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In his dotage Isaac grew blind, and he knew he would soon die. So he told his eldest (and favorite) son Esau to go round him up some fresh venison, fry it up good, and then he would receive Isaac's blessing before he died.

Rebecca heard all this, and she made her move to advance the cause of her favorite son Jacob. She told him to get a couple goats, and she would fry them up fast and pass them off on Isaac and that way Jacob would receieve the blessing. But Jacob objected that the plan wouldn't work, because Esau was a hairy man and he was smooth as a baby's bottom. His father would feel the difference, perceive that Jacob was a deceiver, and deliver a cursing rather than a blessing. But Rebecca had already thought of that, and she told Jacob to do as his mother said.

When he came back in with two kids, Rebecca started cooking them, together with some bread, and meanwhile she fetched some of Esau's clothes and fitted them on Jacob, and she put the skins of the goats on Jacob's hands and on the back of his neck.

Jacob took the food and delivered it to Isaac, but Isaac was suspicious because Jacob didn't talk like Esau and the food was ready so quickly. Jacob insisted that he was Esau, and said the LORD brought the deer to him. Isaac was still suspicious, so he told his son to come near so he could feel it was really Esau.

There was the test of the food. Jacob passed.

There was the smell test. He had to kiss his father, and Isaac smelled Esau's sweaty clothes and it was enough. Isaac said:

God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: 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: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

And so it was done. Needless to say there was an embarrassing scene later when the real Esau came in with fresh venison. But it was too late. Bilbo had already made off with the precious Ring, leaving Esau to say, "Where did he go? Cursed Bagginses, we hates it! Hates it forever!"

And in Esau's great wrath he forgot basic principles of operational security. He started mumbling about planning to kill Jacob, and a report of this got back to Rebecca through servants. Or if Esau said these things only in his heart, then a report got back to Rebecca through God himself. They had a relationship, you see. It was God who told Rebecca that the elder would serve the younger. Mother and son held a quick huddle, and Rebecca told Jacob to flee to uncle Laban.

This narrative seems written to elicit sympathy for Esau, but God is selecting for cleverness and foresight. The chosen people will need these qualities when they live among their enemies in Egypt and Canaan.

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