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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 27

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Verses 1-45

Genesis 27:1-45 . At his Mother’ s Instigation, Jacob Cheats Esau of his Father’ s Blessing.— Probably compiled from J and E. Since both presuppose it later, both must have told the story. There are doublets which point to the use of two sources. We naturally expect the blessing to follow at the end of Genesis 27:23, but it comes only in Genesis 27:27 b. Twice Jacob is questioned as to his identity, and Isaac is in one place deceived by touch ( Genesis 27:21-23) in the other by smell ( Genesis 27:27). The analysis is, however, very uncertain, and may be neglected as the chapter reads fairly connectedly. The main thread of the story seems to come from J. Isaac, in anticipation of death, bids Esau go hunting and bring him venison prepared as a savoury meal, that thus the prophetic spirit may be induced (as later the prophets induced ecstasy by music, 1 Samuel 10:5 f. *, 2 Kings 3:15), and he may utter the prized blessing on his firstborn son. Rebekah overhears the command and, as soon as Esau has gone, schemes to outwit her blind husband and secure the coveted, irrevocable blessing for her favourite son. Jacob’ s objections are overruled, and Rebekah cooks two kids which he will pass off for venison, dresses him in the raiment Esau used for sacred occasions, and conceals with the goatskins the tell-tale smoothness of Jacob’ s skin. Isaac is struck with the speed of the return, Jacob piously attributes it to the good hand of his father’ s God. Isaac notes the Jacob like ring of the voice, but is reassured by the hairiness of the hands. He eats the meal, and, thus inspired, pronounces the blessing on his son, redolent as he is of the smell of a field which Yahweh has blessed. Fruitful lands, abundant harvest and vintage, political supremacy— with such blessings in his ears, and the knowledge that no discovery of his deceit can deprive him of them, the trickster leaves his father’ s presence, undetected by the father, nor surprised by the brother. He and his mother had played a daring game, and had won it. Only just won it; a little later and he would have been caught by his brother, cursed by his justly-incensed father. The scene between Esau and Isaac is among the most pathetic in literature. To his consternation the father discovers the justice of the suspicions which had too easily been allayed, yet a blessing once uttered cannot be taken back ( Genesis 9:25-27 *). And Esau, not the same man as when he lightly sold his birthright, is stricken with bitter grief that he should have been cheated of his blessing by one who has thus doubly justified his sinister name. “ All the primitive wildness of Esau’ s nature bursts out like a stream of lava” (Procksch). But has the father no blessing? What can he have, when to a fruitful land he has added Jacob’ s lordship over Esau? But with passionate tears Esau urges his entreaty. So Isaac announces the destiny of Edom. There is an ambiguity in the preposition (RV “ of,” mg. “ away from,” cf. Job 19:26 *) which may be intentional, but which makes it uncertain whether Genesis 27:39 a is a blessing like Genesis 27:28, or dooms Edom to a sterile land. Actually Edom had a fertile land, but the reference may not be to the whole of the territory it held at a later period, and the general impression of the whole passage favours mg. Edom is to dwell in a barren land, live by plunder, and be in servitude to Israel. Yet the prediction of Israel’ s suzerainty ( Genesis 27:29), though it must be fulfilled, leaves a loophole. Esau’ s subjection will not be permanent. The people will become restive and then snap their yoke. Esau decides that he will not disturb his father’ s last days by summary vengeance on Jacob; the funeral rites for Isaac are at hand, and then he will kill Jacob while the seven days’ mourning is in progress. Rebekah learns of his design and counsels Jacob to visit Laban till Esau’ s anger is past. Only a short time and with a character so shallow, the storm will have blown over, and Jacob will be back. Why, then, should Esau kill him and die for the fratricide and she lose both her sons at a stroke? Jacob, however, met Rachel and stayed with Laban for twenty years.

Verse 46

Genesis 27:46 to Genesis 28:9 . Jacob is Sent from Home to Marry into his Mother’ s Family.— The reader may readily suppose that Rebekah uses the unfortunate marriage of Esau as a pretext to hide her real reason for sending Jacob away, which was to baulk Esau of his revenge. But this section comes from P and links on to Genesis 26:34 f. Intermarriage with Canaanites was contrary to the ideals of Judaism; Edom may do such things, but not Israel. When Esau learnt that his father was not pleased with his wives, and in sending Jacob to Laban had given him the blessing of Abraham, he married the daughter of Ishmael, his cousin, though not so pure in breed as his own family, since her grandmother was Egyptian. It is noteworthy that if Genesis is a unity, Jacob is sent off to marry at the age of seventy-seven, when Rebekah had put up with her unwelcome daughters-in-law thirty-seven years. He is eighty-four when he actually marries! The documentary analysis saves us from such absurdities.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 27". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/genesis-27.html. 1919.
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