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Bible: What Does Genesis 26-27 Teach Us About Deception and Blessing?

Updated on September 8, 2016

Isaac Deceives Abimelech


Isaac and Abimelech

A famine causes Isaac to visit King Abimelech of Philistia (v. 1).

[Moses mentions an earlier dearth—a “first famine”—which occurred during Abraham’s time (cf. 12:10).

Is this “Abimelech” the same king with whom Abraham covenanted, or is he his son?]

At the same time, the LORD tells Isaac not to go down to Egypt, but to stay in Gerar (vv. 2, 6).

God then reiterates the Abrahamic promises to him (vv. 3-5; cf. 15:5; 22:17).

While in Gerar, Isaac implements the same strategy to save his hide that his father used in his day to preserve his own skin:he lies regarding his wife’s identity (v. 7; cf. Gen. 20:2).

When Abimelech discovers the truth (v. 8), he first reprimands Isaac, and then commands his servants not to touch the young man or his wife (vv. 9-11).



A Special Place to Dwell

In the course of time as God blesses Isaac’s husbandry, the Philistines and Abimelech envy him to the point of sabotaging his wells and warning him to move away from them (vv. 12-16).

Isaac journeys to another location and re-digs the old wells of his father; but with each well he reopens, he runs into trouble with the locals (vv. 17-21).

[Isaac called the wells Beersheba (v. 18; cf. 21:31)].

Finally, he finds one that is not in dispute as to ownership—Rehoboth (“spaciousness”) [v. 22].

Isaac returns to his father’s old dwelling place (Beersheba), and receives another revelation in which the LORD reaffirms His commitment to bless him for Abraham’s sake (vv. 23, 24).

The grateful patriarch worships God and settles here (v. 25).

Apparently seeing God’s favor upon Isaac and wishing to save his neck from any divine retribution, Abimelech and company visit Isaac and disingenuously arrange to sign a treaty with him (vv. 26-31).

On that same day Isaac’s servants find water, and their master calls the well Shebah (vv. 32-33; cf. v. 22).

Verses 34-35 serve as a transition to the next section that discusses Isaac’s relationship with Esau.

The latter marries two Hittite women—Judith and Basemath—who somehow cause headaches for Isaac’s household.

Isaac Blesses Jacob


Isaac's Blessing

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The "Mess of Pottage" Episode

Genesis 27

Sensing his death approaching rapidly, blind Isaac instructs his favorite son Esau to prepare him a savory meal after which repast he would bless him (vv. 1-4).

While Esau is gone hunting, Rebekah (who had eavesdropped on the conversation between Isaac and Esau) tells Jacob to kill two goats that she might make Isaac this tasty dinner.

She intends, of course, that Jacob (her favorite son) might receive his father’s blessing instead of Esau (vv. 5-10; cf. 25:28).

Aware that Isaac might discover this deception by touching Jacob’s smooth skin, the conspirators (Jacob and Rebekah) set a plan in motion (vv. 11-13).

After Jacob butchers the goats, Rebekah brings him Esau’s clothes to wear, kidskins for his hands and neck, and Isaac’s dinner for her husband (vv. 14-17).

Now all that Jacob need do is convince Isaac that he is Esau.

Though Isaac expresses surprise over how quickly “Esau” had prepared the meal, Jacob manages to slip a pious lie past him, and gullible Isaac believes it (vv. 18-20).

While listening to his son, the old man even mentions that “Esau” sounded like Jacob (v. 22).

Yet trusting his sense of touch over his ability to distinguish voices, Isaac blesses Jacob (v. 23).

Still somewhat uncertain of his guest’s identity, Isaac then tastes the meal, smells the scent of Esau’s clothing on Jacob, and is convinced enough to bless him again (vv. 24-27).

[Are there two blessings here, or merely the one?]

The blessing consists of economic prosperity (v. 28) and earthly dominion (v. 29).

Isaac's "Second" Blessing

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Esau's "Blessing"

Shortly after Jacob leaves Isaac’s presence, Esau enters with his prepared meal and asks his father to eat it and bless him (vv. 30-31).

[Perhaps Jacob’s approach seems somewhat hesitant because of the duplicity involved, while Esau’s is of a natural and matter-of-fact nature (cf. v. 18 with v. 31)].

When distraught Esau learns that Isaac has blessed his deceitful brother (vv. 33, 35, 37), he nevertheless seeks a leftover blessing from his father (vv. 34, 36, 38).

What is that blessing?

The elder son will apparently become prosperous (v. 39), but will earn it with his sword (v. 40a).

In addition, Esau will serve Jacob until which time he is able to break away (v. 40b).

Esau secretly vows to kill Jacob the day Isaac dies (v. 41).

[The text says that he vowed this plan “in his heart.”

Apparently, he also told someone else who then passed on this news to Rebekah (v. 42)].

To protect her favorite, Rebekah plans to send Jacob to her brother Laban in Haran for a few days until Esau’s anger subsides (vv. 43-45).

[Notice how she neatly absolves herself of responsibility (v. 45):“. . . and he (i.e., Esau) forgets what you have done to him: . . .” (underscoring mine)].

Lamenting the dearth of suitable marriage partners for her son in that region, she seeks to acquire Isaac’s approval for Jacob’s departure (v. 46).

© 2013 glynch1


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