The Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it of the children of Esau or the Edomites, and of the children of Keturah; and that of Jerusalem, of the children of Esau, and of Ishmael:
be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee; these seem rather to be the children of Esau, Jacob's brother, and his mother's sons; the Targum of Jerusalem interprets the latter of the sons of Laban, his mother's brother, the Arabians and Syrians; which will be more fully accomplished when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, Revelation 11:15; who will then appear to be King of kings, and Lord of lords, Revelation 17:14, even the King of the whole earth:
cursed [be] everyone that curseth thee; it signifies, that those who were the enemies of Jacob, or would be the enemies of the church and people of God, his spiritual Israel, and of the Messiah, would be reckoned the enemies of God, and treated as such;
and blessed [be] he that blesseth thee; and that those that were his friends, and the friends of the people of God, and heartily wish well to the interest of Christ, these should be accounted the friends of God, and be used as such. The same blessing is pronounced on Abraham the grandfather of Jacob, Genesis 12:3.
y Zohar in Gen. fol. 84. 4.
And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of,
blessing Jacob,.... So that he had the whole entire blessing, and nothing wanting; and takes in blessings of all sorts, temporal, spiritual, and eternal, of which the land of Canaan, and the fruits of it, were typical:
and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father; which no doubt he made haste to do, as soon as he had got the blessing; partly to avoid his brother, whom he might expect to come in every moment, and partly to relate to his mother the success he had met with: or "scarce in going out was gone out" z, was just gone out, and that was all; the Targum of Jonathan says, he was gone about two hands' breadths; that is, out of the door of his father's tent, which was a small space indeed. Jarchi interprets this doubling of the word, of the one going out and the other coming in at the same time; but Ainsworth more rightly observes, that it makes the matter the more remarkable, touching God's providence herein:
that Esau his brother came in from his hunting; and not only was come out of the field from hunting, but had been at home some time, and had dressed what he had caught in hunting, and was just coming in with it to his father, as appears from Genesis 27:31.
z אך יצא יצא "tantum, vel vix exeundo exierat", Montanus, Piscator, Vatablus, Schmidt.
And he also made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father,.... Which was made of real venison, or of creatures taken in hunting, and not like Jacob's, made of other flesh, in imitation of it; for what the Jewish writers a say is not to be regarded, that he was hindered from getting true venison, by angels loosing the deer he bound; still less what the Targum of Jonathan says, that he killed a dog, made savoury meat of it, and brought it to his father:
and said unto his father, let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me; this address is made by Esau to his father in a very respectful manner, as became a dutiful son to an aged and honoured parent; who in obedience to his command had prepared agreeable food for him, and now brought it to him, in order to receive his blessing, which he had himself proposed to give him upon it.
a Bereshit Rabba, sect. 67. fol. 59. 3.
And Isaac his father said unto him, who [art] thou?.... Hearing another voice more like Esau's than what he had heard before surprised him, and therefore in haste puts this question:
and he said, I [am] thy son, thy firstborn Esau; all which was true in a sense; he was his son, and he was Esau, and he was his firstborn by nature, but not by right, for he had sold his birthright.
And Isaac trembled very exceedingly,.... Or "trembled with a great trembling exceedingly" b; he was amazed, and astonished, and seized with a trembling all over his body, and with terror and confusion of mind; at the craft of Jacob in getting the blessing; at the disappointment of Esau in losing it; at his own act in blessing Jacob instead of Esau, contrary to his inclination and intention; and at the overruling providence of God in bringing this about in so strange a manner, agreeably to the oracle he had given Rebekah; which now perhaps came fresh into the mind of Isaac, if he had heard it before; and all together threw him into this amazement:
and he said, who? where [is] he; which words spoken in haste, and without order, show the hurry and consternation of mind he was in:
that hath taken venison, and brought [it] me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest; he was here but just now; he was scarce gone out before thou camest in; who, and where is he, that has done this? He knew it must be Jacob that had prepared and brought him food he called venison, which he had eaten sufficiently of, though in the confusion of his mind he puts these questions: and
have blessed him? yea, [and] he shall be blessed; for he now saw clearly that it was according to the divine will that Jacob should be blessed, though his natural affection led him to bless Esau; and no doubt, while he was pronouncing the blessing on Jacob, he felt an uncommon impulse upon his mind, by which he was assured that he was right in blessing him, that it was according to the will of God, was by his direction, and with his approbation; and therefore he here, even after Jacob's deceit was detected, confirms and ratifies it; and this is added, lest any question should be made of the validity of the blessing of Jacob, when it was given through mistake, and got by deceit; but this Isaac did and said knowingly, and by faith, as the apostle says, Hebrews 11:20.
