The story of Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob would make a great television show. It contains all the components for saucy soap opera, dysfunction, parental favoritism, deception, complete disregard for doing what is right and revenge.
Vs 1 - 4: Isaac was old and he was blind or close to being blind. We are told this beforehand so we know how Jacob is going to trick his father. Jacob and Rebekah will use Isaac’s handicap to deceive him. Isaac calls Esau to him tells his son to make a meal for him that he loves (Esau was a hunter and he would make delicious food for his father) so he could eat the meal and then bless Esau because he was nearing death. This could have been his last meal of sorts. I wonder that If Esau made life bitter for his parents then why was he still Isaac’s favorite and why was he so determined to bless him and not Jacob? Being that Jacob was a natural son he was entitled to a blessing, but this private meeting with Esau shows us Isaac was determined to bless Esau and potentially leave nothing for Jacob (and his siblings). We are told that Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob because Esau was the man’s man, the hunter who brought home meat for his father to eat. It is apparent that Isaac got a lot of enjoyment out of the food his son made. Regardless of the fact that Esau was rebellious and made life bitter for his parents Isaac favored him because Esau did good things for him… i.e. made him tasty food. Was food or his appetite his vice or idol or is it symbolic of Isaac’s bondage to sensuality or instant gratification?
Vs 5 - 7: Rebekah (Isaac’s wife) overheard or she was eaves dropping on the conversation between Isaac and Esau. Upon hearing it she devises a plan to deceive Isaac into blessing her favorite son Jacob over Esau. Reminder Jacob was a momma’s boy and Esau was Isaac’s favorite. I believe this whole scheme is designed around the fact that she favored Jacob and was angry with her husband because he was going to bless Esau. She knew that Esau had blatantly disobeyed the family tradition of not marrying Canaanites and that this was enough to disqualify him from receiving the blessing passed down from Abraham.
Vs 8 - 13: “obey my voice as I command you.” This sentence tells us this was a premeditated act. This was not something she just thought up. She had thought this through and devises a detailed plan to trick her husband. She knew it was wrong and she knew Jacob knew it was wrong. This is why she tells him to obey her. Regardless of his conscience he was commanded to obey his mother’s wishes and disregard his father’s will. In these first thirteen verses we are given a glimpse at the complete dysfunction of the family.
She tells Jacob to kill two young goats and she would prepare a meal for Isaac. Jacob would then receive the blessing. The only problem… Esau was hairy and Jacob was not. Rebekah’s plan involved putting the goat hair skin on Jacob’s hands, arms and neck so when Isaac touched him he would think he was touching Esau. Naturally Jacob was afraid of being caught. He was worried that his dad would find out the truth and then curse him instead of bless him. His mother assures him that if he is found out then the curse should fall on her. However curses (just like blessings) cannot be transferred down. So his willingness to comply with her shows that he is on board with her.
“Obey only my voice…” Could Jacob have questioned his mother? Was he reluctant to go through with this? Jacob could have been conflicted in what to do and his mother is just assuring or telling him that he is to only obey her.
Vs 14 - 17: Rebekah prepares the meal, gets clothes for Jacob and puts the goat hair skins on her son. She is the one who does all of the work. This once again shows Jacob’s reluctance. He wasn’t playing an active role in devising the plan and making it come to pass.
Vs 18 – 25: Jacob now brings the meal to his father. From the beginning Isaac is a bit skeptical as to who is speaking to him. He notices the voice sounds like Jacob but he feels and smells like Esau. Since the boys were twins their voices may have had some similarities that made it difficult for Isaac to tell the two apart. Notice up to this point Jacob does not play an active role in the deception; he just does what his mother tells him. However now he boldly lies to his father by stating and convincing him he is Esau. He may have been reluctant but now he is 100% involved and committed to this deception.
The Lies of Jacob
1. I am Esau
2. The Lord granted me success
3. Isaac: Are you really my son? Jacob: I am
Vs 26 – 29: Isaac blesses Jacob and then eats the meal. Jacob kisses his father and Isaac smells his son. This may have been one more test to see if this was in fact Esau. Since Rebekah put Esau’s clothes on Jacob his smell and odor was probably in the material and Isaac is satisfied to bless him.
“See the smell… the Lord has blessed!” The blessing is intended for Esau but is pronounced over Jacob. God has granted him success in the field… He was a skilled man of the earth (hunter) and God had blessed him.
Vs 30 – 38: After Isaac blesses Jacob Esau comes in from his hunt and prepared a meal for his father. He brings the meal to his father expecting a blessing and what he finds out will forever change his relationship with his brother. When he finds out Jacob deceived his father and stole his blessing Esau is infuriated and desperate for a blessing. He demands a blessing from his father. Esau now realizes that he has no birth right and no blessing from the father. It is only now that he realizes what he gave away for such a small price. “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” Esau is aware that the blessing of Jacob could not be taken back so he desired a blessing for himself. There was nothing left. Everything was given to Jacob (this shows us Isaac intended to give nothing to Jacob).
Vs 41 – 46: The end result is Esau hates his brother Jacob and we can hardly blame him for his feelings. The hatred was festering in his heart and his mother hears Esau say that he plans on killing his brother for stealing his blessing. Rebekah responds by warning Jacob and sends him away to her brother Laban. Her hope is that Esau’s anger will subside and one day the two can co-exist; but for now this will not happen so Jacob needs to flee for his life.
Dangers of Deception
As any good modern soap opera comes to a conclusion we are left with a cliff hanger. What is going to happen to the family? Will Jacob and his brother ever make amends? What will happen now to Jacob as he goes to his uncle’s farm? Will Esau ever get revenge? Stay tuned next week for our dramatic conclusion to “Deceiver”.
As we see that amidst all this dysfunction and deception God’s will is still being done… but not without some casualties. The overall lesson to learn in this account is that even though it may seem Jacob’s deception was successful there are many dangers to thinking that deception is a good thing. I have noted three dangers of deception.
- Deception preys on the weaknesses of individuals. In this account Rebekah and Jacob use Isaac’s handicap against him to manipulate him. This, sadly, is common even today. People who are good at lying or deceiving tend to prey on handicapped, elderly or just plain naive individuals. Deceitful individuals know that people who are trusting will allow their heart strings to be pulled and they will allow their compassion to override their common sense. A deceiver’s will always use another’s weaknesses for their own benefit.
- Deception is rooted in selfishness and manipulation. Individuals who deceive have no one's interest in mind but their own. They will stop at nothing to get what they want. Notice Rebekah and Jacob’s deception was not because they wanted to further the kingdom of God… She just wanted her son to be the recipient of the family inheritance and not Esau. She may not have wanted Esau and his Hittite wives to receive anything from Isaac.
- Deception destroys relationships. A friendship, marriage or business relationship will be damaged if it is rooted in deception. We see this from the beginning. In the Garden the snake/Satan deceives Eve into sinning and this deception ultimately severed the wonderful relationship the first man and woman had with God in the Garden. It brought sin into the world and has forever impacted humanities relationship with God. The same goes in friendship, marriage and business. Deception can sever the relationship.
However there is power in forgiveness and we will see that power displayed in a few chapters. For now we know that our relationship with God has been mended because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Deceit, manipulation and lying are not God’s will for us as individuals. In fact the Bible has much to say against them. God always honors truth and selflessness.