Genesis 25:19–28:9: ‘Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect’

One lesson from the life of Esau is who and where we came from doesn’t necessarily define who we are or will become. Another takeaway is to recognize the good around us and become wise to the frequent folly of “following your heart” after what appears to be good. This is why Messiah Yeshua wants us to learn how to be “complete,” not lacking in anything.

The Torah reading תּוֹלְדֹת Toldot/Toledot (Genesis 25:19–28:9), literally means “generations,” spelled תּוֹלְדָה towldah (H8435) in Hebrew. The word comes from יָלַד yalad (H3205), a word that is commonly translated as “begat.” In other words, someone comes from someone else. So far in Genesis, we have seen toldot of the earth (Gen. 2:4, of Adam (Gen. 5:1), Noach (Noah, Gen. 6:9), Noach’s sons (Gen. 10:1), Shem (Gen. 11:10), Terah (Gen. 11:27),  Yishmael (Ishmael, Gen. 25:12) and Yitskhak (Isaac, Gen. 25:19).

Rivkah (Rebecca) is given a prophecy of her children.

“The LORD said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.’” (Genesis 25:23 NASB)

Prophecies demonstrate God’s foresight (knowledge and control of events) and insight (knowledge of what’s really happening now or happened at a certain point).

Esau had red hair and lots of it, so much of it that when Ya’akov (Jacob) dressed up as Esau, he had to wear goat hair leather to approximate Esau’s presence. King David was similarly described.

History shows us the truth of Edom and Israel as they wrestled each other throughout history:

  • Amalaki (Amalakites) came from Edom and attacked Israel during the Exodus.
  • Edom turned away Israel from safe passage during the Exodus.
  • David made Edom a vassal after border skirmishes.
  • Edomi (Edomites) cheered and helped by inaction the destruction of Yerushalayim by Babylon (Obadiah 11).
  • Edom = Rome = Christianity: Rabbinic view of Psa. 137:7 equated Edom with Yerushalayimm-sackers.

When you read the Psalms and Prophets, Edom is one of the codewords for nations that war against Israel.

What did the patriarchs know about the Torah, and when did they know it?

“because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.” (Genesis 26:5 NASB)

Jewish tradition claims that Abraham knew all the written Torah even before it was written. But God gave Abraham certain things to protect, such as God’s direct orders, such as the sacrifice of Yitzkhak. He did have some understanding of ceremonial rules, Abraham didn’t know why but he did them as God instructed. At the very least, these were things that God directed Abraham and his family to guard certain things and they did it.

Certain blessings are irrevocable and prophetic. Yitzkhak’s blessing on Ya’akov is an example of that. Yitzkhak was a prophet speaking for God in this case. This was the same blessing and prophesy God gave Rivkah years before.

Rivkah didn’t trust God enough to watch to see how God Himself would make sure that Ya’akov got the blessing and instead she had her own idea. She paid a big price for her folly.

Many of the problems we see in the middle east and our current events are caused by those who are trying to “help” God and make the matter worse instead of better.

The toldot leading up to Yeshua the Mashiakh (Jesus the Christ) was planted many millennia before Yeshua was born (Matt. 1:1–17; Luke 3:23–38). How these generations interacted with each other then is playing out now with conflict between the modern state of Israel and its neighbors. It makes you want to study the “why” and “now what” of the promise made to Ishmael. He was blessed to be a son of Abraham. Because of that, his generations have been blessed and are with us to this day.

Who inherits the Kingdom of Heaven?

Despite the blessing, the big lesson of Toldot and throughout Scripture is salvation isn’t inherited. The prophecy of the older serving the younger was given when “the twins … had not done anything good or bad.” Does God choose heirs of the Kingdom based on their physical descent?

Romans 9:1–15 gives us the answer. Apostle Paul was grieved greatly because most of his fellow Israelites did not accept their Messiah, the one who all the toldot were pointing toward.

“I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: ‘THROUGH YITZKHAK YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.’ That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: ‘AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.’ And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Yitzkhak; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.’ Just as it is written, ‘Ya’akov I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED’ [Mal. 1:2]. What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!” (Romans 9:1–14 NASB)

What we think is happening may not be the end result. We have to trust God not only in His setting up the nation of Israel but also in blessing the nation of Ishmael.

Just because the majority follow a particular belief, doesn’t make the majority belief valid. Truth is not a democracy. The majority can be wrong.

The legacy of Abraham, Yitzkhak and Ya’akov leads us back to the ultimate source and authority: God. An argument neither stands nor falls based on how many people believe it. Something is either true or false on its own. Don’t dismiss an argument just because someone you dislike believes it.

A valid prophecy came out of the mouth of the high priest who pushed forward with trumped up charges against Yeshua to have him killed (). That man spoke valid prophesy in spite of his wickedness.

The genealogy of Yitzkhak, Ishmael, Esau and Ya’akov did not determine their life path. Their own choices did that.

Restless man vs. complete man

Esau was a man of the field. He was restless, always in search of prey, something new. Esau was never satisfied. Yitzkhak loved that in him.

Ya’akov, on the other hand, was a peaceful man, living in tents. He was a complete man was content to be with his ancestors.

When Ya’akov is called the “complete” man, that word in Hebrew is תָּם tam (H8535), complete; from base root verb תָּמַם tamam (H8552), to be complete, in a good or a bad sense. Ya’akov was a mild-mannered man.

Messiah Yeshua wants us to be “complete” not lacking in anything. King David was certainly not a wallflower but he was complete. He didn’t seek fame and glory. He only sought after God and His will.

Esau operated totally in the flesh. His Canaanite wives are another example of that.

You wonder if Yitzkhak was tipped off when Ya’akov gave credit to God for the hunt. Would Esau speak like that? I doubt it based on what we know of Esau up to this point.

The promise of something in the future, what we might called delayed gratification, was not as thrilling or important as the here and now.

Esau always followed his heart, which led him somewhere not good. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews warns us not to sell out our future in the Kingdom of God for attractive things in the here and now that won’t last.

“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.” (Hebrews 12:14–17 NASB)

“A hungry man is eating his soup of lentils and bread with his spoon.” (photo by Mattia Luigi Nappi via Wikimedia Commons)

The beginning the battle between Esau and Ya’akov did not start at Yitzkhak’s feet but when they were still in their mother’s womb. Esau didn’t lose the blessing at the time of the deception but when he sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. Esau had regret, but not repentance.

Don’t “sell yourself” for the ungodly pleasures and passions that last only a minute. Don’t be a “hunter” of passionate experiences.

You see this often in people after a court verdict. The guilty verdict is called and the defendant begins sobbing. What are they crying about? Loss of freedom? Or do they understand they did something horribly wrong.

God designed us with the ability to see, hear, feel, taste. But not all that we sense is “profitable” for making us “complete,” i.e. content.

“The final leg runner for University of Wisconsin-Whitewater brings home the win to the Badgers in the 4×100 race, taken in 2006. (photo by Mark Sadowski via Wikipedia Commons)

“’All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are profitable. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be mastered by anything. ‘Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food,’ but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.” (1Corinthians 6:12–13 NASB)

Apostle Ya’akov (James) wrote that the race toward maturity as an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven takes endurance and training.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:2–8 NASB)

Endurance leads to being perfect, complete, lacking nothing. The Greek word translated as perfect in James 1:4 is τέλειος teleios (G5046), which means “properly, brought to its end, finished; lacking nothing necessary to completeness; perfect.”1 Here are some uses of teleios to show how it communicates a process of maturity.

  • mature man” (Eph. 4:13 NASB)
  • “in your thinking be mature” (1Cor. 14:20 NASB)
  • “For Christ is the end [margin: goal] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4 NASB)
    • As the translators note, the use of teleios in this verse communicates that the Law of God reaches its fullness of purpose, rather than the Law is ended, as some allege. The saying “the ends justify the means” illustrates this wider meaning for end even in English.
  • In Septuagint, teleios several times translates שלם shalem and תמים tamim.[^2]

The Greek word translated complete in James 1:4 is ὁλόκληρος holoklēros (G3648), which means “properly, all that has fallen by lot, complete in all its parts, in no part lacking or unsound, complete, entire, whole.”2 In the Septuagint, it translates שלם šālēm (example: Deut. 27:6, “uncut stones”) and תמים tāmı̂m (Lev. 23:15, “complete sabbaths”; Ezek. 15:5, “intact.”).3

Just because God is sovereign over all things doesn’t mean we can partake of things dominated by the evil one. Am I going to have the short view of immediate gratification or do I take the long term of eternity?

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NASB)

Are we in a place where God is going to show us mercy or not? That fear of the LORD should keep us grounded.

Summary: Tammy

Banner Photo: The Mess of Pottage, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902), painted between 1896-1902. Currently owned by the Jewish Museum, New York. Photo from Wikipedia Commons via Creative Commons License. 

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  1. Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, s.v. “τέλειος,” paragraph 9181. 
  2. Thayer, s.v. “ὁλόκληρος,” paragraph 6854. 
  3. Thayer, paragraph 6854. 

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