Esau Begs for Isaac’s Blessing
Jacob had a close call and almost met Esau returning from the hunt.
What lie would Jacob have told to explain why he was wearing Esau’s clothes?
It didn’t take long for Isaac and Esau to discover the conspiracy, but each man responded differently.
Isaac Trembled Greatly
Now as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob and when Jacob had barely left his father, his brother Esau returned from hunting. He had also prepared a sumptuous meal and brought it to his father.
Esau: Father, sit up now and eat the game I have brought for you, so that you can speak a blessing over me.
Isaac: Who are you?
Esau: I am your son, Esau, your firstborn!
It began to dawn on Isaac what had happened. Then Isaac began trembling violently.
Isaac: Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me to eat before you came? I have already given him my blessing! It’s now too late. He has already received the blessing.
Genesis 27:30-33 (VOICE)
Isaac’s trembling reveals the permanency of a blessing. One Hebrew scholar translates this verse: “he trembled a trembling, a great, unto excess.”
Why was Isaac so agitated?
Because he knew that the Lord had overruled his own selfish plan so that his favorite son did not receive the blessing. He couldn’t just cancel the blessing he gave Jacob and transfer it to Esau. Once a blessing is given the only way it can be negated is for the person who received it to void it by unbelief.
Esau Wept And Begged For A Blessing
When Esau heard this, he cried out loudly and bitterly and said, “Give me your blessing also, father!”
Isaac answered, “Your brother came and deceived me. He has taken away your blessing.”
Esau said, “This is the second time that he has cheated me. No wonder his name is Jacob. He took my rights as the first-born son, and now he has taken away my blessing. Haven’t you saved a blessing for me?”
Isaac answered, “I have already made him master over you, and I have made all his relatives his slaves. I have given him grain and wine. Now there is nothing that I can do for you, son!”
Esau continued to plead with his father: “Do you have only one blessing, father? Bless me too, father!” He began to cry.
Genesis 27:34-38 (GNT)
The man who despised his birthright and married two pagan women now wept and cried out for his father to bless him. It wasn’t his fault, of course; it was his crafty brother’s fault. When in doubt, always blame somebody else.
His brother Jacob supplanted Esau in this instance, but the criticism against Jacob for taking away Esau’s birthright is not accurate. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup and some bread. Genesis 25:34 says Esau despised his birthright. As with so many people who have been wronged and are in unforgiveness and bitterness, Esau amplified the offense and took no responsibility for his own actions.
Hebrews 12:16-17 is God’s commentary on the event. Esau tried to repent, but his own heart was too hard; and he couldn’t change his father’s mind. Esau’s tears were not tears of repentance for being an ungodly man; they were tears of regret because he had lost the covenant blessing. Esau wanted the blessing but he didn’t want to be the kind of man whom God could bless! We may forget our decisions, but our decisions don’t forget us.
Isaac was telling Esau that he had blessed Jacob as the head of Esau. Of course, at the time, Isaac thought he was making Esau the head. But nevertheless, once the blessing was given, it could not be reversed (Numbers 23:19-20).
Someone might ask why Esau didn’t ask Isaac to turn Jacob’s blessing into a curse for the lies and deception. The answer is that the blessing is so much stronger than a curse that cursing Jacob would have had no effect on him. And once a blessing is given, it cannot be taken back.
Isaac’s “blessing”, put Esau “away from” the blessings of land and sky that had been given to Jacob. Instead of ruling, Esau would live by his sword. The Edomites who descended from Esau (Edom) built their nation at Mount Seir (Gen. 36:5-8) at the southern end of the Dead Sea, and were constant enemies of the Jews. During David’s reign, the Edomites were subject to Israel, but when Joram was king of Judah, the Edomites rebelled and won their freedom (2 Kings 8:20-22).
Then Isaac said to him,
“No dew from heaven for you,
No fertile fields for you.
You will live by your sword,
But be your brother’s slave.
Yet when you rebel,
You will break away from his control.”
Genesis 27:39-40 (GNT)
This is interesting. Isaac had said to Jacob that he would rule over his brother, Esau. Isaac couldn’t undo that blessing, but he said a time would come when Esau would be able to break free from that dominion. It’s like a loophole in Jacob’s blessing. It didn’t say that he would rule over Esau forever. So, Isaac was saying that Jacob’s dominion over Esau would only be temporary.
Esau did break free from Jacob’s dominion. Actually, Jacob never really dominated Esau as Isaac prophesied in his blessing. Shortly after this instance, Jacob fled to a foreign land and dwelt with Laban, his uncle. The next time he saw Esau was when he returned twenty years later, as recorded in Genesis 32. Jacob, who had become Israel by then, came in humility and submitted himself to Esau, and Esau graciously received him.
This would support my conclusion that God didn’t inspire this whole episode. Jacob received the blessing directly from God in Genesis 28:13-15. He didn’t have to do all of this in the flesh. This caused nothing but trouble.
The trouble this caused between Esau and Jacob is obvious. Genesis 27:41 says that Esau was planning on killing Jacob.
But how must this have affected the relationship between Isaac and Jacob?
Isaac obviously preferred Esau over Jacob. That must have made their relationship strained at the least before this charade. This could not have done anything to improve that situation.
And what about the relationship between Isaac and Rebekah?
Surely Rebekah’s preference for Jacob and Isaac’s preference for Esau had been a source of contention between them before.
What must this have done to aggravate that tension?
Operating in the flesh never produces godly results. Abraham got in the flesh trying to make God’s promise come to pass (Genesis 16:1-3). The result was the birth of Ishmael, and contention between Hagar and Sarah (Genesis 16:4) and Ishmael and Isaac (Genesis 21:9-10).
Here we see history repeat itself. Isaac started in the flesh and tried to steer the blessing of God to his favorite son. Rebekah and Jacob operated in the flesh and tried to steal the blessing. All this resulted in a split family and hurt feelings for decades.