The paragraph divisions for toledoth are posted here. Last year I was able to post just the bookends of the chiastic structure formed by toledoth. This year I was able to complete the chiastic structure:
1a) Gen 25:19-20, Isaac the seed of Abraham took his wife Rebekah from Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram;
1b) Gen 25:21-22, Contention between the seed and Rebekah’s inquiry:
– 1b.1) Gen 25:21-22a, Rebekah conceived, and the children struggled together within her;
– 1b.2) Gen 25:22b, Rebekah enquired of YHVH, If it be so, why do I live?;
1c) Gen 25:23, YHVH said unto Rebekah, Two nations are in thy womb + the elder shall serve the younger;
1d) Gen 25:24-26, Birth of twins: the younger held his brothers’ heel, therefore his name was called Jacob;
1e) Gen 25:27-34 p, Isaac preferred Esau/ Rebekah preferred Jacob + Jacob gained the birthright + Esau despised the birthright;
1f) Gen 26:1, Isaac went to Abimelech when there was a famine in the land;
1g) Gen 26:2-5, The Lord appeared to Isaac + renewed the covenant;
1h) Gen 26:6, So Isaac dwelt in Gerar;
central axis) Gen 26:7-22, Contention over Isaac’s wife + prosperity + wells (life of Isaac repeats events from the life of Abraham);
2h) Gen 26:23, Then he went up from there to Beersheba;
2g) Gen 26:24-25, The Lord appeared to Isaac + renewed the covenant;
2f) Gen 26:26-33 s, Abimelech came to Isaac when the Lord had blessed him;
2e) Gen 27:1-34, Isaac preferred Esau/ Rebekah preferred Jacob + Jacob gained the blessing + Esau sought the blessing with tears;
2d) Gen 27:35-36, Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he hath supplanted me these two times;
2c) Gen 27:37, Isaac said unto Esau, I have made your brother your lord, and all his brethren his servants;
2b) Gen 27:38-46, Contention between the seed and Rebekah’s inquiry:
– 2b.1) Gen 27:38-45, Esau plans Jacob’s murder + Rebekah plans Jacob’s escape;
– 2b.2) Gen 27:46, Rebekah enquired of Isaac, If Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, what good will my life be to me?
2a) Gen 28:1-9 s, Jacob the seed of Isaac sent to Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram for his wife.
In the above chiastic structure, the weak paragraph from Gen 26:34-35 about Esau’s wives, the daughters of Heth (Hittites), who were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah, is missing. It does not pair with anything that I can find in this structure, although it is an integral component in a greater structure coming up, as we will see.
The significance of the birthright that Esau despised is posted here. The greatest portion of the birthright that Esau despised was Abraham’s covenant with the Lord God! Esau despised that covenant, but Jacob loved it and desired it – no wonder God said, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated,” (Rom 9:13). The first occurrence of the word “torah” in Scripture is in Gen 26:5, when the Lord first appears to Isaac (more about that here).
The central axis highlights the contention directed toward Isaac because of God’s blessing upon him. Isaac was minding his own business, but the pagans he was among could not stop themselves from contending over his wife, his prosperity, or his wells of water. But it also highlights something else – Isaac practiced the same character trait as his father Abraham, in that he relinquished his rights when confronted. In fact, this is a also a character trait of the Lord God (more on that posted here)!
What comforts me about this parashah, is first of all, Abraham loved God and kept His commandments, statues, charge, and torah. Isaac loved God, and walked in the way of his father Abraham with God. But they both made mistakes. God did not tell Abraham to take Hagar for a wife. God did not tell Isaac to prefer Esau over Jacob. And yet, in spite of their mistakes, God still worked out His plan and purpose for their children, and still brought His promises to pass. It gives me hope for my own family.