Torah Pearls #6 – Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9)

In this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9)God’s desire and ability to establish a universal and eternal plan within three generations of a mere human family comes to the forefront. Discussions include: Are three related nations depicted among these generations? What is the symbolic significance of Isaac’s wells? Word studies include: “red,” “heel,” “trembled,” and how the KJV back-tracked to render a personified view of “satan.” We see familial patterns continue as Isaac echoes, “she’s my sister,” and Rebecca steps away from the daily grind to “seek Yehovah.”  The trio explores Jacob and Esau’s differences—a shepherd with a plan and a hunter in the moment—as well as the defining difference that altered their destinies. As Jacob sets off with the double portion, God’s mixed-multitude plan is set in motion—a plan to bring his covenant to all mankind. Jeannette wrote: “The discussion was amazing as usual. So many good Torah pearls today.”

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Transcript

Torah Pearls #6 – Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9)

You are listening to The Original Torah Pearls with Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, and Jono Vandor. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

Jono: G‘day to everybody listening wherever you are around the world and thank you for your company. Joining me this hour is Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Keith, of course, is the author of His Hallowed Name Revealed Again and also available is the twelve-episode DVD series entitled His Hallowed Name. Keith is co-author with Nehemia Gordon of the book of A Prayer to Our Father: Hebrew Origins of the Lord’s Prayer. Now, Nehemia Gordon, author of The Hebrew Yeshua Vs. the Greek Jesus, all of which, including The Hebrew Yeshua Vs. the Greek Jesus live teaching DVD is available from truth2u.org. Gentlemen, welcome back to Pearls from the Torah Portion.

Nehemia: G’day, Jono.

Keith: G’day, Jono.

Jono: It’s wonderful to have you back.

Nehemia: I speak Australian.

Jono: Yes. You’ve been practicing, that’s good. I like that.

Nehemia: That’s my third language, Hebrew, English, and Australian.

Jono: And Aussie.

Nehemia: Aussie, yes.

Jono: This week we are in Bereshit 25 verse 19 to 28, verse 9, the genealogy of Isaac. This, of course, also has the story of Esau and Jacob. There’s a lot in here.

Nehemia: Yeah, there is.

Jono: There really is. Let me kick off with the opening verse, “This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as a wife, the daughter of Bethuel,” and so on and so forth. He was 40 years old, just curiously, how old do you reckon, I mean do we know...?

Nehemia: Well, there’s actually a rabbinical tradition that tells us that Rebekah was three years old when he married her. That’s pretty messed up, that’s all I can say. First of all, obviously, it doesn’t fit the context of the actual story because they’re asking her, “Do you want to go,” and it doesn’t even make sense that he’d ask a three-year-old. Obviously, she was an adult that could make adult decisions. We don’t know exactly how old she was, but she may have been considerably aged because she was having trouble giving birth. She may have been advanced in years and that’s why they needed this miracle and prayer in order for her to give birth.

Jono: Yeah, right. “He pleaded,” Isaac, verse 21, “pleaded with Yehovah for his wife because she was barren,” and so on and so forth. Three years old? You’ve shocked me with that. I had absolutely no idea.

Nehemia: That’s the rabbinical tradition. That’s just one opinion, there’s actually a debate about that in the Talmud.

Jono: Okay. I mean, I can’t see a three-year-old carrying a pitcher of water.

Nehemia: Me neither. Maybe it’s a really small pitcher.

Jono: Maybe it is.

Nehemia: For really small midget camels.

[laughing]

Jono: Quite possibly. “If all is well, why am I like this?” she said. We’re in verse 24, “So she went to inquire of Yehovah. And Yehovah said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb.’” Now, the first question I have - and Keith, maybe you have an idea on this - there are two nations. Obviously, one of them we’re talking about the nation of Israel. What is the other nation?

Keith: You’re speaking of Esau, correct?

Jono: I’m speaking of Esau.

Keith: Well, before, you know I have to do the “before we get there”, right?

Jono: Yeah, Torah Pearl!

Nehemia: Classic Keith, of course.

Keith: I have to do that, and the reason I have to do that is I was reading this and something jumped off the page, for me, as I was reading it. It says that Isaac was 40 years old, and then it says he prays to Yehovah on behalf of his wife. Now, we don’t know when he did that, maybe it was the first year, the second year, the third year. Whenever that was, it says that when the time came for her to give birth, speaking of the first one to come out, well, in verse 7, it says Isaac was 60 years old when she gave birth.

What I thought was interesting is, at some point after he gets married, they find out that she’s barren. Again, who knows how long that was, but regardless of what her age is, Isaac was 40 when he took her as a wife, he was 60 when she finally had the children - that’s 20 years. The reason that jumped off the page for me is it says he prayed. Now, he could have prayed in the 41st year. He could have prayed in the 42nd year. He could have prayed three years after they were married. It took until he was 60 to have the child, and sometimes, I know that at least for some of the people that are listening we pray a prayer and we’re, like, “Okay, where is the answer? Where is the answer?” Literally, potentially, 20 years before she has these children, and that didn’t change God’s faithfulness. That His timing is perfect. But literally, 20 years before she has these children.

And sometimes, at least over in our part of the world - it may be different in Australia and over in Israel - but we’re in a very instant society, you know, microwaves, push the button to make a phone call. And the Father, in His wisdom, has timing as a part of who He is, and His timing is perfect. So I just thought that was interesting that it was 20 years between the time he married her and the time she had the children. We read that so quickly, like, “Yeah, he prayed, she had the babies, of course…” No - 20 years! So that was encouragement for me. That it’s not always simple. It’s not always quick. It’s not always fast. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Amen?

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: It’s a great relief to me that she was at least 23 when she gave birth. Nehemia?

[laughing]

Nehemia: Yes, another little pearl here that jumped off the page for me was where it says, “And she went to seek Yehovah,” “vatelech lidrosh et Yehovah.” What does that mean, “she went to seek Yehovah”? Where did she go? Did she go to a prophet? Did she go out into the field, like Isaac had been doing when she first came, speaking to God in the field? Maybe she went out into the field and sought Yehovah. Then she gets this answer where He actually speaks to her. What a beautiful thing.

Jono: Yeah, it is. Again, this is where we are, this is what he says to her, “Two nations are in your womb.” Now, obviously, through Jacob, we have Israel. Esau - who is the nation of Esau today?

Nehemia: That’s an interesting question. That’s a great question.

Keith: That’s a great question. Torah Pearl! Torah Pearl!

Nehemia: It’s really interesting because you have these three related nations. You have Israel, Ishmael, and Edom. Edom is the descendants of Esau; in Hebrew, he’s called Esav. So, who is Edom and who is Ishmael? The answer is, we really don’t know. But I can tell you what Jewish tradition says. Or maybe I shouldn’t, because you might not like it. I don’t know that this is true, I could just share what it says, though. Should I not?

Jono: Yeah, sure. Because the reason I asked is I know there’s a lot of speculation about that. Verse 30 says, “And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am very weary.’ Therefore, his name was called Edom.” That’s what I’ve got in the New King James.

Nehemia: Right. Edom is Edom in Hebrew. Edom in Hebrew, which means red. What happened to the nation of Edom and what happened to the nation of Ishmael? So what Jewish tradition says - and this isn’t presented as an opinion, it’s spoken about as fact - is that Ishmael is the Arabs, then by extension the Muslims. That’s not a secret. I mean that’s pretty well known I think. They certainly claim to be Ishmaelites.

