Fresh water and rest

Torah PortionTol’dot (Generations) B’resheet/Genesis 25:19-28:9

Haftorah Reading Malachi 1:1-27

Today we read a Torah portion that covers much of the live of Isaac, the son of Avraham. Again, there are many spiritual lessons for us in this portion. However, I want us to concentrate on one interesting point.

I would like us to look at verses found in Genesis/B’resheet 26:15-22. In these verses we read of Isaac digging and reopening the wells his father Avraham dug years before in the land of the Philistines. Immediately questions arise of why would the Philistines fill in the wells dug by Avraham in the first place? In verse 15 we read where they stopped them up and filled them with earth. Israel is an arid land, not given to many sources of fresh water. This is especially true for the area where Isaac was living. So, what was the point of closing off a source of fresh water?


In this time of history, when a well was dug and water discovered, the person or people who dug that well had ownership of the well and the surrounding land. When Avraham first dug these wells, he was establishing himself and his heirs as the owner of the water and the land that G-d had already promised him.

So, in effect Avraham had already claimed ownership of the property and because of that he also set up the worship of the only true G-d there. The local people, by filling in these wells, were saying they had not only reclaimed the land but also reestablished paganism.

Now when Isaac arrived on the scene and reclaimed his father’s right to the wells, he also would have set up the  worship of the one true G-d again. This did not set well with the local people. As we see in our verses there were many confrontations between the local idol worshipers and Isaac’s servants.

Now, I want us to look at this in a spiritual light. Isaac had come back to reestablish ownership, both physically and spiritually, over the land. What is the usual outcome, even today, when we try to regain spiritual ground? Usually a struggle takes place between the spirits of darkness and the Spirit of G-d.

The presence of the patriarchs and their obedience to the L-rd flew directly into the face of not only the people but also the demonic powers that had had free reign over the people and the land. So, by stopping up the wells, the local people were trying to erase the notion of the Hebrews having ownership of the land and also their worship of the true G-d.

In Amos 8:11 we read, “A time is coming declares the L-rd G-d when I will send a famine upon the Land, not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the L-rd.” When we look around us with spiritual eyes, we see believers who are illiterate in the word of G-d. Faith and its expression is becoming discouraged in schools, in the public discourse and out of the media.

Secularism and humanism are in the process of filling in the wells of faith, striving to stop the flow of “living” water and even to obscure the existence of these ancient wells of faith.

Jeremiah 2:13 puts it very well. “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters and hewn out wells for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

Often we all fall victim to the idea that times have changed and we must change with them. What was sin according to scripture, written so long ago, is no longer in effect in our modern times. Again, Jeremiah has a word for us in 6:16, “Thus says the L-rd, stand by the road and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”

In Matthew 11:29-30 we see where that rest can be found. It is in our Messiah Yeshua. I pray each of us can reclaim our land and life from the false wells which have been dug and return to the truth of G-d’s word.