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Gen 27:1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, [here am] I.
Ver. 1. Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim. ] Old age is of itself a disease, and the sink of all diseases. This Solomon sweetly sets forth Ecc 12:1-7 by a continued allegory, Ubi quot lumina imo flumina orationis exerit saith one. In general, he calls it "the evil day, the years that have no pleasure in them." In particular, the senses all fail; the hands tremble; the legs buckle; the teeth cannot do their office, as being either lost or loosened; "the silver cord," that is, the marrow of their backs, is consumed; "the golden ewer," that is, the brainpan, broke; "the pitcher at the well," that is, the veins at the liver; "the wheel at the cistern," that is, the head, which draws the power of life from the heart; all these worn weak, and wanting to their office. So that sleep faileth; "desire faileth"; a neither spring nor summer (signified by the almond tree and grasshopper) shall affect with pleasure; "the daughters of music shall be brought low," as they were in old Barzillai; "the sun, moon, and stars are darkened," for any delight they take in their sweet shine; yea, "the clouds return after rain"; a continual succession of miseries, like April weather, as one shower is unburdened, another is brewed, and the sky is still overcast with clouds. Lo, such is old age. And is this a fit present for God? wilt thou give him the dregs, the bottom, the very last sands, thy dotage, which thyself and friends are weary of? "Offer it now to thy prince, will he be pleased with thee"? Mal 1:8 The Circassians, a kind of mongrel Christians, as they baptize not their children till the eighth year, so they enter not into the Church, the gentlemen specially, till the sixtieth year, but hear divine service standing outside the temple; that is to any, till through age they grow unable to continue their rapines and robberies, to which sin that nation is exceedingly addicted: so dividing their time between sin and devotion; dedicating their youth to rapine, and their old age to repentance. b But God will not be so put off. He is "a great King," and stands upon his seniority. Mal 1:14 In the Levitical law, there were three sorts of firstfruits:
1. Of the ears of corn, offered about the Passover;
2. Of the loaves, offered about Pentecost;
3. About the end of the year in Autumn.
Now of the first two God had a part, but not of the last: to teach us, that he will accept of the services of our youth or middle-age: but for old age, vix aut ne vix quidem . Besides Abraham in the Old Testament, and Nicodemus in the New, I know not whether we read of any old man ever brought home to God.
a Sept., η καππαρις , quum et appetitum et Venerem irritat.
b Brerewood’s Enquiries, p. 135.
Gen 27:2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:
Ver. 2. I am old, I know not the day of my death. ] No more doth any, though never so young. There be as many young skulls as old, in Golgotha. But, young men, we say, may die; old men must die. To the old, death is pro ianuis; to the young, in insidiis. Senex, quasi semi-nex. Old men have pedem in cymba Charontis, one foot in the grave already. Our decrepit age both expects death, and solicits it: it goes grovelling, as groaning for the grave. Whence Terence a calls an old man Silicernium; and the Greeks γηροντα, πασα το εις γην οραν , of looking toward the ground, whither he is tending; or, as others will have it, of loving earth and earthly things; which old folk greedily grasp at, because they fear they shall not have to suffice them while alive, and to bring them honestly home, as they say, when they are dead; as Plutarch gives the reason, b
a Vel quod curvus silices cernat; vel quod mox silentiqus umbris cernendus sit. - Ter, in Adelph.
b Tους θριψαντας, και τους θαψαντας .
Gen 27:3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me [some] venison;
Ver. 3. Take me some venison. ] It is some blemish to holy Isaac, that he so favoured and loved Esau, and that because he did eat of his venison, or because venison was in his mouth. Gen 25:28 "All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under of any thing". 1Co 6:12 It is a shame to a saint, to be a slave to his appetite, that it should be said of him, as it was of Epicurus, Dum palato quid sit optimum iudicat, coeli palatium suspexit. a
Gen 27:4 And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring [it] to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.
Ver. 4. That my soul may bless thee before I die. ] The words of dying men are living oracles. It was the patriarch’s care, and must be ours, to leave a blessing behind us; to seek the salvation of our children while we live, and to say something to the same purpose when we die, that may stick by them. So when we are laid in our graves, our stock remains, goes forward, and shall do till the day of doom.