Then Edom would then be the Christians. Then how do they get from Edom to the Christians? Well, the Hebrew word “Edom,” sounds very much like Rome. The “dalet” and “resh” are written in a way that’s almost identical. What happened is when Jews wanted to talk about Christianity, the Roman Empire, and later, the Roman Catholic Church, they referred to it as Edom. You can actually see some of that, if I’m not mistaken, I think that you already find hints of that in the Dead Sea Scrolls - that’s before Christianity - that they’re referring to the Romans as Edom. That’s simply because Edom sounds like Rome, and it’s written almost identically in Hebrew - Rome and Edom.

Jono: That is news to me.

Nehemia: Now, does that mean that the Christians were Edomites? That’s not what I’m saying. But you asked... you didn’t ask, but I offered who did Jews traditionally and historically identify as Edom and the Ishmaelites, the answer is the Muslims and the Christians.

Jono: Keith, have you heard that before? That’s one I’ve never heard before. Have you aware of that at all?

Keith: No, but I guess... I would like to do some further research on that.

Jono: That’s definitely food for thought, isn’t it?

Nehemia: It also relates to the fact that, obviously, from a Jewish perspective, you have the Edomites and the Ishmaelites, who are these kind of cousin nations. They’re like us, but then they’re different. That’s how Jews have historically seen the Muslims and the Christians.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Because both Muslims and Christians claim, at least, that they believe in the Torah of Moses, but then in practice, they don’t actually observe it. They observe various other things. Certainly historically, that’s what’s by and large, been the case. So from the Jewish perspective, it’s something similar to us, but it’s still different. I think that’s where you get this identification of... and maybe they didn’t mean it literally, that the Muslims are Ishmael and the Christians are Edom, but symbolically, at the very least. You’ll find in numerous Jewish sources, ancient Jewish sources, some of them 2,000 years old, they’ll talk about Edom and they mean the Roman Empire, and then later the Roman Catholic Church.

Jono: That is fascinating.

Keith: Wow. And your opinion on this, Nehemia, is this a tradition or is this true?

Nehemia: Oh, it’s a tradition, so I don’t know. I have great doubts about those identifications, let me put it that way.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: I think... there’s actually some historical evidence about things that have happened to the Edomites. Then the Ishmaelites - that’s a whole separate discussion. What I was talking about is certainly... If you say to an ultra-Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, “Those horrible Edomites,” he knows exactly what you’re talking about - you mean Christians. If you say, “Those horrible Ishmaelites,” or, “Those wonderful Ishmaelites, and wonderful Edomites,” he knows exactly what you’re talking about, that you’re talking about the Muslims and the Christians. That’s what it is in Jewish culture. Does that mean that’s what it is biblically? I’m not saying that at all. I don’t even think that’s what it is. But that’s definitely how it’s been identified historically.

Jono: Jewish traditional understanding.

Keith: This is the power of this collaboration, having what the traditions are in our backgrounds and also what our understanding is… in terms of Scripture.

Nehemia: And just one little sort of piquant note is that... the entire book of Obadiah is about the retribution that will be upon the Edomites in the end time, and or at some point in the future anyway, it hasn’t happened yet. That has been understood by Jewish sources as referring to what will happen to Rome, and then by extension the Roman Catholic Church.

Jono: Wow. That really is food for thought because I’ve never heard that before. That’s awesome. But in any case, “Yehovah said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.’ And so when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.” Now, here we go. Are you ready? “And the first one came out red, and he was like a hairy garment all over.” So we find out later... all right guys, we find out later that he was as hairy as goat’s hair. I mean, it was Jacob that tricked his father into believing that he was Esau with goat’s hair. I mean, this is one hairy little baby, right?

Nehemia: Yes. He’s a hairy little bugger.

[laughter]

Jono: I mean, he’s impressively hairy. And he is, it would appear, red.

Nehemia: Reddish. That’s one of the reasons he later gets the name Edom, because “Edom” means red.

Jono: He’s red. And if that happens today, that would really make the papers, wouldn’t it? I mean there’s some front-page news - a little red hairy dude.

Nehemia: I don’t know if that’s so unusual for a child to be born very hairy. I mean, is that all that unusual?

Jono: We’re talking about his arms, right? I mean – Isaac felt his arms, which… they put goat hair. I mean I’ve got some goats, and they’re pretty hairy.

Nehemia: Okay.

Jono: That doesn’t strike you as weird?

Nehemia: I don’t know, it’s not unheard of. It’s probably, I guess, not common, but it’s not unheard of.

Jono: Okay, he’s a hairy little dude.

Nehemia: It was noteworthy, it was not unusual.

Jono: It was noteworthy. “Afterwards, his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob.” Now, what is the significance of the name here?

Nehemia: The word for “heel” is “akev,” and the name Jacob is Ya’akov from the same root. So Ya’akov could literally be translated as “he heels”, or “he grabs the heel”, he does something with the heel. That’s essentially the explanation for the name Jacob, Ya’akov, because he grabbed onto the heel.

Jono: Okay, there we go. “So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man.” Keith, he dwelt in tents, he was a dweller in tents. What does that suggest to you?

Keith: He was a mama’s boy.

Jono: He was a mama’s boy.

Nehemia: I don’t think that’s what it means. I think it means he was...

Keith: No, the reason I said mama’s boy is that he stayed around the tent and his mother was around him more, so that’s why he was a mama’s boy.

Nehemia: I think what it means is that he was a shepherd, whereas Esau, or Esav, was a hunter. You go out into the desert where they lived, and what today is Israel’s Negev desert… back then, certainly, you had herds of hundreds of thousands of gazelle and antelope and even deer that they could go out and hunt, but it was a grueling task to hunt these animals. It was not a simple matter. Somebody who’s going to be hunting them is going to be following these herds.

Whereas, Jacob, presumably, “dwelling in tents,” means that he’s following his domesticated herds in the tent. Which would then be a shepherd. The reason I think that is in Genesis chapter 4 verse 20, it says, “And Adah bore Yabal,” in Hebrew. And it says, “He was the father of all those who dwelt in a tent,” “umikneh,” “and flock”, or “and have flocks.” So dwelling in a tent and having flocks, in the Hebrew mind, those are synonymous.

Jono: They go together.

Nehemia: Right. Why do you dwell in a tent if you we have flocks? Because what happens is your flock will eat up the entire area, they’ll graze over the entire area, and then you have to move on, you have to constantly be moving on. It’s seasonal, so then eventually the vegetation grows back.

Jono: So it’s making a point about his lifestyle.

Nehemia: Yes, and actually when I studied archaeology, they made the point that none of the Bedouins in the Middle East are really nomadic. They said that the proper definition of nomadic is something like the Mongols, the ancient Mongols who used to travel thousands of miles every year. Whereas the Middle Eastern nomads travel something on the order of maybe hundreds of miles. But the more common thing is they would travel less than 100 miles per year. So nomadic may be a slight exaggeration. But they were definitely semi-nomadic in that they needed to go to the one area in the winter, then the other area in the summer, then they would make a circuit and come back. That’s why they’re living in a tent, you’ve got to move and follow the flocks.

Jono: Follow the flock. Now, this is the second time... If I recall correctly, I think this is the second time that a skilled hunter is mentioned in the Bible. The first is Nimrod in...

Nehemia: Yes, chapter 10.

Jono: Chapter 10. So this is the second time that a hunter is mentioned, so this is interesting. But in any case, Keith, the next verse certainly does suggest that he is a mama’s boy. “And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”

Keith: Right. I think it’s interesting that the Bible basically gives us this sort of, if I can use the word, “picture” of what’s going on, being that Esau is the one that’s out hunting and going out and getting the game. And the fruit of that for Isaac is he loved the fact that his son brings back this great game and that Rebekah loves Jacob - and why that is, who knows, maybe it’s because he hangs around the tents more, I don’t know, but he certainly knew how to cook. When Esav came back, he came, and he said, “Listen, I’m hungry,” and Jacob was there cooking. He says, “I want this food,” and then, I think that’s where this really gets interesting, is that Jacob is able to look at Esau and say, with foresight, he says, “Listen, you’re hungry, you have a need; I have a desire. Your need is you want food, I desire to have your birthright.” I just think it’s so interesting that Esau makes this decision based on the now and not the future. That’s certainly something that we see in society also - so many times people make a decision based on the now, the right now, the need right now, and not the big picture. So, I just wanted to bring that out.

