Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
gen 27:1Here is Isaac's design to declare Esau his heir. The promise of the Messiah and the land of Canaan was a great trust first committed to Abraham, inclusive and typical of spiritual and eternal blessings; this by divine direction he transmitted to Isaac. Isaac being now old, and either not knowing, or not duly considering the divine oracle concerning his two sons, that the elder should serve the younger, resolves to entail all the honour and power that was wrapt up in the promise upon Esau, his eldest son. He called Esau - Tho' Esau, had greatly grieved his parents by his marriage, yet they had not expelled him, but it seems were pretty well reconciled to him.
gen 27:2I am old, and know not the day of my death - How soon I may die.
gen 27:3Take me some venison that I may; bless thee - Esau must go a hunting and bring some venison. In this he designed not so much the refreshment of his own spirits, as the receiving a fresh instance of his son's, filial duty and affection to him, before he bestowed this favour upon him. That my soul may bless thee before I die - Prayer is the work of the soul, and not of the lips only; as the soul must be employed in blessing God, Psa 103:1, so it must be in blessing ourselves and others: the blessing will not go to the heart, if it do not come from the heart.
gen 27:6Rebekah is here contriving to procure the blessing for Jacob, which was designed for Esau. If the end was good, the means were bad, and no way justifiable. If it were not a wrong to Esau to deprive him of the blessing, he himself having forfeited it by selling the birth right, yet it was a wrong to Isaac, taking advantage of his infirmity, to impose upon him: it was a wrong to Jacob, whom she taught to deceive, by putting a lie in his mouth. If Rebekah, when she heard Isaac promise the blessing to Esau, had gone to him, and with humility and seriousness put him in remembrance of that which God had said concerning their sons; if she had farther shewed him how Esau had forfeited the blessing, both by selling his birth - right, and by marrying of strange wives; 'tis probable Isaac would have been prevailed with to confer the blessing upon Jacob, and needed not thus to have been cheated into it. This had been honourable and laudable, and would have looked well in history; but God left her to herself to take this indirect course, that he might have the glory of bringing good out of evil.
gen 27:19And Jacob said, I am Esau - Who would have thought this plain man could have played such a part? His mother having put him in the way of it, he applies himself to those methods which he had never accustomed himself to, but had always conceived an abhorrence of. But lying is soon learned. I wonder how honest Jacob could so readily turn his tongue to say, I am Esau thy first - born: and when his father asked him, Gen 27:24. Art thou my very son Esau? to reply I am. How could he say, I have done as thou badst me, when he had received no command from his father, but was doing as his mother bid him? How could he say, Eat of my venison, when he knew it came not from the field, but from the fold? But especially I wonder how he could have the forehead to father it upon God, and to use his name in the cheat.
gen 27:20The Lord thy God brought it to me - Is this Jacob? It is certainly written not for our imitation, but our admonition, Let him that, standeth, take heed lest he fall. Now let us see how Isaac gave Jacob his blessing.
gen 27:27He kissed him; in token of particular affection to him. Those that are blessed of God are kissed with the kisses of his mouth, and they do by love and loyalty kiss the son, Psa 2:12. 2. He praised him. Upon occasion of the sweet smell of his garments he said, See the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed - That is, like that of the most fragrant flowers and spices. Three things Jacob is here blessed with, Plenty, Gen 27:28. Heaven and earth concurring to make him rich. Power, Gen 27:29. Particularly dominion over his brethren, viz. Esau and his posterity. Prevalency with God, and a great interest in heaven, Cursed be every one that curseth thee - Let God be a friend to all thy friends, and an enemy to all thine enemies. Now, certainly more is comprised in this blessing than appears at first; it must amount to an entail of the promise of the Messiah: that was in the patriarchal dialect the blessing; something spiritual doubtless is included in it. First, That from him should come the Messiah, that should have a sovereign dominion on earth. See Num 24:19. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, the star and scepter, Num 24:17. Jacob's dominion over Esau was to be only typical of this, Gen 49:10. Secondly, That from him should come the church that should be particularly owned and favoured by Heaven. It was part of the blessing of Abraham when he was first called to be the father of the faithful, Gen 12:3. I will bless them that bless thee; therefore when Isaac afterwards confirmed the blessing to Jacob, he called it the blessing of Abraham, Gen 28:4.
gen 27:33Isaac trembled exceedingly - Those that follow the choice of their own affections rather than the dictates of the Divine will, involve themselves in such perplexities as these. But he soon recovers himself, and ratifies the blessing he had given to Jacob, I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed - He might have recalled it, but now at last he is sensible he was in an error when he designed it for Esau. Either recollecting the Divine oracle, or having found himself more than ordinarily filled with the Holy Ghost when he gave the blessing to Jacob, he perceived that God did as it were say Amen to it.
gen 27:39Esau likewise obtained a blessing: yet it was far short of Jacob's. In Jacob's blessing the dew of heaven is put first, as that which he most valued and desired: in Esau's the fatness of the earth is put first, for that was it which he had the principal regard to. Esau hath these, but Jacob hath them from God's hand. God give thee the dew of heaven, Gen 27:28. It was enough to have the possession, but Jacob desired it by promise. Jacob shall have dominion over his brethren, for the Israelites often ruled over the Edomites. Esau shall have dominion, he shall gain some power, but shall never have dominion over his brother: we never find that the Jews were sold into the hands of the Edomites, or that they oppressed them. But the great difference is, that there is nothing in Esau's blessing that points at Christ, nothing that brings either him or his into the church, and without that the fatness of the earth, and the plunder of the field, will stand him in little stead. Thus Isaac by faith blessed them both, according as their lot should be.
gen 27:45Why should I be deprived of you both? - Not only of the murdered, but of the murderer, who either by the magistrate, or by the immediate hand of God would be sacrificed to justice.
gen 27:46If Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth - As Esau has done. More artifice still. This was not the thing she was afraid of. But if we use guile once, we shall be very ready to use it again. It should be carefully observed, That altho' a blessing came on his posterity by Jacob's vile lying and dissimulation, yet it brought heavy affliction upon himself, and that for a long term of years. So severely did God punish him personally, for doing evil that good might come.