Matthew Poole's Commentary
And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.Isaac being aged, sends Esau for venison, that he might eat thereof, and bless him, Genesis 27:1-4. Esau obeys his father, Genesis 27:5. Rebekah hearing it, tells Jacob, Genesis 27:6,7. Her contrivance and advice to him to intercept the blessing, Genesis 27:8-10. Jacob is afraid of a curse instead of a blessing, Genesis 27:11,12. His mother encourageth him, Genesis 27:13. He complies; puts on Esau’s raiment, and the skins of the kids; goes with the venison his mother prepared: Isaac eats of it, and blesseth him, Genesis 27:14-29. Esau brings the venison he had taken, Genesis 27:30,31. Isaac is exceedingly surprised, but confirms the blessing on Jacob, Genesis 27:32,33. Esau weeps bitterly, and prays for a blessing, Genesis 27:34. Expostulates with his father, and obtains one, Genesis 27:36-40. Esau hates Jacob, Genesis 27:41. Rebekah hears of it, Genesis 27:42. She advises Jacob to go to her kindred, Genesis 27:43,44. Complains of Esau’s wives to Isaac, Genesis 27:46.
1700 Isaac was about one hundred and thirty-seven years old.
He could not see; which was ordered by God’s wise providence, not only for the exercise of Isaac’s patience, but also as a means to transfer Esau’s right to Jacob.
And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:No text from Poole on this verse.
Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;Thy quiver, or, as the Chaldee and Hebrew doctors render it, thy sword; a weapon no less necessary for a hunter of beasts than a bow.
And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.Quest. Why doth he require that he may eat before he bless him?
1. That being refreshed and delighted therewith, his spirit might be more cheerful, and so the fitter for the giving of this prophetical benediction; for which reason also the prophet Elisha called for a minstrel ere he could utter his prophecy, 2 Kings 3:15.
2. By the special direction of Divine Providence, that Esau’s absence might give Jacob the advantage of getting the blessing. He speaks not here of a common and customary blessing, which parents may bestow upon any of their children as and when they please; but of the last, solemn, extraordinary, and prophetical benediction, whereby these holy patriarchs did by God’s appointment, and with his concurrence, constitute one of their sons heir, not only of their inheritance, but of Abraham’s covenant, and all the promises, both temporal and spiritual, belonging to it. As for the oracle delivered to Rebekah, which transferred this blessing upon Jacob, Genesis 25:23, either Isaac knew not of it, not being sufficiently informed thereof by Rebekah; or he did not thoroughly understand it; or he might apprehend that it was to be accomplished not in the persons of Esau and Jacob, but in their posterity; or at this time it was quite out of his mind; or he was induced to neglect it through his passionate affection to his son Esau.
And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death.Before the Lord; solemnly, as in God’s presence, in his name, and by his authority, and with his leave and favour, which I shall heartily pray for thee. So he signifies that this was more than an ordinary blessing which he now intended to give him.
Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.No text from Poole on this verse.
Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth:It is observable, that as Jacob deceived his father by a kid, so his sons deceived him by the same creature, Genesis 37:31-33.
I will make them savoury meat, out of their most tender and delicate parts; wherewith it was not difficult to deceive Isaac, partly because of the likeness of the flesh, especially being altered by convenient sauce; and partly because the same old age which had dimmed Isaac’s sight had also dulled his other senses.
And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:No text from Poole on this verse.
My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.I shall appear to him to be indeed a deceiver, one that abuseth his age and blindness. The particle as sometimes signifies not the likeness, but the truth of the thing, John 1:14 2 Corinthians 3:18.
I shall bring a curse upon me, which is due to every one that deceiveth the blind, Deu 27:18, especially his father, and especially in a religious concern, Jeremiah 48:10 Malachi 1:14, such as this was.
And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.She saith so out of an assured confidence in the Divine oracle and promise.
And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:Either the sacerdotal garments which the eldest son wore in the administration of that office which belonged to him; or rather some other suit better than ordinary.
And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:Upon the two naked parts of his body, which were most likely to be discovered. As for his face, it is more than probable from his age, which was the same with Esau’s, Genesis 26:34, that nature had given him a covering like Esau’s.
And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son?No text from Poole on this verse.
And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.This cannot be excused, for it was a manifest untruth, and no less is all this following relation, though it pleased God graciously to pardon it; and notwithstanding these failings, to confer the blessing promised upon Jacob.
And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the LORD thy God brought it to me.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him.He discerned him not, because all his senses were not only dulled with age and infirmity, but also held by Divine Providence, as theirs, Luke 24:16, for the bringing about his own purpose; so that it is no wonder he was so grossly deceived in the whole business.
And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he said, Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat: and he brought him wine, and he drank.No text from Poole on this verse.
And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.Which he did, either that he might more fully satisfy himself concerning the person, or rather as a mark of that special favour and affection wherewith he bestowing the blessing. Compare Genesis 48:10.
And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed:Which is full of odoriferous herbs, and flowers, and fruits, and spices, with some of which Esau’s garments might be perfumed in the chest wherein they were laid, as the manner now is. These garments smell not of the sheepcots and stables, as Jacob’s do, but of the fields, in which Esau is conversant.
Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:God give thee, or, will give; for it is both a prayer and a prophecy. He mentions the
dew rather than the rain, because it was of more constant use and necessity in those parts than the rain, which fell considerably but twice in a year, the first being called the former, and the other the latter rain. And under this and the following blessings, which are but temporal, are comprehended all manner of blessings, both spiritual, temporal, and eternal, according to the usage of that time and state of the church.
