(Calvin, Genesis 2. part 6)

Meanwhile, let it suffice to adhere to this principle, that the holy 
man, when he implores a prosperous course of life for his son, wishes 
that God, in whose paternal favour stands our solid and eternal 
happiness, may be propitious to him. 
  29. "Cursed be every one that curseth thee." What I have before said 
must be remembered, namely, that these are not bare wishes, such as 
fathers are wont to utter on behalf of their children, but that promises 
of God are included in them; for Isaac is the authorized interpreter of 
God, and the instrument employed by the Holy Spirit; and therefore, as 
in the person of God, he efficaciously pronounces those accursed who 
shall oppose the welfare of his son. This then is the confirmation of 
the promise, by which God, when he receives the faithful under his 
protection, declares that he will be an enemy to their enemies. The 
whole force of the benediction turns to this point, that God will prove 
himself to be a kind father to his servant Jacob in all things, so that 
he will constitute him the chief and the head of a holy and elect 

people, will preserve and defend him by his power, and will secure his 
salvation in the face of enemies of every kind. 
  30. "Jacob was yet scarce gone out." Here is added the manner in which 
Esau was repulsed, which circumstance availed not a little to confirm 
the benediction to Jacob: for if Esau had not been rejected, it might 
seem that he was not deprived of that honour which nature had given him: 
but now Isaac declares, that what he had done, in virtue of his 
patriarchal office, could not but be ratified. Here, truly, it again 
appears, that the primogeniture which Jacob obtained, at the expense of 
his brother, was made his by a free gift; for if we compare the works of 
both together, Esau obeys his father, brings him the produce of his 
hunting, prepares for his father the food obtained by his own labour, 
and speaks nothing but the truth: in short, we find nothing in him which 
is not worthy of praise. Jacob never leaves his home, substitutes a kid 
for venison, insinuates himself by many lies, brings nothing which would 
properly commend him, but in many things deserves reprehension. Hence it 
must be acknowledged, that the cause of this event is not to be traced 
to works, but that it lies hid in the eternal counsel of God. Yet Esau 
is not unjustly reprobated, because they who are not governed by the 
Spirit of God can receive nothing with a right mind; only let it be 
firmly maintained, that since the condition of all is equal, if any one 
is preferred to another, it is not because of his own merit, but because 
the Lord has gratuitously elected him. 
  33. "And Isaac trembled very exceedingly." Here now again the faith 
which had been smothered in the breast of the holy man shines forth and 
emits fresh sparks; for there is no doubt that his fear springs from 
faith. Besides, it is no common fear which Moses describes, but that 
which utterly confounds the holy man: for, whereas he was perfectly 
conscious of his own vocation, and therefore was persuaded that the duty 
of naming the heir with whom he should deposit the covenant of eternal 
life was divinely enjoined upon him, he no sooner discovered his error 
than he was filled with fear, that in an affair so great and so serious 
God had suffered him to err; for unless he had thought that God was the 
director of this act, what should have hindered him from alleging his 
ignorance as an excuse, and from becoming enraged against Jacob, who had 
stolen in upon him by fraud and by unjustifiable arts? But although 
covered with shame on account of the error he had committed, he 
nevertheless, with a collected mind, ratifies the benediction which he 
had pronounced; and I do not doubt that he then, as one awaking, began 
to recall to memory the oracle to which he had not been sufficiently 
attentive. Wherefore, the holy man was not impelled by ambition to be 
thus tenacious of his purpose, as obstinate men are wont to be, who 
prosecute to the last what they have once, though foolishly, begun; but 
the declaration, "I have blessed him, yea, and he shall be blessed," was 
the effect of a rare and precious faith; for he, renouncing the 
affections of the flesh, now yields himself entirely to God, and, 
acknowledging God as the Author of the benediction which he had uttered, 
ascribes due glory to him in not daring to retract it. The benefit of 
this doctrine pertains to the whole Church, in order that we may 
certainly know, that whatever the heralds of the gospel promise to us by 
the command of God, will be efficacious and stable, because they do not 
speak as private men, but as by the command of God himself; and the 
infirmity of the minister does not destroy the faithfulness, power, and 
efficacy of God's word. He who presents himself to us charged with the 
offer of eternal happiness and life, is subject to our common miseries 
and to death; yet, notwithstanding, the promise is efficacious. He who 
absolves us from sins is himself a sinner; but because his office is 
divinely assigned him, the stability of this grace, having its 
foundation in God, shall never fail. 