Jono: This is a fascinating few verses, where Jacob says, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” Esau said, “Look, I am about to die,” I mean, clearly he’s famished. “I am about to die so what is this birthright to me?” Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went on his way, and Esau despised his birthright.” What are the implications of that, Nehemia?

Nehemia: I don’t know if that needs implications. He didn’t value it and so he sold it, literally, for a bowl of red lentil soup, and red lentil is a play on words, “adom,” “adom.” Adom means red and also it’s a type of lentil, a red lentil. So that’s where you get the name “Edom,” from, red lentil. There are essentially three reasons: red, lentil, and he came out red. You know, two and a half. He’s despising his birthright, and it’s interesting - did he despise it after he sold it or was him selling it the act of despising it? I guess you could read it either way.

Jono: Yeah, I guess so. I would go with the latter. But the birthright - we’re obviously talking about the birthright of the firstborn, right?

Nehemia: Right. The birthright of the firstborn – it’s really interesting what that is. The birthright of the firstborn in the Bible and in ancient times, and confirmed in the Torah in Deuteronomy, is a double portion. Theoretically, let’s say, there were a 100 sheep or 99 sheep, so according to having the birthright, Esav was supposed to get 66 of the sheep and Jacob would have gotten 33 of the sheep because he gets a double portion. We’ll come back to that I think in the actual blessing. The blessing was a double portion, but I’m jumping ahead.

Keith: One thing that’s really, really interesting here is that Jacob didn’t sit down and say, “Listen, here’s the deed to your birthright,” or, “here’s the contract.” He simply says to him, “Swear to me.” So he swore an oath to him. And again, there’s this theme, and I know that we’ll talk about it later, just the significance of swearing. But the fact that, regardless of what you’ll say about Esav of in terms of him selling his birthright, he understood what it meant to swear.

Nehemia: Absolutely.

Keith: When he swore, he knew that would close the deal, and that’s exactly what happened. He didn’t come back later and say, “Where’s the written deed? Where’s the contract? Where did I sign that says I owe you?” He knows he said it, and in saying it, you almost wonder if he didn’t swear by the Name.

Nehemia: Oh, Torah Pearl!

Keith: Torah Pearl!

Nehemia: Well, I mean, yes, in biblical times they swore “Chai Yehovah,” “as Yehovah lives.” That was the common way of swearing. Presumably, if he swore an oath, he was saying the name of the God of Israel, of Yehovah. Or at that time, the God of Isaac and Abraham. So presumably, he did, and that was understood to be a legally binding act, making an oath like that.

Jono: And...

Keith: Exactly. So that Jacob - yeah, go ahead.

Jono: I was just going to say - you’re right, Keith, in that you say that there is a theme throughout this Torah portion, of the incredible weight and binding power of words.

Nehemia: Well, in the very next section, we have another oath, another vow being made, which is God then swearing to Isaac in the very next section. We see in verse 3, He says, “Live in this land and I will be with you and I will bless you; for you and your seed, I will give all these lands that I’ve established as an oath, which I swore to Abraham your father.” So we had this reiteration of the oath.

What’s interesting is verse 5, because in verse 5 He says, “Why did I give this oath? Why did I make this promise? How did Abraham become worthy of it?” It says, “Because Abraham obeyed My voice and he kept My,” and this word “mishmarti,“ could be translated as “he kept My treasure,” or something that’s to be guarded, “and My Commandments, and My statutes, and My laws, My instructions, My Torah.”

Jono: Now, there are four categories there, right?

Nehemia: Yes.

Jono: I mean I’m the New King James, it says, “Because Abraham obeyed My voice,” there’s number one, “and kept My charge,” that’s number two… that’s right, so there are actually five categories. “He kept My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.” I mean, “My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws,” clearly there is some sort of code of conduct going on here.

Nehemia: Oh yes, there’s definitely a code of conduct, absolutely. The question then becomes what were these commandments, statutes, laws, and charge? What were those things? We don’t really know. Maybe it was everything that was later revealed to Moses, that’s one opinion. The other opinion is that, well, no, he gradually was revealing things because if He gave it all at once, it would have overwhelmed them. So those are the two possibilities, and we don’t really know the answer. It must be more than just circumcision, because you wouldn’t need four categories for circumcision.

Jono: Yeah, that’s right.

Keith: Isn’t it interesting, if we just simply read every interaction that Abram and Abraham - his first name and the name that was given to him - that when we read every time that we see the interaction between Abram and Yehovah that there is something that he’s doing. So He tells him, “go,” and what does he do? He goes. And He tells him to go, and He tells him to do this, and He tells him to do that. And he does these things.

Now, I don’t know, again, whether it was all revealed to him before, or whether it was something that He didn’t want to overwhelm him with, but what I think is interesting is that as Abram, and Abraham, has these interactions he’s obedient. The obedience is to the charge, the command, the voice of the Creator of the universe. When I read that it doesn’t trip me up too much because when I read it I’m like, “Oh, yeah, here’s where he heard His voice, ‘Abraham leave’. Here’s where he heard the command, ‘Oh, circumcise your kid.’ Here’s where he heard His charge, ‘Listen take your son up to the...’” So there’s this really cool picture of Abraham walking out the Torah of God, the teaching and instruction of God. So... that’s all I would like to say about that.

Jono: Amen. And so now it goes into a story that we’re so familiar with, that by the time we get here in the Torah portion, because we’ve heard it all before, haven’t we? I mean, it happens twice with Abraham, and now, like father like son, and so we have Isaac telling the guys, “She’s my sister, Rebekah’s my sister.” And it all sort of goes down in a very, very similar way. In verse 10, Abimelech said...

Keith: Wait, wait. We’ve got to let Nehemia...

Jono: Torah Pearl?

Keith: No, no. Hold on we’ve got to let Nehemia tell us about verse 8 again.

Nehemia: Okay. Yes, we mentioned this in a previous Torah portion.

Keith: No, this is important. It’s verse 8, because now we’ve got to use this, we’ve got to do a backtrack.

Nehemia: Okay, so it says, “And Abimelech the king of the Philistines looked out of the window, and he saw, and behold, Isaac was mitzhakhek,” you could translate it as playing, but really, not to get too technical, but you have something called the pi’el, which can often refer to an iteration, a repeated action. So mitzhakhek means he’s playing around. “mitzhakhek et Rivkah, ishto.” He’s playing around with Rivka, his wife. He understands immediately that this is his wife, because you don’t do that with a sister.

Jono: Right.

Nehemia: Except in Alabama.

[laughter]

Nehemia: No, just kidding, just kidding. So we’ll cut that out in the edit. No, actually leave it in. It was funny. The whole “Isaac is playing around,” that implies the sexual interaction. I mean, obviously.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: What we had mentioned in the previous portion is that Ishmael was seen mitzhakhek with Isaac. The immediate reaction to that was Sarah saying, “You’ve got to get rid of this kid.”

Jono: … send him away.

Nehemia: “We’ve got to take him out.” Which now we can understand why she had such a severe reaction and said, “Banish your child.” Because this was a child that was doing something that must not be done.

Keith: The casual reading is as if to say that Ishmael and Isaac are out playing, and he’s roughhousing with him. And the casual reading is that Isaac and Rivka are playing patty-cake or Scrabble or something like this.

