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Genesis 27

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATION

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB (follows MT)
Jacob's Deception Isaac Blesses Jacob Jacob Cheats Esau Out of His Blessing Isaac Blesses Jacob Jacob Obtains Isaac's Blessing by Fraud
27:1-4 27:1-4 27:1-4 27:1a 27:1-4
      27:1b  
      27:2-4  
27:5-17 27:5-17 27:5-17 27:5-10 27:5-10
      27:11-12 27:11-17
      27:13-17  
27:18-29  (27b-29) 27:18-29  (27-29) 27:18-29  (27-29) 27:18a 27:18-29  (27b-29)
      27:18b  
      27:19  
      27:20a  
      27:20b  
      27:21-24a  
      27:24b  
      27:25-29  
The Stolen Blessing Esau's Lost Hope   Esau Begs for Isaac's Blessing  
27:30-38 27:30-38 27:30-38 27:30-31 27:30-40  (39-40a)
      27:32  
      27:33  
      27:34  
      27:35  
      27:36  
      27:37  
      27:38-40  (39-40)  
27:39-40  (39-40) 27:39-40  (39-40) 27:39-40  (39-40)      
  Jacob Escapes from Esau (27:41-28:5)      
27:41-45 27:41-46 27:41-45 27:41 27:41-45
      27:42-45  
    Jacob's Departure for Aram and His Dream at Bethel (27:46-28:22) Isaac Sends Jacob to Laban (27:46-28:5) Isaac Sends Jacob to Laban (27:46-28:5)
27:46   27:46-28:5    

READING CYCLE THREE

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:1-4
  
1Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, "My son." And he said to him, "Here I am." 2Isaac said, "Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death. 3Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; 4and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die."

27:1 "when Isaac was old, and his eyes were too dim to see" Eye problems must have been a significant disease in the Ancient Near East (cf. Jacob in Gen. 48:10; Eli in I Sam. 3:2 and later, Paul in Gal. 4:13-15; 6:11; II Cor. 12:7).

▣ "he called his older son Esau" This shows (1) the favoritism of Isaac toward Esau (cf. Gen. 25:28), which will become obvious as the chapter develops or (2) the cultural expectation of the oldest (i.e., lit. "great," BDB 152, i.e., in age, cf. 10:21; 44:12) son's special place in the family.

27:2 "Isaac said, 'Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death'" It is interesting to note that Isaac, about 137 years of age, is nervous about his death. We learn from Gen. 35:28 that he lived to be 180 years old. His concern may have issued from the fact that his brother, Ishmael, died at the age of 137, recorded in Gen. 25:17. If it is true that Martin Luther's calculations of Isaac's age of 137 is accurate, then Isaac was reacting to his physical disabilities and not to the revelation of God.

From the Nuzi Tablets from this same area and time we learn that "I am old" may be a legal idiom for the public transfer of inheritance rights to the control of a son.

27:3,4 There is a series of imperatives related to Isaac's requested meal before passing on the patriarchal blessing. Here are Isaac's commands/requests.

1. "please take your gear" ("quiver," BDB 1068, only here in the OT and "bow," BDB 905), v. 3, BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperative

2. "go out to the field," v. 3 BDB 422, KB 425, Qal imperative

3. "hunt game for me," v. 3, BDB 844, KB 1010, Qal imperative

4. "prepare a savory dish," v. 4, BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperative

5. "bring it to me," v. 4, BDB 97, KB 112, Hiphil imperative

6. "that I may eat," v. 4, BDB 37, KB 46, Qal cohortative

 

27:4 "so that my soul" This is the term nephesh (BDB 659, KB 711, cf. v. 25), which refers to that which breathes or has life. It can be used of cattle (cf. Gen. 1:24; 2:19) or humans (cf. Gen. 2:7). Humans do not have a soul (Greek thought), they are a soul. Their physical body is the outer boundary of a body/soul/spirit unity.

▣ "may bless you before I die" Notice the purpose of the meal was to be the occasion of the passing on of the leadership of the family (i.e., patriarchal blessing). The Hebrew concept of the spoken word was such that once it was given it could not be revoked (cf. vv. 33-38; Isa. 55:11).

Isaac thought he was dying (cf. v. 2), but lived years longer. Isaac was the beneficiary of the covenant promises to Abraham. Yet still he was going blind and thought he would soon die. Physical illness is not a sign of God's displeasure, but the result of living in a fallen world (see the booklet by Gordon Fee, "The Disease of the Health, Wealth Gospel").

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:5-17
  
5Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game to bring home, 6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, 7'Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the Lord before my death.' 8Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you. 9Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them as a savory dish for your father, such as he loves. 10Then you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death." 11Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, "Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. 12Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing." 13But his mother said to him, "Your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me." 14So he went and got them, and brought them to his mother; and his mother made savory food such as his father loved. 15Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob.

