In this passage we not only see the third in a series of struggles between Jacob and Esau (birth, over the birthright and here), but we also see a family divided unnecessarily with God’s promise in sight. The past few passages have set the stage for this to take place—God proclaimed that Jacob would inherit the promise He made to Abraham, Jacob has been deceiving Esau in every situation we’ve seen, and it was clearly stated (Genesis 25:28) that Isaac favored Esau and Rebekah favored Jacob.
Today we see that Isaac is being led by his love of Esau and a desire for his son’s wild game. We also see Rebekah being sneaky and underhanded in scheming to trick Isaac into giving his blessing to Jacob. Meanwhile, Jacob is only concerned about the curse he might receive if he gets caught pretending to be Esau. It might be tempting to look at everything in this passage and proclaim that God’s will is being done in line with what He earlier told Rebekah. However, this story is all about deception. And, in the same way that Abraham couldn’t throw a wrench in God’s plan, there is no need for Rebekah and Jacob to take the task upon themselves. God’s will cannot be thwarted (it all depends on God’s grace) and it certainly doesn’t need to be helped through deception, even if the end result seems to be the same.
This passage continues and shows us that the end result definitely isn’t the same as letting God work it out. Sure, Jacob received the blessing of Isaac, but he also has hurt his father and needs to flee to protect himself from being killed by his brother. And we will see tomorrow that there will be more consequences of Jacob’s actions—namely that his uncle will deceive him.
There are some things at the end of this passage that might be a little more uplifting—accentuating God’s mercy in the face of sin. Although Rebekah once again deceives her husband, Isaac seems to accept that it is God’s will that Jacob receives his blessing and offers another blessing before Jacob travels to Paddan-Aram. This is important because not only does Isaac give Jacob direction in marriage (to keep the line of Abraham pure) but he also extends to Jacob the blessing and promises that God gave to Abraham.
Esau heard that Jacob was directed not to marry a Canaanite woman, so he went to take a third wife from Ishmael so that he would marry back into the line of Abraham. Unfortunately Esau also shows that he is not spiritually sensitive to God’s promises because he fails to realize that Ishmael’s line is not the pure chosen line of God, which was the focus of Isaac’s direction.
Tomorrow we’ll see Jacob in Paddan-Aram.
God – God
Isaac - son promised to Abraham and Sarah
Rebekah - very beautiful daughter of Abraham’s nephew (Bethuel). married Isaac
Esau - firstborn of Isaac and Rebekah
Jacob - second son of Isaac and Rebekah
Paddam-Aram - Northwest Mesopotamia and where Jacob is sent to protect him from Esau (and to find a wife)
Haran – the specific city where Jacob is to go
Abram/Abraham - son of Terah, descendant of Shem
Philcol - commander of Abimelech’s forces
herdsmen of Gerar - gave Isaac a hard time in the alley
Bethuel - Rebekah’s father (Aramean from Paddan Aram)
Laban - Rebekah’s brother, Rebekah sends Jacob to him
Ishmael - son of Abraham and Hagar, Isaac’s brother
Mahalath – third wife of Esau (sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael)
Below is a map of the patriarchs traveling to and from Haran (Abraham’s home seems to be very popular). Sometimes there are a lot of places named and it gets confusing, and sometimes they are just spread out enough in different chapters. This map is not only helpful to locating different cities and where they would have traveled, but it also is a reminder that these were real places and that although the line of Abraham had settled in Canaan, Haran was still an important place that was home.