Nehemia: Well, when you teach this to children that’s what you explain to them. But when you’re an adult you understand the connotation here. I actually read this... you know I remember reading this when I was a child, and I was probably like in third grade or second grade. I think second grade, actually. They didn’t tell us what this meant. Then we got to Genesis, I believe it’s 39, the section of Tamar and Judah, they actually just skipped that chapter, because that you can’t whitewash for children. But I think, you know what? This is the Word of God that’s supposed to be read out to the entire people of Israel, and children can handle it. I think we should give them more credit, especially today’s children they know more about it than we do.

[laughter]

Jono: True. You’re not wrong.

Keith: Well, when we come to these sections, I’ll be the one to explain it, because you and Jono are just a little bit too straightforward on this.

Nehemia: Okay. Do you want to maintain the euphemisms?

Jono: So verse 9 says, “Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, ‘Quite obviously she is your wife; so how could you say, She is my sister?’ Isaac said, ‘Because I said, Lest I die on her account.’” It’s almost like he’s saying, “What are you doing? What is with you guys? Come on, you’re married to her.” “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might have lain with your wife and would have brought guilt on us.” And so on and so forth. And so it goes on.

Now, for the sake of time, because we’re about halfway through, I reckon, can we - unless you guys want to... Keith, do you want to jump back? I’m thinking can we get to chapter 27?

Nehemia: Actually, I want to do something at the end of 26, if we can?

Jono: Let’s do that now.

Nehemia: I’ll do it really quickly. There’s this section here where he digs three wells. I’m going to go off the reservation now and bring the symbolic interpretation of the rabbis.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: I’m not saying this is what it means, but this is the symbolic understanding. There were three wells, verse 20, it says, “And he called the name of the well Esek,” and it says, “ki hitasku imo,” “for they strove with him.” And esek means strife. In verse 21, they dig a second well, and he calls it Sitnah, and he doesn’t say why I called it Sitnah. But if you know Hebrew, it’s obvious. “Sitnah” is like the same word as satan - it means adversary, enemy. So sitnah means enmity or adversity. Then finally he digs the third well, and it’s only the third well that the enemies of Isaac don’t come to fight with him. Finally, with the third well, he gets it right; everything is happy. It’s called Rehovoth. It says, “Because Yehovah broadened things and we flourished in the land. For now Yehovah has broadened us and we have flourished in the land.” The word for broaden is “herchiv,” and that’s where you get the word rehovoth.

So the symbolic interpretation - I’m not saying this is what it means, I’m saying this is how it’s been symbolically interpreted by Jews throughout the generations - is that this refers to the three temples. That the First Temple, the enemies of Israel came and they destroyed it. The Second Temple, we had the enemy come in to destroy it. And finally the third one, that’s the one where Yehovah will broaden us, he’ll widen us, and we will flourish in the land. Come on! Can I get an amen? Whoo!

Jono: Wow, that was really cool.

[laughing]

Nehemia It is cool.

Keith: Nehemia, I can’t believe that you’ve left the farm...

Nehemia: I left the reservation, I admit.

Keith: No, you’ve left the farm and now you want to preach and you want to come up with interpretations? Where does it say that, Nehemia?

Nehemia: No, I didn’t say it says that. I’m just saying if you want to take it symbolically.

Jono: Hey, look, I’m liking the symbolic meaning.

Nehemia: That’s how it has been taken symbolically, but there’s obviously the literal interpretation, which is the primary and valid interpretation. But I think it is interesting.

Keith: I would like... Jono if it’s okay?

Jono: Please.

Keith: I would like to be the textual person here for a moment and not get excited about Nehemia’s preaching and his interpretation. He quickly did something I thought he was going to do, but he quickly moved to this interpretation, and he passed over something that I thought he was going to do, and I let him, waited for him to do it, and he didn’t do it. He casually went by this word in verse 21, and I want you, Nehemia, if you would just to go back again?

Nehemia: Yes?

Keith: To the word in verse 21. This is a Torah Pearl. “Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Satan.”

Nehemia: Right, or Sitnah which is from the same root.

Keith: Sitnah or Satan. So is this not the very root of the word for, and you mentioned it, of what we call...

Nehemia: Satan or HaSatan.

Jono: Hang on. If I understand Keith, it comes from the same root as Satan or HaSatan, and my understanding is that means “the accuser”. So when it says, “quarreling,” are they accusing?

Nehemia: No, actually satan doesn’t mean accuser. That’s a later understanding of the word. The literal meaning in Hebrew of satan is enemy, and hence they often will translate it as “adversary”, because there’s another word for “enemy” in Hebrew. But it just means enemy. It talks about in the Bible how... The Philistine King of Gath, Achish, they talk about how David will be their satan; he’ll be their enemy. It talks about how God raised up a satan for Solomon after he sinned, and it wasn’t some demonic force, it was the king of Assyria, the Aramaic-speaking king of Assyria.

So you have these satans throughout the Bible. In fact, one of the first ones is in Numbers chapter 22, where it says, “The angel of Yehovah stood as a satan against Balaam.” Now, he wasn’t the devil, as we understand it, or as Christians understand it, I should say. The angel of Yehovah obviously wasn’t a devil, but he was to Balaam a satan, an enemy. What that meant is that if Balaam, Bilam, did not follow the Word of God, then this angel would be his enemy and would harm him, or possibly lead him into other situations. So satan means enemy in the Old Testament, in the Tanakh, is the enemy, not of God, but of man, if we sin.

Jono: So you’re blowing my mind. There’s so much in the Torah portion here. You’re literally blowing my mind.

Keith: I’m sitting here, and I can’t believe, Jono, you guys. I’m giving Nehemia the chance to give me the softball, and he took the softball.

Nehemia: It’s obvious. You want me to state the obvious?

Jono: It’s obvious.

Keith: Before you get blown away, Jono, before you get to your whole thing, where you’re going to drop the bomb - the reason I wanted to bring this word, or for us to take a moment to shine on this word, is that in the English Bible oftentimes, we’ll see the word “adversary,” in the translation. And that word “adversary,” could be translated in order to be consistent as “and he was a satan.”

So the reason that I wanted to have people take a look at this is because before we go to the New Testament, which oftentimes becomes the case, people will look at the New Testament first and then they’ll take that and back-translate that into the Tanakh. Well, what the translators sometimes did is say, “We don’t want to confuse you with the fact that really we’re talking about the same word satan, which could have been satan, but we have a wonderful capitalized Satan who’s got horns and a fork. We certainly don’t want people to see that.” So that’s why I wanted Nehemia to slow down on that particular verse, just linguistically that you could find “satan” many times in the Tanakh, but instead what you find is the word adversary. And that’s so that people don’t get confused about the one with the horns and the fork.

Jono: The fork and the red suit. So let me see if I got this right - in the same way, that, say, a word like Mashiach is such an interesting word study throughout the Tanakh, so too, and various applications for the word Mashiach...

Keith: Absolutely.

Jono: ...I was blown away by that. I found that absolutely fascinating to do a word study on that. But you’re saying the same applies, particularly from backgrounds like a history religious student, like myself and maybe like yourself Keith, where we have a certain understanding. We think that’s what it means. But the word “satan,” is also found throughout the Tanakh and has varying applications. That really blows my mind. I haven’t done that study. I’m going to be doing it this week.

Nehemia: Here’s an interesting statistic. The word satan in various forms of it, like sitnah, appears in the Hebrew 35 times. I’ll let people look up themselves how many times it appears in the King James Version; it is far less - in the Old Testament, I’m talking about. I don’t remember the exact number, but it’s almost like half that number.

Jono: 35 times?

Keith: And I think that’s why - I know we want to rush to the next chapter...

