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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Genesis 27

 

 

Verses 1-9

SIXTH SECTION

Isaac’s preference for the natural first-born, and Esau. Rebekah and Jacob steal from him the theocratic blessing. Esau’s blessing. Esau’s hostility to Jacob. Rebekah’s preparation for the flight of Jacob, and his journey with reference to a theocratic marriage. Isaac’s directions for the journcy of Jacob, the counterpart to the dismissal of Ishmael. Esau’s pretended correction of his ill-assoried marriages

Genesis 27:1 to Genesis 28:9

1And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see,[FN1] he called Esau his eldest Song of Solomon, and said unto him, My son: And he said unto him, Behold, here am I:2 And he said, Behold, now I am old, I know not the day of my death 3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons [hunting weapons], thy quiver, and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; 4And make me savory meat [tasty; favorite; festive dish. De Wette: dainty dish], such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die 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.

6And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her Song of Solomon, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, 7Bring me venison, and make me savory meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the Lord before my death 8 Now therefore, my Song of Solomon, obey my voice [strictly], according to that which I command thee 9 Go now to the flock [small cattle], and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savory meat for thy father, such as he loveth: 10And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death 11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy Prayer of Manasseh, and I am a smooth man: 12My 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 13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them. 14And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savory meat15[dainty dish], such as his father loved. And Rebekah took goodly [costly] raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son: 16And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth [part] of his neck; 17And she gave the savory meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.

18And he came unto his father, and said, My father: And he said, Here am I; who art thou, my Song of Solomon 19And 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 20 And Isaac said unto his Song of Solomon, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me 21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my Song of Solomon, whether thou be my very son Esau, or not 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 23 And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him 24 And he said, Art thou [thou there] my very son Esau? 25And he said, I am. 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 26 And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my Song of Solomon 27And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my Song of Solomon 28 is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed: Therefore [thus] God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth and plenty [the fulness] of corn and wine: 29Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee [thy mother’s sons shall bow]: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

30And 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 31 And he also had made savory meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son’s venison, that 32 thy soul may bless me. And [then] Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy Song of Solomon, thy firstborn Esau 33 And Isaac trembled very exceedingly [shuddered in great terror above measure], and said, Who? where is he [who then was he]? that hath taken [hunted] venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed 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 35 And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing 36 And he said, Is he not rightly named [heel-holder, supplanter] Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright [right of the firstborn]; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? 37And 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 [have I endowed him]: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? 38And 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 39 voice and wept. And [then] 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; 40And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother: and [but] it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion [in the course of thy wanderings], that thou shalt break his yoke from, off thy neck.

41And Esau hated Jacob, because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart [formed the design], The days of mourning for my [dead] father are at hand, then will I slay my brother Jacob 42 And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger Song of Solomon, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee [goes about with revenge to kill thee].[FN2] 43Now therefore, my Song of Solomon, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother, to Haran: 44And tarry with him a few days45[some time], until thy brother’s fury turn away; 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? 46And 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 [what is life to me]

Genesis 28:1.And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan 2 Arise, go to Padan-aram [Mesopotamia], to the house of Bethuel, thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from 3 thence of the daughters of Laban, thy mother’s brother. And God [the] Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be [become] a multitude[FN3] of people; 4And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger [of thy pilgrimage], which God gave unto Abraham 5 And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padan-aram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.

6When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padan-aram, to take him a wife from thence; and that, as he blessed him, he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; 7And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padan-aram; 8And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; 9Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath [from root חלה, Cecinit. Delitzsch derives it from חֲלֵי, to be sweet] the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s Song of Solomon, the sister of Nebajoth [heights, nabathæa], to be his wife.

GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS

1. Knobel, without regard to verse46, and notwithstanding the word Elohim, verse28, regards our section as a Jehovistic narrative. We have only to refer to the prevailing Jehovistic reference. Respecting the origin of our narrative Knobel has given his opinion in a remarkable manner, e.g, he cannot conceive how an old man may hear well, smell well, and yet be unable to see!!

2. The time. “Isaac at that time was a hundred and thirty-seven years old, the age at which Ishmael, his half-brother, died, about fourteen years before; a fact which, in consequence of the weakness of old age, may have seriously reminded him of death, though he did not die until forty-three years afterwards. The correct determination of his age, given already by Luther, is based upon the following calculation: Joseph, when he stood before Pharaoh, was thirty years old ( Genesis 41:46), and at the migration of Jacob to Egypt he had reached already the age of thirty-nine; for seven years of plenty and two years of famine had passed already at that time; nine years had elapsed since the elevation of Joseph ( Genesis 45:6). But Jacob, at that time, was a hundred and thirty years old ( Genesis 47:9); Joseph, therefore, was born when Jacob was ninety-one years; and since Joseph’s birth occurred in the fourteenth year of Jacob’s sojourn in Mesopotamia (comp. Genesis 30:25 with Genesis 29:18; Genesis 29:21; Genesis 29:27), Jacob’s flight to Laban happened in his seventy-seventh year, and in the hundred and thirty-seventh year of Isaac. Comp. Hengstenberg: Beitr. iii. p348, etc.” Keil.

3. The present section contains the history of the distinction and separation of Esau and Jacob; first introduced by enmity after the manner of Prayer of Manasseh, then confirmed by the divine judgment upon human sins, and established by the conduct of the sons. This narrative conducts us from the history of Isaac to that of Jacob. The separate members of this section are the following: 1. Isaac’s project; 3. Rebekah’s counter-project; 3. Jacob’s deed and blessing; 4. Esau’s complaint and Esau’s blessing; 5. Esau’s scheme of revenge, and Rebekah’s counter-scheme; 6. Jacob and Esau in the antithesis of their marriage, or the divine decree.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. Genesis 27:1-4.—And his eyes were dim.—We construe with the Sept, since we are of the opinion that this circumstance is noticed as an explanation of the succeeding narrative.—Thy quiver.—The ἅπαξ λεγ., תְּלִי (lit. hanging), has by some been explained incorrectly as meaning sword (Onkelos and others).—Savory meat.—פטעמים, delicious food. But it is rather to be taken in the sense of a feast than of a dainty dish. It is praiseworthy in Isaac to be mindful of his death so long before-hand. That he anticipates his last hours in this manner indicates not only a strong self-will, but also a doubt and a certain apprehension, whence he makes the special pretence, in order to conceal the blessing from Jacob and Rebekah. [Notwithstanding the divine utterance before the children were born, undoubtedly known to him, and the careless and almost contemptuous disposal of his birthright by Esau, and Esau’s ungodly connection with the Canaanitish women, Isaac still gives way to his preference to Esau, and determines to bestow upon him the blessing.—A. G.]