b ויחרד חרדה גדלה עד-מאד "contremuit tremore magno usque valde", Montanus; Pagninus, Schmidt.
And when Esau heard the words of his father,.... That another person had been before him, and got the blessing; and especially when he heard this ratified, and confirmed, and made irrevocable:
he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry; as loud as he possibly could, and in as doleful and hideous a manner as can be imagined; according to the Vulgate Latin version, he roared like a lion:
and said unto his father, bless me, [even] me also, O my father; thou art my father, and I am a child of thine as well as Jacob, show paternal affection to me; give me also a child's blessing, one at least equal to what thou hast given Jacob, if not a greater, as being the firstborn.
And he said, thy brother came with subtilty,.... The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and so Jarchi, interpret it, "with wisdom", taking it in a good sense, and as excusing the fact; or rather commending it, as if it was wisely and prudently managed; but the word signifies fraud and deceit, and so it must be understood; though it may be Isaac says this, not so much to blame Jacob for what he had done, as to excuse himself to Esau, that he did not intend to give the blessing from him, but that he was imposed upon through the craft and subtilty of his brother, who feigned himself to be Esau; pretending he had been hunting, and had had wonderful success, and had got venison, and had prepared it; and came with goat, skins upon his hands and neck, that he might seem to be hairy as Esau was, and by these artful tricks he had deceived him, and therefore Esau could not blame him for what he had done:
and hath taken away thy blessing; which belonged to him as the firstborn, and he expected to have, and Isaac intended to have given it to him.
And he said, is not he rightly named Jacob?.... As he was by his parents, and those that were at his birth, because he took his brother by the heel as he came out of his mother's womb; for Jacob signifies "heeler", a supplanter, and was given him to keep up the memory of what he had done, to which Esau here refers:
for he hath supplanted me these two times; to supplant another is to put his foot under the heel of another, in order to trip him up, to which Esau alludes; but uses the word in a figurative sense, for circumventing him, and dealing fraudulently and deceitfully with him, though he is not able to support his charge; for if he dealt fraudulently with any, it was with his father, and not with him, and the two times he refers to prove it not:
he took away my birthright; which is not true, he did not take it away from him either by force or fraud, Esau sold it to him for a mess of pottage, Genesis 25:29; he had despised and made light of it himself, and had parted with it at so mean a price, and now falsely charges his brother with taking it away from him, and wrongly accuses him of being a supplanter on that account:
and behold, now he hath taken away my blessing; this also is not true, he had not taken it away; it was given him by his father; and though he had used some artful methods with him to get it, Genesis 27:15, he had neither supplanted Esau, but if anyone, his father; nor had he done any injustice to Esau, since as he had bought of him the birthright, the blessing annexed to it went along with it, and of right belonged to Jacob:
and he said, hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? is the whole fund of blessings exhausted? are all bestowed upon Jacob? is there not one left for me? he hoped there was, and that as good a one as he had bestowed on his brother, and entreats he might have it.
