The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Genesis 27

Gen 27:1

Gen 27: "God's purpose succeeds, in spite of human weaknesses. The characters in this narrative are the four members of the patriarchal family. Two of them -- Isaac and Esau -- seek to frustrate the revealed purpose of God. Rebekah and Jacob seek to carry it out., but by wrong methods. Each of the four is rebuked and disappointed. Isaac is deceived and frightened. Esau loses all. Jacob has to flee. Rebekah loses her favourite son (Pro 19:21). So the record shows that the divine purpose is worked out through a tangled skein of human weakness and deception. The narrative shows: [1] Isaac plans to bless Esau: vv 1-4. [2] Rebekah's counter plan: vv 5-10. [3] Jacob's fear, for he had no scruples in acting upon his mother's advice, but was adverse to being detected in his fraud: vv 11,12. [4] Jacob is prepared for the interview: vv 13-17. [5] The deception occurs: vv 18-25. [6] The blessing bestowed: vv 26-29. [7] The deception revealed: vv 30-33. [8] Esau's complaint and reward: vv 34-40. [9] Jacob flees from Esau's hatred: vv 41-46.

"In all these circumstances, Jacob was a timid man, dominated by a desire to serve God and obtain the divine blessing (Gen 28:17-34). His timidity seen in this incident reveals him as dominated by his mother, in awe of his father, and in fear of his brother. Divinely contrived circumstances purifies the character of Jacob, and strengthens it" (GEM).

Gen 27: All 4 people here attempt to achieve their desires by unworthy methods. The result is sorrow, disappointment, trouble. "The one who trusts will never be dismayed" (Isa 28:16).

In Gen, 3 pairs: (1) Abraham and Lot, (2) Isaac and Ishmael, and (3) Jacob and Esau. "But the closer the relationship between these pairs, the less the spiritual likeness shows": (1) Lot, for all his mistakes, was "that righteous man" (2Pe 2:8); (2) Ishmael was "cast out" (Gal 4:30); (3) Esau was "sexually immoral, godless" (Heb 12:16) -- WAbr 30.

Gen 27:2

Isaac thought he was going to die soon, yet he lived many more years: Gen 34:5; 35:27.

Gen 27:4

SO THAT I MAY GIVE YOU MY BLESSING: In AV, "that my soul may bless thee". "Soul" = "nephesh", mind.

Gen 27:5

Ct v 5 (Isaac and HIS son Esau) with v 6 (Rebekah and HER son Jacob). Here is a real family tragedy. Isaac's household is dysfunctional: not only has his son Esau married out of the Faith, but husband and wife have clear favorites -- and the boys know it!

Gen 27:9

Goats, not sheep: Jacob uses goats to deceive his father, and in Gen 37:31 a goat is used by his son to deceive him.

Gen 27:12

I WOULD APPEAR TO BE TRICKING HIM (AS A DECEIVER): Which, of course, he was doing!

Gen 27:15

THE BEST CLOTHES (GOODLY RAIMENT): AV mg "desirable". Sig also "holy, consecrated", as the vessels of the Temple (2Ch 36:10), the "pleasant" things (Isa 64:11). These were priestly garments, carefully kept by Rebekah; they had a special smell (Gen 27:27). The priest always wore special clothes (Gen 35:10; Lev 21:10) (USC 12-14).

Gen 27:16

Jacob, who used the skin of a goat and the garment of a priest to deceive his father, was deceived himself by the blood of a goat and the garment of a priest, by his sons (Gen 37:31).

For wearing a rough garment of skin in order to deceive, see Zec 13:4.

Gen 27:20

THE LORD: Would profane Esau have used the name of "Yahweh"? Again, this stirs doubt in the mind of Isaac.

Gen 27:27

THE SMELL OF HIS CLOTHES (RAIMENT): The sweet, aromatic odor of the priestly garments.

Gen 27:28

A blessing of general prosperity.

Gen 27:29


Gen 27:33

ISAAC TREMBLED VIOLENTLY: Isaac now knew that he had been setting himself against the will of God and had been saved in spite of himself from this potentially horrible error. For surely he knew of God's message to Rebekah that the elder would serve the younger, and he would also know of Esau's selling his birthright to Jacob. Apparently Isaac was letting his natural preference for Esau outweigh what God had revealed his plan to be (Gen 25:28; Rom 9:10-13).

AND INDEED HE WILL BE BLESSED!: 'Even though I thoughtlessly tried to bless another.' Isaac acknowledges God's hand at work in mysterious ways.

Gen 27:36

HE TOOK MY BIRTHRIGHT: But Esau had profanely sold his birthright.

Gen 27:37

"But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand... they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes" (Pro 1:24,31).

Gen 27:39

AWAY FROM...: In AV, "of". But this is better. "Away from" is seen in the land of Edom today. Esau received no blessing -- he was rejected: "Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears" (Heb 12:17). Esau was not under God's protection and guidance. Blessings of the Kingdom (ie Psa 72) did not come to him. Esau left the Land of Promise, and went to barren, sterile Edom, beyond the Dead Sea. (Cp Cain: Gen 4:11.)

Gen 27:40

YOU WILL LIVE BY THE SWORD: In ct to the true seed, who need no sword (Mat 26:52,53). The seed of the serpent needs to engage in fleshly warfare. Cp Edom's later attitude toward Israel: Num 20:18; Eze 25:2-5; Amo 1:11; etc.


Gen 27:41

Esau's hatred for Jacob brings the curse of v 29 down upon himself.

Gen 27:43

MY SON, DO WHAT I SAY: "Each time Jacob obeyed the voice of his mother, instead of relying on his Father in heaven, he got himself into deep trouble. Rebekah paid for this lack of faith, in that this is the last time she sees her son, for she died whilst Jacob was with her brother Laban. For Jacob -- he simply ran away from a 'RED serpent' [Esau, or Edom -- whose name can mean 'red'] into the wiles of a 'WHITE serpent' [his uncle Laban -- whose name sig 'white']" (CY).

Gen 27:44

A WHILE: "A few days" in AV, but it turned out to be 20 years!

Gen 27:45

Rebekah correctly appraises her son Esau's character: A simple, natural, sensual man incapable of holding a grudge for a long time; a man who lives in the "here and now", and not the future or the past!

Gen 27:46

Marriage with unbelievers causes many problems: Gen 27:46; Deu 7:1-4; Exo 34:14-16; 1Ki 11:1-4; 1Co 7:39; 2Co 6:14-17. See Lesson, Marriage "only in the Lord".

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