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.
Verse 1. - And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, - according to the generally accepted calculation, in his one hundred and thirty-seventh year. Joseph, having been introduced to Pharaoh in his thirtieth year (Genesis 41:46), and having been thirty-nine years of age (Genesis 45:6) when his father, aged one hundred and thirty (Genesis 47:9), came down to Egypt, must have been born before Jacob was ninety-one; consequently, as his birth occurred in the fourteenth year of Jacob's sojourn in Mesopotamia (cf. Genesis 30:25 with Genesis 29:18, 21, 27), Jacob's flight must have taken place when he was seventy-seven. But Jacob was born in Isaac's sixtieth year (Genesis 25:26); hence Isaac was now one hundred and thirty-seven. There are, however, difficulties connected with this reckoning which lay it open to suspicion. For one thing, it postpones Jacob s marriage to an extremely late period. Then it takes for granted that the term of Jacob's service in Padan-aram was only twenty years (Genesis 31:41), whereas it is not certain whether it was not forty, made up, according to the computation of Kennicott, of fourteen years' service, twenty years' assistance as a neighbor, and six years of work for wages. And, lastly, it necessitates the birth of Jacob's eleven children in the short space of six years, a thing which appears to some, it not impossible, at least highly improbable. Adopting the larger number as the term of Jacob s sojourn in Mesopotamia, Isaac would at this time be only one hundred and seventeen (vide 'Chronologer of Jacob's Life,' 31:41) - and his eyes were dim, - literally, were failing in strength, hence becoming dim (1 Samuel 3:2). In describing Jacob s decaying vision a different verb is employed (Genesis 48:10) - so that he could not see, - literally, from seeing; מִן with the inf. constr, conveying the idea of receding from the state of perfect vision (cf. Genesis 16:2; Genesis 31:29; vide Gesenius, 'Hebrew Grammar,' § 132) - he called Esau his eldest son, - Esau was born before his twin brother Jacob (Genesis 25:25) - and said unto him, My son: - i.e. my special son, my beloved son, the language indicating fondness and partiality (Genesis 25:28) - and he (Esau) said unto him, Behold, here am I.
And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:
Verse 2. - And he (i.e. Isaac) said, Behold now, I am old, and know not the day of my death. Isaac had manifestly become apprehensive of the near approach of dissolution. His failing sight, and probably the recollection that Ishmael, his half-brother, had died at 137 (if that was Isaac's age at this time; wide supra), occasioned the suspicion that his own end could not be remote, though he lived forty-three or sixty-three years longer, according to the calculation adopted, expiring at the ripe age of 180 (vide Genesis 30:28).
Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;
Verse 3. - Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, - the word "weapon" signifying a utensil, vessel, or finished instrument of any sort (cf. Genesis 14:23; Genesis 31:37; Genesis 45:20). Here it manifestly denotes weapons employed in hunting, and in particular those next specified - thy quiver - the ἅπαξ λέγομενον, תְּלִי: from תָּלָה to hang, properly is "that which is suspended;" hence a quiver, φαρέτραν (LXX.), pharetram (Vulgate), which commonly depends from the shoulders or girdle (Aben Ezra, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, et alii), though by some it is rendered "sword" (Onkelos; Syriac) - and thy bow (vide Genesis 21:16), and go oat to the field, - i.e. the open country inhabited by wild beasts, as opposed to cities, villages, or camps (cf. Genesis 25:27) - and take me some venison - literally, hunt for me hunting, i.e. the produce of hunting, as in Genesis 25:28.
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.
Verse 4. - And make me savory meat, - "delicious food," from a root whose primary idea is to taste, or try the flavor, of a thing. Schultens observes that the corresponding Arabic term is specially applied to dishes made of flesh taken in hunting, and highly esteemed by nomad tribes (vide Gesenius, p. 467) - such as I love (cf. Genesis 25:28, the ground of his partiality for Esau), and bring it to me, that I may eat; - "Though Isaac was blind and weak in his eyes, yet it seem-eth his body was of a strong constitution, seeing he was able to eat of wild flesh, which is of harder digestion" (Willet) - that - the conjunction בַּעֲבוּר followed by a future commonly expresses a purpose (cf. Exodus 9:14) - my soul may bless thee - notwithstanding the oracle (Genesis 25:23) uttered so many (fifty-seven or seventy-seven) years ago, Isaac appears to have clung to the belief that Esau was the destined heir of the covenant blessing; quoedam fuit coecitatis species, quae illi magis obstitit quam externa oeulorum caligo (Calvin) - before I die.