  34. "He cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry." Though Esau 
persists in imploring the blessing, he yet gives a sign of desperation, 
which is the reason why he obtains no benefit, because he enters not by 
the gate of faith. True piety, indeed, draws forth tears and great cries 
from the children of God; but Esau, trembling and full of fears, breaks 
out in wailings; afterwards he casts, at a venture, his wish into the 
air, that he also may receive a blessing. But his blind incredulity is 
reproved by his own words; for whereas one blessing only had been 
deposited with his father, he asks that another should be given to him, 
as if it were in his father's power indiscriminately to breathe out 
blessings, independently of the command of God. Here the admonition of 
the Apostle may suggest itself to our minds, "that Esau, when he sought 
again the forfeited blessing with tears and loud lamentations, found no 
place for repentance," (Heb. 12: 17;) for they who neglect to follow God 
when he calls on them, afterwards call upon him in vain, when he has 
turned his back. So long as God addresses and invites us, the gate of 
the kingdom of heaven is in a certain sense open: this opportunity we 
must use, if we desire to enter, according to the instruction of the 
Prophet, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while 
he is near." (Isa. 55; 6.) Of which passage Paul is the interpreter, in 
defining that to be the acceptable time of the day of salvation in which 
grace is brought unto us by the gospel. (2 Cor. 6: 2.) They who suffer 
that time to pass by, may, at length, knock too late, and without 
profit, because God avenges himself of their idleness. We must therefore 
fear lest if, with deafened ears, we suffer the voice of God now to pass 
unheeded by, he should, in turn, become deaf to our cry. But it may be 
asked, how is this repulse consistent with the promise, "If the wicked 
will turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my 
statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live?" 
(Ezekiel 18: 21.) Moreover, it may seem at variance with the clemency of 
God to reject the sighings of those who, being crushed by misery, fly 
for refuge to his mercy. I answer, that repentance, if it be true and 
sincere, will never be too late; and the sinner who, from his soul, is 
displeased with himself, will obtain pardon: but God in this manner 
punishes the contempt of his grace, because they who obstinately reject 
it, do not seriously purpose in their mind to return to him. Thus it is 
that they who are given up to a reprobate mind are never touched with 
genuine penitence. Hypocrites truly break out into tears, like Esau, but 
their heart within them will remain closed as with iron bars. Therefore, 
since Esau rushes forward, destitute of faith and repentance, to ask a 
blessing, there is no wonder that he should be rejected. 
  36. "Is he not rightly named Jacob? " That the mind of Esau was 
affected with no sense of penitence appears hence; he accused his 
brother and took no blame to himself. But the very beginning of 
repentance is grief felt on account of sin, together with 
self-condemnation. Esau ought to have descended into himself, and to 
have become his own judge. Having sold his birthright, he had darted, 
like a famished dog, upon the meat and the pottage; and now, as if he 
had done no wrong, he vents all his anger on his brother. Further, if 
the blessing is deemed of any value, why does he not consider that he 
had been repelled from it, not simply by the fraud of man, but by the 
providence of God? We see, therefore, that like a blind man feeling in 
the dark, he cannot find his way. 
  37. "Behold, I have made him thy Lord." Isaac now more openly confirms 
what I have before said, that since God was the author of the blessing, 
it could neither be vain nor evanescent. For he does not here 
magnificently boast of his dignity, but keeps himself within the bounds 
and measure of a servant, and denies that he is at liberty to alter 
anything. For he always considers, (which is the truth,) that when he 
sustains the character of God's representative, it is not lawful for him 
to proceed further than the command will bear him. Hence, indeed, Esau 
ought to have learned from whence he had fallen by his own fault, in 
order that he might have humbled himself, and might rather have joined 
himself with his brother, in order to become a partaker of his blessing, 
as his inferior, than have desired anything separately for himself. But 
a depraved cupidity carries him away, so that he, forgetful of the 
kingdom of God, pursues and cares for nothing except his own private 
advantage. Again, we must notice Isaac's manner of speaking, by which he 
claims a certain force and efficacy for his benediction, as if his word 
carried with it dominion, abundance of corn and wine, and whatever else 
God had promised to Abraham. For God, in requiring the faithful to 
depend on himself alone, would nevertheless have them to rest securely 
upon the word, which, at his command, is declared to them by the tongue 
of men. In this way they are said to remit sins, who are only the 
messengers and interpreters of free forgiveness. 
