January 8, 2015

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe                                                                                                                                         

 

 


Lesson III.B.1: Isaac's Command and Rebekah's Plot. (Genesis 27:1-17).                                                                                                                                                                                                      


(Genesis 27:1-17) (KJV)

 

1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.

2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:

3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;

4 And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.

5 And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.

6 And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying,

7 Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death.

8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.

9 Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth :

10 And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.

11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:

12 My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.

13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.

14 And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved.

15 And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:

16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:

17 And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.

 

 

 

Introduction to Chapter 27

 

Esau attempted to buy back with a dish of venison what he had sold for a meal of pottage.  The plan did not work.  Chapter 27 is one of the saddest chapters in Genesis.  Everybody is doing the wrong thing—especially Isaac.  Normally we think of Isaac as one of the outstanding types of Christ in the Old Testament.  And so he was in Genesis 22.  But Isaac is not a type of Christ in Genesis 27.  If he is a type of anything here, he is a type of the backslidden, worldly, carnal Christian.  It is a sad fact that while we may at one stage of our lives mirror the beauties and graces of the Lord Jesus, we may at another stage reflect the exact opposite.  Such is the human heart, even the regenerate human heart.

 

We step across the threshold of Isaac’s home needing to be reminded that it was the home of a believing man, for it will be difficult to recognize it as such.  Few ungodly homes exhibit such unlovely behavior as did the family of Isaac that sad day.  The chapter is a warning and rebuke to carnal though believing parents. 

 

 

Introduction to Verses 1-17

 

The situation displayed in Genesis 27 did not develop in a single day.  It had its roots when Esau and Jacob were born and when Isaac and Rebekah each chose a favorite son.  In that deadly favoritism was sown the seed now to be exhibited in full flower.

 

Things had been going wrong in their home for years.  The secret resentments and rivalries had been more or less hidden until now, suddenly, God Himself opened the front door to invite the whole world in for a look.  Their whole domestic life was dragged out into the open, written down, and published in a book; a book that would run through more editions than any other book ever printed and that would be translated into more languages than any other book on earth.  Think of it!  To have one day’s affairs printed and read, discussed, preached, and commented on for all the rest of time.  Surely each member of Isaac’s family would wish, if it were possible, to relive that day—differently.  But nobody can relive a day.  What is written is written.

 

1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.

2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:

 

The story begins with the head of the home.  Approximately 37 years have passed since the events of the previous chapter.  We have seen that Isaac was an outstanding man, a great man.  Abimelech and the Philistines came to make a treaty with him since they feared him.  He was patient and peace loving but also prominent and powerful. Once he was a Christlike man.  Where in all the Bible can we find so Christlike a man as Isaac when he became obedient unto death on Mount Moriah?  Once that man had been a well-digger, leaving behind him a trail of blessing and refreshment for others.  But that was a long time ago.  He had now become sadly unspiritual.If ever a man was blessed with a great beginning, it was Isaac.  Yet he ended his life under a cloud.  Consider some of his sins.

 

He put himself ahead of the lord. Isaac, the man who meditated and prayed in the fields at evening (24:63), and petitioned God on behalf of his wife (25:21), wanted only one thing; a savory meal of venison.  Instead of seeking to heal the family feud that he and his wife had caused by their selfish favoritism, Isaac perpetuated the feud and destroyed his own family.

 

He disobeyed god’s command.  Before the boys were born, God had told Isaac and Rebekah that Jacob, the younger son, was to receive the covenant blessing (27:19-23); yet Isaac planned to give the blessing to Esau.  Surely Isaac knew that Esau had despised his birthright and sold it to Jacob and that Esau had disqualified himself by marrying heathen women.  Had Isaac forgotten that his father had sent a servant 500 miles to Haran to get him a suitable wife?  Did Isaac really think he could fool God and give the blessing to worldly unbelieving Esau?

 

He lived by his feelings.  Isaac was blind and apparently bedfast (27:19, 31), a condition you would think would make him trust God and seek His help.  Instead, Isaac rejected the way of faith and depended on his own senses;taste (27:4, 9, 25), touch (27:21), hearing (27:22), and smell (27: 27).  He took the “scientific approach,” and it failed him.  “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless, the Lords council—that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).  We should not trust our emotional feelings in spiritual matters.  As Martin Luther observed:

 

Feelings come and feelings go, and

feelings are deceiving;

Our warrant is the Word of God;

naught else is worth believing.

 

Isaac was a declining believer, living by the natural instead of the supernatural, and trusting his own senses instead of believing and obeying the Word of God.  He was blind and bedfast and claimed to be dying, but he still had a good appetite.  With a father like that leading the home, is it any wonder that the family fell apart?

