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NOW Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, and he could not see: and he called Esau, his elder son, and said to him: My son? And he answered: Here I am.

Ver. 1.  Old: 137 years, when falling sickly and blind, at least for a time, he wished to bless Esau, who was 77 years old.  T.

2 And his father said to him: Thou seest that I am old, and know not the day of my death. 3 Take thy arms, thy quiver, and bow, and go abroad: and when thou hast taken some thing by hunting, 4 Make me savoury meat thereof, as thou knowest I like, and bring it, that I may eat: and my soul may bless thee before I die.

Ver. 4.  That, &c.  He does not mean, that the meat would induce him to give his blessing.  Neither can we suppose, that he intended to pervert the order of God, in making the younger son subject to the elder, if he was informed by Rebecca, of that disposition of providence.  C.


--- But of this he seems to have been ignorant, v. 29. 35.  W.

5 And when Rebecca had heard this, and he was gone into the field to fulfill his father's commandment, 6 She said to her son Jacob: I heard thy father talking with Esau thy brother, and saying to him: 7 Bring me of thy hunting, and make me meats that I may eat, and bless thee in the sight of the Lord, before I die.

Ver. 7.  In the sight of the Lord, answers to my soul, &c. v. 4.  I will bless thee with all earnestness and sincerity.  H.

8 Now, therefore, my son, follow my counsel: 9 And go thy way to the flock, bring me two kids of the best, that I may make of them meat for thy father, such as he gladly eateth: 10 Which when thou hast brought in, and he hath eaten, he may bless thee before he die. 11 And he answered her: Thou knowest that Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am smooth. 12 If my father shall feel me, and perceive it, I fear lest he will think I would have mocked him, and I shall bring upon me a curse instead of a blessing.

Ver. 12.  Mocked him, taking advantage of his blindness and old age.  M.

13 And his mother said to him: Upon me be this curse, my son: only hear thou my voice, and go, fetch me the things which I have said.

Ver. 13.  This curse.  Rebecca had too much confidence in God's promises, to think that he would suffer them to be ineffectual.  Hence, Onkelos makes her say, "I have learnt by revelation, that thou wilt receive no curse, but only blessing."  The sequel shewed, that she was directed by God in this delicate business.  Theod. q. 78.  C.

14 He went, and brought, and gave them to his mother. She dressed meats, such as she knew his father liked. 15 And she put on him very good garments of Esau, which she had at home with her:

Ver. 15.  Very good.  Heb. desirable, kept among perfumes, v. 27.  Such, the Hebrews say, were used by the first-born, when they offered sacrifice.  S. Jerom, q. Heb.

16 And the little skins of the kids she put about his hands, and covered the bare of his neck. 17 And she gave him the savoury meat, and delivered him bread that she had baked. 18 Which when he had carried in, he said: My father? But he answered: I hear. Who art thou, my son? 19 And Jacob said: I am Esau thy firstborn: I have done as thou didst command me: arise, sit, and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.

Ver. 19.  I am Esau, thy first-born.  S. Augustine, (L. Contra Mendacium, c. x..) treating at large upon this place, excuseth Jacob from a lie, because this whole passage was mysterious, as relating to the preference which was afterwards to be given to the Gentiles before the carnal Jews, which Jacob by prophetic light might understand.  So far is certain, that the first birth-right, both by divine election, and by Esau's free cession, belonged to Jacob: so that if there were any lie in the case, it could be no more than an officious and venial one.  Ch.


--- Ignorance might also excuse them from any sin; as many good and learned men have thought an officious lie to be lawful.  S. Chrys. hom. 52.  Origen.  Bonfrere.  And even if we allow that they did wrong; the Scripture relates, but does not sanction what they did, Let him that thinks himself to stand, take heed lest he fall.  1 Cor. x. 12. C.


--- As our Saviour says of S. John, He is Elias, Matt. xi, so, Jacob says, I am Esau, not in person , but in right of the first-born.  W.

