Jacob and Joseph as Imitations of Esau
A "Maskil" (intellectual skeptic) asked a great Hasidic leader, Rabbi Shalom Rokeach (1781-1855), founder of the Belz Hasidic dynasty, [approximately the following]
How is it that his fellow "Maskilim" wear modern European style clothes and are successful? On the other hand the Hasidim wear long coats, etc., and are often poor and less prosperous. Is there an explanation for this discrepancy?
Rabbi Shalom replied, somewhat facetiously, in referring to the Blessing that Jacob received:
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven
and of the fatness of the earth
and plenty of grain and wine....
This blessing was given to Jacob since he was disguised as Esau.
The Jewish Intellectuals, "Maskilim," also dress up like Esau. They wear the same clothes as the Gentiles do so they get the blessing first!
Rabbi Shalom was speaking half in jest but there was something to what he was saying.
Jacob received at least two blessings. The blessing he received when dressed as Esau is a little different from the one when he was himself....
Here is the blessing Isaac gave to Jacob thinking he was Esau:
Genesis (NASB) 27:
27 So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said,
'See, the smell of my son
Is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed;
28 Now may God give you of the dew of heaven,
And of the fatness of the earth,
And an abundance of grain and new wine;
29 May peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you;
Be master of your brothers,
And may your mother's sons bow down to you.
Cursed be those who curse you,
And blessed be those who bless you.'
The Blessing Isaac later gave to Jacob knowing he was Jacob:
Genesis (NKJ) 28:
3 May God Almighty bless you,
And make you fruitful and multiply you,
That you may be an assembly of peoples;
4 And give you the blessing of Abraham,
To you and your descendants with you,
That you may inherit the land
In which you are a stranger,
Which God gave to Abraham.
In a sense this second blessing confirms the first blessing Jacob had previously received (when disguised as Esau) but it does not mention ruling over other peoples like the first blessing did.
Later Jacob blesses his son Joseph and the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:15-18).
Here are the Blessings to Joseph:
Genesis (NASB) 48:
15 And he blessed Joseph, and said,
'The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
16 The angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the boys;
And may my name live on in them,
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.'
17 When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim's head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father's hand to move 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. Place your right hand on his head.' 19 But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.'
In Hebrew the expression translated here as "a multitude of nations" is "Malo ha-Goyim" meaning the "Fullness of the Nations." Ephraim son of Joseph will enable other peoples to exist. He will bring them to their fullness. Onkelos explains it to mean, "He will rule over the nations"].
20 So he blessed them that day, saying,
'By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying,
"May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!"'
The Blessing to Joseph (and his sons) are similar to those Jacob (pretending to be Esau) received from Isaac. Both Blessings promise Physical Plenitude and Rulership over other peoples.
The later blessing of Jacob to Joseph also indicates overcoming the enemy:
Genesis (NASB) 49:
22 Joseph is a fruitful branch,
A fruitful branch by a spring;
Its branches hang over a wall.
23 The archers provoked him,
And shot at him and were hostile toward him;
24 But his bow remained firm,
And his arms were agile,
From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 From the God of your father who helps you,
And by the Almighty who blesses 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 surpassed the blessings of my ancestors
Up to the furthest boundary of the everlasting hills;
May they be on the head of Joseph,
And on the top of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.
The Blessing to Joseph (and his sons) reflect those that Jacob (pretending to be Esau) received from Isaac. They predict outstanding prosperity, military prowess, and Rulership. This foreshadow the End of Times Encounter when Joseph goes to War against Esau.
Obadiah (ESV) 1:
18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire,
and the house of Joseph a flame,
and the house of Esau stubble;
they shall burn them and consume them,
and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau,
for the LORD has spoken.
cf. Ezekiel 25:12-14, Amos 9:11-12, Isaiah 34:5-8.
Disguise as Prototype. The Blessings to Jacob and Esau
When Jacob disguised himself as Esau he was symbolizing what the Ten Tribes would had to do. Esau became the prime military power among the nations. Edomite descendants of Esau also worked as partners to the Assyrians in re-settling the Ten Tribes in various sections of the Assyrian Empire including the Isles of Britain. Esau at first dominated the Ten Tribes in their places of Exile. The influence of Edom is still present among them! The Ten Tribes asserted their independence to some degree and gave expression to their Israelite destiny. They did this by adopting aspects of Edomite culture and behavior and even Edomite thought patterns. This was the Disguise of Jacob!
Joseph Disguised as Esau
The blessings to Jacob were acquired by him after disguising himself as Esau. These blessings were to some degree fulfilled through the Ten Tribes especially Joseph. They came to fruition after the Ten Tribes had lost consciousness of their Israelite ancestry and accepted the dress of Esau.