Posts Tagged ‘Birthright and Blessing’

Parashah 6: Tol’dot (History)

Parashah 6: Genesis 25:19-28

“Here is the history of Yitz’ak, Avraham’s son.  Avraham fathered Yitz’ak.  Yitz’ak was forty years old when he took Rivkah, the daughter of B’tu’el the Arami from Paddan-Aram and sister of Lavan the Arami, to be his wife” (Genesis 25:19-20).

History is an interesting subject as it reminds people of their ancestors as well as past events in their own lives.  Most believers don’t consider Genesis through Deuteronomy their own spiritual history, however, once an individual enters the  Kingdom of God, the family history described in the first five books of the Bible becomes their history, their  family lineage through Yeshua along with a myriad of adopted brothers and sisters.

Father Abraham

Isaac receives the same blessing as his father,

“I will fulfill the oath which I swore to Abraham, 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 is because Abraham heeded what I said and did what I told him to do–he followed my mitzvot, my regulations and teachings” (Genesis 26:4-5).

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

Hebrew Word Pictures

Mitzvot (Commandments)מצוותmem, tazdik, vav, vav, tav

a mighty desire bound and tied to the covenant

Choq or Chukkim (Statute(s)) – חוק – chet, vav, qoof

fence tied to what is behind

Abraham obeyed El Shaddai’s mitzvot long before Torah was given to Moshe on Mount  Sinai.  In other words, Abraham lived by Torah before the Torah was written on stone tablets because El Shaddai’s instructions were written on his heart.  His obedience was the set-apart way he lived out his faith. Abraham is called the ‘father of our faith’ because he willingly and faithfully obeyed El Shaddai’s commands even when they didn’t make sense to him. We are Abraham’s children, if we obeythe mitzvot written on the paper in our Bibles, the same mitzvot that should be written on our hearts by the Ruach HaKodesh (Galatians 3:7).

Nations at Odds and Prophecy

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

After years of prayer and disappointment, Rebekah finally conceives and she senses there are serious issues with the pregnancy.  There is jostling!  She seeks Elohim about the activity in her womb asking, “If all is well, why am I like this?” Elohim’s answer: twins!

“There are two nations in your womb.  From birth they will be two rival peoples.  One of these peoples 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. Esau is a word play on Seir as both mean ‘hairy.’  Seir is where Esau will eventually settle and his descendants will live.  Seir is also known as Edom (Adom)which also means ‘red’.

The second son emerges from the womb holding onto Esau’s heel so he is called Ya’akov, ‘he catches by the heel.’

Hebrew Word Pictures

Esau (Hairy) – עשו – ayin, shin, vav

see the consuming bondage

Ya’akov (Supplants) – יעקב – yod, ayin, koof, bet

finished work understood behind the family

Firstborns are generally chosen as the heirs to the family inheritance, however, Isaac has firsthand knowledge this isn’t always true.  He had been chosen over his older brother, Ishma’el, to receive the promises El Shaddai gave to his father.  Now, it seems the prophecy given to Rebekah and the presentation of the boys at birth that Jacob has been chosen over Esau to receive the covenant promises.

“I love you,” says the Adonai. 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’” (Malachi 1:2-5).

The words,“Yet I loved Jacob, but hated Esau” seem harsh; however, these words in the Hebrew are more correctly rendered as ‘accepted’ and ‘rejected.’  They don’t mean Esau was cursed and doomed to eternal separation from Elohim.  What it does mean is the covenant promises were going to go through Jacob’s lineage, not Esau’s.  Elohim’s calling on an individual’s life has divine purpose and is not the result of anything that individual does or doesn’t do (Romans 9:10-14).

Because Elohim’s callings and gifts cannot be revoked, Isra’el is loved because of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They will stand forever as Elohim’s chosen nation as they were called before Jacob and Esau were born, before the foundations of the world (Jeremiah 1:5, Ephesians 1:4).

“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” (Romans 11:28-29).

