Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 28:13-14

13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Last week I examined the vision of Jacob’s Ladder and noted a number of significant details. However, there was one more point that I thought best to visit separately today. Namely, the difference between the blessing Jacob receives from God in this moment and the blessing he obtained from his father Isaac.

I had always believed that the blessing Jacob obtained by trickery from his father was the same covenant blessing from God to Abraham. But really it isn’t. Here, once more, is the language of the blessing Isaac gave in Genesis 27:28-29:

28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:

29 Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

An impressive blessing, but not the same as the one from God. Isaac’s blessing is focused more on other people being subservient to Jacob, God’s is about Jacob becoming a great soul that blesses the lives of countless others. Isaac’s blessing reads more like a wish, “God give thee…,” “let people serve thee…,” while God’s is confident and sure, “thou shalt!” Of the two, God’s blessing is the more sublime in purpose and more definite in fulfillment.

And Isaac seems to have known that the blessing he gave was not the same that God could. Here again are his words to Jacob when he left home in Genesis 28:3-4:

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. 

“Give thee the blessing of Abraham,” meaning that Isaac knows he has not already given that blessing to his son, because he knows it is not his place to do it.

I do wonder whether Jacob and Esau understood that distinction, though. All of their squabble about receiving their father’s birthright and blessing might have been because in their eyes that was the ultimate pinnacle of achievement. Many boys view their father as being essentially God Himself, and only have their eyes opened when they get out on their own as Jacob did.

The things that were incredibly important to Jacob only a few days prior have now become very small. Everything he had hoped to gain from his father has now been eclipsed by the promises of God.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:37-40

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.

Esau continued to plead for some sort of blessing from his father, even after hearing that Jacob had already been promised to rule over his brother’s posterity. And this prophecy would come true after the Israelite Exodus. Jacob’s descendants would enter wars with all the other nations in the promised land, including the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau. This struggle between the brothers’ posterity would be resolved when Saul and David finally conquered the Edomites, subjugating the nation for many years to come.

However, God did have a small reprieve for Esau, and through Isaac he pronounced that the Edomites would eventually regain their freedom. This would occur in the days of Elisha and Joram, when the Edomites successfully revolted and crowned their own king. They would never go so far as to gain power over the Israelites, but at least they would be their own masters.

But it would be wrong to assume that the Israelites would prevail over the Edomites because of this one time where Jacob was more faithful than Esau. The Israelites prevailed in the time of David because they were more worthy at that time. And the Edomites eventually threw off the Israelites because the Israelites were no longer more worthy at that time. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that when God foretells good or bad for a nation, it is a recompense for a decision made by a single ancestor. This was a misconception that Jesus had to correct his own disciples on many years later. When God foretold that Jacob’s descendants would rule over Esau’s he was merely foretelling that their descendants would earn that outcome for themselves.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:30-36

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?

As I mentioned previously, Isaac immediately pieced together what transpired once he was greeted by the real Esau, so he must have still had his suspicions all the way through giving Jacob the first blessing.

And as for Esau, even amidst his anguish his chief concern was that he still receive some sort of blessing. His words “hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?” further shows his misunderstanding of how blessings work. He seems to believe that it us up to his father to produce and give out blessing as if they could be pulled out a bag.

Esau does not appreciate that true blessings are the immutable word of God, given and withheld entirely at His choosing. Thus the blessing that Esau ends up receiving is not some backup gift his father conjured up, it is the original blessing that was always intended for him by God.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:27-29

27 And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed:

28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:

29 Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

Yesterday I mentioned that Jacob, and Esau’s charade was of little importance, for God was sure to do what He already intended to do regardless of their antics.

And this is further reinforced in today’s verses. Notice that the blessing that Isaac pronounces upon Jacob was never meant for Esau to begin with. In the blessing Isaac said for Jacob to “be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee,” and this was exactly what God had already prophesied for Jacob when he was still in his mother’s womb.

There was no way that this was the blessing that was ever meant for Esau. Not so long as Isaac was giving a proper blessing, one where he only was a mouthpiece for what God intended to say. If Isaac had blessed Esau first, he would have still had to give him the same blessing that Esau ended up receiving anyway, if he had blessed Jacob second, he would still have had to give Jacob the same blessing that he gave him now.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:5-10

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.

This is the first we have heard directly from Rebekah since her introduction to Abraham’s servant, and this is a very different side of her from that sweet, industrious girl. In this scene she is planning a deception, one that is elaborate and bold.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that she has played a part in a deception, there was that time Isaac asked her to say that she was his sister, and not his wife, when they traveled in the land of the Philistines. And perhaps, in some way, this trick that is played on Isaac is a karmic retribution for his part in that deceit.