And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.
Verse 5. - And Rebekah (who, though younger than Isaac, must also have been old) heard when Isaac spake - literally, in the speaking of Isaac; בְּ with the inf. forming a periphrasis for the gerund, and being commonly rendered by when (Genesis 14:30; 31:18), the subordinated noun being changed in translation into the subject of the sentence (vide Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 304) - to Esau his son (to which the "her son" of ver. 6 stands in contrast). And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, - literally, to hunt hunting. (vide on ver. 3) and to bring it - i.e. "the savory meat" or "delicious food," as directed (ver. 4).
And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying,
Verses 6, 7. - And Rebekah (having already formed a plan for diverting the patriarchal blessing from Esau, whose habit of life and utterly unspiritual character may perhaps have recalled to her mind and confirmed the declaration of the oracle concerning Jacob's precedence) spake unto Jacob her son, - i.e. her favorite, in contrast to Esau, Isaac s son (ver. 5) - saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, Bring me venison (vide on ver. 3), and make me savory meat, that I may eat (literally, and I shall eat), and bless thee - the lengthened form of the future in this and the preceding verb (cf. וְאֹכֵלָה in ver. 4) is expressive of Isaac's self-excitement and emphatic determination - before the Lord. The word Jehovah, by modern criticism regarded as a sign of divided authorship, is satisfactorily explained by remembering that Rebekah is speaking not of the blessing of God's general providence, but of the higher benediction of the covenant (Hengstenberg). The phrase, though not included in Isaac's address to Esau, need not be regarded as due to Rebekah's invention. She may have understood it to be implied in her husband's language, though it was not expressed (cf. Genesis 14:20). That it was designedly omitted by Isaac in consequence of the worldly character of Esau appears as little likely as that it was deliberately inserted by Rebekah to whet her favorite's ambition (Kalisch). As to meaning, the sense may be that this patriarchal benediction was to be bestowed sincerely (Menochius), in presence and by the authority of God (Ainsworth, Bush, Clericus); but the use of the term Jehovah rather points to the idea that Rebekah regarded Isaac simply "as the instrument of the living and personal God, who directed the concerns of the chosen race (Hengstenberg). Before my death. Since Rebekah makes no remark as to the groundlessness of Isaac s fear, it is not improbable that she too shared in her bed-ridden husband's expectations that already he was "in the presence of" his end.
Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death.
Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.
Verse 8. - Now therefore, my son, - Jacob at this time was not a lad, but a grown man of mature years (if Isaac was 137, he must have been 77), which shows that in the following transaction he was rather an accomplice than a tool - obey my voice according to that which I command thee. We can scarcely here think of a mother laying her imperative instructions on a docile and unquestioning child; but of a wily woman detailing her well-concocted scheme to a son whom she discerns to be possessed of a like crafty disposition with herself, and whom she seeks to gain over to her stratagem by reminding him of the close and endearing relationship in which they stand to one another.
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:
Verses 9, 10. - Go now to the flock, and fetch me - literally, take for me, i.e. for my purposes (cf. Genesis 15:9) - from thence two good kids of the goats. According to Jarchi kids were selected as being the nearest approach to the flesh of wild animals. Two were specified, it has been thought, either to extract from both the choicest morsels (Menochius), or to have the appearance of animals taken in hunting (Rosenmüller), or to make an ample provision as of venison (Lunge), or to make a second experiment, if the first failed (Willet). And I will make them - probably concealing any difference in taste by means of condiments, though Isaac s palate would not be sensitive in consequence of age and debility - savory meat for thy father, such as he loveth (vide ver. 4): and thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat (literally, and he shall eat), and that he may bless thee - בַּעֲבֻר אֲֶשר, in order that, from the idea of passing over to that which one desires to attain; less fully in ver. 4 - before his death. Clearly Rebekah was anticipating Isaac's early dissolution, else why this indecent haste to forestall Esau? There is no reason to surmise that she believed any connection to subsist between the eating and the benediction, though she probably imagined that the supposed prompt obedience of Isaac's son would stimulate his feeble heart to speak (Rosenmüller).
