Toldot is the sixth lesson taken from the weekly Torah portion being examined by many Jewish people around the world this week. It begins with the words, “Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son.”
This Week’s Reading
Gen 25:19–28:9, Mal 1:1–2:7, Rom 9:1–31
Like his parents before him, Isaac and Rebecca were barren. It wasn’t until Isaac prayed on Rebecca’s behalf that the Lord opened her womb and she conceived twin boys. As the first-born twin, Esau was the rightful inheritor of the material and spiritual legacy of Isaac. However, he was never going to receive it. There are two reasons.
First, when Rebecca experienced the rambunctious warring within her womb of her twin sons, God explained what was happening and why.
Two nations are in your womb;
And two peoples will be separated from your body;
And one people will be stronger than the other;
And the older shall serve the younger. – Genesis 25:23
By decree of God, the older son would serve the younger. Esau would serve Jacob. This was not the way things were done in the time of the Patriarchs. Let me remind you that God does things His own way. God does as He pleases, even if His actions make no sense to mankind. For some unknown reason, God elected Jacob as the benefactor of the blessings first promised to Abraham and inherited by Isaac.
Second, Esau did what he wanted. He acted on impulse. Giving in to his fleshly desires of the moment, Esau demanded, “Give me some of that red slop!” Drawn to the stew Jacob had made, the hunter became the hunted. Despising what was rightfully his, Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of beans and meat.
“He ate; he drank; he rose; he left, and he despised his birthright.”
This starkly direct translation of Genesis 25:34b is from the original Hebrew text. But the descriptive rendition sheds light on what was in Esau’s heart. It tells us why Esau could not receive the birthright and blessing of his father, Isaac.
Taking up the mantle of leadership for the descendants God promised to Abraham and Isaac was never something Esau wanted to do. He was a man of the field. While others cared for the family business, shepherding flocks and trading with their Canaanite neighbors, Esau went hunting. He loved being away from the family. The responsibilities of family leadership never appealed to him. Esau did not value the patriarchal roles associated with the Abrahamic covenant, roles assumed by Abraham and Isaac.
Jacob was a flawed individual. Throughout his life, Jacob wrestled with others. Esau, Isaac, Laban, Rachel, Leah, his sons, and with God. But in the end, Jacob fulfilled his destiny and God blessed him. He led his family into the future.
Let’s Talk About It
Jacob has a bad reputation, some of which is justified. Still, God used him. How do you see yourself in Jacob? Are there similarities you would be willing to share?
Like Esau, many men today are AWOL (Absent Without Leave) from their families. They think it is enough to do the hunting, providing food and shelter for their wives and children. How does this make them a target for the Enemy who is hunting them? What is the impact of this on their wives and children?
Jacob was a “momma’s boy.” Like Abraham and Isaac, Jacob was manipulated by a strong woman. Where did this tendency originate?