Video: Were Rebekah and Jacob Justified in Deceiving Isaac?

Today’s question:

Having read Jordan’s Primeval Saints I find that he interprets the life of Jacob through a different lens from a more recent reformation reading. Specifically in the story of Jacob “stealing” the birthright, Jordan posits that Rebekah and Jacob are righteously deceiving Isaac in order for him to “regain sight” and be restored. Because the promise to Jacob had already been given, Rebekah and Jacob were acting righteously, even in lying. Jordan says that because Isaac has turned into a Tyrant, the only way to restore him is through deception. Curious to hear your thoughts on this passage which may/may not be often misunderstood. What is going on and are we to condemn Jacob/Rebekah for what they did or see it as an act of faith?

James Jordan’s superb book Primeval Saints is referenced in this video.

If you have any questions for me, please leave them on my Curious Cat account. If you have found these videos helpful, please tell your friends. If you would like to support my continued production of them, you can do so on my Patreon account. You can also get the audio of these videos on Soundcloud or iTunes.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Audio, Bible, Genesis, Hermeneutics, OT, OT Theology, Podcasts, Questions and Answers, Theological, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Video: Were Rebekah and Jacob Justified in Deceiving Isaac?

  1. Mike Ford says:

    The “deception” is a “type” of God coming as a Man (Jesus); hence Jacob’s name being the Deceiver. Also, 2nd born after Esau denotes “born again” – born of the Spirit.

  2. Mike Ford says:

    Jacob being “clothed” with “goat” skins symbolizes God (as Jesus) being “clothed” with the body of a Man – goats symbolizing “carnal, unsaved” Man.

  3. Aaron Siver says:

    This was very good, Alastair. I appreciate how you wrestle with the possibilities and carefully weigh multiple theological and ethical interpretations of the historical biblical narratives. It’s very edifying to listen and consider.

    I was having a Twitter conversation last night about the parallels between the stories involving Lot in Sodom and Rahab in Jericho and the notion of righteous deception that you explored previously in a question about “righteous Lot” (which was also enlightening).

    I’ve learned about the concept of righteous deception through James Jordan’s work. I certainly see it descriptively as a rhythm or motif that’s there in Scripture and is a reversal of the woman being deceived by the serpent. And you named a number of such instances.

    In my anecdotal experience, modern Evangelicals are particularly skittish about any sort of deceit or lying but possibly excessively so as a violation of niceness. Would you comment on righteous deception in general—about the wisdom, the dangers, the ethics, and so forth of the concept and the practice that contemporary Evangelicals should consider?

    I drop this question on your curious cat as well.

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