And Isaac answered and said to Esau, Behold, I have made him your lord, and all his brothers have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now to you, my son?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
behold, I have made him thy lord; the lord of his posterity, who would be subdued and become tributary to his seed:
and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; the Edomites, who sprung from his brother Esau, who, according to this prophetic blessing, became servants to David, who was a son of Jacob's; see Gill on Genesis 27:29,
and with corn and wine have I sustained him; promised him a fruitful country, the land of Canaan, abounding with all good things, particularly with corn and wine, which are put for all the rest:
and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? what is there remains? what can be bestowed upon thee? there is nothing left; dominion over others, even over all nations, yea, over thyself and thy posterity, and plenty of all good things, are given already to Jacob; what is there to be done for thee, or thou canst expect?And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him (h) thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?
(h) For Isaac did this as he was the minister and prophet of God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 37. - And Isaac answered and said unto Esau (repeating the substance of the Messing already conferred on Jacob), Behold, I have made him thy lord, - literally, behold, a lord (vide on ver. 29) have I constituted him to thee; Isaac hereby intimating that in pronouncing the words of blessing he had been speaking under a celestial impulse, and therefore with absolute authority - and all his brethren have I given to him for servants (for the fulfillment vide 2 Samuel 8:14), and with corn and wine have I sustained him: - i.e. declared that by these he shall be sustained or supported (cf. ver. 28) - and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? 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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