Mothers of twins have a special joy & a special burden. So it was for Rebekah, wife of Issac who we talked about in yesterday’s post.
Of course, in any family, it’s hard to not play favorites, & Rebekah was no exception there. Isaac loved Esau, while Rebehak preferred his brother, Jacob. And what do you do about twins in those days when the firstborn is so important to the lineage & the family?
Well, Issac, in his old age, declared Esau the firstborn. Isaac sent Esau to the fields to find & prepare game so that they could celebrate his ascension.
This didn’t sit well with Rebekah. She overheard Issac talking with Esau, but she had been told before the twins’ birth that the older son would serve the younger.
Wily Rebehah ordered Jacob to bring two goats that she cooked in the way Issac loved, then had Jacob deliver the meat to his father dress as Easu. There was a little more deception required, since Jacob was smooth skinned & Esau hairy. Rebekah told Jacob to lay the goat kings on his blind father’s arms so that he would think it was Esau. (Esau must have been really hairy!)
So did Jacob just go along with all this like a good son to his mother? Not really. At first he protested that his father would recognize him, despite being blind, & would curse him. But Rebekah, in true motherly fashion, assure her son that any curses would fall on her instead, so Jacob agreed.
The stunt worked & Issac all unknowingly bless Jacob.
So how did this all turn out? We’ll let Genesis tell the rest of the story directly, from Genesis 27:
30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob?[a] For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:
“Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,
and away from the dew of heaven on high.
40 By your sword you shall live,
and you shall serve your brother;
but when you grow restless
you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
Esau, understandably upset, then vows to kill Jacob. Rebekah knows of these intentions, since she knows her sons well, & sends Jacob away to her brother’s house to keep his safe.
Quite a story, but then Jacob means “trickster” in Hebrew. Perhaps Rebekah knew even more than is reported in the Bible.