What does Genesis 27:40 mean?
ESV: By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
NIV: You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.'
NASB: And by your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother; But it shall come about when you become restless, That you will break his yoke from your neck.'
CSB: You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you rebel, you will break his yoke from your neck.
NLT: You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.'
KJV: And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.
Verse Commentary:
In the previous verse, Isaac began a response to Esau's request for a blessing. Only, it doesn't sound like a blessing. Isaac's original intent was to bless his older son, Esau, but the plan was overheard by the boy's mother, Rebekah (Genesis 27:1–6). She and Jacob pulled off a scam to impersonate Esau, fooling the elderly and blind Isaac into blessing the wrong son (Genesis 27:5–7). Both mother and father are motivated by blatant favoritism (Genesis 25:28). In Isaac's case, this meant that his blessing bestowed almost total dominance and success of one son over the other (Genesis 27:27–29). While Esau hopes to gain something—anything—from his father, Isaac has left nothing positive to grant now that he has been fooled.

Instead, Isaac has described the life of a nomad wandering the desolate places of the earth away from the dew of heaven and the fat of the land. Isaac continues here by predicting that Esau will live by the sword and serve his brother. One day, though, he will grow restless and break free of Jacob's rule.

The offspring of Jacob and Esau will clearly fulfill these prophesies. Esau's descendants became the Edomites, a violent and warring people who did in fact serve Israel under David's rule only to break free and take their revenge (2 Kings 8:20–22). The eventual doom of these people is predicted in the brief book of Obadiah.
Verse Context:
Genesis 27:30–46 describes the aftermath of Jacob's deception of Isaac in order to receive the family blessing. Once Esau arrives and Isaac realizes he has given the blessing to the wrong son, his body begins to tremble in panic. Esau, deeply distraught, cries out in loud and bitter agony. Isaac gives to Esau a leftover blessing that reads like a curse. Esau pledges to kill Jacob once their father has died. Learning of this, Rebekah urges Jacob to run away to live with her brother in Mesopotamia.
Chapter Summary:
Isaac's plan to pass the family blessing on to his favorite son, Esau, is thwarted by the deception of Isaac's wife Rebekah, and his other son Jacob. Old and blind, Isaac fails to recognize that the man claiming to be Esau is actually Jacob in a clever disguise. His prayer of blessing for wealth and rule over his brothers will remain valid though it is given under false pretense. Esau will be left with a blessing that sounds like a curse and a plan to murder his brother. Jacob will be forced to run for his life.
Chapter Context:
Prior chapters described the prosperity of Isaac, living in the Valley of Gerar. Genesis 27 leaps forward to near the end of Isaac's life. The time has come to pass on the family blessing. Isaac's intention to give that blessing to firstborn, Esau, is thwarted by the deception of Isaac's wife Rebekah and his other son Jacob. Isaac overcomes his suspicions that the man before him is not Esau and delivers the very blessing of God on Jacob. Esau is left with a near-curse and a murderous rage. Rebekah urges Jacob to go to her brother's household, a plan Isaac will endorse in the following chapter. There, he will ironically experience the sting of deception in his own life.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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