Friday, November 28, 2008

Jacob Steals a Blessing

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Background
Blessings have long history, and blessings were an important part of life. Certain blessings were thought to be crucially important, as they were thought to have great influence over destiny. One of those types of blessings was the blessing of a father on his sons.

Isaac and Rebekah had fraternal twins, Esau and Jacob. According to Genesis 25:21-28, Esau, who was born first, was very hairy and red skinned, and was a real man's man that was loved dearly by Isaac. Jacob was smooth skinned and was generally more of a mommy's boy, and was dearly loved by Rebekah.

In this study, we see how through treachery, Jacob, who is later to be renamed Israel by God and father the twelve tribes of the Israelites, steals his brother Esau's blessing.

Jacob Steals a Blessing
In Genesis 27, we find Isaac well advanced in years, blind, and close to death. He decides it is time to bestow his blessing on his sons, or at least on his favorite son, Esau. He tells Esau to hunt down some wild game, make him a stew, and then he will bless Esau.

This arrangement seems a little odd; too quid pro quo. You would think that Isaac would just go ahead and bless Esau as opposed requiring Esau to get this meal first. It proves to be a big mistake.

Isaac's wife, Rebekah, overhears Isaac's instructions to Esau, and she devises a plan for Jacob to get Esau's blessing. She tells Jacob to kill a couple young goats from his flock, she will then make a stew from the goats just like Isaac likes it, and then Jacob will bring the stew to Isaac to get Esau's blessing.

Jacob, claiming to be Esau, shows up with the stew so quickly that Isaac questions Jacob about how he found the hunted game so quickly. Jacob lies, saying that God gave him success in the hunt.

Isaac suspects that it is Jacob because he recognizes Jacob's voice. That should have been enough right there to end the blessing process for this impostor right then and there, but it doesn't.

Instead, Isaac tells “Esau” to come close enough to where Isaac can touch him to feel Esau's hairy self. Rebekah had circumvented this problem by tying goat skins to Jacob's neck and hands. Esau must have been really, really, really hairy for this to have worked; like hairier than any human that has ever been. When Isaac touched the goat skins, he thought it felt like Esau.

Somewhat satisfied by the touch, Isaac eats the stew that Jacob brought. Then, because Isaac is still not 100% convinced because he still hears Jacob's voice, he asks “Esau” to give him a kiss as a covert manner of getting a whiff of him. But fore-guessing this possibility too, Rebekah had thwarted the scent problem by having Jacob dress in Esau's clothes. Isaac happily smells Esau's scent.

Isaac is convinced enough by these two easy tricks to out way the fact that “Esau's” voice was that of Jacob, so he blesses Jacob with the blessing that he had intended to give to Esau (Genesis 27:28-29). Most significantly, the blessing is to be rich and rule over his brothers.

When Esau finally arrived, Isaac soon discovered that Esau's blessing had been stolen by Jacob. Esau begs for a blessing. So does Isaac grant his favorite son a blessing; telling him he too will be rich, or prosperous, or live in peace, or will be well contented into old age? No, not really. He gives Esau blessing, but it is basically the negative image of the blessing given to Jacob, which is not much of a blessing at all (Genesis 27:39-40). Apparently, you can only bless one person to have a good life. Doh!

There are a few things that make this yarn particularly interesting.

One point of interest is Jacob's character. Jacob is one of the great patriarchs of the Israelites. In fact, God renames him Israel, and his sons are supposedly the seeds that build the twelve tribes of Israel. Here we find Jacob to be far from honest. Not exactly a good role model or a patriarch to be proud of.

Then there is the issue of interrelation of prophesy. You see, back in Genesis 25:23, God revealed that Esau would serve Jacob. We find that Isaac had wanted to bless Esau such that his brother Jacob would serve him. So basically, Isaac wanted to go against prophesy made by God. But through lies and deception, the blessing went to Jacob and was therefore in accordance with God's prophesy. As we find when continuing through Genesis, God does honor this blessing.

This raises all sorts of interesting hypothetical and philosophical questions, such as: If Isaac had blessed Esau before the hunt, would God have honored that blessing or kept to His original prophesy? Did God know this blessing would be caught by deception, and made the prophesy accordingly, or did He “move” Rebekah to orchestrate the treachery to make the prophesy true?

Or, perhaps the most interesting, does God honor the words that come out of someone more than what is in their hearts? Obviously in this story, that seems to be the case. It was in Isaac's heart to give the blessing to Esau, but his words fell upon Jacob, and it was Jacob that God empowered and blessed.

Well, just in case, I guess I'll hedge my bets. I believe that I am a worthless sinner and I need God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness in my life. I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins and was resurrected by God. In Jesus' name I pray, God, have mercy on my eternal soul.

Whew! I guess if it turns out that the unbelievable is true, I am now saved by my words. I feel so... normal.

4 comments:

  1. love everything you wrote

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  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Kayla!

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  3. I needed this understanding. I just couldn't understand why the deception occurred. But now seeing it as Issac going by favoritism rather than God's plan, makes it more clear.

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  4. I am glad I could help, K. LaShawn.

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