1 When Isaac was so old that his eyesight had failed him, he called his older son Esau and said to him, “Son!” “Yes, father!” he replied.
Isaac then said, “As you can see, I am so old that I may now die at any time.
Take your gear, therefore – your quiver and bow – and go out into the country to hunt some game for me.
2 With your catch prepare an appetizing dish for me, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my special blessing before I die.”
Rebekah had been listening while Isaac was speaking to his son Esau. So when Esau went out into the country to hunt some game for his father,
Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Listen! I overheard your father tell your brother Esau,
‘Bring me some game and with it prepare an appetizing dish for me to eat, that I may give you my blessing with the LORD’S approval before I die.’
Now, son, listen carefully to what I tell you.
Go to the flock and get me two choice kids. With these I will prepare an appetizing dish for your father, such as he likes.
Then bring it to your father to eat, that he may bless you before he dies.”
“But my brother Esau is a hairy man,” said Jacob to his mother Rebekah, “and I am smooth-skinned!
Suppose my father feels me? He will think I am making sport of him, and I shall bring on myself a curse instead of a blessing.”
His mother, however, replied: “Let any curse against you, son, fall on me! Just do as I say. Go and get me the kids.”
So Jacob went and got them and brought them to his mother; and with them she prepared an appetizing dish, such as his father liked.
Rebekah then took the best clothes of her older son Esau that she had in the house, and gave them to her younger son Jacob to wear;
and with the skins of the kids she covered up his hands and the hairless parts of his neck.
Then she handed her son Jacob the appetizing dish and the bread she had prepared.
Bringing them to his father, Jacob said, “Father!” “Yes?” replied Isaac. “Which of my sons are you?”
Jacob answered his father: “I am Esau, your first-born. I did as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your special blessing.”
But Isaac asked, “How did you succeed so quickly, son?” He answered, “The LORD, your God, let things turn out well with me.”
Isaac then said to Jacob, “Come closer, son, that I may feel you, to learn whether you really are my son Esau or not.”
So Jacob moved up closer to his father. When Isaac felt him, he said, “Although the voice is Jacob’s, the hands are Esau’s.”
(He failed to identify him because his hands were hairy, like those of his brother Esau; so in the end he gave him his blessing.)
Again he asked him, “Are you really my son Esau?” “Certainly,” he replied.
Then Isaac said, “Serve me your game, son, that I may eat of it and then give you my blessing.” Jacob served it to him, and Isaac ate; he brought him wine, and he drank.
Finally his father Isaac said to him, “Come closer, son, and kiss me.”
As Jacob went up and kissed him, Isaac smelled the fragrance of his clothes. With that, he blessed him, saying, “Ah, the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field that the LORD has blessed!
“May God give to you of the dew of the heavens And of the fertility of the earth abundance of grain and wine.
“Let peoples serve you, and nations pay you homage; Be master of your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you.”
Jacob had scarcely left his father, just after Isaac had finished blessing him, when his brother Esau came back from his hunt.
Then he too prepared an appetizing dish with his game, and bringing it to his father, he said, “Please, father, eat some of your son’s game, that you may then give me your special blessing.”
“Who are you?” his father Isaac asked him. “I am Esau,” he replied, “your first-born son.”
With that, Isaac was seized with a fit of uncontrollable trembling. “Who was it, then,” he asked, “that hunted game and brought it to me? I finished eating it just before you came, and I blessed him. Now he must remain blessed!”
On hearing his father’s words, Esau burst into loud, bitter sobbing. “Father, bless me too!” he begged.
When Isaac explained, “Your brother came here by a ruse and carried off your blessing,”
3 Esau exclaimed, “He has been well named Jacob! He has now supplanted me twice! First he took away my birthright, and now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he pleaded, “Haven’t you saved a blessing for me?”
Isaac replied: “I have already appointed him your master, and I have assigned to him all his kinsmen as his slaves; besides, I have enriched him with grain and wine. What then can I do for you, son?”
But Esau urged his father, “Have you only that one blessing, father? Bless me too!” Isaac, however, made no reply; and Esau wept aloud.
Finally Isaac spoke again and said to him: “Ah, far from the fertile earth shall be your dwelling; far from the dew of the heavens above!
“By your sword you shall live, and your brother you shall serve; But when you become restive, you shall throw off his yoke from your neck.”
Esau bore Jacob a grudge because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “When the time of mourning for my father comes, I will kill my brother Jacob.”
When Rebekah got news of what her older son Esau had in mind, she called her younger son Jacob and said to him: “Listen! Your brother Esau intends to settle accounts with you by killing you.
Therefore, son, do what I tell you: flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran,
and stay with him a while until your brother’s fury subsides
(until your brother’s anger against you subsides) and he forgets what you did to him. Then I will send for you and bring you back. Must I lose both of you in a single day?”
4 Rebekah said to Isaac: “I am disgusted with life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob also should marry a Hittite woman, a native of the land, like these women, what good would life be to me?”
1 [1-45] What Jacob did in deceiving his father and thereby cheating Esau out of Isaac’s deathbed blessing is condemned as blameworthy, not only by Hosea (⇒ Hosea 12:4) and Jeremiah (⇒ Jeremiah 9:3), but also, indirectly, by the Yahwist narrator of the present story, who makes the reader sympathize with Esau as the innocent victim of a cruel plot, and shows that Jacob and his mother, the instigator of the plot, paid for it by a lifelong separation from each other. The story was told because it was part of the mystery of God’s ways in salvation history – his use of weak, sinful men to achieve his own ultimate purpose.
2  My special blessing: “the blessing of my soul.” The same expression is used also in ⇒ Genesis 27:19, ⇒ 25, ⇒ 31. In the context it must mean something like a solemn deathbed blessing, believed to be especially efficacious.
3  He has now supplanted me: in Hebrew, wayyaqebeni, a wordplay on the name Jacob, yaaqob; see ⇒ Jeremiah 9:3 and note, as well as ⇒ Genesis 25:26. There is also a play between the Hebrew words bekora (“birthright”) and beraka (“blessing”).
4 [⇒ 27:46-⇒ 28:9] This section, which is from the Priestly source and a direct sequel of ⇒ Genesis 26:34-35, presents a different, though not contradictory, reason for Jacob’s going to Paddan-aram: namely, to preserve racial purity among the chosen people. The account of Esau’s marriages is given for the purpose of explaining the racial mixture of the Edomites, who were descended in part from tribes related to Israel, in part from older peoples in Edom called Hittites, Horites or Hivites, and in part from the Ishmaelite (Arabian) tribes who later invaded the region.