  38. "Hast thou but one blessing?" Esau seems to take courage; but he 
neglects the care of his soul, and turns, like a swine, to the pampering 
of his flesh. He had heard that his father had nothing left to grant; 
because, truly, the full and entire grace of God so rested upon Jacob, 
that out of his family there was no happiness. Wherefore, if Esau sought 
his own welfare, he ought to have drawn from that fountain, and rather 
to have subjected himself to his brother, than to have cut himself off 
from a happy connexion with him. He chose, however, rather to be 
deprived of spiritual grace, provided he might but possess something of 
his own, and apart from his brother, than to be his inferior at home. He 
could not be ignorant, that there was one sole benediction by which his 
brother Jacob had been constituted the heir of the divine covenant: for 
Isaac would be daily discoursing with them concerning the singular 
privilege which God had vouchsafed to Abraham and his seed. Esau would 
not previously have complained so bitterly, unless he had felt that he 
had been deprived of an incomparable benefit. Therefore, by departing 
from this one source of blessing, he indirectly renounces God, and cuts 
himself off from the body of the Church, caring for nothing but this 
transitory life. But it would have been better for him, miserably to 
perish through the want of all things in this world, and with difficulty 
to draw his languishing breath, than to slumber amidst temporal 
delights. What afterwards follows,--namely, that he wept with loud 
lamentations,--is a sign of fierce and proud indignation, rather than of 
penitence; for he remitted nothing of his ferocity, but raged like a 
cruel beast of prey. So the wicked, when punishment overtakes them, 
bewail the salvation they have lost; but, meanwhile, do not cease to 
delight themselves in their vices; and instead of heartily seeking after 
the righteousness of God, they rather desire that his deity should be 
extinct. Of a similar character is that gnashing of teeth and weeping in 
hell which, instead of stimulating the reprobate to seek after God, only 
consumes them with unknown torments. 
  39 "Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth." At length 
Esau obtains what he had asked. For, perceiving himself to be cast down 
from the rank and honour of primogeniture, he chooses rather to have 
prosperity in the world, separated from the holy people, than to submit 
to the yoke of his younger brother. But it may be thought that Isaac 
contradicts himself, in offering a new benediction, when he had before 
declared, that he had given to his son Jacob all that was placed at his 
disposal. I answer, that what has been before said concerning Ishmael 
must be noted in this place. For God, though he hearkened to Abraham's 
prayer for Ishmael, so far as concerned the present life, yet 
immediately restricts his promise, by adding the exception implied in 
the declaration, that in Isaac only should the seed be called. I do not, 
however, doubt, that the holy man, when he perceived that his younger 
son Jacob was the divinely ordained heir of a happy life, would 
endeavour to retain his firstborn, Esau, in the bond of fraternal 
connection, in order that he might not depart from the holy and elect 
flock of the Church. But now, when he sees him obstinately tending in 
another direction, he declares what will be his future condition. 
Meanwhile the spiritual blessing remains in its integrity with Jacob 
alone, to whom Esau refusing to attach himself, voluntarily becomes an 
exile from the kingdom of God. The prophecy uttered by Malachi, (1: 3,) 
may seem to be contradictory to this statement. For, comparing the two 
brothers, Esau and Jacob, with each other, he teaches that Esau was 
hated, inasmuch as a possession was given to him in the deserts; and yet 
Isaac promises him a fertile land. There is a twofold solution: either 
that the Prophet, speaking comparatively, may with truth call Idumea a 
desert in comparison with the land of Canaan, which was far more 
fruitful; or else that he was referring to his own times. For although 
the devastations of both lands had been terrible, yet the land of Canaan 
in a short time flourished again, while the territory of Edom was 
condemned to perpetual sterility, and given up to dragons. Therefore, 
although God, with respect to his own people, banished Esau to desert 
mountains, he yet gave to him a land sufficiently fertile in itself to 
render the promise by no means nugatory. For that mountainous region 
both had its own natural fruitfulness, and was so watered by the dew of 
heaven, that it would yield sustenance to its inhabitants. 
  40. "By thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother." It is 
to be observed that events are here predicted which were never fulfilled 
in the person of Esau; and therefore, that the prophecy is concerning 
things at that time far distant. For Jacob was so far from having 
obtained dominion over his brother, that on his return from Padan-aram, 
he suppliantly tendered him his obedience; and the breaking off of the 
yoke which Isaac here mentions, is referred to a very remote period. He 
is therefore relating the future condition of Esau's posterity. And he 
says first, that they shall live by their sword: which words admit a 
twofold sense, either that, being surrounded by enemies, they shall pass 
a warlike and unquiet life; or that they shall be free, and their own 
masters. For there is no power to use the sword where there is no 
liberty. The former meaning seems the more suitable; namely, that God 
would limit his promise, lest Esau should be too much exalted: for 
nothing is more desirable than peace. The holy people also are warned 
that there will always be some enemies to infest them. This, however, is 
a very different thing from living by his own sword; which is as if he 
had said, that the sons of Esau, like robbers, should maintain their 
security by arms and violence, rather than by legitimate authority. A 
second limitation of the promise is, that though armed with the sword, 
he should still not escape subjection to his brother. For the Idumeans 
were, at length, made tributary to the chosen people; but the servitude 
was not long continued; because when the kingdoms were divided, the 
power by which they had held all their neighbours in subjection and 
fear, was cut off; yet the Lord would have the Idumeans brought into 
subjection for a short time, that he might furnish a visible 
demonstration of this prophecy. As to the rest of the time, the restless 
and unbridled liberty of Esau was more wretched than any state of 
  41. "And Esau hated Jacob." It hence appears more clearly, that the 
tears of Esau were so far from being the effect of true repentance, that 
they were rather evidences of furious anger. For he is not content with 
secretly cherishing enmity against his brother, but openly breaks out in 
wicked threats. And it is evident how deeply malice had struck its 
roots, when he could indulge himself in the desperate purpose of 
murdering his brother. Even a profane and sacrilegious contumacy betrays 
itself in him, seeing that he prepares himself to abolish the decree of 
God by the sword. I will take care, he says, that Jacob shall not enjoy 
the inheritance promised to him. What is this but to annihilate the 
force of the benediction, of which he knew that his father was the 
herald and the minister? Moreover, a lively picture of a hypocrite is 
here set before us. He pretends that the death of his father would be to 
him a mournful event: and doubtless it is a religious duty to mourn over 
a deceased father. But it was a mere pretence on his part, to speak of 
the day of mourning, when in his haste to execute the impious murder of 
his brother, the death of his father seemed to come too slowly, and he 
rejoiced at the prospect of its approach. With what face could he ever 
pretend to any human affection, when he gasps for his brother's death, 
and at the same time attempts to subvert all the laws of nature? It is 
even possible, that an impulse of nature itself, extorted from him the 
avowal, by which he would the more grievously condemn himself; as God 
often censures the wicked out of their own mouth, and renders them more 
inexcusable. But if a sense of shame alone restrains a cruel mind, this 
is not to be deemed worthy of great praise; nay, it even betrays a 
stupid and brutal contempt of God. Sometimes, indeed, the fear of man 
influences even the pious, as we have seen, in the preceding chapter, 
respecting Jacob: but they soon rise above it, so that with them the 
fear of God predominates; while forgetfulness of God so pervades the 
hearts of the wicked, that they rest their hopes in men alone. 
Therefore, he who abstains from wickedness merely through the fear of 
man, and from a sense of shame, has hitherto made but little progress. 
Yet the confession of the Papists is chiefly honoured by them with this 
praise, that it deters many from sin, through the fear lest they should 
be compelled to proclaim their own disgrace. But the rule of piety is 
altogether different, since it teaches our conscience to set God before 
us as our witness and our judge. 
  42. "And these words of Esau ... were told to Rebekah." Moses now 
makes a transition to a new subject of history, showing how Jacob, as a 
wanderer from his father's house, went into Mesopotamia. Without doubt, 
it was an exceedingly troublesome and severe temptation to the holy 
matron, to see that, by her own deed, her son was placed in imminent 
danger of death. But by faith she wrestled to retain the possession of 
the grace once received. For, if she had been impelled by a merely 
womanly attachment to her younger son, it certainly would have been her 
best and shortest method, to cause the birthright to be restored to 
Esau: for thus the cause of emulation would have been removed; and he 
who was burning with grief at the loss of his right, would have had his 
fury appeased. It is therefore an evidence of extraordinary faith, that 
Rebekah does not come to any agreement, but persuades her son to become 
a voluntary exile, and chooses rather to be deprived of his presence, 
than that he should give up the blessing he had once received. The 
benediction of the father might now seem illusory; so as to make it 
appear wonderful that so much should be made of it by Rebekah and Jacob: 
nevertheless, they were so far from repenting of what they had done, 
that they do not refuse the bitter punishment of exile, if only Jacob 
may carry with him the benediction uttered by his father. Moreover, we 
are taught by this example, that we must bear it patiently, if the cross 
attends the hope of a better life, as its companion; or even if the Lord 
adopts us into his family, with this condition, that we should wander as 
pilgrims without any certain dwelling-place in the world. For, on this 
account, Jacob is thrust out from his paternal home, where he might 
quietly have passed his life, and is compelled to migrate to a strange 
land; because the blessing of God is promised unto him. And as he did 
not attempt to purchase temporal peace with his brother by the loss of 
the grace received; so must we beware lest any carnal advantage or any 
allurements of the world should draw us aside from the course of our 
vocation: let us rather bear with magnanimity losses of all kinds, so 
that the anchor of our hope nay remain fixed in heaven. When Rebekah 
says that Esau consoled himself with the thought, that he would slay his 
brother; the meaning is, that he could not be pacified by any other 
means, than by this wicked murder. 
  44. "And tarry with him a few days." This circumstance mitigates the 
severity of banishment. For the shortness of the time of suffering 
avails not a little to support us in adversity. And it was probable that 
the enmity of Esau would not prove so obstinate as to be unassuaged by 
his brother's absence. In the Hebrew expression which is translated "a 
few days," the word few is literally "one" put in the plural number. 
Rebekah means, that as soon as Jacob should have gone away of his own 
accord, the memory of the offense would be obliterated from the mind of 
Esau; as if she had said, Only depart hence for a little while, and we 
shall soon assuage his anger. 
  45. "Why should I be deprived of you both in one day?" Why does 
Rebekah fear a double privation? for there was no danger that Jacob, 
endued with a disposition so mild and placid, should rise up against his 
brother. We see, therefore, that Rebekah concluded that God would be the 
avenger of the iniquitous murder. Moreover, although God, for a time, 
might seem to overlook the deed, and to suspend his judgment, it would 
yet be necessary for him to withdraw from the parricide. Therefore, by 
this law of nature, Rebekah declares that she should be entirely 
bereaved; because she would be compelled to dread and to detest him who 
survived. But if Rebekah anticipated in her mind what the judgment of 
God would be, and devoted the murderer to destruction, because she was 
persuaded that wickedness so great would not be unpunished; much less 
ought we to close our eyes against the manifest chastisements of God. 
  46. "And Rebekah said to Isaac." When Jacob might have fled secretly, 
his mother, nevertheless, obtains leave for his departure from his 
father; for so a well-ordered domestic government and discipline 
required. In giving another cause than the true one to her husband, she 
may be excused from the charge of falsehood; inasmuch as she neither 
said the whole truth nor left the whole unsaid. No doubt, she truly 
affirms that she was tormented, even to weariness of life, on account of 
her Hittite daughters-in-law: but she prudently conceals the more inward 
evil, lest she should inflict a mortal wound on her husband: and also, 
lest she should the more influence the rage of Esau; for the wicked, 
often, when their crime is detected, are the more carried away with 
desperation. Now, although in consequence of the evil manners of her 
daughters-in-law, affinity with the whole race became hateful to 
Rebekah, yet in this again the wonderful providence of God is 
conspicuous, that Jacob neither blended, nor entangled himself, with the 
future enemies of the Church. 