And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.
And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:
Verse 11. - And Jacob (who was not yet such an adept at trickery as he afterwards became, and who, if he had no scruples of conscience in either imposing on a senile parent or despoiling an open-hearted brother, was yet averse to being detected in his frauds, as deceivers usually are) said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man (vide Genesis 25:25) and I am a smooth man - חָלָק, smooth (opposed to שָׂעִיר," hairy); the primary idea of which is to cut off the hair. Cf. χαλκός χάλιξ κόλαξ γλυκός, γλοῖος γλίσχρος; glacies, glaber, gladius, glisco; gluten, glatt, gleiten, glas - all of which convey the notion of smoothness (vide Gesenius, p. 283).
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.
Verse 12. - My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; - literally, shall be in his eyes as a scorer (Keil, Lange), with the idea of mocking at his aged sire's infirmities - ὡς καταφρονῶν (LXX.); or as a deceiver, an imposter, one who causes to go astray (Vulgate, Rosenmüller, Ainsworth, Murphy); though perhaps both senses should he-included, the verb תָּעע, to scoff, meaning primarily to stammer, and hence to mislead by imperfect speech, and thus to cause to wander or lead astray, תָּעָה, (vide Gesenius, p, 870, and Kalisch, p. 506) - and I shall bring a curse - קְלָלָה - (from קָלַל, to be light, hence to be despised) signifies first an expression of contempt, and then a more solemn imprecation - upon me, and not a blessing.
And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.
Verse 13. - And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son (cf. Genesis 43:9; 1 Samuel 25:24; 2 Samuel 14:9; Matthew 27:25). Tempted to regard Rebekah's words as the utterance of a bold and unscrupulous woman (Aben Ezra), we ought perhaps to view them as inspired by faith in the Divine promise, which had already indicated that of her two sons Jacob should have the precedence (Willet, Calvin, Lange), and that accordingly there was every reason to anticipate not a malediction, but a benediction. Only obey my voice (i.e. do as I direct you, follow my instructions), and go fetch me them - or, go and take for me (sc. the two kids I spoke of).
And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved.
Verse 14. - And he went (sc. to the flock), and fetched, - or, rather, took (sc. the two kids as directed) and brought them (after slaughter, of course) to his mother: and his mother made savory meat, such as his father loved. All this implies that Rebekah reckoned on Esau's absence for a considerable time, perhaps throughout the entire day.
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:
Verse 15. - And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, - literally, the robes of Esau her son the elder - the desirable, i.e. the handsome ones. The בֶּגֶד was an outer garment worn by the Oriental (Genesis 39:12, 13, 15; Genesis 41:42), - στολὴ, LXX., - and was often made of beautiful and costly materials (cf. 1 Kings 22:10). That the clothes mentioned as belonging to Esau were sacerdotal robes possessed by him as heir of the patriarchal priesthood (Jewish Rabbis), though regarded by many as a probable conjecture (Ainsworth, Bush, Candlish, Clarke, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Inglis), is devoid of proof, and may be pronounced unlikely, since the firstborn did not serve in the priesthood while his father lived (Willet, Alford). They were probably festive garments of the princely hunter (Kalisch) - which were with her in the house, - not because Esau saw that his wives were displeasing to his parents (Mercerus, Willet), or because they were sacred garments (Ainsworth, Poole), but probably because Esau, though married, had not yet quitted the patriarchal household (Kalisch) - and put them upon Jacob her younger son. The verb, being in the hiphil, conveys the sense of causing Jacob to clothe himself, which entirely removes the impression that Jacob was a purely involuntary agent in this deceitful and deeply dishonorable affair.