Gen 27:5 And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt [for] venison, [and] to bring [it].
Ver. 5. Esau went to the field to hunt, &c. ] But before he returned, the blessing was otherwise bestowed. "The hope of the hypocrite shall perish". Job 8:13 How many lie languishing at hope’s hospital, as he at the pool of Bethesda, and no help comes! They repair to the creatures, as to a lottery, with heads full of hopes, but return with hearts full of blanks. Or, if they draw nigh to God, they think they take hold of him; but it is but as the child that catcheth at the shadow or the wall, which he thinks he holds fast in his hand; but it vanisheth. The common hope is ill bottomed. "Hope unfailable," Rom 5:5 is founded upon "faith unfeigned". 1Ti 1:5 Deo confisi nunquam confusi. He sneaketh sweetest comfort "to the heart, in the wilderness". Hos 2:14
Gen 27:6 And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying,
Ver. 6. I heard thy father. ] She overheard what Isaac spake secretly. Women will be listening; as Sarah behind the door, when she laughed, and little thought to be questioned for it.
Gen 27:7 Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death.
Ver. 7. That I may eat, and bless thee. ] Being cheered up by thy good cheer and wine, I may be the fitter instrument of the Spirit of God. So the prophet called for a minstrel. 2Ki 3:14-15 Plato called wine and music μαλακτικα , the mollifying medicines of human miseries. Cheerfulness is called for in all services.
Gen 27:8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.
Ver. 8. How therefore, my son, obey my voice. ] Which yet he ought not to have done, because she commanded him that which was evil: and they that do thus, are peremptores, potius quam parentes; rather parricides than parents, as saith St Bernard.
Gen 27:9 Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth:
Ver. 9. Savoury meat for thy father, &c. ] She knew his diet, and could fit his tooth. The wife is to take care to please ( μεριμνα ) her husband; to use her wits, and busy her thoughts how to give him content in diet, and other things of the world, as the apostle hath it. 1Co 7:34 It was devilish policy in Agrippina, the mother of Nero - and it came home to her - to temper the poison that she gave her husband Claudius the emperor, in the meat he most delighted in, a and then to make a jest of it. Let us be sure to bring God such service as he loveth. He will eat, not only our "honey," but our "honeycomb"; he will drink, not only our "wine," but our "milk"; Son 5:1 take in good part unperfect performances, so the heart be upright. But displeasing service is a double dishonour. The fat of rams was rejected with infinite disdain, where the hands are full of blood, the heart of sin. Isaiah 1:11 ; Isa 1:15 The philosopher b could complain of his countrymen, that when they went to offer sacrifice to health, they did then banquet most riotously against health.
a Dixit Nero boletos θεων βρωμα ειναι , quod Claudius boleto in numerum Deorum relatus esset. - Dio.
b Diog. Laert.
Gen 27:10 And thou shalt bring [it] to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.
Ver. 10. And thou shalt bring it to thy father. ] Though this action, in the general intendment, was good, yet the execution of it wanted not particular error. Her course had been, rather, to have reminded her husband of God’s promise to Jacob, and gently to have exhorted him to do nothing against it; and then to have entreated the Lord, to bend his mind to the obedience of his divine will, though to the crossing of his own. But the saint’s righteousness, while here, is mixed; as light and darkness, dimness at least, in a painted glass, dyed with some obscure and dim colour: it is transparent, and giveth good, but not clear and pure light.
Gen 27:11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother [is] a hairy man, and I [am] a smooth man:
Ver. 11. Esau my brother is a hairy man. ] This Rebekah thought not of. Plus vident oculi, quam oculus. Two is better than one; but woe be to him that is alone. We want much of our strength, in the want of a faithful friend, who might be our monitor. Whence David so bemoans the loss of his Jonathan; and St Paul counted it a special mercy to him, that Epaphroditus recovered. Php 2:25-27 This the heathen persecutors knew, and therefore banished the Christians, and confined them to isles and mines, where they could not have access one to another. a Dr Taylor rejoiced that ever he came into prison, there to be acquainted with that angel of God - so he calls him - John Bradford. While Ridley and Latimer lived, they kept up Cranmer from entertaining counsels of revolt. It was not for nothing, surely, that our Saviour sent forth his disciples by two and two. He knew, by experience, that Satan is readiest to assault when none is by to assist. Aaron may be for a mouth to Moses, Moses for a God to Aaron. Exo 4:16
a Cyprian, Epist.
