1 ¶ And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I. 2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death: 3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; 4 And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die. 5 And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.
Isaac was growing blind as he grew old. His eyes were dim. Later, a prophet’s eyes will be said to be set because of age.
1Kings 14:4 And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age.
Here is an important point to consider. God’s people, even His chosen patriarchs and prophets, will suffer the pains of old age and the suffering that comes with it. They are not exempt from bodily decay and loss. Many conservative Christians seem to be shocked when they suffer the difficulties of old age, as if they should be exempt, as if they had made a bargain which wasn’t kept by the other party. They often live lives of excess with food, in particular, enjoying the sin of gluttony, no different than the unsaved drunk enjoying the excesses of alcohol, and when it is time to pay the bill for their incontinent lifestyle they find themselves flabbergasted at their distress.
Solomon commented on old age in very poetic terms.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 ¶ Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Isaac feels his death is imminent and tells Esau to bring him some venison and then he will bless Esau. Esau has already expressed his willingness to give up his birthright for a bowl of soup. There is no reason to believe that Isaac is even aware of it or that such a thing would be legal and binding except as a justification for what Jacob and his mother are about to do. The blessing he wishes to give Esau is the blessing to the eldest son and the birthright and continuation of the lineage will flow from that. But, Esau’s surrender of his birthright to Jacob, even if not a legal and binding contract in that culture, certainly gave Jacob the justification he needed, along with his mother’s support and encouragement, to steal Esau’s blessing as well. If it was a legal and binding statement that guaranteed on its face that Esau lost his birthright Isaac would have been told. What matters is what the person giving the blessing wants. You, if you are born again, will have eternal life because of God’s free gift, His blessing on you, not because of your fidelity and worthiness after you trust Him and become His child.
Please read chapters 48 and 49 for Jacob’s blessings to his sons and grandsons. They took blessings very seriously and once bestowed a blessing could not be removed.
We find it odd and perhaps a little crazy that a man of honor would bind himself to an agreement that he made regardless of the fidelity of the other party or if he had been deceived in any way.
This is one aspect of a gentleman that is lost on today’s world. As God made an agreement with Himself regarding Abraham in chapter 15, so a gentleman honors any commitment he makes based on the truth of his own word and not the faithfulness of the other party. No doubt, no one teaches their children that sense of responsibility any more. But a blessing was very important in this world as an expression of the giver’s mind towards the receiver and God’s will.
Rebekah was listening.