20 And Isaac said to his son: How couldst thou find it so quickly, my son? He answered: It was the will of God that what I sought came quickly in my way. 21 And Isaac said: Come hither, that I may feel thee, my son, and may prove whether thou be my son Esau, or not. 22 He came near to his father, and when he had felt him, Isaac said: The voice indeed is the voice of Jacob; but the hands are the hands of Esau.

Ver. 22.  Of Esau.  Thus, too often our voice contradicts our hands or actions!  H.

23 And he knew him not, because his hairy hands made him like to the elder. Then blessing him, 24 He said: Art thou my son Esau? He answered: I am.
25 Then he said: Bring me the meats of thy hunting, my son, that my soul may bless thee. And when they were brought, and he had eaten, he offered him wine also, which after he had drunk, 26 He said to him: Come near me, and give me a kiss, my son. 27 He came near, and kissed him. And immediately as he smelled the fragrant smell of his garments, blessing him, he said: Behold the smell of my son is as the smell of a plentiful field, which Lord hath blessed.

Ver. 27.  Plentiful.  A word retained by the Sam. and Sept. though lost in the Hebrew copies.  Grotius.


--- Hath blessed with abundance of fruit and odoriferous herbs; such as had probably been shut up in the drawers with Esau's robes.  M.


28 God give thee the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, abundance of corn and wine.

Ver. 28.  Wine.  "By which Christ gathers together the multitude, in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood."  S. Aug.

Isaac Blesses Jacob

Isaac Blesses Jacob

God give thee the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, abundance of corn and wine.

29 And let peoples serve thee, and tribes worship thee: be thou lord of thy brethren, and let thy mother's children bow down before thee. Cursed be he that curseth thee: and let him that blesseth thee be filled with blessings.

Ver. 29.  Worship thee, with civil respect, (H.) as the Idumeans, Philistines and Moabites did, with respect to David, Solomon, and the Machabees, acknowledging their dominion, though reluctantly.


--- With blessing.  Thus Rebecca had not given her son a vain assurance.  Isaac prays that God may ever by his protector, and avenge his cause.  H.

Isaac Blessing Jacob

Isaac Blessing Jacob

And let peoples serve thee, and tribes worship thee: be thou lord of thy brethren, and let thy mother's children bow down before thee. Cursed be he that curseth thee: and let him that blesseth thee be filled with blessings.

30 Isaac had scarce ended his words, when Jacob being now gone out abroad, Esau came,

Ver. 30.  Fear.  Sept. "Isaac was rapt into an ecstasy exceedingly great;" during which God explained to him the meaning of what had happened, that he might not think of revoking his blessing.  S. Aug. q. 80.  He permitted Isaac to be in darkness respecting this affair, that it might be more manifest, that the will of man had no part in preferring Jacob; (S. Chrys. hom. 53.) and that Esau might not direct his rage against his father.  W.

31 And brought in to his father meats made of what he had taken in hunting, saying: Arise, my father, and eat of thy son's venison; that thy soul may bless me. 32 And Isaac said to him: Why! who art thou? He answered: I am thy firstborn son Esau. 33 Isaac was struck with fear, and astonished exceedingly: and wondering beyond what can be believed, said Who is he then the even now brought me venison that he had taken, and I ate of all before thou camest? and I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed.

Ver. 33.  Be blessed.  Thus he confirms what he had done; and shews that he bore no resentment towards his younger son, nor esteemed himself to be mocked, v. 12.  H.

34 Esau having heard his father's words, roared out with a great cry: and being in a great consternation, said: Bless me also, my father.

Ver. 34.  Roared, through savage fury and envy of his brother.  Euseb.  M.

35 And he said: Thy brother came deceitfully and got thy blessing.

Ver. 35.  Deceitfully.  Heb. slily; directed by wisdom, as the Chal. has it.  S. Chrysostom (de sacerd.) praises the address of Jacob on this occasion.  C.

36 But he said again: Rightly is his name called Jacob; for he hath supplanted me lo this second time: my first birthright he took away before, and now this second time he hath stolen away my blessing. And again he said to his father: Hast thou not reserved me also a blessing?


