19. Now this is the history [tol'doth] of Yitzhaq the son of Avraham:
Avraham fathered Yitzhaq,
20. And when Yitzhaq was 40 years old he took Rivqah, the daughter of B'thuel the Aramaean from Paddan-Aram, the sister of Lavan the Aramaean, to himself as a wife.
40 years old: the same age Moshe also was when he found his wife at a well. This is three years after Sarah died. The number 40 signifies times of change and transition after completing a full cycle of testing. Paddan-Aram is as far as Avram had come with his father, but those living here were also fulfilling their calling as Hebrews, though to a lesser extent, for they had crossed over from their original homeland.
21. And Yitzhaq prayed to YHWH on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. And YHWH accepted his prayer, and his wife Rivqah conceived.
She was childless for nearly twenty years of marriage (v. 26); only then did he ask. But the text actually says “he” was barren, though “barren” has the feminine form, because if she lacked children, so did he. This is the same pattern by which YHWH worked with Avraham. These very important births, which were to carry on a lineage that went against the current of the downhill pattern of human trends, were not to be seen as accidental or even ordinary, but had to be seen as YHWH's direct intervention. But while Avraham had prayed for an heir, the first time he failed to specify who the heir would come through. Yitzhaq learned from this, and asked YHWH directly to let his wife bear his children. This was wise; he did not want another incident like that of Hagar. Accepted his prayer: literally, "let Himself be entreated of him". Although YHWH is our "Abba" ("Daddy"), still He is also the King of the Universe. Yitzhaq did not just come and say, "Oh, by the way, I need something from you!" While He invites us to "draw near with boldness" (Heb. 4:16), there are proper ways and attitudes by which to approach Him, and these are taught extensively in the Temple ceremonies and in the scepter extended to Queen Hadassah (Esther). Now that she had conceived, there was a new conflict to deal with:
22. But the sons struggled against each other within her. And she said, "If so, why am I this way?" So she went to ask YHWH.
Went: literally walked. She had to go to another place—possibly where there was a prophet or a priest like Melkhitzedeq—to get the answer from YHWH. (Many identify Melkhitzedeq with Shem, who would still be alive for about 68 years after this.) Unlike Chawwah, who acted on her impulse when the serpent introduced a conflict to her life that would not have been there had she gone through the authority who had been set over her, Rivqah began with a question. This slowed her from a run to a walk. Taking the time to walk it out would lessen the likelihood of her making a rash decision. This is became a pattern in her life. She became someone who got the information from the right source, then prepared herself, but waited for the right time before acting. Chawwah acted to better herself, but Rivqah was thinking about the welfare of the generation that was coming.
23. And YHWH told her, "Two nations are in your womb; indeed, two peoples will be separated from within your body. And one people will be stronger than the other, but the elder will serve the younger."
Peoples: nations or regimes, but based on a word for “rising up” or “the back”, hinting at twins whose faces were identical, but that is where the resemblance ended; their backs—the parts not as readily seen—were different. As we will see, parts of their bodies were indeed different, but they also differed in what motivated them. Peoples: unified groups or communities. Stronger: or superior, increased more greatly. Again, the pattern continues: the one older in years (or minutes, in this case) will not take precedence, for the people of the younger are not to have the advantage by worldly standards, because they prevail by YHWH's deliberate intervention alone. Yosef and Efrayim, though neither was the eldest, would also later end up being given the prominent positions. (48:19; 1 Chron. 5:2) Based on this, Yahshua taught that the first would be last and the last first. (Mat. 20:16)
24. When her days [of readiness] to give birth were fully accomplished, sure enough, twins were in her womb!
Twins: the Hebrew word (thom, on which the name Thomas is based) means joined, opposite, coupled, fitting together, or matching. The two seem to be opposite indeed, but in a way their two personalities comprise the entirety of human experience--the right and left hand, the inclinations to right and wrong, one to be emulated, one from whom to learn what not to be like. Neither is complete without the other; both inclinations are latent within them both, and both paths are open to both of them at birth. Like Yitzhaq and Yishmael, one is the child of promise (symbolizing the promise of the Torah being written on our hearts), and the other is a child of slavery (to the flesh). The two goats of Atonement were to look as similar as possible--like twins--yet one was "for YHWH" and the other "for Azazel" or banishment.
25. And the first came out, ruddy all over as if he had a disheveled fur coat, so they named him Esau.
His name is similar to esah: "shaggy", but it is based on the word "to accomplish". He appeared to be someone who would get things done. "Ruddy" is from"red", suggesting that he was all covered with blood at birth, foreshadowing the kind of man he would be. David, also called ruddy, was "a man of blood" and thus could not be the one to build the Temple. Disheveled fur coat: hairy garment, or even "a dreadful, storming luxuriant cloak of majesty". Yaaqov later feared him and saw him as one of the elohim (ch. 32, 33). Contrast haSatan as described in Yeshayahu/Isa. 14 and Y'chezq'el/Ezek. 28, with the perfect (cf. v. 27) yet unimpressive Yahshua (Yeshay. 53:2). But the term for this coat (aderet) is used elsewhere of the mantle of Eliyahu which he passed on to Elisha, signifying that he was the next prophet to take his place. (1 Kings 19:19; compare 2 Kings 1:8) Zekharyah 13:4 speaks of prophets wearing an aderet of coarse hair (se'ar, related to Se'ir). Yochanan the Immerser wore a hairy garment (Markus 1:6). Thus if one wore a hairy cloak, he was perceived to be a prophet. Esau was born with the sign of the prophetic gift right on his body. So why did he not become a prophet? His life will answer this question, beginning even in this chapter.
26. And afterward, his brother came out, and his hand was holding onto the heel of his brother Esau, so he was named Yaaqov. And Yitzhaq was 60 years old when she gave birth to them.
He was named: or, He named him. Yaaqov: "He will take by the heel"—an idiom for a supplanter or circumventor, who stealthily takes another's place. Even while still in the womb, he wanted the job that was expected of Esau, and though he could not come first, part of him came out with the firstborn. That Yaaqov was a "heel-holder" also relates to the prophecy in 3:15 that the Messiah's heel would be bruised. He indeed got around his disadvantages and displaced his brother. But chiefly, by continuing the Messiah's ancestral line, he displaced the “nearer kinsman” (as in the book of Ruth) who stood in the way of the redemption of mankind. The fact that they are twins reminds usof the Messiah, called the "Lion of the Tribe of Yehudah", and haSatan, the "predecessor" whom He supplanted, also called a lion who prowls about seeking someone to devour. The flesh is manifested first in our lives (though we are innocent until accountable), yet from the beginning the better struggles for preeminence (v. 26), though the spirit starts off as much weaker. (v. 23) Both flesh and spirit are, of course, worked out in the physical realm; we cannot give lip service to what is best but not carry it out, and still say we are spiritual. Flesh itself is not evil, yet as flesh alone it would be of no benefit; it is the spirit that enlivens the flesh that counts. (Yoch. 6:63) The question is whether it is the flesh or spirit that rules, and which we intend to become. Paul carries this analogy much further in Romans 7, where we see both of these twins at work in ourselves. We have the inclination to do right; the inward man delights in keeping the Torah, which is equated in 7:14 with what it means to be spiritual. When we die to self, we empower the “Yaaqov” in us; thus Paul can say that the vestigial manifestations of “Esau” in him are not his true self. “Esau” is always there, and we have a relationship to both sides, but if we have attached ourselves to Israel (the spiritual side of Yaaqov), we do not belong to Esau, and he can no longer enslave us, because we are “dead” to him (to sin/the flesh) and alive to Yaaqov/Israel/Messiah/YHWH. 60 years old: Thus his twin sons were 15 years old when Avraham died.
27. When the boys grew up, Esau became a man who knew hunting--a man of the field. But Yaaqov was a wholesome man, living in tents.
Knew hunting: was very adept at the chase, like an aggressive businessman in modern terms—a prudent investor and an opportunist, which made him successful in a way, which his father admired. He had talent, courage, the ability to concentrate, and great patience. He brought a type of security to the family. He may have even used his prophetic gift to that end. Yet to become so skillful, he had to concentrate on earning rather than learning--which when taken too far pits YHWH against mammon (wealth). While his gift is not presented as positive or negative here, he was consumed with the hunt—with “overcoming the world”, but not in the spiritual sense. The word for hunter literally means “one who lies in wait”. The best way to catch an animal is to become like a wild animal. He was like Kanaan in this regard. As a "man of the field" (which Yahshua interpreted as "the world", Mat. 13:38), he shows that he sought his security in the present world. Yaaqov, however, was "wholesome": mature, and therefore complete, lacking in nothing, a well-rounded man of integrity, in spite of his name. Though he was only one of the pair of twins, he is somehow still complete in himself, for he has made the right choice. (Mat. 6:33) "Dwelling in tents" is often an idiom for one who is a student of YHWH's instruction. (Num. 24:5) The first use of the term speaks of the tents of Shem. (9:27) Israel Koschitzky writes, "Our Sages say that the Torah -- not the actual document, but the substance of the Commandments and the attachment to the Divine -- was revealed by [Elohim] to our forefathers. Shem the son of Noah, and Ever his great-grandson, even opened a Yeshiva (place of study), and Yaaqov went to study there. And they took upon themselves to perform the Commandments, even though they were not obligated by [Elohim] to do so." This may very well be true, since Shem outlived even Avraham. A tent-dweller puts less value on his possessions, for he has to pack them up and leave more often. He is not attached to one place, but moves when the source of food moves, a picture of the pillar of fire in the wilderness which his descendants would follow. Tent-dwellers do not depend on hunting, but raise their own flocks (also making kosher preparation). Living in tents is also the wartime lifestyle. While he lacks some of Esau’s drive, and he does not have the natural gifting as a prophet that Esau had, Yaaqov’s perfection is that he was hungry for the fullness of the path of YHWH and was determined to do whatever was necessary to obtain it. The words of YHWH did not just roll off his lips; he fought for every bit of understanding, while Esau was off serving his belly. Yaaqov also had his underhanded side, but by such study he would learn how to subdue it and make it subservient to him, like the “unrighteous mammon” of Luke 16:11. While there is a balance to be had—we still need to work—we should lean toward the side of study, because we have been in the field far too long.
