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Torah Portion Toledote (Genesis 25:19- 28:9)

Toledote is Hebrew for "Generations" or "Chronicles," specifically of Isaac, in particular the family intrigue with his wife Rebecca and their twin sons Esau and Jacob.  

Synopsis: Isaac married Rebecca, who, like many of the matriarchs in the Torah, is barren.  She prays to YHVH for a miracle and He tells her that two nations are in her womb; one is stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.  It is a difficult pregnancy and she gives birth twins: Esau (who is covered with red hair) and Jacob (who is born grasping his brother's heel).  Esau the hunter is the favorite child of his father.  Jacob is his motherís favorite.  Esau comes back from a hunt, famished.  Jacob says that he will give his brother a bowl of red vegetable stew if Esau will sell his birthright to him.  Esau says that his birthright has no value if he dies from hunger.  The deal is consummated, and Jacob gives Esau the red stew.

There is another famine in the land.  Isaac and Rebecca go to the Philistine territory for food. As did his father Abraham before him, Isaac presents Rebecca as his sister so the local men will not kill him to obtain her.  The Philistine King Avimelech sees Isaac frolicking with Rebecca and he accuses him of the deception.  He sends Isaac and Rebecca away, promising no harm.

Isaac's servants  re-dig the water wells of his father that the Philistines had stopped up.  Isaac's servants and the Philistines quarrel over the water rights.  YHVH appears to Isaac and renews the blessing that he made with Abraham.  Avimelech and his officer Phicol see that Isaac had been blessed by YHVH and they make a covenant of peace.

Isaac grew old and blind and was preparing to give his blessing to his oldest son, Esau, after Esau brings him a venison meal.  Rebecca overhears the discussion and conspires with Jacob to disguise himself as Esau, present a meal that Rebecca prepared, and receive the blessing instead.  Isaac has some doubt as to the identity of Jacob in disguise "The voice is the voice of Jacob but the hands are the hands of Esau."  But he grants Jacob the blessing anyway.  When Esau comes back from the field, he learns of the subterfuge.  He requests a blessing of his father, which he receives, but it is not the blessing of the first born.  He swears to kill Jacob.

To protect her favorite son, Rebecca sends Jacob back to Haran to her people.