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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 27

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verse 34

Genesis 27:34

No one can read this chapter without feeling some pity for Esau. All his hopes were disappointed in a moment. He had built much upon this blessing, for in his youth he had sold his birthright, and he thought that in his father's blessing he would get back his birthright, or what would stand in its place. He had parted with it easily, and he expected to regain it easily. He thought to regain God's blessing, not by fasting and prayer, but by savoury meat, by feasting and making merry.

I. Esau's cry is the cry of one who has rejected God, and who in turn has been rejected by Him. He was: (1) profane; and (2) presumptuous. He was profane in selling his birthright, presumptuous in claiming the blessing. Such as Esau was, such are too many Christians now. They neglect religion in their best days; they give up their birthright in exchange for what is sure to perish and make them perish with it. They are profane persons, for they despise the great gift of God; they are presumptuous, for they claim a blessing as a matter of course.

II. The prodigal son is an example of a true penitent. He came to God with deep confession self-abasement. He said, "Father, I have sinned." Esau came for a son's privileges; the prodigal son came for a servant's drudgery. The one killed and dressed his venison with his own hand, and enjoyed it not; for the other the fatted calf was prepared, and the ring for his hand and shoes for his feet, and the best robe; and there was music and dancing.

J. H. Newman, Selection front Parochial and Plain Sermons, p. 141; also vol. vi., p. 15.

References: Genesis 27:34 . Bishop Armstrong, Parochial Sermons, p. 1; J. S. Bartlett, Sermons, p. 33.Genesis 27:35 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. 111., p. 147.

Verse 36

Genesis 27:36

Jacob is the typical Jew; he is the epitome of the character of the chosen people, who, again, are an epitome of the great human world. All the virtues, all the vices, all the strength and all the weakness, all the nobleness and all the baseness, of the people whom Jehovah loved and whom He took to be His own, meet in this patriarch's character and life.

I. Jacob was a man who could cheat and lie; he could lie roundly and cheat coolly when it suited his purpose; and he could carry on what would everywhere be esteemed sharp practice to a wonderfully successful issue, A man of deep schemes, of far sight, of silent vigilance, of untiring patience, and apparently not much troubled by questions so long as his schemes were justified by success. He was a man of cunning, scheming, crafty nature, with some grand deep qualities beneath them all, which God's eye discerned, which His hand drew forth, and by a long stern discipline educated for Himself.

II. If we would know why God set a mark on him and made him, rather than his more shallow and splendid brother, the father of a great nation and a prince in His Church, we must note that he could believe and pray: (1) Jacob's faith was a power in his life; it became in the end a mighty power. Esau could live only for the moment, and found it hard to sink the present in the future; but Jacob could live and suffer for a day far distant, for a day whose light would never gladden him, but would shine upon his heirs. (2) Jacob could wrestle in prayer. No man can believe who cannot pray. The wrestling with the angel was the great crisis in Jacob's history. It is as though he rose that night into his higher, nobler life. Jacob, the supplanter, disappears, and Israel, the Prince with God, stands up in his room.

J. Baldwin Brown, Christian World Pulpit , vol. ii., p. 97.

Verse 38

Genesis 27:38

I. The character of Esau has unquestionably a fair side. Esau was by no means a man of unqualified wickedness or baseness; judged according to the standard of many men, he would pass for a very worthy, estimable person. The whole history of his treatment of Jacob puts his character in a very favourable light: it represents him as an open-hearted, generous person, who, though he might be rough in his manners, fond of a wild life, perhaps as rude and unpolished in mind as he was in body, had yet a noble soul, which was able to do what little minds sometimes cannot do namely, forgive freely a cruel wrong done to him.

II. Nevertheless it is not without reason that the apostle styles Esau a profane person. The defect in his character may be described as a want of religious seriousness; there was nothing spiritual in him no reverence for holy things, no indications of a soul which could find no sufficient joy in this world, but which aspired to those joys which are at God's right hand for evermore. By the title of profane the apostle means to describe the carnal, unspiritual man the man who takes his stand upon this world as the end of his thoughts and the scene of all his activity, who considers the land as a great hunting field, and makes the satisfaction of his bodily wants and tastes the whole end of living.

III. Esau's repentance was consistent with his character; it was manifestly of the wrong kind. It was emphatically sorrow of this world, grief for the loss of the corn and wine. Jacob had taken his birthright that he could have pardoned him; but it grieved Esau to his very soul that Jacob had gotten the promise of the world's wealth besides. He continued in heart unchanged, and so he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, 2nd series, p. 1.

References: Genesis 27:38 . T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iv., p. 133; S. Leathes, Truth and Life, p. 54.Genesis 27:41-46 . R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 1; M. Dods, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, p. 79. Genesis 27:0 Parker, vol. i., p. 268. Genesis 28:1-15 . R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 1.Genesis 28:10 . F. Langbridge, Sunday Magazine, 1885, p. 675.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 27". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sbc/genesis-27.html.
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