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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 27

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-46

Genesis 27:1. Isaac was old; in the hundred and thirty-seventh year of his age, the very year in which his brother Ishmael died. Jacob and Esau were also in their seventy-seventh year; but Isaac lived, though blind, about forty-two years after he had blessed Jacob.

Genesis 27:3. Take thy bow. Providence here seems to have given Jacob an opportunity in this mysterious transaction to obtain the blessing. God having promised Isaac the blessing, the reprehensible step was the means employed to obtain it.

Genesis 27:5. Rebekah heard. From the time that she had consulted the oracle she believed that Jacob was to inherit the princely benediction. But Isaac having from the birth of those twins, designed the blessing for Esau, she suddenly formed this tragic plot for Jacob to obtain it. It was an officious and distrustful plot, it being the work of God to demonstrate his fidelity to his promises. Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob, yet Joseph had the blessing, and Judah had the sceptre. God is the sovereign, as well as the ever faithful God. May he not do what he will with his own?

Genesis 27:7. Bless thee. The patriarchs were accustomed before death to bless their children, and their priests were enjoined to bless the people. So our Saviour stretched forth his hands, and blessed the apostles before his ascension.

Genesis 27:12. A curse. Jacob wisely feared the malediction of Ham. The judgments of God on one man should make others afraid to sin.

Genesis 27:15. Goodly raiment. The raiment, it is thought, in which the firstborn officiated at sacrifice, and which was kept by Rebekah, not by Esau’s wives. The raiment worn by men in the primitive ages was generally weather-worn, and much decayed.

Genesis 27:19. I am Esau thy firstborn. Two other deceptions follow: I have done as thou didst bid me! Eat of my venison! Origen, strom, 6. has said what may tend to diminish the errors of this plot, that John the baptist is called Elias; that the angel in Tobit is called Azarias; and that the princely blessing was promised to Jacob, The elder shall serve the younger. These changes of name, it is replied, being mere figures of speech, leave the deception in all its glare of turpitude. It was a finesse, a distrust of providence; for God who overruled Jacob to cross his hands in blessing the two sons of Joseph, could by means known to himself have secured the blessing to Jacob.

Genesis 27:23. He discerned him not. The holy prophets, and the holy apostles were sometimes for a moment deceived, notwithstanding their high endowments; Jesus Christ alone being omniscient, and having in all things the preëminence.

Genesis 27:27. The smell of a field. ‘ Αρου πληρους , a full field; that is, a field in full bloom. So is the Samaritan Pentateuch.

Genesis 27:28. God give thee. This benediction consists of five parts, including every spiritual and temporal blessing of the covenant; these are in substance the same as those which God sware to confer on Abraham’s seed after the oblation of Isaac.

Genesis 27:29. Let people serve thee. This blessing is not restricted to the sovereignty of the kings of Judah over a few surrounding nations, but extends to all the nations to be converted to the Messiah. The eyes and hearts, of all the prophets were lost and swallowed up in the glory of Christ.

Genesis 27:38. Hast thou but one blessing. היא hi, sometimes found in the feminine ipsa, that, is here not rendered. It is omitted altogether in many other versions, though the key-word to the anguish of Esau’s heart. “Hast thou but that one blessing, oh my father!” Ah! that one blessing, the princely sovereignty. To this Jacob pointedly replies, I have made him thy Lord! Isaac, conscious that the Spirit had accompanied his words, adds but the secondary benedictions, which were confirmed to him as patriarch and prince in Mount Seir.

Genesis 27:40. Thou shalt serve thy brother. These words refer to Esau’s posterity, often made tributary to the house of David, and as often “broke off their yoke.” But for their wickedness they, and other small states, were denationalized, and their mountains laid waste for the dragons of the wilderness by the Assyrian conquests. And thus the prophecies of Obadiah were fulfilled. “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob, shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.” Genesis 27:10-18. 1 Kings 22:47. 2 Kings 8:20.

Genesis 27:41 . Then will I kill my brother Jacob. Family crimes are double crimes, because they violate the tenderest ties of nature; but revenge, and revenge without measure, completes the calamity, and plunges the injured in greater guilt than the first offender.

Genesis 27:45. Both in one day. Rebekah, through an eagerness to come prematurely at the promised blessing, had contrived a cluster of untruths, and now she eats the bitter fruits of her own doings. Had she come once more and told Isaac God’s revealed will, no doubt he would have hearkened at last; for the Spirit of God, as was really the case, would have overruled the purposes of his heart.


How short is the life of man, how soon the long age of the patriarchs expired! Our age in comparison of theirs, will expire at noon. It is high time to think of dying, and of settling our affairs, that we may give up ourselves to God.

But oh, the quarrels of brothers concerning their rights of precedence and property have too often imbittered the last moments of an aged saint. Let parents avoid as much as possible all partiality in their affections, and do their best for the concord of their children; and let children do all they can to procure the good esteem and blessing of their parents; for a parent’s blessing is to be regarded as next to God’s favour.

In all families where wrongs have happened, and where grievances are unredressed, let no one, like Esau, think of revenge, but think rather of his own sins and personal unworthiness. Revenge makes a calamity double, and perpetuates its memory to the latest generation. Revenge invades the rights of God, who alone is best acquainted with the proper measure, and happiest occasions of corrections for sin.

In Esau’s bitter and unavailing tears, all sinners may see the sad fruits of selling their birthright for the sinful pleasures of the age, and the awful situation in which they will be found when they come to die. In vain shall they cry and weep with the bitterest tears; in vain shall they begin to stand without and knock, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. The period of mercy will be past, and God will not reverse the sentence pronounced in his word.

Did Jacob’s exile work for his good by enabling him to marry in the Lord, and to become established as a patriarch in the earth? Then let no man be discouraged though he suffer afflictions, or visitations of his sins. God will hear the tears of true repentance, and direct the afflicted in the way he ought to go. Above all things let us learn never to serve God by unlawful means: doing evil that good may come is expressly forbidden by the Lord, and shame will be the consequence.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 27". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/genesis-27.html. 1835.
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