We recently read about the story of Jacob and Esau (according to the traditional Jewish public weekly reading of the Bible). You remember it...they are twins, Esau comes out first, thus he is the "first-born." According to the rules of the time, as first-born he was destined to get his father's "blessing." The father in this case was Isaac, who you remember only narrowly escaped death at hands of his father Abraham (by the cry of an angel). Now remember that Jacob gets his brother Esau to formally trade his birthright for a plate of bean stew (I ate that tonight, partly as a remembrance). We are not told if Isaac knows Esau has traded his blessing for dinner...from the text it seems not.
Now comes the part we read this past week. I am focusing in on Genesis 27, the climax of the birthright story, when the near blind Isaac has deigned it time to actually pass on the blessing...remember what happens? Its a start-up style operation. Rebbecca, the active board member, pushes Jacob, the CEO-in-the-making (he will go on to lead the Jewish people), into action. Isaac is his father, but Jacob still feels inferior...how can he, a start-up, challenge thousands of years of tradition? What's more so, Jacob tells his mother (who is also the mother of Esau...what a family), that Isaac will not give him the blessing, because he will feel him, will know he is bluffing, and he will be exposed. Rebbecca tells him, don't worry, trust me, "On me is your curse, my son. Only hearken to my voice and go..." Sounds like a board chair saying, go for it, we will back you up.
Then Rebbecca dresses up Jacob to look and "feel" the part: "And Rebbecca took the costly garments of Esau, her elder son, which were with her in the house, and she dressed Jacob, her younger son"
Now Jacob can approach Isaac, and tells him that yes, he is Esau. And Isaac blesses him (with the "stolen" blessing). What a sweet story...NOT! What happens when the real Esau shows up? Let me quote the whole exchange, I can never read it too many times, just so heartbreaking:
32. And his father Isaac said to him, "Who are you?" And he said, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau."33. And Isaac shuddered a great shudder, and he said, "Who then is the one who hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate of everything while you had not yet come, and I blessed him? He, too, shall be blessed."34. When Esau heard his father's words, he cried out a great and bitter cry, and he said to his father, "Bless me too, O my father!"35. And he said, "Your brother came with cunning and took your blessing."36. And he said, "Is it for this reason that he was named Jacob? For he has deceived me twice; he took my birthright, and behold, now he has taken my blessing." And he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?"37. And Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Behold, I made him a master over you, and I gave him all his brothers as servants, and I have sustained him with corn and wine; so for you then, what shall I do, my son?"38. And Esau said to his father, "Have you [but] one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father." And Esau raised his voice and wept.39. And his father Isaac answered and said to him, "Behold, your dwelling place shall be the fat places of the earth and of the dew of the heaven from above.40. And you shall live by your sword, and you shall serve your brother, and it will be, when you grieve, that you will break his yoke off your neck."41. And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing that his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, "Let the days of mourning for my father draw near, I will then kill my brother Jacob. "