Thursday, September 10, 2009

Esau’s Consequential Blessing -- Genesis 27:39-40

Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, "Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, And away from the dew of heaven from above. By your sword you shall live, And your brother you shall serve; But it shall come about when you become restless, That you will break his yoke from your neck."

Having given Esau’s intended firstborn’s blessing to Jacob through the younger son’s deception, Isaac, being pressed to offer something to his eldest, now sadly utters this blessing. As one reviews the various versions of this text, there appears to be two takes on the issue of where Esau will make his living. The New American Standard being quoted above and some others seem to be saying, Esau will have no success tilling the ground or growing vineyards and so implies that he would likely live in the dessert areas of the land. On the other hand, numerous other translations do not employ the phrase ‘away from’ but rather simply ‘of’. This in my opinion makes the translation very different as to how Esau and the Edomites that became his descendants were to live.

What there is no disagreement about, however, is that Esau and his descendants would indeed live by his ‘sword’. They may or may not prosper from the land, but they would not starve, as they would have the power to either hunt or take game from others.

The next phrase is the consequence of Jacob’s blessing. As Jacob is to rule, then Esau and his people have to serve. This submissiveness to Jacob will not last forever and there would come a time when Esau and his people would break away from the yoke of servant-hood that Jacob had placed around their neck. Whether Esau himself, as compared to his descendants, had to actually or physically serve Jacob or not remains for us to discover further on in scripture. In addition, learning just when that yoke was to be broken will have to wait.

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