[Illustration: Jacob was cooking some food one day.]
After this there was a famine in the land where Isaac and his family lived, but Isaac did not go to Egypt to escape it as his father had done on a similar occasion. Instead, he took his family into the land of the Philistines and lived for a time at a place called Gerar.
Isaac grew so prosperous in Gerar that the Philistines envied him. They had filled up the wells which his father had dug years before, so Isaac, besides reopening them, dug others, about which there were many disputes. Then after a while Isaac took his family to Beersheba, and there God renewed to him the promises of future greatness which He had made to Abraham.
Both Isaac and Rebekah disapproved of the marriage Esau made with a woman of a neighboring tribe, but in spite of this Isaac loved him very dearly, and when he felt that he should not live much longer he wished to bestow a blessing or promise upon him. So he called Esau and asked him to go once more and get some of the meat he liked and cook it for him, telling him that when he brought it he would bless him.
Esau set out on his errand, but as soon as he had gone, Rebekah, who had overheard what Isaac had said, called Jacob, whom she loved more than she did Esau, and told him that now he had a chance to get the blessing instead of his brother, and showed him how it could be done.
Jacob was very fond of his mother; he wanted the blessing, but was afraid his father would detect the deception and that it would bring a curse instead of a blessing. But his mother told him she would take all the blame and then Jacob consented to do as she told him.
Rebekah first sent Jacob to get some meat, which she cooked in the way Isaac liked, and then she dressed him in some of Esau’s clothes. Then she put hairy skins on his hands and neck to make him feel like Esau if Isaac should put his hands on him. Then she gave him the meat she had prepared and sent him on his dishonest errand.
[Illustration: The hands are the hands of Esau.]
So Jacob went where his blind father was sitting and said, “My father.” And Isaac replied, “Here am I; who art thou, my son?” Then Jacob told him that he was his son Esau, and that he had brought the food as he had been asked to do. Isaac asked him how the meat could have been found and prepared so quickly, and Jacob replied, “Because the Lord thy God brought it to me.”
Still Isaac was not satisfied and had him come nearer that he might feel of him, but the disguise was good and Isaac said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” But before he ate he made one more appeal. “Art thou,” he asked, “my very son Esau?” and Jacob, forced by the first lie to tell another and then another, replied, “I am.”
Isaac ate the food and then blessed Jacob, whom he supposed to be Esau. He promised a great and prosperous future for him. People and nations should serve him, and his brothers should bow down to him. Scarcely had Jacob left his father, when Esau came back with the food his father had asked him to bring and claimed the blessing.