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dith the daughter of Beeri, the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon, the Hittite, which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and Rebekah :” And in Gen. xxviii. 8, 9. “And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father, then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, to be his wife.” Thus we find that Esau, by connecting himself with the professors of idolatry, preferred the idolatrous worship as Ishmael had done, to the worship of God, as it was delivered to them by Abraham.
It appears then that Esau approved of the idolatrous worship of the Canaanites, which was the real cause of his being rejected from the primogeniture ; and he confirmed this by the rejection of his birth-right in the contract he made with Jacob. But in order to form a right conclusion concerning this matter, it is necessary to attend to the whole narrative; for it seems a trivial thing, to give as a consideration for so valuable a privilege, only a mess of pottage.
Isaac now drew near to the verge of the grave, and according to the nature of the dispensation given to Abraham, the communication of a divine authority was also given to him, who was to be considered as the visible head of the true church of God, in order to promulgate the certain accomplishment of the ancient promise, concerning the coming of the Messiah ; which was to be communicated by sacrifice and blessing, as typical of him, the great sacrifice, who was to bless man by redemption. Accordingly, we read in Genesis, xxvii. 7, 9. “Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat and bless thee before the Lord, before my death. Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two kids of the goats.” We have found that sacrificial worship was to be observed
by Abraham and his successors, and that nothing was acceptable to God, without a sacrifice. We find also, that this blessing was not to be in the common way of blessing, but it is dignified with the appellation of blessing before the Lord. By which phrase in scripture is always understood, before the altar of the Lord, where he condescended to receive the sacrifice ; otherwise it would have been improper to have said, before the Lord. For as it is understood, according to the common acceptation of the words, they were before the Lord, in every action of their lives. It must therefore appear, that this was a sacrificial repast before the altar of the Lord, emphatically termed in Hebrew, before the face of the Lord, which was more immediately so, as there he deigned to commune with man. See 1 Kings, xiii. 6.“ Intreat now the face of the Lord thy God, that my hand may be restored me again.” From which we are authorized to conclude, that the blessing of Isaac, consisted in committing the great charge he had received from Abraham, concerning the sacrificial worship, which was a manifestation of their faith, that the Messiah would come and redeem man, at whose coming the sacrifices and ceremonies were to cease forever.
That this preparation was for a sacrifice of this nature, will appear, if we attend to the narrative, and the custom on these occasions, as recorded in the scripture. Genesis, xxvii. 9. 6 Go to the flock and fetch me two kids of the goats,” evidently refers to the sacrificial worship, agreeably to the dispensation given to Abraham, and that these two kids were male and female, or where was the necessity for killing two kids ? which order was also observed in the Israelitish church. Exod. xxv. 18. - Thou shalt make two cherubim in the two ends of ihe mercy-seat.” The word cherubim is the Hebrew
word, the pronunciation of which is retained in the European languages. It means, a likeness of the Divine Majesty ; for as God created man and woman, a likeness of himself, Gen. i. 26. so he appointed the two cherubim, as representative of the male and female, when our first parents fell from this state of perfection. This was done to remind them, not only of the state, in which they were created, but also that by obeying his commands, which they were to receive from the mercy-seat between the cherubim, to which there was no approaching but by sacrifice, they were taught that they might regain that state of happiness, in which they were created. The same is signified, Exod. xxviii. 9, 12. concerning the two Onyx stones, on which were engraven the names of the twelve tribes of the Hebrews, and which were to be put upon the Ephod, on the shoulder of Aaron, who was to bear them before the Lord. This plainly refers to the Messiah, who was to bear the sins of the people, inale and female, of whom it is said, " and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” Again, Exod. xxix. 38. “ Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year.” Lev. xvi. 5. “two kids of the goats for a sin offering ;" ver. 7. 5 and he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord.” It is also proper to remark, that as wine was used, in the most ancient times before Abraham, in the true worship of God as a divine symbol; so accordingly we find, that at this sacrifice it is written, 66 and he brought him wine and he drank.” Thus we learn, that this request of Isaac, who was then near the time of his death, was not to gratify his palate by eating, as deists have frequently represented, but it was a solemn sacrifice, for a sin offering, as a representative of our great and eternal sacrifice, " who came to offer up himself, the just for the unjust.”
Some have thought that the great distress of Esan, because Isaac had given the blessing to Jacob, was occasioned by a fear of being deprived of the property of his father at his death. But this was not the case, for he is informed in the same words as were spoken to Jacob, when Isaac blessed him, that his “ dwelling should be the fatness of the earth, and the dew of heaven.” This in the letter refers to an equal participation of the property ; so far, therefore, the blessing of Jacob, and the blessing of Esau, as to things of a temporal nature, were equal. This appears evident, at the death of Isaac; as Esau succeeded to his portion of the property of his father, which was great. For, after the death of Isaac, Esau took all that he had in the land of Canaan, and went unto mount Seir; where he was received as a prince, his sons as princes, his grandsons as dukes : Gen. xxxvi. 15. and finally his descendants became sovereigns of the land of Edom. So that it is neither consistent with reason nor scripture, to suppose that Esau, concerning whom it is said, his riches were great, should be distressed for a simple mess of pottage, when his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the persons of his house, were living in plenty, and were the richest people of the land. Gen, xxxvi. 6.
Esau, however, having, contrary to the divine command, made a league with the idolatrous people of the land, and having joined himself to them in their worship of idols ; was not a believer in the coming of the promised Messiah. He indeed esteemed this birth-right in his line, of no more value than a mess of pottage, which is a customary phrase, in Hebrew, for any thing that was
considered in a contemptuous light, or as being of little or no account. The great distress, therefore, of Esau, because Isaac had given the blessing to Jacob, could not arise from supposing that he had lost the privilege of the Messiah's coming in his line. There is one subject, however, mentioned by the sacred writer, which appears to have been the real cause of his distress. We have seen that the birth-right, which the patriarchs Isaac and Jacob had in view, was the communication of the certainty of the coming of the Messiah, and the establishment of the visible head of the church, which was already understood by a solemn oath to have devolved on Jacob, because he was a worshipper of the true God. But the birth-right, to which the idolater, Esau, directed his attention, was that of temporal power and riches only; which, according to the order of that dispensation, were to descend by solemn ratification to the first-born son ; and this seems to have been the intention of Isaac, when he called Esau. This is called by Esau, my birthright. Chap. 27. ver. 36.
From the most ancient times, before Abraham, we find that the ruling patriarchs had the privilege of confirming temporal power, to be exercised by their successors ; and this was the blessing given by Isaac to Jacob, and his posterity. Gen. xxvii. 29. “Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee; be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee; and it shall come to pass, when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.” Hence it was said, and Esau hated Jacob. All this was literally accomplished, for the descendants of Jacob subdued the descendants of Esau. When the descendants, however, of Esau got the dominion, which was after they becamne kings of Edom, they threw off