Genesis – Chapter 27

27:1  Isaac’s Blessing   “And it came to pass, when Isaac had become old,..”  – Isaac was 123 years old at this time.  This is based on Seder Olam’s chronology that Jacob was 63 when he was blessed.  Add to this Isaac’s age of 60 when Jacob was born (25:26) and you arrive at 123.  The year, accordingly, was 2171 from Creation.

“..and his eyesight dimmed from seeing.”  – One reason could be that Isaac’s blindness was the curse given by Abimelech to Sarah.  This curse: ‘May you have children of covered eyes’ (20:16), was fulfilled in Sarah’s offspring.

The Midrash offers additional reasons:  Providence caused Isaac to go blind so that he would not see Esau’s wicked deeds.  Further, so that Isaac’s blindness would cause him to remain indoors and not suffer the shame of mingling with people and being constantly pointed out as the father of the wicked Esau.  Similarly, God caused Ahijah the Shilonite to go blind in old age (I Kings 14:4) because he raised a wicked disciple.

There is also the sentiment in the commentaries that Isaac’s blindness was in punishment for his failure to restrain Esau’s wickedness.  The same punishment befell Eli who also did not restrain his wicked children.  (I Samuel 3:12)  (Sforno)

“..he summoned Esau,..”  – Isaac summoned Esau with the intent of blessing him since he was the first born.  Presumably, Rebecca never told Isaac of the prophecy she had received during pregnancy that the elder shall serve the younger, nor did she reveal it to him now because she knew that in Isaac’s great love for Esau, he would leave everything to Providence instead of blessing Jacob.  Therefore, she maintained her silence but arranged matters so that Isaac would in effect bless Jacob with an undivided heart.  (Ramban)

27:2  “I know not the day of my death.”  – The Midrash notes:  When a man reaches within five years before and after the age of which his parents died, he should be concerned about his own death.  Now, Isaac was 123 years old – about five years younger than his mother at the time of her death at 127, and he was apprehensive that he might only reach her age.  He therefore said, “I do not know the day of my death: perhaps I may only reach my mother’s age; or perhaps I may reach my father’s age of 175 (25:7) in which case there is much time.  Accordingly, Isaac lived to be 180 years old (38:28), five years more than Abraham whose life was shortened – as noted in commentary to 25:30.

27:3  “..and hunt game for me.”  – Although Isaac considered Esau trustworthy in such matters, he cautioned him to be extra-scrupulous in making certain that he hunt far away from private lands and hunt only ownerless game – since if he were to sin even unintentionally, the blessings would not be effective since God is not with sinners.  (Gur Aryeh)

27:4  What was Isaac’s purpose in sending Esau to bring him delicacies prior to blessing him?  Ramban (in 25:34) comments simply that the blessings are not to be construed as recompense for the food.  Rather, Isaac’s desire for food preliminary to blessing Esau was in order to derive a benefit from him so the blessing would be bestowed wholeheartedly.  Perhaps Isaac discerned that he would be joyful and the Holy Inspiration would descend upon him, after he enjoyed the delicacies, as in the case of Elisha who said (II Kings 3:15), but now, bring me a minstrel.  And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of Hashem came upon him.

“..so that I may give you my innermost blessing.” (lit. so that my soul may bless you)  – The expression that my soul may bless you is used because a blessing, as the Translation signifies, must emanate from man’s soul and flow from the innermost recesses of one’s being.  (Hoffmann)

27:5  Rebecca’s scheme  “Now Rebecca was listening while Isaac spoke..”  – The Torah informs us she always overheard Isaac’s conversations though they were not in her presence, for she had prophetic inspiration.  Perhaps, Isaac spoke to Esau in a hushed voice to prevent being overheard (not realizing that Rebecca overheard him in any event).  Accordingly, he unquestioningly assumed that the one who came to receive the blessings was Esau.  (Or HaChaim)

This follows the Tanchuma which specifically attributes Rebecca’s ‘hearing’ in this case to her prophetic spirit.

