Words that descend like dew
Tol’dot (Generations) B’resheet/Genesis 25:19-28:9
Haftorah Readings: Malachi 1:1-2:7
I would like to begin today with a verse that has no connection to my question of the week. However, I believe it has so much to tell us I couldn’t let it go. Look at Genesis 26:28. In this verse we read, “And they said, we have surely seen that the L-rd has been with you.” This verse recounts the words of Avimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar. They came to Isaac where he was encamped at Beer Sheva.
Consider that up until now the Philistines had not been too friendly with Isaac. In earlier readings we saw wherever he went he encountered them or they came and reclaimed the wells he dug and he would then move on to another place. I would expect Isaac was surprised to now hear that they wanted to make a covenant with him. This was to be a renewal of Avraham’s covenant, a mutual non-aggression pact so to speak.
Now, back to our verse 26:28. In this verse we read a Hebrew word used twice, once immediately followed by the second. In Hebrew the words are “ra’uh” followed by “ra eenuh.” These two words have as their root “see” and are translated as surely seen. This could mean something like, what we saw in your father we have seen in you as well. It could also mean they saw how they were blessed with crops that were far better than before or after Isaac left, attributing their success to the presence of Isaac among them. In chapter 26 we read how the Philistines did not treat Isaac very well when he came into their area. They envied him (26:14) and they stopped up the wells that Avraham had dug. Finally, in verse 26:16 Avimelech told Isaac to leave them and this he did. However, he was pushed further away until he finally got to Beer Sheva.
In verse 26:26-31 we read of Avimelech coming to him again, only this time requesting a treaty between themselves and Isaac. In verse 29 we read where Avimelech rewrote history a bit explaining how nice they had been to Isaac and again saying they had seen how G-d had blessed him. How did Isaac react? Or more importantly, how would you have reacted? He was the one who had been run out of town at every turn by Avimelech and now these same people came to him asking for a treaty. Isaac made a feast and sent them away in peace. On that same day Isaac’s servants came to him and told him they had found water.
There is a lesson here for all of us. Isaac never brought up how he had been treated by Avimelech. He rested on the promise of G-d and did not react in anger, knowing G-d was with him. (Genesis 26:24) G-d blessed his actions by immediately blessing him with water from a well his servants had just opened. That is the lesson for us all today. We read the same point in the Messianic Scripture in I Peter 3:15, where Peter wrote to the early believers, “be ready to make a defense of everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” In these days when there is so much turmoil in the world, our place is to be calm, not taking offense, but being ready to explain who we are concerning our faith. People should be able to see evidence of our faith in our day to day life by what we are presenting to the world.
Now to my question of the week, what seems to be missing in the relationship between Isaac and Rebecca? As I thought about this and did some reading, one thing seems to stand out. The communication between them seems to be lacking. Think about when G-d told Rebecca about the boys before they were born. In Genesis 26:23 He told her that the older will serve the younger. Jacob, as you know, was the second to be born. This word from G-d would give him the role of being the one to inherit the mantle of leadership in the family. Yet, from every indication Rebecca never related this to Isaac. If she had, the difficulties we read about this week might have been avoided. However, because there had been little or no communication between father and mother, Rebecca resorted to her plot to secure the blessing for Jacob. We all know the outcome of that.
Remember years later when Jacob stood before Pharaoh and replied to Pharaoh’s questions he said, “Few and evil have been the days of my life (Genesis 47:9.) Such can be the price when we fail to communicate, We must remember the power of words, both spoken and withheld. Speech, sharing, talking honestly and truthfully between people, between husband and wife has great power. Words were used by G-d to create the world. Each of us must be able to communicate with our wife, husband, children and friends. This must be done truthfully but also with compassion and mercy. In our portion this week we see the result of a lack of communication. Consider this in your life every day and by your words bring peace and truth in your conversations, especially with your loved ones. “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” Deut. 32:2
May each of you be abundantly bless this week. David