Nehemia: So you get a different understanding of it based on, you know. If you only look at half the evidence you get a different understanding of what it is.

Jono: Sure.

Keith: This is where I think people, Jono, can take one of these pearls just like something like this. They can take this pearl and do their own study. They can go find out how many times this word is used. And they would find that there are decisions that were being made because if you’ve already got this understanding of what the word satan is, capitalizing it, and saying this is Satan, versus the fact that there is the adversary. I just think it’s something that people can do on their own, and they’d be quite surprised. Now, we can move on with Nehemia’s shouting and yelling and preaching about the three...

Nehemia: Whoo! I just looked it up, it’s 20 times in the Tanakh, in the King James version.

Keith: There it is.

Nehemia: In English. In Hebrew, it’s 35.

Jono: Oh, I see what you’re saying.

Nehemia: So there are 15 times that the word appears in Hebrew that isn’t translated to satan in English, it’s translated as “enemy” or “adversary”, with a small “a,” or a small “e” as “enemy.”

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: If you don’t read or know Hebrew, you have no idea it’s got anything to do with Satan, even though that’s the word in Hebrew.

Jono: There’s our homework for this week, listeners. There you go, something to look forward to. While we’re talking about it, I mentioned Mashiach, I think it’s in the Tanakh, in the King James, with a capital M as Messiah, I think twice in the same passage of Daniel. But off the top of my head, I think it’s used 39 times, but that’s a different topic altogether. Okay.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: Esau sells his birthright, now Jacob cooks... We did that, what are we doing? Going on to... See, you brought me back and I’m on the wrong page.

Nehemia: It’s chapter 27.

Jono: Chapter 27, Isaac blesses Jacob. “Now it came to pass when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau, his older son and said to him, ‘My son.’ And he answered him, ‘Here I am.’ ‘Now behold, I am old.’” He sees that he’s going to pass at any given moment, he wants to bless him, and he says, “Go and hunt that game that I love so much, make that stew that I love so much, bring it back to me, my son, and I will bless you.” What we’re about to see is, again, as you mentioned earlier, Keith, is the power and binding power of words. This really fascinates me.

“Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to Esau his son. And Esau went into the field to hunt game and to bring it. So Rebekah spoke to Jacob, her son, saying...” So they’ve got favorites, right. Playing a bit of a favorite going on in here. “Indeed I heard your father speak to Esau your brother, saying, ‘Go and get the food, and I’m going to give you a blessing,’ and so on and so forth. Therefore, my son, obey my voice according to what I command you. Go now to the flock and bring me two choice kids…” Now, Keith, see? Anyway. “‘Two choice kids of the goats, and I will make savory food from them for your father, such as he loves. You shall take it to your father, that he may eat it, and that he may bless you before his death.’ Jacob said to his mother, ‘Look, Esau, my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth-skinned man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and he will know that I am a deceiver, and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.’ His mother said,” Nehemia, “His mother said to him, ‘Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.’” Now, does she have the power to do that? Are we talking about the power of words here, again? That she has the ability to… the curse?

Nehemia: I don’t know that she does. Like, in what sense does she? I mean, she said it but would that have actually... I don’t think she does. I think if that curse really has any power then someone else doesn’t have the power to then take it upon themselves.

Jono: Okay.

Keith: Well I think the thing that jumped off for me in that is just that... well, the important thing that jumped off the page in that verse was a little insight into who Jacob is based on this one line. In verse 11, Jacob said to Rivka, his mother, “Oh, no, this is wrong. We shouldn’t do this.” No, he says, “Listen, how are we going to trick him?”

Nehemia: “I’m going to get caught.”

Keith: Yeah! In other words, his first response wasn’t, “Oh, my gosh. This is bad. This is wrong.” He’s like, “Look, I’ve got smooth skin, what are we going to do, mama?”

Jono: Oh, he’s going, “I like what you’re talking about. It’s a good idea, but he’s a hairy little werewolf and I’m really smooth.”

[laughing]

Keith: “We’ve got a problem.” What was funny, what I did yesterday, was I was looking again at the age, and Isaac, based on what I’m seeing here, it later says Esau was 40. So if we had 40 years to 60 that’s 100 years old, at least, based on what we’ve learned in the previous chapter. So here’s Isaac, 100 years old, he’s an old man, he can’t see very well. Here’s his younger wife, we don’t know how much younger, but she’s there listening to him, saying, “How are we going to do this?” She brings her son in, and the son doesn’t say one thing about, “We shouldn’t do this.” He doesn’t feel bad, he doesn’t feel guilty. He’s like, “How is it that we’re going to get this done?” So I just thought that that was interesting, because we find later, when Esau says, “Isn’t that why they call Jacob X?” Again, don’t we get two different meanings for his name? Which we can get to in a second. I just wanted to say that. That was what caught me, just that his response was, “How will we trick him?” Not, “Should we trick him?”

Jono: That is interesting, and all he wants is an airtight plan, which at best they could come up is with the goatskin on him. Just go for it.

[laughing]

Nehemia: What’s interesting to me in this whole story is a few things, but one of them is that in verse 20, Isaac asked Jacob, “How did you get here so fast?” Like the story isn’t plausible. Like, “Wait a minute you’re hunting. Hunting takes time, you have to sit there and you have to wait. How did you get here so quickly?” Look what Jacob says, he says, “Ki hikra Yehovah Elohecha lefanai.” “Because Yehovah your God has caused it to happen before me,” or my presence. So he’s not taking credit himself. He’s attributing his success to Yehovah.

Look how different that is from Esav. Esav is this mighty hunter and he trusts in his own might, and he doesn’t give credit to God anywhere. He thinks the blessing is coming entirely from his father and doesn’t value the blessing from Yehovah. Here to me is what’s the key point - if you compare word-for-word the blessing that Jacob got versus the blessing that Esav got, they’re almost identical. Both of them have what I guess you could call in modern terms, financial wealth, “the fatness of the earth and the dew of the heavens.” They also have what you would call, I guess in ancient terms, it talks about how you’re going to live by your sword and you’re going to dominate. They have dominance over others, as well, and independence. I guess you could call that sovereignty. So you have those two key elements in both blessings, that we’re going to have somebody who is sovereign and even rules over others, and they have this wealth that they’re going to get. Both of them have that.

What is really the difference between the blessings? I think the difference between the blessings is at the end, where he says to Jacob, he adds this one little tiny phrase, he says, “He who curses you will be cursed, and he who blesses you will be blessed.” If you look back earlier in Genesis, that was the exact same thing that God had blessed to Abraham, and that was then passed on from Abraham to Isaac, and now Isaac is passing on that blessing to Jacob. He doesn’t give that to Esav, he only gives it to Jacob. That essentially is the covenant. That is the marker of that covenant. That’s the consistent thread that is being passed to Jacob. That means, “You’re in the line and you have the relationship with Yehovah.” Esav doesn’t have that. He doesn’t have that blessing, the blessing of that relationship with Yehovah.

I look at this - and maybe I’m preaching too much here - but I look at this as the double portion. He’s got the physical, that’s the first part of the blessing. Then he’s got the spiritual. And Esav only has the physical. That’s what the double portion of the firstborn right that he had gotten from Esav.

Jono: Okay, so I have a question in regards to verse...

Nehemia: Can I get an Amen from someone? Complete silence. Keith, what happened? You should be shouting! No, I don’t understand.

[laughter]

Jono: Because I’m still thinking about this.

Keith: So let’s move on, Nehemia, because clearly some spiritual...

Jono: No, we can’t move on because I’m stuck on...

Keith: Jono, let’s move on.