2. Genesis 27:5-17. Rebekah’s counter-project.—Unto Jacob her son.—Her favorite.—Two good kids of the goats.—The meat was to be amply provided, so as to represent venison.—As a deceiver (lit, as a scoffer).—“He is afraid to be treated as a scoffer merely, but not as an impostor, since he would have confessed only a mere sportive intention.” Knobel. It may be assumed, however, that his conscience really troubled him. But from respect for his mother he does not point to the wrong itself, but to its hazardous consequences.—Upon me be thy curse.—Rebekah’s boldness assumes here the appearance of the greatest rashness. This, however, vanishes for the most part, if we consider that she is positively sure of the divine promise, with which, it is true, she wrongfully identifies her project.—Goodly raiment.—Even in regard to dress, Esau seems to have taken already a higher place in the household. His goodly raiment reminds us of the coat of Joseph.—Upon his hands.—According to Tuch, the skins of the Eastern camel-goat (angora-goat) are here referred to. The black, silk-like hair of these animals, was also used by the Romans as a substitute for human hair (Martial, xii46).” Keil.

3. Genesis 27:18-29. Jacob’s act and Jacob’s blessing.—Who art thou, my son.—The secrecy with which Isaac arranged the preparation for the blessing must have made him suspicious at the very beginning. The presence of Jacob, under any circumstances, would have been to him, at present, an unpleasant interruption. But now he thinks that he hears Jacob’s voice. That he does not give effect to this impression is shown by the perfect success of the deception. But perhaps an infirmity of hearing corresponds with his blindness.—Arise, I pray thee, sit and eat.—They ate not only in a sitting posture, but also while lying down; but the lying posture at a meal differed from that taken upon a bed or couch. It is the solemn act of blessing, moreover, which is here in question.—How is it that thou hast found it so quickly.—It is not only Jacob’s voice, but also the quick execution of his demand, which awakens his suspicion.—And he blessed him.

Genesis 27:23. This is merely the greeting. Even after having felt his Song of Solomon, he is not fully satisfied, but once more demands the explanation that he is indeed Esau.—Come near now, and kiss me.—After his partaking of the meat, Isaac wants still another assurance and encouragement by the kiss of his son.—And he smelled the smell of his raiment.—The garments of Esau were impregnated with the fragrance of the fields, over which he roamed as a hunter. “The scent of Lebanon was distinguished ( Hosea 14:7; Song of Solomon 4:11).” Knobel. The directness of the form of his blessing is seen from the fact that the fundamental thought is connected with the smell of Esau’s raiment. The fragrance of the fields of Canaan, rich in herbs and flowers, which were promised to the theocratic heir, perfumed the garments of Esau, and this circumstance confirmed the patriarch’s prejudice.—And blessed him, and said.—The words of his blessing are prophecies ( Genesis 9:27; Genesis 49)—utterances of an inspired state looking into the future, and therefore poetic in form and expression. The same may be said respecting the later blessing upon Esau.—Of a field which the Lord hath blessed.—Palestine, the land of Jehovah’s blessing, a copy of the old, and a prototype of the new, paradise.—Because the country is blessed of Jehovah, he assumes that the son whose garments smell of the fragrance of the land is also blessed.—Therefore God give thee.Ha-elohim. The choice of the expression intimates a remaining doubt whether Esau was the chosen one of Jehovah; but it is explained also by the universality of the succeeding blessing. [He views Ha-elohim, the personal God, but not Jehovah, the God of the Covenant, as the source and giver of the blessing.—A. G.]—Of the dew of heaven.—The dew in Palestine is of the greatest importance in respect to the fruitfulness of the year during the dry season ( Genesis 49:25; Deuteronomy 33:13; Deuteronomy 33:28; Hosea 14:6; Sach. viii12).—And the fatness of the earth.—Knobel: “Of the fat parts of the earth, singly and severally.” Since the land promised to the sons was to be divided between Esau and Jacob, the sense no doubt is: may he give to thee the fat part of the promised land, i.e, Canaan. Canaan was the chosen part of the lands of the earth belonging to the first-born, which were blessed with the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth. As to the fruitfulness of Canaan, see Exodus 3:8. Compare also the Bible Dictionaries; Winer: article “Palestine.” The antithesis of this grant to that of the Edomitic country appears distinctly, Genesis 27:39. A two-fold contrast is therefore to be noticed: 1. To Edom; 2. to the earth in general; and so we have מן. But to a blessed land belong also blessed seasons, therefore plenty of corn and wine.—Let people serve thee.—To the grant of the theocratic country is added the grant of a theocratic, i.e, spiritual and political condition of the world.—And nations.—Tribes of nations. Not only nations but tribes of nations, groups of nations, are to bow down to him, i.e, to do homage to him submissively. This promise was fulfilled typically in the time of David and Song of Solomon, ultimately and completely in the world-sovereignty of the promise of faith.—Be Lord over thy brethren.—This blessing was fulfilled in the subjection of Edom ( 2 Samuel 8:14; 1 Kings 11:15; Psalm 60:8-9).—Thy mother’s sons.—His prejudice still shows itself in the choice of this expression, according to which he thought to subject Jacob, the “mother’s” Song of Solomon, to Esau.—Cursed be every one that curseth thee.—Thus Isaac bound himself. He is not able to take back the blessing he pronounced on Jacob. In this sealing of the blessing he afterwards recognizes also a divine sentence ( Genesis 27:33). His prophetic spirit has by far surpassed his human prejudice. [This blessing includes the two elements of the blessing of Abraham, the possession of the land of Canaan, and a numerous offspring, but not distinctly the third, that all nations should be blessed in him and his seed. This may be included in the general phrase, let him that curseth thee be cursed, and him that blesseth thee be blessed. But it is only when the conviction that he had against his will served the purpose of God in blessing Jacob, that the consciousness of his patriarchal calling is awakened within him, and he has strength to give the blessing of Abraham to the son whom he had rejected but God had chosen ( Genesis 27:3-4). See Keil.—A. G.]

