1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
5 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, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.” – Genesis 27:1-13 ESV
Chapter 26 ended with a brief snapshot of Esau’s life. When he reached the age of 40, this eldest son of Isaac married two different women from the among the sons of Heth. And Moses comments that Esau’s wives wives “made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah” (Genesis 26:35 ESV). This seems to be a reference to the disappointment his parents felt that he had failed to take for himself a wife from among the clan of Abraham. It is important to recall that Rebekah had been a granddaughter of Abraham’s brother. It had been highly important to Abraham that his son, Isaac, have a wife from among his own people. And when Abraham had sent his servant to Haran to seek a suitable bride for Isaac, he had made him swear an oath.
“I may make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” – Genesis 24:3-4 ESV
So, Esau’s decision to marry not one, but two, Hittite women, left Isaac and Rebekah bitter and frustrated by their son’s rebellious behavior. By marrying Canaanite women, Esau ensured that any children they bore him would be, in a sense, impure. He had married outside his clan and, in doing so, had brought dishonor to the family name.
But, as Moses revealed earlier, Isaac had a special love for Esau.
Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home… – Genesis 25:28 ESV
This entire chapter is going to place a special emphasis on physical appetites and desires. Each of the characters seem to be consumed by what the apostle John called “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life” (1 John 2L16 ESV). They each display an unhealthy obsession with self and allow their own personal agendas to cloud their decision making.
While Isaac and Rebekah had been grieved by Esau’s choice of wives, Isaac still appreciated his son’s culinary skills. In the waning days of his life, Isaac showed little concern about the spiritual heritage he would leave his eldest son, but instead, he used Esau to satisfy his own selfish desires.
“Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.” – Genesis 27:2-4 ESV
Basically, Isaac manipulates his son in order to get what he wants. He couches his request in the guise of a blessing, and offers Esau something that was already his by right. But Isaac has attached a condition. If you bring me food, I will bless you. And this offer appealed to Esau because, years earlier, he had mistakenly sold his birthright to Jacob, in exchange for a bowl of stew. The birthright and the blessing were two different things. The birthright was usually given to the firstborn son and guaranteed him the largest portion of the family’s estate upon his father’s death. But Esau had flippantly traded that right away. Yet, despite his reckless decision, Esau was still the firstborn and, as such, was guaranteed a special blessing from his father. So, Isaac’s request provided Esau with a chance to make up his losses. By selling his birthright, Esau had given up his right to be the chief of the tribe and head of the family, but he still held out hope that his father would reward him with a double-portion as the eldest son of the family.
Like his father, Esau was driven by his own brand of lust and desire. So, he quickly took up Isaac’s offer and headed out in search of wild game.
But there had been someone eavesdropping on the conversation between Isaac and Esau. Rebekah overhead what her husband had said and immediately went into protective-parent mode. According to Moses, Rebekah loved Jacob (Genesis 25:28), and she would do anything to protect her favorite child. So, when she heard that Isaac planned to give Esau the blessing, she saw her chance to guarantee Jacob’s future for life.
There is no way to tell if Isaac or Rebekah knew about Esau’s sale of his birthright. It would appear that they were still operating under the impression that Esau still retained the birthright and had every right to expect the blessing of the firstborn. Rebekah’s motivation is purely selfish. She desires that her favorite son be the one who inherits all the Isaac leaves behind. And she is willing to use deception to make it happen. But keep in mind, that Rebekah has already been promised by God that Jacob will be the more powerful and successful of the two sons. When she was still carrying the two boys in her womb, God had given her a prophetic pronouncement regarding their future.
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.” – Genesis 25:23 ESV
But Rebekah decided to take matters into her own hands. She was going to do whatever it took to ensure the outcome that God had promised. While Esau was gone, she called Jacob and informed him of her plan.
“Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” – Genesis 27:8-10 ESV
Unwilling to allow God to accomplish His will on His own terms and according to His own timing, Rebekah chose to implement her own cleverly concocted plan. She decided to help out the Almighty. And everything about her plan is deceptive and potentially destructive. She shows no concern for Esau, and displays no respect for the wishes of her own husband. In her desire to get what she wanted, she was willing to disobey God, deceive her husband, and defraud her own son.
Interestingly enough, Jacob doesn’t reject his mothers plan, but simply exposes the holes he sees in it. He displays a fear of getting exposed but not a fear of deceiving his father and cheating his brother out of the blessing. He knew his father was half-blind, but he also knew that his father was no fool. He and his brother looked nothing alike and Isaac was sure to see through their little charade. But Rebekah had a plan. She had already thought through all the variables and had come up with a fool proof strategy for pulling the wool over Isaac’s already cloudy eyes.
She even assured her reluctant son that, if they were caught, she would personally endure any curse that Isaac leveled against him. She would take the heat. If nothing else, Rebekah was committed. She was completely sold out to her son’s success and would do anything to see that he got all she believed he deserved.
At this moment, Rebekah’s desires had completely taken precedence over God’s will. Nothing she was doing was necessary. And yet, God allowed it to happen. According to His sovereign will and in line with His providential plan, He permitted each of these individuals to operate according to their own selfish agendas, without ever sacrificing a single element of His own divine will.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. – Proverbs 19:21 ESV
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9 ESV
Isaac lusted for food. Esau coveted a blessing. Rebekah yearned to get her own way. And Jacob craved significance.
All four of them could have saved themselves a lot of hurt and heartache if they could have heard the words of the apostle John.
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. – 1 John 2:15-17 NLT
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.