Now when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, he called his elder [and favorite] son Esau and said to him, “My son.” And Esau answered him, “Here I am.” Isaac said, “See here, I am old; [a]I do not know [b]when I may die. So now, please take your [hunting] gear, your quiver [of arrows] and your bow, and go out into the open country and hunt game for me; and make me a savory and delicious dish [of meat], the kind I love, and bring it to me to eat, so that my soul may bless you [as my firstborn son] before I die.”
But Rebekah overheard what Isaac said to Esau his son; and when Esau had gone to the open country to hunt for game that he might bring back, Rebekah said to Jacob her [younger and favorite] son, “Listen carefully: I heard your father saying to Esau your brother, ‘Bring me some game and make me a savory and delicious dish [of meat], so that I may eat it, and declare my blessing on you [c]in the presence of the Lord before my death.’ So now, my son, listen [carefully] to me [and do exactly] as I command you. Go now to the flock and bring me two good and suitable young goats, and I will make them into a savory dish [of meat] for your father, the kind he loves [to eat]. Then you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before his death.” Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Listen, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth [skinned] man. Suppose my father touches me and feels my skin; then I will be seen by him as a cheat (imposter), and I will bring his curse on me and not a blessing.” But his mother said to him, “May your curse be on me, my son; only listen and obey me, and go, bring the young goats to me.” So Jacob went and got the two young goats, and brought them to his mother; and his mother prepared a delicious dish of food [with a delightful aroma], the kind his father loved [to eat]. Then Rebekah took her elder son Esau’s best clothes, which were with her in her house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she gave her son Jacob the delicious meat and the bread which she had prepared.
So he went to his father and said, “My father.” And Isaac said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done what you told me to do. Now please, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may bless me.” Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found the game so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because the Lord your God caused it to come to me.” But Isaac [wondered and] said to Jacob, “Please come close [to me] so that I may touch you, my son, and determine if you are really my son Esau or not.” So Jacob approached Isaac, and his father touched him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” He could not recognize him [as Jacob], because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. But he said, “Are you really my son Esau?” Jacob answered, “I am.” Then Isaac said, “Bring the food to me, and I will eat some of my son’s game, so that I may bless you.” He brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Please come, my son, and kiss me.” So he came and kissed him; and Isaac smelled his clothing and blessed him and said,
“The scent of my son [Esau]
Is like the aroma of a field which the Lord has blessed;
Now may God give you of the dew of heaven [to water your land],
And of the fatness (fertility) of the earth,
And an abundance of grain and [d]new wine;
May peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you;
Be lord and master over your brothers,
And may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed,
And may those who bless you be blessed.”
The Stolen Blessing
Now as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had scarcely left the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. Esau also made a delicious dish [of meat] and brought it to his father and said to him, “Let my father get up and eat some of his son’s game, so that you may bless me.” Isaac his father said to him, “Who are you?” And he replied, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” Then Isaac trembled violently, and he said, “Then who was the one [who was just here] who hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it before you came, and I blessed him. Yes, and he [in fact] shall be (shall remain) blessed.” When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with a great and extremely bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” Isaac said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has [fraudulently] taken away your blessing [for himself].” Esau replied, “Is he not rightly named [e]Jacob (the supplanter)? For he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright, and now he has taken away my blessing. Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” But Isaac replied to Esau, “Listen carefully: I have made Jacob your lord and master; I have given him all his brothers and relatives as servants; and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. What then, can I do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” Then Esau [no longer able to restrain himself] raised his voice and wept [loudly].
Then Isaac his father answered and [prophesied and] said to him,
“Your dwelling shall be away from the fertility of the earth
And away from the dew of heaven above;
But you shall live by your sword,
And serve your brother;
However it shall come to pass when you break loose [from your anger and hatred],
That you will tear his yoke off your neck [and you will be free of him].”
So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him; and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are very near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” When these words of her elder son Esau were repeated to Rebekah, she sent for Jacob her younger son, and said to him, “Listen carefully, your brother Esau is comforting himself concerning you by planning to kill you. So now, my son, listen and do what I say; go, escape to my brother Laban in Haran! Stay with him for a while, until your brother’s anger subsides. When your brother’s anger toward you subsides and he forgets what you did to him, then [f]I will send and bring you back from there. Why should I be deprived of you both in a single day?”
Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth [these insolent wives of Esau]. If Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”
- Genesis 27:2 Isaac lived another forty-three years after this blessing was given to Jacob (35:27-29).
- Genesis 27:2 Lit the day of my death.
- Genesis 27:7 The patriarch’s formal blessing, offered before the Lord, was equivalent to an inalterable command and prophecy, whose outcome was assured. For that reason it had great importance and tangible value, especially for the firstborn son. When Esau sold his birthright (25:33), he did not imagine that, as a consequence, he would actually lose the blessing to which he had originally been entitled as the firstborn.
- Genesis 27:28 The Hebrew word refers to wine that is in the first stage of fermentation, still in the vat. Some of the rabbis said that the first stage takes three days, and that wine does not have a strong appeal to the senses until it is 40 days old (according to the Talmud).
- Genesis 27:36 See note 25:26.
- Genesis 27:45 Rebekah never saw her son Jacob again. He was well over forty and probably fifty-seven years old when he fled from Esau to Haran, and he stayed there at least twenty years.
Jacob Is Sent Away
So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and charged him, and said to him, “You shall not marry one of the women of Canaan. [a]Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take from there as a wife for yourself one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. May [b]God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, so that you may become a [great] company of peoples. May He also give the blessing of Abraham to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the [promised] land of your sojournings, which He gave to Abraham.” Then Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.
Now Esau noticed that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan-aram to take a wife for himself from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a prohibition, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,” and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Paddan-aram. So Esau realized that [his two wives] the daughters of Canaan displeased Isaac his father; and [to appease his parents] Esau went to [the family of] Ishmael and took as his wife, in addition to the wives he [already] had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth [Ishmael’s firstborn son].
Now Jacob left Beersheba [never to see his mother again] and traveled toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed overnight there because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down there [to sleep]. He dreamed that there was a ladder (stairway) placed on the earth, and the top of it reached [out of sight] toward heaven; and [he saw] the angels of God ascending and descending on it [going to and from heaven]. And behold, the Lord stood above and around him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your [father’s] father and the God of Isaac; I will give to you and to your descendants the land [of promise] on which you are lying. Your descendants shall be as [countless as] the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and the east and the north and the south; and all the families (nations) of the earth shall be blessed through you and your [c]descendants. Behold, I am with you and will keep [careful watch over you and guard] you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this [promised] land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and he said, “Without any doubt the Lord is in this place, and I did not realize it.” So he was afraid and said, “How fearful and awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gateway to heaven.”
So Jacob got up early in the morning, and took the stone he had put under his head and he set it up as a pillar [that is, a monument to the vision in his dream], and he poured [olive] oil on the top of it [to [d]consecrate it]. He named that place Bethel (the house of God); the previous name of that city was Luz (Almond Tree). Then Jacob made a vow (promise), saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and clothing to wear, and if [He grants that] I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God. This stone which I have set up as a pillar (monument, memorial) will be God’s house [a sacred place to me], and of everything that You give me I will give the tenth to You [as an offering to signify my gratitude and dependence on You].”
- Genesis 28:2 The Hebrew verb “to stand” or “arise” is often used as an instruction to prepare to fulfill a command, somewhat similar to the military command “attention.”
- Genesis 28:3 Heb El Shaddai.
- Genesis 28:14 I.e. Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is a descendant of Jacob.
- Genesis 28:18 I.e. dedicate or declare something sacred for God’s purpose.