4. Genesis 27:30-40. Esau’s lamentation and Esau’s blessing.And Isaac trembled.—If Isaac himself had not intended to deceive in the matter in which he was deceived, or had he been filled with divine confidence in respect to the election of Esau, he would have been startled only at the deception of Jacob. But it is evident that he was surprised most at the divine decision, which thereby revealed itself, and convinces him of the error and sin of his attempt to forestall that decision, otherwise we should hear of deep indignation rather than of an extraordinary terror. What follows, too, confirms this interpretation. He bows not so much to the deception practised upon him as to the fact and to the prophetic spirit which has found utterance through him. Augustine: De Civitate Dei, 16, Genesis 37 : “Quis non hic maledictionem potius expectaret irati, si hœc non superna inspiratione sed terreno more generentur.”—Who? where is he?—Yet before he has named Jacob, he pronounces the divine sentence: the blessing of the Lord remains with that man who received it.—He cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry.Hebrews 12:17.—Bless me, even me also.—Esau, it is true, had a vague feeling that the question here was about important grants, but he did not understand their significance. Hebrews, therefore, thought the theocratic blessing admitted of division, and was as dependent upon his lamentations and prayers as upon the caprice of his father.—Thy brother came with subtilty.—With deception. Isaac now indicates also the human error and sin, after having declared the divine judgment. But at the same time he declares that the question is only about one blessing, and that no stranger has been the recipient of this blessing, but Esau’s brother.—Is not he rightly named. (הכִי)?—Shall he get the advantage of me because he was thus inadvertently named (Jacob=heel-catcher, supplanter), and because he then acted thus treacherously (with cunning or fraud) shall I acquiesce in a blessing that was surreptitiously obtained?—He took away my birthright.—Instead of reproaching himself with his own Acts, his eye is filled with the wrong Jacob has done him.—Hast thou not a blessing reserved for me?—Esau is perplexed in the mysterious aspect of this matter. He speaks as if Isaac had pronounced a gratuitous blessing. Isaac’s answer is according to the truth. He informs him very distinctly of his future theocratic relation to Jacob. As compared with the blessing of Jacob he had no more a blessing for Esau, for it is fundamentally the greatest blessing for him to serve Jacob.—Hast thou but one blessing?—Esau proceeds upon the assumption that the father could pronounce blessings at will. His tears, however, move the father’s heart, and he feels that his favorite son can be appeased by a sentence having the semblance of a blessing, and which in fact contains every desire of his heart. That Isaiah, he now understands him.—The fatness of the earth.—The question arises whether מִן is used here in a partitive sense (according to Luther’s translation and the Vulgate), as in the blessing upon Jacob, Genesis 27:28, or in a privative sense (according to Tuch, Knobel, Kurtz, etc.). Delitzsch favors the last view: 1. The mountains in the northeastern part of Idumæa (now Gebalene), were undoubtedly fertile, and therefore called Palœstina Salutaris in the middle ages (Von Raumer, in his Palœstina, p240, considers the prophecy, therefore, according to Luther’s translation, as fulfilled). But the mountains in the western part of Idumæa are beyond comparison the most dreary and sterile deserts in the world, as Seetzen expresses himself2. It is not probable that Esau’s and Jacob’s blessing would begin alike3. It is in contradiction with Genesis 27:37, etc. (p455); Malachi 1:3. This last citation is quoted by Keil as proof of the preceding statement. [The מִן is the same in both cases, but in the blessing of Jacob, “after a verb of giving, it had a partitive sense; here, after a noun of place, it denotes distance, or separation, e.g, Proverbs 20:3.” Murphy. The context seems to demand this interpretation, and it is confirmed by the prediction, by thy sword, etc. Esau’s dwelling-place was the very opposite of the richly-blessed land of Canaan.—A. G.] But notwithstanding all this, the question arises, whether the ambiguity of the expression is accidental, or whether it is chosen in relation to the excitement and weakness of Esau. As to the country of Edom, see Delitzsch, p455; Knobel, p299; Keil, p198; also the Dictionaries, and journals of travellers.—And by thy sword.—This confirms the former explanation, but at the same time this expression corresponds with Esau’s character and the future of his descendants. War, pillage, and robbery, are to support him in a barren country. “Similar to Ishmael, Genesis 16:12, and the different tribes still living to-day in the old Edomitic country (see Burkhardt: ‘Syria,’ p826; Ritter: Erdkunde, xiv. p966, etc.).” Knobel. See Obadiah, Genesis 27:3; Jeremiah 49:16. “The land of Edom, therefore, according to Isaac’s prophecy, will constitute a striking antithesis to the land of Jacob.” Keil.—And shalt serve thy brother.—See above.—And it shall come to pass.—As a consequence of the roaming about of Edom in the temper and purpose of a freebooter, he will ultimately shake off the yoke of Jacob from his neck. This seems to be a promise of greater import, but the self-liberation of Edom from Israel was not of long continuance, nor did it prove to him a true blessing. Edom was at first strong and independent as compared to Israel, slower in its development ( Numbers 20:14, etc.). Saul first fought against it victoriously ( 1 Samuel 14:47); David conquered it ( 2 Samuel 8:14). Then followed a conspiracy under Solomon ( 1 Kings 11:14), whilst there was an actual defection under Joram. On the other hand, the Edomites were again subjected by Amaziah ( 2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chronicles 25:11) and remained dependent under Uzziah and Jotham ( 2 Kings 14:22; 2 Chronicles 26:2). But under Ahaz they liberated themselves entirely from Judah ( 2 Kings 16:6; 2 Chronicles 28:17). Finally, however, John Hyrcanus subdued them completely, forced them to adopt circumcision, and incorporated them into the Jewish state and people (Josephus: “Antiq.” xiii9, 1; xv7, 9), whilst the Jews themselves, however, after Antipater, became subject to the dominion of an Idumæan dynasty, until the downfall of their state.

5. Esau’s scheme of revenge, and Rebekah’s counter-scheme ( Genesis 27:41-46).—And Esau said in his heart.—Esau’s good-nature still expresses itself in his exasperation toward Jacob and in the scheme of revenge to kill him. For he does not maliciously execute the thought immediately, but betrays it in uttered threats, and postpones it until the death of his father.—The days of mourning … are at hand.—Not for my father, but on account of my father; i.e, my father, weak and trembling with age, is soon to die.—Then, and not before, he will execute his revenge. He does not intend to grieve the father, but if his mother, his brother’s protectress, is grieved by the murder, that is all right, in his view.—These words were told.—On account of his frank and open disposition, Esau’s thoughts were soon revealed; what he thought in his heart he soon uttered in words.—And called Jacob.—From the herds.—Flee thou to Laban.—Rebekah encourages him to this flight by saying that it will last but few days, i.e, a short time. But she looked further. She took occasion from the present danger to carry on the thoughts of Abraham, and to unite Jacob honorably in a theocratic marriage. For, notwithstanding all his grief of mind arising from Esau’s marriages, Isaac had not thought of this. But still she lets Isaac first express this thought. Nor is Isaac to be burdened with Esau’s scheme of revenge and Jacob’s danger, and therefore she leads him to her mode of reasoning by a lamentation concerning the daughters of Heth ( Genesis 27:46).—Deprived also of you both.—Bunsen: “Of thy father and thyself.” Others: “Of thyself and Esau, who is to die by the hand of an avenger.” But as soon as Esau should become the murderer of his brother, he would be already lost to Rebekah. Knobel, again, thinks that in verse46 the connection with the preceding is here broken and lost, but on the contrary connects the passage with Genesis 26:34 and Genesis 28:1, as found in the original text. The connection Isaiah, however, obvious. If Knobel thinks that the character of Esau appears different in Genesis 28:6 etc, than in Genesis 27:41, that proves only that he does not understand properly the prevailing characteristics of Esau as given in Genesis.

