When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.”
“Here I am,” he answered.
Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.” Genesis 27:1-4
Isaac became old, his eyesight failed and his health began to deteriorate. Approximately how old Isaac was at this time can be determined by first noting that his son Jacob was 130 when he entered the land of Egypt (Genesis 47:9). Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh King of Egypt (Genesis 41:46). After 7 years of plenty and 2 years of famine, Joseph was approximately 39 years old when Jacob came down to Egypt. Knowing that Jacob was 130 years old when he came down to Egypt and Joseph was 39 at that time, we can calculate by subtraction that Jacob was 91 years old when Joseph was born. Joseph was born after Jacob worked 14 years for his uncle Laban to pay the bridal prices for his two wives (Genesis 30:25). Therefore, Jacob left home and arrived at Laban’s when he was 77. Since Jacob was born when Isaac was 60, this means Isaac at this time is about 137 years old.
Isaac was over 137 years old and he could no longer see. He probably also considered that Ishmael, his half-brother, had died at 137. Therefore, he called for his son Esau to prepare a last meal for him before he dies. But according to Genesis 35:28, Isaac lived 43 more years and died at 180. Isaac’s physical blindness was symbolic of his spiritual blindness. In his haste to pronounce a blessing over Esau, Isaac failed to see the character flaws in his eldest son and the necessity of God’s spiritual choice over the natural order of the firstborn by birth. The prophecy given to Rebekah before the birth of Esau and Jacob stated that Jacob would be the ruling son. In addition, Esau had shown himself to be a self-centered and foolish man. Esau so disregarded his position in the family that he sold the birthright of the first-born son to his brother for a bowl of red lentil stew. Surely, Esau was not worthy of the blessing.
Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” Genesis 27:5-10
Rebekah may have heard Isaac call out to Esau, watched him enter his father’s tent and then listened to the conversation. Isaac had said that he wanted to give Esau his blessing in the presence of the LORD (Yehovah). This was to be a solemn blessing witnessed by the LORD, pronouncing it in His Name and authority. Rebekah knew of the prophecy that her older son Esau would serve his brother and understood that Jacob was the one who should receive the blessing. But instead of entreating her husband and reminding Isaac of what the LORD had told her, she devised a plan to have her son Jacob deceive his father.
Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”
His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” Genesis 27:11-13
Although she went about it all wrong, Rebekah was inspired by her faith in the divine promise and was confident that Isaac would not be able to curse Jacob. Rebekah provokes her son to follow her wishes in spite of his fear.
So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made. Genesis 27:14-17
Jacob obeyed his mother and fetched two choice young goats. Rebekah seasoned the meat and cooked them to her husband’s liking. Realizing that Esau would be gone for awhile, Rebekah dressed Jacob in his brother’s clothes. To complete the disguise, she covered Jacob’s hands and neck with the goatskins so that he would feel hairy to his father’s touch.
He went to his father and said, “My father.”
“Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?”
Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”
Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”
“The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied.
Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.” Genesis 27:18-21
Jacob lived up to his name of supplanter and deceiver by claiming to be his brother Esau and lying to his blind father. But Isaac suspected something was wrong and sought further proof.
Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked.
“I am,” he replied. Genesis 27:22-24
Isaac did not recognize that it was Jacob speaking to him because his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau. Yet, Isaac questions his son for the second time for the voice he heard was Jacob’s voice. When Jacob lies again maintaining to be Esau, the deception was completed.
Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.”
Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. Genesis 27:25
Isaac’s eyesight has become so bad that he could not see. His sense of taste probably was also poor because he could not distinguish between goat and venison.
Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.”
So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,
“Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.
May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine.
May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.” Genesis 27:26-29
After finishing with his meal, Isaac calls his son over to kiss him. This request may have been made in gratitude as well as out of lingering suspicions. Any doubt that Isaac may have still had was dispelled by the scent of Esau’s clothes that Jacob was wearing.
The blessing by Isaac was both a prayer and a prophetic declaration that would be fulfilled by the nation of Israel. During the time of Joshua and when the judges led Israel to victory, the Canaanites were conquered by the Israelites. During King David’s reign,the Moabites, Ammonites, Syrians, Philistines, and Edomites were all in subjugation and paid tribute to Israel. The final pronouncement, “May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed” is a partial reiteration of the LORD’S promise to Abram found in Genesis chapter 12.
After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”
His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”
“I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.”
Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!” Genesis 27:30-33
Isaac was amazed, astonished, and seized with a great trembling all over his body as a result of the terror and confusion of his mind caused by the craftiness of Jacob in getting the blessing he had intended to give Esau. Isaac’s fearful reaction may have also been a result of his realization of God’s providence in this matter. For Isaac now saw clearly that it was according to the divine will that Jacob should be blessed in accordance to the LORD‘s declaration that the older son will serve the younger.
When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”
But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”
Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”
Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”
Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud. Genesis 27:34-38
Esau wept loud and bitterly and blamed Jacob for taking advantage of him for the second time. Yet, it was Esau’s own carnal character that led him to despise his birthright and sell it for a hot meal. Esau’s tears were not of repentance but of self-pity. He understood that his father’s blessing upon Jacob was irrevocable and asked for a blessing of his own. God in His foreknowledge and sovereignty chose Jacob to receive the blessing reserved for the first born.
His father Isaac answered him, “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.” Genesis 27:39-40
Isaac’s declaration over Esau is almost the antithesis of Isaac’s blessing over Jacob. Jacob, who was content to stay at home among the tents and desired the rights and responsibilities of the first-born son, receives a blessing of agricultural abundance. Self-centered Esau, on the other hand, was a skillful hunter and a man of the open country. His descendants are destined to live on poor land and be a warlike, predatory people.
The final portion of the prophetic declaration states that Esau’s offspring (the nation of Edom) would finally throw off Jacob’s yoke. This was fulfilled in the days of King Jehoram of the southern Kingdom of Judah.
In the time of Jehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up its own king. 2 Kings 8:20
Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?” Genesis 27:41-45
Like Cain, who slew his brother Abel out of jealousy because Abel received God’s favor, Esau is enraged that Jacob received his father’s blessing and planned to slay his brother. Satan was constantly attempting to thwart God’s plan of redemption by preventing the promised “seed of the woman” from being born through the prophesied lineage. Messiah was to come through Jacob’s son Judah.
Rebekah was rightfully concerned that she could lose both of her sons in one day. The punishment for murder was to be the death of the murderer.
“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” Genesis 9:6
Jacob would indeed flee to his uncle Laban’s home in Harran. But this was not to be for just a little while. It would be twenty years of toil and unfair treatment by Laban until Jacob’s character and name would be changed for the better and he would return to the land of Canaan.
Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” Genesis 27:46
Esau had married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. Although Abraham was befriended by Hittites who came to his aid in the war against the Mesopotamian kings, the Hittites, descendants of Heth, son of Canaan son of Ham, are listed among the accursed Canaanites and not the blessed line of Shem. The name Hittite is derived from the name Heth and means “sons of terror.” Esau has again shown that he is not to be trusted as the father of the “promised seed” through which all nations on earth are to be blessed.
Rebekah wanted to convince Isaac to send Jacob to Harran to get a bride. In God’s sovereignty, Jacob was forced to flee for his life and would marry within his family’s clan and preserve Messiah’s line.