Parashah 6: Toldot

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse synago...
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Torah: B’resheit (Genesis) 25:19-28:9
Haftarah: Malachi 1:1-2:7
B’rit Chadashah:  Romans 9:1-33

In the story of Isaac, Jacob, and Esau, we can find the entire history of the world knit together.  Isaac’s life, from his miraculous conception to his near-sacrifice on Mt. Moriah to his union with his bride after the Akkedah, is a picture of the life of the Messiah Himself.  Jacob, as all acknowledge, is a picture of the people who would bear the name the Angel of Hashem gave him: Israel.  What then of Esau?  We’ll go into that in a future parashah.

Jacob often gets a bum rap from Christian commentators.  I suspect that this is in part because of the old anti-Semitic slurs about the Jews being sly and deceitful.  Jacob’s “theft” of his brother’s birthright just helped to cement that image.  However, in being so quick to pass judgment on the Jewish people, two major facts are ignored:  First, Jacob had already legally purchased the firstborn rights.  Therefore, either Esau was acting deceitfully in attempting to receive the blessing, or Isaac was refusing to acknowledge the purchase.  Secondly, it was only at the insistence of his mother Rebekah that Jacob finally gave in and lied to his father.

Nevertheless, Jacob’s actions in securing the rights to the Covenant are repeated in Jewish history.  Rather than trusting the Holy One to bring about the promise that the older would serve the younger in His time (Gen. 25:23), Jacob took the matter into his own hands by buying the birthright and “stealing” the blessing.  In the same way, Rabbi Sha’ul writes, “For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they didn’t subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3).

And why was the righteousness revealed in Yeshua rejected?  It was because the Temple leadership, like Rebekah, feared that if they did not act, the Romans (who have always been associated with Esau in the Midrash) would come and destroy the Covenant nation (John 11:50).

But there are always consequences for taking God’s promises into our own hands.  Abraham tried to make the promise of a son come true by taking Hagar as his concubine, and the result has been four thousand years of strife between Isaac and Ishmael.  Likewise, by taking action to secure the Covenant which he already had by promise, Jacob became the target of Esau’s ‘Olam Ebah, the Eternal Hatred, which continues to play out even in our own day.  And just as Jacob was forced from the Land by Esau, so Jacob’s descendants were forced from the Land by the Romans after (twice!) attempting to secure the promise of an independent and eternal Kingdom by the strength of our own sword-arms.

But just as Jacob, after a long exile, was restored to the Land and had peace with his brother, so our own people have returned to the Land and will have peace with their brothers.  But that is next week’s story.

Shalom.

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