6. Jacob and Esau in the antithesis of their marriage, or the divine decree ( Genesis 28:1-9).—And Isaac called Jacob and blessed him.—The whole dismissal of Jacob shows that now he regards him voluntarily as the real heir of the Abrahamic blessing. Knobel treats Genesis 28—ch 33 as one section (the earlier history of Jacob), whose fundamental utterances form the original text, enlarged and completed by Jehovistic supplements. There are several places in which he says contradictions to the original text are apparent. One such contradiction he artfully frames by supposing that, according to the original text, Jacob was already sent to Mesopotamia immediately after Esau’s marriage, for the purpose of marrying among his kindred—a supposition based on mere fiction. As to other contradictions, see p233, etc.—Of the daughters of Canaan.—Now it is clear to him that this was a theocratic condition for the theocratic heir.—Of the daughters of Laban.—These are first mentioned here.—And God Almighty.—By this appellation Jehovah called himself when he announced himself to Abraham as the God of miracles, who would grant to him a son ( Genesis 17:1). By this apellation of Jehovah, therefore, Isaac also wishes for Jacob a fruitful posterity. Theocratic children are to be children of blessing and of miracles, a multitude of people (קהל), a very significant development of the Abrahamic blessing. [The word used to denote the congregation or assembly of God’s people, and to which the Greek ecclesia answers. It denotes the people of God as called out and called together.—A. G.]—The blessing of Abraham.—He thus seals the fact that he now recognizes Jacob as the chosen heir—And Isaac sent away Jacob (see Hosea 12:13).—When Esau saw that Isaac.—Esau now first discovers that his parents regard their son’s connection with Canaanitish women as an injudicious and improper marriage. He had not observed their earlier sorrow. Powerful impressions alone can bring him to understand this matter. But even this understanding becomes directly a misunderstanding. He seeks once more to gain the advantage of Jacob, by taking a third wife, indeed a daughter of Ishmael. One can almost think that he perceives an air of irony pervading this dry record. The irony, however, lies in the very efforts of a low and earthly mind, after the glimpses of high ideals, which he himself does not comprehend.—To Ishmael.—Ishmael had been already dead more than twelve years; it is therefore the house of Ishmael which is meant here.—Mahalath.Genesis 36:2 called Bâshemath.—The sister of Nebajoth.—As the first-born of the brothers he is named instead of all the others; just as Miriam is always called the sister of Aaron. The decree of God respecting the future of the two sons, which again runs through the whole chapter, receives its complete development in this, that Jacob emigrates in obedience of faith accompanied with the theocratic blessing, to seek after the chosen bride, whilst Esau, with the intention of making amends for his neglect, betrays again his unfitness. The decrees of God, however, develop themselves in and through human plans.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The present section connects a profound tragic family history from the midst of the patriarchal life, with a grand and sublime history of salvation. In respect to the former, it is the principal chapter in the Old Testament, showing the vanity of mere human plans and efforts; in respect to the latter, it holds the corresponding place in reference to the certainty of the divine election and calling, holding its calm and certain progress through all disturbances of human infatuation, folly, and sin.

2. It is quite common, in reviewing the present narrative, to place Rebekah and Jacob too much under the shadows of sin, in comparison with Isaac. Isaac’s sin does not consist alone in his arbitrary determination to present Esau with the blessing of the theocratic birthright, although Rebekah received that divine sentence respecting her children, before their birth, and which, no doubt, she had mentioned to him; and although Esau had manifested already, by his marriage with the daughters of Heth, his want of the theocratic faith, and by his bartering with Jacob, his carnal disposition, and his contempt of the birthright—thus viewed, indeed, his sin admits of palliation through several excuses. The clear right of the first-born seemed to oppose itself to the dark oracle of God, Jacob’s prudence to Esau’s frank and generous disposition, the quiet shepherd-life of Jacob to Esau’s stateliness and power, and on the other hand, Esau’s misalliances to Jacob’s continued celibacy. And although Isaac may have been too weak to enjoy the venison obtained for him by Esau, yet the true-hearted care of the son for his father’s infirmity and age, is also of some importance. But the manner in which Isaac intends to bless Esau, places his offence in a clearer light. He intends to bless him solemnly in unbecoming secrecy, without the knowledge of Rebekah and Jacob, or of his house. The preparation of the venison is scarcely to be regarded as if he was to be inspired for the blessing by the eating of this “dainty dish,” or of this token of filial affection. This preparation, at least, in its main point of view, is an excuse to gain time and place for the secret act. In this point of view, the act of Rebekah appears in a different light. It is a woman’s shrewdness that crosses the shrewdly calculated project of Isaac. He is caught in the net of his own sinful prudence. A want of divine confidence may be recognized through all his actions. It is no real presentiment of death that urges him now to bless Esau. But he now anticipates his closing hours and Jehovah’s decision, because he wishes to put an end to his inward uncertainty which annoyed him. Just as Abraham anticipated the divine decision in his connection with Hagar, so Isaac, in his eager and hearty performance of an act belonging to his last days, while he lived yet many years. With this, therefore, is also connected the improper combination of the act of blessing with the meal, as well as the uneasy apprehension lest he should be interrupted in his plan (see Genesis 27:18), and a suspicious and strained expectation which was not at first caused by the voice of Jacob. Rebekah, however, has so far the advantage of him that she, in her deception, has the divine assurance that Jacob was the heir, while Isaac, in his preceding secrecy, has, on his side, only human descent and his human reason without any inward, spiritual certainty. But Rebekah’s sin consists in thinking that she must save the divine election of Jacob by means of human deception and a Song of Solomon -called white-lie. Isaac, at that critical moment, would have been far less able to pronounce the blessing of Abraham upon Esau, than afterward Balaam, standing far below him, could have cursed the people of Israel at the critical moment of its history. For the words of the spirit and of the promise are never left to human caprice. Rebekah, therefore, sinned against Isaac through a want of candor, just as Isaac before had sinned against Rebekah through a like defect. The divine decree would also have been fulfilled without her assistance, if she had had the necessary measure of faith. Of course, when compared with Isaac’s fatal error, Rebekah was right. Though she deceived him greatly, misled her favorite Song of Solomon, and alienated Esau from her, there was yet something saving in her action according to her intentions, even for Isaac himself and for both her sons. For to Esau the most comprehensive blessing might have become only a curse. He was not fitted for it. Just as Rebekah thinks to oppose cunning to cunning in order to save the divine blessing through Isaac, and thus secure a heavenly right, so also Jacob secures a human right in buying of Esau the right of the firstborn. But now the tragic consequences of the first officious anticipation, which Isaac incurred, as well as that of the second, of which Rebekah becomes guilty, were soon to appear.

