Thursday, November 5, 2015

Parasha Toldot ("Generations") Genesis 25:19-28:9



Parasha Toldot ("Generations")   Genesis 25:19-28:9

Why does the Bible keep so much information about generational lineage?  Let me tell you a story.

Some decades ago (the 70’s), the Binumarien tribe understood the importance of generations.  Des and Jenny Oatridge had infiltrated a small village for the Gospel with little or no success until one very special day whilst translating the Bible.

“Des told Jenny, ‘We finished the last of Matthew today,’ she replied, ‘What about the first seventeen verses.’

Oh yes. Those uninteresting verses that told of Jesus’ ancestry back to Abraham. They had to be tackled before he had really finished the book.

Surprisingly, Sisia [his language helper] sailed through the long genealogy without a trace of boredom. He made no comment on the translation as he often did. But when he rose to go, he said with some deliberation, ‘There’s going to be an important meeting in Nameepi’s house tonight. I want you to come and bring what we’ve done today.’

Des wondered, What’s he up to? Why a meeting tonight? Perhaps he wants to celebrate finishing Matthew. But why does he particularly want me to bring what we’ve translated today?

That night, Des took the lantern and walked the short distance to Nameepi’s house, just above his own. He walked into the central room to find it already filled to capacity. Des was conscious that all eyes were focussed on him. He cleared his throat and began to read: ‘These are the ancestors of Jesus Messiah, a descendant of King David and of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac; Isaac was the father of Jacob; Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers; Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah.

The people from the other rooms were pushing into the central room. Fofo was so close that his beard almost touched the written page. Yawo’s arm was rammed right against Des’.

Des suddenly felt scared. He had a sense of being crushed. It was not only the pressure of bodies; it was the uncanny silence. It seemed that not a dog barked, not a baby cried, not a person released his breath.

 So he kept on reading. ‘Matthan was the father of Jacob; Jacob was the father of Joseph (who was the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus the Messiah). There are fourteen generations from Abraham to King David; and fourteen from King David’s time to the exile in Babylon; and fourteen from the exile to Christ.

They had heard him out.

Des raised his eyes to look at those within a breath of his face—and saw, not anger, but incredulity. ‘Why didn’t you tell us all this before?’ Yaa’a demanded.

Des recoiled instinctively as if he’d been struck.

‘No-one bothers to write down the ancestors of spirit beings,’ Fofondai stated.

‘It’s only real people who record their genealogical table,’ A’aaso added.

‘Jesus must be a real person!’ someone else cried, his voice ringing with astonishment.

‘Jesus must have been a real man on this earth then. He’s not just white man’s magic.’

‘Then what the mission has taught us is real.’"

Genealogy has its place.  Rav Shaul did warn us not to get too involved in "endless genealogies" (1 Timothy 1:4) them but they serve a purpose.

The genealogy in this parashah is about Isaac and Rebekah and how the promised Seed would descend through Isaac's son Jacob rather than through his older twin brother Esau.  Salvation would come through Yisrael!  Even today I have seen some Hebrew media that have focused on discrediting the genealogy of Yeshua.  
           
We have the benefit of hindsight.  And whilst, in hindsight, we understand that Jacob was the most blessed because salvation would ultimately come through his descendants, it wouldn’t have been very obvious to Jacob at the time.

Jacob was blessed with, “Therefore may God give you the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth” Genesis 27:28.

Whereas Esau was blessed with, “Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth,  and of the dew of heaven from above.”

Sounds the same?  Not at all.

Note that Jacob was blessed with living on the “dew from heaven” FIRST and then the “fatness of the earth” whilst Esau was blessed with the “fatness of the earth” first and then “dew from heaven”.

“Dew from Heaven” is an act of faith.  Will the dew come in the morning or won’t it?  It is reliance on an “unknown” quantity.  Or as Rav Shaul says, the just shall live by “faith”.
 
Of course it was Jacob who was given the greater blessing – even a name change to Yisrael!

But when Esau and Jacob finally met after decades of separation, it might not have looked that way.   

When Jacob was reunited with Esau, Esau refused Jacob’s gifts because he said he had plenty!  Esau had four wives, son’s and daughter’s and had accumulated so much wealth that truly he had been blessed with the “fatness of the earth”.  Esau’s story sounds like a great life.

Compare that with a couple of decades for Jacob during which he was tricked, deceived, hunted and damaged.  That is what his blessing actually looked like.

The mumma’s boy had to flee his father’s house for safety.
 
When Jacob found the woman he wanted to marry he was asked to wait and work fourteen years in total for her.
His beloved Rachel was barren for a very difficult period of time.
 
Laban was a very difficult father in law.

When Jacob finally fled from Laban (not unlike he did years earlier), in a rage, Laban pursued Jacob for seven days.
    
Had a fight with God and was made a cripple for the rest of his life.

Had his favourite wife die in childbirth.

The tragic death of his son Joseph … or at least Jacob thought he had died.

Famine that was so bad they had to move to another country…………… and yet, he was blessed.

Jacob, was blessed with one of the most prominent blessings ever recorded in the bible! So blessed that his name was changed to Yisrael.  Our beloved nation of Yisrael.

Songs and scriptures all dedicated to Yisrael the nation.  And salvation would come through the Jews.

People sometimes mistake being blessed as ‘getting stuff now’- or ‘easy street’.

The primary root of the word bless (“barak” Hb), means to kneel down.  The primary notion lies in breaking – i.e breaking down.  To be truly “blessed” is to be brought down to your knees in submission. 

Jacob was blessed with the dew of heaven first.  He was taught to kneel, to be reliant upon the dew of heaven- and then - ALL the fatness of the earth followed- a great abundance!

Yeshua said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and then all these things shall be added unto you” Matthew 6:33.

Jacob’s trial’s, perseverance, and patience helped develop the necessary faith required to receive the eternal blessing promised; and how great was that promise??

Your comfort is not God’s primary concern for you.  The kingdom of God is; Christ likeness is.  Be Patient.  Trust in His goodness, continue wait in Him.  You ARE blessed!

Shalom,





Jon Eaton

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