Parasha (portion) Toldot (Generations) is the sixth week of study in this new year. The sixth week of study aligns with the sixth day of Creation in at least a couple ways. Let’s take a quick look before we get to the meat of this week’s lesson.
Genesis 1:26-28, “Then Gd said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So G-d created man in His [own] image; in the image of G-d He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then G-d blessed them, and G-d said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (NKJV)
Here we have Elohim speaking of creating Adam (man) in the image or likeness of G-d. We then read a repetition of 3 with respect to the creation of how man was indeed made. This repetition of 3 seems to link with the Abrahamic lineage. When we speak of the patriarchs, we always hear it quoted as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to clarify the lineage from which we are attached to through Yeshua (Jesus) regardless of if we are blood born into this lineage or spirit born through Yeshua’s Atonement.
Also, we read of the promised blessing of that lineage and you see the attachment of that blessing in the portion quoted above.
This week we will take a look at two ideas. One will hopefully explain, or at least offer up one possible answer to a question posed in the main idea this time around. The question of why Isaac favored Esau. If you take the time to read through this portion, you read how Isaac loved Esau (the first born) and Rebecca loved Jacob. It is curious to most who take a moment to think this through. Isaac certainly was aware of the prophecy that the elder would serve the younger. The elder was indeed Esau, so therefore the blessing clearly ought to have without question gone to Jacob the younger! Seems pretty cut and dry. So why then would he have been wanting to bestow the blessing upon Esau the elder?
One possible explanation may be found in the exploration of another idea that actually presented itself a few parashot ago.
What do you think of when presented with the name Abraham? If you have been studying these weekly lessons for any length of time, you would likely think of a man who was the first G-d-chaser. You would think of a very righteous man. You would think of Chesid/loving kindness. You would think of a man of great faith. There are so many ideas that are brought to mind when you hear the name of this great patriarch of our faith.
One thing you might not think of near the top of the list, or may not even think of at all is the idea of a mighty warrior! This idea most likely escapes most.
Read Genesis 14:14-18, “Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained [servants] who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which [is] north of Damascus. 16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people. 17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that [is], the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who [were] with him. 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he [was] the priest of G-d Most High.”
In this two sided battle of four kings against five kings, Abraham eventually goes to war against those who took Lot captive! He wins the battle and then has the famous encounter with Melchizadek.
In Genesis 14:19-20, “And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of G-d Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be G-d Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.”
The blessing of ‘Abraham “of” El Elyon posessor of Heaven and Earth” is pretty interesting to me. Abraham clearly had G-d’s attention for being a man that chased after Him. Now G-d the One who wholly owns the Earth has blessed Abraham with a victory in battle giving him authority, if you will, to retrieve that which had been taken.
Again, a powerful portion of Scripture that is quite easily overlooked. This one event may have played into Isaac’s desire to bestow the blessing upon Esau. Let’s see why.
Genesis 26:18-25, “And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. 19 Also Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water [is] ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarreled with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that [one] also. So he called its name Sitnah. 22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, “For now the L-RD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” 23 Then he went up from there to Beersheba. 24 And the L-RD appeared to him the same night and said, “I [am] the G-d of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I [am] with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 So he built an altar there and called on the name of the L-RD, and he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.”
Could it be that Isaac was what we might call today a pacifist? That may be a big charge, but these verses seem to indicate that he was easily pushed around and not willing, or able to stand and fight. Even though Abimalech said he was a mighty people, he certainly wasn’t acting like it. Furthermore, if Isaac was a brave warrior type, why would HaShem tell him to not be afraid, unless he was indeed afraid?
So when we look at this parasha and the struggle between the brothers Esau and Jacob for the birth right, we may possibly begin to understand that perhaps because Esau was a skilled hunter, not afraid to kill game that maybe somehow Isaac may have seen him as a better option to lead the descendants of Abraham over his brother Jacob who was a peaceful man, dwelling in tents. In other words, his brother Jacob was not a strong hunter-type, but rather what modern vernacular would call a book worm! In the flesh, who could blame Isaac for being tempted to choose the stronger to be the leader?
Baruch HaShem! (Praise the Name!) G-d’s ways are not our ways! His ways are above our ways. The ultimate lesson can perhaps be in the thought that we ought not to rely upon what we see in the natural. But we ought to only rely upon the promises of G-d to be fulfilled regardless of how the odds seem to be stacked up against us. He is faithful and true! Shalom!