3. The tragic consequences of the hasty conduct and the mutual deceptions in the family of Isaac. Esau threatens to become a fratricide, and this threat repeats itself in the conduct of Joseph’s brothers, who also believed that they saw in Joseph a brother unjustly preferred, and came very near killing him. Jacob must become a fugitive for many a long year, and perhaps yield up to Esau the external inheritance for the most part or entirely. The patriarchal dignity of Isaac is obscured, Rebekah is obliged to send her favorite son abroad, and perhaps never see him again. The bold expression: “Upon me be thy curse,” may be regarded as having a bright side; for she, as a protectress of Jacob’s blessing, always enjoys a share in his blessing. But the sinful element in it was the wrong application of her assurance of faith to the act of deception, which she herself undertook, and to which she persuaded Jacob; and for which she must atone, perhaps, by many a long year of melancholy solitude and through the joylessness which immediately spread itself over the family affairs of the household.

4. With all this, however, Isaac was kept from a grave offence, and the true relation of things secured by the pretended necessity for her prevarication. Through this catastrophe Isaac came to a full understanding of the divine decree, Esau attained the fullest development of his peculiar characteristics, and Jacob was directed to his journey of faith, and to his marriage, without which the promise could not even be fulfilled in him.

5. Isaac’s blindness. That the eyes of this recluse and contemplative man were obscured and closed at an early age, is a fact which occurs in many a similar character since the time of “blind Homer” and blind Tiresias. Isaac had not exercised his eye in hunting as Esau. The weakness of his age first settles in that organ which he so constantly neglected. With this was connected his weakness in judging individual and personal relations. He was conscious of an honest wish and will in his conduct with Esau, and his secrecy in the case, as well as the precaution at Gerâr, was connected with his retiring, peace-loving disposition. Leaving this out of view, he was an honest, well-meaning person (see Genesis 27:37, and Genesis 26:27). His developed faith in the promise, however, reveals itself in his power or fitness for the vision, and his words of blessing.

6. Rebekah obviously disappears from the stage as a grand or conspicuous character; grand in her prudence, magnanimity, and her theocratic zeal of faith. Her zeal of faith had a mixture of fanatic exaggeration, and in this view she is the grand mother of Simeon and Levi ( Genesis 38).

7. It must be especially noticed that Jacob remained single far beyond the age of Isaac. He seems to have expected a hint from Isaac, just as Isaac was married through the care of Abraham. The fact bears witness to a deep, quiet disposition, which was only developed to a full power by extraordinary circumstances. He proves, again, by his actions, that he is a Jacob, i.e, heel-catcher, sup-planter. He does not refuse to comply with the plan of the mother from any conscientious scruples, but from motives of fear and prudence. And how ably and firmly he carries through his task, though his false confidence seems at last to die upon his lips with the brief אָני, Genesis 27:24! But however greatly he erred, he held a proper estimate of the blessing, for the security of which he thought he had a right to make use of prevarication; and this blessing did not consist in earthly glory, a fact which is decisive as to his theocratic character. Esau, on the other hand, scarcely seems to have any conception of the real contents of the Abrahamic blessing. The profound agitation of those who surrounded him, gives him the impression that this must be a thing of inestimable worth. Every one of his utterances proves a misunderstanding. Esau’s misunderstandings, however, are of a constant significance, showing in what light mere men of the world regard the things of the kingdom of God. Even his exertion to mend his improper marriage relations eventuates in another error.

8. Isaac’s blessing. In the solemn form of the blessing, the dew of heaven is connected with the fatness of the earth in a symbolic sense, and the idea of the theocratic kingdom, the dominion of the seed of blessing first appears here. In the parting blessing upon Jacob, the term קהל indicates a great development of the Abrahamic blessing.—Ranke: Abraham, no doubt, saw, in the light of Jehovah’s promises, on to the goal of his own election and that of his seed, but with regard to the chosen people, however, his prophetic vision extended only to the exodus from Egypt, and to the possession of Canaan. Isaac’s prophecy already extends farther into Israel’s history, reaching down to the subjugation and restoration of Esau.

9. The blessing pronounced upon Esau seems to be a prophecy of his future, clothed in the form of a blessing, in which his character is clearly announced. It contains a recognition of bravery, of a passion for liberty, and the courage of a hunter—The Idumæans were a warlike people.

10. When, therefore, Isaac speaks in the spirit, about his sons, he well knew their characters ( Hebrews 11:20). The prophetic blessing will surely be accomplished; but not by the force of a magical efficacy; as Knobel says: “A divine word uttered, is a power which infallibly and unchangeably secures what the word indicates. The word of God can never be ineffectual (comp. Genesis 9:18; Numbers 22:6; 2 Kings 2:24; Isaiah 9:7).”—The word of a prophetic spirit rests upon the insight of the spirit into the profound fundamental principles of the present, in which the future, according to its main features, reflects itself, or exhibits itself, beforehand.

11. The high-souled Esau acted dishonestly in this, that he was not mindful of the oath by which he had sold to Jacob the birthright; and just as Rebekah might excuse her cunning by that of Isaac, so Jacob might excuse his dishonest conduct by pleading Esau’s dishonesty.

12. The application of the proverb, “The end justifies the means,” to Jacob’s conduct, is apparently not allowable. The possible mental reservation in Jacob’s lie, may assume the following form: 1. I am Esau, i.e, the (real) hairy one, and thy (lawful) first-born. But even in this case the mental reservation of Jacob is as different from that of the Jesuits, as heaven from earth2. Thy God brought the venison to me; i.e, the God who has led thee wills that I should be blessed.

13. However plausible may be the deceit, through the divine truth some circumstance will remain unnoticed, and become a traitor. Jacob had not considered that his voice was not that of Esau. It nearly betrayed him. The expression: “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau,” has become a proverb in cases where words and deeds do not correspond.