Gen 27:12 My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.
Ver. 12. My father peradventure will feel me. ] Our heavenly Father will certainly feel us, and better feel us; and we shall feel him too, in his fatherly corrections, before he bless us. Suffer we must, or ere we reign: no coming to the crown, but by the cross. Christ himself was "perfected by sufferings"; Hebrews 2:10 ; Heb 5:9 and we must be "conformed to his image". Rom 8:29 When Ignatius came to the wild beasts, Now, saith he, I begin to be a Christian. Qui non eat Crucianus, non est Christianus, saith Luther, on the 29th of Genesis: and in another place, I have no stronger argument, saith he, against the Pope’s kingdom, than this, that he reigneth without the cross.
And I shall seem to him as a deceiver. ] So shall all complimenting hypocrites to God, that pretend his service to their wicked or worldly ends and aims. They think, belike, to deceive him; a but therein they are fairly deceived, for he searcheth the hearts; and bring a curse, instead of a blessing, upon themselves and their posterity. "The hypocrite in heart heaps up wrath". Job 36:13 Nemo enim magis; ram meretur, saith a father, b quam amicum simulans inimicus . Where shall we read of a hypocrite received to mercy?
a Sapiens nummularius Deus est: nummum fictum non recipiet. - Bern,
Gen 27:13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me [be] thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me [them].
Ver. 13. Upon me be thy curse, my son. ] A bold speech: but she respected the promise by faith; she relied on that oracle, Gen 25:23 which Isaac might misinterpret, understanding it not of the persons of his sons, but of their posterity. Bernardus non vidit omnia. Isaac was not more blind in his eyes than in his affection to his firstborn; and that might mislead him. But Rebekah saw further than he, and therefore made this bold adventure, not without some mixture of infirmity, to procure Jacob the blessing, against her husband’s will and intention. A wife is not to perform such blind obedience to her husband as Plutarch a prescribeth, when he layeth it as a law of wedlock on the wife to acknowledge and worship the same gods, and none else, but those whom her husband honours and reputes for gods. Be men pleased or displeased, God must not be displeased.
a Plut. Moral., 318.
Gen 27:14 And he went, and fetched, and brought [them] to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved.
Ver. 14. And he went, and fetched. ] Herein he was over obsequious to his mother. It was an act of faith in her to seek to transfer the patriarchal blessing upon Jacob: it was likewise an act of faith in him to seek to get that blessing. Sed fides utriusque impegit in via; But they took not a right course for the compassing of it.
Gen 27:15 And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which [were] with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:
Ver. 15. And Rebekah took goodly raiment. ] The priestly garments, some think, proper to Esau had he kept his birthright; but kept, not by Esau or his wives, but by the mother of the family. The Hebrew calleth them Vestes desiderabiles, garments of desires; goodly, sweet, precious; yet far inferior to that rich and royal robe of Christ’s righteousness, that garment of our Older Brother, wherewith arrayed we obtain the blessing. We read of Solomen’s bravery; of Herod’s cloth of silver; of Alcisthenes the Sybarite’s cloak, sold to the Carthaginians by Dionysius for one hundred and twenty talents; of Demetrius’s robe of estate, which, for the exceeding costliness of it, no prince that came after him would ever put on. a But all these were but rags to the robe of righteousness, that fine white linen, and shining. Rev 19:14
a Propter invidiosam impendii magnificentiam . - Athenaeus.
Gen 27:16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:
Ver. 16. And she put the skins of the kids. ] This by some is excused, as if it were only dolus bonus, to keep her husband from wrong doing; as, when the physician deceives his patient, that he may heal him. But howsoever what she did may be extenuated, it can hardly be justified, albeit God ordered it to his own purpose.
Gen 27:17 And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
Ver. 17. And she gave. ] See Trapp on " Gen 27:14 "
Gen 27:19 And Jacob said unto his father, I [am] Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.
