Page images

might make supplication to God to be to him a sup- bestow. Make him terrible to his enemies, and porter, and an assister, during the old time of his honourable and beloved among his friends." life: saying, that it was uncertain when he should Thus did Isaac pray to God, thinking his prayers die, and that he was desirous, by his prayers for had been made for Esau. He had but just finished him, to procure, beforehand, God to be merciful to them, however, when Esau came in from hunting ; him.

and when Isaac perceived his mistake, he was silent. Accordingly Esau went out a-hunting. But Re- Esau earnestly requested that he might be made beka* thinking it proper to have the supplication partaker of the blessing which his brother had remade for obtaining the favour of God to Jacob, and ceived, but his father refused, because all his prayers that without the consent of Isaac, bade him kill kids had been spent upon Jacob. So Esau lamented the of the goats, and prepare a supper. Jacob obeyed mistake; however, his father being grieved at his his mother, according to all her instructions, and weeping, said, that “ He should excel in hunting, in when the supper was ready, he took a goat's skin, arms, in strength of body; and should obtain glory and put it about his arm, that by reason of its for ever on those accounts, he, and his posterity hairy roughness, his father might believe him to be after him ; but still should serve his brother.” Esau ; for they being twins, and in all things else Now the mother delivered Jacob, when he was alike, differed only in this thing. This was done afraid that his brother would inflict some punishout of his fear, that before Isaac had made his sup- ment upon him because of the mistake about the plications, he should be caught in his evil practice, prayers of Isaac: for she persuaded her husband and thereby provoke his father to curse him. So he to take a wife for Jacob out of Mesopotamia,t of brought in the supper to his father. Isaac perceiv- her own kindred. Esau having already married ing, by the peculiarity of his voice, who he was, Basemmath, the daughter of Ishmael, without his called his son to him; who gave him his hand, father's consent: for Isaac, not liking the Canaanwhich was covered with the goat's skin. When ites, disapproved of Esau's former marriage, which Isaac felt that, he said, “ Thy voice is like the voice made him take Basemmath to wife, in order to of Jacob; yet because of the thickness of thy hair, please him; and indeed he had a great affection for thou seemest to be Esau.” So suspecting no deceit, her, he ate the supper, and offered up his prayers and intercession to God, and said, “ O Lord of all ages,

CHAP. XIX. and creator of all substance, it was thou that didst propose to my father great plenty of good things, and hast vouchsafed to bestow on me what I have; Now Jacob was sent by his mother into Mesopoand hast promised to my posterity to be their kind tamia, in order to marry her brother Laban's daughsupporter, and to bestow on them still greater bļess- ter, (which marriage was permitted by Isaac, on ings. Do thou therefore confirm these thy promi- account of his obsequiousness to the desires of his ses, and do not overlook me because of my present wife,) and he accordingly journeyed through the weak condition, on account of which I more earn- land of Canaan; and because he hated the people estly pray to thee. Be gracious to this my son, of that country, he would not lodge with any of preserve him, and keep him from every thing that them, but took up his lodging in the open air, and is evil. Give bim a happy life, and the possession laid his head on a heap of stones that he had gathof as many good things as thy power is able to ered together.f Having fallen asleep, he dreamed



* Whether Jacob or his mother Rebeka were most blamable reading, renders Isaac's procedure the more inexcusable. Nor in this imposition upon Isaac in his old age, I cannot determine. was it probable that any thing else so much encouraged Esau However, the blessings being delivered as a prediction of future formerly to marry two Canaanitish wives, without his parents' events, by a divine impulse, and according to what Rebeka consent, as Isaac's unhappy fondness for him. knew to be the purpose of God, when he answered her inquiry, N. B. Upon this occasion it may be necessary to caution the before the children were born, Gen. xxv. 23, that one people reader against a common prejudice of the moderns; as if the should be stronger than the other; and that the elder, Esau, bare relation of what we should esteem the faults and blemishes should serve the younger, Jacob. Whether Isaac knew, or re- of the patriarchs, and other very good men in the scripture, membered this oracle, delivered, in our copies, only to Rebeka; implied a justification of them. The scripture affords us faithful or whether if he knew or remembered it, he did not endeavour accounts of the great men with whom it is concerned ; and reto alter the divine determination, out of his fondness for his lates their vices and follies as impartially as their good and elder son, Esau, to the damage of his younger son, Jacob; as wise actions; yet it does not always characterize those actions, Josephus supposes, II. 7, I certainly cannot say. If so, this but frequently leaves them to the readers' own judgment and might tempt Rebeka to contrive, and Jacob to practise, this censure; to their imitation of the good, and avoidance of the imposition upon him. However, Josephus says here, that it bad. was Isaac, and not Rebeka, who inquired of God at first, and † Gen. xxvii. 46. received the forementioned oracle ; which, if it be the true * Gen. xxviii. 11.

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »