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tained in Gerar by a divine command, his wants are soon supplied; for he sowed the ground that same year and received a hundred fold. verse 12.
The prosperity of the patriarch had, with the Philistines, its usual effect. They envied him. A further result was, that they sought to injure him by filling with earth the wells that Abraham had digged while residing in that land, and to which Isaac had a just claim. Isaac, therefore, by request of Abimelech, left that neighborhood, and dwelt in the "valley of Gerar," a place that must have been, from the circumstances, not far from his former residence.
526. It is worthy of notice, that what is said in verse 18th, properly belongs with verse 15th, and should have succeeded it. The wells that were filled up, and that were dug anew, were not in the valley of Gerar; but they were in the former locality, from which Isaac had now removed. Hence, it is added, that now Isaac's servants digged in the "valley," that is, the "valley of Gerar," his new residence. But envy follows the patriarch hither; and a strife arises about this well. Another
is dug with the same result. Isaac now removes still farther away, and digs another, about which there is no strife. The names given to these wells are made to correspond with the circumstances; for Esek and Sitnah mean enmity and strife; and the last, which was not the occasion of contention, was called Rehoboth, signifying plenty of room.
SECTION IV. REMOVAL TO BEERSHEBA.
23. T And he went up from thence to Beersheba.
24. And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father; fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake.
25. And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of
the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well.
26. T Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army.
27. And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye bate me, and have sent me away from you?
28. And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;
29. That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD.
30. And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink.
31. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.
32. And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water.
33. And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.
527. From the well Rehoboth, Isaac removes to another place, which was afterwards called Beersheba, though this removal does not seem, like the former, to have been occasioned by the hostility of the Philistine herdsmen. The circumstance that gave name to the place is here recorded, and recorded on this account, more than because it possessed any other importance. Abimelech, seeing the prosperity of Isaac, thought best to enter into an arrangement with him for mutual protection, to which the patriarch was not averse: and the oath that passed between them, gave name to a well that was being dug near the place. It was called Beersheba, or well of the oath; and from that the name was given to the surrounding country. The expression of Abimelech that he and his people "had done Isaac nothing but good and had sent him away in peace," must be referred to a former occasion and not to more recent occurrences.
SECTION V. ISAAC'S BLESSING.
1. And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: And he said unto him, Behold, here am I.
2. And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:
3. Now therefore take, pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;
4. And make me savory meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat: that my soul may bless thee before I die.
5. And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.
6. T And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying,
7. Bring me venison, and make
me savory meat; that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death.
8. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice, according to that which I command thee:
9. Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savory meat for thy father, such as he loveth;
10. And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.
11. And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man;
12. My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.
13. And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son; only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.
14. And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savory meat, such as his father loved.
15. And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son;
16. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck.
17. And she gave the savory meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
18. And he came unto his father, and said, My father: And he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son? 19. And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy first-born; have done according as thou badest me: arise, pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.
20. And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said,
Because the LORD thy God brought it to me.
21. And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.
22. And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, the voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.
23. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him.
24. And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am.
25. And he said, Bring it near to me, aud I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat and he brought him wine, and he drank.
26. And his father Isaac said unto him; Come near now, and kiss me, my son.
27. And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed :
28. Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:
29. Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.
30. And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.
31. And he also had made sav ory meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of
his son's venison, that thy soul blessing. may bless me.
32. And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy first born, Esau.
33. And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and
he shall be blessed.
34. And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.
35. And he said, Thy brother came with subtility, and hath taken away thy blessing.
36. And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and behold, now he hath taken away my
And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?
37. And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?
38. And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.
39. And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above:
40. And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou, shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.
528. It is obvious, in the first place, that very great weight was attached to the dying blessing that a father might pronounce upon his sons. This will account for
two things, in this narrative, that might not otherwise be so obviously rational. One is, the anxiety of Rebekah that her favorite son should receive the blessing; and the other is, the exceeding grief of Esau when he found himself supplanted. It will not do to interpret this matter by our impressions, at the present day; for if we do, we shall surely be misled. Nor is it necessary to attach all.. the importance to the subject that they attached to it. We may rationally suppose that it was with them a mere superstition. This does not alter the case, as bearing upon a true and just interpretation.
529. Another difficulty deserves some attention. We find it difficult to understand how Isaac could be imposed upon as he was; but to obviate this objection, we must consider, first, that all the care in preparing Jacob for deceiving his father, that time and circumstances would permit, would not fail to be exercised, in view of the great issues that were at stake. But in the next place, it is ex
pressly said, that "Isaac was old and his eyes were dim, and he could not see;" and when it is considered that, in extreme old age, the hearing is apt to fail with the sight, we can the more easily understand how the deception could be made successful. The sight was wholly gone, the hearing was imperfect, and the feeling had been effectually guarded against. It appears from verse 27th, that Isaac was also misled by the odor of Jacob's garments; for it was only what he would expect of Esau, who, as he supposed, had just come from the field, and had prepared the wild meat for food. Indeed, this will illustrate a clause in that passage that might not otherwise be so well understood:- "The smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed." The smell of my son, is as the smell of one who has just returned from a prosperous hunt, and has been employed in preparing the game he has taken.
530. Again; we are not called upon to justify the course pursued by Rebekah or Jacob in this affair. No intimation is given in the book that the transaction was an innocent one. On the contrary Jacob felt that it was wrong and told his mother so. The only apology that occurs to us as in the least available, is, the one we have noticed in another place, viz., that the blessing sought for by Esau, was a part of the " birthright" which he had sold to Jacob, and which the latter could only obtain by stratagem. True, it had been announced to Rebekah that "the elder should serve the younger;" but this did not excuse the deception. Doubtless her partiality for Jacob was the only motive by which she was influenced.
531. The nature of what is called a "blessing," in this passage, is a topic that ought to receive a few moment's attention. Was the blessing a divine impulse, indicating what would take place in the future, or was it a fervent prayer of the patriarch, indicating what he wished might take place? We take the latter view, and there are many other references that will sustain this opinion. When Isaac sent Jacob away from him, xxviii. 1, it is said that he blessed him, meaning obviously that he expressed his good wishes for his prosperity and happiness. So Laban, when about to part from his friends, xxxi. 55, kissed his