27:5 "Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke" There is obviously a problem of jealousy and manipulation in this family. We can see the conflicts and tension between Rebekah and Isaac and Jacob and Easu. It is interesting how often the Bible records marital and family problems among these heros of the OT. Rebekah's listening at the tent flap can be interpreted either as her being nosy or as her trying to fulfill God's revelation to her in Gen. 25:23. In my understanding of this passage I am going to give Jacob and Rebekah the benefit of the doubt for it looks as if Isaac and Esau are trying to get around God's obvious prediction.

27:7 The imperatives reflect vv. 3 and 4.

▣ "and bless you in the presence of the Lord before my death" The very fact that God's name is mentioned (in the text by Rebekah, not Isaac, cf. v. 4) shows the significance of the patriarchal blessing. It was almost viewed as having an independent power and once given could not be recalled. It was very significant because of God's promises to Abraham and subsequent promises to Isaac, Jacob, and his twelve children.

27:8-9 Rebekah decides to trick Isaac and block his intentions, so she orders Jacob to

1. listen/hear, v. 8, BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

2. go to the flock, v. 9, BDB BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperative

3. bring/take two choice kids, v. 9, BDB 542, KB 534, Qal imperative

4. that I may prepare them as a savory dish, v. 9, BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense

 

27:9 "such as he loves" Rebekah knew how to cook Isaac's favorite food. Apparently she did not do it often or he would not have requested it from Esau.

27:11 "Esau my brother is a hairy man" Note Genesis 25:25.

27:12

NASB, NKJV"deceiver"
NASB
(margin)"mocker"
NRSV"mocking"
TEV"deceiving"
NJB"cheating"
LXX"ill-intentioned"

The Hebrew verb (BDB 1073, KB 1770, Pilpel participle) in this stem (Pilpel) means "mock" or "deceive," while in the Hitpalpel stem (cf. II Chr. 36:16) denotes "mocking" or "misuse" (NIDOTTE, vol. 4, p. 320). This term is found in the OT in only these two places. The NIV translated them as "tricking" and "scoffed."

This root is not related to Jacob's name in 25:26 (BDB 784).

27:13-17 This shows the detailed planning of both Rebekah and Jacob in this manipulative act.

27:13 "Your curse be on me" There is no verb in the MT. Rebekah knew there would be consequences! She commands Jacob to act on her behalf.

1. obey (lit. hear), BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative, cf. vv. 5 (twice),6,8,13,34,43

2. go, BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperative, cf. vv. 5,9,13,14

3. get, BDB 542, KB 534, Qal imperative, cf. vv. 9,13,14,15,35,36 (twice),45,46

 

27:15-17 Notice the duplicitous actions.

1. took Esau's best clothes (BDB 326) and put them on Jacob, v. 15

2. put goat skins on Jacob's arms and neck, v. 16 (possibly from the two kids slain to provide the meal)

3. gave Jacob the prepared food to take to Isaac, v. 17

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:18-29
 
18Then he came to his father and said, "My father." And he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?" 19Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me." 20Isaac said to his son, "How is it that you have it so quickly, my son?" And he said, "Because the Lord your God caused it to happen to me." 21Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not." 22So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau." 23He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands; so he blessed him. 24And he said, "Are you really my son Esau?" And he said, "I am." 25So he said, "Bring it to me, and I will eat of my son's game, that I may bless you." And he brought it to him, and he ate; he also brought him wine and he drank. 26Then his father Isaac said to him, "Please come close and kiss me, my son." 27So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said,
"See, the smell of my son
Is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed;
28Now may God give you of the dew of heaven,
And of the fatness of the earth,
And an abundance of grain and new wine;
29May peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you;
Be master of your brothers,
And may your mother's sons bow down to you.
Cursed be those who curse you,
And blessed be those who bless you."

27:18-24 This is the beginning of several lies.

1. Who are you?, v. 18, I am Easu, v. 19

2. How did you get the game and cook it so quickly?, v. 20, The Lord helped me, v. 20

3. Are you really Easu?, v. 24, I am, v. 24

4. Isaac's doubts can be seen in vv. 21,24,27

 

27:19 Jacob requests Isaac to

1. get up, BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative

2. sit, BDB 442, KB 444, Qal imperative

3. eat, BDB 37, KB 46, Qal imperative

 

27:20 "Because the Lord your God caused it to happen to me" Most commentators call this blasphemy because Jacob lied, using God's name. But, I think that Jacob is referring to the fact that God's prediction of him, through his mother, as well as his purchasing of the birthright from Esau, are God's doings (i.e., the bigger picture)!

27:22-23 Rebekah must have applied the kid's skin very carefully, especially on the hands (fingers). How she attached it is uncertain. It is possible that "hands" really refers to Jacob's arms.