 

The story focuses first on Isaac’s concern.  Isaac was one hundred thirty-seven years of age (and his sons about seventy-five).  His stepbrother Ishmael had died at that age and that, perhaps, is what made Isaac think he was about to die.  He was mistaken.  He lived another forty-three years (35:28), dying at the ripe old age of one hundred eighty.

 

Still, Isaac’s thoughts were full of death, and he decided to take care of his will.  The greatest thing he had to bequeath was his patriarchal blessing, a blessing that involved not just a property settlement, but the rite of progenitorship, the right to stand in direct line as an ancestor of the coming Christ of God.  That particular blessing could not be lightly bestowed nor was its disposal left up to the patriarch.  The blessing had to be bestowed in accordance with the revealed mind and will of God.  Isaac, then, was right in what he wanted to do, but absolutely wrong in deciding to give the blessing to his favorite, his beloved Esau.  He had long since been told “the elder shall serve the younger.” Either he had forgotten it, didn’t understand it, didn’t give it the proper consideration, or else he chose to ignore it.  The blessing was for Jacob, not Esau.  God had said so.

 

It is an excellent thing to be enthusiastic about spiritual things, however, it is more important that we discharge our spiritual obligations in accordance with the revealed will of God.  David was right in wishing to see the sacred Ark safely and permanently housed in Jerusalem; he was wrong in putting it on a cart.  Moses was right in wishing to help his Jewish kinsmen; he was wrong in smiting the Egyptian.  Saul was right in wishing to consult God before the fateful battle of Gilboa; he was wrong in resorting to witchcraft to get the guidance he so belatedly desired.  It is possible to have a commendable spiritual pursuit spoiled and brought to nothing by executing it in a wrong way.

 

Have you noticed the family strife since we have come to this particular section of Genesis?  There was strife in the family of Abraham because of Hagar.  Now there is strife in this family over these twins.

 

 

3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;

4 And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.

 

We are told next of Isaac’s carnality.  It is Paul who gives us the best commentary on that. “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8).  Let us see how that principle worked out in the life of Isaac.

 

We see him, first, exhibiting the stubborn hostility of the carnal mind.  “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” Isaac wanted his own way.  He knew the blessing should go to Jacob, but Jacob was no favorite of his.  He had God’s word for it that the elder (Esau) must serve the younger (Jacob) but that meant nothing to him.  The carnal mind in Isaac was not subject to the law of God.  He was willing to set aside God’s Word to have his own way.[1]

 

Next we see Isaac exhibiting the sensual application of the carnal mind.  “They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh.” Isaac loved Esau, not because he was a holy man of God, not because he walked the pilgrim way, but because he did eat of his venison.  It was carnal, sensual desires that motivated Isaac and that now controls him in his determination to bestow the patriarchal blessing on the wrong man.  “Make me savory meat such as I love. . . that I may eat, that my soul may bless thee.” He thought spiritual blessing could be imparted in the strength and vigor of the flesh.  Run your eye down the chapter.  Savory meat is mentioned six times, venison seven times, and eating eight times.  Here was a man controlled by a carnal appetite.  Over 20 times reference is made to his fleshly desires.  He had a carnal mind for “they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh.” Isaac didn’t do anything wrong by wanting some venison to eat but he was motivated by fleshly aspirations.  He thought he could do a spiritual thing in a carnal way.

 

 

 

 

 

Verses 5-10.  Rebekah was married to a man who had little left about him to love.  If the Bible says, “Let the wife reverence her husband,” it also says, “husbands, love your wives as your own bodies.” Once Isaac had loved Rebekah (24:67), but he had another first love now.  “Make me savory meat such as I love,” he said.  Rebekah was a clear-minded, practical, strong-willed, down-to-earth woman.  We detect, way back in Genesis 24, that she was a woman who combined realism, resolution, and romance in her makeup.  Isaac, on the other hand, was an easy-going, mild, submissive kind of person, forever overshadowed by his more forceful relatives and friends.  To that must be added the fact that he had grown carnal with age.  The story of Rebekah is intended to teach some sobering lessons to all practical, capable, determined women who find themselves married to submissive, pliable men.  The great temptation for such women is to boss and bully their husbands.  As a result the woman becomes increasingly masculine, and the man becomes increasingly feminine.  A truly strong woman will use her strength to minister strength to her husband, not to rob him of whatever backbone he might once have had.  Rebekah’s is the story of the unsurrendered wife.

