Genesis 27:36
And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing. And he said, Have you not reserved a blessing for me?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(36) Is not he rightly named Jacob?—In thus playing upon his brother’s name, Esau has had a lasting revenge; for the bad sense which he for the first time put upon the word Jacob has adhered to it, no doubt, because Jacob’s own conduct made it only too appropriate. Its right meaning is “one who follows close upon another’s heels.” (See Note on Genesis 25:26.)

27:30-40 When Esau understood that Jacob had got the blessing, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry. The day is coming, when those that now make light of the blessings of the covenant, and sell their title to spiritual blessings for that which is of no value, will, in vain, ask urgently for them. Isaac, when made sensible of the deceit practised on him, trembled exceedingly. Those who follow the choice of their own affections, rather than the Divine will, get themselves into perplexity. But he soon recovers, and confirms the blessing he had given to Jacob, saying, I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed. Those who part with their wisdom and grace, their faith and a good conscience, for the honours, wealth, or pleasures of this world, however they feign a zeal for the blessing, have judged themselves unworthy of it, and their doom shall be accordingly. A common blessing was bestowed upon Esau. This he desired. Faint desires of happiness, without right choice of the end, and right use of the means, deceive many unto their own ruin. Multitudes go to hell with their mouths full of good wishes. The great difference is, that there is nothing in Esau's blessing which points at Christ; and without that, the fatness of the earth, and the plunder of the field, will stand in little stead. Thus Isaac, by faith, blessed both his sons, according as their lot should be.Esau's blessing. Esau comes in, but it is too late. "Who then?" The whole illusion is dispelled from the mind of Isaac. "Yea, blessed he shall be." Jacob had no doubt perpetrated a fraud, at the instigation of his mother; and if Esau had been worthy in other respects, and above all if the blessing had been designed for him, its bestowment on another would have been either prevented or regarded as null and void. But Isaac now felt that, whatever was the misconduct of Jacob in interfering, and especially in employing unworthy means to accomplish his end, he himself was culpable in allowing carnal considerations to draw his preference to Esau, who was otherwise unworthy. He knew too that the paternal benediction flowed not from the bias of the parent, but from the Spirit of God guiding his will, and therefore when so pronounced could not be revoked. Hence, he was now convinced that it was the design of Providence that the spiritual blessing should fall on the line of Jacob. The grief of Esau is distressing to witness, especially as he had been comparatively blameless in this particular instance. But still it is to be remembered that his heart had not been open to the paramount importance of spiritual things. Isaac now perceives that Jacob has gained the blessing by deceit. Esau marks the propriety of his name, the wrestler who trips up the heel, and pleads pathetically for at least some blessing. His father enumerates what he has done for Jacob, and asks what more he can do for Esau; who then exclaims, "Hast thou but one blessing?"30-35. Esau came in from his hunting—Scarcely had the former scene been concluded, when the fraud was discovered. The emotions of Isaac, as well as Esau, may easily be imagined—the astonishment, alarm, and sorrow of the one; the disappointment and indignation of the other. But a moment's reflection convinced the aged patriarch that the transfer of the blessing was "of the Lord," and now irrevocable. The importunities of Esau, however, overpowered him; and as the prophetic afflatus was upon the patriarch, he added what was probably as pleasing to a man of Esau's character as the other would have been. He puts a perverse construction upon Jacob’s name, as if it belonged not to him so properly, because of the manner of his birth, as because of his falseness and deceitfulness, and his tripping up his brother’s heels.

He took away my birthright; a false accusation; Jacob did not take it deceitfully, but Esau sold it profanely. And he said, is not he rightly named Jacob?.... As he was by his parents, and those that were at his birth, because he took his brother by the heel as he came out of his mother's womb; for Jacob signifies "heeler", a supplanter, and was given him to keep up the memory of what he had done, to which Esau here refers:

for he hath supplanted me these two times; to supplant another is to put his foot under the heel of another, in order to trip him up, to which Esau alludes; but uses the word in a figurative sense, for circumventing him, and dealing fraudulently and deceitfully with him, though he is not able to support his charge; for if he dealt fraudulently with any, it was with his father, and not with him, and the two times he refers to prove it not:

he took away my birthright; which is not true, he did not take it away from him either by force or fraud, Esau sold it to him for a mess of pottage, Genesis 25:29; he had despised and made light of it himself, and had parted with it at so mean a price, and now falsely charges his brother with taking it away from him, and wrongly accuses him of being a supplanter on that account:

and behold, now he hath taken away my blessing; this also is not true, he had not taken it away; it was given him by his father; and though he had used some artful methods with him to get it, Genesis 27:15, he had neither supplanted Esau, but if anyone, his father; nor had he done any injustice to Esau, since as he had bought of him the birthright, the blessing annexed to it went along with it, and of right belonged to Jacob:

and he said, hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? is the whole fund of blessings exhausted? are all bestowed upon Jacob? is there not one left for me? he hoped there was, and that as good a one as he had bestowed on his brother, and entreats he might have it.

