Working Like the Devil, Serving the Lord (Genesis 27:1-46)
C. S. Lewis once wrote, “A little lie is like a little pregnancy.” How aptly that statement summarizes the events of Genesis 27. Isaac, with the cooperation of Esau, conspires to thwart the purpose of God to fulfill His covenant with Abraham through Jacob. Rebekah, aided by her son Jacob, seeks to outwit and outmaneuver Isaac and Esau to maintain for Jacob the right of the firstborn, which he purchased from Esau.
The secular songwriter has caught the spirit of some Christian service and surely the heartbeat of this chapter in the song entitled, “Working Like the Devil, Serving the Lord.” It is difficult to discern who surpasses the rest in this web of scheming and deceit: Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, or Esau.223 The family unit has been split into two factions, each headed by a parent who wants to live out his own expectations through his son, at the expense of the others. It is indeed a tragic story and yet one that rings true to life and reveals much of what we are like today.
The Conspiracy of Isaac and Esau
There are several overriding themes which are interwoven in these four verses. These themes characterize the attempt of Isaac and Esau to regain the blessings of God as promised to Abraham, spoken to Isaac, and unscrupulously secured by Jacob. Recognition of these themes will enable us to grasp the significance of this turning point in the lives of these four members of the patriarchal family.
The first theme is that of urgency. There is obvious haste in what takes place. Our impression is that Isaac stands with one proverbial foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. He is old, perhaps dying, and the blessing must quickly be pronounced upon Esau before it is too late.
On the surface this urgency seems to be well founded. Isaac is old, perhaps 137 years old if our calculations are accurate.224 It comes as no surprise that Isaac suffers from some of the infirmities of old age, such as poor eyesight (verse 1). Isaac was far from death’s door, however, for we learn from Genesis 35:28 that it was more than forty years later before he died at the ripe old age of 180! We should point out that his half brother Ishmael did die at age 137 (Genesis 25:17). Perhaps Isaac was not wrong to consider that his days were numbered, but in his desire to see his favorite son receive the Abrahamic blessings he stooped to unspiritual actions.
The second impression I have of verses 1-4 is that of secrecy. Normally the blessing would have been given before the entire family because it was, in reality, an oral will which legally determined the disposition of all that the father possessed.225 Distribution of family wealth and headship would best be carried out in the presence of all who were concerned. Thus we later find Jacob giving his blessing in the presence of all his sons (Genesis 49).
No such atmosphere is to be sensed in the conversation between Isaac and Esau. Neither Jacob nor Rebekah were present, and this was hardly an oversight. Had it not been for the attentive ear of Rebekah, the entire matter would seemingly have been completed with only two parties involved.
The third impression which can hardly be missed is that of conspiracy. This follows closely on the heels of the secrecy already described. Conspiracy and secrecy go hand in hand. There can be little doubt that Isaac intended at this clandestine feast to convey his blessings upon Esau to the exclusion of Jacob altogether. (This is why Isaac had no blessing left to convey upon Esau, cf. verses 37-38.)
Here was a premeditated plot to thwart the plan and purpose of God for Jacob. It is inconceivable that Isaac was ignorant of the revelation of God to Rebekah:
And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).
If for no other reason, Rebekah’s fallen nature (a malady common to all) would have dictated the disclosure of this divine revelation. Can you really imagine in this on-going contest between Rebekah and Isaac that she would not appeal to this revelation from God as the biblical basis for the favoritism shown toward “her” son Jacob? To me it is inconceivable.
Then again, can you imagine that Isaac was ignorant of the sale of Esau’s birthright to his brother? Isaac was not being informed for the first time of this when Esau cried out in despair,
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. (Genesis 27:36).
The final and compelling evidence of Esau’s disqualification for spiritual headship is his marriage to two Canaanite wives:
And when Esau was forty years old he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite (Genesis 26:34).
Totally disdaining spiritual purity, Esau did not hesitate to intermarry with the Canaanites. God’s purposes for His people could never be achieved through such a person.
