Toldot / Offspring
Toldot begins with ‘This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac...’ Some translations begin with ‘this is the history’. Neither word; genealogy or history is a changeable factor. One cannot change their genealogy or change history. People try, but the facts of both remain steadfast.
Some explain genealogy and history as linear. But looking closely we see that it is really circular. They connect. History is a chain that drags the one link from the past and influences the link that follows. Genealogy connects the past with the present and future as each person connects with their DNA.
Toldot is a good example of this. The first thing we learn about the relationship between Isaac and Rebeka is that Isaac is 40 years old when he married Rebecca. Genesis 25:21 tells us that Rebeka is actually barren. Isaac pleads with the Lord for his wife Rebeka to have a child. A common thread is that Sara was barren and now her niece Rebeka is also barren and Jacob’s wife Rachel will also barren? What is the common link between these women, the mothers of the nation of Israel? What is the history of these women? What is the DNA that links them?
The history of Esau and Jacob continues. Esau was a cunning hunter; Jacob is called a dweller in the tents of learning. The two have been at odds since birth, as Rebeka experiences a difficult pregnancy as the children struggle inside of her. God tells her that there are two nations in her womb and the younger will prevail over the elder. Throughout their lives this prophecy is fulfilled up to the time of death; the consequence of the thoughts, speech and actions of Esau was to forego his birthright. Much later at the burial of Jacob, Esau has his head cut off while trying to prevent the burial of the patriarch Jacob in Machpalah. Thus, Esau lies at the feet of Jacob, as the elder will serve the younger.
However, Jacob does not leave this world unscathed. The trickery of Genesis 27:19 seemed to haunt him during his life. In Genesis 29:26 Laban tricks his son-in-law, Jacob, giving him Leah instead of Rachel, Laban states, “It is not done in our place, to give the younger before the first born.”
The pattern of the deceiver being deceived continues. After Joseph is put into the pit and then sold, Jacob’s other sons take his garment of many colors and dip it in goat’s blood, convincing their father that Joseph had been devoured. This is truly an extraordinary pattern. As a young man, Jacob deceived his elderly father into blessing him while wearing a goatskin in Genesis 27:16. Now, as an elderly father, he, himself, is deceived by his sons, who used goat’s blood to convince him of the death of Joseph. Genesis 37:31, 32.
What is the history and what is the legacy that we leave?
Psalms 112:2 ‘His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.’
Proverbs 3:35 ‘The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor.’
Proverbs 22:1 ‘A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.’
Psalm 78:6 ‘That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children…’
Deuteronomy 6:1-3 ‘Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ‘“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.’
The legacy that we impart on our children and the people that knew us must be that of The Father. If we impart the words of The Father, we impart truth.
Toldot / Generations
Toldot opens with clear communication between Elohim and Rebecca regarding the twins and her confusion: ‘But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.23 And the Lord said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” Genesis 25:19-23. God is quite clear how the life of the two twins will evolve and He shares this information with Rebecca.
At the birth, Esau is indeed born first: ‘So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.’ Scripture also states that Isaac loved Esau and Rebecca loved Jacob.
Scripture never reveals that Rebecca ever went to Isaac with the prophecy from God when she was pregnant. It is also remarkable, that even after God’s prophecy and clarity to her during her pregnancy, she still lacked the faith and found it necessary to switch the identities of the two sons to receive the blessing at the old age of Isaac.
What were the consequences of this deceit? Isaac, old and blind, felt betrayed by Jacob. He “trembled violently” when he realized what had happened, and said to Esau, “Your brother came deceitfully.” Esau likewise felt betrayed and felt such violent hatred toward Jacob that he vowed to kill him, forever instituting this life of hate for generations to come. Rebecca sent Jacob away to hide from his brother, and in doing so deprived herself from the company of the son she loved. As for Jacob, the consequences of the deceit lasted a lifetime, resulting in strife between his wives, and between his children. “Few and evil have been the days of my life,” he said as an old man to Pharaoh. Lives and generations scarred by one act which was not even necessary in the first place.
Rebecca was the immediate next generation from Abraham, her father in law. She knew him personally and in that relationship would have been aware of the trials and tribulations that Abraham endured. She would have been aware of the immense amount of faith that he had during his life with God.
Why then, would she not have learned from him and had the same faith? Especially since God spoke to her personally regarding her sons and the lives they would live. What caused her doubt? What caused her fear?
When we doubt God, we are likened to a double-minded and a very forgetful person.
James 1:5-8 ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.’
James 1:22-23 ‘Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Otherwise, you are deceiving yourselves. For anyone who hears the word but does not carry it out is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after observing himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.…’
When we doubt the Word and are determined to go our own way, we will experience these results:
- Confusion – Can you imagine taking the time and effort to disguise a grown son by using goat hair?
- Conflict – At the first thought of her scheme, Rebecca began the conflict that would plague her family.
- Cost – At a great cost, she deceived her husband.
- Loss – She lost the time with her son, and possibly the affection of her husband.
- Pain – Her decision inflicted pain upon all four.
- Disaster – A vow to kill followed the brothers until death and beyond.
- Consequences – Are to this day…
Life is to be lived under the guidance of the very Word of God, trusting Him in the decisions that we are to make. Faith, obedience and trust are coequal where one without the other suffers incompleteness. Faith without obedience and trust is simply faith in our own decisions without the guidance of God. Obedience without faith and trust is rote and a life without emotion and love. Trust without faith and obedience is an empty trust in an entity that is foreign to us.
Faith: Hebrews 11:8 ‘By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.’
Obedience: Genesis 26:5 ‘… because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”
Trust: Romans 4:3 ‘3 For what does the Scripture say? (Genesis 15:6) “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
May you be blessed as you study parsha Toldot. Baruch HaShem~ Rabbi Jay Howard