Esau would be the only son present to receive a blessing; Rebekah outmaneuvered Isaac so her favored Jacob would be the one blessed
When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.” Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau … Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” (Genesis 27:1–10).
Bobbi Ann Finley was dubbed the “Military Mistress” after she married 14 different U.S. military service members and stole their money. The state of Alabama sentenced her to three years in prison for theft by deception.1 She moved from one military installation to another collecting husbands as others collect travel souvenirs. That is serious deception! Obviously, Bobbi Ann failed to share some important details when she said “I do” 14 times.
Isaac and Rebekah also faced deception in their marriage. Rebekah withheld the information that God planned the younger son to inherit the blessing, so Rebekah favored Jacob and Isaac favored Esau. Genesis 27 begins with Isaac preparing to deliver the patriarchal blessing to Esau—and presumably he did not discuss his plan with Rebekah. He had to know it would upset her. They would not agree, so why bother? But Rebekah overheard and devised a plan of her own.
The picture of Rebekah eavesdropping is unflattering, and gives credence to her next deceptive actions. As the oldest son, Esau was the rightful heir to his father’s blessing—and such a blessing was like a legally binding will today.2 Blessing Esau would have been legal, yet it was not what God planned. But family dysfunction was not God’s plan either.
We can recognize the results: Distrust over time led to deception and manipulation—communication at its worst. Instead of sharing the truth of our fears, hopes, and dreams, we can use our words and actions to manipulate circumstances in our favor. Isaac and Rebekah became master manipulators. Isaac maneuvered so Esau would be the only son present to receive a blessing; Rebekah outmaneuvered Isaac so her favored Jacob would be the one blessed. She left nothing to chance. She even disguised Jacob to make him appear as Esau and prepared food that Esau would have prepared from game killed while hunting (Genesis 27:11–40).3 Rebekah’s meal was a recipe for disaster.
Participants in a study on communication in military marriage claimed more intentional communication than did non-military couples.4 Why could that be true? Have you practiced manipulation or deception in your marriage? What should you change?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, strengthen military marriages today. I pray for chaplains and counselors to have wisdom and insight as they counsel couples in challenging circumstances. Amen.
1 Andrew Theen, “Oregon’s ‘Military Mistress,’ Wanted for Check Fraud,” The Oregonian/Oregon Live, April 7, 2015. http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2015/04/oregons_military_mistress_who.html, accessed May 16, 2015.
2 Arnold, 245.
3 Arnold, 247.
4 Jessica N. Modrell, “Relationship Maintenance of Military Couples” 8–1-2014. Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) program at George Fox University, Thesis and Dissertation. http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1154&context=psyd, 46, accessed May 18, 2015.