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When Jacob responds to Isaac's call in Genesis 27:19 [NKJV], he says these words:

“...I am Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.”

I'm curious to know what the specific meaning(s) of "...that your soul may bless me" is. I've researched online but have come up with really general or vague answers.

Why did Jacob have to specifically say "...that your soul (life?) may bless me?

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    The word that is translated as 'your soul' comes from a word that can mean person as well, or living being. I am not sure what it is you are asking, if the sentence was translated as 'that YOU may bless me' would you still have asked your question?
    – sara
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 5:49
  • No, I wouldn't have. Having that specific translation sounds really deep. But if all it means is "...so that you may bless me", then that is a sufficient enough answer for me. Thanks, sara!
    – Philip
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 5:51
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    Sara - that is a good answer and should be recorded as such. The only improvement I would suggest is including the actual Hebrew word, נָ֫פֶשׁ (nephesh) and another version (eg NIV or NASB) that gives exactly you version "you may bless me".
    – user25930
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 6:46
  • Agreed, Mac's Musings. I'd upvote that and mark it as the correct answer in a heartbeat. :D
    – Philip
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 7:22
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    @sara The emphasis is there, though; otherwise a simple 2nd person form of the verb would have been used.
    – user2672
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 6:44

2 Answers 2

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The word that is translated as 'your soul' comes from a word (נָ֫פֶשׁ nephesh) that can mean person as well, or living being.

When you look at another translation of this bible verse, for example the NIV or NASB, you see that it renders exactly this version:

19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” (Genesis 27:19; NIV)

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    Finally, your comment is now an answer. Woohoo! Thanks, Sara! :D
    – Philip
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 9:07
  • Rather than saying 'it means' person or living being, I would say it is used idiomatically in Hebrew to that effect, much like "not a living soul" is used in some dialects of English to mean "no one at all." Eg. "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour" clearly uses the word synonymously with "spirit." Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 19:02
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"bless" is more often used in reference to "praising" and "celebrating" than in distributing wealth. I list the soul-blessing verses from the LXX below:

[Psa 103:1-2, 22 ASV] (1) A Psalm of David. Bless Jehovah, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless his holy name. (2) Bless Jehovah, O my soul, And forget not all his benefits: ... (22) Bless Jehovah, all ye his works, In all places of his dominion: Bless Jehovah, O my soul. [Psa 104:1, 35 ASV] (1) Bless Jehovah, O my soul. O Jehovah my God, thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honor and majesty: ... (35) Let sinners be consumed out of the earth. And let the wicked be no more. Bless Jehovah, O my soul. Praise ye Jehovah.

I think it best to see him as saying, "I brought you your favorite: deer stew, so sit down, take a load off and enjoy it so you will bless me in your heart." Rather than begging for a left-over blessing (as his twin brother was reduced to) Jacob, in his Esau clothing was blessed with his full heart and soul.

It is possible, linguistically to read it "Eat it so you will bless me physically with your soul", having the sense of "Eat it so you bless me (with an inheritance) with your heart" but it rings hollow to me, personally.

Jacob was not the first born and had been a rascal even from the womb. But his father loved Esau because he was a rugged hunter and brought him homemade venison soup, not that canned stuff or the 25 cent Ramen! And when Esau sought a leftover blessing his father said "Sorry, I gave it all to your brother!" So Jacob was not set to get ANY inheritance! So in order for his "soul" to bless him he had to be hid in Esau. It was the soup that made his father love him.

This is prophetic of the believer who is hid in Christ as Jacob was in Esau:

[Eph 1:3-14 ASV] (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: (4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: (5) having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: (7) in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (8) which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, (9) making known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him (10) unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth; in him, I say, (11) in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will; (12) to the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ: (13) in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,--in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, (14) which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God's own possession, unto the praise of his glory.

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  • Thanks for your answer, Ruminator! In the context of Genesis 27, wouldn't the "word" bless mean to be blessed for prosperity as Abraham and Isaac were to fulfill God's covenant?
    – Philip
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 14:53
  • Jacob didn't ask for the inheritance - he set the stage. He asked his father to bless him from his soul. His father, filled with love from the soup and from his love for his firstborn son gives him every blessing. This might be akin to Solomon asking for wisdom and getting wisdom plus all things? But it is definitely related to God giving "every spiritual blessing" to those "in Christ". Of course, it could be that he asked for the blessing but that is the picture that is painted in my heart.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 14:58

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