Reading For Tuesday Genesis 27:1-45

  Painting by GIOACHINO ASSERETO

Painting by GIOACHINO ASSERETO

Jacob’s duplicitous behavior has been established as he preyed on his brother’s foolishness and stole his birthright. Jacob was an opportunist with no scruples and taking advantage of family members in desperation. Jacob grew even more aggressive in his exploitation. This story gives us a dark picture of a dysfunctional family and the wicked actions of parents and children. 

What kinds of thoughts fill an aging parent's mind? Nostalgia and sentimentalism must fill one's thoughts as the end approaches. Isaac thinks of past hunts and delicious meals shared together. Times around a fire with laughter and the stories shared together. He wants to have at least one last time like that with his son and so he calls Esau and gives him some specific instructions. The end of this was to be a blessing passed to his eldest son. We are not told whether Isaac is aware that Esau sold his birthright. This was to be an official patriarchal blessing to dignify and officially confer his authority. 

The plot thickens as we find out that Rebekah was listening and acts quickly to intervene in the process. Rebekah had been told that Jacob would receive God’s blessing and so she would scheme and plot to make sure that he got what was coming to him. Instead of trusting God, who  ended her barren existence and relying on him to see how his word would be fulfilled concerning the younger brother, she devised a way to ensure the prophetic outcome. Her plan was to prepare a meal of goat meat which might resemble the wild game Isaac craved. Two kids would make possible a larger platter of meat. Rebekah did not even entertain the thought of going to God in prayer as she had done many years earlier during her troublesome pregnancy. She was confident that through this plan Isaac would be deceived and pronounce the blessing upon Jacob. 

Jacob was not so confident. He did not seem to have reservations about the deception, but he was intensely afraid of being caught in a lie. The physical makeup of the two brothers caused Jacob to play out his fears about what could happen. If the hoax was exposed, Isaac might pronounce a curse rather than a blessing. Rebekah insisted and said that she would accept any curse which might result from the ploy. 

Imagine Jacob's heartbeat begin to race as he goes to his father and announces his presence. Isaac asks him his name and the lying begins. I am Esau, I did what you told me to do, and eat what I killed. Isaac presses him by asking him how he achieved success so quickly. The lying continues and he adds to his lying the abuse of God's name. Isaac is not convinced because of what he hears. He calls him close so that he can verify it using the senses that still function– touch and smell. One last lie and the deception was complete. 

Isaac blesses Jacob and exits just before Esau arrives from his hunt to prepare a meal for his elderly father. He comes to his father filled with the expectation of warm fellowship and blessing. The emotions and the mood change dramatically as Isaac realizes that something is terribly wrong and that his previous suspicions were confirmed. Esau cries out for his father to bless him but to no avail. He recounted being defrauded and this adds to the offense. Isaac makes some prophetic declarations concerning  Esau. Despair quickly turns to malice and Esau moves from being emotionally distraught to hatching his own plan for murder. Jacob is sent away to relatives in the hopes that Esau's anger will subside. 

Thing To Consider:

  • Why would God allow such deception for his chosen people?
  • What are ways that we try to intervene and "help" God?
  • What does this story tell us about the way scripture presents the people in God's story? 
  • How are sadness and anger connected? 
  • Isaac lived for many more years. What do you think his family relationships were like following this incident? 

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