Jono: I’m stuck on verse 20 before I can give you an amen, because what’s going on here is, clearly Jacob is out to deceive his father to get the blessing. His father says, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He says, “Because Yehovah your Elohim brought it to me.” Now, is there a problem here, because he’s evoking the Name in conjunction with deceit, right?

Nehemia: Well, what he’s saying is technically true. I mean, actually, literally, it says, “Because Yehovah your God has caused it to happen before me,” which is true.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: He didn’t say he hunted it, but his mama brought it to him, and he sees that as the providence of Yehovah.

Keith: Not to mention that he says, “Yehovah your God,” speaking to his father. So it’s like, “Look, this is your God. This is the one that’s done this.” He basically says, “This is your God who’s done this.”

Jono: And the very next thing he does, because he’s a bit suspicious... Now, mind you, to take a couple of goat kids and to slaughter them and butcher them and then make a stew, I mean we’re talking at least a couple of hours, I would say. But he’s still suspicious, and he wants to see his ID card, right? So he says, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.” And so there he is and he gives him the goats hair and he feels him and he says, “sounds like Jacob, but good enough”.

Nehemia: Then verse 24 is really interesting. Let’s look at it. It says, literally in Hebrew, “And he said are you...” and he’d already asked him, “Are you my son, Esav?” And he’s like, “Yes, I am.” In verse 19, he says, “Anochi Esav bechorecha,” “I am Esav, your firstborn.” That’s an outright lie. But then in verse 24 he says something a little bit more subtle, he says, “Ata lebeni Esav?” “Are you my son Esav?” “Are you really my son Esav?” “Vayomer,” “And he said,” “Ani,” “I am.” I’m just going to put that out there of someone else in history who had asked a question and the answer was, “I am.” Let’s move on.

Jono: [laughing] Okay. And everyone out...

Nehemia: You may need to cut that out in the editing.

Jono: No, I’m going to leave it there. Now, I know what you’re talking about, but you’re breaking one of your own rules, and we don’t have time to do that right now.

Nehemia: How so?

Keith: Nehemia, you know what? I don’t know what it is, Jono, maybe he had coffee this morning.

Nehemia: Oh, I had lots of coffee. Whoo! Come on! Three cups. Somebody say three.

Keith: No, three or four things and he’s gone completely off the farm. So, okay, let’s move on.

Jono: Okay. And so here we go. He’s got the stew and now he blesses him. Now, let me read the blessing. “Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which Yehovah has blessed.” I mean that’s beautiful. “Therefore may God give you of the dew of the heavens, of the fatness of the earth, plenty of grain and wine, and let the people serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren.” That’s a key. “And let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

Now, just a little bit after that, the little hairy dude turns up with the hunted game. Esau -here he is. And this fascinates me, because he finds out that he’s been deceived, and we’re looking at first 33. “Isaac trembled exceedingly.” He trembled exceedingly.

Keith: Hold it - what is the Hebrew word there in 33, Nehemia?

Nehemia:Ad-me’od,” which you know what me’od means, me’od means very. And “ad- me’od ,” is literally “until very.” Meaning he wasn’t just doing it, he was doing it until the point it was very. That means extremely much.

Keith: Okay. Go ahead.

Jono: That reminds me of I think it was “atzbani,” is the word that you taught me once.

Nehemia: Yes. Well, that’s not the word he uses here. The word he uses here is “vayecherad”, and that’s actually where we get the modern word, “Haredi.”

Keith: That’s what I was waiting for, but you don’t want to make the connection.

Nehemia: It’s what the ultra-Orthodox Jews call themselves. They call themselves Haredi, which they explain as meaning they’re shaking before God. Here it’s saying, “Isaac shook a great shaking even much,” or ad-meod. So here it’s shaking in anger rather than shaking in fear of God.

Jono: Okay.

Keith: So what is the group called?

Nehemia: Haredi is usually translated in English as ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Keith: Exactly. I mean, that was a softball, Nehemia. I’m trying to give you the softball. You’re over in Israel...

Nehemia: I don’t know why that’s relevant for the Torah portion, but okay.

Keith: What do mean “why is it relevant?” There’s a group of people that are the ultra-Orthodox Jews, and they tremble before God. The reason I wanted to say something about this - so many times we have this approach to different groups of people. Whether we call them Methodists or ultra-Orthodox or whatever it is that we do. There usually is a meaning behind what it is that the people do and why they do it. Now, whether it has become something that they didn’t intend, but sometimes there are some things that come out that are actually powerful. When I was over in Israel, and I was sitting down with an ultra-Orthodox woman and she was explaining what it was about this idea of the ultra-Orthodox and the root of the word and all of that sort of thing, it kind of gave me a different picture - the idea of trembling before God. Now, regardless of where...

Nehemia: It actually comes from Isaiah 66:5, where it says, “Hear the word of Yehovah those who tremble at His word.” There it uses the word, “Haredim.” Then it also appears again in Ezra 10 verse 3 also, “haharedim”, “those who tremble at the commandment of our God.” So this tremble is used in a positive...

Keith: I’m starting a new movement that is the Tremblers.

[laughing]

Keith: We’re based on Isaac trembling in the situation.

Jono: Aren’t there already Quakers over there? Isn’t that what a Quaker is?

Nehemia: There are Quakers and Shakers.

Jono: Quakers and Shakers.

[laughing]

Nehemia: All types of stirs in the same word, Haredi.

Jono: Let’s not do this.

Nehemia: You’re the Tremblers, huh, Keith?

Jono: In any case, he trembles exceedingly and says, “Where is the one who hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it before you came, and I have blessed him.” This is it, this is what it says, “and indeed he shall be blessed.” This gets me wondering - what I want to know is, is it Yehovah who blesses him or is it an authority that Yehovah has given to Isaac, being the father who makes his blessing. And once he made this blessing, despite the fact that he’s been deceived, it shall happen. Keith, how do you understand this?

Keith: That’s a good question. I would actually look at, I guess if you could say, the picture, all the way back to Jacob being aware of the fact that there was a blessing to the firstborn, that that was something that existed. When did that start? How was that introduced? Jacob clearly knew that there was a blessing to the firstborn, and that’s what he wanted.

So when I’m tracking through this I’m looking at this as, “Okay, this is a fact, and now the fact that he’s been able to wrestle that from his brother means it’s going to come to him. How did it come?” Whether it was through him doing what he did with the food or putting on his brother’s clothing or catching his father at a time of weakness where he couldn’t see. In the end, what he knew that he wanted he was going to get. And that is exactly what he got.

Jono: Okay, so Isaac has made a blessing, but he was deceived into making the blessing. If it extends from Yehovah, surely why wouldn’t Yehovah just correct it and say, “No, it’s invalid. It’s not going to happen. I’m not going to bless that because you were tricked.”

Nehemia: Okay. The way I look at it this is a blessing that God gave Abraham, and then Abraham passed it on to Isaac, and then Isaac had the opportunity to pass it on to his son. He could have chosen either son. Abraham was told, you’ve got to give it to Isaac. Isaac wasn’t told that. He wasn’t told who to give it to. So he could have given it to Esav. The prophecy that was given to Rebekah is that it would go to the younger son. So she went through all this effort to make sure the younger son got it to fulfill that prophecy. But ultimately it was Isaac who had to give it to someone. He had that choice, actually. He could have given it, theoretically, to Esav.

Jono: Sure. So it’s an authority that’s given to the father by Yehovah to pass to the son.

Nehemia: But from the time of Jacob, it’s no longer then passed on - this covenant, the covenant of Abraham is no longer passed on by a father to a son through a blessing, it’s passed down after that through inheritance. Basically, from the time of Jacob, the sons have to receive this covenant, unless they break the covenant, and then they’re cut off. But if they go through the covenant of circumcision that was given to Abraham and they embrace that covenant, then they automatically receive it.

