It wasn’t long before the whole family knew what’d happened between Esau and Jacob, how Jacob had tricked Esau out of his birthright for a bowl of red lentil stew! But it didn’t change the way their parents felt. Isaac still wanted his favourite Esau, the great hunter, to be head of the family - for no other reason than that he liked the food Esau caught. And Rebekah wanted her favourite, Jacob to be the head. Things weren’t looking good; they were a family at war!
A while later, when Isaac was older and his eyesight had almost failed, he decided it was time to pass on the blessing of God to his children. Normally, the head of the family would have called a gathering of family members, and with them all present to witness the event, he would have publicly blessed his children for all to see… kind of like reading your will - but before you’ve died.
But you see - Isaac knew all about the prophecy Rebekah’d had when she’d asked the Lord about her pregnancy… he knew that the Lord had said the older son would serve the younger son. He also knew of the time Jacob had tricked Esau out of his birthright for a bowl of red lentil stew… that Esau had given up his birthright with a solemn promise. And yet, even though Isaac knew all these things, he was still determined to do what he wanted and pass the blessing onto Esau. So, without calling a family meeting, in fact, without telling anyone at all what he intended to do, he called Esau in for a private chat.
But even as he made his plans, he couldn’t get his mind off his stomach! ‘Now Esau,’ he started. ‘ I’m getting to be an old man, I could die any day! So I want you to do something for me. I want you to get your bow and arrows and go out and catch something for me to eat. Bring it back and prepare a meal for me - just the way I like it. And then, when you’ve done all that and I’ve had my meal, I’ll give you my blessing, the blessing that belongs to my first born son.’
Isaac was trying to go directly against what God had said! Not only that, he was also trying to ignore the solemn promise Esau had given - that the birthright would belong to Jacob! And Esau was no better! Ignoring his own promise to Jacob, he ran off to get his bow and arrows, anxious to take the blessing for himself!
But what they didn’t realise as they hatched their little plot together, was that Rebekah had overheard the whole thing! And she had no intention of letting it happen. (P) As soon as Esau left for the hunt she ran to find Jacob. ‘Jacob, I overheard your father talking to Esau. He’s sent him off to catch some wild animal to make him a tasty meal. After that, he plans to bless Esau in the Lord’s presence before he dies! Now listen and do exactly as I tell you. Go to the flock of goats and bring me two fine young goats. When you’ve done that, I’ll prepare a meal - just the way your father likes it. Your father can’t see very well, so when you take the food to him, pretending to be Esau, he’ll bless you instead of Esau.’
Oh dear, Isaac was planning to do something he shouldn’t with Esau agreeing to his evil plan, and now Rebekah and Jacob were planning to trick Isaac! Why no one talked to the Lord about it all and asked Him for help we’ll never know. And one thing you can be sure of when people try to trick each other is that no good’ll come of it!
However, Jacob had seen a flaw in his mother’s plan. ‘But mum,’ he said. ‘What if dad touches me for some reason? I’m not all hairy like Esau, and when he finds out that I’m trying to deceive him, he’ll curse me instead of blessing me!’
‘Let the curse fall on me, my son.’ Rebekah said, ‘just go and get the goats (P) quickly.’
While the goat stew was cooking, Rebekah took some strips of goatskin and made a hairy covering for Jacobs’s arms and hands. She also took another strip and put it around his neck. Then she made Jacob put on some of Esau’s clothes. Her plan was almost ready. So when she’d prepared the stew, with a rich mouth-watering smell, along with some freshly baked bread, she gave them to Jacob to take to his father. The deception was complete!
‘Father,’ said Jacob, trying to sound as much like Esau as he could.
‘Yes,’ said Isaac. ‘Who is it – Esau or Jacob?’
‘It’s me, Esau, your eldest son,’ he lied, ‘I’ve been hunting and made you some stew, just the way you like. Sit up and eat, then you can give me your blessing.’
‘But how were you able to catch an animal so fast son?’ Isaac asked.
‘Oh, the Lord your God put it right in my path father – I couldn’t miss it!’ Jacob lied - again.
‘Come here Esau,’ Isaac said, a little suspiciously. ‘I want to touch you so that I can be sure it’s really you.’ So Jacob went to his father who touched the goatskin on Jacob’s arm. ‘Well,’ he said to himself. ‘The voice’s Jacob’s, but the hands are all hairy like Esau’s!’ Then out loud he said, ‘Are you really Esau?’
‘Yes of course I am,’ lied Jacob.
And then, because he could think of nothing else except the lovely meal prepared for him, Isaac said. ‘Ok, bring me my meal (licks lips) and after I’ve eaten it I’ll give you my blessing. (Smacks lips)’
So Jacob took the meal over to his father and waited while he watched the old man greedily eat up his meal without even realising that it wasn’t made from wild animal at all, but from goats! However, Isaac was still a little unsure if the person in the room with him was really Esau and not Jacob, so after he’d finished eating he called him over again. ‘Come here boy and give your old father a kiss.’ As Jacob came across, Isaac caught the smell of Esau’s clothes that Jacob was wearing. It was enough to finally convince him. ‘That’s a good smell,’ he said. ‘The smell of the open fields that the Lord God has blessed.’ And then he started to bless his son.
‘May God always give you plenty of dew for healthy crops and a good harvest of grain and wine.’
‘May many nations become your servants.’
‘May you be master of your brothers, and may all your mother’s sons bow low before you.’
‘All who curse you are cursed, and all who bless you are blessed.’
It was a close run thing. Because as Jacob left his father, having received the blessing, Esau returned. Thankfully he didn’t see Jacob and got on preparing the meal for his father. When he’d finished he strode into his father’s tent. ‘Right, here I am with this wonderful wild game stew you wanted. Sit up and eat so that you can give me your blessing.’
Isaac was spooked. ‘Who are you?’ He asked in a quavering voice.
‘It’s me of course, Esau, your eldest son. Who else would it be?’
Isaac began trembling uncontrollably. ‘Then who was just in here serving me food? I’ve eaten already and I blessed that person with a blessing that can never be undone!’
It took a while for Esau to realise what’d happened. But when he realised that Jacob had tricked him again, he began to cry out loud. ‘Oh Father, bless me too!’
‘Your brother’s tricked me. He’s taken away your blessing,’ said Isaac.
Esau: ‘No wonder his name’s Jacob – the deceiver. He’s deceived me twice. Once when he tricked me into selling my birthright and - and now he’s stolen my blessing. (P) Oh father, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?’
But Isaac knew that he’d been beaten, and he also knew that it was what the Lord’d said would happen all those years ago when Rebekah went to talk to him about the children in her womb. ‘I – I have made Jacob your master. I have made all his brothers his servants and I have blessed him with grain and wine… what else is there left to bless you with?’
‘Oh please father, please - there must be some blessing for me too?’ Then Esau fell to his knees crying bitterly.
‘All I can say is this,’ Isaac continued. ‘You will live off the land and what it gives. And you will live by the sword. You will serve your brother for a time, but then you will make yourself free.’
After that, Esau hated his brother Jacob, and waited for an opportunity to murder him.