British Royal Collection

Isaac reaches out his hand in blessing to his son Jacob while Rebekah looks on in this detail of a painting by the 17th-century artist Govaert Flinck.

Though the blessing is meant for Jacob’s older brother Esau, Rebekah knows that God has promised that Jacob shall receive Isaac’s blessing. When Isaac instructs Esau to hunt and “make me a savory dish of the kind I like and bring it to me to eat so that I may give you my blessing before I die,” Rebekah overhears. She tells Jacob, “Go to the flock and pick me out two fine young kids and I will make them into a savory dish for your father…. Then take them into your father, and he will eat them so that he may bless you before he dies.” Reluctantly, Jacob obeys.

Jacob dresses in his brother’s clothes and wears, goatskins on his hands and neck to simulate Esau’s hairiness. Here the artist portrays Jacob wearing goatskin gloves. Isaac, old and blind, is deceived: “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau,” and he blesses Jacob.