Ver. 19. I am Esau thy firstborn, &c. ] Here he utters three lies in a breath: besides his ascribing to God that he did, Gen 27:20 so taking that reverend name in vain. This was his sin, and he smarted for it to his dying day: for he had scarcely a merry hour after this; but God followed him with one sorrow upon another, to teach him and us what an "evil and bitter thing sin is," Jer 2:19 and how it ensnares and ensnarls us. Aristotle could say, that a lie is in itself evil and wicked. a The Hebrews call it Aven, a great iniquity. And the Scripture reckons it among monstrous sins, Rev 21:8 and condemns it to hell, - whether it be the officious, merry, or pernicious lie. Indeed, every lie is pernicious to ourselves or others, or both; because flatly forbidden of God, and because it is against the order of nature, and for that "no lie is of the truth," as St John hath it, 1Jn 2:21 but of the devil, who began, and still upholds his kingdom by lies. Joh 8:44 Contrarily, God is truth, and his children are all such as will not lie, Isa 63:8 Rev 14:5 at least, not get a haunt and a habit of lying, which David calls "a way of lying": "Remove from me the way of lying," saith he, Psa 119:29 that I make not a trade or common practice of it. We find that 1Sa 21:2 he very roundly telleth two or three lies together, as Jacob here did; and all deliberate. So that tale he told Achish of invading the south of Judah, when he had been upon the Geshurites and Gerarites. 1Sa 27:8-11 I know not how it can be excused. But this was not David’s "way," his common course; pity it should. Honest heathens condemned lying; the Persians punished it severely in their children. b Homer censures it in Dolon, Ulysses, and others, c Clitarchi historici, saith Quintilian, ingenium probatur, fides infamatur. Nepos reporteth of Epaminondas, d that he so loved truth that he would not once lie, no, not in jest. A shame to many Christians, who think the officious and sporting lie to be nothing. Whereas Gal 1:10 we must not speak the truth to please men, much less lie. And for saving ourselves, we must rather die then lie; else Peter had not sinned in denying his Master. As for profiting others, we may not lie, though it were to save a soul. Rom 3:7 We may as well commit fornication with the Moabites, to draw them to our religion, or steal from rich men to give to the poor, as lie to do another man a good turn. See Job 13:7-9 .
a Arist. Ethic., lib. iv. cap. 7.
b Xenoph., Cyrop., lib. i.
c Iσκε ψευδεα πολλα λεγειν ετυμοισιν ομοια . - Hom.
d Cor. Nepos in Vita Epam.
Gen 27:20 And Isaac said unto his son, How [is it] that thou hast found [it] so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the LORD thy God brought [it] to me.
Ver. 20. How is it that thou hast found it so quickly? ] A man may very well ask our common Protestants this question concerning the faith they so much boast of, but came by it too quickly to be fight. They were never yet in the furnace of mortification, - felt the spirit of bondage, the terrors of God in their consciences. Their faith is like Jonah’s gourd, that grew up in a night; or a bullet in a mould, that is made in a moment. Let ours be like the water of Bethlehem, much longed for, and hardly come by, &c. 2Sa 23:15
Gen 27:21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou [be] my very son Esau or not.
Ver. 21. That I may feel thee, my son. ] Here Isaac used all his senses, and yet is cozened. "There is neither wisdom nor counsel against the Lord". Pro 21:30 Mihi hominum prudentia similis videtur talparum labori, non sine dexteritate sub terra fodientium, sed ad lumen Solis coecutientium. a
a Gasp. Ens.
Gen 27:22 And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice [is] Jacob’s voice, but the hands [are] the hands of Esau.
Ver. 22. The voice is Jacob’s voice.] Jacob must name himself Esau, with the voice of Jacob. It is hard, if our tongues do not betray us, in spite of our clothes, as it did the wife of Jeroboam.
Gen 27:23 And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him.
Ver. 23. So he blessed him. ] See Trapp on " Gen 27:25 "
Gen 27:24 And he said, [Art] thou my very son Esau? And he said, I [am].
Ver. 24. Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am. ] Thus one sin entertained fetcheth in another; a lie especially, which, being a tinkerly, blushful sin, is either denied by the liar, who is ashamed to be taken with it, or else covered by another and another lie, as we see here in Jacob, who, being once over shoes, will be over boots too, but he will persuade his father that he is his very son Esau.