And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:
Verse 16. - And she put the skins of the kids of the goats - not European, but Oriental camel-goats, whose wool is black, silky, of a much finer texture than that of the former, and sometimes used as a substitute for human hair (cf. Song of Solomon 4:1); vide on this subject Rosenmüller's 'Scholia,' and commentaries generally - upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck - thus cautiously providing against detection, in case, anything occurring to arouse the old man's suspicions, he should seek, as in reality he did, to test the accuracy of his now dim sight and dull hearing by the sense of touch.
And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
Verse 17. - And she gave the savory meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob - who forthwith proceeded on his unholy errand.
And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son?
Verse 18. - And he came unto his father, - by this time a bed-ridden invalid (vide ver. 19) - and said, My father. If he attempted to imitate the voice of Esau, he was manifestly unsuccessful; the dull ear of the aged patient was yet acute enough to detect a strangeness in the speaker's tone. And he said, Here am I who art thou, my son? "He thought be recognized the voice of Jacob; his suspicions were aroused; he knew the crafty disposition of his younger son too well; and he felt the duty of extreme carefulness" (Kalisch).
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.
Verse 19. - And Jacob (either not observing or not regarding the trepidation which his voice caned, but being well schooled by his crafty mother, and determined to go through with what perhaps he esteemed a perfectly justifiable transaction) said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn. A reply for which laborious excuses have been invented; as that Jacob spoke mystically, meaning not that he individually, but that his descendants, the Church, were Isaac's firstborn (Augustine); or figuratively, as importing that since he had already bought Esau s birthright, he might justly regard himself as standing in Esau's place (Theodoret, Aquinas). It is better not to attempt vindication of conduct which to ordinary minds must ever appear questionable, but rather to hold that "Jacob told an officious lie to his father" (Willet). I have done according as thou badest me. If the former assertion might be cleared of mendacity, it is difficult to see how this can. By no conceivable sophistry could he convince his conscience that he was acting in obedience to his father, while he was knowingly implementing the instructions of his mother. This was Jacob's second lie. - Arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison. Lie three. One lie commonly requires another to support or conceal it. Few who enter on a course of deception stop at one falsehood. That thy soul may bless me. It was the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant he craved.
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.
Verses 20, 21. - And Isaac (still dissatisfied, but still resolving to proceed with caution) said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? Giving expression to a natural surprise at the speedy success which had attended Esau's hunting expedition; an interrogation to which Jacob replied With daring boldness (Murphy), with consummate effrontery (Bush), not without perjury (Calvin), and even with reckless blasphemy (Kalisch, Alford). And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me. Literally, caused it to come before me; by the concurrence, of course, of his providence; which, though in one sense true, yet as used by Jacob was an impious falsehood. Solemn as this declaration was, it failed to lull the suspicions or allay the disquiet of the aged invalid. And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, - the very thing which Jacob had suggested as likely to happen (ver. 12) - whether thou be my very son Esau (literally, this, my son Esau) or not.
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.
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.
Verses 22, 23. - And Jacob (with a boldness worthy of a better cause) went near unto Isaac his father; and he (i.e. Isaac) felt him (i.e. Jacob), and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but (literally, and) the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him. Isaac must either have forgotten the heavenly oracle which announced the destinies of his sons at their birth, and distinctly accorded the precedence to Jacob, or he must not have attached the same importance to it as Rebekah, or he may have thought that it did not affect the transmission of the covenant blessing, or that it did not concern his sons no much as their descendants. It is hard to credit that Isaac either did not believe in the Divine announcement which had indicated Jacob as the heir of the promise, or that, believing it, he deliberately allowed paternal partiality to interfere with, and even endeavor to reverse, the will of Heaven.
And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him.
And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am.
Verses 24-26. - And he said (showing that a feeling of uneasy suspicion yet lingered in his mind), Art thou my very son Esau? Luther wonders how Jacob was able to brazen it out; adding, "I should probably have run away in terror, and let the dish fall;" but, instead of that, he added one more lie to those which had preceded, saying with undisturbed composure, I am - equivalent to an English yes; upon which the blind old patriarch requested that the proffered dainties might be set before him. Having partaken of the carefully-disguised kid's flesh, and drunk an exhilarating cup of wine, he further desired that his favorite son should approach his bed, saying, Come near now, and kiss me, my son - a request dictated more by paternal affection (Keil, Kalisch) than by lingering doubt which required reassurance (Lange).
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.
And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.
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:
Verse 27. - And he came near, and kissed him. Originally the act of kissing had a symbolical character. Here it is a sign of affection between a parent and a child; in Genesis 29:13 between relatives. It was also a token of friendship (Tobit 7. 6; 10:12; 2 Samuel 20:9; Matthew 26:48; Luke 7:45; Luke 15:20; Acts 20:37). The kissing of princes was a symbol of homage (1 Samuel 10:1; Psalm 2:12; Xenoph., 'Cyrop.,' 7. 5, 32). With the Persians it was a mark of honor (Xenoph., 'Agesil.,' 5. 4). The Rabbins permitted only three kinds of kisses - the kiss of reverence, of reception, and of dismissal. The kiss of charity was practiced among disciples in the early Christian Church (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14; vide Kitto's' 'Cyclopedia,' art. Kissing). And he smelled the smell of his raiment, - not deliberately, in order to detect whether they belonged to a shepherd or a huntsman (Tuch), but accidentally while, in the act of kissing. The odor of Esau s garments, impregnated with the fragrance of the aromatic herbs of Palestine, excited the dull sensibilities of the aged prophet, suggesting to his mind pictures of freshness and fertility, and inspiring him to pour forth his promised benediction - and blessed him (not a second time, the statement in ver. 23 being only inserted by anticipation), and said, - the blessing, as is usual in elevated prophetic utterances, assumes a poetic and antistrophical form (cf. Esau's blessing, vers. 39, 40) - See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field - the first clause of the poetic stanza clearly connects with the odor of Esau's raiment as that which had opened the fount of prophetic song in Isaac's breast, so far at least as its peculiar form was concerned; its secret inspiration we know was the Holy Ghost operating through Isaac's faith in the promise (vide Hebrews 11:20) - which the Lord hath blessed. The introduction of the name Jehovah instead of Elohim in this second clause proves that Isaac did not mean to liken his son to an ordinary well-cultivated field, but to "a field like that of Paradise, resplendent with traces of the Deity - an ideal field, bearing the same relation to an ordinary one as Israel did to the heathen - a kind of enchanted garden, such as would be realized at a later period in Canaan, as far as the fidelity of the people permitted it" (Hengstenberg).
Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:
Verse 28. - Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, - literally, and the Elohim will give thee, with an optative sense; i.e. and may the - Elohim give thee! The occurrence of הָךאלֹהִים in what is usually assigned to the Jehovist (Tuch, Bleek, Davidson) is not to be explained as a special Jehovistic formula (Colenso), or as a remnant of the fundamental Elohistic writing (Kalisch), or as indicating that the personal God, and not Jehovah, the God of the covenant, was the source of the blessing (Keil, Gosman in Lange), or as intimating a remaining doubt as to whether Esau was the chosen one of Jehovah (Lange); but as identifying Jehovah with Elohim, the art. being the art. of reference, as in Genesis 22:1 (Hengstenberg; cf. Quarry 'on Genesis,' p. 483). The blessing craved was substantially that of a fertile soil, in Oriental countries the copious dew deposited by the atmosphere supplying the place of rain. Hence dew is employed in Scripture as a symbol of material prosperity (Deuteronomy 33:13, 28; Zechariah 8:12), and the absence of dew and rain represented as a signal of Divine displeasure (2 Samuel 1:21; 1 Kings 17:1; Haggai 1:10, 11) - and the fatness of the earth, - literally, of the fat-nesses, or choicest parts, of the earth (Genesis 45:18) - and plenty of corn and wine - i.e. abundance of the produce of the soil (cf. Deuteronomy 33:28).
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.
Verse 29. - Let people serve thee (literally, and will serve thee, peoples; at once a prayer and a prophecy; fulfilled in the political subjection of the Moabites, Ammonites, Syrians, Philistines, and Edomites by David; the thought being repeated in the next clause), and nations bow down to thee (in expression of their homage): be lord over thy brethren, - literally, be a lord (from the idea of power; found only here and in ver. 37) to thy brethren. Imminence among his kindred as well as dominion in the world is thus promised - and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee (a repetition of the preceding thought, with perhaps a hint of his desire to humble Jacob, the favorite of Rebekah): cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee - framed on the model of the Abrahamic benediction (Genesis 12:3); but not so full as that, either because Isaac felt that after all Esau was not to be the progenitor of the holy seed (Murphy), or because, not being actuated by proper feelings towards Jehovah and his promises, the patriarch could not rise to that height of spiritual benediction to which he afterwards attained - Genesis 28:3, 4 (Keil), or because the prerogative of pronouncing the Abrahamic blessing in all its fullness Jehovah may have reserved to himself, as in Genesis 28:14 ('Speaker's Commentary').
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.
Verse 30. - And it came to pass (literally, and it was), as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out - literally, and it was (sc. as soon as, or when) Jacob only going forth had gone; i.e. had just gone out (Ewald, Keil), rather than was in the act of coming out (Murphy), since the narrative implies that the brothers did not meet on this occasion - from the presence of Isaac his father, that (literally, and) Esau his brother came in from his hunting.
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.
Verse 31. - And he also had made savory meat (vide ver. 4), and brought it unto his father, and said unto him, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison - compared with Jacob's exhortation to his aged parent (ver. 19), the language of Esau has, if anything, more affection in its tones - that thy soul may bless me. Esau was at this time a man of mature age, being either fifty-seven or seventy-seven years old, and must have been acquainted with the heavenly oracle (Genesis 25:23) that assigned the precedence in the theocratic line to Jacob. Zither, therefore, he must have supposed that his claim to the blessing was not thereby affected, or he was guilty of conniving at Isaac's scheme for resisting the Divine will. Indignation at Jacob's duplicity and baseness, combined with sympathy for Esau in his supposed wrongs, sometimes prevents a just appreciation of the exact position occupied by the latter in this extraordinary transaction. Instead of branding Jacob as a shameless deceiver, and hurling against his fair fame the most opprobrious epithets, may it not be that, remembering the previously-expressed will of Heaven, the real supplanter was Esau, who as an accomplice of his father was seeking secretly, unlawfully, and feloniously to appropriate to himself a blessing which had already been, not obscurely, designated as Jacob's? On this hypothesis the miserable craft of Jacob and Rebekah was a lighter crime than that of Isaac and Esau.
And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau.
Verse 32. - And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? The language indicates the patriarch's surprise. And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau. The emphatic tone of Esau's answer may have been dictated by a suspicion, already awakened by Isaac's question, that all was not right (Inglis). Esau's claim to be regarded as Isaac's firstborn, after having bartered away his birthright, is considered by some to be unwarranted (Wordsworth); but it is doubtful if Esau attached the importance to the term "firstborn" which this objection presupposes.
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.
Verse 33. - And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, - literally, feared a great fear, to a great degree; shuddered in great terror above measure (Lange). The renderings ἐξέστη δὲ Ἰσαάκ ἔκστασιν μεγάλην σφόδρα (LXX.), Expavit stupors, et ultra quam credi potest admirans (Vulgate), "wondered with an exceedingly great admiration" (Onkelos), emphasize the patriarch s astonishment, the first even suggesting the idea of a trance or supernatural elevation of the prophetic consciousness (Augustine); whereas that which is depicted is rather the alarm produced within the patriarch's breast, not so much by the discovery that his plan had been defeated by a woman s wit and a son's craft - these would have kindled indignation rather than fear - as by the awakening conviction not that he had blessed, but that he had been seeking to bless, the wrong person (Calvin, Willet) - and said, Who? where is he - quis est et ubi est? (Jarchi); but rather, who then is he? (Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Lange) - that hath taken venison, - literally, the one hunting prey - that hunted, or has hunted, the part having the force of a perfect (vide Ewald's 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 335) - and brought it me, And I have eaten of all before thou earnest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed - thus before Jacob is named he pronounces the Divine sentence that the blessing is irrevocable (Lange).
