2.17 The Blessing
Disorder multiplies under heaven! Not satisfied with the birthright, Jacob took the blessing of the firstborn son. But the instigator of this plot was Rebekah. Here was a root of family schism, not in the sons but in the parents. For the mother took sides for one son against another, and deceived her own husband! Isaac was the embodiment of God's promise, and it was his conscious intent to pass this promise to Esau. Rebekah over-ruled the anointed of God! In the conspiracy of Rebekah and Jacob, was there any limit to their sin? Jacob even invoked God's favor, falsely, in reply to Isaac's question as to why he had returned so quickly from the hunt.
"The Lord your God gave me success" (Gen 27:20).
Poor old incompetent Isaac was fooled, and Esau was once again swindled out of his rights.
Shakespeare's Hamlet had nothing over Genesis in terms of family tragedy. A reasonable objection to this episode on moral grounds would be that a blessing obtained by guile is null and void. Just as today, a written will is not accepted unless the testator is "of sound mind." But not so in the Old Testament. A blessing obtained by falsehood was as valid as a verbal oath relinquishing a birthright. In either case, a legitimate transaction occurred in the spiritual world. And the end result was Esau crying out bitterly,
"Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!" Then Esau wept aloud (Gen 27:38).
And the quarrel escalated to the predictable conclusion: Esau plotted to kill Jacob. Why does this surprise anyone, particularly Rebekah? Esau was a hunter, he was skilled at shooting arrows into deer. He was probably a fighter, but not a schemer. He could not compete with "those who lie on their beds plotting evil" (Mi 2:1). His plot to kill Jacob was a simple-minded attempt to retaliate in a way that he could win. If we blame Esau for his stupidity in being suckered out of his birthright, at least he was innocent in the loss of his blessing. The sin lies primarily with Rebekah, and Jacob as her willing accomplice. Like Sarah before her, Rebekah orchestrated the splitting up of her home to further her own dynastic preference.
This is a fantastic family drama in its own right. But it has theological significance too. God was further narrowing the focus of His covenant. Not all the descendants of Abraham would be blessed: Ishmael was rejected in favor of Isaac. And that pattern was repeated in the next generation -- the elder son of Isaac was disenfranchised by the younger. The Promise of God and His Presence continued through Jacob, not Esau.