Another thing is built in there, later on in Egypt, where this mixed multitude can also receive the covenant even if they aren’t physical descendants of Jacob. It starts off as a father to son thing, and the father has to actually pass it on to the son to where the son automatically receives it and even other people can receive it, so it broadens. I look at this is God’s plan for eventually bringing His covenant to all mankind. Can I get an Amen?

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Yes, I want to give Nehemia an Amen because he tripped over, what we used to call when we used to have these little... what did we call those Nehemia? Landmines. The thing that’s interesting about what Nehemia just said and the question that you have, Jono, and I want to give this as a picture, okay?

So Jono, he could look at the details, he could get muddled down there in the mud, he could say, “But was it deception and was it this, and did he really...?” I mean Jono’s asking very practical questions.

Nehemia: They’re good questions.

Keith: In the issues of human affairs, okay? Nehemia, you’re answering the question in terms of what Scripture said. What I want to say is this: I see, smell, feel, touch, hear the Creator of the universe, who told Abram to come from your land, this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to give you the blessing.

Nehemia: Come on!

Keith: So, even before these babies are born, he goes to the mama and he says, “Look, mama, there are two nations in your womb, and they’re wrestling, and guess what? The younger is going to be greater than the older.” So how it came about that, in the end, the blessing came, and this is what happens in life. What happens in life is sometimes we can get tripped up on what’s happening on the earth and human affairs, but when God’s purpose is His purpose, in the end, His purpose is going to be fulfilled.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: So He tells Abraham, “I’m going to bring forth the seed.” Twenty years of waiting for the barren woman. Twenty years before she has the children. Then the two children come, I don’t want to preach, but when the two children come, God, says, “Hey, let me give you a secret real quick just so you know - the younger is going to be greater than the older.” So when she hears the dad say, “Older one go out and hunt.” She steps in. She’s trying to be obedient. God said it’s going to be younger. And we could focus on those actions or we could focus on the promise. The promise is the promise today. That’s what I’ve loved about this whole collaboration that we’re doing - we’re taking these different backgrounds and we’re saying, “There still is a promise.” That promise came out of the mouth of Yehovah to a human person, and we get to live that today.

That’s all I have to say. I know it’s almost at the end. That’s why I get so excited when we do this, is that we keep smelling, feeling, tasting, hearing, seeing the hand of Yehovah in human affairs.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: He’s the maestro.

[laughing]

Jono: Amen. Indeed. So we’re rapidly running out of time, but obviously, it’s very clear by verse 34 that Esau had absolutely no intention of honoring the giving-over of his birthright because he’s bitterly disappointed. I mean, he’s crying and exceedingly bitter and about the whole thing. He pleads with his father to bless him, and as you pointed out Nehemia, he does bless him with a similar kind of blessing. It’s interesting the way that it ends. He says, “By your sword, you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; And it shall come to pass, when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck.” Now, I’m thinking of jumping, for the sake of time, right to 28 verses 3 and 4. But is there anything else, Nehemia, that you want to pull out of this before we go?

Nehemia: Well, one last point, which is that in that blessing to Esav in verse 39, there’s one other difference with the blessing of Jacob - he starts off in verse 27, he speaks about the field which Yehovah has blessed. Then it says, “God, Elohim will give you from the dew of the heavens and the fat of the earth.” And in verse 39 it’s almost as just Isaac gives it to him, not Yehovah. God isn’t mentioned anywhere.

Jono: Sure, those words are missing. “Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth...”

Nehemia: He’s like, “Okay, you want a blessing from me? I’ll give you a blessing, but it’s not the blessing from Yehovah - that I already gave to your brother.”

Jono: Here we go. This is it. This is in closing, my friends, 28 verses 3 and 4, because I think this is beautiful and I love reading it out every time it’s mentioned in Scripture. This is when, of course, Isaac is blessing Jacob just before he leaves to go to Laban, and we’re going to be reading about that next because obviously, Esau wants to kill him because of what has happened. Before he goes, he blesses him. He says, “May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may be an assembly of peoples, and give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham.” And off he went.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: Amen. There it is. All right, my friends. Thank you so much, Keith Johnson, Nehemia Gordon, for coming back on to Pearls from the Torah Portion. Be blessed, be set apart by the truth of the Father’s word. Shalom.

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24 thoughts on “Torah Pearls #6 – Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9)

  1. Shalom! Regarding hairy babies, many babies are born with a lot of hair on their bodues. It’s soft and almost like animal fur, called lanugo. It falls off eventually after birth. It’s more common in twins because they are usually born before coming to full term. It’s interesting that Esau had it but Jacob apparently didn’t. Perhaps Jacob was more developed than Esau. In rare cases, fraternal twins are conceived at different times, so Jacob may have been conceived first and so was more developed.

  2. Please clarify Genesis 27:39, Esau’s Blessing. Some versions say, “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above.” NIV, NASB, ESV, Holman, ISV, NET, etc. and some versions say, “… Behold, of the fat places of the earth shall be thy dwelling, And of the dew of heaven from above; JPS Tanakh 1917, KJV, ASV, etc.
    These different translations seem to convey opposite meanings. Please explain. Thanks!

    • I don’t know why the difference exists, but the reason that JPS-1917, KJV, and ASV all agree with each other is probably largely because JPS-1917 was a revision of ASV, which was a revision of KJV. They usually have the same renderings.

  3. Point made in discussion that Christians and Muslims make claims on the old testament but do not follow. When was the last time s sin or fellowship offering was made?

  4. Sarah handled the same problem directly: she told Abraham to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael, and God backed her up, telling Abraham to listen to Sarah. Did Rebecca do the same to no avail? Did she try to convince Isaac which of the 2 should receive the blessing? And remember Esau sold and despised his birthright long before this incident. Other incidents of deception include Rachab in the city of Jerico lying to hide the spies, and she was “punished” by being not only spared, but marrying into Israel and being a forebear of David and the Messiah…same for Tamar Judah’s daughter-in-law. She lied in order to get pregnant by Judah and she also thus became part of Messiah’s ancestral family tree. So this is not the only time deception occurs to further the agenda of the purpose of the Jewish people and nation. But does leave much to wonder, ponder and pray about.

  5. The understanding of the spiritual side of the blessing to Isaac, the passing on of the Covenant! I shouted Amen! Thanks, Nehemia!

  6. Nehemia, a 3-year old can’t water camels, haul that much water…. just for starters. This idea is just whacked!! just saying….

  7. This is a great Parashah as it reveals the family dynamic of sibling rivalry. Are not many causes for such rivalry is one child positing that they are somehow more highly esteemed of their parents ? ie; The classic play on this notion by the T.V. weekly show in the Sixties, ” The Smother’s Brothers Show ” where Dick, the older brother, is always telling Tommy, the younger brother, he is the “favored one”. That being said, I always figured into the deception used by Rivkah and Ya’acov to shrewdly acquire the blessing to be the result of the prophecy that Rivkah held in her heart concerning the ” older serving the younger”. Taking Rivkah’s remembrance of that prophecy, as a mother, she would be watching for evidence as her sons grew to substantiate why/how this would come to pass. Surely Rivkah understood the significance of her culture’s views on such matters.

    I see Genesis 26:34,35 as being one of the major revelations concerning Esav that Rivkah recognized as a precedent for her need to promote the younger son. Perhaps Rivkah was more realistic in understanding the ” Why” of the “older vs younger” with her sons, than Yitz’chak. Knowing that Esav’s bloodline would be contaminated by the Hitti women he married was a final straw. Rivkah was no dummy and she recognized Esav’s “MIXING” to be a curse. Hence, ” But they became ( Hitti wives of Esav) a cause of embitterment of spirit to Yitz’chak and Rivkah.” Surely Rivkah saw Esav’s mixing and his ongoing alliance with his neighbor- Uncle Yishmael, to be a threat for the family’s future and Rivkah’s need to guard the covenant.