“..and Esau went to the field to hunt game.”  – He had departed immediately to do his father’s bidding and this convinced Rebecca not to enter into a dialogue with Isaac to dissuade him; time was of the essence and she had to act immediately.  (Abarbanel; Malbim)

What she did not know, however, was that Providence caused Esdau to be delayed.  He repeatedly trapped animals, but angels released them to allow sufficient time for Jacob to carry out Rebecca’s instructions and receive the blessings.  (Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer; Tanchuma)

27:7  “..and I will bless you in the Presence of Hashem before my death.”  – HaKsav V’haKabbalah explains that Rebecca’s deception may be accounted for by Isaac’s intention to submit himself to God’s will.  Since she knew that God wanted Jacob to receive the blessings – for she had received the prophecy that the older son would be subservient to the younger – it became her duty not to permit Isaac to violate God’s will by conferring the blessings upon Esau.  (See the Overview)

Rebecca added the words, “in the Presence of Hashem” to impress upon Jacob the immensity of his father’s blessing inasmuch as it would be in the presence of Hashem, that is, with the prophetic spirit that would descend upon him while he would utter the benedictions.  (Radak)

As Malbim explains, Rebecca meant to allay Jacob’s concern that a blessing obtained through deception would not be efficacious in any case, because if Isaac intended to bless Esau, the blessing could not rest upon Jacob.  Rebecca, therefore, added that the blessing is before Hashem – the prophet is merely God’s tool.  The blessing is God’s, not Isaac’s.  If such is God’s will, than the blessing will be Jacob’s despite Isaac’s intention, since Isaac is merely the conduit which God’s Will would be manifested.

27:8  “  to that which I command you.”  – Rebecca perceived Jacob’s reluctance to participate in this devious scheme.  She therefore emphasized that he was to ‘listen to that which I, your mother, command you.  (Divrei Yirmiyah)

27:9  “Fetch me from there two young kids of the goats,..”  – It was Passover eve and one goat would serve as the Passover sacrifice, and the other as the delicacy.  (Rashi)

Since of all the domestic animals Rebecca could have instructed Jacob to bring, the goat tastes most like deer (venison) which Isaac loved.  (Rashi)  Furthermore, as Rashbam notes, goats were chosen over sheep because goats’ wiry hair more resemble a human’s.

27:11  “And Jacob replied to Rebecca, his mother,..”  – The phrase his mother is repeated throughout these verses to emphasize that Jacob complied with a deception that he considered to be onerous for only one reason: his mother demanded obedience of him, and as a son he obeyed.  (Hirsh)

27:12  “Perhaps Father will feel me..”    Not suspiciously, but in affectionately caress me, and he will discover that I am smooth-skinned.  It is noteworthy that Jacob was not afraid that Isaac would recognize his voice.  Perhaps their voices were similar or Jacob could imitate Esau’s voice.  (Ramban)

“  I shall appear as a mocker;..”  – Hirsch observes that Jacob used the prefix ‘like’.  He was not a cheat but would appear like one.  Isaac would be outraged and, without giving him time to explain, might curse him.

Note:  Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk homiletically interpreted this and the next verse as a dialogue between Jacob and the Shechinah speaking through the mouth of Rebecca. 

Isaac intended to bless Esau with material wealth and give only spiritual riches to Jacob.  The Shechinah, however, wanted Jacob to have wealth in This World as well.  Jacob argued that the temptation of material wealth might cause flaws to develop in his erstwhile innocence.  ‘Perhaps my Father (in heaven) will feel me (detect my unworthiness) and thus, by taking blessings for which I am unqualified, I will bring a curse upon myself.’

The Shechinah replied that it would take responsibility for the curse.  As long as Jacob would obey its voice by devoting his material wealth to the performance of good deeds and the giving of charity, he need feel no ill effects.

27:14  “So he went, fetched, and brought them to his mother,..”  Jacob undoubtedly valued the blessings and under the circumstance he certainly had need to hurry and bring the delicacies to his father.  There should then, be some allusion to this haste as there was in the case of Abraham where the text notes he ran to meet his guests (18:2), and the many other references to his haste in the narrative there. Similarly in the case of Eliezer and Rebecca the text often notes their haste.  Therefore, the text here, too, should have said Jacob ran, and brought them to his mother.  The verse, as it is written, indicates clearly that Jacob did not apply himself enthusiastically to this scheme but reluctantly carried out his mother’s request.  (HaKsav V’haKaballah)