In spite of all these elements, Isaac sought to overrule the verdict of God that the elder serve the younger. He anticipated doing so by a magical misuse of the pronouncement of the blessing before his death. Normally the birthright belonged to the eldest son. This entitled him to a double share of the property in addition to the privilege of assuming the father’s position of headship in the family. For the descendants of Abraham it determined the one through whom the covenant blessings would be given.226
Under certain circumstances the possessor of this birthright could be dispossessed. Such a change would normally be formalized at the giving of the oral blessing at the time of approaching death. Thus Jacob gave Ephraim precedence over Manasseh (Genesis 48:8ff.), and he gave Reuben’s rights of the firstborn to Judah because of his misuse of his position (Genesis 49:3ff.). And so it would appear that Isaac intended to manipulate God by reversing the decree of God and the rightful ownership of the rights of the first-born as purchased (although unethically) by Jacob. This he purposed to do by giving his oral blessing to Esau:
May 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 (Genesis 27:29, cf. Genesis 12:3).
Either by a genuine or a contrived sense of urgency Isaac sought to secretly overturn God’s revealed will and Jacob’s rightful possession by a clandestine conveyance of an oral blessing. By his willful participation Esau disregarded the legal agreement he had made with his brother. In both instances a dinner provided the occasion for such deception. To sit at the table of Abraham (and even Lot) was to be afforded hospitality and protection, but to sit at the table with Isaac and his sons was to face the dangers of deception and false dealing.227
The Counter-Conspiracy of Rebekah and Jacob
Our Lord once said to His disciples, “… all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). There is perhaps no clearer illustration of this principle than what can be seen in Genesis 27:5-17. Isaac sought to further his own interests by means of cunning and deceit. God’s method of dealing with this was to give Isaac a wife who was far more skillful at manipulation than he. What a master of deceit this woman was.
Rebekah could easily have met the job requirements for a position with the CIA. She served as a counter-spy in the service of her son. She posed as the faithful, loving wife, but under all of this she sought to further Jacob’s interests, even at the expense of her husband Isaac. Rebekah, not Jacob, was the mastermind behind the “mission impossible” of outwitting Isaac and obtaining his blessing for Jacob.
Rebekah did not just happen to overhear the whisperings of Isaac and Esau as they plotted the diversion of divine promises to the elder son. The text tells us that she “was listening.” The Hebrew form that is used in the original text suggests that this was a habit, a pattern of behavior, not a happenstance.228 Esau had hardly gotten outside the house before Rebekah had the wheels in motion to overthrow this conspiracy with a bigger one of her own.
When you stop to think about it, the plan was an incredible one. Only a sense of desperation or a very devious mind (or both!) could hope such a plot would succeed. How could a son with a totally different disposition and physical appearance possibly manage to convince his father that he was his older brother?
In my estimation such a plan could hardly have been something conceived on the spur of the moment. I tend to think that Rebekah had been thinking about this possibility for some time and that many of the props were already in place for this theatrical production. How could she possibly have considered minute details such as the goatskin gloves and neck coverings in so short a time? And how, in a few moments time, could they have been fashioned so expertly so as to have fooled Isaac? Did she just happen to have Esau’s garments at hand even though he was married and perhaps not living at home? Rebekah was too shrewd to leave these matters to chance or to last minute accomplishment. I think this production had been staged far in advance of its performance.
I find the protests of Jacob to be of particular interest. What constitutes the basis for his objections? Moses has recorded them for us:
And Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, “Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy men and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, then I shall be as a deceiver in his sight; and I shall bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing” (Genesis 27:11-12).
I am taken aback by the utter absence of any moral considerations here. Jacob does not rebuke his mother for the evil which she has proposed. One simple statement would have summed up the matter concisely: “It is not right.” But no moral verdict is pronounced, and worse yet, it is not even considered. Situational ethics always seem to boil down to the premise that emergencies overrule ethics. How desperately wicked such thinking is.
Jacob’s objections are based upon two considerations, both of which deal with pragmatics rather than principle. The first is simply that such a scheme is too incredible to possibly work. Jacob’s best reason for avoiding Rebekah’s scheme was that it was likely to fail, but Rebekah was too shrewd to propose a scheme that she had not worked out to the minutest detail. The second objection was based upon a consideration of what would happen if the plot did fail. In other words, Jacob was concerned about the consequences of failure. Godly men make decisions based first and foremost upon principle, while the ungodly act only on the basis of practicality. We say that crime doesn’t pay, but the criminal knows full well that it does, and so the crime rate continues to spiral upward. The law and the government which enforces it serve as the only deterrent to evil, for penalty counts far more than principle to those who are evil (cf. Romans 13:2-4; I Timothy 1:9).
