Hebrew Roots/Torah observance/Toldot

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TOLDOT The Generations Genesis 25:19- 28: 9

The Faith of Abraham In Toldot, there is a reaffirmation on the part of Yahweh to Isaac, of the promises that He made Isaac's father Avraham. Yahweh promises to give Isaac the Land of Canaan as His Promised Land, and to increase his descendants like the stars of the sky. All the nations of the Earth will be blessed by Avraham's and Isaac's seed. But notice that there is a reason stated as to why this will be the case: "Because Avraham obeyed My voice, and observed My safeguards, My commandments, My decrees, and My Torahs."

Many of us have been rightfully taught that Avraham is the quintessential example of faith. He left Ur of the Chaldees because the Creator God called him out and told him that He would bless him and multiply his descendants, making them be a blessing to all of mankind. We know that the primary part of this blessing is that later Yeshua the Messiah would come through the line of Avraham. But was Avraham simply blessed because he had "faith"? Faith is not just a belief in something. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith must also be evidenced by our actions, i.e., we must be living the appropriate lifestyle that we may be able to reach toward those things that are "of faith" and unseen. Avraham was able to be blessed by God because He obeyed Him. Bereisheet/Genesis 26:5

The Hebrew verb for obey is shama meaning "hear, listen to, obey." Avraham not only had to hear the voice of Yahweh, but he also had to obey it. It is commonly taught that the Torah was not given or was not even in effect until Moses at Mount Sinai. This is not true. The Torah pre-dates Mount Sinai, although it was not formally given to the people until Mount Sinai. It is very interesting what you find when you compare Christian and Jewish commentaries on Genesis 26:5, both in fact confirm Messianic beliefs.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck states "These are standard terms in the legal literature of the Old Testament. Israel would immediately see Torah (Law) terminology in the record of Avraham, and would be prompted to keep the Law. Avraham learned that true faith obeys God's words."

Pentateuch & Haftorahs edited by J.H. Hertz says this means "laws. Customs and traditional ordinances orally transmitted from generation to generation " (This line of succession goes back to Adam through Noah)

The ArtScroll Chumash takes it further in stating "My Torahs [or: teachings], in the plural, are the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. The latter includes rules and interpretations transmitted to Moses at Sinai. "The consensus of Rabbinic opinion is that Avraham arrived at a knowledge of the entire Torah through Divine Inspiration and observed it voluntarily"

Avraham obeyed the Torah before it was formally codified with the people of Israel at Sinai. Truly, if we are to follow in the example of Avraham, considered to be "the father of faith," then we are to obey Yahweh without question. We are to be obedient to Him and be living appropriately, so that we might be able to reach toward the things that are unseen, just as Avraham was led into a land by Yahweh that he had not seen.

Inheriting The Promises Avraham settles in Hebron (13:18) while still in his seventy-fifth year (Seder Olam, ch.1). He remains there until the cities of the plain are destroyed, when he is nearly 100, relocating in the south, in the land of the Philistines (Bereishit 20:1). Thus, he lived in Hebron for 25 years. When, just before the Akeidah (the offering of Yitzchak), the Torah says that Avraham resided in the land of the Philistines for many years (21:34), this means that he was there for a longer period than he had been in Hebron, namely, 26 years (Bereishit Rabbah 54:9). At the end of this time, Avraham is 126, Sarah is 116 and Yitzchak (Yitzchak) is 26.

Sarah did not die at the time of the Akeidah, because she was only 116 then. However, Rivkah was born then.

All midrashim (Commentaries) agree that the birth of Rivkah (Rebbecca) coincided with the Akeidah (Seder Olam, l.c.). Therefore she was approximately twenty-six years younger than Yitzchak. Bereishit Rabbah 56:11 says that Yitzchak was 26 at the Akeidah, at the end of Avraham’s residence in the land of the Philistines.

Rivkah, shortly before her marriage to Yitzchak (Bereishit 24:16), is called NA’ARAH, which refers to a girl of at least 12 years of age! Tosafot on Yevamot 61b (“v’chen”). Rivkah was 14 when she married Yitzchak.

With the marriage of Yitzchak and Rivkah, another link is forged in the chain that creates the people of Israel. Like Avraham and Sarah before them, they have difficulty conceiving: "And Yitzchak was forty years old when he took Rivkah, daughter of Betuel the Aramean of Paddan-Aram, sister of Lavan the Aramean, to himself as a wife. And Yitzchak entreated Yahweh on behalf of his wife, because she was barren, and Yahweh was moved, so his wife Rivkah conceived" Gen. 25:20-21

Radak says that Yitzchak prayed intensely so that he would not have to take a second wife as his father did.

Vayetar “and he entreated” Yahweh, and Yahweh was entreated of him. The root, atar, means to burn incense and Rashi says that it denotes "urging and profusion". Yitzkhak went into a lengthy prayer and regular communication with Yahweh regarding it. “How have you heard my voice”, asked Yitzkhak, “seeing I have no children.”

By withholding children from them, He caused him to develop a deep personal relationship with Him.

Interceding For the Promises It was the law and custom of the day that a man who had not had a child with his wife for 10 years — as in the case of Avraham — may take a second wife. Yet, twenty years passed before Yitzchak implored Yahweh to grant him and Rivkah children! Yitzchak’s love for Rivkah was so deep that he did not take advantage of her barreness and secure another wife, but instead he exercised faith in the promises of Yahweh to give him an inheritance through Rikvah, his chosen wife whom he loved and prayed for her barrenness. Each new generation of the patriarchs required faith to embrace the promise and in itself was a gift from Yahweh that would not naturally have occurred.

Many Hebrew women have been barren, Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Channah, the mother of the prophet Shemu'el. Avraham and Sarah had to wait for over 70 years for an answer to prayer. Yitzchak and Rivka waited 20 years before they had children. Rachel had to wait 14 years before she had children, and Chanah was barren for 19 years according to the Midrash. In verse 26 it says that Yitzchak was 60 years old when his wife bore Esav and Ya'acov. That means that Yitzchak had prayed for 20 long years. Twenty years of waiting to see the fulfillment of the promise that Avraham's descendants would multiply!

The walk with the Eternal is not easy. The road is full of problems that give us reasons to give up. The walk of faith means trusting the Eternal so that you can overcome all your problems and see radical changes in life's crisis. Romans 8:35-37 says "Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, 'For your sake we are put to death all day long; we were regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him Who loved us."

Also the promises of the Eternal are not fulfilled without human cooperation. In spite of the fact that Yitzchak was the heir of the promises that were given to his father about his descendants becoming like the stars and the sand, he did not wait passively for these promises to be fulfilled. He entered into prayer until they were fulfilled. The Eternal has created prayer in order to cooperate with man to fulfill His plans on earth. The prophecies in Scripture are not just there to embellish history with lovely predictions that cause us to marvel at the greatness of the Eternal, but that we should cooperate with Him so that His plans, which he has purposed ahead of time, can be fulfilled.

The Two Nations Both sons were named from characteristics of their birth. Ya'akov is named so because he grabbed his brother's heel as he came out of the womb (25:26). By giving Ya'acov a name from the Hebrew root which means 'heel', his parents were placing him in line with the prophetic fulfillment of Genesis 3, where the seed of the woman (coming through the line of Ya'acov) would crush the serpent's head.

Esav is born first, then Ya'acov. The boys grow to manhood. Ya'acov is the quiet, peaceful, home-loving man; Esav the skillful hunter and man of violence. The Hebrew word "tam" which is translated as "quiet" means, in this case, that he was not good at deception as was Esav, but upright, simple.

The rabbis interpret the word "tents" as a reference to the tents of Shem and Ever, who, according to tradition, were leaders of a place of study, where they gave spiritual teaching. According to another interpretation, we can understand this word in reference to Genesis 4:20, where it has to do with raising livestock. The Book of Jasher says[10] that Ya'acov lived in tents and raised livestock, while he was learning the instructions of the Eternal and the teachings of his parents. We know that God loved Ya'acov and that He hated Esav. Ya'acov would go on to become the man of God while Esav rejected Yahweh for the gods of Canaan.

One day, when Esav returns famished from the fields, he finds his brother Ya'acov preparing a meal of lentil pottage. Ya'acov says he will give him the food if Esav will sell him his birthright, to which Esav readily consents. The episode signifies the transfer of leadership of the clan from Esav to Ya'acov. Esav turned his back on his birthright. He sold it off to his brother for a bowl of lentils.

In Hebrew 12:16 it says that Esav was profane. The word that is found in the Greek translation and is translated as "profane" or "godless" is "bebelos"[13]. The same Greek word is found in the Septuagint in 1 Samuel 21:5 as a translation of the Hebrew word "chol"[14], which means "secular", "common", "general". It comes from a root which means "to make hollow", "to bore (make a hole)", "to empty", "to injure", "to take apart" and so on. That teaches us that Esav was a person who was empty on the inside, and had an exterior façade of respect. He did not distinguish between the set apart and the common; he did not value his spiritual calling as a priest and lived only to fulfill his natural desires without care for future consequences. He appreciated material things and pleasure more than eternal realities. He despised the plan of salvation for mankind, which had been revealed to Avraham and Yitzchak.

People disregard the important things of life so they can comfort their flesh just a little, as in the story of Ya'acov and Esav (Esau). Later they come to regret their actions and wish they had not been so foolish. All of us fit this category, but some are more careless with their “birthright” than others. Compromise never pays off. When will we learn? Esav was counting on his inheritance. The birthright (the spiritual endowment) would never be seen, in this life anyway, but the inheritance was something tangible and therefore desired by Esav.

