The blessing of the cheat

Genesis 27

Isaac is now very old, and he calls Esau to ask him a favor. Isaac asks Esau to go hunt and prepare a meal for him, in return, Isaac will bless Esau. Rebekah, Isaac’s wife catches on, and has Jacob go slaughter a goat and prepare it, in order to deceive his father. Jacob dresses up like his brother, and is able to trick Isaac into giving him the blessing that Isaac intended for Esau. Esau returns and when he finds out what has happened he is very angry and intends to kill Jacob. To ensure his safety, Rebekah has Jacob go stay with her brother.

The concept of blessing that we see in this chapter sets out an interesting paradigm when it comes to the relationship between God and Isaac. At no point in this chapter does God appear or communicate directly, but Isaac does invoke God in his blessing of Jacob. This invocation of God, and the apparent permanence that seems to be attributed to such blessings implies that they will hold to be true, directed by God. Does this mean that God approves of these blessing, or worse, does he guide human activity so that they will abide by such blessings? If so, there is an implication that man can control God, even to some small extent.

My hope is that in future chapters both Jacob and Rebekah will be punished for their ruse, unfortunately I don’t see that happening. What I don’t understand is why God doesn’t intercede in any of this activity. He is being invoked, and it is through him that Jacob is receiving a blessing that truly is not intended for him. God’s inactivity here is blatant tacit approval. So what we end up seeing here is blatant lying and cheating to receive a blessing, and no punishment for doing so. If this is all part of God’s “plan” to reward Abraham with a multitude of descendants, then God himself is inspiring very poor morality here; there must have been a better way to achieve such ends. Furthermore, Rebekah is proving to be a very poor role model for mothers. She has made a very obvious choice to play favorites, and advances the status of her favorite through deception of her husband. She is equally guilty in this conspiracy.

Lessons I Learned

  • You can’t take back a blessing.
  • God doesn’t mind if you cheat to gain his favor.

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