Genesis 27:14
Isaac, like his father, has his time of sojourn among the Philistines. The events of his intercourse with the Abimelech of his day resemble those of the former patriarch, though there are differences which show that the recurrence is historical.

I. GOD REPEATS HIS LESSONS that they may make the deeper impression. The intention of the record is to preserve a certain line of Divine guidance. Isaac trod in the footsteps of Abraham. We have Isaac's wells, oaths, feast, Shebah - all following close upon those of the preceding generation.

II. The SAME PRESERVATION OF THE COVENANT RACE in the midst of heathens confirms that covenant. The same lesson of special providential protection and blessing is thus repeated and enforced. Again the same contrast of man's infirmity with God's unchangeableness. The perversity of the fleshly-minded man forming a marriage connection with heathen people, and bringing grief of mind to his parents, reveals the distinctness of the world from the kingdom of God. - R.







And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother.
I. REVEALS SOME QUALITIES OF JACOB'S CHARACTER.

1. He was a weak and pliable man.

2. He lacked the power of self-determination.

3. He was fearful of consequences.

4. He could long indulge the thought of that which was forbidden.

II. REVEALS THE GRADUAL DEBASEMENT OF JACOB'S CHARACTER.

1. He overcomes difficulties in the way of sin.

2. He learns to act a falsehood.

3. He proceeds to the direct falsehood.

4. He allows himself to be led into sin under the idea that he is carrying out the purpose of God.

(T. H. Leale.)

I. THE TEMPTATION ORIGINATED IN A SENSUOUS REQUEST OF ISAAC.

II. THIS TEMPTATION WAS PRESENTED TO JACOB THROUGH THE UNSCRUPULOUS LOVE OF REBEKAH. We cannot but admire her love. But it was not based upon principle.

III. THIS TEMPTATION WAS GREEDILY RESPONDED TO BY THE WEAK AND CRAFTY NATURE OF JACOB.

(F. B. Meyer, B.A.)

I. JACOB'S CONDUCT UNFOLDS THE STRENGTH OF EARLY PREFERENCES.

II. JACOB'S CONDUCT SHOWS PROGRESS IN A WRONG DIRECTION.

III. JACOB'S CONDUCT LETS US SEE SOME OF THE INFLUENCES WHICH IMPEL MEN TO GREATER EVIL.

1. One is that of relationship.

2. Another influence worked in the man himself. Jacob had a vehement craving for the blessing.

IV. JACOB'S CONDUCT PROVES THAT THERE MAY BE MORE RELIGION ON THE LIPS THAN IN THE LIFE (ver. 20).

(D. G. Watt, M. A.)

I. THE POWER OF PARENTAL INFLUENCE AND THE DANGER OF PARENTAL PARTIALITY.

II. THE PROGRESS OF MORAL DETERIORATION. This is seen —

1. In Isaac.

2. In Rebekah.

3. In Esau.

4. Especially in Jacob.Lessons:

1. That mere fondness is not affection.

2. To beware of encouraging or countenancing the appearance of untruth.

3. That no righteous purpose can justify an unrighteous act.

4. To avoid the beginning, "the very appearance of evil."

5. To beware what thoughts we cherish.

6. Success does not avert the moral consequences of wrong-doing.

(A. F. Joscelyne, B. A.)

Homilist.
I. THE SPIRIT OF DOUBT AND MISTRUST LEADS MEN TO PRACTICE DECEIT.

1. It was deceiving a relative.

2. Deceiving an infirm relative.

3. Deceiving an infirm relative in spiritual matters.

II. IT DEADENS MEN'S MORAL SENSIBILITIES.

1. It creates indifference to man's moral culture.

2. It renders one insensible to the greatest danger.

III. IT INVOLVES PAIN.

1. Loss of peace.

2. Instability.

3. Humiliation.

(Homilist.)

1. Many of the most serious evils in life must be traced to parental mismanagement.

2. No end, however good, will sanction bad ways of accomplishing it.

3. Our history illustrates the prolific nature of sin. The commission of one crime makes another necessary, in order to supply what is lacking in the first.

4. The sins of youth have often a long and lasting influence.

(A. McClelland, D. D.)

I. THE CONSPIRACY.

1. Its nature.

2. Its cause.

(1)Precariousness of Isaac's life.

(2)Rebekah's fear that patriarchal blessing would be bestowed on Esau, though God had declared that it should be given to Jacob.

(3)The nature and importance of the patriarchal blessing.

II. THE DISCOVERY.

1. Its suddenness.

2. Its effect.Practical lessons:

1. That sad consequences ever follow the practice of duplicity, whether in the family or elsewhere.

2. That a mother should teach a son to deceive his father is full of warning.

3. That such wrong should be perpetrated in the name and for the promotion of religion suggests the importance of scrutinizing our motives.

4. That the consciences of pious persons should allow them to justify themselves in such conduct suggests the blinding power of unbelief that God will fulfil what He has promised.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

I. Look at ISAAC.

1. His sin lay in aiming at a wrong object — he wanted to set aside the will of God.

2. Mark the punishment of Isaac. It was two-fold. First, his object was defeated — Esau lost the blessing. And man will always be defeated when man struggles with his Maker. He vindicates His authority in an unexpected moment and by unexpected means, and then where and what are we? Our schemes, and efforts, and hopes, are all laid low; and worse than this — they are all turned against ourselves. And so was it here; for notice another part of Isaac's punishment — not only was his object defeated, but in aiming at it, he brought much sin on his family and much anguish on himself.

II. We may turn now to REBEKAH.

1. Her sin was altogether different in its character from Isaac's. It consisted in aiming at a right object by sinful means.

2. The punishment of Rebekah may appear slight, and yet to a fond mother like her, it must have been deeply painful. The curse was indeed on her, and it came in a form she little anticipated — she lost the son for whom she had plotted and sinned. Her example speaks plainly and solemnly also to all who are parents amongst us. It tells us that children are easily led into sin. Deceit and falsehood are bound up in the heart of every child that breathes, and it is as easy to call them into action as to get their tongues to speak or their feet to move. It is easy also to find motives that seem good, for prompting the lie, or sanctioning the lie, or concealing the lie; but as surely as there is a God living in heaven, the evil we prompt or encourage or tolerate in our children will come down in the end on our own heads. The curse of it will be on us. The blow may at first strike others, but in the end it will recoil on ourselves. Our poor children may themselves sting us to the quick; or if not so, the hand of God may be on them. We may see in their undoing at once our own punishment and our own sin.

III. Let us turn now to JACOB. The instant we look at him, we are struck with this fact, that the nearer a man is to God, the more God is displeased with any iniquity He sees in him, and the more openly and severely He punishes it. Of all this family, Jacob was the most beloved by Him, but yet, as far as regards this world, he appears to have suffered from this transaction the most bitterly.

1. His sin was of a complicated character. To a hasty observer, it might appear light. Certainly much might be said in palliation of it. He was not first in the transgression. The idea of it did not originate with him. His feelings revolted at it when it was proposed to him. He remonstrated against it. Besides, it was a parent who urged him on, a fond and tender mother. And we must remember, too, that all those motives which led Rebekah to form this plot would operate also in Jacob's mind to lead him to execute it. It was furthering the will of God, it was saving a father from sin. Let young persons see here what a single deviation from truth can do. In one short hour it made the pious Jacob appear and act like one of the worst of men.

2. As for the punishment of Jacob's sin, we must read the history of his life to see the extent of it. It followed him almost to his dying hour. He was successful in his treachery; it obtained from his deceived father the desired birthright; but what fruit had he from his success? We might say none at all, or rather he sowed the wind and he reaped the whirlwind. His fears were realized; he did bring a curse on him and not a blessing.

IV. We come now to the case of Esau. Alive to the present and reckless of the future, he preferred to it the momentary gratification of a sensual appetite.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

I. ISAAC'S OBSTINATE PARTIALITY.

II. REBEKAH'S CRAFTINESS, AND JACOB'S FRAUD.

III. THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE FRAUD. Isaac's vain regret. Esau's murderous malice. Rebekah's fear for her favourite son. Jacob's hasty banishment. Conclusion: What may we especially learn for ourselves?

1. Not to resist God's will, like Isaac. We may sometimes think we know what is best; yet, if we listened to God's word, we should not do the very thing we perhaps most like to do.

2. Not to forfeit God's favour and blessing, like Esau. It was Esau's own recklessness and worldliness that led to his being rejected, and to "the blessing" being withheld from him. He had shown himself to be incapable of deeper thoughts and religious faith.

3. Not to do wrong that good may come, like Rebekah and Jacob. God's promises will be fulfilled in due time. But we must neither murmur, nor be hasty (comp. Hebrews 2:3).