A Stew and A Blessing

The twin boys grew up together.  Because he was a quiet, gentle man and remained near the tents, Rebekah favored Jacob.   The Hebrew word for ‘quiet’ is tar suggesting Jacob was the ‘perfect man.’  By staying near the tents, it could be inferred that Jacob spent a lot of time with Isaac learning about the Elohim of Abraham, El Shaddai.   Tar also implies that he was obedient to his father’s instructions and represents the spiritual man who embraces the ways of Elohim.

Isaac favored Esau even though he spent little time in the tent with his aging father.  Perhaps this was because Isaac himself was a ‘man of the field’ as he prayed and waited 20 years for El Shaddai to answer his prayer and bring him an heir. 

As a skilled hunter, Esau was away from home most of the time.  As a hunter, he represents the carnal man and the ways of the world.  Being so often away from home, Esau either rebelled against his father’s teachings or just never spent enough time with Isaac to learn them or embrace them.   Whatever the reason, Esau gave 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 Jacob, the birthright held great significance as the one who received the birthright became heir to the promise given by El Shaddai to their grandfather, Abraham.

In Jewish tradition, it is taught that the red lentil stew Jacob cooked was meant for Isaac who was mourning the death of his father, Abraham.  This is called sitting shiva and the stew was a meal of mourning. Sitting shiva lasts seven days and symbolizes being ‘brought low’ during the mourning process. 

It seems that neither of these boys, who would have been about 15 years old at the time, understood the enormity of the death of their grandfather and the responsibility that would come for one of them. For a simple bowl of lentil soup and an oath, Jacob received the birthright from his brother, the birthright given to him prophetically from the womb.

Many years later, after Isaac had grown old and his eyes were nearly blind, he called Esau to him.  He asked him to take his hunting equipment, his bow and arrows and go into the country for some game meat.  He further requested that Esau prepare the food the way he liked it, tasty and good to eat.  Isaac would then bless Esau as his firstborn son before he died – in direct contradiction to the choice of Elohim.

Rebekah overheard the conversation and took ‘prophetic’ matters into her own hands.  She called Jacob and told him to get two goats from the flock.  She would prepare it the way her husband liked so Jacob would receive the firstborn blessing which was his through the promise.   Because Jacob had smooth skin, unlike his hairy brother, Rebekah prepared goat skins for his body and made him dress in Esau’s best clothes.  When everything was ready, Jacob went into Isaac and through a misrepresentation received the blessing of the firstborn. 

“May God give you dew from heaven, the richness of the earth, and grain and wine in abundance.  May peoples [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 27:27-29).

As soon as Isaac finished blessing Jacob, Esau returned to find he had lost the blessing.  He begged his father for a blessing and Isaac could only say, “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 word 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 bring 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 did not have a spiritual blessing nor did include the physical blessing of moisture needed for one who works the land.  Isaac’s blessing on Esau to be ‘away from’ the dew was actually a curse on his son.  Because he was cursed, Esau hated his brother and entertained thoughts of killing him.  Rebekah knew the intent of Esau’s heart and sent Jacob away to her brother’s home in Haran.  Isaac commands Jacob not to marry any Hittite women, but choose a wife from the daughters of his Uncle Laban.

Isaac blesses Jacob a second time.  This blessing passes on the promises given to him and his father.   With this second blessing, Isaac demonstrates that even with the misrepresentations,  he accepts the outcome because it had been prophesied by El Shaddai and witnessed by both Rebekah and Esau.  However it had transpired, the end resulted in the fulfillment of the prophecy given to Rebekah 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 Abraham, you and your descendants with you, so that you will possess the land you travel through, the land God gave to Abraham” (Genesis 28:3-4).

According to Proverbs 18:21, the tongue has the power of life or death.  In the account of Jacob 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 for which we will be responsible,  but every word we utter with our tongues.

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

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

The Battle of Wells

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 or valley.   An argument ensued between the Philistine herdsmen and Isaac’s herdsmen regarding the water.  Wells and water were scarce in this region and Isaac’s increasing wealth created jealousy between his herdsmen and the Philistines when it came to water rights. 