27:25 Apparently this special official blessing, which transferred family leadership, was like a covenant and, therefore, was accompanied with a meal. To eat with someone and then betray them was seen as a great crime against another.

27:26-27 This was another test. Kissing was usually a gesture of greeting and farewell, but here it was a chance for Isaac to get close to Jacob and smell him and his clothes. Esau must have had a distinct odor related to his hunting activities.

27:27-29 Isaac meant the patriarchal blessing for Esau, but it will be given to Jacob. Note that it includes agricultural blessings (cf. Deut. 33:28) as well as the primogenitor of the family. You will also recognize some aspects associated with Abraham's blessing (i.e., v. 29).

27:28 "the dew of heaven" Rain comes only during certain seasons in Palestine (early rains, cf. Deut. 11:14; Joel 2:23; late rains, cf. Deut. 11:14; Joel 2:23). The remaining growing season is provided with water by dew. Therefore, "dew" (BDB 378) becomes a metaphor for the grace and provision of God (cf. Deut. 33:13, 28).

Verses 28 and 29 have a string of imperfects used as jussives.

1. "may God give," v. 28, BDB 678, KB 733, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. "may people serve you," v. 29, BDB 712, KB 773, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. "may nations bow down to you," v. 29, BDB 1005, KB 295, Hishtaphel imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. "be master of your brothers," v. 29, BDB 217, KB 241, Qal imperative

5. "may your mother's sons bow down to you," v. 29, same as #3

 

27:29 This is obviously Hebrew poetry with parallel symmetry. It expresses the truth found in Gen. 25:23, which is alluded to in the Abrahamic covenant in Gen. 12:1-3.

"Blessed" (BDB 138, KB 159) and "curse" (BDB 76, KB 91) represent the presence or absence of God's bountiful provisions (cf. Num. 24:9; Deut. 27:15-28:19). In a sense it was an observable covenant promise.

▣ "and may your mother's sons bow down to you" This almost seems to be a calculated putdown to Jacob (Isaac thought he was speaking to Esau).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:30-38
  
30Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31Then he also made savory 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." 32Isaac his father said to him, "Who are you?" And he said, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau." 33Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, "Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed." 34When 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!" 35And he said, "Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing." 36Then he said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing." And he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" 37But Isaac replied to Esau, "Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?" 38Esau said to his father, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father." So Esau lifted his voice and wept.

27:30 "Jacob had hardly gone out" This phrase is a Qal infinitive absolute and Qal perfect verb from the same root (BDB 422, KB 425). This is an emphatic phrase denoting the short period of time between Jacob's departure and Esau's arrival.

27:31 "and he said to his father" It is interesting that Esau's phraseology is exactly like that used by Jacob in v. 19. Possibly Jacob even copied his brother's idiomatic speech in trying to trick his father. However, it may just be standard idiomatic expression.

27:32 Suddenly Esau identifies himself as the "firstborn" (BDB 114). This had never interested him before (note 25:29-34).

27:33 "Then Isaac trembled violently" In the Hebrew the verb and accusative cognitive (BDB 353, KB 350, cf. Dan. 10:7) should be translated "trembled with a very great trembling." It is my understanding of this text that Isaac finally realizes that he has been fighting against God in trying to bless his firstborn son, Esau, and not that he is only mad at Jacob. It is interesting to note that this is another way for God to show His sovereignty over the covenant in that firstborn children, who normally would receive the promise of the father, do not, in all of these opening chapters of Genesis. It is the second, or later, sons who receive the patriarchal blessing.

▣ "Yes, and he shall be blessed" This phrase can be understood either (1) as against the background of the power of the spoken word, which once given, could not be recalled or (2) as the fact that Isaac realized that he was fighting against God (see preceding note).

27:34 "he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry" Note the items of intensity.

1. cognitive terms (BDB 858, KB 1042), "he cried out with a cry"

2. "great," adjective (BDB 152)

3. "bitter," adjective (BDB 600 I)

 

▣ "Bless me, even me also, O my father!" This is the first of two Piel imperatives (BDB 138, KB 159, cf. v. 38). Hebrews 12:17 shows us that Esau, although sorry that he had missed the material blessing, was sorry for the wrong reasons.

27:35-36 "Your brother came deceitfully, and has taken away your blessing" It is only a half truth that Jacob was a "supplanter," "over-reacher" (BDB 784), and "deceiver" (BDB 941) because (1) Esau had sold his own birthright (cf. v. 36 and Gen. 25:27-34) and (2) Isaac ignored the revelation of God to Rebekah in Gen. 25:23. The name Jacob is defined as "overreacher" or "supplanter" (BDB 139) in Gen. 25:26.

27:36 "these two times" This obviously refers to Gen. 25:27-31 and 27:18-29.

▣ "birthright. . .blessing" There is a play on the Hebrew words that sound very much alike: "birthright" equals bekhorah (BDB 114), while "blessing" equals berakhah (BDB 139).