Chapter XXVIII. 
1 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said 
unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. 
2 Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; 
and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's 
3 And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply 
thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; 
4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with 
thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, 
which God gave unto Abraham. 
5 And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of 
Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother. 
6 When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to 
Padanaram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he 
gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters 
of Canaan; 
7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to 
8 And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his 
9 Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had 
Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, 
to be his wife. 
10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. 
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, 
because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and 
put [them for] his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. 
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top 
of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and 
descending on it. 
13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I [am] the LORD God 
of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou 
liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread 
abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: 
and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be 
15 And, behold, I [am] with thee, and will keep thee in all [places] 
whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will 
not leave thee, until I have done [that] which I have spoken to thee of. 
16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in 
this place; and I knew [it] not. 
17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful [is] this place! this [is] 
none other but the house of God, and this [is] the gate of heaven. 
18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he 
had put [for] his pillows, and set it up [for] a pillar, and poured oil 
upon the top of it. 
19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that 
city [was called] Luz at the first. 
20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep 
me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to 
put on, 
21 So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the 
LORD be my God: 
22 And this stone, which I have set [for] a pillar, shall be God's 
house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth 
unto thee. 
1. "And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him." It may be asked, whether 
the reason why Isaac repeats anew the benediction which he had before 
pronounced, was that the former one had been of no force; whereas, if he 
was a prophet and interpreter of the will of God, what had once 
proceeded from his mouth ought to have been firm and perpetual. I 
answer, although the benedictions was in itself efficacious, yet the 
faith of Jacob required support of this kind: just as the Lord, in 
reiterating, frequently the same promises, derogates nothing either from 
himself or from his word, but rather confirms the certainty of that word 
to his servants, lest, at any time, their confidence should be shaken 
through the infirmity of the flesh. What I have said must also be kept 
in mind, that Isaac prayed, not as a private person, but as one 
furnished with a special command of God, to transmit the covenant 
deposited with himself to his son Jacob. It was also of the greatest 
importance that now, at length, Jacob should be blessed by his father, 
knowingly and willingly; lest at a future time a doubt, arising from the 
recollection of his father's mistake and of his own fraud, might steal 
over his mind. Therefore Isaac, now purposely directing his words to his 
son Jacob, pronounces the blessing to be due to him by right, lest it 
should be thought that, having been before deceived, he had uttered 
words in vain, under a false character. 
  2. "Arise, go to Padan-aram." In the first place, he commands him to 
take a wife from his maternal race. He might have sent for her by some 
one of his servants, as Rebekah had been brought to him; but perhaps he 
took this course to avoid the envy of Esau, who might regard it as a 
reproach if more solicitude were manifested about his brother's marriage 
than about his own. 