28. Now Yitzhaq preferred Esau, because game was in his mouth, but Rivqah prefers Yaaqov.
In his mouth: i.e., he had something to show for it (as opposed to Yaaqov's more abstract interests), and he had a "taste" for game. He, too, had spent a lot of time in the field (25:63), and he may have been trying to gain credit through what his son did even better than he—to live his life through his son. This is often common of parents whose children excel at sports, which is also a thing of the “field”. But in reality there is nothing special about excelling at games that accomplish nothing. Prefers (literally, loves): The present tense in Hebrew highlights the eternal value of her love, compared to the temporary nature of Yitzhaq's, which was based on his liking for what Esau could do for him. Though Rivqah’s name means “ensnarer”, which would seem to align with Esau’s profession, she was a Hebrew, having crossed over like Avraham. Yaaqov lived as her son, for she was royalty. She has moved into Sarah’s tent, so she is now equated with the Torah. She was also forearmed by the prophecy that the elder would serve the younger (v. 23), and she will use her ensnaring ability to ensure that. But the women in this family tend to see the truth more readily than the men. Her husband, symbol of Yahshua, has now, however, become “Jesus” instead--the Hellenized Messiah whose focus has shifted to what is advantageous in the present age (through prosperity doctrine, etc.; contrast the true Yahshua’s words in Yochanan 6:26-27.) YHWH said He loved Yaaqov and “hated” Esau (Mal. 1:2-3), so Yitzhaq had his own opinion, but Sarah stuck to what YHWH’s prophet had told her. Apparently she was afraid to tell Yitzhaq what he had said.
29. Once Yaaqov was boiling some food, and Esau came in from the field, and he felt faint.
Faint: Hunting did not satisfy him, but left him weary and languishing, reminding us of Yahshua's question: "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul?" (Mat. 16:26).
30. And Esau said to Yaaqov, "Please let me have a gulp of the red--this red stuff--because I'm about to collapse from hunger!" On account of this his name is called Edom ["red"].
“Gulp" here means “guzzle” or "gorge down and devour like an animal". It can even be translated "pour that red stuff into me!" He was not a refined man at all, and even asked for his brother’s assistance in eating it. (Compare Prov. 19:24; 26:15) He has meat, but it is not prepared, much like the five foolish virgins. (Mat. 25) He mentioned its redness twice; though finished hunting, he is still "seeing red", focusing on something resembling blood—and himself! Like his father in v. 28, his focus is on his belly. (See Philippians 3:19 and v. 34 below.) Even if he has caught something that day, he does not want to wait until it is skinned and prepared, but wants instant gratification.
31. But Yaaqov said, "Sell me your birthright as of today!"
Yaaqov, being “complete”, also knew how to lie in wait as a hunter, but only did this when it was appropriate and necessary. The birthright was the firstborn's right to a favored position and a double portion of co-heirs' inheritence (which gave him the responsibility to rescue his siblings from any type of need). By later law a father could not give it to a younger son, but one could forfeit it by his actions, as Yaaqov's son Reuven did (48:16; 49:4). Rav Michael Hattin comments, "An ancient tradition suggests that the birthright was initially associated with the special role of serving and ministering to [Elohim]: ... Before the construction of the Tabernacle... the firstborn served as priests. After the building of the Tabernacle, the high places were forbidden, and the service was limited to only the Kohanim [Levitical priests]." B’reyshith Rabbah 63:33). In other words, being the firstborn in ancient Israel meant aspiring to a special life of connectedness to [Elohim]. In this context, living by the terms of the birthright meant being prepared to continue the spiritual legacy of Avraham and Sarah. That being the case, it seems hardly a vocation for a savage hunter whose greatest pleasures are temporal, corporeal, and sanguinary...It is possible to interpret Yaaqov's conduct here as his means of testing Esav's resolve." Israel Koschitzky surmises, "Yaaqov said to himself, ‘This wicked person isn't fit to offer sacrifices to the Holy One.' ...He realized that his older brother was unable to fulfill the obligation on behalf of Yitzhaq's children, and was therefore motivated to take it upon himself in order to ensure that it was done properly." As of today: or "as it is today”, i.e., there was no physical inheritance yet, but Esau was the priest-in-training, and this is what Yaaqov wanted, since his brother was not fulfilling this role well. He was buying the right to be the type of servant he knew the family needed. On the natural level this required a lowering in position, but on the spiritual level it is by far the more profitable.
32. And Esau said, "Look here, I'm going to [my] death; of what benefit is a birthright to me?"
Again Esau's mind is on death. He was not starving (v. 34); rather, he is thinking of how the birthright means he must die to himself. The priests (who were taken in place of the firstborn) became the servants of all Israel, having no inheritance of their own. Esau prefers worldly advantage; to him, the birthright makes no sense, and is only a burden. If he can dispense with it, he thinks he will be free to follow his own pursuits. In contrast to a shepherd, a hunter is often very short-sighted, thinking only of the immediate situation. To him, “Life is short, and I want to live it up.” He was tired of hearing Yaaqov say, “If I had that birthright, I wouldn’t waste it as you do!” He is not literally starving, but though he is meant to be a seer, he sees nothing beyond his life.
33. But Yaaqov said, "Swear to me today." So he swore to him, selling his birthright to Yaaqov.
Yaaqov knows he may change his mind once he has a full stomach. The desire for the prophetic gift outweighed even the original gifting. Yaaqov was not naturally gifted to bring YHWH's word; his brother was, but he was running from it, and does not care about the path. While others might seek but cannot find because YHWH has not chosen them to be vessels of mercy, in Esau's case the calling was present, but he was not answering it. So much was given to him, but he saw little value in it. Knowing that someone needs to do this rightly, Yaaqov wants the job whether it comes naturally to him or not. Though people tended to cling to Yaaqov because of the blessings he brought them, people tend to get fed up with those who study, especially if he kept reminding his brother of the prophetic gift he was supposed to be using but was not. Those who are wrong cannot stand those who are right.
34. Now Yaaqov had given Esau bread and lentil stew. He ate it and drank it, then got up and left. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Yaaqov gave Esau bread—something from the ground, not something he has caught. This way no one could ever say his decision was made under duress, thus making it a legal transaction and a test of what was really in his heart. He did not change his mind; he still did not care to serve the rest of his family with YHWH's word. Bread is symbolic of community, and was so important that although his descendants had other (even luxurious) types of food, when they lacked bread, they risked a dangerous journey to find grain (ch. 43). So Yaaqov offers him "spiritual food" (Yoch. 4:32-34) in an attempt to get his focus back where it belonged. But after eating this bread, he was still hungry. Yaaqov, in contrast, hungers for YHWH’s word. (Compare Prov. 13:25ff: "The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul/appetite, but the belly of the wicked will be in want." Even in his eating, the righteous person is learning, for the kosher laws teach him what kind of person to be. Here, "belly" is singular, but "wicked" is plural, implying that there is only one belly for all the wicked. A clean animal that chews the cud has multiple stomachs, while a swine only has one. A healthy community requires having the milk and meat of the word filtered through the minds of all its members so they can all have a complete perspective. Philippians 3:15ff tells us that the "perfect"--as Yaaqov was called in v. 27--should all have the same mind rather than letting our belly be our god and setting our mind on the "things upon the earth". In Hebrew, “belly" can indeed mean the seat of mental faculties (what one's mind is on) or a womb--the place of ultimate security, which is the god of the wicked. Do you hunger only for your own security, or the knowledge that can only be found in the tents of the righteous?) Despised: treated with comtempt, Rashi suggests that this does not mean he was always lustful, but that he is confident that natural abilities are enough to right the world's wrongs, and that looking outside the natural order (to YHWH, as Yaaqov did) is an ephemeral waste of time. He was a big, burly man, and could easily have wrestled the food away from his brother, but the right of primogeniture meant nothing to him--as many reject YHWH's other gifts, like the Torah, His festivals, and the Sabbath (Mark 2:27; Hoshea 8:12). But they cannot say they have not been offered real food. If they will not come to the banquet, the best will go to the blind and lame and whomever can be found to accept it. (Mat. 21:23-22:10; Luk. 14:23)
1. Now there was a famine in the Land (besides the former famine which had been in the days of Avraham). So Yitzhaq went to Avimelekh, king of the Filistines, at Gerar.
