When Esau returned from hunting and cooking, he was shocked to find out that Jacob had stolen his blessing. Esau wept, begged for a blessing and received it, and decided to kill his brother. So, Rebekah sent Jacob away to her brother Laban until Esau could cool off.
There are two benefits to being the firstborn in a Jewish family: the birthright and the blessing. The birthright entitled the oldest male to receive a double portion of the inheritance above his other siblings (Deut. 21:17). This is called the “right of the firstborn,” or the birthright. The blessing entitled the recipient (typically the firstborn) to have rule and dominion over his brethren (comp. 1 Chr. 5:1-2, where Joseph received the birthright [Gen. 48: 21-22] and Judah received the blessing).
Esau was entitled to both the birthright and the blessing. However, he despised his birthright (Gen. 25:34) and sold it for one morsel of meat (Heb. 12:16). So, when it came time for this blessing, God made sure that Esau didn’t get it (Rom. 9:10-13). Although this was a skillfully executed plan of deceit by Rebekah and Jacob, God still honored it.
Isaac ended up blessing Esau, but he notably left God out of the blessing (v. 39-40). Esau would gain his prominence not by the Lord but by his sword.
Now notice some interesting facts contained in the text.
- Once Isaac blessed Jacob, the blessing was irreversible, v.33 (Gen. 9:1, 25).
- Jacob’s subtilty (v. 35) matches the devil’s in Gen. 3:1, and 2 Cor. 11:3, and Jonadab’s in 2 Sam. 13:3.
- Jacob could not disguise the “fact” that he was a deceiver (v.12, 36).
- In spite of Esau’s tears (v. 34, 38), he was rejected and found no repentance (Heb. 12:17).
- Esau’s descendants (the “Edomites”) were able to overthrow the dominion Jacob’s descendants (the “Jews”) by the sword (v. 40) [comp. 2 Sam. 8:14, 1 Ki. 22:47, Ob. 10-14, 2 Ki. 8:20-22, 1 Sam 22:18]. God will repay them at Christ’s return (Ob. 18-20).
- Esau’s hatred of Jacob matches the world’s hatred of Jesus and Christians, v. 41, (Jn. 15:18). Consequently, the Lord hated Esau (Mal. 1:2-3).
- The few days of Jacob’s sojourn with Laban turned into 20 years (v.44, 31:41).
- Rebekah’s promise to send for Jacob was probably accomplished by Deborah, her nurse (v. 45, 35:8).
- The daughters of Heth were descendants of Ham (v. 46, 10:15), that’s why Rebekah didn’t want Jacob to marry them.