Genesis 27: Rebekah Helps Jacob Steal Esau’s Blessing From Isaac

3Hebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Isaac, who has become blind in his old age, prepares to give Esau a final blessing over a meal. While Esau is out hunting, Rebekah has Jacob trick his father so that Jacob receives Esau’s blessing of agricultural sustenance and power over his brothers. When Esau returns, Isaac blesses him to be a nomad who will break free of his enslavement. Esau is bitter and prepares to kill Jacob. Rebekah readies Jacob to flee to her brother in Mesopotamia.

II. Photo

Rebekah disguises Jacob: “Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob” (v. 15)

III. Select Verses

5-17: Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me game, and prepare for me savory food to eat, that I may bless you before the LORD before I die.’ Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. Go to the flock, and get me two choice kids, so that I may prepare from them savory food for your father, such as he likes; and you shall take it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.”But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a man of smooth skin. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him, and bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my word, and go, get them for me.” So he went and got them and brought them to his mother; and his mother prepared savory food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she handed the savory food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.

28-29: May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

38-40: Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, father? Bless me, me also, father!” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. Then his father Isaac answered him: “See, away from the fatness of the earth shall your home be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you break loose, you shall break his yoke from your neck.”

41: Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

IV. Outline

1-40. Rebekah helps Jacob steal Esau’s blessing    

    1a. Isaac was old and blind

    1b-4. Isaac asks Esau to hunt game so that he can bless him before he dies

    5-10. Rebekah overhears and tells Jacob to prepare a meal as a ruse

    11-12. Jacob points out that Esau is hairy but he is not

    13. Rebekah insists, taking any blame upon herself

    14-17. Rebekah prepares the meal and puts the goat skins on Jacob’s hands and neck

    18-27. Despite his many suspicions, Isaac is convinced that it is Esau who has brought him a meal

    28-29. Isaac blesses his “firstborn” with sustenance and power over his brothers

    30-31. Esau returns and prepares a meal

    32-38. Isaac explains what has transpired, Esau is distraught, and Esau asks for a different blessing

    39-40. Isaac blesses Esau with a nomadic lifestyle, initial servitude, and eventual freedom

41-46. Rebekah readies Jacob to flee

    41. Esau plans to kill Jacob after Isaac’s death

    42-45. Rebekah hears and tells Jacob to flee to her brother Laban in Haran [along the upper Euphrates]

    46. Rebekah expresses her dissatisfaction with the Hittite women, thereby suggesting that Jacob leave Canaan

V. Comment

Note: verse 36 has a second etymology for the name Jacob, this time from Esau’s perspective:

Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob (ya‘qov)? For he has supplanted me (ya‘aqveni) these two times. He took away my birthright (bekhorati); and look, now he has taken away my blessing (birkhati).”

The original etymology, based on Jacob holding on to Esau’s heel during their twin birth, appeared in Genesis 25:26.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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