Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; arise, flee you to Laban my brother to Haran;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
- Jacob's Journey to Haran
3. קהל qâhāl, "congregation."
9. מחלת māchălat, Machalath, "sickness, or a harp."
19. לוּז lûz, Luz, "almond."
The blessing of his sons was the last passage in the active life of Isaac, after which he retires from the scene. Jacob now becomes the leading figure in the sacred history. His spiritual character has yet come out to view. But even now we can discern the general distinction in the lives of the three patriarchs. Abraham's is a life of authority and decision; Isaac's, of submission and acquiescence; and Jacob's, of trial and struggle.Genesis 27:13, Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)43. obey my voice] Rebekah takes full responsibility upon herself, in fulfilment of her promise in Genesis 27:13, “upon me be thy curse, my son, only obey my voice.”Verses 43-45. - Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; - i.e. be guided by my counsel; a request Rebekah might perhaps feel herself justified in making, not only by her maternal solicitude for Jacob's welfare, but also from the successful issue of Her previous stratagem (vide on ver. 8) - and arise, flee thou - literally, flee for thyself (cf. Genesis 12:1; Numbers 14:11; Amos 7:12) - to Laban my brother to Haran (vide Genesis 11:31; 14:29); and tarry with him a few days, - literally, days some. The few days eventually proved to be at least twenty years (vide Genesis 31:38). It is not probable that Rebekah ever again beheld her favorite son, which was a signal chastisement for her sinful ambition for, and partiality towards, Jacob - until thy brother's fury turn away; until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, - the rage of Esau is here described by two different words, the first of which, חֵמָה, from a root signifying to be warm, suggests the heated and inflamed condition of Esau's soul, while the second, אֲפ, from אָנַפ, to breathe through the nostrils, depicts the visible manifestations of that internal fire in hard and quick breathing - and he forget that which thou hast done to him, - Rebekah apparently had conveniently become oblivious of her own share in the transaction by which Esau had been wronged. Then will I send, and fetch thee from thence - which she never did. Man proposes, but God disposes. Why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? I.e. of Jacob by the hand of Esau, and of Esau by the hand of the avenger of blood (Genesis 9:6; cf. 2 Samuel 14:6, 7; Calvin, Keil, Rosenmüller, Kalisch), rather than by his own fratricidal act, which would forever part him from Rebekah (Lange). 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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