Famine: Felt most strongly when there was no bread. (42:1-2) Other fruits were seasonal, and might have still grown to some extent during a famine (43:11), but grain was the staple, stored for use year-round. Many events in Scripture were spurred on by famines, as we will see later in this book; Ruth, the ancestress of King David was enabled to join Israel initially due to a famine. But King Shlomo tells us their main purpose in his dedicatory prayer for the Temple. (1 Kings 8:37ff) It is to make us recognize the plague that is in our hearts, so that we will examine them and see where we are lacking. I.e., they only come when there is a lesson we need to learn from them. The famine is to make us seek YHWH so He can reveal to us what we need to do about it. Moshe places it right here because we just saw Esau as famished, though he was adept at the hunt and ate constantly. What caused his starvation was his spiritual condition. His brother made relationship with YHWH the priority, so he was well-fed. Avraham died sated (25:8), not lacking in YHWH’s words or the experience of them in his life, but Esau was never full, because he did not seek YHWH in the tents, but only sought His provision in the field. If we are only looking to YHWH for what He can do for us, we will starve to death. Esau’s job had been to establish the covenant, but he rejected it, because his only thoughts were about how hungry he was; he could not grasp that it was about “us”, for self blinded him. That is the famine. Just how easy it is to fall into this trap is seen in the fact that the only difference between ra’av (famine) and rav (abundance) is one letter: ayin. The word ayin means an eye. The eye is a Hebrew idiom for how generous one is. Those who have the most can be in the worst condition. In 25:23, we were told that the elder twin would serve the younger. But the word for elder is rav and the word for younger is tsa’ir, which means insignificant. In fulfillment of this prophecy, the one who had much was serving what was least important, and his ayin therefore made the rav into ra’av. But even if one has little, if he is about the community, he will flourish. The difference between starving and being well-fed is how well we care for one another. YHWH uses the places of need to move us to where we need to be. Amos 8:11ff speaks of a famine of hearing the words of YHWH. It is not that His words are lacking; most homes today have more Bibles than people in them. But most cannot hear what the words are saying, because they are not where they should be and because they are listening the wrong way. If we put His words in a modern, Greek-based context, we will “starve”. They are not written for a Western mindset, but a Hebraic one. It makes no sense to the Greek mind that a bad eye is the cause for being unable to hear! The solution Shlomo gives is to fear YHWH in the Land given to our ancestors. Part of getting there is overcoming this famine of hearing. We must return to the covenant with Avraham before we can go home. When seeking Him only through later, additional covenants, we will not understand fully. The covenant is not meant to be understood as individuals; each of us is only part of Israel. Filistines: sea peoples from Kaftor in the Greek isles (probably Kriti) who settled on the coast of Kanaan after being defeated by the Egyptians in a sea battle. Their name means “immigrants”, since they were indeed outsiders. Gerar: Tel Garor today, halfway between coastal‘Azzah (Gaza) and Be’ersheva. The word means “to chew the cud”, and is thus a picture of meditating on YHWH’s word. Notice that Yitzhaq’s response to the famine was indeed to go to this place where he could sort out where his heart was, where his perspective was lacking, and spend time hearing from the Word of YHWH.
2. And YHWH appeared to him and said, "Do not go down into Egypt; stay in the Land which I will indicate to you.
Gerar is on the way from Hevron to Egypt, but is still in Kanaan. He was following in his father’s footsteps, but in this case YHWH did not want him to do so. Avraham had not wanted him to leave the Land to go back to where he had come from. (24:6) Egypt is where Hagar had become joined to the family of Avraham. Yitzhaq did not need to repeat the same errors that had come from this. That is the way of our past, from which we have ascended already.
3. "Stay [as a sojourner] in this Land, and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your seed, I will give all these lands. And I will establish My oath, which I swore to your father Avraham.
Here Yitzhaq is expressly commanded to never leave the Land of Israel, just as the high priests would later essentially never be able to leave the tabernacle compound since he had constant responsibilities there. Since he has become an ascending offering, he is not permitted to descend out of the Land. The word for “ascending offering” can also mean a stairway. The stairway Yaaqov would later see, which he called the house of Elohim, was in this Land and no other. We can never take Yahshua out of the Hebraic context, or his message will no longer be about ascending to YHWH. The book of Ruth begins with another famine that took Naomi’s family out of the Land in the days of the judges, which the book of Judges tells us was a time when there was no king in the Land and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. When Yahshua is no longer seen as a king but as a whipping-boy or a candy-man, the sheep may like what they eat, but they will still be hungry.
4. "That is, I will increase your descendants until they are like the stars of the sky, and I will give your descendants all these lands. And the nations of the earth shall bless themselves in your Seed,
5. "because Avraham listened to my voice and observed the obligation I gave him: My commands, My prescribed customs, and My instructions."
Thus YHWH's promise narrows down to Yitzhaq's line. The promise continues because of Avraham, not Yitzhaq, because the latter was not living such an exemplary life. King Shlomo's reign was extended for his father's sake, though his own actions deserved worse (1 Kings 11:12). Yahshua said those who continue in his word will know the truth; he said there were others in whom his words had found no place. (Yochanan 8:31-43) Though they were Avraham’s seed (like Esau), they could not “hear” his words. They were suffering from the famine Amos wrote about. Even the learned were not doing the deeds of Avraham, because each wanted his own voice to be heard above all others. Rather than submitting to the teacher YHWH had sent, they tried to defend themselves. They left YHWH’s word for their own perspective, and were enslaved—as if back in Egypt, where Yitzhaq was not to go.
6. So Yitzhaq settled in Gerar,
7. and the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, "She is my sister", because he was afraid to say, "My wife"--"lest the men of the place kill me because of Rivqah"--because she was fine-looking.
Rivqah had moved into Sarah’s tent, so she has become in her generation the symbol of the Torah as Sarah was. In the last chapter we saw Yitzhaq descend into representing “Jesus”, not Yahshua, and the former does deny being intimate with the Torah. He claimed a relationship to her, but not the most intimate one. Naturally, if no one claims her as their own, others—especially those of a righteous nation like this (20:4)--will be attracted to her, though she is off-limits to those outside the covenant. So he had to learn the same lesson his father had.
8. But after he had been there [for] long days, it turned out that Avimelekh, king of the Filistines, was looking out the window--and, lo and behold, he saw Yitzhaq playing with his wife.
Long days: separated from his wife, they would indeed seem that way. Playing with: teasing, possibly caressing--something he obviously would not do to a mere sister, but the word is simply based on Yitzhaq's name, laughter. He was joking in a very familiar manner such as he could only do to a wife. Avimelekh means " father of a king", the title of a dynasty, as Avimelekh was also the king Avraham had visited two generations before.
9. So Avimelekh called Yitzhaq and said, "She is your wife after all! So how come you told me she was your sister?" And Yitzhaq told him, "It was because I said to myself, 'Otherwise I might die on her account.'"
He could not hide who she really was for very long. Yitzhaq did not have the excuse Avraham had had; though she was his cousin, she was not his sister. Keeping Torah does require that we die to self. But if we preach a “Jesus” that denies the Torah, we will be caught in our own words which conflict with his (“If you love me, keep my commandments”), pagans will think they can advantage of his bride (congregation) for their own purposes.
10. And Avimelekh said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the people could easily have lain with her, and you would have brought guilt on us!"
If he had waited much longer, she would not have been his wife anymore. She was royalty, but did not belong in the house of this king. She was meant to be seen only as the companion of the one who represented YHWH’s covenant. That is why these wives are so special. They must come from Avraham’s house, because he was a prophet, as Yitzhaq was as well, and who belongs with the prophet? The Torah. If support for a prophecy cannot be found in the Torah, it is false. The Church is responsible to release its grip on the Torah and her progeny, releasing it back into its proper Hebraic context and its Land. This occurred both with Yitzhaq’s mother and his wife,for we experience the Torah first as a mother who trains us to walk, then must intimately embrace it.
11. So Avimelekh gave orders to all the people, saying, "Anyone who touches this man or his wife will meet a certain death!"
Literally, "dying shall die"--a typical method of intensifying a word in Hebrew. Touches: i.e., molests. So while there is some grief to go through when acknowledging our intimacy with the Torah, it will actually bring us under YHWH’s special protection. Anyone who challenges us will have to answer to Him.
12. Moreover, Yitzhaq planted crops in that land, and a hundredfold return came to him that year, and YHWH blessed him.
13. And the man increased, and kept advancing forward until he had become very great.
14. He also had possessions--flocks and herds, and many slaves, and the Filistines began to envy him.
Those who were under the “father of the king” hated the one under his protection, but had no right to do anything about it. Those who today call themselves Filistines are also outsiders who only fought over the Land after Yitzhaq's descendants made it prosper. (Rome named the Land Palestinium for the Filistines to blot out the memory of Judea. Anyone who calls the Land Palestine today is giving more credence to the Filistines than to those YHWH said would inherit the Land.)
15. So the Filistines stopped up all the wells that his father's slaves had dug (in the days of his father Avraham), and filled them with dust.