And he said, Is not he rightly named {g} Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?

(g) In Ge 25:26 he was so called because he held his brother by the heel, as though he would overthrow him: and therefore he is here called an overthrower, or deceiver.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
36. rightly named Jacob] See note on Genesis 25:26.

supplanted] i.e. “outwitted,” “overreached by guile.” The word in the original is of the same root as the word “Jacob.” It is as if Esau had said “he hath ‘Jacob-ed’ me these two times”; “he hath twice overreached me.” See Jeremiah 9:4. LXX ἐπτέρνικε, Lat. supplantavit. Our word “supplant” is probably derived from this context.

he took away my birthright] See Genesis 25:29-34. Esau now applies the words “took away” to the transaction in which he was foolish enough, not only to sell his birthright for a “mess of pottage,” but also to ratify his action with an oath. He tries to hide his own folly by denouncing his brother’s part in the affair.

my blessing] The word “my blessing” is spelt in the Heb. with the same consonants as “my birthright,” but with two letters transposed. The difference between the birthright or primogenita, and the blessing or benedictio, is that between a title of privilege and the patent which confers it.Verse 36. - And he (Esau) said, Is he not rightly named Jacob? - literally, is it that one has called ha name Jacob? הֲכִיְ being employed when the reason is unknown (vide Ewald, 'Hebrews Syut., § 324). On the meaning of Jacob cf. Genesis 25:26 - for (literally, and) he hath supplanted me (a paronomasia on the word Jacob) these two times - or, already twice; זֶה being used adverbially in the sense of now (Gesenius, 'Grammar,' § 122). The precise import of Esau's exclamation has been rendered, "Has he not been justly (δικαίως, LXX.; juste, Vulgate; rightly, A.V.) named Supplanter from supplanting?" (Rosenmüller). "Is it because he was named Jacob that he hath now twice supplanted me?" (Ainsworth, Bush). "Has he received the name Jacob from the fact that he has twice outwitted me?" (Keil). "Shall he get the advantage of me because he was thus inadvertently named Jacob?" (Lange). "Has in truth his name been called Jacob?" (Kalisch). All agree in bringing out that Esau designed to indicate a correspondence between Jacob's name and Jacob's practice. He took away my birthright; - this was scarcely correct, since Esau voluntarily sold it (Genesis 25:33) - and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. Neither was this exactly accurate, since the blessing did not originally belong to Esau, however he may have imagined that it did. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? The question indicates that Esau had no proper conception of the spiritual character of the blessing which his brother had obtained. Jacob had hardly left his father, after receiving the blessing (יצא אך, was only gone out), when Esau returned and came to Isaac, with the game prepared, to receive the blessing. The shock was inconceivable which Isaac received, when he found that he had blessed another, and not Esau-that, in fact, he had blessed Jacob. At the same time he neither could nor would, either curse him on account of the deception which he had practised, or withdraw the blessing imparted. For he could not help confessing to himself that he had sinned and brought the deception upon himself by his carnal preference for Esau. Moreover, the blessing was not a matter of subjective human affection, but a right entrusted by the grace of God to paternal supremacy and authority, in the exercise of which the person blessing, being impelled and guided by a higher authority, imparted to the person to be blest spiritual possessions and powers, which the will of man could not capriciously withdraw. Regarding this as the meaning of the blessing, Isaac necessarily saw in what had taken place the will of God, which had directed to Jacob the blessing that he had intended for Esau. He therefore said, "I have blessed him; yea, he will be (remain) blessed" (cf. Hebrews 12:17). Even the great and bitter lamentation into which Esau broke out could not change his father's mind. To his entreaty in Genesis 27:34, "Bless me, even me also, O my father!" he replied, "Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing." Esau answered, "Is it that (הכי) they have named him Jacob (overreacher), and he has overreached me twice?" i.e., has he received the name Jacob from the fact that he has twice outwitted me? הכי is used "when the cause is not rightly known" (cf. Genesis 29:15). To his further entreaty, "Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?" (אצל, lit., to lay aside), Isaac repeated the substance of the blessing given to Jacob, and added, "and to thee (לכה for לך as in Genesis 3:9), now, what can I do, my son?" When Esau again repeated, with tears, the entreaty that Isaac would bless him also, the father gave him a blessing (Genesis 27:39, Genesis 27:40), but one which, when compared with the blessing of Jacob, was to be regarded rather as "a modified curse," and which is not even described as a blessing, but "introduced a disturbing element into Jacob's blessing, a retribution for the impure means by which he had obtained it." "Behold," it states, "from the fat fields of the earth will thy dwelling be, and from the dew of heaven from above." By a play upon the words Isaac uses the same expression as in Genesis 27:28, "from the fat fields of the earth, and from the dew," but in the opposite sense, מן being partitive there, and privative here, "from equals away from." The context requires that the words should be taken thus, and not in the sense of "thy dwelling shall partake of the fat of the earth and the dew of heaven" (Vulg., Luth., etc.).