14. The first appearance of the kiss in this narrative presents this symbol of ancient love to our view in both its aspects. The kiss of Christian brother-hood and the kiss of Judas are here enclosed in one.

15. Just as the starry heavens constituted the symbol of the divine promise for Abraham, so the blooming, fragrant, and fruitful fields are the symbol to Isaac. In this also may be seen and employed the antithesis between the first, who dwelt under the rustling oaks, and of the other, who sat by the side of springing fountains. The symbol of promise descends from heaven to earth.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

See the Doctrinal and Ethical paragraphs. Upon the whole the present narrative is both a patriarchal family picture and a religious picture of history.—Domestic life and domestic sorrow in Isaac’s house.—In the homes of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.—The blind Isaac: 1. Blind in two respects; and2. yet a clear-sighted prophet.—How Isaac blesses his sons: 1. How he intends to bless them; 2. how he is constrained to bless them.—Human guilt and divine grace in Isaac’s house: 1. The guilt; Isaac and Rebekah anticipate divine providence. They deceive each other. Esau is led to forget his bargain with Jacob; Jacob is induced to deceive his father. Yet the guilt of all is diminished because they thought that they must help the right with falsehood. Esau obeys the father, Jacob obeys the mother. Isaac rests upon the birthright, Rebekah upon the divine oracle2. God’s grace turns everything to the best, in conformity to divine truth, but with the condition that all must repent of their sins.—The image of the hereditary curse in the light of the hereditary blessing, which Isaac ministers: 1. How the curse obscures the blessing; 2. how the blessing overcomes the curse.—The characteristics mentioned in our narrative viewed in their contrasts: 1. Isaac and Rebekah; 2. Jacob and Esau; 3. Isaac and Jacob; 4. Isaac and Esau; 5. Rebekah and Esau; 6. Rebekah and Jacob.—The cunning of a theocratic disposition purified and raised to the prudence of the ecclesiastical spirit.—God’s election is sure: 1. In the heights of heaven; 2. in the depths of human hearts; 3. in the providence of grace; 4. in the course of history.—The clear stream of the divine government runs through all human errors, and that: 1. For salvation to believers; 2. for judgment to unbelievers.

To Section First, Genesis 27:1-4. Isaac’s infirmity of age, and his faith: 1. In what manner the infirmity of age obscured his faith; 2. how faith breaks through the infirmities of age.—Isaac’s blindness.—The sufferings of old age.—The thought of death: 1. Though beneficial in itself; 2. may yet be premature.—The hasty making of wills.—We must not anticipate God.—Not act in uncertainty of heart.—The preference of the parents for the children different in character from themselves.—The connection of hunting and the enjoyment of its fruits, with the divine blessing of promise: 1. Incomprehensible as a union of the most diverse things; 2. comprehensible as a device of human prudence; 3. made fruitless by the interference of another spirit.—Isaac’s secrecy thwarted by Rebekah’s cunning device.—Human right and divine law in conflict with each other.—Isaac’s right and wrong view, and conduct.

Starke: It is a great blessing of God, if he preserves our sight not only in youth, but also in old age ( Deuteronomy 34:7).—Cramer: A blind Prayer of Manasseh, a poor man ( Tobit 5:12).—Old age itself is a sickness ( 2 Samuel 19:35).—If you are deprived of the eyes of your body, see that you do not lose the eye of faith ( Psalm 39:5-6).—A Christian ought to do nothing from passion, but to judge only by the word of God.—Bibl. Tub.: Parents are to bless their children before they die; but the blessing must be conformed to the divine will ( Genesis 48:5). Doubtless Jacob, taught by Isaac’s error, learned to bless his children better; i.e, in a less restricted manner.—(The Rabbins assert that Jacob desired venison before his pronouncing the blessing, because it was customary that the son about to receive the blessing should perform some special act of love to his father.)—Osiander: It is probable that Isaac demanded something better than ordinary, because this was to be also a peculiar day. To all appearance it was a divine providence through which Jacob gains time to obtain and bear away the blessing before him.—Schröder: Contemplative men like Isaac easily undermine their health (?).—Experience teaches us that natures like that of Isaac are more exposed to blindness than others. Shut in entirely from the external world, their eyes are soon entirely closed to it.—The Song of Solomon, by some embodiment of his filial love, shows himself as Song of Solomon, in order that the father on his part also, may, through the act of blessing, show himself to be a father.—Love looks for love.—Thus the blessing may be considered not so much as belonging to the privilege of the first-born, but rather as constituting a rightful claim to these privileges.

Section Second, Genesis 27:15-17. Rebekah’s counter-scheme opposed to Isaac’s scheme.—Rebekah’s right and wrong thought and conduct.—Rebekah protectress of the right of Jacob’s election opposed to Isaac the elect.—Jacob’s persuasion: 1. The mother’s faith and her wrong view of it.—The faith of the son and his erroneous view.—Jacob’s doubt and Rebekah’s confidence.—The defect in his hesitation (it was not a fear of sin, but a fear of the evil consequences).—The defect in the confidence (not in the certainty itself, but its application).—The cunning mother and the cunning son.—Both too cunning in this case.—Their sufferings for it—God’s commandment is of more weight than the parental authority, than all human commands generally.

Starke: Some commentators are very severe upon Rebekah (Saurin, Discours XXVIII; others on the contrary (Calvin and others), praise her faith, her cunning, her righteousness (because Esau as a bold scoffer, had sold his birthright), her fear of God (abhorrence of the Canaanitish nature). (We must add, however, that Calvin also marks the means which Rebekah uses as evil.)—Rebekah, truly, had acted in a human way, striving by unlawful means to attain a good end.—Bibl. Wirt: If the Word of God is on our side we must not indeed depart from it, but neither must we undertake to bring about what it holds before us by unlawful means, but look to God, who knows what means to use, and how and when to fulfil his word.—Bibl. Tüb: God makes even the errors of the pious to work good, if their heart is sincere and upright; yet we are not to imitate their errors.

Gerlach: Though staining greatly, as she did, the divine promise by her deception, yet at the same time her excellent faith shines out through the history. She did not fear to arouse the brother’s deadly hatred against Jacob, to bring her favorite son into danger of his life and to excite her husband against her, because the inheritance promised by God stood before her, and she knew God had promised it to Jacob. (Calvin).—Schröder: (Michaelis: The kids of the goats can be prepared in such a way as to taste like venison.) Isaac now abides by the rule, but Rebekah insists upon an exception (Luther).—The premature grasping bargain of Jacob ( Genesis 25:29, etc,) is the reason that God is here anticipated again by Rebekah, and Jacob’s sinful cunning, so that the bargain again turns out badly.—Luther, holding that the law is annulled by God himself, concludes: Where there is no law, there is no transgression, therefore, she has not sinned (!?)—Both (sons) were already77 years old. The fact, that Jacob, at such an age, was still under maternal control, was grounded deeply in his individuality ( Genesis 25:27), as well as in the congeniality which existed between Jacob and his mother. Esau, surely, was passed from under Rebekah’s control already at the age of ten years.

