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Tol’dot (History)B’resheet(Genesis) 25:19-28:9

Torah Portion: Tol’dot (History)B’resheet(Genesis) 25:19-28:9

Haftorah Reading: Malachi 1:1-2:7

Today we are studying two points that I feel are very important to us. First I want us to consider the trek of Isaac as he, in some ways, retraced the steps of his father Avraham. Let’s begin by looking at this journey and thinking about his actions and how they might apply to what we do in our life.

Isaac traveled through the valley of Gerar. This is on the edge of the Negev Desert in southern Israel.  As he and his herds traveled they opened the wells previously dug by his father Avraham. These wells had been filled in by the Philistines. They were trying to make the point that they did not recognize the ownership of any place in their territory. They wanted to discourage any other people who might think of settling in their land.

As Isaac traveled he reopened each well. As we read in this portion, each time he reopened a well the local people would meet him and make a point he had no place on their land. The names Isaac gave each well, beginning with the first, were Contention, because the local people had contended with him. Next he opened a well named Hostility because the local people came out and demanded that the water was theirs. He moved further into the Negev and dug a third well and named it Rechovot, meaning a broad place.  Isaac gave it this name to indicate that he and his flocks were finally no longer being confronted by the locals.  Today there is a city in southern Israel that carries this same name.

Finally, he came to a place where Avraham had dug a well years before. Isaac reopened it and named it Beer Sheva, which means seven wells.  This was the same name Avraham gave this place a generation earlier when he swore an oath and made a treaty with Avimelech.

This series of wells makes several points to us today. One being they are physical indications that Isaac was the legitimate heir to his father Avraham and was to carry on the name and task of his father.

But there is a deeper spiritual lessons these wells teach us today. Isaac returned and held on to the spiritual heritage of his father by opening the wells that had been covered or hidden and resurrected the names his father had given them.  He returned to the original purpose and name of each.

To us this makes the valid point that our faith in the Messiah today must go back to the original principles that were set out by our Father and His son Yeshua. Our journey into Messianic Judaism is much like Isaac’s journey. We are returning to the original life-giving sources that over time have been obscured and filled in by false or ignorant teaching. Isaac knew who he was as Avraham’s son and he knew where to go to find these wells of life giving water.

For example the true meaning and beauty of the Sabbath and Biblical holidays have been covered up with man’s ideas and over time they have been forgotten. The Torah itself has been filled in with earth.  We need not dig new wells or create new names. Our task at hand is to make the effort to reopen the wells that have been filled in over time.  As we successfully go about this task we will find these wells to be deep and flowing with life giving water as when our father first drank from them.

Now on to my question of the week, in Genesis 28:3 we read the words of Isaac as he blessed Jacob. “May G-d Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of people. 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 G-d gave to Abraham.”  Remember, for the first time Isaac was speaking to Jacob as the heir of the promises of Avraham. Isaac passed these promises in the same way they had been given to him by Avraham. There was no written document just the words spoken by Isaac. So here, Isaac, knowingly and clearly designates Jacob as the heir of the promises made by G-d to Avraham. He did not reproach Jacob for the deceit of taking the blessings of Esau for a bowl of soup.  Jacob would have no written document. He would have to remember this day, what occurred and the words of his father for the rest of his life. 

Jacob now finds himself in the place of holding two sets of blessings. One blessing was taken by trickery and one freely given by his father. We know that Jacob went to Padan Aram, found a wife and grew to be a wealthy man with herds and family. As he journeyed back home with his family and wealth he began to be uneasy about meeting his brother Esau. He had not seen his brother since he left home fearing for his life after Esau threatened to kill him.  Now they are about to meet again after all these years and Jacob fears his brother will take revenge.

How does Jacob deal with his brother? As we read on past this Torah portion we can begin to see that there are times a blessing may not really be a blessing, especially when it is someone else’s blessing. Jacob’s plan to deal with this problem was to return the material blessing he had taken from Esau and ask for his forgiveness. In Genesis 32  we can read all the material wealth Jacob gave his brother Esau. It is not a blessing when we take someone else’s blessing for ourself.

A blessing is something given not taken. So it seems Jacob was trying to rectify his mistake by giving his brother what he had taken as he met him again after all that time. For us, even if times are difficult we can be satisfied with our life as long as G-d is with us. Phil. 4:11, “I have learned in whatever situation I am, to be content.” Shaul had come to that place. He was content to trust and hold on to the Father, not to grasp at straws but to be in a place of peace trusting G-d Almighty.  Bless each of you today as you live in your blessing.