Although Jacob had been given the birthright by his older brother years before, he still needed his father’s blessing to make it binding.” –NIV Life Application Study Bible
This long chapter could be written as a play with five scenes. Two short passages of Esau’s pagan marriages (26:34-35 and 28:6-9) frame the main portion: Isaac giving his blessing to Jacob. The short Esau passages serve as a kind of prologue and epilogue.
You may read Genesis 26:34-28:9 here: Bible Gateway.
SCENE 1: Isaac Asks Esau for a Meal (27:1-4)
Despite the knowledge that Jacob was to get the blessing (25:23), Isaac in his old age determines to bless his favorite—Esau—in secrecy. Similar to Esau’s earlier insistence of Jacob’s stew (25:27-34), Isaac tells Esau to hunt some wild game and prepare his favorite dish before the blessing.
SCENE 2: Rebekah’s Scheme (27:5-15)
This scene intensifies as Rebekah plays the role as spy and urgent initiator.
“The word used to describe Rebekah’s listening suggests that this is a habit, a pattern of behavior, not happenstance. Her behavior gives us an idea of the level of mistrust and poor communication in the family.” –Layman’s Bible Commentary
SCENE 3: Jacob Imitates Esau (27:18-29)
Although Rebekah is the mastermind behind this scheme, Jacob joins in her ruse and manipulates Esau once again. Jacob had already secured the birthright with the promised land blessing. But now—duped into thinking Jacob is Esau—Isaac blesses Jacob with fruitfulness in the promised land (Deuteronomy 7:13) and dominion over the nations and his family.
In regards to the blessing, Layman’s Bible Commentary notes: “The dew of heaven provides irrigation. The fatness of the earth is rain. Grain and new wine evoke the image of a banquet, overflowing with joy (Psalm 4:7). . . . The curses and blessings equate to God’s protection and are particularly linked to dominion (Numbers 24:9).”
SCENE 4: Esau’s Horror and Revenge (27:30-45)
Since a person’s word was binding in ancient times—much like a contract today—Isaac’s blessing was irrevocable.
When Esau realizes Isaac’s ploy, he weeps aloud.
SCENE 5: Jacob Leaves
In his fury, Esau determines to kill Jacob after their father dies. Rebekah once again manipulates Isaac in attempt to protect Jacob. She sends Jacob away to her brother Laban in Haran. Her cover story feeds from their frustration of Esau’s marriage to pagan women: “If Jacob takes a wife from the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”
Esau’s next move is to marry again—this time to an Ishmaelite. Perhaps his aim is to please his parents since his third bride isn’t a foreigner, (Ishmael was Isaac’s half-brother). But this arrangement only further disappointed his parents. Ever since Isaac received Abraham’s blessing, instead of Ishmael, family strife between Isaac and Ishmael’s descendants have sparked.
- Much heartache and division could have been avoided had Rebekah waited on God and His timing. For God had already clarified that Jacob would be the family leader (25:23-26). But Rebekah and Jacob became trapped in sin by resorting to lies and manipulation to achieve their goal.
- No matter how worthy our goals may be, God never endorses wrong doing for desired results. It might be painful to correct ourselves in the middle of a mistake, but that will free us from being a prisoner to sin.
- Where we see the shortcomings of the patriarchs, it’s clear that God is the real hero. Thankfully, He is the expert craftsman of all our human intentions and actions—for good or evil—weaving His purposes into His ongoing plan (Romans 8:28).
Have a wonderful week!