Rebekah had a ready answer for this objection. She promised to assume the negative consequences personally if anything were to go wrong. And let me add that she did suffer greatly for the part she played in this scheme. What neither Rebekah nor her son considered, however, were the consequences for their sin even if they did succeed, which they did. Their plan went off without a hitch, but the results were the opposite of what they had hoped for.
One question remains: “What should Rebekah have done in these circumstances?” Isaac was wrong in what he conspired to do. Jacob was the son whom God chose to be the “heir of promise.” Nevertheless, evil must not be resisted with evil; it must be overcome by good (Romans 12:21).
The first thing Rebekah should have done was to speak honestly and forthrightly to her husband about his contemplated sin. Submission to authority never includes silence toward evil. We are to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), even to those in authority over us (cf. Acts 16:35-40).
Having fulfilled her responsibility to warn her husband of the consequences of the evil he had planned, Rebekah should have been content to leave the disposition of the matter to God, Who is all-powerful and all-wise. Her actions betrayed her lack of faith in the sovereignty of God. She should have acted as Gideon’s father did when the people purposed to put his son to death for tearing down the altar of Baal:
…Will you contend for Baal, or will you deliver him? … If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar (Judges 6:31).
If God is God, then let Him act on His own behalf, particularly in those times when we are unable to act in a way that is consistent with His Word.
Jacob Believes the Big Lie
Adolph Hitler believed in using the “big lie.” Little misrepresentations and lies might arouse suspicion, but the “big lie” would be so incredible that people would assume it must be true. It was Mark Twain, I believe, who said that fiction was believable and that non-fiction was beyond belief. When Jacob posed as his elder brother it was nothing less than an ancient application of the principle of the “big lie.”
Perhaps Jacob never intended this lie to become as big as it did, but nevertheless, it grew bigger and bigger with every statement he made. It began with the words “I am Esau your first-born” (verse 19). From this, lie began to be piled upon lie: “I have done as you told me” (verse 19); “eat of my game” (verse 19). In response to Isaac’s penetrating question, “Are you really my son Esau?,” Jacob replied, “I am” (verse 24). However, the lie that virtually sends chills up my spine as I read it is found in verse 20:
And Isaac 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.”
Don’t you expect a bolt of lightning to come from on high and with one “zot” remove this deceiver once for all time? Well, before you come down too quickly on Jacob, think of how Christians today do precisely the same thing. Jacob excused his sin by claiming that God was his partner in its performance. We frequently say, “The Lord led me to …” when often it is something we have always wanted to do and we have finally worked up the courage (or the folly) to go ahead with it. “The Lord told me to …” “The Lord has blessed us by …” Be careful with such statements. They may be evidence of the same kind of thinking that caused Jacob to tell his father God had prospered him by giving him a goat rather than wild game. With what pious words we seek to conceal our sin!
There is something strangely pathetic about Isaac in this chapter. He seems destined to fail, as would any man attempting to overrule God. His vulnerability is the result of several forces. First of all, Isaac is the victim of old age. His eyes are dim (verse 1) so that he cannot distinguish between what is genuine and what is artificial. His senses are somewhat dulled by age as well, or so it would seem. He did not perceive the difference between goat and game. He could not differentiate between goat skin and that of his son Esau.
Then, too, Isaac’s judgment seems to have been impaired by his haste. It was obvious that Isaac wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. He wanted the blessing to go to Esau so that it would be done—finished. Had there not been this sense of haste, Isaac might have insisted that his “other son” be present for the blessing too. Good judgment now, as then, is suspended in the name of urgency.
The fact cannot be overlooked that the decision Isaac reached was one based upon all five of his senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. The garments which Rebekah had on hand were those of Esau, and they smelled like him, too. Some have politely suggested that the smell was more like cologne, but frankly, I doubt it. Like Dr. J. Vernon McGee, I think it was another kind of smell.229 It was not the smell of Esau’s deodorant but the smell resulting from the lack of it that gave him away. Even the dulled senses of Isaac could not miss the smell of his son. Imagine it—Isaac, in the final analysis, was led by his nose.