27:15  The disguise  “..Esau’s clean garments..” (lit: ‘treasured’)  – These were the precious garments which (Esau would wear while he waited upon his father.  (Rashbam)

He kept them in fragrant grasses so they had a pleasant odor.  This is why his fragrance was easily recognizable and Rebecca chose them for that very reason.  (Radak)

“..which were with her in the house,”  – This provides an insight into Esau’s married life.  He left his best treasurers in his mother’s keeping because he knew his wives’ ways and did not entirely trust them.  (Rashi)

“..her younger son.”  – That narrative describes Esau as the older and Jacob as the younger is to the credit of Rebecca.  Although a mother would normally recognize that the blessings belonged to the firstborn, she was determined that they go to Jacob because she perceived Esau’s unfitness for them.  (Ramban)

27:17  “into the hand of her son, Jacob.”  – Symbolic of Jacob’s lack of enthusiasm for the scheme.  His mother had to place it into his very hand; it was only by birtue of faithful devotion to her, her son, that he took it.  He was passive and tearful throughout the preparation and she accompanied him as far as Isaac’s door.  (Midrash)

27:18 “and said “Father”..”  – Jacob called out this one word to test whether his father would recognize his voice.  Were Isaac to recognize his voice, Jacob would have abandoned the scheme and pose as if he merely came to visit.  (Alshich)

27:19  “It is I, Esau, your first-born.”  – (The commentators take pains to show that Jacob remained as close as possible to the truth during the course of his conversation with Isaac.  Some of the interpretations seem very strained in the light of the translation.  It should be borne in mind, however, that the construction of the Hebrew allows for such interpretation even where the English does not.)

However, it must be understood that only the Divinely ordained nature of the mission justified Jacob’s clever choice of words to avoid an outright lie.  He did mislead his father, and in everyday affairs such behavior would be forbidden as deceptive.  Rather, Jacob’s behavior must be understood as an attempt to remain as close as possible to the truth even in a situation where deception was not only unavoidable, but required.  (Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz of Mir)

“I have done as you told me.”  – According to Or HaChaim, Jacob’s rationale was that since he had purchased the birthright the blessings were legitimately his; therefore, Isaac’s instructions to Esau should rightfully have been addressed to Jacob.  Accordingly, Jacob now said that he complied with the request since as the ‘owner of the birthright’, the request is considered as if it had been addressed to him.

27:20  “Isaac said to his son,”  – The general term ‘his son’ reflects Isaac’s continued uncertainty.  Apparently, there was something in the voice that aroused Isaac’s suspicions and inspired him to make further inquiry as described in this and succeeding verses.  (Radak)

27:21  “And Isaac said to Jacob,”  – This time the narrative refers to him as Jacob rather than vaguely as his son.  At this point Isaac was very suspicious that it might not be Esau who was standing before him, but Jacob.  (Alshich)

“Come close, if you please, so I can feel you, my son.”  – Isaac’s suspicions were aroused since he knew that it was not characteristic of Esau to mention God’s name so readily as did the person who now stood before him (v20).  (Rashi)

However, in the literal sense of the narrative, Ramban concludes that it was Jacob’s voice that made Isaac suspicious.  (For although, as Ramban notes in v.12, Jacob and Esau had similar voices, or Jacob disguised his voice, it would seem that the unusual circumstances – such as the swiftness of his return; the mention of God’s Name; and now the voice – combined to arouse Isaac’s suspicions.)

27:22  “..Jacob drew close to Isaac..”  – ‘Perspiration poured over his legs and his heart melted like wax.  But the Holy One, Blessed be He, sent him two angels, one at his right side and one at his eft who supported him by his elbows so that he should not fall.’  (Midrash)

“,,but the hands are Esau’s hands.”  – Since there is really little resemblance between animal skin and hairy human arms, it would appear from Isaac’s response that either much effort went into preparing the disguise, or Isaac’s sense of touch had greatly deteriorated.  (Sforno)

27:23  “so he blessed him.”  – He resolved to bless him.  The actual wording of the blessing is given in verse 28 (HaKsav V’haKaballah)

27:24  “You are, indeed, my son Esau!”  – Haamek Davar maintains that Isaac was sure that the one who stood before him was Esau.  Had he been suspicious, he could not have been satisfied by Jacob’s repeated affirmations, that he was indeed Esau.  Rather, a prerequisite to blessing is that the one who confers it must feel love for the object of his blessing.  Mentioning and hearing his name assists in arousing such warm feelings, as we find in 48:8 where Jacob used this device to further arouse his love for Ephraim and Menashe prior to blessing them.

“I am.”  – He did not utter an actual falsehood by saying “I am Esau”, but simply said “I am.”  (Rashi)

27:27  “He smelled the fragrance of the garments..”  – While Isaac was kissing Jacob, he inhaled the fine fragrance of his garments, for as we noted earlier (v. 15) the garments were kept in fragrant grasses and so had a pleasant odor.  Isaac did not perceive it from afar but smelled it as soon as Jacob drew near to kiss him.  (Radak)

“..and blessed him.”  – only after first acknowledging the fragrant aroma.  Isaac thereby informed his son that the food, drink, and fragrant aroma had made him joyous.  As a result, the Divine Inspiration descended upon him and he conferred the blessing.  (Radak)

“..the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field which Hasham had blessed.”  – Sforno observes that the sustenance and prosperity afforded by a field are one blessing; the expansiveness of spirit afforded by the ‘pleasant, exhilarating scent’ is a further blessing.  By referring to both dimensions of God’s blessed field, Isaac introduced his blessing to Jacob, implying that such was the nature of the bounty which God would bestow in the future.

27:28  “..of the dew of the heavens and of the fatness of the earth, and abundant grain and wine.”  – The blessing was not the dew per se, since God causes dew to descend universally in any event.  Rather, this is a blessing of increase and abundance.  “Just as He has blessed you with success in the field, so may He bless you uninterruptedly for the extent of your days on the land with the abundance generated by the dew of the heavens and the most fertile areas of the earth.  (Rambam)

Note:  In blessing Jacob, it was Isaac’s intention to annul the curse placed upon Adam after his sin, and thereby to restore the world to its former beauty.

In contrast to Adam’s curse (3:18): accursed is the ground because of you, Isaac said: May Hashem give you of the dew of the heavens and of the fat of the earth.  This will bring joy in the world unlike the sadness caused by drought and famine which was inherent in Adam’s curse: in suffering shall you eat of it.

Contrasting thorns and thistles shall it sprout for you, Isaac blessed him with abundant grain and wine, this further contrasting the curse given Adam of you shall eat the wild herbs of the field.

Contrasting by the sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat since no one will help you with the farming, Jacob was told peoples will serve you – i.e. will till the ground for you, as in Isaiah 61:6 sons of alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

Contrasting the curse, for dust you are and to dust shall you return humiliated and despised, Isaac now said, be a lord to your brothers.

Thus, Jacob is now divested of the curses of Adam and garbed in blessing.  But moreover, he was now given the right to bring blessings and cures upon others as it says, cursed be they who curse you, and blessed are they who bless you.  (Tzor HaMor)

27:29  “Be a lord to your brothers..”  – Sforno observes that since Isaac thought he was blessing Esau it is plain that he intended Esau to exercise mastery over Jacob.  He intended this for Jacob’s benefit because Isaac did not want him to be encumbered by material responsibilities which would hinder his spiritual development.  Thus, Jacob would have inherited Eretz Yisrael and been free to serve God within its holiness, while Esau, upon whom Jacob would be dependent, would rule the land and provide for its inhabitants.

Sforno continues that Isaac feared that Jacob’s descendants would become corrupted by too much material wealth, success, and power – as indeed, we find the prophet Amos proclaiming ‘I (God) despise the pride of Jacob’ (Amos 6:8).  That Isaac always intended Jacob to have Eretz Yisrael and the spiritual blessings of Abraham is apparent from two facts: In these blessings which were intended for Esau, neither Eretz Yisrael nor Abraham are mentioned.  In 28:4 where Isaac blessed Jacob directly, both blessings are specified.

“Cursed be they who curse you, and blessed be they who bless you.”  – Ramban observes that in connection with Abraham, God said (12:3) I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you (first mentioning the blessing and then the curse.  He answers that by pointing out the contrast which is explained there: the blessing in 12:3 is expressed in the plural ‘those’ who bless you, while the curse is expressed in the singular ‘he’ who curses you.  The verse gives priority to the many who will universally bless Abraham, and only then goes on to mention the rare individual who might curse him.  Or, that sequence is used in Abraham’s case since in that passage curse is not the concluding thought since God continues: and all families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.  Thus, God’s statement to Abraham begins and ends with blessing.

27:30  Esau returns.  The Midrash notes in this context that Providence arranged for Esau to be less successful than usual in his hunt ‘so that Jacob who was the glory of the world might come and receive the blessings which had been determined as his from the very beginning of the world.’

27:32  “Who are you?”  – Isaac thought that this might be Jacob who, having heard that Esau was to be blessed, also prepared and brought delicacies so that he, too, would be blessed.  (Ramban)

27:33  “Then Isaac trembled in very great perplexity..”  – According to Midrash Tanchuma, Isaac had intended to bless both his sons, but he had summoned Esau first because he was the firstborn.  But when he realized that the younger had taken the blessing of the firstborn which was a serious matter (see Deuteronomy 21:16-17), he was seized with terror. Thinking: How have I sinned that I reversed the normal order by blessing the younger before the elder?  (Rashi)

“Who – where – is the one who hunted game, brought it to me..”  – Another manifestation of the Divine Providence which was explicit throughout.  Who came in so stealthily and unidentified; where could he have disappeared so quickly; how could one have hunted game so quickly, even faster than you, who are such a skilled hunter; how could he have known to bring it to me – I did not instruct him to do so?  (Malbim)

“..and I blessed him?”  Indeed, he shall remain blessed.”  – Isaac thus confirmed his blessing.  Lest one think that Jacob would not have been blessed had he not engaged in deception, Isaac confirmed it, blessing him now of his own free will.  (Midrash; Rashi)

Note:  The Midrash notes that Isaac’s first reaction was to curse Jacob, but he was told through Divine Inspiration that if he were to do so, he would be cursing himself since he had said (v. 29) Cursed be they who curse you.  So, as we see, Isaac blessed him instead.  Thus, it was due to Divine intervention that Jacob was spared, for Isaac’s consternation might easily have resulted in his cursing Jacob upon finding out the scheme.   But Jacob trusted in God Who inspired Isaac to bless him instead.

27:34  “When Esau heard his father’s words…”    According to Akeidas Yitzchak the wording of this verse attests that it was not Esau’s recognition of the importance of the blessing that made him cry out in bitter anguish.  It was only Isaac’s response and his anxiety and terror at the truth of events that impressed upon Esau the greatness of the blessings.  However, he still did not comprehend their true mystery or he would have known that such a blessing could not be shared among two individuals.

“..he cried out an exceedingly great and bitter cry..”  – The Sages compare Esau’s bitter lament to Mordechai’s outcry when he heard of Haman and Ahasuerus’ edict to exterminate his people.

27:36  “Is it because he was named Jacob that he should outwit me these two times?”  – Rashbam writes – Since he is younger than I, his share of the inheritance should have been only half of my firstborn’s double portion.  Is it because he was given a name suggesting deception that he has the right to cheat me of my rightful inheritance and to take for himself the double portion of the first-born?

Alshich cites the view that at birth, God named him Jacob and Esau accordingly did not say: Is it because you (father) named him Jacob, but said “Is it because of this that He (God) named him Jacob?’  Now I understand why He gave him that name.  It was not because Jacob had, at birth, grasped me by the heel, as commonly thought, but as a portent that he would outwit me.  But does that divine portent give him the right to do so twice?

“He took away my birthright..”  – The wicked Esau had the audacity to lie to his father’s face about Jacob ‘taking’ his birthright when in reality it was Esau himself who sold it under oath and thereby flagrantly despised it as the Torah attests (25:34).

But his own mouth caused him to testify against himself by admitting that the birthright was now Jacob’s.  (Chizkuni)

Rashi cites Midrash Tanchuma that Isaac was seized with terror (v33) because he thought he committed a serious transgression in blessing the younger before the elder.  (See Deut. 21:16-17)  When Esau cried out, He outwitted me these two times, Isaac asked ‘How?’  When Esau replied, He took away my birthright, Isaac was relieved and said, ‘It was on this account that I had feared I had overstepped the line of strict justice, but now that you tell me he has the birthright I realize that I actually blessed the firstborn. 

“..now he took away my blessing”  – Since Rebecca has been told that the elder son would serve the younger one (25:23) Jacob’s purchase of the birthright had the added effect of making him subservient to Esau who had been left with the status of the younger son.  Now, however, Esau had the further complaint that Jacob had deceptively usurped the blessing of being a lord to his brothers (v. 29), with the result that he would dominate Esau.  (Malbim)

27:37  “Behold, a lord have I made him over you, ..”  – This was the seventh in the series of blessings Isaac gave Jacob (see verses 28-29); why does Isaac single it out as if it were the primary blessing?

Isaac’s intention was to emphasize to Esau that the blessing of lordship had already been given Jacob, so whatever property Esau would acquire would automatically revert to Jacob in accordance with the rule – whatever a servant acquires belongs to his master.  (Thus in a sense this blessing superseded the others.)

“..and all his kin I have given him as servants.”  – Kis kin, referring to the descendants of Ishmael and of Keturah.

27:39  Esau’s Blessing  “So Isaac his father answered..”  – The Torah thus implicitly tell us why Isaac as his father, relented.  His fatherly compassion was aroused by Esau’s tears – and so he blessed him.  (Or HaChaim)

“Behold, of the fat of the earth shall be your dwelling.”  – i.e. May the land you inherit be the most fertile region on earth.  (Radak)

And the dew of the heavens from above.”  – There was no conflict in the blessing since God’s natural blessing is abundant enough for both of them.  Furthermore, as noted in 28:4, as Abraham’s heir, Jacob would realize his blessing in the land of Canaan, while Esau would realize his in another land.  However, Isaac did not bless Esau with abundant grain and wine as he did Jacob since he wanted to honor the one who was blessed first.  (Ramban)

Tur adds that God’s name is not invoked here since Esau himself made no reference to God as did Jacob. (v. 20)

27:40  “By your sword you shall live..”  – Esau’s descendants would conquer other nations, and ultimately rule the entire world by the force of their sword; the fulfillment of this prophecy is well-known.  (Abarbanel)

The implication was not that Esau would be forced to become a brigand and plunderer with his sword, for he was blessed with sustenance from the fatness of the earth and dew of heaven.  Rather, the blessing was that he be victorious in war and survive his battles.  Ramban)

“..but your brother you shall serve.”  – The translation ‘but’, perceiving this as a qualification of the preceding blessing, follows Ramban who explains that although Esau was blessed with victory in battle, he was served notice that he would remain subservient to his brother.  Esau would not prevail over his brother; instead, Jacob would prevail over Esau (depending, as Isaac continued, upon Jacob’s remaining righteousness.)

Esau was not bidden to do menial chores for his brother; this ‘serving’ was with dignity.  Esau was to act as Jacob’s sword bearer in the sense of protecting him while leaving him free to attain the spiritual goals destined for him and his descendants.  (Rav Saadiah Gaon)

“Yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved,..”  – i.e. When Israel shall transgress the Torah so that you have a valid reason to be aggrieved over his having taken the blessings, then you may cast off his yoke from your neck.  (Rashi)

Hirsch follows a different approach.  Esau’s strength of sword and his world-conquest are for the ultimate purpose of his final submission to Jacob in acknowledgment that the sword is the servant of the spirit.  Esau’s greatest hope is ‘when you ‘humble yourself’ to Jacob, by submitting yourself to his ideals – then you will no longer be subservient to him.  Then you will be his equal partner in carrying out God’s will.

“..you may cast off his yoke from upon your neck.”  – i.e.  God will then have compassion on your plight, and you will be successful in casting off Jacob’s yoke from your neck.  (Ibn Ezra; Ralbag)

As the Midrash notes: When the voice is not the voice of Jacob (i.e., when Israel’s voice is not heard in the study of Torah and in prayer) then the hands are the hands of Esau.  (Malbim)

27:41  Esau’s Hatred  “Now Esau harbored hatred toward Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father had blessed him.”  The pronoun ‘him’ is ambiguous: Does it refer to the blessing given Jacob or the one given Esau?  Esau’s hatred may have resulted from the blessing Jacob gained deceptively, or he may have hated Jacob for having caused him, Esau, to receive only an ‘inferior blessing’.

Alshich takes the former view, while Malbim suggests that Esau was angered at his father for confirming Jacob’s blessing (v.33), and for telling him You shall serve your borther, in effect making Esau subordinate to Jacob.

“And Esau thought,..” – This translation follows the implication of Rashi and Midrash which assume that Esau revealed his plan to no one.  The fact that Rebecca was told of the scheme (next verse) implies that it was revealed to her by Divine Inspiration.

“..the days of my mourning for my father draw near..”  – The commentators emphasize that Rashi’s interpretation of Esau’s intention in this statement being to spare Isaac aggravation was based on Rashi’s opinion that Esau retained – even now – his faithful honor.  This is supported by Esau’s respectful and obedient reaction to his father’s displeasure with the Canaanite women whom Esau married. ( 28:8,9)

27:42  “When Rebecca was told of the words of her older son Esau..”  – Esau’s intention was revealed to her by Divine Inspiration.  (Rashi)  How else could she have become aware of his thoughts?

“..she sent for and summoned Jacob..”  – Jacob had gone into hiding, either out of fear or shame, from his brother Esau who was complaining about him.  (Ramban)

“Behold, your brother Esau is consoling himself regarding you to kill you.”  – He comforts himself in the notion that by killing you the birthright and blessings will revert to him.  (HaChaim)

“..your brother..”  – Whatever the extent of his evil, you may never forget that he is your brother.  (Hirsch)

27:43  Jacob advised to flee to Laban  “So now, my son, heed my voice…”  – Although Esau implied that he would not carry out his intention until Isaac died, Rebecca could not be sure when that would happen.  She therefore ordered Jacob not to procrastinate until it would be too late, but “now my son…flee immediately.”

“..to my brother Laban, to Charan.”  – He will protect you if Esau attacks.  (Or HaChaim)

27:44  “and remain with him a short while..”  – Her hope was that things would soon be smoothed over, but in fact, she never saw him again.  (Adeidas Yitzchak)

27:45  “..until your brother’s anger against you subsides.”   The implication of Rebecca’s remark was: ‘We should not be satisfied merely with the cooling of Esau’s burning wrath.  Let us wait until even his anger subsides to the point where we need not fear even unfriendliness on his part.  (Hirsch)

“..and he forgets what you have done to him.”  – Obviously, Rebecca had a high opinion of Esau.  She thought that with time, he would forget the wrong which had been done him.  (Hirsch)

“Why should I be bereaved of both of you on the same day?”  –  If Esau attacks you, you are certain to die, for even if you succeed in killing him, his children will rise and kill you.  A divine inspiration was ‘sprinkled on her’ and she prophesied that they would die on one day.  As stated in Sotah 13a, such was indeed the case.  (Rashi)

Note:  The Talmud notes that when Jacob was brought by his family for burial in the Cave of Machpelah, Esau came and challenged their right to bury him there, claiming to have retained the right of the firstborn.  Among those present was Chushim, sone of Dan, who took a club and struck Esau on the head so that his eyes fell out and rolled to the feet of Jacob.  At that time was the prophecy of Rebecca filled, as it is written, “why should I be bereaved of both of you on the same day?  For though the death of the two of them did not occur on the same day (obviously Jacob died first if Esau was attending his funeral), still their burial took place on the same day.

27:46  “..on account of the daughters of Heth..”  – A reference to Esau’s wives.

“..if Jacob takes a wife..”  – Rather than tell Isaac that she wanted Jacob to leave home because his life was in danger, she used the unsuitability of the Hittite women as a pretext for her decision.  (Rashbam)

Righteous Rebecca did not utilize the opportunity to justify her deception by telling Isaac that Esau was a potential murderer and, therefore, clearly undeserving of the blessings.  Instead, she preferred to give a natural and reasonable purpose for Jacob’s journey to Paddan Aram.  (Hirsch)

“..why need I live?”  – She thus made it perfectly clear that she could not consider life worth living if her son married anyone other than her kin.  (Abarbanel)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.