The name of this week’s parasha is Toldot, which means “generations” and covers Genesis 25:19-28:9. Isaac prayed to Adonai for his wife Rebecca to bear children and his prayer was answered. During Rebecca’s pregnancy, the children struggled inside her and she asked God why. Adonai told her that two nations were inside her; one stronger than the other, and the older child will serve the younger. Rebecca gave birth to twin boys and named the firstborn Esau, because of his red and hairy appearance. The second son was named Jacob, because he grasped Esau’s heel as he was born.
As the boys grew up, Esau was an avid hunter, while Jacob was a quiet man who dwelled in tents. Isaac preferred Esau because he enjoyed the meat Esau hunted, but Rebecca preferred Jacob. One day, Esau returned from hunting, exhausted and hungry, and asked Jacob for some of the stew he was cooking. Jacob offered to give him stew in exchange for his birthright. Esau agreed, thereby transferring his birthright to Jacob.
In chapter 26, a famine forced Isaac to travel to Philistine territory. While he was there, Adonai told him to remain and not go to Egypt, and that Adonai would bless Isaac according to the oath He swore earlier to Abraham. During his stay there, God blessed Isaac with so many animals and servants that the Philistines became jealous and fearful of him and King Abimelech told him to leave. Isaac went to the valley of Gerar and re-dug the wells dug by Abraham’s servants that were closed by the Philistines after Abraham’s death.
After quarreling with the herdsmen of Gerar over wells that his servants dug, Isaac dug another well that was uncontested by these herdsmen, and named it Rehoboth, or ‘broad places’, thankful that Adonai made room for him and those with him, knowing they would prosper.
Abimelech realized that God was prospering Isaac and came to see him, along with his advisor and military commander, and offered to make a covenant of peace. Isaac made them a feast and they swore oaths of peace with him the next morning before leaving. Isaac’s servants dug another well that he named Shivah, or ‘oath’.
We read at the end of the chapter that Esau married two Hittite women, and these women grieved his parents.
Isaac is described as elderly and blind in chapter 27. He asked Esau to hunt some wild game for him, so that he would bless Esau before he died. Rebecca overheard this and told Jacob to fetch two young goats that she would prepare so that Isaac would bless Jacob. Jacob feared that this deception might cause Isaac to curse him, since he was smooth-skinned and Esau was hairy. Rebecca replied that she would take the curse, and Jacob did as she asked. She prepared the food, dressed Jacob in Esau’s clothes and placed goat skins on his arms and neck.
Jacob brought Isaac the food and said he was Esau when Isaac asked who he was. Isaac asked to feel Jacob to see if he was Esau or not and Jacob obeyed. However, Isaac wasn’t sure, because he heard Jacob’s voice, but he felt like Esau. Satisfied that it was Esau, Isaac allowed him to present the food. After Isaac ate, he asked Jacob to kiss him-when Jacob kissed him, Isaac smelled an outdoor smell on his clothes. Isaac blessed Jacob with material blessings, authority over other nations and his relatives, and repeated Adonai’s promise to Abraham that He would curse those who curse him and bless those who bless him.
Shortly after Jacob left, Esau arrived and brought Isaac the food that he had hunted, and asked Isaac for a blessing. Isaac asked who he was and when Esau replied that he was Esau, Isaac was shocked and said that he had blessed someone else. Esau also begged for a blessing, but Isaac said Jacob had taken his blessing. Esau bitterly replied that Jacob’s deception fit his name. Isaac prophesied that Esau’s life would be impoverished, violent and separate from his brother.
Esau planned to kill Jacob after Isaac’s death, but Rebecca learned of his plan and told Jacob to go live temporarily with her brother Laban. Meanwhile, Rebecca told Isaac of the irritation Esau’s Hittite wives caused her, so Isaac told Jacob not to marry a Canaanite woman, but to marry one of Laban’s daughters instead. Jacob left to live with Laban and the parasha ends with Esau marrying an Ishmaelite woman.
We see in Parasha Toldot that Adonai’s will is accomplished, even when it defies convention. A similar situation in Scripture occurs when Ephraim was given preeminence over his older brother Manasseh in Genesis 48. Although these reversal blessings weren’t according to the standard practice of that time, they were done according to Adonai’s plan and purpose.
It was unnecessary for Jacob to deceive Isaac. Although Jacob received the blessing of the firstborn instead of Esau, he paid a terrible price-he was estranged from his brother and separated from his family. If Jacob had waited on God’s timing, he would have eventually received what Adonai intended to give him without using any trickery or deception.
However, we read that God loved and preferred Jacob over Esau in Malachi 1 and Romans 9. Despite Jacob’s shortcomings, he eventually obeyed Adonai and was part of God’s plan to bring salvation to those who accept Yeshua as Lord and Savior, since Messiah Yeshua came through the descendants of Jacob’s son Judah! So, don’t let your past define you, but make the necessary changes in your life ASAP to serve Adonai through faith in Yeshua!