Parashat Toldot (Offspring)
Beresheet (Genesis) 25:19–28:9
This week's reading opens with a description of the genealogy of Isaac:
Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Isaac; and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I this way?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples shall be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.”
In our portion this week, we find a very interesting prophetic word that God gives to Rebekah, which helps explain the events that followed after the birth of Esau and Jacob. From the womb, both children were struggling with each other. As Rebekah went to seek the LORD, He told her very clearly that the older shall serve the younger. Now, this may not seem like a big deal to us today, but in the biblical times, this would have been very difficult to accept. In ancient times, there was a tremendous amount of respect and honor for the eldest child - he inherited everything and was the one who all other siblings looked up to. It's safe to say that all the hopes for the family's future were set upon him!
But, God sees things very differently than we do. From the beginning, God chose Jacob, the “younger” child, to bring His blessing to the world. In Jacob’s name, which is "Ya'akov" in Hebrew, there are some hidden treasures which we can find in Genesis 25:24–26:
When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. And afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them.
What is the significance of the heel in this account? The Hebrew word for “heel” is עקב (akev), from which the name יעקב (Ya'akov/Jacob) is derived. This is yet one more hint of the "seed" that would be the source of blessing that was promised through Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. The name here is not coincidental, as it reminds us of Genesis 3:15, where the "seed of the blessing will crush the serpent."
I'd like to offer another interesting observation about Jacob's name. Another possible meaning of "Ya'akov" can be “to follow or to observe”. God chose Jacob (Ya'akov) to be the one who would follow Him and faithfully observe His commands.
It is amazing how the Word of God points to the same person (the Seed) from the beginning! His plan is whole and was complete even before time began. We can take incredible comfort in our God's sovereignty and rest in His capable hands. God never makes mistakes.
Be encouraged in Him today!