The subject is taken from Genesis, Chapter 27, which tells how Jacob tricked his dying father, the blind Isaac, into giving him the blessing that rightfully belonged to his elder brother, Esau. Isaac's wife, Rebekah, is shown looking on. The deception - a simple matter of applying animal skins to imitate Esau’s hairy arms - was her idea as Jacob was her favourite son.
Desenfans bought this work in 1785 believing it to be by Rembrandt. The picture was later attributed to various followers of Rembrandt until, in the 1950s, cleaning revealed the signature of Horst, a well known imitator of Rembrandt.