Three new well pits were dug, argued over and named esek meaning ‘quarrel,’  sitnah meaning ‘enmity’ and rechovot meaning ‘wide open spaces.’  After a peace-keeping agreement is made between Isaac and Abimelek,  a final well pit was dug and Isaac’s servants found water.  This well was named sheva meaning ‘oath’ and ‘seven.’  Be’er Sheva means ‘well of seven’ and became the name for this 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 in the Hebrew word ger meaning ‘stranger or sojourner.’ Gerar can also mean ‘lodging place.’ Gerar, the place where Isaac lodged as a sojourner, was located south of Gaza in the land of the Philistines.

From the word ger comes the word goyim meaning ‘nations.’ Goyim can also imply ‘pagan.’ Though this is only one nuance of the word ger,  it tends to cause confusion when some interpret goym as being fully ‘pagan’ which isn’t always the case.  A person from the nations – ger who becomes a follower of Messiah Yeshua is a Messianic goy or Messianic gentile and evidence that El Shaddai’s promise to Abraham being fulfilledamong the nations.

At Be’er Sheva a spring of living water was found.  Isaac’s servants not only had water for their physical needs from the unstopped wells, but this place of ‘seven wells’ becomes a powerful symbol that their spiritual needs were being met 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 Elohim and dig our own well pits rather than follow Him and receive living water through His Ruach.  Like in the days of Jeremiah and Yeshua, the Body of Messiah has forsaken the Word of Elohim 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 Elohim is trampled underfoot for the sake of traditions, we drink from broken cisterns and our spiritual lives become muddied and dry up.  In these last days, the living water springs of Elohim have become so plugged up with the traditions of men and the anti-semitic doctrines of church fathers that it is time to dig out the dirt and find living water that quenches our spiritual thirst – water that restores us to a true and vibrant spiritual life.  It’s not easy 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 Rebekah.  Multiple marriages with Canaanite women show that Esau acted selfishly without taking into account how his choices affected those around him.  He especially didn’t take into account any teachings or traditions passed to him by his father or mother – 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 had a change a heart and tried to make amends for all the bitterness he had caused in marrying Canaanite women.  Esau goes to Ishma’el and marries his uncle’s daughter Mahalath whose name in Hebrew means sickness or disease’ (Genesis 28:9).

Yeshua, the Flesh and the Spirit

“Here is how the birth of Yeshua the Messiah took place. When his mother Miryam was engaged to Yosef, before they were married, she was found to be pregnant from the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit]” (Matthew 1:18).

“While they were there, the time came for her to give birth; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in cloth and laid him down in a feeding trough, because there was no space for them in the living-quarters” (Luke 2:6-7).

“The child grew and became strong and filled with wisdom — God’s favor was upon him…. And Yeshua grew both in wisdom and in stature, gaining favor both with other people and with God” (Luke 2:40, 52).

“While all the people were being immersed, Yeshua too was immersed. As he was praying, heaven was opened;  the Ruach HaKodesh came down on him in physical form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with you” (Luke 3:21-22).

“He said, “Where have you buried him?” They said, “Lord, come and see.” Yeshua wept; so the Judeans there said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:34-36).

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, let not my will but yours be done.” There appeared to him an angel from heaven giving him strength, and in great anguish he prayed more intensely, so that his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44).

“When they [the soldiers] got to Yeshua and saw that he was already dead, they didn’t break his legs. However, one of the soldiers stabbed his side with a spear, and at once blood and water flowed out” (John 19:33-34).

“He is the visible image of the invisible God. He is supreme over all creation, because in connection with him were created all things — in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, lordships, rulers or authorities — they have all been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16).

“Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be possessed by force. On the contrary, he emptied himself, in that he took the form of a slave by becoming like human beings are. And when he appeared as a human being, he humbled himself still more by becoming obedient even to death — death on a stake as a criminal! Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow — in heaven, on earth and under the earth — and every tongue will acknowledge  that Yeshua the Messiah is Adonai — to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

Haftarah (Readings from the Prophets)

Malachi 1:1-2:7

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

Romans 4

Romans 9:6-16

Hebrews 12:14-17

1 Corinthians 15:44-48

Midrash Toldot: Two Natures of Man

Like Jacob and Esau, each of us are in a spiritual battle between our carnal flesh-self and our spiritual man.  Using Romans 7 and 8, discuss this battle when it comes to obeying Torah and doing the will of Elohim.

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