    The notion of lying being acceptable under certain circumstances is quite interesting. In the movie, ” Jacob the Liar “, we see this play out as lying was a tool for giving HOPE to the Jews in the ghetto of Lodz, Poland during WW2. So, does the “spirit of the Law” take precedence over the ” letter of the Law” in difficult circumstances ? Is not the goal of Torah, LIFE ? Is TRUTH limited by human behaviors ? To a Catholic, would a Mortal Sin ever take a back seat to a Venial Sin ? The answer I will leave with Yehovah, but I will say, based on Jacob’s life after the deception, the goal was accomplished but the path to attain that goal was plotted with Jacob having to deal with deception repeatedly. I believe the bottom line is arrived at in this Parashah with Yehovah once again having to work His will through the limited capacity of a FALLEN humanity. To me, that is the awesomeness of Yehovah’s grace.

  8. I love the balance that all the parties involved in the discussion that I get to listen to each week. Thank you for doing the Torah Pearls and Prophet Pearls as well as your other teachings on line.

    It’s very rare that I disagree with what I hear but I have to disagree with Keith’s comment that Jacob was a mama’s boy. It is my understanding from studying in one of the chumash commentaries that a tent dweller was a student of the Torah. It makes sense that Jacob, “living in tents,” was learning Torah from his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. NO WHERE does it state that Jacob was dwelling in the tent with his mother. That’s an assumption.

    Isaac loved Esau, Rivka loved Jacob. Could it be that this means that Isaac was loyal to Esau and Rivka was more loyal to Jacob?

    Was Jacob really deceptive to his father to get the blessing? Yes, but as a student of the Torah, I believe that Jacob knew what would happen if Esau would have received the birthright and the blessing. Is lying always wrong? That’s a tough question. If I was an anti-nazi hiding Jews in Germany during the Holocaust and the nazis came to my door and asked if there were any Jews in my house, what am I going to say? Absolutely not! It would be a lie. But what did that lie do? It preserved life and LIFE trumps the Torah. If Esau, who was out of covenant, where would that have left the covenant of Abraham and Isaac? Jacob’s deception was justifiable (at least to me) but he also reaped what he sowed when he had to deal with Laban.

    I am open to instruction if I’m wrong. Don’t believe anything that I write, but verify it. Let me know if I need to be corrected.

    • Betsie Ten Boom faced almost that exact same situation in Haarlem and told the truth (Jews were hiding under the table) because of her prior decision to never lie. The Nazi soldiers took it as sarcasm and searched everywhere in the house *except* under the table.

  9. Do you suppose Jacob says ‘Yehovah your Elohim caused it’ because it was necessary part of the deception? Esau had pagan wives and probably mixed religions, if he regarded any god at all. So, if Jacob is going to convince Dad that he is Esau, he would have to say something Esau would say. Yehovah is Jacob’s God, but likely not Esau’s.

    • Hi, Kevin! I think you are on to something regarding Esau. Esau was not in covenant because Yehovah said not to take wives from the land of Canaan, yet that is exactly what Esau did. In Isaac’s physical blindness, is he also spiritually blind to Esau’s doings? We all want what is best for our kids…I’ve overlooked things in my children’s actions as “learning curves.”

  10. Listened to this on Truth2U a while back but have been going over it again and was reading in Jeremiah 9:4, interesting. What do you think of it Nehemiah? Looks like it is saying do not trust brother and he will grab the heel.

  11. Nehemiah, I have listened to you for several years and read your writings. I have done so because there was/is a rare honesty that I found in what you wrote and spoke concerning the scriptures. I have learned a great deal from your expounding of the Hebrew scriptures. I sincerely thank you for returning to your work after what I feared would be a permanent hiatus. But in listening to your apologetic for Jacob’s words and deeds… for the first time I feel must ask the following questions:

    1. Your apologetic would suggest that the Great Creator must use lies, dishonoring one’s human parent, and using covet means in order to accomplish His will. Is this what you believe? Is it okay to break the Torah because of what Rebecca was told about the younger serving the older? Do you mean the Great Creator made eternal laws as the very foundation of the universe but if in fulfilling a promise made say to your Grandfather, it allows you to break all of His laws and make a mockery of them? Is your god (I say in jest) one who must “cause” humans to break all his commands, in order to work out His will to bless them? We both know the blessings come from being in harmony and the curses are for breaking these governing principles as clearly noted in Deuteronomy.

    2. You noted in reading the scripture that Jacob says ‘Yehovah your Elohim caused it’, when replying to Isaac. This at best is a manipulation of truth, for Jacob unless an imbecile, understood what his Dad was asking — Jacob’s intent was to not get caught in the deception he and his mother were perpetrating. The eternal and immutable principle of ‘do not lie’ was a lesson Jacob would have driven home not only with Laban but with his own sons who would dishonor him, causing years of grief by their betrayal of covet means and deceit. Or once again is the only way Joseph could have ascended to save millions from famine is by the murderous intentions of his brothers, followed by betrayal and deceit? Do you believe that God caused these men to break these principles? What does that do to the immutable principles of the Great Creator, if He makes you break them, then certainly how can He require them and even tell you there are penalties for breaking them… where is the logic?

    3. What does the Torah say regarding liars? The child who would dishonor his Dad with lies and in doing so use the name of Yehovah to further his deception? Under the law of Moses what should have been his end?

    4. I heard you take the Rabbis to task in regards to their handling of the story of David’s adultery and your realization that David was a sinner. Adultery was not the only law under which David would suffer physical penalties throughout his life. Do you think that your apologetic in this particular case is in the same spirit as Rabbinic traditions?

    The concept of ‘it is okay for the chosen (whoever they believe themselves to be) to sin in order to work out the Great Creator’s will’ is one put forward by many human philosophers for millennia. Relativism and situational ethics have long been the plague and scourge of mankind, and as such the Bible is replete with examples where humans justified their means because of the ends.

    You have reached out to people in so many walks of life, being a light by expounding the Ezekiel message that all people are a part of the Great Creator’s plan if they want to learn to live by His immutable principles that are to govern our interactions with Him and others. He put foundations in place to govern His creation and to break them is to set in motion ’cause and effect’ from which no human is exempt in their physical lives as evidenced over and over in the Hebrew Bible.

    I hope you will continue to use your understanding of Hebrew and your search for TRUTH to shed a light on the difference between opinion, traditions, and beliefs of men from what can actually be gleaned from the ancient texts.

  12. yeah, y’all got that right, should have edited out that stupid comment/stuyote about ONLY in Alabama – people being incestuous inbreds. hehehehehhhhhhhhhhhee a trio of nervous giggles & snickering, so that was your own gut sign that you were way out of line. It sort of ruined listening to the rest of the teaching for me, as my mother’s family were all from Alabama, and I spent half my life there.
    Excuse me, but didn’t Abraham marry his half-sister? What is THAT?
    .

  13. I don’t think Revkah was worried about a curse she remembered (Zahar) what Yehovah had promised the elder shall serve the younger.

  14. Thank you Gordon, Keith and Jono for a very interesting discussion of Parashat Toldot. Afterwards, I was reading Malachi, and especially 1:1-5 in light of the very interesting point about the common understanding of the meaning of “Edom” that Gordon described. (1) was this meaning of Edom also true at the time of Malachi? (2) I am sure that you are aware that 1:4 “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins” was quoted many times in association with the Sept-11 destruction of the twin towers. Do you think “the wicked territory” applies to the US or to all the gentile controlled world?

    Blessings to you all for your work of sharing with us.

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