And Isaac answered and said unto Esau,.... Giving an account of the blessing be had bestowed upon his brother:
behold, I have made him thy lord; the lord of his posterity, who would be subdued and become tributary to his seed:
and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; the Edomites, who sprung from his brother Esau, who, according to this prophetic blessing, became servants to David, who was a son of Jacob's,
and with corn and wine have I sustained him; promised him a fruitful country, the land of Canaan, abounding with all good things, particularly with corn and wine, which are put for all the rest:
and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? what is there remains? what can be bestowed upon thee? there is nothing left; dominion over others, even over all nations, yea, over thyself and thy posterity, and plenty of all good things, are given already to Jacob; what is there to be done for thee, or thou canst expect?
And Esau said unto his father, hast thou but one blessing, my father?.... He seems to speak diminutively of what had been given to Jacob, calling it one blessing: whereas there were many, and of different sorts, both temporal and spiritual; but it may be Esau had not so clear and comprehensive a view of what was contained in Jacob's blessing; or at least was willing to think and hope that there was not so much given, but there might be some behind for him, and that his father had a greater stock than to be drained of all at once:
bless me, [even] me also, O my father: with another blessing, with one equal to what has been given my brother:
and Esau lift up his voice, and wept; in order to move the affections of his father, and to prevail upon him to reverse the blessing he had bestowed on Jacob, and give it to him; but he could not bring his father to repentance, to change his mind, and revoke the blessing, and give it him, with all his crying and tears, as the apostle observes,
And Isaac his father answered and said unto him,.... Being willing to bestow what he could upon him, without lessening or breaking in upon the grant made to Jacob:
behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above: this agrees with part of the blessing of Jacob, only the clauses are inverted, and no mention made of corn and wine; the land of Edom not being so fat and fruitful as the land of Canaan. Castalio renders the words very differently, "thy habitation shall be from the fatness of the earth, or without the fatness of the earth, and without the dew of heaven from above" c; or otherwise he thinks Esau would have the same blessing with Jacob, and so would have no occasion of complaint or grief, or to have hated his brother and sought his life; to which may be added, that the land of Edom, which Esau and his posterity inhabited, was a very desert country, see Malachi 1:3.
c See the Bishop of Clogher's Chronology of the Hebrew Bible, p. 142.
And by thy sword shalt thou live,.... By what he could get by it; his land being so poor that he could not live upon it, but must be obliged to such methods for a livelihood; or his country being surrounded with enemies, his posterity would be obliged to defend themselves by the sword, and other weapons of war:
and shalt serve thy brother; which is the sense and language of the oracle, Genesis 25:23; and which Isaac perhaps now remembered, and had a clear understanding of it, and delivers out his prophetic blessing agreeably to it:
and it shall come to pass, when thou shalt have the dominion; not over the Israelites, the posterity of Jacob, which the Edomites, Esau's posterity, never had; but when they should get a greater degree of strength, power, authority, and dominion in the world:
that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck; the Edomites should revolt from the posterity of Jacob, and shake off the yoke of bondage and subjection they had been long under; as they did in the times of Joram, king of Judah, and set up a king of their own, and continued in such a state of freedom a long time, see 2 Kings 8:20.
And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him,.... It being a better blessing than his; giving him a better country, and greater plenty of good things, a larger dominion, and even dominion over him and his seed; for as for the promise of the Messiah, and spiritual blessings, he seems to have no concern about them, only temporal ones:
and Esau said in his heart; within himself, but he did not long keep it there, but told somebody of it; or otherwise, how should Rebekah be informed of it, as afterwards related? what he said follows,
the days of mourning for my father are at hand, then will I slay my brother Jacob: that is, the time of his father's death was drawing nigh, when there would be a mourning for him for some days; at which time, or at the end of it, he proposed to pick a quarrel with Jacob about his title to his father's substance, and in the quarrel kill him, and so regain the birthright and the blessing; and Jacob dying unmarried, and without issue, would defeat both the oracle of God, and the prophetic benediction of his father; but he failed in all, the time of his father's death was not so near as he imagined, for he lived forty three years after this; and this design of his being discovered, was the occasion of Jacob's going to Haran, where he married two sisters, and by them and their maids had a numerous offspring, whereby both the oracle and the blessing had their accomplishment. Esau seems to have retained some affection for his father, and therefore put off the execution of this wicked design until his death, being unwilling to grieve him, but had no regard for his mother, who he knew loved Jacob better than he, and was assisting to him in getting the blessing from him. Schmidt gives a sense of this passage different from all interpreters, and renders the words, "the days of my father's mourning will draw nigh"; not in which his father would be mourned for, being dead, but in which his father, being alive, would himself mourn for his son Jacob, being slain by Esau; and accordingly he renders the next clause, "for I will slay my brother Jacob"; and that will make him mourn, and perhaps die of his grief; and so he shows an ill will to his father because he confirmed the blessing to Jacob, as well as to Jacob because he had it.
