Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Esau Has Reason To Feel Cheated and To Despair -- Genesis 27:34-38


When 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!" And he said, "Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing." Then he said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing." And he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" But Isaac replied to Esau, "Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?" Esau said to his father, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father." So Esau lifted his voice and wept.

Can you imagine what it may have felt like to be growing up in expectation of one day receiving an inheritance or perhaps more significantly, the eldest child’s blessing, and then to hear your aged father tell you that your younger sibling got it by mistake, and “they will be blessed.” It is no wonder that the scripture says Esau “cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry” and begged his father to bless him also.

Devastated Isaac answered Esau explaining how his younger brother Jacob came “deceitfully” and took away Esau’s blessing. The deceit was Jacob’s, the duping was Isaac’s, and the loss was Esau’s. Jacob had to live with the knowledge of what he did, Isaac had to sustain the disappointment of being tricked and letting his firstborn down, and Esau had to accept the loss, fight back the anger, and settle for what blessing remained possible.

Upon hearing what Jacob had done, he indicates his brother was indeed appropriately named Jacob, meaning ‘supplanter’, or one who takes somebody else’s place or position by force or intrigue. Jacob had now done that twice to Esau – the first time when he took advantage of Esau’s hunger and tricked him into selling him his birthright and now when he maneuvered the dishonest acquiring of the firstborn’s blessing. Esau, almost begging, asks Isaac if he had saved some kind of blessing for him. But his father’s response was not exactly what he wanted to hear.

It is important to note that the blessing of a father was, and still is for those that still observe it, many Christians among them, very powerful. In his response to Esau, Isaac indicates that by giving Jacob the specific firstborn’s blessing that he did, he “made him” Esau’s master. In fact, all of Jacob’s relatives (that includes Esau and his family) would become, through that blessing, Jacob’s servants. Furthermore, Isaac blessed Jacob with great riches in the form of large harvests and fine wine. Isaac felt there was nothing of a true blessing left for his true firstborn. He utters the words “What can I do, my son?” with great disappointment.

But Esau does not give up easily. “Surely, father, you have more than one blessing in you? So, bless me too, my father.” Unsure as to whether or not his father would do so, or even if he might, the hurt was so great, that as he said those words, Esau wailed and wept. How that must have hurt his father. And where exactly were Rebekah and Jacob during all this? Surely, Isaac’s tent was not that far away from where they spent their time. How could a mother and a brother do that? It appears even then greed and deceit were tools used against one’s family member as they are today. Yet God can still work with those dishonorable actions.

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