I find Isaac’s error informative in the light of our scientific age that insists upon making decisions solely on the basis of empirical evidence. If we cannot see it, hear it, feel it, or smell it, it does not exist. Let me say that the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3) has constituted all men sinners. Every aspect of our being has been tainted by sin: intellect, emotions, and will. A man whose heart is at enmity with God can look at empirical facts and come up with a conclusion that is totally false. The problem is not with the facts; the problem is with man, whose head and heart lead him astray. Such was the case with Isaac; so it is today.
Isaac Learns and Esau Burns
The Bible is a wonderful book in that what is true can also be beautiful. While the Scriptures are given to edify and to exhort us, this is done by literature which is skillfully written. There is a distinct sense of drama in this narrative. It is so familiar to most of us that we fail to sense it, but it is there none the less. We are kept in suspense till the very last moment to see if Jacob can survive the interrogation and inspection of his father. The blessing is not pronounced until the last, causing us to fear that at any moment Esau will barge into the room, expose the fraud of his brother, and bring a curse upon him, while he receives the blessing for himself. Moses tells us that Jacob had just left when his brother came to his father with his meal (verse 30).
While Isaac loved the taste of Jacob’s “game,” Jacob savored the taste of his victory over Esau. He left triumphant and with a sigh of relief. Esau must have arrived at his father’s bedside with an expectant look, sensing that the blessing was almost in his grasp. What a smug sense of satisfaction and revenge Esau must have been flirting with. And Isaac? At long last he had outwitted his wife and had blessed Esau, or so he thought.
All of this was shattered when Esau approached his father with the words: “Let my father rise, and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me” (verse 31).
How puzzled Esau must have been at the terrified look in his father’s eyes and at the way he trembled violently upon his bed. What could possibly have gone wrong? A sense of dread must have slowly fallen over Esau as it became more and more clear that his brother had once again gotten the best of him. The irony of it all was that since Isaac had tried to give everything to Esau, there was nothing left that could be considered a blessing to his favorite son, for all had been given to Jacob.
The consequences for Rebekah and Jacob are recorded in verses 41-45, but the tragic results of the conspiracy of Isaac and Esau are seen sooner. Isaac had sought to give all to his favorite son Esau at Jacob’s expense. Instead, he gave all to Jacob at Esau’s expense. Isaac set his heart on that which was contrary to the revealed will of God, and because of this his world came crashing down upon him when God’s purposes prevailed. Esau despised spiritual things and thus sold his destiny for a dinner. Then he attempted to get it back by renouncing his solemn oath and conspiring with his father to dishonestly regain what he had lost through his own profanity. Esau learned that there comes a point of no return in every man’s life when regret cannot bring a reversal of past decisions. As I understand the Bible, all who have rejected Christ as Savior will live in eternal regret and remorse, but this will not overturn the consequences of living with their decision to live in independence from God (cf. Luke 16:19-31; Philippians 2:9-11; II Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 20:11-15).
Rebekah and Jacob Have a Price to Pay
For Rebekah and her son Jacob the price tag for their success was as costly as that of Isaac and Esau for their defeat. I have never seen anyone come away from the end results of sin with a smile on their face. Sin does not pay. Jacob and Rebekah can tearfully testify to this fact.
Rebekah loved Jacob more than life itself and, seemingly, more than Isaac. She sought his success (which happened to correspond with the revealed will of God) at any price, even deception and deceit. The price she paid was separation from her son, which appears to have lasted for the rest of her life.230 So far as we can detect, once Jacob left for Haran he never saw his mother again. Rebekah underestimated the consequences of this sin, for she thought that Jacob would only need to be gone for a short time—until the death of Isaac (27:44). But Isaac lived for a good forty years until he died at age 180 (35:28).
Jacob faced the inevitable results of sin also. He must have felt an alienation from his father, whom he had not only deceived but also mocked (cf. 27:12, marginal note in the NASV). He now had a brother who despised him and who looked for the day when he could put him to death (verse 41). And worst of all, he had to leave the mother he loved. In addition to this, all that he had gained in a material way he was unable to enjoy because he had to leave it behind to flee for his life. Sin does not pay!
Several doctrines which are illustrated by this chapter should be highlighted. First, we learn more about the sovereignty of God. Consistent with other passages of Scripture, we see that God is in complete control of His universe, even when men attempt to overrule His decrees:
The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9).
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD, it will stand (Proverbs 19:21).
For the wrath of man shall praise Thee; … (Psalm 76:10).
From this passage in Genesis a principle can be formulated concerning the sovereignty of God: Man’s sin can never frustrate the will of God, but it can fulfill it.
The purpose of God as expressed to Rebekah in Genesis 25:23 was perfectly accomplished without one alteration. The sins of Isaac and Esau and Rebekah and Jacob did not in any way thwart God’s will from being done. In fact, their sins were employed by God in such a way as to achieve the will of God. God’s sovereignty is never thwarted by man’s sin. To the contrary, God is able to achieve His purposes by employing man’s sinful acts to further His plans.
This is not to say that God makes man sin in order to achieve His purposes. Nor is it even to imply that God regards disobedience any less sinful because He turns evil into good. The sins of each party in this chapter are not glossed over or excused. No one has passed the responsibility for their actions on to God. No one can place the burden of guilt on God because of His decree. Sin is due to man’s depravity.
Had all acted in obedience, God would have employed some other means to bring about the blessing of Jacob instead of Esau. God did not create a situation in which men had to sin in order for His will to be done. Neither will He ever do so. We never have to sin as Christians (I Corinthians 10:13; cf. James 1:13). While God “causes all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28), He does not create evil in order to bring resulting good. We are responsible for our sin, not God. He allows it; He uses it; but He does not necessitate it.
How, then, might God have achieved the blessing of Jacob apart from the sins of this patriarchal family? Let me say very frankly that I do not know, nor do I need to know. But this I am fully assured of: Isaac could no more have pronounced a blessing upon Esau contrary to the will of God than Balaam could have cursed Israel (cf. Numbers 22-24). God will not allow men to frustrate His purposes.
Second, we learn about the doctrine of sin. Sin always produces separation. It separates men from men, and men from God (cf. John 15:18ff; II Thessalonians 1:5-10).
Third, we learn more on the doctrine of the depravity of man. Man’s sinfulness is manifested in the distortion that it brings into every area of his life: his intellect, his emotions, and his will. The empirical method is a good one, but our depravity has touched our intellect in such a way as to twist our thinking so that we can take the right facts and turn them to wrong conclusions. The empirical method, when employed by sinful men, will often lead them astray.
Only when our true motive is to learn the will of God and to do it and when our minds are transformed (Romans 12:2) by the Spirit of God through the Word of God can we expect to rightly interpret the facts before us.
From Genesis 27 I have become convinced of a truth I have never realized: It is Possible to Practice Faith in a Way that is Inconsistent with it.
Generally we would all suppose that actions based upon faith are righteous, while those things which are done apart from faith are evil. There is certainly an element of truth here, but I could hardly believe what I read in the book of Hebrews concerning the blessing of Jacob and Esau by Isaac: “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come” (Hebrews 11:20).
Would it ever have occurred to you that Isaac’s blessing of Jacob and Esau was an act of faith? In what sense can this be true? Surely the deception and disobedience of Isaac is not being called “righteous” by the writer to the Hebrews. How can these events in Genesis 27 be, in any sense, acts of faith on the part of Isaac?
I think that I am beginning to understand the answer to this question. Look for a moment at what is found just a few verses later in Hebrews 11:
By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace (Hebrews 11:31).
Rahab, as we know, lied about the two spies (Joshua 2:3-7). She did this believing that God was with them and with the nation Israel. She knew that God would prosper His people and destroy those who were their enemies. In this sense, she had faith in the God of Israel and was saved from destruction. Her act of lying was not commended by God, nor should it be seen as anything less than sin.231 And yet it stemmed from her faith. Her faith in God was manifested to some degree in her deception.
The same can be said for Isaac. Isaac believed in God. He believed in the covenant promises of God. He believed that the one upon whom the blessing was pronounced would be blessed indeed. He believed this so confidently that he was willing to deceive and even to disobey to have those benefits fall upon his favorite son Esau.
