Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rebekah, The Manipulative Mother

Jacob Tricks Isaac

Genesis 27

1When Isaac was old, his eyesight was poor, so he could not see clearly. One
day he called his older son Esau to him and said, “Son.”

Esau answered, “Here I am.”

2Isaac said, “I am old and don’t know when I might die. 3So take your bow
and arrows and go hunting in the field for an animal for me to eat. 4When you
prepare the tasty food that I love, bring it to me, and I will eat. Then I will bless
you before I die.” 5So Esau went out in the field to hunt.

Rebekah was listening as Isaac said this to his son Esau. 6She said to her son
Jacob, “Listen, I heard your father saying to your brother Esau, 7‘Kill an animal
and prepare some tasty food for me to eat. Then I will bless you in the presence
of the LORD before I die.’ 8So obey me, my son, and do what I tell you. 9Go out
to our goats and bring me two of the best young ones. I will prepare them just the
way your father likes them. 10Then you will take the food to your father, and he
will bless you before he dies.”

11But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “My brother Esau is a hairy man,
and I am smooth! 12If my father touches me, he will know I am not Esau. Then he
will not bless me but will place a curse on me because I tried to trick him.”

13So Rebekah said to him, “If your father puts a curse on you, I will accept
the blame. Just do what I said and go, get the goats for me.”

14So Jacob went out and got two goats and brought them to his mother, and
she cooked them in the special way Isaac enjoyed. 15She took the best clothes of
her older son Esau that were in the house and put them on the younger son Jacob.
16She also took the skins of the goats and put them on Jacob’s hands and neck.
17Then she gave Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.

18Jacob went in to his father and said, “Father.”

And his father said, “Yes, my son. Who are you?”

19Jacob said to him, “I am Esau, your first son. I have done what you told me.
Now sit up and eat some meat of the animal I hunted for you. Then bless me.”

20But Isaac asked his son, “How did you find and kill the animal so quickly?”

Jacob answered, “Because the LORD your God helped me to find it.”

21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son. Then I
will know if you are really my son Esau.”

22So Jacob came near to Isaac his father. Isaac touched him and said, “Your
voice sounds like Jacob’s voice, but your hands are hairy like the hands of Esau.”
23Isaac did not know it was Jacob, because his hands were hairy like Esau’s
hands, so Isaac blessed him. 24Isaac asked, “Are you really my son Esau?”

Jacob answered, “Yes, I am.”

25Then Isaac said, “Bring me the food, and I will eat it and bless you.” So
Jacob gave him the food, and he ate. Jacob gave him wine, and he drank. 26Then
Isaac said to him, “My son, come near and kiss me.” 27So Jacob went to his father
and kissed him. When Isaac smelled Esau’s clothes, he blessed him and said,

“The smell of my son

is like the smell of the field

that the LORD has blessed.

28May God give you plenty of rain

and good soil

so that you will have plenty of grain and new wine.

29May nations serve you

and peoples bow down to you.

May you be master over your brothers,

and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.

May everyone who curses you be cursed,

and may everyone who blesses you be blessed.”

30Isaac finished blessing Jacob. Then, just as Jacob left his father Isaac, Esau
came in from hunting. 31He also prepared some tasty food and brought it to his
father. He said, “Father, rise and eat the food that your son killed for you and
then bless me.”

32Isaac asked, “Who are you?”

He answered, “I am your son—your firstborn son—Esau.”

33Then Isaac trembled greatly and said, “Then who was it that hunted the
animals and brought me food before you came? I ate it, and I blessed him, and it
is too late now to take back my blessing.”

34When Esau heard the words of his father, he let out a loud and bitter cry. He
said to his father, “Bless me—me, too, my father!”

35But Isaac said, “Your brother came and tricked me. He has taken your

36Esau said, “Jacob is the right name for him. He has tricked me these two
times. He took away my share of everything you own, and now he has taken
away my blessing.” Then Esau asked, “Haven’t you saved a blessing for me?”

37Isaac answered, “I gave Jacob the power to be master over you, and all his
brothers will be his servants. And I kept him strong with grain and new wine.
There is nothing left to give you, my son.”

38But Esau continued, “Do you have only one blessing, Father? Bless me, too,
Father!” Then Esau began to cry out loud.

39Isaac said to him,

“You will live far away from the best land,

far from the rain.

40You will live by using your sword,

and you will be a slave to your brother.

But when you struggle,

you will break free from him.”

41After that Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing from Isaac. He thought
to himself, “My father will soon die, and I will be sad for him. Then I will kill

42Rebekah heard about Esau’s plan to kill Jacob. So she sent for Jacob and
said to him, “Listen, your brother Esau is comforting himself by planning to kill
you. 43So, my son, do what I say. My brother Laban is living in Haran. Go to him
at once! 44Stay with him for a while, until your brother is not so angry. 45In time,
your brother will not be angry, and he will forget what you did to him. Then I
will send a servant to bring you back. I don’t want to lose both of my sons on the
same day.”

46Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of Hittite women. If Jacob marries
one of these Hittite women here in this land, I want to die.”

The Holy Bible, New Century Version

 Favoritism (Gen. 25:28; 27). Rebekah had been thrilled to become pregnant. Yet her children were also the cause of disappointment and pain. She and Isaac played favorites; Isaac favored Esau, and Rebekah favored Jacob. When Isaac neared death, he sought to bless his successor. Rebekah knew Isaac intended to choose Esau rather than Jacob. The ease with which Rebekah hatched a scheme to divert the blessing to Jacob suggests that she had long been manipulating events to give her favorite an edge.

Rebekah was so determined that Jacob should receive the blessing that she coached him to lie to Isaac. She dressed him in his brother's clothing, tied goatskins on his hands to make them feel hairy, and urged Jacob to lie and say that he was Esau. Jacob deceived Isaac and received the blessing Isaac had intended to pass to Esau. But this deceit had tragic consequences.

When the plot was uncovered, Esau became so angry with his brother that he determined to kill Jacob as soon as their father died. Becoming aware of that plot, the desperate Rebekah got Isaac to send Jacob to Haran to find a bride among her relations. Jacob fled north ... and Rebekah never saw her favorite son again. How much she must have missed him during the last years of her life. Her deceit had deprived her of her favorite son's company, and left her to live out her days among Esau and his wives who Scripture says were "a grief of mind" to her (Gen. 26:35).

Yet Jacob's flight proved to be the making of her son. On the long journey north, God spoke to him. During the twenty long years he spent with his mother's relatives, Jacob grew from a pampered mother's boy into a strong and faith-filled man.

Rebekah's relationship with Jacob. Rebekah's plot succeeded in deceiving Isaac into giving his blessing to her favorite rather than to Esau. When she realized that Esau was so angry with Jacob that he planned to kill his brother when their father died, Rebekah was forced into action. We're told the story in Genesis 27. She spoke to Isaac, complaining,

"I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, like these who are the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?"

Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to... the house of ... your mother's father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother" (Gen. 27:46-28:2).

This guidance, which should have been provided for Esau too, was a guise for getting Jacob out of his brother's sight. Rebekah told Jacob to go to her brothers and "And stay with him a few days, until your brother's fury turns away, until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him" (Gen. 27:44-45). Ironically, in doing this, Rebekah sacrificed ever seeing the one she loved most again. Jacob was gone for twenty years, and his mother died before he returned.

(From Every Woman in the Bible by Sue and Larry Richards).

No comments: