Jan. 9 Reading: Genesis 27-29 Commentary
“Therefore may God give you of the dew of the heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you.” (Gen. 27:28-29)
Genesis 27 – Jacob’s Blessing
Even though Isaac does not die for years, his health is failing. Gen. 27:1 says that “his eyes were dim [so that] he could not see.” No doubt this played into his thinking to take precautionary steps before he was totally impaired and give out his fatherly blessing to his firstborn son Esau.
Isaac calls Esau, asks him to hunt some game and prepare some savory food just the way he likes it. Esau leaves to do as his father requests.
The only issue here is that Rebekah overheard the conversation. And we know from previously that Jacob was her favorite over Esau (Gen. 25:34). So she conceives a plan to have Jacob receive the blessing instead of Esau.
Jacob is reluctant. He knows that Isaac, even with diminished sight, will be able to distinguish the differences between he and Esau. Any discovery of this plot would bring a curse upon Jacob. But Rebekah has it all covered.
She prepares the food just like Isaac likes and dresses Jacob in Esau’s clothes. She even puts animal skins on his hands and neck to mirror the hairy nature of Esau’s body. And Rebekah tells Jacob that if Isaac does find out, she will take the blame.
At this point, Jacob is all in on the deception. In the interaction with his father, he lies three times:
- Verse 18 – Isaac asks, “Who are you, my son?”; Jacob replies: “I am Esau, your firstborn.”
- Verse 20 – Isaac asks, “How is it that you have found it [the food] so quickly?”; Jacob replies: “Because the Lord your God brought it to me.” (This lie is especially powerful in that he used God as part of the deception.)
- Verse 24 – Isaac asks, “Are you really my son Esau?”; Jacob replies, “I am.”
Trusting in Jacob’s words, and after feeling his skin (v. 22) and smelling his clothing (v. 27), Isaac is finally convinced its Esau. He offers his blessing on Jacob
“…Therefore may God give you of the dew of the heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you.” (Gen. 27:28-29)
The deception is complete. Jacob is now the heir to the Lord’s everlasting covenant given to Abraham and his descendants.
Immediately after Jacob leaves, Esau arrives. An unbearable dialogue between father and son ensues, as each realize they have been duped by Jacob. Esau is in anguish, pleading with Isaac to give him a blessing as well. But Isaac’s first words are irrevocable and he has only a minimal blessing to offer Esau.
Esau’s birthright and blessing have been taken by Jacob using underhanded means. Verse 41 tells us that Esau hated Jacob and vowed to kill him once his days of mourning Isaac’s death were completed. Rebekah catches wind of this plot and instructs Isaac to go live with her brother Laban until Esau’s wrath subsides.
Genesis 28 – Jacob Makes a Vow
Before Jacob leaves, Isaac blesses Jacob again and instructs him to take a wife from the daughters of Laban. This mirrors exactly what Abraham had instructed his servant to do for Isaac, to find him a wife from among his own people and not to marry a Canaanite women. (Gen. 24)
On the journey to Laban’s homeland of Haran, Jacob came to rest one evening at a certain place. He dreams of a ladder going up to heaven. Angels were traveling up and down the ladder, with the Lord standing above it.
In an ironic twist, God appears to Jacob. He’s just deceived and made an enemy of his brother. He is running from the consequences of his lies and seems to be in no position to received God’s favor. A rebuke from God is probably in order.
However, God chooses one of Jacob’s lowest moments to reaffirm His promises of land, descendants and blessing to all families of the earth through Jacob’s seed. God promises to be with Jacob wherever he goes and bring him back to the land one day.
When Jacob awakes, he pours oil on the stone that has been supporting his head while he slept. He names the place Bethel. He makes his own vow saying, “If God will be with me and keep me in this way I am going…then the Lord shall be my God” (v. 20-21).
Jacob isn’t to the point yet where he is completely submitted to, reliant on, or trusting in God. His conditional vow (“If God does…then I will”) proves that. But God is not done dealing with Jacob yet.
Genesis 29 – Jacob and Rachel
God again shows his provision by helping Jacob find a wife. Some would see Jacob’s ability to connect with Rachel as luck or coincidence. But Jacob doesn’t see it that way. He meets Rachel at a well in the countryside of Laban’s homeland. They return to Laban’s house where Jacob stays for a month.
After a month has passed, Laban approaches Jacob with a question. Laban wants to pay Jacob for the service he is providing for his household. He asks Jacob what his wages should be.
Jacob has one thing in mind. He asks for Rachel to become his wife. Laban agrees. But the prices is steep – seven years of labor.
At the end of seven years, a wedding feast is held to unite Jacob and Rachel. However, Laban deceives Jacob by taking his oldest daughter Leah into Jacob at night. (How could Jacob not know? We don’t know, but it’s most likely a combination of darkness, face coverings and impairment from drinking at the wedding feast.)
Jacob is furious in the morning when he finds out the woman he has spent the night with is Leah. Laban offers a weak excuse for why this has happened (v. 26). But Laban agrees to give Rachel to Jacob as well if he works another seven years for him. Jacob agrees to this arrangement.
It is ironic that the deceiver (Jacob) was himself deceived (by his uncle Laban). Additionally, both deceptions (Jacob vs. Esau/Isaac and Jacob vs. Laban) were committed against family members.
Deception always has consequences. It will always catch up with you (as Laban will soon find out). It may be possible to hide from it for a time. But sooner or later deceptions will be exposed and you will have to deal with the consequences.
Questions to Consider: What special circumstances can you point to in your own life that could not have been just luck or coincidence but were clearly God’s hand at work? Why do you think it’s so easy for family members to deceive one another?
What other points would you want to know about in our Genesis 27-29 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.