With the help of his mother, Joseph steals his brother’s blessing. Rebekah “helped” God and it turned out dangerous too.
Rebekah remembered God’s words to her when she was carrying Esau and Joseph. The younger would rule over the older. This was God’s promise and He never goes back on His word. So she felt she had to think fast to keep Esau from getting what the Lord promised to Jacob.
You and I both know that God could have orchestrated this differently if He chose to. But Rebekah didn’t give Him an opportunity to act. She took matters into her own hands. Jacob points out the first problem he identifies. “I don’t feel like Esau. He is hairy and I’m smooth.” Did you notice that he didn’t even once attempt to tell his mother that this was wrong? He questioned how he would pull it off but not the morality of the whole act. I wonder if she coached him on how to get the birthright too or if they were both “crafty.”
Jacob did exactly as his mother told him to do. One could argue that he was only following his mother’s directions. She got him ready; “dressed him up” to fool his father. But he took the task on as his own once he entered his father’s tent. Three times Jacob’s own lips lied to his father.
Rebekah’s preparations fooled thee of Isaac’s senses; touch, taste and smell. Only by the “overwhelming evidence” did Isaac disregard the one sense that told him the truth; his hearing. His age robbed him of the one sense that would have unmasked this whole trick.
How many “tricks” had been played on Isaac since he lost his sight? Was this a single event for this all important purpose or was this a regular behavior from Rebekah? I’m also a little curious about one of the statements made during Isaac’s blessing. Since I’m asking about Rebekah’s behavior now, let’s just throw that one in with the others. Isaac told the son he was blessing (who just happened to be Jacob and not Esau) that he would rule over his brothers and his mother’s sons would bow down to him. Did Isaac and Rebekah have other sons? Would Rebekah have others sons after Isaac died? Where did these plural words come from?
Let’s zoom out for a little bit and look at what is happening in the camp while Jacob is in with his father. I’m going to guess that the cooking area and Isaac’s tent were fairly far removed from each other. If not he would have probably heard Rebekah and Jacob scheming together. So now while Jacob is convincing Isaac that he is indeed Esau, the real Esau returns from the hunt.
Isaac’s blessing isn’t a quick step in, receive a few words, and then step out. This process took a while. Isaac had to have time to convince himself that this really was Esau. He also had to have time to eat his meal. I imagine this took anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
Rebekah has to keep Esau busy while Jacob is in the tent with Isaac. Esau had to prepare his food just the way his father liked it. Did Rebekah “help him” get it just right? Did she make sure and talk to him the whole time he was cooking so he couldn’t overhear what was going on across the camp? Did she have to delay him in his task? Maybe she advised him to get cleaned up and dressed up for this occasion. Whatever she did to keep Esau from reaching Isaac too soon, he never caught onto it as a delaying tactic.
I can see Rebekah’s near panic when Esau’s meal was ready before Jacob left Isaac’s tent. She glances around quickly trying to find some way to delay Esau just a few more minutes. Surely Isaac is almost finished giving Jacob his blessing. As Esau completes the final tasks Rebekah has requested she sees Jacob across the camp leaving Isaac’s tent. “That was close” she thinks to herself. To Esau she tells him he should probably get going as Isaac is waiting for his visit.
Or is it possible that Isaac and Esau were BOTH keeping this visit to themselves? Did Esau share with Rebekah why he was cooking the savory food? Did he expect tricks from her? Was he hoping Jacob wouldn’t find out about his visit to his father? Or did he openly trust his brother and mother and not even consider they could hatch such a scheme to defraud him?
Esau comes to Isaac, not suspecting anything is wrong but that will change in an instant. When Esau speaks to Isaac, Isaac recognizes his voice but he is confused. He had convinced himself that his ears were failing him too as that must have been the reason he was hearing Jacob’s voice come from Esau’s mouth. Now the truth hits home. His ears weren’t wrong, everything else was; but how?
Esau is devastated by what Jacob has done. Isaac is too but there is nothing he can do to undo the damage done to Esau. My heart aches for him. The son who lost everything that was promised to him as first born. The one who is willing to take whatever is left. The one crying for ANY kind of blessing from his father.
But there isn’t a blessing left in Isaac for his other son. If you stop and think about this, that was what he was “reserving” for Jacob; NOTHING. Jacob was to receive no blessing from his father. Instead he would have been placed under Esau. As a mother of four children I have a hard time with this. Yes, I recognize the cultural norm to give priority to the first born but what about your other children? Shouldn’t you reserve SOMETHING for them? Something that speaks of their personality or special talents. Why couldn’t the blessing be divided among the children?
This dichotomy of “blessings” for your children is what compelled Rebekah to act. She knew this was an “all” or “nothing” situation. She HAD to make sure her favorite son received the “all” portion. After all, God told her the younger would rule over the older. She was just helping God out in this instance.
I wonder how God would have worked all this out if Rebekah hadn’t interfered. Would he have somehow stopped Isaac from giving Esau his blessing? Would Esau have “sold” his blessing like he did with his birthright? Would he have “crossed Isaac’s arms” like what would happen when Jacob blessed Joseph’s two sons? God ALWAYS keeps His promises. Was He looking forward to this day when He shared with Rebekah? Did He know she was going to “help Him” with this? Did He try and stop her?
The result of this trickery was murderous hatred. Esau had enough patience to wait until after Isaac died, but then he was going to get even with Jacob for what he had done. Did Esau ever figure out that it was Rebekah’s idea in the first place? It doesn’t look like it. It also doesn’t look like Isaac recognized Rebekah’s “finger prints” on the scheme.
Rebekah had to act fast to save Jacob’s life. She was able to use something we saw, but didn’t go into detail about, in yesterday’s reading. She was able to use Esau’s wives as an excuse. We are told that “they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah” (Genesis 26:35).
I don’t know what it was that these two women did that rubbed Isaac and Rebekah so wrong. Was it because they were from the land of Canaan? Was it their gods? Was it their customs? Was it the color of their skin of the texture of their hair? Or was it their individual behavior? Were they taken as individuals or as a “race”? Did this attitude run both ways? And did Esau marry them just to cause problems in the family? Did he marry them to spite his mother?
Whatever the basis for discord, Rebekah had her excuse to get Jacob away from Esau’s hands. She is hoping for the “out of sight out of mind” adage to come about. She wants to send him to her family’s house under the auspices of finding him a wife. This is something Isaac can get behind. He too knows the beauty of the women of Rebekah’s family. She is living proof. Although he has never personally met the daughters represented there, he agrees to send Jacob away to acquire a suitable wife for himself. I’m curious if Isaac knows what’s in Esau’s heart toward Jacob. Is he angry with Jacob too? Did Rebekah finally share God’s message to her during her pregnancy? Did Isaac recognize himself as God’s instrument in this prophecy after the fact?
Father God, You know what it is going to take to keep me on YOUR path heading in the right direction. I don’t condone how Jacob and Rebekah went about the task but I recognize it as part of Your plan. NO! You didn’t tell them to lie but You used their natural behaviors to bring about Your end. And NO, the ends don’t justify the means. You would have found a way to accomplish Your plan without their help if necessary.
Jacob would later “get a taste of his own medicine” when meeting Laban. And he would also learn some valuable lessons along the way. I wonder how long it was before his conscience started bothering him over how he obtained all he had.
In spite of the blessing Jacob received, his sins would stand in his way. He would have God’s promises but he would not be free until he atoned for what he had done. Was it worth the cost to him? Did he wish he could take it back? I know I’ve had regrets over sins I’ve committed. Not because I was found out by men but because I was found out by You. You forgive me when I come to You but until I make right what I have done Satan still pokes at me. Sometimes I’m more afraid to make it right than I am of him poking me with sticks over it. Help me Father to follow Your lead in this area. Help me also NOT take Jacob’s “road to riches.” I think I’ll just wait and see what You do instead.
OH HOW I WISH THAT WAS ALWAYS TRUE!!! Forgive me for the “short cuts” I’ve taken in my life. If there are any that are still need to be repented of or made right, please help me to do so. For the future though Lord, help me wait on You instead of “helping You” to help me.