Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #6: Tol’dot (History/Genealogy) B’resheit (Genesis) 25:19-28:9
Haftarah: Mal’akhi (Malachi) 1:1-2:7
B’rit Chadashah: Romans9:6-16
The narrative on the courtship of Rebekah is the longest chapter in the Book of Genesis, indicating that there is significant importance in the sequence of events and the description of the various characters. Even more, it is important that we explore Rebekah’s lineage to understand that just because she was from Avraham’s kinsmen, the evil inclination within the line was present. This fact will be further validated as we discuss Jacob and Esav who were born to Rebekah and Isaac.
Rebekah was Isaac’s cousin; the daughter of Bethuel, and a native of Padan-Aram, and the sister of Laban the Aramean.After 20 years of marriage and no children, G-d proclaims that “two nations” are in her womb and will be rivals from the start (Gen.25:23). This oracle foreshadows the tensions that will characterize the relationship between Jacob and Esav. These two boys would play a critical role in history as Jacob would later be named “Israel” by the angel of the L-rd and Esav would continue the line of evil until Edom is finally destroyed after Yahshua’s return and the final battle against evil is won.
Getting back to Rebekah’s lineage, Bethuel was her father, an Aramean and the youngest son of Nahor and Milcah, the nephew of Avraham. According to the Chumash commentary although her genealogy was already made clear, it was emphasized to call attention to the belief that although she was the daughter and sister of wicked men and lived in a wicked society of Aram which was the Hebrew designation for the nation of Syria, she did not emulate their ways. Rebekah did not assimilate into the social “norm” of her time but essentially “crossed over to the righteous line when she married Jacob just as Avraham crossed over from the idolatrous norms of Ur in Mesopotamia where he was raised to follow the One True G-d. As history reveals, Syria would later fight frequently against Israel (see Judges 3:7-11; 2 Sam.8:3-10; 10:6-8; 1 Chron. 18:3-4) and remains an enemy of Israel to this day. The exponential increase in antisemitism worldwide compared to the history of Israel and the Jews validate the fact that the line of evil ideology (Hamas) against G-d and his relationship with true Israelites extends much further than Gaza.
The enmity between Jacob and Esav and hatred for the descendants of the son of promise (Isaac) that remains today is declared by HaShem to Rebekah during her pregnancy. Imagine what she must have felt spiritually and physically. G-d informed her that her sons would represent two nations and two conflicting ideologies; again this represents Israel and Edom. The physical struggle Rebekah felt was symbolic of the future contention between them with the younger (Jacob)/G-d’s people prevailing in the end. Righteousness and lovingly following the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob cannot coexist with antinomianism against G-d’s Torah/evil/rebelliousness. This fact has not sunken into our modern world that touts and pressures those who continue to learn and live G-d’s instructions to not just love our neighbor but embrace and promote lifestyles that G-d clearly states are abominations. We see a direct contradiction here where supporters of all that G-d describes as abhorrent to Him and intolerable are promoted under the umbrella of loving ones’ neighbor with is a biblical command that is completely misconstrued and interpreted by the same people! The Chumash states this battle between good and evil that is described in our parashah beautifully: “Two regimes, one espousing morality and justice and the other standing for license and barbarity, cannot long coexist. They must always be in conflict until one comes to dominate the other, whether through victory on the battlefield or in the contest for men’s minds.” HaSatan’s attempts to take as many souls with him as possible is becoming clearer every day. One very clear example is the not- so -subtle pressure by the world to use computers for everything in tandem with the secular humanistic paradigm for educating our children and grandchildren. The minds of the young are being indoctrinated towards antinomianism under the guise of increasing knowledge and learning to express oneself regardless of the effects on others. No rules, no limitations of morality or respect for life. Instant gratification with a sense of entitlement is the order of the day. Unfortunately this is not new. Rather, it is just further along the historical pathway of mankind that started with the fall of Satan and what is believed to be a third of the angels when looking at Revelation12:4 and Mark 8:38 and the choice of most humanity to ignore and/or rebel against G-d and his Torah/instructions. This is verified by Matthew 7:13-14; 22:14; Rom. 9:27-8. The example in our parashah is consistent with this truth. Two boys, both from the same parents, yet each chooses a lifestyle completely opposite of the other. Jacob is described as growing up to be a peaceful man, morally preswho was one of Noach’s sons and Eber who was Shem’s great grandson. Esav on the other hand, became a hunter not only in the literal sense but was contentious. He was an ancestor of Edom (Rome and Christianity), of Amalek and Haman. Esav’s attitude toward G-d and his disregard for the blessings of the birthright become clear when he came in from the field, tired and hungry and agreed without hesitating to trade his birthright privileges for stew! This event describes the current lack of morality of the majority in our society today. That is demanding and taking rather than asking; assuming entitlement without considering the contribution of the efforts of others in reaching a goal or achievement; choosing to succumb to the animal soul of our humanity as a rule rather than making a constant effort to control the desire for instant gratification; a total disregard for G-d, His instructions for mankind, and contempt for anyone or anything that testifies to G-d as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
The Chumash presents an interesting commentary on Genesis 25:30: “Esau said to Jacob, “Pour into me, now, some of that very red stuff for I am exhausted.” (He therefore called his name Edom). Edom means “red.” Esav was ruddy, and the name “Edom” is a term of contempt. “According to Sforno who was an Italian rabbi, Biblical commentator, philosopher, and physician who lived in the 15th century, “onlookers gave Esav the name “Edom” in a derogatory manner, as if to say, ‘ You are so divorced from normal human values, so consumed with your hunting and plunder, that you look at food and refer to it only by its color… a person like you should be red, like the stew you wish to swallow!’”
