Parashah 6: Tol’dot (History)

Parashah 6: Genesis 25:19-28

“By faith Isaac blessed Ya’akov and Esau in regard to their future” (Hebrews 11:20).

History is an interesting subject.  It reminds people of their ancestors and their past lives with family and friends.  Most believers don’t think of Genesis through Deuteronomy as their own spiritual history. However, once a person is born again into the Kingdom of God and joins the commonwealth of Israel through ingrafting, the family history outlined the first five books of the Bible become their history, their  family lineage along with their adopted brothers and sisters.

Father Avraham

Isaac receives the blessing of his father, Avraham, from Elohim.

“I will fulfill the oath which I swore to Avraham, your father–I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, I will give all these lands to your descendants, and by your descendants all the nations of the earth will bless themselves.  All this because Avraham heeded what I said and did what I told him to do–he followed my mitzvot, my regulations and teachings” (Genesis 26:4-5).

Elohim is always the giver of the mitzvot.  In Hebrew, mitzvot means ‘commandments’.  This noun occurs 181 times in the Tenak (Torah, Prophets and Writings).  Its first occurrence appears Genesis 26:5, where mitvot is synonymous with hoq (statute) and torah (law). Because of Avraham’s obedience to mitzvot, he received everything that Yahweh desired to give him: land, descendants, and a blessing on the nations of the earth.

Avraham obeyed God’s torah, (without a definite article this word means ‘directions, teachings and instructions’) long before torah was given to Moshe on Mt. Sinai.  In other words, Avraham lived by torah before the torah was written on stone tablets because God’s instructions were written on his heart.  His obedience was the way he lived out his faith in El Shaddai. Avraham is called the ‘father of our faith’ because he willingly obeyed God’s commands even when they didn’t make sense to him (Romans 4).  We are Avraham’s children, if we choose to obey torah that is written on the paper in our Bibles and should be written on our hearts by the Spirit of God (Galatians 3:7).

Nations at Odds and Prophecy

Isaac is about 40 years old when he marries Rebekkah.  He prays for his wife to have a child as she is barren.  As her husband, he embraced the role of a spiritual leader and prayed for his wife.  He interceded on her behalf for her barrenness and the desire to have a family.  His prayers, though answered, took about 20 years for him to see the fruit of his labor.  He is 60 years old when his twin sons are born.

Rebekkah finally conceives and after years of prayer and disappointment, she senses there are serious issues with her pregnancy as there is jostling!  She seeks God about the activity in her womb asking, “If all is well, why am I like this?”  Elohim responds by telling her that she is having twins.

“There are two nations in your womb.  From birth they will be two rival nations [goyim].  One of these nations [goyim] will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).

Esau meaning ‘completely formed and having red hair’ is born first and is covered with reddish hair. “Hairy” is a word play on Seir where Esau eventually settles down and his descendants make their home.  Sier also known as Edom (red).  The second son emerges from the womb holding onto Esau’s heel so he is called Ya’akov (he catches by the heel, he supplants).

Firstborns are generally chosen as the heirs to their family’s inheritance.   However, Isaac had firsthand knowledge that this wasn’t always true.  He had been chosen over his older brother, Ishmael, to receive the promises of God given to his father.  Now, it seemed through the prophecy given to Rebekkah and the presentation of the boys at birth that Ya’akov had been chosen over Esau to receive the promises.

The prophet Malachi relates a word from the LORD to Isra’el:  “I love you,” says the LORD. But you ask, “How do you show us your love?” Adonai answers, “‘Esav was Ya‘akov’s brother.  Yet I loved Ya‘akov  but hated ‘Esav. I made his mountains desolate and gave his territory to desert jackals.” Edom [the land where Esau lived] says, “We are beaten down now, but we will come back and rebuild the ruins.” Adonai-Tzva’ot answers, “They can build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Land of Wickedness, the people with whom Adonai is permanently angry. You will see it and say, ‘Adonai is great, even beyond the borders of Isra’el.’”

The words, “yet I loved Ya’akov, but hated Esau” seem harsh; however these words in the Hebrew are more correctly rendered ‘accepted’ and ‘rejected.’  Still, they don’t mean that Esau was cursed and doomed to eternal separation from God because Esau became a very blessed man.  What it does mean is that the covenant promises were going to go through Ya’akov’s lineage, not Esau’s.  God’s calling on a persona life has a divine purpose and is not the result of anything that a person does or doesn’t do.

Sha’ul explains the two different callings on the lives of Ya’akov and Esau in Romans 9:10-14, “And even more to the point is the case of Rivkah [Rebekkah]; for both her children were conceived in a single act with Yitz’chak [Isaac], our father; and before they were born, before they had done anything at all, either good or bad (so that God’s plan might remain a matter of his sovereign choice, not dependent on what they did, but on God, who does the calling), it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” This accords with where it is written [in Malachi], “Ya‘akov I loved, but Esav I hated.  So are we to say, “It is unjust for God to do this”? Heaven forbid!”

