Genesis 26:34-28:9

 |  April 9, 2018

Gen. 26:34-28:9

  1. Locate the passage

While Jacob will be the child through whom the Covenant will extend, this pericope is more about Esau than Jacob. His marriage in defiance of his family, his lost blessing, his intention to kill his brother, and more marriages out of spite.

  1. Genre

This passage is narrative with two episodes of poetry in Isaac’s blessing of Jacob (27:27-29) and later response to Esau (27:39-40). It is bookended by two different accounts of marriages of Esau that bring grief to his parents. The conversations recorded here center around Jacob’s deceit and Esau’s despair.

  1. Determine the structure of the passage

26:34-35 – Esau’s marriages grieve his parents

27:1-4 – Isaac intends to bless Esau

27:5-17 – Rebekah’s plan to help Jacob deceive her husband

27:18-40 – Isaac blesses Jacob

27:41-46 – Rebekah’s plan to help Jacob flee from her son

28:1-5 – Isaac intends to bless Jacob

28:6-9 – Esau’s marriages grieve his parents

  1. Exegete the passage

While the story of Isaac’s wife revolves around prayer and the provision of the Lord, Esau also marries late, but marries in defiance of the wishes of his family and his wives brought grief to his family.

Isaac and Rebekah’s favoritism here leads to division in their family. See comments above on Gen. 25:28. Rebekah is the initiator of the deceit. No doubt she justified her deception as helping her son. Perhaps she recalled the Lord’s promise in 25:23 that her older son would serve the younger. But, God did not need her help to fulfill His promise.

This passage also begins a theme in Jacob narratives of being controlled by the women in his life.

This pericope unfolds in a chiastic structure:

A         Esau’s marriages grieve his parents

B         Isaac intends to bless Esau

C         Rebekah’s plan to help Jacob deceive her husband

D         Isaac blesses Jacob

C´        Rebekah’s plan to help Jacob flee from her son

B´        Isaac intends to bless Jacob

A´        Esau’s marriages grieve his parents

26:34-35 – These verses could function as a close to the previous section or an introduction to this one. The connection of his wives bringing grief to his parents sways the inclusion here.

27:1 – Isaac was old and his eyes were dim

27:1 – The “Blessing”

27:2-4 – Isaac is confident that Esau knows the kind of food that he likes and wants a savory meal as the occasion of his blessing to his son. The occasion for the   blessing is the advanced age of Isaac who wants to bless his son before he dies. Isaac seems to have lived at least another 20 years after these events as his death is not recorded in the text (Gen. 35:28-29) until after Jacob has been gone from the house for 20 years (Gen. 31:41), married four women, and had 12 sons and at least one daughter.

27:5 – Isaac seems to have been unaware that Rebekah was eavesdropping on his conversation with Esau (Cf. Gen. 18:10).

27:6 – Jacob was not immediately receptive to his mother’s plan, but she eventually persuades him.

27:8-10 – “Obey my voice”

27:9 – Rebekah also knows what kind of food her husband likes

27:11-12 – Jacob’s main objection doesn’t seem to be regarding the ethics of the deception, but the logistics. He is aware that he and Esau are not identical twins. Esau is hairy and surely Isaac, though he can’t see, would be able to feel that.

27:13 – Rebekah was quick to declare that the “curse” be on her at this point, but is nowhere to be found once the plot is discovered.

27:16 – Rebekah’s solution to Jacob’s smooth skin was hair from a goat. Esau really must have been a hairy man!

27:18-23 – Rebekah’s plan worked and Isaac was deceived. When asked, Jacob blasphemously invokes God in his deception, crediting Divine favor (27:20) for how quickly the meal was prepared. Note that his response points to “the Lord your God” and not HIS God.

27:21-27 – Isaac was not completely convinced and took several measures to try to validate that this was Esau: he invited Jacob to “come close” (27:21), he listened  to the voice (27:22), he felt the hands and neck (27:23), he asked him to verify that he was Esau (27:24), and he smelled his clothes (27:27).

27:27-29 – Isaac’s blessing of Jacob is a prayer for God’s blessing on his work in the land (rain, productivity) and personal security and prominence over the nations   as well as his family. The blessing recalls the blessing of God upon Abraham (Cf. Gen. 12:3 – “bless those who bless you … curse those who curse you”) and establishes Jacob as the continuing the line of the Abrahamic Covenant.

27: 30 – “As soon as”

27:30-33 – When Esau returned, having followed his father’s instructions, he is met with the devastating news. Isaac’s response (“Who are you?”) serves as the disappointing climax for Esau as his mother’s deception and his father’s gullibility have converged to “rob” him of the blessing his father intended to give him.

27:34-35 – Esau’s response is jarring in the text. His despair at being doubly-deceived by his brother matches Isaac’s trembling response to having blessed the “wrong” son.

27:37 – Both Isaac and Esau perceive the blessing pronounced by Isaac on Jacob as irreversible. Esau pleads for an additional blessing.

27:38 – “Bless me … even me”

27:39-40 – Despite Esau’s pleas for an additional blessing, what he receives from his father is the opposite of blessing.

27:41-42 – Esau responded to the situation with hatred.

27:43 – “Obey my voice”

27:43-45 – Rebekah’s solution is for Jacob to go to her brother’s house temporarily until Esau “gets over” being so made at Jacob that he wanted to kill him.

27:46 – Rebekah has already deceived her husband, so lying to him must have come naturally.

28:1-2 – Isaac advises Jacob according to his wife’s wishes

28:3-4 – Isaac now realizes that the Covenant blessing of Abraham will extend through Jacob.

28:6-8 – Esau heard that his father advised Jacob to marry within the family

  1. Let the structure of the text drive the sermon

Application: This passage reveals:

References   [ + ]

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