 

It might well be argued that Isaac had forfeited all rights to Rebekah’s respect when he had denied her down there in Gerar.  It is a great pity Rebekah never knew her mother-in-law, for Sarah could have taught her how to submit, even in the face of such a shattering experience.  Not once but twice Abraham, strong man that he was, had let her down in exactly the same way.  Yet she can still call him “Lord” despite it all [“Like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. . .” (1 Peter 3:6a).].  Rebekah could have learned much from a woman like that.  Unfortunately she never had the chance to learn from Sarah so she had to learn life’s hard lessons by bitter personal experience.

 

 

5 And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.

6 And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying,

7 Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death.

 

The text sets before us Rebekah’s decision.  When Isaac sent for Esau to come to his tent, Rebekah noticed it and stayed close by to learn what was happening.  Later, when Esau revealed that he planned to kill his brother, Rebekah also heard that (27:42); so she must have been adept at eavesdropping and keeping abreast of family affairs.  However, it’s tragic when a husband and wife, once so dedicated to the Lord and each other, have excommunicated each other and no longer discuss God’s Word or pray together. 

 

“And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son…” At once she summoned Jacob, her favorite, and reported what she had just overheard.  So quickly did Rebekah outline her plan that we suspect she must have thought it through well in advance.  She would outsmart her husband.  No doubt she assured herself that “scripture” was on her side (it is amazing how proficient we are at finding “proof text” that support our wayward desires) for God had sworn that the blessing must go to Jacob.  Surely the end would justify the means.  But God, who controls all the factors of time and space, has no need for our clever little schemes.  He could have chased away all the deer from the forests and fields for miles around so that Esau would find no venison, just as He later gathered the fish into Peter’s net.  He could have spoken in so compelling a way to Isaac that he would not have dared to disobey.  But, no.  Rebekah must act for herself.

 

The New Testament commentary on this scene is James 3:13-18.  Isaac was depending on his own physical senses, but Rebekah was depending on the wisdom of the world.  However, the world’s wisdom always leads to trouble.  “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there” (James 3:16). 

 

Sir Walter Scott wrote in his poem “Marmion”:

“O what a tangled web we weave

When first we practice to deceive.”

Remember, faith is living without scheming; and faith means obeying God no matter how we feel, what we think, or what might happen.  The obedience of faith was the secret of Abraham’s life (Hebrews 11:8), but the absence of obedient faith brought trouble to the home of Isaac and Rebekah.

 

 

8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.

9 Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth :

10 And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.

 

Next comes Rebekah’s deceit.  “Go now,” she said to Jacob.  “Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savory meat for thy father, such as he loveth.  And thou shall bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death” (27:8-10).  A pinch of salt here, a dash of pepper there, a little sage, perhaps, a good, big clove of garlic, the juice of an onion, all braised and broiled to perfection.  Then a sprig of mint and a spicy sauce, and who’s to tell the difference between goat and venison?  Not Isaac, anyway.  It was absolute trickery, and it cannot be condoned on any basis whatever.  God is recording it as history, but he condemns it.  We will see that.  Remember the things that are being done here, and later you will see the chickens come home to roost for Jacob. All down the chapter we see Isaac being deceived by his senses.  His sight had failed him; he was blind.  His smell deceived him; he thought from the earthly smell of the garments that Jacob was Esau.  His taste failed him; he thought goat was venison.  His feeling failed him; he thought a goat’s skin was Esau’s hairy arm.  His hearing rang true, but he could not believe what he heard.

 

We have the sorry spectacle of a wife deliberately setting out to deceive her husband, having first persuaded herself that it was right and proper for her to do so. She would pay for it, of course, in the end.  God does not permit His people to get away with that kind of thing.  Before that day was over her beloved Jacob would be fleeing for his very life to far-off Padan-aram.  “For a few days,” (27:40) she consoled herself.  The “days” lengthened out to a year, to seven, to 14, to 20 years, and she never saw her beloved boy again.  She died before he ever came back.  Nor did she ever see her big, burly grandsons.  Possibly she never heard a word about Jacob again.  Truly the way of the transgressors in as hard.

 

What should Rebekah have done in this situation? What would be the right response? She should have calmly argued the matter and expressed her disapproval to Isaac; or, if that failed, she should have committed the matter to the Lord in prayer.

 

She did not wrong Esau with regard to the birthright, since both the Lord’s purpose, and the deal he made with Jacob, ratified with an oath, deprived him of all claim to it; but she wronged Isaac by deceiving him in order to get what she wanted; she wronged Jacob by using her authority and persuasiveness to coax him to violate his father’s trust; she sinned against the Lord and dishonored His power and faithfulness, by supposing He needed help from her in accomplishing His purpose, and fulfilling His promise.  She put a stumbling block in Esau’s way, and furnished him with an alleged reason for hatred of both Jacob and religion, by convincing Jacob to act in such a deceitful manner.