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.
Verse 34. - And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry - literally, he cried a cry, great and bitter exceedingly; expressive of the poignant anguish of his soul (Kalisch, Bush), if not also of his rage against his brother (Philo, Eusebius), of his envy of the blessing (Menochius, Lapide), and of the desperation of his spirit (Calvin). Cf. Hebrews 12:17 - and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. A proof of Esau's blind incredulity in imagining it to be within his father's power to impart benedictions promiscuously without and beyond the Divine sanction (Calvin); a sign that he supposed the theocratic blessing capable of division, and as dependent upon his lamentations and prayers as upon the caprice of his father (Lange); an evidence that "now at last he had learned in some measure adequately to value" the birthing? (Candlish); but if so it was post horam.
And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.
Verse 35. - And he (i.e. Isaac) said, Thy brother came with subtlety, - with wisdom (Onkelos); rather with fraud, μετά δόλου (LXX.) - and hath taken away thy blessing - i.e. the blessing which I thought was thine, since Isaac now understood that from the first it had been designed for Jacob.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
Verse 38. - And ESAU said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? Not as desiring either the reversal of the patriarchal sentence upon Jacob, which he appears to have understood to be irrevocable, or an extension of its gracious provisions, so as to include him as well as Jacob; but as soliciting such a benediction as would place him, at least in respect of temporalities, on a level with the favorite of Rebekah, either because he did not recognize the spiritual character of the covenant blessing, or because, though recognizing it, he was willing to let it go. Bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept (cf. Hebrews 12:17). "Those tear expressed, indeed, sorrow for his forfeiture, but not for the sinful levity by which it had been incurred. They were ineffectual (i.e. they did not lead to genuine repentance) because Esau was incapable of true repentance" (vide Delitzsch on Hebrews 12:17).
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;
Verse 39. - And Isaac his father (moved by the tearful earnestness of Esau) answered and said unto him, - still speaking under inspiration, though it is doubtful whether what he spoke was a real, or only an apparent, blessing - (vide infra) - Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. Literally, from (מִן) the fatnesses (or fat places) of the earth, and from the dew of area; a substantial repetition of the temporal blessing bestowed on Jacob (ver. 28), with certain important variations, such as the omission of plenty of corn and wine at the close, and of the name of Elohim at the commencement, of the benediction (Vulgate, Luther, Calvin, Ainsworth, Rosenmüller, 'Speaker's Commentary'); though, by assigning to the preposition a privative rather than a partitive sense, it is readily transformed into "a modified curse" - behold, away from the fatnesses o/the earth, &c., shall thy dwelling be, meaning that, in contrast to the land of Canaan, the descendants of Esau should be located in a sterile region (Tuch, Knobel, Kurtz, Delitzseh, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy). In support of this latter rendering it is urged
(1) that it is grammatically admissible;
(2) that it corresponds with the present aspect of Idumaea, which is "on the whole a dreary and unproductive land;"
(3) that it agrees with the preceding statement that every blessing had already been bestowed upon Jacob; and
(4) that it explains the play upon the words "fatness" and "dew," which are here chosen to describe a state of matter exactly the opposite to that which was declared to be the lot of Jacob. On the other hand, it is felt to be somewhat arbitrary to assign to the preposition a partitive sense in ver. 28 and a privative in ver. 39. Though called in later times (Malachi 1:3) a waste and desolate region, it may not have been originally so, or only in comparison with Canaan; while according to modern travelers the glens and mountain terraces of Edom, covered with rich soil, only want an industrious population to convert the entire region into "one of the wealthiest, as it is one of the most picturesque, countries in the world."