Section Third, Genesis 27:18-29. Isaac’s blessing upon Jacob: 1. In its human aspect; 2. in its divine aspect.—The divine providence controlling Isaac’s plan: Abraham, Isaac and Esau.—Jacob, in Esau’s garments, betrayed by his voice: 1. Almost betrayed immediately; 2. afterwards clearly betrayed.—Isaac’s solicitude, or all care in the service of sin and error gains nothing.—Jacob’s examination.—The voice is Jacob’s voice, the hands are Esau’s hands.—Isaac’s blessing: 1. According to its external and its typical significance; 2. in its relation to Abraham’s promise and the blessing of Jacob.—Its new thoughts: the holy sovereignty, the gathering of a holy people, the germ of the announcement of a holy kingdom. Isaac’s inheritance: a kingdom of nations, a church of nations.—The fulfilment of the blessing: 1. In an external or typical sense: David’s kingdom; 2. in a spiritual sense: the kingdom of Christ.

Starke: Jacob, perhaps, thought with a contrite heart of the abuse of strange raiment, when the bloody coat of Joseph was shown to him. To say nothing of the cross caused by children, which, no doubt, is the most severe cross to pious parents in this world, and with which the pious Jacob often met (Dinah’s rape, Benjamin’s difficult birth, Simeon’s and Levi’s bloody weapons, Reuben’s incest, Joseph’s history, Judah’s history, Genesis 38, etc.). For Jacob sinned: 1. In speaking contrary to the truth, and twice passing himself for Esau; 2. in really practising fraud by means of strange raiment and false pretences; 3. in his abuse of the name of God ( Genesis 27:20); 4. in taking advantage of his father’s weakness.—Yet God bore with his errors, like Isaac, etc.

Genesis 27:26 : a collection of different places in which we read of a kiss or kisses (see Concordance).—That this uttered blessing is to be received not only according to the letter, but also in a deeper, secret sense, is apparent from Hebrews 11:20, where Paul says: that by faith Isaac blessed his Song of Solomon, of which faith the Messiah was the theme.

Gerlach: The goal and central point of this blessing is the word: be lord over thy brethren. For this implies that he was to be the bearer of the blessing, while the others should only have a share in his enjoyment.—Lisco: Earthly blessing ( Deuteronomy 33:28).—Cursed be, etc. He who loves the friends of God, loves God himself; he who hates them, hates him; they are the apple of his eye.—Calwer Handbuch: The more pleasant the fragrance of the flowers and herbs of the field, the richer is the blessing. Earthly blessings are a symbol and pledge to the father of divine grace.—Power and sway: The people blessed of the Lord must stand at the head of nations, in order to impart a blessing to all.—Isaac, much against his will, blesses him whom Jehovah designs to bless.—Schröder: Ah, the voice, the voice (of Jacob)! I should have dropped the dish and run away (Luther).—Thus also the servants of God sow the seed of redemption among men, not knowing where and how it is to bring fruits. God does not limit the authority granted to them by other knowledge and wisdom. The virtue and efficacy of the sacraments by no means depend, as the Papists think, upon the intention of the person who administers them (Calvin).—(Esau’s goodly raiment: Jewish tradition holds these to be the same made by God himself for the first parents ( Genesis 3:21), and it attributes to the person wearing them the power even of taming wild beasts.—The inhabitants of South Asia are accustomed to scent their garments in different ways. By means of fragrant oils extracted from spices, etc. (Michaelis).—Smell of a field. Herodotus says, All Arabia exhales fragrant odors.)—Thus he wished that the land of Canaan should be to them a pattern and pledge of the heavenly inheritance (Calvin).—Dew, corn, wine, are symbols of the blessings of the kingdom of grace and glory (Ramb.).—That curseth thee. Here it is made known, that the true church is to exist among the descendants of Jacob. The three different members of the blessing contain the three prerogatives of the first-born: 1. The double inheritance. Canaan was twice as large and fruitful as the country of the Edomites; 2. the dominion over his brethren; 3. the priesthood which walks with blessings, and finally passes over to Christ, the source of all blessing (Rambach).—Luther calls the first part of the blessing: the food of the body, the daily bread; the second part: the secular government; the third part: the spiritual priesthood, and places in this last part the dear and sacred cross, and at the same time also, the victory in and with the cross. In Christ, the true Israel of all times, rules the people and nations.

To Section Fourth, Genesis 27:30-40. Esau comes too late: 1. Because he wished to obtain the divine blessing of promise by hunting (by running and striving, etc.) ( Romans 9:16); 2. he wished to gain it, after he had sold it; 3. he wished to acquire it, without comprehending its significance; and, 4. without its being intended for him by the divine decree, and any fitness of mind for it.—Isaac’s trembling and terror are an indication that his eyes are opened, because he sees the finger of God and not the hand of man.—Esau’s lamentation opposed to his father’s firmness: 1. A passion instead of godly sorrow; 2. connected with the illusion that holy things may be treated arbitrarily; 3. referring to the external detriment but not to the internal loss.—Esau’s misunderstanding a type of the misunderstanding of the worldly-minded in regard to divine things: 1. That the plan of divine salvation was the work of Prayer of Manasseh 1:2. the blessing of salvation was a matter of human caprice; 3. that the kingdom of God was an external affair.—Esau’s blessing the type: 1. Of his character; 2. of his choice: 3. of his apparent satisfaction.—Here Isaac and Esau are now for the first time opposed to each other in their complete antithesis: Isaac in his prophetic greatness and clearness opposed to Esau in his sad and carnal indiscretion and passionate conduct.

Starke: Genesis 27:30. Divine providence is here at work.

Genesis 27:33. This exceedingly great amazement came from God.—Cramer: God rules and determines the time; the clockwork is in his hands, he can prolong it, and he can shorten it, according to his pleasure, and if he governs anything, he knows how to arrange time and circumstances, and the men who live in that time, in such a way that they do not appear before or after he wishes them to come. Christian, commend to him, therefore, thy affairs ( Psalm 31:17; Galatians 4:4).—Hall: God knows both time and means to call back his people, to obviate their sins, and to correct their errors ( Hebrews 12:17).—Lange: Isaac did not approve of the manner and means, but the event itself he considers as irrevocable, as soon as he recognizes that God, on account of the unfitness of Esau, has so arranged it. While, therefore, we do not ascribe to God any active working of evil, we concede that, by his Wisdom of Solomon, he knows how to control the errors of men, especially of believers, to a good purpose.

