Jacob Gets Esau’s Blessing—Genesis 27

Moral failure in the patriarchs – it’s not simply a story of sin vs faith

Rebekah had heard from God that her elder son would serve the younger son, thus she urged her (slightly) younger son, Jacob, to get his father’s blessing. Genesis does not comment directly on the morality of this decision; it honours the outcome but depicts also a world in which everyone was snared by deception (see http://www.craigkeener.com/was-rebekah-a-positive-character-genesis-27/). Rebekah had a good deal of private influence on her husband (27:46–28:2), but apparently not on this matter. The taste of Esau’s game made Isaac prefer him (25:28); Rebekah preferred Jacob, no doubt especially because of God’s message to her (25:22–23).

Rebekah persuaded Jacob to pretend to be his brother, Esau, and bring Isaac meat before Esau could. How was Isaac fooled by goat kids as if they were wild game (27:9)? Aside from age perhaps dulling his taste as well as his sight, Rebekah fixed them the way that Isaac liked (27:9), perhaps with spices or other ingredients that overwhelmed the flavour. Esau also fixed meat the same way (27:31).

Genesis does not comment directly on the morality of this decision; it honours the outcome but also depicts a world in which everyone was snared by deception.

The parallel between Esau and Jacob is highlighted by Esau’s claims in 27:31–32 which echo those of Jacob in 27:19. With slightly different wording, each declared, “I am Esau, your firstborn son. Get up and eat of my game, so you may bless me.” The difference is not in their claims, but that Jacob got there first! Now Esau will be Jacob’s servant (27:37); just as, earlier in Genesis, Noah’s blessing of Shem and Japheth entailed Canaan becoming their servant (9:25-26).

Esau complains that Jacob has taken both his “birth right” and his “blessing” (27:36). His complaint contains a play on Hebrew words for “birth right” (bekorah, firstborn) and “blessing” (berakah). Esau’s anger becomes a catalyst for Jacob’s necessary relocation to Paddan-Aram (Mesopotamia), where he can find more God-fearing wives than in Canaan (26:34–35; 27:42–28:5).

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