Stopped up: Heb., closed up or made secret. They kept all the clarifications Avraham had provided from anyone's sight. The ways of the world bring not only famine but thirst. Dust: from a word meaning “gray”. Outsiders muddied YHWH’s word with a mixture that can make Israel cease to exist, because things are no longer black and white as they are in Torah. They claim everyone is “God’s child”. Being the shepherds (pastors) of Y’hezq’el 34:17 muddy the water with their feet (a term also used for YHWH’s festivals in Ex. 23:13), they have clogged up the clear interpretation of the Torah by mandating the celebration of their own holidays--Easter rather than Passover, and forbidding any practice that would make the church resemble the Jews in any way—to the point that people consider the Torah dangerous, because they have never seen pure water. But if we are seeking to have YHWH reveal our hearts as Shlomo said, we will drink it—and thrive. The “Filistines” of today have also taken over the Temple Mount, Yosef's tomb, Rakhel's tomb, and Beyth Lekhem--all the main "wellsprings" of life for Israel.
16. And Avimelekh told Yitzhaq, "Move away from us, because you are stronger than we are."
Stronger: The Filistines, once a mighty seafaring people, had been defeated on their own turf by the Egyptians in a sea battle, and were forced out of their former lands in the Greek islands, and settled on the coast of Kanaan. At this stage they were weakened, though they would become a much stronger people later. But the term “stronger” literally means more tightly bound together. Those who say we are “bound” by the Torah still respect our observance, for it does make us a formidable community. But the truth is too strong for most people’s tastes.
17. So Yitzhaq went from there, pitched his tent in Gerar's seasonal streambed, and settled there.
A seasonal streambed seems like a dangerous place to put one’s tent, and seems dry to others, but this shows that his main pursuit was water (as the seasonal stream would leave substantial ground water), and he was willing to take the risks that came with it. The term for seasonal streambed is also the word for inheritance (what “flows down”). So the heritage he sought was meditation on YHWH’s word. Although he was not to leave the Land, he still did not build a house, for a tent symbolizes following the water and remaining a sojourner. He also would be able to move it out of the riverbed when the rainy season came!
18. And Yitzhaq again dug the wells of water that they had dug in the days of his father Avraham (since the Filistines had also stopped them up after Avraham's death). And he gave them the same names his father had given them.
In Hebrew, “well” is based on the word for making the deeper meaning plain and accessible. Dug: the Hebrew word means to pry into or search. While we can erase all traces of something built above ground, a well affects the ground itself and can be found again when sought, though covered over. He did not just wait for the rain to bring water to the wadi (arroyo); he worked hard to find it even out of season, for at the bottom of our inheritance we know there is always living water. Same names: After he saw that admitting intimacy with his wife would not lead to death, he found himself in agreement with his father. Today we are going back to getting the water (Torah) the way it used to be reached--through its Hebraic context. And we are finding that we say the same things David did so long ago: “YHWH’s words are great riches and a cause for extreme joy and delight!” (Psalm 119) The returned tribes of Israel are ordained to "rebuild the ancient cities and inhabit them." (Amos 9:14; compare Numbers 21:17.)
19. And Yitzhaq's slaves dug in the dry riverbed, and found a live aquifer there.
Live aquifer: literally a source of living/running/flowing water. This was a new well (one his father had not dug); in a similar way, YHWH is fulfilling the promise to Daniel that in the last days knowledge would increase. But they did not seek it at random: where a river once had been, there was likely to be water below. Similarly, we are told to go back to the ancient, well-worn paths (like this former water-path) to find settledness for our souls (Yirmeyahu/Jer. 6:16). As we seek YHWH's original ways, today's unique needs will be met, while if we look outside His parameters, we will come up dry. Proverbs 25:2 tells us it is the prerogative of kings to penetrate, examine, and reveal the deeper meanings of a concealed word; where there is no king, there is famine. (See v. 3.) But once they dug, they found more than they had anticipated: not just stored-up ground water, but flowing water! What appeared only seasonal actually turned out to have water flowing all the time. The Torah is not just from a past dispensation, but current, once we bother to dig it out. When we get beneath the surface, the thirst of YHWH’s sheep is quenched.
20. But the shepherds of Gerar disputed with Yitzhaq's shepherds, saying, "The water is ours!" So he called the well by the name Eseq ["bickering"], because they had disputed with him over it.
They did not argue with him until after the well was re-dug, letting him do all the work. Israel's aquifers are also what the Palestinians want to take over today, since they have the high ground in many places.
21. So they dug another well, but they also fought over it, so he named it Sitnah.
Sitnah: "animosity", "hostility", or "obstruction". It is from the same root as "satan"--adversary. Every time he found something valuable, it was either being stolen or covered up (as in the case of his father's wells). So he tells them to keep their water, since contention is not what he is about. They can argue all they want; he will ignore them and move on to the next level.
22. So he moved from there and dug yet another well, and this one they did not fight over, so he called it by the name, Rehovoth, saying, "...Since now at last YHWH has given us space, so we can be fruitful in the Land."
They dug in a place apparently no one else was interested in this time. We may have several wells to dig before we can have unity with Yehudah, but it is worth the digging. Rehovoth means "Wide open spaces". He finally had plenty of room. Rather than participating in men's bickering, Yitzhaq said, in essence, "We can dig more wells, and wide enough to accommodate anyone who still needs water." YHWH says that eventually Yehudah will no longer be able to claim they had found the water before Efrayim. (Yeshayahu 48:1)
23. He went on up from there to Be'er-sheva,
24. and YHWH appeared to him that same night, and said, "I am the Elohim of your father Avraham. Do not be afraid, because I am with you, and I will bless you and increase your descendants, for the sake of My servant Avraham."
As soon as he moved on to the place meaning "clarifying of the oath/seven/completeness" (symbolizing a fuller understanding of the promise to graft all nations into his descendants, the deeper meaning of the Sabbath, and how YHWH is all in all), YHWH comes to him and tells him He is not against him--so how can anyone else defeat him? (Compare Romans 8)
25. So he built an altar there and called on the name of YHWH, and he pitched his tent there. And Yitzhaq's servants dug a well there.
Left: Yitzhaq's well, still at Be'er-sheva. Digging it involved cutting through 5 meters (16 feet) of solid rock. The water level is about 11 meters (35 feet) below the surface. Even though he had found plenty, he knew it was still not time to build a house, because he knew he would ascend again, for there are many steps up to YHWH's house. But his students were still with him, and they made up his true "house" (household). Once he had pitched his tent and started teaching, they were able to do what he had been doing. They, too, could now bring clarity to YHWH's words. He is serving not only as a teacher, but a priest, being the true firstborn son. A priest acts not for self but as a mediator. The sons of Eli (in the opening chapters of 1 Shmu'el) show the result of using the priestly role for selfish ends. Dug: The Hebrew word implies it was with little effort (compared to the word in vv. 18, 21 which means "searched out or dug for). But it was probably less of an effort because his father had dug the well there already. It must have been filled in as the others had been. Though it had already been named, Yitzhaq names it again. This links us to a prophecy given specifically for the nation of Israel as we know it today: "O house of Yaaqov, who are called by the name Israel, and have come out from Yehudah's waters...I made you hear new things as of right now--hidden things, and you did not recognize them. They are created now, and not from [when I foretold them long ago]; yet [I promised them] before today, but you did not hear them, lest you should say, ‘Oh, I knew that!'...I will not give My glory to another" (Yeshayahu 48:1-11) The new moon celebration has been Yehudah's since Sinai, yet scarcely anyone has practiced it for centuries; it is the same with the blue thread in the garment-fringe. Now that these and other practices are being restored and adopted by the House of Yoseyf, can Yehudah really claim to have always had them? Yitzhaq's well is still at the Tel of Sheva today, and it is extremely deep. In fact, these wells were important for British General Allenby in 1917. An Arab prophecy had said the holy city would be liberated from the Turks "only when a prophet of Allah brought the waters of the Nile to Palestine." Allenby did build a pipeline across the Sinai, but it could only provide water for his troops as far as Be'ersheva. Therefore, his strategy for taking Yerushalayim depended on taking Be'ersheva before the Arabs had time to fill up there wells again. This he did, and, not wanting to have a battle in a holy place, he sent airplanes to drop leaflets over Yerushalayim that said, "Now is the time for you to leave Yerushalayim. --Allenby." In Arabic, his name had to be written as "Allah-nabi"--Allah's prophet! Thus the city was therefore surrendered without a fight--and on the first day of Hanukkah, the feast commemorating the liberation of Yerushalayim under the Maccabees!
26. Then Avimelekh came to him from Gerar with Achuzzath, one of his companions, and Fichol, the commander of his army.
One of his companions: Achuzzath is from the word "possession", so this may have been the treasurer in his administration, brought along as another witness to the covenant he was about to make.
27. But Yitzhaq said to them, "Why have you come to me, since you hate me and sent me away from yourselves?"
Compare Yochanan the Immerser's words to the religious leaders of Yerushalayim, who had driven him from his rightful position. (Many believe he should have been the legitimate high priest.) If we return to the analogy in which Yitzhaq represented Yahshua, the one whose father is a king could refer to the tribe of Yehudah, which bears the right to the throne of David. One day they will yet approach Yahshua, the one they rejected and "sent" to the Gentiles, make peace with him, and thus be safe by means of a covenant.
28. So they said, "Because when we really looked, we saw that YHWH has been with you, so we have said, ‘Let there be an oath now between us--between ourselves and you--and let us make a treaty with you',
This is the same thing Avraham had done in chapter 21, at the very same place. He knew the name of YHWH since He had appeared to the earlier Avimelekh. Filistine ruins have in fact been found that bear the name of YHWH. But in asking us to leave, they had lost any advantage they had from our being there, for we took with us the things they envied. (Compare Lukas 19:26) Targum Pseudo-Jonathan even says that all the wells of the Gerarites had gone dry after they drove Yitzhaq away! So they realized they had nothing without him. Once those who hear the call back to Israel act on it, the church will find that all of those who brought clarity to the Scriptures are gone from it, and that they have nothing of value left. Since they came to where he had pitched his tent, this suggests that they came to be his students, and wanted more than just peaceful coexistence with him, as Lavan would later do with Yaaqov. He was essentially saying, "Our Land is yours as well; go anywhere you want to." Since this people had earlier been described as a "righteous nation", and the only other place this phrase is used (Yeshayahu 26:2) is interpreted to refer to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. So this verse is echoed by the prophecy that ten men from every nation will join themselves to Yehudah, saying, "We have heard that Elohim is with you." (Zkh. 8:23) This is prophetic of the reunification of the two peoples who call on YHWH.
29. "so that you will do no evil to us, since we did not touch you, and did only beneficial [things] to you, and sent you away in peace--now that you are blessed by YHWH."
Only beneficial things: They conveniently forgot that they had stopped up the wells, and think they deserve credit just because they let him live!
30. So he made a feast for them, and they ate and drank.
Though they actually did "touch" him, as with Yoseyf, YHWH meant it for the best, and all their differences seem as nothing in the end--when they really look into the Scriptures (cf. Zech. 12:10). This feast for three men parallels and may fill in some gaps in understanding the three men who visited Avraham (chapter 17).
31. And they got up early--at the break of day--and each swore an oath to his brother, and Yitzhaq gave them a sendoff, and they left in peace.
The Philistines lived in Kanaan, but they were not Kanaanites, with whom we are not to make a covenant. They had immigrated from outside that land. They were still Hamitic, but descendants of Mitzrayim (10:14).
32. And it was on that day that Yitzhaq's slaves came and told him about the well that they had dug, saying, "We've found water!"
33. So he called it Shiv'ah; thus the city's name remains Be'er-Sheva to this day.
And still it does! This very well has also been restored. Shiv'ah: meaning both "oath" and "seven", a confirmation of what his father named (21:31). Apparently it had been called something else in the meantime--much like the Torah, which was maligned for many centuries but is now being again recognized for what it really was--valuable instruction. Knowing what our ancestors did is not enough; we must do them too. Thus we are again using the original names: Yahshua instead of Jesus, Elohim instead of "God", Messiah instead of Christ. He renewed a covenant made by his father, as Yahshua did. Yitzhaq has now also come back in line with his father's actions, symbolizing the fact that after a long time of being known as "Jesus", Yahshua is now being put back into His original context. He did not call the place "Be'er Yitzhaq" after himself, but used the name the one who had originally dug it had used. Therefore, we no longer call ourselves Christians, for the Son came to point our focus toward the Father, and He called us Israel. Thus we can expect the treatment that He promised to Israel, since we are no longer strangers to the covenant. (Eph. 2:12, 19)
34. Now when Esau was 40 years old, he took a wife--Yehudith, the daughter of Be'eri the Chittite--and also Bas'math the daughter of Eylon the Chittite.
Y'hudith means "praise". Bas'math means "spice" or "perfume of the balsam tree". Be'eri means "my well". Eylon means a mighty tree. These names sound like things that would make his parents glad. Praise. Yitzhaq had spent his whole life digging wells. Avraham preferred to camp under big trees. Bas'math is called Yishma'el's daughter in chapter 36, so she was even a descendantr of Avraham. But Proverbs 14:11ff, which tells us that the way that seems right leads to death and has many parallels to this chapter (compare Prov. 16:22ff), also tells us that the simple believe every word. These women were not what their names made them seem. "My well" actually would remind Yitzhaq of the strife at Eseq. (v. 20) A mighty tree was also a common place for pagan rites. Esau was religious, but not righteous. He made too many decisions in ignorance when teaching was readily available to him. Beeri, whose wife's name was apparently Anah, which means "answer") is called a "Hivvite" in 36:2; Chittite is a general term (related to the word for "terror") for any descendant of the second son of Cham; Hivvite is a more particular genealogical one.
35. But they were a bitterness of spirit to Yitzhaq and Rivqah.
We do not know whether his parents yet knew about Esau's selling his birthright to Yaaqov. They may have still expected him to fulfill the priestly role, and thus were terribly disappointed when he went after pagans instead of marrying Leah in the pattern of the two previous patriarchs. They expected another Yishmael-like situation to result. In chapter 36 Yehudith is called Oholibamah, which means "my tent is a cultic platform". Since a tent is symbolic of religious learning, by marrying a woman with this name (even though she was a "praiser", or apparently religious), Esau espoused pagan worship. This might be analogous to marrying someone who speaks in terms of "the good Lord", without specifying His Name, thus leaving things ambiguous enough to get what one wants. ("See, Mom and Dad? She's religious like you!") But Yitzhaq and Rivqah saw through it. Targum Onqelos tells us that they were rebellious and agitated against Yitzhaq and Rivqah's authority. Bitterness of spirit: or bitter wind; the one whose name meant spicy perfume was really a foul odor. This is what prompted Rachel's next actions:
1. Now what took place when Yitzhaq was old and his eyes had become too dim to see, [was that] he called his elder son Esau and said to him, "My son!" And he said, "Here I am!"
Old: Not as many details are given about the events his life than about his father’s or his son’s. Of course, what took place on Mount Moryah was vivid enough for an entire lifetime. In fact, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan says that it was because he looked on the throne of glory when there, his eyes began to grow dimmer from that time on, much as one who stares directly at the sun will be blinded. Yitzhaq forms a link back to Avraham for his sons, and we must be the same for our children. We, too, need to uncover the wells—restore clarification to the Torah—for the next generation so its sweet water can continue to flow. Eyes had become too dim: The Rabbinic writings say this also refers to his spirit of prophecy being diminished. Our heart can be seen through our eyes. (Prov. 30:17), so dim eyes meant a dimming heart. His mind was on the field (v. 3). Being so accustomed to wealth and pure water, and being less of a bedouin than his father (having now settled in a house, v. 15), his perception of Esau had become dull. He had his eyes on the fact that Esau was a modern-day Nimrod, and had forgotten what was really important. Sure, he did not like Esau’s foul-breathed wives, but Esau’s talent in worldly success compared with Yaaqov’s intangible accomplishments made him hold him to a lower standard, just as many religious institutions allow their biggest donors to get away with being less righteous than others. He would not have been as eager to bless Esau if his perception of his unwillingness to be the spiritual leader of his generation had been sharper. Esau seemed the obvious choice for the blessing, being the firstborn, who was born already looking like a prophet. Hattin suggests that it is because Esau will bear upon his shoulders the burden of founding a nation, and as a hunter he had demonstrated that he possessed a crucial mix of ambition, determination, skill, and foresight that the calling demanded. But the only other hunter figure in all of Hebrew Scripture is Nimrod the mighty (10:8-12), also a builder of cities and founder of an empire, and there is a definite connection between his prowess as a hunter and his skill as an emperor. The successful hunter can be stealthy, “is not dissuaded by the sight of bloodshed and is able to maintain calm and resolve in the face of fear. In short, a conqueror of animals can easily adapt his abilities to become a conqueror of men... Esau shares not only Nimrod's pastime, but his essence as well."
2. And he said, "Here I am, an old man now, and I don't know the day of my death.
He seems to think he does not have much longer to live, though he ended up living at least 20 years longer--possible up to 80. Instead of continuing to dig wells and teach his children to follow YHWH, he had already become a pessimist and had his mind on enjoying himself one last time before he died--just like Esau.(25:32) He may have recognized he had not done as well as he should have in disciplining Esau, and had given up on being able to do any better. He already feels obsolete--that all of his accomplishments are behind him. And indeed we do not read of any more acts of his in the remainder of his years.
3. "So now, please take up your gear--your hanging-quiver and your bow--and go to the field and hunt me some game
Game: Lit., "a huntable", possibly implying something kosher--a necessary reminder to a son who took wives that were NOT "fair game". Yet he was becoming slack, because a deer shot by a bow would be torn, and thus not kosher. To be killed properly, it must be painless to the animal, and get the blood out as quickly as possible.
4. "and make me delicacies such as I love, and bring them to me, and I will eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die." So Esau went to the field to hunt game and bring it in.
Delicacies: Targum Onqelos has "stewed dishes"; the Hebrew is simply from a root word meaning "to taste", so it was something "tasty", but it also means "to perceive". He cannot perceive with his eyes, so he shifts his judgment to another sense, rather than using his prophetic gift--the ability to perceive the unseen things that had been passed on from Avraham. Yitzhaq has been prosperous, and he saw this same characteristic in Esau. Yet it is as if he is saying, "Give me a reason to bless you", just as Avraham had said, "If only Yishmael might live before you". He knows there is no other justification for blessing him. He had gathered up his courage on Mount Moryah to surrender to what had to be done, and again he thinks he is doing what he needs to do. He wants to bless Esau, but his heart is not in it, so he calls on him to do the only thing he can do that is worthy of blessing, and hopes it will end well, against all likelihood. He uses Esau's ability as an excuse not to face the obvious truth.