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.
Verse 40. - And by thy sword shalt thou live, - literally, upon thy sword shalt thou be, i.e. thy maintenance shall depend on thy sword; a prediction that Esau s descendants should be a warlike and tumultuous people of predatory habits (cf. Josephus, B. 1, 4. 4) - and shalt serve thy brother; - a prediction afterwards fulfilled (cf. 1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:14; 1 Kings 11:16; 2 Kings 14:7-10; 2 Chronicles 20:22-25) - and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck. The verb רוּד, used of beasts which have broken the yoke and wander freely about (Gesenius, Furst), appear to hint at an incessant restlessness on the part of Edom while under Israel's yoke which should eventually terminate in regaining their independence. The exact rendering of the clause is obscure, but perhaps means that when Edom should roam about as a freebooter (Lange), or should revolt (Alford), or should toss, shake, or struggle against the yoke (Vulgate, Keil, Hengstenberg, 'Speaker's Commentary), he should succeed. Other renderings are, when thou shalt bear rule (Kimchi), when thou shalt repent (Jarchi), when thou shalt be strong (Samaritan), when thou prevailest (Murphy), when thou shalt truly desire it (Kalisch), when thou shalt pull down (LXX.); because thou art restless (Havernick).
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.
Verse 41. - And Esau hated Jacob - a proof that he was not penitent, however disappointed and remorseful (cf. Obadiah 1:10, 11; 1 John 3:12, 15) - because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: - notwithstanding the fact that he too had received an appropriate benediction; a display of envy as well as wrath, another proof of his ungracious character (Galatians 5:21; James 4:5) - and Esau said in his heart, - i.e. secretly resolved, though afterwards he must have communicated his intention (vide ver. 42) - The days of mourning for my father are at hand. The LXX. interpret as a wish on the part of Esau that Isaac might speedily die, in order that the fratricidal act he contemplated might not pain the old man's heart; another rendering (Kalisch) understands him to say that days of grief were in store for his father, as he meant to slay his brother; but the ordinary translation seems preferable (Rosenmüller, Keil, Murphy, et alii), that Esan only deferred the execution of his unholy purpose because of the near approach, as he imagined, of his father's death. Isaac, however, lived upwards of forty years after this. Then will I slay my brother Jacob. That which reconciled Isaac and Ishmael (Genesis 25:9), the death of a father, is here mentioned as the event which would decisively and finally part Esau and Jacob. Esau's murderous intention Calvin regards as a clear proof of the non-reality of his repentance for his sin, the insincerity of his sorrow for his father, and the intense malignity of his hate against his brother.
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.
Verse 42. - And these (literally, the) words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: - not likely by revelation (Augustine), but by some one to whom he had made known his secret purpose (Proverbs 29:11) - and she sent and called Jacob her younger son (to advise him of his danger, being apprehensive lest the passionate soul of the enraged hunter should find it difficult to delay till Isaac's death), and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee. Literally, behold thy brother Esau taking vengeance upon thee (the hithpael of נָחַם meaning properly to comfort oneself, hence to satisfy one's feeling of revenge) by killing thee. The translations ἀπειλεῖ (LXX.) and mina-fur (Vulgate), besides being inaccurate, are too feeble to express the fratricidal purpose of Esau.
Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran;
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).
And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away;
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?
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?
Verse 46. - And Rebekah said to Isaac (perhaps already discerning in the contemplated flight to Haran the prospect of a suitable matrimonial alliance for the heir of the promise, and secretly desiring to suggest such a thought to her aged husband), I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: - referring doubtless to Esau's wives (cf. Genesis 26:35) - 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? Literally, for what to me life, i.e. what happiness can I have in living? It is impossible to exonerate Rebekah altogether from a charge of duplicity even in this. Unquestionably Esau s wives may have vexed her, and her faith may have perceived that Jacob's wife must be sought for amongst their own kindred; but her secret reason for sending Jacob to Haran was not to seek a wife, as she seems to have desired Isaac to believe, but to elude the fury of his incensed brother.