The Two Natures "I have loved you," says Yahweh. But you say, "How have You loved us?" "Was not Esav Ya'acov's brother?" declares Yahweh. "Yet I have loved Ya'acov. "'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says Yahweh of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, 'How have we despised Your name?'

"True Torah was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. 7 "For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek Torah from his mouth; for he is the messenger of Yahweh of hosts. Malachi 1:2, 6; 2:6-7

Malachi is addressing the pride of the Edomites in his day and cites the choice of Yitzchak over Yishmael.

"I have hated Esav" The word for hate in Hebrew (sanei) is not emotional dislike. Yeshua used the word as a matter of choosing God's purposes over your parents (Luke 14:26). God chose Ya'acov over Esav before he was born. It is possible that Esav was rejected due to His foreknowledge of his later lack of faith in the promises and his rebellious nature.

"For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel" This has always been the case. Not all of Avraham’s children were part of Israel, nor all of Yitzchak’s either. Yahweh limited those He chose in the line of Avraham and Yitzchak, so only part of natural Israel will be included. For “through Yitzchak your descendants will be named” (Rom. 9:6-13 vs.7).

It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but children of the promise. Only faith in Messiah’s sacrifice (the promise) can make one part of true Israel as even the patriarchs had to believe in God’s blessing to be part of Israel. The real issue has always been faith in the promise. Under the Torah, a Hebrew person who did not follow the covenant would be “cut off” from his people (Exod 12:19, Levit 7:27, 17:9, Num 9:13, etc.). It took faith in the promise to participate in sacrifices, Passover, and the institutions of Torah.

Esav's character and attitude were detestable to the Eternal. It is obvious that his father Yitzchak was not aware of the evil that was hiding behind the respectful façade. Yitzkhak’s sight was failing and he thought he was about to die. He asked his favorite son, Esav to get him some fresh venison and make it his special way. While he was out hunting, Rikvah (his mother) prepared a goat the same way Esav did his venison, dressed Ya'acov in some of Esav’s hunting clothes and placed goat hair on his arms and neck (Esav was a hairy man) and brought him to Yitzkhak.

Most emphasis is laid on the deceitfulness of Ya'acov (Jacob) and his mother in securing the birthright blessings. However, it can be overlooked that Ya'acov had secured the birthright from Esau by a contract previously, and so it was rightfully his. However because Esau wanted the material side of the blessings, he did not honour the transaction that they had made over the bowl of "pottage" and allow Ya'acov to receive the birthright blessing. He set about to defraud Ya'acov by either not informing his father that Ya'acov was the rightful recipient and/or by not making known to Ya'acov his father's intention of imparting the blessing that day. So we see a web of deceit surrounding Ya'acov and the receiving of the birthright and Esau rising up to take the birthright that he had given to Ya'acov for the price of a meal. Yitzchak (Isaac) arranged with Esau to enact the blessing as was his duty seeing he was the firstborn. However when Ya'acov had intercepted Esau receiving it, Yitzchak could still have reversed it, yet he chose not to do so. Did Yitzchak recognise the will of Yahweh in what he had done? Did he recognise that Ya'acov was more deserving of the inheritance than Esau, even though he personally preferred Esau and had the events been a deciding factor in recognising Divine intervention and endorsement of the more worthy son?

Esav had married a Cana’anite woman against his father’s will. Yitzkhak suspected something was wrong when the voice did not fit the smell and touch of Ya'acov. Why didn’t Yitzkhak recognize the younger son’s voice? A person who has lost his sight tends to increase his remaining senses. Unless Yitzkhak was getting to be hard of hearing as well Ya'acov could never have succeeded. Yitzkhak could have been aware of the transfer of the inheritance to the younger son and complied with the deception. If Yitzkhak could say that Ya'acov had tricked him, then the older son would have to accept it and family peace could reign in Yitzkhak’s final days.

Esav was so angry, that he again married a Cana’anite woman. This rebellious nature of Esav is why Yahweh chose Ya'acov to fulfill the promise to Avraham. According to Talmud and the Book of Jasher,[27] Yosef was born at the end of the 14 years that Ya'acov served for his two wives. Here we can calculate the age of Ya'acov when he came to Lavan. When Ya'acov stood before Pharaoh in Mitzrayim, he was 130 years old, according to Genesis 47:9. Therefore Ya'acov was 91 years old when Yosef was born. Then Ya'acov must have been 77 years old when he left the land of Kana'an to travel to Lavan. Talmud[28] claims that Ya'acov stayed in the house of Ever for 14 years to study, before continuing on to Lavan.

Ya'acov went to his father’s homeland to find a wife. He knew this was his father’s desire and the will of Yahweh. While there, he demonstrated integrity and honor by working seven years for the woman of his dreams. Even after Levan cheated him by switching women on the night of the betrothal, Ya'acov was honorable. Then he worked another seven years for the bride of his choice and another seven years to build a flock for himself. Several times Lavan tried to cheat Ya'acov but Yahweh was with him and caused him to prosper.