5. But Rivqah heard when Yitzhaq spoke to his son Esau. When Esau had gone to the field to hunt game in order to bring it in,
Rivqah heard, but not necessarily with her ears. She had the perception Yaaqov did not, and understood what was really at stake.
6. Rivqah spoke to her son Yaaqov, saying, "Listen here! I heard your father speaking to your brother, saying,
Her son: as contrasted with "his son Esau" (v. 5). Rivqah represents the Torah, whose child the one to be called Israel truly is. The children resembling the one who has become "Jesus" have their eyes more on prosperity as Esau did. These sons represent the right and left hand that we all have. Each has its place, but the left must be subject to the right if we are to serve the Kingdom.
7. "'Bring me game and make delicacies that I may eat, and may bless you in the presence of YHWH before I die.'
Rivqah adds a phrase, intending to remind Yitzhaq how strong this blessing was and jar him into recognizing Esau does not deserve it.
8. "So now, my son, hear my voice; listen what I am ordering you to do:
Ordering: She is from a royal matriarchal line, the specifics of which are not clear on a literal level, but she lives in Sarah's tent, so on a deeper level she represents the Torah, which does have the prerogative of giving commands. So what she is going to say is significant. She is speaking wisdom to our ancestor as the Torah always does. We are told to heed the correction of our father and not forsake the instruction (torah) of our mother. (Prov. 1:7-8) Esau did not want to be corrected, and, like most loving parents, Yitzhaq did not want to correct him. But the Torah knows things must be set right, because copping out will not accomplish the Kingdom. When Torah interferes tp set things straight, as Yaaqov would find out, it will cause pain and problems; the repercuissions would continue throughout all of Scripture, and the mideast conflict even today still goes back to a similar action on Sarah's part with Yisma'el. But it will establish the proper order. The fight has not begun until wew take up the Torah, for it is our sword. (Efesians 6:17)
9. "Go now to the flock and bring me from there two choice kids of the goat-flock, and I will make them into delicacies for your father--the way he likes them.
If goats from the flock would suffice to please him, it must have been the added spices that he really liked. This again shows that he is grasping at straws to somehow validate his need for Esau. Rivqah knew better, having heard directly from YHWH. A deer is kosher, yet wild like Esau, while goats were domesticated like Yaaqov. Two goats might be needed to provide the equivalent amount of the part of the deer that he liked best. But "two goats" also brings Yom Kippur to mind.(See note on 25:31) One was chosen for YHWH, and the other, for the wilderness demons (Azazel). There are strong resemblances in these two men, one of whom was himself shaggy, and the other who put goatskins on his own arms so they could not be told apart. The two goats over whom the lots were cast at Yom Kippur were to look as identical as possible. Both die, one for self, and one for the betterment of others. Yahshua, too, came "in the likeness of sinful flesh, yet without sin."
10. "Then you bring it to your father and let him eat them, so that he may bless you before his death."
As Sarah had YHWH's mind regarding Hagar, so Rivqah also had more spiritual insight than Yitzhaq. His eyes were dim spiritually as well. Though Yaaqov had bought the birthright from Esau, he could not really have it without his father's blessing.
11. But Yaaqov said to his mother Rivqah, "Look! My brother Esau is a hairy man, but I am a smooth man.
Yaaqov does not refuse to obey, but realizes he has to work out the details. Smooth: in his skin, but the word also means slippery or flattering, as well as one who divides and distributes a portion. So Yaaqov possesses the same skills as Esau; the difference is in what he uses them for--the family rather than his own advantage.
12. "What if my father feels me? Then I would seem in his eyes like someone who is mocking him, and bring upon myself a curse instead of a blessing!"
Feels: or, gropes (being blind).
13. But his mother said to him, "May any curse that comes upon you fall upon me, my son; just listen to my voice, and go, get the goats for me!"
When, as Yitzhaq's blindness represents, we lose sight of the true meaning of who the Messiah is, the Torah (represented by Rivqah) is indeed considered a curse by believers. Modern Christianity is afraid a curse will fall on them if they obey the Torah, but if we obey YHWH and negative repercussions result, they are His problem, not ours. If we obey, He is responsible for the results; if we do not, we are. That is truly the way of the fool. If we keep Torah, it keeps (guards) us.
14. So he went and got them and came back to his mother, and she made delicacies like his father loved.
15. Then Rivqah took the clothing of her elder son Esau--the valuable ones that were with her in the house--and dressed her younger son Yaaqov in them,
House: The man whose eyes had grown dim had stopped living in tents, and thus was no longer mobile or ready to move when YHWH led. The most desirable clothes in the house(hold) were traditionally those Adam had passed down to the first-born of each generation, who acted as priests before Aharon's time. Esau kept them at home to wear before his parents, honoring them (his one worthy trait), but did not wear them out in the rest of the world, just as the high priest in the Temple would only be permitted to wear his ephod in the Temple precincts.
16. and she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and the smooth part of his neck.
17. Then she put the delicacies and bread which she had made into her son Yaaqov's hand,
Again, he did not ask for bread, but she may have been satisfying his hunger before offering the delicacies, so he could enjoy them as such. But again bread represents offering him "real food" so he might perhaps regain his spiritual sense and do the right thing in regard to what his two sons' actual callings should be.
18. and he went to his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?"
19. And Yaaqov told his father, "I'm your firstborn son Esau. I have done as you told me. So please sit up and eat of my game, so that your soul may bless me!"
Yaaqov had indeed become the firstborn, and on this day he was a "shaggy goat" as Esau's name denotes. So he used his words shrewdly. The right of the priesthood had already been sold; the blessing had to do with the firstborn's right of absolute leadership in the tribe.
20. But Yitzhaq said to his son, "What's this? How did you find anything so quickly, my son?" And he said, "Because YHWH your Elohim brought it right to me."
Brought it right to me: "prepared it; caused the encounter for me" or even "YHWH arranged it for me" (He did-- before Yaaqov was born when He spoke to Rivqah about the elder serving the younger). Your Elohim: he does not yet refer to Him as his own. Perhaps he is just speaking as Esau would, but though he has studied, he has not experienced YHWH as his own, and later he places a condition on calling Him as such. (28:21)
21. But Yitzhaq said to Yaaqov, "Please come close and let me feel you, to see whether you are my son Esau or not."
Yaaqov’s “slip-up” was in giving credit to YHWH. Yitzhaq became suspicious at this point, because Esau would have bragged that he was the greatest hunter in the world, and the animals would just fall down dead when they simply saw him! Yet, his eyes being dim, he relied on his feelings.
22. So Yaaqov came near to his father Yitzhaq, and he felt him, and said, "The voice is Yaaqov's voice, but the hands are Esau's hands!"
Rav Shach wrote that there is a place for both Yaaqov's voice and Esau's hands (success in the material world). "As long as Yaaqov's voice stays in the place of Torah study and prayer (i.e., the congregation of Israel), Esau's hands will stay in their place. But if the voice of Yaaqov is sounded in the realm of Esau, the hands of Esau will enter the place of Yaaqov." When Rav Sha'ul took the message to "Gentiles" in the synagogues, things worked as they were meant to. But when Christianity took the word to the nations indiscriminately (started preaching on street corners, inviting anyone and everyone in, casting their pearls before swine), Esau's hands (the "money man") did take over the congregations. We are meant to invite into our domain those whom we suspect are Israel and don't know it, but we are not to speak it loudly in their place. Light does not chase insects down; they are drawn to it. YHWH made Esau the man of the field; when we try to tamper with that, we are asking for trouble.
23. And he did not recognize him, because his hands were like his brother Esau's hairy hands, so he blessed him.
Hands represent one's works, so he was judging him by his works, whereas the right of the firstborn has to do with one's spirit.
24. But he said, "Are you really my son Esau?" And he said, "I am."
In Hebrew there is a loophole: he could have been interpreted as asking, "Are you my hairy son?" At that moment, Yaaqov truly was! Yaaqov also had a loophole provided by Torah: his mother had commanded him to do this.
25. So he said, "Serve me my son's game and let me eat of it, so that my soul may bless you." So he came near him, and he took it and ate. Then he brought him wine, and he drank.
26. And his father said, "Now come and kiss me, my son."
27. So he came close and kissed him, and he smelled the scent of his clothes, and he blessed him. He said, "See, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that YHWH has blessed.
One who spends time with animals takes on their smell. Yitzhaq may have missed living in tents, and saw this reminder of life on the land as especially valuable. But the field, again, represents "the world", and he was being lured by its ways. Even Esau's best garments smelled like the world. As a parallel, Sunday is for many Christians "fashion-day", where they show off their best garments not in order to honor YHWH but to outdo others.
28. "May Elohim also give you of the dew of the heavens and the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine.
Fatness: the best. The Land of Israel was at that time the best and most productive in the world. Grain and new wine: not just physically, but symbolically, in terms of community and joy. This same blessing is repeated after the havdallah service that marks the end of the Sabbath and the transition back into the rest of the week. "Dew" often refers to resurrection (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 26:19) and YHWH's revelation (Deut. 32:2).
