January 24, 2015

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

 

PART III: HISTORY OF ISAAC AND JACOB. (Genesis 25:19-36:43)

Topic #B:JACOB'S FRAUD AND FLIGHT. (Genesis 27:1-28:22)                                                                                                                                             

 

 

Lesson III.B.3: Esau's Disappointment. (Genesis 27:30-40).                                                                     

 

 

(Genesis 27:30-40) (KJV)

 

30 And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.

31 And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me.

32 And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau.

33 And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed .

34 And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.

35 And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.

36 And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?

37 And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?

38 And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.

39 And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above;

40 And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

 

 

 

Introduction to Verses 30-40

 

When Jacob had fooled his father and obtained the blessing, Esau (30) was close by, and busy preparing meat he had brought in from the hunt.  Unaware of Jacob’s act, he took the savory meat (31) to Isaac his father (32), fully expecting to receive the blessing.  Isaac was amazed to hear his voice and knew immediately what had happened.  He had been tricked.  The old man was shaken till he trembled very exceedingly (33).  The blessing he had given was of the “once for all” type and could not be revoked.  The extent of Esau’s reaction is seen in his great and exceeding bitter cry (34) and his plaintive plea that his father would still bless him. Hebrews 12:17 notes that Esau’s serious mistake was his sale of the birthright (25:29-34) and that now his efforts to repair that error were too late, for he had never really repented of his earlier foolishness.  Esau placed the entire blame on Jacob (36), but his brother’s guilt could not justify his own.

 

Isaac could think only of the completeness of his act of blessing Jacob and it was only after Esau’s persistent pleading that he consented to grant Esau a lesser blessing.

 

Esau was also to have prosperity.  But he would have to live by the sword (40) and accept the role of a servant to Jacob and his descendants for a time, after which he had the right to break his yoke from off his neck.

 

Commentary

30 And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.

31 And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me.

32 And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau.

 

Old Isaac was just nodding off to sleep when the tent flap was raised again.  He sat bolt upright.  There could be no mistaking that boisterous greeting “Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me” (31).  Esau had come to collect what had never belonged to him at all.

 

Jacob had a close call and almost met Esau returning from the hunt.  What lies would Jacob have told to explain why he was wearing Esau’s clothes and why he had goat’s hair on his arms? [He might have said he was going to a masquerade party.]  It didn’t take long for Isaac and Esau to discover the conspiracy, but each man responded differently.

 

Was Esau a bad man?  The Bible seems to indicate that he was, but you can decide for yourself.  He was certainly a careless and contemptuous man when it came to unseen values.  Hebrews 12:16 calls him a “profane person.” To be profane is not primarily a matter of course speech, but a half-contemptuous irreverence that treats the holiest possibilities of life as though they were cheap and did not matter.

In the New Testament there is another figure who was as profane as Esau was.  It is the younger son in Jesus’ parable who was contemptuous of his sonship and almost threw it away (Luke 15).  Observe however that in the merciful teaching of Jesus the profane and reckless lad does find room to repent, and by grace is restored in his father’s home.

 

 

 

33 And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed .

 

It was a moment of rude awakening for Isaac.  The King James Version says, “Isaac trembled very exceedingly.” In the margin of the Schofield Bible it is rendered, “He trembled with a great trembling, greatly.” He shook like a leaf in the wind.  His poor old frame was shaken all to pieces, as did the chair beneath him.  It was not just physical infirmity, it was a rude awakening from years of spiritual indifference.  Various circumstances rushed into his mind, showing him that he had been endeavoring to counteract the providence of God.  The language of verse 33 expresses the confusion of his mind at perceiving in what manner God had frustrated his intention.  That’s why Isaac was so agitated.  Because he knew that the Lord had overruled his own selfish plan so that his favorite son did NOT receive the blessing.  Those who choose to follow their own plans, rather than the dictates of the divine will, involve themselves in such perplexities as these.

 

Isaac was a man suddenly alive to spiritual realities, horrified at what he had tried to do, at the enormity of his presumption and indulgence in seeking to discharge a holy duty in a fleshly way.  He had acted in the flesh and God had simply overruled him.  He was shaken to the depths of his being.  Groping for Jacob’s name he cried, “Who?  Where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it to me . . . and I have blessed him?” Then, with a full, swelling flood of Holy Ghost conviction, he added, “yea, and he shall be blessed.”

 

 

34 And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.

35 And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.

 

The man who despised his birthright and married two pagan women 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.

 

Esau had an unsaved man’s view of eternal principles.  He thought they could be bought and sold, that they were in the market to be sold to the highest bidder.  In some ways Esau was not altogether to blame. Of recent years his own father had revealed little of the Spirit of God in his life.

 

Four things are told us about this unsaved son.  First, we have Esau’s impassioned remorse.  “He cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.” The New Testament says that Esau found no way to change his father’s mind.  Esau was not repentant, not for a moment.  He was simply brokenhearted because he had been disappointed in his carnal expectations.  All he could do is wring his hands in vain. His impassioned remorse could no more bring back the blessing than it could reverse the spin of the earth upon its axis or cause it to retrace its path around the sun.

 

Esau, as a result of this, is cut off from the expectation of that special blessing, which he thought had been preserved for him alone, when he sold his birth-right.  And we are taught by this affair that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:16).

 

 

36 And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?

37 And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?

 

We have, here Esau’s unyielding resentment.  “Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted[1] me these two times.” His resentment was both right and wrong, and it was understandable.  Jacob’s methods were underhanded and mean, and wholly unnecessary when God had already vowed to give the blessing to him.  We can understand Esau’s resentment.  But, he had sold his birthright of his own free will.  Nobody had forced his hand.  Jacob had persuaded but he had not compelled.  Esau had treated his birthright with utter disdain.  It was rather late in the day for him to be filled with resentment, because payday for his recklessness had come.

 

“What shall I do now unto thee, my son?” he cried.  He would give to Esau all the blessing that rested in him to confer, a blessing that had love in it like the “dew of heaven from above” (39), and had fierceness in it, in the hope that although Jacob should have the pre-eminence, Esau should someday “break his yoke from off thy neck” (40).

 

God’s commentary on this event is Hebrews 12:16-17—“See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 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.” 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. God will forgive those who are sorry for their sins and truly repent, but it is always the case that we will reap what we sow—the chickens will come home to roost.

 

 

38 And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.

39 And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above;

40 And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

 

We are told of Esau’s forceful request. “And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.” Isaac did find a blessing for Esau, a common blessing, one that involved both wealth and war, but nothing of lasting, eternal worth.  Yet, Esau desired this blessing, for even the worst of men know how to wish well to themselves.  He would forge ahead in the world, make a name for himself, and even break off Jacob’s yoke from his neck.  That was all that was left.  Remorse alone cannot win through to spiritual blessing; it takes repentance for that, and Esau showed no trace of repentance at all.

 

The big problem with this blessing is that there is nothing in it which points at Christ; nothing that brings him or his into the church and into the covenant of God; and without that the fatness of the earth, and the abundance of the field, will stand him in little stead[2].  Thus Isaac by faith blessed both his sons according to how their lot[3] should be.

 

Isaac’s “blessing” put Esau “away from” (cut off 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 (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).

 

The first part of verse 40, “And by thy sword shalt thou live,” refers to Edomite raids on the territory of their neighbors and to their plundering of caravans.  The second part, “and shalt serve thy brother” alludes to Edomite subjugation to Israel from the time of David to that of Joram (2 Kings 8:20-22).

 

 

 


[1] To take the place of (another), as through force, scheming, strategy, or the like. To replace (one thing) with something else.

[2] stand someone in good stead means to be useful or of good service to (someone). “Little stead” indicates that someone is not very useful or helpful to someone.

[3] the set of conditions that exist at a particular time in a particular place

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