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““Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.””  Gen. 27:3-4

We are aware from Genesis 25:28 that Isaac favors Esau over Jacob because Isaac loved the taste of game, and appeared to take pride in his son’s ability to hunt skillfully.  So now Isaac charges Esau to hunt him some food to prepare.

Often the original Hebrew contains words with implications, and sometimes these come through in modern translations, other times they do not.  For example in this passage, Isaac instructs Esau to “hunt game for me”, but some English translations specify to hunt “wild game”, or I’ve also seen “hunt me some hunted game”.  This may sound repetitive, but some rabbis understand this to mean that Isaac was not completely trustful of Esau, and he was being specific to warn Esau that whatever he brought him should be an animal with no owner, to eliminate the possibility Esau may steal someone’s animals if his hunt was  not successful.

It is worth noting that when Jacob, pretending to be Esau, came in with food prepared, Isaac asked him “How do you have it so quickly, my son?” (v. 20)  He may well have been concerned that Esau was bringing stolen food.

Interestingly, Jacob’s answer practically gives away his identity, as Jacob says that “God caused it to happen”.  Jacob was known as the son who cared for the things of God – this would not have been part of Esau’s everyday speech.

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“Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”  Gen. 25:28

Favoritism of a child by the father is a running motif in the the book of Genesis.  Here we see that Isaac loves Esau.  Looking back to Abraham, it appears he favored Ishmael (Gen. 17:18 “Oh that Ishmael may live before you!” and Gen. 21:11 where Abraham did not want to send Hagar and Ishmael away, “on account of his son”).  Even going back as far as Cain and Abel, God had regard for Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s.  Not that God was necessarily being partial, but it was perceived that way by Cain.   Looking forward we see Joseph with his coat of many colors.

In the original Hebrew it is not clear as to who had a “taste for game”, it may have been Esau.  Another rendering may be ” he had a taste for trappings in his mouth”.  Thus, because Esau liked to hunt and Isaac liked to eat it, Esau was the favorite in his eyes.

We must note the Hebrew play on words in the phrase “a taste for trappings in his mouth.” which may indicate deceitful words of Esau that were pleasing to Isaac’s ears.  There are rabbinical stories about Esau pretending to be pious to his father.

 

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