Genesis 26:34-28:9 “The Case of the Purloined Blessing, Pt.1”

Posted on May 8, 2011. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Sunday, May 8, 2011 Bryan E. Walker

 Read: Genesis 26: 34 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 35 and they made life bitter  for Isaac and Rebekah.

27:1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”

5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.”

14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.

18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.

26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,

“See, the smell of my son
is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven
and of the fatness of the earth
and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob?  For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.

39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:

“Behold, away from  the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,
and away from  the dew of heaven on high.
40 By your sword you shall live,
and you shall serve your brother;
but when you grow restless
you shall break his yoke from your neck.”

41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— 45 until your brother’s anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?”

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women.  If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”

28:1 Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. 2 Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. 3 God Almighty  bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4 May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!” 5 Thus Isaac sent Jacob away. And he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.

6 Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 8 So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, 9 Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.


Introduction: We turn now in our study of Genesis, to one of the most familiar Bible stories, the story of Jacob stealing the Blessing. I think I became familiar with this story as a child in Sunday School and very likelyVacationBibleSchool. In the dimness of my memory it seems like the point of the story when I was a child was to not be like Jacob and act deceptively and telling lies. This moralistic explanation of the story absolutely misses the key point, which is: The Covenant between God and Abraham will get passed on to the elect of God, regardless of all of man’s sinful scheming and rebellion.

This morning we shall begin analyzing this story in its literary form and then, hopefully begin our exposition.

  1. I.                   Literary Analysis
    1. A.          Plot
      1. 1.        Conflict has been a key part of the story of redemption all through Genesis so far. The deception of Eve by the serpent and the willful disobedience of Adam and the resulting conflict with God began the conflict theme. Then, the story of Cain and Abel in the first family, with the tragic murder of Abel, raises the conflict bar as high as it can go very quickly. God grows disgusted with sinful man whose thoughts are only evil all the time in Gen. 6 and brings on the Flood as judgment. Within Abraham’s family you have the conflict of the promise of offspring but the reality of barrenness in Sarai, then there is conflict withEgypt’s pharaoh, followed by a conflict withLot. Next, there is the war with the kings of the east and then the conflict generated by Sarai and Abraham trying to do God’s work man’s way with the custom of using Hagar as a concubine to obtain a child through her for Sarai. There were the conflicts with Abimelech and Abraham and, later, Isaac and Abimelech and the men of Gerar. There was the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and now we have the conflict between Esau and Jacob, which started in the womb, went to the bowl of stew and the birthright and now ends with the blessing and a death threat.
      2. 2.        In our text today the conflict in Isaac’s household comes to a head. The conflict is over which son should inherit the Abrahamic blessing and covenant. At no time in this story do we see the whole family together as a family working through this. Favoritism is clearly evident as each parent plots with their own particular son for advantage. None of the characters come out looking good, but in the end, God’s will is done.
    2. B.          Literary Structure
      1. 1.        Notice the bookends that frame the story and link it to what has come before. In 26:34-35 is a reference to the wives of Esau, who brought bitterness to Isaac and Rebekah, both. At the end of the story, in 28:6-9, is another reference to Esau trying to overcome his offense to his parents by marrying a daughter of Ishmael.
      2. 2.        Waltke writes, p.373, “The information about Esau’s marriage to Hittite women and his parents’ displeasure seems intrusive until it is recognized as a narrative frame (26:34-35 and 28:6-9) that supplies essential data for interpreting developments in the intervening narrative. The frame gives intelligibility to Rebekah’s stratagem to seek the blessing for faithful Jacob and to prevent faithless Esau from receiving it. Moreover, it profiles the contrast between Abraham, who in faith provided for Isaac’s future according to God’s elective purposes (24:1-67), and Isaac, who tries to thwart the divine elective purposes (25:23). It shows that Isaac follows his mouth, not his heart. He seeks to bless Esau because he loves the tasty game Esau puts in his mouth and disregards the bitterness I his heart over Esau’s willful marriages and lack of spiritual perspicacity.”
      3. 3.        The issue of a wife outside the family clan is directly related to the covenant because Abraham viewed it as such a problem that he sent his servant back to the ancient home in Paddan-aram to find a wife for Isaac. Abraham’s foreign wife, Hagar the Egyptian slave girl, brought disaster into his family. The issue of looking for a wife is used by Rebekah to send Jacob away to save his life and to please Isaac.
      4. 4.        The story is told in 7 dialogs. Isaac and Esau (27:1-4), Rebekah and Jacob (vss5-17), Isaac and Jacob (alias Esau, v.18-29), Isaac and Esau (v.30-40), Rebekah and Jacob (v.41-45), Rebekah and Isaac (v.46), Isaac and Jacob (28:1-5).
      5. 5.        Some scholars break the story down into 5 scenes (Wenham, p.202) with the Esau marriages on the ends framing the story. Esau marries Hittites (26:34-35); Isaac instructs Esau to prepare to be blessed (27:1-5); Rebekah instructs Jacob to acquire the blessing (27:6-17); Isaac blesses Jacob (27:18-29; Esau appeals to Isaac for blessing (27:30-40); Rebekah thwarts Esau’s revenge; Jacob sent to Paddam-aram (27:41-28:5); Esau marries an Ishmaelite (28:6-9).
      6. 6.        Ross, referring to Fokkelman, makes a strong case for a Chiasmus and 6 scenes (pp.473-474)

A   Isaac and the son of blessing (Esau) 27:1-5

B   Rebekah sends Jacob on the stage 27:6-17

C   Jacob receives the blessing 27:18-29

C’  Esau receives the anti-blessing 27:30-40

B’  Rebekah sends Jacob from the stage 27:41-45

A’  Isaac and the son of blessing (Jacob) 27:46-28:5

  1. 7.        The key words in the text are: “game” (8x), “delicious food” (6x), blessing (noun, 7x) and bless/blessed (verb, 21x), wife/wives (7x)
  2. 8.        Characterization. In this one story we see so much irony and the deep flaws of all the characters are very pronounced. Isaac is shown to be a weak father who, knowing the oracle of 25:23, persists in trying to thwart God’s will by blessing his favorite son, Esau, because of his appetite for the wild game that Esau provides. Isaac is blinded physically and spiritually and does not rise to the level of his father nor of his son Jacob. Rebekah is deceptive and tries to do God’s will man’s way. She never sees Jacob again and there is no memorial at her death. Esau is shown to be utterly without faith as he marries outside of the covenant both times and, since he had already bartered away his birthright, breaks faith with his brother in trying to get the blessing. Jacob, goes along with his manipulative mother to gain the blessing in an inappropriate way.
  3. 9.        Waltke writes, p.374, “The narrator purposefully gaps the account of Abraham’s line. In this way, he censures Isaac, who in his old age becomes like his son Esau and gives priority to his physical appetite over his spiritual discernment. Isaac, the precious son of a great father, becomes the beguiled father of a scheming son. He victimizes himself by seeking to thwart the divine word and to give the blessing to Esau.”
  4. C.          Outline
    1. 1.        26:34-35 Esau’s Hittite Wives
    2. 2.        27:1-4   Isaac Denies God’s Word
    3. 3.        27:5-17  Rebekah Tries to do God’s Will Her Way
    4. 4.        27:18-29 Jacob Receives the Blessing Through Deception
    5. 5.        27:30-40 Esau Laments His Loss
    6. 6.        27:41-45 Danger to the Bearer of the Covenant
    7. 7.        27:46-28:5 Isaac, Recognizing God’s Will, Blesses Jacob
    8. 8.        28:6-9  Esau Marries Wrongly Yet Again


  1. II.                Exposition
    1. A.          26:34-35  Esau’s Hittite Wives
      1. 1.        Intro- This verse does not just provide the front bookend that matches 28:6-9 to frame the story. This verse relates back to 26:1-11 and another problem involving marriage, Isaac’s ploy to pass off Rebekah as his sister, which in turn refers back to Abraham’s attempts to do the same in 20:1-7 and12:10-20. It can also be seen to relate to the Hagar episodes, especially since a foreign wife was involved. There is a contrast between Isaac and Esau in this regard since Isaac’s wife was taken from the ancestral homeland while Esau compromised the faith by marrying from the Canaanites. Mathews writes, p.415, “Strong prohibitions against marrying Canaanite women, showing indifference to their religion, occurred in Israelite custom (e.g., Deut. 7:3-4; 1Kings 11:2; Ezra9:12; Neh.13:25).”
      2. 2.        Apply- 1Cor.6: 14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;” Why is it not a good idea to marry outside the faith? What can we do for our children to help them avoid this?
      3. 3.        Kidner, p.155, “There is more in this notice (26:34,35) than meets the eye, for it underlines Isaac’s folly in still favouring Esau for the family headship (cf.35 with 24:3), and it prepares the ground for Jacob’s dispatch in 27:46ff. to his cousins at Paddan-aram.”
      4. 4.        “When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith…” Isaac was 40 years old when he and Rebekah were married.
      5. 5.        There is a problem with the names of Esau’s wives. See 36:2-3. People can sometimes have two names or can change names. In this instance we do not have a good, clear answer.





Kidner, Derek. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Genesis: an Introduction and Commentary. Inter-Varsity Press:Downers Grove,ILL. 1967 (pp.155-158.)

Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary, vol.1B Genesis 11:27-50:26. Broadman&Holman:Nashville, TN 2005 (pp.414-441.)

Ross, Allen P. Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. Baker Academic:Grand Rapids, MI. 1996 (pp.471-482.)

Sailhamer, John H. The NIV Compact Bible Commentary. Zondervan:Grand Rapids, MI.1994 (pp.40-41).

Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis: A Commentary. Zondervan:Grand Rapids,MI 1991 (pp.373-385.)

Wenham, Gordon J. Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 2, Genesis 16-50. Word Books:Dallas,TX 1994 (pp.197-216.)


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