Joseph Disguised as Esau!

by Yair Davidiy

Partly Adapted from the Articles on Quora:
Did not Jacob misrepresent himself as Esau, as recorded at Genesis 27:18-30? Why was this allowed?

How could Jacob get away with his lie, and why can't Issac just bless Esau?

Duration: 24:10 minutes

The Hebrew Patriarchs were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Isaac begat Esau and Jacob who were twins but Esau was the Firstborn. Jacob bought the Right of the Firstborn from Esau who despised it. Then when Isaac their father wished to give a Blessing to Esau Jacob tricked him. Jacob disguised as Esau and presented  himself before Isaac (who was blind) as Esau. Isaac was deceived and gave Jacob the Blessing. Jacob took the Blessing for Himself by pretending  to be someone else!  Why was this Necessary? Why did Jacob have to receive the Blessing in such a round-about way? The answer lies in what transpired later: Jacob had been renamed Israel. He begat 12 sons who became the Ancestors of the Twelve Tribes. One of his sons  was Joseph who received the right of the Firstborn (1-Chronicles 5:2). The 12 Tribes were destined to divide into two. One section became Judah, i.e. the Jews. The task of the Jews was to develop the Torah and related matters. The other section became the Lost Ten Tribes headed by the Tribe of Joseph. These were destined to lose consciousness of their ancestry, become like the Gentiles, and then evolve upwards elevating the rest of humanity with them. A comparisons of the different Blessings given to the Forefathers shows that the  Blessing that Joseph received was encompassed in that which Jacob (pretending to be Esau) had taken from Isaac. Descendants of Edom (Esau) assisted the Assyrians in exiling the Ten Tribes (headed by Joseph) and for a while Edomites ruled over them in the West. Joseph lost awareness of his Ancestry. He became like Esau. He had disguised himself just as his forefather Jacob had done!

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were forefathers of the Israelite Nation.
The Almighty blessed Abraham who passed  the Blessing onto Isaac.
Abraham was the first Patriarch and to him was it promised to become, "A great nation, and in you will all the families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3).   "And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly" (Genesis 17:2). "I will make nations of thee and kings shall come out of thee; And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee" (Genesis 17:6-7).

Abraham begat Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael traditionally was the forefather of many of the Arabs. Isaac received the covenant promise and to him devolved the promised blessings: "My covenant will I establish with Isaac" (Genesis 17:21);   "I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him" (Genesis 17:19). God informed Abraham, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Genesis 21:21).

Abraham had begotten Isaac who begat Esau and Jacob.
The Bible relates how Isaac was about to bless his son Esau but Jacob (twin  brother of Esau) took the Blessing instead by subterfuge.
Even though Esau and Jacob (the sons of Isaac) were twins only Jacob received the Blessing whereas Esau did not.
Jacob was re-named Israel (Genesis 32:28, 35:10).
From Israel came the 12 Tribes of Israel.

How did Jacob receive the Blessings? What Can we learn from this? What does this tell us about Joseph?

We are told in the Bible how Isaac became old and wished to bless Esau:

Genesis 27:
 1 Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, 'My son.' And he said to him, 'Here I am.' 2 Isaac said, 'Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; 4 and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.

Rebeka the mother of Esau and Jacob told Jacob to dress himself up as Esau and present himself to Isaac who was blind. The blessing was thus given to Jacob.
 Jacob misled Isaac because his mother Rebeka had told him to do so. Rebeka took upon herself any calumny that might result.

Genesis 27:
 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, 'Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, 7 "Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death." 8 Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you. ...' 11 Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, 'Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing.' 13 But his mother said to him, 'Your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.' ....

Rebeka had received a Prophecy regarding her sons at birth that the younger (i.e. Jacob) would need to be pre-eminent (Genesis 25:21-23).
 Isaac blessed Jacob and in doing so felt that God was speaking through him, that the blessing was valid and irrevocable regardless as to whether he was being deceived or not.

Genesis 27:
 33 Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, 'Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.

Esau then asked that he too should receive a blessing:

Genesis (NKJV) 27:
 34 When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, "Bless me, me also, O my father!"
 35 But he said, 'Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.'
 36 And Esau said, 'Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!' And he said, 'Have you not reserved a blessing for me?'
 37 Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, 'Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?'
 38 And Esau said to his father, 'Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me, me also, O my father!' And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
 39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:
'Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth,
 And of the dew of heaven from above.
 40 By your sword you shall live,
 And you shall serve your brother;
 And it shall come to pass, when you become restless,
 That you shall break his yoke from your neck.

The word translated above (27:40) as "restless" in Hebrew "tered" is from the root "RID" and connotes rulership.
Isaac at first did not want to give a blessing to Esau. Nevertheless in the end after the importunities of Esau he did.
 Why did he refuse at first and then relent and give a blessing?
 It may be that since he had made Jacob the master of Esau and all his kin (Genesis 27:37) then anything that accrued to Esau ultimately would belong to Jacob? In Hebrew Law a slave has no property of his own but whatever he has really belongs to his master. The blessing to Esau was in fact ultimately only an addition to that given to Jacob and in the end was to go to Jacob.

To racapitulate and add a few points:

Jacob and Esau were twin brothers but Esau was the elder. Isaac their father wished to bless Esau (Genesis 27:1-3). The mother of the boys, Rebecca, prevailed upon Jacob to disguise himself as Esau (Genesis 27:6-13). Consequently, Isaac who was blind blessed Jacob thinking him to be Esau. Almost immediately afterwards Esau came in expecting to receive the Blessing. Isaac revealed to Esau what had happened and that the Blessing to Jacob was valid, "Yes, and he shall be blessed" (Genesis 27:33). Esau then told Isaac that he had previously sold the Birthright to Jacob, Isaac again confirmed the blessing to Jacob (Genesis 27:36-37). Apparently who ever had the Birthright was to receive the Blessing. Before than Isaac had evidently NOT known that Jacob had already taken the Birthright. By Esau now informing Isaac of this he was unwittingly confirming in the eyes of Isaac the right of Jacob to have also taken the Blessing!
Subsequently Isaac later once more confirmed the Blessing to Jacob and even strengthened it (Genesis 28:3-4).

We know from the example of the Priestly Blessing that human beings act as a conduit when giving a blessing. The Blessing is delivered to the Peoples by the Priests BUT the Blessing itself comes from Heaven.

Numbers (NKJV) 6:
 22 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
 23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
 24 The LORD bless you and keep you;
 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you,
 And be gracious to you;
 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
 And give you peace.
 27 So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.

We see that Isaac in giving the Blessing realized that the Blessing he had given was valid (Genesis 27:33), and it was also apparently legal being connected with whoever held the Birthright (Genesis 27:36-37).

We need to distinguish between the Birthright and the Blessing.

The Birthright was the right of the Firstborn to receive more, e.g. a double portion.

The Blessing devolved upon the subject according to innate qualities he already possessed.

In the view of Isaac whoever held the Birthright would deserve to receive the Blessing.

Jacob and Esau were twins, the sons of Isaac and Rebecca. Esau was born first so technically he was the Firstborn. Rebecca however had had a message from Heaven that the pre-eminence was to go to Jacob (Genesis 25:21-23).

When the boys grew Esau sold the Birthright to Jacob. [Isaac apparently was not aware of this.] Esau had despised the Birthright (Genesis 25:34).

From the above we understand that Jacob in deceiving Isaiah was only taking what was rightfully his in the eyes of Heaven and in the view of Isaac himself.

The only question that remains is:

Why did it have to be this way?

The Sages tell us that the Deeds of the Forefathers symbolized the fate of their descendants.

The Blessing of Isaac to Jacob (thinking he was Esau) said:

Genesis (NKJV) 27:
 27 'Surely, the smell of my son
 Is like the smell of a field
 Which the LORD has blessed.
 28 Therefore may God give you
 Of the dew of heaven,
 Of the fatness of the earth,
 And plenty of grain and wine.
 29 Let peoples serve you,
 And nations bow down to you.
 Be master over your brethren,
 And let your mother's sons bow down to you.
 Cursed be everyone who curses you,
 And blessed be those who bless you!

The blessing quoted above entailed Material Blessings and Ruling over other Peoples.

Esau had however received a Blessing of his own (Genesis 27:38-40).
We saw the above that Esau had also received a blessing which in some ways was a shadow of that given to Jacob and later repeated to Joseph. Esau was also to dwell in fertile lands and be materially prosperous. He was to live by his sword implying martial qualities and to struggle with the descendants of Jacob over the rulership.

Jacob was to be re-named Israel (Genesis 32:28, 35:10). He had twelve sons who became the ancestors of Twelve Tribes. All the sons of Israel were to be blessed (Genesis 49:28) but a special emphasis was placed on Joseph who was considered the Firstborn (1-Chronicles 5:2). Joseph in turn had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.

The Blessings given to Jacob (aka Israel) disguised as Esau are similar to those given to Joseph and his sons:

Genesis (NKJV) 49:
 25 By the God of your father who will help you,
 And by the Almighty who will bless you
 With blessings of heaven above,
 Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
 Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
 26 The blessings of your father
 Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors,
 Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
 They shall be on the head of Joseph,
 And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.

Genesis (NKJV) 48:
 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:
 'God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
 The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
 16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
 Bless the lads;
 Let my name be named upon them,
 And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
 And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.'
 17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, 'Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.'
 19 But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.'

The expression above "a multitude of nations" (Genesis 48:19) in Hebrew is "Malo HaGoim" literally "the fullness of nations" (see Darby Bible Translation and Young's Literal Translation) meaning 'rule over peoples' or "rule over the peoples." The Aramaic Translation of Onkelos explains the expression in the same way. 'Fullness of Nations' may also indicate enabling them to become themselves.

Jacob in blessing Joseph emphasizes that he is giving him what he had received from his father and invigorating it. We therefore may deduce that the aspect of the Blessing that Jacob took from Esau was material prosperity and ruling the nations. This was passed onto Joseph.

We learn from other passages in the light of the Sages and Rabbinical Commentaries that the goal of the Israelite Tribes was to learn and keep the Torah, AND ALSO to elevate mankind BY ruling over the nations. They should have done this after coming out of Egypt and conquering the land of Canaan. The world however was not ready for them and they were not ready for the world. They therefore divided into two sections:

(1) Judah (the Jews) had to keep and develop the Torah.

(2) Joseph (head of the Lost Ten Tribes) lost his identity in order to eventually rule over and elevate the nations.

Joseph in effect received the Blessing initially intended for Esau. In order to bring the blessing into fruition he had to become like Esau. This was foreshadowed by Jacob having to disguise himself as Esau.

Joseph was to become not only the Leading Tribe among the Ten Tribes but also to be representative of them all.
The Ten Tribes were to be Exiled by the Assyrians and to lose consciousness of their Ancestry.
The Assyrians when they exiled the Ten Tribes used other peoples as agents to carry out their policies.
Amos tells us that the Assyrians used Phoenicians from Tyre (Amos 1:9, 11) and Philistines (of Minoan-Mycenean culture) to transfer Exiled Israelites (Amos 1:6) over the sea. Edomites  (Amos 1:9) were used as overseers in re-settling Israelite exiles.
The Ten Tribes would at first be subject to Edom (Amos ch.1) and adopt the cultural 'guise' of Esau as Jacob had done to receive the Blessing.
Edomites (descendants of Esau) had been not only in the Land of Edom but all over the Middle East including the area of Tyre.

Aylett Sammes (1636-1679?) recored that early Britain before the Anglo-Saxon invasions had been heavily influenced by Phoenician culture. Sammes identifies the Phoenicians by implication as Edomites with Canaanite admixture.
The Phoenicians dwelt in cities on the coasts of Syria and Lebanon. Their two main cities were Sidon and Tyre. The Phoenicians were also called the "Idumaean Tyrians" (Sammes p.71). In other words the Phoenicians from Tyre were also known as "Idumaeans" or "Idumaeans from Tyre". "Idumaean" is another form of the word "Edomite". The term "Phoenician" in Greek also implies "Red" i.e. in Hebrew "Edom".] The People of Tyre themselves had a tradition, recorded by Eusebius (ca. 300 CE) in the name of Sanchuniathon ca. 300 BCE, that Esau (i.e. Edom) and Samaria (i.e. Israel) were brothers who had both participated in the foundation of Tyre.

Joseph beyond merely receiving an extra portion as if he were the firstborn also has an ADDITIONAL TASK AND MERIT and as if in some way he will also represent all of Israel.
This idea is mentioned in the Rabbinical work by Rabbi Yeshayahu Ha-Levi Horowitz c. 1555 - 1630, "Shnei Lukot HaBrit" 2;22;a:
"Joseph has the aspect of Jacob above the other tribes, He is Joseph and his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh".

Joseph inherited the Role of Jacob in Divine Prophecy. Just like Jacob had disguised himself as Esau in order to receive the Blessing Joseph needed to do the same.
Historically Joseph became like an Egyptian and was not known to his brothers. He ruled over Egypt and saved his brothers along with the rest of humanity in his time.
Rabbi Avraham HaKohen Kook (1865-1935) said that the Messiah son of Joseph, future leader of the Ten Tribes, has an aspect of himself represented by those Jews who assimilate to the Culture of the Gentiles and elevate the Heathen Nations from within.
Rabbi Kook was referring to assimilated Jews. We however apply the same principle to the Lost Ten Tribes headed by Joseph. They lost their identity and became like the Gentiles in order to elevate themselves and the rest of humanity together with them. That is what the British and the Americans did!
See Also:
Geneaology of the Blessings to Israel