29. "May nations serve you, and peoples bow down to you; be a ruler to your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Moreover, may those who curse you be cursed, and those who bless you be blessed.
Peoples: regimes or princes, as in 25:23. Bow down to you: in reverence (see Deut. 4:6). Mother's sons: how do they differ from his brothers? Brothers can be extended to kinsmen in general, but perhaps he also expected Rivqah to marry again, since he thought he was dying. The final sentence is the same promise given to Avraham, which Yitzhaq now possessed and had every right to pass on to his son. If Esau had been given this blessing, the messenger's word to Rivqah in 25:33 could not have been fulfilled. She took the word that "the elder would serve the younger" as something she had to ensure, rather than expecting to just "happen" miraculously.
30. Now it turned out that when Yitzhaq had finished blessing Yaaqov, he had barely left his father's presence, when his brother Esau came back from his hunting.
31. And he, too, cooked delicacies and came to his father. And he said to his father, "Let my father rise and eat the game of his son, so that your soul may bless me."
Yaaqov, being a man of study, had only asked his father to sit up, but Esau expected his father to remain standing in his presence. This was not honoring him. Esau was in a hurry. He has been waiting for this moment for a long time, and wants it to be over with quickly so his primacy can be recaptured.
32. But his father Yitzhaq asked him, "Who are you?!" And he said, "I am your son--your firstborn, Esau!"
If he has sold his birthright, he no longer is considered the firstborn, but he may have never told his father this.
33. Then Yitzhaq, suddenly shaken by the force of the horror [of what he had done], said, "Then where did the one come from who hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it--all before you came? And I blessed him--and indeed, he shall be [the one who is] blessed!"
He suddenly realized that his suspicion about Yaaqov had been true after all, and trembled violently at the reality that confronted him. But he had also just found out that his eldest son did not have much respect for him, and he may have also been trembling at the realization that he had almost allowed himself to bless the son who did not deserve it.
34. When Esau heard his father's words, he cried out with a loud and extremely bitter cry, and said to his father, "Bless me, too, my father! Bless me!"
35. But he said, "Your brother came deceitfully and has taken your blessing!"
Deceitfully: cleverly or treacherously. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan says, "with wisdom". If it was being used to supplant evil, what he did was not unethical, though it would have consequences. Taken: or, received.
36. So he said, "That is why he was named Yaaqov, because both of these times he has taken me by the heel! First he took my birthright, and look! Now he has taken my blessing!" And he said, "Haven't you reserved even one blessing for me?"
Taken me by the heel: Yaaqov's name is related to the word for heel, also an idiom for "behind-the-back plotter" or "trickster". Targum Onqelos has "outsmarted". Took my birthright: Yaaqov had not taken his birthright, but bought it (25:33), so he should have had the blessing as well. It was Esau who was actually trying to steal it back! We must inform the "Esau" in us that we cannot trade in the things of the Kingdom for worldly desires, then expect to reclaim them whenever we want! If the rightful owner gets there before we do, we have lost them as he did:
37. But Yitzhaq replied and told Esau, "Behold, I have set him over you as a ruler, and I have given him all his relatives as servants; I have sustained him with grain and wine. So what else is there for me to give you, my son?"
As for those in Yahshua's parables, the gates were already closed. (Matt. 25:10) It is too late for him. Relatives: He intends for there to remain a relationship between these two sons, but Esau must be the one to defend Yaaqov.
38. And Esau said to his father, "Do you only have one blessing, my father? Bless me, too, my father--I beg you!" And Esau raised his voice and wept.
39. And his father Yitzhaq answered and said to him, "Behold, your abode shall be [away] from the fatness of the earth and [far] from the dew of the heavens above,
Away from the fatness: His land is indeed largely desolate and desert-like now, though it may have had more rainfall in his own day.
40. "and you shall survive by your sword, and you shall serve your brother, yet it shall be that when you brandish that sword, you will break his yoke from off your neck."
When you brandish that sword: become restless, or "there shall be a time when you are aggrieved, and..." In Rabbinical lore, Edom represents the church, especially the Roman, because Romulus, the co-founder of Rome, was a descendant of Esau. (Leviticus Rabbah 13:5) When Yaaqov's descendants began to reject Yahshua's followers at the Bar Kochba rebellion, under pressure they split from the main body of Judaism--a repeat of the division of the Kingdom under Rehov'am (1 Kings 12)--and paganism began to enter the Called-Out Assembly en masse. The appearance of Messiah's followers changed by and large from being "tent-dwellers" (students of Torah) to those "interested in their belly" and the wealth of this world. So his blessing contains a curse. Christianity made us see the yoke as a bad thing, but a farmer would see it as very profitable, both for himself and for his animals, because it helps distribute the load properly. If Esau had remained under Yaaqov's yoke, his load would not have been heavy. But by rebelling, he got out from under the covering yaaqov provided, and was "on his own" to fend for himself.
41. Then Esau hated Yaaqov, because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him. And Esau said in his heart, "The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Yaaqov."
Esau hated Yaaqov: see Mal'achi 1:3, where YHWH reciprocates. If he killed his brother, he would become the heir again. This was now the only way to have it back, but this too would have been a deceitful route to what he wanted.
42. But Rivqah was told the words of her older son Esau, and she sent [someone] to call her younger son Yaaqov, and she told him, "Look, your brother Esau is going to console himself by killing you.
Was told: by whom? Esau had said these words "in his heart" (v. 41), so it must have been YHWH or His messenger who told her. Unlike Yitzhaq, she was able to hear what a human being could not hear, unless she was told by a prophet. The Torah "knows" everything. Encrypted within its letters many have found all the major events in history, the names of notable personages, and it is the Book of Life in which the names of those YHWH favors are written.
43. "So now, my son, listen to my voice, and get up and flee for your life to my brother Lavan in Charan,
44. "and stay with him for a few days until your brother's rage subsides--
A few days: Possibly an idiom for up to a year. It ended up being more than 7,000 days!
45. "until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him, then I will send for you, and bring you back from there. Why should I, too, be bereft of both of you in one day?"
I will send: though apparently she was no longer living when Yaaqov would return, she did send for him, for later we see Rivqah's nurse return with him, but apparently his commitments kept him from returning until after Rivqah herself has died. He was her favorite son, and possibly the curse that she took upon herself in v. 13 was that she would never see him again. The spirit of the Torah is what has sent for Israel in exile and is calling us back to the Land of our roots. Both of you: Yitzhaq and Yaaqov, because of Esau's intention (v. 41). It cannot be referring to Esau also dying for the crime, because Yaaqov would have no avenger of blood left alive who would have a right to kill Esau. The word for "bereft" is from the literal term for a "short stem", visible only when the grape cluster has been removed, and also means to miscarry.
46. But to Yitzhaq, Rivqah said, "I am weary of my life on account of the daughters of the Hittites. If Yaaqov also takes a wife from among the daughters of Heth, like those from the daughters of the land, of what value is my life to me?"
She found a way not to have to tell him that Esau wanted to kill Yaaqov. She appeals to Yitzhaq’s love for her, saying, “It will kill me if Yaaqov does this too!” Are those who “send us” doing so for the sake of the Torah, or for other motivations? The daughters of Heth: See 26:34. Yaaqov's flight cannot be seen as rebellion, so that Yitzhaq will not reverse what he has just done and again set Esau over all that he has. So Rivqah, being clever in her own right, makes sure the blessing given when he sets out on the journey will be one freely given, not coerced. When those who are meant to be YHWH's people have their eyes on the world, it sometimes takes this sort of roundabout maneuvering to get them to make the right decisions. We often see the spiritual element in the church trying to make the Bible seem relevant to the lives of those who have marginalized it through irrelevant means designed only to get their attention. But this was a true statement on Rivqah's part, even if it was only her pretext. If Yaaqov attached himself to foreign elements, his seed would not pass through the right channels, and the covenant as prophesied by Noach would fail. If we want to be partly foreign, and not fully attached, why keep the Torah at all? YHWH wants us hot or cold, not lukewarm. Most Western law is based partly on the Torah, but it only half-serves it. Many say they "do what they have to do" for the sake of peace, but the true peacemaker carries a sword. There is no honor in avoiding confrontation if it means compromise. We cannot let pressing concerns make us set aside Kingdom things. If Yitzhaq listens to what she says, he will do the right thing. Those with a tender heart toward the Torah will do the right thing. Some would say that obeying the Torah is only about serving words, but it only appears to be; it is really about preserving Israel (which was originally none other than Yaaqov himself).
1. So Yitzhaq called Yaaqov, and he blessed him and gave him orders, saying, "Do not take a wife from the daughters of Kanaan!