The fatness of the earth; a fat and fruitfill land, which Canaan was, abounding with all sorts of precious fruits. Compare Deu 8:8 32:13,14.
Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.Let thy mother’s son bow down to thee. How and when this was fulfilled, see on Genesis 25:23.
And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me.That Esau did not come to his father till the meat was dressed, may be ascribed partly to his own choice, that he might come with more acceptance; and partly to Rebekah, who could easily hinder his coming sooner by specious pretences and artifices.
And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed.Isaac was filled with astonishment and horror in consideration of Jacob’s fraud, and the sad disappointment and great misery of his beloved Esau, and his own rashness and folly in suffering his fond affection towards him to carry him headlong into an opposition to the Divine oracle, Genesis 25:23, which now came to his remembrance, as appears by his ratification of Jacob’s blessing.
Who? where is he? A short speech, proceeding from a discomposed mind.
Yea, and he shall be blessed. This blessing, though otherwise intended by me, and pronounced upon a mistake of the person, shall and must rest upon the head of Jacob; and I neither can nor dare undertake to revoke and contradict God’s appointment, which now I more fully discern, and in which both thou and I and all men must fully acquiesce. And now Isaac fixeth the blessing upon Jacob by faith, as it is expressed, Hebrews 11:20, which before, through misguided fancy and affection, he intended for Esau.
And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.He cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, not for any sense of his former sin, in despising his birthright, but for grief at his great loss therein, because God would not suffer him to be perjured in keeping that birthright blessing which he had sold and sworn away.
Bless me, even me also, O my father, i.e. Thou art my father no less than his, and therefore, as a child, I claim a share in thy blessing.
And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.Which was thine by the right of nature, and by custom of nations, and by my hearty desire and intention, as well as by thy own expectation and opinion.
And he said, Is not he rightly named 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?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 Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him 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?The blessing of Abraham is not at my disposal, but God’s, who hath manifested his mind and will by my error; it cannot be divided into several hands, nor imparted to one, who, though my son, yet hath made himself unworthy of it.
And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.Hast thou but one? By these words Esau manifests his profane and worldly mind, that he esteemed this blessing but as one among many others equal to it, and did not apprehend the true and peculiar excellency and absolute necessity of it, and that it was impossible for him or his posterity to be happy without an interest in this covenant, and continuance in that church to which it was appropriated.
And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above;In a country competently fruitful and refreshed with convenient dews and showers.
Object. Thus Esau seems to have the same blessing which was before given to Jacob.
Answ. 1. Though it may seem to be the same as to the fertility of the soil, in which divers other parts of the world did and do equal the land of Canaan; yet there is an observable difference in the manner of Isaac’s expression. When he speaks of Esau, he only saith:
Thy dwelling shall be the fatness, & c. But when he speaks to Jacob, he saith: God give thee, or shall give thee of the fatness, &c.; which words being, as it may seem, purposely omitted concerning Esau, and so emphatically expressed concerning Jacob, seem to intimate, especially if compared with many other scriptures where that phrase is applied to good men, that Esau’s fat soil was rather taken by himself than given by God; or if given by God to him, it was only by his general providence, by which he giveth food to all creatures; whereas Jacob’s fat and fruitful soil was derived to him and his by God’s special gift, as a token of his singular kindness, and pledge of greater blessings:
2. This is but one branch of the blessing; the other part, which concerns dignity and superiority, is expressly given to Jacob, Genesis 27:29, and denied to Esau, Genesis 27:40.
And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.By thy sword shalt thou live; by violence and rapine, in an unquiet and military posture, troubling others, and forced to defend thyself. But this, as also the following clause, though spoken to Esau, was not fulfilled in him, but in his posterity the Edomites, whose history makes good this prophecy. Thus things spoken and promised to Abraham were fulfilled in his posterity, as Genesis 12:3 22:18.
When thou shalt have the dominion; when thou shalt grow potent. Some render the words thus, When thou shalt have mourned or groaned, as the same word is used Psalm 55:2; when thou hast oppressed as long as I think fit.
And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.Esau hated Jacob; and this hatred was hereditary, extending to their posterity also. See Ezekiel 35:5 Amos 1:11 Obadiah 1:10.
Esau said in his heart, within himself; although he could not contain it there, but declared his intentions to some of his confidants, by which means it came to Rebekah’s ear.
And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee.No text from Poole on this verse.
Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran;No text from Poole on this verse.
And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away;A few days; so she expected and intended, but was greatly disappointed, for he tarried there twenty years.
Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?Of thee by Esau’s bloody hands; and of Esau, who was likely to suffer death for his murder, either by the authority of the magistrate, as God commanded, Genesis 9:6, or by the hand of God, who ofttimes supplies the magistrate’s defects in that particular, and in some extraordinary manner executes this vengeance. See Genesis 4:11,16 Ac 28:4.
And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?The daughters of Heth, Esau’s wives, who were Hittites, Genesis 26:34. Therefore let us, after the example of Abraham, send him to fetch a wife from his own kindred. This indeed was one reason, but the other she conceals from Isaac; thus prudently alleging several reasons, one to Jacob, and another, as it is probable, to Esau, and each most suitable to the person to whom she speaks.