Why couldn't Isaac take back his blessing and give it to Esau?



  1. Why couldn't Isaac take back his own blessing, and correctly give it to Esau?
  2. Exactly what was the blessing that Isaac gave?


"And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: "Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed. Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!" (Genesis 27:27-29).

Blessings in the days of the patriarchs were more than just well-wishing. They were a form of prophecy. For example, Jacob's blessings on his sons not only stated what would happen to their descendents, but also stated from which son the Messiah would descend.

The blessings through Abraham's descendents were particularly important because they were the indications from God who was to be the focus of the promises made to Abraham. Before the birth of his twin sons, Isaac was told in a prophecy who was to receive the blessing. "And the LORD said to her: "Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger"" (Genesis 25:23). Isaac took it into his head that he would rather have Esau receive the blessing. And notice that in stating "Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you" to whom he thought was Esau, he was going directly against what God stated before their births.

To get himself in the proper frame of mind, he wanted Esau to prepare his favorite meal. He was revving himself up to go against what he knew he should do. Unknown to him, Rebekah substituted Jacob instead. Though we frown on the deception, remember that from Rebekah's point of view, she was keeping her husband from going against God. The result was that despite his intentions, Isaac confirmed in his blessing what God stated would be true. That is why Isaac reaction was so strong, "Then Isaac trembled exceedingly ..." (Genesis 27:33). Isaac realized the reality of the situation, God kept him from giving the blessing to the wrong person.

I suspect that even if Isaac had tried to give the blessing to Esau, it would not come out as he intended, just like Baalam in his attempts to curse Israel.

This is why when Esau begged to be given a blessing too, Isaac refused. "Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?" (Genesis 27:37). Isaac understood that the blessing was also a prophecy and could not be changed.

Isaac did give Esau a blessing, but again as a prophecy it wasn't what Esau had hoped to get. "Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: "Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; and it shall come to pass, when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck"" (Genesis 27:39-40).

One moral derived from these events is that God always gets His way. "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:20-21).