And these words of Esau her eldest son were told to Rebekah,.... Jarchi and Jonathan say, by the Holy Ghost; but Aben Ezra thinks, by one of Esau's friends and confidants, to whom out of the abundance of his heart he had revealed this secret, which is not at all unlikely:
and she sent and called Jacob her younger son; who might be in another tent or apartment, or with the flocks in the field:
and said unto him, behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, [purposing] to kill thee; he has determined on it, and has laid a scheme for it, and comforts himself with the thought of it, that he shall be able to accomplish it, and so be the heir of the promise, and get the blessing; and even such is his nature, that thy death will be a comfort to him under the loss of his blessing, though he gets nothing by it, so sweet is revenge unto him.
Now therefore, my son, obey my voice,.... Hearken to what I say, and do according to it, as he had already in many instances, and particularly in a late one, in which he succeeded, and therefore had good reason to attend to her advice and direction, see Genesis 27:13;
and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother, to Haran; where Laban her brother, dwelt.
And tarry with him a few days,.... Which Aben Ezra interprets a few years; rather, as Hiscuni, one year; perhaps it may be better should it be said one or two years; but instead of so short a time Jacob stayed there twenty years, and perhaps Rebekah never saw him anymore, being dead before he returned; after this account, no more mention is made of her:
until thy brother's fury turn away; which she hoped would abate, subside, and be entirely gone in process of time, and especially when the object of it was out of sight, and so it might be thought would be out of mind.
Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee,.... Which is repeated from the preceding verse, to carry on the connection:
and he forget [that] which thou hast done to him; in getting the blessing from him; being convinced that Jacob had done him no injury, and that he had no just cause of being angry with him, it being the will of God that he should have the blessing; and besides, having bought the birthright of him, the blessing belonged to him in course; or however would in time forgive and forget what he thought was an injury done him:
then I will send, and fetch thee from thence; send messengers to him that should acquaint him with the disposition of his brother towards him, and, if agreeable, bring him along with them to his mother again; this is said to encourage him to go:
why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? who might either in the quarrel kill one another; or however, as one would be murdered, so the other, the murderer, must die by the hand of the civil magistrate, according to the law in Genesis 9:6; or should he escape justice being done him by men, yet the hand of God would find him; or if obliged to flee and hide himself, it would be as if he was not.
And Rebekah said to Isaac,.... Not what she had told Jacob concerning the enmity of Esau to Jacob, and his intention to kill him, lest it should grieve him, and bring his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave; but what follows, as an excuse to get Isaac's leave for Jacob's departure, concealing the true reason of it:
I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth; whom Esau had married, Genesis 26:34; who were continually vexing and teasing her by their impiety and idolatry, their irreligion and profaneness, their disobedience and contradiction, their froward temper and behaviour;
if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth; as his brother has done, and after his example, as the best are too apt to be led by bad examples:
such as these [which are] of the daughters of the land: like those Esau had married, of the same tribe, or of other of the tribes of the Canaanites, which were in religion and manners like unto them:
what good shall my life do me? I shall have no comfort in it; death would be more eligible than such a life: this she said with great vehemence and affection, to move and work upon Isaac to lay him commands on Jacob, and give him orders and directions to go to her family and friends, and there take him a wife; and the succeeded according to her wishes, as the following chapter shows.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 27". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany