Isaac assumes he is about to die (although he lives for many more years) and promptly decides to bless his son Esau before his death. Rebekah overhears Isaac and Esau's conversation and quickly concocts a plan to secure Esau's blessing for Jacob.
Jacob ignores the only reservation that he has after his mother suggests their deception of Isaac, "Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth-skinned man. Perhaps my father will feel me" (Gen. 27:11-12). His mother gave him the answer he really wanted. He wanted to deceive his father; he just didn"t want to get caught. Jacob's reservation was not one of virtue, but of method.
Isaac ignores five different reservations:
Hearing - "Who are you?" (18). Jacob doesn't sound like his son Esau. It doesn't sound right, but Jacob proceeds anyway.
Reasoning - "How is it that you have found it so quickly?" (20). Hunting wild game takes time, and Rebekah cooks goat in record time. It doesn't ring true, but expediency rules the day. He must bless Esau. Now.
Touching - "Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not" (21). Esau is hairy and Jacob is smooth-skinned. It feels right, therefore, it must be right.
Tasting - "So he brought it near to him and he ate" (25). The food resolves an immediate need of hunger. The wisdom writer addresses the deception of appetite, "A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet" (Proverbs 27:7).
Smelling - "And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him" (Gen. 27:27). It must be true because Isaac wanted so badly for it to be true.
Isaac's reservations were God's way of getting his attention. His favoritism blinded him to the impact Esau's marriage to pagan women would have on his descendants, and it hardened him against God's promise that the elder brother would serve the younger (25:23). Isaac, determined to bless Esau, violates the prompting of his senses. And not once does he consult the Lord.
Rebekah is the only person in this story who does not question the situation. Esau's marriage to pagan women grieves Rebekah, and she takes matters in her own hands. Prayerlessness characterizes the entire family.
Several truths emerge from this story:
Describe Isaac and Rebekah's marriage. How had "having favorites" affected their marriage?
Describe the brothers' relationship with one another. What was Jacob and Esau's view of God?
How does Esau respond to his mother and brother's deception? What does this tell you about holding grudges?
What does scheming reveal about a person's faith in God?
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