(Note: I cannot discover, however, in Malachi 1:3 an authentic proof of the privative meaning, as Kurtz and Delitzsch do, since the prophet's words, "I have hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste," are not descriptive of the natural condition of Idumaea, but of the desolation to which the land was given up.)

Since Isaac said (Genesis 27:37) he had given Jacob the blessing of the super-abundance of corn and wine, he could not possibly promise Esau also fat fields and the dew of heaven. Nor would this agree with the words which follows, "By thy sword wilt thou live." Moreover, the privative sense of מן is thoroughly poetical (cf. 2 Samuel 1:22; Job 11:15, etc.). The idea expressed in the words, therefore, was that the dwelling-place of Esau would be the very opposite of the land of Canaan, viz., an unfruitful land. This is generally the condition of the mountainous country of Edom, which, although not without its fertile slopes and valleys, especially in the eastern portion (cf. Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 552), is thoroughly waste and barren in the western; so that Seetzen says it consists of "the most desolate and barren mountains probably in the world."

The mode of life and occupation of the inhabitants were adapted to the country. "By (lit., on) thy sword thou wilt live;" i.e., thy maintenance will depend on the sword (על as in Deuteronomy 8:3 cf. Isaiah 28:16), "live by war, rapine, and freebooting" (Knobel). "And thy brother thou wilt serve; yet it will come to pass, as (כּאשׁר, lit., in proportion as, cf. Numbers 27:14) thou shakest (tossest), thou wilt break his yoke from thy neck." רוּד, "to rove about" (Jeremiah 2:31; Hosea 12:1), Hiphil "to cause (the thoughts) to rove about" (Psalm 55:3); but Hengstenberg's rendering is the best here, viz., "to shake, sc., the yoke." In the wild, sport-loving Esau there was aptly prefigured the character of his posterity. Josephus describes the Idumaean people as "a tumultuous and disorderly nation, always on the watch on every motion, delighting in mutations" (Whiston's tr.: de bell Judges 4; Judges 1:1-21:25; 1). The mental eye of the patriarch discerned in the son his whole future family in its attitude to its brother-nation, and he promised Edom, not freedom from the dominion of Israel (for Esau was to serve his brother, as Jehovah had predicted before their birth), but only a repeated and not unsuccessful struggle for freedom. And so it was; the historical relation of Edom to Israel assumed the form of a constant reiteration of servitude, revolt, and reconquest. After a long period of independence at the first, the Edomites were defeated by Saul (1 Samuel 14:47) and subjugated by David (2 Samuel 8:14); and, in spite of an attempt at revolt under Solomon (1 Kings 11:14.), they remained subject to the kingdom of Judah until the time of Joram, when they rebelled. They were subdued again by Amaziah (2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chronicles 25:11.), and remained in subjection under Uzziah and Jotham (2 Kings 14:22; 2 Chronicles 26:2). It was not till the reign of Ahaz that they shook the yoke of Judah entirely off (2 Kings 16:6; 2 Chronicles 28:17), without Judah being ever able to reduce them again. At length, however, they were completely conquered by John Hyrcanus about b.c. 129, compelled to submit to circumcision, and incorporated in the Jewish state (Josephus, Ant. xiii. 9, 1, xv. 7, 9). At a still later period, through Antipater and Herod, they established an Idumaean dynasty over Judea, which lasted till the complete dissolution of the Jewish state.

Thus the words of Isaac to his two sons were fulfilled-words which are justly said to have been spoken "in faith concerning things to come" (Hebrews 11:20). For the blessing was a prophecy, and that not merely in the case of Esau, but in that of Jacob also; although Isaac was deceived with regard to the person of the latter. Jacob remained blessed, therefore, because, according to the predetermination of God, the elder was to serve the younger; but the deceit by which his mother prompted him to secure the blessing was never approved. On the contrary, the sin was followed by immediate punishment. Rebekah was obliged to send her pet son into a foreign land, away from his father's house, and in an utterly destitute condition. She did not see him for twenty years, even if she lived till his return, and possibly never saw again. Jacob had to atone for his sin against both brother and father by a long and painful exile, in the midst of privation, anxiety, fraud, and want. Isaac was punished for retaining his preference for Esau, in opposition to the revealed will of Jehovah, by the success of Jacob's stratagem; and Esau for his contempt of the birthright, by the loss of the blessing of the first-born. In this way a higher hand prevailed above the acts of sinful men, bringing the counsel and will of Jehovah to eventual triumph, in opposition to human thought and will.

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