Gen 27:25 And he said, Bring [it] near to me, and I will eat of my son’s venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought [it] near to him, and he did eat: and he brought him wine, and he drank.
Ver. 25. Bring it near to me. ] Divinum consilium dum devitatur, impletur: humana sapientia, dum reluctatur, comprehenditur, saith Gregory. Here Isaac doth unwilling and unwitting justice.
Gen 27:26 And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.
Ver. 26. Come near now, and kiss me, my son. ] Kissing is a symbol of sweetest love: and those that "love out of a pure heart fervently," 1Pe 1:22 do therefore kiss, as desiring to transfuse, if it might be, the souls of either into other, and to become one with the party so beloved, and, in the best sense, kissed.
Gen 27:27 And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son [is] as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed:
Ver. 27. As the smell of a field. ] Compare Song of Solomon 2:13 ; Song of Solomon 4:12-14 . Aristotle a writes of a parcel of ground in Sicily that sendeth such a strong smell of fragrant flowers to all the fields and pasturages thereabouts, that no hound can hunt there, the scent is so confounded by the sweet smell of those flowers. Labour we so to resent heavenly sweetnesses, so to savour the things above, that we may have no mind to hunt after earthly vanities, &c. Alexander’s body is said to be of such an exact constitution, that it gave a sweet scent where it went. Christ, the true body, smells so sweet to all heavenly eagles, that, being now lifted up, he draws them after him. Matthew 24:28 Joh 12:32
a Arist. Lib. de Mirab. Auscult.
Gen 27:28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:
Ver. 28. God give thee of the dew. ] For that country was dry and thirsty. They had rain, say some, but twice a year; the former in seedtime, and the latter rain in May. The blessings here bestowed are plenty, victory, domestical preeminency, and outward prosperity. Esau likewise hath the like, but not with a God give thee. But beyond all these, "some better thing" was provided and promised. Erant enim speculum, et pignus coelestium. The Church of Rome borrows her mark from the market plenty, or cheapness, &c.; she vaunts of her temporal felicity, and makes a catalogue of the strange victories which the Catholics have had. Immo vix unquam fuerunt Haeretici superiores, quando iusto proelio dimicatum est, saith Bellarmine. a Upon one of the Easter holidays, saith George Marsh, martyr, Master Sherburn and Master More sent for me, persuading me much to leave mine opinions, saying, all the bringers up and favourers of that religion had ill luck, and were either put to death, or in prison, and in danger of life. b Again, the favourers of the religion now used, had wondrous good luck and prosperity in all things. These wizards, these "disputers of this world," as the apostle calls them, 1Co 1:20 either knew not, or believed not, that the Church is the heir of the Cross, Ecclesia haeres Crucis, as an ancient speaketh; that opposition is, as Calvin wrote to the French king, Evangelii genius , - the bad genius that dogs the gospel; that truth breeds hatred, c as the fair nymphs did the ill favoured fawns and satyrs, and seldom goes without a scratched face. Some halcyons the Church hath here, as in Constantine’s time ( Repugnante contra temetipsam tua faelicitate, saith Salvian, in his first book to the Catholic Church); but grace she shall be sure of here, "with persecution"; and glory hereafter without interruption. As for outward things, aut aderunt sane, aut non oberunt; either she shall have them, or be as well without them. God shall be her cornucopia; her All-sufficient; her "shield and exceeding great reward." Sine Deo, omnis copia est egestas.
a Bell., tom. ii. lib. iv. cap. ult.
b Act. and Mon., fol. 1421.
c Veritas odium parit. - Ter.
Gen 27:29 Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed [be] every one that curseth thee, and blessed [be] he that blesseth thee.
Ver. 29. Let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee.] That is, thy brethren; which are therefore denominated from the mother, quod certior est a matre progenies, quam a patre, saith an interpreter. a But this blessing is pronounced in a higher style than ordinary: therefore sentences are doubled, and that kind of speech is here used which, with us, is either poetical, or not far from it.
a Castalio in Annotat., ad locum.
Gen 27:30 And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.
