One of my classmates wrote a thesis recently defending the polygamy of the ancient fathers. It is also difficult to account for what seem like lies in the Old Testament. St Thomas explains a few cases: the Hebrew midwives did indeed lie and that is why they received an earthly rather than a heavenly reward, and Abraham did not lie calling Sarah his sister on account of their common ancestors. But what about the following case?
"He said, Are you really my son Esau? He answered, I am." (Gen. 27:24)
My initial reading of this whole event is that Rebekah is encouraging a wrongful deception. Reading St. Louis De Montfort's account of this text led me to be open to the possibility that something more is going on. Still, even if a spiritual significance can be understood in this scenario, it is not clear that the literal events are themselves without blame. Isaac even says that Jacob came with guile, in contrast with the disciple under the tree in whom there was no guile. My most recent response to the above quote was to consider if there is some truth in him saying that he is Esau (as St Thomas interprets the words of Abraham). If by Esau is meant 'hairy one', then he had certainly made himself hairy; or if it means the one who will receive the blessings of the first born, then he may claim this. Yet names ordinarily signify some particular individual, in this case an individual who is not Jacob it seems.
So then I took it to be a lie, but then considered his benefits as temporal (as in the Hebrew midwife case). The blessing (27:27-29) consists in rain and fatness and grain and wine. It involves servants and dominion. All of these things immediately point to temporal benefits, although it not hard to see through to spiritual things. That Christ will descend from is truly is greatest reward, yet this is not mentioned here, except perhaps by the "dew of heaven and the fatness of earth," which points to Christ who descends from heaven yet is born of woman. And also the lordship which is given Jacob is a prefigure of Christ's perfect lordship over all creation. So no direct promise of such an heir, only earthly realities which themselves look forward to the one Utterance of the Father. I'll have to read the Fathers on this!
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