37 Isaac answered: I have appointed him thy lord, and have made all his brethren his servants: I have established him with corn and wine, and after this, what shall I do more for thee, my son?

Ver. 37.  Brethren, or relations; (M.) for Isaac had no other children but these two.  He never married any other woman but the beautiful and virtuous Rebecca.  H.

38 And Esau said to him: Hast thou only one blessing, father? I beseech thee bless me also. And when he wept with a loud cry,


39 Isaac being moved, said to him: In the fat of the earth, and in the dew of heaven from above,

Ver. 39.  Moved; yet not so as to repent of what he had done; for Esau found no place of repentance in his father's breast, although with tears he had sought it, (Heb. xii. 17.) desiring to obtain the blessing of the first-born. H.


--- In the fat, &c.  Idumea was a barren country; and hence some would translate the Heb. "far from the fat...shall they dwelling be; but thou shalt live by the sword."  Thus min often means from, as well as for in: my flesh is changed on account of the want of oil, Ps. cviii. 24.  Heb. a pinguedine.  C.


--- But all the ancient versions agree with the Vulg.  So that we may say, the blessing of God made those barren regions supply the wants of the people abundantly; and so the Idumeans were to live by the sword, they would seize the rich habitations of their neighbours, (H.) and thus obtain a country rendered fertile without their labour.  M.

40 Shall thy blessing be. Thou shalt live by the sword and shalt serve thy brother: and the time shall come, when thou shalt shake off and loose his yoke from thy neck.

Ver. 40.  Thy brother, in the reign of David, 2 K. viii. 14, and of the Machabees.  Josep. Ant. xiii. 17.


--- Yoke.  When the house of Juda shall rebel against the Lord, in the days of Joram, then the Idumeans shall regain their liberty for a time; (4 K. viii. 20.) to be subdued again after 800 years by John Hyrcan, the high priest.  H.


--- All the blessing of Esau tends to confirm that already given to his brother; so that the apostle seems to have considered it unworthy of notice.  C.


--- Jacob, in the mean time, never asserted his dominion; but still called Esau his lord, (C. xxxii. 4.) and behaved to him with the greatest deference.  H.


--- Yet the Idumeans always hated the Jews, and assisted Titus to destroy Jerusalem.  Joseph.  T.


41 Esau therefore always hated Jacob for the blessing wherewith his father had blessed him: and he said in his heart: The days will come of the mourning of my father, and I will kill my brother Jacob.

Ver. 41.  My father.  He has no regard for this mother.  M.


--- Her love for Jacob filled him with greater indignation; and he resolved to murder him, in order, perhaps, to revenge himself on both.  Though this cruel resolution was taken in his heart, with full deliberation, he was not so careful to conceal his intentions; but his watchful mother discovered it, and by her prudence, preserved him from committing the external sin: and Jacob from falling a prey to this second Cain.


42 These things were told to Rebecca: and she sent and called Jacob her son, and said to him: Behold Esau thy brother threateneth to kill thee. 43 Now therefore, my son, hear my voice: arise and flee to Laban my brother to Haran:

44 And thou shalt dwell with him a few days, till wrath of thy brother be assuaged, 45 And his indignation cease, and he forget the things thou hast done to him: afterwards I will send, and bring thee from thence hither. Why shall I be deprived of both my sons in one day?

Ver. 45.  Both my sons.  Esau would have forfeited his life for murder.  C. ix. 6.  H.


--- Perhaps she might also fear that Jacob, in his own defence, should in the very agony of death, give the aggressor a mortal wound; or that Esau, at least, would be forced to flee his country.  Indeed, she considered him already as a lost man, on account of his marriage with the two women of Chanaan, and his savage manners.  C.

46 And Rebecca said to Isaac: I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the stock of this land, I choose not to live.

Ver. 46.  To live.  Life will be a burden to me.  M.


--- She does not mention the principal reason of her desiring Jacob to go to Haran, for fear of grieving the tender heart of her husband; who, it seems, knew not the temper of Esau so well as she did.  C.


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