But something that stood out to me as I read these verses was that Moses gave an entire chapter dedicated to this one, small story. Of all the experiences in Esau and Jacob’s childhood, the two that were chosen to define them were the one of Esau selling his birthright and this one, with all other years just skimmed over. I’ve never seen much spiritual significance to this tale, but the realization that it was given in detail, rather than in a single passing verse, has me thinking that I ought to look more closely as I continue. Perhaps there is a lesson I have missed every time before.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:1-4

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.

We previously read about when Ishmael had been born, but not Isaac, and God promised to Abraham that Sarah would yet have a child of her own. Abraham had thought that was incredulous, and suggested God just take all of the covenanted blessings and bestow them upon his current son, Ishmael (Genesis 17:17-18). But God rejected that plan, assuring Abraham that the covenant must pass on to an as-of-yet unborn child, and from that point on Abraham seems to have accepted God’s word on the matter, even though Isaac was the second-born.

It is interesting that Isaac, a second-born who received the covenant blessing from God, did not realize that the same selection needed to occur upon his own sons. For some reason he was not aligned with God’s purposes in this matter as his father had been. It is especially strange that he is not open to this arrangement after he saw Esau defy the Lord’s commandments by marrying two strange wives that were outside of the covenant.

Was it because Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob (Genesis 25:28) that he was unwilling to entertain the thought of giving his choicest blessings to the younger? As today’s verses state, Isaac’s eyes seem to be dim on the matter, and not only in the physical sense.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 26:15-18

15 For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.

16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.

17 And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.

18 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.

I mentioned previously that Isaac had inherited his father’s wealth and expanded upon it, however there was some work of his father that had fallen into ruin and needed to be repaired. His father had dug life-giving wells in the land of the Philistines, and in their envy the locals had stopped them up.

So, when Isaac saw the good works of his father being undone, he restored them. He dug the wells back as they were before and named them again after the names his father had given. A large part of Isaac’s mission in life seems to have been to preserve and expand the good works of his father to future generations. That may not sound like the most envious of roles to fill, but preserving the good of others is not a small or insignificant duty.

Many of us have also been given great gifts from our ancestors, such as a level of freedom and security that most people in history never enjoyed. And we all have an obligation to preserve those same gifts to our descendants. Otherwise, the gifts could end with us, just as Abraham’s gifts could have ended with Isaac if he hadn’t labored to pass them on to the next link in the chain.

There is a term that describes this notion of passing the good we receive to another: pay it forward. We do not pay the price for many of our own blessings, but we should then pay the price for others instead.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 26:12-14

12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him.

13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:

14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.

I didn’t understand before I became a working man and had investments how significant a yearly increase a hundredfold is. In today’s terms, we would say that Isaac was making a 10,000% return on his investment! It’s frankly ridiculous, and of such a magnitude that one could not take the credit for it, but would have to admit they had been blessed by the hand of providence.

Thus, while Abraham had become rich and powerful, Isaac became even more so. Of course, all this wealth was for a purpose. If God intended to maintain a pattern of one covenant child per generation, then there would be no need to increase Isaac past his father. But the lineage was supposed to expand rapidly, and so the foundation to support it needed to as well.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 24:59-60

59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.

60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.

I wonder if Laban and Rebekah’s mother realized how appropriate the blessing they gave to Rebekah was. I wouldn’t be surprised if “be thou the mother of thousands of millions” was a generic wish given to every new bride, but in her case it actually became a reality.

Abraham was promised to be a father of many nations, but that covenant only passed on to a single son, Isaac. Thus Isaac and Rebekah bear the full weight of the blessing as well, destined to be the progenitors of an entire nation. Actually, two nations. From Rebekah would come both the Israelite branch and the Edomite, though the covenant heritage would only pass through the former.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:20

20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

I had never noticed before that Eve did not receive her name until this very moment. In fact Adam may not have had a name either. In Hebrew, the word for “adam” simply means “man,” and the same word is translated interchangeably into both “Adam” and “man” in my English bible. Thus, during this time in the garden, God is simply speaking to them as “the man” and “the woman.” But at the moment of transition Eve, at least, is receiving a new name.

And notice that Eve’s name is not one of shame. The Hebrew word behind our English “Eve” is “chavah” or “havah,” which means “to give life.” It is a very beautiful and powerful name, a name that frankly wouldn’t have been applicable to her before she fell and gained the ability to conceive and bear children.

This points out the fact that Adam and Eve may have received a curse, but there was a blessing within that curse. Toil and pain were their inheritance, but so were children. Sin and condemnation had been introduced, but eventually so would a Savior and a redemption. Adam and Eve had passed from a glory, but they came into another, and with a promise to return to the first. And when they returned to that first it would be with new titles and honors, including “mother of all.”