Orders: a military term. This was not a request. When a superior in the army gives a command, it is not something negotiable that we can stop to ponder to determine if we agree with it or feel like carrying it out. It is to be followed no matter what—and right away. The blessing was a command, but the command was also a blessing. If we do as our father instructs, we will inevitably be blessed, even if it does not seem so at first. Keep the Torah and soon it will be keeping you. It is a test of whether we really trust YHWH to take care of any consequences there may be. If we fail, we have to take it again in a different way. It is embarrassing to be 25 years old and still in the third grade! Removing some of our options gives us better structure and highlights our priorities more clearly. When we are speaking of the Torah, a distinction should not be seen between blessing and command. And Yitzhaq was indeed echoing the words of his wife Rivqah (27:46), whom we have seen is also a picture of the Torah. He starts with a prohibition against connecting ourselves with the people of Kanaan, who molested his grandfather Noakh when he was drunk. Kanaan means “knee-bender”, with overtones of being about only fleshly pursuits, hungering for pleasure at any cost. If we bend the knees too far, we end up down on all fours like an animal—a picture of those who primarily follow animal instincts. The serpent was cursed even further (Gen. 3:1-15)—having its belly right down on the earth. It hungers for the dust of the earth (therefore being in direct opposition to YHWH, who has chosen the “dust of the earth”--Avraham’s descendants). So YHWH puts it all the way down in the dust. Yaaqov cannot be attached to those who would influence him in this direction. If the descendants of Avraham get down where the serpent is, it will devour us. Kanaan is like an animal. The land named after him is under that curse, but YHWH had sent Avraham there as a teacher and to establish the covenant that would make it holy again. In contrast, YHWH’s pet name for Israel when obedient is Yeshurun—the one who is upright—that is, on two feet, standing up straight. Yaaqov is now in a position to continue to guard the covenant of Avraham, but if this seed gets mixed in with those who are down on all fours, his success will be greatly inhibited. We are not talking about being so heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly use, because that is unbalanced in the other direction, but our inclination needs to be toward bring heavenly things to earth. Animals walk with their bellies parallel with the earth, but men are meant to walk perpendicular to the ground—with the things of heaven and earth in balance. What we hunger for will determine our actions. If we surround ourselves with selfishness, we tend to become selfish too. The promise cannot be carried by one who is about himself. YHWH’s gifts are meant to be passed on to the whole community. This is one of the reasons Esau had lost his birthright. Yitzhaq’s eyes had grown dim, because he was becoming more interested in Esau’s ability to satisfy his belly. But now that Yaaqov has the blessing, thanks to Rivqah’s influence, he realizes that the covenant cannot be attached to anyone who is only about the flesh or the earth. If Yaaqov wants to be able to continue seeking the things that satisfy the soul, and if he wants his children and grandchildren to be upright too, he must not connect himself to one who is not upright. He has proven that more than anything he wants to uphold the covenant, but even he can be influenced or impeded if his mate does not share the same concerns, appreciate the fact that he is a man of tents, not the field, and uphold his higher pursuits. His wife must thus come from the line of Shem, whom Noakh made the master of Kanaan and the teacher of Yefeth. She, too, must have Kingdom priorities if he is to carry on the work of Shem, the teacher.
2. "Get up, go into Paddan-Aram to the household of B'thuel your mother's father, and take yourself a wife from there--from the daughters of Lavan, your mother's brother.
Paddan-Aram: the plain of the Arameans (Syrians). The scope of his search for a wife is much narrower than his father’s, for the bar has been raised. Not just any Aramean would do. She had to follow the pattern that had proven best: Rivqah was Sarah’s niece, so Yaaqov’s wife would be Rivqah’s niece. She had to come from this very special group of women—a queenly family, who are pictures of the Torah, as we have seen. Rivqah was taken into Sarah’s tent, taking her place. The same picture must continue wit the next generation for the blessing to continue.
3. "Then El Shaddai can bless you, make you fruitful, and multiply you, and you will come to be an assembly of peoples.
Though he said he had no blessings left to give, apparently Yitzhaq's prophetic spirit has revived. El Shaddai: the “feminine” side of YHWH, from a word meaning “breast”, thus emphasizing provision, which he indeed received. Yitzhaq is beginning to see again, due to his wife’s influence. Fruitful: His great-grandson’s name means "doubly fruitful". (48:19) Multiply you: or, grant you greatness and abundance. Through the descendants of Yoseyf, which means "add", they have become grafted into Yaaqov's stock and thus his heirs both physically and spiritually. (Rom. 14:19; Eph. 2:15) An assembly of nations: an organized body, gathering, or congregation. Even in the first generation, Yaaqov’s household would become this. In contrast with Avraham’s many descendants who spread far and wide, Yaaqov’s were intended to remain together and remain concerned about one another, not just self. They are not to be just a group of individuals, but an “individual group” whose strength lies in the fact that they are an assembly, not just one man. Each one dopes not just add strength, but multiplies it. The Hebrew term is qahal--the equivalent of the better-known Greek “ekklesia", for though these peoples would still be scattered at one point, they would later be regathered out from among the nations with whom they would mingle, to again form one people, per 1 Keyfa/Peter 2:9-10)
4. "May He also give to you Avraham's blessing--to you and your seed along with you, so you may possess the land of your sojournings, which Elohim gave to Avraham."
Avraham’s blessing: This is what it is really all about. That Land is supposed to be our inheritance, too. We can inherit it, not just visit it, if we connect ourselves to the right things now. The promise of inheriting the Land is again narrowed, for the last time, to Yaaqov's descendants alone. Yitzhaq must never have intended to give this blessing to Esau, because when he had the occasion to, he did not. He gave him only earthly blessings, though the most important of these, too, actually went to Yaaqov as well. Esau received some as well, just as the one Yaaqov made his firstborn (Efrayim) would also inherit the more important blessings, but not as much physically, as the brother he displaced (Menashe). But until this point he had still only blessed Yaaqov with preeminence, fertility, and the position of leadership. (27:28ff) Now that, as per verse 8, his eyes have been opened again (no longer being blinded by Esau’s gifts) and he knows to whom he is talking, he gives him the fullest birthright blessing. Avraham’s covenant was not mentioned in the first blessing that he intended to be for Esau. Yitzhaq had trembled greatly (27:33), waking up from his dreamy stupor. He recognized again that Esau was not the right man for the job of teaching. It was now in the right man’s hands. But the blessing is still contingent on his maintaining the right attachments and accepting the command along with the blessing.
5. Then Yitzhaq sent Yaaqov away, and he went into Paddan-Aram, to Lavan the son of B'thuel the Aramean, the brother of Rivqah, who was Yaaqov and Esau's mother.
As in church history, what came out of Yitzhaq was taken in by Lavan, the "white one", whom we have seen was actually full of greed, and Messiah was adopted by Gentiles who were nonetheless his relatives. Notice the order the two sons' names are listed in, contrary to their birth order, but in agreement with the way their mother saw them. In contrast with 25:5, Yaaqov is now counted the elder. Esau was called, but Yaaqov was chosen. (Mat. 20:16) The calling is general, but who is chosen depends on how we serve YHWH. Yaaqov was willing to take on the role of servant and teacher, so his father chose him. It is interesting that the church has been known as the "called-out", but even it has continued to refer to the Jews as the "chosen people".
6. When Esau saw that Yitzhaq had blessed Yaaqov and sent him away to Paddan-Aram to take a wife for himself from there (how in his blessing he had commanded him: "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Kanaan"),
Esau saw: Being a son of Yitzhaq, he still had some giftings and understanding; he just had the wrong priorities.
7. and that Yaaqov had obeyed his parents and gone to Paddan-Aram,
8. and when Esau saw that the daughters of Kanaan were disagreeable in the sight of his father Yitzhaq,
9. [only] then did Esau go to Yishmael and take Machalath, the daughter of Yishmael the son of Avraham (Nevayoth's sister), as his wife, adding her to his other wives.
Thus some of the Arabs (Yishmaelites) are also Edomites. Esau perceives that there is something different in this relationship that he could have had if he had not married the Kanaanites. He understands that his parents wanted him to marry a cousin. Like the Protestant Reformation, he tried to make amends for his earlier errors by taking a more worthy wife also but without putting away all the paganism in the process. He tried to please his father, but did not follow orders completely; he tried to find a substitute more close at hand. Martin Luther read the Bible and thus made some worthwhile improvements over the Roman system, but still was very anti-semitic. Esau still chose the wrong line. He went to Yishma’el’s camp, which was much closer than Paddan-Aram. Machalath: from a root meaning "weak, sick, or diseased". (See 26:34, 36:3). He should have been following Yaaqov, not to kill him, but to marry Lavan’s other daughter. Leah, who by the pattern of his ancestors’ marriages, should have been Esau’s wife, was 100% Semitic (from the line of Shem). She could have helped him become a man who made better decisions. Instead, while doing what looked right, he actually compounded the problem. Machalath was a descendant of Shem, but not through his mother, and she was actually only 25% Semitic, the remaining 75% being Hamitic as his other two wives were. Likewise many Christians are eager to repent, but no matter how bad they feel about their sin, they cannot succeed if they do not return all the way to the Torah, because without the proper knowledge they would be turning away from one type of sin, but continuing to break many others because they ignore the Torah, which reveals what sin is, though it is right in their Bibles. Repenting, in Hebrew, means going back to where one came from. To know how to go back, we have to know where we are supposed to be, and what our context is meant to be. So Yaaqov turned back to the ancestors who were worthy of emulation. Dwelling in the tents of Shem (25:27) had made him complete. By studying, he had gained the knowledge it took to make the right decisions. If we do things our fathers’ way despite our own preferences, and do not use our giftings to further our own desires, but for the betterment of the set-apart community, we too can inherit from this ancestor, Yaaqov.