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Isaac Blesses Jacob


When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2He said, “See, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. 4Then prepare for me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I 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, 6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father say to your brother Esau, 7‘Bring me game, and prepare for me savory food to eat, that I may bless you before the L ord before I die.’ 8Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. 9Go to the flock, and get me two choice kids, so that I may prepare from them savory food for your father, such as he likes; 10and you shall take it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a man of smooth skin. 12Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him, and bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” 13His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my word, and go, get them for me.” 14So he went and got them and brought them to his mother; and his mother prepared savory food, such as his father loved. 15Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; 16and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17Then she handed the savory food, and the bread that she had prepared, to 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?” 19Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.” 20But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the L ord your God granted me success.” 21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, 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. 24He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25Then he said, “Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said,

“Ah, the smell of my son

is like the smell of a field that the L ord has blessed.


May God give you of the dew of heaven,

and of the fatness of the earth,

and plenty of grain and wine.


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!”

Esau’s Lost Blessing

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

39 Then his father Isaac answered him:

“See, away from the fatness of the earth shall your home be,

and away from the dew of heaven on high.


By your sword you shall live,

and you shall serve your brother;

but when you break loose,

you shall break his yoke from your neck.”

Jacob Escapes Esau’s Fury

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.” 42But the words of her elder son Esau were told to Rebekah; so she sent and called her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. 43Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, 44and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— 45until your brother’s anger against you turns away, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send, and bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

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

11. And Jacob said to Rebekah. That Jacob does not voluntarily present himself to his father, but rather fears lest, his imposture being detected, he should bring a curse upon himself, is very contrary to faith.4343     There is a great want of Calvin’s accustomed caution and soundness in all this reasoning. It certainly was right that Jacob should feel and express the fear, lest the deception which his mother required him to practice should be detected, and should bring a curse upon him and not a blessing. It would indeed have been a still higher proof of integrity, and a still stronger exercise of faith, had he repelled the importunities of his mother, saying, “How shall I do this wickedness, and sin against God?” — Ed. For when the Apostle teaches, that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” (Romans 14:23,) he trains the sons of God to this sobriety, that they may not permit themselves to undertake anything with a doubtful and perplexed conscience. This firm persuasion is the only rule of right conduct, when we, relying on the command of God, go intrepidly wheresoever he calls us. Jacob, therefore, by debating with himself, shows that he was deficient in faith; and certainly, although he was not entirely without it, yet, in this point, he is convicted of failure. But by this example we are again taught, that faith is not always extinguished by a given fault; yet, if God sometimes bears with his servants thus far, that he turns, what they have done perversely, to their salvation, we must not hence take a license to sin. It happened by the wonderful mercy of God, that Jacob was not cut off from the grace of adoption. Who would not rather fear than become presumptuous? And whereas we see that his faith was obscured by doubting, let us learn to ask of the Lord the spirit of prudence to govern all our steps. There was added another error of no light kind: for why does he not rather reverence God than dread his father’s anger? Why does it not rather occur to his mind, that a foul blot would stain the hallowed adoption of God, when it seemed to owe its accomplishment to a lie? For although it tended to a right end, it was not lawful to attain that end, through this oblique course. Meanwhile, there is no doubt that faith prevailed over these impediments. For what was the cause why he preferred the bare and apparently empty benediction of his father,4444     Quid enim fuit causae cur nuda et in speciem inania patris vota... praeferret? Tymme translates vota “wishes,” and either for the sake of making sense of the passage, or because the edition from which he made his version had a different reading, he puts the word “mother” in the place of “father.” But as the Amsterdam and Berlin editions both have the word patris and not matris, the translation above given seems to be required. It agrees substantially with the French version, which is as follows: Car qui a este cause qu’il a prefere la benediction de son pere, laquelle sembloit nue et vaine en apparence, au repos duquel il jouissoit lors, &e. — Ed. to the quiet which he then enjoyed, to the conveniences of home, and finally to life itself? According to the flesh, the father’s benediction, of which he was so desirous, that he knowingly and willingly plunged himself into great difficulties, was but an imaginary thing. Why did he act thus, but because in the exercise of simple faith in the word of God, he more highly valued the hope which was hidden from him, shall the desirable condition which he actually enjoyed? Besides, his fear of his father’s anger had its origin in the true fear of God. He says that he feared lest he should bring upon himself a curse. But he would not so greatly have dreaded a verbal censure, if he had not deemed the grace deposited in the hands of his father worth more than a thousand lives. It was therefore under an impulse of God that he feared his father, who was really God’s minister. For when the Lord sees us creeping on the earth, he draws us to himself by the hand of man.4545     It is much more probable that Jacob was influenced by a precipitate and ambitious desire to snatch the blessing from the hand of his brother; and though he paused for a moment at the apprehension of consequences, should his mother’s scheme fail, yet he too readily acquiesced, and exposed himself to subsequent dangers, not from a supreme regard to the will of God, but from that self-love which so often overshoots its mark. — Ed.

13. Upon me be thy curse, my son. Here Rebekah sins again, because she burns with such hasty zeal that she does not consider how highly God disapproves of her evil course. She presumptuously subjects herself to the curse. But whence this unheeding confidence? Being unfurnished with any divine command, she took her own counsel. Yet no one will deny that this zeal, although preposterous, proceeds from special reverence for the word of God. For since she was informed by the oracle of God, that Jacob was preferred in the sight of God, she disregarded whatever was visible in the world, and whatever the sense of nature dictated, in comparison with God’s secret election. Therefore we are taught by this example, that every one should walk modestly and cautiously according to the rule of his vocation; and should not dare to proceed beyond what the Lord allows in his word.

14. And he went and fetched. Although it is probable that Jacob was not only influenced by a desire to yield obedience to the authority of his mother, but was also persuaded by her seasonings, he yet sinned by overstepping the bounds of his vocation. When Rebekah had taken the blame upon herself, she told him, doubtless, that injury was done to no one: because Jacob was not stealing away another’s right, but only seeking the blessing which was decreed to him by the celestial oracle. It seemed a fair and probable excuse for the fraud, that Isaac, unless he should be imposed upon, was prepared to invalidate the election of God. Therefore Jacob, instead of simply declining from what was right in submission to his mother, was rather obeying the word of God. In the meantime (as I have said) this particular error was not free from blame: because the truth of God was not to be aided by such falsehoods. The paternal benediction was a seal of God’s grace, I confess it; but she ought rather to have waited till God should bring relief from heaven, by changing the mind and guiding the tongue of Isaac, than have attempted what was unlawful. For if Balaam, who prostituted his venal tongue, was constrained by the Spirit, contrary to his own wish, to bless the elect people, whom he would rather have devoted to destruction, (Numbers 22:12,) how much more powerfully would the same spirit have influenced the tongue of holy Isaac, who was not a mercenary man, but one who desired faithfully to obey God, and was only hurried by an error in a contrary direction? Therefore, although in the main, faith shone preeminently in holy Jacob, yet in this respect he bears the blame of rashness, in that he was distrustful of the providence of God, and fraudulently gained possession of his father’s blessing.

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