Ver. 30. Esau his brother came in. ] All too late. Detained he was by the devil, say the Hebrews, who not seldom makes a fool of hunters, and leads them about. A sweet providence of God there was in it, certainly, that he should come in as soon as Isaac had done and Jacob was gone, and no sooner. Like as there was in that which Master Fox a reports of Luther, that on a time, as he was sitting in a certain place upon his stool, a great stone there was in the vault, over his head; which being stayed miraculously so long as he was sitting, as soon as he was up, immediately fell upon the place where he sat, able to have crushed him in pieces. A warrant once came down, under seal, for the execution of the Lady Elizabeth: Stephen Gardiner was the engineer, and thought he had been sure of his prey, but God pulled the morsel out of his mouth; for one Master Bridges, mistrusting false play, presently made haste to the queen, who renounced and reversed it. b Another time, while Sir Henry Benningfield, her keeper, was at court, one Basset, a gentleman and a great favourite of Stephen Gardiner’s, came, with twenty men well appointed, to Woodstock to have murdered her. But by God’s great providence, Sir Henry had left so strict a charge behind him, that no living soul might have access unto the princess, upon what occasion soever, till his return, that they could not be admitted, whereby their bloody enterprise was utterly disappointed. "The Lord knoweth how to deliver his". 2Pe 2:9 "He keepeth all their bones, not one of them is broken". Psa 34:20
a Act. and Mon., fol. 793.
b England’s Elizabeth, by Heywood.
Gen 27:31 And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son’s venison, that thy soul may bless me.
Ver. 31. And he also had made savoury meat. ] Esau’s works here are better than Jacob’s. Election is not of works, but of grace. Rom 9:11 Quis te discernit? saith the apostle. 1Co 4:7 Grevinchovius, the Arminian, saucily answers, Ego meipsum dicerno. And surely, had the cause of our election been either by our faith, or good works foreseen, as the Papists and Arminians would have it, St Paul might have spared his question, or soon received a ready answer.
Gen 27:32 And Isaac his father said unto him, Who [art] thou? And he said, I [am] thy son, thy firstborn Esau.
Ver. 32. Thy firstborn Esau. ] But have you forgot that you sold your first birthright to your brother Jacob, who now hath outwitted you?
Gen 27:33 And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where [is] he that hath taken venison, and brought [it] me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, [and] he shall be blessed.
Ver. 33. And Isaac trembled very exceedingly. ] The fear of God reined him in that he durst not reverse the blessing, though haply he had a mind to it; nay, he stablished it to Jacob here, and more advisedly in the next chapter. Noli peccare: nam Deus videt, Angeli astant, diabolus accusabit, conscientia testabitur, infernus cruciabit. A reverend and religious man had this written before his eyes, in his study, saith M. Gataker.
Gen 27:34 And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, [even] me also, O my father.
Ver. 34. He cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry. ] Not for his sin, in selling the birthright; but for his loss, in missing the blessing: a though having sold the birthright, he had no right to the blessing. This is the guise of the ungodly. He cries, Perii; not Peccavi. If he "howl upon his bed," Hos 7:14 it is for corn and oil, as a dog tied up howls for his dinner: it never troubles him, that a good God is offended, which to an honest heart is the prime cause of greatest sorrow.
a Non dolet de peccato venditionis, sed de damno perditionis. - Par.
Gen 27:35 And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.
Ver. 35. Thy brother came with subtilty. ] Junius observes, that Isaac here, to please his son, committeth some oversight, in transferring the fault upon Jacob. He might have seen how God chastised his seeking to cross the oracle, in the sin of Rebekah and Jacob, who beguiled him. But our minds are as ill set as our eyes, - neither of them apt to turn inwards.
Gen 27:36 And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?
Ver. 36. Is he not rightly named Jacob? ] He cavils and quarrels at his brother’s guile; at his father’s store, Hast thou but one blessing? &c.; but not a word we hear of his own profaneness. How apt are men to mistake the cause of their sufferings, and to blame anything sooner than their own untowardness!
Gen 27:37 And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?
Ver. 37. I have made him thy Lord. ] See Trapp on " Gen 27:29 " This Isaac did, as he was the minister and prophet of God.
Gen 27:38 And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, [even] me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.
Ver. 38. Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. ] Yet, "found no place for repentance". Heb 12:17 That is, he could not, by his tears, prevail with his father to reverse the blessing. See the fruit of God’s holy fear. Moses’ rod was not so famous for being turned into a serpent, for even the magicians did as much, as for devouring the magicians’ rods: so the true fear of God is most eminent and effectual when set in emulation or opposition to other fears or carnal aims and affections.
Gen 27:39 And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above;
Ver. 39. Answered and said unto him. ] Dixit, non benedixit; quia potius fuit praedictio futurae conditionis, quam benedictio, saith Pareus. And whereas we read, "Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven"; Castalio renders it thus: Tua quidem sedes a terrae pinguitudine, et a supero coeli rore aberit. For Mishmanne, saith he, signifieth ab pinguitudine, sive sine pinguitudine: as it doth also, Psalms 109:24 , "My flesh faileth from fatness," that is, for lack of fatness, or, without fatness." a So the sense he sets upon this text is, Thou shalt dwell far from the fatness of the earth, in a barren country, &c. For Isaac could not give Esau what he had given Jacob afore: and this was what Esau so grieved at, and threatened his brother for. Or if he could, what cause had Esau so to take on? why should it trouble me, that another partakes of the sunlight with me, when I have never the less? &c. Objection. But the apostle saith, "Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau". Heb 11:20 Solution. It was a blessing, no doubt, that Edom should shake off Israel’s yoke; as it follows, Genesis 27:40 , and happened, 2 Kings 8:20 .
a Sic dicimus Ab re, απο τροπου, απο πατριδος : et composite, Amens, abesse, απογινεσθαι .
Gen 27:40 And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.
Ver. 40. When thou shalt have the dominion. ] Cum planxeris, saith Junius; when thou hast for some time undergone hard, troublesome, and lamentable servitude, the grief whereof thou dost greatly groan under; as in David’s time, 2Sa 8:14 who "cast his shoe over them". Psa 60:8 The Sodomites, those worst of men, were the first that we find in Scripture brought in bondage to others. Gen 14:4 When the Danes and other foreigners domineered in this kingdom, was it not a lamentable time? were not men’s dearest lives sold as cheap as sparrows were among the Jews, five for two farthings? Did we but live a while in Turkey, Persia, yea, or but in France, saith one, a dram of that liberty we yet enjoy, would be as precious as a drop of cold water would have been to the rich man in hell, when he was so grievously tormented with those flames. Take we heed, lest for the abuse of this sweet mercy, God send in the Midianites to thresh out our grain, the Assyrians to drink up our milk, to make a spoil of our cattle, Jer 49:32 and to cause us to eat the bread of our souls in the peril of our lives, as our fathers did in Queen Mary’s days.
Gen 27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.
Ver. 41. And Esau hated Jacob, &c. ] Because God said, "Jacob have I loved." And, as all hatred is bloody, he resolves to be his death. "The righteous is abomination to the wicked," saith Solomon. Pro 29:27 Moab was irked because of Israel, or, did fret and vex at them, Num 22:3-4 who yet passed by them in peace. But the old Serpent had set his limbs in them, transfused his venom into them: hence that deadly hatred that is and will be betwixt the godly and the wicked. Pliny speaks of the scorpion, that there is not one minute wherein he doth not put forth the sting: so doth that serpentine seed, acted by Satan. The panther so hates man, that he flies upon the very picture of a man, and tears it to pieces. So doth Satan and his imps upon the image of God, in whomsoever they find it. They "satanically hate me," saith David Psa 35:19 of his enemies. And seest thou thy persecutor full of rage? saith Bernard; know thou, that he is spurred on by the devil that rides him, a that acts and agitates him. Eph 2:2
And Esau said in his heart. ] Effutiverat etiam minaces voces; he had also bolted out some suspicious speeches, as our gunpowder traitors did whereby he was prevented.
The days of mourning for my father. ] No matter for his mother: yet God saith, "Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father". Lev 19:3 The mother is first mentioned, because usually most slighted. Luther thinks, he threateneth his father also, in these words; as if he should say, I will be avenged, by being the death of my brother, though it be to the breaking of my father’s heart. b A bloody speech of a vindictive spirit, whom nothing would satisfy, but to be a double parricide.