(W. S. Smith, B. D.)

Jacob, whose nature was at this time true to his name.

1. Receives a hint from his mother. Sad that her maternal love should have prompted such an act. Esau, as much her son as Jacob. She was equally bound by natural obligations to care far one as the other. No apologies seem to be a sufficient vindication of conduct that was in its very essence wrong.

2. Closes with his mother's recommendation. He ought to have resented it; to have expostulated, and over-ruled it. He rather suggests difficulties (ver. 11) to prompt her ingenuity.

3. Adopts the disguise she prepared, and followed her directions. Deception; and self-deception the worst of all. Perhaps thought it well, even by such means, to gain the blessing.

4. Repeated falsehoods. Again and again assured his father that he was Esau.

5. Obtained the blessing. Yet how could that bless which had been so obtained? God, in His mercy, ultimately brought good out of the evil Otherwise the father's blessing, so obtained, must have been a curse.

(J. C. Gray.)

"The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." We cannot always depend upon appearances. When, at the time of the gunpowder plot, the Parliament houses were searched, only coals and fagots were found in the cellars beneath. But, on a more careful search, barrels of gunpowder were found under the coals and wood, as well as Guy Fawkes with his preparations to blow up the king and his parliament. Many a fine-looking tree is rotten at the core; some who are very healthy in appearance are secretly and fatally diseased; gilding or paint sometimes covers really worthless rubbish; so the lives of some who profess to be "the epistles of Christ " are really a forgery, for they are not what they profess to be. Many who speak in religious services, or at other times and places, with "Jacob's voice," or as saints, really have "the hands of Esau," for they are living in the practice of wickedness.

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

It is often forgotten that Jacob was divinely appointed to be the inheritor of the blessing. The omission from the calculation or thought of that one fact is likely to lead not only to mental perplexity but to moral confusion. You find the proof of the assertion in Genesis 25:23. The Lord said unto Rebekah, in view of the birth of her children, "The one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." The mystery, therefore, is Divine. Jacob was a destined man; Jacob was destined before he was born; what, then, was his error? Not in feeling, how mysteriously soever, the pressure of his destiny, but in prematurely taking it into his own hands. We must not force Providence. Is there not an appointed time to man upon the earth, in a much wider sense than in the sense of marking out the day of his death? Is there not a time for the rising of the sun and the going down of the same? Is there not a seed time in the year, as well as a harvest day? We are tempted to force Providence, thus to do the right thing in the wrong way, and at the wrong time. Right is not a question of a mere point; it gathers up into its mystery all the points of the case, so that it is not enough to be going in the right road; we must have come into that road through the right door, at the right hour, and by direct intervention and sanction of God. It is tempting to natures like ours to help ourselves by trickery. We do like to meddle with God. Granted that the mother saw the religious aspect of this whole case, and knew the destiny of the boys, she had no right to force Divine Providence. Was Rebekah moved by the consciousness of destiny, or was she excited by the spirit of revenge? It is easy for us to mistake our revenge for religion. Some men pray out of spite; some men preach Christ out of envy; it is possible to build a church upon the devil's foundation, and to light an altar with the devil's fire. Jacob was pre-eminently a destined child, a man with a special mark upon him: how he will come out of this we shall see; but God will be King and Master, and right shall be done. What, then, is to be our attitude under the consciousness of destiny, and under the suggestion of tempting events? Our attitude is to be one of perfect resignation.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Although the prediction of the fact did not entitle her or her son to bring about its fulfilment, yet it makes some slight difference in the case. For we see even now that when a nation or a man once feels that it is "manifest destiny" to do a certain thing — predetermined — he feels free to do that thing, no matter how unjust it is. We see the same delusion in a thousand other cases. Shakespeare recognizes it in the great drama of "Macbeth." The prediction, "Thou shalt be king hereafter," did not justify the murder, but it seemed to give to it a certain supernatural countenance, marshalling the murderer the way that he was going. If this can be the case when the supernatural soliciting comes from below, how much more strong when it was felt to come from above — from God Himself! Then remember, besides, that there was something not altogether evil in Jacob's passionate coveting of the birthright. For it was a sacred good, and eagerly to appreciate it as he did was itself a sign of some fitness for it; while to despise it as Esau did marked the man as unworthy of it.

(A. G. Mercer.)

