January 31, 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.4: Esau's Threat and Jacob's Flight. (Genesis 27:41-28:5).       

 

(Genesis 27:41-28:5) (KJV)

41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.

42 And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee.

43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran;

44 And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away;

45 Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?

46 And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?

 

1 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.

2 Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother.

3 And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;

4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.

5 And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.

 

 

 

Introduction

Finally, the believing family members got together and made some wise decisions.  However, there’s still some deception in the air, because Jacob left home for more than one reason.

 

 

 

Commentary

41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.

“Don’t get mad, get even” is a popular philosophy, especially among politicians, but Esau practice both: he carried a hateful grudge against his brother and planned to kill him.  After all, if Esau couldn’t enjoyed the blessing neither would Jacob.  The man who was destined to live by his sword would start by using it first at home.  Esau believed that he could win with murder what he could not buy with meat; if venison could not buy him the blessing, maybe violence would.  If he murdered Jacob then he, Esau, would be his father’s sole surviving heir.  Evidently, Esau thought his aged father was close to death, therefore out of respect for him, he postponed murdering his brother.  Isaac lived another forty-three years.

 

In the New Testament there is another figure who was as profane as Esau.  It is the younger son in Jesus’ parable who was scornful 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.

 

 

42 And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee.

It was no wonder that Rebekah was worried about Jacob when she learned of the threat that Esau had made.  But she knew full well that Esau had reason to be enraged.  He had been deceived by his brother at his mother’s prompting, and he had lost irrevocably a blessing that might have been his.  Now that he declared he would kill Jacob, he might surely do it.  But if Rebekah was alarmed, she did not lose her self-control.  She thought she could take care of this situation as she had managed the former one.

 

 

43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran;

Poor Rebekah still had to meddle!  Perhaps the aching, empty years ahead would teach her patience in the things of God. “Now therefore, my son, obey my voice,” she said to Jacob.  It was the same formula she had used to get him to deceive his dad.  But he had obeyed her before, and had succeeded in tricking Esau out of the birthright; let him listen to her again, and he could get himself with equal success out of the consequence of Esau’s anger.  He could go off to her own brother, Laban, where presumably he would be safe and comfortable, but that never happened.  Instead, this is where the chickens will come home to roost.  Old Uncle Laban is going to put him through school and teach him a few things.  Jacob thought he was clever, but Uncle Laban is an expert at cleverness.  Or Jacob will find he is just an amateur, and he is going to cry out to God in desperation before it is all over. 

 

 

44 And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away;

Rebekah told Esau that it would be necessary for him to tarry with her brother Laban for only a few days.  Then when Esau’s gusty anger had blown by, she would send Jacob a message and tell him to come home.  It was all as smooth and simple as that—so she imagined.  But the consequences of evil may be longer a graver than the one who has instigated the evil can foresee. We can picture the life of Rebekah during those years when we consider that Esau probably did not think much of his mother after that little episode.

 

 

45 Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?

It is clear from Rebekah’s remarks that she believed her favorite son would be away for only a short time, and when he returned he would be with her as the head, after Isaac, of the family.  But her slow and silent punishment was still to come.  The son she had sent off for a few days was to stay in exile for more than 20 years because of her brother Laban’s deceitful dealings with him.  The message that she said she would send him either she did not dare to send, or Jacob did not dare to answer.  There is no sign in the following narrative that the mother and the son ever met again, and when Jacob did at last come back, Rebekah apparently was dead; she died without ever seeing her son again, the victim, in a sense, of her own deceit.

 

The question, “Why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?” implies that she expected somebody, perhaps God to avenge Jacob’s murder and would be obligated to avenge the death of Jacob by killing his brother.

 

 

46 And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?

Remember that Esau had married these heathen, godless women, Judith and Basemath.  Already that was bringing aggravation and sorrow into the home, and even Rebekah was overwhelmed by it.  Rebekah used this as an excuse to discuss Jacob’s future with her husband.  But now that Jacob had the covenant blessing, he was fully acknowledged as “the heir of the promise” and it was even more important that he married the right woman and not one of the pagans in Canaan. She tells Isaac that if Jacob stays there he will probably do the same thing.  She could use this as an excellent excuse to get Jacob away from home to protect him from Esau.  She has this little conference with Isaac to convince him that the thing to do is to send Jacob back to her family, to her brother Laban, to get himself a wife from her own people.  In that way Jacob could flee with Isaac’s blessing (28:1).  Remember how Abraham’s servant had gone there to get Rebekah.  So now the point is to get Jacob back there to find a wife, but also to get him out of danger.  Very frankly, I think that if he had stayed at home, Esau would have tried to kill him.  However, the way it turned out, Rebekah was the first to die, and Jacob got back for his father’s funeral.  But he never again saw his mother.

 

Which of these three—Rebekah, Jacob, or Esau—was to be pitied the most?  Their family life was destroyed, and each had to bear lonely hours of separation, disillusionment, and regret.  Rebekah would never see her favorite son again, and Jacob would have to face life without father, mother, or brother.  And what about God’s plans for the kingdom?  How could they be worked out in the face of such selfishness, intrigue, and deceit?  The Lord of hosts is not to be thwarted by men’s opposition, failure, or lack of faith.  He is able to make His will prevail in spite of it all.

 

When Isaac moved a little closer to the hour of his death, and Rebekah mourning because of the distressing situation she had precipitated, and Esau thought of revenge, Jacob made his lonely way from Beersheba to Paddanaram.

 

When reviewing this chapter it becomes evident from the actions of Rebekah, Isaac, Jacob, and Esau that we should follow no man, not even the very best of them.  We may follow anyone only as far as they conform to the will of God.  We must not do evil in order to obtain good.  And though God overruled the evil actions of those in this chapter, and accomplish his purposes, we cannot justify our actions by acknowledging the Lord’s power to annul them and use them to accomplish His purposes.

 


Genesis 28:1-5—In the previous chapter we saw Jacob doing one of the most despicable things any man could do.  He did it at the behest of his mother.  You know, sometimes people excuse themselves for being mean by saying it is because their mother didn’t love them when they were little.  Believe me, Jacob couldn’t say that.  Jacob was loved and spoiled.  When he was asked to do something that was not the honorable thing to do, he did it.  He stole the birthright from his brother.

 

The birthright was already his.  The formality of his father giving a blessing wasn’t necessary at all.  Abraham hadn’t given the blessing to Isaac—God had!  And it is God who gave it to Jacob.  His trickery was not only unnecessary, but God will deal with him because of it, you can be sure of that.

 

The plan that Rebekah has now thought of is possible and logical.  It probably was the right thing to do in this case.  She didn’t mention to Isaac that she wanted to send Jacob to her brother so that he’d get away from the wrath of his brother, Esau, but she did mention the fact that he could choose a wife back there from among her family.

 

In this chapter we will find Jacob leaving home.  He comes to Bethel where God appears to him and confirms to him the covenant made to Abraham.

 

 

1 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.

Isaac agreed with Rebekah and called Jacob to tell him their decision.  When the summons came, Jacob may have expected his father to scold him for what he’d done, but Isaac didn’t do that.  The old man had been caught in his own net and knew that God’s plans were better than his.  Not only did Isaac speak kindly to his son, but he also gave him an extra blessing as he left to go on his long journey to Heron.  This time it was “the blessing of Abraham” (3-5) that was important, the fulfillment of God’s promise to bless all the earth through Jacob’s descendants—“He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Galatians 3:14). 

 

All the way through the Old Testament we find that God does not want the godly to marry the ungodly.  That, again, is my reason for believing that in the sixth chapter of Genesis, where it says the sons of God looked upon the daughters of men, it is saying that the godly line married with the godless line of Cain.  This finally resulted in the judgment of the Flood with only one godly man left.

 

God forbids the godly to marry the godless.  It always entails Sorrow.  God has put it down indelibly all the way through the Word that the godly are not to marry the godless. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).  The New Testament strictly tells Christians that they are not to be unequally yoked.

 

Notice that Jacob did not sneak off into the night.  He was sent off under circumstances sufficiently impressive to leave a lasting impression on his mind.  Old Isaac seems to have been frightened entirely out of his carnality by the events that had just happened.  With true patriarchal spirituality he summoned Jacob and gave him instructions regarding the future.  He had two words for his son, one social and one spiritual; one dealing with the matter of a wife and one dealing with the matter of worship.  Decisions in both areas will affect a man’s life for time and for eternity.  One cannot be too careful in dealing with either one of them.

 

 

2 Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother.

Here we have Isaac’s instructions to Jacob, which related to his choosing a wife.  “And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother” (vs. 1, 2).  On no account was Jacob to marry a pagan.  In the home of his maternal grandfather there could be found knowledge of the true God, a heritage, no doubt, of Abraham’s testimony in days gone by.  Jacob must go there and seek a wife.  The unspeakable vileness of Canaanite religion made it imperative that Jacob hold himself aloof from any entanglement with Canaanite women.  Esau had already disgraced himself by marrying idolatrous heathen women; Jacob must not do the same.

 

Bethuel, Rebekah’s father, was Abraham’s nephew.  That he knew something of the Lord is evident from his response when Abraham’s servant had come there seeking a bride for Isaac years before.  Having listened carefully to the servant’s story, Bethuel had said, “The thing proceeded from the Lord” (24:50).  “You have my blessing,” Isaac said, looking at his son.  “You have my blessing, Jacob, but you are not to marry a pagan.”

 

 

 

 

3 And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;

4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.

It is significant that El Shaddai (God Almighty) was the name Isaac chose to use when blessing Jacob.  It was the name of sovereign power with which God had identified Himself to Abraham in covenant reaffirmation (17:1), an encouraging factor to both him and his son Jacob.

 

Two things were emphasized in these verses. First, there was the instruction which Isaac gave Jacob about taking a bride from Bethuel’s family.  Next came the word of inspiration, which related to Jacob’s worship and to the patriarchal responsibilities that would one day be his.  Isaac, in giving that word, was no longer speaking as a parent, but as a patriarch, and the Spirit of illumination and inspiration was upon him.  He set before Jacob the truth of a productive life (28:3), the trust of the patriarchal line (28:4 a) and the title of the Promised Land (28:4b).  What Isaac wanted for his tough-minded, difficult, willful boy was what every spiritually-minded father wants for his child.  He wanted to see Jacob married to a believer, and he wanted to see him walking in the ways of the Lord.  Jacob’s departure from home, then, was a matter of immense importance.

 

Isaac had sought to defeat God’s purposes; but who can overrule what God has spoken.  Men may fuss and fret at God’s instructions, but cannot change them.  It is obvious now that Isaac understands that God had given the blessing to Abraham, that God had transferred it to him, and that this blessing is to be passed on to his son, Jacob.

 

Before Jacob departed, Isaac gave him the pure and legitimate blessing.  There was no holding back now; Isaac specifically passed on to Jacob the blessing God had given both Abraham and Isaac.  Isaac reiterated the blessing from God Almighty, and urged his son to go to Padanaram.  Those inheriting the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant were not to endanger those blessings by intermarriage with Canaanites.  Spiritual purity should be maintained in all generations.

 

The lack of land possession at that time is indicated by the words “wherein thou art a stranger,” but it did not deter at all from the certainty of God’s promise.

 

 

5 And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.

If you were to give the nationality of this family, you would have to say they were Syrians because that is what they are called in the scriptures.  Sometimes the question is asked, “Was Abraham a Jew?  Was he an Israelite?” No, actually he was not.  There were no Israelites until the time of Jacob whose name was changed to Israel.  His 12 sons were Israelites.  The line came from Abraham, he is the father of the race, but you’re not going to call Abraham a Midianites, I hope, and yet he is the father of the Midianites, also.

 

 

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