Esau’s Evil Ways

Although Jacob had gone to the academy of Shem and Eber to study the teachings of G‑d, Esau refused to do anything of the sort. He led his life in his own way, and became more estranged from his father’s teachings. Yet, he honored his father and tried to appear an obedient and loving son, ready to comply with his father’s every wish, as long as it did not involve him in studying and learning. Isaac could not and did not see Esau’s G‑dless behavior, for his eyes were dim with age, and he was confined to his tent.

Rebekah, however, saw everything. She observed the quiet and pleasing ways of Jacob, and watched with alarm the true nature of her first-born son Esau. For her there could be no doubt as to which of her children had chosen the right way.

After the death of Shem, Jacob returned to his father’s house, and Esau, too, came home from Seir. Isaac had grown old and weak and felt that the time had come for him to give his sons his last blessings.

Still believing that he could entrust Esau with the task of carrying on Abraham’s tradition, Isaac told Esau to hunt some deer meat, prepare a meal for him, and receive his blessings. Gladly, Esau took his bow and quiver and went out into the field.

Rebekah’s Ploy

Rebekah had heard what her husband told  Esau, and in a moment her resolve was taken. Esau should not receive the blessing which, as she believed, belonged even from his birth to her younger and wiser son. She went to Jacob, and hastily related to him what she had heard, and then she suggested to him that he prepare some meat and bring it to his father in the disguise of his brother Esau. Jacob was reluctant to trick his father, even though he knew his mother was right. But Rebekah ordered him to do as she said, taking full responsibility for the act.

Jacob did not dare to refuse his mother, and so he fetched two tender kids from the flock, and Rebekah prepared them so that they tasted like deer meat. Then she dressed her younger son in the festive garments of Esau, and to render the resemblance perfect, she covered his smooth neck and hands with the skins of the kids. She then put the meal into his hands and sent him to his father.

The Blessing

Isaac wondered at his son’s early return, and at his soft-spoken and pious address. Feeling Jacob’s arms and neck, Isaac exclaimed: “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau!” Isaac ate of the meat Jacob brought him. Then he blessed his son with the words: “And may the Lord give you of the dew of the heavens and [of] the fatness of the earth and an abundance of corn and wine. Nations shall serve you and kingdoms shall bow down to you; you shall be a master over your brothers, and your mother's sons shall bow down to you. Those who curse you shall be cursed, and those who bless you shall be blessed!”

Esau Returns

Hardly had Jacob left Isaac, when Esau returned from the hunt. He prepared the deer meat and brought it to his father. He soon learned what had happened in the meantime, and cried with anger and disappointment. Isaac blessed him too, giving him the right to throw off the yoke of his brother whenever his brother strayed from the path of G‑d. But Esau hated Jacob, and Jacob evaded the rage of his brother by returning to Eber to study under his care.