Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim--He was in his
hundred thirty-seventh year; and apprehending death to be near, Isaac
prepared to make his last will--an act of the gravest importance,
especially as it included the conveyance through a prophetic spirit of
the patriarchal blessing.
4. make . . . savory meat--perhaps to revive and
strengthen him for the duty; or rather, "as eating and drinking" were
used on all religious occasions, he could not convey the right, till he
had eaten of the meat provided for the purpose by him who was to
receive the blessing [ADAM CLARKE] (compare
that my soul may bless thee--It is difficult to imagine him
ignorant of the divine purpose (compare
But natural affection, prevailing through age and infirmity, prompted
him to entail the honors and powers of the birthright on his elder son;
and perhaps he was not aware of what Esau had done
6-10. Rebekah spake unto Jacob--She prized the blessing as
invaluable; she knew that God intended it for the younger son
and in her anxiety to secure its being conferred on the right
object--on one who cared for religion--she acted in the sincerity of
faith; but in crooked policy--with unenlightened zeal; on the false
principle that the end would sanctify the means.
11. Jacob said, Esau my brother is a hairy man--It is remarkable
that his scruples were founded, not on the evil of the act, but on the
risk and consequences of deception.
13-17. and his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse--His
conscience being soothed by his mother, preparations were hastily made
for carrying out the device; consisting, first, of a kid's flesh,
which, made into a ragout, spiced with salt, onions, garlic, and lemon
juice, might easily be passed off on a blind old man, with blunted
senses, as game; second, of pieces of goat's skin bound on his hands
and neck, its soft silken hair resembling that on the cheek of a young
man; third, of the long white robe--the vestment of the first-born,
which, transmitted from father to son and kept in a chest among
fragrant herbs and perfumed flowers used much in the East to keep away
moths--his mother provided for him.
18-27. he came unto his father--The scheme planned by the mother
was to be executed by the son in the father's bedchamber; and it is
painful to think of the deliberate falsehoods, as well as daring
profanity, he resorted to. The disguise, though wanting in one thing,
which had nearly upset the whole plot, succeeded in misleading Isaac;
and while giving his paternal embrace, the old man was roused into a
state of high satisfaction and delight.
27. the smell of my son is as of a field--The aromatic odors of
the Syrian fields and meadows, often impart a strong fragrance to the
person and clothes, as has been noticed by many travellers.
28. God give thee of the dew of heaven--To an Oriental mind,
this phraseology implied the highest flow of prosperity. The copious
fall of dew is indispensable to the fruitfulness of lands, which would
be otherwise arid and sterile through the violent heat; and it abounds
most in hilly regions, such as Canaan, hence called the "fat land"
(Ne 9:25, 35).
plenty of corn and wine--Palestine was famous for vineyards, and
it produced varieties of corn, namely, wheat, barley, oats, and
29. Let people serve thee--fulfilled in the discomfiture of the
hostile tribes that opposed the Israelites in the wilderness; and in
the pre-eminence and power they attained after their national
establishment in the promised land. This blessing was not realized to
Jacob, but to his descendants; and the temporal blessings promised were
but a shadow of those spiritual ones, which formed the grand
distinction of Jacob's posterity.
30-35. Esau came in from his hunting--Scarcely had the former
scene been concluded, when the fraud was discovered. The emotions of
Isaac, as well as Esau, may easily be imagined--the astonishment,
alarm, and sorrow of the one; the disappointment and indignation of the
other. But a moment's reflection convinced the aged patriarch that the
transfer of the blessing was "of the Lord," and now irrevocable. The
importunities of Esau, however, overpowered him; and as the prophetic
afflatus was upon the patriarch, he added what was probably as pleasing
to a man of Esau's character as the other would have been.
39, 40. Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the
earth--The first part is a promise of temporal prosperity, made in
the same terms as Jacob's
--the second part refers to the roving life of hunting freebooters,
which he and his descendants should lead. Though Esau was not
personally subject to his brother, his posterity were tributary to the
Israelites, till the reign of Joram when they revolted and established
a kingdom of their own
41. Esau hated Jacob--It is scarcely to be wondered at that Esau
resented the conduct of Jacob and vowed revenge.
The days of mourning for my father are at hand--a common
Oriental phrase for the death of a parent.
42-45. these words of Esau were told Rebekah--Poor woman! she
now early begins to reap the bitter fruits of her fraudulent device;
she is obliged to part with her son, for whom she planned it, never,
probably, seeing him again; and he felt the retributive justice of
heaven fall upon him heavily in his own future family.
45. Why should I be deprived of you both?--This refers to the
law of Goelism, by which the nearest of kin would be obliged to avenge
the death of Jacob upon his brother.
46. Rebekah said to Isaac--Another pretext Rebekah's cunning had
to devise to obtain her husband's consent to Jacob's journey to
Mesopotamia; and she succeeded by touching the aged patriarch in a
tender point, afflicting to his pious heart--the proper marriage of
their younger son.