The story of Jacob and Esav is a testimony to the fact that evil and good cannot coexist, even in G-d’s economy. HaSatan and his followers were thrown out of heaven, establishing the first chasm between the two. Isaac and Ishmael, Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esav provide a continuing reminder that “tolerance” as defined by western society today is not possible. Democracy has led to license. A majority vote does not make the vote in line with G-d’s standards. Tolerance of evil is in effect assimilation into antinomianism. G-d’s Torah also verifies this “He that turneth away from hearing the law (Torah), even his prayer shall be an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9); “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isa.5:20). Revelation chapter 12-13 is a prophetic narrative on the battle between good and evil, the growth of HaSatan’s kingdoms in opposition to G-d’s Kingdom, and the eventual permanent destruction of HaSatan/evil and all who follow him described in Rev. 20:7-15.
It does not take someone with an advanced education to deduce an accurate conclusion that the story of Jacob and Esav is a story illustrating the fact that good and evil cannot coexist in perfect harmony under any name such as tolerance and love as defined by today’s western society. G-d’s Torah is a historical and prophetical book of man’s history, the history of Israel, and G-d’s plan for mankind including the path to salvation and eternal life; and the final spiritual outcome for those who choose to lovingly learn about and follow His commands as did Jacob, and those who choose to take the path Esav took, demanding self -gratification and acceptance/tolerance of a lifestyle contrary to G-d’s instructions/commands.
Haftarah: Mal’akhi (Malachi) 1:1-2:7
Our haftarah begins with “A prophecy, the word of Adonai to Israel through Mal’akhi: ‘I love you,’ says Adonai. But you ask, “How do you show us your love?” Adonai answers, “Esav was Ya’akov’s brother. Yet I loved Ya’akov but hated Esav. I made his mountains desolate and gave his territory to desert jackals.” Edom says, “We are beaten down now, but we will come back and rebuild the ruins.” Adonai-Tzva’ot answers, ‘They can build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Land of Wickedness, the people with whom Adonai is permanently angry. You will see it and say, ‘Adonai is great, even beyond the borders of Israel.” The scripture continues to describe why Adonai hates Esav and his descendants, and that Edom will ultimately be destroyed. This prophecy is borne out in the B’rit Chadashah.
The second chapter of this haftarah addresses the fact that Israel cannot achieve greatness just because Edom will be destroyed. Israel had and has its own problems; that the priests cannot simply turn their service into an insincere practice, offering second rate sacrifices while saving the best for themselves. Finally, Malachi exhorts the Priests to live up to their calling, their responsibilities as role models and teachers. Only then can they pull the people to a higher level of spirituality. This is true of all leaders- they have the responsibility to teach and lead by example.
B’rit Chadashah: Romans 9:6-16
We have additional support for that which G-d as our Sovereign King ordained in our parashah; that Isaac was the son of promise, and that Esav will serve Yaakov when all is said and done. G-d reminds us through Sha’ul who was speaking to the Messianic community in Rome that He loved Yaakov but hated Esav because of his free-will choice to stray from G-d’s commands. We must understand that G-d knew how Esav would choose to live his life and reject his birthright. G-d did not predestine Esav’s choices. Sha’ul addresses those who say G-d is unjust in His choices by reminding us that G-d has pity and mercy on whomever He chooses and this is not dependent on our desires or efforts. Our purpose is to glorify Him, not ourselves. This narrative hopefully humbles the believer’s heart with the truth that while we are commanded to love the L-rd our G-d with all our hearts, souls, and might, the final say is His, Adonai Tzva’ot.
Rabbi Tamah Davis- Hart