Romans 11:28-29 goes even further regarding the nation of Israel and her calling, “With respect to the Good News they [Isra’el] are hated for your sake. But with respect to being chosen they [Isra’el] are loved for the Patriarchs’ sake, for God’s free gifts and his calling are irrevocable.”   Because God’s callings and gifts cannot be revoked, Israel, consisting of all the future descendants of Ya’akov, is still loved because of Avraham, Isaac and Ya’akov.  They will stand forever as they were called and chosen even before the twins were born, before the foundations of the world (Jeremiah 1:5, Ephesians 1:4).

The Stew and the Blessing

The twin boys grow up together.  Because he is a quiet, gentle man and remains near the tents, Rebekkah favors Ya’akov.   The Hebrew word for ‘quiet’ is tar suggesting he was the ‘perfect man.’  By staying near the tents, it could be inferred that Ya’akov spent a lot of time with his father learning about the God of Avraham.  Tar also implies that he was obedient to his father’s instructions.

Isaac favors Esau even though he spends no time in the tent with his aging father.  As a skilled hunter, he is  away from home most of the time.  As a man of the field, he represents the carnal nature of man and the ways of the world.  Being away from home, Esau either rebels against his father’s teachings or just never spends enough time with his father to learn them.   Whatever the reason, Esau gives up his birthright for a pot of stew.

In ancient times, the birthright was a sacred position belonging to the firstborn. The family name and titles were passed along to the eldest son, as well as the largest portion of the family’s inheritance. In the case of Esau and Ya’akov, the birthright held great significance as the one who received the birthright became heir to the promise given by God to their grandfather, Avraham.

In Jewish tradition, it is taught that the red lentil stew Ya’akov cooked was meant for Isaac who was mourning the death of his father, Avraham.   It would seem that neither of these grandsons, who would have been about 15 years old at the time, understood the enormity of the death of their grandfather and the responsibility it held. For a simple bowl of lentil soup and an oath, Ya’kov receives the birthright from his brother.

Many years later, after Isaac had grown old and his eyes were going blind, he called Esau to him.  He asked him to take his hunting equipment, his bow and arrows, and go into the country and get some game meat.  He further requested that Esau prepare the food the way he likes it, tasty and good to eat.  At that time, Isaac would then bless him as his firstborn son before he died.

Rebekkah overheard the conversation and took matters in her own hands.  She called Ya’akov and told him to get two goats from the flock.  She would prepare it the way her husband liked so that Ya’akov would receive the firstborn blessing.  Because Ya’akov had smooth skin, unlike his hairy brother, Rebekkah prepared goat skins for his body and made him him dress in Esau’s best clothes.  When everything was ready, Ya’akov went into his father and through deception received the blessing of the first born. 

“May God give you dew from heaven, the richness of the earth, and grain and wine in abundance.  May nations [goyim] serve you and nations bow down to you.  May you be lord over your kinsmen, let your mother’s descendants bow down to you.  Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you” (Genesis 28:27-29).

As soon as Isaac finished blessing Ya’akov, Esau returned to find he had lost the blessing.  He begged his father for a blessing and all that Isaac could say was, “Your dwelling shall be away from the fertility of the earth and away from the dew of heaven above; but you shall live by your sword, and serve your brother; however it shall come to pass when you break loose [from your anger and hatred], that you will tear his yoke off your neck [and you will be free of him]” (Genesis 27:39-40 Amplified Bible).

‘Dew’ in Hebrew is the world tal and represents not only morning dew, but also the mist in the evening.   Dew symbolizes spiritual well being just as well-watered land produces enough moisture to brings forth dew.  Without dew, there is no spiritual life, blessing or flourishing crops (Zechariah 8:12, Haggai 1:9-10).  The blessing that Isaac gave Esau was that he would not have spiritual blessing nor would he have the moisture needed for one who works the land.  Isaac’s blessing on Esau to be ‘away from’ the dew is actually a curse on his son.  Because he was cursed, Esau hated his brother and comforted himself with thoughts of killing him.  Rebekkah knew the intent of his heart and sent Ya’akov to her brother’s  home in Haran.  Isaac commands Ya’akov not to marry any Hittite women, but to go to his grandfather’s house and choose a wife from the daughters of his Uncle Laban.

Isaac blesses Ya’akov a second time.  This blessing passes on the promises given him and his father.   With this second blessing, Isaac clarifies that even with all the deception, he has reconciled himself with the outcome because it had been witnessed by both Rebekkah and Esau.  However it had been manipulated, if it even was manipulated, the end resulted in the fulfillment of the prophecy given to Rebekkah when the twins battled in her womb.

“May El Shaddai bless you, make you fruitful and increase your descendants, until they become a whole assembly of peoples.  And may he give you the blessing which he gave Avraham, you and your descendants with you, so that you will possess the land you travel through, the land God gave to Avraham” (Genesis 28:3-4).

Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has the power of life or death.  In the account of Ya’akov and Esau, words made the difference between a life of blessing and a life of curse.  Yeshua says in Matthew 12:26 that each of us will give an account for idle words.  It’s not just blessings or curses that we’re responsible for, but every word we utter with our tongues.

Ya’akov goes off to Paddam-Aram near the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia to meet his Uncle Laban and his family.

The Need for Water

When Isaac returned to the land of Gerar, in the land of the Philistines, he found that his father’s well pits had been stopped up.  The Philistines had maliciously filled the holes with dirt.  His servants not only opened the wells again, but found a spring of fresh running water in the vadi (valley).   An argument ensued between the Philistine herdsmen and Isaac’s herdsmen regarding the water.  Wells and water are scarce in this region of Israel and Isaac’s increasing wealth created jealousy between his herdsmen and the Philistines when it came to water rights. 

Three new wells pits were dug, argued over, and named esek (quarrel), sitnah (emnity) and rechovot (wide open spaces).  After a peace-keeping agreement is made between Isaac and Avimelek,  a final well pit was dug and Isaac’s servants found water.  This well was named shiv’ah (oath, seven);  Be’er Sheva (well of seven) became the known name for its location. 

The Hebrew word for ‘well’ is be’er and literally means ‘pit.’   Generally these type of well pits have narrow mouths which can be blocked with a stone or mound of dirt as was the case in Gerar.  Gerar has its root derivation from the Hebrew word ger meaning ‘stranger or sojourner.’  Gerar can also mean ‘lodging place’ and Gerar, the place where Isaac lodged, was located south of Gaza in the land of the Philistines.   From the word ger derives the word goyim meaning ‘nations.’ Goyim also has the meaning of ‘pagan’. Though this is one nuance of the word, it causes confusion when some interpret ‘nations’ as being fully ‘pagan’ which isn’t always the case.   A non-Jewish person who is a a follower of Messiah is from the nations; a Messianic goy, evidence of God’s promise to Avraham being fulfilled.

At Be’er Sheva, the place of the seven wells,  a spring of living water was found .  Isaac’s servants not only had water for their physical needs from the unstopped wells, but it is also a powerful symbol given that their spiritual needs were being bet through Isaac, the heir to the promise.

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

According to Jeremiah, it is a sin to forsake God and dig our own well pits (cisterns) rather than following God and receiving living water through His Spirit.  Like in the days of Jeremiah and Yeshua, the body of Messiah has forsaken the Word of God for the traditions of men – not just Jewish traditions, but all religious traditions that are not rooted in the Scriptures.  Every time the Word of God is trampled underfoot in the guise of being irrelevant, we drink from broken cisterns and our spiritual lives dry up.  In these last days of restoration,  the living water springs of Yahweh are so plugged up with the traditions of men and the doctrines of the institutional church that we need to dig out the dirt and remove the stones in order to find water that quenches our thirst;  water that restores us to a true and vibrant spiritual life.  It’s not easy an easy job to remove the hard-packed dirt that has filled the holes, but the reward will be ‘water from the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:1-3).

Esau’s Wives

Esau marries Hittite women, descendants from Heth, the son of Canaan.  These women embitter Isaac and Rebekkah.  Marriages with multiple Canaanite women show that Esau always acted selfishly without taking into account how his choices affect those around him.  He especially didn’t take into account any teachings or traditions given to him from his father or mother when he acted–whether it was his birthright, his blessing, or his progeny.   After losing the blessing of his father and observing how his brother obeyed and loved his parents, Esau changed his rebellious heart and tried to make amends for all the bitterness he had caused in marrying Canaanite women.  In Genesis 28:9, Esau goes to Ishmael, his uncle, and marries Mahalath, Ishmael’s daughter or Machalat bat Ishmael, which means in Hebrew the sickeness or disease of Ishmael.’

Haftarah (Readings of the Prophets)

Malachi 1:1-2:7

B’rit Hadashah (New Testament Readings)

Romans 9:6-16

Hebrews 12:14-17

1 Corinthians 15:44-48

Midrash Toldot:  Jacob and Esau

Isra’el who holds a spiritual destiny within Jacob struggles with his firstborn carnal desires represented in Esau.  Each of us have a spiritual and carnal nature like Jacob and Esau.  Use Romans 7 and 8 to discuss the battle between the spiritual man and the carnal man when it comes to obeying Torah and doing God’s will.

Ya’akov represents the spiritual side of the believer who struggles with their firstborn fleshly desires represented in Esau.  Each of us have a dual nature like Ya’akov and Esau; spiritual and carnal.   When faced with life situations, we look at what we’re made of, adamah (red earth), rather than looking to Creator who made us.  What’s really inside  is exposed when faced with physical challenges and oppositions.

©2013 Tentstake Ministries

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