Isaac, who was now old and advanced in years, awoke one morning and discovered that his eyes were dim with age. He cried, “My strength has left me, I must be at the point of death!” He called to his wife Rebekah and said, “Bring me Esau, the son that I favor, the one who hunts. Bring him to my side.” Rebekah did as she was told and brought Esau to Isaac’s bed.
Isaac turned toward his Esau and thought to himself, “My strength is no more. Let me bless Esau, my special one, who has a taste for game, who has the strength of his ancestors. Better he continue my line than Jacob.” He called to Esau, “My son.” who responded, “Here I am.” Isaac said, “I am old now, and I do not know how soon I may die. Take your quiver and bow, and go out into the open and hunt me some game. Then prepare a dish for me such as I like and bring it to me to eat, so I may give you my innermost blessing before I die.”
Esau did as his father Isaac commanded. Soon after Esau left, Isaac’s other son, Jacob, walked into Isaac’s room and knelt beside his bed. “Father,” he said. Hearing Jacob’s voice but finding it difficult to make out his face he answered, “Yes, which one of my sons are you?” His son responded, “I am Esau, your first-born; I have done as you told me. Pray sit up and eat of my game, that you may give me your innermost blessing.” Isaac pondered to himself, “How is it my son finished so quickly? Why does he have the voice of his brother. Has the Lord robbed me of my hearing as well as my sight?” Evidencing his suspicions, Isaac questioned his son in a wary manner. “How did you succeed so quickly, my son?” Isaac asked. Jacob answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me good fortune.” Isaac thought to himself, “Esau does not mention the name of You, the Lord, customarily. Yet, the son before me does. Is he Jacob, not Esau? Let me probe him further and see.”
Isaac said to Jacob, “Come closer that I may feel you, my son?whether you are really my son Esau or not.” He felt his son and his hands met the fur of an animal. He tasted the meal his son had brought before him and his unseeing eyes grew wide as he realized, “The touch of fur, my wife’s cooking, the voice of Jacob! What trickery is this? Robbed of my senses, I am weak! Do You, Lord God, favor this boy? You must! Do I dare go against this deceit You, the Lord God sanction? Do I bless this woman’s son and not the one I have chosen? Do I dare risking kindling Your wrath if I do not? Rebekah will answer for this, for I dare not risk angering You.” So Isaac blessed his son as he feared Lord God’s wrath and sent him on his way.
When his son Esau later entered the room, Isaac cried out and told Esau that his brother Jacob had received the blessing intended for Esau. Isaac dared not condone any violence by Esau against Jacob, the Lord’s favored one. So Isaac’s sons left his company, one in anger and the other in fear of reprisal by his brother, and Isaac knew no more joy. All he knew thereon was the Lord and his wife and to both he would not speak any further.
* * * *
“Bring me Esau, the son that I favor, the one who hunts. Bring him to my side,” Isaac said to his wife. His wife did as she was told, but thought, “He means to bless Esau, the one who he favors, yet is Jacob not better fit to continue his line? Let me hear this conversation so I can do what I must.” She left the door ajar and listened. Once she had heard her husband’s words she muttered so that no one could hear, “Were they not born practically simultaneously? Does Jacob not now hold the birthright? Why should this bear of a man have a blessing bestowed on him when the Lord so clearly favors his brother?” She went to Jacob and they plotted together. As the wife left to make the meal for her husband, she mused, “It is no small wonder Jacob was born after Esau. He has the mind of a woman, he works with his wits and schemes, not through strength like his brother and father.”
She prepared the meal as her husband liked and waited in the shadows as her husband gave Jacob his blessing. She said under her breath, “It is good that the Lord God favors Jacob, lest I would fear to provoke his wrath; he has no favor for the likes of me!” Consequently, Jacob was blessed and Esau was supplanted by his brother. Upon seeing Esau’s rage, the wife feared for her son and sent him away. “The Lord may continue to watch him away from the presence of his brutish brother,” she reasoned. Jacob left, and she remained with her husband to see many more years pass among her flock and neighbors. She was alone.
* * * *
Jacob was Isaac’s second son. He did not have Esau’s hunting prowess nor was he his father’s pride. Instead, Jacob found solace with his mother and was skilled in the ways of wit and shrewdness. He had gained his brother’s birthright and yet he remained second in his father’s gaze. When his father had seen one hundred and fifty three years and his eyes were dim from seeing, Jacob and his mother conspired to gain his father’s blessing. Jacob knew the Lord favored him and his father, though Jacob and the Lord had yet to speak with one another. He hoped that it would please the Lord to see two of his favored ones linked by blessing. He entered his father’s quarters wary, but hopeful.
He did as the old man had asked his son. At one moment, Jacob feared his words had betrayed him as saw his father’s eyes grow wide. But the moment passed. He received his father’s blessing and yet, Jacob saw no pride in the man’s unseeing eyes. Jacob took his leave as his brother cast his large shadow on his father’s door. Jacob had received his father’s blessing but he received no comfort or peace from it. Jacob left his home to avoid his brother’s rage. He hoped he would find success and solace in a distant land, waiting for the moment when he would speak to the Lord at last. And so Jacob traveled, and continued to hope, waiting in vain, until the day the old man died.
* * * *
Esau had a taste for game. So said his father, Isaac. Esau prided himself on his hunting prowess and spent his days in the woods hunting game and pleasing his father; he avoided the shadow of the Lord. When Isaac was old and his eyes clouded with years, Esau came to his bedside. His father instructed him, “Take your quiver and bow, and go out into the open and hunt me some game. Then prepare a dish for me such as I like and bring it to me to eat, so I may give you my innermost blessing before I die.” Pitying his father’s weakness and eager to please, Esau set forth to complete the task. He killed, and prepared a dish such that his father liked. Upon returning home, Esau discovered that his brother Jacob, to whom he sold his birthright, had supplanted him and taken his father’s blessing. Esau thought, “Once again, my brother has removed a burden from my shoulders. No longer am I bound to serving the God of my father and his before him, no longer must I bear the responsibility of leading our line. But best let my true feelings be concealed. Better to show my father mummer’s tears than let down the man I have worked so hard to please.” Esau’s facade convinced all, and he left to hunt and marry and live out the rest of his days in freedom and joy.
Age 14, Grade 9
The Dalton School