Genesis 27:36. Thus insolent sinners roll the blame upon others.

Genesis 27:37. The word “Lord” is rendered remarkably prominent, since it appears only here and Genesis 27:29. Just as if, out of Jacob’s loins alone would come the mightiest and most powerful lords, princes, and kings, especially the strong and mighty Messiah.—Hall: Tears flowing from revenge, jealousy, carnal appetites, and worldly cares, cause death ( 2 Corinthians 7:10). God’s word remains forever, and never falls to the ground.—Calwer Handbuch: Ver, 36. And still Esau had sold it.—He lamented the misfortune only, not his carelessness; he regretted only the earthly in the blessing, but not the grace.

Schröder: Then cried he a great cry, great and bitter exceedingly. This is the perfectly (?) natural, unrestrained outbreaking of a natural Prayer of Manasseh, to whom, because he lives only for the present, every ground gives way beneath his feet when the present is lost.

To Isaac’s explanation that the blessing was gone. Here also a heroic cast is given to the quiet, retiring, and often unobserved love.—The aged, feeble, and infirm Isaac celebrates upon his couch a similar triumph of love, just as the faith of his father triumphed upon Mt. Moriah, etc. (i.e, he sacrifices to the Lord his preference for Esau).—The world today still preserves the same mode of thinking; it sells the blessing of the new birth, etc, and still claims to inherit this blessing (Roos).—Esau, and perhaps Isaac also, thought probably by the blessing to invalidate the fatal bargain as to the birthright.—He only bewails the consequences of his sin but he has no tears for the sin itself.—The question here was properly not about salvation and condemnation. Salvation was not refused to Esau, but he serves as a warning to us all, by his cries full of anguish, not to neglect the grace of God (Roos).—Esau’s blessing. Esau appealed to the paternal heart, and with the true objective character of the God of the patriarch, Isaac neither could nor should drop his own paternal character.—Now he has no birthright to give away, and therefore no solemn: and he blessed him, occurs here.—(Descriptions of the Idumæan country and people follow).

Section Fifth. Genesis 27:41-46. Esau’s hatred of Jacob: 1. In its moral aspect; 2. in its typical significance.—Want of self-knowledge a cause of Esau’s enmity.—Esau inclined to fratricide: 1. Incited by envy, animosity, and revenge; 2. checked by piety toward the father; 3. prevented by his frankness and out-spoken character, as well as by Rebekah’s sagacity.—Rebekah’s repentance changed into an atonement by the heroic valor of her faith.—Rebekah’s sacrifice.—How this sagacious and heroic-minded woman makes a virtue (Jacob’s theocratic wooing for a bride) of necessity (the peril of Jacob’s life).

Starke: Genesis 27:44. These few days became twenty years.

Genesis 27:45. That Rebekah did this, is not mentioned in any place. Probably she died soon after, and therefore did not live to see Jacob’s return ( Genesis 49:31; Matthew 5:22; 1 John 3:15; Proverbs 27:4).—Cramer: Whatever serves to increase contention and strife, we are to conceal, to trample upon, and to turn everything to the best ( Matthew 5:9).—Gerlach: Genesis 27:41. This trait represents to us Esau most truthfully; the worst thing in his conduct, however, is not the savage desire of revenge, but the entire unbelief in God and the reluctance to subject himself to him. Whilst Isaac submitted unconditionally as soon as God decided, Esau did not care at all for the divine decision.—Calwer Handbuch: He did not think of the divine hand in the matter, nor of his own guilt, self-knowledge, or repentance.—Schröder: God never punishes his people without correcting grace is made also purifying grace at the same time (Roos).—As Esau had only cries and tears at first, he now has only anger and indignation.

Genesis 27:41. “Repentance and its fruits correspond” (Luther).—All revenge is self-consolation. True consolation under injustice comes from God ( Romans 12:19).—And he forgets what thou hast done to him. With this she both acknowledges Jacob’s guilt and betrays a precise knowledge of Esau’s character.—Let us not despair too soon of men. Are there not twelve hours during the day? The great fury and fiery indignation pass away with time (Luther).—How sagacious this pious woman: she conceals to her husband the great misfortune and affliction existing in the house so as not to bring sorrow upon Isaac in his old age (Luther).

Section Sixth, Genesis 28:1-8. Jacob’s mission to Mesopotamia compared with that of Eliezer: 1. Its agreement; 2. its difference.—Isaac now voluntarily blesses Jacob.—The necessity of this pious house becomes the source of new blessings: 1. The feeble Isaac becomes a hero; 2. the plain and quiet Jacob becomes a courageous pilgrim and soldier; 3. the strong-minded Rebekah becomes a person that sacrifices her most dearly loved.—How late the full self-development of both Jacob’s and Esau’s character appears.—Jacob’s prompt obedience and Esau’s foolish correction of his errors.—The church is a community of nations, typified already by the theocracy.

Starke: Concerning the duties of parents and children as to the marriage of their children.—The dangers of injudicious marriages.—Parents can give to their children no better provision on their way than a Christian blessing ( Tobit 5:21).—Bibl. Tub.: The blessing of ancestors, resting upon the descendants is a great treasure, and to be preserved as the true and the best dowry.—Calwer Handbuch: He goes out of spite (or at least in his folly and self-will) to the daughters of Ishmael, and takes a third wife as near of kin to his father as the one Jacob takes was to his mother. (But the distinction was that Ishmael was separated from the theocratic line, while the house in Mesopotamia belonged to the old stock.)—Schröder: Rebekah, who in her want of faith could not wait for divine guidance, has now to exercise her faith for long years, and learn to wait.—Isaac appears fully reconciled to Jacob.—In the eyes of Isaac his father. He does not care about the mother.—Thus natural men never find the right way to please God and their fellow-men whom they have offended, nor the true way of reconciliation with them (Berl. Bibel.).


Footnotes:

FN#1 - Genesis 27:1.—Lange renders “when Isaac was old, then his eyes were dim, so that he could not see,” as an independent sentence, laying the basis for the following narrative.—A. G.]

FN#2 - Genesis 27:42.—Comforteth, or avengeth. The thought of vengeance was his consolation.—A. G.]

FN#3 - Genesis 28:3.—קָהַל, congregation.—A. G.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 27:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/genesis-27.html. 1857-84.

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