Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #6: Tol’dot (History) B’resheit (Genesis) 25:19-28:9
Haftarah: Mal’akhi (Malachi) 1:1-2:7
B’rit Chadashah: Romans 9:6-16;
Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 11:20; 12:14-17
This parashah includes the history of Isaac’s life, the birth of his sons who symbolize the G-dly line in Jacob and the ungodly line of Esau; the paths both men took, and the blessing of both by Isaac that provides the prophecy for the future of Jacob’s and Esau’s progeny. Read from the beginning of the parashah that the descendants of Jacob and Esau would be at war throughout the history of man. Adonai explained to Rivkah that these two boys are two nations who will be rivals; that one would be stronger than the other, and the older would serve the younger. Esau was the older as he was the first to emerge. Esau was a hunter who placed his priority on the physical aspects of life; hunting and being outdoors while Jacob was a quiet individual who stayed on the tents. What does this mean? Jacob chose to spend the majority of his time studying in the tents of Shem and Eber. Shem was Noach’s son and Eber was Shem’s great-grandson. Eber died at the age of 464 (Genesis 11:14-17) when Jacob was 79. According to Rabbinic sources, Shem is supposed by the Rabbis to have established a school in which the Torah was studied and Jacob was among his students. The majority of Biblical scholars believe that the written books were a product of the Babylonian captivity (c.6th century BCE), based on earlier written sources and oral traditions. Therefore, the rudimentary concepts of the Torah would have been available during this period joined by Eber, and the school was named for both men. The school was the seat of a regular bet din, which promulgated the laws of the time (Jewish Encyclopedia).
Esau wanted nothing to do with the study of G-d or his birthright that he valued less than food (Gen. 25:32). There is nothing wrong with loving nature or hunting if necessary to survive. However, this narrative illustrates the dangers associated with placing anything before our service to G-d. We are not to worship the creation over the Creator. Rivkah knew from the beginning that Jacob was the son who chose rightly and G-d’s declaration as the two boys were being delivered affirmed her favoritism toward Jacob.
The term “Edom” is synonymous with Esau and means red (Gen. 36:19) describing his skin color. Although Esau emerged from Rivka’s womb first, Jacob, whose name means supplanter grabbed Esau’s heel. Symbolically we can look at this verse (Gen. 25:26) and deduce that although HaSatan may initially appear to be the “winner” and emerge victorious though the fall of Adam, that YHVH/Yahshua has already won, grabbing evil (Edom) by the “heel” and thwarting HaSatan’s plan to have all men continue to sin, following human nature and the path of least resistance to their ultimate destruction; choosing priorities other than seeking, loving, and following the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and G-d’s requirements for being considered true believers (Israelites).
The destiny of Edom, which includes the Vatican/Catholic Church today is mentioned and referred to as Edom throughout Bible including the following verses: 1 Kings 9:26; Genesis 36:8; Isaiah 63:1; Obadiah 1:8; Ezekiel 35:15; 1 Samuel 14:47; Isaiah 34:5-6; Amos 1:11; Psalm 137:7; Lamentations 4:21; Ezekiel 25:12-14;Joel 3:19;Judges 5:4;Obadiah 1:1;Ezekiel 25:13, Jeremiah 49:7-18; Malachi 1:3, to name a few. Edomites are not only those from the biologic line of Esau who do not repent and turn to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but anyone who chooses to live in rebellion against G-d’s Torah. The outcome for both is the same; eternal separation from G-d, just as anyone who repents and turns to YHVH/Yahshua out of love and obedience will be grafted into the covenants and blessings of Israel whether biological or spiritual Jews defined by Yahshua in Romans chapters 2-3. Other evidence of Esau’s rebellious lifestyle is described in his choice of wives. He married two Kena’ani women, knowing they did not subscribe to the G-d of his parents and ancestors. In an act of appeasement, knowing his parents did not want him or Jacob to marry outside of their kinsman, he chose a third wife who was his cousin. His descendants include Korach and ‘Amalek of infamous reputations addressed in future parashot.
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. 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, that this is only part of the equation for salvation. The final say is His, Adonai Tzva’ot.
Rabbi Tamah Davis- Hart