I will slay my brother. ] But threatened men live long: for even Isaac, who died soonest, lived above forty years beyond this. "My times are in thy hand," saith David. Psa 31:15
a Scito quia ab ascensore suo daemone perurgetur. - Bern.
b Vindicabo me afferendo Patri luctum caede fratris. - Luth.
Gen 27:42 And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, [purposing] to kill thee.
Ver. 42. And these words of Esau, &c. ] For he could not hold, as Absalom did, who, intending to murder Amnon, spake neither good nor evil to him. These still revenges are most dangerous, as a dog that barks not. That Esau vented himself in words, was a great mercy of God to Jacob. He thought nothing, good man, but followed his calling, not knowing his danger. But his provident mother heard about it, and took course to prevent it. So doth the sweet fatherly providence of God take care and course for the safety of his servants, when they are either ignorant or secure. Masses were said in Rome for the good success of the Powder Plot; but no prayers in England for our deliverance: and yet we were delivered. A sevenfold psalmody they had framed here, which secretly passed from hand to hand, with tunes set, to be sung for the cheering up of their wicked hearts, with an expectation, as they called it, of their day of Jubilee. a The matter consisteth of railing upon King Edward, Queen Elizabeth, and King James; of petition, imprecation, prophecy, and praise. This Psalter is hard to be had: for they are taken up by the Papists as other books are, that discover their shame. But Mendoza, that liar ( conveniunt rebus nomina saepe suis ), sounded the triumph before the victory. That blind letter of theirs brought all to light, by the mere mercy of "the Father of lights," who was pleased to put a divine sentence into the mouth of the king. Sorex suo perit indicio. Hunc tibi pugionem mittit Senatus, dixit ille: detexit facinus fatuus, et non implevit. So here. See the like, 1Sa 19:2 Acts 9:24 ; Acts 23:16 .
And she sent and called Jacob. ] Why did she not call both her sons together, and make them friends, by causing the younger to resign up his blessing to the elder? Because she preferred heaven before earth, and eternity before any the world’s amity or felicity whatsoever. The devil would fain compound with us when he cannot conquer us; as Pharaoh would let some go, not all; or if all, yet not far. Religiosum oportet esse, sed non religantem. He cannot abide this strictness, &c. But we must be resolute for God and heaven. Better flee with Jacob, yea, die a thousand deaths, than, with the loss of God’s blessing, to accord with Esau.
a Spec. Bell. Sacri.
Gen 27:43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran;
Ver. 43. Flee thou to Laban. ] Flee then we may, when in danger of life; so it be with the wings of a dove, not with the pinions of a dragon. God must be trusted, not tempted. Means must be neither trusted nor neglected.
Gen 27:44 And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away;
Ver. 44. Tarry with him a few days. ] Heb., unos dies. Sed facti sunt viginti anni. She reckoned upon a few days; but it proved to be twenty whole years: and she never saw Jacob again, as the Hebrew doctors gather. Thus man purposeth, God disposeth. Some think she sent Deborah her nurse to fetch him home, who died on the return. Gen 35:8
Gen 27:45 Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget [that] which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?
Ver. 45. And he forget, &c. ] While wrongs are remembered, they are not remitted. He forgives not, that forgets not. When an inconsiderate fellow had stricken Cato in the bath, and afterwards cried him mercy, he replied, I remember not that thou didst strike me. a Our Henry VI is said to have been of that happy memory, that he never forgot anything but injuries. Esau was none such: he was of that sort whom they call πικροχολοι , soon angry, but not soon pleased. His anger was like "coals of juniper," Psa 120:4 which burn extremely, last long (a whole twelve month about, as some write), and though they seem extinct, revive again: -
“ Flamma redardescit, quae modo nullas fuit .” - Ovid.
a Sen., De Ira., lib. i.
Gen 27:46 And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these [which are] of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?
Ver. 46. I am weary of my life, &c. ] A wise woman, saith an interpreter, not willing to grieve her husband, she conceals from him Esau’s malicious hatred of Jacob, and pretends another cause of sending him away, to take him a fit wife. Let women learn not to exasperate their husbands with quick words or froward deeds; but study their quiet. Livia, wife to Augustus, a being asked how she could so absolutely rule her husband, answered, By not prying into his actions, and dissembling his affections, &c.
a Dio in Aug.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 27". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany