Commentary on Parashat Toldot

This week the Torah reading is from Portion of Toldot, (Gen. 25:19-28:9). The starting word toldot is one of a great interesting to me. Toldot is translated in several different ways in the English Bible. Let us see a few examples:

  1. 1.    “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,” (Genesis 2:4 NKJV – Also Gen. 37:2)
  2. 2.    “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.” (Genesis 5:1 NKJV)
    1. a.    This same translation of toldot is taken from this text in Genesis 5:1, and used in “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:” (Matthew 1:1 NKJV) The importance of Matthew using this opening phrase in the very beginning of his Gospel is of great importance. Because the use of this word toldot here connects the two texts and since Adam did not have an earthly father and mother. This becomes a closing augment to all those who claim that it is impossible to have a virgin have a son without the intervention of a man.
    2. b.    Also the same translation is in: Gen 6:9, 10:1, 11:10, 11:27, 25:12, 25:19, and many more places – this is the most prevalent translation of the Hebrew toldot (תולדות) into English and other European languages.
    3. 3.    “These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And the years of the life of Levi were one hundred and thirty-seven.” (Exodus 6:16 NKJV)
    4. 4.    “six of their names on one stone and six names on the other stone, in order of their birth.” (Exodus 28:10 NKJV)

The issue is even more important because it is a revelation of the idea of HISTORY in Hebrew and in the Jewish understanding.

Toldot – History is not a series of events that are accidental or a matter of chance, or just luck. History is a chain that one links drags the one from the past and influences the link that follows. It is linear not circular. It does not repeat itself automatically. It is something that is planned and progresses in a single direction.  This is the only way that true prophecy can work. There is a master plan that is progressing link by line in a single direction that is prepared and one drags the former event and creates the next and future events. This is really the history of the Bible, but also the basis for moral responsibilities. The moral of the past generation is going to influence the future generation. There is no guilt incurred from generation to the next, but there are consequences that either make it easier and better for the next generations or make it harder and inheritance of these consequences ought to be taken into account for our children and grandchildren.

Now in this Portion of the Torah there is the story of Isaac and Rebecca, and the birth of Esau and Jacob. The first thing we learn about this relationship is that Isaac is 40 years old when he married Rebecca. Gen. 25:21 tells us that Rebecca is actually barren. Now Isaac is pleading with the Lord for his wife Rebecca to have a child. Is it not interesting that Sara was barren and now her niece Rebecca is also barren and Jacob’s wife Rachel was also barren? What is the common link between these women, the mothers of the nation of Israel? It looks like a family problem – the family of Sara and Laban her brother. All these women are related to Laban’s household.

However, there is probably a much deeper spiritual reason. The Messiah, the Son of God, was to be born by a virgin. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the greatest birth miracle that makes all of us wonder. So, The LORD is preparing out minds and the minds of all of Israel for this great event. If anyone is asking, can God actually have a child born of a woman that is a virgin, the answer is just look at Sara, Rebecca, Rachel, and these are not the only births of Biblical heroes, Moses survival is a work of God’s power, and even King David has some questions surrounding his birth, and for this reason he said (Psalm 51) “in sin did my mother conceive me.”

In fact the whole chain of history is organized from the very beginning and all the prophets prophesied about the coming of the Messiah to fix what Adam and Eve spoiled in the beginning. “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”  (1 Peter 1:10–11 NKJV)

Just accept the fact that there is a God who has planned history and all things are working for the good even things that might not be the easiest or the most pleasant. There is only One who has the full control of all that is happening in His World and He has loved us (all of humanity) and sent His Son to redeem us and prepare us for eternity in a place that He prepared for us. This is something to rejoice and trust and do all that is possible so that in our end we will have joy and the pleasure to spend eternity with him.

This article originally appeared as a part of the Jerusalem Prayer List by Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry, December 2, 2016, and reposted with permission.