Isaac was aging and preoccupied with death possibly due to the passing of his half-brother, Ishmael, some 14 years earlier. Although Isaac lived approximately four decades longer, his vision was compromised; and, he was determined to bestow the covenantal blessing on Esau contrary to God’s word. (1) His wife Rebekah recognized that Isaac was allowing favoritism to cloud his judgment and intervened to assure the blessing went to the intended recipient.
“Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, ‘My son.‘
And he answered him, ‘Here I am.’
Then he said, ‘Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death. Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me. And make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.'”
Rebekah heard Isaac’s instructions requesting that Esau bring his father a special meal. It was a celebratory meal preparatory to Isaac’s intention to confer the covenantal blessing on Esau, the firstborn.
Isaac should have known better; the Lord clearly indicated that his firstborn was not the covenantal heir (Gen. 25:23). Esau’s character, lack of discernment, indifference to spiritual principles and blatant disregard for the birthright should have been enough to warn Isaac he was making a grave error (Gen. 25:33). Yet, he stubbornly persisted in his determination to bless Esau.
Undoubtedly, Rebekah recognized Isaac’s preference for Esau and over the years had reminded that God chose Jacob as the covenantal heir. Apparently, Isaac refused to accept God’s explanation to Rebekah concerning the twins (25:23). And, in spite of her efforts, he obstinately determined to convey the blessing to Esau.
When she heard Isaac’s plans, Rebekah immediately devised a strategy to assure the covenantal blessing would rightfully pass to Jacob.
The plan was simple, but required that Jacob present himself as Esau. It was risky; and, Jacob was hesitant. He didn’t want Isaac perceiving him as a deceiver resulting in a curse rather than a blessing (27:12). Rebekah convinced Jacob to participate saying, “Let your curse be on me” (v. 13). If her plan failed, Rebekah vowed to take full blame.
Rebekah well knew Esau’s hunting prowess; time was of the essence if she was to succeed.
In a flurry of activity, Jacob retrieved two kid goats at her request. Rebekah hurriedly prepared the meal. Working swiftly, she disguised Jacob’s appearance with Esau’s clothing and faked his hairy persona with skins of kid goats.
With preparations in place, she sent Jacob with the food to Isaac. After Isaac tasted the food and convinced himself that Esau had brought him the requested meal, he pronounced the blessing:
“Surely, the smell of my son
Is like the smell of a field
Which the Lord has blessed.
Therefore may God give you
Of the dew of heaven,
Of the fatness of the earth,
And plenty of grain and wine.
Let peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you.
Be master over your brethren,
And let your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
And blessed be those who bless you!” (Gen.27:27-29).
Rebekah’s plan succeeded. Under the inspiration of God, Isaac blessed Jacob by incorporating elements the Abrahamic Covenant as well as those traditionally reserved for the eldest son. He blessed Jacob with prosperity and international influence according to the Abrahamic covenant.
Isaac continued by specifically giving Jacob dominion over his brother as foretold and concluded with, “Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!” just as God had promised Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 27:29).
With Isaac’s blessing, Jacob was now the rightful patriarch and confirmed possessor of the covenantal birthright so hastily sold by his brother.
Significantly, God never condemned or reprimanded either Rebekah, who was instrumental in devising the plan or Jacob for their actions.
Instead, Isaac recognized his error:
“Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: ‘You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.’
‘May God Almighty bless you,
And make you fruitful and multiply you,
That you may be an assembly of peoples;
And give you the blessing of Abraham,
To you and your descendants with you,
That you may inherit the land
In which you are a stranger,
Which God gave to Abraham.’
So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Padan Aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau” (Gen. 28:1-5).
Isaac attempted to thwart the purposes of God by determining to pronounce the covenantal blessing on his favored son, Esau. Rebekah, on the other hand, convinced of God’s prophetic word, acted to assure the blessing passed to Jacob as God originally intended.
1) Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record, (San Diego: Creation Life Publishers, 1976), 430.
1) Bible opened to Isaiah. By, Ken Horn, [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) Blind Isaac Blesses Jacob, c. 1637. By José de Ribera (1591–1652), [PD-US, PD-Art], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.