In this sense, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in faith. He pronounced the blessing in the faith that God would honor it and that its recipient would be blessed. Isaac’s actions stemmed from faith; but, at the same time, they were not appropriate to that faith.
I believe that the same thing is possible (and probably all too common) for Christians today. Our faith in God may lead us to witness, but we may use methods which are inconsistent with the gospel we proclaim. Our faith may cause us to share the way of salvation, but we may corrupt that gospel in order to cause no offense to the last. We suppose that we are furthering the cause of Christ, but we are corrupting the gospel, which is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Our goal may be biblical (e.g., the salvation of others), and so may our motivation (faith), but our means may be totally wrong. That should be food for considerable thought.
One final word must be said about the matter of Christian ethics. Jacob was guilty of practicing situational ethics. He considered the plan of his mother from the vantage point of practicality but not from the biblical perspective of principle. He worried about whether the plan would work but not if it was right. He agonized over the consequences of the plan if it failed but not the morality of such a plan in the first place.
I think we find a parallel in our own times in the matter of sexual conduct and morality. Sexual conduct seems often to be considered only in the light of availability and opportunity, not in the light of biblical morality. Sexual immorality has often been discouraged because of the consequences of disease and the shame and inconvenience of an unwanted pregnancy Now, however, society has come up with penicillin and the pill and, if all else fails, the abortion clinic. The younger generation feels little sense of reluctance to engage in immorality because they are assured, like Jacob was, that there will be no negative consequences. Let us teach our children what is right, and let us help our children to see that sin always has a price tag that is far too great to seriously consider disobedience to God.
223 “This makes all four participants in the present scene almost equally at fault. Isaac, whether he knew of the sale or not, knew God’s birth-oracle of 25:23, yet set himself to use God’s power to thwart it (see verse 29). This is the outlook of magic, not religion. Esau, in agreeing to the plan, broke his own oath of 25:33. Rebekah and Jacob, with a just cause, made no approach to God or man, no gesture of faith or love, and reaped the appropriate fruit of hatred.” Derek Kidner, Genesis (Chicago: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 155.
224 Stigers, after a consideration of Genesis 47:9; 45:11; 41:26-27; 41:46; 30:22ff.; and 29:18,27 calculates that Jacob would have been 77 years old when he left for Padan-Aram. If this is correct, Isaac would be 137 years old here, since we know he was 60 years old when the twins were born (25:26). Cf. Harold G. Stigers, A Commentary on Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), p. 211.
225 “From excavations at Nuzu in central Mesopotamia we learn that the oral blessing or will had legal validity and would stand up even in the courts. Nuzu tablet P56 mentions a lawsuit between three brothers in which two of them contested the right of a third to marry a certain Zululishtar. The young man won his case by arguing that this marriage was provided for in his father’s deathbed blessing.” Howard Vos, Genesis and Archaeology (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), p. 96. The information cited by Vos comes from Cyrus Gordon, “Biblical Customs and the Nuzu Tablets,” The Biblical Archaeologist, February, 1940, p. 8.
226 “The birthright was more than a title to the family inheritance; it involved a spiritual position. The place of the individual in the covenant status of Israel was part of the birthright and it was this aspect which made the foolishness of Esau so profound.” W. White, Jr. “Birthright,” The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975-1976), I, p. 617.
227 Leupold rightly comments, “He that knows the duplicity and treachery of the human heart will not find it difficult to understand how a man will circumvent a word of God, no matter how clear it be, if his heart is really set on what is at variance with that word.” H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1942), II., p. 737.
230 Rebekah paved the way for Jacob’s exodus in verse 46, but we shall delay a more detailed comment on this verse until the message on chapter 28. Suffice it to say that she still persisted at the manipulation of her husband, which she does with great skill.
231 Some would differ here. There are those who would say that during war deception (lying) is not sin--and this was a time of war. Thus, Rahab was not guilty of sin in this instance. I happen to disagree with that conclusion, although I do believe that deception in a time of war is not considered sin. We must realize that the writer to the Hebrews spoke only of Rahab’s reception of the spies, not of her deception, when he wrote of her faith.
Related Topics: Spiritual Gifts