 

 

 

 

 

Verses 11-17.  Jacob, in his own devious way, set his affection on things above.  Probably, at that stage of his career, he did not know the Lord personally even though he knew about Him and coveted all that God could do for a man. He wanted the blessing of God but was not overly scrupulous how he obtained it.  Still, the blessing of God was his guiding star.

 

 

11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:

12 My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.

13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.

14 And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved.

15 And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:

16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:

17 And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.

 

First, our attention is drawn to his fear.  He feared that he might be found out in the very act of pretending to be Esau and thus bring down a curse rather than a blessing on his head.  But to his credit Jacob at first objected. “Esau, my brother is a hairy man,” he said (and he must also have been a “red man,” for his Hebrew nickname was Edom, meaning "Red.”).  “I am a smooth man,” he said.  He surely was!  “I shall seem to him as a deceiver,” he objected.  Not only will he seemed to be a deceiver; he is a deceiver.  It did not bother Jacob that he would be a deceiver if he did what his mother suggested.  He did not want to seem a deceiver.  He wanted to keep up appearances even while practicing deliberate fraud.  He deceived himself long before he set out to deceive his father.

 

Notice that Jacob’s concern wasn’t “Is it right?” But “Is it safe?” He was worried about the 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not get caught.” But Rebekah planned to use the skins of the goats as well as the meat and make smooth-skinned Jacob feel like hairy-skinned Esau.  She also dressed Jacob in Esau’s garments so he would “smell” like his outdoorsman brother.  Dear reader, I can’t help but comment on this.  She put that skin of the kid of the goat on the back of his neck and on the back of his hands so that when his father would feel him, he would think it was Esau.  She also dressed him in Esau’s clothing so he would smell like him!  Apparently the deodorant that Esau was using was not very potent.  The fact of the matter is, I think he was like the amusing story I heard about two men who were working in a very tight place.  One of them finally said to the other one, “Wow!  I think the deodorant of one of us has quit working.” The other fellow answered, “It must be yours because I don’t use any!” Well, I don’t think that Esau used any either, and I’m not sure he took a shower very often.  Even if you couldn’t see him, you could smell him.

 

It was a very rash statement which Rebekah made when Jacob objected to the danger of a curse.  “Upon me be thy curse, my son” (27: 13).  Christ, who is mighty to save and mighty to bear, has said, “Upon Me be the curse, only obey my voice.”  He has borne the burden of the curse, the curse of the Law, for all who will take upon them the yoke of the gospel.

 

Rebekah was ready to take the consequences for the wrong done to Isaac entirely upon herself, but she couldn’t do it, because Jacob was involved in the scheme.  The sin of deception was not originally Jacob’s, but when he acquiesced to his mother’s suggestion, it became his too.  So he went on to increasingly gross and deliberate dishonesty until he became capable of the blasphemous lie of telling his father, Isaac, when the old man asked how he could so quickly have secured the venison which he, Jacob, was offering under the pretense that he was Esau—“The Lord thy God brought it to me” (27:20).  So the lesson of Jacob’s relationship to Rebekah is summed up in the vivid words of Robertson, “Beware of that affection which cares for your happiness more than for your honor.”

 

We have seen the idolatry of Rebekah; sacrificing her husband, her elder son, high principle, her own soul, for an idealized person. . . don’t miss what I am saying; no one ever loved a child or a brother or a sister, too much.  It is not the intensity of attention she gave to Jacob, but its interference with truth and adherence to God’s commands that makes it idolatry.  Rebekah loved her son more than truth, that is, more than God. The only true affection is that which is subordinate to the will of God; compare for instance, Rebekah’s love for Jacob with that of Abraham for his son Isaac.  Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son in obedience to God’s command. Rebekah sacrificed truth and duty to her son.  Which would you say loved their son the most?

 

God’s opinion of this whole fiasco is expressed in Psalms 32:2—“Blessed is the man . . . in whose spirit is no deceit.”

 

 

 

 

 


[1] The same principle is to be seen at work throughout the Bible.  It is seen in Abraham’s marrying Hagar, in Lots choosing Sodom, in Joshua’s making his covenant with Gibea, in Saul’s sparing Agag and his cattle, in Solomon’s political marriages, in Jonah’s fleeing to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, in Peter’s opposing Christ’s determination to go to Calvary, in Ananias’s and Sapphira’s keeping back part of the price.  We can see the same principle at work all too often in our own hearts and lives.  The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God.  How often we will wrestle with a clear Biblical Command simply because we do not like the way it cuts across our wants and wishes, prejudices, preconceived ideas, and pet theological notions.

Make a Free Website with Yola.