  3. "And God Almighty bless thee." Here follows the form of 
benediction, which slightly differs in words from the former, but 
nevertheless tends to the same end. First, he desires that Jacob should 
be blessed by God; that is, that he should be so increased and amplified 
in his own offspring, as to grow into a multitude of nations; or, in 
other words, that he should produce many people who might combine into 
one body under the same head; as if he had said, "Let there arise from 
thee many tribes, who shall constitute one people." And this truly was, 
in some measure, fulfilled when Moses distributed the people into 
thirteen divisions. Nevertheless, Isaac looked for a further result, 
namely, that many were at length to be gathered together out of various 
nations, to the family of his son, that, in this manner, from a vast and 
previously scattered multitude, might be formed one assembly. For it is 
not to be doubted, that he wished to hand down what he had received; 
seeing that he immediately afterwards celebrates the memory of the 
original covenant, deriving his present benediction from thence as its 
source: as if he had said, that he transferred whatever right he had 
from his father; to his son Jacob, in order that the inheritance of life 
might remain with him, according to the covenant of God made with 
Abraham. They who expound this as being said in the way of comparison, 
as if Isaac wished those benefits which God had before conferred on 
Abraham to be in the same manner granted to his son, attenuate the 
meaning of the words. For since God, in making his covenant with 
Abraham, had annexed this condition, that it should descend to his 
posterity, it was necessary to trace its commencement to his person as 
its root. Therefore, Isaac constitutes his son Jacob the heir of 
Abraham, as successor to the benediction deposited with him, and 
promised to his seed. This also appears more clearly from the context 
following, where he assigns to him the dominion over the land, because 
it had been given to Abraham. Moreover, we perceive, in this member of 
the sentence, with what consistency of faith the holy fathers rested on 
the word of the Lord; for otherwise, they would have found it no small 
temptation to be driven about as strangers and pilgrims in the very 
land, the possession of which had been divinely assigned them a hundred 
years before. But we see, that in their wanderings and their unsettled 
mode of life, they no less highly estimated what God had promised them, 
than if they had already been in the full enjoyment of it. And this is 
the true trial of faith; when relying on the word of God alone, although 
tossed on the waves of the world, we stand as firmly as if our abode 
were already fixed in heaven. Isaac expressly fortifies his son against 
this temptation, when he calls the land of which he constitutes him 
lord, "the land of his wanderings." For by these words he teaches him 
that it was possible he might be a wanderer all the days of his life: 
but this did not hinder the promise of God from being so ratified, that 
he, contented with that alone, might patiently wait for the time of 
revelation. Even the plural number seems to express something 
significant, namely, that Jacob would be a wanderer not once only, but 
in various ways and perpetually. Since, however, the Hebrew plural has 
not always such emphasis, I do not insist on this interpretation. It is 
more worthy of notice, that the faith of Jacob was proved by a severe 
and rigid trial, seeing, that for this very reason, the land is promised 
to him in word only, while in fact, he is cast far away from it. For he 
seems to be the object of ridicule, when he is commanded to possess the 
dominion of the land, and yet to leave it and to bid it farewell, and to 
depart into distant exile. 
  6. "When Esau saw." A brief narration concerning Esau is here 
inserted, which it is useful to know; because we learn from it that the 
wicked, though they exalt themselves against God, and though, in 
contempt of his grace, they please themselves in obtaining their 
desires, are yet not able to despise that grace altogether. So now, Esau 
is penetrated with a desire of the blessing; not that he aspires to it 
sincerely and from his heart; but perceiving it to be something 
valuable, he is impelled to seek after it, though with reluctance. A 
further fault is, that he does not seek it as he ought: for he devises a 
new and strange method of reconciling God and his father to himself; and 
therefore all his diligence is without profit. At the same time he does 
not seem to be careful about pleasing God, so that he may but propitiate 
his father. Before all things, it was his duty to cast aside his profane 
disposition, his perverse manners, and his corrupt affections of the 
flesh, and then to bear with meekness the chastisement inflicted upon 
him: for genuine repentance would have dictated to him this sentiment, 
"Seeing I have hitherto rendered myself unworthy of the birthright, my 
brother is deservedly preferred before me. Nothing, therefore, remains 
for me but to humble myself, and since I am deprived of the honour of 
being the head, let it suffice me to be at least one of the members of 
the Church." And, certainly, it would have been more desirable for him 
to remain in some obscure corner of the Church, than, as one cut off and 
torn away from the elect people, to shine with a proud preeminence on 
earth. He aims, however, at nothing of this kind, but attempts, by I 
know not what prevarications, to appease his father in whatever way he 
may be able. Moses, in this example, depicts all hypocrites to the life. 
For as often as the judgment of God urges them, though they are wounded 
with the pain of their punishment, they yet do not seek a true remedy; 
for having aimed at offering one kind of satisfaction only, they 
entirely neglect a simple and real conversion: and even in the 
satisfaction offered, they only make a pretence. Whereas Esau ought 
thoroughly to have repented, he only tried to correct the single fault 
of his marriage; and this too in a most absurd manner. Yet another 
defect follows: for while he retains the wives who were so hateful to 
his parents, he supposes he has discharged his duty by marrying a third. 
But by this method, neither was the trouble of his parents alleviated, 
nor his house cleansed from guilt. And now truly, whence does he marry 

(continued in part 7...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: cvgn2-06.txt