But now hear me for a moment in defence of that Divine Providence which allowed the substitution of this particular man, Jacob, in the place of this particular man, Esau, as the third of the patriarchs. The importance of a right choice here is not easily over-rated. For several reasons the character of the patriarchs was to influence and mould the character of the Hebrew race more than could be done by any of the whole line of law-givers, princes, prophets, and warriors — Moses, perhaps, excepted, To have the right man, then, was indeed important. But was Jacob he? or, at least, was he more fit than Esau? He was. What was Jacob? Let us see. A man may be described by three things — whether he has ends — what they are — and how he reaches them.

1. Whether he has ends. Esau had not, He was one of a class of characters who live without any distant ends to reach — who live very much from day to day, working perhaps energetically for their little daily plans, or floating from interest to interest. Jacob was, above all things else, a man of purpose.

2. The next question about a man is, What are his ends? Two traits in a man's ends lift up the man — the remoteness and the generosity of his ends. If very remote — that is, if a man takes into his vision the whole scope of his life, and with a masterly power brings under his whole existence to that far-oft end — that man, even though his ends are selfish, is a superior person. Now Jacob was certainly that man. Show me such a man anywhere, and I will show you his equal here. Seven years of the hardest service he served for Rachel, and counted them but as seven days — and then seven more. He wore through twenty years of the hardest life, carrying on his design that he should be the successor and heir of Isaac, and though he was of a timid nature, never yielding that purpose, even when he stood in the presence of the avenger Esau himself. Never was there a more patient, tenacious soul. This was singular, for remember that primitive men may be persistent in passions, but not in purposes, save in that one passion and purpose — revenge. But Jacob had all the calmness and tenacity of an advanced age. His end, however, may have been a selfish one. Self-advancement? Yes. But, considering the age and place, self-advancement was one of the higher forms of virtue, especially when we know that the end Jacob sought had a certain sacredness about it — the hope, namely, that he should be in the line of God's special favours — should take eminent place as His servant.

3. The third test of a man is the means he uses to reach his ends. Jacob's were bad enough. Remember, however, that the rule, the end does not justify the means, was unknown to Jacob — is, in fact, a great and modern discovery in morals, not fully known even yet. And remember, besides, that whatever his means were, they were always effective, and never gratuitously wicked. On the whole, then, here was a mixed character as to its excellence, but a high character as to its ability. Nay, besides — this very mixture, the very defects of character, made Jacob a fit instrument of the Divine purposes. He was, even in his weakest points, far better fitted to lay the foundations of a family and kingdom than the impulsive and purposeless Esau. Had he been a more purely excellent man, he would have been less fitted. A style of character purely excellent cannot lay a permanent grasp upon the men of early ages, or men of any age not high enough to receive it. The powerful great man is the one who is at once above and yet along-side of his fellows. Hence we see, as a matter of fact, that among the patriarchs, though Abraham is most revered, Jacob has been the truly influential man with the Jewish masses. He has moulded the mass of the Jewish people into his own image. I regard this as specially providential. Thus the purer and higher were led to God and held to God through the high spirit that was in Abraham; the body were held to God and their religion through the lower soul of Jacob. They could be inferior Jacobs when they could not be properly children of Abraham.So, through lower and higher instruments, the purposes of God are worked out.

1. Among the thoughts suggested by the subject, notice first the effect of success in the judgment of character. Esau, once gone under, holds no place.

2. Notice, again, how poorly we judge of mixed characters. The same Jacob who over-reached his father, his brother, and I might say destiny itself, the supplanter, the robber, who "from a shelf the precious diadem stole, and put it in his pocket," was yet the same who wrestled all night with God. Truly we are all of different natures, marvellously mixed — a worm, a god! This should teach me at least some things, such as humility to myself. I know by this that the statues of the demi-gods stand on clay feet — that my best moments, my best feelings, are but a part of me — that I have a whole world of things to repent of, and to be ashamed of, before God. That, and nothing of soul growth, was especially the fact with Jacob. His character was unlike that of the other patriarchs in this: Abraham and Isaac, such as we see them at first, are very much such as we see them at last. But Jacob only becomes his real, that is, his higher self at the last. At the bottom of his young and eager ambition and selfishness there was at the very first, as I have said, something good, the root of a great tree of right — namely, the real sense that God's blessing and favour were above all value — and so in his blind, but most earnest way, he went to work to grasp them.

3. There is one test every man should solemnly try himself by, one test of what our ultimate selves and our ultimate destiny will be — Does the good part of our characters grow?

(A. G. Mercer.)

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