▣ "Have you not reserved a blessing for me" The patriarchal blessing was comprehensive. Everything as far as the family's leadership and covenant promises (cf. v. 37) was pronounced on Jacob and could not be revoked because of the Hebrew concept of the power of the spoken word in YHWH's name, even though Isaac was tricked into giving it!

27:37 Esau was not made a poor person. He still was due one-third of all of Isaac's property, but he would not be the one in charge of the family's business nor speaker for the family.

27:38 "lifted up his voice and wept" This is an emotional Hebrew idiom for expressed sorrow (cf. Gen. 21:16).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:39-40
39Then Isaac his father answered and said to him,
"Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling,
And away from the dew of heaven from above.
40By your sword you shall live,
And your brother you shall serve;
But it shall come about when you become restless,
That you will break his yoke from your neck."

27:39-40 This is not so much a patriarchal blessing as it is a poetic prophecy, very similar to Genesis 49. There is a glimmer of independence in v. 40, lines 3 and 4.

27:40 This may describe the history of the nation of Edom which will come from Esau (cf. Genesis 36). For much of their history they were under the domination (i.e., yoke, BDB 760, cf. Lev. 26:13; I Kgs. 12:4) of the Jews. The commentator, Leupold, interprets this as "they were always trying to get out from under Jewish domination." However, others interpret this to mean that they finally succeeded, being a reference to Herod's (who was from Edom) rule over Palestine during the days of Jesus (Luther).

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, LXX"break"
NASB
(margin)"tear off"
TEV"shake off"
NJB"break away"

The term (BDB 923, KB 1194) is a rare word. In the Qal stem (e.g., Jer. 2:31) it means to roam about freely, but in the Hiphil stem it means to tear oneself loose (only here and possibly Ps. 55:2).

SPECIAL TOPIC: EDOM AND ISRAEL

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:41-45
  
41So Esau bore a grudge against 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 near; then I will kill my brother Jacob." 42Now when the words of her elder son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she sent and called her younger son Jacob, and said to him, "Behold your brother Esau is consoling himself concerning you by planning to kill you. 43Now therefore, my son, obey my voice, and arise, flee to Haran, to my brother Laban! 44Stay with him a few days, until your brother's fury subsides, 45until your brother's anger against you subsides and he forgets what you did to him. Then I will send and get you from there. Why should I be bereaved of you both in one day?"

27:41 The Septuagint translates this verse as a wish by Ishmael for Isaac to die (i.e., Isaac thought he was going to die; that is why he gave the patriarchal blessing, cf. v. 2), but this seems to be totally out of context. Esau seems to really love Isaac.

27:43 Once Rebekah hears Esau's plans to take revenge on Jacob she commands Jacob to act.

1. "obey" (lit., "hear so as to act"), BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

2. "arise," BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative

3. flee (lit. go), BDB 137, KB 156, Qal imperative

She sends him back to her family in Haran. The trip had two purposes.

1. get him away from Esau and allow Esau's anger to calm (cf. vv. 44-45)

2. get a wife from her family (cf. v. 46), not from the Canaanites as Esau had done (cf. Gen. 26:34-35; 27:46)

 

27:44-45 Here is a series of phrases by Rebekah which seem to imply that she will call Jacob home very quickly. In reality, Jacob will stay for over 20 years and probably will never see his mother again. Isn't it ironical that, although Jacob received both the birthright and the inheritance, he had to flee for his life and Esau enjoyed both of them for over 20 years. I feel sorry for Rebekah who had to stay with an old, crippled man whom she had deceived and an older son who felt betrayed.

27:45 "Why should I be bereaved of both of you in one day" This can be interpreted in two ways: (1) that Esau would kill Jacob and then the closest kin would act as a go'el and kill Esau (cf. Gen. 9:6) or (2) that Jacob, though a homebody, was also a very strong man, which was obvious from his description of his shepherding duties with Laban (cf. Gen. 31:38-42), and later his wrestling with the angel (cf. Gen. 32:24-32), and probably the two brothers would kill each other if they fought.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 27:46
  
46Rebekah said to Isaac, "I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?"

27:46 Again, we see the subtlety of Rebekah. She uses a supposed excuse for sending Jacob away, while not mentioning her weariness of life (BDB 880 I) to Esau. Apparently, her reason was valid because Isaac honors it (cf. 28:1-2). We have a reference in Gen. 26:34, 35 that Esau had married two of the Canaanite (Heth, BDB 366, cf. 23:3,10; see Special Topic: Pre-Israelite Inhabitants of Palestine at 12:6) women.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1.  Who does this chapter seem to identify as having impure motives and techniques?

2.  How is Genesis 25:23 related to this chapter?

3. What does the patriarchal blessing involve?

4. Why does Rebekah want her son to marry a relative?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods